There has just been an announcement detailed on the Microsoft PressPass and also the http://port25.technet.com/ sites, providing details on the Technical Collaboration between Microsoft and Zend Technologies.
This collaboration, announced at the Zend/PHP Conference in San Jose, aims to enhance the experience of running the PHP scripting language on not only current generation Windows Server, but also 'Longhorn' Server, released next year. The result of this collaboration really will allow customers to utilise the power of the Windows Server Platform, through richer functionality, better integration and hence, improved performance and increased reliability.
We see there being 3 key areas of collaboration (taken from the press release):
You can read the full press release over on Microsoft PressPass, where you will also find information on a Bill Hilf keynote, alongside Zeev Suraski (Zend) and Andi Gutmans (CTO & Founder Zend), demonstrating the core initial work on PHP for Windows.
Forget J-Lo, check out these curvy beauties:
At least we have a box that represents the style of the product! It's a cool product when installed, so why shouldn't it have a cool box to sit on the shelf! From the pictures over on the MS.com image site, it almost looks like the boxes have some transparent plastic around the edges, a-la Aero, but this could be one of a few things:
I guess they can't have Aero around the boxes - otherwise Home Basic would be different! :-p I wonder if they will bring out one in a Windows Classic box...!
Well, kind of Woo Hoo - I don't have a 1080p TV, but still, it's a move in the right direction, right! Woo Hoo!
1080p support is just one of the new features in the latest Xbox Live Dashboard Update - the full list can be found here.
Some of the features that I personally think are great, apart from 1080p, are:
But can you get 1080p over component video? Well, over at avsforums, there is an interesting discussion on how 1080p will be delivered. I've taken this from a post by amirm, who's a 'Microsoft Insider' - does that mean he's a spy or something? Cool!:
"1080p is supported over VGA for DVD, HD DVD and gaming output. And yes, AACS does allow 1080p over VGA (classified under authorized "computer monitor outputs").
For component, you get gaming up to 1080p, and 1080i for HD DVD. DVD only works at 480p over this connection. The latter two are due to restrictions in DVD CCA and AACS rules for DVD and HD DVD playback respectively.
On gaming, the machine supports both scaling of 720p games to 1080p, and native games running at 1080p resolution. It is up to game developers to decide which way to go."
I hope that clears up any questions that you may have had.
You can make up your own mind on what's hot and what's not, in the full list. You can also read the Xbox.com Newsflash surrounding the update. Final link - read Elle's, technical writer for the Xbox team, view on the Big November Update.
Just to get the official blurb in there:
"This free update will be distributed via the Xbox Live® online gaming and entertainment network to all members (Xbox Live Silver and Xbox Live Gold) with no disc or hard drive required. Gamers without an Xbox Live account can easily sign up for free by connecting their console to a broadband Internet connection."
It's been coming for a while, and for those of you using Vista, you've had the pleasure of it for a long time now, but Windows Media Player 11 is finally here, and, in my opinion, its a huge step up from WMP10.
I posted a while back, when the Beta 2 was released, but now that it's here, I thought I would take the chance to share what I like about Media Player 11.
Firstly, the design. I find it now so simple to use, to find my music, to create and edit playlists, to sync devices, using back / forward buttons to navigate it a godsend for me, and the album art is such a good way to display your music, and looks cool when you are sat next to someone on the train! (Depending on your music collection of course!) You can, of course, go back to the old style menu's if you like!
Secondly, and I know I mentioned this in the 'Firstly' section, and it is something I bang on about a lot when talking about Vista, but Search, for me, is the quality improvement in WMP11. I love being able to find the exact music I want, really quickly, and I mean, really quickly. The search is also context sensitive, depending on your current view in the library. For example, if I am in the 'Artist' section of the library, all my albums are organised by 'Artist', with multiple albums from the same artist stacked in a cool way, but if I then use search, it returns just those albums by that artist:
I can then double click and drill down further, and I am presented with all the tracks for that artists, separated by album. From this view, I could play all the tracks from all the albums in order, or shuffle them etc. It's just a really cool way of accessing your tracks.
I also think the way that WMP11 accesses the meta services site, to automatically update your track information online, in the background, is really cool, and is even cooler when you pull those tracks into Media Center. It really makes a difference to the user experience, being able to visualise those album covers, just as if you were looking through your CD collection in a rack at home.
Seeing as I don't actually own a portable music player yet (I'm waiting for the Zune!), I haven't really embraced downloading music from stores such as URGE just yet, but the way they integrate with WMP11, providing a consistent interface, can only be good for users. Instead of using music download sites so far, I've stuck with ripping CD's, and WMP11 has many different ripping formats that you can use.
One of the final things for me, and it relates to the organising and searching, is the ability to jump between libraries of recorded TV, video and pictures as well as music. This is something I personally find very useful. Again, the search is all context sensitive, so you could search by actor in the video library, or tags in the pictures library.
Now you may have heard that today, there has been an update to the Xbox Live Dashboard and one of the new features is the ability to stream WMV video from a Windows PC running Windows Media Player 11, Zune software, or Windows Media Connect. This is great! We all know, as Chris Benard states on his blog, that Windows Media Connect is a CPU and Memory hogger, so streaming directly between WMP11's and Extenders is so much better! Chris gives a pretty good guide on how to set all this up on his blog too.
You can also read more about this over at Digital Home.
Completely Vista-unrelated (but it is still technology!), yet when I saw this, I had to make sure you guys saw it too. I stumbled upon it when reading my RSS feeds - it's taken from Technology Filter, and is apparently an "early prototype" of a gaming 'helmet' that pops on your head and can provide a 360-degree panoramic view, not only of games, but of certain types of TV too!
So, you are stood in your living room, with a huge space helmet on, swinging your Wii remote control around, hitting virtual tennis balls that only you can see....it's a dead cert to catch on!!!
So, the other reason for the post....
Someone out there must be able to come up with a caption for this beauty - I don't have a prize as such, but for 2 minutes of your time, to bring a wry smile to your fellow readers, surely it must be worth it :-)
This morning, I was listening to the radio on the way to work and on came the news report - who was in the headlines again? Our good friends 'Rockstar', creators of the Grand Theft Auto series, Manhunt, and more recently Table Tennis (Ping-Pong to me and you!). As many of you will know, whenever Rockstar seem to release a new game, Ping Pong aside, it is surrounded in controversy, and their latest is no different; Canis Canem Edit, formerly named 'Bully', follows the antics of Jimmy Hopkins, a student at the Bullworth Academy, and in Rockstar's own words, "Canis Canem Edit is in a rich tradition of other forms of entertainment that have taken a comedic and funny look at school life".
The radio news bulletin obviously disagreed! The bulletin pretty much summed up the feelings of many of the parents out there, who are familiar with Rockstar's work - the game is violent, encourages violence, and should be banned. Now, a little harsh I think. The game is violent - so are many movies, hence why games are given an age rating in the same way movies are. The game encourages violence? I'm not so sure. Many would argue. I accept that many children see things and copy them - hence why I think it is the parents responsibility to lay down the law when it comes to children playing games / viewing movies when they are under the recommended age - I mean, I wouldn't want my 5 year old (I'm talking hypothetically here!) playing GTA, yet if he copied things so much, would he not be just as influenced by a blue hedgehog, who when he fell on massive spikes, simply lost a few rings?
So, the game is violent - I'm not trying to say violence is great in games, sometimes, in some genre's, I feel it is appropriate, but it can be overused. In this case, the parents' were firmly behind their views, the game is wrong, it should be banned (Dixon's group has refused to sell it) and it may have an affect of what young people's perception of violence is. What was Rockstar's response on the radio? Something along the lines of "It's not all about violence - you have to make sure you get to lessons on time, and protect the nerds from other bullies". Made me laugh anyway.
You know what I think - and feel free to agree / disagree? You can't ban games with violence. It's in the real world, and we all want real games just as much as unreal games. The content has to stay. It's the control of access to the content that has to be enforced. The game shops, the parents, the media - in my eyes, it's a combined effort. I've played Rockstar games for years, and I am no more likely now to go out and steal a car and do a drive by, as I am to become a champion ping-ponger.
If the parents / certain MP's did get their way, and these games were banned, what would happen to the games industry? Not everyone wants to shoot flowers and stars from a some kind of frilly firing-device, or stick to the usual driving / sports games. Would you want a realistic war game which used blanks instead or real bullets? It just wouldn't work with what we expect nowadays, and the games industry would take a massive hit in the process, and seeing as this is as big, if not bigger than the movie industry, the impact could go a lot further than just the games industry itself.
Refreshingly, according to USA today, "overall, Bully is a fun, fresh and lengthy single-player adventure for teenagers and adults. While the game isn't as controversial as many feared it would be, it will still push a few buttons for its rebellious attitude. But, after all, this is what Rockstar Games does — and well at that".
Canis Canem Edit is available now, and is rated 15.
Just over a week ago, I spent a good 39 minutes sprucing up my blog, with a nice new headline image, a new background colour, and I even had to re-align some of the text, but those geezers over at the Windows Vista Team Blog have only gone and made their site look even better than mine!
They've gone the whole del-monte too - own domain, probably a new server, and they've implemented a glass style look to the site - I'm not jealous. ;-)
No, in all honesty, the blog was good before, but looks great now - it did need modernising abit, and, as long as the useful and informative content keeps coming, I'm sure the blog will go from strength to strength. One cool thing I find is, that Jim Alchin, Windows Top-Dog and all-round good-egg, takes the time to post on there. One day, hopefully Jim will find my blog and say hello!
Long Zheng has a good view on the new look - Vista's going to the dark side... ;-)
If I had to be picky on the new blog, I would have moved the 'Windows Vista News' title a few pixels to the right...but that's just me ;-)
A few weeks back, the gaffer blogged about USBCell's - essentially AA batteries that are charged by plugging them into a USB slot. Now Steve has gone and ordered some, and I believe they arrived a while back, but, what do I say to that? Well, I take your USBCell, and I raise you, with the AngelKey!
Basically, its a USB key that stores your medical data, that you supply, such as blood type, blood pressure, any medication you're currently taking and more. I guess, like the Techie Diva says, it assumes that the paramedics, when they are rushing to save your life, have their laptops with them, can quickly start-up (from hibernation), and they have a spare USB slot! (not using too many ReadyBoost devices ;-))
I believe it's only in the U.S at the moment, so all us Brit's will just have to wait!
You could always order one of these as a stop-gap. Not quite as useful, but everyone needs a USB duck-vacuum right?
Now, who's my Secret Santa....?
Following up on my post the other day, about partitioning and disk management in Vista, so I thought I'd build on that by revealing a little tool that a colleague has found, that you may find useful. Now, before you fly off the handle, judging by the title, and say "you aren't revealing the Disk Defragmenter! It's been around for years!" - hold on! I know that! What I want to talk about is...another disk defragmenting tool, which does the same job, but in a way that may be more useful to some.
So, in Vista, we have the Disk Defragmenter, and, all in all, it does exactly what it says on the tin, defragments your hard disk and looks like this...
Nice and simple right? Right. Only problem for me, and a few others have found this too, is that, although you can easily modify your schedule, and have it run in the background, every day if you want, if you want to do a manual defragmentation (I don't mean go and find and move each file yourself! Just press the 'Defragment now' button!), you never know how long it will take, how much is done, and you can't see a report afterwards, like you could with XP. You can't even pause it! Why was XP so feature-rich in this area in comparison?
So I guess some of the more 'advanced' features have been sacrificed for simplicity. Fear not, I have an answer, and it comes in the form of Auslogics Disk Defragmenter. Not only does this little beauty run fine in XP and on the current Windows Server offerings, but it also runs fine on Vista, and Longhorn Server! Some of the other benefits are:
So what does it look like? Click the screenshots to enlarge them! This is running on Vista by the way!
Overall, its a pretty good program, and for free, even better! It works well, its fast, its pretty clear to see how long it will take to complete, you can pause, stop and view reports (which are very comprehensive) - what more could you want? It's also getting good reviews over on Download.com.
It's a shame there is no scheduling - I guess you could use Task Scheduler to automate the process a little more, but unfortunately, unlike Vista's Defragmenter, it can't run in the background - for example, my Vista defrag ran today, while I was at lunch. Did I know? Nope. I guess it's swings and roundabouts. You either want automation and simplicity, or manual and more advanced controls. Until a product comes out with both - I guess it's one or the other! You decide! :-)
As we all know, there is a large number of products out there that serve small businesses, and large enterprises, but often lost in the middle is the mid-size business, with 25-500 PCs and usually just a few IT staff to keep all aspects of the business ticking over.
Now, as Steven VanRoekel, director of Microsoft's midsize business solutions strategy, discusses, to better serve the huge number of mid-size businesses out there, and to help those IT staff I mentioned earlier, we announced, quite a while back now, the development of 'Centro', code-name for a new infrastructure solution designed with mid-sized business in mind.
But what will it include? How will it differ from a small business offering, or an enterprise solution? Well, 'Centro' will bring together Microsoft Windows Server 'Longhorn', Microsoft Exchange 2007 and security technologies, and a new, integrated management experience. helping mid-size businesses to achieve greater efficiency by simplifying the management and deployment of the company’s infrastructure, while also facilitating greater integration, security and automation of specific tasks.
Like I said, this announcement was made a while back, but as Mary Jo Foley states, we've recently broken our silence around 'Centro' and we are pleased to announce that we have opened up 'Centro' to the Technology Adoption Program, or TAP, so, if you have three 64-bit machines that you can spare to test some of the most exciting technology Microsoft is working on - this could be for you!
I know the system requirements are a little daunting, but this is the only way we can test "Centro". So, if you are already on the Longhorn Beta or the Exchange Beta, then you are already two thirds of the way there!
Mary Jo goes on to say "Centro won't be Microsoft's first product aimed squarely at the mid-market, a segment Microsoft defines as companies with between 25 and 250 PCs. Many of Microsoft's Dynamics ERP and CRM products are targeted primarily at these kinds of businesses. Microsoft is simultaneously reading a new version of its lower-end Windows Small Business Server suite, code-named "Cougar" - that will include Longhorn Server as part of the bundle, and include tighter links to Windows Vista and Office 2007. Both Centro and Cougar are expected to be 64-bit only"
So, what are some of the benefits of being on the 'Centro' TAP? Well, direct access to the Centro product team for a start, but you can also influence the direction of the product, and gain valuable product support throughout.
If you are interested in joining the 'Centro' Beta please go to http://connect.microsoft.com, click on Invitations, sign in with your Windows Live ID (Passport ID) and enter the following invite ID: Extr-GHBC-JCJM. You will be asked to take a short Survey. Once you complete the survey look for an email from MsftConn@microsoft.com. If you don't already trust this address, please add it to your trusted email addresses.
Microsoft MVPs - Please contact email@example.com directly about this techbeta. There is a different invite ID to the Beta for you.
If you are really serious and would like to do the TAP, here is a message from Mike van de Merwe, who is running the TAP for Centro:
You know you want to be more involved in Centro. You even want to start using it to run your business! Techbeta doesn’t let you do that but TAP does! We are looking for more people to nominate themselves for the Centro Technology Adoption Program to do exactly what you want to do: run Centro in your production environments. Why would you do something like this? You get access to product support once you deploy Centro in production; you will have an assigned program manager from Microsoft who will work with you to mitigate risks in deploying and maintaining Centro; and you will be invited to participate in 1-2 onsite training sessions in Redmond. Let Mike (firstname.lastname@example.org) know that you are interested and we’ll get the ball rolling.
If you have any questions what so ever, or you want more information on 'Centro', head on over to The SBS and Centro Community Lead Blog, produced by Kevin Beares.