Thursday, April 27, 2006

Internet Explorer 7.0 Beta 2 is LIVE

Beta 2 of IE 7.0 is Released

Yeah, I’ve been using a pre-Beta 2 version for awhile now, and I’m loving it. Click here (or the logo graphic) to learn more about the new features, and to download beta 2 for yourself.

Seriously – I’m hooked on the RSS feed support, and on tabs.
Click here

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Microsoft Announces Windows Media Encoder Studio Edition Beta

Today at the National Association of Broadcasters convention, NAB2006, Microsoft Corp. announced availability this week of a new addition to the Windows Media® tools family, Windows Media Encoder Studio Edition. The beta encoder is a powerful tool for video professionals, optimized for the creation of high-quality offline encoding using Microsoft’s implementation of the VC-1 video standard (Windows Media Video). Windows Media Encoder Studio Edition beta provides the key features necessary to create next-generation video content and capitalize on the growing importance of optical media and video-on-demand scenarios.

“With the final standardization of VC-1, Windows Media Encoder Studio Edition will prove to be an invaluable tool for the offline encoding community,” said Amir Majidimehr, corporate vice president of the Windows® Digital Media Division at Microsoft. “This is another example of how Microsoft is providing the end-to-end solutions for content creation and meeting the evolving demands of the professional video community.”

Windows Media Encoder Studio Edition Beta Info at Microsoft's Windows Media Website

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Google Calendar: be afraid Microsoft, be very afraid

The latest Google web service offering, Google Calendar, may not be the end all and be all of desktop organisers. It may not have any special features that cannot be found in other organiser products, such as Microsoft Outlook. However, it is just one more nail in the coffin of the old software paradigm that Microsoft made its own in the 1980s.

It seems that not a week goes by without Google announcing some new free software service that can be accessed from a web browser. It is busily building a bunch of direct competitors to Microsoft in both the web services and desktop space. GMail of course competes with rivals Microsoft Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail in the free email market. It is, however, on the desktop where Microsoft makes most of its money and it is the desktop which Google threatens to make redundant for many users.

Google Calendar, which is still a beta project, may not be any better than Outlook’s calendar but, unlike Outlook, it is free. It is operating system agnostic. All you need is the web browser of your choice. That’s a frightening prospect for a Microsoft, not so much because some of its customer may not want to use Outlook for calendar functions anymore, but because of the implications for the product group where it makes the bulk of its money, Office.

Last month, Google acquired web-based word processor Writely from a tiny Silicon Valley startup called Upstartle. A cursory examination of the product then showed that, unlike the free product from Open, Writely was by no means ready to put in a bid as a serious challenger for Microsoft Word. However, it showed enough that in the hands of a development team backed by the resources of a Google, plus the company’s global server power to deliver reliable web services, it could eventually make Word redundant for many users.

Slowly the web services jigsaw puzzle that Google is building is starting to form. It now has an email product, a word processor, a calendar and a web page builder (Google Page Creator). All of these products will be funded by Google’s advertising model.

We should not be surprised and indeed fully expect to see a number of additional web-based office productivity tools appear from Google in ensuing months. As soon as web service equivalents to Excel and Power Point make an appearance, Microsoft may need to consider seriously how much longer it can stick with its legacy business model of the 1980s.

Also see Apple & Windows

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Windows Live Mail Desktop beta begins!

Yes it has finally started, albeit in a very small way. According to the team blog, only 100 testers will be able to use the beta initially, though it will expand to about 5000 within the coming weeks. After that it will be much more widely available via as with all the other Windows Live betas.

Keep an eye on your inbox, invites have already started being sent out :-)

Windows Live Messenger Final - Sneak Peek

Yes I'm posting yet another screenshot, this time of the expected Windows Live Messenger final UI.

- Yes the UI looks must better, no bleaching!
- Note the new status icons, a cross between old and new.
- The two new icons at the top of the contact list refer to the new VOIP and VoiceMail features coming to Windows Live Messenger. I'll be posting more information on this shortly :-)

Update: Apparently this hasn't been 100% confirmed as the final UI yet. Parts of it are definitely the final UI whilst the other parts are still being disucssed internally. So if you want this to be the final UI, then make sure you leave a positive comment below! If you can be specific about what you do/don't like about it, then this really will make a difference to the team :-)