Nearly three years ago, at CES 2006, DirecTV announced that it was working on a tuner that would allow Windows Media Center to receive high-definition premium satellite signals. Earlier this year, there were rumors that the project was in beta test, and several high-profile web sites even spotted the hardware in action at Microsoft's labs. Alas, the long-rumored project is now officially dead. I've got the details.
The Ed Bott Report
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Ed Bott is an award-winning technology writer with more than two decades' experience writing for mainstream media outlets and online publications.
At the Professional Developers Conference in late October, Windows chief Steven Sinofsky announced that Windows 7 Beta 1 would be ready "early next year." A Microsoft insider has now confirmed the actual date, which is indeed very early next year. I've put together my predictions for the Beta 1 timeline, which starts with Steve Ballmer's keynote at CES.
Reliable reports suggest that Microsoft plans to release Windows Vista Service Pack 2 to manufacturing in April 2009, roughly a year after it delivered SP1. Some observers are inferring from this schedule that ista SP2 is being "rushed out the door" and that "Microsoft seems to be in a hurry with this release.” They all need to dust off their Windows history books to see that the reality is exactly the opposite. If Vista SP2 does make its official appearance in April, it will mark a return to normal development and release cycles for Microsoft, which lost its way badly with Windows XP. I've got the proof, complete with charts.
The music industry has been stumbling and bumbling with subscription-based music services for years. This week, Microsoft announced a sweeping change to its Zune Pass music servicewhich gives you the right to download any album from the Zune Marketplace and convert 10 tracks to purchases each month. That effectively lowers the subscription portion of the service to 5 bucks a month. I’ve been using the Zune Pass service for the past five months and absolutely love it. The Zune software is superb, and the end-to-experience is better than anything Apple has to offer. In my opinion, Zune Pass should be irresistible to any serious music fan. But can it make a dent in the iTunes monopoly?
Microsoft took the wraps off Windows 7 for the first time at the Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles three weeks ago. Since returning from PDC, I’ve been installing and using Windows 7 on a variety of hardware platforms (eight distinct desktop and portable systems so far). My immediate goal is to learn as much as possible so I can begin writing my next book. The deeper I dive into Windows 7, the more I discover, including subtle changes and tweaks that aren’t obvious in a first look. In this post and its accompanying image gallery, I’ll share some of those details with you.
DirecTV's HD tuner for Media Center PCs, first announced at CES three years ago, has achieved the same notoriety as Bigfoot, the Yeti, and the Loch Ness monster. The occasional sighting is always enshrouded in fog and mystery, and no one has ever reported spotting one of these mythical creatures in the wild. But while poking around in the pre-beta build of Windows 7, I found a signed driver for this device. Does this discovery mean this mythical creature will make its debut with Windows 7 next year?
When I first began using Windows Vista, I dismissed the Sidebar as a gimmick. It didn’t help that the default gadgets Microsoft offered were of limited utility and that some early gadgets caused performance problems.
My hat’s off to blogger Rafael Rivera, who returned from last week’s Microsoft Professional Developers Conference and apparently didn’t sleep until he figured out how to unlock the flashy new Superbar interface that Microsoft showed off at PDC but didn't make available to PDC attendees. Rafael's clever hack does indeed unlock an alternate interface for Windows 7 Build 6801, but in this post I want to throw a giant bucket of cold water on your expectations. The unlocked interface is missing some key features, as I explain.
The single most confusing part of the Windows 7 intro last week at the Professional Developers Conference was the part about Windows Live. Judging by the comments I’ve read and heard, many people mistakenly concluded that Microsoft is planning to deliver a suite of Internet-based applications in tandem with Windows 7. Here’s what’s really happening.
My first look at the pre-beta PDC release of Windows 7 inspired plenty of great feedback and questions, along with an understandable amount of confusion and apprehension. Is it really faster? Is the new desktop/taskbar UI just a fresh coat of paint on the Vista interface? What's in it for corporate customers? I’ll address some of the most common questions and comments in this post.