Firstly, apologies for the incredibly weak link between a UK Quiz Show from the 1980's, and Microsoft's sparkly new music and entertainment project; Zune. It's still early on a Friday morning - it will get better, I promise!
I posted a couple of weeks ago, about how Microsoft is going to challenge the iPod (Part I and Part II), but since then, a whole host of information has been released, so I thought I'd take the chance to summarise it all here in one convenient place.
So, what do we know so far? Firstly, it's important to understand that Zune describes the brand, not the individual product, backed up by Chris Stephenson who, in this article on CNet News, stated "Under the Zune brand, we will deliver a family of hardware and software products, the first of which will be available this year". The article goes on to discuss some of the features of the devices that will come under the Zune brand, including Wi-Fi connectivity, Hard-Disk storage and also Video capabilities. With Zune, "we're looking to build a community for connecting with folks, all to discover new music and entertainment".
In this article, over at eWeek, analysts say that Microsoft's Zune "May not carry the day" yet they accept, that it is currently too early to tell for sure - only consumers will decide. I, as a consumer, believe that if Microsoft can integrate all the parts together, such as the music service, the hardware and other hardware such as the Xbox, it could pose a serious challenge to the iPod, however, by releasing the device, we will in fact be competing with some of the partners we have worked with on music devices, such as Creative. The article goes on to say that the first of the Zune devices should be available before Christmas this year.
As I mentioned, one of the features planned for the Zune devices, is Wi-Fi connectivity, and this article, over at CNet, goes some of the way to describe the importance of this feature. In an interview with Billboard magazine, Microsoft General Manager Chris Stephenson said "the company is still considering seven or eight "scenarios," including using the Wi-Fi connection for direct music downloads and sampling music from other nearby listeners". That would be an excellent feature - streaming other people's music to see if you like it, then logging onto the web, via Wi-Fi to purchase and download the music yourself!
Regardless of the Wi-Fi connection, Gartner analyst Michael McGuire believes "the key will be how easy or difficult the gadget is for consumers to use. For example, designing an interface that enables downloading music from a catalog without using a keyboard is tricky" This is an excellent point, but if you look at the new interface in Windows Media Player 11, and how much of an improvement it was from Windows Media Player 10, you can begin to see how much Microsoft are putting into the user interface, and how intuitive it really is.
If Microsoft could squeeze a Media Center, or Media Player 11 style interface into the Zune products, perhaps with some kind of touch screen or hand writing functionality into the device, I believe that it would be the most intuitive portable entertainment device on the market. Microsoft would not be the first company to produce a wireless music device; MusicGremlin recently hit the market with a player that can download subscription music content wirelessly. But, as with all Microsoft products, there is always some scepticism; "It's very easy to create a wireless device," he said. "It's very difficult to make it work and connect in the way that a lot of people envision".
Speaking of how much Microsoft is putting into the project, this article over at CNet, details that Robbie Bach, President of the Entertainment and Devices Division, thinks "of this in the hundreds of millions of dollars of investment over several years. It is something that is going to take time. This is not a six-month initiative". Bach goes on to say "Microsoft is not abandoning its partner-oriented PlaysForSure program, even as it looks to build its rival Zune approach. PlaysForSure continues as it is today. We're going to continue to support that".
As time grows closer to the end of the calendar year, and the launch of the first Zune device, more concrete details have been released. You can read about them in this Twice article. The article states that the device will arrive in 3 colours, and will be priced at $299 (hopefully this price will be around £160 in the UK / 234 EURO). "Retailers said the player would incorporate a 30GB hard drive. One said the unit’s display screen would be larger than Apple’s iPod models. The retailers were pleased with Microsoft’s feature-per-price package". It is important to note that Microsoft had not yet responded to confirm these details.
The most recent news, and an excellent feather in the Zune cap, is the announcement that EMI Group, the world's third-largest music company, said it had signed a deal to provide preloaded music videos on Microsoft's soon-to-launch Zune digital media player. The news dispels speculation in media reports this month that Microsoft would have to delay the introduction of Zune's video capability until after its launch, which is expected to be in time for Christmas.
So, to summarise:
What a long post! Hope you get this far!
One of my colleagues from Microsoft France has published a great post demonstrating the control of Windows Vista using speech!
Dailymotion blogged video
The video shows the power of speech recognition to demonstrate solitaire, paint, opening documents, pictures, administering your PC and more! It really is a great example of how we are moving forward in this space.
Great work from Benjamin Gauthey to find the video. The video appears courtesy of http://www.istartedsomething.com.
I recently wrote an article all about virtualisation, and it has been published on Microsoft.com! The article was written with our partners in mind, with the aim of giving the reader the opportunity to gain an understanding of what virtualisation is, the forms it can take, and how it can benefit you.
The article covers:
You can view the whole article by visiting this link! Enjoy!
I'm now off to start work on my auto-biography, which should be in shops soon! ;-)
A big thanks goes to Jeff Woolsey, one of the Lead Program Manager's here at Microsoft, for compiling this excellent list of the top 15 questions asked around Virtual Server. Without further ado, lets start with number 15...
15 - Is it true that Virtual Server 2005 R2 EE is now FREE?
Yes, that is indeed correct. Virtual Server 2005 R2 EE has been free since April 2006. We have had more than 340,000 downloads to date. If you are interested in discovering the benefits of virtualisation, through Virtual Server, head on over to http://www.microsoft.com/virtualserver.
14 - I’ve just installed Virtual Server. Where are my virtual machines and operating systems?
Virtual Server is an enabling technology and product. Virtual Server provides the virtualisation layer giving you the ability to run multiple virtual machines on top of a Windows Server host. Once you’ve installed Virtual Server, you must create virtual machines and install operating systems just as if someone gave you a computer with a completely blank hard drive. Virtual Server does not include guest operating systems.
13 - How do you back up virtual machines?
There are two ways to backup a virtual machine. Each method has pros and cons and users can determine which method best suits their business requirements.
Method 1Backup each virtual machine from within each guest operating system. Install the backup software in the guest operating system and backup each virtual machine in the same way you would a physical computer.The advantages to this method are:
The disadvantages to this method are:
Method 2Backup all virtual machines from the host operating system. The second method is to backup the Virtual Server host. You can backup the entire host computer and all virtual machines at once, but this can only be performed on stopped/saved virtual machines. The downside is that this is not a “live” backup. You MUST shutdown or save state the virtual machine to perform the backup. To backup the host operating system without stopping/saving a virtual machine would be like pulling the power code on a physical computer and then making a copy of the HD. The HD might boot next time but checkdisk would certainly need to run and it is likely there is corrupt user data.
The issue is that when a backup is performed on the host, this operation backs up files on disk but does not include the memory in use by the running virtual machine. For example, if you allocated 2GB to a virtual machine and backed up the host operating system, there is potentially 2GB of virtual machine data not backed up! To safely backup a virtual machine, the entire state of the virtual machine must be backed up which includes:
It is possible that someone could automate this process. For example, a script could be written to save the state of the virtual machines and backup the host operating system, but such a script is not included with the product.
The advantage to this method is that:
IMPORTANT NOTE: Method 2 is not recommended if you’re running a domain controller in a virtual machine. If you are using a domain controller in a virtual machine, always use Method 1. For more information on using a domain controller within Virtual Server, see the following whitepaper: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=64db845d-f7a3-4209-8ed2-e261a117fc6b&DisplayLang=en
12 - How many virtual machines can you run per physical processor?
There is no one size fits all answer to this question. There are simply too many variables. Performance of virtual machines depends on a multitude of factors including, but not limited to:
As a broad generality, we’ve heard of people using anywhere between 1 to 10 virtual machines per physical processor with the average being 4 to 6. (In the case of 10 virtual machines, these were very lightly loaded NT servers.) However, as stated above the number of virtual machines really depends on the multitude of factors above.
11 - Can you run a domain controller within a Virtual Server virtual machine?
Yes. For detailed information on using a domain controller within Virtual Server, see the following whitepaper: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=64db845d-f7a3-4209-8ed2-e261a117fc6b&DisplayLang=en10.
10 - Do we have performance tips for Virtual Server?
Of course! - Visit KB: http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;903748
9 - What Microsoft products are supported within Virtual Server?
KB: 897613 Microsoft Virtual Server Support Policy: http://www.support.microsoft.com/kb/897613
KB: 897614 Windows Server System software not supported within a Microsoft Virtual Server environment: http://www.support.microsoft.com/kb/897614
8 - Are additional versions of Virtual Server planned?
Yes. We are working on the next release of Virtual Server. It is called, Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 and is publicly available in beta form today at http://www.microsoft.com/virtualserver.
Some of the key points of this release include:
7 - I’ve heard that Virtual Server 2005 R2 now supports clustering, where can I find more information?
You can find the information by following this link. The document describes a simple configuration in which you use Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 to configure one guest operating system, and configure a server cluster that has two servers (nodes), either of which can support the guest if the other server is down.
6 - Does Virtual Server support Symmetric Multi-Processing (SMP) in the guest?
No, unfortunately not. Microsoft have publicly stated that this will be providing this feature in our next generation, Windows Virtualisation.
5 - Does Virtual Server support USB?
No, unfortunately not. Again, we have stated publicly that we are working on this feature for our next generation, Windows Virtualisation.
4 - Does Virtual Server support 64-bit hosts and guests?
Virtual Server 2005 R2 adds support for x64 64-bit hosts. Unfortunately, Virtual Server does not support 64-bit guests. We have already stated publicly that we will provide this feature in our next generation, Windows Virtualisation.
3 - What is Windows Virtualisation? When does it arrive?
Windows Virtualisation is virtualisation technology incorporated into Longhorn Server. The current plan of record for Windows Virtualisation is that it ships within 180 days of the Longhorn Server release.
2 - What will I need to run Windows Server Virtualisation? What are the system requirements?
Windows Server Virtualisation has the following system requirements:
To be explicit, Windows Server Virtualisation will NOT run on:
1 - What are some of the key differences between Virtual Server R2 and Windows Server Virtualisation?
Virtual Server 2005 R2
Yes, up to 8 core VMs
VM memory support?
3.6 GB per VM
More than 32 GB per VM
Hot add memory/processors?
Hot add storage/networking?
Can be managed by SCVMM?
Number of running VMs?
More than 64.As many as hardware will allow.
MMC 3.0 Interface
Thanks again to Jeff Woolsey for this information.
As you will no doubt be aware, Internet Explorer 7 has been going through the beta stages for a while now, and with Release Candidate 1 fresh on the scene, Microsoft hopes that this will indeed be the last test release before the launch later this year.
CNet News has a great feature on the RC1 release, which will be available as a free download (legitimate copy of Windows required). With regards to what's new in IE7, the article states "Among the key enhancements are tabbed browsing, security enhancements and better compatibility with Web standards ... In part because of the security changes, Microsoft plans to push out IE7 as a "high-priority" update to Windows XP. The company is also releasing a tool that will allow businesses to block the upgrade if they wish"
Steve Clayton has located an excellent piece on eWeek, which shows images of the new security features in IE7. Steve also talks about the 'Safe Button' which provides an instant 'return to secure defaults' at the click of the mouse. Great news for all you tinkerers out there!
Partner in crime, Mr Senior also has a great post on IE7, but in this case, he talks about some of the CSS Fixes in IE7. If you are web developer, it would be well worth checking it out.
Go Do - Download the RC1 of Windows Internet Explorer!
On March 7th, Microsoft announced that it had acquired Apptimum Inc, a company which provides award-winning products that automatically transfer customers’ applications to new computers. Microsoft plans to use the acquired intellectual property and technology assets to provide Windows customers with the tools they need to simplify the transfer of their applications to their new computers.
According to this article on eWeek, Alohabob is due to be included in the first Release Candidate of Vista, scheduled for later this quarter. In the article, Jim Allchin, the co-president of Microsoft's platforms and services division, states that "Migrating applications and files from one computer to another using Windows has long been a tedious and time-consuming process, but that is now a thing of the past as Alohabob will make the application transfer experience easier and faster for customers".
Jim also went on to say that he has in fact been using the product, and managed to move all his applications from one computer to another in just 30 minutes. This speeds up the build of a new machine dramatically, as much of the time spent with a build is reinstalling up to the same point you were at before the rebuild. I personally, as a regular new-build tester of Vista, would welcome this ability to quickly move all my applications that were previously on an old build and place them on a new build. Bring on Alohabob!!
The article on eWeek goes on to talk about whether Jim beleives Vista will ship on time, his views on his own departure in January 2007 and the 12 principles to guide development of the Windows Desktop platform.
Should you be after even more information, you can read the announcement that Microsoft have acquired Apptimum Inc, or visit the Alohabob homepage.
There has been a great article posted over at CNet News, which discusses Microsoft's attendance at the Black Hat Briefings.
"This year, for the first time in the event's 10-year history, several sessions are focused on the security--rather than the insecurity--of a single vendor's product. Microsoft, a platinum sponsor, is giving presentations on Vista."
Vista attracted an audience bigger than many of the other sessions, and the talk was very technical oriented, rather than marketing based; something that pleased many of the attendees. Microsoft also handed out early builds of Vista and is hoping for feedback from the attendees.
According to the article, Microsoft's Black Hat presentations cover various aspects of security in the operating system update, including broad talks on fundamentals and security engineering, and specific sessions on networking technology, Wi-Fi, heap management enhancements, and Internet Explorer 7. The article also goes on to mention Microsoft's 'Blue Hat' initiative, where Microsoft invite hackers to come to the HQ and talk security.
From reading the article, I really do get the impression that many people believe that Microsoft really is heading in the right direction.
There are currently 2 Microsoft Events taking place in September, focussing on Windows Vista. These events are as follows:
I hope you find the events useful!
Off the usual track, but still, this is quite a cool one! Microsoft takes a light-hearted swipe at itself, talking about Small Business Server, in a Da Vinci Code style!
The movie talks about the importance of patching, installing updates, getting the green check of software health and more...
You can stream the video here.
Interested? You may want to check out the Top 10 Reasons to Use Windows SBS over at Microsoft.com, and for more information on the world of Small Business, visit David Overton's blog.
Over the last couple of weeks, you may have noticed many of my posts relating to Windows Vista. Since returning from Orlando in July, there have been some changes in the department for the new Microsoft Year 07, and this reshuffling has resulted in a move away, for me, from the Management and Virtualisation side of Technology, over to Windows Vista.
So, from today, my blog will be focused on Windows Vista, our cool new OS, but I will still be dipping into Virtualisation, and other cool technology out there (which may include Management Technologies!).
I'm really looking forward to taking this further, as Vista is an incredible product, something that i have really grown to love, and it will be an incredible experience to be involved with the product, in this, key year for Microsoft.
I hope the information I provide on Vista will be useful to you, and if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me. Other than that, welcome from Mr Vista (self-proclaimed ;-))