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Microsoft to bring Xbox 360 kiosks to hospitals

Posted in Xbox 360 by Conner Flynn on May 5th, 2008

Microsoft to bring Xbox 360 kiosks to hospitals
Recently Microsoft announced a new partnership with the non-profit organization Companions in Courage, an organization dedicated to supporting families with children who are dealing with life-threatening medical conditions. As partners, Microsoft will be supplying hundreds of single Xbox 360 kiosks to children’s hospitals across the nation.

Some have already been installed at the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York-Presbyterian, the Children’s Hospital & Regional Medical Center of Seattle and the Children’s Hospital of Orange County, California. The kiosks won’t just feature games, but TV shows and movies as well, plus they’ll be connected to each other with a special version of the Xbox LIVE network. That will allow kids from one hospital to interact and play games with kids from another. If you like, you can be a part of the project too. Help bring more 360 kiosks to other hospitals by visiting the Companions in Courage website at http://cic16.org and making a donation. It’s a great way to help these kids out.

Microsoft bows out of Yahoo deal, for now?

Posted in News by Darrin Olson on May 5th, 2008

Microsoft backs out of Yahoo Offer but could come back after stock prices dropMicrosoft CEO Steve Ballmer issued a letter to Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang over the weekend stating that the company withdrawing its offer to Yahoo. Microsoft had raised its bid to well over the $33 per share, upping it by nearly $5 billion which was still not enough to sway Yahoo board members.

“Despite our best efforts, including raising our bid by roughly $5 billion, Yahoo! has not moved toward accepting our offer. After careful consideration, we believe the economics demanded by Yahoo! do not make sense for us, and it is in the best interests of Microsoft stockholders, employees and other stakeholders to withdraw our proposal,” said Ballmer in the letter.

AlphaGrip handheld computer concept

Posted in Concepts by Conner Flynn on May 2nd, 2008

AlphaGrip handheld computer concept
Here’s another entry from Microsoft’s Next-Gen PC Design Competition. The AlphaGrip Handheld Computer (or AlphaGrip HC, for short), features full-size rocker keys on the front with a flip-up display and a keypad for thumb-typing. It also has a trackball for mousing and some buttons for “sophisticated PC games”.

Thing is, you may have noticed two things, both unappealing: It’s bulky and the top is shaped somewhat like a heart. I can’t imagine ever using this in public, but despite that fact, I like it. It took some imagination and looks a lot like the Atari Jaguar.

Microsoft pulls Vista SP1 from automatic updates, too

Posted in Vista by Darrin Olson on May 1st, 2008

Microsoft removes Windows Vista SP1 release from automatic updatesEarlier this week Microsoft announced that it is delaying the release of Windows XP SP3 because of some bugs it caused with the database server with Microsoft Dynamics. Last night I went home and was looking for the automatic update bringing SP1 to Vista and found that it wasn’t there either, much to my dismay as there are a number of issues I have on Vista that I was hoping to see corrected.

Today we find out that Microsoft has indeed delayed the release of Vista SP1 to Automatic Updates as well, due to the same issue. It sounds like some of found the problem has to do with SQL Server with Dynamics. It’s unlikely that the problem is with SQL Server alone since MS is surely to have tested that at some point, but the relatively few that are out there running Microsoft Dynamics are holding it up for the rest of us.

Windows XP SP3 release delayed at eleventh hour

Posted in Windows XP by Darrin Olson on April 30th, 2008

Windows XP SP3 delayed due to compatibility glitchIf you’ve been eagerly watching your Windows Update on XP waiting for SP3 to show up your wait is over; it’s not coming, or at least not quite yet. At what seemed like a very last minute decision, Microsoft on Tuesday delayed the launch of Windows XP Service Pack 3 due to a compatibility glitch with Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System software. The release was scheduled to be available through Windows Update on Tuesday and has already been released to manufacturing and volume customers last week.

“In the last few days, we have uncovered a compatibility issue between Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System (RMS) and both Windows XP SP3 and Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1),” said the firm.“In order to make sure customers have the best possible experience, we have decided to delay releasing Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) to the web.”

Microsoft COFEE extracts criminal data from PCs

Posted in Security by Conner Flynn on April 29th, 2008

Microsoft COFEE security key extracts criminal data from PCsMicrosoft has revealed some interesting info. Since June 2007, multiple law enforcement agencies have been using a forensic device it has developed that can bypass security on a Windows-powered machine and extract data for use in criminal investigations.

It’s named COFEE, for Computer Online Forensic Evidence Extractor. The device is a USB thumb-drive armed with 150 “commands” that can do all sorts of things like decrypt passwords, display internet activity, and uncover all data stored on the computer. The most important aspect is that it can do all of this on-site, instead of having to remove the machine during a search or raid and send it to a lab.

Windows XP SP3 has gone RTM

Posted in Windows XP by Darrin Olson on April 22nd, 2008

Windows XP SP3 announced as released to manufacturing with April 29 release dateChris Keroack, release manager for Windows XP Service Pack 3, has announced that the new service pack has been released to manufacturing (RTM) and is working its way to the OEM’s right now. For the rest of us, Microsoft is planning on getting XP SP3 online and available through Windows Update on April 29, along with its associated documentation.

This release is the first of its kind for XP since Microsoft released SP2 back in 2004, and is a welcome site to users of XP anywhere and especially to those that have battled with Windows Vista and lost, or at least came out slightly injured. Included in the update is a cumulative security update along with some performance and stability enhancements. They’ve also included some features to help integrated new Windows Vista OS’s along with existing XP machines on a network.

Microsoft adds a new twist to handhelds

Posted in Concepts by Conner Flynn on April 20th, 2008

Microsoft adds a new twist to handhelds
Are you content with simple multi-touch and built-in accelerometers? Microsoft Research thinks not. In fact they’re already working hard in the labs, toward integrating force-sensing technology. The kind of thing that will enable gestures and let you twist on-screen imagery without making UMPCs out of flexible material.

Those behind the idea feel that such tech would “turn an otherwise passive component that just holds the device together into an active input surface.” Auditory cues might even enable users to be alerted when they’ve applied enough pressure to cause a change. I just figure it’s a great way to play Rubik’s Cube in the future.

Microsoft wants you to visit “Albany,” aka, HELL

Posted in Software by Nino Marchetti on April 19th, 2008

Albany The Egg building

A rather strange landmark of the Albany, New York skyline is The Egg, a local performing arts venue. This oddly designed building could well be an omen for Microsoft’s freshly announced “Albany” subscription service – a big, fat laid egg.

Albany, as discussed by Microsoft product manager Bryson Gordon, will be an all you can eat service for consumers which gives them all the Microsoft goodness they can handle under one desktop. You can, for x amount of dollars, gain access to Office Home and Student 2007, Windows Live OneCare and Windows Live Mail, Messenger and Photo Gallery. This is on top of security updates and the like.

Microsoft adds special wireless colored mice

Posted in Mouse by Nino Marchetti on April 8th, 2008

Microsoft colored optical mice 3000Microsoft is getting set to add some new colors to compliment its popular Wireless Notebook Optical Mouse 3000, which is said to currently be the best selling notebook mouse in the United States. These special edition mice will be priced at around $30 each.

Microsoft is coloring its expanded mouse line up red, dark pink, green, brown and khaki. The mice have their own unique color names by the way, just for the record, but they are too cheesy to put in this post (creme brulee?). The mice act much the same as other optical mice do, offering smooth tracking (Microsoft reports 1,000 dpi and 6,000 frames per second) and wireless connectivity to the host computer.

Yahoo standing tall against Microsoft threats

Posted in News by Darrin Olson on April 8th, 2008

Yahoo again rejects Microsofts offer and threats to buyout the companyYahoo CEO Jerry Yang on Monday shot back a letter in response to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s 3-week ultimatum for Yahoo to come to negotiations with a firm message that Yahoo has not changed their tune in regards to Microsoft taking over the search engine. Ballmer’s letter had spelled out plans for a proxy contest to unseat the exist Yahoo board of directors and that continued delays could reduce the $44.6 billion offer which would mean less for shareholders.

“Our board’s view of your proposal has not changed,” said Yang along with Chairman Roy Bostock. “We continue to believe that your proposal is not in the best interests of Yahoo and our shareholders.”

Instead of going through the negotiations Yahoo has chosen to beat their exclamation points into swords and fight back against Microsoft. Yang continued in the letter stating that the offer and proxy contest would not be in the best interest of Yahoo and certainly not part of a friendly transaction as Microsoft first proposed.

Microsoft gives Yahoo 3 weeks to accept, or else

Posted in News by Darrin Olson on April 7th, 2008

Microsoft gives Yahoo 3 week deadline to accept an offer.Microsoft issued another letter to the Yahoo board of directors on Saturday with a deadline of 3 weeks for the company to accept the previous $44.6 billion takeover offer that Microsoft proposed in the beginning of February. Despite some recent talks between the two companies, an agreement has not been made and Microsoft is starting to lean heavy on the search engine firm’s board by threatening to go straight to the shareholders if necessary.

“If we have not concluded an agreement within the next three weeks, we will be compelled to take our case directly to your shareholders, including the initiation of a proxy contest to elect an alternative slate of directors for the Yahoo! board,” the letter read. “The substantial premium reflected in our initial proposal anticipated a friendly transaction with you. If we are forced to take an offer directly to your shareholders, that action will have an undesirable impact on the value of your company from our perspective which will be reflected in the terms of our proposal.”, stated Steve Ballmer’s letter to Yahoo.

Windows XP Home to stick around for ULCPCs

Posted in Windows XP by Darrin Olson on April 4th, 2008

Windows XP Home to get 2 year extension for low cost PCsMicrosoft has announced that the plan for the general end of shipping Windows XP has been extended a couple of years, at least for the Windows XP Home edition. The latest plan for the end of most sales of XP was dated on June 30, 2008 but the advent of a new market of ultra low cost PCs (ULCPCs) has made Microsoft change there tune on forcing everyone onto the new Vista system.

Microsoft has just released Windows Vista SP1 which is usually a good milestone for those looking at upgrading to the next version of Windows, and is a point at which Microsoft helps push them along, but in the case of these UPCPCs, the Vista OS is just to big and expensive. The OLPC (supposed $100) XO laptop is one such machine that could still take advantage of the XP OS but would be forced to stick with Linux or look elsewhere if XP were phased out.

Music + gaming = Microsoft Xune

Posted in Concepts by Conner Flynn on April 2nd, 2008

Music + gaming = Microsoft Xune
Check out this awesome concept. We all know the Zune has not been able to compete with the iPod. But the Xune on the other hand, would do very well I think. It combines music and gaming. It’s a combination of the Zune, iPod, Xbox and Sony Mylo.

The device features shoulder buttons, a touch-wheel with a center button, a sliding keyboard and 4:3 ratio aspect ratio screen. The keyboard can be used for web surfing, email and chat. It’s compatible with the Xbox 360 and Windows Media Center. It’s not bad looking. I’d hit that.

Hand-held PC for artists

Posted in Concepts by Conner Flynn on March 28th, 2008

Hand-held PC for artists
Here’s a concept device for snooty french artists who wear berets and hold a palette in one hand, while grimacing and scoping out the landscape between forefinger and thumb. This nice looking Palette-Digital Artist is an entry in the Microsoft NextGen PC Design Competition for 2008. It’s a handheld touchscreen PC, and like a traditional palette, it has a thumbhole for easy handling.

The design will make you feel like a futuristic Picasso and it will let you digitally paint your next masterpiece with a stylus. It’s wireless of course, so you could paint anything and not be tethered to the PC. The shape is amazing and could be used for many things, not just painting. Pretty nice.