website hit counter January 2009 - Posts - Chris Lanier

January 2009 - Posts

Yes, The Green Button is Having Issues

Microsoft appeared to have fixed one of the issues I was having on the backend, but that fix has caused the entire site to come to its knees with wonderful message like "Value cannot be null. Parameter name: relativeUrl" when attempting to make a new post or reply.  Unfortunantly, since I don't have direct access to the server there is nothing I can personally do about it.

Sadly since you can’t make a new post or reply, The Green Button will effectively be down until Microsoft can fix the issue.  Ian’s forums on The Digital Lifestyle might be a good overflow forum until Microsoft fixes The Green Button.

Update: Looks like some are having luck posting (I'm not one of them).  Try signing out and then back in.

Posted by chrisl | 5 comment(s)

Microsoft Focuses Media Center Marketing, Platform to Follow

The first sign of a business in trouble is when you must reinvent yourself to stay alive.  Microsoft might not actually be reinventing Media Center, mostly becasue you can't reinvent something that you never actually defined a market for in the first place, but they are finally attempting to delineate where they see Media Center competing in such a growing marketplace (and that’s not a good thing for most reading this).

Media Center started as a method to watch TV on the PC.  Essentially it was marketed to college students to cut down the number of devices in their dorm.  Then it grew up and Microsoft focused on getting Media Center off the PC and onto the big screen.  Media Center 2004-2005 and Extenders helped drive this concept.  Media Center was the star of CES keynotes of the past focusing on the next-generation home.  Much of this is outlined in the Evolution of Windows Media Center that Microsoft just finished.

The video might have a few hidden messages that are hard to catch, but I think they define Media Center’s future and show that Microsoft has finally attempted to focus on a specific market.

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(Microsoft presented this image at WinHEC)

 “TV on your PC” is Microsoft’s new marketing talk for what Media Center is and does (hear it from Media Center marketing PM Ben Reed here ~30 seconds in) .  Not whole home connected entertainment, not Media Center in your living room, not Extenders, not high-end theaters, but “TV on your PC.”  In other words, the days of Media Center being billed as the do-it-all center of your home are over (except for the custom market).

For the first time, Media Center officially has a market, and while that is good news that Microsoft has finally defined who they are developing for, it is bad news for most reading this post as you can now be sure Media Center will never be the platform you have dreamed of.

Thinking about it, the signs have been developing over the past months.  The lack of Media Center at CES keynote makes perfect sense if it is being billed as just a way to watch TV on your PC.  No need to make a big deal about that.  Microsoft touting touch screen support in Windows 7 half has to do with them putting way to much emphasis on touch in Windows 7 in general, but also helps them show off using a kitchen PC for watching TV on.  Why exactly do I need this in a product that is meant to be controlled with a remote?  This was recently questioned on The Green Button and Engadget HD’s most recent podcast.  Mouse clickable seekbar in Windows 7, yet again a sign of Media Center moving onto the desktop and away from the TV.

I think Microsoft will continue to focus on the CEDIA channel as well, which most likely means my fears of Microsoft developing new cool features that are only available to OEMs is going to come true.  Niveus Media and Exceptional Innovation (Life|ware) will likely see the majority of the attention.  Smaller Media Center OEMs will start to fade away after being ignored by Microsoft who hasn’t grasped the concept that all of the smaller OEMs serve the exact same high-end customers as Niveus and Life|ware (examples include support for 10 Extenders, 8 CableCARD tuners for only Niveus/Life|ware).  I think we will see Microsoft heavily market an appliances-like device to these OEMs (unclear if the functionality will be avaiable to the masses, but I don’t see it marketed to them).

If there is a plus side (hard to think of it as that) to this it would be in the form of much lower expectations.   Hopefully I’m wrong, but this change could end Media Center as we know (or think we know) it today.

Microsoft Loses the Online Content Fight

I shouldn’t actually call it a fight because that implies one actually gave effort, but CES 2009 has shown that Microsoft is effectively out of the race to provide a platform for streaming and downloadable content via the PC.  I say via the PC because the Xbox is still alive and actually putting up somewhat of a fight.

With every major display company now pushing integrated online content embedded or easily attachable to their displays the PC is now becoming irrelevant.  No longer is the concept PC-to-TV, it is Web-to-TV and Microsoft fails to offer compelling products that work under this infrastructure.

Media Center had strong potential to rule the online world.  In 2002 when Microsoft introduced Media Center the Online Spotlight provided a mechanism for content providers to offer 10-foot versions of their streaming services.  As time went on however Microsoft had a difficult time keeping content providers interested with big names like MTV Network pulling content for reasons unknown to anyone but Microsoft.  In late 2007 Microsoft offered up their Internet TV plug-in which scrapped content from their MSN properties.  Then in early 2008 Internet TV got an upgrade that introduced interactive ads, a feature that I thought would give Microsoft a leg up in streaming   Alas, Microsoft has failed to secure any additional web content.  Even Netflix, which is on the Xbox 360 didn’t get ported to Media Center (while unofficial plug-ins fill the gap for users).  Windows 7 hits hard on integration of broadcast and broadband, but that only goes as far as the content you have to offer.

My advice to Microsoft, buy boxee and integrate it into Media Center, Xbox 360, and Zune.  Unless you have some big partnerships in the works (CES would have been a good place to unveil those), your platform is effectively dead for online content delivery (broadcast isn’t looking that hot either).

Media Center Gets Blu-ray, Just Not From Microsoft

I’ve talk about Microsoft and Blu-ray more times than I can count and it never fails I end up saying they will not be the ones to build Blu-ray support in Windows.  My thoughts have officially come true with yesterday’s announcement that Microsoft is outsourcing Blu-ray support in Windows 7 to Cyberlink.

According to the press release, PowerDVD “automatically integrate with Windows Media Center to enable full Blu-ray playback capability on PC equipped with the appropriate hardware.”  The extent of that integration remains to be seen, but I’m hoping for full integration using Media Foundation and PVP (aka real integration).  That's a lot of wishful thinking on my part, what we will likely end up with is Media Center launching PowerDVD in a Play Movie-esk way.

I guess this is a good start and I’m interested to see what the product will look like but I’m not getting my hopes up too high just yet for it being the perfect solution.

Ceton Gets Official with Industry First MOCUR

Microsoft might not have hit on it in their Media Center-less keynote, but there is one big change getting ready to happen.  Well over a year after it was first spotted, Ceton is out with the news that they will be shipping an MOCUR in 2009 (Via Media Center Blog).

There are a few things that are unique to the Ceton MOCUR over the current ATI OCUR.  The first and most noticeable is the ability to use a single M-Card and tune at up 6 channels.  While most people know that M-Cards can offer multiple streams, not many know they actually can be well above two.  Using a single M-Card and a Ceton MCOUR with add-on tuners you will be able to record up to six shows at once.

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While you will still need a CableCARD Ready PC (sorry, no home built) this tuner will be a welcome change from ATIs.  Ceton will hopefully stay a-top their firmware releases and ship the tuners with that relaxed DRM support that ATI hasn’t bothered to get around to yet.

Sadly, this isn’t a BOCR (tru2way).  CableLabs has still not finished the specs for two-way CableCARD tuners for the PC.  While not noted in the press release, Ceton will hopefully be providing support for SDV Adaptors which CableLabs has said will work with OCURs but that a timeline for support has not been made public.  If SDV support isnt planned on, this tuner will be dead in the water.  I’ve got to believe that Ceton wouldn’t release the tuner at this stage without ensuring SDV support.

Big hat tip to the Media Center Blog

Ceton Announces Development of Next-Generation Cable TV Card for PCs Running Windows Media Center

(Via Media Center Blog)  LAS VEGAS, NV -- 01/08/09 -- Ceton Corp., a Seattle-area technology company, today announced the development of the next-generation Ceton cable TV card for Windows Media Center-enabled PCs. PCs incorporating the Ceton Multi-Channel Cable TV Card will be able to natively support high-definition pay TV including premium cable TV channels, without the need for a separate cable set-top box, including playing or recording up to six simultaneous high-definition TV channels using a single multi-stream CableCARD(TM) and single RF connection.

The Ceton solution also enables standard- and high-definition cable programming to be securely distributed from a Media Center PC to multiple TVs throughout the home via Media Center Extenders while preserving the encryption and digital rights of the content. The Ceton Multi-Channel Cable TV Card was developed using Microsoft Corp.'s broadcast TV platform capabilities in Windows Media Center and conforms to the CableLabs® OpenCable(TM) OCUR and DRI specifications.

"PCs running Windows Media Center are a great platform for enabling a wide variety of really useful whole-home entertainment options," said Gary Hammer, president and CEO of Ceton Corp. "The Ceton Multi-Channel Cable TV Card for Windows Media Center-enabled PCs not only brings pay TV functionality of the set-top box inside the PC in an easy-to-set-up and very cost-effective way but it also enables unique capabilities such as whole-home distribution of premium HD TV content with up to six tuner support with a single multi-stream CableCARD."

"Microsoft is pleased to see Ceton deliver this new hardware solution built on the robust capabilities of Windows Media Center and its broadcast TV platform," said Geoff Robertson, General Manager of Windows Media Center for Microsoft. "Ceton's digital cable tuner will bring multi-stream pay TV services to Windows Media Center-enabled PCs and multiple connected Media Center Extenders."

The Ceton Multi-Channel Cable TV Card for Windows Media Center-enabled PCs is expected to be available bundled with Windows Media Center-enabled PCs from leading manufacturers in 2009.

About Ceton Corporation

Ceton Corporation is a Seattle-area technology company that is developing the next-generation of in-home digital entertainment and communication solutions. Combining stellar hardware and software engineering capabilities with market-making, patent-pending technology, Ceton aims to help unlock the potential of the digital home to unleash a new generation of in-home connected entertainment and communication services for PC and device makers, software developers and consumers. More information about Ceton and its solutions is available at http://www.cetoncorp.com.

CyberLink to Demonstrate PowerDVD with Microsoft at CES 2009

TAIPEI, Taiwan - CyberLink Corporation is pleased to announce that PowerDVD will be utilized by Microsoft Corp. in a demonstration of their newest version of Windows Media Center, for Windows 7. This demo will be shown in the Microsoft booth (7144), in the Central Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Additional demonstrations of the forthcoming version of PowerDVD will be available to PC and Consumer Electronic manufacturers and members of the press by appointment, in CyberLink’s private suite in the Hilton Hotel.

CyberLink has been working closely with Microsoft to support many of the advanced capabilities of Windows 7. PowerDVD Cinema mode has been designed to automatically integrate with Windows Media Center to enable full Blu-ray playback capability on PC equipped with the appropriate hardware. PowerDVD Cinema mode integrates seamlessly with the advanced user experience that Windows Media Center provides and allows consumers to be able to use a remote control to select and watch Blu-ray titles from the comfort of their couch. PowerDVD also provide a great user experience when launched directly from Windows, with new and exciting ways for everyone to browse and enjoy movies and video files on any Windows desktop or laptop PC.

TrueTheater™ HD, one of the new video technology CyberLink will demonstrate in PowerDVD, provides the capability to up-sample videos and transform standard definition video files, or DVD titles into high-definition quality. This would allow users to enjoy DVDs today in high definition quality.

“We are proud that PowerDVD is Microsoft’s choice to support Blu-ray Disc playback for Windows 7,” said Alice H. Chang, CEO of CyberLink. “PowerDVD is the leading DVD, Blu-ray Disc and AVCHD movie player software application, chosen by top-brand PCs and optical disc drives purchased by consumers and businesses around the world. We are excited to demonstrate the smooth integration and the incredible sights and sounds of Blu-ray disc movies for Windows 7 at the coming CES.”

VidaBox Unveils new Products at CES 2009

VidaBox Releases New vPad8, an Enhanced Ultra-Mobile Tablet Designed for Automation

VidaBox LLC, a manufacturer of digital entertainment and control solutions, is proud to present the vPad8™, a thin and light ultra-mobile tablet PC.  Running on Windows XP embedded, it features a full-color touch screen with 800x600 resolution and comes standard with WiFi connectivity, making it an ideal control interface device.

"We're excited to release the new vPad8™ panel," exclaims Steven Cheung, President of VidaBox. "This is a smaller, less bulky version of our original vPad10™.  We've also added some improvements like a brighter screen for easier legibility in direct light, and optional protective rubber bumpers, making it extremely durable."

Read Full Press Release

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New VidaBox Touch3.6 Touch Pad Provides Truly Customizable Controls

VidaBox, a manufacturer of digital entertainment and control solutions, is proud to debut the Touch3.6™, a full-color touchpad capable of presenting an interactive, fully-customizable interface.  This 320x234 resolution screen will allow control of any device via RS-232, TCP/IP, IR, and other control protocols through the vAutomation™ platform.

"We're absolutely thrilled to offer our dealers the new Touch3.6 panel," exclaims Steven Cheung, President of VidaBox LLC. "Integrators can finally install a double-gang sized panel to control anything in the house - lighting, security, climate, shades, whole house AV, and more.  This is all possible because of vAutomation's support for customizable interfaces."

Read Full Press Release

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VidaBox Now Offers Pre-packaged Whole House Audio Solutions with Multi-room Distribution Systems

VidaBox LLC, a manufacturer of digital entertainment and control solutions, is proud to offer complete whole house audio packages.  Based on the VidaBox line of multiroom audio servers, these packages include NuVo® multiroom distribution and amplification equipment.

"These new packages are a natural progression of delivering new features and better value for our dealer base," states Steven Cheung, President of VidaBox LLC. "Most of our integrators are already using NuVo® and Russound® in their multiroom audio installs.  However, many of them shy away from adding a VidaBox audio server into the mix because of the learning curve, even if it means having new features like internet radio, sleep/wake functions, or whole house audio control from a single TouchClient™ or vPad™ touch panel.  By marrying the two as a complete solution, dealers can get a single package that eliminates setup and installation headaches, since VidaBox takes care of all of the configuration work at the factory."

Read Full Press Release

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VidaBox Releases new TouchClient8 In-wall PC Touch Panel

VidaBox LLC, a manufacturer of digital entertainment and control solutions, is excited to announce the availability of the TouchClient8™, a full-color, 8.4" in-wall touch panel with an XP embedded computer.

"From the first day of offering the TouchClient12™, we kept getting asked, 'Do you have a smaller version?'" says Steven Cheung, President of VidaBox LLC. "As always, we listen intently to our integrators, and created this new, smaller version called TouchClient8™.  It has the same great features & connectivity options of the original design without any sacrifices, just with a smaller, 800x600 native resolution touch screen."

Like its larger cousin, the TouchClient8™ runs on XP embedded, and has stereo speakers, dual USB, dual Ethernet, and dual RS-232 ports - allowing the possibility of local automation directly from the TouchClient8™.  It only requires a 12V power source & a network connection, or a WiFi network using its built-in 802.11b/g wireless card.  There are no moving parts like fans or hard drives, allowing every TouchClient8™ to enjoy long life and high-reliability.

Read Full Press Release

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Microsoft Mediaroom Gets More Power and Gives TV a Reverse Gear

Mediaroom-based services can now add Mediaroom Anytime, enabling TV viewers to enjoy previously aired programs or restart currently airing shows without preplanning or prior DVR recording; new immersive applications complement the Mediaroom TV experience with content and services from the Internet.

LAS VEGAS — Jan. 8, 2009 — At 2009 International CES today, Microsoft Corp. unveiled Mediaroom Anytime, a groundbreaking feature set for the Microsoft Mediaroom multimedia and IPTV platform that allows viewers to truly watch TV on their own time. In addition to existing Mediaroom features, such as video on demand, DVR Anywhere and Remote Digital Video Recording, the new Mediaroom Anytime features take time-shifted TV to the next level, enabling viewers to access previously aired shows directly from the Interactive Program Guide or immediately restart currently airing shows without any preplanning or prior DVR recording. In addition, Microsoft announced that the Mediaroom platform has reached nearly 2.5 million subscriber homes worldwide, an increase of more than 1.5 million new connections in the past year alone.

With the new Mediaroom Anytime feature set, service providers now have the ability to offer their customers the following benefits:

  • Restart Anytime offers the ability for viewers to rewind or restart the currently airing program from any point, regardless of whether the show is being recorded or the TV was switched off or tuned to another channel.
  • Live Anytime allows viewers to scroll backward in the Interactive Program Guide to watch previously aired programs. These previously aired programs also can be made accessible through the service provider’s video on demand library.
  • Download Anytime extends Microsoft Mediaroom-powered services to more consumers by enabling viewers to download on-demand movies and programs to their set-top boxes so they can watch them anytime regardless of bandwidth constraints. For example, viewers could watch high-definition programs on low-bandwidth networks.

SingTel plans to trial Mediaroom Anytime features — Restart Anytime and Live Anytime — and aims to offer the service to its mio TV subscribers in 2009. Mediaroom Anytime functionalities can be added to SingTel’s existing Microsoft Mediaroom-powered connected TV service offerings via a simple software upgrade that requires no action by existing subscribers.

“mio TV aims to be at the forefront of new innovations and services that will let our customers control what they watch, when they want,” said Low Ka Hoe, SingTel’s director of IPTV Business. “The ever-evolving Mediaroom platform and the new Anytime features allow us to continue delivering enhanced value and a truly immersive TV viewing experience to our customers.”

Read Full Press Release

Posted by chrisl | with no comments
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Microsoft Skips Media Center at CES Keynote


Windows Media Center was talked about in the CES keynote, but despite the several mentions of bringing the “three different screens” together, Media Center is still lacking in Microsoft’s digital home vision.  Windows Media Center has really reduced to this PR statement…

“Consumers today have access to more digital media and are increasingly using the PC as the hub of their electronic experiences. The “Play-to” feature in Windows 7 allows easier streaming of music, video and photos to devices in a home network. Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center in Windows 7 have built-in support for more media formats so people can use their PC to play more media content and sync it to a broader range of devices. As an alternative to monthly digital video recording (DVR) fees, Windows Media Center, available in some editions of Windows 7, with a TV tuner and improved user interface, makes recording TV free and easy.”

“Connected TV” was covered with a focus on Mediaroom reaching 2.5 million homes.  This is the second year in a row that Media Center, Microsoft’s former baby has been a no-show at the CES Keynote.  No Media Center on Microsoft.com, no Media Center at CES keynote.  The Xbox 360 is still the Media Center’s biggest enemy.

What happened to the Digital Decade?

Posted by chrisl | 8 comment(s)

Random Notes from Microsoft’s CES Keynote

Media Center

  • 10 million Media Center users a month
  • Average Media Center session time is ~90 minutes

Xbox 360

  • Xbox LIVE membership that has grown to 17 million active members.
  • Xbox 360 has sold 28 million consoles sold to date
  • More than $1 billion spent on Xbox LIVE since the launch of the Xbox 360
  • Xbox 360 has largest game attach rate
  • Xbox LIVE Primetime channel brings together the best of TV and gaming in an interactive way.
  • Primetime will create scheduled programming, offer interactive and social features.
  • Average Halo player playing 150 hours on Xbox LIVE
  • Two new Halo titles this year.  Feb 28th release for Halo Wars.  Halo 3 ODST in 2009.
  • Since NXE launch, downloads of video content up 60%
  • Over 45 movie/TV studios providing content on Xbox LIVE
  • Over 60 millions song downloads on Lips and other music games.

Mediaroom

  • Mediaroom platform has reached nearly 2.5 million subscriber homes worldwide (250% growth over last year)
  • Mediaroom Anytime lets you watch previously aired content
  • Mediaroom adds interactive third-party application support (BBC Top Gear as an example)

Windows Mobile

  • Windows Mobile is getting new Internet Explorer with Adobe Flash support
  • Lots of new phones shown
  • Microsoft/Netflix will offer software that enables Windows Mobile customers to update and view their Netflix movie queue.

Windows 7

  • Windows 7 is up on MSDN/TechNet.  Public beta on Microsoft.com on Jan. 9

Other

  • Ford Sync will get updated with TellMe support
  • Zune Social is up to 2 million users

Xbox LIVE Primetime Channel Brings Interactive Gaming/TV to Xbox 360

Developing….

“new interactive entertainment genre with the premiere of the Xbox LIVE Primetime channel, which brings together the best of TV and gaming. Xbox LIVE Primetime will debut with an online version of the popular TV show “1 vs. 100” that enables thousands of gamers to play together with real hosts and compete for real prizes."

Posted by chrisl | 1 comment(s)

Windows Mobile Gets Netflix Queue Updating Software

Developing...

"This month, Microsoft and Netflix, the world’s largest online movie rental service, will offer software that enables Windows Mobile customers to update and view their Netflix movie queue. Changes will appear instantly on Netflix on Xbox LIVE, extending the existing service that launched in November. Xbox 360 is the only game system that lets people instantly watch thousands of movies and TV episodes streamed from Netflix, many in HD."

Microsoft’s Ballmer Announces Availability of Windows 7 Beta and Windows Live

Company previews simpler, better Windows operating system and highlights connected entertainment offerings at CES.

LAS VEGAS — Jan. 7, 2009 — In a keynote address at the 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer announced the beta availability of the Windows 7 operating system as well as the availability of the latest version of the Windows Live, a suite of personal communications services and applications.

“I’m thrilled to announce the availability of the Windows 7 beta, which is on track to deliver simplicity and reliability,” Ballmer said. “Windows 7 and Windows Live are part of an incredible pipeline of consumer technology that is making it easier than ever for people to communicate, share and get more done.”

The beta version of Windows 7, Microsoft’s next-generation PC operating system, can be downloaded today by MSDN, TechBeta and TechNet customers. Consumers who want to test-drive the beta will be able to download it beginning Jan. 9 at http://www.microsoft.com/windows7.

Microsoft also announced the global availability of Windows Live, a free suite of communications and sharing applications. Windows Live makes it easy for people to communicate, share and keep their online lives in sync and in one place with one login. The new and enhanced Windows Live services — including PCMag.com 2008 Editors’ Choice winner Windows Live Messenger — along with Windows Live Mail and Windows Live Photo Gallery are designed to work seamlessly with more than 50 popular Internet services. Ballmer also announced new alliances with the following companies:

Dell Inc. In February, to offer a comprehensive experience for consumers to connect, share and personalize their content, Dell will offer preloaded Windows Live Essentials (a free suite of applications for instant messaging, e-mail and photos that complement Windows Live on the Web) and Live Search on a majority of its new consumer and small-business PCs globally.

Facebook. In the coming months, Facebook users can choose to share content they post on Facebook, including photos, directly into Windows Live.

Verizon Wireless. Under a new five-year relationship that covers mobile search and advertising, Verizon subscribers in the U.S. will be able to use Live Search to search for local business and shopping information; access maps and directions; perform general Internet searches; and find ring tones, games, wallpaper and other online mobile products and services.

Read Full Press Release

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Windows Helps Consumers Connect to the Digital World

At CES 2009, Microsoft announced advances in Windows 7 beta, Windows Mobile, Windows Live – all designed to help consumers connect and live a ‘life without walls.’

LAS VEGAS – Jan. 7, 2009 - At the 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show, Microsoft is shining a spotlight on something besides the biggest LCD screen or the coolest new tech gadgets: It’s showing consumers how Windows can make their lives easier, more productive, more enjoyable.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer opened the show with news that a beta version of Windows 7, Microsoft’s newest operating system, will be widely available for download on Jan. 9. He also announced the final availability of Windows Live – free software and services designed to bring a person’s online world under one roof and help them keep their life in synch.

Along with a new version Internet Explorer Mobile that helps today’s mobile phones connect to the Web in a more powerful way, these announcements underscore Microsoft’s efforts to design software that connects the PC, the web, the phone and even the television in a way that is easy to use and fun. It’s all part of Microsoft’s technology vision to deliver a “life without walls” for consumers.

Says Bill Veghte, senior vice president of the Windows business group at Microsoft: “We are excited to have the strongest pipeline of new technology for Windows in our company’s history. We really listened to what our customers want. And we think what we’re showing at CES gives consumers choices and experiences they haven’t had before.”

Windows 7: Available in Beta Today

With Windows 7, first shown at the D: All Things Digital Conference his past May, Microsoft is confident it has an operating system that reflects what customers want. Windows 7 designers have surveyed more than a quarter of a million people to learn more about how they use a computer and digital devices. The Windows Research Team also conducted thousands of online interviews, and enlisted 3,600 customers for user research and usability studies.

One thing they learned was that while people enjoy the convenience and features of the many digital devices they have these days – from cameras to music players – they also want it to be easier to use their devices with their PCs, to do everyday tasks such as moving pictures from a camera to multiple PCs, or sharing music, or printing to a network.

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Xbox 360 Records Its Biggest Year Ever

Driven by record sales at retail along with an 84 percent jump in online consumer spending; global install base lead over PlayStation 3 expands to more than 8 million units.

REDMOND, Wash. — Jan. 5, 2009 — Despite a tough economy, the gaming industry held strong in 2008 and Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system recorded the biggest year in Xbox history, with more consoles, games and online entertainment experiences sold than any previous year. It was a year in which life-to-date unit sales of Xbox 360 systems climbed to 28 million consoles worldwide — expanding the product’s lead over Sony PlayStation 3 to more than 8 million units. The Xbox LIVE community also grew to more than 17 million active members, as online consumer spending increased 84 percent from last year. Since the launch of the Xbox 360 three years ago, more than $1 billion has been spent on Xbox LIVE. This amazing growth was fueled by the launch of the New Xbox Experience1; the broadest selection of hit games, TV shows, and movies available; and mass-market price points, starting at $199.

Xbox 360 is experiencing record-setting sales around the globe, particularly in Japan and Europe, nearly doubling market share in these key territories. In Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) specifically, Xbox 360 has now sold more than 8 million units, extending its lead over the PS3 by more than 1 million units.

“For Xbox, 2008 will be remembered around the world as a pivotal growth year at retail and online — even in the face of tough economic conditions,” said Don Mattrick, senior vice president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. “Worldwide, a record number of players flocked to our broadest games and entertainment lineup ever, while the New Xbox Experience thrilled millions of fans by making our console even more engaging. And yet, we’ve only provided a glimpse into the new world of interactive entertainment that we’re imagining. The best of Xbox 360 is yet to come.”

One of the biggest trends in 2008 was consumers taking advantage of the convenience and value with digital distribution of games and entertainment content. One of the most popular offerings this holiday was Netflix on Xbox 360, which as a Netflix member provides users with access to unlimited viewing of more than 12,000 movies and TV shows in DVD quality as well as many in high definition. 2 In addition, Xbox LIVE is home to the largest library of downloadable games, game add-ons, movies and TV shows.

Read Full Press Release

Posted by chrisl | 1 comment(s)

Toshiba Introduces Network Devices Designed for The Connected Home, Including Extenders.

New TV, LCD TV/DVD Combo and Standalone Player Utilize Widget Channel, Developed by Intel® and Yahoo!®, and Microsoft’s Windows Extender for Media Center Platform to Deliver an Exciting Content Solution for the Home

CES, LAS VEGAS – January 7, 2009 – Toshiba America Consumer Products, L.L.C. (“Toshiba”), announced its new audio/video (A/V) devices with Network Player capabilities, which deliver on the promise of digital convergence in the home. Toshiba is launching this initiative across three product categories – REGZA® LCD TVs, LCD TV/DVD Combos and standalone players – in an effort to meet individual consumer needs.

Toshiba’s new A/V devices offer consumers access to a diverse range of rich content over the Internet. With an extensive library of TV shows and movies, music, sports, and information services such as stock prices and weather forecasts at their fingertips, consumers will be provided with greater flexibility to easily customize and enhance their entertainment experience.

“Toshiba took the initiative to bridge the ways consumers normally access Internet content and entertainment media with the introduction of network devices that will bring the Internet experience to consumer electronic products in the home,” said Yoshi Uchiyama, Senior Vice President, Corporate Planning. “According to a recent study conducted by NPD for Toshiba, a large majority of consumers cite simplicity as the essential issue for adoption of Internet content. Therefore, key to Toshiba’s home network strategy is a focus on simplicity – making it simple to connect, simple to operate and simple to access content. The new line of Toshiba AV devices with Network Players will open up an entire new world of content delivery in a way that consumers will like.”

Getting Connected
Toshiba’s A/V devices with network player capabilities use a combination of two core components, including the Widget Channel, developed by Intel and Yahoo! and Microsoft’s Extender for Windows Media Center.

While consumers may be familiar with widgets from the PC world, TV Widgets, enabled by the Widget Channel framework, now take that simple to use “dashboard” experience and place it
into the TV allowing consumers direct access to numerous sources of content simply via their remote control. While some TV Widgets may be pre-installed, consumers now also have the
flexibility to customize their experience by adding widgets of their own selection based on their interests or needs. TV Widgets will feature a rich array of content and as more TV Widgets become available, consumers can add them to the Network Players to enhance their assortment.

By integrating Extenders for Windows Media Center in Toshiba’s new A/V products with Network Player capabilities, the devices will act as “hubs” for delivery of content anywhere in the home. Using a home network, Extender for Windows Media Center technology allows users to access a wide range of digital content from Windows Media Center on the PC to their big screen TV. Windows Media Center also delivers an extensive amount of Internet TV and movie content, live and recorded TV with the addition of a TV tuner, plus photos, music, home videos and more.

The combination of the two software platforms in one hardware device will deliver on the promise of the new digital lifestyle.

Toshiba will approach the market by offering several choices from which consumers can select the product that best fits their particular needs.

The Network Player capabilities described above are scheduled to be built into certain models of Toshiba’s REGZA LCD TVs. This will provide consumers with easy access to the rich media experience without the need for an external set top box or device.

As the market leader in the LCD TV/DVD Combo category, Toshiba will also integrate the Network Player capability to offer flexibility and simplicity for consumers whether they choose to use it as a primary TV in the home or in the bedroom, kitchen or children’s room.

Toshiba will also develop a standalone player, which acts as a hub for content delivery into the entertainment space. The new player can deliver content directly from the Internet, content from
the PC with Extenders for Windows Media Center or from its built in DVD player with 1080p upconversion. With an SD card slot and USB port for added flexibility, the device allows consumers to access their entertainment content in any room of the house and all at a value that consumers have come to expect.

Toshiba’s A/V devices with Network Player capabilities will feature picture quality enhancement technologies, allowing viewers to enjoy a wide range of content upconverted to near HD quality.
The new models are planned to ship in the second half of 2009, and product pricing and availability will be announced later this year.

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