The Windows 7 juggernaut has little regard for impediments, but it does have a soft spot for an elderly cognate that refuses to die: Windows XP. Microsoft marked the availability of the public beta for Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) by extending the end-user downgrade rights to Windows XP until 2020, even though the previous deadline for their expiry was set at Windows 7 SP1.
End-user downgrade rights let businesses use a prior version of Windows on new machines until they are ready to transition to the latest version. Only OEM copies of Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate include downgrade rights to Windows XP or Windows Vista Professional. According to Microsoft, the move is meant to “provide customers and partners with more predictability around the lifecycle of Windows.”
Apparently, its business customers feared that removing end-user rights could lead to confusion. “Going forward, businesses can continue to purchase new PCs and utilize end user downgrade rights to Windows XP or Windows Vista until they are ready to use Windows 7. Enabling such rights throughout the Windows 7 lifecycle will make it easier for customers as they plan deployments to Windows 7,” Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc wrote in a blog post yesterday.
After revealing tantalizing details of its new release of Windows Live Essentials for Windows 7 (and Vista) earlier this month, Microsoft took the wraps off the public beta today.
Windows Live Essentials is a free collection of web-enabled programs for blogging (Writer), photo editing and management (Photo Gallery), video editing (Movie Maker), instant messaging (Messenger), email client (Mail), parental controls (Family Safety), and a new component for file synchronization and remote access (Sync). In this new version, originally known as Windows Live Essentials Wave 4, Windows Live Essentials loses Windows XP compatibility, but gains new features and better usability. For more screen shots and information, join us after the jump.
Seesmic, popular creators of the Seesmic Desktop and Seesmic (for Windows) Twitter utilities, have partnered up with Microsoft to unleash a new way to browse the real-time Web. Don't roll your eyes just yet: I realize there are just about as many different ways to engage Twitter from a computer as there are tweets to track. I, too, was skeptical upon downloading the company's new Seesmic Look client. These fears didn't last long. It's clear that Seesmic has really put its time into a thorough analysis of the existing market, because there simply aren't any other Twitter clients that look quite like, well, Look.
ArsTechnicapasses along a rumor that the next release of Microsoft's Windows Live, Wave 4, may reach beta status this week. Details are scarce, but Softpediapoints out that Windows Live Hotmail Wave 4 Milestone 1, which offers a number of new features, has been live since mid-September.
When will Windows Live Wave 4 Beta shed the beta tag? ArsTechnica has run a Japanese blog entry about Wave 4 through a couple of online translators, with the rather fractured results pointing to a spring to summer 2010 target. Stay clicked to MaximumPC.com for more information.
With Windows 7 coming down the pike in less than a month, it's time for Microsoft to update its Windows Home Server product to support new features in Windows 7, such as Libraries and image-based backup. Windows Home Server Power Pack 3 (announced in July and now available in beta via Microsoft Connect) provides the Windows 7 support Windows Home Server needs, but that's not all that's new.
Windows 7 and Windows Home Server Power Pack 3 are designed to play nicely together, thanks to updates that support Windows 7 libraries and WHS backup that's Action Center aware (so Action Center will no longer nag a Windows 7 user that backups aren't happening when WHS does its backup thing). To find out what else is new in Windows Home Server, and for the latest on when "beta" comes off the title, join us after the break.
This week, Adobe announced its eighth generation of Photoshop Elements for both PC and Mac, and this time Mac users need to wait only a month for the latest version.
Photoshop Elements 8 for Windows and MacOS includes a number of new photo-editing goodies including Photomerge Exposure, Recompose, and better quick fixes for common photo problems. For more about what's new, why MacOS users won't mind waiting a bit longer for their version, and how to try PSE8 for free, join us after the jump.
Adobe's new Photoshop Elements 8 for Windows adds a number of features for easier photo editing, including:
Photomerge Exposure, which builds upon the powerful Photomerge feature in earlier versions of PE to enable you to combine the properly-exposed areas in two otherwise-identical photos into a "single, perfectly-lit photo." The example Adobe demonstrates uses two photos of friends posing in front of a floodlit building, one with and without flash. It'll be interesting to see how Photomerge Exposure does with a pair of RAW images optimized for bright and dark areas.
Recompose, which allows you to intelligently stretch a photo to fit in a particular frame without distorting the main subject. The example Adobe uses converts a landscape-format photo into a square photo, but inquiring minds (like mine) are wondering about converting 4:3 photos into 16:9 photos (and vice-versa).
Smarter, faster quick fixes for exposure, teeth whitening, bluer skies, contrast, and more with better previews.
Read on to find out what else is new in Elements 8.
When we last visited the Lenovo Thinkpad T400s, we gave it a relatively good score based on its sleek, black matte chassis, its comfortable ergonomic keyboard and its reliable on-the-go specifications, which included a 128GB SSD. Now, the T400s has had a minor overhaul in hardware (including a touchscreen LCD) and software and we were lucky enough to get some hands-on playtime with the still-in-beta SimpleTap multi-touch software.
Canon fired the latest salvo in the hotter-than-ever digital SLR wars this week, introducing its new EOS 7D. The $1699 (body-only) EOS 7D includes some now-familiar features, such as APS-C image sensor size (1.6x crop factor), 3-inch LCD with Live View, and Full HD Video.
The 7D boasts an 18MP image sensor and ISO expandable to 12,800, but that's just the beginning of what makes it bigger, faster, smarter, and stronger than previous mid-range Canon DSLRs. For the rest of the story, join us after the jump.
AutoRun was originally intended to help automatically start programs stored on optical media. However, once USB drives became popular, AutoRun also became a popular way to launch programs from hard disks and thumb drives by working with Windows' built-in AutoPlay functionality. Unfortunately, AutoRun's ability to provide instant launching for programs has also been widely exploited by malware such as the notorious Conficker/Downadup worm and others. Microsoft changed how AutoRun works in Windows 7 RC, but until now, Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows Server 2003 have been wide open to USB-based AutoRun attacks. To find out how Redmond's reining in AutoRun, join us after the jump.
AMD's new ATI Graphics Scout is a visual wizard designed to help you find the "perfect" ATI GPU for your needs. Graphics Scout provides feature selections in four categories: video applications, pictures and photos, games, and office applications. Select the most important feature or features in some or all categories, and Graphics Scout (which resembles a Star Wars R2-D2 with a flat-panel upgrade) suggests a suitable match.
Earlier this week, The Inquirercomplained that Graphics Scout was pushing out some questionable suggestions. Thankfully, as an update to the original story indicates, ATI's been making some changes, and in our tests today, it made recommendations that make sense:
When we selected video editing, photo editing, DirectX 10+ gaming, and Microsoft Office applications, it suggested the top-of-the-line HD 4890.
When we changed our mind and selected big-screen TV connections with Blu-Ray support, photo viewing and editing, online gaming, and web browsing, Graphics Scout suggested the mid-line HD 4550.
The ability to move up and down the GPU line to see what upgrading or downgrading the recommended selection is handy, as is the ability to compare any other card with the recommended card. For its intended UK audience, Graphics Scout is great, as it provides links to various UK dealers. For users in other countries, it's still useful, but you'll need to use a site such as Cnet's Shopper.com to find actual products for sale. Take Graphics Scout for a spin and join us after the jump to chime in on its recommendations.