InsideMicrosoft

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Post-Weekend Update

Here’s everything that’s built up over the weekend, so we aren’t still talking old news on Wednesday:

For one week, the Xbox 360 was actually bigger in Japan than Sony’s PS3, with the 360 outselling the PS3 as sales increased from the previous week by about 500%. It’s not Wii-level (and the low-selling PS3 isn’t that hard to catch), but it’s a start towards gaining a real foothold in Japan. On the other hand, PS3 sales in the US are up double so far this month after the console’s price dropped to $400.

Even with the Wii outselling the 360, Microsoft makes more money than either Sony or Nintendo, due to higher priced consoles and much higher game sales. Halo has sold 3.7 million copies so far.

Another Windows Vista Sidebar Gadget: Wedding Tip of the Day, the perfect Gadget if you’re planning for a wedding. Every day, tips and ideas for planning your big day, with eight different styles to customize the look.

The PS3 now has support for DivX files. According to a slip-up in the press conference, negotiations are underway to bring it to the Xbox 360 real soon.

Zumobi, a company spun out of Microsoft Research, has announced that its new UI for mobile devices will be released December 14. Zumobi works by displaying up to 16 “tiles” in a grid of web services and content on a single screen, allowing users to choose quickly from the available sites. It’s a complicated but supposedly genius idea, one we’ll have to play around with to fully understand.

Windows Live Search’s link command, disabled to keep spammers away, is now working again.

Apple finally admitted that porting its UI over to Windows is stupid, and has fixed a lot of the Mac problems in the Windows version of Safari. Windows can now be resized from all edges, not just a little thing in the corner, and ClearType font rendering can be used instead of Apple’s patented EyeStrain technology, among other fixes.

A new version of Office Accounting Express is out, the 2008 edition. And yes, it’s still free.

New deal: If you have an original Xbox with Xbox Live and purchase an Xbox 360 between tomorrow and December 21, you get a free copy of Halo 3.

November 19th, 2007 Posted by | Sidebar, Sony, Vista, Windows, Xbox, Xbox 360 | no comments



Vista Sidebar Whack-A-Mole!

sidebar-whack-a-mole.jpgThere’s a new Windows Vista Sidebar Gadget that should make you happy in a silly way. It’s that gaming classic, Whack-A-Mole! Any time you get a hankerin’ fer some mole-whackin’, just head over the Sidebar and click to start a new game. A bit of advice: It’s hard to work with the smaller docked version, so you might want to drag it off the Sidebar.

Download it now.

November 15th, 2007 Posted by | Sidebar, Vista, Windows | no comments

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Yes, You Can Make Silverlight Gadgets

Adam Kinney has created an Xbox Live Gamer Tag Gadget, which lets you enter a bunch of Gamer Tags and see who’s online, and click one to see what games their playing and other stats. It’s a fairly useful and well-designed Gadget, but what makes it so good is that the whole thing is built on Silverlight. So, now that we know Silverlight Gadgets work, and work well, imagine how much cooler-looking Gadgets we could be getting in the future.

There’s a demo of it on Channel 9, and you can download it at this link. Make sure you have Silverlight 1.0 installed.

October 31st, 2007 Posted by | Developers, Sidebar, Silverlight, Vista, Windows | one comment

My Facebook Vista Sidebar Gadget

myfacebook-sidebar-gadget.png

With Microsoft buying a portion of Facebook, it’s only appropriate that tonight’s Windows Vista Sidebar Gadget is a Facebook one. This Gadget, MyFacebook, shows you if you have new messages in your inbox, pokes, pending friend requests, lets you see your friends albums, friend lists and events in a popout, shows your status and a scrolling display of your friends’ statuses, and even lets you update your status right from the Gadget.

Getting it to work is tricky. After you’ve installed the Gadget, click the Facebook logo to login to your Facebook account. You’ll get a prompt to authenticate the Gadget, and entering your username and password should launch Internet Explorer. If it doesn’t work, you’ll need to open Internet Explorer (not your default browser, it has to be IE) and add https://login.facebook.com, http://login.facebook.com and https://facebook.com to your trusted sites list. To do so, click Tools>Internet Options, the Security tab, click Trusted Sites, then Sites, then add the sites. Start with the first site, then if it doesn’t work, add the next, and so on, until you can log in.

After you’ve logged in the Gadget, click its settings icon and add the feeds it requests. Do not select the option to show your friends’ albums, because it really does take forever to load. You can have multiple instances of this Gadget, so you can keep tabs on more than one Facebook account at the same time, as you can see in my screenshot.

There’s a lot going on in this Gadget, so take the time to figure it all out. It’s worth it. It may have some flaws, but this Gadget is already one of the best I’ve installed, and I’ve installed hundreds. Check out the Gadget page on Facebook to discuss with other users, and go to the Gadget author’s blog for more information and answers to your questions.

October 25th, 2007 Posted by | Sidebar, Vista, Windows | one comment

Pregnancy Calendar Vista Sidebar Gadget

Continuing my quest to bring you the most unique and useful Windows Vista Sidebar Gadgets, today’s Gadget is a Pregnancy Calendar. Colored in the brightest of bright pinks, this Gadget lets you select a due date or the end of your last period and tells you how far in you are, and how much time is left before you have a baby. Not only that, but if you click it, it has fun facts about what’s going on right now with your fetus.

October 24th, 2007 Posted by | Sidebar, Vista, Windows | one comment

Video Game News Vista Sidebar Gadget

video-game-news-vista-sidebar-gadget.pngAnother Windows Vista Sidebar Gadget from Wikio, this one shows you news about video games. You can get general industry news, or select from the drop-down to get news about specific consoles (like the Xbox 360 or Wii) or popular games (like Grand Theft Auto, Halo, or Second Life).

October 23rd, 2007 Posted by | Sidebar, Vista, Windows | no comments



NFL Vista Sidebar Gadgets

nfl-siidebar-gadgets.png

With Football season well underway, you probably can’t wait to hear the latest news about your favorite teams*. To help you keep up with things, there’s a few Windows Vista Sidebar Gadgets you can install.

The NFL news Gadget gives you the latest headlines on the entire league, or you can select to just see news about your team.

The NFL scores Gadget shows you the score in the current or recent game your team played, or it shows you who they’re playing next and when.

Also, the Sports news Gadget delivers general sports news, or you can click to have it show news on any specific sport you like, including baseball, basketball, hockey, or 13 others sports.

* – Unless you’re a Rams fan

October 19th, 2007 Posted by | Sidebar, Vista, Windows | 3 comments

Is My Website Alive? Vista Sidebar Gadget

isalive-vista-sidebar-gadget.pngBecause you can never have enough Vista Sidebar Gadgets*, here’s another one you might want, if you’ve got your own website (or just really, really like one): The isAlive Gadget checks if your favorite website is online or not. You can set it to any website, tell it how often you want it to check, and have it play a sound when the website goes down (and when it comes back).

* – Not true! The limit for the number of Gadgets you can safely install is 347. After that, your computer eats you in your sleep.

October 18th, 2007 Posted by | Sidebar, Vista, Windows | no comments

Office Tips & Tricks Vista Sidebar Gadget

office-tips-and-tricks-vista-sidebar-gadget.pngHere’s another useful Windows Vista Sidebar Gadget for you to try out: The Microsoft Office Tips & Tricks Gadget gives you a new tip every day for using Microsoft Office. Click the Gadget and read the whole tip, which should hopefully make your day a little bit easier.

October 17th, 2007 Posted by | Applications, Office, Sidebar, Vista, Windows | one comment

Upcoming Special Events Vista Sidebar Gadget

Here’s a fun new Windows Vista Sidebar Gadget: Coming Up looks at your Outlook Calendar and pulls out your All-Day events, giving you a heads-up on upcoming birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and whatnot. Very useful for keeping track of that stuff.

October 16th, 2007 Posted by | Sidebar, Vista, Windows | no comments

Christmas Countdown Vista Sidebar Gadget

christmas-sidebar-gadget-countdown.pngIf you’re thinking of nothing but Christmas, install this Windows Vista Sidebar Gadget that will count down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until midnight Christmas Eve arrives. Enjoy!

October 10th, 2007 Posted by | Sidebar, Vista, Windows | no comments



Hot Or Not Vista Sidebar Gadget

hotornot-sidebar-gadget.png

If the one thing your Windows Vista Sidebar isn’t giving you are enough pictures of hotties, then you need to install the Hot Or Not Sidebar Gadget for Vista. It shows you a new picture of either a guy or girl every 5/10/20/30/60/120 seconds. Click the photo to see the member’s profile at HotOrNot.com.

September 7th, 2007 Posted by | Sidebar, Vista, Windows | no comments

Windows Live Gallery Silver Awards Going Out

Microsoft has started awarding the status of Silver developer to the makers of the best stuff on Windows Live Gallery, as we mentioned they would two weeks ago. Featured developers get promoted in a special box on gallery.live.com as well as a special badge letting users know they are a cut above the rest. All this is done by Microsoft as a free way of acknowledging those who contribute to the community, but if you’d like to buy your way to special recognition, Gold is for sale.

June 19th, 2007 Posted by | General, Sidebar, Vista, Windows | no comments

Windows Live Gallery Offering Sponsorship Opportunities

Microsoft plans to let developers with products on Windows Live Gallery the opportunity to purchase or receive premium placement in the Gallery for their products, according to a podcast at LiveSide. Developers will be placed in one of three tiers:

  • Regular contributor – this is just the standard, which anyone gets by placing anything in Windows Live Gallery. If you’re there, you’re getting it already.
  • Silver Partner – based on merit, like having popular content, your stuff will be elevated and features in various sections of the Gallery, which will help expose the best stuff to even more users. Because it’s based on merit, it’s totally free, but your stuff has got to be good (or at least a lot of people need to think so).
  • Gold Partner – by establishing a business relationship with Microsoft, developers can get their content featured higher in the Gallery. This means a process for partnering with Microsoft (i.e. – money) to preferred inclusion on Live.com, the Windows Vista Sidebar, and in the directory of Windows Live Gallery

June 4th, 2007 Posted by | Live, Sidebar, Vista, Windows | one comment

New Vista Battery Saver Application

If you didn’t like the old Vista Battery Saver program, since it didn’t follow Windows UI guidelines, or if you just want something more powerful, check out Tamir Khason’s Vista Battery Saver application. Not only does it shut off Aero on battery, it can also shut off the Sidebar on battery, and you can tell it to only shut off those functions if the battery goes below a certain level. It even can set itself to run on Windows startup, so you don’t have to do it yourself.

A must-have, and something that really should be built into the next Windows update. Download it here.
(via jkOnTheRun)

May 18th, 2007 Posted by | Sidebar, Vista, Windows | no comments

Creating Gadgets With Silverlight

Charles Sterling writes the steps required to use Silverlight in a Microsoft Gadget in a Silverlight application. He’s also got a seperate article on including Gadgets in regular WPF, but putting creating Gadgets in with Silverlight has got my mind swimming with cool possibilities for putting creating Gadgets in webapps with rich interfaces. Me like.

UPDATE: I completely misunderstood Charles’ post, but the reality is even better than I thought. How cool are Silverlight Gadgets gonna look? Pretty cool, that’s how much!

May 15th, 2007 Posted by | Developers, Sidebar, Silverlight, Vista, Windows | no comments

Good Windows Vista Sidebar Gadgets – Issue 10

This column, which reviews pretty much every halfway decent Windows Vista Sidebar Gadget (and some real stinkers), has reached its tenth edition, and with that, and end to series one. After every ten issues, I’m going to do a roundup, pointing out the best Gadgets reviewed so far, so if you didn’t pay attention till now, you’ll be all caught up. Hopefully, you’ll see that in the next week, by visiting the Sidebar category on this blog.

If you want to sponsore prizes for the makers of the best Gadgets, let me know. These roundups are getting pretty popular, so its a good opportunity.

Till then, enjoy the latest roundup:

Windows Vista Sidebar Gadgets Issue 10Windows Vista Sidebar Gadgets Issue 10 Hosted on Zooomr

First up is Mikk379′s Mobility Center Gadget, which brings forth lots of useful information for mobile PC users. It shows CPU usage, RAM usage, battery life, and even Wifi signal strength and which network you are connected to. Looks aren’t anything special, but this Gadget’s got a lot to offer in a compact package.

The ToDo List Gadget by MrChad_ (pictured only in the screenshot) lets you list up to 15 items you need to get done, and check them off when finished. This Gadget should resize as you add items (since it’s way to big with nothing in it), and it would be really cool if it connected with SideShow. Otherwise, there are many situations you’d find this more useful than the Sticky Notes Gadget.

The Full Moon Gadget shows the current phase of the moon (no settings needed) as well as the phases for four of the next six days (days 1, 3, 5, and 7). Looks great.

The Ponzi Live! Gadget (only in screenshot, big box in botton right) lets you watch Chris Pirillo’s wife when she’s on Ustream. There’s also a Leo Laporte one, but it doesn’t seem to work (I think they moved his channel). Why all these specific Ustream Gadgets? Why not one with user-selectable channels?

I should start skipping Gadgets like this, but somebody has to warn people. The Windows Live Gadget by LocoLorenzo doesn’t do anything. Click it, and Live.com opens in your browser. That’s it. Yuck.

Liked the Royal Vista Casino Gadget I reviewed in Issue 8, which lets you play a bunch of casino games in the Sidebar? Then you’ll be pleased to know it now comes in Italian and French and German. Well, unless you only speak Flemish. Then how are you reading this?

If you’re a resource Nazi like myself, you’ll love the TopProcess Gadget. Rather than showing the amount of CPU being used, it shows you the programs that are using it the most. You can change the number of programs, and the interval being updates. Now, all I need is one that shows me the programs using the most RAM, and I can stop using Task Manager so much.

The NASA TV Live Gadget (in screenshot) shows the NASA TV stream, which seems to consist mostly of interviews about all the things NASA does. It doesn’t size properly to the Sidebar, so this one is for use undocked.

The System Notify Gadget is a really unique system information Gadget, showing what edition of Windows you are running, RAM, hard drive space, free hard drive space, and in a flyout, details on any other drives connected to your system.

Vishwak Solutions’ Media Player Gadget lets you choose any video file and play it in the Gadget. It’s got a small size, whether in the Sidebar or undocked.

The Outlook Task Item Gadget is an extremely compact Gadget with links to task items for yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and clicking any of them brings out your tasks in a flyout pane. And it stays small when undocked, so it takes up practically no space.

Vishwak Solutions CPU Meter Gadget has a unique look compared to other CPU Gadgets, showing the CPU usage in a large area, and the top five processes (and how much memory they use) in a list.

The Task Reminder Gadget lets you set a time to be reminded about something, with an alarm going off and the Gadget letting you know why. Much more useful than my old method: Using Task Scheduler to open Windows Media Player every morning.

The TXTDrop.com Free Text Messaging Gadget (seen in screenshot) lets you send free text messages to any US cell phone, getting replies in your email inbox.

The official AOL Search Gadget has a search box to search AOL’s search engine (sadly opening a new browser windows, not using a flyout), but it also shows the top three most popular searches (ten when undocked). Best of all, its small when on the Sidebar, big but not terribly big on the desktop, and in both modes it has a button to make it smaller down to just the search box.

The ViewMy.TV Gadget (pictured in screenshot) shows you a bunch of TV channels, including CNN, from viewmy.tv. One problem: Viewing is only in a flyout, so if you do anything else, it goes away.

The History on Today Gadget shows you something that happened this day in history, from InfoPlease’s website, and it lets you click to see the whole page at InfoPlease.

The System Symbols Gadget (in the screenshot, the small white Gadget with six colorful little buttons) gives you links to several important system tasks with one click: shutdown, log off, restart, switch user, standy, or hibernate. It’s compact, and the icons it uses are cute, but I wish it just used the standard Windows icons. You don’t want to be confused about which icon does what, when one of the icons restarts your computer.

The Halo 3 Beta Countdown Gadget counts down to the release of the hotly anticipated Halo 3 multiplayer beta, just two weeks away.

VishwakSolutions’ Dictionary Gadget lets you type in any word and get a short defintion in a flyout pane. Click a link and get the full definition at dictionary.reference.com.

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Vishwak Solutions’ Radio Gadget lets you choose from eleven Tamil, Hindi and English radio stations, and play them right from the tiny Gadget.

The Simple Date & System Functions Gadget shows you the day, date and time, but mouse over it and you get links to open Task Manager, Lock the computer, Shut Down and Restart. Great idea, great use of a small space.

The

Slaine’s Multiple XBox Live Gamercard Gadget lets you enter a bunch of Gamertags. It displays the Gamer pictures of all the people you added, sorted by whoever has the highest GamerScore, and clicking on any will show the Gamertag. Great way of keeping track of a lot of other gamers without wasting a lot of space.

The Thelazyadmin.com RSS Gadget shows the latest headlines from that network admin tips site. What I love: It has a setting to keep the small size even when undocked. Every Gadget needs that option! There’s also a Gadget for searching that site, but it has no flyout pane.

The Google Analytics Drilldown Top Ten Gadget (shown in screenshot, botton center) shows your top ten content items in Google Analytics, in theory. I only got three things listed, my two homepages and my archive page, so it doesn’t seem to be working for my site. Still, worth checking out if it works right for you. You can select from three date ranges and three refresh rates.

Angelus’ Tic Tac Toe Gadget lets you play Tic Tac Toe in your Sidebar (and doesn’t get too big when undocked). You can play against the computer on four difficulty levels, or play against a friend. The configurations appear to be in Italian or something, but it’s all very straightforward. I discovered something using this Gadget: I’m really bad at Tic Tac Toe.

The System Monitor Gadget is amazing. It shows you a ton of data on your system: Memory used/free/total/percent/bar, CPU speed/percent/bar, network LAN IP and WAN IP address, hard drive letters, free space and total space, removable drives and what’s in them, and user info with user name/computer name/network domain.

If you’re into the French presidential election, and speak French, you can use the Second Tour Pr√ɬ©sidentielles 2007 Gadget to keep track of news items.

The MiniRadio Gadget lets you choose from a huge number of pre-programmed radio station, or add your own, and listen to them in a nice compact form. There are a ton of customization options for the Gadget.

One other thing to note: Windows Live Gallery, the site where you’ll find almost every Sidebar Gadget, got an update, improving the look and seperating Sidebar Gadgets and Web Gadgets into two seperate sections. If you subscribed to an RSS feed of the latest Gadgets, you’ll need to replace it with a new one now, as the old one is useless.

Previously:
Issue 1
Issue 2
Issue 3
Issue 4
Issue 5
Issue 6
Issue 7
Issue 8
Issue 9



May 3rd, 2007 Posted by | General, Sidebar, Vista, Windows | one comment

Good Windows Vista Sidebar Gadgets – Issue 9

Continue the tradition, the ninth edition of my reviews of the newest Windows Vista Sidebar Gadgets. Coming soon: Issue 10, which will be followed by an “all-time” best of special issue.

Windows Vista Sidebar Gadgets Issue 9Windows Vista Sidebar Gadgets Issue 9 Hosted on Zooomr

The MSN Movies Gadget shows the latest movie trailers available at MSN, but it only links to the video pages at MSN.

The NTVMSNBC.com Turkey News Gadget shows the latest news from Turkey. You can make it smaller and pick a category, but it’s all in Turkish (wonder why? :-) ).

The My Documents Gadget doesn’t do anything, it just opens my documents in a new window when you click it, and looks like the icon. Yawn. I should follow Paul’s advice and stop calling these “good” Gadget.

The SayaTV Gadget (the big one) lets you watch TV on SayaTV, an “internet TV social network”, directly in the Gadget. You’ll have to install an IE add-in, but it looks compelling and promising, if there are good channels. I found a stream of the Singapore Fashion Festival.

The Zune Gadget is a cool Windows Media Player remote Gadget, shaped and interfaced like a Zune. You can use it as though the Zune had a touch screen, thankfully. One problem: The background is messed up and transparent, making it look pink and weird, instead of properly showing a user-selected image.

The Drugstore.com Explorer shows you products available on drugstore.com, all within the Gadget. It only shows one product at a time, but works well.

The Garfield of the Day Gadget shows today’s Garfield comic strip, except it’s too big for the Sidebar and too small to read on its own, even undocked. You click it to view the strip full-size, which begs the question of why they didn’t size it right. At least you can click to see older strips as well.

The Chris Pirillo Live Gadget shows the live feed of Chris Pirillo’s “lifecast” from UStream.

The Babe Slide Show Gadget has been updated to version 2, and the new version resizes when undocked, has better transitions, and randomizes the photo order. However, it still eats up over 140 megabytes of RAM, so watch out!

Previously:
Issue 1
Issue 2
Issue 3
Issue 4
Issue 5
Issue 6
Issue 7
Issue 8

April 24th, 2007 Posted by | Sidebar, Vista, Windows | 2 comments