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WorldWide Telescope Unveiled

Microsoft officially unveiled the WorldWide Telescope, its software that allows anyone to see, for free, the entire universe and navigate the cosmos in an exciting interface. WWT works a lot like Google Earth, just with a 3D universe spanning thousands (or many more) of light years, letting users zoom all the way into incredibly distant galaxies and view the universe in multiple wavelengths.

There isn’t much information on the official WWT site, but there are videos of some people talking about it and a short FAQ.

Here’s a video from a talk yesterday at the Computer History Museum where the speaker discusses the computing infrastructure required for WWT. Fast forward to about 1 hour 19 minutes. Be warned, the sound is awful:

This year old CNet video has two seconds of WWT footage, about 2 minutes 30 seconds in:

February 27th, 2008 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General | no comments



European Commission Fines Microsoft $1.35 Billion

The European Commission, Microsoft’s biggest thorn in its side lately, fined the company 899 million Euros, or $1.35 billion, for still not meeting their expectations in complying with 2004 penalties, the umpteenth time they’ve fined them for that reason. This brings Microsoft’s toatl fines over the last four years to 1.68 billion Euros, or just shy of $2.5 billion.

The EC keeps claiming Microsoft is ignoring sanctions, but Microsoft continues opening up more and more in an attempt to comply and stave off future fines. If they don’t think Microsoft is doing enough, fine, that’s their prerogative, but to say Microsoft is ignoring them requires, well, ignoring Microsoft’s actions the last few years. The company is really trying, and as long as it is making good faith attempts to fix these issues, it should at least merit a slightly smaller fine, say, $100 million?

After fining Microsoft 407 million euros in 2004, the Commission fined it another 280.5 million euros in July 2006 for failing to comply with the sanctions through June 21, 2006. (Reporting by David Lawsky; Editing by Dale Hudson)

Where the hell is all this money going, anyway? Shouldn’t they give the money to the companies Microsoft has supposedly wronged, instead of using it to balance their budget or something?

February 27th, 2008 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Law | 2 comments

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Windows Mobile Phones Sell 14 Million in Six Months

Microsoft announced at the Mobile World Congress that it sold 14.3 million Windows Mobile phones in the last six months, thanks to breakout hit devices from Samsung and HTC. By contrast, Apple sold 4 million iPhones in its first 6 1/2 months, and is expected to sell 8.5 million the first year, 4.5 million in the same next six months Windows Mobile expects to sell 20 million.

While this fight is far from decided, it’s curious how, on the one hand, Apple is getting outsold by Windows Mobile at least 3 to 1, and on the other hand, you’ve got Canalys claiming Apple has 28% market share to Microsoft’s 21%. Remind me to never believe a word Canalys says again (who are they, anyway?).
(via Engadget)

February 27th, 2008 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Mobile, Windows Mobile, Apple | 4 comments

Xbox 360 HD DVD Drive Discontinued, Now $50

The HD format wars are over, and Sony’s Blu Ray won (if you haven’t heard from underneath that rock you apparently live under). As a result, Microsoft has announced it is ending support for the HD DVD player you could buy as an add-on for the Xbox 360, and the previously $200 player has been dropped to a close-out price of $50. Yep, $50 for a pretty good upscaling DVD player and six free movies.

If you like the movies, you’re basically paying a little over eight bucks for the disks and getting the proprietary player to watch them on for free. Which explains why there’s been a run on the little drive, leaving stock hard to come by on some online sites. Amazon’s out of the player at the moment, though a number of Amazon Marketplace merchants are selling it from $59.40, all the way up to $72.

February 27th, 2008 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Xbox 360, Xbox | no comments

MP3 Alarm Software For Windows Mobile

“shiv” posted a neat little piece of software for Windows Mobile devices. MP3 Alarm.NET does one thing, and does it well; it plays any MP3 or WMA file, or a Media Player playlist, at a time of your choosing, acting as an alarm clock with your favorite songs or podcasts. Download the free program from SkyDrive.

February 27th, 2008 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Mobile, Windows Mobile | no comments

Possible Windows 7 Feature: Start Menu Programs with Extended Menus

A private Windows feedback survey sent by Microsoft included a mockup of what might be a planned feature for Windows 7, the next version of Windows, currently in development. As far as I can tell from the screenshot, programs would be able to feature their own extended menus coming out of their programs automatic placement on the Start Menu.

My best guess is that the extended menu features recent documents in the case of software like Microsoft Word, and favorite websites when dealing with Internet Explorer. If this becomes a feature, expect all software to get the option to include their recent documents in the Start Menu, or possibly other options. Looks like a cool feature, one that will hopefully make its way out in Windows 7.

February 27th, 2008 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Seven, Windows | one comment



Google Recommends ISO Reject Open XML

Zaheda Bhorat, Google’s manager of open source programs, is urging international delegates to vote to reject Microsoft Office 2007’s Open XML as an international standard when the ISO votes this week. Google is firmly behind ODF, the document format backed by Microsoft’s enemies at Sun and IBM, who hope to use it as a wedge against Microsoft Office’s market domination.

Google’s open-source programs manager, Zaheda Bhorat, posted a blog on Monday urging those delegates to vote against Open XML because Google believes that it is an “insufficient and unnecessary standard, designed purely around the needs of Microsoft Office.”

Bhorat said Open XML should be subsumed into the existing standard–OpenDocument Format, or ODF–which is backed by Microsoft rivals, including Google.

In a document more thoroughly laying out its position on Open XML, Google says the core problem with the specification is that it’s redundant with ODF. The company also says it’s too specific to Microsoft Office and that it’s of insufficient quality.

“Submitting such a proposal makes a mockery of the standards process,” according to the Google assessment.

February 27th, 2008 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Office, Google, Open Source, Applications | 3 comments