Marketing campaign for Vista high-steps it in New York

update NEW YORK–Microsoft wrapped up development of Windows Vista three months ago, but the company’s marketing machine is just kicking into high gear.

The company began two days of events with an aerial dance performance in Manhattan’s West Chelsea neighborhood, a district once known for industrial warehouses but now more notable for its avant-garde art galleries. But the wind chill made conditions notably uncomfortable.

Aerial dancers

“Frostbite sure is an occupational hazard today,” said a camera operator who was part of the sizeable audience of press, guests and Vista beta testers who braved the cold to watch the human billboard. Sixteen aerial dancers clad in colorful spandex bodysuits dangled from bungee cords to form the Vista and Office 2007 logos on the side of the Terminal Building.

With more than five years having elapsed since Windows XP was released, Microsoft is pulling out all the stops for Vista, which goes on sale to consumers at midnight, along with Office 2007. (Both products were released for large businesses in November.)

The festivities moved indoors for a midday lunch at the trendy Cipriani restaurant, where Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer toasted the launch along with executives from some of the largest hardware companies.

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Ballmer said he expects initial sales of Vista to be five times what they were with Windows 95. “We’ll probably go double what we did with XP,” he said.

Dell CEO Kevin Rollins said his company saw a 20 percent increase in traffic to its Web site this past weekend, as it started taking orders for Vista-based systems. “We sold tens of thousands of copies (of Vista) this first weekend,” Rollins said.

Later, Ballmer and Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates hosted a party in Times Square to celebrate the release, inviting beta testers from the greater New York area to join in the festivities.

“Five million people helped guide us and tell us it was ready to go. This is our chance to thank them,” Gates told CNET in interview Monday.

Onstage, Gates noted that it was in New York in 1983 that the company committed to Windows and the graphical user interface.

The machines could barely keep up (with) displaying the text,” he said. “Windows could barely fit in memory.”

But Microsoft was convinced that Windows would open plenty of doors. “That was our bet, that not only could we do fantastic things with Windows but it would become the platform that the software industry would build on.”

Gates returned to the United States from Europe long enough to do a spate of interviews, including the Today Show and The Daily Show, before heading back to the United Kingdom, where he will attend a London event and the company’s Government Leaders Forum in Scotland.

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Synchronized LED Light Show For Audio Players


Vivify your Saturday night recreational drug use parties with LEDs and (pirated) MP3s. Once connected to an external audio source, Hammacher Schlemmer’s Dancing Light MP3 Synchronizer puts on a light show rivaled only by Gatecrasher. The cylinder spins ’round and ’round, beaming onto a nearby wall or ceiling spectacular patterns and colors, all in sync with whatever music you choose to groove to. Glowsticks and sugar cubes not included.

Dancing Light MP3 Synchronizer
[Hammacher Schlemmer via I4U News]

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Hands-On: Sony PS3 Bluetooth Remote for EZ Blu-raying


Sony’s Bluetooth PS3 remote came in the mail and we just put it through its paces. Oh yes, clicking on every button. We were totally thorough! It’s in the wild, but having it in my hands, I’m surprised at how useful it is compared to the wireless SIXAXIS controller during movie watching. IMO, it’s worth the $25 or so Sony will squeeze from your wallet. Here are my notes:

•What makes it useful are the dedicated buttons for playback, slow motion, scanning, and track control; there are also dedicated controls for changing angle, audio tracks, subtitles, and pulling up in movie menus. That’s really annoying stuff if you’re trying to do it on the SIXAXIS.

•Forget about using a universal remote with the PS3. It doesn’t have an IR port. This is your only choice.

The gallery has complete and detailed shots of the button layouts, with accompanying notes.
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• No backlight. Boo.

• Range is good enough to go through two walls, to the PS3, about 30 feet away. Could be further, but what’s the point if the TV isn’t near you?

• Full on PS3 Controller buttons, with exception to the analog sticks, and variable pull on the triggers. It’s something, even if not useful for playing games.

• The remote shows up in a Bluetooth device search by PCs, but can’t pair.

• Seems to be omnidirectional. Signal range seemed to be the same in all directions.

• To pair it to the PS3, you hit select and enter keys for 5 seconds.

PS3 Remote [Gizmodo]

Moore’s Law Rescuscitated by New Intel Chip Tech


Intel and IBM have independently developed new ways to make transistors, keeping Moore’s Law going for at least two more generations of chips—down to 22 nm. Both methods involve new insulators made out of hafnium, which can be made thicker to reduce current leakage without reducing the electric charge.

If you want to skip to why you should care, basically it means faster chips that run cooler and consume less power. (Think more cores—lots of ’em—and mobile devices.) It also means that Intel maintains a nine-month lead over everybody else, with their chips made with the new tech dropping later this year, while IBM’s don’t roll out til ’08.

P.S. Neither article is written very clearly, so I recommend reading both of them.

Intel Says Chips Will Run Faster, Using Less Power [NYT]
Moore’s Law seen extended in chip breakthrough [Reuters]

If seeing chip factories from the inside is your thing, Robby Scoble’s got some videos here.

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The Melted G4 Powerbook: Part 3


Once was a stretch. Twice was a coincidence. Three times? It’s an epidemic. Reader Angus apparently had the same (melted) problems as our other two readers.

Yes, his Powerbook Titanium G4 also melted the plastic keyboard and the screen. After much haggling, he got the keyboard and screen replaced, but not the laptop itself. Catch Angus’s story after the jump—though if he sent it to us five years ago, we might have been able to help him get a new laptop.


It happened to me too !

About 5 years ago, after saving for ages I bought my very first MAC, a brand spanking new $3500 Powerbook Titanium G4. I closed the screen one night after a long session with my new supergadget, woke up in the morning to find my MAC so hot I could not even touch it, I carefully open the screen with a pair of wooden chopsticks to find the screen warped and the keys melted, amazingly it still worked.

I tried to get it replaced as it was only a few weeks old but TEKSERVE in New York refused, they acted very suspicious and said they had never heard of this happening. After much emailing they only replaced the plastic keyboard and left the warped and damaged screen.

I again sent it back to tekserve pleading for a replacement as there could be “unseen damage” after another week they replaced the screen but refused to replace the MAC for a new one as they had “never seen this happen before” I was forced to settle for the “repairs” and was made to feel “lucky” that they replaced anything at all.

For the last 5 years I had never heard of it happening to anyone else untill seeing your recent article on 25th Jan. Ironically my crippled beloved MAC finally died last week after a short 5year life of illness,crashing and freezing,

Apple did a good job of keeping this one quiet. It could have easily started a fire in my apartment, the problem definately is more widespread than I could ever have imagined.

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NYC Apple Store Scrapped: Area Too "Middle America"


Not quite feeling the “middle-America” vibe on 34 St. in midtown Manhattan, Apple has pulled out of space it leased for a new Apple Shrine Store. The four-story digs would have covered 30,000 square feet at $5.5 million a year.

I can’t say I blame them—that area is kind of “bleh” and doesn’t really fit Apple like the Soho or Fifth Ave. stores do. And I mean how do you top a giant glass cube with a glowing, beckoning fruit that’s open for worship 24/7? That said, let the accusations of Apple elitism and class war begin!

Apple And Home Depot Pull Plug On NYC Plans [Forbes]

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Sony Doesn’t Solve PS3 1080i Scaling Problem, But Makes a Lame Attempt


Someday the PlayStation 3 will be able to upscale native 720p games to 1080i for those whose sets don’t support 720p, and it looks like the latest SDK almost solves the problem. Game developers for the PS3 will now be able to access a hardware scaler to allow 720p games to automatically scale to 1080i, but the frustrating part is that it’s only limited to horizontal scaling.

Well, at least it’s halfway there. So the early adopters who bought HDTV sets that can only crank out 1080i are still out of luck. Sigh. You can always tell the pioneers: they’re the ones with the arrows in their backs. But this is lame. Why couldn’t Sony have solved this scaling problem before launch?

Ripping off the veil: The mysterious PS3 hardware scaler exposed [Beyond 3D, via Daily Tech]

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Nintendo Wii Modchip Due February 1


The console scene group Ninja plans to release the Wiinja, the world’s first Nintendo Wii modchip, by February 1. With the chip installed, which only requires you to solder five wires, you’ll be able to play backup copies of Wii games on your console. (Downloadable Wii ISOs already litter the Internet.) One reason why we believe that this could be the Real Deal is that Ninja already makes shady accessories for the Nintendo DS.

Should the Wiinja actually come out, it’d make the Wii the second of the three next-gen systems able to play backup games, after the Xbox 360. We eagerly await a review unit. For purely fair use backup purposes, of course.

Wiinja [Ninja via CrunchGear via The Inquirer]

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No Clean Installs With Upgrade Versions of Vista


Planning on formatting your hard drive to lay down a nice, clean install of Vista Ultimate Home Premium where you had XP? Well then you had better plan on spending $80 more than you originally intended. It turns out that upgrade versions of Vista won’t accept your old XP CD as proof that you really are just upgrading—you actually have to install Vista on top of XP. This annoys the hell out of me because clean installs simply make for better performing machines. Why is Microsoft making our lives difficult?

Ken Fisher at Ars thinks Microsoft is trying to prevent users from using the same copy of Vista on successive computers over the next (probably) several years. In other words, every time you build a new computer, rather than moving Vista over from your old machine, they want you to buy a new copy.

Microsoft hinted at this late last year with the licensing scheme they initially unveiled. Of course, it was so blatantly restrictive, the backlash on the net was deafening, and Microsoft quickly reneged, seemingly back to a more traditional Windows licensing setup. Since this setup more or less repeats the effects of the recanted scheme, it’s possible we’ll see a similar uproar over the next week.

Vista “upgrade” drops compliance checking, requires old OS to install [Ars Technica]

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