We were beginning to wonder if Creative would ever update its X-Fi soundcard drives to work properly in Vista, and after the whole Daniel_K fiasco, we were about ready to throw in the towel. For those that stuck it out, Creative has finally released a new driver package that fixes the hardware Dolby Digital and DTS decoding in its X-Fi cards running under Vista. The company also added DVD Audio playback, a feature that previously went by the wayside when upgrading from XP to Vista.
The new driver also addresses a niggling bug that causes system crashes when switching to an unsupported sampling rate in the Audio Creation Mode while Dolby Digital Live is enabled.
All X-Fi soundcards except the Xtreme Audio version are supported with the driver update.
Despite Microsoft's claims of having sold 180 million Windows Vista licenses since the OS's launch, there are plenty of XP owners who have to decided to skip this round and wait for Windows 7. Some of them aren't even willing to give Vista a first look, let alone a second one, and these are the one Microsoft is targeting with Mojave.
What exactly is Mojave? As far the XP faithful are concerned, it's the code name for a brand new OS Microsoft has been working on. And to them, it is brand new, but for the rest of us, it's simply Vista with a new name. That's right; Microsoft is trying to dupe Vista's skeptics into not only giving the OS a test run, but get them to admit they like it. And it's working. Microsoft last week rounded up several XP users who had negative impressions of Vista and showed them Mojave. According to Cnet, over 90 percent gave positive feedback on what they thought was a new OS, with Microsoft recording their reactions after being told Mojave is really Vista.
" We have a huge perception opportunity, said Windows unit business chief Bill Veghte. "We are going to try a bunch of stuff."
The idea got started just two weeks ago in an email from Microsoft's David Webster to several higher ups, including Veghte, and it didn't take long for the cameras to start rolling. Footage could start airing publicly as early as next week, but will it be enough to convince staunch XP users into upgrading?
For Windows Vista users who use Windows Media Center, there's good news and bad news:
The good news? The long-awaited "Fiji" update to WMC, officially known as the Windows Media Center TV Pack, was released to manufacturing last week. The bad news? Pick a pair: a) TV Pack is currently available only to OEMs. b) Nobody who knows exactly what TV Pack includes is telling, and the rest of us don't know.
Some long-rumored features, such as support for H.264 encoding (used by DirecTV), didn't make the cut, but exactly what's in "Fiji" is still a mystery. To find out the best guesses we've found about TV Pack, and when the rest of us might finally get our hands on it, join us after the jump.
Microsoft has taken a cue from the Flat Earth Society as shown in the recent ad below. Don’t let it fool you though, its not part of Microsoft’s $300 million campaign to turn opinion around on Vista. Several sites mistook this as part of their new ad campaign not due out until later this year. Clicking on the ad sends you to Microsoft’s website for Vista they have been working hard at breaking up stereotypes about Vista:
“But we know a few of you were disappointed by your early encounter. Printers didn't work. Games felt sluggish. You told us—loudly at times—that the latest Windows wasn't always living up to your high expectations for a Microsoft product. Well, we've been taking notes and addressing issues.”
Attendees at the Microsoft Global Exchange saw some of the new upcoming ads for Vista. One attendee was quoted by liveside.net, "got goosebumps - just, wow".
We’ll see. The hype building up over this marketing campaign might rival Vista’s hype, and if they don’t deliver, they’ll blow another hole in Vista’s boat.
With the all the brouhaha surrounding solid state drives (SSDs), there remains a question of exactly how big of a performance advantage flash memory really holds over today's hard drives. On paper, most SSDs scream ahead in both read and write speeds, but real-world benchmarking paints a different picture. So why the discrepancy? At SandDisk, they're blaming Vista. The company's CEO, Eli Harari, says SSD "performance in the Vista environment falls short of what the market really needs. Vista is not optimized for flash memory solid-state disks."
It's not hard to find fault with Vista, but blaming the OS for underperforming SSDs qualifies as a new one that even Apple hasn't yet exploited in its many mocking commercials. To be fair, Harari made the statement as part of a pitch to improve SSDs' next generation controllers, which he says "need to compensate for Vista's shortfalls." Because of this need, the company claims it is behind schedule bringing competitive SSDs to market.
Is SanDisk justified in pointing the finger at Vista?
Not a fan of Vista? You're not alone, but you might be outnumbered. Microsoft claims it has sold over 180 million Vista licenses since launch, and while the significance of Vista sales have always been a point of contention, Microsoft has some other numbers it can now throw around that aren't so easily disputed. These include:
$60.42 billion (revenue for fiscal year ended June 30, 2008)
18 percent (revenue growth over one year ago)
$15.84 billion (fiscal fourth quarter revenue)
$5.68 billion (operating income, representing 42 percent growth over same period last year)
$0.46 (operating income, representing 48 percent growth over same period last year)
With Linux making headway as a viable alternative to Windows, it might come as a surprise to see Microsoft doing so well. But not only did Microsoft have a "strong finish in the fourth quarter, which capped off an impressive year for the company," but Chris Liddell, CFO at Microsoft, expects "another year of double-digit revenueand earnings growth in fiscal year 2009."
During a keynote at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2008, Microsoft CEO Kevin Turner went on record claiming Vista "is more secure today than Apple Leopard, or XP, or Linux, or open source." Surprisingly, Turner's right, at least when looking over a report (PDF) from Microsoft's own security division comparing the number of fixed and unfixed vulnerabilities of several operating systems. So is Vista (and by association, Microsoft) getting a bad rap?
Arstechnica says no, and points out "exploited vulnerabilities are something that needs a little bit more emphasis, and so do infection numbers." Security company PC Tools (makers of ThreatFire, reviewed in the February 2008 issue of Maximum PC, page 26) found that up to 70 percent of Vista home PCs are infected with malware, and while Microsoft might not agree with PC Tools' findings, its no secret that Mac OS X and Linux systems are targeted less frequently than Windows. Microsoft evangelist Michael Kleef claims end users are ultimately to blame for the higher infection rate, and not the OS, but when it comes out that one of Vista's main security features was designed to annoy, does the fault really lie with the end user?
Microsoft seems poised to finally fight back against Apple’s Mac Guy vs PC Guy ads. The trendy, cool young ‘Mac’ guy versus the older staid business “PC” guy in a suit, have become pop culture icons. Every Mac user I ever knew was into granola, watching tree’s grow, and communing with nature, not trendy and cool. Microsoft’s position until now has been to sit back and let them play out. This may have been a bad move on Microsoft’s part. Mac Guy has been thoroughly ingrained into the national psyche.
Brad Brooks, the Corporate Vice President of Windows Consumer Product announced during his keynote address July 8 at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference that Microsoft is launching a 300 million dollar advertising counteroffensive against certain “unnamed competitors”. Dailytech.com quoted him as saying , "We know our story is very different from what our competitors want us to think. Today we are drawing a line and are going to start telling the real story (about Vista)."
Tired of Windows Vista telling you you can't spell? Update KB955020 adds "Friendster," "Nazr," "Obama," "Klum," and "Racicot" to the system's spell-checker (the update also works for Windows Server 2008).
If you run automatic updates or have checked Windows Update manually today, you probably have this update already. But if not, or if you're terminally curious about exactly what gets changed in your system, go to the KB article for more information and links to updated files.
Now that Windows XP has reached its official end of life, we can start talking about the OS in past tense (sort of). The same applies to Bill Gates, the Harvard dropout gone billionaire, who recently relinquished the reigns and stepped foot into semi-retirement. The former CEO's passing of the guard might have left many wondering what Microsoft's future will look like in life after Gates, but what about life after Windows?
It might sound preposterous, but don't tell that to the Microsoft Research team who, for the past several years, has been working on Singularity, an entirely new system-architecture and operating system built from the ground up. Comprised of only a few hundred-thousand lines of code, not only is Singularity entirely different from Windows, but the source code, build tools, test suites, design notes, and other background materials are all readily available, provided you're able to sign a non-commercial, academic Shared Source license. And that's not the end of it - Singularity Version 2 will bring multi-core computing into the mix.
To find out how Microsoft's mysterious Midori project plays into the picture, and if Windows might soon be obosolete, hit the jump.