Ever since Amazon launched its music store back in September 2007, everyone assumed its discounted prices and DRM free catalog was a result of the music industries dissatisfaction with Apples dominance. With iTunes being the primary management software for the most popular MP3 player on the planet, Amazon knew it would need an edge to stay competitive. The 10 cent per track discount was a nice touch, but techies and audio enthusiasts alike were eager to switch if it meant we could free our music. Most of us assumed the DRM restrictions on iTunes would remain for the forcible future, but now that this has turned out not to be the case what else wasn’t true?
Well, according to unnamed sources cited by CNET, everybody selling downloadable music is also paying the same wholesale price. Though it has never been confirmed, many believe Apple makes but a few pennies per .99 cent download. If this is indeed true, anything else sold below this price might actually be a loss leader. Now with iTunes discounting its back catalog of tracks to a mere .69 cents, and at comparable bit rates, it’s well positioned to steal back business from Amazon. NPD senior industry analyst Russ Crupnick claims the two services don’t impact each other as much as we might think, but at the very least it certainly makes switching from iTunes to a separate web store much less desirable then it used to be.
Now that iTunes has gone DRM free, and has begun to discount its back catalog of tracks, can Amazon still compete?
If you’re in to RSS feeds to help capture your news, then you’re more than likely already using Google Reader. Alternatives to the popular RSS aggregator exist, but as one of the best cloud based solutions out there it enjoys one of the largest and most robust user bases. Since it appears as though RSS has peaked as a technology, the creative minds at Google are hoping to bring in fresh blood by offering video tutorials to help get new users over the learning curve. These videos attempt to teach everything from the basics, to the more advanced features. They are no doubt hoping this will help push up adoption rate.
Unofficial how to clips have been around on You Tube for awhile now. In fact, last year’s help video challenge spawned a great many of them. This however, is the first official series offered by the company and even covers off some of the newest features that were just added during December’s redesign. As an avid user of Google reader I can defiantly recommend the advanced tutorials. You are almost guaranteed to pick up something you didn’t know. Want to try out Google Reader with some of the Maximum PC RSS feeds? Look no further.
Do you use Google's Reader? If not what is your RSS reader of choice?
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.
PC gaming’s anti-piracy measures seem to be proceeding along a path not unlike the one the games they’re sworn to protect once traveled. First, games (and anti-piracy) were merciless and cruel – prone to punishing players whether they succeeded or tattooed the underside of a tire with their pixilated frog’s surprisingly red guts. But now, times are a changin’. Today’s games are nice and gentle, giving players a gentle pat on the shoulder if they fail, and a big ol’ lie cake if they finish the fight.
Ok, enough with the overwrought metaphor.
See, with companies like Valve – and now Relic – in the picture, anti-piracy measures no longer have to punish gamers. As explained by Dawn of War II lead designer Jonny Ebbert:
“We want to give out steady doses of free downloadable content because we believe in rewarding people who buy the game and the reason we don’t like DRM solutions is because they punish the innocent and they have to jump through all these hoops.”
“We don’t want to do that so we’re going with the approach that Valve pioneered to just reward the people who actually bought the game with cool stuff,” he added. “Free downloadable, regularly accessible stuff that enhances the game and then that’s an incentive for the people who didn’t buy the game to buy it. So we’ve got a really bold, robust strategy for that and we’re going to be revealing more details in about a month, but I think players are going to like it.”
A robust open beta? No DRM? Free goodies on a regular basis? We're only nine days into 2009, and Relic may already have snatched the "Best Developer of 2009" award right out of our hearts. Bravo, guys and gals.
A bit of good news for those forced into a Twilight Zone-esque loop of reliving the Fallout 3 main quest’s final, anticlimactic seconds ad nauseam: the game’s upcoming “Broken Steel” DLC pack will remove its game-halting point-of-no-return.
And, as if the opportunity to spend eternity wandering an irradiated hell weren’t enough, Bethesda also intends to sow some growing room into your character’s jammies. Ten levels of growing room, to be exact.
"We plan on raising [the level cap] to level 30 - but it will be a long, hard climb to get there," Bethesda lead DLC producer Jeff Gardiner told Eurogamer.
The apparent increased leveling time should have many players sighing with relief, as ascending mountains of fallen foes to an absolute peak of level 20 wasn’t exactly difficult in a game of Fallout 3’s scale.
However, we have to ask: Why release the Broken Steel content pack – or at least a few of its features -- in March, after the other two content packs, titled “Operation: Anchorage” and “The Pitt,” have already come and gone? After all, many players have characters mired in save points near the game’s currently inescapable ending, while others hit the level cap long ago. Will they now be forced to resist the DLC’s allure until March if they wish to enjoy it to its fullest?
Google’s Chrome has made an impressive showing on the web browser market, and has even been named the “Speed King.” And it wouldn’t be like Google to leave it alone, either. With the announcement of their beta for Chrome 2, they’re looking to add some simple things that they hope will make a big difference.
First up, is form autocomplete. Something that Google considers “one of the most obvious missing features from the initial release,” will finally make a debut. Also added will be a full-page zoom, autoscroll, and profiles. Profiles will be “a great way to separate Chrome’s settings in different categories: you could create a work profile with its own homepage, boomarks and browsing history and a profile for your personal projects.”
While the first few features will be nice, the profiles sound like a great addition. Being able to manage a few different sets of information easily will be mighty substantial.
Have you been anticipating the public launch of Windows 7 beta? You're far from alone. At the Microsoft CES keynote two days ago, Steve Ballmer announced the upcoming OS would be made available in beta form to the general populace today, but the high demand temporarily knocked out both the Windows 7 download page and Microsoft's homepage, TGDaily reports.
Windows 7, which many are hoping will atone for Vista's sins, has gotten off to a rocky start in its pre-release form. MSDN and TechNet subscribers got first crack at the Windows 7 beta build 7000 yesterday, but some downloaders reported receiving errors when attempting to request product keys for the OS. But if the final product -- which Microsoft won't commit to a 2009 launch -- makes common complaints with Vista a thing of the past, most enthusiasts would agree it will be well worth the wait.
Protip: It might be in your best interest to snag a copy of Windows 7 beta and actively test the OS, even if beta testing really isn't your bag. Official beta testers who downloaded Vista back when it was in beta form and submitted at least one bug report ended up being rewarded with a free copy of Vista Business or Ultimate. That doesn't guarantee Microsoft will do the same with Windows 7, so decide for yourself is the risk is worth the potential worth reward.
Justin Kerr has posted an awesome mini-tutorial on how and where to get the Windows 7 beta up and running with a valid key. Check it out here.
Did you know that more Wi-Fi networks are out there than what your computer can normally see? It's true. But depending on the security settings of the wireless network and its overall signal strength, you might not see these alternate options pop up in the standard Windows network settings dialogue. That's where Wi-Fi scanning applications like NetStumbler or inSSIDer come into play. That, and they're the best way you go about cataloging all the hotspots in your neighborhood from the passenger seat of your moving vehicle.
Click the link, and we'll show you how you can use inSSIDer to find out valuable information about the wireless networks floating around you right now!
The wait’s nearly over, but it’s not going down without a fight. Today, developer Relic confirmed that Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War II, its long-awaited RTS sequel, will take back the tabletop on February 23. However, should your need to… er, what were we saying? Sorry, we got distracted by some wicked-awesome Dawn of War II screenshots and realized that we’d really like to play the game before its relea...
On January 28, Relic will finally let its armor-clad, gun-toting progeny wander outside its baby-pen for a quick open beta. Even better, those who purchased the final Dawn of War expansion, Soulstorm, can expect beta access on January 21.
The beta will give players a chance to poke and prod all four of the game’s races across five multiplayer maps. Steam and Games for Windows Live are teaming up to put on this peep show, with Steam providing the downloads and GFW the matchmaking.
So then, we’re just going to sleep for the next 456 hours, because we’re not into the whole waiting thing. You, er, probably won’t even notice.
Microsoft is not too keen on rolling out an underdone Windows 7 and will only proceed with its launch when it is sure that the OS is ready. This is the reason it is not committing to a 2009 launch date. Microsoft’s Bill Veghte told Cnet that the OS will be shipped when the quality is up to scratch.
However, Microsoft hasn’t ruled out the possibility of a 2009 launch. Veghte also said that investors expect the company to spend judiciously on advertising and there is a need to make the most of the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on the marketing of Windows 7.