Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Ozzie Reveals Azure, Microsoft's Development Cloud

Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie Monday revealed Windows Azure, Microsoft's cloud-computing platform that allows developers to build and host their services on Microsoft infrastructure.

Windows Azure, a "services-based operating environment," competes with Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) as a scalable hosting environment on which developers can build and host their applications, Ozzie said in his keynote at the Professional Developers Conference (PDC), which kicked off Monday in Los Angeles.

Microsoft is releasing a Community Technology Preview (CTP) of Windows Azure in the U.S. at PDC, and eventually will host the service in global data centers.

The announcement of Windows Azure was expected, as Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in a public appearance earlier this month that Microsoft was readying a Windows cloud offering it would reveal in only a few weeks.

Ozzie said a team of Microsoft developers led by Amitabh Srivastava, vice president of Windows Azure team, had begun working on Azure just before Amazon unveiled EC2. He said he tipped his hat to Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos and the Amazon team for bringing its offering to market before Microsoft.

"All of us are going to be standing on their shoulders" as the technology industry transitions from offering and using traditional software run in enterprise IT networks to running more applications on the Internet via cloud-computing environments hosted by large vendors, Ozzie said.

However, he noted that Microsoft had "somewhat broader and different objectives" than Amazon in developing Azure, since unlike Amazon, it has the responsibility to support a vast global network of software developers and applications already built on its infrastructure software.

Ozzie dipped into the past to show how cloud computing has evolved beyond the virtualization and utility models that have been present in corporate IT systems for 30 years or more and were pioneered by his former company, IBM.

Previously, companies developed these networks for their own employees and didn't expect to be serving customers and partners outside the firewall, he said. But "things are materially different when building systems to serve the world of the Web than it is ... serving those that live in the company's four walls," Ozzie said.

Developers can use Microsoft's familiar .NET tools to build applications on Windows Azure and Microsoft used those tools to develop the environment, said Srivastava, who took the stage Monday after Ozzie to describe Azure in more detail. Eventually, Microsoft also will host all of its own Web-based services on Azure, he said.

Key to Azure is a Fabric Controller that "manages the lifecycle of the services" that developers build, Srivastava said.

The Fabric Controller "views all of the data center as fabric of shared hardware resources that can be managed and shared with all the services there," he said. This enables Azure to update developer's applications automatically, sparing them the hassle of updating those applications across individual PCs across the enterprise, Srivastava said.

Windows Azure also separates applications from the OS layer using Microsoft's virtualization technology, which also eliminates the need for updating desktop PCs when updating applications. This has long been a sore spot for corporate IT teams and has been seen as a stumbling block for enterprises to update to the latest version of the Windows client OS, Windows Vista.
Ozzie did not say when Windows Azure would be generally available, but said Microsoft will be discussing the platform in more detail in the next several days at the show.

Cox Cable Plans Cell Phone Service

Triple play packages of cable, internet, and land-line phones are standard fare for any cable company, but Cox is looking to shake things up. The company will add cell phone service, too -- making its offering a quadruple play.
Cox is working on building its own network for cell phone usage, but initially the network will be based off of a partnership with Sprint. That means that Cox customers will have access to Sprint's 3G network. The USA Today report also indicates that Cox is also testing 4G network technologies, although there is no word on whether 4G will be ready for the 2009 launch of Cox's cell phone services.
On the side of convenience, this is a huge plus. Having all of your services on one bill makes things much easier to manage. There's also the fact that Cox is planning for features such as using your cell phone to program your DVR while you are away, which would be incredibly helpful. Still, there are some possible problems with having all of your services on one bill. The more services that are on a single bill, the easier it is for a company to sneak in hidden charges. I've already seen enough hidden charges snuck onto my own cell phone bills, and it would be even harder to catch them if that same bill also had cable, internet, and land-line charges attached to it.
Having all of your services come from a single company is a huge convenience, but convenience usually comes at a cost. And so far we don't know what that cost will be.

Reference : http://www.pcworld.com/article/152915/cox_cell_service.html?tk=rss_news

Rogers says quarter million iPhones sold in Canada

Rogers Wireless, Apple's exclusive iPhone provider in Canada, said Tuesday that September quarter sales of the touchscreen handset totaled more than a quarter million units, boosting both its subscriber count and average user revenue.

Electronista reports the telecoms company sold and activated a total of 255,000 iPhone 3Gs between the device's July 11th launch and the end of September, helping the carrier grow its net subscriber additions to 191,000 while increasing average income per user "considerably above" the previous levels thanks to added data fees.The sheer number of iPhone subscribers put a strain on Rogers through subsidies but should result in "considerable returns" over the length of the three-year contracts, the company says, courtesy of both higher monthly plans as well as reduced turnover from customers remaining loyal to have access to the device.
Rogers' iPhone deal is also expected to have a significant impact on rivals, none of which run GSM-based networks compatible with the iPhone. The carrier said about a third of its customers are either converting from a competing provider or are new to cellphone service.Desjardins Securities analyst Joseph MacKay believes the iPhone's affect on Rogers' rivals will become clearer in their financial disclosures later this week. He anticipates that Bell Canada's subscriber adds will fall from 137,000 in the spring to 85,000 in the summer as a result of potential customers either staying with or switching to Rogers. Telus is expected to fare better but should still see a decline of eight percent year over year to 125,000 new customers in the period.

New Customer Relationship Management software made for Mac

Ntractive on Tuesday announced the launch of Elements SBM 1.0, a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software package for Mac OS X. It costs $69.95 per user per month.

Elements SBM is aimed at small to medium sized enterprises who need CRM, project management, personal information management, inventory management and document management. The software is based on Apple’s WebKit technology — it’s a hybrid Web application that runs on your Mac’s desktop, integrating with the Ntractive Web data center. By keeping the data centralized, Ntractive says that Elements SBM users can rest assured that servers and data storage are backed up continuously.
Elements SBM supports integration with third-party software tools using AppleScript and other technologies. Support includes MYOB’s AccountEdge business accounting software package.
System requirements call for Mac OS X 10.4.11 or later, an active Internet connection, and 1024 x 768 or greater resolution.

Reference : http://www.macworld.com/article/136405/2008/10/elements.html?lsrc=rss_main

Dell Refreshes Optiplex Line, Offers Atom-based Thin Client

Dell planned to refresh its line of Optiplex desktops on Tuesday with 10 new models, including a thin-client computer based on Intel's Atom processor. The company will also expand the availability of its Flexible Computing and Managed Desktop services, now available in the U.S., to customers in other markets.
Dell's latest products arrive at a difficult time, with markets roiled by fears of a global recession and companies cutting back on expenses in the face of expected weaker demand. Dell isn't immune. The company warned last month that end-user demand had softened in the U.S., as well as in parts of Europe and Asia. But Dell said its latest products can help companies cut their IT costs -- provided companies are willing to invest capital in new computers.
"These machines do consume less power than what's out there in the infrastructure today. With depreciation cycles of four or five years, those aging desktop machines out there are costing customers more money," said Jeff Clarke, senior vice president of Dell's Business Product Group, in a phone interview.
The updated Optiplex range and the broader availability of Dell's Flexible Computing and Managed Desktop services reflects Dell's desire to offer its customers more than just hardware.
"It's a signal of where Dell is going, this notion of hardware, software and services integrated together to bring a solution to the market place," Clarke said.
The Atom-based Optiplex FX160 thin client is priced starting from US$399 and was designed to complement Dell services, like its On-Demand Desktop Streaming offering for customers.
The FX160 gives customers another option when deciding how they want to run their systems, Clarke said, adding that Dell has long sold third-party thin clients to its customers. "We really believe in flexibility and not coming in and saying that the only way to do it is have a virtual client, or the only way to do it is a thin client," he said.
The Atom's capabilities are well suited to a thin client, where the horsepower of Intel's mainstream processors aren't necessary. "The types of applications that are being deployed in call centers and point-of-sale locations are very single, or in some cases dual, application-based and the Atom processor has sufficient horsepower to do one or two applications in parallel," Clarke said.
Introduced in June, Atom has been a runaway success and Intel has worked hard to keep pace with fast-growing demand, leading some computer makers to grumble about product shortages. But Dell won't face that problem. "I won't have a supply issue," he said.
Besides the FX160, other models in the new desktop lineup include the Optiplex 960, 760 and 360. These systems will be available in a range of form factors and are priced starting from $863, $593 and $476, respectively.

Reference : http://www.pcworld.com/article/152910/.html?tk=rss_news

Gmail Gets Integrated Calendar and Docs

Ever want to have a quick glance at your calendar appointments while in Gmail? Users so far had to open separate tabs for access to their Google Calendar and Google Doc documents. But now there's an easier way. Google labs announced last night two gadgets that integrate with Gmail and allow users have a quick look at their Google calendar appointments and recently accessed documents right from within their Gmail inbox.
It's been a while now since many have asked publicly for this feature and Google finally complied. You can head over to Settings/Labs in Gmail and enable the two new features that will dock on the left side of your inbox. Using the other Labs features, you can reorder your gadgets and move some of them (chat, labels) on the right side, for a more comprehensive inbox.
The calendar gadget displays your latest entries in an agenda style while the documents gadget will show the latest used documents together with a search function. A third feature was also launched that allows you to add any other gadget by pasting the URL of the file. However, even the Google team admits that the third feature "isn't very user friendly right now," but hopefully we will see some improvements soon.
If you're concerned with security though, keep in mind that not all gadgets are fully compatible with https, so the ones connecting to Gmail via https might get mixed content warnings. The Labs team said that it is "working on fixing this."
Google Beefs Up Gmail
Google Labs has been at the forefront of innovation at Google lately, releasing a plethora of new features for Gmail's 100 plus million users over the past month. As a quick recap, we had emoticons, canned responses, contacts improvements, advanced IMAP controls and Mail Goggles, all in just one month.
Someone up there on the Google cloud must be watching which Labs features users activate for their Gmail accounts and tally up whether these new features will be part of a final Gmail version. However, while Gmail is still in a perpetual beta status, I wonder who has more input into shaping the future versions of Gmail: the personal user or the businesses that use Google Apps?

Reference : http://www.pcworld.com/article/152909/Google.html?tk=rss_news

Windows 7 Preview Video

a video on Windwos 7


Microsoft Unveils Windows Azure

Today, during a keynote speech at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference 2008 (PDC2008), Ray Ozzie, Microsoft Corp.’s chief software architect, announced Windows Azure, the cloud-based service foundation underlying its Azure Services Platform, and highlighted this platform’s role in delivering a software plus services approach to computing. The Azure Services Platform is an industry-leading move by Microsoft to help developers build the next generation of applications that will span from the cloud to the enterprise datacenter and deliver compelling new experiences across the PC, Web and phone.
Ozzie described how this platform combines cloud-based developer capabilities with storage, computational and networking infrastructure services, all hosted on servers operating within Microsoft’s global datacenter network. This provides developers with the ability to deploy applications in the cloud or on-premises and enables experiences across a broad range of business and consumer scenarios..................................Continue At Source
Azure Services Platform Web site
Introducing Windows Azure

Reference : http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2008/oct08/10-27PDCDay1PR.mspx

Microsoft Redefines the OS: Azure and Windows 7 Explained

Microsoft unleashed Windows 7 and a new 'cloud' operating system Windows Azure Monday. Here is what this news means to you.

Microsoft revealed a significant shift in its strategy Monday, introducing two new and drastically different Windows products at its annual Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles. First, there is Microsoft's cloud-based Windows system, Azure, which takes the focus away from the individual PC and has Microsoft customers relying more on Web services instead of desktop applications. Then, there is Vista's successor, Windows 7, which serves as Microsoft's next operating system (OS) -- but without the bulk.
Azure is being billed by Microsoft as a cloud operating system, or an OS that exists within a network framework. Developers will create services and applications based on the framework. Consumers will then use those applications in a hybrid desktop-online manner, similar to how Windows Live Services such as Windows Live Photo Gallery function now. For example, you can access and manage your photo library via either a Web browser or a Windows Live Photo Gallery - blurring the line between Web service and desktop application.
Then there is Windows 7, slated for release in 2010. It presents users with a leaner OS, pushing consumers to rely more on Windows Live Services such as Windows Mail or Movie Maker. Gone will be the plethora of built-in software applications, with programs instead being downloaded a' la carte as desired.
Windows 7 and Azure Herald Web-Centric Era
As Microsoft works to move into the more network-driven world of modern computing, the two new approaches raise questions over the future of the operating system. Are the days of the heavy duty, client-centric OS coming to an end?
Both Azure and Windows 7 bring users more to Microsoft's data centers and less to their own hard drives, though to varying degrees. The transition is not a surprising one, as competitors such as Google continue to make headway in the network-based business model. (Think Google Gears.)
"The Microsoft developments portend something that's been happening in the mobile computing world and in other parts of the IT world for quite a while," says Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-It. "Consumers of IT have become more and more disassociated from packaged software. So much of the way that people engage with information via the computer has to do with information sources and applications and applets that are really very amorphous."
Less Bloat, More Web
Still, for a company that last released an operating system bashed for its bulging nature, the products represent an undeniable 180 degree turn in tactic. The age-old idea of buying a computer full of applications will be replaced by a philosophy of: "You want it? Come and get it." In Azure's case, the online reliance will be absolute -- but even in the setting of Windows 7, which will still depend on a locally-based core, the level of Internet integration is a step away from the package-defined OS we've come to know.
"It's critical for vendors like Microsoft to be ready for that and to find a way that they can continue to play and be relevant," King says.
Simpler and More Reliable
So what will the less localized OS actually mean? Microsoft says the shift will bring about a "cleaner" system. In general, the trending toward Web-based applications could help cut down on the hassles surrounding updates and program maintenance.
"The evolution of the product becomes more seamless and doesn't require as much thought," King points out.
Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie suggested during Monday's keynote address that relying on Azure rather than a PC's OS would create a more stable platform. With Windows Azure, he says, there is no single point of failure -- so if one computer goes down, all the applications and data won't go with it.
Word of Caution
On the flipside, as more applications move toward the Web, the already swirling concerns regarding data use become more and more prevalent. You can access information from anywhere -- but so, in theory, can anyone else.
"As the online application world develops, we could see some interesting effects around security and privacy," King says. "How that all shakes out over time is going to be very interesting."
Ultimately, though, if developers do their jobs well, casual users may not even notice the difference.
"At the end of the day, consumers want the service, they want the application. Where it resides -- whether it resides on their individual client, or resides online, or resides on a server someplace -- doesn't really matter to them," King says.
Specific details about Windows 7 are expected to be revealed Tuesday. No release date or pricing information has yet been discussed for Azure.

Reference : http://www.pcworld.com/article/152899/Microsoft.html?tk=rss_news

Microsoft Surface in the Wild

Microsoft on Monday offered a software development kit for its tabletop computer to about 1,000 people at its Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles, opening the door to a variety of new applications for the table.
Most people I talked to at two Seattle hotels that have Surface computers would probably agree that's a good thing.
The first one I stopped in, Hotel 1000, had a sleepy lobby, where just one person sat quietly reading a book at 11:30 a.m. on Monday. When I sat down to play around with the Surface, a hotel employee wandered by to comment on how cool it is and to say that it has limited apps now but that should change. She said it is quite popular with guests and that she tries to stop by when she sees people using it to make sure they've got the hang of it.
The Surface at Hotel 1000 had similar apps to those at the bigger and busier Sheraton, which has two Surface computers in its lobby, where a steady stream of people sat down to check them out. All the Surface tables I saw had three main applications: one with maps and area attractions, a photo collection and a music program.
The last app was a bit odd given that both lobbies had music piped in over speakers; I felt bad for people sitting nearby me in the Sheraton when I played a Johnny Cash song in competition with the house music.
The photo collection was also pretty lame. At the Sheraton, it included photographs of Sheraton hotels around the world. At Hotel 1000, it had photos of Seattle sites.
While visitors I talked to at the Sheraton thought the maps looked great and were easy to navigate, one wondered why he couldn't actually search for directions to a place nearby that he wanted to visit. You can only locate destinations from a short list of restaurants and stores that are in a prepopulated list.
That made Sherry Russ, a visitor from Evansville, Indiana, suspicious that the stores and restaurants are in the lists because they have some sort of deal with the hotels.
Russ, who like the others said the Surface was pretty cool, also thought it odd that she could find a list of nearby movie theaters and directions there, but couldn't view a list of what's playing and when.
Initially, she expected the entertainment item within the maps and attractions application to include games or some other form of entertainment, not simply a list of a couple of museums and parks nearby. I overheard another woman say to her companion that it'd be great if she could play solitaire on the table.
One of the Surface tables I played with at the Sheraton seemed to be too sensitive. Sometimes when my fingers were still hovering over the tabletop, items on the screen would start to move. Other times, drag as I might, I couldn't get items to turn around so that I could read the text right side up. The other tables worked nicely and were fun to play with.
With Microsoft opening up the computers to more developers, more useful applications are likely to appear, although surely not by people who develop for fun. Developers at the PDC conference are being offered a package that includes a Surface, five licenses and developer support for the "discounted" price of US$13,500, Microsoft said.
In the meantime, Microsoft has already worked with a couple of design studios that have been developing some fun projects.
For example, designers at Vectorform have built a timely application: People can "carve" a jack-o'-lantern on the Surface by using their fingers to trace a design in an image of a pumpkin. Vectorform's development of a trivia game and the Chinese game Go should also please some of the people I talked to at the Sheraton. Designers are also working on a Flickr viewer so users can see their own photos.
In addition to Vectorform's apps, a couple of internal Microsoft developers are out to solve the tough problems with Surface.
"One of the most important questions in the hospitality industry is when to offer a refill," said Paul Dietz, a Microsoft research and development program manager, in a video describing SurfaceWare, an application he helped develop that could be used in bars and restaurants.
When a user sets her drink on the Surface, SurfaceWare detects how much liquid is in the glass. When there's just the right amount left -- not too much that an offer of a drink is annoying or too little so that the customer decides to stop drinking -- SurfaceWare sends an alert to a server.
The drinks-sensing application comes with a bit of a catch -- after buying the pricey Surface computer, a bar would have to buy new glasses. SurfaceWare works by shining an infrared light into the bottom of a glass that contains a prism that juts like a finger a couple inches up into the center of the glass. When liquid is covering the prism, most of the light escapes. When most of the liquid is gone from the glass and the top of the prism is in the air, it reflects the light, triggering the application to send an alert to the server.
Another application developed by Vectorform is being used on air in the MSNBC news room for election coverage. In a clip I saw, the news reporter interacted with a map of the U.S. on the Surface, and his actions were projected onto a screen behind him.
That clip wasn't nearly as entertaining as one that aired in a recent Saturday Night Live skit. Microsoft missed a potentially good marketing opportunity when SNL used a competitive product from Perceptive Pixel in a spoof news report. Perceptive Pixel makes large touch screens that have been used by CNN and some military customers. In the SNL skit, the news reporter changes the colors of states on a map and zooms into satellite-view maps of neighborhoods for no apparent purpose. He then drags Oregon off the map into the ocean, commenting: "It's going to be surrounded by water. That's very, very dangerous."
New applications for the Surface also might quiet some of the criticisms in a parody video on YouTube that features a sarcastic voiceover on stock video released by Microsoft about Surface. "One day, your computer will be a big-ass table with pictures of other people's kids all over it," the parody explains. It goes on to show someone looking at the map on the Surface and says: "Instead of using one of today's popular, more compact devices to get directions where you're going, why not use a device the size of a small car to do the same job?"

Reference : http://www.pcworld.com/article/152900/.html?tk=rss_news

Live Blog: Microsoft's Professional Developer Conference Keynote

The live blog of Microsoft's Professional Developer Conference keynote starts now:
10:16 PT Pricing will be based on resources and service level required. Ozzy says tomorrow will be devoted to experiences. Steven Sinofsky, one of the lead Windows 7 engineers, is scheduled to participate in that keynote.

That's it for today.
10:15 PT PDC Attendees will be the first with access to Azure starting at noon today, by signing up at Azure.com. The SDK and platform will be opened up over the next few weeks. "We're going to be intentionally progressive.. in how we roll this out." No charge during preview since it may ultimately be incompatible with final product."When it is released commercially, Windows Azure will have a very straightforward business model."

10:14 PT So we've tied together two online services to make things easy for both managers and customers (non-techies). Now Ray Ozzie is coming back to summarize today's news and talk about what's next for tomorrow. "An end to end view of software and services taking somewhat of an infrastructural perspective." Windows Azure: "a kind of service-based OS"

10:13 PT Now he's playing the role of a customer who gets to see a Web portal showing how the project is progressing -- how much money is being spent vs the budget. This is displayed via cute gauges created using Silverlight.

10:12 PT First he used it as a developer. Then as a manager, he sees different things, for example, timesheets. Now he's looking at a custom Word template for status report. He's able to grab data from the CRM app, put it into the template, and publish it to a SharePoint site.

10:11 PT Now he shows how if you're logged on to MS Active Directory, Federated Identity lets you connect to CRM Online without logging in. "It's so simple, even a vice president can do it." He's looking at Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, customized for the type of user.

10:09 PT Here's how the identity works: IT admin manages IDs in Active Director. But now a Microsoft Services Coordinator links the Active Directory IDs to the Microsoft Federation Gateway so users can seamless access online services. Now he's talking about extensibility and showing a chart of what the online versions of Exchange, SharePoint and MS Dynamics CRM can do as well as features you can have online as well as on premises.

10:05 PT Software plus Services offers power of choice. Enterprises need a hybrid. Some apps need support in cloud, some on premises. But this isn't always easy to do. Problems include what is being called a "Federated Identity" - have to be able to use your identity either on premises or in the cloud. Also extensibility must be considered. Here is how to solve those problems...

9:59 PT A new guy is up to talk about how Azure solves developer problems including need for collaboration, need to stay up to date, lower costs, need for security and availability. He explains: So Microsoft has created Online Services - today, Exchange, CRM, etc. In the future all of its enterprise software will be offered as online services. Benefits include: best experiences, faster time to market, business class security and reliability.

9:55 PT Now he's talking about the Oslo modeling platform which incorporates a new programming language called M (I'm not sure what he means by modeling to be honest). Engineering guy says this PDC reminds him of the one in 1992 when they introduced Windows NT - "The technologies being introduced here today will have the same impact.

9:50 PT So Microsoft envisions the On-Premises Platform (built on Windows Server and Microsoft System Center) integrating with the Azure Services Platform (Windows Azure).

9:48 PT Now talking about a piece of code named Atlanta. Windows System Center takes incoming data, puts it into a useful format for managers.. For example, now an MS engineer is running a SQL server query, taking results into a chart generated using Silverlight. Atlanta seeks to make generating reports easier for non programmers.

9:44 PT .. created by good ol' Contoso to implement a laptop battery recall. So he selects the product from a database and clicks a "Recall button" after filling in a reason. Then there's a management console where we can see all the partners getting the recall notification (and a list of who has the product). This makes scaling supply chain network easier.

9:40 PT Now we're seeing a guy from a company called Red Prairie who's talking about building a recall application. There's a .Net Services portal. They're showing access control rules (lets companies work with partners).

9:37 PT They're talking about all sorts of technologies to help developers migrate from existing server based development (on-premisis world) to the cloud. There's an Azure version of SQL server (it doesn't yet support everything SQL Server does today, but it will..)

9:32 PT They're just telling developers more about Windows Azure. Later today you can get the beta a m.bluehoo.com. Demos are of how it's easy to build apps using Azure and also make them easily accessible and scalable. The idea is that developers will I guess rent from MS, which could be cost effective for a small startup that can't afford big data centers.

9:18 PT Now we're seeing a social network app called BlueHoo that was built on Windows Azure. Go keynote.bluehoo.com.

8:07 PT Live Services will be of most interest to consumers. Now we're going to see some Windows Azure demos. Obviously this is a pretty developer oriented keynote. "Kernels don't demo well," a MS engineer just said that.

8:05 PT We're betting on Azure ourselves. Ozzie says, adding that MS will be building more and more of its own services via Azure. Examples include... Live Services, .Net Services, SQL Services, SharePoint Services, Microsoft Dynamis CRM Services.

8:00 PT Ozzie tips hat to Jeff Bezos and Amazon for their early work in this regard. New Cloud Computing platform is designed to be the bedrock for all computing. Announces new Windows Azure offering at the Web tier you might think of it as Windows in the Cloud. Lowest level foundation for building cloud computing services. Windows Azure is not software that you run on your own servers--it's running on a vast network of Microsoft servers. Being made available as a service.

8:56 PT 1st tier is personal (phones, desktops, laptops). 2nd tier is enterprise (client-server, system management, data centers) 3rd tier is Web tier (serving customers, prospects). This provides infinite capacity on demand anywhere on the globe.

8:54 PT Shared infrastructure needs to be globally accessible. Cloud computing solves a lot of problems relating to globalization - coping with variations in demand, need for lots of storage. Ozzie says, "A new tier in our industry's computing architecture."

8:50 PT In part because so much business has gone global

8:50 PT He's talking about cloud computing -- how is it different from what's come in the past

8:49 PT Problems range from individual user to the core Professional Developer Conference audience of developers and IT pros.

8:47 PT Ray Ozzie is talking about changes in the computing landscape. He's pacing the stage in a chorcoal suit and shirt.

Reference : http://www.pcworld.com/article/152862/Microsoft.html?tk=rss_news

Windows 7 Fuels War Against Google

With the first public alpha release of Windows 7 due Monday at the Microsoft PDC2008 conference, the outline of the new operating system is taking shape. What you won't see when that alpha comes out is the way that Microsoft will try to use Windows 7 as a Trojan horse in its war against Google.
Google's domination of the search market continues unabated, but Microsoft hasn't given up on it. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer recently said that his company is willing to lose "5% to 10% of total operating income for several years" to fund its ongoing attempt to make inroads into the search market. Much more than search is at stake. Google wants to replace Microsoft's desktop-based applications, such as Office, with its cloud-based applications, such as Google Docs.
So where does Windows 7 come in? What new features can Microsoft possibly introduce that will help it overtake Google in search and retain its domination of productivity software such as Office?
Microsoft's secret weapon in Windows 7 is not what features the operating system has, but instead what features it doesn't have. Microsoft is stripping Windows 7 of some of Windows' best built-in applications, and it's making them available only as downloads on its Windows Live site.
When Windows 7 comes out, it won't include Windows Mail, Windows Photo Gallery and Windows Movie Maker, which are some of Vista 's most useful applications. Windows Movie Maker is a surprisingly sophisticated piece of software for creating videos and DVDs, and it's worthy of being sold as stand-alone software. Windows Photo Gallery is a well-done, elegant way to manage digital photos. And Windows Mail is the successor to Outlook Express, with a very big installed base. Expect users to howl in protest when they find those applications gone, particularly Windows Mail.
To get them, users will have to visit the Microsoft Windows Live site, where the software can be downloaded for free. And, of course, there will be plenty of other Windows Live software they can download, as well as other Windows Live services they can use. It's a variation on the classic "loss leader" in retail, where you lure folks in with freebies and then pounce with a hard sell.
Microsoft claims that it is stripping the applications out of Windows 7 because it makes for a "cleaner" operating system. But there are plenty of useless applications it could strip out of Windows to no ill effect. The backup program in Vista, for example, is close to useless. And as for People Near Me or Windows Meeting Space -- do you use either of those programs? Do you know anyone who does? Those could easily go to make for a cleaner operating system. And while Microsoft is at it, it could get rid of User Account Control. I don't know anyone who would cry real tears if that one bit the dust.
I expect that there will be plenty of other hooks in Windows 7 to get people to go to Windows Live. And I don't expect all of those hooks to be consumer-oriented like Photo Gallery and Movie Maker. Don't be surprised if there are enterprise-related hooks as well.
All this may be clever marketing, but it won't work. Microsoft may be able to push users to Windows Live, but if it doesn't build better search and better services than Google, people will stay with Google.
If Microsoft wants to eat into Google's share of the search market, there's only one thing it can do: Build better search. If it wants to make sure that Google doesn't threaten its near-monopoly of productivity suites, it will need to make some version of Office available over the Internet.
The key to battling Google is building better software and services. Stripping useful applications out of Windows isn't the way to win the war.
Computerworld contributing editor and the author of more than 35 books, includingHow the Internet WorksandWindows Vista in a Nutshell. Contact him atpreston@gralla.com.

Reference : http://www.pcworld.com/article/152860/microsoft_windows_7.html?tk=rss_news

Vista SP2 Due in Beta Test This Week

Microsoft said Friday that it would deliver the beta of Windows Vista Service Pack 2 (SP2) this coming week to a limited number of testers. The company targeted SP2's ship date for the first half of 2009, well before the expected release of Windows 7, Vista's successor.
In postings to company blogs, several Microsoft executives announced that the Vista SP2 beta would be given out to a small number of testers in the Technology Adoption Program, a long-standing group of company partners and customers, on Oct. 29.
After Mike Nash, vice president of Windows product management, broke the news mid-day Friday, Celine Allee, a director in the Windows client IT team, followed with more information, including a tentative ship date.
"We anticipate broad availability for Windows Vista SP2 in the first half of 2009," Allee said.
A week ago, the Windows enthusiast site Neowin.net reported that testers had received invitations to join the beta program, while others speculated that Microsoft would deliver Vista SP2 before it shipped Windows 7.
Nash and Allee also said that Microsoft would produce a single service pack that would update both the client version, Vista, and the company's corresponding server software, Windows Server 2008. "Because we've adopted a single serviceability model, these improvements are integrated into a single service pack covering both Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008," said Nash.
They also confirmed the report by Neowin.net that SP2 will include Windows Search 4, Bluetooth 2.1 wireless support and support for Via Technologies Inc.'s 64-bit processor. Currently, Via is best known for its C7 chip, which powers some ultralight "netbook" laptops, including Hewlett-Packard Co.'s Mini-Note.
Windows Search 4.0 is the newest version of Microsoft's desktop search engine and was issued to current Vista users via Windows Update last July; Microsoft released Bluetooth 2.1 support for Vista last April as part of the Vista Feature Pack.
Other improvements slated for Vista SP2, said Allee, include faster resume from sleep when a wireless connection has been broken; enabling of the exFAT file system to support UTC timestamps; and support for Blu-ray.
Microsoft also said that Vista SP2 will require SP1 as a prerequisite. There will be no such requirement for Windows Server 2008 updates, since the server operating system has not had a separate SP1. Instead, Microsoft unveiled both Vista SP1 and Windows Server 2008 on the same day last February. In fact, Windows Server 2008 carried the "SP1" label in its version number from the start, one of the first clues that Microsoft was serious about keeping the two operating systems in sync.
Windows Server 2008 SP2 will include the final version of its Hyper-V virtualization technology, which it issued as a free download in June; and it will include modifications to its power profile that will yield a 10% improvement over the original edition of the OS.
A beta of Windows Server 2008 SP2 will also be seeded to testers on Wednesday.
Allee urged users not to wait for the next service pack, "You can, and should, continue your plans for adopting Windows Vista SP1, and roll SP2 into your deployment image when it becomes available," she said.

Reference : http://www.pcworld.com/article/152856/vista_sp2_beta_test.html?tk=rss_news

Toshiba's First Netbook Hits Japan, Overseas Sales to Follow

The first netbook-type portable computer from Toshiba hit store shelves in Japan over the weekend, ahead of its upcoming launch in Europe. U.S. sales are currently not planned for the machine.
Like many other netbooks the NB100 is based on a 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor and has an 8.9-inch display with 1,024 pixel by 600 pixel resolution (WSVGA). The machine measures 22.5 centimeters by 19.1cm by 3.3cm. It weighs just over 1 kilogram and battery life is 2.9 hours, according to Toshiba.
In Japan a single version is available, running Windows XP Home and with a 120G-byte hard-disk drive, wireless LAN and Bluetooth.
Store prices for the machine range from ¥63,800 to ¥69,800 (US$677 to $740), according to price comparison site Kakaku.com. At one Tokyo electronics store on Monday the machine was being offered for as low as ¥24,800 if customers signed up for cellular data service.
European models will be offered with up to 160G-byte hard-disk drives on Windows XP models. Versions based on Ubuntu Linux are also planned, although they'll have half the memory of the Windows versions and a maximum hard disk size of 120G-bytes. They also won't support Bluetooth.
Pricing for these overseas models and launch dates are yet to be announced by Toshiba. However, European online electronics stores are already listing variations of the computer at prices between €366 and €403 (US$461 and $508).

Reference : http://www.pcworld.com/article/152851/.html?tk=rss_news

Windows Server 2008 R2 Overview Feature Overview

This week at PDC 2008 in LA and next week at WinHEC 2008 Microsoft will announce details about the next release of Windows codename Windows Seven. In this article I will inform you about what is coming to Windows Seven Server, which will be released as Windows Server 2008 R2, this is the same release schedule as first used with Window Server 2003 (Major release, Minor Release). For this reason I still find it strange that Microsoft used "Seven" as a codename (for client even releasename). For both client and server this is a minor release or point release, the kernel version is 6.x and not 7.0. Ah well, marketing is not my thing I guess.
As stated by Bink.nu few years back already, this Windows release will be a 64 bit only version, a logical decision, since all server hardware for a few years now is 64 capable. (Maybe Windows Seven Client Starter Edition will still be 32 bit)
With the release of Windows Seven it is the second time that Microsoft will release both client and server at the same time, just like it happened when Windows 2000 was launched in January 2000.
Hyper-V 2.0
2008 R2 will include Hyper-V R2, it promises to deliver the final pieces for enterprise level OS virtualization (together with SCVMM2008) and to really compete with VMware at that level.
Live Migration
The most anticipated is of course Live Migration: moving running VM's from one host to another without interruption of services running inside the VM's
To accomplisch this technique a new shared filesytem is needed and so will also be introduced in Hyper-V 2.0: Clustered Shared Volumes.
The Live migration works best together with System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008, it can provide additional Live Migration management and orchestration scenarios such as Live Migration via policy.
Cool thing is you only need to update to Hyper-V 2.0, none of the rest of the infractructere needs updating.
Logical Processor Support
Support for 32 logical processors on host computer
Twice the initial supported number of logical processors of Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V
Hot add remove storage
Add and remove VHD and pass-through disks to a running VM without requiring a reboot.
Hot-add/remove disk only applies to VHDs and pass-through disks attached to the SCSI controller (not the IDE controller)
Hot-add remove of storage controllers is not supported
Enables storage growth in VMs without downtime
Enables additional datacenter backup scenarios
Second Level Translation (SLAT)
Leverage new processor features to improve performance and reduce load on Windows Hypervisor
AMD: Enhanced Page Tables
Intel: Nested Page Tables
Improved memory management performance
Memory usage of Windows Hypervisor will decrease from approximately 5% to 1% of total physical memory.
More memory will be available for child partitions enabling higher consolidation ratios
Dynamic Memory
Pool of memory is dynamically distributed across VMs
Memory is dynamically allocated/removed based VM usage with no service interruption
Enables much higher consolidation ratios per host by addressing the greatest limiting factor to consolidation: Memory
VM memory configuration includes:
Initial (what VM will boot with)
Minimum (what VM is guaranteed)
Maximum (what VM can grow to)
Memory is added via Hot-Add MEM functionality
Memory is removed via Balloon driver (supported OSs)
!!NOTE:The Dynamic Memory feature, will not be available as a part of the Beta for WS08 R2. Microsoft is still evaluating options to make this feature available as a part of RC/RTM of WS08 R2. So let's hope this won't be killed before release.
Boot from VHD
Allows any VHD to work on physical hardware, this is very interesting! Boot an OS VHD on your physical hardware
Terminal Services
Terminal services will get whole new Platform Improvements like a New API, Connection Broker Extensibility, Dynamic CPU Allocation, IP address virtualization, Best Practices Analyzer! and Full MSI support.
I will get more in to this at WinHEC.
New Management Features
The Server manager will able to remote manage servers! Also performance counter viewer in Server Manager. And best: The Best Practices Analyzer integrated into Server Manager.
Top server roles/tasks can be managed using remote & local PowerShell scripts, meaning virtually every AD, DNS, DHCP task can be done using Powershell 2.0 J
Easier migration of roles and core server settings from WS03/08/WS7 to Windows Server 2008 R2
Active Directory Domain Services: New console called Active Directory Administration Center, Powershell 2.0 based, AD recycle bin J, Offline Domain Join, managed service accounts and more.
PowerShell 2.0
PowerShell 2.0 includes the ability to extend PowerShell scripts functionality by using the following features:
New commandlets
A UI for powershell J
Create advanced functions. Advanced functions allow you to write wrappers around existing cmdlets. PowerShell 2.0 searches for functions first and then cmdlets. This allows advanced functions to take precedence over cmdlets.
Call .NET application programming interfaces (APIs). This feature allows you to extend your PowerShell with the features provided by any .NET API.
Improved script debugging. PowerShell 2.0 allows you to set breakpoints on lines, columns, functions, variables, and commands. You can also specify actions to run when the breakpoint is hit. The debugging environment supports stepping into, over, or out of functions. You can also get the call stack information (breakpoints)
Subscription-based interface to Windows Event System. This feature allows your PowerShell scripts to respond to specific events in event logs.
Write cmdlets in PowerShell script. This feature allows you to write cmdlets in PowerShell instead of compiled C# or VB.NET.
Script Internationalization. This new feature allows PowerShell script authors to write scripts that can be translated to any language supported by Windows.
Improved Portability of PowerShell Scripts and Cmdlets
Another area of improvement for PowerShell 2.0 is in the area of portability. The improved portability in PowerShell 2.0 allows you to easily move PowerShell scripts and cmdlets between computers.
The features that help improve the portability of PowerShell scripts and cmdlets include:
New module architecture. This architecture allows the packaging of cmdlets, which includes the definition and packaging of scripts. You can send these packaged modules to other administrators.
New method of storing configuration information. PowerShell version 1.0 some of the configuration was put in the registry. In PowerShell version 2.0 the configuration is stored in an .xml file . The .xml file allows the configuration information to be more easily moved from one computer to another.
Note: Although you must uninstall PowerShell 1.0 before installing PowerShell 2.0, the registry settings are automatically migrated to the .xml file.
2008 R2 Power Management
Reduce power consumption by using only the power needed to drive a workload
Reduced multi-core processor power consumption
Core parking J
Centralized control of active power policies, to enable servers to "throttle-down" during off hours by using DMTF-compliant remote management interfaces
SANs connected to Windows Server will be able to opt-in to go into a lower power state when they're not being fully utilizedUPDATE: The latest customer feedback to the development team indicated that this capability is a much lower priority than other new features planned for Windows Server 2008 R2. So with that feedback in mind, Microsoft has made a decision to focus its development resources on other top features, and SAN power management will not be included in R2. Microsoft has not yet made a determination if or how this capability will be included in a future release.
New Logo Program with specially for Power AQ
Direct Access
Direct Access allows access to resources on Corporate network without the need to establish a VPN connection, invisible to end users.
This feature was originally announced as part of R2 of Server 2003, implemented the same way as Outlook Anywhere does (RPC over HTTPS), but now it is implemented using the latest technologies: SSTP, IPSec and IPv6.
Branchoffice Cache
Branchoffice Cache, caches http & SMB downloaded by users in the branch, users can quickly open files stored in the cache which frees up network bandwidth for other uses.
Server Core
.NET for Core installation! Yes Microsoft componentized .NET framework the same way as they did with VISTA/2008 OS components. So now it is possible to install .NET Framework on Core with all the benefits that come with it, like asp.net websites! And PowerShell 2.0 J!!
More to come this week on Bink.nu.

Reference : http://bink.nu/news/windows-server-2008-r2-overview-feature-overview.aspx

Microsoft to Extend Office to the Browser

&A: Microsoft Senior Vice President Chris Capossela discusses how extending Office applications to the browser will increase choice and flexibility for customers.

At the Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles, where the announcement was made, PressPass spoke with Chris Capossela, Senior Vice President, Microsoft Business Division. We asked him how Office Web applications complement Office, and what this will mean for people who use Office applications.
PressPass: What are you announcing today?
Capossela: As part of the next release of Office, we’re announcing that Microsoft will deliver Office Web applications - lightweight versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote - through a browser. With these new applications, people can use a browser to create, edit, and collaborate on Office documents. What’s great is that this provides a consistent Office experience when and where our customers want it, regardless of whether they are accessing their Office documents through the PC, phone, or browser.
PressPass: What does this announcement mean for Microsoft?
Capossela: We are on a path to deliver all our technology as “software plus services,” and today is an important milestone in this journey. For more than 10 years, millions of workers have benefited from Microsoft cloud-based services, including Hosted Exchange, Outlook Web Access and Live Meeting. Earlier this year, we announced Microsoft Online, which businesses such as Coca-Cola Enterprises, Blockbuster, and Energizer are using to access Exchange and SharePoint over the Web. Last month, more than 1 million people turned to Office Live Workspace for sharing and collaborating over the Internet.

Viewing a Word document in Word Web application.
Click for hi-res version
Today in Los Angeles, we raised the stakes with Office Web applications. With this development, people can benefit from Office as a service on their browser, as a downloadable application on their phone, and as software on their PCs. This is the kind of flexibility that our software plus services approach makes possible, and is helping us deliver the kind of innovation that businesses and consumers expect from Microsoft.
PressPass: How will the Office Web applications benefit customers?
Capossela: Customers’ requirements have changed, as have their expectations of technology. While Office is synonymous with desktop productivity, the idea of “desktop” has
changed from a PC-centric notion to one in which people are empowered on the PC, on the phone, and with a browser.
Our customers don’t use one device, but rather several. They want a seamless, synchronized experience across those devices to help them work smarter, faster, and better. Office Web applications will make that a reality.
PressPass: How will people receive Office Web applications?

Editing OneNote notes in OneNote Web application.
Click for hi-res version
Capossela: We will deliver Office Web applications to consumers through Office Live, which is a consumer service with both ad-funded and subscription offerings. For business customers, we will offer Office Web applications as a hosted subscription service and through existing volume licensing agreements.
We will show a private technology preview of the Office Web applications later this year. For more information about this and other details about the Office Web applications, people can sign up for Office Live Workspace at workspace.officelive.com.
PressPass: Why is Microsoft doing this?
Capossela: We are deeply committed to offering our customers the technology they need to succeed. To that end, we’re investing in software plus services for the long term, something that sets us apart from our competitors. Office Web applications complement the Office suite and Office Mobile applications and enable our customers to share and collaborate more effectively through the familiar Office experience.

Editing a Word document in Word Web application.
Click for hi-res version
We know our customers use their PC, phone, and browser in different situations depending on their needs. The browser is particularly important when you need to access and edit files while traveling, working remotely, or using someone else’s PC. Together, these new tools enable new styles of community-based collaboration where multiple people can contribute simultaneously to various work through the internet.
PressPass: Will your partners be able to take advantage of the shift to Web-based solutions?
Capossela: Over the years, thousands of partners have sold Microsoft Office to millions of customers worldwide. The opportunities for our partners will increase as we continue to innovate with Microsoft Office. This announcement does not change the way customers buy Office. The biggest opportunity for OEM and retail partners continues to be selling Office to help their customers get better results faster.
When available with the next version of Microsoft Office, Office Web applications will increase the opportunity for OEM and retail partners as they extend the value of Microsoft
Office to the Web, thereby addressing the full range of their customers’ needs.
PressPass: Why are you making this announcement today at PDC?
Capossela: At this event, Microsoft has shared how we will deliver a platform strategy for both the Web and desktop, so it makes sense to talk about how we also are extending our productivity tools in new ways. Office Web applications underscore our companywide focus on software plus services, which reaches from the backend with our platform, through to the front end with our flagship productivity tools.

Reference : http://www.microsoft.com/Presspass/Features/2008/oct08/10-28PDCOffice.mspx?rss_fdn=Top%20Stories

Windows Azure and the Azure Services Platform: Making Microsoft’s Software-plus-Services Vision a Reality

New platform and services enable developers to create experiences that connect people across all devices by linking personal and business applications through the Web.

LOS ANGELES – Oct. 27. 2008 – Today’s powerful computing technology includes cell phones with the processing power of recent PCs, quad-processor computers that have moved from datacenters to retail electronic stores, huge high-definition digital televisions, and more. The Web has grown in similar ways, and today its wealth of information and social networking capabilities make it the first stop when people turn on a PC or notebook.
Meanwhile, developers often have to make technology choices to optimize for a given device or application environment, choices that reduce that device’s capabilities in other circumstances. As a result, current applications don’t always take full advantage of both the power of devices and the power of the Web because they simply aren’t designed to do that.
A new set of platform technologies from Microsoft, unveiled today at the Professional Developers Conference 2008, is designed to change all that. The Azure Services Platform combines the growing power of the Web-based “cloud” and today’s computers and devices with a suite of services designed to help developers deliver compelling new experiences across the PC, Web and mobile phone or PDA. The new platform extends to developers the ability to rapidly develop and deploy new applications into the cloud, without having to worry about how they will scale up. It gives businesses a new set of choices for how they deploy IT. And consumers benefit through new abilities to see their growing array of digital devices linked together in new and exciting ways.
Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s Chief Software Architect says, “Today we’re delivering a game-changing set of technologies that bring new opportunities to the global community of developers. In many ways it’s a turning point for Microsoft. But every time there’s been a major platform shift in our industry, it’s meant new opportunity and growth.”
The Azure Services Platform combines under a single umbrella code names and rumors that have floating around the blogosphere for weeks – code names such as “Strata,” “Zurich” and “Red Dog.” The vision for the platform was first articulated by Ozzie in his October 2005 memo, “The Internet Services Disruption.” Since then, Microsoft has worked to deliver a platform and set of services that allows maximum flexibility and choice for developers, businesses and consumers.
The foundation of the platform is Windows Azure, a new cloud-based operating system that serves as the development, run-time and environment for the Azure Services Platform. It is designed for what Ozzie and Microsoft describe as the “web tier” of computing–a layer that scales to handle the giant computation, storage and networking loads for today’s Web-based world. Windows Azure extends Windows to the Web, where developers can build, deploy and maintain new cloud-based applications using existing skills and familiar tools such as Visual Studio. They’ll also be able to deliver applications built around a collection of developer services that includes Live Services, Microsoft .NET Services, Microsoft SQL Services, Microsoft SharePoint Services and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Services. Additionally, developers can soon market new applications built on the platform directly to their own customers.

The Azure Services Platform has two distinct layers. The base layer - Windows Azure - provides computation and storage foundational services on which the remaining components of Microsoft’s Services offering will reside over time. The second layer is a collection of additional infrastructure services including Microsoft .NET Services and Microsoft SQL Services, as well as services extensions to Live offerings, SharePoint, and Microsoft Dynamics. These services can be used in conjunction with applications developed on Windows Azure or to extend existing applications that run on-premises or in other hosted environments.
Click for hi-res version.
Choice and Flexibility for Developers, Businesses and Consumers
Businesses need to infuse applications with be best of web and social software and improve the flexibility and dynamic nature of their IT infrastructure. They need to be able to connect systems and data securely, but still share information so they stay connected with customers and partners. They need to invest in technology, but in a way that lets them grow and scale and stay focused on business opportunities.
Consumers, meanwhile, want better connectivity and computing options across their growing array of PCs, laptop, mobile devices, smart DVRs and HDTVs, in-car systems, knitting them together across a Web that is growing exponentially more powerful.
And developers want more opportunities to create innovative computing experiences with the power of today’s computing devices and the endless opportunities the Web provides. But they currently are challenged to bring together disparate islands of data, applications and contacts. When trying to create scalable solutions that involve multiple devices, developers have difficult choices to make regarding the architecture and technology they use.
Windows Azure and the Azure Services Platform are designed to enable the creation of new development scenarios that take advantage of cloud based efficiencies and as well as exploit the capabilities of increasingly capable devices. With Windows Azure, Microsoft is extending today’s Windows experience to the cloud with an application model that spans the server, Web, PC and mobile devices. Customers of all sorts will be able to take advantage of the scale of the cloud with applications that feature ease of use, less complexity and better integration to their daily life. And developers will enjoy a new level of choice in how they develop and deploy applications.
A Balanced Approach to a New Computing World
Microsoft’s Software-plus-Services model is founded on the premise that users benefit most when software and services exist together, taking full advantage of powerful client devices and delivering maximum flexibility and choice. “There’s this notion out there that all of technology will be sucked up in to this thing called the ‘cloud,’ and the cloud will virtually replace all the other technology or render it irrelevant,” says Walid Abu-Hadba, corporate vice president of the Developer & Platform Evangelism Group at Microsoft in a PDC2008 video interview. “The reality is that the cloud only complements existing technology and provides people with flexibility and another way of doing things. Our intent with the Azure Services Platform is to seamlessly extend Microsoft’s platform out to the cloud so customers don’t have to choose, or deal with silos of Web-based information.”
Microsoft has taken a deliberate and balanced approach to framing and developing its own vision based on thirty years of expertise in platforms, tools, applications, devices and infrastructure. In addition, Microsoft took advantage of experiences gained in the online services world supporting half a billion Windows Live Hotmail and Windows Live Messenger users, as well as millions of X-Box Live gamers.
To provide the infrastructure necessary for these long term investments, Microsoft has made aggressive investments in data center capacity in the United States and across the world. Earlier this year, Microsoft opened major datacenters in Quincy, Wash. and San Antonio, and plans to open additional centers in Chicago and Dublin, Ireland in the near future.
The Benefits of Azure Services Platform for Businesses and Consumers
With Windows Azure and the Azure Services Platform, developers can build new applications that run in the cloud, or enhance existing applications with cloud-based capabilities. Business customers can elastically scale their systems up or down as needed to meet changes in their business environment, such as a holiday shopping rush, a burst of news about the company, or downtime during vacations. “(Web) demand might be seen as a series of peaks and valleys,” says Ozzie. “It might shoot up during the holidays, or during new product introductions, or when bad things or good things go on in the blogosphere.”
Using Windows Azure and the Azure Services Platform, IT departments can build applications that use the cloud to employ data storage like a utility, paying less when usage is low, but gaining the ability to vastly and rapidly scale up their usage during critical periods.
For example, a developer managing a large retail company’s e-store can quickly create a cloud-based application to market a new product through blogs, wireless devices and other channels. Changes to the product information or application can be pushed out instantly, and when orders start pouring in, the cloud- based infrastructure scales to meet the demand.
Businesses have further choice when it comes to how they design their IT infrastructure. They can use the computing power of a Microsoft data center, a Microsoft hosting partner, their own servers or any combination of the three. A business can focus its IT resources on tasks that are strategic and mission-critical, while sending other services to the cloud.
Small- and medium-sized business can more easily meet the needs of their customers by taking advantage of scalability and applications typically reserved for large enterprises. With systems that are fully integrated and connected, it can save busy entrepreneurs a great deal of time and money. If an interior designer in Chicago learns that a fabric she needs from Italy isn’t available, she can adjust her designs, and the change gets picked up and sent automatically through her network in real-time – from manufacturer to client – with updated information about delivery, cost and special handling instructions.
Consumers, meanwhile, will benefit from the new cloud capabilities the Azure Services Platform extends to Live Services, including Live Mesh to automatically sync and share data across multiple devices. In the future, a college student surfing in Australia can take a picture of his friends and upload it to Live Mesh, and the photo is instantly sent to his PC, his phone and a wireless digital photo frame that sits atop his grandmother’s television back in Los Angeles.
Microsoft’s global ecosystem of partners and developers will play a key role in creating applications that take full advantage of the cloud capability Microsoft is deploying. By using the Azure Services Platform, developers will be able to create new applications and user experiences using familiar tools such as Visual Studio.
Using the combined power and flexibility of Windows Azure and the Azure Services Platform, developers have the opportunity to create applications that change the way people work, live and play.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Revised Version of Sony's LittleBigPlanet Begins Shipping

A revised version of Sony's "LittleBigPlanet" game for the PlayStation 3 has begun shipping days after Sony postponed release of the game because it included a song that drew lyrics from the Quran.
"Looks like our production line churned out new copies quicker than our original schedule, and a few of our retailers did what they could to take care of the fans who preordered ASAP," said a message on Sony's PlayStation blog.
The game, one of Sony's highest profile titles for the PlayStation 3 this year, was due to launch on Oct. 21 but just a few days prior it was discovered that the lyrics used in one of the songs in its soundtrack were derived from the Quran. The potentially offensive lyric was contained in a licensed song played during the Swinging Safari level in the game.
Rather than upgrade the game with a launch-day patch, which would only have reached gamers with an Internet connection, Sony decided to postpone the launch and produce new discs with the song remove. Launch was rescheduled for this week in the U.S. and the following week in Europe.
Sony's decision brought a fast response, both positive and negative, from many gamers who filled online forums with discussion of the move.
Many were disappointed with the delay because it meant another week waiting for what is one of the most innovative games yet produced for the PlayStation 3, according to critics.
The game has won an "editors choice" award from GamePro, been rated "incredible" by IGN, scored 10 out of 10 with Games Radar and been called the "best thing out there" by 1Up.
In the long run the incident will likely mean little to the sales of "LittleBigPlanet." In the game players are challenged to create objects and patch them together using a variety of tools and parts at their disposal. Puzzles and challenges are built into the game to test a gamer's creative abilities and objects created can also be shared with others through the PlayStation Network.

Reference : http://www.pcworld.com/article/152847/.html?tk=rss_news

IBM Crafts Web 3.0 Collaboration Tools

IBM is working on a Web-conferencing platform dubbed OpusUna, which offers all participants the ability to collaborate using the same Web pages and features audio and video.
The AJAX-based technology was discussed by IBM officials during a briefing at the AJAXWorld RIA Conference & Expo in San Jose, Calif. last week. "Really, what we're looking at is how I extend the whole concept of AJAX to allow multiple-user interactions," said David Boloker, CTO in the IBM Emerging Internet Technology Software Group.
"It's all about a next-generation collaboration capability where you're really looking at how people interact with one another in a very different way," Boloker said.
OpusUna enables participants to collaborate and communicate from within the same browser space, incorporating widgets, audio, and video cameras to display themselves on the screen. IBM envisions, for example, collaboration on patient care via sharing of medical images. Financial traders also could collaborate from around the world.
The difference between OpusUna and other collaboration platforms is with OpusUna, all participants can contribute content as opposed to having one person serving as a presenter, IBM said. Cooperative meetings can be held.
The OpusUna software, which IBM has deployed on a Linux system, pulls together the various parts of a collaboration. It leverages HTML, JavaScript, and CSS; Flash and Silverlight content could be brought in via a wrapped widget. IBM is currently working with the Safari browser, but plans call for extending the software to Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox in the first quarter of 2009
IBM plans to show OpusUna to customers in early 2009 before deciding on how to proceed with the technology. The technology arose out of the company's QEDWiki mashup project, providing a next step that incorporates audio and video.
OpusUna is so named for a Latin expression for "work together" or "work as one," Boloker said.
Also at AJAXWorld on Tuesday, the next generation of JSF (JavaServer Faces), which is version 2.0, was noted. Due out at the end of this year, JSF 2.0 features accommodations for AJAX as well as other improvements, said Roger Kitain, staff engineer for Java EE Engineering at Sun. An early draft review of JSF 2.0 is under way.
JSF features server-side components for building Web applications. It offers client device independence. Developers can use various render kits with JSF to determine, for example, how the applications will render in a browser.
Featured in version 2.0 is AJAX standardization, Kitain said. There are a lot of JSF AJAX frameworks, and each tries to solve the same problem in different ways. "We'd like to standardize on some common features in the specification," said Kitain.
A standard JavaScript API is being pondered for interaction with JSF over AJAX.
JSF and AJAX are being paired because JSF offers server-side robustness, while AJAX offers rich Web application capabilities, said Kitain. JSF proponents would like for components developed in different JSF-AJAX frameworks, such as Dynamic Faces and Ajax4jsf, to be more compatible, he said.
Developers could use multiple components within different frameworks within the same Web application, Kitain said.
Version 2.0 also seeks to make it easier to develop custom components by moving away from JavaServer Pages as JSF's view technology and moving toward Facelets, Kitain said. Facelets, he said, is more of a lightweight technology closer to HTML syntax.
Also planned for JSF 2.0 is use of Java annotations to ease the burden of XML configurations; improved performance for the JSF state-saving mechanism, which saves the state of the UI, is another improvement.
Once JSF 2.0 is released, its proponents hope the new specification is used both in applications and tools. There are already two major implementations: Sun's Mojarra and Apache MyFaces, Kitain said.

Reference : http://www.pcworld.com/article/152771/ibm_web_collaboration.html?tk=rss_news

SanDisk Puts Antivirus on Flash Drive

SanDisk has stepped up its efforts to convince corporates that USB sticks are a secure medium, adding built-in antivirus capability to its latest Cruzer drive.
Any files copied or saved to the latest Cruzer Enterprise will automatically be scanned by a McAfee heuristics and antivirus engine that loads every time the drive is used. If it detects infected files being copied from a PC, all further transfers will be disallowed form that machine, stopping their spread.
The feature addresses the oft-made accusation that USB sticks can act like the floppy drives of old, allowing malware to circumvent firewalls and gateways if an infected drive is brought back into the network.
SanDisk itself warned of the related issue of data loss from USB drives issue earlier this year in a study of user behavior. All Cruzer Enterprise drives already feature enforced 256-bit AES encryption, which can be managed with a central server for smooth key recovery and policy-based security.
Anti-malware is unheard of, however, and part of the reason is that it adds complexity and expense. The drive has to carry around with it a database of malware signatures and rules, both of which need to be regularly updated to remain a viable means of defense. The licensing of McAfee's portable antivirus engine inevitably adds to the price.
"Cruzer Enterprise is an ideal solution for the mobile workforce and for IT departments concerned with data security, because it allows employees to have access to data everywhere and yet be fully protected," said SanDisk's Roy Ramati. "Adding McAfee's technology to our security solutions for the enterprise enables our customers to extend their security perimeter to mobile storage."
At the time of going to press, SanDisk had yet to confirm the nature of the signature updating process, but it would presumably be similar to that used by McAfee's existing USB-based scanning product, VirusScan USB, which works using the U3 software environment. Updates to this are made each time the device is plugged in on the U3 is up and running, and don't interfere with any security programs already running on the host PC.
McAfee's success with this product is unknown though the U3 environment has struggled since its inception in 2005 to achieve popularity. It is possible that the advent of antivirus security on mainstream USB drives could give it a new lease of life if it catches on more widely.
Prices for the anti-malware SanDisk Cruzer should be announced in the coming days. McAfee USB sells for £12.99 (approx $20) per user, per year.

Reference :‌http://www.pcworld.com/article/152788/sandisk_antivirus.html?tk=rss_news

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Embrace the new .NET Logo!

Microsoft gave .NET a new logo. Stephan van Stekelenburg is reporting:

"Yay! After only 8 years of the old .NET logo, today is actually the day Microsoft announces a new logo for the best technology until the day of today, and I like it."
Full Story At Source

Snow Leopard to see HFS+ compression, default gamma switch

Details of Apple's first Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard build for developers since WWDC have been published on the web, including confirmation of a Cocoa Finder and HFS+ compression.

Cocoa Finder

The full build details published by World of Apple confirm that 10A190 now has a Finder rewrite in Cocoa, marking the first time it has moved away from Carbon since the introduction of Mac OS X.The Cocoa object-oriented program environment has also been used for re-writes of "almost all" visible applications Apple ships with Mac OS X;

the transition is expected be finished by the time Snow Leopard is available to the public.64-bit kernelThe site leaking the details further notes that Snow Leopard's move to a 64-bit kernel is underway, although only some Macs can run natively in this mode with this early test version.

HFS+ file compressionAlso, the new Mac OS X update is now known to include support for file compression to the HFS+ file system that focuses primarily on reducing the weight of Apple's system files and built-in apps in normal use.

The compression applies just to read-only files and is also designed to be backwards-compatible in such a way that Tiger and Leopard systems won't render files unreadable.

New default display gamma

More conspicuous if still subtle changes have also been made, including one to the default gamma (luminance) settings for display output. Macs to date have typically employed a lower-contrast but lighter 1.8 gamma level, but the new Snow Leopard build now changes this to a deeper 2.2 gamma that was previously only an option in earlier Mac OS X editions. This is to appease both visual editors as well as the everyday user, according to Apple.


Individual apps have similarly been given a handful of changes, including rudimentary hooks for creating and viewing content pulled from Microsoft Exchange servers in Address Book, iCal and Mail. Automator can also send out its completed workflows as operating system services.

While many of these changes are significant, the new Snow Leopard build reveals a definite work in progress that reflects the several months to go before Apple's publicly planned mid-2009 release of the new software: several features are either suspended or exhibit quirky behavior.

Reference : http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/08/10/25/new_snow_leopard_seed_leak_confirms_cocoa_finder_more.html

Apple earnings, profits, and cash embarrass Microsoft

While Microsoft executives like to talk about Apple as an insignificant company with less than 5% of the worldwide market share of all PCs and servers sold, the Mac maker now has more cash than Microsoft and earns more than half of its profits and over three fourths its revenues.

For the quarter ending in September, Microsoft released revenues of $15.06 billion, net profits of $4.37 billion, and a reserve of cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments that added up to $20.7 billion.Apple reported $7.9 billion in revenues and $1.14 billion in net profit, but those numbers don't include most of its iPhone business, which is hidden away in subscription accounting under GAAP rules. For that reason, Apple also released its real earnings: $11.68 billion in revenue and $2.44 billion in net profits. The company also reported a cash position of $24.5 billion.Microsoft's quarterly revenues grew by 9%, compared to Apple's non-GAAP revenue increase of 75.1% year over year.

Reference : http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/08/10/25/apple_earnings_profits_and_cash_embarrass_microsoft.html

Full Disk Encryption Offered as a Service

PGP Corporation has become the first company to offer full disk encryption on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) subscription, which it claims brings the technology within the reach of small businesses for the first time.
Selling through Managed Service Provider Network (MSPN) channel partners in the U.K. and the U.S., enterprises will be offered PGP's Windows or Mac Whole Disk Encryption software on a month-by-month 'pay as you grow' contract, increasing or decreasing the number of seats as they please.
The service includes the PC encryption software, a key recovery service should that be necessary, plus reports on the encryption status of each machine for compliance and auditing. Laptops using the software can only be accessed by providing a key, which means that should they be lost or stolen, hard drive data remains encrypted an inaccessible.
The costs themselves are comparable over a year to buying the software on a stand-alone basis, PGP admitted, but this removed the obstacle of deployment and ongoing management that has, up to now, put off many smaller enterprises with around 100 mobile users. Pricing is straightforward, with monthly billing in arrears and volume discounts.
Deployment is probably the biggest advantage of the SaaS model because it means that companies don't have to commit staff and infrastructure to getting full disk encryption projects off the ground. Using either one of the appointed partners - Gradian in the U.K., and Aurora and ANI Direct in the U.S. - it should be possible to get the technology into a small enterprise within days or weeks, instead of months as might otherwise be the case.
"Market data shows that customers, such as small businesses, branch offices and departmental groups, are becoming more comfortable consuming security technology as a service offering as it greatly simplifies set-up and ongoing infrastructure maintenance," said Phillip Dunkelberger, PGP's president and CEO.
"End-user customers and channel partners of the PGP Managed Service Provider Network can now more easily get started and quickly reduce IT expenditures by using PGP Whole Disk Encryption in a SaaS environment," he said.
Lost laptops containing unencrypted data have become an almost routine way for enterprises of all sizes lose sensitive data, a frequency IDC's Charles Kolodgy was quoted by PGP as having recently described as "obscene".
Monthly prices and volume discounts had yet to be confirmed at the time of going to press, but were said to be in line with the annual per-seat prices already quoted for stand-alone use. This is £95 (approx $160) per annum.

Reference : http://www.pcworld.com/article/152769/disk_encryption.html?tk=rss_news

Exclusive article: Windows 7: Looking ahead at PDC

What can we expect to see of Windows 7 at the upcoming Microsoft Professional Developers Conference (or PDC) next week? We take a sneak peak at some of the features or improvements leaked, discussed or presented the last couple of weeks. This list isn’t accurate as Microsoft has deliberately been quiet about Windows 7 and its main features. Expect to hear about most of the following article next week when Windows 7 is officially uncovered to developers, IT pros, the press and the rest of the public at Microsoft PDC 2008!

Will Windows 7 get a cool new user-interface in terms of graphical overhaul?
Nope. Microsoft did officially state they won’t be changing the UI allot (like they did when moving from Windows XP to Windows Vista) as, although very cool, most people get scared when seeing a new UI. The average user or users with less computer experience had some trouble with adapting to the (rather minor, in my opinion) changes Windows Vista brought. So be prepared to be let down when it comes to the graphical appearance of the system itself if you were expected something better / newer / nicer. There are however putting some effort into making the experience more uniform across the system

Will Windows 7 have a completely new and rewritten kernel powering the OS giving us more power?
Nope. Microsoft stated on their official Windows 7 blog they won’t be brining a brand new kernel to the system as it’s simply not needed. The current NT kernel is just fine and, although people like to think otherwise, is fairly fast. They did say they are brining improvements to the kernel as always. One should also consider the compatibility issues one could get when changing some as fundamental as the Windows kernel itself.

I hate User Account Control (UAC) in Vista! Are they going to change that at all?
Nope. UAC as designed is a basic security and permissions/access design that should be implemented in every modern day operating system. Linux and Mac OS X have had this design for ages now, separating users from admins and raising privileges on the spot when needed. In some of the latest leaked screenshots, it showed Microsoft is however working on refining the user experience when using User Account Control. It showed a configuration panel allowing the user to set when and how the user should be notified of UAC notifications. Also note that Microsoft is very much paying attention to the general public on this issue. Based upon user input when Vista launched, Microsoft refined UAC in the Windows Vista Service Pack 1 release.
Full Story At Source. PDF Download link At Source.

Reference : http://www.martijnbrant.net/2008/10/windows-7-looking-ahead-at-pdc/

OpenOffice.org Update Sets Downloads Record

OpenOffice.org 3.0 was downloaded 3 million times in its first week, with about 80% of the downloads by Windows users, an official with the group said in a blog post last week.
The successful introduction of the open source office suite came despite the group's download servers being temporarily overwhelmed by demand for the new software last week.
Only 221,000 downloads by Linux users were recorded, leading John McCreesh, head of marketing for OpenOffice.org, to suggest a massive undercount. McCreesh said 90% of Linux users traditionally receive OpenOffice.org updates straight from their Linux distribution's vendor, which would explain the relatively low Linux count.
Many non-English versions of OpenOffice.org are also distributed by alternate Web sites, and OpenOffice.org is still widely distributed via free CD-ROMs in magazines, said McCreesh.
With the undercount included, OpenOffice.org 3.0 may already be installed on up to 5 million computers worldwide, McCreesh said in a blog post.
OpenOffice.org's goal of winning 40% of the office software market by 2010 "doesn't seem as ambitious today as it did four years ago," said McCreesh.
Michael Croan, a senior marketing manager at Microsoft, said, "Business customers can easily see that Microsoft Office provides the productivity improvements they seek."
"Microsoft Office is well integrated, well supported and up-to-date with modern workforce requirements like collaboration, which is not always the case with open source alternatives. As a result, most customers will continue to seek the productivity improvements they can get from Office," Croan said.
Microsoft claims more than 550 million users of Microsoft Office.
OpenOffice.org's total usage, while unknown, remains small overall, despite its free price. That is due to document compatibility fears and Microsoft's aggressive, tactical discounting.
OpenOffice.org 3.0 eases some adoption concerns. It is able to open all Office-formatted files, including the latest Office Open XML (OOXML) documents (.docx, .xlsx, .pptx, etc.), but it cannot save OOXML files natively.
OpenOffice.org is also likely counting on the current corporate cost-cutting environment to help its third try at unseating Microsoft Office.
OpenOffice.org 3.0 also marks the first native Mac OS X version. Mac users accounted for 320,000 downloads of the new software in the first week.

Reference : http://www.pcworld.com/article/152768/openoffice_open_source.html?tk=rss_news

Nasser Hajloo
a Persian Graphic Designer , Web Designer and Web Developer

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