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New Gears Of War Map Pack Hits Thursday, But Don’t Buy It

A new Gears of War map pack, called “Hidden Fronts”, is hitting Xbox Live this Thursday, with four new multiplayer maps for you to kill your friends on. It’ll cost you 800 Microsoft Points, or ten dollars, but for Gears diehards, that is worth the price of admission. However, if you have patience, and know it won’t kill you to just play the other maps, you can just wait until September 3, when the maps will be rereleased for free, because Microsoft demanded somebody make some money off it. Yeah, it’s annoying.

May 1st, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Gears of War, Xbox 360, Xbox | 2 comments

Microsoft Wins Supreme Court Patent Dispute

The United States Supreme Court yesterday, in the case of Microsoft Corp. v. AT&T Corp, ruled in favor of Microsoft, that Microsoft did not violate patent law by exporting Windows, which contains technology in an AT&T digital encoding patent, to foreign countries.

The law says that patented products can be shipped and sold overseas, but their components cannot be sent to foreign countries to be assembled there. AT&T argued that because Microsoft ships a master disk to OEM computer makers, which is then installed on computer systems, it was assembling the product. Microsoft argued that software code is intangible information, and thus cannot be considered a “component”.

The Court ruled in favor of Microsoft, determining that only a copy of Windows, not the operating system itself, can infringe as a “component”. Also, only installed copies of Windows can infringe, and only once installed they could be considered “components”, and the physical CD-ROM components are not components of the final computers (since they are removed after installation, and leave no physical “components” in the machine).

In other words, they are saying that only physical copies of software, not software code, would be considered exported and then infringing, and that is not the case here. Microsoft ships the CDs, not the code, and thus no component of theirs is a component in the computer. In the end, software is like blueprints or schematics, and thus not infringing component, but rather instructions on how to do something.

Justice Ginsburg delivered the majority opinion, which you can read here. Justice Stevens dissented, saying that software code caused infringing actions to occur, thus making Microsoft liable. Justice Roberts stayed out of it.

The AP says the decision could save Microsoft billions of dollars because of the way it interprets patent laws with regard to software. As Todd Bishop explains, 42 of 43 patent cases Microsoft is currently involved in deal with products sold outside the United States, so this ruling saves them from about 60% of their potential liability.

As a reminder, the issue was whether the company should have been required to pay U.S. patent royalties to AT&T on copies of Windows installed and sold outside the United States. Out of about 45 patent cases pending against Microsoft, about 42 or 43 of them claim damages for products replicated outside the country, Smith said. Here’s how he explained the situation:

    “It’s a decision of obvious importance to Microsoft. Sixty percent, roughly, of our software is distributed outside the United States. Virtually everyone who sues us for patent infringement has been claiming the past few years damages on the basis of worldwide distribution. These were phenomena that were important in both the large verdicts, for example, in the Eolas case and the Alcatel-Lucent case. The decision from the Supreme Court … should effectively reduce the patent liability exposure that we face in these and other cases by something on the order of 60 percent. That obviously adds up to quite a large dollar number when you do the math involved.”

May 1st, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Windows, Law | no comments

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Microsoft Bringing South African Music To Zune Marketplace

Microsoft announced today a partnership with Gallo Music Group to bring a collection of their catalog to the Zune Marketplace. Gallo brings fifty albums reaching as far back as the 1930s, spanning decades of South African music for Zune users to discover.

Each week in May, Zune Marketplace will focus on sounds from a different era in addition to current chart-topping rock, reggae, hip-hop and pop music artists from South Africa. For four weeks, the Zune Marketplace editorial team will pair featured albums and playlists with insightful editorial content to help tell the story of this rich musical legacy, the majority of which has never been released in the United States in any format, physical or digital.

  • Week one kicks off with an overview of the Gallo catalog, which spans nearly eight decades.
  • Week two will feature the sounds of the 1950s through 1970s, including kwela, Zulu jive and mbaqanga, a style that melds traditional Zulu dance rhythms with classic American soul and R&B.
  • Week three will focus on the sounds of South African gospel and jazz.
  • Week four will highlight today‚Äôs best music from the region, including the platinum-selling and AVO Session Award-winning artist Simphiwe Dana.

May 1st, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Zune, Windows Media | one comment

Microsoft Beats Red Hat 2.5 Times A Day, and Other Companies

Seeking Alpha has an interesting look at Microsoft’s profits. See, Microsoft makes net income of $55 million a day, $55 million of pure profit every 24 hours. They compare that to other companies, seeing how long it takes Microsoft to beat those other companies’ quarterly profits. For example, Microsoft beats Linux seller Red Hat every ten hours, Blackberry maker Research In Motion every 4 days, and Google every eighteen days.

Crazy stuff.

Yeah, Microsoft is a big, successful company. People forget that once in a while. It seems like, based on recent developments, the company is heading for great things, especially as long as Ray Ozzie is in charge. Microsoft might be becoming the place to be, once again.
(via Mithun Dhar)

May 1st, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Corporate | no comments

Screenshots Of Windows Home Server Beta 2

APC Mag has a ton of screenshots of beta 2 of Windows Home Server, showing that the highly anticipated software is getting a Vista-like look to it. Take a look at the logon screen, and head over there for the rest:

May 1st, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Home Server, Server, Windows, General | no comments

Zune On Sale; Bad Sign?

Joe Wilcox writes that many retailers are starting to offer steep discounts on the Zune, which may indicate they are having trouble moving units. Staples is selling it for $199.99, fifty dollars off, Circuit City has it for $220. Amazon also has it for $220.

Although the Pink Zune has no discount yet:

So, what does it mean? Well, it could mean poor sales, absolutely. Zune is commanding just 2.3% of all music player sales, compared to iPod’s 71%, but they have 9.1% of all hard drive player sales (of course Apple has an even higher 84% in that category). Here’s the problem: Zune’s sales aren’t that great, but compared with the other non-iPod players, they’re doing better. So, if these stores need to carry something other than the iPod, if only to fill the rest of the shelf space and not be an Apple store, they might as well carry the Zune, right?

The other theory: Zune Version 2 is coming, and retailers know it, and are trying to offload inventory before that happens. It’s certainly possible.

May 1st, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Zune, Windows Media | 2 comments

Silverlight DreamScenes For Windows Vista Ultimate

In honor of the huge push Microsoft is giving Silverlight at Mix 07, Microsoft has released a couple of Windows Vista Ultimate DreamScenes that promote the tech. No, the DreamScenes aren’t built in WPF (which would be amazing), they just show off the cool Silverlight logo, and come in Standard and Widescreen.

You can watch the DreamScene in action here, thanks to Brandon LeBlanc:

Video: Microsoft Silverlight "Dusk" DreamScene
(via Frank Arrigo)

May 1st, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | DreamScene, Vista, Windows, General | no comments

Flickr/Twitter/Facebook Screensaver

Karsten Januszewski built Flittrbook, a really great looking screensaver that meshed data from Twitter, Flickr and Facebook, using WPF, in order to show off some of Microsoft’s cool new platforms at Mix 07. You can download an early version of the source, minus the Facebook integration (so it’s just Flitter now), right now from here, but make sure to come back to his blog later for the full, final screensaver.

May 1st, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Developers | 2 comments

Internet Explorer’s Annoying Download Limit: Fixed

Lifehacker has a hugely helpful Registry fix that allows Internet Explorer 7 to have unlimited simultaneous downloads. See, IE7 only allows you to download two files at once, and makes you sit around like a dope waiting for one to finish before it allows you another. By changing this Registry key, you can increase that amount to unlimited, letting you download as you damn well please.

The Registry key is located at HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings, you need to create a new 32-bit DWORD called MaxConnectionsPer1_0Server, set the value to 3, then create another DWORD called MaxConnectionsPerServer and again set it to 3. That’s it. Enjoy!

May 1st, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Internet Explorer, Applications, General | 2 comments

When Will Longhorn Server Get Its Name? Soon, Maybe…

Microsoft recently delivered a new beta of Windows Server, code-named Longhorn, but it has refused to say what the final product name of the operating system will be. Many have just assumed it’ll be Windows Server 2007, but with no confirmation from Microsoft, anything is possible.

Well, the cat may be out of the bag. Take a look at this MSDN article. It mentions Windows Server 2007 by name at least twice. Here’s a screenshot:


A number of other pages at MSDN, including the official Internet Explorer blog, refer to Windows Server 2007. What do you think? Done deal? Shouldn’t they have announced the name at Mix?
(via Fuzion Forums > Digg)

May 1st, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Server, Windows | no comments

Edit The Windows Vista Aurora Screensaver

Canucky has found the registry settings you can edit to change the behaviors of the Aurora screensaver that comes with Windows Vista. You can change the number of layers, the amplitude, and the speed of the screensaver, and setting it all to high results in a messed up, fast-moving, burnt-out image. I love it:


(via Kristan Kenney)

May 1st, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Vista, Windows, General | one comment