Monthly Archives: April 2010

Microsoft’s “Merry Go Round” of Windows 7 PCs

It’s easy to lose track of some of the amazing new Windows 7 PCs that seems to come out every other week, which is what makes this Microsoft “Merry Go Round” video so much fun to watch.

This ad-like 3-minute video takes a whirlwind tour of some neat Windows 7 features on at least a dozen gorgeous Windows 7 laptops and desktops from HP, Toshiba, ASUS, Samsung, Dell, Lenovo, Acer and Sony. Intel’s WiDi wireless display technology, HTC HD2 Windows phone and the upcoming HP Slate (with emulated UI) also make brief appearances. You’d be hard pressed to find a better video showing off the current Windows hardware ecosystem.

Finally if you find the song extremely catchy like me then check out “Tal & Acacia“, actually the same band featured in the video. Their song “Merry go round” is available on YouTube.

Don’t steal software, on the street

Apparently students from the University of Technology Sydney and Sydney TAFE are more tempted by street-side packaged software than one could possibly imagine. Microsoft Australia catches them in the act. Of course one can’t assume all of them were trying to “steal” software, at the same time that doesn’t make their reactions any less enjoyable. :)

What’s playing on the Microsoft Store video wall

One of the highlights of the rare brick-and-mortar breed of the Microsoft Store is the panoramic video wall that pushes the definition of widescreen viewing. When you have multi-monitor capabilities of 120 of 47″ LCD displays and a single 130″ plasma displays with a combined resolution of 4 IMAX theatres (57000 x 1080), one has to wonder what sort of content you can show.

And that’s where creative agency Digital Kitchen came in. It turns out a team of nearly 80 people were responsible to producing the films that spans the entire video wall and here’s a couple snippets of the raw video that’s played back on the displays.

Even though they look gorgeous on a standard widescreen computer monitor, you’ll just have to imagine it’s about 30 times wider.

Update: The videos have been removed for some reason :(

Microsoft-sponsored Aura project: like Twitter, but with XBOX avatars

“Aura”, a Microsoft-sponsored project at the Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center (of SurfaceScapes fame) is putting an interesting spin on text-driven social networks like Twitter and Facebook to communicate status updates through XBOX Live avatars.

The project which spans across XBOX 360 and Windows Phone 7 leverages users’ personalized 3D avatars to create virtual scenes that reflect their current status through graphics rather than text. For example, in the video there are avatars seen golfing, DJing, dancing, rocking out and riding an airplane (quite literally) with a cityscape background to indicate what they’re doing and where.

Although it’s not entirely clear how it integrates to Twitter and Facebook or the scope of activities, I think this is a neat idea to make status updates more personal and easier at the same time. Considering the XBOX Live integration in Windows Phone 7 and Microsoft’s direct involvement in this project, we could very well see this idea in fruition very soon.

A prototype of the project is said to be demoed at E3 in June.

Microsoft Research’s “Manual Deskterity” explores the synergy of pen & touch

Pen and touch computing have long-thought to be mutually exclusive methods of human-computer interaction, but as the Microsoft Research project “Manual Deskterity” shows, the two intuitively combined makes for a much powerful input method than each of them might ever be on their own.

If you’re short on time, the real soul of the demo – a custom application for the Microsoft Surface with a special infrared pen – starts at the 1 minute mark and shows off capabilities that either wouldn’t be practical or possible at all by either pen or touch alone. Bear in mind however this is a research project so the application is quite limited in scope.

Having seen Bill Buxton briefly explore the combination of pen and touch only weeks ago in a Microsoft Research video, it came as no surprise to me that he’s very much involved with this project. To quote him, “everything is best for something and worst for something else” sums up the pen and touch debate perfectly. Combining the best attributes of each just makes sense.

With dual pen and touch display solutions and products already on the market today, I don’t think it’ll be very long until this idea matures into the mainstream too.

New golden Windows Live Hotmail logo unveiled

A recent behind-the-scenes video about the infrastructure of Windows Live Hotmail has let loose a new golden logo for Windows Live Hotmail presumably for the imminent Windows Live “Wave 4” refresh.

As straightforward as it might be, this logo actually comes at somewhat of a surprise to me since it contrasts with current text-based “Wave 3” Windows Live branding with a Windows logo, the name “Windows Live” and the name of the service affixed to the end wordmark.

This new branding not only puts more emphasis on Hotmail (and less on Windows Live) but also an unusually vibrant orange envelope icon, similar however not the same as the current Mail desktop client icon. As the Live branding up and until now has always been predominantly blue, this certainly stands out.