October 30, 2008
Windows 7 Appears In Public
Microsoft is showing off Windows 7, in its pre-beta form, at the company's Professional Developer Conference. Everyone who attends the conference will walk away with a copy of the OS. Initial reports indicate that Microsoft learned its lesson from the mistakes of Vista's development and roll-out.
Here's what we know so far, gleaned from various press reports:
- Windows 7 uses the same foundation as Vista, so programs compatible with Vista will work fine with Windows 7. This means the horror of getting things to work through drivers and applications will be a smooth transition insofar as companies have developed for Vista. Now there is no excuse for tardy developers.
- The interface is changing (again). Things that weren't necessary, such as the sidebar, are gone. Gadgets are placeable right on the desktop. This is true even in Vista, so who needs this thing? The task bar has been liberated in that open applications will appear as thumbnails at the bottom of the screen. These can be rearranged to suit the user. A right click on a thumbnail offers options for more actions with the application than simply bringing it to the foreground.
- The notification tray is changing in that users will now control what appears there.
- Another new organizational feature is libraries. These are built in automatic machine searches that can display aggregate content such as video, pictures, and music in all locations including removable media. It can work across machines on a network. As useful as this is, I'm reminded of the posting I saw in a forum on the Vista beta some years back. A man wrote in that Vista indexed his porn collection and asked for help to get it out of the index/library before his wife found it. No word on how relentless the library feature may be.
- The Media Player and library are now separate views. The interface is redesigned somewhat to include album art in the visualization screen. Media Player will support more codecs natively, including those for unprotected AAC files, Xvid, and DivX media. There are other customizable features.
- As previously announced, Windows Mail, Photo Gallery, and Movie Maker will be part of a downloadable bundle of web services rather than embedded in the operating system. We find out now that as web services, they will be able to be used with services from Google, Yahoo, and other non-Microsoft entities. Kudos to Microsoft recognizing more than just their own universe. This is not typical of the past company attitude. It also suggests that the competition issues with the European Union have had a positive effect on the company in this design.
- The User Access Control will still be there, though less annoying with fewer notification.
- Windows 7 will use less memory. One of the demonstrations showed the OS running on a sub-notebook. Goodbye XP.
There are other features worth mentioning, related to troubleshooting, network administration, and other items to be tweaked or added (or removed) before the final release. Vista's successor could come out in late 2009 or early 2010.
October 28, 2008
Google Settles Author Suit
Google has made nice with book publishers upset over Google's book scanning project. They had sued over copyright concerns given that Google hadn't asked for permission to scan complete titles and place snippets of in-copyright titles in the search engine. Google countered with the fair use argument and the game was on. As a side note, Microsoft sanctimoniously entered the fray by licensing titles to scan, only later to get bored with the project and abandoning it completely.
The terms as described in the press call for Google to pay plaintiffs $125 million dollars. For that Google sets up a rights registry of out of print but in copyright titles with information as to who may own the rights making sure the right parties get paid royalties on book views. Libraries will be able to buy subscriptions to the entire book library. Google will sell access to books owned by rights holders to individuals and share revenue with publishers. Scanning will continue content under this arrangement. The agreement only covers the United States.
CSM to go Native on the Internet
People say that the Internet is killing newspapers. Poor Sam Zell, buying the Tribune Co. and discovering that cutting staff and a redesign of the flagship paper doesn't bring in the readers for the physical copy. The Tribune is not the story here. It's the venerable Christian Science Monitor which is leaving print behind and going strictly online for its operation. Look for the last edition off the presses coming out next April.
More on this from Howard Kurtz at the still in print Washington Post. [MG]
October 27, 2008
Army Fears Twitter As A Terrorist Tool
The army (ours) thinks that Twitter could be used by terrorists to coordinate attacks. The reason? Protesters at the Republican National Convention used Twitter to coordinate the protest. From the report (page 8):
Twitter has also become a social activism tool for socialists, human rights groups, communists, vegetarians, anarchists, religious communities, atheists, political enthusiasts hacktivists and others to communicate with each other and to send messages to broader audiences.
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Twitter was recently used as a countersurveillance, command and control,and movement tool by activists at the Republican National Convention(RNC). The activists would Tweete each other and their Twitter pages to add information on what was happening with Law Enforcement near real time.
More information from ChannelWeb. Vegetarians? Won't the government please save us from the meat-avoiders. [MG]