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Amazon A9 / Alexa Using Windows Live

Alexa, the oft-used but never trusted web stats site has switched over its search engine from Google to Windows Live, proudly displaying the new “powered by Windows Live” logo on search results pages. That probably makes it the first major syndicated search deal for Live, but certainly not the last. I wonder how many queries Alexa serves in a given month.

In a smart idea, Alexa serves thumbnails of the first three search results, mashing up their data with Live’s search. Interestingly, Alexa’s home page lists as their number one gaining site on the net.

(Found on Findory)

UPDATE: Turns out it is more than just Alexa that has switched to Windows Live; Amazon’s A9 search engine has done it, too. Now that is a little more significant, that Amazon has chosen Microsoft over Google. I suspect it has more to do with hurting Google than preferring Windows Live.

April 30th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Search, Windows, Live | 2 comments

Windows Live Shopping

Microsoft has launched Windows Live Shopping. It has some fairly cool features, like that when you hover over a thumbnail, card appears with addition information.

The product search has the same detail sliders other Live products have, letting you switch between text search results, text search with images, and image thmbnail search with detailed text. You can sort by relevance, popularity, price and star ratings.

One thing that might annoy at first is that when a page is loading information, it goes grayish and has a loading box, but I think you get used to it.

On the front page, you might notice a bunch of links about clothing trends and advice. This stuff is actually located at, where guides give you shopping advice in various subjects, even iPod accessories.

There are still things it is missing, like further options to drill down products (like, when you search for hard drives, being able to filter by type or storage space). Also, the site only works in Internet Explorer (and if you are using another browser, like Opera, it says “Windows Live Shopping Beta does not yet support Firefox.”, oddly enough).
(via LiveSide)

April 28th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Windows, Live | no comments

Internet Explorer Wii

Does Nintendo’s Wii have anything to do with Internet Explorer? No, of course not, but this Digg poster is accusing Nintendo of ripping off Microsoft with it’s new console name. Personally, I think Nintendo is ripping off something I left behind in a bathroom last week, but I’m posting this for two reasons:

  • Wii is the number two search on Technorati
  • This video is hilarious

If you like Firefox, I hope you’re pleased:

Am I the only person who thinks of Steve Oedekerk while watching this? Yeah? Thought so.

April 28th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Applications, Humor, Internet Explorer, Firefox | no comments

MSN Video To Stream the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Microsoft has announced that MSN Video will stream the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival this Sunday, April 30 from 3-8 pm Eastern. It will feature performances by Bruce Springsteen, The Dave Matthews Band, Dr. John, Keb’ Mo’, Elvis Costello, Herbie Hancock, Allen Toussaint, Galactic, the subdudes, Sonny Landreth, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and “special guests”.

MSN Video will offer an exclusive live Internet stream of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival performances this Sunday, April 30, from 3 to 8 p.m. EDT at However, starting April 28, MSN is also offering interactive artist downloads and photos, interviews, original feature stories, news, playlists, New Orleans travel guides, and other dynamic content from the festival, bringing to life the next generation of online entertainment. MSN will donate all advertising proceeds from the show to New Orleans Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. The second installment of the festival will be streamed live on MSN beginning the following weekend, May 7, 2006.

April 28th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, MSN | no comments

The Countdown To E3

GameSpot’s running a countdown and preview to the big E3 show, where we’ll all make big declarations that have nothing to do with reality. Speculation rocks!

Here’s their timer:

E3 is May 10-12 in L.A. (next year, maybe I’ll go) and the big talk will be the Nintendo Wii (pronounced We, and formerly known as the Revolution, and now saddled with the shittyist product name in console history) and the Playstation 3, the two new consoles expected to hit stores at the end of the year.

Because Microsoft isn’t doing anything as big, it is expected to try to get buzz with lots of smaller announcements designed to show the Xbox 360 as the platform that is already here, including releasing a camera accessory, DirecTV support, and show off some killer games.

The entire future of the video game industry is on the line. Anytime a new console generation happens, there is a chance of a terrible flop, and this is no exception. While the Xbox 360 is proving to be an excellent product, it hasn’t had the chance to be successful, since Microsoft hasn’t shipped enough units. We don’t know yet how it’ll do long-term. Meanwhile, there are a million reasons the PlayStation 3 could be a disaster, and just as many reasons it might crush the 360.

If the PS3 and 360 flop, the games industry compresses. Big budget studios will lose a lot of money, and the Nintendo Revolution will be the model for the future: Cheaper consoles, cheaper games and cheaper game development. Also, it could mean the end of the more mature games we’ve enjoyed the last few years, the ones that made it okay for adults to be hardcore gamers.

This E3 is going to be the most important one since the last big console change. Don’t kid yourself, the games industry has collapsed before, and even though it is very profitable at the moment, it is in a perilous position. If it compresses, Nintendo may win, but the mass-market loses, and a lot of people lose their jobs. I’d rather see Sony crush Microsoft than see that happen.

Still, I’m rooting for Microsoft.

April 28th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Xbox, Xbox 360 | no comments

Vista’s Aero Glass Inside Applications

Tim Sneath explains to application developers how they can build applications that use Aero Glass inside the client area. By default, Windows Vista applications use the semi-transparent Glass as a rim surrounding programs, and for the title bar, but apps can access the DwmExtendFrameIntoClientArea to use Glass inside of the application.

We’ll have to wait and see if developers make heavy use of Glass in the future. If they do, there’s no doubt that some people are going to overuse it and create butt-ugly applications, but it is possible that we’ll see some cool uses of the technology. In particular, I’ll bet Google could make good use of Glass, since it encourages clean, white-space interfaces, although there’s a decent chance they don’t want to make Vista look any better than they have to.

Anyone want to hack up what a cool use of Glass would be? What applications would look better with Glass, I wonder…

April 27th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Windows, Vista | no comments

18,888 Xbox 360’s Sold Per Day

Todd Bishop says that Microsoft announced in its earnings call that they sold 1.7 million Xbox 360 consoles in the third quarter, which comes out to around 18,888 per day, or 132,222 a week. It almost seems, kind of low, especially since Sony plans to sell 6 million units the first 4-5 months (or 39,735 a day, or 278,145 per week).

Now, Sony will never sell as many as they say they will, if only because they will suffer from shortages just as badly as Microsoft did. However, Microsoft has now sold 3.2 million consoles from November 22-March 31, or (here come the stupid numbers again) 24,615 a day, or 172,307 a week, and expects to sell 1.8-2.3 million by the end of June. That’s (last time, I swear) 19,780-25,274 a day, or 138,461-176,923 a week.

The point of this is that Microsoft is expecting that when it starts putting more consoles in stores, it’ll sell more of them, and that the huge demand hasn’t been exhausted. See, they launched at 37k a day, dropped to 19k the last three months, and expect to sell 20-25k a day the next three months. Microsoft will be getting more consoles into stores, and I guess they expect to sell all of them.

Eh, my analysis stinks tonight. I’m trying to make a point here. Does anyone actually get it?

April 27th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Xbox, Xbox 360 | no comments

Microsoft Misses Earnings Estimates

Microsoft reported earnings today, announcing third-quarter revenues of $10.9 billion, resulting in earnings per share of 31 cents. Net income was just under $3 billion.

Going division by division, the Home and Entertainment Division (Xbox) saw a $388 million loss, in spite of an 80% growth in sales. MSN lost $26 million, its first unprofitable quarter in a while, due to increased investment in the division. Mobile and Embedded Devices saw a $14 million loss, up five million from three months ago.

Three Months Ended
March 31,
Nine Months Ended
March 31,
Operating Income / (Loss) 2006 2005
2006 2005


Client $2,478 $2,346

$7,699 $7,281

Server and Tools 1,068 822

3,074 2,477

Information Worker 2,087 2,029

6,135 6,014

Microsoft Business Solutions (13) (39)

(14) (87)

MSN (26) 102

113 311

Mobile and Embedded Devices (14) (9)

4 (50)

Home and Entertainment (388) (175)

(848) (284)

Other (1,304) (1,747)

(3,572) (4,090)

Total operating income

$3,888 $3,329

$12,591 $11,572

Todd Bishop reports:

The company also gave its first glimpse of expectations for the upcoming fiscal year, saying it’s looking for revenue of $49.5 billion to $50.5 billion, which would represent slightly more than 13 percent growth, compared with the 11 percent growth that’s expected for the current fiscal year.

Analysts had expected about four cents more earnings per share, which means that the stock is taking a hit in after-hours trading. MSFT is down $1.72, or 6.31%.

April 27th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Corporate | no comments

Windows Live Signing Up Colleges By The Truckload

Microsoft has been busy, signing up colleges to use their Windows Live @ edu. A lot of colleges. According to BetaNews, 72 colleges have already signed up, and more than 200 are discussing the option. Students at participating schools get an email address at their university’s domain, while using Windows Live Mail’s interface.

The goal: establish loyalty, since many colleges require students use their college email for class announcements. Since Live Mail’s interface is easier to use than the 90s era antiques at a bunch of institutions, that could make for a lot of grateful students. While at school, ads are not shown, although they might be turned on following graduation.

Since the email addresses are valid Windows Live logins, they work on any website with a Passport/Live ID login, and Microsoft hopes students, after being forced to use the addresses, will continue to use them for Messenger, Spaces, and all the other Windows Live services.

Who has signed up already? The Microsoft press release mentions Glasgow Caledonian University, Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, and the University of Texas Pan America. If you know of a school participating, feel free to drop a line below.
(via Ars > Digg)

April 27th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Windows, Messenger, Live, Mail | no comments

Windows OneCare: Free Perpetual Beta

Time is running out; just four days left to snag a year of Microsoft’s excellent Windows Live OneCare security software for just twenty bucks. However, some lucky folks, mostly those who got in while it was a mostly closed beta, are getting OneCare for free as a “perpetual beta”. The lucky ones get new OneCare features early in a testing phase, becoming guinea pigs for tested but unproven code in exchange for the free software.

The number of people in this program should be less than 1 percent of users, according to a story at ZDNet. Currently, about 170,000 are testing OneCare. I’ve got my beta invite, and, depending on NDA, will try to bring coverage of the developments as OneCare evolves and matures.
(via Bink)

April 27th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Security, Windows, Live, OneCare | no comments

Datel’s Cheaper Xbox 360 Accessories

Datel has been coming out with a whole line of Xbox 360 accessories, all of which are cheaper than the comporable “official” products or add features

There’s the just announced Datel Play & Charge Kit, which costs $15 ($5 cheaper) and has a 30 hour battery (5 hours longer), as well as the new $10 headset adapter, which lets you use any headset with your 360.

Also, they’ve got a Bluetooth headset and adapter for $105, a four-gig USB hard drive for $135, a hard drive to pc connector for $40, and a memory card transfer kit for $15.

April 27th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Xbox, Xbox 360 | no comments

New Channel 9 Park: Browser Wars

A new edition of Jamie’s Channel 9 Park, called “Browser Wars: A New (IE) Hope” is online. In it, a young Mini Skywalker battles to save user experience against IE7 - The Death Browser, battling along Han Scoble and against the forces of Darth Ballmer. Beware the power of proprietary side! It leads to pain, and suffering…
(via Scoble)

April 27th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Applications, Humor, Internet Explorer, Corporate | no comments

How To Disable Windows Piracy Warnings

The latest update to Windows Genuine Advantage brings to U.S. users popups messages designed to annoy users who have installed pirated versions of Windows. Now, while I don’t condone stealing Windows, I do understand that there are rare occasions were a person might need to do it, and, more importantly, that there are people who want to know how to disable these popups whether or not I agree with them.

What I am saying is, even if I think you are doing the wrong thing, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t report that there are already websites explaining how to disable the messages. One person wrote a Digg that explains the whole process, which involves renaming two system files. However, a poster at Broadband Reports says that if any of the files are modified, Windows Update will restore the files. You know what they’re calling it? Genuine Advantage Notification, or NAG in reverse.

TechNewsWorld has an interesting quote:

“A recent IDC/BSA study showed that if the piracy rate were to drop to 25 percent, it would create as many as 2.4 million new jobs, $400 billion in economic growth and $67 billion in tax revenues worldwide,” Neil MacBride, vice president of legal affairs at Business Software Alliance, told TechNewsWorld.

April 27th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Security, Windows, XP | no comments

Microsoft Deals For $700 Million Chinese Investment

Microsoft has made a deal to buy $700 million worth of electronics hardware from China over the next five years. They also agreed to invest an additional $200 million in Chinese software firms. It appears that this might the be the opposite half of a recently announced deal where China-based Lenovo would buy $1.2 billion worth of the Windows OS in the next year, and the Chinese goverment would step up antipiracy efforts.

April 26th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Windows | no comments

UNO To Support Xbox 360 Camera

PlayFeed has video taken off their Xbox 360 debug kit showing that UNO, the Xbox Live Arcade game that is expected soon, has a menu section for “Camera Settings”, making it the first game that is known to support the camera. While the menu does not show how the camera would be used, it does seem likely that you will be able to see the other people you are playing against.

Which just seems great.

Unless they’re ugly.
(via Xbox 360 Fanboy)

April 26th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox Live | no comments

Multi-User Mode For Remote Desktop

Download Squad shows how you can enable up to 3 users in Remote Desktop in Windows XP. Basically, by using a beta DLL, you can have up to three people logged in on the same computer through remote desktop simultaneously.

April 26th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Windows, XP | no comments

Microsoft Earnings Report Coming

Todd Bishop points out that Microsoft will be releasing its third quarter earnigns report in just over a day. What’s more important, he says, is that MS will also be releasing its fiscal forecast for the coming year, including expected revenues and sales of Windows Vista and Office 2007. They will also likely explain how much the delays of Vista and Office will affect the bottom line.

For the third quarter itself, analysts polled by Thomson Financial expect Microsoft to post quarterly revenue of slightly more than $11 billion, an increase of 15 percent over the company’s revenue in the same quarter last year. For earnings per share, the consensus is 33 cents. That’s at the high end of the guidance issued by Microsoft in January. At the time, the company said it expected third-quarter revenue between $10.9 billion and $11.2 billion.

I’m also interested in hearing how well (or not) the Xbox division did in the last few months. To get the news as it happens, come back here, or visit this page at 5:30 Eastern tomorrow.

April 26th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Corporate | no comments

Microsoft Patent: TV Chat

Microsoft has been issued a patent for “Multimode interactive television chat”. Involved: displaying a combination of television content and internet chat room in a single interface.

The abstract:

A user interface device has a graphical user interface that can simultaneously display a combination of television and Internet content in various display modes. The display modes may have different proportions, positioning or other features of the Internet and television content. A viewer of the user interface device may change display modes, such as by selecting a link available in each of the display modes. The television content being displayed may be a broadcast show and the Internet content may be chat from a chat room corresponding to the television show. Various display modes are provided for displaying the television show and corresponding chat, ranging from maximal television display and minimal chat display to minimal television display and maximal chat display. Changing television channels may initiate a corresponding change in the chat room being participated in and the content being displayed.

Techdirt, where I got the link, seems to like patent-bashing a little too much. Its not a bad idea, but like most Microsoft patents, don’t be so sure we’ll ever see it. Still, who knows? It could be a future feature in Media Center.

April 26th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Windows, Media Center, Vista | 4 comments

Microsoft Buys Massive

Microsoft is acquiring Massive, a company that does in-game advertising. Massive sells a lot of those billboards, vending machines and other types of ads you see in games more and more these days. Cnet’s Daniel Terdiman says:

But by buying Massive, Microsoft is putting itself in a position to cash in both from the sale of games, and from the revenue generated by the inserted ads. This will also allow Microsoft to maintain more control over how the ads are placed and to consider new business models in which it could potentially allow the ads to subsidize lower prices on its game titles.

Joystiq pretty much says the same thing, that Microsoft is creating multiple revenue streams. They have a list of seventeen (17!) revenue streams the Xbox 360 already has, everything from music video distribution to Xbox Live sponsored weekends.

April 26th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox Live | no comments

Who’s Microsoft’s “Great Actor”?

Michael Swanson posts that he’s been working on some sort of project with Microsoft Studios, and that they had a rehearsal Friday with some sort of “well known actor”. He won’t spoil the surprise, but does post a photo with the actor whited out. Check out his blog, then come back here and we’ll try to speculate on who the person is.

The person, judging by height, is either a man, or Geena Davis (:-)). The hair is not neat, which knocks out a lot of people. The text of the post seems to indicate someone both well known and talented. I’m going to guess… Harrison Ford.

What? I got nothing. You try better.

Although, by shape, it looks like Bono. He’s just not an “actor”.

Michael promises an answer in a few weeks, which may or may not have anything to do with E3.

By the way, Michael is the person who got his resume noticed at Microsoft by sending it along with a lifesize cardboard cutout of himself.

April 26th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General | one comment

Microsoft Spins Off Wallop

Microsoft has taken Wallop, its social networking experiment site, and spun it off as a seperate, venture capital funded startup. The new Wallop is led by CEO Karl Jacob, a veteran of both Microsoft and startups, according to Michael Arrington. The startup begins having already received a first round of funding, with Microsoft retaining a minority stake.

The new Wallop, located at (till now, the site has been at is expected to launch this summer.

I think it is great that something Microsoft Research created is being spun off into a new company, but what confuses the hell out of me is why Microsoft has a minority stake. Shouldn’t MS have been considered the first round of funding, given that they built the company? Maybe I’m not understanding the financials involved, but all I want to know is: If Wallop is successful down the road and has an IPO, how much does Microsoft benefit?

It could be a whole new strategy for Microsoft: Let small teams create interesting and risky small websites within the company. If they create something with promise, but of no use to Microsoft as a company, then MS gives them a first round of funding and spins them off as a new company, with the employees who built it running the new firm. If the company goes public, Microsoft cashes in, big time, making the whole thing a very successful venture.

Microsoft’s stock isn’t going anywhere. Maybe it could have a lot of success (with minimal investment) as the next Idealabs? Consider this: In due time, an IPO of could be worth twenty billion dollars.

April 26th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Windows, Corporate, Live | no comments

Microsoft Deals For Phone-To-PC Music Transfers

Microsoft has cut a deal with CoreMedia, which provides DRM for songs purchased by mobile phones, that would allow the songs to be transferred to Windows PCs.

The deal may also lock down content further. According to one carrier, music purchased from its music store may already be shared between a PC and the phone, although the purchase allows two copies of the song to be downloaded, one each to the phone and the PC.

The deal would allow OMA DRM 2.0 protected content to be exported from mobile handsets to the PC and played using Windows Media Player. CoreMedia said it had integrated the Windows Media DRM SDK into its own content protection technology and rights-management technology, enabling the secure handoff of content.

Presumably, Microsoft would rather deal with the company already doing the mobile phone DRM than try to compete with it and convince carriers to support PlaysForSure. Of course, Windows Mobile 5.0 smart phones, for the most part, already accept Microsoft’s DRM to sync songs from a PC.

April 26th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Windows Media, Windows Mobile | no comments

Like Sony, Nintendo Targeting Xbox Live

A little while back, Sony sent around a survey that seemed to ask questions about setting up an Xbox Live-like service. Not long after, they announced they were building one. Now, Nintendo is doing the same damn thing.

Features in the questionaire, according to Joystiq, include:

  • Comparing game stats with your friends and others
  • Uploading screenshots
  • Posting user-made content (art and videos) and rating the content
  • See what your friends are currently playing
  • “Create and/or read blogs linked to the site”
  • Scheduling “play dates” (dates/times to play against friends) … tournaments?
  • Submitting “strategy, tips and tricks to a game-specific forum”
  • Personalizing the homepage

Its pretty obvious that everyone is scared, knowing that Microsoft has created one of the most powerful assets in the next-gen console war. They’re both hoping Xbox Live doesn’t have an insurmountable lead, both in users, polish, features, and customer loyalty.

April 26th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Xbox, Xbox Live | no comments

Monad Command Line Shell Becomes “Power Rangers”… Uh, I Mean “PowerShell”

Microsoft has given its command line interface/scripting language product Monad a brand name. Rather than go the boring, typical Microsoft route and call it “Microsoft Windows .NET Command Management Shell”, they went in the other direction, and didn’t do much better, because they reached that “good brand name area” and kept driving. Monad is now “PowerShell”.

Uh, okay. It doesn’t suck, like most names, but it seems kind of weird. Of course, I don’t know jack about what PowerShell actually does besides being something like DOS, but not as old-fashioned, so maybe the name works. Could have been worse; they could have called it DOS Vista.

The RC1 version of PowerShell is a free download for Windows XP, 2003, Vista and Longhorn Server. Get it for:

Someone already wants bloggers to unite against the PowerShell name.

April 26th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Applications | no comments

The Xbox Rides Away

Xbox sunset.jpg

The end has come.

According to GamePro, Walmart, Target and Best Buy have removed the original Xbox from their online stores, marking an end to mainstream availability of new, packaged, first generation Xbox consoles. Microsoft reportedly stopped manufacturing them when the XBox 360 was released, and supplies have apparently dwindled to the point where the big retailers just don’t have any. GameStop and Amazon still have refurbished consoles, and most stores still sell games and accessories, but it is time to put the Xbox 1 to bed and welcome generation 2.

Ironically (well, not for him; he’s pissed), my brother’s original Xbox broke a few weeks ago, victim of an out of warranty hard drive failure. But we know now what it really was: consolar suicide.
(via Digg)

April 26th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Xbox | no comments

Windows Live: Not MS As Usual

Mary Jo Foley writes that, unlike the rest of Microsoft, people actually like the Windows Live team, and want to work for it. While Google, Yahoo and others are stealing away Microsoft employees, Windows Live has been slowly building its own brain drain, picking up people like Niall Kennedy (formerly Technorati), Steve Berkowitz (Ask), Danny Thorpe (Google), J.J. Allaire (Macromedia), David LaVallee (Sun/Apple), Ronny Kohavi (Amazon), and Bill Zissimopoulos (AOL).

I can’t blame people for jumping to Windows Live. Talk about opportunity: larger budgets, talented people, a requirement to out-innovate some of the best innovators, and a mandate to take risks. I’d kill to work there, and clearly, I’m not the only one by a long shot.

Some other stuff:

Ray Ozzie says in an interview Microsoft is working on Live Drive, huge amounts of online digital data storage. No word on launch, but Michael Arrington says Google Drive won’t hit before 2007, “at best”.

A thread at the Search Engine Watch forums tries to determine what factors rank well in MSN/Windows Live Search. One poster says MSN appears to put a much higher price on content SEO (as much as 50%) than backlinks, unlike Google (85% emphasis on backlinks), which means properly optimized content can win a lot more often without link building. The title tag appears to be very important as well.

April 25th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, MSN, Search, Windows, Corporate, Live | no comments

UNO On Xbox

The Xbox 360 is finally going to have the software that will officially launch the next-gen era!

Or not…

UNO, the colorful card game with the dreaded Draw Four Wild, is coming to Xbox Live Arcade. Xboxyde briefly posted a video of the game taken from their debug unit (which allows journalists to play unreleased games). Expect it to show up within a few weeks on the public Xbox Live. Finally, UNO in all its HD glory!
(via Kotaku)

Also, there are a lot of High Definition game trailers on Xbox Live, and every time Major Nelson mentions one, I feel a little sad that I can’t watch them. Well, no longer! Turns out all the trailers are sitting at, and Keith Combs lists and links to them.

I think the one we all want is the 102.3 megabyte Gears of War trailer.

Also: There is a second free Xbox Live period, this time for an entire week. The occasion? E3. From Monday, May 8 at 8 Eastern, and ends Monday May 15, also at 8. Quite a nice gift, what with Microsoft being the only console company not gearing for a launch this E3.
(via Digg)

Also: VGM has a podcast interview with Aaron Greenberg from the Xbox Live Marketplace. Xbox 360 Fanboy says the interview contains tidbits such as:

  • 50% of 360 owners are on Live
  • More downloads (10 million) than iTunes had at this point.
  • Big update to Live by Spring
  • Possibility: TV content on Live
  • Xbox Live will have a “virtual console”, like the Revolution, where you play old games, and it will hit before the Revolution is in stores
  • Goldeneye is in the works to bring to Xbox Live
  • Considered: Ad-supported free version of Live

Finally: A massive Saint’s Row demo is coming to Xbox Live before the game hits in the third quarter.

April 25th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox Live, Gears of War | no comments

Intel Integrated Graphics To Support DirectX 10

Microsoft is trying to start a mini-revolution in graphics power in PCs with Windows Vista, by releasing an operating system that just doesn’t look as good without decent graphics hardware. However, no matter how much consumers may want the better graphics chips, it depends on the manufacturers to deliver them.

While ATI and Nvidia have long made their money selling powerful GPUs, Intel has for a while released underpowered integrated graphics solutions that are popular for only one reason: they’re cheap. As long as Intel was releasing crap graphics chips that could not be upgraded and cost as much as a pack of cigarettes, they were going to keep ruining the graphics power of new PCs.

While we have no guarantee the next generation of Intel GPUs will pack actual power, we can rejoice in one announcement: their forthcoming G965 chipset will support some advanced DirectX 10 features, like shader model 4.0. Microsoft should be happy that new PCs will at least have something resembling graphics power that they can rely on for the operating system, and last-gen PC games should run better.

Still, it is a crying shame that they think there’s nothing wrong with shorting consumers on graphics. While most people can’t afford the latest, hottest graphics hardware, Intel has been giving them something that can’t do a decent job on most PC games, and I’ve believed that it is that development that has hurt PC game sales more than anything. Intel made a statement that graphics aren’t important, and people have in turn stopped buying things that required graphics power.

While supporting some DirectX 10 features is nice, OEMs like Dell need to realize that a strong gaming industry means a stronger PC industry, as game players buy more hardware, so saving a few bucks in the graphics department isn’t good long-term think.

That’s my theory, at least.

April 25th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Windows, Vista | no comments

Office To Get Genuine Advantage

Microsoft is starting a pilot of Office Genuine Advantage, which, like Windows Genuine Advantage, would validate whether users were running a legal copy of Microsoft Office and Office products. The OGA pilot is starting with Brazilian Portuguese, Czech, Greek, Korean, Simplified Chinese, Russian and Spanish versions of Windows.

They have also expanded a WGA pilot of a notifications system, which warns users via a popup on their desktop, that they are not running Genuine Windows. That pilot expanded yesterday to include the U.S., U.K., Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand.

From Mary Jo Foley:

Microsoft already has in place an Office authentication mechanism, known as the Office Validation Assistant, or OVA. OVA uses an ActiveX control to scan users’ systems to verify that they are running non-pirated copies of Office. Microsoft officials said the company plans eventually to replace OVA with OGA, but did not offer a timetable for doing so.

Microsoft launched the WGA initiative in September 2004. The program is designed to check whether consumer and small-business customers are running legitimately licensed copies of Windows XP.

Users validate by providing Microsoft-requested system information, including their Windows product keys, names of PC manufacturers, and operating system versions, which the Redmond software company uses to determine if customers are running legitimate copies of Windows. Microsoft officials have said that none of this information can be used to identify or contact individual users. Microsoft made the WGA program mandatory last summer.

Oh, if any of my readers are running a pirated version of Windows, and would like to send a screenshot of the nag/notifications, I’d appreciate it. Just send it to the email address below, and I’ll keep your identity private (or not, if that’s your thing).

April 25th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Applications, Windows, Office | no comments

Xbox 360 In Stock At Kmart/Circuit City

Cicuit City has the Xbox 360 Premium system in stock at the actual retail price of $400. Also, Kmart has the Xbox 360 Core system in stock, for sale at the actual retail price of $300. Get it, if you don’t care about Premium.

April 25th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Xbox, Xbox 360 | no comments

Green Button Blog

The Green Button, the premier Windows Media Center community, has started up a new blogging section. Its still in its infancy, but if it draws well on the community website, as well as on Chris Lanier (who’s given me plenty of good things to link to from his excellent blog), then I predict it will be a must read for MCE junkies. Get the feed here.

Also, there’s a book by Michael Miller based on the site, called Creating a Digital Home Entertainment System with Windows Media Center. I’m hoping to review it in the coming weeks.

April 25th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Windows, Media Center | no comments

Pepsi Max British 360 Giveaway

Pepsi Max in the U.K. is running a contest where every 90 minutes through June 11 (and every day from then through July 9). The best part? It encourages the people of England to drink Pepsi Max, a drink deemed too toxic for Americans. Yay.

Okay, maybe not exactly “toxic”, but the FDA won’t approve the main ingredient in Max. I tasted it once a little while back, and it ain’t that great. Supposedly, Pepsi One (also, not that great) is a very similar beverage.
(via Xbox 360 Fanboy)

Lets try throwing in some more random stuff:

Here’s how you can make an Xbox 360 in Photoshop. Why? Same reason you’d want to make a Google logo: to edit it and make ridiculous Photoshops.

Remember the scene in Office Space where they smash a printer? Here’s a spoof of it, with an original Xbox. Don’t worry, there’s a happy ending.

(via Digg)

April 25th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Humor, Xbox, Xbox 360 | no comments

Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 Released

Microsoft has released the full IE7 Beta 2. You can download it here.

There are few cosmetic differences in this version, except that an icon or UI element that has been polished. However, I noticed these new options:

  • When you close a window with multiple tabs, you get the option to open all of those tabs automatically the next time IE7 loads.
  • You can set how often you want to check RSS feeds for updates (15 minutes/30 minutes/1 hour/4 hours/1 day/1 week).
  • You can now switch through tabs in the order they were most recently used via CTRL+TAB, although it needs to be turned on in Options.

Very nice. These are all useful option Opera comes with, and seeing them in IE makes me feel good about this browser.

This version of IE7 is available for more than just Windows XP SP x86 system. It is the first IE7 beta that works on XP x64, Windows Server 2003 SP1 and 2003 ia64.

Some things I noticed in the release notes:

  • You must uninstall the previous betas before installing this one.
  • Do not reinstall Windows after installing IE7. Instead, uninstall IE7, then reinstall Windows, then reinstal IE7.
  • Some 32-bit ActiveX controls won’t run in the 64-bit IE7 versions. Ironically, this means more security, although it also means some websites won’t run.
  • This version of IE7 does not support RSS feeds that run right-to-left, although the final version will
  • You will not be prompted to authenticate on FTP sites, and must authenticate in the URL ( This, also, is expected to be fixed.
  • The MSN 1.02 Toolbar does not work in this IE7. Previous versions of the IE developer toolbar do not work, although the latest version does. In my install, the IE developer toolbar messed up the names of the toolbars in the toolbar selection menu, but otherwise worked just fine.
  • Google Desktop search crashes IE7 when you open a new tab. A workaround (besides disabling active indexing) is to leave the “How to use tabs” page to open with every new tab.
  • Some websites require IE6, even though the work with IE7. Microsoft recommends using the IE6 user agent spoof found here temporarily when visiting those sites.
  • IE7 Beta 2 gets rid of Offline Favorites. Microsoft expects you to use RSS instead.

In the Associated Press article, IE development general manager Dean Hachamovitch says there will be at least one more beta release before IE7 goes gold in the second half of this year. In the IE blog announcement, he says German, Finnish, Arabic, and Japanese versions will be released in the next three weeks.

After installing, you have to reboot. On my first reboot, I got a blue screen of death. On my next reboot, without going into safe mode, everything ran perfectly fine.

The latest Google toolbar and Windows Live toolbar run fine in IE7.

I don’t know if this was previously available, but you can turn off text labels in IE7, reclaiming even more space from the UI in the tab bar.

There’s an IE7 readiness toolkit for web developers to ready their sites for the new browser.

Microsoft is offering free phone support to consumers in North America, Germany and Japan.

Mary Jo Foley has more, including that there is a new website for IE Add-ons.

The Microsoft RSS team blog has a lot of information on the RSS platform, and some useful guides.

April 25th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Applications, Internet Explorer | 3 comments

Next Windows Mobile: “Crossbow”

Microsoft has confirmed that the next version of Windows Mobile is code-named “Crossbow”. Computerworld writes that Crossbow will have strong links with Office 2007 and Exchange 12. It will also feature a mobile version of Office Communicator (the desktop version of the enterprise IM can connect to AIM, MSN and Yahoo IM networks).

Microsoft is hoping to nudge BlackBerry aside on costs and convenience for administrators. Knook estimates an enterprise-deploying mobile e-mail with 20,000 users could save $1.5 million in software purchases alone, plus additional costs on licensing over BlackBerry, he said.

Near the end of 2005, Microsoft held a 16% share in the worldwide mobile operating system market, compared to 63% for Symbian, 10% for Access Co.’s PalmSource, 7% for Research In Motion Ltd.’s BlackBerry and 4.5% for others, including Linux-based ones.

Crossbow should be available to device manufacturers in the last quarter of this year, and should take 6-12 months to deploy. It is the last version to be based on the old Windows CE 4.2 kernel. The next version, “Photon”, will be based on CE 5 (code-named “Yamazaki”).
(via Mobileread > Findory)

A few days ago, a Google cache copy of a Microsoft presentation was found to contain these details of Crossbow and Photon:

“Crossbow” (Q4 ‘06)
- Great mobile messaging
- Advanced Business and Enterprise propositions
- Strengthened phone experience
- Faster, easier application development and distribution
- Q1/Q2 ‘07 Marketing Launch

“Photon” (Q4 ‘07)
- New, Flexible Shell
- Modular Containers
- “Yamazaki” CE kernel
- Q1/Q2 ’08 Marketing Launch

UPDATE: Turns out you won’t need to wait for Crossbow to get Communicator Mobile, since Microsoft went ahead and released it today. Microsoft Office Communicator Mobile is available for free to all Live Communications Server 2005 users with a Client Access License. It requires a Windows Mobile 2003 or 5.0 device with a data connection, and wi-fi is required on Mobile 5.0 to get VoIP on Communicator. Very sweet.

If you don’t have one of the compatible devices, but do have a mobile device with an internet connection and Live Communications Server, you still have the option of using Office Communicator Web Access.
(via Graham Tyler)

April 25th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Windows Mobile | no comments

Second Guessing Microsoft

Some people think Microsoft should have done less, in order to avoid problems later on.

First, Dvorak says Microsoft’s biggest blunder ever was Internet Explorer, which, thanks to lost lawsuits and antitrust cases, has cost Microsoft billions of dollars and forever saddled it with the “monopoly” label.

All of Microsoft’s Internet-era public-relations and legal problems (in some way or another) stem from Internet Explorer. If you were to put together a comprehensive profit-and-loss statement for IE, there would be a zero in the profits column and billions in the losses column—billions.

So, the thinking goes: Microsoft can end the bad will by killing off IE. If Microsoft shipped Windows without IE, and with instead a Microsoft-sponsored version of Firefox or Opera (complete with all the defaults they want), they could get back to the business of making software with actual price tags.

Interesting idea, but I doubt it’d ever happen, or even be considered. There’s too much pride at MS to ever cede a market. Has Microsoft ever outright quit a market they once lead in? I can’t think of one. It would be a strange reversal. Plus, Microsoft doesn’t trust others, and it has no way of knowing that the second it started pre-installing Opera, Google or Yahoo wouldn’t buy the little company and thus own a huge piece of Windows.

The only way Microsoft would ever give up on IE is if it bought Opera, and preinstalled that instead.
(via Download Squad)

Next up, GamerDad says that Microsoft made a mistake by charging too little for the Xbox 360.

Folks who looked at $400 as reasonable might have backed off at $500 or more as a list price, especially those that didn’t already have an Xbox at home but did own a PS2. Essentially, by making the price $400 for the Premium Pack (the “real” 360), it was priced low enough to be mass-market right out of the gate. This one simple fact causes all the problems Microsoft experienced at the holiday and even represents the first big mistake of the transition to new consoles. Microsoft cut the generation short unnecessarily because they undercharged for Xbox 360, hurting both their bottom line and everyone else’s at the same time.

Microsoft could have charged more, a lot more, for the Xbox 360. Consoles were going on eBay for more than twice the purchase price, and even recently, people were buying them for $500. Stores nationwide were packaging the 360 in “bundles” that contained $40 of extra value, yet cost $150 more.

In the future, the supply-and-demand model will go to the next level. When a product is in limited supply, like the 360 was and still is, demand will dictate the price. Microsoft will still set a retail price, but buyers will pay whatever they are willing to pay, eBay-style, to get at the limited units available.

Microsoft will do this with the third version of the Xbox, mark my words. They lost a lot of money to greedy (yet smart) retailers and eBayers. Next time around, expect the first wave of Xbox consoles to be sold almost entirely through an auction process, either to the consumer, or to retailers. Either Microsoft will sell the initial supplies directly through an online service, or they will offer up the consoles to whichever retailer is willing to pay the highest price, which will then pass the costs to the consumer.
(via Kotaku)

April 25th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Applications, Internet Explorer, Xbox, Xbox 360, Corporate | no comments

Windows XP N Selling Like Hotcakes

Spoiled, moldy, roach infested hotcakes.

Guess how many copies of the European version of XP, the one without Windows Media Player, were sold in the year+ since they started offering it?

C’mon, guess! I wish I had a giveaway for this…

The answer:


Out of 35 million copies sold at retail, that number makes up 0.005 percent of all sales. But if you think those numbers are strong, you won’t believe how many OEMs preinstalled XP N:


Yeah, a big fat goose egg.

Microsoft lawyer Jean-Francois Bellis:

As of today no PC maker has shipped a version of XPN … not a single one

The Commission made fundamental errors of fact and reasoning

Francois argued that, since the commission would not have ruled against Microsoft if they had already offered XP N, and no one wants N, then the commission’s ruling was fundamentally flawed. Also argued: Since Apple iTunes and Macromedia Flash are very successful, Microsoft must not be that much of a monopoly in the media player space.

I ask the readers of this blog one very simple question: Does anyone use Windows Media Player that doesn’t like it? Does anyone who thinks iTunes, or Winamp, or RealPlayer, or Media Player Classic is better, do any of those people still use WMP because Microsoft has somehow forced them? Of course not. Plenty of people don’t use Media Player, and those that do, typically like it. People don’t want Real Player for one simple reason:

It sucks.

Microsoft didn’t break the law in beating Real. It just didn’t release a terrible, bloated, ad-ridden product like Real did.
(via Digg)

April 25th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General | no comments


On NPR’s news quiz show Wait Wait—Don’t Tell Me! last night, the host mentioned that Hu Jintao’s first stop in America was to visit Bill Gates, because “he wanted to see how an opaque totalitarian empire really works.” (quoting from memory)

Like I said, ouch. Still, even if you believe Gates the antichrist, if all tyrants were as “evil” as him, there’d be a lot more people alive today.
(at Fourty-Two, via Ed Bott)

April 25th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Humor, Corporate | no comments

Microsoft Loses More Search Market Share has the latest search engine market share rankings from Nielsen/NetRatings, and MSN has lost a lot of market share, falling to 11% from 14%. Granted, Microsoft has only been doing this a year, and they’ve been shifting traffic between and, but they still can’t be happy. Hopefully, they’re thinking long term and won’t overreact, and Berkowitz’s hiring is strategic, not reactionary.

Meanwhile, Google grew 2 percentage points to 49%, and may control half the search market by next month all by itself (it already has over 50% combined with AOL). Yahoo jumped one point to 22%.
(via Mary Jo)

April 25th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, MSN, Search, Windows, Live | no comments

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 Nathan Weinberg | General, MSN, Search, Windows, AskJeeves, Live | 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 360™ 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 Nathan Weinberg | General, Xbox, Xbox 360 | no comments

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 Nathan Weinberg | 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 Nathan Weinberg | 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 Nathan Weinberg | General, Windows, Vista | 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 Nathan Weinberg | 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 Nathan Weinberg | General, Corporate | one comment

links for 2006-04-24

April 24th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Humor, Xbox, Xbox 360, Corporate, Bookmarks | 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 Nathan Weinberg | 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 Nathan Weinberg | 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 Nathan Weinberg | 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 Nathan Weinberg | General, MSN, Windows, Hotmail, Live, Mail | 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 Nathan Weinberg | General, Xbox, Xbox 360 | no comments

Xbox Live Diamond Card Runs With Misprint

Joystiq points out that Microsoft shipped the first Xbox Live Diamond cards, which should get you some discounts just for being a Live user, came with an interesting typo. Click the link, and see it.

What, you really couldn’t spot it? Make sure you look closely, and check out each word trhu and trhu.

Could be worse. The could have misspelled one of the big words, like Xxob, Liev, or Dianomd.

And, again, since I don’t want people thinking I’m being lazy: Because of my last two weeks of vacation, I’ve got a lot of saved “to blog” items. I realize stories like this one are two weeks old, but I’d rather blog them after I got back than not at all. I’ll still be posting new news as it happens, but when there’s little news, I’ll clear out a few of there.

April 23rd, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Xbox, Xbox Live | no comments

Some Office 14 Details

Office 2007 (v12) is still eight months away, and InfoWorld is already reporting on Office 14. First off, there won’t be an Office 13, which is interesting enough already. But what’s news about Office 14 is that it will be offered in different versions not based on how much you can afford to pay for it, but based on what job you have.

Versions would be implemented for roles such as research and development professionals, sales persons, and human resources. “We would call this role-based productivity. It’s a very powerful concept,” Witts said.

So, while we’ll probably still have Office Pro and Office Small Business and Office Student/Teacher and Office Home, we’ll also have Office Sales, Office HR, Office for Research, and so on. While some people think more SKUs just mean more problems, it really means that everyone can get the software that need, and not have to pay for the whole suite.

It kills me that there is no perfect version of Office 2007, and that I’ll likely have to pay more to put one together than I would if it were available as a “Office Nathan” suite. I talked about this back when the Office 2007 bundles were announced. I think more choice means cheaper Office, if exactly the Office you need is released. Lets hope exactly that happens.
(via Microsoft Watch)

April 23rd, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General | no comments

What Would Microsoft Call Boot Camp?

Omar Shahine says that if Microsoft released a program like Apple’s Boot Camp, which allows dual-booting of OS X and Windows, they would call it:

Microsoft Windows XP Professional Boot Selector Beta for Windows and Macintosh Systems

Clearly, Omar is a Microsoft branding expert, because you just know he’s right. Damn.

I don’t like the Boot Camp name, since it doesn’t mean anything, but its still better than the typical MS brand name. What would actually work? Something that implied the best of both worlds (like, literally, calling it “Both Worlds”), probably, or “Windows + Fruit”, if you want to make a joke about it.

April 23rd, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Humor, Apple, Corporate | no comments

Office Live Open To All

Want a free domain name? World-class website creation tools? A small but decent amount of free web storage and bandwidth? Well, Office Live is now open to everybody, for free while in beta. They’ll register a domain name for you, and, with the Office Live Essentials package, you’d get 50 email accounts, 50 megabytes of space and 25 gigabytes of bandwidth.

More importantly, you get to try out Office Live’s site creation tools. If you found Google Page Creator lacking, you’ll be stunned at how much more powerful this is. Sure, there are rough edges, but its still one of the broadest web apps I’ve seen.

Check it out. After all, its free.
(via LiveSide)

April 23rd, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Windows, Live, Office Live | no comments

HTC Community Site

There’s a growing web community of fans and users of HTC smartphones, called HTC Club. HTC (or High Tech Computer, one of the worst company names, Taiwan or otherwise) is the company that makes many of the most popular Windows Mobile-based Smartphones, like the T-Mobile MDA. I just wish there was an RSS feed.

April 23rd, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Windows Mobile | no comments

Happy Birthday Jason !!!

Jason Schramm, who writes for the Apple Watch blog here on the Blog News Channel, and who’s behind RadioFirefox and a lot of other sites, had his birthday today. So, yet again we wish somebody a very very happy BDay… *start chorus*

    JASON !!!

From your loyal fans :)

Visit Jason’s million sites, start here:

April 23rd, 2006 Posted by Coolz0r | General | no comments

Microsoft Most Powerful Brand writes that Microsoft topped a list of the top 100 global brands by consultancy Millward Brown Optimor. Of course, having a powerful brand doesn’t mean you’re loved, by any measure:

The goal of the study was to calculate the value a brand is expected to generate for its owner in the future. The top brands were shown to contribute tens of billions to future earnings.

Though anti-Microsoft sentiment often runs high, the Millward Brown study showed most consumers hold positive feelings about the brand.

Andy Farr, executive director at Millward Brown Optimor and lead researcher on the study, said: “When you look at what customers and consumers say to us, they do hold Microsoft in high regard.”

He added: “They don’t love [Microsoft] like they love Google but they respect it.”

Google came in seventh overall for global brands and second for the tech sector. It was also the leader for ‘brand momentum’, or a brand’s earning power going forward, one of three criteria the researchers used to rank brands.

(via Bink)

April 23rd, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Google, Corporate | no comments

New Windows Vista Build: 5365

Microsoft has released a new build of Windows Vista. Here’s some stuff:

Brandon LeBlanc calls it a beta 2 preview. He points out that this build makes heavy use of the “swoosh” animation, that appears to be becoming a theme in Vista. His screenshots show a more polished IE7 (with a new start page), Windows Contacts, the logon UI, much cooler looking Sidebar Gadgets (including a racecar inspired CPU Meter), Windows Calendar, and User Account Control.

Paul Thurrot has 15 screenshots. I noticed “Windows Easy Transfer”, Explorer windows not having a title in the title bar (weird, but makes sense), continued anti-aliasing issues in Flip 3D, the Media Center mini controls are now on the right, filtering Explorer search windows by type (e-mails, documents, pictures, music), a nice desktop background picker (no longer a simple applet), and a cool new screensaver.

Windows Connected has 50 screenshots. I see the new Welcome Center, the Control Panel graphical view (Classic View has 52 applets), Windows Media Player 11, Windows Mail, Windows Defender, Microsoft Code Name “InfoCard”, the Sync Center and the seemingly improved Help and Support.

X64bit has a bunch of first impressions. They say that performance is largely improved over the previous build and that there are over 40 default running processes.

April 23rd, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Windows, Vista | no comments

Xbox 360 Custom Motorcycle

If you’re buying something at GameStop, make sure to sign up to win a customized Xbox 360 motorcycle, er, chopper, designed and built by Joe Martin of Martin Brothers Bikes. According to Kotaku, just sign up for the contest with any $25 purchase at GameStop through May 24.

Other prizes include a Sharp HDTV AQOUS TV, Alienware Area-51 m5500 computer, Xbox 360, some starter kits for the console and Martin Brothers jackets.

April 23rd, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Xbox, Xbox 360 | no comments

Best Buy Selling Xbox 360 Wristbands

What is the point of this? Best Buy is selling $1 Xbox 360 wristbands. The wristbands are like the Lance Armstrong ones, and they do raise money for a charity, in this case the Boys & Girls Club. They say “Xbox 360″ and “Life is your game”, and I don’t see the point. Are you supposed to use them to brag you have a 360? Or is this just reaching too hard to raise money for a charity.

I don’t get it. And yet, I might get (buy) it. It kinda looks cool. Almost.
(via Kotaku)

April 23rd, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Xbox, Xbox 360 | no comments

How Much Does Scoble Get Paid?

Yeah, this is an old one, but I’m still cleaning out my 100+ tabs.

James Governor, responding to this line from Scoble (referring to Google’s “can’t refuse” April Fools job offer):

they increased my salary to more than $100,000

seems to find it unbelieveable that Scoble would be earning less than $100,000 a year. In a way, it both makes sense to me and doesn’t. Yes, Scoble brings Microsoft a lot of press and good will, and does his job real well, but that’s his job, and he doesn’t do anything that commands so much more than the average PR person who also does a real good job.

Still, given his high profile and success rate (forget his blog, Channel 9 is a big success), I’d peg him at two hundred Gs. So, if Scoble is earning less (and let’s hope not a lot less), is that right? How much does someone like that earn? His value to Microsoft doesn’t have a precedent to base against, so what do you think?

More importantly, should we even be discussing other people’s salaries in the blogosphere? I’m not talking about Bill Gates, but just that when it comes to corporate bloggers like Scoble, Zawodny and Cutts, who are regular joes for the most part, is it right to get that far into their private lives? I wouldn’t want anyone knowing what I earn (hint: It ain’t enough), and even though whatever Scoble gets, it’d make me jealous, I still doubt he’d want to talk about it.

Damn, I need to get a real job. This freelance stuff is working for me, but this marriage thing isn’t cheap…

(Found on Findory)

April 23rd, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Blogs | one comment