Posts tagged microsoft
Want to make your desktop look like the Windows Mobile 7 Series Metro interface?
You’re in luck, because some DeviantArt users have created the Omnimo theme for Rainmeter, the highly-customizable, open-source desktop information app for Windows. Omnimo overlays the desktop with a faithful port of Metro’s minimalist interface and includes 30 different tiles that launch programs or hook into services like Gmail, iTunes, Twitter, Steam, SpeedFan, and more.
It’s all free and works on Windows XP, Vista, or 7. Lifehacker has some helpful installation instructions.
We can’t help but imagine this would be perfect on an HP Slate.
More photos after the break:
In early 2008, Microsoft was busy working on Windows Mobile 7. The OS was an evolutionary step forward from WinMo 6.x, based on the company’s Windows CE 6.0 embedded OS, with bigger changes planned for the next version, Windows Mobile 8. But in the fall of 2008, after seeing Apple’s iPhone 3G fly off store shelves and the iTunes App Store grow exponentially to soon overtake Microsoft’s decade-long lead in mobile apps, Microsoft realized that Windows Mobile was dying. An evolutionary step was not going to be enough to save it, so Microsoft decided to take drastic measures to respond, and today the result is Windows Phone 7 Series.
How exactly did this come about, though? Read on to find out.
Earlier today, McLaren Automotive unveiled its new supercar, the MP4-12C, and as expected, it’s a performance monster, powered by McLaren’s own (not BMW- or Mercedes-designed, as in the company’s earlier cars) 3.8L V8 mid-engine developing 600 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque with an 8,000-rpm redline. Most impressively, at least 369 lb-ft of torque is available at all times between 2,000 and 8,000 rpm. The car is constructed of a center carbon-fiber tub and outer aluminum structures, weighing in at just 1,300 kg (2,870 lb)– not quite as light as the 1,000 kg McLaren F1, but impressive nonetheless considering how much more safety equipment the MP4-12C carries.
So far, so good. The MP4-12C ‘s going to be light, fast, very well-built (build tolerances are less than 0.5 mm), safe (McLaren’s conducting dozens of crash tests to maximize safety), maybe even reliable (with over a million miles of test driving), but comfortable and livable? Not words one might typically use to describe a supercar, but that’s what McLaren’s aiming for.
Here’s where it gets really interesting. The MP4-12C’s spec sheet looks like someone accidentally mixed it in with something describing a netbook or tablet. Intel Atom 1.6 GHz, 7″ portrait-mode touch screen, Bluetooth, 802.11 Wifi, USB, and Microsoft software. Now that’s something you won’t find in any factory-shipped car in America, let alone a supercar. It’s all part of McLaren’s IRIS infotainment system, which is based on Microsoft software, presumably running on Windows Embedded. McLaren’s choice of Atom is interesting because in-car entertainment systems generally don’t require as much performance as an x86 Atom chip can deliver (Ford’s Microsoft-powered SYNC has a 400 MHz ARM11 processor, for example– see here for info on embedded processors), so IRIS must be something pretty fancy.
Full photo gallery after the break. More >
Looks like Windows Phone 7 Series is capable of handling more than user interface demos after all. A team at Microsoft was given two weeks to build a pair of Windows Phone-controlled t-shirt-firing cannon robots to be used at the MIX conference on March 15. At somewhere around $10,000, their budget was a bit higher than most of us have to spend on such things, but we have to admit, what they came up with looks pretty cool.
The team mounted an industrial t-shirt cannon on a heavy-duty pan-tilt servo unit, tossed those onto a 100-pound battlebot kit, and added some Phidgets microcontrollers and an onboard HP Envy 13 to run it all. Of course, the robot’s camera doesn’t just stream video over IP, as you might expect– it uses an onboard web server with Microsoft’s IIS Smooth Streaming technology. Then they built a Windows Phone 7 Series app to remotely drive the robots around and shoot out t-shirts.
The team consulted with two outside designers– normally, you’d imagine this could be a problem given the secrecy around Windows Phone 7 Series at the time, but since WP7S apps use Silverlight, they just told the designers they were making Silverlight desktop apps! The full details, along with more photos and the complete source code for the project, are available at Microsoft’s Coding4Fun site here.
Source: Microsoft Coding4Fun
Update: Video posted after the break.
Several questions were left unanswered at Microsoft’s launch of Windows Phone 7 Series at the Mobile World Congress 2010 on February 15. Since then, and particularly at the MIX developer conference this week, we’ve begun to hear answers, most of which indicate that Microsoft has dramatically shifted its view of smartphones. To summarize, Windows Phone 7 Series has no multitasking, removable storage (MicroSD cards) support, file explorer, or copy-and-paste.
It’s quite clear that Microsoft has shifted lock-stock-and-barrel from its idea of shrinking near-PC-level functionality into smartphones (Windows Mobile actually used to be called “Pocket PC”) to instead embrace Apple’s tightly-controlled, appliance-like approach to phones– the kind of vertically-integrated approach Microsoft has already used for Xbox and Zune.
Essentially what we’re left with is a misnamed OS– this is not a Windows Phone, but a Zune Phone. The “Windows” brand implies a full-fledged computer, not a music player with a phone built in. It’s important to note that Apple’s phone is not called a Mac Phone– it’s an extended iPod, hence iPhone. Microsoft also makes this branding separation- Xbox and Zune don’t contain any Windows branding, for example. Why, then, does Microsoft continue to use the Windows Phone brand when its mobile OS no longer has anything to do with Windows?
Read on for more details. More >
Microsoft revealed the minimum hardware requirements for Windows Phone 7 Series devices at the MIX conference, shown below. Nothing too surprising here- we’re looking at some pretty high-end specs. WP7 does not support external memory cards, so the phones must have 8GB or more built-in flash storage.
The specs list “ARMv7 Cortex/Scorpion or better” for the processors, referring to ARM Cortex A8 processors (used in the iPhone 3GS and other high-end phones) and Qualcomm’s Scorpion core from its Snapdragon chipsets (found in the HTC HD2, Google Nexus One, and others). We’re told there are more specific performance requirements, though. For more information on mobile processors, see our Smartphone Processor Guide.
WVGA (800×480) or HVGA (480×320) resolution
256 MB RAM or more, 8 GB Flash or more
On the standards front, Microsoft has implemented a good deal of the HTML5 spec, including support for embedded video (using the H.264 codec) and audio (MP3 and AAC), scalable vector graphics (SVG2- for images that grow and shrink smoothly with different page sizes), and CSS3.
What does IE9 bring to the table that Chrome, Opera, and others don’t already have? The answer is that IE9 renders web pages using Direct2D, a new API introduced in Windows 7, and also supported in Vista and Server 2008, that provides hardware graphics acceleration for 2D rendering. This helps web pages look better (with sub-pixel text rendering) and load faster and is particularly beneficial for embedded videos.
Microsoft showed a demo of a page with two HD videos embedded using HTML5– IE9 played them both perfectly smoothly, while Chrome stuttered badly with just one video playing. The downside to this is that Direct2D doesn’t work on Windows XP, so neither will IE9. The company has made a test version available for download.
In a strikingly odd tidbit from a company whose previous mobile OS, Windows Mobile, has had clipboard support for nearly a decade, Microsoft has revealed that Windows Phone 7 Series lacks copy-and-paste. Engadget reports that while Microsoft is evaluating new features to add to the OS, copy-and-paste will definitely not make it into the first release in the fall of 2010, but Paul Thurrott claims that it may be added before WP7 goes gold. We’d hope it’s the latter.
Update: Windows Phone exec Todd Brix says Microsoft omitted copy and paste support because users don’t actually need it:
“We don’t enable copy and paste and we do that very intentionally,” [...] “It’s actually an intentional design decision,” he said. “We try to anticipate what the user wants so copy and paste isn’t necessary.” “We tried to focus on what the core use cases were,” Brix said. “Certainly there will be some people that wont be happy with some of those decisions.”
Update 2: A Microsoft France exec says Microsoft will add copy-and-paste to Windows Phone 7 through future updates:
“This information was confirmed yesterday during the MIX conference. At the time of the launch, copy & paste won’t be part of the experience on the first Windows Phone 7 Series devices sold. We have developed alternatives to the most common scenarios for using this feature tht we will unveil in the coming months.
Of course to complete the experience, this feature (copy & paste) is planned in future updates after the initial launch.“
Microsoft’s presentations earlier today at the MIX developer conference answered a lot of questions about third-party applications on the company’s upcoming Windows Phone 7 Series operating system. We’ve summarized most of the take-away points below. More >
The New York Times just posted an article about the expanding conflict between Google and Apple. Apparently it’s turned into a deep personal conflict between Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Google chief Eric Schmidt. The two were happily cooperating against Microsoft just a few years ago, and most visibly at the launch of the iPhone in 2007, but things have turned sour since, with Google launching the Android mobile OS to compete against the iPhone and Apple entering the mobile advertising space. Google outbid Apple to buy mobile ad firm AdMob, though the FTC is likely to oppose the deal (based on antitrust concerns), so it might not happen after all.
Most interesting is that the head of Microsoft’s online services group has been spotted around Cupertino, leading to speculation that Apple may switch its iPhones, iPods, iPads, and the Safari browser to use Bing by default instead of Google– which would of course be a huge coup for Microsoft’s search group. Apple working with Microsoft to beat Google? Stranger things have happened…
Source: NY Times