Microsoft’s much delayed SQL Server 2008 is available now. Despite the delay in SQL Server’s launch, MS is patting its back for having released the new version of its popular database product within two to three years of the SQL Server 2005 launch. Apart from the free version, there are a variety of paid ones for both PCs and Windows Mobile devices.
SQL Server 2008 is expected to further strengthen Microsoft’s promising database business. In fact, it made immediate impact on Microsoft’s VP Ted Kummert, who has dyed his hair orange due to the product’s release. Kummert had vowed to dye his air orange if the developers were able to meet the latest launch deadline.
Just in time for the start of the Olympics, Neowin.net reports that Microsoft's Live Search has added many new features to help you keep track of what's happening in Beijing:
Live Search News now includes a direct link to Beijing 2008 Olympics news.
The new xRank Live Search page features an Olympics category where you can track the popularity and news coverage of individual athletes.
Select Video from the Live Search home page and enter Olympics (or follow this link) to search for Olympics-related videos.
Enter an Olympic athlete's name in Live Search, and Live Search will display Olympics-related information first, a feature Microsoft calls Athlete Instant Answer.
Microsoft has also tweaked how searches for Olympics-related keywords work. Search for events such as "swimming" or "USA basketball" and you'll see the latest medal count for the event or the country once the events begin, a feature know as Medal Instant Answer.
And, to round off the Olympic-friendly repackaging of Live Search for Beijing 2008, Microsoft plans to display various Olympics-related images as backgrounds on the Live Search home page http://www.live.com/.
Note that some of these features might not take effect until Olympics competition begins.
The changes to Live Search are convenient if you're a fan of the Olympics, but how do you feel about a search engine's tweaking its results according to current events? Do you like the idea, or does it smack of a bit of "Big Brother?" We'll take your feedback after the jump.
The surface of the earth was once thought to be flat, and just as it was eventually proven to be round, will technophiles make the same discovery when it comes to surface computing? It's far too early to tell what the future of surface computing has in store, but don't be surprised if years from now your PC looks more like a globe than a flat screen.
Giving a glimpse of such a future, Microsoft showed off its spherical Surface computer during the company's annual Research Faculty Summit in Redmond. Attendees got a chance to play with the prototype that relies on an infrared system to detect hands, fingers, and objects.
"It's really an exploration of ideas," explained Hrvoje Benko, the Microsoft researcher spearheading the project.
Getting touch technology to work on a curved surface was no easy task, but Microsoft researches came up with advanced algorithms to translate images originally intended for a flat PC screen and display them correctly on the rounded globe. So far applications for the Sphere include a picture and video browser, interactive globe visualization, finger painting, and an omni-directional video conferencing application with 360 degrees of panoramic video.
Catch the YouTube video here, which also includes a version of a Pong like you've never seen before.
The Linux community looks to get a big boost of support, as IBM announced at the LinuxWorld Conference & Expo it San Francisco that plans to work alongside several different Linux vendors to help offer middleware through a bevy of distributors. That's bad news for Microsoft, as IBM's new initiative will potentially give previously reluctant companies the confidence to make the switch.
"Linux has always been about choice," IBM inux Director Inna Kuznetsova said during a press conference. "We're providing a well-recognized alternative for the desktop."
Far from being a new flame, IBM has supported Linux and the open source movement for over a decade, and with distros like Ubuntu and SUSE becoming more user friendly, IBM sees the timing as ripe for a major push. The company has set a goal for 2009 to ship its software bundle to select Linux partners and PC makers, though it did not announce which specific PC partners would be involved.
During my many years of Taekwondo training (no, really) I've seen a fair share of faux-martial artists come and go. Not all of them were masters of the ol' chop-socky, but that doesn't mean they weren't good company. One of those long-since retired combatants was big into games, so naturally, we hit it off. In between feasting on one another's punches and kicks, we talked about all of the latest releases -- mostly on the PC. But, in one major way, we were different: I purchased; he pirated.
Of course, he had a reason. PC games can sometimes be buggy and unreliable -- even going so far as to not run on certain PCs. He raked in torrents as "extended demos," and presumably purchased the games he liked. Even so, I'm not sure if I agreed with his methods. After all, isn't that what regular demos are for? Plus, I never really got the impression that he actually followed through with step two of his little plan.
So, question of the day: Do you pirate games?If so, what's your justification? Do you even call it "pirating"? Don't worry, I'm merely asking as a discussion question -- not to judge anyone.
Today's Roundup contains a few possible methods of diverting cash back into the pockets of those who create games, though I'd wager none of the wannabe saviors really have a concrete idea of how they're going to end the Yarr-ing menace once and for all. On one had, Microsoft sees downloads usurping retail's throne in the near future, which could create an iTunes-like situation for the gaming industry. On the other hand, Turner has decided to toss GameTap to the curb like a box of unwanted kittens (an $18 million box of kittens), so obviously not all is well in the realm of downloadable games. Read about all of that and more after the break.
MAPP provides advance notification to third-party security providers of vulnerabilities that are being addressed by Microsoft security updates, such as the ones rolled out each month on "Patch Tuesday." MAPP is designed to help stop exploits that are launched between the announcement of upcoming patches and the availability of patches. MAPP starts in October, according to eWeek.
Security providers can learn more about MAPP by downloading the fact sheet (MS Word 97-2003 format). For additional insight from a former military and government security specialist who now works for Microsoft, see Steve Adegbite's blog entry about MAPP.
The Microsoft Exploitability Index will provide ratings of how likely each vulnerability is to being successfully exploited. The index will rate each vulnerability at one of three levels:
Consistent exploit code likely
Inconsistent exploit code likely
Functioning exploit code unlikely
Microsoft's fact sheet suggests (MS Word 97-2003 format) that vulnerabilities with the "Consistent" rating should be treated as the most serious threats, followed by the others. To get more insight into the need for this index, see Microsoftie Mike Reavey's blog entry (Reavey is part of the Microsoft Security Response Center). The index will be included with each new security bulletin, also starting in October.
For your chance to sound off about Microsoft's newest security initiatives, see us after the jump.
Symantec has issued yet another warning related to a vulnerability in MS Access that was acknowledged by Microsoft last month. Symantec has warned that Internet Explorer 6 is more vulnerable to this threat than subsequent versions. It had earlier unearthed an update to the diabolical Neosploit kit that has made it easier for even neophyte hackers to exploit the chink in the MS Access armor.
There is still no news of a patch to fix the Snapshot Viewer ActiveX control that comes bundled with MS Access. This ActiveX control is being exploited by cyber interlopers to wrest control of computers. Symantec has advised users to set three kill bits for the Snapshot Viewer ActiveX control to prevent it from being activated.
Yesterday, I briefly heaped praise on the "new" Electronic Arts for its recent push towards creativity and employee practices that are actually legal. However, I know that many people chuck verbal darts at EA's target simply because they don't like big, "soulless" corporations. After all, each of us is the punchy underdog in our own lives, so rooting for the little guy only seems natural -- especially when the Man seems to be breathing down his neck.
But, as I'm sure you've all noticed, we're kind of running out of little guys to root for. "Consolidation" is one of those mean words we're not supposed to like, but in an industry that's expanding rapidly -- one where development costs regularly zip past $10 million -- consolidation is natural.
So, are you ready for our little hobby to become more like the big, bad movie industry, or are you of the opinion that we don't need "E" and "A" to spell BioWare?
This edition of the Roundup is gaming's "The Empire Strikes Back." Large independent devs are dropping like flies, and stalwart supporters are turning to the dark side. No Ewoks, though, so the Roundup isn't jumping the shark just yet. Jumping past the break, however, is highly encouraged.
64-bit operating systems are certainly nothing new and when they first launched they weren’t even highly anticipated. Windows XP Professional x64 Edition only created a small amount of excitement and that died a quick death when the complaints about driver issues, Windows Explorer bugs in 64-bit mode, and 16-bit programs being unsupported started to roll in.
It was just too green to be of any real use to me, despite my 64-bit processor. I love to tinker with my PC, but I also want it to be stable and work well with lots of peripherals.
With the release of Service Pack 1 for Vista I decided to give it another try with my workstation and was pleasantly surprised, both by Vista (not the evil, vile monster it was at launch) and 64-bit computing. It seems that others are beginning to share that feeling.
Make the jump to see how many more Vista 64-bit OSs are hitting Windows Update
Are you one of the forlorn Internet Explorer 7 users swept up in the wave of FireFox 3 mania? Do you long to make it cool to use Internet Exploder, umm make that Explorer, again? Do you want to help Microsoft do better with IE8?
Well, rise up and heed the call; Uncle Bill wants you! You can send an email over to IESO@microsoft.com and tell them about yourself and why you’d be a great beta tester. Maybe you’ll make it in and be part of the IE8 Technical Beta program for the second part of beta on Microsoft Connect.