Surprising just about everyone, Microsoft has begun distribution of the Windows Vista Beta 1 software. Many expected the product to go out on August 3, which is actually a date given by Microsoft themselves. Apparently, they are trying to show that they will do whatever it takes to get this thing out on time - that being the end of 2006. About 500,000 developer subscribers will receive the beta, and I assume thousands more will find it via other methods. Vista Beta 1 includes Internet Explorer 7 beta, a built-in desktop search tool that appears just above the Start button, translucent desktop appearance, and improved power management. Beta 2 will add web search from the desktop, communications features, and a one-click hibernation feature above the Start button.
Yesterday, Microsoft launched Windows Genuine Advantage, a worldwide program it hopes will combat software piracy. During a customers first visit to Microsoft Download Center, Windows Update or Microsoft Update they will be asked to download an ActiveX control which checks your Windows to see if it is authentic and, if it is, stores a special download key on your computer for future reference. If your software turns out to be pirated, Microsoft gives you two options. The first allows you to submit a piracy report, provide proof of purchase, and mail in your counterfeit discs, and in turn they will send you a genuine copy of the software absolutely free. The second option, for those who only submit a piracy report, but provide no proof of purchase or counterfeit discs, allows the user to purchase a genuine copy of XP Home Edition for $99, or XP Professional for $149 with their choice of receiving it online, or in the mail on a CD.
“Microsoft has created a program that is fair to customers and reseller partners,” said Michael Cherry, lead analyst, Windows and Mobile, at Directions on Microsoft. “While Microsoft is requiring customers to validate, they’re putting their best foot forward to help customers out, in terms of simplifying the process, creating software incentives and offering to help customers replace counterfeit software they acquired unwittingly.”
Read More | Tech News World
You know, it was only a matter of time before Konfabulator was snapped up by someone big, and it has finally happened. Yahoo! has bought the product, along with the company behind it - Pixora. Yahoo! didn’t delay on rebranding it as soon as they could, as there is already a Yahoo! Widgets site up and running. They are keeping the product free, and already have the library of PC and Mac widgets available for download. This is a smart move for Yahoo! in our opinion, a great way for them to get back on the desktops of computer users via information delivery.
Read More | Yahoo! Widgets
Several tech-minded journalists were invited this week to take Boeing’s new broadband service for an test flight. The on board service, dubbed Connexion, would service the plane with 20Mbps of bandwidth. Taking advantage of the connection would cost anywhere between $10 and $30, depending on the type and length of the flight. While this all may sound wonderful, especially for those living the traveler’s high-tech lifestyle, the down side is that none of the major airlines have shown any official interest in purchasing the service. In the era of budget and service cuts in the airline industry, it may be a while until we can join the mile-high web surfing club.
Read More | PC World
According to research conducted by Nielsen Netratings, Google is still king of the mountain in internet searches, but it appears AOL and Ask Jeeves are gaining ground. Google still has a comfortable lead over its competitors with a 47% market share, followed by Yahoo(22%), MSN (12%), AOL(5%) and Ask Jeeves (2%). AOL and Ask Jeeves have a long way to go before posing a threat to Google, but they are gaining steadily. During the second quarter of 2005, searches performed on AOL rose 15% and those performed on Ask Jeeves rose 16% while those on Google only rose 6%.
“Google’s performance has remained consistent, so it appears AOL and Ask Jeeves are gaining at the expense of those below them,” said Nielsen analyst Ken Cassar, noting that because of Google’s massive user base, it is harder for the company to gain share than it is for the competition. “It’s far too early to say that Google needs to watch its back, but a resurgent AOL makes the game a lot more interesting,” he said. The survey results indicate that AOL might be on the right path as it moves toward providing more free content on the Web, said Cassar.
Read More | Top Tech News
The powers that be at Microsoft have decided on an official name for their long-overdue follow-up to Windows XP: “Windows Vista.”
Microsoft employees and lay-people like myself alike stood back stunned for a moment at the sheer… monumental… absurdity of the name. As if “Longhorn” wasn’t easy enough to snicker about, “Vista” is such a “fluffy” sounding name that it’s hard to believe that they are serious. It’s hard to say without sounding like you have a serious lisp, implies a frothy nothingness, and conjures mental images of vast, empty space stretching for miles. Granted, I’m not the biggest fan of the Windows OS, but seriously. “Vista?!” Watch the announcement here.
Straight from the horse’s mouth — I can’t make stuff like this up.
Read More | Windows Vista
While every visitor to the Apple homepage will be greeted today by a huge banner proclaiming the company’s monumental sales achievement, only one will be receiving the huge iPod-based prize package for downloading the 500 millionth song from iTunes. Amy Greer of Lafayette, Indiana pushed Apple over the mark with “Mississippi Girl” by Faith Hill and will be rewarded with 10 iPods, 10000 free songs, and a trip for four to see a Coldplay concert. While this is an amazing milestone for legal digital music downloads, it’s even more amazing to think that iTunes has sold an average of almost 7 songs to every single living person in the 19 countries it services (feel free to check my math).
Read More | iTunes 500 Million
SanDisk today announced their support of Transflash - although in a somewhat backwards way. They have announced a new product offering called MicroSD - which happens to be identical to and “backwards compatible” with Transflash. The big news here is that they have doubled the size of the thumbnail sized memory cards. A 512 MB card is expected to retail for less the $70 and be available next month. Perfect timing for the supposed iTunes phone from Apple and Motorola. A 1GB and 2GB version are both in the works and should be available in the next year.
Read More | Sandisk MicroSD Press Release
Good news for those of us who are serviced by Comcast for cable and high speed Internet. Beginning in July, Comcast will be upgrading subscribers speeds by a whole 2.0 Mbps at no cost. If you currently subscribe to at least Comcast Expanded Basic Cable TV service or above, the following HSI options are available to you:
6.0/384 - $42.95 - Up from 4.0/384
8.0/768 - $52.95 - Up from 6.0/768
As Comcast just recently upgraded their network just a few months ago, a second speed increase leads me to believe that they are feeling the heat from services like Verizon FIOS.
Read More | Venturus
We have written about the Internet Archive recently and are surprised to see that they are being sued - for providing the archive itself! A Philadelphia law firm was defending a health care company being sued in a trademark violation. The firm used the way-back machine to show the courts old web-pages dating back to 1999 to prove their use of the trademark. Now the plaintiff is filing suit against the Internet Archive for violations of two federal laws: the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Now I am not a lawyer, but I don’t see how they broke copyright by archiving a copy of a public website, and making it available for the Internet in general.
Read More | NYTimes - Reg Required