LiveSide has the details on the Windows Live Admin Center, which replaces the old Live Custom Domains and lets you do more than just use a hosted Live Hotmail domain name. You can now customize all sorts of subdomains to Windows Live services, such as setting a blog.yoursite.com URL to a WIndows Live Space, or setting a maps.yoursite.com URL to a custom Live Maps Collection mashup.
Windows Live Maps continues to do amazing things with its 3D view, adding an experience that in many ways matches or surpasses Google Earth, all while running in nothing more than your regular web browser. The latest new feature is the ability to add 3D models to the map, a feature Google Earth accomplishes with Google SketchUp, and Live Maps now manages with the 3DVIA Technology Preview, a new, free online application developed by Dassault SystÃ¨mes.
Getting started is as easy as navigating on the map in 3D and clicking Collections, then “Add a 3D model” (alternatively, you could just go here). The software will prompt you to install 3DVIA, which takes a while, but after that you can right-click on the map at any time to add a 3D model, which will launch the software.
Users can create a quick and easy 3D model of their house or other buildings they know, including adding textures and colors, then upload them back to Live Maps and see the model on the map. User-created 3D models can be shared as collections to show friends, but presumably Microsoft will start adding the best ones to the main Live Maps, increasing their stable of detailed 3D models.
I’m amazed that there are buildings in my neighborhood that have 3D models already. Somehow, Queens College, apartment buildings, even largish synagogues in my little slice of Queens have detailed 3D models, with an amazing amount of intricacy. Even my wife’s old apartment in Brooklyn is modeled. I don’t believe for a second that someone modeled these by hand, not with the curved surfaces and detailed diagonal roofs, which means Microsoft’s automated building tech has gotten really advanced. Good for them.
I haven’t been able to get 3DVIA working, in order to compare it with Google SketchUp, but as soon as I get a chance we’ll see which is easier to use. Either way, its another great step towards making Live Maps the most impressive mapping product on or off the internet.
The Virtual Earth blog lists ten cool things about the new Windows Live Maps. They include buildings in the 3D mode that turn see-through when you get to close (and send vibration to your Xbox 360 controller if you’re using it).
Also: When you search an area, it gives you a list of popular business categories in that area, sort of letting you just browse the stores.
Also: “Ghost node editing”, which lets you re-drag line segments to reshape polygons you draw on the map (a feature they admit was inspired by Google Maps).
Also: Traffic conditions now show green for good roads, yellow and red for progressively worse traffic, and a new black color for severe conditions under which the cars aren’t moving at all.
Also: Business details that are category specific, like the number of patients seen by a doctor, the price range and class of a hotel, and the average meal price at a restaurant.
Also: KML files are now available for subscribing to Live Maps Collections. KML is the Google Earth format for impormatting map data, so Live Maps is letting you get your data out and bring it to Google Earth, while Google Maps/Earth is keeping everything inside.
There’s so much interesting stuff going on at the Live Maps blog, I had to subscribe to it.
Windows Live Search has released a new version of their first class Windows Mobile application, adding some killer new features.
The big one: Voice recognition. When you need to select a location on the map, instead of typing it in or browsing to it on the map, you can hit a Speak button and just tell it where to go. That means that when you need driving directions, when you want to find movie showtimes, or if you just need to browse the map, you can just say the name of the neighborhood you are in and get it, just like that.
I went to the Nightmare: Ghost Stories haunted house in Manhattan yesterday, and afterwards we needed to drop off a friend at the subway. I told my phone where I was, and it brought up the satellite map, complete with local subway locations. Then I clicked the Movies button, and we got showtimes for Saw IV in the area. When we decided to see the movie back in Queens, I just told the phone to look there, and it did.
Honestly, nothing compares to how good this is. If you’re using Google Maps on your phone and you can switch to this, you’d be crazy not to. The voice control is so easy, and accurate enough on a Manhattan street, that there’s no reason to use anything else.
The other new feature: Gas prices.
Hit the Gas Prices button on the home screen, and it’ll search for all the local gas prices, then list them according to the lowest prices. You can get more details, or hit a Map All button to see all the gas stations on a map, so you aren’t driving for forty minutes to save three cents a gallon.
Get the new version at wls.live.com.
If you have a Blackberry, there’s a new Blackberry Live Search application. It doesn’t have the voice search or gas prices, but it does have all the regular local search, mapping, movie showtimes, and traffic information. It’s also available at wls.live.com.
They’ve also improved the browser-based Live Maps, available at m.live.com. It now includes better, more readable maps, traffic conditions (that are taken into account in the driving directions).
There are two videos about the new Live Search mobile application, the first being a two-minute rundown, the other an eight-minute more detailed overview, both available at Rob Chambers’ blog. I’d embed them here, but Soapbox doesn’t work in my regular browser, and IE seems convinced that Flash player isn’t installed.
Microsoft shipped a new version of Windows Live Search Maps, one that comes with an all new, all better interface. The new interface takes all the controls, for panning the map, switching between 2D and 3D, zooming in and out, switching between road, aerial, hybrid and bird’s eye views, and switching on traffic data, all in a simple, minimalist bar in the corner. You can, with a single click, contract that bar into nothingness:
Besides the improved interface, there’s a new version of Virtual Earth 3D for you to install. It adds these features:
- Add birdâ€™s eye view to 3D maps.
- Put your own modeling creations on the map.
- Turn your collections into tours and movies to show and share.
Here’s the new 3D interface, with a bird’s eye image taking up the center of the screen, and a ton of 3D buildings on either side:
LiveSide lists other improvements here and here, including the ability to abbreviate the beginning or end of driving directions. If you already know plenty about the end or the beginning (because one of them is your house or office), you can tell it to shorten that section and not waste your time telling you how to leave your own neighborhood.
Another new feature: traffic redirection. If there’s bad traffic, it’ll re-route you around it, though you’ll have the option to see the directions without that. Another one: One-click directions. Choose a destination, and it’ll give you a page with a map and seperate directions from the North, South, East and West.
This Windows Live Maps mashup, found at the Via Windows Live website, shows you scary places located all over the country, including houses haunted by ghosts, places where scary legends got their start, and spooky graveyards. Perfect for planning a Halloween vacation.
There’s a new Windows Vista Sidebar Gadget that brings Windows Live Maps to your desktop. Unlike the previous one, which did a great job of tracking traffic conditions in your area, this one is used to search Live Maps, even planning a route and getting directions right from the Gadget. Read more at Mike Ormond’s blog where he explains the Gadget (he wrote it, after all).
(via Ian Moulster)
Microsoft’s Art Of Office
Microsoft introduced this new “Art Of Office” website, a place for people to submit artistic documents created using the Mac versions of Microsoft Office. The idea is to show off how Office can be used by creative types to create stunning documents.
Some Mac users are angry that Microsoft took the time to develop this site at the same time Mac Office 2008 was being delayed.
Google Maps, Windows Live Maps & Others In Flash
Flash Earth now lets you use a Flash interface to get around Google Maps, Windows Live Maps (aerial and labeled), Yahoo Maps, Ask Maps (aerial and physical), OpenLayers and NASA Terra daily satellite imagery.
(via, via, via)
I Beat Halo 2!
Just thought I’d mention that I finally finished the damn game. First game I played till the end in a while.
Halo 3 Goes Gold
Don’t worry about Halo 3 or some sort of unexpected delay. Microsoft announced the team at Bungie finished the game, certified the code, and sent it off to that big factory that prints shiny plastic disks for your gaming pleasure. Huzzah!
Halo 3 Countdown Gadget
Can’t stand having to wait three more weeks for Halo 3? Download this Gadget for Windows Vista’s Sidebar and stare as the clock ticks ever so slowly.
Family Guy Comes To Xbox Live
Xbox Live now offers downloads of episodes of the hit cartoon Family Guy, with all the episodes from the first two seasons as well as the straight-to-DVD “movie” for $2 worth of Microsoft Points. No other TV download store, including iTunes, currently has Family Guy.
Check out Vision 20/20‘s POM Offender Locator, a Windows Live mashup that shows you registered sex offenders in your area. Apparently there are 650,000 registered sex offenders in the U.S., an obscenely high number*, so keeping aware of who is on the list in your area is kind of a good idea.
POM’s also got an alert system that warns you if there’s danger, like your child entering a certain area, exceeding the speed limit, possible terrorist attacks or national disasters, FDA alerts, when a new sex offender moves into your neighborhood, or your child is approached online. The perfect system for the paranoid parent! They’re also selling (I swear to god, you can’t make this up) a “POM Pilot” GPS tracker that lets you know where your kids or valuables are.
(via Blorge > Bink)
* – At first, I though that number had to be a ridiculous and inaccurate stat, but then I remembered how many girls I knew back when I was dating that had stories of when a guy tried to rape them. Now that I think about it, the number would probably be twice as high if all those unreported sex crimes had actually been prosecuted.
Windows Live Maps and the Virtual Earth technology got a nice August update, adding two new 3D cities and 105 new bird’s eye (oblique) views, a total of 15.65 terabytes of new data. The full list, after the jump
aQuantive Deal Passes FTC, Live Maps Gets Huge Update, Live Search Preview, iPhone Keyboard On Windows Mobile, Another 360 Compatibility Update
Catching up: I had a crazy week, with me and my wife going on a short wedding anniversary vacation, one of my best friends getting married, and my aunt and her family moving forever to another continent. There’s a lot of stuff filling up the queue, so we’re going to go through it double time
Microsoft’s aQuantive Deal Clears Federal Review
Microsoft’s $6 billion purchase of aQuantive has passed the Federal Trade Commission’s waiting period for antitrust considerations without objections, leaving Microsoft free to continue the acquisiton without worry. Meanwhile, the U.S. House of Representatives is launching an inquiry into Google’s DoubleClick deal, meaning Microsoft will almost assuredly complete its acquisition well ahead of Google. Google’s deal is hitting some serious roadblocks, while Microsoft has been given the nod to go forward.
Live Maps July Update Adds Rendered Maps, 26 Terabytes Of New Data
The Virtual Earth team pushed out a huge update to the tech that powers Windows Live Maps, adding a new style that shows elevation in the regular road view. They call it “hill shading”, giving you an idea of hills, mountains and just plain ol’ inclines on maps you view in your browser or print out. They also added expanded aerial imagery (and in most cases, 3D buildings) to these cities:
Canada: Hamilton, Quebec, Toronto
Europe: Toulouse France, Eastbourne UK
United States: Birmingham, Huntsville, Montgomery, Mobile, Phoenix (expanded), Arden, Denver (expanded), Ft. Lauderdale, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Tallahassee, Fort Myers, Tampa West, St Petersburg, Coral Gables, Cape Coral West, Pembroke Pines, Orlando, Hialea, Columbus GA, Jackson, Oak Park IL, Rockford IL, Ohare IL, Baton Rouge, Shreveport New Orleans, Metarie, Jersey City, Elizabeth, East Ruth, Newark, Paterson, Brooklyn, Niagara Falls, Portland (expanded), Nashville, Chattanooga, Milwaukee
Windows Live Search Has Special Preview View
This website has details on a special view that Windows Live Search has in some countries and regions (not the U.S., far as I can tell) that shows the top six search results as thumbnail image previews of the website. A Site Owner FAQ on MSN Singapore confirms the feature, and gives instructions on how to tell the search crawler not to create a thumbnail for your site (for bandwidth concerns, I assume). You can see a screenshot of the Search Preview thumnails at the original post.
Get the iPhone Keyboard on Windows Mobile Devices
Someone’s released a program that replaces the Windows Mobile on-screen keyboard with one that looks more like the iPhone’s. Besides enjoying a bolder look, it has bigger, easier-to-hit buttons, though they don’t grow in size while typing, and they use Windows Mobile’s form of predictive text input, not Apple’s. If you’re like me, and you’re still wondering how the hell Microsoft thought the current WinMobile keyboard was okay, this app is a required install.
Xbox 360 Gets Yet Another Backwards Compatibility Update
The Xbox 360 got yet another backwards compatibility update, letting it run a good number more original Xbox games. Are there any important old games that still won’t run on a 360? If you’ve got one that’s driving you nuts, leave a comment. The newly compatible games:
- America’s Army
- Auto Modellista
- Bass Pro Shops Trophy Hunter 2007
- Blinx 2
- Bloodrayne 2
- Crash Bandicoot 4
- Crash Bandicoot 5: Wrath of Cortex
- Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil
- Drive to Survive
- Drive to Survive (EM)
- ESPN College Hoops
- ESPN NHL 2K5
- Evil Dead Regeneration
- FIFA Street 2
- Full Spectrum Warrior: 10 Hammers
- GUILTY GEAR XX #RELOAD
- Harry Potter: And the Chamber of Secrets
- Harry Potter: And the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Hot Wheels: Stunt Track Challenge
- Jet Set Radio Future
- Justice League: Heroes
- King Arthur
- Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders
- Magic: The Gathering: Battlegrounds
- Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects
- Marvel vs. Capcom 2
- Mech Assault 2
- MLB Slug Fest 2003
- Myst III: Exile
- NBA Live 2002
- NCAA Football 06
- Nobunaga no Yabou Ranseiki
- Outlaw Golf 9 More Holes of X-mas
- Outlaw Volleyball: Red Hot
- Outrun 2
- Outrun 2006: Coast to Coast
- Pac Man World 3
- Panzer Elite Action: Fields of Glory
- Pro Cast Sports Fishing
- Project Gotham Racing
- Project Gotham Racing 2
- Rogue Ops
- Sega GT 2002
- Sega GT Online
- Shadow Ops
- Showdown: Legends of Wrestling
- Silent Hill 2: Dreams
- Sponge Bob Square Pants: Lights, Camera, Pants!
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Melee
- The DaVinci Code
- The Sims 2
- The Urbz: Sims in the City
- Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2X
- Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3
- Transworld Surf
- Trivial Pursuit Unhinged
- Winning Eleven 8
- Without Warning
- WWF Raw
- Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dawn of Destiny
The SpongeBob game now works? Huzzah!
Customize The Office 2007 Ribbon, Information Cards Accepted Here, Microsoft Student 2008, Virtual Earth MapCruncher, Where Silverlight Comes From
I’m in Atlantic City with my wife, celebrating our one-year wedding anniversary, so here’s a post featuring a bunch of items I should have blogged weeks ago.
Add-in Lets You Customize The Office 2007 Ribbon
RibbonCustomizer is a very useful add-in for Microsoft Office 2007 which lets you customize the Ribbon interface in Excel, Powerpoint and Word 2007. In the professional edition, which costs $29.99, you can customize individual commands, create new Ribbon tabs and populate them any way you want, create and share customizations, remove and re-order groups in Ribbon tabs, re-order and remove tabs, pretty much anything you want to change.
The free version includes less features, but it does share one feature with the Pro version that might make it all worth it for you: The Classic UI tab. This adds a tab to your Ribbon that has file menus and toolbars, just like the old versions of Office did. You can use this for free to help someone get used to the new interface, by switching back and forth between new and old, until you are ready to use the new one. That feature alone makes this worth installing.
(via Erik Rucker)
“Infomation Cards Accepted Here” Icon Released
Microsoft is pushing adoption of Windows CardSpace for digital identity management, so they’re sharing this icon for websites that accept Information Cards. Sites and applications can use this icon if they accept any Information Card, even if it’s not using CardSpace, which is why the icon doesn’t have any corporate info in it. Microsoft just wants people to start using Information Cards, so it can start becoming the one you get your Information Card from.
Microsoft Releases Student 2008 with Encarta Premium
Microsoft released the latest version of Student, and the 2008 package includes Encarta Premium 2008, Microsoft Math 2.0 (with a Graphing Calculator, Step-by-Step Equation Solver, Equation Library) and Foreign Language Help. Not very different from Student 2007 besides the Encarta update, but there is one new program: Learning Essentials 2.0 for Students, which has templates and tutorials that transform Word, PowerPoint and Excel into more student-oriented applications, with tips for creating better papers and other things for class assignments.
MapCruncher Lets You Import And Combine Existing Maps With Virtual Earth
Microsoft Research has this useful program called MapCruncher, which lets you take an existing map, like a map of bus routes, tourist hotspots, or hiking paths, and import it into Virtual Earth. You import the map, whether in vector (PDF, WMF, EMF) or raster (JPG, PNG, TIFF, GIF, BMP) format, find 5-10 landmarks on both the imported and Virtual Earth maps, and it creates a mashup for use on a web page, and image tiles to match up with the road and aerial images in Virtual Earth.
To see how it works, look at this mashup of the Louisville, Kentucky bus map. You can find any bus station or route, and with a click swith between bus map, aerial, and road maps. Very cool.
Where The Silverlight Name Came From
Ever wonder how Microsoft came up with the name “Silverlight” for what was Windows Presentation Foundation/Everywhere? Sean Alexander had some background on it I missed. Included is that the Silverlight name was settled on in mid/late 2006, but was held back behind an intentionally awful codename of WPF/E so the new Silverlight name would be a bigger hit.
Microsoft is running another game around Windows Live, this time the Windows Live Derby. In this game, you drive a little car around one of five cities (New York, London, San Francisco, Seattle, and Las Vegas), picking up dots Pac Man-style, and either avoiding or smashing the other cars on the map. You are driving around the aerial imagery from Windows Live Maps, which is how it promotes the product, and you earn extra points picking up special locations around the map.
As you can see in this screenshot, I am right now number one on the leaderboard:
Beat me? Let me know. What’s a real shame is that this game, which is a good amount of fun, is not part of the Live Search Club. I love Chicktionary, but I’d rather play this game all day to win prizes.
Version 2 of Windows Live Search for Mobile was released, bringing with it some improvements and enhancements. There are versions for Windows Mobile 2003, Windows Mobile 5 and above, J2ME, and Blackberry. There are new features and old ones I’ve decided to give a little more depth. I’ve got a slideshow GIF above and a rundown of each of the screenshots below. Go to wls.live.com on your device to download it.
The main menu. Note the new Movies icon. We’ll talk about that later. First, there’s a great feature that lets you find places by navigating through categories. Not only does this save you time typing (important on a mobile phone), but the organization makes it easier to browse and find things without having to be all specific with searches.
First you get categories of interest, then specific types within those categories. For example, in the Restaurant category, there are types of restaurants, like cafes and bagel places. You can navigate by tapping or with the directional pad.
Once you’ve gotten to the last category, you get a list of places in your area (something you can specify or choose at this point).
Choose one and you get a detail page on that place. You can choose to search near that place, save it, send it as a text message to a friend, or…
Get directions to it. These are turn by turn directions, and a click on the Map button…
And you get to follow it on a map, turn by turn. This map shows the map view, along with traffic conditions in red and yellow.
You can also switch to satellite map view. The text is surprisingly sharp, and the imagery isn’t bad either.
Now the cool new movie feature. Select it, and it gives you a list of movies in your area, and the other tab has a list of theatres in your area.
Tap a movie and get a detail page on the movie. Hit “More Movie Info” to go to a website about the movie.
Hit the theatres link for a list of theatres where it is playing, along with distance to there and showtimes, and get directions if you need them.
The preferences page is pretty smart. You see that you can use a GPS (only on Windows Mobile) so it’ll always know where you are for directions and searches, making this a damn cheap navigation system. You can also tell it to cache to your storage card, not waste space on internal memory. With a large storage card and the cache, performance improves significantly.
All told, it looks and works amazing. The older version was, on many features, better than Google Maps for Windows Mobile, and the new one is definitely the winner for now. If you have a compatible phone, go to wls.live.com on your phone to get it.
There has also been an update to the browser-based Live Search, with:
- A Single Search Box: Tell us what and where, if applicable and youâ€™ll get the most relevant results from Instant Answers, Local, Web, Images to News and Spaces â€¦ all perfectly formatted for your mobile phone.
- Image Search: Weâ€™ve unleashed our image search capability on the mobile and you donâ€™t even have to ask for it. Click on a result to see a copy of the image optimized for your your mobile (when necessary).
- Instant Answers: Weâ€™ve reserved some premium real estate for Instant Answers weâ€™ve all come to love. Currently, we offer weather, finance, movie show times and Encarta Instant Answers and thereâ€™ll be more to come.
- Local Directory Listings: Get business and residential listings with ratings sorted by relevance. You can also narrow results by filtering on the most relevant categories!
- Web, News & Spaces: Last, but not least, we automatically search web, news and spaces for relevant results. Should you click on a result within these scopes, we render the destination site for viewing on mobile.
However, the gem is definitely Destroy All Invaders, pictured above. The game uses Windows Live Maps Virtual Earth API, letting you choose any location on the planet and putting your helicopter above its satellite imagery. You fly around the map, shooting down UFOs. This is a brilliant use of both Silverlight and the Windows Live Maps API, created by Andy Beaulieu. Great job, man!
For most of these, the source code is available, so if you want to create a Windows Live Maps-based Silverlight game, check out Andy’s code.
Windows Live Search added a new type of Instant Answer: Interactive maps at the top of search results. If you search for an address or a place, Live Search should detect that and put a map of that place right at the top. Search for “map” and it will try to figure out where you are (based on IP) and show you a map of your current location. Add “traffic or “commute” and you’ll get traffic conditions in the map. The map is fully interactive, letting you move it around and zoom around with your mouse.
Microsoft isn’t the first to do this feature (Google has it, too), but it’s a very useful one, and the extra features should make it great for advanced users and anyone just stumbling upon it.
Funny, no maps in Opera. I wonder why?
Here’s my second video blog post since tearing up my hand, the first for InsideMicrosoft. The highlight is definitely the demo of the new New York buildings in Windows Live Maps 3D, so I think you are really going to enjoy it.
Windows Live Maps adds 3D New York
Microsoft’s Fancy New 3D Map Imagery – Unofficial SEO Blog
Microsoft Live Takes New York 3D – TechCrunch
New York, New York in VE3D – Virtual Earth blog
Map Wars: Attack of the Killer Maps @ Where 2.0 – Peter Laudati
Map (Battle) of the Day:
Google Street View Vs. Microsoft Live 3-D – Gothamist
Live Messenger 8.5 leaked
Windows Live Messenger 8.5 – Jordan Green
Leaked Windows Live Messenger 8.5 turns up more surprises – LiveSide
Windows Live FolderShare Beta – there is still hope – LiveSide
Windows Live Suite
Windows Live Suite on its way? – Neowin
Million Zunes sold, but not
A Million Zunes Sold – Slashdot
Update: Microsoft Hasn’t Sold 1 Million Zunes – BetaNews
Microsoft sold not 1 million Zune Players [Update] – I4U
One Million Zunes Sold, 99 Million to go – Gizmodo
Zune Has NOT Sold 1 Million Units – Gizmodo
Zune Marketplace gets McCartney
McCartney: Zune Scores, iTunes Misses? – Microsoft Watch
Also, if you missed the InsideGoogle video blog from Tuesday, check it out:
UPDATE: Since I filmed this, a new version of Windows Live Messenger has been released. I’ll be talking about that in my next video, which I will film today.
The Windows Live Dev news site details the new usage of the Windows Live API, which will let larger websites use the API beyond typical restrictions by paying for it. See, almost all web APIs have a limit of how many uses you get in a certain time period, but many give you no way of paying for more, so Microsoft’s release of a for-pay API is better than nothing at all. The bullet points:
- For basic usage, the API will always be free
- Usage up to one million unique users is free, except for:
- Windows Live Search is free up to 750,000 searches per months
- Virtual Earth (Live Maps) is free up to 3 million map tiles per month
- Silverlight video streaming is free up to 4 gigabytes of storage, with free unlimited streaming, and no limits on users
- Above one million unique users, sites will have to pay 25 cents per user per year
- For Search and Virtual Earth, sites will need to negotiate a commercial agreement with Microsoft
- No beta services will charge for usage of the API. You will only have to pay after it leaves beta
- Users will be averaged out per quarter, so if you have a big spike one month, you won’t have to pay for it
Great stuff, except the negotiating for Search and Virtual Earth. I’d like to know what the process is, and if it is going to be difficult for small websites to make a deal.
Still, four gigabytes of Silverlight storage, with free unlimited streaming, is incredible. It sounds so good that I’m going to have to start using it. I mean, who needs YouTube when you can host the actual video for free like that?
(via the Virtual Earth blog)
Sponsors and ads
|GoDaddy.com promo! $6.95 .COM code: BNC695|
- April 2013 (4)
- August 2009 (1)
- July 2009 (1)
- November 2007 (71)
- October 2007 (124)
- September 2007 (97)
- August 2007 (128)
- July 2007 (99)
- June 2007 (124)
- May 2007 (107)
- April 2007 (82)
- March 2007 (57)
- Games For Windows
- Open Source
- Windows Media
- Windows Mobile