Microsoft

Take a Windows Vista test-drive on the web

Posted on January 10, 2007. Filed under: Microsoft, Vista |

Try Windows Vista without installing it on your PC. A new Microsoft Virtual Labs site lets you test-drive the Business version of the OS, right inside your browser.

The site provides a self-guided tour of Vista, dividing all its features into categories like safe, efficient and connected. Within each category you can view a video or take a test-drive of various features. When you opt for the latter, you effectively get Vista running in a window. You can poke around, try the new apps (like Sidebar and Windows Meeting Space) and so on.

Two catches: First, the test drive requires Internet Explorer 6 or later. Second, on my system the virtual-machine Vista ran dog-slow, though your mileage may vary. Even if you don’t plan to adopt Windows Vista when it ships later this month, chances are good you’ll end up with it eventually. This is a neat way to get familiar with the look and feel of the new OS.

+ Windows Vista Business Test Drive [Microsoft]

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Microsoft launches Google Earth killer

Posted on November 9, 2006. Filed under: Google, Microsoft |

Hey guys check this site from Microsoft called as virtual earth(Google earth killer app. as proclaimed in the blog). This looks so good when compared to google earth though it has a limited version to its disadvantage. It is not covering any other part of the world apart from USA as far as i could see.

The quality of the image is so good. Check it out

+ CNET Reviews 

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Screenshot Tour: Windows Live Mail Desktop beta

Posted on November 6, 2006. Filed under: eMail, Microsoft, Online Applications, Vista |


Microsoft’s new email client, Windows Live Mail Desktop, offers access to all your email accounts and web site subscriptions in one place with powerful built-in search. Last week I ripped into the new Mail client bundled into Vista. But WLMD, despite the mouthful that is its name, is separate and much more smartly-executed software. It bundles feeds, contacts, newsgroups and multiple email accounts (with seamless Gmail support!) into an attractive interface with fast as-you-type search that rivals Google Desktop. Now this is an improvement over Outlook Express – except for the part where you have to sign in with your Windows Live ID (aka Passport) to use it. The WLMD beta is available as a free download, but if you’re not up for buying – just a little window shopping – come take a look at a quick screenshot tour.

+ Windows Live Mail Desktop Beta Screenshot Tour

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8 killer Windows Media Center plug-ins

Posted on November 6, 2006. Filed under: Microsoft, Music, TV, Windows Media Player |

Just as extensions make Firefox better, so do plug-ins add extra goodness to the Windows XP Media Center Edition operating system (MCE).

For the uninitiated, MCE provides DVR and other multimedia features wrapped in an attractive 10-foot interface. Armed with a couch and a remote, you can record TV shows, pause live TV, view photo slideshows, listen to your music collection, tune in FM radio stations, and so on.

I am unabashedly in love with MCE. It’s the one Microsoft product I consider just about perfect, which is why it’s the heart of my home entertainment system.

With these eight plugs-ins, most of which are free, you can trick out your MCE PC like never before.

MCE Customizer 2005 (Free)

Designed specifically for MCE 2005, MCE Customizer lets you tweak the OS to your heart’s content. You can change the skip-forward and skip-back intervals; raise or lower TV-recording “padding”; choose different file names for recordings; hide or show Start Menu items; adjust the schedule for program-guide downloads; and much more. Those who like to tweak will find this an essential plug-in. I just wish the developer had provided some instructions, as some of the settings aren’t self-explanatory.

MCE Portal Basic (Free)

Regular visitors to My MSN or My Yahoo know all about portals: They’re sites that aggregate personalized news, weather, RSS feeds, and other information. MCE Portal brings this idea to MCE, giving you all that plus games, movie times, restaurant listings, even a daily horoscope. You have to use the developer’s web site to add RSS feeds–kind of a hassle–but otherwise this is pure portal gold.

mceWeather (Free)

Sure, you could just stick your head out the window, but then you’d have to get off the couch. Christoph Buenger’s mceWeather adds real-time weather data to the MCE interface. Just install the plug-in, navigate to the More Programs screen, and select Weather. After you choose your city and preferences, you’ll be able to view the current weather conditions (temperature, humidity, UV index, and so on), a 10-day forecast, and even satellite images.

MSN Remote Record (Free)

Forgot to set up a recording before you left on vacation? No problem: Just head to any web-connected PC. With MSN Remote Record, you can schedule recordings from just about anywhere. You’ll need a .NET Passport account, which you can get free if you don’t already have one. Then head to your Media Center’s Online Spotlight section and select MSN Remote Record Service. Follow the instructions to configure everything. When all that’s done, find another PC and surf to MSN TV. Sign in and you’ll be able to schedule recordings. I’ve even seen people do this from a Pocket PC!

My Movies 2 (Free)

Every time you insert a DVD movie, My Movies 2 indexes it. It downloads a description, cover art, actor info, MPAA rating, and all that good stuff. But even better than that, the plug-in can automatically rip movies to your hard drive (though you need a decrypter like AnyDVD or DVD43). This is outstanding for my kids, as they can pick any movie to watch just by sifting through the covers–and never actually have to touch (or scratch beyond repair) a DVD. Anyone who appreciated Adam’s recent DVD-ripping tutorial will appreciate this MCE alternative.

MyTV ToGo ($30)

You can use Windows Media Player to copy recorded TV shows and movies to a portable device, but the process is kludgy and largely undocumented. What’s more, you can’t do it from the couch. Proxure’s MyTV ToGo (which was recently acquired by Roxio; a new version is imminent) makes it a snap, enabling you to copy recorded content to an iPod, PSP, Pocket PC or Windows Mobile smartphone. You choose one of four available playback-quality settings; it handles all the necessary conversions. MyTV ToGo costs $30; in my opinion, it’s worth every penny.

TVTonic (Free)

With TVTonic, you can subscribe to nearly any video podcast. The plug-in comes with a wealth of preprogrammed “channels” to get you started, including some exclusive content. CartoonCow, for instance, plays classic cartoons, while AP-associated The News provides full-screen news clips. It’s a little weird the way TVTonic downloads video to your PC instead of streaming it, but I guess that’s how it’s able to provide silky-smooth full-screen video. This thing is a TV junkie’s dream come true. And it’s free. Free!

Yougle (Free)

Yougle brings not only YouTube videos to the couch, but also Google Video, Grouper, and DivX Stage 6. I’d love to tell you more about it, but…Mentos…Coke bottle…can’t stop…watching…

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Bypass IE7 Windows validation

Posted on October 23, 2006. Filed under: Browsers, Microsoft |

Internet Explorer user Ferdous Mahmud Shaon posts instructions on how to bypass IE 7’s Windows Genuine Advantage during installation.

Windows Genuine Advantage “validates” your copy of Windows to make sure it’s not pirated or stolen (and generally draws out IE 7’s already-long installation process.) To bypass it, you have to replace a few .dll’s and swap some executable’s before and after reboot. WARNING: I did not test Shaon’s instructions myself (I validated my copy of Windows – albeit begrudgingly – last week), so proceed with caution at your own risk if more legitimate methods fail you.

+ How to Install Internet Explorer 7.0 Bypassing Genuine Windows Validation… [Shaon’s Weblog]

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Early Adopter Download: Windows Vista RC2

Posted on October 9, 2006. Filed under: Microsoft |

Microsoft’s made the Vista Release Candidate 2 available as a free download for testers. Looks like RC2 will only be available for a limited time and there’s an odd caveat with this one. MS says:

“Please note: This build may not have the same level of support or servicing via Windows Update as RC1, and you may not be able to upgrade from this build to the final version of Windows Vista.”

Strange. Anyway, the RC1 is still around as well, but you daredevil types should go ahead and grab RC2 while you can. You’ve got to burn this .ISO file to DVD as well to complete the install. Window Vista RC2 is a free download, Windows (duh) only. See our continuing Vista coverage here.

+ Windows Vista RC2 [via Gizmodo]

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Windows Vista RC 1, in screenshots

Posted on September 9, 2006. Filed under: Microsoft, Windows XP |

Release candidate software is a final product with most bugs resolved, so when Microsoft offered the Windows Vista RC 1 for download yesterday, I hopped right on it like a kid on a bus to Disneyland. The Vista Beta was a neat preview of what’s to come from Redmond, so I expected a lot from Vista RC1, and I wasn’t disappointed.

If you haven’t already, first check out this Vista Beta tour in screenshots to get an overall feel for the new operating system. Today, I’ve got a photo gallery of some of the new stuff that jumped out at me from the release candidate, so-close-to-final-it-hurts version of Windows, due out on the market early next year.

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Download of the Day: Windows Live Local Outlook add-in

Posted on September 5, 2006. Filed under: eMail, Microsoft, Windows XP |

Windows only: add maps, routes, driving directions, and more to Outlook with the new Windows Live Local Outlook plug-in.

This is a handy app for anyone who gets tired of switching back and forth between the web and Outlook to email directions; plus, you can totally integrate it with your task planner so your travel time is nicely aligned with your meetings, schedule, outings, etc. Windows Live Local for Outlook is a free download, Windows only.

+ Windows Live Local Add-in for Microsoft Office Outlook (Beta) [Microsoft Download Center]

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Download of the Day: Windows Live Local Outlook add-in

Posted on September 5, 2006. Filed under: eMail, Microsoft, Windows XP |

Windows only: add maps, routes, driving directions, and more to Outlook with the new Windows Live Local Outlook plug-in.

This is a handy app for anyone who gets tired of switching back and forth between the web and Outlook to email directions; plus, you can totally integrate it with your task planner so your travel time is nicely aligned with your meetings, schedule, outings, etc. Windows Live Local for Outlook is a free download, Windows only.

+ Windows Live Local Add-in for Microsoft Office Outlook (Beta) [Microsoft Download Center]

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Open source Windows alternatives

Posted on August 30, 2006. Filed under: Advice, Microsoft, Windows XP |

Don’t feel like shelling out the big bucks for college software apps (gotta save that for pizza money, ya know)? Thrifty blogger Jason Chen has come up with a nice long list of open source alternatives to popular Windows programs.

His list is organized into three columns: name of the free software, the comparable Windows application, and where you can go to download, download away. It’s a great list for anyone looking to stretch their computing budget.

+ Jason’s Free Useful Software List [via .etc]

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Five Reasons You’ll Use Google Office (and 5 Reasons You Won’t)

Posted on August 28, 2006. Filed under: Google, Microsoft, Online Applications, Windows XP |

Google launched today a hosted software package of productivity tools that places it closer into competition with Microsoft’s Live products.

Google Apps for Your Domain is a software bundle aimed at small and midsize businesses. The free package combines Google’s e-mail, calendar, IM and page creation software. The package creates a private label suite all hosted by Google. Aaron Ricadela at InformationWeek has a good in-depth story (although he doesn’t even mention MS Live and focuses on Office instead).

But read my lips: Google Apps for Your Domain (GAYD?) does not compete with Microsoft Office. Microsoft’s Office market may be $12 billion, but the lion’s share of those billions comes from a relatively small number of large companies. Writely can’t compete with Word, Spreadsheets can’t compete with Excel. They cater to the soccer mom, not the corporate worker. Right now, you need both to do your job. It’s not a zero sum game.

What Google gains from these apps is knowledge about how you use office software and what kind of information you’re sending back and forth. This data goes into its advertising efforts so it can target you better. Everything is in the service of advertising. Google is also firing a shot across the bow of Microsoft Live, which targets the same functionality.

+ read more

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Internet Explorer 7 Release Candidate (Windows)

Posted on August 25, 2006. Filed under: Microsoft, Windows XP |

Microsoft takes Internet Explorer 7 out of beta and makes the release candidate of IE 7 available for download this morning. The ‘softies say:

“The RC1 build includes improvements in performance, stability, security, and application compatibility. You may not notice many visible changes from the Beta 3 release; all we did was listen to your feedback, fix bugs that you reported, and make final adjustments to our CSS support.”

The RC installation requires not one but TWO restarts (it uninstalls any existing IE7 version first), plus it does a virtual pat-down and “validates” your copy of Windows AND it runs the Malicious Software Removal tool to make sure all’s kosher on your PC. After all that, you’re exhausted, but the new version does have a much speedier startup. IE7 RC is a free download, Windows only.

+ Internet Explorer 7 [Microsoft via IEBlog]

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Windows Live Contacts Beta Launched

Posted on August 22, 2006. Filed under: Microsoft, Online Applications |

Yesterday George Moore, GM of Windows Live, announced the Windows Live Contact Gadget. He announced it at the Microsoft TechEd 2006 conference, in Auckland New Zealand (I’m here at the conference courtesy of Microsoft NZ). Live Contacts provides programmatic access to a user’s contact list, providing secure access to 400+ M active users with 12B contact records. The user is in full control over their personal data, George said.

Here’s the official word:
“Learn how, with nothing more than a little JavaScript, you can allow customers to use their Windows Live Contacts (Hotmail/Windows Live Mail and Messenger contacts) directly from your Web site.

For more, check out the developer info and two working samples. MS developer Danny Thorpe notes:

“The contacts gadget is client-side JavaScript that enables end users to use their Windows Live contacts (from Windows Live Mail/Hotmail and Messenger) with third party (non-Microsoft) web sites, conveniently and securely. The gadget works with any web server, most browsers, and doesn’t require reams of license or partnership paperwork with Microsoft. You don’t have to assimilate your web server into the Microsoft collective in order to play with Windows Live contact data.”

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