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How To Remove The Search Box From Internet Explorer 7

remove-ie7-search-box.png

Do you have no need for the search box in IE7? Do you run search toolbars like the Windows Live Search Toolbar or the Google Toolbar, and don’t want to be tempted by other search engines? Then you’ll be happy that IntelliaAdmin has found a Registry edit that removes the search box from Internet Explorer 7. Just navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Infodelivery\Restrictions and add a DWORD value of “NoSearchBox” set to 1. If that’s too much for you to attempt, they’ve even created a small program that does the work for you. Cool beans.
(via Digg)

Oh, if you want to customize Office 2007’s Ribbon, there’s a $30 program for that, too. It lets you remove Ribbon tabs, create new tabs and put anything you want in them, reorder tabs, and switch between multiple customizations, among other things.

December 31st, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Applications, Internet Explorer, Office | 4 comments

Windows Live Mail Plus: 4-Gigabyte Inbox

LiveSide has info on Windows Live Mail Plus, the paid upgrade to Windows Live Mail in Holland that will likely be offered eventually in the US. For $20 a year, users get a four gigabyte hard drive, 20-megabyte file attachments, no ads (including in the Desktop software and Live Spaces), access to your account in Microsoft Office Outlook, and no disabling of the account due to inactivity. The four gig is a decent jump over Gmail’s current 2.8 GB, but may not be enough higher than Live Mail’s own two gig limit to temp users (though Outlook Access is worth twenty bucks for me).

December 31st, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Applications, Windows, Live, Outlook, Mail | 2 comments

Windows Live QnA Third In Market Share, 5-Second Rule Test

TechnologyReview ran a head-to-head comparison of six major question and answer websites (Yahoo Answers, Ask’s Askville, Windows Live QnA, Answerbag, Wondir and Yedda), and Windows Live QnA placed third, on the strength of Mormons, grilled cheese sandwiches, and a decent answer to the age-old question about the 5-second rule. Strangely, all the services in the review were ranked in alphabetical order, but we won’t hold that against them.
(via Slashdot)

answers-sites-market-share.png

Of course, the more important question, is how well QnA is doing in the market. Hitwise has some good news, namely that QnA stands in third place overall in market share, and some not-so-good-news, namely the percentage of the market they hold: 1.02%. Yahoo Answers has run away with the market, but a more accurate way of looking at it is that Yahoo created the market. Yahoo didn’t steal 96 percent of the market from a market leader, they just grew it and hold a commanding lead. In theory, there could be other websites that leap up and take mounds of new visitors, just like Yahoo did.

When Microsoft begins properly promoting Live QnA, putting QnA answers all over the place and gives Live Spaces users nice incentives to participate in the community, they could have a decent shot of catching more than just 1.02%. In fact, it looks like they’ve already put a prominent lint atop MSN.com, a good start.

Some interesting data: Yahoo Answers is now the 100th most popular site Hitwise tracks. Google sends Yahoo Answers almost as much traffic as Yahoo does, ironic considering Yahoo Answers’ popularity forced Google to shutter its long running and unsuccessful competing service.
(via LiveSide)

December 31st, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Windows, Live | no comments

Windows Live Search May See Real Succeess Internationally

LiveSide notes that Windows Live Search may be losing market share in the United States, but its share of searches in other countries could be telling a completely different story. In one example, Hong Kong saw Live Search up 140% over the last eleven months.

This could be a familiar strategy for Microsoft, which has taken over other markets en route to being number one worldwide. Readers with a good memory may remember that in April, Microsoft overtook AOL to have the number one instant messenger client, due to strong numbers in Latin America, Europe and Asia. It would not shock me to see the same thing happening with the search engine.

December 31st, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Search, Windows, Live | no comments

Martha Stewart Dating Former Microsoftie?

TDavid was listening to Howard Stern’s Sirius Satellite Radio show, when Howard was interviewing good ol’ Martha Stewart. Martha revealed a whole bunch of crazy things (you can read T’s post to get that), but the last point is what interested me the most:

Martha is currently dating a retired Microsofty.*

Really? Well, this could be a fun guessing game! Is it someone super-famous, like cofounder and mega-billionaire Paul Allen (after all, Martha is sometimes a billionaire, and the two could work well together)? Is it someone completely unexpected, like Mark Jen? There are so many people who used to work at Microsoft, thousands in fact, that it could be just about anyone.

I’m going to start a rumor that is enormously fun, and pen a phrase that has never been uttered on the internet: Martha Stewart is dating Robert Scoble.

There, I said it. Now it’s true.

Oh, hell, we all know Martha is dating Charles Simonyi. The New York Post said so nine months ago, and Martha has confirmed it with her comment on Stern. Charles, who next year will become only the fifth space tourist in history, is seven years younger than Martha, and oversaw the development of Microsoft’s Word and Excel, two of the most popular applications in the history of the software industry.

* - T: the proper spelling is Microsoftie. Google it :-)

December 29th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Corporate | one comment

iTunes Showing Massive Post-Christmas Bounce

Hitwise stats are showing that visits to the iTunes Music Store more than doubled post-Christmas, with Christmas 2006 showing a 110 percent increase over Christmas 2005. Also, visits to the iTunes website were up 413 percent over the same day a year earlier, or 1,222 percent higher than the same day a week earlier. Obviously, in order to have a successful business, Apple will have to convince those customers to buy music on a consistent basis (the number of iPod owners do not use the music store for a significant percentage of media on their iPods), but it does show that the iPod is not slowing from the year before.

Alternatively, it may even show that the money that was spent to gift people with iPods, was spent this year on iTunes gift cards. It would be very interesting to note how much music is bought from the iTunes Music Store by iPod owners, versus how much is bought for iPod owners by others, others who don’t necessarily realize that the person they are buying for typically just steals music. It’s like that time someone bought me a DVD for my birthday of one of my favorite films, a film I had (naturally) downloaded months earlier. I thanked them in the long run, as the DVD was better quality and lasted longer, but if it had been a digital download I would have just felt like a sucker.

In case you were wondering, visits to Zune.net also increased 1,030 percent over the previous week, holding at about 1/30 the visits to iTunes. If Microsoft’s market share is 1/30 Apple’s, that could be a good benchmark to guage future success/failure against.
(via Aviran Mordo > Digg)

UPDATE: Looks like the onslaught of new users brought iTunes crashing down. Talk about bad news being great news!

December 29th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Apple, Windows Media, Zune | one comment

PC Worlds Most Innovative Product of 2006: Microsoft Office

Notice how I underlined “Innovative” in the headline? People have been saying for a while that Microsoft doesn’t innovate, and I swear to god, no one can look me in the eye and honestly claim that the Office 2007 Ribbon is not innovative. And if you don’t believe me, PC World says so, too.

PC World released their list of the 20 most innovative products of the year, and the number one spot on that list was taken by Microsoft Office 2007. For as little as $150, Microsoft will be offering in just five weeks its venerable Office suite with a gutsy, innovative, efficient, bold, bright, and powerful user interface, one that is going to change application design for the next few years. This isn’t the last reward for this great product, undeniably the best edition of Office, ever.

Other important products were on the list, including the Intel Core 2 Duo, arguably Intel’s first buzzworthy chip in years, Parallels, which lets Mac users run a whole library of wonderful Windows applications, the Nintendo Wii, the Dell XPS M2010, the big mama of superlaptops, the Pioneer Inno portable XM satellite radio, Google Sketchup, and the Sony Playstation 3. Check out the full list, but don’t ignore Microsoft’s king of the hill.

December 29th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Applications, Office | no comments

Emulate The Vista Start Menu In XP

Do you find the Windows Vista Start Menu intoxicating? Do you wish your Start Menu stayed the same size, never cascading and scrolling until your mind descended into madness? Well, someone’s taken a stab at emulating the Vista Start Menu UI in Windows XP, and while the results are not great (or particularly stable), it is a good start. Check out Download Squad for a look at the app that gets the look and navigation, but not the performance and desktop search of one of Vista’s best features.

December 29th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Windows, Vista, XP | no comments

Rocket Commander For XNA

XNA Rocket Commander

There’s another cool XNA game been released: Rocket Commander. I’m not even sure what kind of game it is, (apparently, you sit on a rocket and fly to a destination, Dr. Strangelove style, avoiding obstacles) but the screenshots show off some really cool graphics, letting you know what the XNA Framework is capable of in the right hands. You can download a 16 megabyte installer for Windows that contains the DirectX installer and XNA Framework, or get the full source code for transferring it to play on your Xbox 360 (XNA subscription required, obviously). Check it out!
(via Walter Stiers)

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

Some Windows Bloggers Get Free Ferrari Laptop

The news came out today that Microsoft (through PR agency Edelman) sent out a bunch of free Ferrari 5000 and 1000 Acer laptops to some bloggers, “no string attached”. Scott Beale showed off pictures of his Ferrari 1000 laptop, which sports a 1.80GHz AMD Turion 64×2, 1 gig of RAM and a 160 gig SATA hard drive, as well as coming preloaded with Windows Vista Ultimate. Considering Scott didn’t write a single article about Microsoft between June 19 and December 14 of this year, it seems strange they’d pick him, but I guess they’re trying to make a friend.

Mitch Denny posted about his new laptop, explaining that it appears to be related to a viral marketing campaign called “Vanishing Point” that is gearing up to Microsoft’s CES keynote.

Funny thing: Scott’s laptop only meets a 2.8 on the Windows Experience Index, which Microsoft says isn’t good enough to run Vista Business, let alone Ultimate. That’s weird (especially since the system specs are plenty good).

Long Zheng has more details, including a list of some people who got one (including Brandon LeBlanc). Bloggers have a “choice” to return it, but I don’t see too many people taking them up on the offer.

Damn. What should I have done to get one? Paging Miel :-)

December 27th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Windows, Corporate, Vista | 6 comments

OneNote Upgrade Coming

The OneNote Extensibility blog has a bit of good news for OneNote 2003 users: There will be an upgrade version of OneNote 2007, complete with upgrade pricing. Give that OneNote 2003 retails for $100, expect an upgrade to 2007 to be cheaper (I’m hoping for $59). There is some bad news: The upgrade won’t be available when Office 2007 ships in a few weeks. You’ll have to wait a little longer for it to show up, and hopefully that will be before Office 2007 Beta 2TR expires on March 31, 2007.

December 27th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Applications, OneNote | no comments

Microsoft RSS Usage Survey Results

Back in September, Microsoft conducted a survey, asking people how they use their RSS readers. The results are here, and I’ve taken the liberty of translating one of the tables into a graph, just to give you an idea of how fragmented the RSS reader space is:

microsoft-rss-reader-survey-usage-results.png

Igvita has made graphs of most of the other data, including “How many feeds are you subscribed to in your primary RSS reader?”, “On average, how frequently do you open your RSS reader (e.g. to read unread articles, to find an old article)?” and “What time of day do you usually use your RSS reader (check all that apply)?”.

Besides asking questions, they asked participants to submit their OPML reading lists to get data on which feeds were popular. Of the 1,354 respondents, 320 OPML files comprising 40,616 subscribed feeds were received. The top 18:

Blog Subscribers
Playin with IT http://feeds.feedburner.com/PlayinWithIt 106
Official Google Blog http://googleblog.blogspot.com/atom.xml 103
TechCrunch http://feeds.feedburner.com/Techcrunch 99
Joel on Software http://www.joelonsoftware.com/rss.xml 83
Scobleizer - Tech Geek Blogger http://scobleizer.wordpress.com/feed/ 82
Google China Blog http://googlechinablog.com/atom.xml 75
Engadget http://www.engadget.com/rss.xml 73
Chinese Blogbeta http://feeds.feedburner.com/blogbeta/chn 65
A List Apart http://www.alistapart.com/rss.xml 57
Engadget China http://cn.engadget.com/rss.xml 56
Slashdot http://rss.slashdot.org/Slashdot/slashdot 55
Incomplete http://feeds.feedburner.com/Incomplete 53
Particle Tree http://particletree.com/rss/ 52
LaoBai’s Blog http://feeds.feedburner.com/laobaisBlog 51
Solidot http://feeds.feedburner.com/solidot 51
Wang Xiao Feng’s blog http://feeds.feedburner.com/wangxiaofeng 50
Mezzoblue http://www.mezzoblue.com/rss/index.xml 49
Jeffrey Zeldman Presents http://www.zeldman.com/feed/zeldman.xml 49
Bloglines News http://www.bloglines.com/rss/about/news 47
Mini-Microsoft http://minimsft.blogspot.com/atom.xml 46
GSeeker http://www.gseeker.com/index.rss) 46

(via Randy Charles Morin)

December 27th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Blogs | no comments

HTC Readying Athena, A Windows Mobile/UMPC Hybrid

htc-athena.jpg

HTC, makers of the cheapest (and very popular) Windows Mobile devices out there, is closing in on the release of the HTC Athena, a cross between an “Origami” Ultra-Mobile PC and a Windows Mobile device. The Athena will feature a 5-inch screen, 3-megapixel camera, 8 gig hard drive, wifi, Bluetooth, GPS, 3G and HSDPA, Windows Mobile 5.0 and a detachable keyboard.

There are three points worth making:

  • Windows Mobile 5.0 devices take up a lot less power than full-on computers, so this device will not have the battery problems that plague the so-far failing UMPC platform.
  • HTC prices their stuff damn cheap, and if this device doubles as a phone, the manufacturers may even pick up some of the tab.
  • If there’s a hard drive in there, someone will figure out how to load on Windows XP, or at least Linux, and let it dual-boot between the mobile OS and the full OS, making it a double-threat.

Those three points combined make for a third point: The Athena is the only UMPC so far with a shot at mass-market success. If I can get one for $700 ($500 with a new contract), I will , guaranteed. Yes, it isn’t really a phone, but Bluetooth can handle that lickety-split.

Tatung is readying a WinMobile UMPC as well.

December 27th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Windows Mobile | no comments

It’s Official: Xbox 360 Not Dreamcast

Game Daily is running a series of the five biggest video game stories of the year, starting with the success of microtransactions. Today’s entry, number four: “Xbox 360 is NOT Dreamcast!” I’ve mentioned before the similarities between the Xbox 360 and the Dreamcast, especially the fact that Peter Moore was a big part of both efforts, but it did indeed become clear this year that the Xbox 360 is not a failure, and will never be a failure. The 360 is here to stay, will be a major part of this period in video game history, and there is a good chance there will indeed be an Xbox 3 in the future.
(via Digg)

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

Playstation Emulator Now Works With Windows Mobile 5.0

Download Squad reports that FPSCE, a Playstation (that’s the original PlayStation, folks) emulator for Windows Mobile 2003, has been updated to now function on Windows Mobile 5.0, and support the Intel 2700g graphics accelerator present in some models. My Windows Mobile device is the under-powered T-Mobile MDA phone, and since the emulator recommends double the megahertz I actually have, I’m not anticipating success here, but I’ll let you know.

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

Force Windows ReadyBoost On Unsupported Devices

Windows ReadyBoost is a great technology, caching things on USB drives to improve system performance, but Windows Vista insists on checking the drives for certain speed requirements before enabling the feature. If you have a USB drive that is just a hair to slow to beat the test, or you want to use an external hard drive (slower speed, loads of cache space), Matt Rajca posts at Channel 9 how you can force Vista to let you use ReadyBoost on an unsupported device, whether it wants to or not:

  • 1. Plug in the device.
  • 2. Open the Readyboost tab on the device properties.
  • 3. Select “Do not retest this device”
  • 4. Unplug the device
  • 5. Open regedit (start->run->regedit)
  • 6. Expand - HKLM (Local Machine)SOFTWAREMicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersionEMDgmt
  • 7. Find your device.
  • 8. Change Device Status to 2
  • 9. Change ReadSpeedKBs to 1000
  • 10. Change WriteSpeedKBs to 1000
  • 11. Plug in the device.
  • 12. Enable Readyboost!!!!

Try to see if it improves performance, especially when dedicated 30 gigabytes of an external drive to ReadyBoost, or if Microsoft’s speed test knows what it’s talking about.

December 26th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Windows, Vista | one comment

Microsoft’s Junk Mail Reporting Tool

Microsoft has released a new tool letting you send them junk email, in order to help Microsoft improve the effectiveness of its junk mail filtering. While the tool respects your privacy by not being automatic, thus ensuring none of your embaressing real email gets sent to Frontbridge (a company Microsoft acquired in July 2005), and it knows to delete anything you send from your inbox, it also creates a copy of the junk email in your sent items folder. I’d like to help with email filtering, but I’m not quite ready to degrade the usefulness of the sent folder. Maybe if they fix that in the future.
(via James Finnigan)

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

Windows Vista Launch Event: January 29 In New York

Microsoft has announced the launch event for Windows Vista and Office 2007: “Wow Starts Now” on January 29 in Times Square, New York City. I got my invite Friday, so if you have a reason to expect one, watch your inbox.

Windows Vista/Office 2007

The WOW Starts Now

On January 29th, Microsoft will celebrate the launch
of two amazing products that represent the culmination of a
tremendous team effort.  Millions of people – Microsoft
employees, developers, valued customers, bloggers, families,
media, the entire industry – have come together like never before
and added their own individual imprints to help make Windows Vista
and 2007 Microsoft Office system the most tested products in
Microsoft history.

 

With Windows Vista and 2007 Microsoft Office system we are
committed to making people’s digital lives easier, more entertaining and
better connected, as well as safer and more reliable. Our celebration is
dedicated to the millions of people who helped transform the
operating system into a rich experience that’s more exciting
and more powerful than ever before.  Because of the immense
personal contributions of so many, we hope you will help us
celebrate a new digital lifestyle and a new era in personal computing.

Please join us as we launch Windows Vista
and 2007 Microsoft Office system.

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

CES Exhibitors Get Free Vista

Microsoft is giving a free copy of Windows Vista to exhibitors at the Consumer Electronics Show in two weeks. Exhibitors will get all the Vista they need to run their computers, with the idea being, presumably, to avoid having Windows XP all over the show floor embaressing Microsoft. Of course, with all those different companies and influential persons at the show, it doesn’t hurt to curry a little favor as well, so long as Vista doesn’t break any applications being demo’d.

Smart companies will do two things: Dual-boot Vista and XP, to ensure that if something goes wrong, a five-minute reboot will get things back to normal; and bring as many damn computers as will fit in the booth, to get a huge number of free copies.

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

Xbox 360 Warranties Extended To Full Year

Microsoft, realizing the three-month warranty on the Xbox 360 was a full nine months shorter than the one offered with the Wii or PS3, has extended the 360 warranty to a full year. Not only that, but if you bought an Xbox 360 in the last year, your warranty is extended to the full 12-months. Not only that, but if you paid to have your 360 repaired during the last year, and it would have been during this newer warranty period, Microsoft will refund you your $140, even if you don’t ask them to. Merry Christmas, 360 owners!

I’m guessing Microsoft crunched some numbers and realized that not only would the longer warranty make the 360 more attractive, but that a customer with a 360 makes them more money than one without, and by making it harder to repair your console, they were making it harder to for you to buy Microsoft games, Microsoft Points, Xbox Live Gold, Xbox Live Marketplace videos and Xbox 360 accessories.

My question: Does Best Buy (and other retailers) plan to extend their store-bought extended warranties, given that they have now been made superfluous for half the warranty period? I’m going to find out next time I get to my local big box store.

Coverage:
Engadget
Joystiq

By the way, here are the latest stats on the console wars, via NexGenWars.com:

console-sales-figures-20061225.png

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

Xbox Live Video Marketplace Succeeding Were All Others Have Failed

Variety reports that Xbox Live’s video marketplace, which sells video rentals and TV show downloads is enjoying success, a surprise since every competing service is, for the most part, a complete failure. The reason theorized: The Xbox 360 connects to a TV. Competing services, like Amazons UnBox, Movielink, CinemaNow, Guba and AOL, all download to computers or a limited number of devices while encumbered by DRM, making it more difficult than necessary to actually watch the damn things.

According to Variety, the studios are quite happy with the results. Despite the fact that the 360 is competing with every single desktop computer in America, its video downloads are doing as well, if not better, than downloads of the same videos from the competition. Considering that the “installed base” of 360s is only going to grow, and more people are going to try out the service in the future, it wouldn’t be a crazy idea to say that the 360 may actually be leading the pack already.

The success of the service is going to make it easy to convince movie studios to upload more movies and more content, which will in turn make the Xbox 360 more desirable to customers. It will be some time before Sony or Nintendo’s services are mature enough to handle video downloads, and such services may not even be planned (or feasable for Sony, which runs a movie studio and could have trouble negotiating with its own competition). Microsoft is building a powerful reason for people to choose Xbox 360 over the PS3 or the Wii.
(via PaidContent > TechDirt)

December 25th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox Live | one comment

Microsoft Lost 23 Million Searches Last Month

Blogging Stocks lists Nielsen/NetRatings market share numbers for the top five search engines over the last two months, and they show a slight drop for Microsoft. Take a look:

search-market-share-oct-nov-2006-nielsen.png

As you can see, Microsoft dropped slightly, losing 23.5 million searches from October to November 2006. Granted, there isn’t a lot of movement there (Google lost market share, but we all know they are running all over the industry), but Microsoft has been trending downward forever, and they really don’t need this.

Remember this?:

microsoft-search-market-share-102005-102006.png

December 25th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Search, Windows, Google, AskJeeves, Yahoo, Live | no comments

Microsoft Announces 10-cent Dividend

Microsoft has announced its latest quarterly dividend, giving back ten cents to shareholders on March 8, 2007. You’ll need to own a share of Microsoft by February 15 to get your dime-back-per-share.

microsoft-stock-dividends.png

As you can see in the chart above, since 2003, Microsoft has handed back $4.19 to shareholders, while the stock has also risen 19%. Microsoft stock isn’t perfect, but it is a much better value than normally perceived.

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

Vista SideShow Remotes Announced For Sale

It looks like we are definitely getting some cool Windows Vista SideShow remote controls coming next year, and will be shown off in two weeks at CES. Some should be available for sale around April or so.

interlink-sidelink.jpg

Interlink announced their Slidelink remote, which will let users “select songs, schedule recordings, navigate video clips and photographs, display TV program guides and even browse recorded TV shows–all right on the remote”. Interlink makes many other Bluetooth devices, so it is assumed that this remote will be one as well.

ricavision-sideshow-remote.jpg

Ricavision is announcing this remote at CES, which features both Bluetooth and IR for functioning in a 100-meter operating radius. It sports a sweet 2.5-inch QVGA LCD and all sorts of cool Sideshow functions, including email, calendaring and RSS feeds, besides the regular Media Center controls. It’ll be available in April 2007 for $200.

philips-vista-remotes.jpg

Philips has announced a slew of new Vista remotes, most of which are standard Media Center remotes, just for the new UI, and one SideShow remote (the one with the screen). The Sideshow remote supports basic Sideshow functionality, and runs on a 2.4GHz IR frequency for one-way Media Center control and two-way music control. The better remotes work off IR (that’s what the included dongle is for) which means you can use them to control your music from all over the house (and, if the Sideshow is implemented correctly, check your email and calendar).

Microsoft has made a deal with Elctronic Program Guide provider Tribune Media Services, which provides the TV guide for Media Center, to allow the program guide to be shown on SideShow devices with no problems.

Also worth noting: Lagotek has announced it is doing some SideShow Gadgets to control home automation. The Gadgets will have to be loaded on SideShow devices, but you might be able to use your Vista SideShow remote to control things like lights, the thermostat, irrigation status. It also runs on a Windows Mobile 5.0 PDA with wifi.

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

Burger King Cheapo-Games Among Best-Selling Games Of The Year

Burger King announced that their three Xbox 360 games, tie-ins which sell for just four bucks, have sold over two million copies combined, rivaling (in sheer units, not revenue) the sales of Gears of War for best-selling Xbox 360 games of the year. The three games, Big Bumpin’ (featuring bumper car combat and bumper hockey), Sneak King (where you sneak up on people and surprise them with burgers and other meals) and Pocketbike Racer (where you race on those mini-bikes with your knees around your ears) are available at any Burger King with purchase of a value meal for $3.99, or $9.99 for all three.

I dropped by a BK on Saturday night, and they were nice enough to sell me all three games at the regular price without buying the value meal. My wife seems particularly excited over Sneak King, mostly because of the creepy TV commercials for it. While the games aren’t perfect, the graphics are among the best I’ve seen in a cheep game (better than anything on Xbox Live Arcade). Totally fun, totally worth it, and a surprisingly good last minute and cheap Christmas present.

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

Check Out The WPF Blog

Sree Kotay pointed out The WPF Blog, a blog dedicated to all things dealing with the Windows Presentation Foundation, probably the coolest and least-noticed technology introduced with Windows Vista (though it can be installed on XP and 2003 as well). WPF is an amazing graphics framework, letting developers do really cool things with professional and advanced graphics, with a hell of a lot less effort than before, and I’m glad to see an independant blog dedicated to it.

So far, The WPF Blog has code samples, like an interactive Flickr cube and a 2D/3D list box, and they’ve done a cool thing by doing the header of the blog in WPF/E, the web version of WPF that runs almost everywhere (even Firefox and the Mac). The header highlights one problem with using WPF/E on regular websites: It doesn’t degrade gracefully. You’d think that, if someone visited a site with a non WPF/E browser, WPF/E elements would be replaced with standard graphics, but it appears that they are not.

Anyway! The WPF Blog is new and light, but shows some good promise. Be sure to watch this one.

December 25th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Windows, Vista | 3 comments

Win A Free Year Of Windows Live OneCare

LiveSide is running a contest that will gift five lucky readers/bloggers with a free 1-year subscription to Windows Live OneCare. Winners will get a whole year of the service, which provides antivirus, firewall, and backup for up to three computers and is a free upgrade to next month’s release of OneCare 1.5. To win, you’ll need to link to the contest blog post with “Why You’d Like Santa To Visit You”, tag it with “Windows Live OneCare Competition”, and do it before tomorrow to be one of the 5 chosen at random.

It looks like thus far there are only four entries, so as long as you enter, you’ll have a huge shot at winning. Hell, I’ll enter, just because it’s there:

    Why I Want Santa To Visit Me

    So he’ll set off the alarm and scare the hell out of my wife, and have to run from my dog (who barks at every visitor). Also, so I can get a pony. A pink pony!

    If you really think about it, Santa is like an intruder. Like the kind of intrusions that cost computer owners and IT departments millions of dollars a year. And the only way to block against intruders is with Windows Live OneCare, which will safeguard your PC against all kinds of threats, both the super-dangerous and the super-jolly.

If you don’t win, a year costs just twenty bucks on Amazon. Best deal in the security industry.

December 24th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Security, Windows, Live, OneCare | no comments

Live Local Add More 3D Cities

Windows Live Local Fashion Island Orange County

The Map Room blog reports that there’s a lot more to look at now in Microsoft’s Windows Live Local. They’ve added new 3D textured buildings in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, Tacoma, Washington, Irving, Texas, Sacramento, California and some more suburbs of LA, including Irvine and Newport Beach. They’ve also added imagery and terrain for Italy, as part of a recent agreement with a Norwegian pictometry company.
(Found on Findory)

The picture above is Fashion Island in Orange County California. Pretty damn cool.

December 24th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Windows, Live, Local | one comment

New Halo 3 Video Features Brutes

Bungie released a new video showing off the Brutes, a class of character that will take a far more prominent role in next year’s hotly anticipated Halo 3. The video really shows off the interesting ideas the developers have come up with for the Brutes, which were previously more like dumb, lumbering creatures, have been upgraded with some sophistocated armor and real personality and attitude. I get the feeling (and the hope) that Halo 3 will feature more “little” moments, something more memorable than the regular old giant shooting battles.

Anyway, you can watch the video on Xbox Live in full 1080p, or check it out below:


(via Joystiq)

Xbox 360 Fanboy links to a Bungie post that explains the graphics in the video are months old, not mostly placeholders, and not at all representative of the final graphics when Halo 3 ships next year. You can download the video to your computer via links at Bungie’s post.

December 24th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Xbox, Xbox 360, Halo, Halo 3 | no comments