It looks like Microsoft will release a Blu-Ray drive for the 360 after all.
Microsoft has announced new Zunes features on the Eve of Apple's Ipod related media event. New models include a 120 Gbtye and a 16Gbyte model.
The more interesting part of the announcement however is the new software features. Starting on Sept 16th the Zune will support a feature called 'Buy from FM'. This feature, which will work with over 450 radio stations at launch, allows a listener to 'tag' a song they are listening on the radio for purchase. If the user is connected to a Wifi hotspot (public or private) the song will be purchased and downloaded instantly. Otherwise it will be queued for when they connect or dock next. Although I don't listen to the radio much anymore but there are a significant number of people that still do. Many Zune owners have listed the FM radio feature as a significant reason they chose a Zune over an iPod. (I'm sure the fact that their Dad works for Microsoft could be listed as another reason.) I can see how this feature will be popular. It is pretty cool and dare I say innovative?
Additionally MS has announced an unlimited music subscription program for 14.99 a month. It should be noted that many are predicting Apple to announce a similar program tomorrow.
Additional feature are the ability to update the 'Zune card' sharing in real time, as well as Audible.com support and some new games. It should also be noted that MS is giving this update away to existing Zune owners for free and not charging them the (required?!) 10.00 amount that Apple charged iPod touch user's for new features.
Microsoft finally goes after Vista's pervasive negative image. I'm surprised they waited this long. It's pretty funny, and sneaky actually. Now admittedly I'm not the biggest Vista advocate, I don't run around trying to convert people. But when the topic of Vista comes up in casual (non geek) conversation I am amused at many people totally slam it without 1. every having ran it or seen it, and 2. even knowing what they are talking about. Public opinion is a powerful thing, you really don't want that against you.
Vista SP1 has finally been released.
Fire up Windows update or download direct.
You can now feel free to switch over to Vista en mass. After using it for a couple months now, even Paul says it doesn't suck as bad as he thought it did.
Microsoft's research OS; Singularity is now available for download. This OS is build on managed code using an extension of C#. I've seen talks and demos on this before, it's pretty cool.
Microsoft has expanded their free virtual storage service, SkyDrive, to 5G. That's great news if you are looking for a secure place to store personal files, share them with friends or with the world.
The service just came out of beta and I think it needs a few more features to be truely useful for me: 1. Windows Explorer plug in. 2. Integration with Foldershare to provide machine sync as well as online storage. 3. Windows Mobile support.
This time they are going after Danger. Looks like they are continuing to try and buy their way out of their current slump.
Microsoft is gearing up another round of MCE extender hardware via 3rd parties like Dlink, Linksys etc. The first attempt fell flat on its face. In fact the only successful extender so far has been the 360 (which totally rocks BTW). This time around they will be looking to more faithfully represent the MCE and Vista MC UIs. And to entice you further... they will include native Xvid and Divx support!
No mention yet if the 360 will be blessed with Xvid as well. We'll keep our fingers crossed.
So far I'm liking 64 bit version of Vista. I had a little difficulty at first getting my raid driver setup, but I've managed to find drivers for the rest of my hardware. I'm still searching for what I think is the killer app, but overall I really like the look and feel of things. Of course I am a bit biased, but I went for nearly a year without using vista so I really didn't know what to expect in the final product. There are quite a few changes since the last time I ran it, and there's certainly a lot more polish. I think right now if I were to pick a killer application, it would probably have to be the speech recognition. Although speech recognition really isn't going to be used by too many people. I've been playing the speech recognition now for well over a decade, it is surprising how long it is taking to become usable. I will say right now that in windows Vista the speech recognition works amazingly well. I suppose it ought to given the powerful processors that we have today. The accuracy is amazingly better than the old dragon dictate system that I played with so many years ago. But only going to the tutorial, which does minimal training, I've been able to dictate this entire post.
(End of speech dictated text)
More on Vista's speech engine here.
Now that Vista is released Microsoft made the new Remote Desktop Client available for XP. This version is 6.0 and is basically the same client that ships with Vista. The killer feature for me is the /span monitors option. It allows you to create a remote desktop session that will fill two monitors. Note that the monitors need to have the same vertical resolution for this to be effective. Also they need to be oriented side by side. You do not need to have multiple monitors at the remote (server) end - just the client.
This one feature has been a real productivity booster for me. I have been using versions ripped from various Vista builds for over a year now, and can't live without it.
There are some other neat features in there as well, but most are limited for use with Vista as the server. These include 32bit color, font smoothing, and desktop composition. Oh, and by Vista I apparently mean Vista ultimate, since for some sick reason MS marketing yanked remote desktop support from Vista premium.
You can get the new client from windows update (if it hasn't already been pushed to you by now.)
Now that Vista is officially released, it might be fun to take a trip down memory lane. Luckily Paul Thurrott has a very complete historical archive here.
For grins, start at the bottom of his Vista section and work up. Hey wait a minute! What is this sidebar and gadget stuff doing in screen shots from 2002? Why the heck is desktop search being previewed in 2002 and early 2003? Come on, it is public knowledge that these features were copied from Apple in 2005. Who are you trying to kid Microsoft? We all know that Bill Gates sent a robot back in time to alter early versions of longhorn. And we are not falling for it!
Seriously though, it's been an interesting ride. The behind the scenes Vista story is even more interesting than the public roller coaster ride. I can't give any details here, at least not for a few months. I'm sure there will be a book written about it it anyway. Heck maybe even a movie.
I'm sure everyone at Redmond is breathing a sigh of relief right now. Now that they have Vista behind them, I'm sure there will be a bit of um, 'internal restructuring'. One thing I'll put money on... the next version of Windows won't take five years to release.