Windows XP SP3 released to manufacturers

via Download Squad by Brad Linder on 4/21/08

Windows XP SP3

Microsoft has released Windows XP SP3 to manufacturers, which means it should start making its way to OEM and enterprise customers. What that means for you the consumer is that pretty soon you’ll be able to purchase computers running Windows XP SP3 instead of SP2. That is, if Microsoft lets companies continue selling machines running Windows XP after the original June cutoff date.

As expected
, the final version of Windows XP SP3 will also be available to existing customers through Windows Update on April 29th. The company will also update all of its Windows XP online documentation at that point.

If you can’t wait that long, you can go ahead and download the latest release candidate of SP3, which has been available for almost a month now. We’ve been running it for a while now and it seems pretty stable.

[via ZDNet]

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PlayStation 3 May Launch Video Download Service at E3 2008

via Gizmodo by Jason Chen on 4/21/08

The LA Times and “studio executives familiar with the plan” are predicting a summer 2008 launch for the PlayStation 3’s video download service. Whether this service is a rental scheme—like iTunes or Xbox Live Marketplace—or a download scheme where you get to keep your videos and transfer them to the PSP, is uncertain.

What we do know is that Sony’s been hinting at doing video since they unveiled Home back at GDC 2007, but also doing some fancy things like putting video in public places or doing some interesting social networking type thing within Home for video. What we wouldn’t give to be able to watch a video with our buddies, online, and have a group chat with our Home avatars.

[LA Times via Game Pro]

Softbank powers up Internet Machine phone on the back of Brad Pitt

via DVICE by Adario Strange on 4/15/08

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Although not as cosmetically sexy as its cousin, the Fullface, the Softbank Internet Machine 922SH is extremely hard to resist for a number of reasons, and makes waiting for the iPhone to hit Japan begin to seem silly. Simply put, this is one device that actually lives up to its name. As a 3G cell phone, the Internet Machine offers the standard set of Japan-centric features that take advantage of the high speed network such as fast Internet surfing, email, instant messaging, and a highly under-reported feature known as Video Call (yes, as in making video phone calls).

The device also includes 1Seg television broadcasts on a beautiful 3.5-inch screen, Bluetooth, a QR bar code reader, a media player and a microSD memory card port. Although it doesn’t go the touch screen route, the QWERTY keyboard is large enough and comfortable enough to seed some doubt about whether or not touch screens will indeed displace the keyboard. All this and the device even has an incredible commercial starring Brad Pitt texting away as cars fly over his head. This sweet gadget is only available in Japan, but you can check out Brad caressing its keys lovingly here.

Via Softbank

Kid Breaks Vacuum to Play Xbox Instead of Doing Chores; Mom Sells Xbox, Pranks His MySpace

A 13-year-old kid in Virginia has backtalked to his mom for the last time. When he was told to do his chores instead of play Xbox 360, he went and intentionally broke the vacuum cleaner to get out of it. What’d his mom do? Well, she’s selling his Xbox and all his games on eBay. And that was before she found out he was surfing porn sites by checking out his browser’s cookies.

We asked Beth, his mom, what happened, exactly, and here’s what she had to say about what went down.

My 13 year old managed to break the vacuum….thinking it would release him from that duty. He also has a list of other chores that were TYPED up for him to do Friday afternoon….one thing on the list was done…mind you these are simple things…empty the trash, clean your room, etc. Then I go thru the cookies on his computer and find out he has been checking out porn sites. Now there is a password so he can’t even get on and his my-space page has a picture of snoopy on it now. Apparently I’m the meanest mom in the world, were his words.

I’m a single mom. I can’t let them walk over me or I might never get up.

Sorry kid, but we’ve gotta get behind your mom on this one. First of all, we’re guessing she bought you that Xbox, unless you’re the most enterprising 13-year-old ever, so you can deal with keeping your room tidy. Second of all, breaking the vacuum? That’s weak. The porn sites thing, well, you should have been more careful about it if you have a mom who knows her way around a computer enough to check out your cookies. As for the Snoopy pic on your MySpace… well, that’s pretty hilarious.

The score is now Beth – 1, her kid – 0. If you want to increase that score for Beth, go ahead and pick up a slightly used Xbox 360 for $250 and all of his games for $15 each, with bitterness from a 13-year-old coming along with them free of charge. [Craigslist]

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Is Vista dead in the water?

Analysts from Gartner said earlier this week that Windows is collapsing under its own weight. Talk in the blogosphere keeps pointing to a Windows 7 release date earlier than 2010. Is Vista already a lame duck?

ANALYSIS Certainly Microsoft wants to avoid another debacle on the scale of Windows Me, an operating system release that tilted more toward a mistake than an upgrade, and whose publicity turned into pushback from both customers and the press.

However, two analysts from Gartner certainly didn’t help Vista much with their comments earlier this week. At an Emerging Trends conference in Las Vegas, Michael Silver and Neil MacDonald argued that Microsoft is collapsing under its own weight, and that Windows has become monolithic.

Central to their point was the fact that Microsoft is leery to cut the cord, so to speak, on more than two decades of applications. Backwards compatibility remains something of an expectation with each new Windows release.

At the same time, this support for the past has gotten them into trouble. “Security should have been enough of a reason for Microsoft to stop bringing these applications forward,” Directions on Microsoft analyst Michael Cherry told BetaNews.

As MacDonald and Silver argued, the ballooning hardware requirements attached to Microsoft’s recent releases — especially Vista — have some of its clients wondering if it’s just more worthwhile to stick with their current setups and wait for the next version of Windows.

“I found [their analysis] very interesting,” Cherry said of the Gartner pair. “Look at all the hardware requirements [Microsoft] has gotten into.”

The reasoning behind the leeriness over Vista in the enterprise is this: Evidence suggests that Windows 7 would be more modular, and as a result, a lot less hardware requirement-heavy.

Many groups — Gartner included — have now seemingly begun to advise clients that a Vista could be more than just a software upgrade: It could mean these folks could be buying new hardware too.

While this is certainly something the computer manufacturers would not mind at all, it’s a sticking point for corporations. Faced with buying new machines, they would much rather just stick with XP, which for many is working out just fine.

Thus, in the case of Gartner — which, by the way, had been urging its clients to upgrade as soon as possible after Vista launched in 2007 — movement to Vista is now only being suggested as old and dying computers are being phased out. Only then, the firm believes, should Vista be introduced.

Could this movement of both sentiment and support away from Vista be the catalyst for recent suggestions that Windows 7 should launch sooner than the oft-publicized early 2010 target date?

It could be the most logical reason suggested thus far. Microsoft’s customers appear ready to pass over Vista, and the company could be taking notice. If it cannot get its customers to bite on the latest Windows release, maybe it can on the next.

Blogger and Microsoft pundit Mary Jo Foley has suggested that the renewed Windows 7 speculation may be more due to a desire by computer manufacturers to have new software, and the new marketing support that comes with it, ready for the generally lucrative holiday shopping season. But a still more higher-level reason could be at work.

Cherry disagrees with the whole premise of “promising” releases by a certain date, saying it only leads to trouble. “Microsoft shouldn’t be promising when it will be done,” he told BetaNews. Such promises have already gotten the company into trouble with Vista at the very beginning, he said, as it was more than two years past its initial promised date.

Plus, he said, since Vista was billed as a major release, Microsoft shouldn’t be following it up with another major release so soon. “A major/minor release pattern is good,” he added.

Gartner seems to be suggesting such a resolution to Microsoft’s conundrum. It calls for radical change, something consultant Stowe Boyd of /Message seems to agree with. Boyd doesn’t hold much hope for it, however.

“I just doubt that Microsoft has the resolve to build a new OS, breaking the tie to Windows, which is really what is needed,” Boyd told us. “In the meantime, anticipate an increasing defection to Mac OS X and Linux.”

The question still remains, is Vista really collapsing? Perhaps not. It could be argued that Microsoft has just failed to develop the OS’ value proposition enough. With the early problems, such as a definitive lack of supporting drivers and its technical difficulties early on — not to mention the whole “Vista Capable” debacle — that job has been made much harder.

Some will argue that the security enhancements included within Vista are reason enough to make the jump. Several have argued that these enhancements resolve one of the key problems within Windows overall in recent memory: its seemingly neverending list of security problems.

In fact, Cherry told BetaNews that when he first started urging his clients to upgrade, User Account Control (although annoying at times) was a major factor. Not allowing everything to run under administrative privileges closes a great deal of those holes.

He still stands by his support, even though like Gartner, he is also now advising a hardware upgrade path to Vista adoption.

But some of these much needed changes have come at a cost. While the marketing of Vista calls it “agile,” most likely many don’t perceive it as such when a UAC dialog seems to appear on their screen every few minutes.

It is with Windows’ treatment of the “standard user” with UAC that Microsoft may need to improve most for Windows 7. Take out these perceived shortcomings, and things could get back on track.

“I don’t envision Windows 7 is going to be drastic,” Cherry said. “Although the first clue as to whether it will be a major release is PDC.”

Cherry’s referring to the company’s next Professional Developer’s Conference, currently scheduled for late October. Quite possibly at that point we will find out what Redmond’s next steps will be, and whether Vista is indeed the lame duck that some have made it out to be.

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21st Century Car Dice Toys Go All-Glowing, Abandon Fluffiness

via Gizmodo by Kit Eaton on 4/11/08

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I’m in conflict over this new “pimp your ride” car toy. Firstly, the old-fashioned fluffy rear-view mirror dice were never cool, unless they were an ironic statement. And secondly, I kinda liked them anyway. This 21st Century version, the “Rainbow Dice-Shaped Lamp”, is just one die and, sure, it glows in seven colors fantastically when plugged into the cigarette-lighter socket. But where’s the fluffiness? Where’s the retro-chic? Humph. If your sense of style isn’t offended, it’s available for $19.

[Gadget4All via Pocket-lint]

Even Gigantic Celestial Bodies Prefer Firefox to IE

via Gizmodo by Adam Frucci on 4/11/08

Apparently there are nerds in space, too. This was spotted in variable star V838 Monocerotis of the constellation Monoceros and, holy moley, it looks like the Firefox logo! Whatever. I’ll be impressed when we see a celestial body that looks like an iPod.

[EE Times via CrunchGear via New Launches]