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Free Zune Concerts

Microsoft is sponsoring a few free concerts as part of a Zune promotion. Called “Live at the BBQ” (after Nas’ career-launching hit song), the live shows will be held in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, with Common, David Banner, UGK, Mos Def, Bilal, Clipse, Collie Budz, E-40, Cham, Large Professor, and Joel Ortiz, among others performing at various dates.

You can read more about it here, and register for tickets to the LA show (and the other shows later) over here.

Time to contact somebody in PR, because I definitely want to check this out.

July 9th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Zune, Windows Media | no comments

OneNote Web Exporter PowerToy


If you love OneNote, Microsoft Office’s amazingly innovative note-taking app, you’ll love this web exporter PowerToy. It lets you, with a single click, export a notebook as a folder of webpages, complete with the same tabs and formatting you get in OneNote itself. This allows you to share your notebook with anyone, even if they don’t have OneNote, or use OneNote to create some amazing tabbed documentation that you publish to the web.
(via Daniel Escapa)

July 9th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | OneNote, Applications, General | no comments

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What Will Microsoft Talk About At E3?

Microsoft’s E3 briefing is tomorrow night at 9pm Eastern and I plan to be liveblogging it here. What will we see? Well, Microsoft is giving the briefing from the Santa Monica High School Amphitheater, a large outdoor area that is expected to feature good (but not too hot) weather Tuesday night. Holding it outdoors should make for a nice presentation, especially if there is a large crowd that really gets into it.

But that’s not important. What is important are the announcements. Will Microsoft talk about the “Falcon” Xbox 360s? Since they aren’t expected till the Fall, don’t be so sure. If Microsoft is determined to counter Sony’s announced price drop, and the Falcon’s are getting one, then you’ll hear it (one analyst is predicting price drops of $50, $80 for the Elite). If the price drop isn’t for months, Microsoft will almost definitely not announce it now, since pre-announced drops hurt current sales.

It is believed that Gears of War for Windows Vista will be announced tomorrow as well. It will definitely support Games For Windows Live, as seen in gameplay video (achievements were spotted), but no word yet if it will be for XP as well.

What else could be coming? More details on GTA IV episodic content? Finally some movement on IPTV for the 360? Even the Vista Media Center update? Guess you’ll have to come back and see.

The live webcast will be available here and on G4TV. Or you could just come here for liveblogging.

July 9th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Gears of War, Vista, Xbox 360, Xbox, Windows | no comments

Microsoft Readying New Xbox 360 “Falcon”

Dean Takahashi reports that Microsoft is almost ready to start selling the next generation of the Xbox 360, code-named “Falcon”. Dean says that “Falcon” uses a 65-nanometer manufacturing process for both the CPU and the ATI graphics chip, reducing manufacturing costs and overheating for the console. Once the revision makes its way into the manufacturing pipeline, something Dean says will be completed this summer, Microsoft will have multiple options for the Xbox 360.

They can:

  • Sell the Xbox 360 at its current price, and make a higher profit on every sale due to lower costs, as well as touting the lower temperature of the system.
  • Lower the price of the 360 to improve sales, cutting off Sony’s still-expensive PS3 and better competing with Nintendo’s Wii.
  • Improve the design of the 360, making it smaller.
  • Add more features inside the 360 (like an HD-DVD drive), taking advantage of the fact that things are a lot more stable inside.

The point is, these new Falcon-based 360s represent a major change for the 360, getting it to be cheaper to make and finally ending the heat problem, and makes Microsoft far more competitive. The new chips cost half as much, which puts Microsoft in a great position against Sony.

July 9th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Xbox 360, Xbox | 5 comments

MSN Live Earth Streaming A Success

MSN streamed the Live Earth concert even this past weekend, and by all accounts it was a success. Microsoft claims it connected more than 10 million streams, the most simultaneous viewers of any online concert ever. The worldwide audience tuned in to see concerts in New York, London, Sydney, Tokyo, Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg, Hamburg and acts including The Police, Genesis, Bon Jovi and Madonna, Kanye West, Kelly Clarkson, Black Eyed Peas and Jack Johnson.

Steve Lamb writes that you can see a replay of all the performances now at Harrison Hoffman details the Soapbox-powered website created by MSN for the concerts, which uses some pretty cool design in making it easy to find the music you are interested in.

Shame then that I can’t the damn thing to run. Must be network congestion, or something.

July 9th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | MSN, General | one comment

Sony Discounts PS3, Hoping To Improve Lagging Sales

Sony finally admitted last night that it’s big E3 announcement was indeed completely out of the bag, and that it was in fact lowering the price of the PlayStation 3 by $100. The 60-gigabyte PS3 will now cost $500, the same price the now-discontinued 20-gigabyte PS3 cost, and just $20 more than the 120-gigabyte Xbox 360 Elite. For no particular reason, an 80-gigabyte bundle with Motorstorm was announced at the old $600 price point.

It was a move Sony had to make. PS3 sales have been languishing in third place since the system launched, and while the Xbox 360 isn’t selling great, it has been selling twice as good, and Sony couldn’t afford to let Microsoft continue to build on their lead without doing something. In the US, Sony has sold only 1.38 million PS3s, while Microsoft has sold 5.5 million Xbox 360s and Nintendo has sold 2.84 million Wiis. In addition, Sony consistently sells half as many consoles per month as Microsoft does, letting the lead grow over time.

It isn’t news at this point that the PS3’s price remained, for the entire last year since it was announced, the singular point of contention for most potential purchasers. Without a doubt, it was the price, not any of the features or design or marketing, that hurt the PS3 the most, and the price drop was the only way to fix the sales problems Sony has been having. Will it be enough? Don’t count on it. $500 is still a lot of money, more than any successful console has ever sold at, and Sony has a lot of lost ground to make up. It will close the gap with Microsoft, but it won’t get even a shot at first place until the next price drop, which is likely to be over a year away.

The strangest part of the announcement has to be the 80-gigabyte PS3. With only 20-gigs more, and using a pricing strategy that failed Sony just months earlier, it presents little incentive to the consumer and isn’t likely to work. Bundling a game with a console is supposed to save gamers money, not cost more than it should otherwise, and that’s exactly what we are seeing here. 20-gigabytes is not a lot more space, and the inclusion of Motorstorm means you are paying full price for a bundled game, and getting ripped off on a 30% larger hard drive.

Sony’s muddying the waters with this second PS3, which presents no incentive over the $500 version, is designed to not sell and anger retailers, and doesn’t compete well with the Xbox 360. Sony should have either released it for $550 (an obvious discount on the bundled game) or matched the Xbox 360 Elite’s hard drive at 120-gigabyte. The $600 PS3 is overpriced, and that’s saying a lot for a console that is known for being overpriced.

July 9th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Sony, General | no comments

Xbox 360 Invades Transformers

Engadget reported that, for a very brief moment in the hit Transformers movie, an Xbox 360 came to life and attacked the man who had just tried to purchase it. Gizmodo has the video:

Not only did the 360 come to life, but if you listen closely, you can actually here the 360 boot up, complete with the standard boot-up sound. Cool!

If my 360 attacks me, it’ll first have to brave the mess of cables that surrounds it. Of course, I’m far more worried about my 181-pound television coming to life. That thing could give me a real fight!

July 9th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Xbox 360, Xbox, Humor, General | no comments

Vista SP1 Coming Earlier Than Expected

Well, Microsoft kinda lied.


Turns out Service Pack 1 of Windows Vista is coming earlier than Microsoft said it would. Microsoft had said before it would not ship a beta of SP1 until the end of the year, but Mary Jo Foley reports that the truth is that the beta will be delivered sometime next week! That’s just great news, and it should lead to the final shipping version of SP1 in November, alongside Windows Server 2008.

Since many businesses are waiting for Vista to get a Service Pack before they trust it, releasing it side-by-side with Server 2008 means they can seriously think about adopting the whole platform at the same time. It could be a major boost for enterprise Vista adoption rates.

Vista SP1 will include promised revisions to the desktop search integration, that allow competing programs to take Vista search’s place, improved performance for file copying (thank god!), improved shut down time, as well as:

  • Improved transfer performance and decreased CPU utilization via support for SD Advanced Direct Memory Access (DMA)
  • Support for ExFat, the Windows file format for flash memory storage and other consumer devices
  • Improvements to BitLocker Drive Encryption to allow not just encryption of the whole Vista volume, but also locally created data volumes
  • The ability to boot Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) on an x64 machine
  • Improved success rate for firewalled MeetingSpace and Remote Assistance connections

July 9th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Server, Vista, Windows, General | one comment