Windows Phone Resources
Starting today, students and faculty with access to the MSDN Academic Alliance will see a few new products available through their system. The most notable of these products in Windows 7 Professional edition, over two months before it’s available to the general public. I’ve been running Windows 7 since it was first made available in the public beta, and have been very impressed by it’s overall quality, including it’s speed and stability. I currently have four machines running Windows 7, my two work laptops, which are running the RTM Enterprise edition, and two netbooks, running the Release Candidate. I plan to pick up a copy of the RTM for my netbooks when general availability drops on October 22nd, but even the Release candidate is better than any Operating System I’ve run before (and yes, I have run multiple non-Windows OSes).
Also up on the MSDN AA page is Expression Studio 3. This includes Blend, Design, Web, and Encoder, all of which contain huge improvements from the previous versions. It’s hard to believe that the entire product sweet has been around for less than two years, seeing the quality of the releases. Some things to take a look at inside of Expression Studio 3 are behaviors in Blend (building games in Silverlight just became a lot easier), and the screen recording tool in Encoder. Encoder also supports AVCHD natively now, though you have to have a licensed version to do so. There’s also a preset in there for encoding for the Zune HD, which I have been waiting for patiently since I first heard about it.
If you don’t have access to MSDN AA, and you are a student or faculty member in a department that focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, or Design, let me know. I should be able to hook you up with the people to make it happen. And if you have MSDN AA, but you don’t see Windows 7 or Expression Studio 3, check with your administrator, or drop me a comment,and we’ll get that fixed, too. Just imagine rolling up to a buddies house and showing him the Silverlight game you built on your Windows 7 laptop. You know you want this. Go make it happen.
I think it’s safe to say that I am more aware of security issues than most users out there. I don’t open unknown attachments, I don’t run scripts or executables unless I know what they are and where they came from, and I don’t install weird apps that mess with my system. So when visiting a site with Internet Explorer 6 on Windows XP SP2 installed links directly into my start menu without so much as a dialog box asking me if it would be alright, I knew it was time for a better browser. I installed Firefox, and was happy with it for quite some time. I only ran a couple of add-ons, and didn’t use them much because I often switched machines, and they weren’t always configured the same, but I was happy with the speed and security I was getting.
When Internet Explorer 7 came out, I tried it out, but mostly stuck with Firefox for my everyday surfing. When Internet Explorer 8 came out with it’s beta, I tried it out, and it actually piqued my interest. As far as the features I used in Firefox, everything was there. In addition, I tried out the accelerators, and especially liked the translation tool, which made it a lot easier to translate my wife’s blog. I also heard a lot about the standards support, and the increased security they had built in. I’ve been running IE8 as my main browser for quite some time now, and it’s great to see that it looks like I made the right choice.
In a recent study, the security of the most popular browsers was tested by NSS Labs, focusing on the Mean Block Rate for Socially Engineered Malware, and Phishing. Internet Explorer 8 came out on top for both tests. Internet Explorer 8’s SmartScreen Filter has blocked over 80 million malware blocks, including the pre-release versions, and delivers a malware block for around 1 out of every 40 users, every week. Check out the links to see the details of the report.
If you’ve been thinking about checking out Internet Explorer 8, a great place to start is the Internet Explorer 8 Online Challenge from Microsoft Singapore. It only takes five minutes to run through, and it gives a great overview of the new features built in to the latest version of the browser.
The next time you log in to Xbox LIVE, you’ll see a few new features. The first thing I tried out was the new Avatar Marketplace. You can buy branded items from games and fashion labels, but I’m not one for paying for virtual items, so I changed my glasses to look like my new pair, and moved on to the next feature.
This is the one I’m most excited about: Games on Demand. This is where I’m hoping the console will end up going with all of their games. Ideally, there’d be no more worrying about fitting a game onto a single DVD, or scratched discs causing the game to fail an hour since your last save. Unfortunately, there weren’t any games in the store that I was interested in and don’t already own, but nonetheless, I’m paying attention.
The last thing I am excited about in this latest update is the updates they did to the Netflix features. When Netflix was first added to Xbox LIVE, they discussed the ability to be able to watch movies along with a friend, but it hasn’t actually been possible until now. The other neat addition is the ability to edit your queue straight from the Xbox. Previously, I had to boot up my netbook to add a new movie, so this is a welcome addition.
There are some other minor things like being able to rate games and some party invite stuff, but those are the ones I’m most interested in.