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This week, Microsoft rolled out the Windows Vista Feature Pack for Wireless, Vista's first-ever feature pack. This feature pack adds support for Bluetooth version 2.1, provides updates to Microsoft's Connect Now wireless network configuration technology, and adds support for the "Unified Pairing" user interface (whatever that is). Any Vista SP1 edition qualifies for this feature pack. Learn more by visiting KB942567.
[updated 4-19-08] Note that you must contact the computer manufacturer to obtain this update. Unfortunately, Microsoft's list of manufacturers is extremely outdated, filled with many defunct vendors and lacking website information in many cases.
If your system is a prebuilt system with an integrated Bluetooth transceiver, contact the system vendor for more information. If you built your system yourself (in true Maximum PC DIY fashion), contact your mobo vendor (if your mobo has integrated Bluetooth) or the transceiver vendor (if you use an add-on Bluetooth device).
To learn more about Bluetooth 2.1's new features, the UK PC Pro website has a useful roundup.
Why? Microsoft bought Farecast, a Seattle-based travel search site, this week. Farecast offers a unique service that predicts future ticket price trends on flights between cities and recommends whether you should buy your tickets now or wait for a better deal. So, should you expect to see Microsoft join the ranks of Expedia.com, Priceline.com, and the rest of the low-cost travel websites? Probably not. Speculation is rife that Farecast's technology, not its specific market niche, is the attraction to Ballmer & Co.
If you'd like to see what the fuss is about and can't log onto the Farecast website, take a look at screen shots and an 2007 interview with Farecast's founder here. Note that Farecast uses open-source software and commodity hardware. It will be interesting to see what happens if Farecast switches over to an all-Microsoft back end.
Neowin.net reports that Microsoft's code-named "Albany" software subscription service is now being beta-tested. "Albany" contains Live One Care, Microsoft Office Student and Teacher edition, Office Live Workspace, Live Messenger, Live Mail, and Live Photo Gallery. For more information, see this PC World article.