Monthly Archives: June 2007

Microsoft patent reveals some sort of Windows-based multimedia/communication device (crappy pics included)

ZuneFor those of you quick jumping to conclusions without reading the whole post, no, this isn’t the Zune Phone. It might however lead to features for the Zune revision 2.0. I’m sure the Zune guys thank you for thinking about them.

A bunch of new patent applications by Microsoft were published today like they do at the start of every week, and one of those was an application for “color and context-adaptable hardware button“. Now the title would suggest it isn’t exactly rocket-science stuff, but nevertheless still interesting – one might say a simple yet practical idea. So I decided to check it out anyway. It was originally filed in 2005, so not exactly hot out of the oven, presumably stale or even moldy. Lo and behold, pictures (or what some may call poor photocopy scans) appeared of an unidentifiable yet intriguing portable media device. To say the least, much more interesting than the buttons.

Color and context-adaptable hardware buttonsSo first let’s get the color and context-adaptable buttons out of the way. The idea is extremely simple. The D-Pad as most gamers are aware of is a directional pad with at least four possible inputs, up to five in some cases – left, right, top, bottom, and maybe center. This however was not always so intuitive as they merely indicate direction.

Optimus Maximus keyboardWhat this patent suggests is that if you place a electronic ink display (214) on top of the D-Pad (218), together with a cover (212) and lights (216), you can create an input mechanism with changeable icons, animation and text on each of the four/five buttons.

Think of it as a D-Pad like the keys on an Optimus Maximus keyboard. Right, so fancy buttons. Moving on. If the patent office wasn’t so outdated with their 2-bit photocopying and archiving technologies, we might have had some really high-quality color models here. Unfortunately, they’re still using 60′s technology so you’re going to have to live with these barely-visible images.

Windows-based multimedia/communication device patent image

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Microsoft announces Mediaroom IPTV. If you read this blog, you would have known 4 weeks ago!

Microsoft video-on-demand logoIt feels good being right, especially during exams. Unfortunately uncovering Microsoft logos is not an examinable subject at this day and age. One day…

On May 21 – almost a month ago, I reported a trademark application in Australia which included a logo and some details at a possible video-on-demand service from Microsoft. At the time, no one I asked could confirm or deny it, or suggest what the name of the product was for, but were all somehow excited by it. Public relations denied everything of course, but I knew the truth wasn’t too far off since no one wastes time and money on dubious trademark applications. Well as it turns out, I was right, but 3 weeks too early.

Microsoft Mediaroom

Thanks to a tip from Robert McLaws who pinged me about this press release which just went out minutes ago. The name for the service is actually “Microsoft Mediaroom“, and the logo is identical with a shade of orange. Not as spectacular as a brand new service, but a rebranding of Microsoft’s existing IPTV platform with a friendlier name. And all the previously mentioned features actually exist, including video-on-demand and media sharing!

Media Room“Microsoft Corp. today announced the availability of Microsoft® Mediaroom™, the latest update to its award-winning Internet Protocol television (IPTV) software platform, featuring several new multimedia capabilities, including in-home personal music and photo sharing, dynamic MultiView (multiple picture-in-picture) capabilities, Multimedia Application Environment for development of interactive services and advanced applications, and digital terrestrial television (DTT) support.”

Now only if you could gamble on PR announcements, I might do quite well.

Analysis of Vista SP1 expectations

Since I can’t juice any information out of the Microsoft lemon about the progress of Vista’s first service pack, I thought I might flip the equation and find out about the user’s expectations. For those of you too lazy to scroll down to see my post from yesterday, I conducted a poll asking what the readers of this blog – the people who sit at their computers on a weekend like myself, think they will get out of service pack one. The results are not surprising, but confirms my fear that Steve Sinofsky has big shoes to fill.

Windows Vista SP1 second comingYou see, not only does 30% (128 responses out of 423) of the people think Sinofsky is going to be responsible for fixing all their Windows Vista problems, and only God knows how the users will revolt if he doesn’t, but 22% (92) of others have reasons to believe Steve is actually Jesus resurrected. An outrageous claim you say? Not if you join the dots as I did.

If Steve was Jesus, then his father would be God. And since God knows all, including how people will feel about SP1, that knowledge would be extremely useful to Steve. He’ll know about all the ways to please the users putting in the least effort, like what bugs to fix and what features to add. But it won’t be the first time he’s abused such family relationships. The overwhelming success of Office 2007‘s user interface? God helped him. There’s no argument, it’s the only explanation – Office is suppose to be boring.

MosesBut that’s not all what religion can explain about Microsoft’s recent behaviors. Some of you might recall the shortest-ever press release Microsoft published a few months ago, telling pundits to shut up about Windows 7. Many people including myself thought this was just a reaction to control all the wild rumors spreading about, but that wasn’t the reason. I’ve now realized, Kevin Kutz is actually Moses. And the press release was actually the first commandment – “Thou shall not speak about Windows 7″. It all makes sense.

Getting back to the topic of SP1, if there’s anything you’d like to be fixed or added to Windows Vista, just pray. God will hear you, and he’ll pass it on to Steve. Talk about a state-of-the-art bug reporting system.

P.S. I will be having my mid-semester exams all of next week. Since blogging does not yet contribute to my academic progress, I have little choice but to study instead. However afterwards, I’ll have some coverage of Microsoft’s ReMIX in Melbourne as well as some priceless gifts to give away. ;)

P.P.S. Whilst I’m away, please read I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER? for all the latest Microsoft news and affairs. Many people don’t know, but some of the best Microsoft information comes from the LOLCATS sub-text.

Got games?

For arguably the best gaming platform spanning over a decade now, games management was never an easy or pretty task. I’ve seen desktops filled with icons, or start-menu lists that would span at least 3 columns of little microscopic icons and text. Folders and icons were not the most attractive solutions to organize your game collection.

Windows Vista Games ExplorerThe Games Explorer in Vista changed all that. It is a dedicated virtual folder where your entire games collection is universally accessible, populated with all the meta-data and artwork you’d expect to see from games just as rich with visuals. It reminds me of browsing a vivid collection of DVD covers which shows off its best visual characteristics to get you into the experience.

And what better ways to get a feel for what that might be like than to take a peek at this eye-opening collection of games by “marinexx” on the Neowin forums who shared his impressive library and a tip on how to manually add the box-arts for games which Windows does not support.

Windows Vista Games Explorer
Windows Vista Games Explorer

That’s more games than I have ever played in my life. Of course, I have faith in the legality of his collection. ;)

Windows Ultimate Extras is a sham – where’s the responsibility?

Ultimate ExtrasI was going to write about this on June 30, because that would have marked the half-year anniversary of Windows Vista, but since Josh Phillips has already started the conversation, I thought I should keep it rolling. It’s funny to read about this now, because I had already lost hope in February. In a post titled “Is Windows Vista Ultimate Extras a sham?“, I voiced some of my concerns about Ultimate Extras and why I thought it was going to disappoint. A lot of people didn’t agree with me, suggesting we needed more time to allow ‘progress’ to happen. Well, I think now is a better time than any.

A lot of people no longer remember the elusive dream that was Windows Ultimate Extras, so let’s refresh our memories. Straight from the horse’s mouth, this was the promise.

Windows Ultimate Extras

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