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Beta 2 Of XNA Game Studio Express Released

Microsoft is making it a fast priority to get XNA Studio finished and out there so independent developers can start making cross-platform PC/Xbox games, and that is why we are already seeing a beta 2 of XNA Studio Express, the free tool for making those games. There’s a lot of new stuff, which Kotaku covers. Also, the Torque X toolset for XNA Express released the same time in closed beta. I’ve mentioned Torque before, and it looks like the killer app for making XNA not just ridiculously accessible, but ridiculously easier.

November 3rd, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Xbox Live, Developers, Xbox 360, Xbox, Windows, General | no comments

Lots Of Haterage At Microsoft Watch

When Mary Jo Foley left Microsoft Watch to do a blog for ZDNet, you knew there’d be a lot of people abandoning her old stomping grounds. Still, many, like me, remained subscribed to see what the new guy would bring to the table before writing him off completely. Well, new guy Jim Rapoza wrote a particularly unimpressive review of the new Windows Media Player 11, and how unimpressed he was, and longtime Microsoft Watch readers were, to use the same word three times, unimpressed, and the comments make that very clear.

While I agree that the post was short, lacking in depth, and void of perspective, it is an early effort. Unless eWeek had hired away an established Microsoft blogger (*cough*), it is only natural that it would take time for the blogger to understand the audience, and vice versa. Jim isn’t Mary Jo and never will be, but neither would anyone else be. If I was doing that blog, you don’t think I’d have growing pains? I’ve been doing this for two years, but new gig, new audience, new difficulties. Give him some time, then decide if you like it.

Also, I find it strange that the angry comments on Jim’s post outnumbered the comments I was used to seeing on the blog when Mary Jo was there. Hell, they outnumber the comments on most of her recent posts, too. People love showing up to be haters.

November 3rd, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Blogs, General | 3 comments

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Lycos Dumps Windows Live For Ask Search

Lycos, inexplicably still the number five portal in the U.S., announced that it is switching its search engine from Microsoft’s Windows Live to Ask’s also excellent search technology. Interesting that Ask is stealing from Windows Live, since lately the two companies have been out-innovating the bigger firms, but are taking syndicates from each other. If you’ve been reading here, you know how great Windows Live Search is, and you can go to InsideGoogle to see some of the great things has been doing, including a little more on this post.

November 3rd, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Live, AskJeeves, Windows, Search, General | no comments

How The Vista Packaging Opens

Brandon LeBlanc provides this photo showing how Vista’s packaging opens opens up:

Notice how the DVD slides out in such an interesting way, as well as the nice DVD design. I feel like I want to pick up an upgrade DVD just to stare at it, even if I don’t need it. Microsoft is really designing some beautiful things for Vista.
(via Neowin)

November 3rd, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Vista, Windows, General | no comments

Microsoft Pulling Out Of China? Nope

There had been reports that Microsoft’s senior policy counsel Fred Tipson had said at a conference in Greece that Microsoft was considering pulling out of China due to freedom of speech issues, specifically mentioning persecution of bloggers in that country. Here’s what the BBC quoted him as saying:

“Things are getting bad… and perhaps we have to look again at our presence there,” he told a conference in Athens.

“We have to decide if the persecuting of bloggers reaches a point that it’s unacceptable to do business there.”

“We try to define those levels and the trends are not good there at the moment. It’s a moving target.”

“The economic value in the internet is driving growth and development in educational opportunities [in China],” said Mr Tipson.

“Openness is often too segmented too narrowly into a discussion around freedom of speech,” he added.

Mr Tipson said it was “critical not to portray the internet as a threat to governments”.

“The internet is transforming the political culture of China. There is no question about it.”

Boing Boing and Slashdot seemed excited, but one Slashdot poster got it exactly right:

One PR flack backed into a corner by human rights activists at a conference said they would “consider” pulling out. When he gets back to Redmond he’ll be in deep shit.

That is probably a pretty accurate prediction of what will happen to Mr. Tipson. Todd Bishop has a statement where the company strongly denies his statement, saying it has no plans to move out, and that it is better if Microsoft stays. The statement:

“Microsoft will continue to offer services and communications tools in China. Contrary to an inaccurate press account of Microsoft comments at the Internet Governance Forum, we are not considering the suspension of our Internet services in China. On the contrary, we believe it is better for customers if Microsoft is present in global markets with these tools and services that can not only promote greater communication, but can also help to foster economic opportunity and societal advancement.”

I love titles that end in “Nope”.

November 3rd, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Corporate, General | no comments

Windows Vista, Office 2007 Release Dates Announced

Rejoice, fellas! We finally know the exact dates Windows Vista and Office 2007 will be released, the last possible dates they could be without being considered a delay. Vista and Office will hit business customers on November 30, just 27 days from now. Vista and Office will hit retail stores and ship on PCs January 30, just under 3 months from now. Barring an explosion in Redmond, Microsoft will meet its target for Vista. Congratulations!

Todd Bishop
APC Magazine

November 3rd, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Vista, Office, Windows, Applications, General | no comments

Microsoft Releases Windows CE 6.0 As Shared Source Product

Microsoft has made a surprising and welcome announcement, that it would be releasing 100% of its Windows CE kernel through its shared source program, allowing the world access to the guts of one of their operating systems. CE 6.0 is also a major improvement in its capabilities, upping the maximum number of processes from 32 to 32,000, and the max virtual memory from 32 megabyte to two gigabytes.

If you need to know how the open source community feels, just check the comments at Slashdot. They seem quite happy, mostly.

Some quotes:

From the press release:

In conjunction with the 10-year anniversary of Windows Embedded, 100 percent of the Windows Embedded CE 6.0 kernel is now available through the Microsoft® Shared Source program, an overall increase of 56 percent from previous versions of Windows Embedded CE. The Shared Source program provides full source-code access for modification and redistribution by device-makers (subject to the terms of a license agreement), who are under no obligation to share their final designs with Microsoft or others. Although the Windows operating system is a general-purpose computing platform designed for creating a consistent experience, Windows Embedded CE 6.0 is a tool kit device-makers use for building customized operating system images for a variety of non-desktop devices. By providing access to certain parts of the Windows Embedded CE source code, such as the file system, device drivers and other core components, embedded developers are able to choose the code they need, compile it, and build their own, unique operating systems, quickly bringing their devices to market.

Slashdot comments:

* - With the Zune being a PocketPC device with a nice facelift, and some propriatary software running… will this help the hardware modding/hacking community to make some very cool other uses for the Zune hardware?

or am I just being optimistic, because I’m gonna buy one anyway?

* - Wait… what??

* - Did hell just freeze over? Microsoft releasing their source? Next thing you know, you’ll be telling us that SCO went under!

* - That’s a huge leap.

What kind of portable or industrial machine is going to need those kinds of capabilities, much less have the onboard hardware to fully utilize ‘em?

WindowsForDevices has a huge amount of details on what is in CE 6.0, including better performance, video projector support, and application access to cellular networks. Good reaction at Channel 9, and more reporting by If you need to understand the difference between Windows CE, Windows Mobile and Windows XP, Channel 9 has a video.

November 3rd, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Windows Mobile, General | no comments