Posted by: technofutures | October 16, 2008

This week in Microsoft (Weeks 41/42)!


For those of you that don’t know, one of my big interests lies in Microsoft and its technologies. In this series of posts (of which I hope to write one every week), I will attempt to summarize the overwhelming amount of news that surrounds Microsoft every week.

In addition, I will try to briefly present a different Microsoft Research project each week, in order to find out more about what the future of technology may hold (and of course, we have a branch of Microsoft Research here in Cambridge!).

Admittedly, I delayed this one this week due to start of term and project matters I had to deal with, so it’s a long one!

Windows 7


In a very interesting deviation from past Operating Systems, MS has revealed that the next version of Windows will be called ‘Windows 7’! Not Vista v2.0 (wise… very wise..), not XP, not another-fancy-marketing-name, just.. 7. The rationale behind their decision is given on the Windows Vista Team Blog

I personally think it’s a good move: Windows Seven sounds nice… now I can’t wait to see the pre-beta version that is going to be shown at PDC (e.g. with multi-touch support) at the end of the month! Bring it on!

And hot off the press, Microsoft has also hinted that Vista SP2 will be available before Windows 7 comes out (a beta has gone out to select developers…)!

Silverlight 2.0 made available

silverlight Of course, the big news of the week is the availability of Silverlight 2.0, which you can immediately download from here. It’s a 5 second download and roughly 15 second install!

For those who don’t know, Silverlight is an internet browser plugin (similar to Flash), which enables web developers to create rich, immersive, interactive applications to allow us to ‘get more out of the web’.

Silverlight was only launched a year ago, and Microsoft estimates that 1 in 4 consumers now has access to a Silverlight-enabled computer! 2.0 add a whole host of features, such as:

  • A subset of the full .NET framework
  • A set of new or updated controls e.g. Calendar etc
  • Silverlight support within the Eclipse IDE (Integrated Development Environment)
  • DeepZoom suport (watch out for my post on this in the next few weeks) – see the Hard Rock Memorabilia site mentioned below.
  • An expanded set of languages supported: C#, VB, JS, but also IronPython and IronRuby!
  • Support for Mac (Firefox, Safari) and Linux (Firefox)

So go and download it now! When you have, you may like to try out the following site, to find out just what MS mean by ‘an immersive rich application’!

  • Hard Rock Cafe Deepzoom:
    • I highly recommend zooming in onto the stamp which is circled below.. You’re in for a phenomenal surprise!


    • Once there, zoom in on the rectangle which two right and 1 up from the bottom left (a paramount theatre image)
    • Then zoom in onto the image on the billboard next to the ‘one way’ sign….
    • And keep zooming in! This is Deepzoom!


Remember my Photosynth of Trinity College which I posted last week? Well… Popular Mechanics has just named Photosynth as one of the “10 Most Brilliant Gadgets of 2008”

Well done Photosynth team! Check out the Popular Mechanics news item here.

Live Search and Facebook

Microsoft invested a couple of pennies (240 million dollars) into Facebook last year, and evidence of their collaboration is now appearing, as some users noticed that a new option now appears in Facebook in the search bar: “Search the Web”… with Live Search of course.


I noticed it a couple of times over the last week, but it seems to appear only occasionally for me…  Check out more details on the Blog of the Live Search team at Microsoft

New Xbox Experience

As hinted at in my Seattle post, Microsoft has made public the release date for the new ‘Xbox Experience’ which includes many improvements centered around the ‘new dashboard’: 19th November. Check out a demo of it here.


Screenshot by PCWorld

Having seen it in action, in person,  in Seattle, I can tell you that it’s amazingly fluid and looks amazingly cool…

Students, students!


And because we students are all eager to get our hands onto software as the academic year begins, remember to check out the Ultimate Steal where students / academics / postgrads can get:

  • Microsoft Office Ultimate : 38.95 Pounds!
  • Windows Vista Ultimate: 40.95 Pounds!
  • Visio Professional: 36.95 Pounds!
  • Office Language Packs: 9.95 Pounds!

Grab this wonderful opportunity from here! All you need is your university email address!

And of course for FREE Microsoft software check out Dreamspark:dreamspark_flier

  • Visual Studio 2008 Pro
  • Windows Server 2008
  • SQL Server 2008
  • Expression Studio 2
  • XNA Game Studio (although stay tuned for an upcoming new version)
  • XNA Creators Club Membership
  • All the Visual ** 2008 Express editions

Also available is a free IT Academy Student Pass enabling you to get access to lots of free Microsoft certification training! Check out Ed Dunhill’s blog for more info on the content!

The Rumor Mill

And what would a Microsoft week be without a good bunch of rumors… A selection …

  • Microsoft may be contemplating acquiring RIM, makers of the Blackberry… This rumor comes up at least once every year…
  • Expect big things from Office Live! At least that’s what Steve Ballmer has to say (and in fact he hinted at this in the Student London Tech Day)
  • Long Zheng, phenomenal student Microsoft blogger points to an interesting Microsoft survey which points towards MS looking into affordable versions of the Surface Computer with codename ‘Oahu’… sounds cool!

Microsoft Blog

Last but not least, a good opportunity to point out a very good “Microsoft in Education” blog: Alfred Thomson addressed a (very!) wide range of computing topics and news specifically aimed at high-school students. Well worth looking into!

Microsoft Research: Touchless

As promised, this is the first Microsoft Research project that I’ll point all of you too.

It is well known that since the arrival of devices such as the Apple iPhone of the MS Surface, multi-touch is a ‘hot topic’.

Touchless is an Open Source project available from Microsoft’s Open Source Community Site CodePlex. Their website describes the project as a development kit to enable developers to create multi-touch based applications using a webcam as input!

This means that anyone can actually do this on their computer. Check out their promotional video… a little cheesy, but it shows you the amazing possibility that this project could offer


As part of the Office Labs project they have made the source code available so get the SDK here and start playing with it now! If you need help getting it to work and compiling in Visual Studio, drop me a mail…

If you don’t code, it doesn’t matter! You can download a pre-packaged software program from here. Follow the instructions to install the demo:

  • Save the file
  • Open the folder it is in
  • Right click on it and select Extract All
  • Make sure you have a webcam hooked up
  • Double click TouchlessDemo.exe

    The demo allows you to play with all the demos presented in the video above:

    • Snake – where you control a snake with a marker,
    • Defender – pong game,
    • Map – where you can rotate, zoom, and move a map using 2 markers,
    • Draw – the marker is used draw!

    I tried it myself and that map application with 2 markers was highly amusing (and resulted in me waving objects around in weird ways to try and get it to work)…


    I think I need some training… 🙂

    That’s all for this week! If you want me to cover a particular MS technology next week, let me know and I’ll do my best!




    1. “This Week in Microsoft” – Great Idea!

    Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

    You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

    Google+ photo

    You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


    Connecting to %s


    %d bloggers like this: