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by Mike

Out With the Old in With the New!

November 17, 2012 in Software

It has already been confirmed that Microsoft will be killing off MSN and finally embracing Skype. As of March 2013 they will be turning off the switch on the much beloved service,  but this isn’t really a big surprise. Over a year ago Microsoft acquired Skype for $8.5 billion and hasn’t really done much with it. Although Skype has still been working on things like their new Codec there hasn’t been an overwhelming presents of Microsoft – not that I’m complaining; I love Skype!

In 1999 we knew it best as Microsoft Network Messenger or MSN. Everyone I know and their mom used MSN. It was great, it was fun and there was extensive development to “hack” and tweak MSN. Countless viruses and fake links were also distributed this way, but it was great! You could play games with friends, chat and even do video or voice calls! I still think their implementation of sending voice clips was awesome! Reminds me of  the10-4 cell phones on Bell networks. As time wen’t on they changed the name to Windows Live Messenger, around the same time as Windows Vista came out. Everything was going “Live” and starting to move to the cloud. They also came out with the “Live Essentials” which was just a series of tools and programs commonly used – Live Mail, Messenger, Movie Maker (Finally updated!) and other stuff no one cared about. In 2009 they had released that they had 330 Million active users which represented more than double that of Skype and second only in popularity to Yahoo Messenger. The report also suggested that in the US there was a 48% drop in unique users and consequently the number of Skype grew.

When Microsoft released the previews for Windows 8 and Office 2013, there was a strong integration of Skype with Outlook and the whole OS. There is also now a preview of Skype available for Windows Phone 8. Last month Skype updated the desktop version to 6.0.0.120 in the US and recently Skype updated everywhere else to 6.0.0.126 which seems to bring integration with Outlook contacts. You can now sign in with your Microsoft or Facebook account.  You can IM your WLM friends with video calling coming in the near future. You can even merge your accounts to have an all in one experience! Version 6 also brought some bug fixes, and a slightly different look that has a similar feel to Windows 8

[ Get Skype ]

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by Mike

Software on Steam

October 16, 2012 in Software

COPYRIGHT VALVE CORPORATION

I love Steam. I don’t think I would have started buying games if it didn’t exist. I love the community, the interface and how easy it is to use. Steam is my favorite! Now they have full blown started selling software.

It was rumored that they would start selling more than games and hats a long time ago, but now its finally happening! Though most of the software so far is either free, expensive or somewhat useless  it shows that there will be a good range of prices and include even very expensive production software. I am still curious where all this will go, what new products will launch, and how it will effect Microsoft Marketplace and Apple App Store.

With the Windows 8 Marketplace I don’t expect to see anything like Office in there any time soon, but this might be a good place for indie software developers to make their mark. Steam has, after all, helped so many indie game dev.’s get their games to a very large market. Speaking of indie, Humble Bundle has also started releasing more than just games and soundtracks – currently they are offering eBooks.

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by Mike

Windows 8 is a Bad Idea

September 27, 2012 in Software

There is no other explanation… When a developer still makes around $215,000 a day, 2 years after release from his game, logically he should want to be on as many platforms as possible. Turning down an open invite to certify their game for the Windows 8 Marketplace would be foolish, right?! I personally think there is more to it than that, and at this point in case you haven’t figured it out I’m referring to Markus Persson who tweeted this earlier, saying “I told [Microsoft] to stop trying to ruin the pc as an open platform” and has spoken out other times against Windows 8. He goes on to say “I’d rather have minecraft not run on win 8 at all than to play along.” and many would say that’s bad for business.

Having the income Notch has allows him to be slightly picky. If he wanted to he could be more aggressive and get Minecraft on every platform. He would likely have even more income. At this point I think he would rather take a stand and make a point. He has helped many indie game developers find a place in the market by supporting the Humble Bundle and many other projects, both financially and in marketing. This stand against the Windows 8 Market is one I can agree with. The PC stands out against Mac because it is an open platform. Users aren’t given a set of rules but instead allowed to think outside the box, and explore outside the box. To take that away from the PC would be a disaster. Either people will switch to Mac, or they will switch to Linux. Already Linux has overcome some of my personal issues in terms of compatibility and entertainment. Steam now runs many games on Linux and there are so many apps, its hard to not find one that does what you need.

Windows 8 is less than a month from launch, but Intel CEO Paul Otellini is quoted as saying Windows 8 still requires improvements to be made. They want to stick with their release deadline and feel that any imperfections can be fixed with an update later down the road. Even RIM has learned from making that mistake and pushed back the release of BB10 to make sure their product ships working ready to take on the world (and its looking REALLY good now). Just look at iOS6 Maps on the iPhone 5 to see how an incomplete element can impact the reputation of a successful company. Is Microsoft really that obtuse, or is it wrong to keep customers waiting? How do you feel about being sold a product that isn’t ready yet? There is nothing but a promise to comfort you that they will fix things later…

At the end of the day, I have to hand it to Microsoft for being bold, but they are playing with some very dangerous ideas. Already many people do not want to switch just because they don’t like the way it looks! If developers don’t feel they have the same control over their software they won’t make the switch. They need the respect and cooperation of developers otherwise they won’t get anywhere. Microsoft knew this 20 years ago, but have they forgotten this now? Only ti me will tell, and usually Microsoft puts out one risky release every other version of Windows. For now I won’t come near Windows 8 and I can’t think of a single person I would recommend it to.

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by Mike

Office 2013

July 16, 2012 in Software

its rumored that Microsoft will be unvailing their new version of Office toda. With their new Windows 8 operating system and Surface tablet computer coming out, this year is very important. The 5,000-employee Office division now includes 170 user experience designers and researchers, twice as many as it had a year ago. This goes without saying, it will be interesting to see how the new metro styled OS will impact the Office UI.

Clearly Microsoft intends to make the product more touch friendly. The new Office also comes with Skype. When you subscribe, you get 60 minutes of Skype world minutes every month. Integrate Skype contacts into Lync and call or instant message anyone on Skype.

A consumer preview of the new Office is available today and can be downloaded by clicking the link below. Microsoft is promising this will be more than just a work tool and more of an every day program users will enjoy to use. More to come soon!

Microsoft Office ]

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by Mike

Microsoft Surface Tablet

June 19, 2012 in Hardware

Microsoft Surface Tabet

Tablets have been in high demand over the past year with nearly every company having their hands in tablet computing in one way or another. As to late, Microsoft has only really been talking about how their new OS Windows 8 will be touch screen friendly, and there have been many other hardware companies who support this movement. Many ultrabooks also are featuring full touch screens in the wake of this movement. Now, Microsoft has announced their first consumer tablet computer and it looks pretty sexy. The first question that came to my mind is, will they be powerful?

Well lets talk about specs. The Surface for Windows 8 Pro will weigh in at 903 grams and measure 13.5mm thick. Powered by a third generation Intel Core ivy bridge processor this will be a ultrabook class tablet and will also have a 10.6″ ClearType Full HD Display protected by Corning Gorilla Glass. Windows Pro 8 will be fitted with a microSDXC slot, USB 3.0 connection, Mini DisplayPort Video and the 2×2 MIMO antennae. The Pro will come in two flavours; either 64gb or 128gb SSD storage. It will ship equipped with a touch cover that has an integrated keyboard, VaporMG case and integrated stand. It has been reported Microsoft will have a price point that is in the same range as most other mainstream tablets and Intel ultrabooks but no official statement will been made till we get closer to release date.

It has been confirmed there will be a Netflix app available at launch. Not much talk about how the mobile phone platform will integrate with their new platform but with the way Apple and BlackBerry have been providing a Cloud based, accessible anywhere type of experience, it would be foolish for Microsoft to not do something similar. Perhaps not at launch but even the simple flexibility to aync or send SMS messages from your tablet should eventually come in my opinion.

[ Microsoft Surface ]

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