It looks like two Microsoft products are about to get killed off (or really, renamed) with the release of Windows 8. When the next major Windows OS launches, that'll be the end of the Zune and Windows Live brands. Yep, Microsoft is finally getting rid of the brand that was supposed to rival the Apple's iPod/iTunes ecosystem, but failed miserably. It’s not just the physical player they’re killing off - they did that last year while holding onto Zune as the name of the desktop software and music service. Now, Zune will be no more.
In addition, in an effort to further simplify things, the Windows Live brand is also going away. Here's a look at what to expect, and what will replace the two brands:
- Microsoft Account (Windows Live ID)
- Mail (Windows Live Mail)
- Calendar (Windows Live Calendar)
- People (Windows Live Contacts)
- Photos (Windows Live Photo Gallery)
- Music (Zune Music Player)
- Video (Zune Video Player)
We also wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft replaced Zune with a streaming music service similar to Spotify. The sad part is that Zune could have been what Spotify Premium currently offers had Microsoft been more forward thinking with the concept. We've actually said many times in the past that the Zune Pass was the best deal in music. Currently there are other well-established music services with dedicated users like Spotify, Rdio, MOG, and Rhapsody. If this is Microsoft’s attempt to dominate a new market, we sure hope they've got a better plan than they did with the original Zune launch.
Read More | The Verge
During the kickoff Microsoft keynote that marks the start CES, Steve Ballmer announced that Windows 7 beta is available starting today for TechNet and MSDN subscribers. Nothing too exciting there for the average Joe, we know, which is why we were excited when he also mentioned that the beta would also be publicly available beginning this Friday, January 9th. You’ll be able to grab either the 32-bit version, or the 64-bit version of the Windows 7 beta software if you are one of the first 2.5 million people to hit the download button. You just need to head to the Windows 7 product page to do so. Just be aware that the beta software will expire on August 1, 2009.
As part of the release, Microsoft was also happy to note that Windows Live Essentials, “a free suite of communications and sharing applications that make it easy for people to communicate, share and keep their online lives in sync and in one place with one login,” is now also available on a worldwide scale.
Our HP Magic Giveaway came to a conclusion last night, and, wow, we are calling this one a success, as we just got inundated with entries. We first need to thank everyone involved for entering and spreading the word on Twitter, Facebook, and the like. Of course, there can only be one - but if you feel a swerve coming, read on!
First, the winner was chosen randomly out of all valid entries. The person who came out on top of Ashe, with this comment. I’ve contacted him, he replied, and things are good.
Now, about that swerve. In the original contest, we mentioned that it would be awesome if the winner were to give some of those winnings away. After all, it’s the holiday season, and who really needs 3 notebooks, a desktop, and all that stuff? So, the cool thing here is that Ashe has decided to throw some items back into the pot, and he wants us to do a second giveaway! We will get it set up today, and will run it for another week. The winner will get the following:
- HP Mini 1000 (Windows XP)
- Microsoft Office Home and Student Edition 2007 with 3 licenses
- Microsoft WIndows Live
- Corel VideoStudio X
- Kung-Fu Panda on Blu-ray disc, and DVD
That is not too shabby of a prize package right there. Wanna win it? Just head on over to our Gear Live Magic Giveaway page to enter.
Again, thanks to all entrants, and a big thank you to Ashe for giving back.
Read More | Gear Live Magic Giveaway
Just a quick mobile update from SXSW here in Austin, TX. We just bumped into a few people from the Windows Live team in the street while walking back from lunch at Stubb’s (which, if you are in town, you have to try), and it turns out they are working on some sort of new, cool, innovative video search features. We are getting our of here to head back to Seattle, but we will be hooking up with them at their Redmond offices. We will get it into an episode of Bleeding Edge TV so you can see what all the fuss is about.
Microsoft has decided to more than double its Hotmail service capacity and will now store up to 5 GB of e-mail messages and images. They are undoubtedly hoping that this move will take them from the number 2 spot and unseat their rival Yahoo. The company also says that its performance will speed up, it will combine duplicate contacts in its address book, there will be a new “report phishing button,” and an option to log in straight to your inbox from the home page.
“We know this is going to be a big hit with a lot of you out there in blog land,” said Ellie Powers-Boyle, a program manager for Windows Live Hotmail.
It certainly is a big hit with those of us who like our Hotmail and have stuck with it despite the mini-storage for all these years.
Read More | Post-Bulletin
So, Halo 2 for Windows Vista is launching on May 8, 2007, and we have been able to spend some time reviewing the title. Since everyone is familiar with Halo 2, we felt a full review wasn’t in order. Instead, we wanted to clue you in on the ten best improvements we experienced while reviewing the game. These ten features raise the bar for Halo as a whole, and may be a foreshadowing of things to come in Halo 3:
Achievements: If you are looking for something fun that adds another level of fun and challenge to the Halo 2 world, this is it. We have said it before, and we will say it again - Microsoft hit a gold mine with the notion of achievements. No sooner than when we finished a multiplayer deathmatch did we rack up a total of three achievements. Meleeing five people from behind (and thusly earning the Ninja achievement) was nice, but Meleeing someone who already had the Ninja achievement (and thus earning the Flaming Ninja achievement) was even better. We have the achievement to prove it. For those wondering, yes, the achievements you earn in Halo 2 for Vista (or any other Games for Windows game) is counted towards your Xbox Gamerscore.
Read More | Playfeed
At CES we caught up with Microsoft’s Marlowe Dayley to chat about the Windows Live group of services. We take a look at Windows Live across the board, focusing on Mail, Maps, Live Search. Ever wonder how they were able to capture all that 3D data for their maps? We find out in this episode.