The economy might be down, but Microsoft's betting a lot of your technology-challenged friends and relatives still bought or received new PCs this Christmas. Want to give them a helping hand - and give yourself more free time to get back to your favorite deathmatch or chat session? Tell them to surf over to Microsoft's new Windows Guides website and download - or email - some help.
Redmond has put together a nice assortment of simple guides for various chunks of the Windows Vista computing universe. Whether your family and friends have questions about Windows Media Center, gaming, working on the go, PC and family security, photo editing and sharing, or just getting started with the Windows desktop, adding new hardware, networking, printing, or getting remote assistance, there's a guide for them.
At tonight's CES Microsoft keynote speech, Steve Ballmer talked a lot about the shape of things to come in the Windows community. Fortunately, he also made a couple announcements that are about the here and now. One such announcement was that Windows Live Essentials, a suite of free, fundamental communications software for Windows is out of beta.
The suite includes Messenger, an email utility, photo management software, and Writer, a blogging program. Movie Maker is also available for free, though it is technically still a beta release. The programs can be downloaded for free here (although something tells us most of our Maximum PC readers already have favorite programs that accomplish the Essential tasks), and will come pre-installed on most Dell PCs.
Additionally, Windows Live Essentials can integrate with certain "web activities" such as Facebook, allowing you to synchronize data on those services with data on your home computer.
So, what does everyone think of Windows Live Essentials? Is this the start of a iLife-esque unified Windows experience, or is it not enough? Hit the break and leave us a comment.
Team Maximum PC is here at the Venetian hotel/casino in Las Vegas, attending the Microsoft CES keynote. This will be the first keynote since Bill Gate's retirement, and Steve "Developers! Developers! Developers!" Ballmer is filling in to kick off the conference. This is Microsoft's chance to wow techies after Apple dropped the ball yesterday with its decidedly unspectacular MacWorld keynote. Windows 7 will undoubtedly be the hot topic of tonight's presentation, but we're hoping for a few surprises as well. Ballmer has also historically been an energetic and entertaining speaker, so we know we're in for a good show, at least. Keep your eyes peeled on MaximumPC.com and this liveblog page for all the latest updates!
Read on to see what Microsoft has to announce at CES 2009!
Any car enthusiast worth his salt knows that until you customize your ride, it’s just another commuter. Likewise, your computer is little more than a generic PC in an ocean of look-alikes until you make it your own.
Here at Maximum PC, we don’t settle for out of the box. To us, a computer is incomplete until it’s been forged in our own image. To that end, we’re taking a look at six unbeatable tools that can spice up a drab Windows desktop. When we’re done here, you’ll have given your default Windows interface a much-needed face-lift by adding custom themes, ditching the taskbar for a more attractive dock, and setting up your wallpaper to refresh on a schedule.
This newfound pride in your desktop will raise your morale while you’re working for the man, and these apps will boost your overall productivity by better organizing your applications and icons on different virtual desktops and placing to-dos, system statistics, and other important information a keystroke away.
Sound appealing? That’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s time to turn that dreary Windows default into something you can be proud of.
Although the official release of Beta 1 of Windows 7 isn't expected until early January, a leaked copy of what looks like Beta 1's been making the rounds on the Internet for a few days. ZDNet's Ed Bott (a one-time colleague of mine back in the days of Windows Me) has spent some "quality time" with the build, and reports some interesting tidbits from the EULA:
The revision ID at the end of the EULA is: Win7_B.1_PRO_NRL_en-US - so it sure sounds like Beta 1 is on the loose.
There's no limit on the number of installs you can perform, but they stop working on August 1.
Redmond says you can't use Beta 1 in a production environment.
You can install Beta 1 in a virtual machine instead of a normal installation, but only one VM per hardware device.
Potential privacy concerns (such as Customer Experience Improvement Program and automatic error reporting) are turned on by default, but you can turn them off if you prefer.
Beta 1 must be activated.
Releasing benchmark test results to third parties without Microsoft's prior written agreement is not permitted.
If you've already fired up Beta 1, what surprises have you discovered? Hit Comment after the jump and tell us about it.
Microsoft recently announced to its system-building partners that they would extend the pull date on Windows XP past the originally announced January 31, 2009.
These system builders are going to be allowed orders of XP all the way up until January 31, and they can ship them until May 30. “This is a good solution to support the customers that are standardized still on XP,” stated Michael Schwab, the co-president of D&H Distributing. “In this case, people contemplated buying in larger quantities [of XP licenses] and holding on to them. But that would have caused a bubble [from] people buying five months of supply in January.”
This appears to be another sign of the market’s resistance to getting Windows Vista. Despite all the clever ads, it still seems that people prefer Windows XP to the pretty new OS.
What about you? Are you still set in your XP ways or have you moved on to Vista? Let us know in the comments.
According to Valve’s November hardware report, a majority of you gamers using Steam are favoring Windows XP, Nvidia graphics cards and Intel processors.
These numbers come as very little surprise. Windows XP has remained dominant for gamers due to a lack of any significant DirectX 10 enabled titles, Nvidia has been heavily strutting their stuff in the graphics game and Intel is up to their usual, benchmark-crushing shenanigans.
The exact numbers show that there really is a startling majority. 70 percent of users were running Windows XP, 65 percent viewing on Nvidia, and 64 percent thinking with Intel.
Be sure to check out the survey yourself and check out what piece of the pie you reside in!
In the Holiday 2008 issue of Maximum PC we published a list called “9 Things Microsoft Got Right.” It was a lovely list, of course, but thanks to the space limitations of the print magazine we weren’t able to go into much detail about each of the items on it. We decided that the topic was interesting enough that it deserved more than that, so we’ve rewritten it for the web, with more information and analysis.
The Windows Live team has been pretty busy lately, and they certainly aren’t resting on their laurels with the launch of yet another web 2.0 service called “Thumbtack”.With Thumbtack users are able to save, edit, and share copies of online articles from web pages by either pasting them into the interface, or using the optional bookmarklet. The content is then hosted in an online storage bin for easy sorting and searching. Though this service has been done before by companies such as Evernote, Thumbtack’s current offering of free unlimited storage provides an excellent alternative for web scatterbrains such as myself who have always found bookmarking articles cumbersome and often tend break over time. After creating a note in Thumbtack you can click the article to access the original page, but if it’s vanished from the web, your clipping remains intact. It is also worth noting that competing free services such as Evernote only offer 40 MB of storage per month.
Currently browser support for the service is limited to Internet Explorer and Firefox. While compatibility for web kit browsers such as Chrome and Safari is noticeably absent, it’s also worth pointing out that some features have been stripped from the Firefox interface as well.These features include mass copy and paste between collections and the canvas view mode which gives users a virtual workspace. Even though this service may not be entirely unique per say, it is a promising addition to the Live Service lineup and in my case, and excellent alternative to bookmarking for archiving my favorite articles.
Is Microsoft winning you over with its online services? Hit the jump and let us know what you think.
Not even a moment after Microsoft fixed 28 vulnerabilities in their software this past Patch Tuesday, a brand new exploit popped up in Internet Explorer 7.
The new exploit allows attackers the ability to execute arbitrary code whenever someone visits a malicious website. Currently only users running Windows XP and Server 2003 are being targeted, so you Vista users haven’t a thing to worry about. Microsoft said they’re currently working on a patch to fix the issue, but they were unable to set a date.
“Internet Explorer remote code execution vulnerabilities have very high impacts since the source of the malicious payload can be across any site on the Internet,” said eEye's director of Research and Preview Services, Andre Protas. “An even more critical problem is generated when clients are administrators on their local hosts, which would run the malicious payload with Administrator credentials.”
Until this issue is taken care of, those of you that are using IE7 can go and snag eEye’s Blink Software for protection from this threat. Or, you could go snag one of the other browsers, such as Mozilla’s Firefox or Google’s Chrome. I hear they’re not too shabby!