This holiday season, Microsoft is taking aim at arch-rival Apple's iPod - and its companion iTunes software. This week, Microsoft cut the retail prices on 4GB, 8GB, and 16GB Zunes as well as on the Car Pack, Home/AV Pack, and Dock Pack. With the 8GB Zune now selling for $139 (was $149) and the 16GB model now selling for $179 (was $199), Microsoft is undercutting the price of comparable Nanos by $10 (8GB) and by $20 (16GB). The 4GB Zune anchors the lineup at $99, down $30 from its old price.
The Car Pack now sells for $69 (was $79), but the Home/AV Pack, also formerly $79, is now just $59. The Dock Pack is also cheaper at $39 (was $49).
To find out how Microsoft plans to use Zune software to drive hardware sales, join us after the jump.
Well, how's this for unexpected? One day, one of North America's two pillars of professional gaming collapses, and the next, pro gamer Tom "Tsquared" Taylor becomes the first pro gamer to slap a mugshot on Dr Pepper's tiny, 20 oz. billboard.
Taylor will appear on roughly 175 million bottles of the good doctor's delicious nectar from January to April 2009. He currently twiddles his thumbs for Major League Gaming, and, despite the fact that we've never heard of him, is apparently a pretty popular guy.
“It’s not like I’m Tom Cruise or Usher walking down the street or anything like that, but it’s gotten to the point where you have to look your best when you go out,” Taylor said. “I carry a Sharpie around, like Peyton Manning.”
Along with adopting the latest Manning-inspired fashion trends and name-dropping like life is a giant Twitter input box, Taylor recently inked a three-year, $250,000 contract with MLG.
The upshot of all this: pro gaming in North America still has a shot at taking off. Now if promoters can figure out a way to really capitalize on the popularity of players like Tsquared (step one: stop using nicknames like "Tsquared"), then pro gaming might just blossom into something special.
After already once claiming the gleaming golden press release for fastest-selling PC game in 2007, Blizzard's back to its crazy shenanigans. According to Acti-Blizz's better half, WoW: Wrath of the Lich King moved 2.8 million units in a single day -- 400,000 more monetarily magnetized boxes than previous record holder WoW: The Burning Crusade.
“We’re grateful for the incredible support that players around the world have continued to show for World of Warcraft,” said Blizzard boss Mike Morhaime.
“Wrath of the Lich King contains some of the best content we’ve created for the game so far, and we look forward to seeing even more players log in to experience it in the days ahead.”
So, did you brave the WotLK-starved hordes to secure a day-one copy? We didn't, but the local line weaved down from GameStop and up into our room anyway, so we still consider our war stories valid.
Open-source? Freeware? Which is it? Some people frequently interchange the terms as a generic way to say that a piece of software costs nothing to download or use. I mean, it's all free, right?
Open-source software has as much to do with freeware as an apple has to do with an orange. Both are fruits, but each offers a different enough of a texture and flavor to render it completely unique from the other. You cannot, and should not, confuse open-source software with freeware, as there can be grave consequences for such a fatal misstep. Ok, so maybe not grave. But you can get slapped with a lawsuit depending on how you're using the software, and that's certainly not fun. But we're not here to confuse you; we're here to help you. What exactly are the differences between open-source software and freeware? Find out after the jump!
Nvidia has released new WHQL-certified videocard drivers for GeForce 200-series, 9-series, and 8800-series GPUs only (owners of older videocards need not apply). The approximately 73MB download enables finally brings to fruition a license agreement between Nvidia and Intel by enabling SLI on SLI-certified Intel X58-based motherboards. The new driver also supports multi-monitor support in an SLI-configuration, which previously had only been available with beta drivers. PhysX acceleration is also enabled when installing the new driver.
On the gaming front, Nvidia claims double-digit percentage performance gains in a number of titles, including a giant 80 percent boost in Lost Planet: Colonies. Far Cry 2 is the other big beneficiary with a purported 38 percent performance gain. Devil May Cry 4, Assassin's Creed, BioShock, Comapny of Heroes: Opposing Fronts, Crysis Warhead, Race Driver: GRID, and World of Conflict all receive performance gains ranging from 10 percent to 25 percent, according to Nvidia. And for you benchmarking gurus, 3DMark Vantage's performance preset should perform 10 percent better as well.
Although DVDs are quickly losing the limelight to their higher-definition Blu-Ray brethren, they’ve still got a lot going for them. They’re cheap, for one, as are DVD burners. And DVD players and drives are so ubiquitous that you know that if you burn data onto a DVD, you’ll be able to access it almost anywhere.
Plus, burning data onto a DVD is easy—there’re a dozen free programs that can do it for you without any hassle. But burning video to a disc so that you can watch it in a regular DVD player isn’t nearly so simple. If you’re willing to pony up for commercial DVD authoring software like Nero Vision, the process is pretty user-friendly, but here at Maximum PC we’re committed to showing you how to do things using free software solutions, so we’re going to explain how you can use a free and powerful (albeit slightly confusing) program called AVI2DVD to create full-featured video DVDs from your media files.
Because hackers target Microsoft's Windows operating systems more than any other OSes, one could argue that it would be only fitting for the software maker to offer its users a free security suite, and that's exactly what Microsoft intends to do. Noting the rapid increase in the prominence of malware, Microsoft says it will discontinue retails sales of it's fee-based Live OneCare subscription service by June 30, 2009 and replace it with a free security suite currently code-named "Morrow."
"Customers around the world have told us that they need comprehensive, ongoing protection from new and existing threats, and we take that concern seriously,” said Amy Barzdukas, senior director of product management for the Online Services and Windows Division at Microsoft. “This new, no-cost offering will give us the ability to protect an even greater number of consumers, especially in markets where the growth of new PC purchases is outpaced only by the growth of malware."
Morrow, which will offer protection against viruses, spyware, rootkis, Trojans, and other malware, will be built to use fewer resources, which Microsoft claims will make it well suited for both low bandwidth situations and low-power PCs. According to Microsoft, Morrow's protection will be on the same level as the company's enterprise solutions.
While that sounds like good news for Windows users, McAfee sees it as an even better opportunity for themselves and doesn't appear worried that it might lose paying customers to Morrow.
"Consumers have voted; OneCare, in its two years on the market, has achieved less than 2 percent market share," he said in an interview. "Microsoft is giving up and has defaulted to a dressed-down freeware model that does not meet consumer security needs. This is good news for McAfee."
Is McAfee underestimating Morrow? Hit the jump and give us your thoughts.
With the phrase now appended to read, "I'd rather get a root canal while playing a DRM'ed game [than date/know/look at you]," the time is right to take a stand against DRM -- and also brush the dust off a few classic games in the process. So, if you haven't already, definitely point your web browser in Good Old Games' direction. Especially now that the totally DRM-free service has added Epic's Unreal series to its ranks.
Already, Unreal Gold and Unreal Tournament: Game of the Year Edition are offering their services in exchange for low, low prices, with Unreal II: The Awakening and Unreal Tournament 2004: Editor's Choice Edition arriving "in the coming weeks."
"We know that a lot of gamers have been waiting for new deals," said GOG managing director Adam Oldakowski. "We're sure that the Unreal games will satisfy their lust for alien blood and intense multiplayer action... DRM-free, of course."
GoG also boasts games like Fallout, Gothic, and MDK, for prices ranging from $5.99-$9.99. Now go check it out! Show publishers that you'll be good boys and girls -- even without DRM's far-too-watchful eye looming heavy. If nothing else, it's a much more effective statement than complaining in our comments section (which we still encourage!).
Legitimate sport or not, professional gaming just can't seem to catch on in North America. First, the Cyberathlete Professional League wheezed out its final breath, and now, even after striking deals with BSkyB, STAR, and DirectTV, Championship Gaming Series is sitting next to its beleaguered comrade on a fluffy, DSL-connected cloud in gaming heaven.
The reason for its closure: CGS could talk a big game, but sadly lacked the credits needed to continue.
"While the concept was ahead of its time and we are extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished, it became increasingly clear as this ambitious project evolved, that profitability was too far in the future for us to sustain operations in the interim," said the CGS team in its farewell message.
"Our goal was to be ahead of the curve in the e-sports space, and we conceived of CGS as a true sports league. We invested wholeheartedly in the venture and presented viewers with a top-notch production, but the economics just didn’t add up for us at this time."
Good luck to everyone affected by this disappointing turn of events. Our prayers are with you.
MPC readers, what do you think it'll take for pro gaming to finally earn its spot next to apple pie, happy families, and football as something printed all over McDonald's bags and cups? Er, as a crucial piece of American culture, we mean.
During the press briefing for Windows 7 at Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference (PDC), corporate vice president for Windows product management Mike Nash insisted Microsoft had learned from the Vista experience.
Judging by early Windows 7 code released at PDC, the signs are that it really has....Windows 7 feels more polished than Vista, even in the preview, and performance is good.
Anderson noted the new Device Stage, BitLocker to Go, and improvements in Windows Media Player. To find out what other features Anderson likes in the next Windows, join us after the jump.