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ZuneFinally, Microsoft has given up some details on the Zune, the most significant detail being the confirmation that it exists. In an article in Billboard Magazine, the company reveals that Zune is much more than just a digital media player, but rather a family of hardware and software products which integrate various forms of digital entertainment services. The first implementation of this will be the portable music player and digital music service, which is essentially Microsoft’s first real attempt at going head to head with the Apple’s iTunes and iPod one-two punch combo. It will be interesting to see if Microsoft can put a dent in Apple’s 70% market share in digital music downloads, and 75% of the entire digital music player scene. If anyone has the pockets to do it, it’s them. Before counting them out, remember that the Xbox was nothing more than a joke when we first heard about it in 1999, and today it’s at the forefront of the game industry.

EDIT: A couple of official Zune related sites: Zune Insider, Coming Zune, and Madison and Pine

Read More | Billboard (Account Required)

Gallery: Microsoft Officially Confirms Zune


Microsoft Zune

So, if the rumor mill is to be believed, Microsoft’s Zune should be launching this October, ready to get jacked on your trick-or-treat romp through the neighborhood. While others are hearing rumblings of a November launch date, one thing is for sure. If the Zune is to launch this year, it will hit retail by Black Friday. No one launches anything after Thanksgiving, as retailers want to plan out their holiday setup before the end of November. So, the good news is that this thing will drop by November. Other items of note appear to be that the Alexandria codename we have been hearing about may turn out to be the music and video service associated with the product. Not sure why Microsoft wouldn’t just play along with URGE here, since they have been pushing it pretty hard over the past month or so, but I guess we will all find out when all this conjecture becomes verified.

Read More | BetaNews

Gallery: Zune To Launch In October Alongside Alexandria Service?

We catch up with Greg Canessa, General Manager for Xbox Casual Games, and chat about the much anticipated Lumines Live for Xbox Live Arcade. Greg shows us around the game, going through the interface, and touching on music video integration. He also fills us in on details about matchmaking and competitive play over Xbox Live.

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Gallery: Bleeding Edge Byte 022: Lumines Live, Greg Canessa Interview

You want a chance to throw a party on Microsoft’s dime? If you have access to Xbox Live, the computer software giant is giving you the chance. They’ve got a promotion running now for “Xbox Live Arcade Wednesday Party-In-A-Box”, which is essentially getting you to have a party on a Wednesday night tied to the weekly release of a new Xbox Live Arcade title. In exchange for taking photos and submitting them to Microsoft along with details of your shindig, they’ll give you a coupon for a free Papa John’s pizza, 1000 Microsoft points to download Xbox Live Arcade titles and a free digital music download for your favorite 80s tunes. How retro…

Read More | Microsoft Xbox Newsflash

Gallery: A Party on Microsoft’s Dime

If you’re one of those MSN Messenger (sorry…Windows Live Messenger) or Yahoo Messenger fans who is really devoted to your IM client but has friends on the other network, fear not – Microsoft and Yahoo have officially declared it safe for your IM client to now chat with your buddy. The Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo Messenger with Voice applications can now connect with one another via a limited public beta program which can be signed up for at Microsoft or Yahoo’s Web sites. Features which will be usable between the two IM clients include exchanging instant messages, seeing one’s online presence, viewing status messages, share select emoticons, viewing offline messages and adding new contacts from either service.

Read More | Microsoft Press Release

Gallery: Yahoo, Microsoft Hop in IM Bed Together

Microsoft was busy yesterday with their monthly security bulletin, issuing five critical and two important updates to address vulnerabilities in both Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office. The critical patches are all focused on preventing remote code execution and include correcting vulnerabilities in such items as server service and DHCP client service. Microsoft encourages users to download and apply the patches as soon as possible to protect their Windows-based computers against possible security problems.

Read More | Microsoft July 2006 Security Bulletin

Gallery: Microsoft Issues July Security Fixes

Microsoft Private FolderMicrosoft has a new free software program available as a Windows Genuine Advantage offer which lets one protect private data in a password protected folder stored on a PC. Microsoft Private Folder 1.0 is available for download through Microsoft’s Web site.

Microsoft Private Folder 1.0 lets users “protect your private data when your friends, colleagues, kids or other people share your PC or account. With this tool, you will get one password protected folder called ‘My Private Folder’ in your account to save your personal files.” The software requires Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition, Professional Edition or Media Center Edition with SP2 to run and, besides requiring genuine Windows validation in order to download, does not come with any product support.

Read More | Microsoft Private Folder 1.0 Download Page via News.com

Gallery: Microsoft Unlocks Private Folder 1.0

Microsoft Wireless Laser Desktop 6000I’ve been taking my sweet time going over this desktop set with a fine-toothed comb, using it every day to ensure that I’m giving it a fair shake. I’ve positioned the wireless receiver everywhere I can, I’ve changed the batteries, and I’ve changed wireless channels. The only verdict I can come to after several months of use is that this desktop set should probably be avoided.

I used to hate wireless keyboards, because they seemed like a needless luxury item. Unless you’re surfing the web on your big screen TV, what could you probably need a wireless keyboard for? Once I had one, I understood…a wireless keyboard is a fantastic way to reduce wire clutter, not to mention reclaiming desk space by simply moving the keyboard out of the way when you need to.

Click to continue reading Gear Live Review: Microsoft Wireless Laser Desktop 6000 Review

Gallery: Gear Live Review: Microsoft Wireless Laser Desktop 6000 Review

Windows VistaWhile it’s a good guess that Windows Vista won’t garner many OS X converts, it will still do fairly well if ComputerWorld’s “20 Reasons Why Windows Vista Will Be Your Next OS” article is any indication.  This article builds upon a prior piece that gave you twenty things you wouldn’t like about Vista, and this time around tries to look at things from a more postive light.

Some of the more notable reasons include, “UAC and You”, which concerns the User Account Controls and also made the prior list of things you wouldn’t like about Vista.  “Power & Performance” provides insights into the new SuperFetch and ReadyBoost features among others, and “Wireless Networking” details the methods of the new wireless features versus the madness of the old way that XP operates.

In closing, the author believes that Vista is on the right track, but that OS X is still a better operating system.

Windows Vista could be the culmination of Windows, the last in a line before a major shift. And Vista fits that role well. It’s not just the best version of Windows ever, it’s the best Windows upgrade ever. In other words, it’s a bigger advance for this time than other versions of Windows were for their time. Windows 95 is the only one that comes close.

Does that make it better than Apple’s Mac OS X? I’m afraid not. OS X is still, all things considered, a better operating system. But OS X is little more than a test tube compared to the vast user base that Windows commands. Vista will have a huge impact on the entire world of computing, while Apple’s OS—which Apple still foolishly insists must run solely on its hardware—continues to languish as the choice of a paltry few. Microsoft wins again.

Read More | ComputerWorld

Gallery: Windows Vista - 20 Reasons It Will Be Your Next OS

Microsoft OfficeMicrosoft has made available today a website where users can take Office 2007 beta out for a test drive, without having to download a thing.  Well, that’s not exactly true.  While you aren’t required to download the hefty beta ISO, you are required to install a browser plugin from Citrix, and if you don’t already have one you’ll need to sign up for a Microsoft Live or Passport account as well.

Applications included in the Web-based test version of Office 2007 are: Microsoft Office Access 2007, Excel 2007, InfoPath 2007, OneNote 2007, Outlook 2007, Outlook 2007 with Business Contact Manager, Outlook Web Access, PowerPoint 2007, Project Professional 2007, Publisher 2007, SharePoint Designer 2007, Visio 2007, Word 2007, SharePoint Services, Project Server 2007 and SharePoint Server 2007.

This could be a sign that Microsoft is concerned about competition from Google’s online word processing and spreadsheet applications, or they could simply be looking at others avenues of growth for their Office products.  Regardless of their motives, I decided to give the Office Beta Test Drive a little test of its own.  Positive of the expected outcome, I loaded up Firefox and tried accessing the test site.  Microsoft didn’t let me down, and spurned my attempts to use a browser other than IE.  So I dusted off IE 6.0, fired up the test site, and was greeted by the confidence inspiring message you see below.

Office Test Drive

Undaunted by this sign of either extreme popularity or poor planning on the part of the test site, I forge ahead.  With the browser check complete, the next task up is the installation of the Citrix plugin.  All goes well at this stage, albeit extremely slowly.  So slow at times that I think the test site has given up and gone home for the day.  The plugin does install though and I move on to the network check, and this is where things come to a complete, dead stop.  Plenty of bandwidth is available on my end of things, so the hold up is definitely on the test site’s end.

And that’s where this story ends, for now.  I’ll update this later today once the test site has decided to wake up from it’s nap, or once it finally succumbs and gives up the ghost.

*UPDATE* After a few tries throughout the day, the test site did eventually speed up and I was able to progress to the point of entering the waiting queue.  With the prospect of a 173 minute wait in front of me, I finally threw in the towel and sent my IE window back to the depths from which it came.  If anyone has the patience to wait it out, and is successful in trying the online beta, please let us know your thoughts.

Read More | Microsoft via Computerworld

Gallery: Test Drive A Web-based Office 2007 Beta *UPDATED*