The race is still on to see which will come out first - Vista's second Service Pack, or Windows 7 - but when it comes to beta releases, you needn't wait long. In a blog post, Microsoft said Vista's SP2 will begin beta testing this week.
"Following the success of Windows Vista Service Pack 1 last spring, we have been working hard on Windows Vista Service Pack 2," writes Mike Nash, corporate VP for Microsoft's Windows Product Management. "As part of the development and testing process, we're going to start by providing a small group of Technology Adoption Program customers with Windows Vista SP2 Beta for evaluation next Wednesday, October 29."
Nash goes on to say that SP2 will incorporate both previously released fixes and unreleased updates into a single serviceability model covering both Windows Vista (client) and Windows Server 2008 (server) versions. A big focus on SP2 will be on improving hardware support as well as "adding support for several emerging standards." Some of the changes include:
Adding Windows Search 4.0
Bluetooth 2.1 Feature Pack
Record data on Blu-ray media natively
Adds Windows Connect Now (WCN) for easier WiFi configs
Yahoo has single-handedly disproved Moore’s law, by finally updating their online calendar after 10 long, tech rich years. Tonight they will be rolling out a new drag-and-drop Ajax based calendar in a closed beta to Yahoo Mail users in the U.S., UK, India, Taiwan and Brazil (sign ups can be found here).
The upgraded calendar doesn’t do much that Google’s isn’t already capable of, but it does play nice with iCal and CalDAV and has a slew of new features, including; layering (viewing multiple calendars in different colors or subscribing to someone else’s calendar), zooming in when adding an appointment, integration with Flickr, setting email or SMS reminders, and a to-do list.
With this addition to their juggernaut of offerings, Yahoo should increase their market share in online calendars, despite already being the leader. Of their 285 million Yahoo Mail users, 8.1 million use the calendar compared to the 5 million that use Google’s.
Those expecting Mozilla to release its open-source email client Thunderbird 3.0 in Beta 1 form will have to wait a little longer than initially thought. Rather than attach the Beta moniker to the updated version, Mozilla instead is dubbing it Alpha 3.
"Calling something a beta is likely to trigger a bunch of extra press attention that we're not yet in a position to deal with," said Dan Mosedale, who works at Mozilla Messaging. "Some number [of] reviews will be inappropriately pre-judging based on its current state. In the best case, this would be a distraction."
Mosedale also cited a lack of landing several milestones (AutoConfig, GloDa with full-text search, STEEL) as another reason why he's more comfortable calling the lastest Thunderbird 3.0 release an Alpha build instead of a Beta.
No matter what you call it, the latest beta/alpha/unfinished release is available now for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.
PC World’s Paul McNamara contacted Google last week to see if the cloud computing titan would clarify its use of the word “beta”. Sadly from those who read the response, they clearly intend to continue bending the term to their own use. This on the other hand leads to a great community conversation starter. Currently 22 out of 49 non Google Labs services carry the beta tag, including popular and widely used services such as Gmail and Google Docs. Google’s official response to the question is as follows: "We believe beta has a different meaning when applied to applications on the Web, where people expect continual improvements in a product. On the Web, you don't have to wait for the next version to be on the shelf or an update to become available. Improvements are rolled out as they're developed." If I’m interpreting my corporate double speak correctly, it seems clear that Google intends to continue using the beta tag to represent constantly evolving products. This makes me wonder, is it fair to use such a widely understood version label and turn it into a marketing term? Now it’s your turn to chime in. Do you like Google’s new definition of the beta tag? Or would you prefer they get off the fence and better distinguish new products from the old.
The chipmaker claims that Fusion for Gaming can enhance a computer’s performance by up to 10%. Although it might actually prove to be handy, the chances of it being worth as much as AMD’s rhetoric suggests are slim to none. The beta is only meant for Windows Vista 32 and can be downloaded here.
With Microsoft's IE8 browser now in its second beta, and Google's Chrome shaking up the browser market with its initial public beta release, many analysts are now taking a closer look at how these browsers are similar - and different.
Scott Hanselman, a Microsoft Senior Program Manager posting at Hanselman.com, gives us a useful look in a recent posting about one similarity between IE8 and Google Chrome: "both browsers isolate tabs in different processes."
So, what does this mean to us users? Both browsers are capable of running many tabs at the same time, and, as Hanselman demonstrates, can restore a crashed browsing session with a single mouse click.
One difference between current releases of IE8 and Chrome: if a page crashes in IE8, the browser will try to reload it automatically before it gives up and asks you if you want to reload the page or browsing session.
Have you been loading up either of these browsers (or other current favorites) with lots of tabs? Which of the current browsers has error handling you like? Which ones still have problems? Hit the jump for your chance to sound off.
Microsoft released the second Beta for Internet Explorer 8 last week, which paves the way for a final release later this year. The new browser demonstrates a number of usability, security, and privacy features that make it a huge improvement over IE 7, including abilities that FireFox users have taken for granted since the FireFox 3 (and even in previous versions). Familiar features such as a better Address Bar, crash recovery, and improved in-page search won’t get Firefox devotees to switch over, but genuinely innovative tools like InPrivate browsing and Tab grouping may warrant your attention. We sort through the full list of Beta 2 features to see what ideas IE8 did and didn’t borrow from its world record-breaking open-source rival.
Symantec website rating tool called Norton Safe Web is now undergoing beta trial and will complement its upcoming Norton Internet Security 2009 and Norton Antivirus 2009 security tools, also in beta. Norton Safe Web will blow the whistle on malicious websites just like other website rating tools that are currently available. The Safe Web beta can be downloaded once you have already signed-up for the Norton Internet Security 2009 beta. If you don't intend to download the tool then you can check any website’s rating on the web-based version of Safe Web, which is essentially a community website that also allows users to rate websites based on the perceived security threat.
We still have a ways to go before being able to print out an entire PC's worth of components ordered through Newegg, but imagine taking that killer motherboard layout you've been brewing in your head and printing out a 3D mockup. Then the only question is do you send your design to your favorite motherboard maker, or start up your own company and show the competition what a real enthusiast's layout is supposed to look like? Forget about Fatal1ty, and slap your own forum nick on your custom mobo!
Sound farfetched? It is, but only because of the high costs associated with 3D printing. Looking to break that barrier is Netherlands-based Shapeways, an ambitious startup who hopes to help you transform your 3D modeling designs from software creations into hard printouts, all without breaking the bank. After submitting your object, Shapeways decides whether or not it can be produced and provides a real-time cost estimate, which the company claims usually runs between $50-$150.
It's all part of Shapeways' private beta for a new online consumer co-creation community and do-it-yourself 3D printing service. The site beta has just gone live, but the only way you'll get to try it out is with an invite. That's no problem for Maximum PC readers, as we've secured 250 exclusive invitations!
Hit the jump to learn more about Shapeways' 3D printing service and to snatch your invite. But hurry, they're first come, first served!
Last month, Opera Software had announced that the long awaited and much delayed Opera Mobile 9.5 was undergoing alpha testing and the beta version would become available for download on July 15th, 2008. And, miraculously enough, Opera didn’t disappoint this time around and stuck to its promise.
Just to let you know, this release doesn’t offer support for non-touchscreen Windows Mobile phones. You can download the new browser for free and catch a glimpse of the various enhancements. I believe that this news might not excite those who own an Opera 9.5-bearing HTC Diamond or have downloaded a ripped version of the browser.