Tag Archives: Microsoft

PC Vs. Mac – The Truth

“Better” is a relative term. So is “best.”

It’s rare that I jump into the middle of a PC vs. Mac debate (hasn’t it been settled already?). However, this morning I watched a tweet from @Windows float by. On the other end of that link sits Microsoft’s own “PC vs. Mac” page, and it’s so full of mistruths, I (honestly) thought I was reading a piece from The Onion.

Now, I’m an odd duck – I live in both worlds. I’m a Mac AND a PC – it’s fully possible. Hell, when you buy a Mac, you become a de-facto PC (given that it can run Windows natively just like every Windows PC in the marketplace). I’m also a Microsoft MVP for Windows. I was also banned from promoting Apple products by way of their affiliate program. Just had to get all of that out of the way first.

I’m going to take the time to address each and every point that Microsoft is conveying, if only to deliver the truth to people who are really trying to figure out which is better for them. You’re free to draw your own conclusions, but (IMHO) Microsoft really did their userbase a disfavor by publishing this without first running it through the BS wringer. Well, that’s what the I’m here for, right? It’s fully possible to encourage people to buy into your platform without lying about the “competition.”

Again, a Mac can be a full-standing Windows PC. I’ve written an entire eBook on helping people switch between Windows and Mac OS X, too.

I loved Windows XP. I love Windows 7. Don’t get me started on Windows Me or Windows Vista, pl0x. Not looking for trolls or fanbois (though I’m sure they’ll come pouring in from both sides). I’ve done my best to clear the air for confused consumers, not incite religious wars.

PCs are ready for fun.

Oh, god. No. You didn’t. Really? Wow. Okay. That clears it up. Thanks.

PCs are hard workers but they’re also fun to play with. You can watch, pause, rewind, and record TV like a DVR and you’ll find that many of the world’s most popular games are available only on a PC.

You can use your Mac like a TV / DVR. I do it all the time. And it’s true that “many” of the world’s most popular games are available only on a PC – but a Mac can be a PC, and the Steam library grows by the year. What exactly are they trying to prove, here?

When you buy a PC running Windows 7, you can get a Blu-ray player, TV tuner, Memory Stick reader, or 3G wireless built in. You can’t get a Mac that ships with these items.

Valid point.

Most of the world’s most popular games are available only on a PC. And Macs can’t connect to an Xbox 360. PCs are ready to play.

Someone apparently needs to hire me to teach these people that there’s a big difference between a Mac (hardware) and Mac OS X (the operating system). Their imprecision aside, there is software available to enable Mac OS X to connect to an Xbox 360. Maybe this is the part where I should tell you that I have four Xbox 360s in my home?

Many PCs running Windows 7 are designed to connect directly to TVs, so you can watch movies and see photos on the big screen. Most Macs can’t hook up to your TV unless you buy an adapter.

Huh? This doesn’t even make sense. I can share photos, videos, etc. to my smart TVs just by sharing the folder and making it discoverable on the network. As pointed out by @BWOps, DLNA compatibility makes things easier – and is readily available for free on Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux vis-a-vis TVMOBiLi.

With PCs running Windows 7, you can play the video and music stored on your home PC while you’re on the go, for free. Apple charges $99/year for its online service.

It’s true that Apple makes it insanely easier to do with their MobileMe service (and this price is subject to change), but it’s completely possible – without any additional service required – to access your files remotely. If anything, I’d argue that Windows makes it more difficult for the average user to do – but that’s a subjective assertion, not a blatant mistruth.

Oh, and some MobileMe services work on Windows, too.

The computer that’s easiest to use is typically the one you already know how to use. While some may say Macs are easy, the reality is that they can come with a learning curve. PCs running Windows 7 look and work more like the computers you’re familiar with, so you can get up and running quickly.

By that logic, no Mac OS X user would ever want to switch to Windows because it’s too unfamiliar. Allow me to quote something that @Shally tweeted the other day: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write – but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” [A. Toffler] I couldn’t have said it better myself. You’re cutting off your nose to spite your face to believe that today’s solution is going to be the answer for all of tomorrow’s problems.

When you use a PC, everyday things like your mouse and keyboard shortcuts work the way you expect.

Hang on. I’m laughing so hard right now, I’m crying.

Windows 7 was designed to make everyday tasks simpler with features that the Mac doesn’t have. For example, the new Snap feature makes it drag-and-drop easy to view two documents side by side.

Aero snap is nice, indeed. But I could have easily have written: “Mac OS X was designed to make everyday tasks simpler with features that Windows doesn’t have. For example, Exposé will show you all your open windows at a glance.” This is just tit for tat. You can cut, copy, and paste on either OS.

Sometimes the most natural way to use your computer screen is to touch it. And sometimes a real keyboard and mouse are hard to beat. If you get a PC, you don’t have to choose. PCs running Windows 7 support Touch, so you can effortlessly move between typing and touching to create documents, browse the web, read papers, and shuffle through files and folders. (Of course, you can still use a mouse, too.) Speaking of fingers, PCs with a fingerprint reader even let you log in with just a swipe of your finger.

Have you ever tried to use a Windows PC with a resistive touch screen? Let me just say this: it ain’t no iPad.

PCs are ready for work and school

Yes, because Macs aren’t? I’d argue that school IT administrators aren’t willing to switch, but… where there’s a will, there’s a way.

If you use Apple’s productivity suite, sharing files with PC users can be tricky. Your documents might not look right and your spreadsheets might not calculate correctly. Sharing goes beyond working together on a document. With Windows Live Mesh, you can access your home PC while you’re on the go, so your most important documents are always up to date and at your fingertips. Apple charges $99/year for its online service.

Google charges free, and is both Mac OS X and Windows compatible. Booyah. Maybe if Microsoft Office for Mac wasn’t so nasty, I’d give ’em some leeway. Actually, why didn’t they take this opportunity to promote their own product? It’s like they’re telling the entire PC and Mac world that their own Microsoft Office for Mac isn’t worth the price of admission?! But “your spreadsheets might not calculate correctly.” Wow. I guess Macs suck at addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division as much as I do.

You’ll have to buy a separate hardware adapter to plug your Mac into a standard VGA projector. Most PCs with Windows 7 hook up easily.

And by “easily,” they mean “after futzing with the settings on the projector for five minutes, if you’re lucky.” Microsoft is essentially forcing you into the past. VGA? Okay. You’ll have a top of the line notebook PC and be crippled by an ancient port? Really? Okay. Apparently, Windows PCs never need adapters in Utopia.

On a Mac, out of the box, you can only encrypt your home folder. With Windows 7 Ultimate, you can encrypt your entire hard drive and even USB drives. So your files can be safer wherever you go. And, with 25 gigabytes (GB) of free online storage, you can save your stuff in your personal cloud and use it from virtually anywhere you are.

Since they’re doing the comparison, how much does Mac OS X cost versus Windows 7 Ultimate? Don’t try to give me the BS that “Windows users don’t have to pay for Service Packs.” What do you think Windows 7 was to Windows Vista, folks? Oh, and in case nobody told marketing: Windows Live Mesh is available for Mac OS X.

It’s easy to share with a PC

Empirically, it’s easier to share with a Mac.

When you’re connected to the Internet you can actually use the programs and files on another PC as if you were sitting right in front of it.

Oh, because VNC (baked into OS X) doesn’t work?

With HomeGroup, you don’t have to manually set up movie and music sharing, file sharing, and printer sharing. Instead, it’s easy to automatically and securely network with all the computers in your house when they’re running Windows 7. And, when you’re away from home, you can automatically connect to the right printer on each network you use.

Microsoft DID make data easier to share data with other Windows 7 PCs that are running HomeGroup. FWIW, Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) will be using SMBX instead of Samba to better network with Windows PCs.

Sharing high-resolution photos used to mean sending huge email attachments. With a PC and Windows Live Mail, instead of clogging your friend’s inbox, you can send one small email with up to 200 photos attached. Your friend gets a preview album of the photos, can watch a slide show online, and then download high-resolution versions of the exact ones they want.

Dude. If you ever send me 200 photos in a single email, I will drive over to your house and slap you. Seriously. I’m not joking. They’re actually encouraging this behavior? Okay, well… if it makes you feel any better? You can send a massive amount file attachments from Mac OS X, too. How about just sending a link to your Facebook page, your Flickr stream, or wherever else you want to share your photos online? Don’t gag my inbox, either way.

On a Mac, iPhoto puts all your pictures in an iPhoto-protected library. If you want to organize, edit, or share your pictures, you have to use the iPhoto software. With a PC running Windows, you can work with your photos any way you like.

Thank you for explaining why I don’t use iPhoto on the Mac. They don’t force you to do anything. Picasa is perfectly cross-platform. You don’t HAVE to use iPhoto just like you don’t HAVE to use all that crapware that comes preinstalled on “many” PCs.

Plain and simple, if you’re a PC user, you have a world of compatible software and hardware to choose from. With PCs outselling Macs 10 to 1, most computer software is developed to run on PCs.

Has anybody bothered to talk about the quality of this “world of compatible software and hardware?” I’ve been more than happy with the selection available to me as a Mac OS X user. By the nature of Microsoft’s licensing approach to the marketplace, they will absolutely outsell Macs 10-to-1 – but what about overall user satisfaction? What about service and support? What about TCO? “Most computer software is developed to run on PCs.” This is an unfounded statement.

Most iOS software is developed to run on iPhones. #rhetorical

Apple’s productivity suite file formats won’t open in Microsoft Office on PCs. This can be a real hassle for Mac users sharing work documents with PC users.

Ah, but Apple’s productivity suite will import Microsoft Office formats. At least they’re trying, Microsoft. Moreover, if you’re still sending document attachments, KNOCK IT OFF. *points to Google Docs again* *points to Microsoft Office Live*

If there’s a Mac version of a program you need, you’ll have to buy it again and re-learn how to use it on a Mac.

Hahahahahaha! *catches breath* Hahahahahaha!

You can get the PC you want, in the size and color you want, with the features you want—all for the right price. With the best selection and price, PCs win hands down.

Yes, you can get what the market gives you – but that’s not “any size and color you want.” PC doesn’t win hands down. Sorry. It doesn’t. TCO isn’t factored into this ploy. There is absolutely a wider selection of Windows products available – yes. This doesn’t take into account build quality or service, but… you can find more PC options out there, certainly. If that’s what you want (an arbitrary value versus a good consumer electronics device), the choice for you is clear.

PCs running Windows 7 often come with features that either aren’t available or don’t come preinstalled on even the highest-end Macs, including Blu-ray, eSATA, multi-format card readers, touch screens, and mobile broadband support.

The Xbox 360 doesn’t work with Blu-ray, either – does that mean it’s worthless? Do you know how many Blu-ray discs I own? Seriously. I’m asking you because I have no idea. Everything I consume these days is fully digital. Moreover, my mobile broadband support comes by way of my mobile device – and every single Windows touch screen PC I’ve tried has fallen laughably short. I’ll give ’em eSATA, sure – but what about Thunderbolt (a far more ubiquitous IO port)?

Then again, if you want to watch Blu-ray movies on your computer (since OS X can read, write, etc. Blu-ray data)… Microsoft is correct, and Windows is a better option. Doesn’t mean that a PC is a better option, though – even though this entire debate is centered on PC vs. Mac – not Windows vs. OS X.

A Mac can be a Windows PC. A Mac can be a Windows PC. A Mac can be a Windows PC. A Mac can be a Windows PC. A Mac can be a Windows PC. A Mac can be a Windows PC. A Mac can be a Windows PC. A Mac can be a Windows PC. A Mac can be a Windows PC. A Mac can be a Windows PC. A Mac can be a Windows PC.

PCs are available in a full spectrum of colors across a wide range of price points. Macs are only available in white or silver.

I kinda like that. Plus, I tend to skin my notebook computers, anyway. This value is relative – largely irrelevant to them trying to prove that PCs are superior to Macs.

The selection of software for Macs is smaller than the selection for PCs. So if there’s a program you use on a PC, you’ll need to make sure it’s available for the Mac. And, if it is, you’ll need to learn how to use it on a Mac.

I don’t even want to qualify this argument with a response. In all the years I’ve used both Windows and Mac OS X, I’ve collected far more apps for Mac OS X – and they’re designed better, too. So many apps have similar interfaces – so once you stop treating Mac OS X like it was Windows, and Windows like it was Mac OS X… you’ll be more than happy with either one.

Did you hear that? It’s possible to be MORE THAN HAPPY WITH EITHER ONE. Or BOTH, for that matter. That’s the truth.

Bing for iPad

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The new Bing app for the iPad is actually better than Bing in the browser. No, I’m not joking. It is absolutely beautiful, and one of THE best overall iPad apps I’ve ever used. The first time I opened it up, I was drawn in for about fifteen minutes, just exploring everything it has to offer. If I were Apple, I’d be selling the device with this as a default app. It’s honestly THAT good.

The entire touch experience is right there. You can play around with everything on the screen. Anything you could possibly want – or need – is literally at your fingertips:

  • Find what’s important near you: tell Bing what you’re looking for using voice-activated search – even addresses. Find a restaurant or reserve a table. Use the Plans feature to explore nightlife options, Likes and comments on Facebook. Grab onto the social feature to see updates from Facebook and Twitter in your search results.
  • Find stores, photos, movie times and reviews, iPhone apps, travel deals, airline promotions, local weather forecasts and directions.
  • Use the real-time transit features to figure out if your bus will be on time or check the status of any flight.
  • Add information for a business or location on the map and Bing will let you know when you’re close to it.
  • Try using the Bing Vision to search using the device camera. Bring text into close view, and the app will recognize it. Select which words you want to search.
  • Scan a barcode and Bing will give you product results. It can also detect product information from QR code, Microsoft Tag, UPC codes and cover art from books, CD, DVDs, and video games.
  • Check into your favorite social sites without having to leave the app.
  • Always find the lowest rates and hottest deals on everything from dinner to movies to travel options using Bing.

I absolutely love that I can clear all of my history in about two seconds with one tap. The same can be said about turning Safe Search off and on. The setup and customization options are fantastic in this application.

Another awesome thing is that the app will keep a history of all of the places I have searched for. I can quickly scroll through and find something I’ve already looked up without having to type it out again or scrolling through results to find the correct one.

Want to see a movie tonight? Don’t just find a local theater and show times. Watch the movie trailers right within Bing. I can also get movie ratings and reviews and links to news articles written about each flick and their various actors and actresses.

This is what an app should be – something that draws you and and makes you want to explore the world around you. It’s not only functional, it’s fun. There are a lot of news and search apps out there, but this one just get it right.

Create New Games with Kodu and Win from Microsoft

The Kodu Kup contest is here! This is a game design competition for kids aged nine through seventeen residing in the United States. The contest began on March 11, 2011 at 12:00 a.m. Eastern Time and ends on May 10, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. ET. There are two categories to enter: the 9-12 age group and the 13-17 age group. You can win any one of some seriously cool prizes – including a copy of Microsoft Office Professional 2010 just for registering – even if you decide not to enter the contest!

Microsoft has provided a Kodu tutorial to help kids get started. Every child who has ever played a game has dreamed of creating one that’s even better. This is their chance! Encouraging their creativity in this contest can help bolster their skills and confidence. Heck, you never know – your kid may be the one to create the next best-selling computer game!

At the end of the contest, qualified judges will select the top six games (3 from each Category) and each finalist will be judged on the following judging criteria:

  • Innovation – How creative and technically unique is the Game? (25%)
  • Fun Factor – How intense, exciting, and entertaining are the attributes of the Game? (25%)
  • Production Quality – How complete is the Game including its polish of design, functionality, and thematic execution? (25%)
  • Presentation – How clear and precise is the Game Summary and Game Play Instructions (25%)

The finalist that receives the highest score in from each of the two categories will be the Grand Prize winners, and the remaining finalists will be the First Prize and Second Prize winners! I know… you want to know what you’ll win, right? Hold your horses, I was getting to that!

Grand Prize Microsoft Prize Pack

  • $5,000 Cash Prize
  • New York Trip for 2 to the Imagine Cup including roundtrip airfare, transportation, 3 nights occupancy at the Marriott Marquis Hotel, and $250 cash
  • Xbox 360 250GB Console with Kinect
  • 3 month Xbox LIVE Gold
  • Toshiba – Satellite Laptop
  • Microsoft – Arc Laser Mouse
  • Microsoft Office Professional 2010
  • Grand Prize Trophy

First Prize: Microsoft Prize Pack

  • Toshiba – Satellite Laptop
  • Microsoft – Arc Laser Mouse
  • Microsoft Office Home & Student
  • 1st Runner Up Trophy

Second Prize Microsoft Prize Pack

  • Zune HD 16GB MP3 Player
  • 1 year Zune Pass subscription
  • 2nd Runner Up Trophy

There will also be four (4) copies of Microsoft Office Professional 2010 given away at random just for registering. Additionally, one “School Award” will be presented, with the winner receiving $5,000.00 in cash and a 1 year Gaming Magazine subscription… from a choice of Computer Gaming World, EGM, GamePro, or PC Gamer.

Get your thinking caps on, and let your creative juices flow! Good luck to anyone and everyone who enters this awesome contest.

How To Upgrade Windows 7

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If you take a look at the official Windows Twitter account, you’ll see that all types of general computer use questions are answered on a daily basis. If you are reading this post and happen to be a power user – great for you! Please try to remember, though, that you yourself was once a complete n00b. We all have to learn sometime, and I’ve decided to help answer some of the basics for those seeking answers at the beginning of their computing career.

With so many different flavors of each Windows operating system available, it’s no wonder people become confused when trying to figure out which one they need. Heck, even the upgrade terms themselves can be a little puzzling.

A Windows 7 upgrade is an upgrade from an older version of Windows, like Vista or XP. An Anytime upgrade is one in which you upgrade your current version of Windows 7… such as from Home to Ultimate. Microsoft MVP Ed Bott put together a fantastic comparison chart which shows you the core differences between the versions of Windows 7 that is available.

Knowing what type of features are important to you will go a long way towards knowing what version you should be installing. Do some research and become familiar with each of the things offered in the various flavors. Don’t just assume that you need Ultimate simply because it offers the most. Are you truly going to miss any of the things that it includes and Home Premium doesn’t?

If you already have Windows 7 installed and do decide you need to upgrade, Microsoft has come up with a seriously slick idea. Perhaps your computer came with Windows 7 professional but you know you want Windows 7 Ultimate. Simply run the Anytime Upgrade tool with your legally purchased license key, and you’ll be finished in about ten minutes flat. You’ll keep your documents and settings exactly how they were and be able to take advantage of the new features opened up to you with the upgraded version.

If you aren’t sure what version of Windows 7 you have installed right now, it only takes a moment to find out. Click on your Start button and then right-click on the Computer icon. From there, choose the “Properties” button. Alternatively, you can also click the Windows key and Pause key at the same time to bring up that menu.

Windows 7 takes the confusion out of the operating system equation. Let the software do the work for you.

How to Adjust Screen Resolution in Windows

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Screen resolution refers to the size of the whole image that is displayed on your monitor. It specifically refers to the number of individual pixels that are shown at once. The more pixels on your screen the more detailed your images will be. With less pixels, the elements will look larger… but there will be a lot less space on the desktop for programs to run.

Your monitor has a native resolution – unless it’s an older model. Most LCD monitors these days can display a lot of different resolutions, but the native one always looks the best. This is because that is the resolution that matches the number of pixels inside of your display. Any other resolution might look a bit distorted since the number of pixels used won’t match the actual number in the display.

However, there are times when you may need to change your resolution to make it easier for you to see properly. Our monitors have an optimal resolution setting that works best for the monitor – but it may not work best for our eyes. Changing up the resolution is a pretty simple matter, thankfully. Before adjusting the resolution settings, make sure your display drivers and monitor drivers are up to date.

To change your resolution in Windows 7, right-click on your desktop and then choose “Screen Resolution.” You will find a drop-down menu next to the word “resolution,” showing you all of the different resolutions that your monitor can support. Further down on that same screen, you will see blue words: “Make text and other items larger or smaller.” Clicking here will help you quickly and permanently adjust your font and image size to meet your vision needs. Additionally, you can temporarily change text size on a page by holding down your CTRL key and scrolling the mouse wheel in or out.

Again on that same screen, clicking on the blue words “What display settings should I choose?” takes you to a Help topic which explains each of the changes you can make in detail. This page can help you make decisions on choosing color settings, brightness and contrast settings and more.

Microsoft has put together a fantastic tutorial to show you all of the ways you can customize your Windows 7 installation to meet your particular accessibility needs.

Nokia and Microsoft Announces Mobile Partnership

In a move only few predicted, Nokia and Microsoft just announced that they are teaming up to bring the Windows Phone 7 operating system to Nokia devices. The two companies feel that each brings incredible assets to the proverbial table, hopefully allowing them to deliver “significant benefits for consumers, developers, mobile operators and businesses around the world.”

While specific details have not all been fleshed out, many of them are highlighted in this morning’s press release. Nokia will adopt Windows Phone as their primary smartphone operating system and bring their own flair in areas such as imaging into the mix. They will help define the future of Windows Phone by contributing expertise on everything from language support to hardware design. This will allow the two companies to bring you devices with a larger range of pricing points, along with more of the features you want to see. Both teams will work together on future development and joint marketing.

In the statement – released by Stephen Elop and Steve Ballmer – they two powerhouses make some very broad predictions:

Today, the battle is moving from one of mobile devices to one of mobile ecosystems, and our strengths here are complementary.

There are other mobile ecosystems. We will disrupt them.

There will be challenges. We will overcome them.

Success requires speed. We will be swift.

We can all speculate that the two men are referring directly to Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. What remains to be seen is whether or not this marriage of mobile entities will be strong enough to pull off the lofty goals they have set before them. I know that many naysayers will be busy writing stories throughout the day today, discussing how this move will never work… how it will fall far short of expectations.

I think it’s entirely possible that Microsoft and Nokia may surprise us all. They definitely have a very long road ahead of them, but I feel it would be a shame to count them out before they even hit the floor running.

What are your thoughts? Do you think this strategic partnership between the two companies could turn into something far better than we could imagine at this point in time?

Which Version of Windows is Right for You?

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Someone wondered recently why there are so many versions of Windows. I wanted to answer with “Because Microsoft hates you!” Have you ever walked into a store and been confronted with seventy different types of gum? You have no idea what you want. The same thing happens with Windows… there are so many flavors, you aren’t sure what it is you want and need.

Microsoft does this because they want to give you what you need. The problem arises when you don’t know what you need. I say they should make one version and let people choose which parts of that piece of software they want. That has caveats of its own, of course. It’s a never-ending cycle.

Theoretically, Microsoft is giving you a choice of features with a variety of pricing structures. I don’t agree with this. I just want gum. I’m also the kind of guy who walks into a store and buys plain vanilla ice cream. I just want ONE thing.

It would be easier to have one copy of Windows and allow you to buy (and use) the portions you want to use. This makes sense from a marketing and a consumer standpoint.

What are your thoughts? Do you feel there are too many flavors of Windows?

Is the Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool Necessary?

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Someone recently asked if I felt the Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool is actually necessary. It’s a good tool for what it’s designed to do and I don’t see why you would NOT have it on your Windows machines. It’s free, and it’s designed to help keep your computer – and information – safe.

My assistant Kat is a Microsoft MVP in Windows Security, and I’m pretty sure she’d agree with my assessment, as well. This tool checks computers for infections by specific, prevalent malicious software—including Blaster, Sasser, and Mydoom—and helps remove any infection found. When the detection and removal process is complete, the tool displays a report describing the outcome, including which, if any, malicious software was detected and removed.

You can grab the tool via your Windows Updates, or simply download it directly. The version of the tool delivered by Windows Update runs in the background and then reports if an infection is found. To run this tool more than once a month, use the direct download version linked to above.

What security measures do you employ on your various machines?

What Would You Do With TechNet?

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Someone recently asked if it was worth spending money on a TechNet subscription from Microsoft. If you’re a developer, the answer is a definite yes. If you’re a student – you can get a pretty hefty discount. In any case, if you’re anyone who uses a lot of Microsoft software, then it’s definitely something you should look into.

Yes, it’s going to cost you money. But do you want to know as much as you can about their software, tools and development? If so, then yes, you totally want a subscription. It’s absolutely worth it. You have to ask yourself how important the knowledge you can gain is to you. How much is it worth to you?

Look at it this way. When you go to a job interview, you’re going to have to discuss what you know and how you know it. Being able to point to having an extreme amount of education when it comes to all of the various Microsoft platforms.

If you’re out of a job, you will definitely hesitate at spending the money for the subscription. But having that knowledge of Azure or .NET could put you head and shoulders above the competition. Even if you’re an Apple fan… you likely will need to use Microsoft software at some point in your life or career.

Weigh your options. How much is a foot in the door worth to you?

How Many Windows Phone 7 Devices Have Been Sold?

Microsoft is finally talking hard numbers. According to the company earlier today, they have sold about 1.5 million devices – but not to consumers. The announcement notes that there have been 1.5 million phone manufacturer sales: in other words, “phones being bought and stocked by mobile operators and retailers on their way to customers.” The number of units sold tell a story, to be sure. What we aren’t being told is how many of those devices are being activated.

Apple and Google routinely talk about how many phones are being activated. Reportedly, there are around 300,000 Android activations every day and even more new iPhone customers. Those numbers boggle the mind, and leaves us to wonder – who the heck is activating Windows Phone 7 devices? The report shows us how many devices have been purchased by people – including those used to stock the shelves in the stores. In my opinion, that’s trying to put a positive spin on what should technically be a dismal report.

If Microsoft truly wants to be a player, they need to stop beating around the bush. Tell us how many devices are being activated. If they aren’t happy with that number, then they need to look at why things are going in the direction they are. The handsets and operating system are both solid. What’s holding them back? Could there still be that much stigma surrounding the company when it comes to the mobile market? Perhaps they need to come up with a new game plan to get these phones into the hands of real people who will give them a fair and unbiased opinion.

What are your thoughts? I don’t want to hear from Microsoft haters or Apple (or Android!) fanboys. I want to know WHY you feel Windows Phone 7 isn’t selling as well as the folks in Redmond had hoped. Please don’t just use the tired argument of “Microsoft sucks,” because that isn’t going to help anyone. Let’s hear what you honestly think, and perhaps together we can all come up with some fresh ideas.

The Kin is back from the dead! [COMIC]

At the end of June, Microsoft killed off their line of Kin phones. There were reports that only about five hundred of the devices ever sold. Speculation pointed to the high cost of the device and its plan, as well as the fact that they seemed to be geared towards teenagers.

Apparently, the Kin is back with an updated pricing plan. Do you think resurrecting this device was a good idea?

The Kin is back from the dead! [COMIC]

Windows Phone 7 Devices Hit the Streets Today in the U.S.

Mobile enthusiast and a garage developer Richard Mungeer was the first person to purchase a Windows Phone 7 device today in New York City’s Times Square AT&T Store. From what I’ve seen already, Microsoft is definitely back in the mobile game with this launch.

It’s worth noting that reports are circulating telling you that you can purchase one of these new devices on either Dell Mobility or Amazon Wireless for as low as $149.99 with a new two-year contract. That’s a dang good deal for phones which are going to be very big sellers.

Many of the articles we’re seeing come across the wire thus far this morning are giving high praise to these devices, and the operating system for which they were built, such as over on GearLive:

The home screen introduces you to the tiles that make up the main navigation, some of which are live tiles that update with information in realtime. The live tiles are great because they give glance-able information that let you take a quick gander at your device and get information without having to go into an app and back out.

The tiles can be removed, or rearranged however you’d like them to be. If you’ve used a Zune HD, then you will be familiar with the UI of Windows Phone 7. The phone, though, is far more customizable, with Microsoft wanting you to be able to personalize the phone and make it totally “yours.”

The general consensus so far is that Windows Phone 7 is definitely worth your time and money. “If you’re the corporate type, Windows Phone 7 will sync right up with Exchange, while also offering you a bunch of entertainment options that are built right in to the device in a way that no other mobile OS has captured yet.” This statement alone could sell quite a few large companies on making a switch to this operating system for all of their employees.

What are your thoughts? Have you actually used a Windows phone 7 device yet? Are you looking forward to getting your hands on one?

Are You Ready to Kinect?

This is a guest post written by long-time community member and friend Mike Parks – otherwise known as simply @BigRedPimp. You can also find him helping to “pimp” out his wife’s Eco-friendly Homemaker site. Mike has had a Kinect in his hot little hands for nearly three months now, and was gracious enough to give us his thoughts on the device thus far.

Video game controllers have come a long way since some of us were kids. We’ve gone from blocky, one-button joysticks that move a small, yellow circle around a maze to current iterations that have more buttons than we have fingers. Often times, we find ourselves wondering what’s next and hoping for a little more interaction with the games we play. Gamers want just a bit more immersion into worlds they choose to dedicate their spare time to.

In recent years, some companies have experimented with video-based or motion controls. Games using these technologies would allow the player to get involved through motions that either the controller or the camera would pick up and translate into movement. These often offered minimal enjoyment and, after the newness wore off, felt gimmicky at best.

Enter Kinect for Xbox 360. In order to hopefully offer something different, Microsoft has released a new style of gaming peripheral that uses camera-based game play and offers a totally new twist on anything we’ve seen before.

The Kinect is an attempt to get users off the couch and into the games they play. It offers a camera, microphone and a depth sensor that allows it to not only see and hear the players but determine their location in front of the TV. Kinect even allows for more than one person at a time to play which is great for getting families involved.


The camera in the Kinect is an RGB camera that captures video at 640x480x32@30Hz. It offers an impressive image quality that is not only good for allowing games to capture detailed images but great for video chat using Video Kinect. It seems to lag behind slightly during Video Kinect sessions but that does not interfere with its processing during normal game activity. Overall, it’s a great camera for its purposes.


The microphone is a fairly standard multi-array microphone that is able to pick up a wide spectrum of sound. The sound quality is above average and great for voice communication via Video Kinect or even issuing voice commands to the Xbox 360. To get the attention of the Dashboard, you just say “Xbox” and it responds. You may have some issues with responsiveness of voice commands with certain accents and dialects but it still seems fairly accurate. The microphone is passable but far from horrible.


Kinect uses a depth sensor to track a player’s location in the room. If you’re curious how it works, it basically bounces infrared light onto the play area and processes the brightness of a series of images into a sort of greyscale image. With this information, it’s able to figure out the shapes of things like your furniture as well as recognize facial & body movements. If you walk forward, your avatar moves forward. Act like you’re kicking a ball and your avatar will do the same. This is the best aspect of the product and does a fantastic job at what it does.


Of course, the whole thing would be useless without the games. Kinect comes with a game called Kinect Adventures that has players kicking and punching dodgeballs at targets, navigating a raft down a river or even racing around an obstacle course. The game has a lot to offer players with 20 different game types to play as well as collecting trophies along the way to document your adventures.

Another game that flexes the muscle of Kinect is Kinect Sports. This game includes a few sports titles that really get you off the couch and involved in the game. One minute, you could be swearing off that last gutter ball in Bowling, hurling a javelin for distance in Track & Field or even scoring the game-winning header in Football (sorry, “Soccer” isn’t in my vocabulary).

You’re not stuck with having to buy all the software to use the Kinect either. There’s plenty of things to do within the Xbox Dashboard too. Currently, the ESPN, Last.fm and Zune applications as well as Video Kinect take advantage of certain aspects of Kinect. It has something to offer everyone, no matter the price.


The Kinect experience is definitely one that everyone should try at least once. The offerings as of this review range from sports, exercise & music titles with a few action games rounding out the mix. Kinect has a lot of potential to get families playing together. The core gamers shouldn’t feel left out either as there are plenty of titles both current and in the works to satisfy even the most hardcore gaming appetite. While it may not be a game-changer, it does well at enhancing the fun factor and leave players wanting more.

Han Solo’s Blaster Drawn in Microsoft Paint

Can you believe FuggedabouditNL was able to do this in Microsoft Paint? I could barely draw a circle with the official circle-drawing tool. Guess it’s not about the tool, after all. He puts Photoshop artists to shame!

As you probably know, MS Paint is free software! This video once again proves that one doesn’t need expensive programs like Photoshop to create some nice 3D images!

This drawing was done in only five hours. Can you even believe he did this? Seriously? I’d like to see YOU try it!

Music Credit – Epic Demo by Cesc Vilà.