Monthly Archives: January 2010

There will be so much Windows Mobile, Microsoft can’t fit it in one event in February

Something big must be brewing in Windows Mobile land because apparently it will be such a revelation Microsoft can’t even explain it all in one day, let alone one event.

Moments ago, Microsoft sent out a press release detailing the February schedule for upcoming events for the financial analysts and investors community.

Whilst usually I couldn’t care less, what poked my interest was that Microsoft is scheduling not one but two Windows Mobile-related events in a matter of just seven (7) days – one immediately after their press conference at Mobile World Congress and another a week later.

Microsoft financial analyst briefing at the 2010 Mobile World Congress
Monday, Feb. 15, 2010
7 p.m. CET/ 10 a.m. PST
Andy Lees, senior vice president, Mobile Communication Business

Windows Mobile financial analyst conference call
Monday, Feb. 22, 2010
8 a.m. PST
Andy Lees, senior vice president, Mobile Communication Business

In contrast to the previous year where they announced Windows Mobile 6.5, there was only one event and that was the briefing at MWC. The next person to suggest Windows Mobile 7 is delayed and they are only showing off WM 6.5.3 (a.k.a. 6.6) will get slapped.

Updated Zune software drivers hints at Zune “Phone”

Coinciding with the scheduled Zune.net maintenance today, a new Zune software update was also released (version 4.2.202.0 for those playing along at home). What might appear as just a regular software update is actually hiding a very big secret. The elusive “Zune Phone” is pretty much confirmed.

As some of you might know, an .INF file is essential component of a driver package responsible for identifying the driver and associating it with compatible USB hardware IDs, and in this case, the Zune.inf file is responsible for associating devices with the Zune driver.

New to this version of the driver which was actually generated on October 20, 2009 are several lines which pretty much speak for themselves.

[Microsoft.NTx86]
%Zune.DeviceDesc% = ZuneMTPZUSB, USB\MS_COMP_MTPZ
%Zune.DeviceDesc% = ZuneMTPZUSB, USB\VID_045E&PID_0710
%Zune.DeviceDesc% = ZuneMTPZUSB, USB\VID_045E&PID_063E
%Phone.DeviceDesc% = ZuneMTPZUSB, USB\VID_045E&PID_0640
%Phone.DeviceDesc% = ZuneMTPZUSB, USB\VID_045E&PID_0641
%Phone.DeviceDesc% = ZuneMTPZUSB, USB\VID_045E&PID_0642

%ZuneIp.DeviceDesc% = ZuneMTPZIP, umb\urn:microsoft-com:device:mtpz:1

; Localizable strings
Msft = “Microsoft”
Zune.DeviceDesc = “Zune”

Phone.DeviceDesc = “Phone”

Moreover, just as how the current three generation Zunes are represented by three different IDs, there are three unique class IDs and specifically Product IDs (PID) that identify three potential “Zune Phone” models (not storage capacities) off the bat. My bet is that they’re not just capacity variants (since various Zune capacities are all grouped under the same PID), but three actual hardware SKUs.

A timely coincidence before Mobile World Congress? I think not.

Update: Whilst it is possible there might be system-wide Zune integration into Windows Mobile 7, this particular driver references specific hardware IDs that are locked to a vendor (Microsoft) and product which under USB body regulations cannot be masked, thus this has to be Microsoft devices. “Pink” anyone?

Aero Snap makes Australian Open TV cameo

[flv:win7-snap-ausopen.f4v 670 381]

If you’ve been watching Australian TV lately (I haven’t) then you might have noticed a subtle new Windows 7 advertising campaign custom tailored for the Australian Open broadcast on Channel 7.

Over the next two weeks during the tournament, Microsoft is sponsoring action replays, multi-angle replays and head-to-head profiles that will illustrate how Aero Snap – the Windows 7 feature that allows you to easily dock two windows side-by-side can be practically used.

Even though it looks a little bit cheesy from the video sample above, I think it does a decent job at illustrating a pretty useful feature to an audience that probably wouldn’t otherwise know about it.

Just thinking out loud, what might have been an even cooler advertising campaign is that if they had all the tennis matches played during the day as buttons in the taskbar, hover over them to see live thumbnail previews and then click on them to switch between the feeds.

On a related note, I find it mildly amusing that the live scores are available on Bing in the United States, but not in Bing Australia, where it is held. Google Australia however gets it right.

A lesson from the HTC HD2: let’s stop generalizing Windows Phones

After spending a very long day with the the HTC HD2 launching in Australia this week, my expectations for what Windows Mobile 6.5 can do and what Windows Phones can be has been completed redefined.

Having actually came from another Windows Phone and despised the experience of using it, if there’s one thing we should all take away from the HD2 is that it is no longer appropriate to generalize all Windows Phones.

Although Microsoft can still be blamed for allowing and encouraging such a wide spectrum of devices ranging in quality to be produced and ultimately grouped under a single brand – previously Windows Mobile phones now Windows Phones – it’s become a much more of an issue for the platform recently as the gap between generic Windows Phones and “premium” Windows Phones has expanded so wide that the “stigma of Windows Mobile” should no longer be an acceptable justification to dismiss high-end devices like the HD2.

Whilst it is still true the experience inside the “HTC bubble” on the HD2 – the integration of HTC software and services into the core Windows Phone experience – is above and beyond the native Windows Mobile experience, it should also be noted that the longstanding notion that “Windows Mobile will show its ugly face quickly” is no longer true for the HD2 thanks to efforts made by Microsoft, HTC and third-party application developers over the past 6-12 months. Granted not every nook and cranny is perfect, but certainly the day-to-day experience on the HD2 is arguably on-par with the Android or even the iPhone.

As I’m sure a variety of Windows Phones will continue to flood the market in the months to come, I would ask people to judge each device on its own merits. It would be cynical to dismiss otherwise great phones on the basis it’s just a Windows Phone.

Update: The HTC HD2 T9193 Next-G version (850/2100mhz) is available now exclusively from Telstra for $829 outright unlocked (until March 30).

Windows MultiPoint Server — a multiseat computing solution worthy for the home?

Late last year, Microsoft quietly announced a new server operating system called “Windows MultiPoint Server 2010” aimed at the educations market based on the Microsoft Research project MultiMouse. As it nears its release, the more I look at this product the more I see this as a potential multiseat computing solution even for the home.

[flv:multipoint.f4v 600 342]

Unix enthusiasts might be quick to point out this type of computing actually originated on Unix long ago, it hasn’t reached the mainstream, yet, it solves a very common computing problem in the home environment – a limited number of computers and everyone who wants to use it at the same time.

Granted the average cost of home PCs have been steadily declining in the past decade, the hidden cost of maintaining, running and eventually renewing a PC for every home user is an unnecessary burden for what might only be light web browsing and emails.

Whilst thin-client solutions has worked well for the enterprise, the complexity doesn’t really make sense for a home. Furthermore, unless CPUs, memory and motherboards becomes free, then no thin-client can ever match multiseat computing by cost.

Compared to existing third-party Windows multiseat solutions out there, Windows MultiPoint Server is a far more elegant and transparent solution. From what I can gather it is no more complicated to set up than any OEM Windows PC. Thereon, each “access point” can be added for just the price of an additional monitor, keyboard, mouse (and user license) and the computing experience would be no worse than what they can experience on a standalone PC if not better with bonus capabilities such as being able to “migrate” between different access points with their user state preserved.

Although Microsoft is not intending to release this particular OS to the general OEM market, I wouldn’t be surprised if it will be easily obtainable via software resellers in the future. If that’s the case, I’d love to see someone deploy this in the home as a test case.

Finally, I must point out even though this product is currently limited in some ways by the maximum length of monitor cables, wireless technology for the mouse and keyboard is already here and it’s not any stretch of the imagination wireless display transceivers are coming soon, in which case, imagine just having to deploy a single Windows MultiPoint Server for an entire household.

Update: Martin in the comments saw a demonstration of the Windows MultiPoint Server 2010 at the BETT conference first-hand. He says,

They had one PC running Windows 7 (Aero Graphics), Video Streaming, Office, Movie Maker. And shared between 5 clients. with NO performance loss.

Windows Embedded-powered digital signage is one step closer to Minority Report-inspired advertising

I wonder if Spielberg is claiming royalty from all the technology that was envisioned in his sci-fi film Minority Report. Cause if he is, he probably don’t have to make another movie.

Shown off today at the National Retail Federation Convention & Expo, an impressive digital signage proof of concept put together by Intel and Microsoft demonstrates that the futuristic clothing store in the movie is not all that far off.

Powered by an Intel Core i7 processor (yes you read that right, this sign has more grunt than most desktop computers), this proof of concept was designed to illustrate some of the new breakthrough technologies supported by the upcoming Windows Embedded Standard 2011 platform that’s based of Windows 7. Noticeably, the advanced multi-touch and high-definition multimedia capabilities have carried through to this small(er)-footprint OS.

In combination with a massive 80″ “holographic” display and a large LCD display, the result is nothing short of impressive. Should this ever make it in actual retail shops, I’m sure people would spend more time in-front of this sign than the products.