Microsoft Research's latest chance to shine is this week's TechFest 2009. Microsoft Research has a long list of innovations, including the Microsoft Surface touch-sensitive interface, the Unwrap Mosaic video editor, the Songsmith music composing utility, Image Composite Editor, and many more. TechFest serves two purposes: it makes sure that everyone at Microsoft can tap into what's being developed at Microsoft Research, and it acts as a sort of high-tech equivalent to an auto show, demonstrating the concepts that might (or might not) make their way into future products from Redmond.
This year's TechFest features projects as varied as combining multiple cell phone videos to create a high-res version; using digitized books on video DVD to create a high-capacity, low-cost library and school resource for developing countries, and ways to create Augmented Reality, which overlays digital data with real-world information, to name just a few.
So, how important are Microsoft Research projects to Microsoft's future? As Microsoft Research head Rick Rashid sees it, the investment Microsoft makes in research is "really about an investment in survival." What do you think is the coolest concept at this year's TechFest? Join us after the jump and tell us about your favorites.
Attention Windows 7 beta users, up to five (5), I said f-i-v-e test updates are coming via Windows Update tomorrow (February 24). These updates are strictly for testing purposes, our friends in Redmond tell us. By the way, you must install these updates manually via Windows Update - even if you run WU in Automatic mode. BTW Mark 2: these updates replace some system files with the same version that's already on your system.
So, what's the point of running WU and selecting these updates? Mama Microsoft want to make sure it can update Windows 7 properly. Don't want to play? See the Microsoft Update Team Blog to learn more.
If you're on the Microsoft Connect testing list for Windows Vista SP2 or Windows Server 2008 SP2, Redmond has just rung the "come and get it" bell - SP2 RC (the same package upgrades both Vista SP1 and Windows Server) was released to MS Connect testers yesterday, Ars Technicareports.
So, what's special about SP2 RC? Some highlights include:
Support for VIA's 64-bit CPU
Integration of the Windows Vista Feature Pack for Wireless, including support for Bluetooth 2.1
Support for writing to Blu-ray media
Integration of Windows Search 4.0
Better and more secure installation experience
Over 690 hotfixes
If you're not among the fortunate few testing Vista SP2 RC, what should you be doing until you can try it? For our suggestions, as well as an early comparison with Vista RC1 (not to mention your chance to sound off), join us after the jump.
Cuba has debuted a new national Linux-based operating system dubbed "Nova." As one might expect, Cuba claims that the move will help the country replace proprietary Microsoft software running on the nation's computers. It almost sounds a little silly, but Cuba makes two noteworthy points as to why it's trying to purge this United States-based software from its networks. Nor is this the first international body that's sought to replace Microsoft software with an open-source alternative.
According to Cuban officials, the switch is more intended to turn away from United States-backed software as opposed to specifically Microsoft. They claim that governmental agencies would be able to infiltrate Cuban systems because they would could to pressure Microsoft to give up its "codes." It's unclear whether Cuba expects U.S. officials to actually hack into Cuban databases, break through encryption measures, or any combination of nefarious activities. Cuban officials also suggest that importing Microsoft software violates the U.S. trade embargo, an explanation for why Microsoft operating systems are allegedly more difficult to acquire for the island nation.
Grab your cigar and click the link to find out just how much Linux adoption Cuba expects to have within five years!
So you thought the facial recognition technology built into your laptop would keep your business and personal information safe? Bwa-ha-ha! Today, the Black Hat DC 2009 security conference found out that, as Vietnam-based security researcher Nguyen Minh Duc puts it, Your Face is NOT Your Password.
Nguyen's paper reveals (PDF link) that it's relatively simple to hack facial recognition systems included in webcam-equipped laptops from Lenovo (Veriface III), ASUS (SmartLogon v1.0.0.0005), and Toshiba (Face Recognition 18.104.22.168). Methods used included using photographs in place of live faces (Facebook, anyone?) and performing brute-force attacks by changing lighting and photo angles in a digitized face until the system permits access.
Are you counting on facial-recogntion technology to keep your stuff safe? Is your company? Join us after the jump for your chance to sound off on this latest "unbreakable," but now broken, access-control technology.
Cnet's Matt Asay reports that Microsoft has decided to set up an interoperability alliance with Red Hat. In enterprise computing, virtualization is the name of the game, and virtualization is what this alliance is all about. Whether you're running Red Hat Enterprise virtualization technologies, Microsoft's Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V or Microsoft Hyper-V server, the interoperability agreement will enable Red Hat or Microsoft guest operating systems to run on any of these virtualization platforms and get technical support. For details, see the Red Hat website or the Microsoft TechNet blog announcement.
It will take time for Red Hat and Microsoft to validate server platforms for interoperability, and valid software support contracts are required. The best news for those of us who support enterprise-level virtualized platforms on Red Hat or Microsoft? No more finger-pointing, so you can spend your evenings winning your favorite frag-fest instead of playing pass-the-buck with operating system support staffs.
Sick and tired of trying to find the right charger for your cell phone? Whether you're shopping for a new charger or trying to figure out which of the chargers in your desk drawer matches your phone, the industry's current lack of standards could make you just a little bit crazy - especially when you're staring at a blinking battery level display and you're expecting a very important call.
Thankfully, there's good news - if you can wait a few years. Today, GSMA (the mobile phone trade association) announced an agreement between virtually all of the world's major cell phone makers to stop the insanity and adopt a common charging connector standard: Micro-USB. The announcement, appropriately enough, was made at the 2009 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, CNet's 3GSM World blog reports.
To find out who's teaming up, who's snubbing the new standard, and how soon you can expect to see the standard adopted, join us after the jump.
Computerworldreports that HP will offer not only Windows 7 Professional and Home Premium SKUs on its netbooks, but also the stripped-down (three apps open at a time) Windows 7 Starter edition. Making Starter available in all markets is a departure for Microsoft, which has offered Windows XP and Windows Vista Starter editions only in developing countries.
As we reported earlier this month, Windows 7, unlike Windows Vista, is designed to run on everything from netbooks to the most powerful desktop and laptop PCs on the market. Although HP isn't the first company to announce it would be running Windows 7 on netbooks (ASUS beat them to the punch back in October), HP's decision provides more backing for Microsoft's claim that Windows 7 covers all the modern PC bases. So, how about you? What's the lowest-performance platform you've used for installing Windows 7 Beta? Were you satisfied with the performance, or not? Join us after the jump for your chance to share your Windows 7 Beta on netbook or low-end PC platforms war stories.
Novell's Mono Project released version 1.0 of Moonlight today, an open-source platform that allows Linux users to view Microsoft Silverlight-based content and applications. Delivered as a Firefox extension, Moonlight comes alongside the release of the Microsoft Media Pack, a Firefox extension that gives Linux users access to Microsoft-endorsed media codecs. This opens up the door for playing all Silverlight-compatible media (including MP3, WMA, and WMV files). According to Novel, Moonlight should work with all major Linux distributions, including openSUSE, Fedora, Red Hat, and Ubuntu.
But if you think that this is going to put a dent in Adobe Air's market share, you're in for a treat. Click the jump to see just how much Adobe's runtime environment is winning the platform war against Microsoft's Silverlight!