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Microsoft finally unveiled the long-awaited Zune today. Basics include a 3 inch screen, WiFi, 30GB hard drive, and a built-in FM tuner. Music, pictures, and video playback are all standard fare here. With Zune-to-Zune sharing, you can wirelessly share a full-length track with a compadre, who gets 3 viewings/listenings before purchase at the Zune Marketplace (unless they already subscribe to the unlimited “Zune Pass”.) You can also share your pictures and playlists with your amigos, along with homemade recordings.

Zune will be available in brown, white, and basic black, but no news yet on pricing or availability. Stay tuned to Gear Live for more details, or subscribe to The Zune Newsletter for updates.

Read More | Zune Release

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Classroom at MS-HSThe city of Philadelphia fronted $63 million to have Microsoft design a school in a west-philly working district back in 2003. Well, after 3 years, Microsoft’s “School of the Future” opened it’s doors for the first time to 170 teens from the area.  The students were chosen from a lottery, and now enjoy learning with laptops and school wide wireless internet.  Each student has a “smart card” which they use to access their lockers, track attendance and even monitor their caloric intake. The students aren’t the only one’s with new gadgets either.  The teachers have new “Smart Boards” allowing the teachers to write, zoom in and out, and even link to the internet.

But the school isn’t just gadgets and gizmos for the students and faculty, it also incorporates a whole new learning process.  This new process is derived directly from Microsoft’s management techniques.  Students are called “learners” and teacher’s “educators.”  There’s no longer a library, but an “interactive learning center.”  There are all sorts of ideas employed here that both remove stress from the “educators” while still looking out for the “learner’s” best interests. Using software to track students’ progress and automatically assigning them help if necessary as well as incorporating current events and real-world data automatically into lessons are just a few of the ways MS new program can help.  It truly does help to bring to life the philosophy or the school’s principal Grover that “Learning is not just going to school.”

Read More | CNN

In an effort to give back to our viewers, this Byte focuses on a giveaway we are doing. We are giving away a Port Authority Windows Vista rain-proof jacket to the one person who can explain to us why they want it - or need it - the most. Head to the forums to tell us why we should send it to you, and you may walk away with this one. So, get creative, and tell us why you should be chosen as the winner. Whichever response we deem to be the best wins.

Oh, and you must have a United States mailing address to be eligible for this one.

Here's how to get the show:
|Download| - iPod-formatted H.264
|Download| - MPEG-4

Vista is here for the massesOn its website, Microsoft reports that “Windows Vista RC1 is available for participants of the Windows Vista Customer Preview Program. Please go to the Customer Preview Program website to register and receive a Product Key, which is required to install and activate the software.”

Before upgrading from Beta 2 to RC1, please install any Critical Updates from Windows Update for Beta 2. Go to Start, All Programs, Windows Update, and click the “Check for Updates” button.”

The keys for Windows Vista RC1, the first release candidate for Microsoft’s upcoming operating system, were sent out via email to CPP participants. The download is a 2.5 GB ISO and Microsoft servers seem to be holding up well, as we am currently downloading at around 600 kb/s.

Here are the download links:

English: http://download.windowsvista.com/preview/rc1/en/download.htm
German: http://download.windowsvista.com/preview/rc1/de/download.htm
Japanese: http://download.windowsvista.com/preview/rc1/jp/download.htm

If you are not part of the CPP, don’t worry. Registrations will open in the coming weeks. The release candidate expires June 1, 2007.

Read More | Microsoft Vista

Windows Vista RC1 ReleasedDespite rumors and speculation from testers of Windows Vista Beta 2 that the operating system was woefully incomplete, Microsoft has pulled through and released the first release candidate (RC1) earlier today. Windows Vista is the next-generation Microsoft OS meant to replace Windows XP, adding new features and eye-candy. Microsoft’s Jim Allchin posted an announcement concerning the release, but it is only availible to TechBeta or TAP participants. There is no word yet on the stability, usability, or new features in this release but it is probably safe to assume that the OS is considerably less problematic than the previous build. So, if you are a tester, hurry on up to download the file.

Read More | Windows Vista Team Blog

Microsoft redcrosslogoSince hurricane season has just begun, we think it’s time for kudos to companies such as Microsoft for aiding survivors and their families. Last year, Microsoft teamed up with the Red Cross and the San Diego Computer Center to create Katrinasafe.org. This site helped survivors find their separated family and friends by posting their locations. To date, more than 340,000 have utilized the site.

One year later a new site, Safe and Well, has been created for faster communication. Through this website you can search for missing family members, or if you are a survivor, post your physical condition and location. Phone registration is also available. Safe and Well is accessible via https://disastersafe.redcross.org.

Checking out the site, I noticed that 11 people have registered today. Our thanks again, Microsoft, for proving that life is not all fun and games.

Read More | Microsoft Press Release via American Red Cross Safe and Well


Windows Vista pricing and release information has been posted on Amazon.com for pre-orders.  The listed release date is January 30th of next year. 

The pricing is as follows (full/upgrade):

  • Windows Vista Home Basic   $199/$99
  • Windows Vista Home Premium $239/$159
  • Windows Vista Business $299/$199
  • Windows Vista Ultimate $399/$259

Amazon also has pricing for additional licenses listed at what seem to be very high prices.  With full versions of OSX priced at $129.99 for a single user and just under $200 for a 5-user pack and solid linux distro’s out there for under $100, Microsoft still remains the king of the high priced OS.

Read More | ZDNet

Xbox 360 Wireless Racing Wheel

Microsoft has announced pricing details for some snazzy new peripherals coming available later this year.

Enjoy your Xbox Live experience even more with the new, more convenient Wireless Headset and Xbox Live Vision Camera. The headset comes in at $59.99 while the camera comes in two package choices priced at $39.99 and $79.99.  Both packages come with the camera, full versions of UNO and TotemBall as well as a free Xbox Live Gold membership, but the 80 dollar “Video Chat Gold Kit” version comes with a full year Xbox Live Gold membership, versus just one month in the basic package. Additionally the more expensive version comes with 200 Microsoft Points, a standard headset and a full version of Robotron.

Also coming at $19.99 is the Wireless Gaming Receiver for Windows which allows you to use your wireless Xbox 360 peripherals with your PC.  All you need is a free USB port.

And finally, just in time for Forza Motorsport 2 releasing this holiday season, comes the Wireless Racing Wheel with force feedback.  The wheel will retail at $149.99 and come with a special edition of Project Gotham Racing 3.

Images:
Wireless Gaming Receiver for Windows
Wireless Headset
Vision Camera

Read More | Daily Tech

Vista MacBook

Finally it looks like Windows Vista will not only play nice with Boot Camp-enabled Macs, but it will do so while supporting all of the new Aero effects as well. According to a few, the new pre-RC1 build of Windows Vista, Build 5536, works on Intel-based Macs. The installation procedure is exactly the same as if you were installing Windows XP SP2, so it should roll along without a hitch. The only downside for now is that not all the drivers are Vista-capable, which means your iSight and Apple keyboard will not work until that issue is resolved. Still, this is the closest we have to full Vista support on the Mac. If only the Parallels guys would get it together a little quicker so that we can run Vista alongside OS X.

Read More | Kerim's Blog

Internet Explorer 7For anyone not currently running a build of Windows Vista, the new Internet Explorer 7 RC1 has been released for your personal enjoyment. This version automatically uninstalls any previous versions of Internet Explorer, so you don’t have to, including older IE7 betas. Even better, it will detect add-ons that might be incompatible or have stability issues, allowing you to get an update if available. With the Release Candidate being made available, we can expect no more major changes to IE7 until after it ships. Vista users can expect an update to Internet Explorer 7+ when the Vista RC drops. Internet Explorer 7 RC1 is compatible with Windows XP SP2, Windows XP x64, and Windows Server 2003 SP1.

Read More | Internet Explorer via IEBlog


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