Draw the line in the sand! It's the showdown the tech world has feared: Microsoft's upstart Windows 7 versus Linux. We've seen plenty of volleys back and forth from both camps over the past few days, thanks to the beta launch of the Windows 7 operating system. The new OS has a lot going for it--features that directly target the growing Linux base in the mobile PC market coupled with design elements that, honestly, look a lot like what we've seen in Linux desktop environments for some time now. But will that be enough to topple the best the open-source world has to offer? We dig deep into the arguments from both camps to find out whether Windows 7 is The Terminator... or John Conner.
Once more unto the breach, dear friends. The first iteration of Microsoft’s next operating system has arrived, and things are looking up for the Windows faithful. In fact, the first beta of Windows 7 is so reliable and responsive that it reminds us of the early Windows XP betas. With less than 12 months to go before launch, Windows 7 is in much better shape than Vista was at the same time, and it feels like a much more usable operating system than even XP did during its beta phase.
Windows 7 features a completely overhauled interface along with a host of new features. We give you a quick tour of what to expect.
It appears the Blu-ray format may finally be picking up steam. At CES, Andy Parsons, president of the Blu-ray Disc Association, described 2008 as a banner year for Blu-ray sales, and the numbers appear to back his claim. Fourth quarter sales saw 28.6 million Blu-ray sales, up significantly from 9.5 million a year prior. There are now nearly 11 million Blu-ray capable players in the U.S., although 6 million of those are PlayStation 3 consoles.
By comparison, in the same three year time frame after release, DVD players totaled 5.4 million units, not far above all non-PS3 Blu-ray players. And with 40 million homes equipped with HDTVs, there's plenty of room for Blu-ray player sales to grow. Helping to do that, 18 new Blu-ray players were announced at CES, including an HDTV with a built-in player by Sharp.
Despite Blu-ray's recent success, Microsoft reiterated it has no plans to integrate Blu-ray capability with its Xbox 360 console. According to Robbie Bach, Microsoft's president of Microsoft's Entertainment & Devices Division, the decision comes down to a combination of not enough users requesting a Blu-ray player, and because it wouldn't help "in the core of what Xbox does, which is gaming."
Seadragon image zooming software is one of the more interesting software technologies coming out of Microsoft Research Labs. Its implementation in web applications is potentially a big leap in the way we view images online. One such implementation is Deep Zoom, an Ajax-powered online viewer that lets you view, zoom, and pan through high-resolution photos and images in a way that is incredibly fast and smooth, regardless of the original image’s pixel density. Companies adopting this tech include the Hard Rock Café, which utilizes it in its music memorabilia showcase. Microsoft also developed and released a mobile application for Seadragon in the form of a really cool iPhone app which lets you view Deep Zoom image files.
But what if you want to turn your own photo albums into a Deep Zoom gallery? With Microsoft’s Deep Zoom Composer, you can now create a high-tech hassle-free photo album allowing you to display your images online using the Seadragon plug-in. We show you how with our comprehensive step-by-step guide!
Torrentfreak has lambasted Microsoft for not using torrents for the launch of the Windows 7 Beta. Microsoft faced serious bandwidth constraints and had to delay the launch of the Beta by a day. Although the criticism is impassioned coming from a blog about torrents, it is both sensible and plausible.
An official Torrent would have not only taken a lot of burden off Microsoft’s own servers, but it would have also offered great speeds as torrents speeds improve with traffic (the ratio between seeders and leechers is equally important, though). It is the same mistake that Microsoft made during the launch of the Vista Beta.
To much interest, Microsoft recently released their open beta for Windows 7. Heck, there was so much interest that it brought down even Microsoft’s servers! But while it was on us to bring down Microsoft’s servers, it’s on them to bring down our precious computers. Their weapon of choice? Why the blue screen of death, of course!
Thanks to the intrepid work of the crew at Gizmodo, they’ve run into the BSOD after a few days of messing around. Surprisingly it looks exactly as it has for a while, the simple blue background with the traditional white text.
What’s nice is that this BSOD provided the driver that was the culprit before it automatically restarted. But, it’s pointed out, that it’d be nice if it were to identify exactly what type of component (video, sound, USB, etc.) was to blame, for people that aren’t looking to learn how to read code.
Still though, we’re willing to let this one slide. It is a beta after all. And a public one at that! Aren’t all these crashes, in some convoluted way, the point of all this?
Concerned you may have waited too long to download Microsoft's Windows 7 public beta and missed the boat? Don't be. Following a deluge of download requests that initially took out Microsoft's servers forcing the company to temporarily halt downloads, Microsoft now says it has removed the 2.5 million download limit originally put in place.
"Due to an enormous surge in demand, the download experience was not ideal so we listened and took the necessary steps to ensure a good experience," wrote Brandon LeBlanc, a Windows Communications Manager on the Windows Client Communications Team, on The Windows Blog. "We have clearly heard that many of you want to check out the Windows 7 Beta and, as a result, we have decided remove the initial 2.5 million limit on the public beta for the next two weeks (thru January 24th). During that time you will have access to the beta even if the download number exceeds the 2.5 million unit limit."
Microsoft hasn't said how many users have already downloaded Windows 7, but according to Net Applications, IE8 beta 2, which is included in Windows 7 beta, spiked from .82 percent on Friday to .98 percent on Saturday, and then 1.01 percent on Sunday, setting a new record level for the browser.
If you haven't already, you can download the Windows 7 beta here.
Microsoft has released a free iPhone app called TagReader. It happens to be the software bellwether’s second iPhone app after SeaDragon Mobile. Using TagReader, iPhone users can photograph a tag (Microsoft’s vivid version of barcodes) to search for information related to that particular tag without having to type in anything.
If you snap a tag on a person’s visiting card using the TagReader iPhone app, then your search will, in all likelihood, yield results related to that person. The app sounds fun from the off, but its usefulness is contingent upon the success of Microsoft Tag, which is currently in beta. You can create your own tags here and eventually test the usefulness of TagReader by snapping them.
Ever since the Windows 7 public beta went live yesterday, Microsoft servers have been buckling under the demand. The much coveted ISO files and CD keys have had somewhat sporadic availability, but as always can be had if you know where to look. Luckily for you, we’ve kicked over every stone to bring you everything you’ll need to get started.
I recommend when surfing through the links that you fire up Internet Explorer, as you will likely run into the same problems I did using Firefox or Chrome. If you manage to use the official beta site in fact, you will require an IE specific ActiveX control to be installed. So if you’re looking for a copy of Windows 7, and are ready to begin, follow along below.
Step #1 – Get Yourself a Beta Key
- The steps were detailed in a blog entry which allows you to access key’s via http://technet.microsoft.com . Simply follow the link and log in using the sign in option in the top right corner. It will ask you for your tech net user name and password, but I was successfully able to do this using my Windows Live ID.
- Next simply copy and paste the following link into your active window
Windows 7 32-Bit Key: https://www.microsoft.com/betaexperience/scripts/gcs.aspx?Product=tn-win7-32-ww&LCID=1033
Windows 7 64-Bit Key: https://www.microsoft.com/betaexperience/scripts/gcs.aspx?Product=tn-win7-64-ww&LCID=1033
- Finally, just copy down the CD key for use during installation.
Step #2 – Download The Beta
- The official download site seems to come and go, but here are some deep links to the file which seem to be working even through the disruption.
Remember to back up your data before giving this a try and it’s probably not best to run this on your primary machine. The beta key’s are supposedly valid until August 2009 and should give you a good preview of what is to come.
Hit the jump and leave your impressions of Windows 7.