Microsoft is leaving no stone unturned in attracting reluctant users towards Windows Vista. It knows deep inside that Vista needs more than advertising gimmicks like the 'Mojave experiment' and that it needs to tend to the much publicized performance issues with the OS. Microsoft seems to be committed to one such issue, that of Vista not being optimized for SSDs.
Yesterday evening, I had the indistinct pleasure of viewing G4's GPhoria gaming awards. GPhoria is odd in that it doesn't take place at the end of a year; rather, it highlighted, in this case, the best games from the second half of 2007 and first half of 2008. Even so, I was fairly surprised when Halo 3 took home GOTSHO07AFHO08 honors. I mean, Halo? Seriously?
But GPhoria is voted for by the fans, which got me to thinking about how different audiences have different expectations, and about how those expectations can shift with time.
See, in my experience, Halo is typically met with derision and utterances of "Moar liek Fail-O" when mentioned in the presence of PC gamers. It is, after all, just a dumbed-down, slow-moving console shooter, right? The first domino in a long, weaving line that wrecked the FPS genre as we know it. Well, except for maybe Half-Life 2. Oh, and TF2. And Call of Duty 4. Also Bioshock. Portal, too. Hey, maybe Halo didn't bring the genre crashing down after all! Actually, I'd say the expanded audience led developers to try new things.
These days, though, gamers are fretting about a new scourge: casual gaming. Where am I going with this? Simple. I believe casual gaming is nothing to worry about. As with the FPS genre, an expanded audience, lured in from casual titles, will inspire great devs to try new things, as well as provide them with more cash to back their games.
So, what's your opinion on so-called "casual" gaming? Whether it be the Wii, Diner Dash, or fan-fave Peggle, how do you think these games and the audiences they attract will affect gaming? Good? Bad? Both? Neither?
At the very least, today's Roundup is dedicated to the hardcore gamer. Past the break, you'll find stories about BioWare's handheld ambitions, John Carmack's stance on PC gaming, and Star Trek Online's upcoming reveal. And more, of course.
As the tech world waits with abated breath for Intel's Nehalem architecture to crash the Core 2 party, we still don't know what name to put on the banners, but we might have a pretty good idea. It's not yet official, but according to the latest rumor, Intel will dub its newfangled Nehalem as Core i7, which would put to rest any speculation that the chip maker might drop the 'Core' designation in its new nomenclature.
For anyone that hasn't been reading Maximum PC on a regular basis (shame on you) or who have been living under a rock (you get a free pass), Nehalem is Intel's next big processor microarchitecture, representing the 'tock' in the company's tick-tock update cycle. Along with tri-channel DDR3 support, Nehalem will usher in Intel's move to an integrated memory controller and finally do away with the crowded front-side bus. Gordon Mah Ung covered the architecture in detail last week, and while you're brushing up on the nuances of Nehalem, be sure and check out what the first Nehalem system looks like.
Getting back to the naming scheme, we'll have to wait until hearing official word, but in the meantime, speculation is welcome. Do you like the rumored name change?
It is also ensuring that Eee PC users don’t develop insomnia fretting over the machine’s limited storage space. Users can now count upon 20GB of cloud storage space, i.e. internet hard drive space. But Asus will have to insure that the downloads are cheap as many Eee PC users in developing countries do not perceive it as a fun internet gadget but more of a cost-effective computing device.
Think about all the ways we converse and communicate online now. RSS/Atom feeds, Twitter, blogging, web discussion forums, social networks, email and others. It gets to be a jumbled mess in just a short time.
Now the folks that brought you Firefox are trying a new experiment in managing all this information in the form of Snowl.
Make the jump to find out what key ideas are going into Snowl's development.
Microsoft’s much delayed SQL Server 2008 is available now. Despite the delay in SQL Server’s launch, MS is patting its back for having released the new version of its popular database product within two to three years of the SQL Server 2005 launch. Apart from the free version, there are a variety of paid ones for both PCs and Windows Mobile devices.
SQL Server 2008 is expected to further strengthen Microsoft’s promising database business. In fact, it made immediate impact on Microsoft’s VP Ted Kummert, who has dyed his hair orange due to the product’s release. Kummert had vowed to dye his air orange if the developers were able to meet the latest launch deadline.
Just in time for the start of the Olympics, Neowin.net reports that Microsoft's Live Search has added many new features to help you keep track of what's happening in Beijing:
Live Search News now includes a direct link to Beijing 2008 Olympics news.
The new xRank Live Search page features an Olympics category where you can track the popularity and news coverage of individual athletes.
Select Video from the Live Search home page and enter Olympics (or follow this link) to search for Olympics-related videos.
Enter an Olympic athlete's name in Live Search, and Live Search will display Olympics-related information first, a feature Microsoft calls Athlete Instant Answer.
Microsoft has also tweaked how searches for Olympics-related keywords work. Search for events such as "swimming" or "USA basketball" and you'll see the latest medal count for the event or the country once the events begin, a feature know as Medal Instant Answer.
And, to round off the Olympic-friendly repackaging of Live Search for Beijing 2008, Microsoft plans to display various Olympics-related images as backgrounds on the Live Search home page http://www.live.com/.
Note that some of these features might not take effect until Olympics competition begins.
The changes to Live Search are convenient if you're a fan of the Olympics, but how do you feel about a search engine's tweaking its results according to current events? Do you like the idea, or does it smack of a bit of "Big Brother?" We'll take your feedback after the jump.
Be warned, a cabal of Russian cyber criminals is on the loose and actively pillaging vast expanses of the internet. The gang slyly assumes the administrative responsibilities of large corporate and government networks and then quickly plants malicious tools on thousands of computers in that network. Security analysts reckon this to be the most well coordinated, systematic use of administrative tools for malicious purposes.
The group’s activities came to light when Joe Stewarts of Atlanta-based computer security firm SecureWorks found that a central program belonging to the Russian bandits was running at a Wisconsin-based Internet hosting facility. He estimated that 100,000 computers had been compromised. He promptly notified a federal law enforcement agency that proceeded to boot of the central program. But the gang, unfazed, quickly relocated the tool to a network in Ukraine.
The surface of the earth was once thought to be flat, and just as it was eventually proven to be round, will technophiles make the same discovery when it comes to surface computing? It's far too early to tell what the future of surface computing has in store, but don't be surprised if years from now your PC looks more like a globe than a flat screen.
Giving a glimpse of such a future, Microsoft showed off its spherical Surface computer during the company's annual Research Faculty Summit in Redmond. Attendees got a chance to play with the prototype that relies on an infrared system to detect hands, fingers, and objects.
"It's really an exploration of ideas," explained Hrvoje Benko, the Microsoft researcher spearheading the project.
Getting touch technology to work on a curved surface was no easy task, but Microsoft researches came up with advanced algorithms to translate images originally intended for a flat PC screen and display them correctly on the rounded globe. So far applications for the Sphere include a picture and video browser, interactive globe visualization, finger painting, and an omni-directional video conferencing application with 360 degrees of panoramic video.
Catch the YouTube video here, which also includes a version of a Pong like you've never seen before.
As Intel gears up to sample Larrabee later this year, the chip maker continues to build hype over the architecture's x86 roots. Intel is quick to point out that developers will be able to program in C or C++ languages just as they're used to doing on x86 processors, giving them an easy way to port applications from other platforms over to Larrabee.
Meanwhile, Nvidia also wants to build hype, but over its competing CUDA architecture. DailyTech has posted Nvidia's comments on the issue, which read:
CUDA is a C-language compiler that is based on the PathScale C compiler. This open source compiler was originally developed for the x86 architecture. The NVIDIA computing architecture was specifically designed to support the C language - like any other processor architecture. Competitive comments that the GPU is only partially programmable are incorrect - all the processors in the NVIDIA GPU are programmable in the C language.
NVIDIA's approach to parallel computing has already proven to scale from 8 to 240 GPU cores. Also, NVIDIA is just about to release a multi-core CPU version of the CUDA compiler. This allows the developer to write an application once and run across multiple platforms. Larrabee's development environment is proprietary to Intel and, at least disclosed in marketing materials to date, is different than a multi-core CPU software environment.
Andrew Humber from Nvidia also went on to clarify that CUDA is a brand name for the C-compiler rather than being two different things.
Anyone else feel chilly when Nvidia and Intel are in the same room?