Today at PDC 2008 Microsoft announced it’s new Cloud OS named Windows Azure which is all over Techmeme by now. I’ll be doing a write up of the whole event when I’m back but thought you should check that out already. Another significant announcement is that Windows Live ID is becoming an OpenID provider. With currently over 460 million active LiveID users, that is a pretty huge step.
New job, new laptop. After a few weeks of comparing, reading reviews online, watching viral videos (about laptops of course), buying laptop magazines at airports, etc… I finally decided what to get 2 weeks ago what to get and using it since today. Since I’m traveling quite a bit and spending more time away from a desk than on my desk there were a few key features the new laptop needed to have – in short I wanted a powerful lightweight ultraportable with long battery life. I had my mind made up on the Dell XPS M1330 for a while since it got some good reviews but finally decided for this:
Main reason for picking the Dell would have been the price tag, which is more interesting compared to the Lenovo X300 but overall performance and former Lenovo experience made me choose the X300 eventually. And no, I didn’t take the lame Dell-Manila-Envelope ad into account :) Truth to be told, in case I had to pay for it myself, it would have been the Dell XPS M1330 without a doubt.
So now it’s all installed, it’s indeed incredibly lightweight, the main battery gives me +3 hours of juice (and ordered an extra battery which should double that) and last but not least with it’s 4Gb or RAM it’s ultrafast :) Here’s what I installed, programs I need to have on my PC (it runs Windows Vista):
- Office 2007
- Windows Live beta (Full suite – see earlier post)
- Internet Explorer 8 beta 2 and Firefox 3
- Twhirl (and thus also AIR)
- Live Mesh
- Silverlight 2
Yeah, I’m a PC. And I’m actually married to a Mac so probably our kids will turn out to be hybrids I guess (although more chance to see them turn into Xboxes or something)… Let’s not go there :)
… to a new role at Microsoft. During my 4 years at Microsoft, first as the Belgian Consumer Marketing Manager for MSN and later as the Marcom Lead for MSN and Windows Live in EMEA, I’ve been experimenting with social media. Remember the Windows Live Sessions we did all over Europe (e.g. Brussels, London, …), inviting bloggers to events such as MIX, sponsoring and attending Barcamps or Girl Geek Dinners and bigger events such as Le Web for instance, the adventures with Steve and Hugh around the Blue Monster, speaking at events, getting the word out on ‘Bring The Love Back‘, engaging on blogs and twitter, etc… Although it was only a small part of my job (the main part was setting up online marketing campaigns), I’ve always been very passionate about it.
Since October 1st that has all changed. Since then I’ve started working in a new role as Digital Media Communications Manager for all Windows Consumer brands – PC, mobile and online – as well as MSN and Live Search in EMEA. I got to say, it’s like getting paid to do your hobby just like Steve seems to think about his job as well. And it’s also the reason why this blog has gone silent for a bit, as I’m still transitioning stuff from my old job to other people. Also our fiscal year started on July 1st so I got to get my new plans ready asap, expect more about that here soon.
Anyway, I’ve been waiting for the moment I could tell you all this, wish me luck and if ever you have ideas on how you think I should run this… let me know in the comments.
“If you upgrade your version of Windows and an application breaks, it’s Microsoft’s fault. If you upgrade your version of OS X and your application breaks, it’s the ISV’s fault. If you upgrade your version of Linux and your application breaks, well, that’s your own damn fault.”
Found on the Linux Hater’s Blog.
Microsoft we released the beta version of the new Windows Live, generally referred to as Windows Live Wave 3. And just like I had told a few people already in the weeks and months before the release, I think this release looks really good. What you can get after downloading the beta is mainly a refresh to the downloadable applications, the other online services will be update later. You’ll notice one thing immediately after installing the apps and that is that it all looks much crispier, cleaner than before… and me like. These are the new updates I like most:
Let’s start with the most popular of all Windows Live applications, used by 300 million people worldwide. I have +400 contacts in my Messenger and it’s fair to say that I use this every single day. Being able to add contacts to a favorites list will help me find people faster (although the search bar on top is always pretty handy for that as well). And also the groups feature is useful for me to start instant conversations between a bunch of people working on the same project, both from inside as outside the company. Lastly the “What’s new” update is also a nice feature and like Joe Wilcox notices, one with tremendous potential:
“What’s New is nascent, but it has great potential unifying some of Microsoft’s disparate social networking services. The venue is appropriate. While IMing with your buddies, you see a stream of updates about what your other friends, family or coworkers are doing. I can just imagine the teen exchange when Tracey sees that Wendy and Frank are now an item while chatting with Janie. Oh the gossip. The broader potential is tremendous, if Microsoft chooses to capitalize on it. What’s New, or something like it, could inform what game Jack is playing on Xbox 360 right now, what song Mary is listening to in Zune 3.0 software or what TV shows Manny has scheduled to record today in Windows Media Center….”
Oh and one interesting new feature I’d almost forgotten: the ability to log in on more than one PC.
Next to my Microsoft.com company email address which I read using Outlook, I have about 10 other email addresses. I know I could do with less, but they are my old Hotmail some new Live.com addresses I could snatch at the launch :), my Gmail… etc and since I use a separate email address for each blog, that adds up to 10.
Although you could add your Hotmail accounts also into Outlook by using the Outlook Connector, and you can obviously also add POP3 email to Outlook, I still prefer Windows Live Mail for all that. First of all it keeps my work email separated from all the other email, second it’s just hand to click on ‘Unread email’ and get all new email from across all accounts in one single view. I like that more than using email forwarding from one email to the other as using it like this I will still reply on email using the right account and not give up any other email account. Might sound silly to you, but that’s important to me.
Most important addition to the new version (apart from that new look of course) is the Calendar. I think that will make quite a few people happy and therefore it’s good that is finally in there. My life sits in my Outlook calendar so I won’t use that part of Windows Live Mail that much. Still, especially when you have one or more Hotmail, but also when you just have more than one email account, you should check this out.
I’m not a Pro photographer (although I wish I was) but that doesn’t mean I don’t take photos of course. There are over 6000 photos on my hard drive and I use this program to sort them all out. I think Windows Live Photo Gallery became part of Windows Live with Wave 2 and it was just what I needed to sort all this out. Unlike real professional photographers I don’t do much of retouching on my photos. Maybe a bit of contrast, cropping maybe but that’s mainly it. And that’s all in here, plus upload to Flickr so that was pretty much all I needed. I missed one Fix – and lucky for me that’s one of the only new things they added to this release: the ability to straighten a photo. I tend to take pictures that are slightly tilted to one side… it’s probably something to do with the camera :)
Most interesting new feature is probably the people tagging which uses some kind of facial recognition. Still playing with that one but I like how you can now use ‘descriptive tags’ and ‘people tags’ and especially that the program does some kind of face detection in your photos.
Hopefully developers will start creating the plug-ins needed to publish to other services (also new in this release) but Flickr is already in there and that’s why I use so again less important for me. A last nice addition (and probably as expected) is that you can start creating your Photosynths now right from Windows Live Photo Gallery as well.
What can I say, it’s the best desktop blogging app out there and it’s improved a bit – like for adding Youtube video to your posts – but main differences with the older version here are that new, fresher, whiter look that comes with Wave 3. Nothing else, but who cares, it was pretty darn good already :)
Note 2: I wanted to use some home made screenshots instead of the official ones but believe it or not, I couldn’t find how to mask the names etc in a nice way. Somebody teach me how to use Paint.net please :)
I can’t count the number of times I’ve written about Photosynth anymore, but trust me when I say the number of times I wanted to say even more is even bigger. I remember how the first reactions (the oohs and aahs) were quickly followed by questions about the computing power that would be needed to create synths your own. Well, we’ve been having access (I work for Microsoft) to the tool that allows you to create your own Synths for a while and yes your personal computer will do just fine. And since yesterday, you can all give it a try for yourself (only on Windows for the moment though).
Explore the nicest Synths right here or start creating your own right away. Here’s how to do it. Read more about this fascinating technology on the Photosynth blog, or read some of the reviews that are popping up: Mossberg, Scoble, Webware, O’Reilly Radar, …
I seriously start thinking that the various Microsoft labs are getting up to speed lately. There’s one innovation after the other, see that new 3D viewer I blogged about some days ago, but know that there’s even a lot more than just that: Sphere Surface, Touchwall, Popfly, DeepZoom, … etc etc.
It aren’t always big-ass tables though ;) A couple of days ago I noticed pptPlex on my buddy Steve Clayton’s blog. pptPlex offers an interesting way to make slide decks less linear and makes it possible to add visibly very small data to slides that can easily be shown by zooming in and out of slides while in a slideshow. I had to see this for myself first of course and it really is quite an interesting add-on for Powerpoint. Download it and let pptPlex do some of it’s work on an existing slideshow and you’ll quickly discover what the possibilities are once you really build a presentation to make the maximum use of this.
See it in action:
Remember Photosynth? About 2 years ago Microsoft Live Labs release the tech preview of Photosynth and I hasn’t lost any bit of coolness ever since. It was presented at TED Talks by Blaise Aguera y Arcas (together with SeaDragon) and is one of the most watched videos of the complete TED video collection (which on itself is pretty awesome already). Watch that first if you haven’t done so already.
Long Zheng at istartedsomething.com reports on a new 3D photoviewer that was created by Microsoft Research and the University of Washington:
“The collaborative research team from the University of Washington and Microsoft Research who only two years ago in 2006 published their paper “Photo Tourism” and their technology demonstration “Photosynth” have again pushed the boundaries of what can be achieved by intuitively processing the abundance of digital images shared on the web. This week at SIGGRAPH 2008 they’re sharing with the world some even better technology they’ve been working on which they call “Finding Paths through the World’s Photos“. Don’t let the name fool you, it’s damn cool. If you’re not much of a reading person like me, take a look at this video demonstration.”
Here’s the video, pretty stunning indeed:
When we launched ‘The Break-Up’ about a year ago we were impressed with the feedback we got on it. Yes we thought it was good, but still we never expected it to be as big as it became. And feedback was good, people like how we portrayed the changed relationship between consumers and advertisers. The second most common feedback was what we would do about it. We showed we understood the shifted relationship, what does Microsoft Advertising have to offer that work this changed situation?
In the second installment the advertiser is at his agency trying to figure out a way to solve his problem. This one is about inspiration… but just check it out for yourself.
… to a computer screen near you. I hope you have seen / remember this little movie that was launched about a year ago? ‘Bring the love back’ or ‘The Break-Up’ as it was officially titled. Today the sequel to that is almost ready and Geert – my colleague responsible for all this – made a little teasing trailer of it. Hope you like it.
Nice little detail, the voice over on the trailer is done by Don Lafontaine, who is an American voice actor famous for recording over 5.000 movie trailers, etc… so you might recognize that voice ;)