Archive for the ‘Microsoft’ Category

Surface Computing – This is Cool!!

surface.jpgMicrosoft announces “Surface“.  Click the link.  Better seen than described.

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 <Via Scobleizer>

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Urlocker: What Failing Newspapers Tell us About Microsoft’s Pending Flop, Vista

Disruption Consultant Michael Urlocker has a thought provoking post on his blog that suggests that Microsoft and the entire PC industry may be reaching a point where it’s complexity and functionality has evolved beyond where they have surpassed the needs of most users.   He proposes this possibility through the lense of the newspaper business, which despite successes using new designs in the 1980’s (USAToday), have been unable to stop a steady downturn in readership over the last few years.

When a proven management method fails, it may be a signal that the market is over-shot. Typically in such cases, suppliers continue to innovate and improve on things that no longer matter to customers.

Clearly this is occuring in newspapers and we may draw a similar conclusion, tentatively, about PC operating systems, hardware upgrades and new software applications. Just as the periodic newspaper redesign of the 1980s paid off, operating system upgrades created the market boom for companies like Microsoft, Dell, HP etc
This raises a question: Is that boom over?

Overshooting customer needs is a core element of disruptive innovation because an overshot customer base will include a segment that will likely accept a so-called inferior product if it meets some other important needs

Read the whole post here

Microsoft to offer movies, TV shows on game service | Reuters.com

Looks like the predictionfrom fellow WordPress blogger Shsibae was right on the mark as Microsoft announced today that it would rent movies and sell television shows through Internet downloads to its Xbox Live video game service.  

“Microsoft will begin on Nov. 22 to offer standard and high-definition films such as Warner Bros.’  “Superman Returns” and “Jackass: The Movie” from Paramount Pictures through its Xbox Live Marketplace.   Television shows will include Viacom Inc’s  “South Park” and “CSI: NY” from CBS Corp.  Viewers will need the current-generation Xbox 360 console with a hard drive to take advantage of the service.”

Under the rental model, which is reminiscent of the now defunct DivX Disk technology launched by Circuit City Stores back in 1997,  Microsoft customers have a two week window from when they download a movie to watch it, but once they begin watching it they have only 24 hours to keep it. 

With Netflix planning a download service,  Apple’s upcoming iTV,  Amazon’s movie store, On Demand services from cable providers, and Sony’s PS3 video download function (I’ll believe it when I see it), the customer really has a lot of choices.  Which models will survive this tech war?  What will this mean to businesses who sell or rent DVDs?  I can’t say, but it will be fun to watch.

Here are the specifics:

  • Microsoft has not yet disclosed pricing for downloads, but it will be in Microsoft points.
  • Movies will be “rental” only, TV for “purchase” only.
  • At launch there will be over 800 hours of SDTV, and 200 hours of HDTV.
  • Neither TV nor movies are streamed; they are only downloaded, although you can stream short preview clips from the Live interface.
  • You can only download content to your Xbox 360 drive — not to an external drive.
  • Your “purchased” TV programs can be downloaded an infinite amount of times to an infinite amount of consoles; you may also play them back on friends’ 360s with your removable drive.
  • Deleted TV shows can be re-downloaded later; HDTV shows can be re-downloaded in either HDTV or SD.
  • Movies can be watched an unlimited number of times the first 24 hours. Plays after that period will cost the same as the initial download, although the movie data isn’t necessarily deleted. You can keep the movie data on your drive up to 14 days without re-downloading it.
  • Downloads are in VC-1 (aka WMVHD) at 720p, 6.8Mbps video with 5.1 surround.
    An average HD movie download should be between 4-5GB, and a two hour SD movie would be 1.6GB.
  • An average 1 hour (44 min) HDTV download should be about 2.2GB, and an average 1/2 hour (22 min) HDTV download should be about 1GB. A 1 hour SDTV download should be about 600MB, and a 1/2 hour SDTV download should be about 300MB.
  • This service will not be available for MSN TV users, Vongo subscribers, or any other Microsoft partners. It is Xbox Live only.
  • You cannot download programs through the Xbox Live web interface — they can only be transported to your 360’s removable drive.
  • There aren’t any drive announcements being made, but there is a rumor of a 80GB drive coming.  Of course, Microsoft rumors are never true, right?

Launch titles

Aqua Teen Hunger Force
Avatar: The Last Airbender
Batman Forever
Breaking Bonaduce
Carpocalypse
Chappelle’s Show
CSI
Hogan Knows Best
Jackass: The Movie
Jericho
The Matrix
M:i:III
Nacho Libre
Nicktoons Network Animation Festival
Numb3rs
Pimp My Ride
Race Rewind (NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races)
Raising the Roofs
The Real World
Robot Chicken
Skyland
South Park
SpongeBob SquarePants
Star Trek (original)
Superman Returns
50 fights from Ultimate Fighting Championship, and some episodes from The Ultimate Fighter
Microsoft to offer movies, TV shows on game service | Reuters.com

Xbox Live to offer HD Movie Downloads????

Ok, I’m not one who tends to spread rumors, but this one is just too juicy to not pass on.  Fellow WordPress blogger Shsibae (who is no more credible than me), posted yesterday that over 1000+ hours of video will make its way onto Live for rental at about $4 a go, or for purchase (at an unstated price).  Some might find it hard to believe Mr Softee would bypass the PC for online movie downloads ,but then again Microsoft did start up with that Xbox Live music video download thing last year and have been doing HD movie trailers since April.  Moreover, they have said that the future of their business is in Services.

If Bill & Co could make the Xbox 360 the premier digital content hub — with or without HD DVD — right underneath Sony’s nose at the eve of their PlayStation 3 launch, it would be quite an achievement.  

iPod Owners “Likely to Switch”to Zune

Who doesn’t love Chocolate? Looks like even iPod owners can’t resist the sweetness of Microsoft’s new player according to a new survey. The poll of American adults and teens, conducted by ABI Research, found that 58 percent of iPod owners were either “somewhat likely” or “extremely likely” to choose Microsoft’s Zune as their next MP3 player, compared with 59 percent for those who own another brand of audio gadget. Only 15 percent of iPod owners chose “not very likely” or “not at all likely” to characterize their Zune-buying interest.What happened to the idea that iPod owners were fanatical about Apple’s player?

“Our conclusion…is that iPod users don’t display the same passionate loyalty to iPods that Macintosh users have historically shown for their Apple products,” said ABI analyst Steve Wilson, suggesting that Apple is going to have to pull some awfully cute product-enhancement bunnies out of the hat next year to retain its market lead.

ABI Research

Xbox Fall Console Update Requires An Update Of Its Own

According to John Porcaro of the official Microsoft Gamerscoreblog, a small number of Xbox customers (less than 1%) are having issues with their newly installed Fall Console Update.  Gamerscoreblog says they’re going to release an updated version in the next 12-24 hours.

There are also a smattering of reports of a problem getting 1080P resolution to display on SonyXBR1/XBR3 HDTVs.  Apparently, no other brand of HDTV is experiencing the problem. Gizmodo has more details here.  As of this post, the source of the issue has not been isolated.

Install Vista, Buy Graphics Card

Microsoft and Intel have always had a symbiotic relationship, with each new OS release requiring additional processing power. Wired is reporting that you will need a stand-alone graphics card, usually reserved for the gamer set, in order to take full advantage of Vista’s graphics capabilities for the most graphics-rich version of Vista, or Aero, on what Microsoft calls “Windows Vista Premium Ready PCs.”

Officially, you can run a stripped-down version of Vista without a video card in a PC or a stand-alone graphics processor in a laptop — but you might not want to.

“To realize the charm and brilliance of Vista, the user has to have a decent graphics card, because otherwise it looks like crap: It is all washed up and the colors look bad,” said Jon Peddie of Jon Peddie Research.

According to Microsoft, the minimum PC configuration just to run Vista is an 800-MHz CPU, 512 MB of RAM and an integrated graphics processor that can handle Microsoft’s DirectX 9 graphical interface. For a PC that is Windows Aero ready, the requirements are more stringent. A Windows Vista Premium Ready PC for Windows Aero needs at least a 1-GHz CPU, 1 GB of RAM, DirectX 9 graphics, 128 MB of graphics memory and pixel shader 2.0, which means an external graphics card or processor is almost invariably required.

Read the Wired article here

Hand On the Zune

The old gamers at 2old2play got their arthritic hands on the Zune and offer a full report. The most important detail?

The top of the Zune had a clear glass layer while the exterior had a tactile feel to it, nothing like the hard metal and plastic of the iPod devices. The ‘skin’ of the Zune was a ‘rubberized’ material that had a smooth seductive feel to it. I found myself unable to stop stroking the device, so much that the demo assistant asked me to put it down.

Read the detailed review here: Hands On The Zune [2old2play]

The Music Store in Your Pocket

Seems that I am on a Zune kick lately, but I am not alone. Wired has an insightful story on the new content models that are emerging from Microsoft and the satellite radio guys. The big deal is that these models allow you to bypass the centralized store to get content wirelessly from other users (in the case of Zune) and from hundreds of channels of programming over satellite. The article discusses the Sirius Stiletto model, but XM has a similar offering. Regarding Zune, the article points out that it…

gives you another way to discover music without hunting and pecking through a multimillion-song, computer-based catalog on your lonesome. Users can beam songs directly to each other using the devices’ ad hoc wireless connections, significantly reducing the friction between a friend recommending something to you and you acquiring it. The beamed song will play three times before asking you to buy it — or, if you’re a Zune subscriber, you can keep it without paying an extra dime.

All of these new approaches are attempting to gain traction in the Apple-dominated digital music market through simplicity. An MP3 player with a music store and hundreds of music channels built-in could make the iPod seem unconnected, which is rarely a good thing to be.

MS Vista to create 50,000 jobs in Europe

<via Slashdot>

A Microsoft-sponsored study found that Vista will be a boon to European economy, as it ‘will create more than 50,000 technology jobs in six large European countries and will lead to a flood of economic benefits for companies there,’ News.com reports.  Europe will see a total of 1.2 mln paychecks thanks to the new operating system: ‘In the six countries studied, more than 150,000 IT companies will produce, sell or distribute products or services running on Windows Vista in 2007 and will employ 400,000 people, IDC said.  Another 650,000 will be employed in the IT departments of businesses that rely on Vista.

It’s Offical, Microsoft Zune is Announced

zuneofficial.jpg

If Tivo3, Apple Movie Store, iTV, and Wii weren’t enought this week, Microsoft ham made official what most of us have known for a while by announcing their new “Zune” multifunction thingy (more pictures at the bottom of the post).  The player will have a 30GB hard drive, built-in FM tuner, 3.0-inch screen, and 802.11 wireless. It will also come in three colors, black, brown and white. 

You can share content with other Zunes across the wireless network.  You can listen to a track from another person for up to three days, after which you’ll have to buy it from the Zune Marketplace store—their official name for the store.  Zune Marketplace has two purchase options:  per song like iTunes, and unlimited download subscription like Napster.

And while the Apple fanboys have been speculating for months about an iPhone, it looks like Microsoft is serious about it.  At a press conference yesterday, Chris Stephenson, GM for Zune, told the press, “A Zune phone is definitely part of the future of this brand.”

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zune6.jpg

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