Microsoft eyes leap back into TV

Posted by bink on November 30 2010, 5:43 PM.

Microsoft Corp is about to jump back into the TV game. Only this time, it may aim at cable, satellite and phone companies.

The software powerhouse has held talks with TV networks to create a new subscription-based TV service on its Xbox gaming console that would rival efforts by Google Inc, Apple Inc and Netflix Inc, sources told Reuters.

Microsoft's latest explorations after investments in MSNBC and WebTV come as efforts to redefine living room entertainment have accelerated in the past year, with technology companies seeking to offer lower cost alternatives to pricey pay-TV subscriptions.

One scenario under consideration by Microsoft is to create a new TV service on its Xbox gaming console that would establish a "virtual cable operator." The service would charge a monthly fee for access through the Xbox to networks such as ABC, NBC, Fox, CBS, ESPN or CNN, according to two sources familiar with the plans.

Other options include allowing cable subscribers to use the Xbox to watch shows with more interactive functions. Viewers could, for instance, message with friends over the console while viewing their favorite shows.

Microsoft is also exploring the possibility of creating programing packages for customers, setting up a bundle of sports or children shows, for example, these people said.

In addition, it could sell more individual channels, such as an HBO or Showtime, directly to subscribers. It already has Walt Disney Co's ESPN on the Xbox Live online service.

These people said a service may not arrive for another 12 months, but early discussions have been productive.

Microsoft declined to comment. The people involved in the talks asked not to be identified as the discussions were confidential.

News of Microsoft's plans come as the pay-television industry are moving to allay investor concerns that consumers are fleeing expensive subscription packages for cheaper online services operated by companies such as Netflix Inc and Hulu, which both charge $7.99 per month for streamed shows and movies. The phenomenon is called "cord-cutting."

The worry is that so-called over-the-top services could undermine the lucrative cable TV industry, whose dual-revenue stream model has made pay-TV one of the most resilient sectors during the economic recession.

Cable networks such as ESPN are paid carriage fees by pay TV operators and also earn revenue from advertisers.

But programmers have said they would welcome new types of competition to the cable and satellite companies.

Speaking at the Reuters Global Media Summit on Monday, News Corp Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey said the arrival of alternative TV services gives cable and broadcast networks yet another way to reach fragmented audiences. News Corp is parent of Fox Broadcasting.

"The emergence of platforms like that -- from people like Microsoft which is really more a theory at this point, or Netflix -- increases the value of content and brands and those who create the content and channels that actually the business and drives consumer demand," Carey said.

Microsoft has long held ambitions to be a major player in the TV business and has previously invested in MSNBC and interactive television initiatives including Web TV and MSN TV set-top box software. Its latest plans include offering interactive features to engage viewers through social media, interactive advertising and "gesture" technology that lets viewers change channels and fast forward through shows by waving their arms or speaking instructions, say people who have seen early demonstrations.

The Redmond, Washington, company is mulling feedback it has received from programmers including the expense of such a plan, said one person.

Microsoft faces an increasingly crowded field. Google has already launched Google TV, an enhanced Web-TV service with partners including Sony Corp televisions and Logitech set-top boxes.

Apple has also held talks with programmers, but faced resistance industry-wide over its plans to offer a lower-cost subscription TV plan, people familiar with the talks have said. Apple has begun to offer 99-cent TV show rentals for a limited number shows through News Corp's Fox and Disney.

MS drops Drive Extender support for Windows Home Server code name “Vail”

Posted by RayC on November 25 2010, 5:57 AM. Posted in Windows Home Server.

In a blog post by Microsoft’s Michael Leworthy, Microsoft yesterday announced that it has stopped the development of Windows Home Server’s Drive Extender storage technology. The announcement comes almost eight months into a public beta of the next version of Windows Home Server, codenamed “Vail”. New beta versions will be available early in the New Year.

Both Windows Small Business Server 2011  Essentials (Codename “Aurora”) and Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials (Codename “Breckenridge”) are expected to ship in H1 2011 without Microsoft’s advanced storage subsystem.

Continue at source:

http://windowsteamblog.com/windows/b/windowshomeserver/archive/2010/11/23/windows-home-server-code-name-vail-update.aspx

25 years of Windows!

Posted by bink on November 20 2010, 6:46 AM.

Computer World created a nice article with a visual tour through 25 years of Windows!

 

Twenty-five years ago, on Nov. 20, 1985, Microsoft introduced its first version of Windows to the world. Not many people outside the technical press or the tech industry took notice. Product launch events that cost hundreds of millions of dollars were still years away.

What's changed in Windows in the last 25 years? Plenty. In this image gallery, we take a look at the various faces of Windows over the past couple of decades and clue you in to what happened at every stage of the operating system's development.

1985: Windows 1.0
Windows 1.0

Continue at source: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9196998/Visual_tour_25_years_of_Windows

System Center Data Protection Manager 2010 QFE Rollup KB 2250444

Posted by bink on November 20 2010, 3:08 AM.

This rollup contains fixes for the issues in Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM) 2010 that are described in the Data Protection Manager 2010 KB 2250444. Feature Summary: This hotfix rollup resolves the following issues:

  • Blocks a backup of an Exchange DAG to a secondary DPM 2010 server.
  • You are prompted to restart a client computer after you install an agent on the client.
  • DPM services crash and you receive the error: Unable to connect to the database because of a fatal database error.
  • MSDPM crashes with event ID 945 in the event log.
  • When you change a Protection Group, add a very large database, change the disk allocation and then commit the Protection Group, DPM 2010 does not honor the user intent and set the sizes of replica and shadow copy volumes to the default sizes.
Download details System Center Data Protection Manager 2010 QFE Rollup [KB 2250444]

Microsoft Lync Downloads

Posted by bink on November 18 2010, 5:53 AM.

Download Microsoft Lync Server 2010 180-Day Trial

Lync™ Server 2010 ushers in a new connected experience transforming communication into an interaction that is more collaborative, engaging, and accessible from virtually any location with internet connectivity. A single interface unites voice, IM, audio-, video-, and web-conferencing into a richer, more contextual offering, and a single identity makes it easier and more efficient for users to find contacts, check their availability, and connect with them. Lync Server 2010 works consistently with Microsoft Office, enriching the experience of familiar applications like Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Word, Microsoft SharePoint, and more.

Need more information? See the product details page.

To evaluate Microsoft Lync Server 2010, you will also need to download the client software, Microsoft Lync 2010 (available after registration).

Other downloads

Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Release Notes

Lync Server 2010 Monitoring Management Pack

Microsoft Lync 2010 Voice and Video Training

Microsoft Lync 2010 Training

Microsoft Lync 2010 Web App Training

Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Protocol Workloads Poster

Lync Adoption and Training Downloads

Lync 2010 Quick Start Guides

Lync 2010 What's New Videos and Article

Lync 2010 Short Videos

Lync 2010 Work Smart Guides

Microsoft Lync 2010 Delegate Training

Microsoft Lync 2010 RGS Training

Microsoft Lync 2010 IM and Presence Training

Microsoft Lync 2010 Conferencing and Collaboration Training

Microsoft Lync 2010 Attendant Training

Microsoft Lync 2010 Phone Edition for Polycom CX700 and LG-Nortel IP Phone 8540

Lync Server 2010 Group Chat

Lync 2010 Attendant (64 Bit)

Microsoft Lync 2010 Phone Edition for Aastra 6721ip and Aastra 6725ip

Lync 2010 Group Chat

Microsoft Lync 2010 Phone Edition for Polycom CX500, Polycom CX600 and Polycom CX3000

Unified Communications Enhanced Presence Schemas for Microsoft Lync Server 2010

Microsoft Lync Server 2010 SDK

Microsoft Lync Launched

Posted by bink on November 18 2010, 5:40 AM.

Lync and the power of software connect people virtually anytime and anywhere, across the PC, phone and browser.

Microsoft Corp. today announced the general availability of Microsoft Lync, the next generation of communications that connects people in new ways. Starting today, anyone can download a free trial version of Lync at http://www.lync.com, and business customers can purchase Lync beginning Dec. 1.

Lync is a single platform that integrates instant messaging, presence, audio, video, webconferencing and voice to bring people together in the ways they communicate best, with one interface that works with the applications businesses know and use today, including Microsoft Office, Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft Exchange.

“Lync delivers on our vision to unify all of the modes of modern business communication, giving people a more collaborative, ‘in person’ experience with features like HD video, conference recording, and social features like status updates and activity feeds,” said Gurdeep Singh Pall, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Lync & Speech Group. “In addition to transforming how people communicate, IT departments are also looking to Lync to evolve their infrastructure and enhance or eliminate their traditional PBX systems, saving money and saving time.”

Customers including The Estee Lauder Companies Inc., Nikon Corp., Marquette University, France Telecom and Herrenknecht AG are deploying Lync 2010 to change the way they communicate, and transforming their businesses while saving money.

Nikon, for example, uses Lync with SharePoint and Exchange to increase the company’s employee productivity. To date, Nikon has experienced a 30 percent increase in productivity in some areas.

 

See video of Lync launch event with special guest star Bill Gates! Nerd smile

“We want to move away from relying on a specific communication tool, like e-mail,” said Michiko Noborisaka, general manager of Information System Planning Department at Nikon Corp. “We need capabilities that free people from the constraints of time and place. Our employees should be able to choose the best communications tools for each scenario they face.”

Microsoft recently commissioned Forrester Consulting to conduct a Total Economic Impact study that found that for a composite organization Lync 2010 offers a risk-adjusted ROI of 337 percent, including $6.35 million in hard cost savings over three years, with a payback period of 12 months.

Choice and Value With Partner Solutions

Today, more than 70 new devices optimized for Lync, including a variety of IP phones, headsets, speakerphones and webcams, are being announced by Polycom Inc., Aastra Technologies Ltd. and other device partners.

Polycom is announcing the industry’s first telepresence solution designed to interoperate with Lync, through the Polycom HDX Series and Polycom UC Intelligent Core. Both solutions enable individuals and groups to collaborate naturally and effortlessly across any distance.

“Through our commitment with Microsoft to deliver flexible standards-based solutions, Polycom is transforming business communications with the most comprehensive and intuitive communications experience that will deliver high-definition video, voice and content-sharing capabilities to conference rooms, classrooms and meeting spaces across the enterprise,” said Andy Miller, Polycom president and CEO.

In addition, more than 30 partners are launching applications on the Lync platform for public and private organizations of all types and sizes. Solutions include contact centers, call recording, accounting, performance monitoring services and new applications that embed communications within business processes. Partners include Aspect Software Inc., Convergent Media Systems Corp., ProtonMedia Inc. and Wortell.

Finally, several partners, such as British Telecom (BT), Dell, Dimension Data, HP and Verizon Business are offering services to help customers evaluate, deploy and manage their Lync infrastructure.

Product Availability

Microsoft Lync 2010 and Microsoft Lync Server 2010 will be available for businesses of all sizes to purchase on Dec. 1, 2010. Microsoft Lync Online will be available as part of Office 365, with voice capabilities available in 2011. Lync Online will include instant messaging, presence, audio and video conferencing, and PC-to-PC voice calls

Kinect for Xbox 360 Hits Million Mark in Just 10 Days

Posted by sumeethevans on November 16 2010, 6:11 AM. Posted in Xbox.

Microsoft today announced it has sold 1 million Kinect for Xbox 360 units worldwide in 10 days and is on pace to hit 5 million by the end of the year. The announcement comes a week before the biggest selling day of the year, Black Friday, and in the wake of increasing momentum for Xbox 360, which led U.S. video game console sales for the past four months.1 “We are appreciative of the response we have seen from consumers that has culminated in sales of more than 1 million units in the first 10 days on the market for Kinect for Xbox 360,” said Don Mattrick, president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. “This is a great start to the holiday season, and we will continue to work with our retailer partners to keep pace with high demand and deliver against our plan to sell more than 5 million Kinect sensors worldwide by the end of this year.” Before the Kinect launch, Microsoft raised its worldwide sales forecast from 3 million to 5 million sensors sold by year-end. Kinect launched in North America on Nov. 4, followed by Europe on Nov. 10, and will land next in Asia (Nov. 18) and Japan (Nov. 20). By this holiday, controller-free games and entertainment will reach more than 60,000 retailers in 38 countries with up to 17 Kinect games available. Full Story At Source

Windows 7 Service Pack Blocker Tool Kit

Posted by bink on November 14 2010, 12:09 AM.

Since Windows XP sp2 Microsoft makes Service Pack block tools available for organizations that would like to temporarily prevent installation of Service Pack updates through Windows Update.

I wonder if  Windows 7 SP1 will be released sooner than previously announced (Q1 2011) since they just released the blocker tool to the public. Maybe it is released to test blocking of the Release Candidate SP which can also be received through Windows Update with a registry setting.

A blocking tool is available for organizations that would like to temporarily prevent installation of Service Pack updates through Windows Update.

This tool can be used with:

  • Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (valid for 12 months following general availability of the service pack)
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 (valid for 12 months following general availability of the service pack)
This toolkit contains three components. All of them function primarily to set or clear a specific registry key that is used to detect and block download of Service Packs from Windows Update. You only need to use the component which best serves your organization’s computer management infrastructure.
  • A Microsoft-signed executable
  • A script
  • An ADM template
  1. The executable creates a registry key on the computer on which it is run that blocks or unblocks (depending on the command-line option used) the delivery of a Service Pack to that computer through Windows Update. The key used is HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate. When the '/B' command line option is used, the key value name 'DoNotAllowSP' is created and its value set to 1. This value blocks delivery of a Service Pack to the computer through Automatic Update or Windows Update. When the '/U' command line option is used, the previously created registry value that temporarily blocked the delivery of a Service Pack to the computer through Automatic Update or Windows Update is removed. If the value does not exist on the computer on which it is run, no action is taken.
  2. The script does the same thing as the executable, but allows you to specify the remote machine name on which to block or unblock delivery of Service Packs. Note that the executable and script have been tested only as a command-line tool and not in conjunction with other systems management tools or remote execution mechanisms.
  3. The ADM template allows administrators to import group policy settings to block or unblock delivery of Service Packs into their Group Policy environment. Administrators can then use Group Policy to centrally execute the action across systems in their environment.

Please note that this toolkit will not prevent the installation of the service pack from CD/DVD, or from the stand-alone download package. This simply prevents the service pack from being delivered over Windows Update.

Download details Windows Service Pack Blocker Tool Kit

Microsoft Security Bulletin Summary for November 2010

Posted by bink on November 10 2010, 5:52 AM.

Microsoft is releasing three security bulletins, addressing 11 vulnerabilities.One of the bulletins has a Critical severity rating, while the other two arerated Important. Recapping the trio:

  • MS10-087 This bulletin resolves five issues affectingall currently supported Microsoft Office products. The bulletin is rated Criticalfor Office 2007 and Office 2010 due to a preview pane vector in Outlook thatcould trigger the vulnerability when a customer views a specially crafted maliciousRTF (Rich Text Format) file. The update also addresses an Office vectorfor the vulnerability described in SecurityAdvisory 2269637, which has beenreferred to as "DLL Preloading" and "Binary planting." MS10-087 is Microsoft's top prioritybulletin for deployment in November and has an Exploitability Index rating of 1.
  • MS10-088 This bulletinresolves two cooperatively disclosed vulnerabilities in Microsoft PowerPointthat could allow remote code execution if a user opens a specially crafted PowerPointfile. The overall severity rating is Important due to the user interactionrequired to open the malicious file and we give the bulletin a rating of 2 inour deployment priority assessment.
  • MS10-089 This bulletinresolves four cooperatively disclosed vulnerabilities in Unified Access Gateway(UAG), which is a component of Microsoft Forefront. The most significant ofthese could allow elevation of privilege if a user clicks on a malicious linkon a website. This update is offered through the Microsoft Download Center andis not available through Microsoft Update at this time. With an overall severityrating of Important and user interaction required to exploit, we also give thisa deployment priority of 2.

Microsoft is not aware of any active attacks seeking to exploit thevulnerabilities addressed in this month's release.

Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials

Posted by bink on November 10 2010, 3:25 AM.

Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials is part of the Windows Storage Server family, which is built upon the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system to provide a platform for network attached storage appliances. Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials includes storage technologies enabling you to grow with your storage requirements while providing an easy to use backup and recovery solution. Windows Storage Server Essentials is specifically developed to address the storage needs for small businesses up to 25 users without the need for specialized IT skills. Configuring Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials is easy: remove from box, connect to network, power up and access the device from a browser to configure it. The management dashboard makes it simple to manage, maintain and monitor the health of the Windows Storage Server Essentials device, and client computers.

 

wsse

Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials as well as the rest of the Storage Server product family are available through hardware partners.

Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials can be used as a new server for storage or to add additional storage capacity. For information on this please look at the SBS Blog.

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Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials addresses the requirements of small businesses with the following features:

Easy to use Backup and Recovery

Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials helps protect business data by providing daily automatic and consolidated backup for your PCs, as well as Mac clients. Specialized IT skills are not required to manage the small business storage backup and recovery requirements. Users can easily perform recovery on individual files, folders, entire client PC or even the entire Windows Storage Server Essentials device.

Active Directory Domain Join

Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials can easily integrate into the Microsoft identity infrastructure and that ensures that there is secure access for all the important small business data. This is done easily and through the management dashboard.

Management Dashboard

Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials provides a dashboard that helps manage, maintain and monitor the health of the server, and client computers. Organizations can provision users, file shares and administer 3rd party add-ins without the need for specialized IT skills.

Centralized Storage

Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials provides storage to keep all your important documents in one place. Every member of the organization can access what they need in one centralized place from their PCs securely.

Plug and Play Storage and File Services

As a preconfigured appliance Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials is ready-to-go right out of the box. File services are pre-configured and deployment is quick and painless, just plug in power and Ethernet, then complete the simple setup from a client computer and you are done.

Remote Web Access

Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials lets small business users access their data securely from any common browser from almost any device. This will ensure that even when users are away from their business network that they have access to their important data.

Add-ins

Leverage the community of add-ins that help extend the storage and file capabilities of the Windows Storage Server Essentials device in the areas of management, data protection, and monitoring.

To see further information on how this release integrates in Microsoft’s SMB solution portfolio, please refer to today’s SBS Blog.

Hotmail security improves with full-session HTTPS encryption

Posted by bink on November 10 2010, 3:19 AM.

Beginning today, Hotmail is providing you with the option to enhance the security of your entire Hotmail session with HTTPS data encryption (via secure socket layers, or SSL), which is currently used to help secure your Hotmail sign-in. Today’s update joins a series of other recent security updates, with which Hotmail offers advanced security safeguards to help protect your email account from hijackers and fraud.

Also starting today, SkyDrive, Photos, Docs, and Devices pages all automatically use SSL encryption, transferring all their data over HTTPS. By using a connection with advanced security features, you can be even more confident that your account is safer from hijackers, and your private information is less likely to fall into someone else’s hands.

To enable HTTPS for your Hotmail inbox, calendar, and contacts, go to https://account.live.com/ManageSSL. Once you enable this feature, all of your future connections to Hotmail will be delivered over SSL.

Some connections to Hotmail won’t be available if you turn on HTTPS, including:

  • Outlook Hotmail Connector
  • Windows Live Mail
  • The Windows Live application for Windows Mobile (version 6.5 and earlier) and Symbian

Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager Self-Service Portal 2.0

Posted by bink on November 10 2010, 3:12 AM.

VMMSSP (also referred to as the self-service portal) is a fully supported, partner-extensible solution built on top of Windows Server 2008 R2, Hyper-V, and System Center VMM. You can use it to pool, allocate, and manage resources to offer infrastructure as a service and to deliver the foundation for a private cloud platform inside your datacenter. VMMSSP includes a pre-built web-based user interface that has sections for both the datacenter managers and the business unit IT consumers, with role-based access control. VMMSSP also includes a dynamic provisioning engine. VMMSSP reduces the time needed to provision infrastructures and their components by offering business unit “on-boarding,” infrastructure request and change management.

Now you can download the release of SSP 2.0 on this link

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=fef38539-ae5a-462b-b1c9-9a02238bb8a7&displaylang=en