Even Gartner’s numbers confirmed that the PC market didn’t decline as sharply as was expected. Gartner had feared a very steep decline of 9.8%, but its crystal ball eventually turned out to be way off the mark. According to Gartner, PC shipments declined by 5%.
IDC expects the PC market to put its horror run behind by the end of 2009. "New product launches in the second half of the year combined with seasonal growth and greater economic confidence resulting from factors such as government stimulus, a more liquid housing market, relatively stable stock market and interest rates, and progress in the auto and financial industries, should support the expected return to growth by year-end,” said Loren Loverde, the program director for IDC's PC tracking unit.
Microsoft has ended support for Office 2000, which was launched a decade ago. The productivity suite had been in its extended support period since July 1, 2004, which elapsed on Tuesday. If your heart still beats for Office 2000 for some reason, you can find all the patches that were released for Office 2000, during its 10-year support lifecycle, on the Download Center.
Microsoft is gearing up to enter a new era with its upcoming Office 2010 productivity suite. The company launched a limited-by-invitation technical preview of Office 2010 on Monday. It has also announced it plans to offer a web-based version of the application suite called Office Online.
Dungeons & Dragons Online, like the lion’s share of MMOs out there, has undergone countless changes since it launched, but never something this huge. Previously a subscription-based game, DDO is just about to engage the landing gear on its brand new free-to-play option, which brings with it new features of all shapes and sizes. We spoke with senior producer Kate Paiz about DDO’s latest makeover, chatting about topics including the DDO Store’s effects on game balance, the when’s and why’s of DDO’s new free-to-play model, the recent sale of id Software, and much, much more.
Seriously, grab a sandwich or something. This one’s a doozy.
What prompted the decision to go free-to-play? Why move away from a subscription focus?
Ever since we’ve launched, we’ve gotten feedback from players that we’re just a different kind of MMO; we don’t have the same kind of basic gameplay mechanics as a lot of other, more traditional MMOs do. We have a lot of private, party-based instances. We give XP based on the completion of an adventure, of conquering a goal. So you saved the girl, right? You know, destroyed the weapon – completed something that was a little more epic than just killing monsters. It’s a bigger task. And because we’re based so faithfully on the [D&D] 3.5 rule set, there are also just some basic mechanics that differed [from other MMOs].
So one of the things that we hear all the time is that because we’re not that traditional MMO, and because research has shown that one of the barriers to joining an MMO is the subscription price, we felt like it made more sense to pull from D&D’s roots and go back to sort of a more module-based purchasing option, where players get a certain amount of content, like the players’ handbook, right up front, and then they can use that as much as they want and then purchase additional content when they want, the way they want – rather than being locked into a subscription fee.
Continue spelunking this verbal dungeon after the break.
Apparently it's all fun and games poking fun at the competition until someone turns the table and slaps you across the face with a reality check. Just ask Apple, who threw the first volley before going on a marketing blitz with Justin Long-in-tooth. According to Kevin Turner, Microsoft's Chief Operating Officer, Apple's lawyers were none too pleased with Microsoft's Laptop Hunter ads and wanted the software maker to stop airing them.
"You know why I know they're working? Because two weeks ago we got a call from the Apple legal department saying, hey -- this is a true story -- saying, 'Hey, you need to stop running those ads, we lowered our prices.' They took like $100 off or something," Turner said during his Worldwide Partner Conference keynote. "It was the greatest single phone call in the history that I've ever taken in business."
In case you've somehow managed to miss them, Microsoft's Laptop Hunter ads feature regular people challenged to find a laptop that fits their needs at a certain price point, and if they can find one, Microsoft will pay for it. In every commercial, an appropriate MacBook ends up being out of the price range. You can view all of them here. And if you're an Apple fan, here's your link.
It can be irritating going through the process of getting a disputed charge removed from your credit card bill, but have you ever been overcharged to the tune of $23,138,855,308,184,500? That's exactly what some Visa card holders recently saw on their statement, which as CNN points out, is 2,007 times the size of the national debt. We suppose that's one way boost the economy.
We can't even fathom spending over $23 quadrillion in a single month, and neither could Josh Muszynski, a 22-year-old from New Hampshire who was panicked after discovering the 17-digit charge. After being put on hold for what he claims was two hours, Bank of America, the issuer of his Visa prepaid debit card, removed the exorbitant charge along with a $15 overdraft fee.
Visa blamed the glitch on a "temporary programming error at Visa Debit Processing Services, which caused some transactions to be inaccurately posted to a small number of Visa prepaid accounts." That "small number" includes fewer than 13,000 prepaid transactions, Visa said.
We wonder if anyone just sent in a check for the full amount.
This week Google implemented a Labs program for their popular calendar web app, hoping to make it more useful to more people.
“When you sign in to Calendar, you'll see a new page in Settings called Labs where, just like in Gmail, we'll list new highly experimental features for you to try,” writes David Marmaros, a Software Engineer for Google on their official blog. “Today there are six new Labs features in the list and more on the way. Try out Next Meeting, which shows you how much time you have to procrastinate. Free or Busy allows you to see which of your friends or coworkers are currently in meetings. And World Clock lets you keep track of different timezones when you schedule meetings. And as with Gmail Labs, there's a feedback link for you to discuss these features and to suggest new ones.”
They’ve also released an experimental API, in the interest of letting users create their own features.
Earlier this year Acer had announced that they’d release an Android powered phone before 2010. And, thanks to a recent statement, it would appear that we’re getting closer and closer to that day.
Acer allegedly plans to release the phone in September of this year, and the phone will be called the A1 (not to be confused with the steak sauce). No word on what exactly the phone will have under the hood, or what service providers it’ll be for, but there’s little doubt that we’ll find out in the coming months.
All Dell PCs bought after 29 June, 2009 are eligible for a complimentary Windows 7 upgrade, according to a recent announcement by the floundering PC maker. But Dell forgot to mention that in case of PCs bought from brick-and-mortar stores, the date of purchase, in context of this offer, is that date when the third-party retailer bought the PC from Dell. As this date invariably precedes the actual date of purchase – the date on which the PC is bought by the customer, it can potentially render many customers ineligible for the free Windows 7 upgrade. Dell is avowedly aware of the problem and currently working toward a solution.
With a mighty "yehhh," the city of Vancouver, British Columbia, passed a motion to adopt open standards in its local government this past May. I find it to be a wonderful development--not just because I write about open source. Rather, I think that the move is a twofold triumph: It allows governments to free themselves of pricy, proprietary software burdens while simultaneously opening up more areas of government for access by conventional citizens.
It's no secret that programs like HOST and CRADA are helping the U.S. bring new, open standards of communication and accessibility to the forefront of the discussion. I'd nevertheless like to see more cities working the answer from a bottom-to-top approach, adopting motions like Vancouver's--or, for that matter, using Vancouver's exact template--to call for the integration of open-source ideas and programs wherever possible in local government.
It's not an idle dream, as various cities in the United States have already started to dip their toes into open waters. If our brethren to the north can take the plunge into open source sans hesitation, why not us as well?
Click the jump to learn more about Vancouver's open initiative!
While maybe not the most creative of names, BingTweets are just what they sound like - a combination of Microsoft's Bing search engine and Twitter messages coming together in a new site.
"Many people share their thoughts on Twitter, and search engines don’t currently do a great job of capturing that real-time content. We designed Bing to help you make faster, more informed decisions, and, since people often turn to real-time content to help them make decisions, BingTweets was a logical next step," Microsoft wrote on Bing's community blog.
To give an example, Microsoft said that as Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince opens, surfers can scan the official reviews, local theater listing, and get the scoop from the latest Tweets related to the movie, all in one fell swoop.
In its early form, the BingTweet website shows a list of popular terms at the top of the page grouped into different categories, and a search box sits to the right. Once you search for a term, the results are listed in typical Bing fashion taking up the majority of the page, with a column on the left slowly scrolling through related Twitter messages.
Give it a try right here, then hit the jump and tell us what you think.