Monthly Archives: August 2008

“Windows 7 Client” drivers now available

A day after someone noticed a “Windows 7 Client” category popping up on Windows Server Update Services, another curious enthusiast on the Neowin forums has also noticed a sudden prevalence of “Windows 7 Client” drivers on Microsoft’s Update Catalog – the online library of drivers which Windows uses to automatically install.

A simple search for “Windows 7 Client” reveals more than 1000 drivers already available. These drivers range from the big brands from Nvidia, ATI, Intel and Broadcom to even miscellaneous display drivers. Whilst it is true all drivers approved after June 1 should have been tested on Windows 7, most of these drivers date back to early 2007 suggesting most drivers have just been carried over from the latest WHQL release.

With updates in one hand and drivers in the other, can you say beta test?

Microsoft Surface unboxed by Amnesia Australia

If you’ve ever fantasized about the day when you receive your delivery of the Microsoft Surface and the subsequent unboxing ceremony, then it’ll probably look something like this. Amnesia Group is a digital creative agency based in Australia, a subsidiary of Avenue A Razorfish who is a subsidiary of aQuantive now owned by Microsoft. Basically it’s like one big happy family with Surface hand-me-downs.

Up until now the Surface has only been deployed in a couple places outside of Microsoft – AT&T and Sheraton. These two are the first to come to down under and are probably also the first to be sold to non-retail customers. The guys at Amnesia spared no time to strip them from their packaging.

If you thought plastic clamshell packaging was tough, you’ll need a crowbar for this.

It’s interesting to see how there is even an instruction manual and neatly packaged as if this was a mass-production product, somewhat evidence the Surface team is really pushing this mainstream. However, they’ll probably have to work on the boxart before you’ll see the Surface for sale at your local Best Buys.

Microsoft hints at “private browsing” feature in IE

One of the most interesting feature that didn’t quite make it into the final release of Firefox 3 is “Private Browsing”, a.k.a. porn mode. The only other browser with this feature built-in today is Safari (another reason to try it in case you haven’t), however, Microsoft may also be building a similar feature into Internet Explorer 8 if two trademark filings are any indications.

On July 30th, Microsoft filed two trademarks for:

CLEARTRACKS
IC 009. US 021 023 026 036 038. G & S: computer programs for accessing and using the Internet and the world wide web; and computer programs for deleting search history after accessing websites

INPRIVATE
IC 009. US 021 023 026 036 038. G & S: computer programs for accessing and using the Internet and the world wide web; computer programs for disabling the history and file caching features of a web browser; and computer software for notifying a user of a web browser when others are tracking web use and for controlling the information others can access about such use

Although “private browsing” can be easily associated with viewing particular genres of media content, the Mozilla foundation argues “while viewing pornography may be a popular use case due to the nature of content on the Web, assuming that this is the only reason that users need private browsing trivializes the overall feature. For instance, users may wish to begin a private browsing session to research a medical condition, or plan a surprise vacation or birthday party for a loved one.”

If indeed Microsoft is rolling out such a feature in Internet Explorer 8, I can imagine it becoming very popular with surprise birthday planners across the world. Oh those birthday people are in for a treat.

FCC approves Microsoft’s unreleased 120GB Zune

Ever since Samsung had announced their new 120GB 1.8-inch hard drive in April 2007, Zune fansites has been buzzing with anticipation of a new Zune fitted with the higher capacity drives. Now the wait is nearly over as the FCC publishes a test report (and I assume approves) of the new 120GB Zunes.

The 120GB Zune pictured above looks identical to the 80GB Zune and that’s expected since the hard drive is of identical size too. The firmware used is nothing special too – version 2.5 (1614).

Even though I’m nowhere close to filling my 80GB Zune and can’t imagine ever filling it up, there’s a lot of audiophiles out there and this new capacity Zune fills a small gap in the marketplace left by Apple with their 80GB and 160GB iPod Classic with a cost difference of $100. Since the current 80GB Zune retails for the same as the 80GB iPod Classic ($249), it’s probably fair to guess the new 120GB Zune will retail for $299.

Oh and in case you were wondering about the radiation emissions test results, the Zune passed with flying colors so it won’t fry your body parts. Good to know.

Uni. Washington and Microsoft Research collaborates on (yet another) mindblowing 3D photo viewer

If you think you’ve seen what’s possible with Photosynth, then you’ve seen nothing yet. The collaborative research team from the University of Washington and Microsoft Research who only two years ago in 2006 published their paper “Photo Tourism” and their technology demonstration “Photosynth” have again pushed the boundaries of what can be achieved by intuitively processing the abundance of digital images shared on the web.

This week at SIGGRAPH 2008 they’re sharing with the world some even better technology they’ve been working on which they call “Finding Paths through the World’s Photos“. Don’t let the name fool you, it’s damn cool. If you’re not much of a reading person like me, take a look at this video demonstration. (Watch it till the end)

This technology is much better than Photosynth simply because instead of just presenting individual photographs in a cool 3D environment, it actually manipulates the photo to give you a seamless and more lifelike experience. It’s one thing to click around different photos taken at a particular museum, it’s a whole other story to “walk through” the museum.

Now if you want to know exactly how they did it, and you’re a rocket scientist, take a look at their conference paper. For the rest of us, just take it for granted.