Microsoft Integrating Kinect Sensor Into Laptop Computers

Subject: Mobile | January 27, 2012 - 03:48 PM |
Tagged: portable, PC, microsoft, laptop, kinect

At CES 2012, Microsoft announced that they would be releasing a Kinect sensor and SDK (software development kit) for Windows.  In that same vien, the company is now exploring the idea of integrating a Kinect sensor directly into laptop computers.

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Not the actual prototype.  Just a mock up I concocted.

The crew over at The Daily managed to get their hands on two such prototype laptops with integrated Kinect sensors.  They state tha the two machines resemble Asus laptops that are running Windows 8; however, upon closer inspection, the laptops have removed the typical 1.3 megapixel webcam that is common in today's notebooks and have instead placed a Kinect sensor bar at the top of the display instead.  They claim that a source within Microsoft has confirmed that the two laptops are indeed official prototypes.

Unfortunately, there aren't many details beyond that.  Whether Microsoft will forge ahead with this idea and license out the Kinect technology to laptop makers or if the prototypes will go into some bunker somewhere and never see the light of day still remains a mystery.  Currently at $250 (to end users, OEMs could likely cut a much better deal), it is not likely that we will see a proliferation of Kinect sensors into all manner of displays for notebooks, TVs, and desktops.  If Microsoft could get the cost of the technology down far enough that manufacturers could justify adding it, it could definitely catch on.  In the end, I don't think we'll be seeing Kinect powered computers any time soon, but in the future when the hardware is cheaper and there are Kinect for Windows applications readily available, it could happen.  Would you like to see Kinect in your laptop (insert Xzibit meme here) or desktop monitor, and if so what would you like to do with it?

Source: The Daily

New Xbox (Next Box / Xbox 720) To Be Six Times More Powerful Than Xbox 360

Subject: General Tech | January 26, 2012 - 01:34 AM |
Tagged: xbox 720, xbox, rumors, radeon hd 6670, next box, microsoft, gpu, gaming, console, amd

Microsoft's Xbox 360 is coming up on seven years old, and the company has sold more than 66 million units. Naturally, as graphics techniques and software has advanced, the aging hardware is starting to hold back game developers from implementing higher detail settings and larger maps with more players. Both developers and gamers are clamoring for the next Xbox to be released so that they can advance to the next stage of gaming. PCs are way ahead in the graphics quality race as the hardware has greatly advanced in the interim, and console gamers and game developers are starting to take notice and want for the features. Bring on the Next Box (or Xbox 720 or whatever it will eventually be called). With updated hardware, it should give console gamers some new (to them) shiny graphics to look at and smoother frame rates at the same quality settings we have now.

Xbox Logo.jpg

According to IGN, sources have confirmed that the next generation gaming console will have six times the processing power of the current generation Xbox 360. This increase in processing power is due in part to the updated graphics card that is akin to the AMD Radeon HD 6670 GPU, which while only a budget/HTPC card on the PC side of things, is a nice step up from the Xbox 360's ATI Xenos graphics chip.

The card will support 1080p, DirectX11, multiple display outputs, and 3D. Unfortunately, pricing for the upcoming gaming system was not revealed nor were any other details about the specific underlying hardware. If you are in the mood for more speculation on what might be inside the next Xbox, Tech Radar has compiled a list of the various gossip around the net about the console.

Source: IGN

CES 2012: Windows 8 pre-beta hands-on at The Verge

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 12, 2012 - 04:40 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, microsoft, CES 2012, CES

It is no secret that Microsoft is not attending the next CES and they stated publicly that there will be minimal announcements relative to what we typically expect. While that is all true, Microsoft still has some news at the show to be indulged upon. Tim has already covered the upcoming release of Kinect to Windows for approximately the price of an entry-level 2GB RAM dual-core laptop; Microsoft had a piece of NVIDIA’s keynote to discuss Windows on ARM; and Microsoft showed a newer build of Windows 8. The Verge spent some time with a Microsoft representative and took video to show for it. Find out the future for the mice that are not just going to stick with Windows 7.

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Tiled of feeling blue?

Personally, I am not the biggest mobile user in the world: the majority of what I use my laptop for is to install a new version of Ubuntu, and even then I often skip versions. My cellphone usage is pay-as-you-go with $100 dollars on my account per year and somewhere around $90 of that expires or rolls over to the next year. I am not against mobile computing; I am just never in a situation where I need to use it. Keep those points in mind while I discuss Windows 8.

I am going to ignore the ability to re-skin the start screen despite it being a much desired feature. The more important development from an examination standpoint is how Microsoft expects the mouse and keyboard will fill in with Windows 8. You are able to navigate through the Metro interface left and right using your scroll wheel or alternatively hold ctrl to zoom in and out with the scroll wheel. Also on display is the top-to-bottom swipe gesture to kill an application for touchscreen users. Check them out in action for yourself at The Verge.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: The Verge

Microsoft Surpasses Yahoo In Search Usage For First Time

Subject: General Tech | January 12, 2012 - 12:13 PM |
Tagged: yahoo, search, microsoft, Internet

The Internet search market is a competitive space, as the more control over search a company has, the more money they can make from ad networks, analytic and tracking data, and having an influence over the development of the Internet. Google still remains handily in first place with a majority share of the search market. That's not anything surprising. Where competition heats up; however, is beneath Google where companies fight over the remaining 30% or so of the search market. Microsoft's Bing search engine is the latest major entrant to the market, and for the first time since it's launch it has surpassed Yahoo for the number 2 spot over the search market.

 

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Microsoft Bings Yahoo.  Also, transparency fail.

According to comScore, Bing and Microsoft's other websites reached 2.75 billion search requests in the United States during the month of December. This allowed Microsoft to slip past Yahoo, who's search engine fielded 2.65 billion requests. Microsoft now holds a 15.1 % share of US search traffic while Yahoo holds 14.5 %. To put those numbers in perspective, Google holds 65.9 % market share. This fight for a slice of the search market has come at a huge cost to Microsoft who's online division lost $7 billion USD in operating costs since June of 2008, according to CBS News.

Further, the article suggests that Microsoft and Yahoo will now continue to draft and pass each other for the next few years. More information can be found at the article linked above.  Have you used Bing, and will it ever have the oomph to take on Google? I personally use Google for the majority of the time but Bing is an okay backup. The image searching is fairly good. I predict that a Bing powered Windows search box (offer internet results from bing in Explorer if no files matching keywords are found, for example) would be interesting and help Microsoft to maintain a search market presence, but don't let the EU find out. What are your thoughts on Microsoft taking second place? Will they be able to maintain their position?

Source: CBS News

Microsoft Releasing Kinect for Windows And SDK On February 1st, 2012

Subject: General Tech | January 12, 2012 - 11:18 AM |
Tagged: xbox, windows, voice, software, PC, microsoft, kinect, gestures

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced at the Consumer Electronics Show that on February 1st, the new Kinect sensor for Windows would become available for purchase. In addition to the new Kinect for Windows sensor hardware, Microsoft is releasing an official SDk or Software Development Kit. Having the SDK installed on a Windows operating system will be required in order to use Kinect software applications. Currently, there are no (Microsoft official) consumer applications using Kinect; however, official hardware and an official SDK will surely spur software development.

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Microsoft is confident that the launch of the SDK and specially tuned hardware will spur development of software. According to MSNBC, the company is working with over 200 companies to develop software applications for Windows using Kinect. Microsoft's partners include Toyota, Mattel, American Express, and United Health Group. These corporate partners seem to indicate that initial Kinect applications will be designed for consumers to use in a business setting, say on a sales floor of car dealerships, at hospitals, or point of sale devices (maybe American Express is planning a "card swipe" application where holding the card up to the Kinect can be used to purchase items. Software for consumers to use at home is also likely in the pipeline and users will see them in the future.

Due to the Microsoft Kinect for Windows sensor not being subsidized by Xbox 360 games and accessories, the PC version is $100 more than the Xbox 360 version, and will retail for $250 USD. Amazon currently has the device (for pre-order) here for a whole penny less at $249.99.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: MSNBC

Microsoft Rereleases Update to Improve Bulldozer... yeah.

Subject: General Tech, Processors | January 11, 2012 - 06:21 PM |
Tagged: windows, processor, microsoft, cpu, bulldozer, amd

Let us take a little break from the CES news with a load of bull -- a download of Bulldozer. If you have an eerie sense of being in this situation before then you may in fact have a bad memory as it did in fact happen and it was only about a month ago. Microsoft released an update in mid-December to optimize their operating systems for AMD Bulldozer technology; that patch disappeared without any listed reason. As of today, we have access to both the patch as well as most of the reason for the delay in the first place.

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You know: part of me wants to see a Bulldozer go 100MPH, and another part of me fears greatly.

The first order of business is to explain to those who have an AMD FX series, Opteron 4200 series, and/or an Opteron 6200 series processor how to increase their potential performance: KB 2646060 and KB 2645594 each contain a patch which will optimize Windows to the Bulldozer architecture for most users when both are applied.

It turns out that Microsoft pulled the Bulldozer update last month when discussions with AMD revealed that the patch would not provide the promised performance increases for most users. The problem specifically centers on the Core Parking feature within Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2: after the hotfix in December was applied, Core Parking would still interfere with Bulldozer’s design by attempting to save power and sleep cores that were unused without understanding that Bulldozer cores are not typical cores. With Core Parking disabled for Bulldozer-based CPUs either through this hotfix or by changing your performance profiles to “High Performance” from the often default “Balanced” you would allow Bulldozer to run as it actually desires to run. According to how these bulletins are worded, should you have been on “High Performance” profile back in December before the hotfix was pulled you would have experienced what should only have been available starting today.

These performance increases are not for every application, however. AMD has stated that applications which are more sparsely multithreaded would benefit most from the update.

Workloads that are moderately threaded have the potential for uplift. This could include virtualization, database, or transactional environments that are “bursty” – a mixture of light and heavy transactions, or legacy applications that are by nature not very threaded. The more heavily threaded the application, the less the likely the uplift.

My intuition knowing this as well as the Core Parking issue is that once Windows finally wakes the Bulldozer core, your experience is maximal with the December patch; applications which only temporarily become multithreaded either do not wake the proper portions of the processor or wake the processor in time to be of maximum benefit.

It appears as if the removal of the hotfix last month was simply because AMD believed that while the patch was effective, it would not be correctly applied to the vast majority of customers without a second hotfix and thus give the appearance of little to no real benefits.

Source: AMD Blogs

Microsoft's CES Windows Phone Plan Reveal Leaks

Subject: Mobile | January 5, 2012 - 11:49 PM |
Tagged: windows phone, nokia, microsoft, CES

Leaks on products that are set to be released at CES are popping up all over the web, and it seems Microsoft's plans for Windows Phone 7 aren't immune. Paul Thurrott claims to be "in the know," in laying out the company's plans for the CES unveil. He says the information he has managed to acquire details the company's plans "for the US market only" and are to be officially revealed at CES 2012.

Microsoft will allegedly be releasing three LTE based Windows Phone 7 smart phones and one Verizon phone throughout the first half of the year. While not LTE powered, Verizon will be getting the Nokia Lumia 710, and will be available beginning April 2012.

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Also, the three LTE powered Windows Phone 7 smart phones include the Nokia ACE (a larger version of the Nokia Lumia 800), HTC Radiant, and Samsung Mendel. These three phones will all ship on AT&T before Q2 2012 is over. The Nokia ACE will ship on March 18th, 2012.

Have you played around with any Windows Phone 7 devices? Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more CES news!

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Windows Phone 8 OS and Devices Allegedly Coming June 2012

Subject: Mobile | December 21, 2011 - 09:18 PM |
Tagged: nokia, microsoft, lumia, tablet, nokia connection 2012, windows phone 8, apollo

According to a blog post over at DGUI, a poster claims to have spoken with a source within the know who told him that the Windows Phone 8 (also known as Windows Phone Apollo) mobile operating system will be released in mid-June 2012. Devices running the OS will start showing up soon after, with Nokia showing off Windows Phone 8 phones as soon as Nokia Connection 2012.

WindowsPhone8.png

Windows Phone 8? :P

The source further states that Windows Phone 8 will bring support for NFC (near-field communication), dual core processors, larger displays, and bigger phone chassis. In addition to smart phones, the supposed Nokia source claims that the company will also be producing a tablet running Windows 8.

Lastly, the poster states that while the source claims to work for Nokia, the poster cannot verify it and thus this should be taken with a grain of salt. He quoted the alleged industry insider in stating "Hi, I work by Nokia in Helsinki. Nokia will bring Tango fones to CES and MWC. Apollo come in June. Apollo fones at Nokia Connection. Window 8 tablet come in June also. Hope it helps you."

What are your thoughts on this, do you think we'll be seeing Windows 8 and WP8 smart phones this summer?

Source: DGUI

Happy Holidays from… oh crap CES. Also, it’s Microsoft’s last

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | December 21, 2011 - 07:42 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, CES2012, CES

There are just a few shopping days left until the holidays, but feel comfortable knowing that whatever panic you experience will be over just in time for CES with our associated and broadcasted panic. We will be covering the expo and many of its events starting on the 8th of January for your entertainment and your education. One company that usually has a gigantic presence at CES, albeit not as reported on by us relative to other companies, is Microsoft; this year is no different -- but CES 2013

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The software giant’s presence at CES 2013: Micro… and soft.

This year's presence? Big and right next to the restrooms.

(Image from MapYourShow.com)

Microsoft is known for having a large presence at CES each year, year after year, for recent memory. Over the years, Microsoft has unveiled products such as the original Xbox, gave a release window for their Project Natal (later Kinect), and just last year demonstrated Windows running on ARM processors. Microsoft’s official statement denotes a shift from CES announcements to releasing news through social media, their website, and their retail stores for those who enter a Microsoft retail store.

After thinking about questions like these, we have decided that this coming January will be our last keynote presentation and booth at CES. We’ll continue to participate in CES as a great place to connect with partners and customers across the PC, phone and entertainment industries, but we won’t have a keynote or booth after this year because our product news milestones generally don’t align with the show’s January timing.

I, personally, would love for Apple to take Microsoft’s booth space… for the delicious layering of irony. I would then of course love for it to have been a good decision for Microsoft to pull out to screw Apple over. Everyone wins by everyone losing.

Microsoft Releases Update to Improve Bulldozer... I thought?

Subject: Processors | December 16, 2011 - 12:41 PM |
Tagged: amd, bulldozer, cpu, processor, windows, microsoft

Intel was far from demolished when AMD's Bulldozer came to town. Users still clung to hope that Microsoft's Windows 7 was not optimized to take advantage of Bulldozer's multi-core environment. Vindication came sweetly with a knowledge base article and a patch from Microsoft confirming the issue and offering a solution. While they can still feel comfortable knowing they were right, the solution has been pulled from Microsoft's website without any announced reason. Who should we feel sorry for: those who didn't download it yet, or those who did?

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This picture is more meme-worthy than we realized...
99 hotfix and ah this ain't one? If you're having kernel problems I feel bad for you son.

 

To be entirely fair, Microsoft's knowledge base article was quite clear in its instruction to users regarding this hotfix.

A supported hotfix is available from Microsoft. However, this hotfix is intended to correct only the problem that is described in this article. Apply this hotfix only to systems that are experiencing the problem described in this article. This hotfix might receive additional testing. Therefore, if you are not severely affected by this problem, we recommend that you wait for the next software update that contains this hotfix.

Still, AMD users have another reason to be upset as if they needed one. The hotfix will come, and will come in completely stable form; it just looks like today is not that day. If you already received this update and have experienced technical difficulties, the comment form awaits.

Source: VR-Zone