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MSN Steals CEO

Microsoft has named the new head of MSN, the man who just days ago was CEO of Steve Berkowitz. MSN takes away the head honcho of one of their major search competitors, one who has done a good job making Ask competitive and helping them grow market share.

While losing capable people is never fun, Ask immediately eleveated Jim Lanzone to Berkowitz’s old job, so they’ve now got a very good pilot running the show. I’m not too worried for them, and we’ll see if Berkowitz can bring some good results for MSN and Windows Live.

John Battelle has word from Microsoft PR and an interview with Jim Lanzone

April 24th, 2006 Posted by | AskJeeves, General, Live, MSN, Search, Windows | no comments

Mother Of All Xbox 360 Cables

Xbox 360 Fanboy shows a great Xbox 360 cable, one that has every output you could ever need. Useful if you tend to take the 360 all over the place, and want to allways have a screen whereever you are. It supports:

  • VGA Signal
  • RGB Signal (True RGB signal)
  • Component Signal (Stereo Function)
  • S-AV Signal
  • AV Signal (Stereo Function)
  • High Quality and High Speed for Transfer Signal
  • Dolby Prologic
  • DTS 5.1 Channel System
  • DOLBY Digital and Surround Sound
  • Stereo Sound
  • Optical Signal
  • Compatible with Surround Receiver or Integrated Amplifier
  • Support CRT, Plasma, LCD or any HD TV system
  • Fully compatible with xbox 360â„¢ console and any TV system
  • Support D2 ( 4801/ 480 P): (720 i/720 P) $ D4 (1080 i/1080 P) technology

I see nine outputs on the end of the cable in that picture. Nice.

April 24th, 2006 Posted by | General, Xbox, Xbox 360 | no comments

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Quick Charge Kit Hits

The Xbox 360 Quick Charge Kit is now available at a retail price of $29.99. You can read more about the kit here.
Will I put up an Amazon Associates link? Yeah, why not…

(via Xbox 360 Fanboy)

April 24th, 2006 Posted by | General, Xbox, Xbox 360 | no comments

Xbox Water Balloon Fight Video

Up on YouTube, there’s a video from the record-breaking Xbox 360 Australian water balloon fight.

Short, but pretty funny. Watch the t-shirts for a good idea of how wet people are getting. Are there more videos out there?
(via Kotaku)

April 24th, 2006 Posted by | General, Xbox, Xbox 360 | no comments

Vista Getting EFI?

Looks like Microsoft might (stress might) be reversing their decision to not have support for EFI in Vista. EFI, the new boot system that is supposed to eventually replace BIOS, was not supposed to be in 32-bit Vista, and not in the first versions of 64-bit Vista. However, now Microsoft is saying that it will ship a preview of EFI support in Vista Beta 2.

From a Microsoft newsletter, reprinted at Bink:

But to date, no production-ready UEFI implementations are available. So Windows teams cannot complete the appropriate testing before Windows Vista is released. By the time Windows Server Longhorn is released, we expect sufficient UEFI implementations to be available for testing with a solid set of manufacturers’ hardware platforms.

Microsoft is working closely with the Unified EFI Forum and industry partners to ensure that we can provide a high-quality, standards-based EFI solution that works across x86 and x64 hardware. As part of this effort, Microsoft is providing a “technology preview” of EFI in the Windows Vista Beta 2 release. This preview will allow our partners to begin testing their UEFI implementations.

To translate: When Microsoft says “x86″, that means EFI on 32-bit system. So that’s one bit of news. Beyond that, even though EFI support won’t be ready when Vista hits stores, a version of it will be ready by the time beta 2 hits. Conceivably, a PC manufacturer could jump the gun, releasing an EFI system that uses the technology preview code.

It would be risky as hell, but Microsoft would probably release an EFI patch for Vista in the end anyway, and that company would have the only Vista EFI system on the market.

Of course, it would probably be a big waste of time. No one is going to buy one PC over another because it has EFI. I’ve never heard anyone ask about the BIOS system before buying a PC, so I don’t think any OEM will go the extra mile. Still, at least we know EFI will be an option in the future, when Microsoft completes the support for it.

April 24th, 2006 Posted by | General, Vista, Windows | no comments

Complaints Over Xbox 360 Final Fantasy XI

Davis Freeberg (over at Thomas complains over the terrible experience that comes with a purchase of Final Fantasy XI for the Xbox 360. What do you get?

  • $59.99 for the box
  • 45 minute installation of SquareEnix PlayOnline
  • 90 minute installation of Final Fantasy XI
  • $12.95 monthly fee
  • $1 per character monthly fee

Not only that, but you have to register, and once that’s done, your copy of the game is tied to your Xbox Live account, and can never be played on another person’s console or resold.

So, you have to install, which is something that should never happen on a console. You have to pay $228 for the first year (assuming you only want one character), as well as give up a huge chunk of hard drive space other games could be using.

While a person should know going in that there is a monthly fee, it is conceivable they don’t, and retail purchases don’t do a good job warning of that. Additionally, when it costs a minimum of $168 a year, there’s no stupid reason to charge sixty bucks for the box. Lets be honest: at that monthly price, the box should be free, especially since its short 90 minutes of downloaded content.

Also, there’s no warning that you can’t resell the game. If publishers are going to put resell protection on the disk, then they should have to warn you. Still, I’m really worried that the used game market is going to dry up because of locks like these, and that is only going to make people buy less games.

When my Xbox 360 finally arrives (the shortage never ends!), I’d like to try out FF XI. However, I’d rather have a Nintendo DS. And since the DS is cheaper than this one freakin’ game, I know what I’m doing.

Here’s what Joystiq has to say:

The installation process for the game is, by all accounts, clunky and unfriendly. You might be able to get away with that on the PS2, which doesn’t have a unified, easy-to-use online service, but it’s shameful to allow the same to happen on the 360 which has won kudos for being user friendly.

Requiring consumers to complete an hours-long installation process before fees are spelled out is shady and manipulative. Researchers have demonstrated that large sunk costs (of time or of money) increase the likelihood that individuals will continue to pay for small incremental charges that occur later.

April 24th, 2006 Posted by | General, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox Live | 4 comments

Scoble’s Shoot For The Moon

Scoble is calling for Microsoft to “bet the company”, as it has done in the past. The basic thinking is that Microsoft is too afraid to do anything dramatic and risky, the type of things that would revitalize the company and win the future.

When I was at Microsoft in January, I met a lot of talented people, but I also met a bunch of people for whom innovation was something they were afraid to do, because they believed the company wouldn’t allow them to innovate. If employees believe that if they do too well, their team will be disbanded, or sued, or watered down, or saddled with a bad product name, or buried within bad marketing, then the solution is to send a message both to users and employees that things have changed.

Scoble’s got a good idea how:

A guaranteed Terabyte of Internet-based storage space for EVERYTHING and for EVERYONE running Windows in the world.

Absolutely. That is the type of thinking that can work. Windows users get a full terabyte to use any way they want. It can be used for straight up file storage, for Windows Live services (like email, web hosting/Office Live), anything, as a benefit for being a Windows user. It’s the type of idea that targets both the operating system and Web 2.0 areas at once, and its the type of bold idea that needs to be done.

I’m not saying it is the idea, but get together enough of these ideas, and you will save the company.

Scoble’s got some other ideas I agree less with, like that more productive computer setups will make a huge difference (they won’t; there are tablets all over MS and that hasn’t), public salary systems (lets not make money the big issue). However, I do believe that MS Marketing should be publicly accountable, because they haven’t been doing their job, certainly not as well as they used to.

So, what other big ideas are out there? What can they do to create buzz, reward customers, and send a message to employees that the time to innovate is now, and that they will be rewarded, not dissapointed? The time is now, because once Vista and Office 2007 hits, it’s all down from there.

April 24th, 2006 Posted by | Corporate, General | one comment

links for 2006-04-24

April 24th, 2006 Posted by | Bookmarks, Corporate, General, Humor, Xbox, Xbox 360 | no comments

Xbox 360 Breaks Waterballoon Fight Record

Over the weekend, the big Xbox 360 water balloon fight was held in Australia. More than 2,900 fans gathered and threw over 50,000 water balloons, matching in balloons the same number of consoles that have been sold since the 360 launched in Australia a month ago. They also set the all-time water balloon fight record, pending Guiness approval, beating 2,677 Spaniards. Kotaku is calling it the WBC (get it?), not to be confused with that other WBC, and they’ve got great, detailed coverage.

Can you imagine how hard it must have been to fill up 50,000 balloons with water? Jeez. There are a lot of photos at the official site, including the words “Xbox 360″ spelled out in the sand with hundreds of people.

By the way, looking at the photos, it looks like almost every participant in the balloon fight was male. Way to fight stereotypes. Can’t even get female gamers on a beach.

Also, does the success of this event mean we’ll finally get a water balloon video game? I hope so. Online play would be killer.

Finally, Flashmob UF organized a live action remake of the “banned” Xbox 360 shootout commercial. Sorta.

There’s one moment near the end that makes it all worth it.

April 24th, 2006 Posted by | General, Xbox, Xbox 360 | no comments

MS-DOS Making A Comeback

Turns out DOS is going to sell pretty well in China. The Ministry of Information Industry is demanding all PC manufacturers in the country use legal software, so if they want an operating system, they’ll need the cheapest, simplest, quickest available OS around. As a result, companies are deciding an investment in MS-DOS is exactly the way to meet the law.

Keep in mind, DOS is probably cheaper than Linux. I think.

Funny. Could we see a resurgence in DOS use because of this? Or, more likely, does this mean the annoyance of buyers having to pirate the software themselves, instead of relying on the OEMs to do the work for them.

(Found on Findory)

April 24th, 2006 Posted by | General | no comments

Xbox 360 Controller In LEGO

Kotaku has photos from a guy who made an Xbox 360 controller out of LEGOs (and a PS3 god-awful controller as well). Maybe I should get one, although it seems even too big for those that liked the original Xbox controller.

I’ve got oodles of open tabs with stuff like this:

An Xbox 360 coated with 43,000 colorful crystals, in a mosaic of Lara Croft. It seems like you can win it somehow.

Some guy tried to sell one hundred boxed premium boxed 360s on eBay at cost ($38,000 plus two grand for shipping). Looks like eBay didn’t like it.

April 24th, 2006 Posted by | General, Xbox, Xbox 360 | no comments

Windows Live Mail To Have 120-Day Expiration

One short-sighted limitation in Hotmail is that accounts expire after 30 days. If you go away for just over four weeks on vacation, you could return to find your entire inbox emptied out, and frankly, it stinks. I’m grateful for having Premium service, but you shouldn’t have to pay for this.

Thankfully, Windows Live Mail will give users a 120-day expiration. While this means a good four months before you lose all your email, Gmail gives you nine month. I think that, with most people never reaching the full limits of 2 gigabyte email accounts, and storage getting cheaper, there’s no reason Microsoft can’t meet Google’s policy.

Premium Windows Live Mail accounts will not have to worry about expiration, and will not see ads, either. Premium Hotmail accounts still cannot switch to Windows Live Mail, which drives me nuts, especially since Raquel has it and I don’t.

April 24th, 2006 Posted by | General, Hotmail, Live, Mail, MSN, Windows | no comments

Xbox Controller Frankenstein Monster!

Stewart Bradford is one of the rare gamers who really likes the original Xbox controller (“The Duke”). Perhaps he has large hands. As a result, he decided to replace the thumb sticks in the Xbox 360 wireless controller with those from The Duke, and, for good measure, but the 360s sticks in Ol’ Dukey.

Here’s the end result, from Flickr:

Click to view the full photoset
(via Xbox 360 Fanboy)

April 24th, 2006 Posted by | General, Xbox, Xbox 360 | no comments