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Engadget Conspiracy Theory: Gates Betting HD-DVD To Fail

Engadget has a post by Ross Rubin theorizing that Microsoft is backing HD-DVD in order to guarantee a bloody format war between HD-DVD and Blu-Ray, and thus result in neither format winning. Its an excellent idea, that Microsoft has more to gain when the game is about creating better, more secure and more tranferable formats, and loses if people continue to rely on shiny round disks that don’t play well with Media Center PCs.

I love the idea, and were it true, I would applaud MS for it. I don’t want a new DVD standard. I like the old one, its fine, and we don’t need higher def yet, at least not as the base standard. DVD is still a young format, and doesn’t need to be replaced by disks that are just as unreliable, but bigger.

I’ve got another theory: The last thing Microsoft wants is the storage medium of choice to be owned by Sony, and they want a format war to ensure Sony loses. They don’t think they can win, but they do hope to crash the party. After all, I’m not buying higher-def until the format war is over, and neither will most consumers. The longer the war, the more Sony loses, and the more time Microsoft has to make Media Center more important than the physical disk media.

February 15th, 2006 Posted by | General, Media Center, Windows | 2 comments

MSN Developing ContentAds

Jensense has discovered that Microsoft is working on a contextual ads platform for content, dubbed ContentAds, and that it will be discussed, if not outright announced, at Mix ’06 in March. The crazy thing? Its right in the conference schedule, even though it hasn’t been published anywhere before.

Introducing adCenter – Microsoft’s Next Generation Advertising Platform
Speaker(s): David Jakubowski, Jed Nahum
Session Type(s): Breakout
adCenter is the next generation of online advertising that will allow you to conveniently plan, execute, and adjust your online advertising programs. Get the insider view of our current search advertising pilot in the U.S., our plans for ContentAds in 2006 and a preview of the innovations we’re testing at the Microsoft adLabs.

Jen doesn’t expect it to be launched this year, or anytime soon, but there will almost definitely be more news coming next month.

February 15th, 2006 Posted by | General, MSN | one comment

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Microsoft Office Live Launches

Microsoft has finally released Office Live into beta.

Office Live, contains three products, all of which are free during beta, one of which will still be free afterwards. Basically, there are two different products:

  • Microsoft Office Live Basics – website hosting, with a free domain name, 30 megabytes of storage, 10 gigabytes of transfer a month, website design tools, basic web analytics, five email accounts with two gigs of storage and ten megabyte file sizes. Customer support is by email. Will continue be free
  • Microsoft Office Live Collaboration – 50 megabyte shared workspace for ten users, with “more than 20 applications for managing customers, employees, projects, and critical business data”. Starts at $29.95 a month after beta, support via email and phone.

And one product that combines the two and more:

  • Microsoft Office Live Essentials – website hosting, with a free domain name, 50 megabytes of storage, 25 gigabytes of transfer a month, website design tools, FrontPage support, advanced web analytics, fifty email accounts with two gigs of storage and twenty megabyte file sizes, as well as 50 megabyte shared workspace for 10 users with “more than 20 applications for managing customers, employees, projects, and critical business data”. Starts at $29.95 a month after beta, support via email and phone.

Here’s a non-PDF comparison chart. To sign up, you need to request a product key, and if your business is chosen, you’ll get your key within 2-3 weeks.

Read the press release.

Microsoft has released some screenshots (click to enlarge slightly):

Office Live Customer Manager, which lets you track accounts, contacts and business opportunities:

Dashboard for the online Business Applications with tabs for customers, projects, sales, employees and company information.

A mini-version of Microsoft Project and allows users to track projects, milestones, tasks and any outstanding issues in near-real time.

Office Live web analytics:

Website designer:

Sample created website:

February 15th, 2006 Posted by | General, Live, Office Live, Windows | 3 comments

Microsoft Developing Virtual Wallet

Bill Gates showed off today a virtual wallet, code-named InfoCard, that will allow people to make transactions online without user names or passwords, and thus, without fear of those things being stolen. Gates, speaking at the annual RSA security conference, said the technology will be released later this year for Internet Explorer 7, a great lock-in feature for the browser that Firefox will find likely impossible to duplicate.

Of course, the importance of this feature is wholly dependent on two things: That lots of people use it, and that lots of retailers support it. Without a mass market, no one is going to use any online payment system. PayPal only exists because of eBay, and its lack of wide-spread use (limited to a few high profile websites, and, of course, bloggers) shows how even the largest online payment service can have trouble becoming the payment method of choice for the entire web.

At least technology built into the browser will be far more secure than PayPal, which gets spoofed and phished all day long.

As part of that effort, Gates said the virtual personal information wallet, code-named “InfoCard,” would allow consumers to safely manage their identities online. It seeks to provide better security by reducing reliance on usernames and passwords which are often the target of computer criminals.

This time around, however, Microsoft puts the power in the hands of the user, Gates said. In a demonstration, Microsoft showed how easily a consumer logged onto a car rental site to quickly reserve and pay for an automobile using a card from the virtual wallet.

February 15th, 2006 Posted by | General | 4 comments