At tonight's CES Microsoft keynote speech, Steve Ballmer talked a lot about the shape of things to come in the Windows community. Fortunately, he also made a couple announcements that are about the here and now. One such announcement was that Windows Live Essentials, a suite of free, fundamental communications software for Windows is out of beta.
The suite includes Messenger, an email utility, photo management software, and Writer, a blogging program. Movie Maker is also available for free, though it is technically still a beta release. The programs can be downloaded for free here (although something tells us most of our Maximum PC readers already have favorite programs that accomplish the Essential tasks), and will come pre-installed on most Dell PCs.
Additionally, Windows Live Essentials can integrate with certain "web activities" such as Facebook, allowing you to synchronize data on those services with data on your home computer.
So, what does everyone think of Windows Live Essentials? Is this the start of a iLife-esque unified Windows experience, or is it not enough? Hit the break and leave us a comment.
Microsoft’s CES keynote was, as expected, light on megaton gaming news, but a somewhat small – though undeniably interesting -- gem did manage to escape from Microsoft’s warchest. Titled Kodu, this easy-to-use game-creation tool is operated with only the Xbox 360 controller. However, based on a demonstration given during the keynote, Kodu could very well relegate games like LittleBigPlanet to the musty back corner of the toy box. Said MPC’s own Will Smith upon viewing the demo:
“The kid doing the Kodu demo (Sparrow) is hardcore with the radial menus. I forget how awesome they are if they're fast enough that you can actually use them. She was using the radial menus to adjust items in her game world. These are incredibly deep radial menus, compared to other apps. This is a pretty impressive tool, and she's controlling it entirely using the Xbox controller. There are lots of little games in the world.”
According to a Microsoft press release, Kodu’s colorful vistas are “expressed in physical action-reaction terms, using basic concepts like vision, hearing and time to control your character’s behavior.” Sounds pretty wicked.
Kodu launches this spring on the Xbox Live Community Games Channel.
See the rest of Microsoft’s game-related announcements after the break.
Want to bring some law back to this lawless, DRM-overrun country? Here’s your chance. The Federal Trade Commission plans to devote an entire town hall meeting to the do’s and don’ts of DRM, and it’s asking for input from those who feel that digital rights management has been mismanaged.
“Digital rights management (DRM) refers to technologies typically used by hardware manufacturers, publishers, and copyright holders to attempt to control how consumers access and use media and entertainment content," the FTC explained on its official page. "Among other issues, the workshop will address the need to improve disclosures to consumers about DRM limitations."
Even better, making your voice heard is as simple as vandalizing a blank email page with one of your scandalous messages – though bombarding the FTC’s inbox with outraged anti-DRM hatemail probably isn’t the best idea.
"The Commission invites interested parties to submit requests to be panelists and to recommend other topics for discussion. The requests should be submitted electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org by January 30, 2009....The Commission will select panelists based on their expertise and on the need to represent a range of views."
Frankly, we’re all for this. No matter the meeting’s outcome, it’s a sign that people in positions of power – and not just keyboard warriors – are beginning to realize DRM’s invasive nature. At the very least, cries of DRM’s deviance will no longer ring ineffectively in the ears of companies like EA. DRM has finally hit the big time, and the big time’s hitting back.
Here's some breaking news: At the Microsoft CES Keynote, Steve Ballmer has just announced the launch of the Windows 7 Public beta. Customers of Technet and MSDN can get the beta right away (if you hadn't already been tempted by the various leaks) while the rest of us will have to wait until 2 days from now to snag the trial OS.
In his keynote address, Ballmer stressed that Windows 7 will provide faster performance, longer battery life, faster boot times, and a less obnoxious security alert system. Early reports from people who have tried the beta seem to back these claims up, and we're very excited to see how the public will react to this beta.
Though many people are keenly awaiting the commercial launch of USB 3.0, it is advisable that they subdue their alacrity a touch as it will take some time for the technology to warm-up. A prototype USB 3.0 hard drive being showcased at the ongoing Consumer Electronics Show is only able to manage read speeds up to 1320Mb/s and writes speeds of up to 1000Mb/s, which is around a quarter of what is possible with USB 3.0.
A representative for the USB Implementers Forum also confirmed to TG Daily that it will take a bit of time before devices begin to fully tap the potential of the new technology.
Toshiba has expanded its Qosmio and Satellite laptop families. Up first is the new Qosmio X305-Q725 that has been designed keeping the gamer in mind. The notebook has a 17-inch display and derives all its muscle from an Intel Core 2 Quad processor and its NVIDIA GeForce 9800M GTX GPU. As for storage, it has a 64GB SSD. The design is unpalatable and nearly every sensible man can be expected to bristle at its very sight. The ugly Qosmio can be yours for $2,699.99 only.
Toshiba has also unveiled a 15-inch budget notebook under its Satellite sub-brand with a price tag of $549. The Satellite L305-S5921 is a no-frills notebook with a T3400 Pentium processor, 2GB of DDR2 SDRAM, a 160GB HDD and 128MB of Intel integrated graphics.
The Satellite E105-S1402 is the third notebook to have been launched. It has a 14-inch display, an Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 processor, 320GB HDD, 4GB memory and 320GB HDD. It is available now for 1,199.
Lastly, Toshiba has also rolled out customized color lids for many of its Protégé family of notebooks.
Good afternoon, Maximum PC faithful! Our away team just touched down in Las Vegas, where they’re going to be covering all the PC-related news that comes out of CES. This means that you can expect plenty of updates from the floor, hands on reports and exclusive pictures from our correspondents out there in the nerd holyland.
Need a good reason to "go green" by recycling your old electronics? How about getting some green (money, that is) for your old desktop or laptop computers, digital cameras, monitors, PDAs, smartphones, inkjet or laser printers, table PCs, or workstations? HP has teamed up with Market Velocity, Inc. to offer the HP Consumer Buyback and Planet Partners Recycling Program. Whether you think you're sitting on a potential gold mine of old stuff or are looking for a painless way to get worthless digital junk out of your office, give it a try.
Consumers have shown they care more about portability than raw computing power, as evidenced by how well netbooks continue to sell. So while we fully expect to see speed gains in upcoming netbook models, the real battle might come down to battery life, and HP says its new Mini 2140 will run for up to 8 hours before needing a lifeline to the nearest power outlet.
To make the "all day" battery possible, HP combines a six-cell battery with Intel's power friendly Atom N270 (1.6GHz) processor. But even for those who wish not to opt for the larger battery, HP says its three-cell version will keep the Mini 2140 chugging along for four hours, or about twice as long as the new netbook's predecessor, the 2133. Apparently the updated model's ability to better dissipate heat is paying significant dividends.
Asus and Acer take note; HP may not be a distant third in the netbook market for very long.
Real-View recently announced their Real View 360° 3D Desktop 3D Scanner (catchy) as the first real solution for cheap 3D scanning. The release of this scanner comes alongside some pretty sizeable advances with medical cameras aimed at providing patients with options for non-invasive surgery.
The images captured by the 3D scanner can be rendered and viewed from any position, and a topographical 360° version can be exported into any web based document, online catalog or online auction.
“Topographical 360° 3D capture is the next logical step in image capture and display for e-trailers,” states Real-View 3D founder J.J. Howard. The 3D scans that Real-View hopes will become commonplace are expected (by them) to change the faces of online auctions and online catalogs.
Truthfully speaking, it would be pretty cool to see an accurate 3D model of the item that you’re looking to snag on eBay before you shell out some cash for it. It’d be pretty cool to see technology like this take off.