Microsoft has launched a new website called MSN Green, available at green.msn.com. MSN Green will be a channel for MSN to aggregate news and features on environmental issues from a lot of Microsoft content partners, including articles (from MSNBC, Conservation International, Environmental Defense, Grist.org, TreeHugger.com and Hearst Magazines, among others), plus:
Tools. Interactive tools featured on the channel help inspire people to take a stand on the environment. For example, MSN Green visitors can determine the amount of carbon dioxide their lifestyle produces (the carbon calculator), measure how green they are (the Green-o-meter), gauge their awareness of eco-issues (the Eco-Footprint quiz), and add their name to an online petition to freeze and reduce carbon dioxide emissions (Stop Global Warming Virtual March).
Photos. Galleries of photos culled from around the Web will show, rather than tell, the effects of climate change. Other recurring pictorials will spotlight eco-friendly places to live; how to live a greener lifestyle; and celebrities, politicians and others who are leading the green charge.
Videos. Amateur and professional video clips from MSN Video and partner Web sites will spotlight the environment, climate change and other green topics.
We’ve been hotly anticipating the first public closed beta of codename “Gatineau”, Microsoft in-development website analytics service, and it’s finally here. Invites went out yesterday, and you might already have them.
I’ve be reviewing it right now, instead of just telling you about it, if the invites weren’t tied specifically to the Passport from which you first requested it from, and some screw-up resulted in mine going to the wrong Passport. I’ve got my regular Hotmail, plus one for my business email, and my AdCenter account is part of my business account, but the invite went to my Hotmail account, and now Adcenter won’t accept it. Maybe somebody wants to fix this for me?
Anyway, check out screenshots by Ian Thomas, along with a lot details.
Hulu, the News Corp/NBC video content distribution network, has launched, and with it come deals with other websites, including AOL and MSN Video. MSN TV has a Hulu channel, featuring some full length TV show episodes and movies, including 30 Rock, Weekend at Bernie’s, Back To You and such. I’d give a full list if MSN Video worked in any browser I own (including Internet Explorer), but since I can’t, check it out for yourself and let me know how it works out.
(via Jordan McCollum)
SharedView, Microsoft’s screen sharing/collaboration software, has a new beta 2, available, of all places, at Windows Live. Apparently, Microsoft wants users to connect SharedView with office document collaborative work and as a Google Docs competitor, so they’ve positioned it at get.live.com. Beta 2 offers up to 15 people connecting with you and viewing your screen and communication between all parties, with improvements in chatting, sign-on and performance.
Get it from here.
Halo players, there’s a special treat for you today in honor of Halloween. A new game type, called Infection, is available only today on Xbox Live through 3 am. In Infection, players are either humans or zombies, and whenever a human is killed, he becomes a member of the Zombie team. Check it out, because they’re not sure when or if they’ll bring it back (and it counts as a ranked game).
There’s even a variant where the zombies are a bit slower, but invisible, and another where the humans have very limited ammo and are destined to fail under the zombie onslaught.
The Virtual Earth blog lists ten cool things about the new Windows Live Maps. They include buildings in the 3D mode that turn see-through when you get to close (and send vibration to your Xbox 360 controller if you’re using it).
Also: When you search an area, it gives you a list of popular business categories in that area, sort of letting you just browse the stores.
Also: “Ghost node editing”, which lets you re-drag line segments to reshape polygons you draw on the map (a feature they admit was inspired by Google Maps).
Also: Traffic conditions now show green for good roads, yellow and red for progressively worse traffic, and a new black color for severe conditions under which the cars aren’t moving at all.
Also: Business details that are category specific, like the number of patients seen by a doctor, the price range and class of a hotel, and the average meal price at a restaurant.
Also: KML files are now available for subscribing to Live Maps Collections. KML is the Google Earth format for impormatting map data, so Live Maps is letting you get your data out and bring it to Google Earth, while Google Maps/Earth is keeping everything inside.
There’s so much interesting stuff going on at the Live Maps blog, I had to subscribe to it.
Adam Kinney has created an Xbox Live Gamer Tag Gadget, which lets you enter a bunch of Gamer Tags and see who’s online, and click one to see what games their playing and other stats. It’s a fairly useful and well-designed Gadget, but what makes it so good is that the whole thing is built on Silverlight. So, now that we know Silverlight Gadgets work, and work well, imagine how much cooler-looking Gadgets we could be getting in the future.
There’s a demo of it on Channel 9, and you can download it at this link. Make sure you have Silverlight 1.0 installed.
With the new Zune Marketplace, users will gain the ability to subscribe to a podcast with a single click, provided a special link is used. If you have a podcast RSS feed, just link to it using this sort of link:
Replace that last part with the URL of your feed, and any user with the software installed can click it to subscribe in their Zune software, even if the podcast isn’t in the Zune Marketplace. If they don’t have it installed, they’ll be prompted to do so, and once they’ve subscribed they’ll get regular episodes automatically downloaded and ready on their Zunes.
If you need an image (or so-called chicklet button) to point to the feed, here’s the official one (and it’s on Flickr, so hotlinking is cool):
Windows Live Gallery, where you get Windows Vista Sidebar Gadgets, Live Messenger Emoticons, Winks and Display Pictures, Live.com Gadgets, and SideShow Gadgets, is now letting creators sell their downloads using Microsoft Points. The new ability to charge money will encourage developers to make more Gadgets and other content, and the use of Microsoft Points means Xbox Live and Zune owners have another place to spend their credits.
The site has also been updated to the new Windows Live Wave 2 interface design. LiveSide has screenshots.
The Doritos contest to have fans design a free Xbox Live Arcade game has reached its final stage, and the five finalist games are available online to play right now. You have to install the “3D Life Player” browser plugin to run them, but if you do, you’ll be able to vote on your favorite, with the winner being turned into a full-fledged Live Arcade title this summer (and the online versions will remain available. The five games are:
- â€œDoritos Dash of Destructionâ€ by Mike Borland of Sewickley, PA
In â€œDoritos Dash of Destruction,â€ players can choose to control one of two characters. Either a hungry T-Rex chasing a delivery truck loaded with crunchy Doritos tortilla chips or the delivery truck driver, racing to escape the clutches of the T-Rex. As the chase begins havoc ensues as the lumbering dino barrels through the completely destructible city resulting in an intense game of cat-and-mouse.
- â€œDoritos Presents UDC: Ultimate Dodgeball Championsâ€ by Devan Moore of Panama City, FL
In this futuristic dodgeball game, inspired by Devanâ€™s favorite childhood game and the intensity of Doritos, players start by creating a customized team from a handful of colorful characters. Then, using special â€œpower upâ€ features to create fire balls, teams go at it in futuristic stadiums and compete for ultimate dodgeball dominance.
- 3. â€œMonkeys from Mt. Doritosâ€ by Juanito Lagasco, of Algonquin, IL
In this quick-play, high-fun, retro-style game, one or more people play as monkeys that collect Doritos chips exploding out of Mt. Doritos. The more Doritos players collect, the more points they earn and the closer they get to winning. But, watch out as fellow monkeys and lurking monsters want to steal your prized Doritos chips.
- â€œPBâ€™s Quest for Flavorâ€ by Jeremy Mattsen of Colorado Springs, CO
In â€œPBâ€™s Quest for Flavor,â€ PB – the gameâ€™s pill bug hero – goes on his quest for the perfect chip flavor. Throughout the game, favorite Doritos flavors are introduced as weapons giving PB unique abilities. With the strength and power of Doritos, players guide PB through a household of obstacles and enemies to successfully complete his quest.
- â€œRythum Racingâ€ by Kenneth Parker of Warner Robins, GA
In this original racing game, players turn up the volume in game play as they import song files and use music to â€œdriveâ€ the game. Players race around the equalizer race track, where sounds, beats and rhythms will alter the track. Deep bass sounds for example might cause the race track to ripple, throwing the race cars up in the air while other elements of the music generate power-ups.
Voting runs through November 18, so get in there now and pick which game you’d like to be playing in the future.
Microsoft put up a Flash site running you through a house that’s been all tricked out, thanks to Windows Home Server. The house has an HP MediaSmart Home Server, home automation control on the living room lamp, backup for all its photos, streaming to an Xbox 360 and a wifi synced Zune keeping the boombox fresh with new music. There are videos and simple explanations of all the Home Server advantages, so check it out.
(via the Home Server blog)
There’s another application you can download to mess with system settings on Windows Vista, and this one’s a free download. VistaTweaker is light on the graphical flash, but it has seven tabs of checkboxes to keep you satisfied. You can use it to:
- Disable User Account Control
- Disable the Secure Desktop or Security Center notifications
- Enable unsigned drivers
- Add context (right-click) menu listings, like Register/Unregister DLLs or ActiveX Controls, Copy/Move to Folder, Open with Notepad and Take Ownership
- Disable AutoReboot
- Disable AutoComplete in file dialogs
- Show hidden/system files and file extensions
- Disable file Tooltips
- Remove the Shortcut arrow or the “Shortcut to” text from icons
- Disable Start Menu notifications for newly installed programs
- Hide Recent Documents
- Speed up Start Menu search*
- Enable ClearType
- Enable Classic View in the Control Panel
- Disable auto image resizing in Internet Explorer
- Disable all browser extensions
- Enable smooth scrolling
- Disable header/footer printing when printing web pages
- Open all popups in the same window
- Disable the Information Bar
- Disable the Internet Connection Wizard
- Disable the RSS feed discovery sound
- Disable header/footer printing when printing from Notepad
- Disable updates for Windows Media Player
- Disable Roaming Cache
- Allow more connections per server
- Disable low disk space checking
- Disable the creation of 8+3 filenames
- Tweak the timeout for killing a service or an application
- Change the registered owner or company
- Set the default user, password and domain
There are a lot more settings I left out, and while a lot of them are settings you already know how to change, you might appreciate having them all in one place, instead of having to locate the appropriate control panel, plus it can be run off a flash drive (even U3). You can download the latest version here.
(via Download Squad)
* – I don’t know how exactly it accomplishes this, so I’d worry that it reduces the effectiveness of Vista search in order to speed it up
Microsoft’s PhotoBlog did this screencast, showing off the photo navigation and sorting options that Windows Live Photo Gallery brings to the table.
Video: gallery organization
Windows Live Search has released a new version of their first class Windows Mobile application, adding some killer new features.
The big one: Voice recognition. When you need to select a location on the map, instead of typing it in or browsing to it on the map, you can hit a Speak button and just tell it where to go. That means that when you need driving directions, when you want to find movie showtimes, or if you just need to browse the map, you can just say the name of the neighborhood you are in and get it, just like that.
I went to the Nightmare: Ghost Stories haunted house in Manhattan yesterday, and afterwards we needed to drop off a friend at the subway. I told my phone where I was, and it brought up the satellite map, complete with local subway locations. Then I clicked the Movies button, and we got showtimes for Saw IV in the area. When we decided to see the movie back in Queens, I just told the phone to look there, and it did.
Honestly, nothing compares to how good this is. If you’re using Google Maps on your phone and you can switch to this, you’d be crazy not to. The voice control is so easy, and accurate enough on a Manhattan street, that there’s no reason to use anything else.
The other new feature: Gas prices.
Hit the Gas Prices button on the home screen, and it’ll search for all the local gas prices, then list them according to the lowest prices. You can get more details, or hit a Map All button to see all the gas stations on a map, so you aren’t driving for forty minutes to save three cents a gallon.
Get the new version at wls.live.com.
If you have a Blackberry, there’s a new Blackberry Live Search application. It doesn’t have the voice search or gas prices, but it does have all the regular local search, mapping, movie showtimes, and traffic information. It’s also available at wls.live.com.
They’ve also improved the browser-based Live Maps, available at m.live.com. It now includes better, more readable maps, traffic conditions (that are taken into account in the driving directions).
There are two videos about the new Live Search mobile application, the first being a two-minute rundown, the other an eight-minute more detailed overview, both available at Rob Chambers’ blog. I’d embed them here, but Soapbox doesn’t work in my regular browser, and IE seems convinced that Flash player isn’t installed.
Got an email letting me know of some new features for Microsoft’s AdCenter, Microsoft’s one-stop service for buying online advertising. The new features:
This weekend, Microsoft adCenter will upgrade with new features. You’ll see improvements to the editorial review of your ads, increased reporting capabilities, and new campaign management features.
ï‚§ Instant editorial feedback on your ads and keywords during the creation process.
ï‚§ Receive one editorial e-mail per account per day for your newly disapproved ads or keywords with consolidated e-mail notifications.
ï‚§ Improved speed means your campaign updates can go live faster.
ï‚§ Intuitive reporting functionalities allow you to easily analyze and optimize your reports with interactive filtering, sorting, and graphs.
ï‚§ Flexible budgeting for your campaigns. Now you can set a daily budget target with a maximum spend per month.
ï‚§ Substitute default dynamic text to be used if your inserted keyword or placeholders cause the ad to exceed the maximum character limit.
Read our adCenter Feature Release Guide to learn how to use all of the new features from this upgrade. You can also visit our adCenter Blog for detailed feature reviews.
If you have any questions, please contact our adCenter Support Team.
The Microsoft adCenter Team
The editorial feedback lets you know if there’s a problem with your ads, such as you forgetting to fill in something, getting the length of the ad copy wrong, poorly formatted URLs, that sort of thing. Read more about the upgrade, with screenshots, at the AdCenter blog. You can also read the nine-page PDF explaining all the new features. The dynamic text, which lets you define parameters that can be inserted and changed within ad text, looks particularly useful.
This deal is Europe only, but if you help Microsoft sell an Xbox 360, you can get ten free Xbox Live Arcade games. Convince a friend to buy a new Xbox 360 between November 1 and January 31 of next year, fill out a coupon and send it with a receipt, and both you and the friend get ten free Live Arcade games to download. The games are:
- Sensible World of Soccer
- Sonic the Hedgehog
- Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting
- Bomberman LIVE
- Marble Blast Ultra
- Spyglass Board Games
- Small Arms
- 3D Ultra MiniGolf Adventures
- Assault Heroes
- Zuma Deluxe
The Windows Home Server blog discovered a nice bonus when one of their guys hooked up a new DirecTV high definition DVR set-top box: The boxes stream music and photos from Windows Home Server. If you’ve got a DirecTV HR-20 box and a Home Server hooked up to your home network, a new beta service developed with Intel will stream to your TV from the Home Server, and possibly from any Windows Media Connect-compatible client.
While it isn’t as good as a Media Center Extender, it is an easy way to get some extra streaming hardware if you are already a regular DirecTV customer. If enough products people are getting for other reasons work, with no effort on the user’s part, with Home Server, then Home Server becomes a lot more valuable.
There are four posts at Resource Shelf, chock full of domains registered by or transferred to Microsoft, that you might be interested in.
Post #1 contains such gems as Empowerforisvsenroll.com, extendersformediacenter.com (Microsoft just keeps buying Media Center Extender domains), healthvault-int.com (for the recently launched Health Vault), Directmusic.org, mom-live.com (because of Real Live Moms), secure-hotmail.com, windows-vista.net and windowsvista-forum.com.
The second post has so many domains, they’re on a seperate page. They include lots of “hyper-v”-related domains, whatever that is, including hyper-vclub, hyper-vdownload, hyper-vstore. I’m seeing a bunch of sites speculating as to what hyper-v is, and why Microsoft needed to buy up tens of domains containing the term. If you’ve got a clue, let me know. I’m anticipating Microsoft launching a new brand of some sort under the Hyper-V name.
The third post contains 3DMaptour.com (related to new Live Maps features), Cycle-on.org, Innovateonmobile.com (gotta compete with that iPhone), Antispymobile.com (could a mobile device antispyware tool be coming?) and Visualbasicsucks.com.
And, finally, the fourth post contains Findmediacenter.com, Federatedidentity.net, Journeyzune.org, Vboxlab.com and Msglobalexpo.com (Microsoft Expo? I’m in!).