Pingdom AB, a Swedish-based website monitoring firm, recently studied the uptime of the update sites for the three most popular desktop operating systems, Microsoft, Apple, and Ubuntu. During the second quarter of 2008 (April-June), Pingdom reports (2) that Windows Update was up 100% of the time, compared to Apple Software Update's 99.9% uptime, and Ubuntu Archive's 98.64% availability. During the period, Apple's update service could not be contacted for a total of 2 hours, 34 minutes, while Ubuntu's update service could not be contacted for a total of 1 day, 5 hours, and 45 minutes.
It sounds like a clear win for Redmond, but a closer look at how update sites work suggest the story isn't so simple. For more, join us after the jump.
Microsoft has long offered hardware compatibility information for different versions of Windows, including Windows Vista. Remember the Hardware Compatibility List (HCL)? Until now, though, Microsoft has dropped the ball on making software compatibility easy to determine. With a renewed emphasis on marketing and customer satisfaction this summer, Microsoft has now created an easy-to-use one-stop shop for determining which hardware and software products will work with Windows Vista, the Windows Vista Compatibility Center.
For a quick tour of the WVCC, and to learn how you can make it even better, see us after the jump.
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?
There was much hype surrounding Microsoft's DirectX 10 API before its release, and since its debut, we've seen a handful of games take advantage of the new instruction sets. But there still lacks that killer game that blows every DX9 title out of the water and many gamers still resent the decision to tie DX10 exclusively with Vista, leaving the XP faithful out in the cold. And for those that made the upgrade? Microsoft's incremental DX10.1 update came as a slap in the face to anyone who upgraded both their OS and videocard in the hopes of future-proofing their system. Only ATI's 3xxx and 4xxx series support the minor update, which might not be so minor after all.
Soon making the DX10 and DX10.1 controversies old news, TGDaily reports Microsoft will unveil the next major update -- DirectX 11 -- at this year's annual XNA Gamefest scheduled to take place on July 22 and 23 in Seattle. Little is known about DX11, except that Microsoft plans to make it available for both Windows Vista and Windows 7.
With the dust yet to settle on DX10, are gamers looking forward to DX11?
Garage bands, practiced shower singers, local sensations, and other unsigned artists can now get paid through Last.fm's Artist Royalty Progam (ARP). Last.fm announced the service back in a January, and this week the service went live. More than 450,000 tracks have been uploaded to coincide with the launch, and independent artists who register and upload tunes can start accruing royalties any time their songs get played through the site's ad-supported streaming music feature or Web radio.
Martin Stiksel, Last.fm co-founder, said "This is a bid day for independent artists. We're leveling the playing field by offering them the same opportunities as established bands to make money from their music. The young musician making music in a bedroom studio has the same chance as the latest major label signing to use Last.fm to build an audience and get rewarded. The Artist Royalty Program is another revolutionary step towards helping musicians take control of their music -- and, more importantly, make a living from it."
Click through the jump to find out who's urging indie labels to steer clear of the royalty program.
Unless a playable demo manages to leak onto the web like the trailer for the upcoming Max Payne movie did, Far Cry fans won't be catching a sneak hands-on peak of the hotly anticipated sequel, Far Cry 2. Slated for release sometime before Christmas, Ubisoft's first person shooter isn't being developed by the same team that conceived the original game, and will sport a new game engine. Because of the changes, gamers are holding their collective breaths on whether or not the follow-up can maintain the same appeal that made the first game such a surprise hit, but it looks like that won't be known until it ships.
Far Cry 2's creative director Clint Hocking explained the decision not to release a demo saying there's no way to offer a teaser without giving up a significant amount of game play. "I don't know too many people who are willing to give away a 12-hour game or free," Hocking said.
In the world of online searches, there's Google and then there's everyone else. Take a peek inside Merriam-Webster and you'll find Google officially recognized as a verb. Of course, M-W hasn't exactly been stingy when it comes to including tech terms, but when you dominate the market with a 68 percent slice of the pie (and close to 90 percent depending on geographic location), perhaps you're entitled to alter the English language.
By comparison, Yahoo, the second most popular search engine behind Google, only accounts for about 20 percent of searches, according to Hitwise statistics. That leaves a considerable gap to close, and to help them do it, Yahoo has begun calling on start-ups to lend a hand. It's a scratch my back and I'll scratch yours approach, whereby Yahoo is willing to open its search technology and data centers, giving start ups with limited funds a way to develop a search service from the ground up. Yahoo will then sell ads on those search engines and share the revenue.
Yahoo execs are calling the new strategy Boss, or build your own search service. How it ultimately pans out remains to be seen, but in the meantime, Google is still the real boss of the internet. Can the search giant be toppled?
Microsoft is going to extraordinary lengths this summer to make some of its customers satisfied with Windows Vista - or else. If they don't love Vista, Microsoft will help them downgrade to Windows XP. How much does this new customer-satisfaction blitz cost? For you, special price: nothing!
However, not everybody gets the special Microsoft Vista schmooze. To find out who gets the special love from Redmond, and how long they get primo treatment, you know what to do. We'll see you after the break.
Cut off the supply for a product that people still want, and the demand skyrockets. Windows XP is the product, and Amazon.com's Software Bestseller list proves that Windows XP is still a hot item. CNet reports that Windows XP ranks high on the Amazon.com best-selling software list. So, how popular is Windows XP? How does Windows Vista compare? And, where else can you buy Windows XP in the wake of its retail discontinuance by Microsoft?
As Google looks to sell more ads for its YouTube subsidiary in an attempt to make the video site more profitable, San Francisco video ad network VideoEgg thinks it has a better way. VideoEgg announced the launch of five new kinds of video ads designed to "give advertisers more effective engagement with users inside social environments." The new features include:
LIVE: Use real-time RSS feeds to continually update the ad experience
LOCAL: Deliver ZIP code-specific messaging
RICH: Easily deploy and track a rich multi-video ad experience to increase user interactivity
SHOP: Bring the browser to the user, merchandising multiple items in a single real-time ad experiences
SHARE: Viral capabilities help spread the message through virtually any communication or social channel
VideoEgg's pricing model is based on a cost per engagement (CPE) instead of tallying up page views or click counts. And while VideoEgg hasn't made mention of Google or YouTube, the new features might make for a better alternative than the pre- and post-roll ads Google is reportedly trying to sell.
At just four months old, VideoEgg's future has yet to be decided, but in that short, over 50 brands including Microsoft, Comcast, Disney, Nike, GM, Hershey, and others have advertised across the VideoEgg network. Could Google/YouTube be next?