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Windows Live For TV Invites Going Out

Just got two invites to the Windows Live For TV beta. Windows Live For TV, which I reviewed months ago, lets you access Windows Live Spaces, chat with Windows Live Messenger buddies, and even make Windows Live Calls from the Media Center interface, bringing a lot of new functionality to Windows Vista Media Center. The interface uses a cool rotating wraparound sphere effect, making it possibly the coolest thing for you to use to show off Media Center.

The interface seems to be improved, moving faster and performing better than the previous version, although it still suffers from some slight lag. Like before, the dedicated interfaces for Messenger and Call are not available in the beta, but the functionality is still present in the Live Spaces area (you can message and call all your buddies from there).

Anyway, if anyone wants the second invite (although the download link at my old post seems to still be active), let me know below. Whoever makes the best case for why they deserve it gets it.

March 19th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Live, Windows | 4 comments

Vista Confusing Wireless Routers

Steve Riley explains about how the auto-performance-tuning feature in Windows Vista’s networking stack can cause problems connecting to some wireless networks. This was more of a problem in beta/RC versions of Vista, where Vista’s attempts to gauge the abilities of the network would cause the network to think there was an error, or worse, an attack, and cause problems for the user. This isn’t a serious problem in the final shipping version of Vista, but you should be aware of it, in case it happens to you.

I spend a decent amount of time on a corporate wifi network. The network, which has its own proprietary login system, attempts to detect file sharing and virus activity (mostly file sharing, but they claim its a security concern) by watching the number of simultaneous requests and banning you from the network if it is determined as unusually high.

The system is too sensitive, and when I started going there a few months back, I would get banned all the time. Eventually, I realized that (a) I had to disable any P2P software, and (b) I couldn’t open the Opera browser. Apparently, if I open Opera when connected to the network, the fact that so many tabs are launching at once (40-80 tabs, typically) alerts the network that there might be a problem, and gets me banned.

After daily trips to the support desk, and having to teach them how to use Vista, I began to understand how the removed my ban from the system, and decided to just do it myself. See, they type in three commands at the command line, and I get back on the network.

Of course, clicking Start, typing C-O-Enter, typing three seperate commands, waiting for each to run, finish, run the next one, and exit the command prompt, and hope it worked (and if not, repeat again and again) was tedious and annoying, so I knew I had to automate it. Here’s what I did:

  • Open Notepad
  • Type out the commands, one per line. In this case:

    ipconfig /release
    ipconfig /renew

  • Save the file as iprenew.bat
  • Merely running the file won’t work, because the command prompt won’t run those commands unless you have the elevated priveleges of an administrator. So…
  • Create a shortcut to the batch file.
  • Right-click on the shortcut, click Properties, and go to the Shortcut tab.
  • Click Advanced
  • Check the box next to “Run as administrator”
  • OK, OK

Ugh. So much to go through just to not get banned from a network for opening too many browser tabs, or correcting the five times a day the network just stops working, I have to go through a bunch of hoops the average user would never think of (or be capable of) doing. Worse, Windows Search never actually noticed the shortcut, so I had to copy it to my Start Menu to be able to run it from there.

Now, my steps are down to (1) Click Start (2) Type “r” (3) Press Enter (4) Click Accept. Easier, but boy was it hard getting there.
(via Joe Stagner)

Maybe this is why babies are wearing “Windows Sucks” t-shirts!
(via Digg)

March 19th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Vista, Windows | 4 comments

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Games For Windows Live Priced, Same As Xbox Live

Microsoft has announced the pricing and details for Games For Windows Live, its Xbox Live companion service for Windows Vista PC gaming, arriving this May 8. The best part: If you have an Xbox Live Gold account, you have a free Games For WIdnows Live account.

Live For Windows costs the same as Xbox Live, $50 per year (or $20 for three months, or $8 for one month). As with Xbox Live, there are Silver (free) accounts and Gold (paid subscription) accounts. Both classes get Gamertags, gamer profiles, gamerscore for playing games and earning achievements, chatting via text and voice, friends list and online presence tracking, and a multiplayer games list.

Gold accounts gets multiplayer matchmaking with friends, “TrueSkill” matchmaking, multiplayer achievements (Silver members get achievements, but only for single player play), and cross-platform gameplay. See, while Microsoft knew it could not charge PC gamers for multiplayer, it does require you to pay for more advanced matchmaking, achievements during online play, and the ability to play games against Xbox gamers.

Halo 2 for Windows Vista has been announced as having a release date of May 8, 2007. It will not have cross-platform gameplay (Xbox 360 vs. PC), but both Shadowrun and UNO, expected later this year, will have that feature.

Also released is Geometry Wars for Windows Vista, the Xbox Live Arcade classic now on PCs, with a free trial. The full game is only eight dollars, which is three dollars more than the Xbox Live version, but cheaper than any average PC game.

Word is Gears of War is confirmed for the PC, but based on current trends, don’t expect it for at least a year.

On a seperate note, if you like the sound your 360 makes when you complete an achievement, you can now download that sound. The obvious usage: When you get a text message or email.

Also, check out the list of new releases on the Xbox Live Video Marketplace. It includes The Departed (in HD, no less!), Snakes On A Plane, and Magnolia. Why would you go anywhere else?

March 19th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Gears of War, Halo, Xbox Live, Live, Xbox, Xbox 360, Windows | no comments