Wednesday, March 14, 2007

New Features Offered in Windows Vista

In PC Operating Systems, no news has been bigger this year than Microsoft’s release of their new operating system, Vista. This is their first OS released since Windows XP in October of 2001, so it has been fairly looked forward to. I strongly wanted to buy Vista, so I decided to see what it offered me compared to the price as well as the system settings required to run Vista. My goal was to layout a decent overview of the new and improved services fulfilled by Windows Vista. Since it worked so well showing me what an amazing service Vista is, I hope that it will help others as well. Go here for more depth on the information.
Windows Vista comes in four different and very unique versions. They are Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, and Ultimate. On the Editions Page, Microsoft lays out the four editions compared to 15 new features. Ultimate, of course, has all of them. Home Premium has 12 out of the 15, Business Edition offers 9 (some extra multimedia not needed for businesses were left out), and Home Basic Edition only covers 3 out of the 15. Basic is offered at approximately $100 almost everywhere. Premium goes for $160, Business is around $200 and Ultimate costs $260. So, obviously, the prices cover quite a range depending on the needs of the user. It seems to me that Home Premium is the best deal, with only 3 features being excluded, but saves $100 on the Ultimate Edition. The three features that the Ultimate Edition offers that the others don’t are protection against hard drive failure with Windows Complete PC Backup and Restore, Windows BitLocker Drive Encryption to better encrypt data, and Remote Desktop Connection which allows the user to remotely access any device available to him or her. Choosing the correct edition of Vista is a very important decision and should not be taken too hastily.
The first category that has made great leaps in Vista is communications. The new and greatly improved Internet Explorer 7 let’s you browse many sites at once with only having one window open. This is made possible with its new tab feature. In the single Internet Explorer window, there will be as many tabs as sites you have open directly under the address bar. This makes navigation much less of a hassle and reduces time. A great new feature added in Vista is Windows Meeting Space. WMS lets the user simultaneously share his or her desktop with up to 10 different users. Examples of uses include passing notes or pictures to friends or working with others on a document of choice. You can easily find a list of joinable sessions and also a list of users available to join your session, making communicating with friends or co-workers much simpler than in the past. Another great new communications feature is the Sync Center, which lets the user keep track of all synchronized activities including phones, media players, and any other products. The user is able to start a manual sync as well as stop a sync and resolve any problems that might arise.
Microsoft understands that moving through tasks quickly and efficiently is important to their customers. This is why they have spent a considerable amount of time on making their newest product as efficient as possible. Windows Easy Transfer kicks in during setup. This awesome new feature allows users to easily transfer all of their important documents from their old computer to their new one. They offer several ways to do this, including through an established network, through a specially designed cable, or onto a removable storage location.
A new user interface (available on all versions except for Home Basic), Windows Aero, includes many helpful features including Windows Flip 3D. The START+TAB keys bring up a 3D viewing mode that displays all of the windows the user is working on. Flip 3D works with live thumbnails, which means while in 3D viewing mode, the visible windows will still show streaming videos or other processes. Keyboard arrow keys or the mouse scroll wheel are used to easily scroll through the windows to keep things simple and fun. Also available is Windows Flip, an upgrade to the ALT+TAB feature in previous Windows Operating Systems. Windows Flip shows thumbnails of the exact contents on the pages for easy finding. In Windows Aero, windows borders, the Start bar, etc. have a new “glass” type design. Vista lets the owner customize the color and transparency level of their new feature. Live thumbnails are also available on the taskbar, activated by simply resting the mouse icon over the thumbnail. A small window will display above showing the live contents of the page.
Another new feature, Windows Sidebar, brings real-life news, weather and more constantly on the desktop. As you can see, Vista offers a plethora of amazing new features focused completely on making the user’s experience as simple, helpful and fun as possible.
As expected, Vista offers an extensive amount of improvements to Microsoft’s media applications, as well. DirectX 10 comes with Vista, allowing users to play the most technologically advanced games. An XBOX 360 controller (XBOX 360 is Microsoft’s newest top of the line gaming console) can even be plugged into a USB port of the computer in order to avoid the purchasing of needless extra gaming equipment. The brand new Games Explorer easily allows for any installed game to be viewed and started quickly and easily. Get links to publisher pages to get game updates, view game details and content rating all within this great new application offered by Microsoft.
In the music department, Vista comes with Windows Media Player 11. Extracting CDs to the hard drive, signing up for online music services and syncing directly with connected portable devices are just some of the new features added to Media Player 11. As if that wasn’t enough, compatible remotes are being marketed for the newest Media Player. Using one of these devices it is easy to browse by artist, track title, album, album art, song, genre or even year released. Also, owners of Vista and an XBOX 360 console can enjoy their music library on their TV, as well. Of course, the remotes are also compatible here if this route is taken.
In the Home Premium and Ultimate Editions, users can record, watch and/or record live TV if the PC has a TV tuner installed using Windows Media Player. Using the mini-guide, it is possible to scroll through channels without interrupting the current program being watched. Media Center allows for more than one TV tuner, allowing for the recording of one program while watching another. As stated earlier, share any of this through a home network to allow for versatility. Windows Movie Maker is now possible in High Definition and it’s easier than ever to import, edit, and save home movies to DVDs. Transferring pictures from camera to a specified folder on a PC can now be done with one click. It is also possible to tag pictures with keywords for easy finding later on.
Windows Live is another Vista product now offered by Microsoft. One part of Live is an online search provider that can be accessed directly through Internet Explorer 7. Equipped with powerful sorting tools and search macros, the Live search provider can easily compete with other major search providers, it seems. Live Local Search allows the user to search for local business, get maps, and also get live traffic information in any city. Maps can have items added to them, such as favorite nearby places or a photo.
There is also the Live Toolbar available to install on Explorer 7, making it easy to reach personalized Windows Live services such as mail or messenger. Users can also add their own custom buttons to the Live Toolbar in order to easily access their most-viewed sites. Microsoft gives each of their Vista users a personalized home page. Users are able to save links, news headlines, and even webcams and
games to their homepage. Layouts are customizable and information can be added or removed at any time.
Windows Vista is, as expected, the most secure OS Microsoft has ever released. Windows Defender searches and allows you to remove harmful spyware while IE 7 Protected Mode embraces further defense against hackers. The Phishing Filter warns the user of potentially harmful sites before entering. New and improved Parental Controls allow parents to set time limits and also pick which programs or applications to allow or disallow their children to use. And now, Windows Live OneCare service is available at Microsoft’s website and starts with a free 90-day trial. This amazing new service runs in the background, protecting from spam, spyware and hackers. OneCare also regularly backs up important files and cleans up the PC, ensuring that the best performance is provided to the owner. Although it runs in the background, users can simply right click a file or folder to scan for easy safety. Instant Support at any time on any day is offered for OneCare, as well. Check the status of your computer according to OneCare by simply looking for the colored bubble on the Windows Taskbar. Using the classic stoplight approach, green reflects that the system is completely up to date. A yellow notification means that a backup, tune-up or download needs to be completed in order for the system to be running as well as possible. Red promotes that the newest virus definitions cannot be applied for whatever reason or that the PC’s firewall is turned off.
To make it even easier for users, OneCare automatically downloads and applies the most recent virus definitions automatically to reduce all the stress in protecting the PC’s system. Protecting from almost everything imaginable, constantly backing up files, cleaning up unneeded information to keep optimal speed, and support any time make Windows Live OneCare just another great service in Vista that should definitely be considered when purchasing the newest Operating System.
Windows Vista is an incredible, revolutionary Operating System. An immense amount of new material, as stated above, has been added to make it the best OS Microsoft has released yet. Great technological leaps in communications, entertainment, and security were achieved to make Vista incredibly easy and quick to navigate through. With four different versions covering a vast price range, there is almost assuredly a version of Vista for every consumer that wants the most out of their PC’s abilities. The ease of use and cool new features make Windows Vista a must-buy item.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Chinese Man Dies of Video Game "Overdose"

"There are only two options. TV or computer. What else can I do in the holiday as all markets, KTV and cafeterias are shut down" Xu Yan said to the China Daily before collapsing at the end of this break. This 330-pound man was said to have almost played not only all 7 days of this "marathon", but almost the entire 7 days combined.

This may be cruel, but I laughed at the discovery of this article. The fact that someone's mind could be so unhealthy and unorthodox to this that life granted only the two options of TV and computer games. Something else was created long, long ago called excercise that might take a few off of that 330-pound frame of yours and also may prevent your heart from stopping!! I don't mean to be cruel, but I guess it's good to know that not only the United States has a massive gaming problem.

Sure would like to know what game he was playing, though...

Movie 300 Destroys Box Office

I saw 300 last night for the first time, and see why it so easily dominated the box office this weekend, bringing in an estimated $70 million over its opening weekend. Ice Age: The Meltdown holds the overall March record with $68 million, so if the real numbers match the estimations, 300 will be the best opening March movie of all time.

I don't know about you, but this movie is all anyone was talking about this weekend (and this past week). Of course, after seeing it on Sunday night, I agree that it deserved the hype. I can sum up 300, the battle of Thermopylae, in one word: epic.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Unreal Tournament 3 Screenshots


Ran across these just now and got excited about the game coming out for the 360 hopefully soon.

For more, go to:

Gears of War: The Best Game Ever Made

For my first post, I figured I should write about something that I have a great passion for right now. The first thing that came to mind was, of course, Gears of War for XBOX 360, Microsoft's sophisticated and extremely fun gaming system. This spring break, instead of going somewhere tropical or doing something fun and adventurous, I decided to simply stay home locked in my room and enjoy constant Gears of War playing. My decision made me question how a single game could get a person so, shall I say addicted to it. I struggled for awhile trying to come up with the answer. In the end, the only conclusion I found was to declare it the best game I can remember playing. While most people would vehemently argue against this point, Gears far and away takes the cake for me.
I even agree with the critics that the story line in the campaign was a bit spotty. I felt that they could've explained more and just done more with the single player in general. With that being said, i still stand by my statement that Gears of War is the best game I've ever played. Why? Because in this day and age I don't believe that the story line of a game's single player aspect is nearly as important as it was before online play. And the online play of Gears is so incredibly fun that I find myself consistently putting things off in order to play it.
Whereas in single player you can play any game maybe 2 or 3 times (I usually can't bear a 3rd time going through all of the cut scenes), multiplayer can keep you busy indefinitely, and that's why it is so important to a game. So, whether you're going for the built-in ranked match achievements or trying to climb to the top of the weekly, monthly, or overall leaderboards, the amazing gameplay will be sure to keep any game enthusiast entranced for hours on end. When you take the graphics (amazing), being able to connect to people worldwide (amazing), and the power and breadth of xbox Live (amazing, as well), I don't think I have to further reiterate my feelings on the game.