InsideMicrosoft

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A Look At Life After Microsoft

The Microsoft Alumni Network, a group of ex-Microsofties, held an after-the-holidays party at The Museum of Flight in Seattle, and Puget Town was there, video camera in hand. They were asking people what they were doing post-Microsoft, and the answers are interesting.

Seems like there’s a bit of a tendency for former employees of a big company to join together and create a small company together, which makes for an opportunity that has not been tapped: Satellite firms. Wouldn’t it be cool if Microsoft offered a retirement package, where former employees could leave the company but start firms funded by Microsoft, so long as Microsoft received some sort of benefit from the program (like first rights to buy the small business, requiring the website use Microsoft ads and servers, letting Microsoft employees have access to source code)?

A lot of people, once they’ve made their mark, and their money, at a big company like Microsoft, they leave it to do something they really love. By funding employees’ retirement plans, Microsoft could find a way to keep ex-employees within the family, contributing shared source code and giving advice to current employees, while those ex-employees could go off and start their own, mostly-independent companies. That would be a huge perk to working at Microsoft, knowing that it would eventually fund your brilliant startup idea, and it would stem the tide of people leaving Microsoft for more free pastures.

January 24th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Corporate | 2 comments

Gears of War Nominated For 10 Awards

Gears of War has received nominations for ten awards from the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences. The game, one of the biggest (if not the biggest) blockbusters of 2006, and an Xbox 360 exclusive, was nominated in these categories:

  • Overall Game of the Year
  • Console Game of the Year
  • Outstanding Innovation in Gaming
  • Outstanding Achievement in Animation
  • Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction
  • Outstanding Character Performance - Male
  • Outstanding Achievement in Game Play Engineering
  • Outstanding Achievement in Online Game Play
  • Outstanding Achievement in Visual Engineering
  • Action/Adventure Game of the Year

Pretty sweet honor, but the real honor comes from winning. I’m pretty sure that when the winners are announced February 8, Gears will be walking home with a few statues (assuming they give out statues).
(via Kotaku)

January 24th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Xbox, Xbox 360, Gears of War | no comments

Let Media Center Record Stuff For You

Chris Lanier blogs about MyTV Genie, a completely free and really cool plugin for Windows Media Center that could completely change the way you watch and record TV. The plugin adds a TiVo-like functionality, letting you rate shows as “Loved”, “Liked” or “Didn’t Like” (with appropriate silly smily faces), and recommending and recording based on your favorite stuff. Even better, if you don’t rate shows, it sees what you watch and record, and does it all automatically for you.

I hate to beat a dead horse, but this is exactly why Apple is going to have trouble in the home media space. Microsoft has been doing this for half a decade now, and a community has been building amazing new functionality for Microsoft’s Media Center software this entire time. Apple TV and Front Row still don’t have DVR functionality, with none announced, and they have to contend with the fact that Apple’s system tends to be more locked down than the stuff Microsoft usually releases.

It’s going to be tough to compete with an ecosystem of plugins, hacks, and user-created features, and with the great community supporting Windows Media Center. I predict Windows Vista is going to take Media Center to the mainstream, with it appearing in all but the cheapest PCs.

January 24th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Windows, Media Center, Apple, Vista | no comments

Windows Vista Ultimate OEM: Just $200

Newegg has started selling the OEM versions of Windows Vista, which are designed to be sold only to system builders (and come with some transfer limitations), and the prices are hopefully low enough to quiet some complainers:

  • Windows Vista Home Basic OEM - $99.99
  • Windows Vista Home Premium OEM - $119.99
  • Windows Vista Business OEM - $149.99
  • Windows Vista Ultimate OEM - $199.99

Also:

  • Windows Vista Home Basic OEM 3-pack - $279.99
  • Windows Vista Home Premium OEM 3-pack - $349.99
  • Windows Vista Business OEM 3-pack - $449.99
  • Windows Vista Ultimate OEM 3-pack - $599.99

Ed Bott notes that Provantage.com has similar prices. Now, these are full versions, so in the case of Ultimate, you are talking about a savings of $200, which makes it a might tempting and affordable purchase. Ed does note that while XP Home > Vista Basic and XP Media > Vista Premium prices have remained mostly the same, Vista Business costs at least ten dollars more than XP Professional, a price increase business buyers will be forced to bear.

If you want to see what the unboxing experience is for Windows Vista, Engadget has a gallery of Home Premium being opened up. The new packaging is so cool, there’s a part of me that wants to pay full price for it. Instead, I might actually buy the packaging on eBay, or off a friend, in a month or two.

Also, IntelliAdmin has a story on “The 5 sins of Vista“, the first two of which seem to be genuine bugs. Definitely worth reading, especially if you work at Microsoft, since some of these just have to be fixed for Service Pack 1.

Next: Microsoft has released a new version of Vista Upgrade Advisor, which you can download to your XP machine. Run it, and it will tell you if programs you already use will be incompatible with Vista, a great way to know about problems before they happen.

January 24th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Windows, Vista | 2 comments

CompUSA Doing Interesting Vista Launch Promotion

CompUSA has announced three promotions for the Windows Vista launch next week.

First off, they are offering an early bird discount for installs of Vista. No, you won’t get Vista itself for cheaper, but a thirty dollar discount on installation of Vista. While Vista is the easiest operating system for consumers to install in Microsoft’s history, some are certainly too wary to do it themselves, and CompUSA will let you bring in your computer for a sleepover party.

Drop off your computer in-store before 3 pm on January 29, and you will be able to pick it up anytime after midnight that night with Vista installed and ready for you. The cost of installation: $20, a small price for those who need this installed for them. After January 30, installation will cost $50 ($150 if you make them come to your house). No doubt, all those computers spending the night at CompUSA are just going to get drunk and do something they’ll regret in the morning.

They are also trying to guarantee peace of mind through customer service. Customers who pay CompUSA to install Vista and are dissatisfied with their experience with the new operating system can have CompUSA uninstall Vista and reinstall the old operating system, as well as receiving a full refund. The guarantee also applies to Office 2007, and I doubt the refund gives back the price of the installation.

The last bit is the most intriguing: From Tuesday on, bring in your laptop (or check it out on this website) and you can trade it in towards the purchase of a brand-new computer with Windows Vista. “The notebook’s value is based on the condition, specifications, and age and will be assessed by a web-based tool provided by a certified technology recycling company to determine its fair market value.” The program will not be available in California.

So, lets see: I have an 18-month old Dell laptop, with a 15.4-inch widescreen, 1.6 GHz Pentium M, 1.5 gigs of RAM, a DVD burner, two batteries, a brand-new technician replaced motherboard, two years left on the warranty, without a single scratch or ding, and a Windows Experience Index rating of 3.4. I paid $1000 for it, after a $600 off coupon, and an additional $300 for the extended warranty six months ago.

I’m going to take my computer to CompUSA next week to find out what they think it’s worth. If I can get $700 of trade-in value, I might just go for it. What do you think it’s worth?
(via CRN > Neowin)

January 24th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Windows, Vista | 5 comments