What's New in Microsoft Land: 28th August - 1st September

Vista pre-RC1; WMP 11 Beta 2; One more Live Service

On Monday, Microsoft released Windows Vista pre-RC1, English 32-Bit Edition that can be downloaded as an ISO from the giant's website.

The product is available until 100,000 downloads will be recorded, Microsoft confirming this is a limited test version because "Windows Vista RC1 will be available in the coming weeks".

"After downloading, please install and test the build as soon as possible. Most importantly, if there is a crash, hang, or error - please make sure that you send the information back to us using the built-in Windows Error Reporting technology (a dialog box will display automatically). Sending this information is essential to helping us improve the overall quality of Windows Vista - and collecting this information is the primary purpose of distributing this pre-RC1 release," Microsoft said.

The giant is trying something that was never a success for the company: developing with customers' help. This way, Microsoft is preparing the release of Vista by creating a good image among its clients.

The same day, a Microsoft blogger published a phone conversation with Steve Ball, group program manager for the Windows Audio Video Excellence team, saying that users cannot mute the startup sound in Vista.

"Anyway, let's go into what Steve just told me on the record:

"The bottom line is that the rumors, stories, speculation about the new Windows Vista sound are true," Ball said, "but with a number of extreme qualifications."

The current plan, he tells me, is that there will be a pre-wired sound that plays when the system is ready for you to logon. This is the plan of record for quite a few months.

You can do other things with your attention and your eyes during cold boot without feeling like you have to watch and wait.

This will be a non-customizeable sound, and that's been part of the plan for Windows Vista for many months, he said," is mentioned on the blog.

Wow! This looks like a good idea for Vista to earn some new customers and attract users of other operating systems. Or NOT?

On Tuesday, Microsoft published a statement on its website to announce "an expanded alliance in which Verizon will offer its consumer DSL and FiOS Internet customers a co-branded suite of Microsoft Windows Live services to help them enjoy more personalized Internet experiences with enhanced online security."

"As part of the new agreement, which is an expansion of the two companies' broadband relationship that began in April 2002, Verizon customers will have access to co-branded information and communications services, including a co-branded Live.com home page with easy access to Verizon and Windows Live services, a Windows Live Toolbar, a co-branded Windows Live Search page, Verizon e-mail powered by Windows Live Mail, a co-branded version of Windows Live Messenger and safety protection via Windows Live OneCare safety scanner."

"We're delighted to move forward with Microsoft in offering our broadband customers an enhanced, more-personalized Internet experience through a combination of Windows Live services and innovative features from Verizon," said John Wimsatt, senior vice president, Broadband Solutions Marketing for Verizon.

On Wednesday, Microsoft released a beta version for Windows Live OneCare Family Safety, a tool that "can help you protect your children from web content that you think is inappropriate."

"Family Safety gives you the tools you need to help protect your children from online content that you think is inappropriate. This service also lets you customize the Internet experience for you and your family," Microsoft described the product.

"Child safety parental control is really a top-of-mind issue. It just keeps getting bigger with all the coverage around social networking and MySpace and things like that. There was an expectation from our customers that we should be doing more to help keep them safer online," Alan Packer, a product unit manager at Microsoft sustained.

On Thursday, Microsoft released Windows Media Player 11 Beta 2 that "includes a new Media Sharing feature, as well as improvements to the Beta 1 release that are based on your feedback," as it is mentioned on the website.

"The new Media Sharing feature of Windows Media Player 11 lets you enjoy the contents of your Windows Media Player library from anywhere in your home. If you have a home network (wired or wireless), you can use Windows Media Player 11 to stream the contents of your library to networked devices. For example, if you have an Xbox 360 or other digital media receiver (DMR), you can use Windows Media Player to stream music, pictures, and videos from your computer to that device. This even works with music that you've downloaded from PlaysForSure music stores and services."

"Windows Media Player 11 is designed to work with all versions of Windows XP Service Pack 2 including Windows XP Home Edition N and Windows XP Professional N" and is available for download here.

On Friday, Websense Security Labs published a security advisory to advise users about a fake e-mail message that encourages the installation of a patch to fix a Windows flaw.

"Websense Security Labs has received reports of a new wave of email scams disguised as Microsoft Security Bulletins. Users receive an email message which urges the immediate installation of a cumulative security patch for the "plug and play" vulnerability." "People are still falling for this. It is very easy for a hacker to take advantage of the fear created in the marketplace," Websense country manager Joel Camissar said.

Week's Conclusion: Windows Vista pre-RC1, English 32-Bit Edition, Windows Live OneCare Family Safety, Windows Media Player 11 Beta 2. New beta's week. A calm and quiet period for the giant, without any lawsuits or other complaints. Nice one Microsoft!


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