"Over the past two years, Microsoft has been working with industry partners on the USB 2.0 project. We are pleased to announce that USB 2.0 drivers will be available for Microsoft WindowsXP through Windows Update early in 2002. USB 2.0 driver support for Windows 2000 is still under development, and will be available later in the first quarter of 2002. Microsoft will not provide USB 2.0 support for the Windows 9x platform or Windows NT 4.0. This article provides details on Microsoft plans for USB 2.0 support. The USB Architecture section describes the structure of the USB 2.0 stack on Windows 2000 and compares it to Windows XP and Windows .NET Server. The last section discusses Windows Hardware Quality Lab (WHQL) plans for supporting the testing of USB 2.0 host controllers, devices and hubs." Read the rest of the article at Microsoft's Platform Development site.
"Bill Gates yesterday unveiled two new technologies, Freestyle and Mira, designed to beef up the capabilities of the PC - and hence, Windows XP - in the home. Both are intended to let users wander around the room or house while controlling their PC; Freestyle is categorised as a set of extensions to XP, while Mira is to all intents and purposes a CE-based thin client. Freestyle seems essentially to be a mechanism for extending the consumer PC into a combo media centre, jukebox and TV, so is being supported by consumer PC manufacturers such as HP, NEC and Samsung. Mira is somewhat more ambitious, and appears to slot in between Freestyle and the Tablet PC. It's described as a "new set of Windows CE.NET-based technologies," and the bottom line is that it enables smart flat panel displays which you can carry around and use for browsing and control purposes." Read the rest of the report at TheRegister, or at C|Net News.
PowerToys for WindowsXP are additional programs that developers work on after a product has been released to manufacturing. They add fun and functionality to the Windows experience and they are indeed a must-have if you run XP. You will find tools ranging from "Super-Fast User Switcher" to "Virtual Desktop Manager" which lets you manage up to four desktops from the Windows taskbar! The new version, includes two new additional tools: The ISO burner lets you burn ISO using the built-in burning engine of Windows XP, while the Audio Shell Player offers buttons to control the playback of MP3s, WMAs from the Windows taskbar to save valuable screen estate.
After years of crashes, BSODs (Blue Screen of Death), Stop errors and dozens of other problems, Microsoft finally has delivered what most of us would think impossible from them: a rock stable operating system. Granted, Windows 2000 was a decent try, but it had its share of system crashes, even with the neatest possible installation. It was more susceptible to bad written device drivers than Windows XP, and that shows. Of course, it’s not like you can throw anything at XP and it will stay unharmed, drivers are a very important component of an operating system, and if they’re buggy they make the whole system unstable, whatever OS it is.
"November retail sales of Windows XP weren't so hot. But is the operating system a flop? Maybe not, analysts say. Microsoft's biggest operating system launch ever has failed to generate enough retail sales to push past its predecessor, Windows 98, according to market researcher NPD Intelect. Retailers sold 250,000 copies of Windows XP in November, its first full month of availability, down from 400,000 in October. The October sales account for six days on store shelves plus preorders. By contrast, consumers snapped up 580,000 copies of Windows 98 during its first month on store shelves and 350,000 during the following 30 days." Read the rest of the story at ZDNews. The market was also more favorable for the SONY PS/2 which outsold both the XBox and GameCube these holidays.
Microsoft released a number of free entertainment enhancements to its Windows XP operating system today. Called Windows Media Bonus Pack for Windows XP, the free download includes tools for the OS' built-in media player. The download includes new visualizations and skins, playlist-to-spreadsheet export utility, and extra tools for amateur moviemakers. In the meantime, ActiveWin reports that MSN Explorer 8 has just passed the "M0" milestone and it is in closed beta. The aim for a release is for late spring/early summer 2002. This will be the first major release since the original release in 2000. There is work on integrating "natural language" instrumentation, meaning "speaking" or ordering MSN Explorer to do this task or that task. Also, Microsoft has released a new version 4.6.0071 of MSN Messenger. Features inlcude improved support for computer-to-phone calls, more flexibility in resizing the conversation window, Add-ins available, banner ads (If you download the Add-in).
The Windows XP Application Compatibility Update is a package of software updates that address common application issues, helping Windows XP either to support these applications or helping to avoid common issues users may experience with these applications. Microsoft recommends downloading this compatibility update if you are having problems with one of the applications this update is designed to support. The second is the Euro Conversion Tool: The Euro Conversion tool allows currency migration to the euro for user locales within the European Union. This tool does not change currency settings for user locales outside of the European Union.
"Windows XP is much more than flash and color. Turn it into a stone cold performance machine with these tweaks and tricks." An in-depth ExtremeTech article on how to optimize your WindowsXP. If you are interested in such tweaks for your system, the ultimate web site for this kind of job is of course TweakXP.
"Microsoft on Friday released its retirement schedule for NT Server 4.0 operating system. All sales will end by July 2003, and companies will start having to pay for support. The company stopped selling Windows NT Server 4.0 volume licences for both the Standard and Enterprise editions on 1 October this year. Client versions of NT 4.0 were also discontinued in October." ZDNews reports.
Microsoft recently announced at the launch of the WindowsXP Embedded operating system that more than 15 industry-leading companies have committed to shipping their next-generation devices based on Windows XP Embedded within the first half of 2002. WindowsXP Embedded, the componentized version of the WindowsXP operating system, enables rapid development of the most reliable and full-featured connected devices including retail point-of-sale devices, thin clients, gaming systems, self-service kiosks, industrial automation, residential gateways, and advanced set-top boxes. In addition, Microsoft announced a free evaluation kit, as well as a 90-day promotional price of $995 USD (estimated retail price) for the WindowsXP Embedded tool suite.
"Windows XP helps itself to 20 per cent of your bandwidth, a useful tip at TweakXP reveals. But although this sounds like the sort of thing that could easily fuel paranoia (what's it doing with it?), it's more just a case of sloppy and wasteful configuration." Get the rest of the story at TheRegister.
Compared to the Whistler client releases, which became known as Windows XP back in February, the Whistler Server beta has been relatively quiet for a long time. Whistler Server hit Beta 2 in late March alongside Windows XP, when Microsoft noted that the two product lines would then follow different development paths. In late April, Microsoft announced that the Whistler Server products would be marketed as 'Windows 2002 Server', but it was later renamed to 'Windows .NET Server'. Screenshots and lots of information can be found at the WinSuperSite and an FAQ is also available for the product.
From CNET|News: "Fewer than 300,000 boxed copies of the new operating system were sold in the first several days of its availability, according to preliminary figures from NPD Intelect, which has polled roughly 80 percent of its retailers and mail-order clients about XP. Although some poll respondents indicated that demand was "healthy," NPD asserts that the final tally of first-week sales will likely be 20 percent to 25 percent lower than what Microsoft saw with Windows 98."
With the release of WindowsXP, the well-known technical web site have published three articles: "Price, Performance, Pitfalls": Which edition? How fast? How compatible? Answers from the Labs. "The First Few Weeks": Much to like, but room for improvement. "It's Finally Here": A collection of news, reviews and XPlanations from around Ziff Davis. We should also not forget the very interesting --technically-- article they featured some months ago, regarding kernel enhancements to be found in WindowsXP's kernel.
It's only been out for a day, but Windows XP already needs 20MB of updates, according to C|Net-News. Some of the updates fix security holes, others resolve glitches and a few add new features. This upgrade also purports to sort out problems with Pagemaker, Dreamweaver, McAfee VirusScan, Money 2000 and RealPlayer 7.0 among many others.
Microsoft's next-generation OS is finally here. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is walking the streets of London calling Windows XP the 'no compromise' operating system--both reliable, and compatible while Bill Gates officially launches the product, and what could be the company's most important product in more than six years.
"Down at the bottom of Bill Gates' keynote to the Professional Developers Conference yesterday lies confirmation that the wheels have come off the Windows rollout wagon." TheRegister reports. Windows Longhorn is scheduled for release in 2003, while Blackcomb, which will be the real .NET OS, is scheduled for sometime due to 2005. WindowsXP is not far away though, as the official retail release is due tomorrow.
Jeffy124 reports on Slashdot: "C|net News.com is embarking on a seven day comprehensive report on how Microsoft is moving themselves into position to be The 'Gatekeeper Of The Internet' through WindowsXP. The first installment explains the basics of how this is going to happen: Reminders that last for days encouraging users to sign up for Passport, and how Windows will evenutally resemble services like AOL." The second installment explains the whole masterplan behind .NET and how it is going to position Microsoft as a kind of a... global monopoly.
In an interview with the St Petersburg Times, Microsoft's Steve Ballmer stressed most emphatically (is he ever not emphatic?) that his company is not an "Evil Empire." He says, "I don't think it's right and I think it causes people to make decisions which are not even in their best interest . . . A, we're not evil. B, we're not an empire." A Siliconvalley.com article has the entire interview with Microsoft's energetic CEO.
PC Makers have already begun taking orders for Windows XP machines, though without much fanfare. Even before the terrorist attacks, the weak economy and dismal PC sales numbers have dampened expectations for the XP roll-out, and analysts have not been particularly ebullient about Windows XP's technical prowess, though it has received favoriable reviews. Analysts note that the PC market is very saturated, and that Windows XP is unlikely to spur huge PC sales. Of course, revenues from sales of Windows XP upgrades to existing Windows users are sure to be a boon to Microsoft, but not to the struggling PC industry. An eWeek article has more information.