InsideMicrosoft

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Live Search 2.0 Screenshots At LiveSide

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LiveSide has two screenshots of what Windows Live Search 2.0 look like. Nothing revelatory there, just the movement of tabs to above the search box, lighter color scheme, new tab for video, and the new links to important pages inside websites in the search results. Check out there for the other picture and a comparison.

September 10th, 2007 Posted by | Live, Search, Windows | 2 comments



Microsoft AdCenter Labs Gives Demographic Data On Websites

adcenter-labs-stats-for-digg.pngI finally looked through Microsoft’s AdCenter Labs, a great website which shows you, to the best of their knowledge and research, the demographic data on various websites (perfect for deciding where to advertise). The information there is interesting as well as useful.

For example, Digg, a website Microsoft knows well about since it is an ad partner, has an audience that is 83% male (shocker!) and 27% of users are 25-34, with almost 2/3 of the total under the age of 34.

Meanwhile, this website is a little better. 64% of you are male, which for a tech site is probably a good distribution (more women than Microsoft Watch, Google Blogoscoped, Engadget, a little less than TechCrunch or Boing Boing, tied with LiveSide). Interestingly, InsideMicrosoft is 71% male and 29% female, while InsideGoogle is more balanced at 59/41%.

27.2% of you are 25-34 years old, another 26.8% are 18-24 and 23% are 34-49. That means that the readers of this blog are a pretty well distributed cross-section of the tech industry, unlike some blogs where the majority of readers are in a single age group, or where half the readers are still in high school. 9.8% of you are below the age of 18, but the younger readers I’ve spoken to seem pretty smart, so I’m calling that a good thing, too. 13.2% are over 50.

Ask.com is 68% female. Wow! Good for them, attracting a tough-to-reach audience.
(via Digg)

September 10th, 2007 Posted by | Advertising | no comments

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Flight Simulator X: Acceleration Pack Coming

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Gametap has details on Microsoft Flight Simulator X: Acceleration, the first expansion pack for the latest entry in Microsoft’s Flight Simulator series. Acceleration adds more mission-based play, including rescues, cargo delivery, dangerous landings, and even the legendary Vomit Comet. There are even some additions that go more towards fun and away from the game’s typical audience, including fighter jets, UFO interception missions (ripped off from the final scene of Independence Day), aircraft carrier landings, plus single- and multi-player races.

The goal of the expansion is to open Flight Simulator to a different audience. While core fans of the game come for the accurate and detailed simulation, the expansion brings it more into videogame territory in order to appeal to a more casual audience, and the results look great. Hardcore sim fans don’t need to worry about their simulation being overshadowed, and casual fans have a nice reason to pick it up.

Here’s the trailer for the Flight Simulator X: Acceleration:

Expect to see Acceleration in stores sometime this fall.

Sebastien St-Laurent says that Microsoft’s implemented some performance enhancements with this release, and that those who don’t buy the expansion pack will receive those updates for free as a service pack.

Also, looks like fans of the series are gathering on one of my posts from two months back, all showing support for Flight Simulator coming to the Xbox 360. Go there and join the discussion.

September 10th, 2007 Posted by | Games For Windows, Windows | one comment

Dave Cutler Wins First Bill Gates Award

Another report from Microsoft’s annual company meeting says that outgoing Microsoft boss Bill Gates unveiled a new award, The Bill Gates Award, which will be given yearly to the Microsoft employee who has made the absolute highest contribution to Microsoft. The award will only be given to candidates who truly deserve it, and thus will not be given if a suitable winner can be chosen. Bill Gates has said that he will return and personally present the award whenever it is given.

The first recipient of the award was Dave Cutler, who earlier this year won the TCN award, which used to be the top award. Cutler has been instrumental in the development of Windows NT, Windows XP 64-bit, Windows Server 2003 SP1 64 and Windows Vista, and he currently works on Windows Live.

September 10th, 2007 Posted by | Corporate | no comments

Xbox 360 Looking Inferior On Rock Band Bundle

Rock Band, quickly becoming one of the hottest games of the year, is looking more like a sore spot for the Xbox 360. Rock Band’s developer Harmonix’s CEO Alex Rigopulos confirmed months of speculation that, indeed, the 360 bundle of Rock Band will contain a wired guitar, while the PS3 version will, for the exact same price, have a wireless guitar.

Rock Band is the spiritual successor to Guitar Hero, developed by the same people and using the same rhythm-based gameplay on unique, musicalinstrument-shaped controllers. The Xbox 360′s wireless technology is proprietary, and Microsoft has been loath to allow other companies to use it, but the finally folded and allowed Harmonix to license it, at a cost.

As a result, the standalone wireless guitar for Rock Band on the 360 will cost twenty dollars more than the same peripheral on the PS3 ($80 vs $60). What’s worse, the full game experience can only be had by buying the full bundle, containing a guitar, drum set and microphone, which costs $200, but the PS3 version will have a wireless guitar, while identically priced 360 version will not. There will be no bundle with a wireless guitar for the 360.

By itself, the game costs $60, the wired guitar $60, the drums $80 and the microphone $30. The entire standalone set will set you back $230, and adding a wireless guitar will make it $250. Buying the game and a wireless guitar, but none of the other peripherals, would be $140. As you can see, there is no financially sensible way to get Rock Band with a wireless controller and all the other peripherals, which is quite a shame.

What’s the point of all this? One of the hottest games of the year is coming out, and because of licensing issues, gamers on the Xbox 360 will be getting an inferior version compared to PS3 owners. The console war is all about differentiation, exclusives, and hit games, and on such a high profile game, to give 360 gamers an inferior version is a quick way to lose a few fans to the competition. Anyone who has $200 to blow on a single game can afford to go PS3 instead of 360, and that’s not the direction Microsoft should be pushing them.

Microsoft needs to bite the bullet and drop the licensing fee on the bundle, at least for the first few months. Take your $20 cut on the standalone guitar and leave the bigger bundle alone for now, since you are ruining your unit pricing versus the competition. There’s no reason Sony should get to win this battle, not when the fix is so easy.

And Harmonix: Stop being an idiot about this. If you are going to charge $20 more for a wireless standalone guitar, charge $20 more for a wireless bundle. Making gamers buy all the peripherals for $250, when it should be $220, just makes you look like morons who can’t do the math. Suck it and add an SKU.

September 10th, 2007 Posted by | General, Sony, Xbox, Xbox 360 | 2 comments

A Great Software Development Story

Google had a tech talk recently where Ron Avitzur explained how he and Greg Robbins built Graphing Calculator 1.0 at Apple in the early 90s, after they no longer worked for Apple. It’s a fascinating and funny story, you just need some patience to sit through all 54 minutes of it. It’s worth it.

(via Adnan)

September 10th, 2007 Posted by | Apple, Developers | no comments



Wow, The Smartphone Market Is Surprising

Take a look at this chart from Symbian showing the worldwide smartphone market:

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Now, like any smart company, they’ve probably massaged the numbers to make them look as positive as possible, but I’m a bit shocked at how different the U.S. market is from the rest of the world. Two things to take away from it:

  • Now I understand why I know nothing about the Symbian operating system: Nobody has it!
  • I wouldn’t be surprised if other markets have very different definitions of what a smart phone is. In other countries, like Japan, it might mean a phone that can do a million different things, more of a consumer smart phone than a business one. I wonder, if we divided the smart phone market into business and consumer segments we’d see a very different chart.

Either way, we’d probably have to assume that Microsoft has a real long way to go outside the U.S. before Windows Mobile can be considered an international success. At least its doing real well here. I’m surprised a bit by the big purple block for Apple after just three months.

September 10th, 2007 Posted by | Apple, Windows Mobile | 2 comments