On November 8, 2010, one of my most anticipated packages arrived from Amazon: a 250 GB Xbox 360 Kinect combo. Kinect is one of the more popular devices to leave the doors of Microsoft. The Redmond, Wash.-based company initially expected to sell two million of them during the holiday season but upped estimates to five million due to high preorder sales. Not a day goes by without reports about how someone has hacked Kinect for some other use besides gaming. I think this suggests demand for natural user interfaces will expand beyond touch, and go mainstream. Couple that with the high cool factor Kinect offers and this could be the device that reinvigorates Microsoft's consumer image. Could Kinect be Microsoft's iPod?
I think so. In case you don't remember, Apple was largely a forgotten company in the mid 1990s. There were no mainstream products, Macs were very expensive for most consumers to buy and most businesses chose the certainty of Windows. Things began to change when Apple cofounder Steve Jobs returned to the company in late 1996 and became interim CEO the next year. In 1998, he launched the trendy, translucent iMac. But there wasn't much room for Mac sales to grow -- most people used Windows PCs. Apple needed something new.
On December 31, 2010, a number of our users reported their email messages and folders were missing from their Hotmail accounts. I want to take a little time to explain what happened, and what steps we’ve taken to fix this problem and prevent it from happening in the future.
In Hotmail, one way we monitor the health of the email service is through automated tests. We set up a number of accounts with different configurations, and then use automated tests to log into these accounts, simulate normal user activity and behavior, and report when errors are found. We use scripts to create and delete these test accounts in bulk. The way we delete a test account is to remove its record from a group of directory servers that route users and incoming mail to the correct mailbox.
On December 30th, we had an error in a script that inadvertently removed the directory records of a small number of real user accounts along with a set of test accounts. Please note that the email messages and folders of impacted users were not deleted; only their inbox location in the directory servers was removed. Therefore when they logged in, a new mailbox was automatically created for them on a new storage server that didn’t contain their old messages and folders. This is why the accounts received the “Welcome to Hotmail” message.
Skype said Thursday that it had acquired streaming video service Qik for an undisclosed amount, believed to be around $100 million USD. The VoIP provider says it plans to use Qik's technology to enhance its own video calling functionality.
Qik was founded in 2006 and is compatible with about 200 phones across several platforms including the iOS, Android, Blackberry, Symbian, and Windows Mobile platforms. The company has also struck several partnerships to have its applications come preloaded on select devices.
The concept is simple: the user shoots video with his or her camera phone, which is then uploaded to Qik's servers and delivered in near real time via the company's website. The user also has the option to share the video via social networking.
Every year, the average megapixel count of consumer mobile devices takes an incremental hop upward. Last year, the most common mobile phone cameras hovered around 5 megapixels. The phones being debuted at CES 2011 seem to be sticking around 8 megapixel with 720p video capture capabilities.
But at the same time as their internal sensors are getting more sophisticated, they're also becoming more sophisticated remote viewscreens. Today, Samsung launched a line of "DIY" video security cameras that can broadcast to smartphone or connected TV apps located either within the camera's local network, or remotely.
"Our new Samsung DIY Security Systems provide the advanced technology and sleek design that Samsung is known for and offers homeowners and SMBs an all-in-one solution to protect their most valuable assets" said Mike Palazzolo, vice president of sales and marketing, consumer products at Samsung Techwin America.
Microsoft is taking notice of industry trends, and told attendees Wednesday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that the next version of Windows would run on ARM chips. The move is an acknowledgement of the changing face of consumer electronics -- that smart phones, tablets, and portable devices are indeed the future.
The move is also significant for another reason -- up until now, Microsoft on ARM was relegated to the stripped down versions of Windows, either Windows Mobile, CE, or Embedded. Having the capability to run a full version of the operating system natively on these mobile processors opens up more possibilities for manufacturers in developing compact devices, the Redmond company believes.
"We've reached a point in technology where everyone really does want everything from their computing experience," Windows chief Steven Sinfosky said in explaining the decision. "Today's demonstrations will highlight the work we have done on the architecture of Windows to enable the richness of the Windows platform to run natively on the ARM platform."
Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) is a free antivirus software product created by Microsoft that provides protection against different types of malware such as computer virus, spyware, rootkits and trojan horses for Windows XP (x86), Windows Vista, and Windows 7 (both x86 and x64). Microsoft Security Essentials replaces Windows Live OneCare, a commercial subscription-based antivirus service and the free Windows Defender, which only protected users from adware and spyware. Unlike the Microsoft Forefront family of enterprise-oriented security products, Microsoft Security Essentials is geared for consumer use.