Out: Google TV, In: Microsoft TV?

microsoft Out: Google TV, In: Microsoft TV?It looks like Microsoft is no longer going to sit on the sidelines and watch Apple and Google eat up the TV market all too themselves.

Apparently the software giant is attempting to invade the TV space, but unlike their rivals (or rather Google), Microsoft may actually be able to conquer this market.

Microsoft has reportedly entered into talks with media companies like Disney and HBO to offer a pay television service through its device platform, including the XBox 360, but possibly extending to other devices like Windows 7 PCs and even Windows Phone 7 devices. Although no official comments or announcements have been made, Reuters reports that Microsoft has put several options on the table, including enabling customers to pick what premium television channels they want in an a la carte manner—something cable customers have been demanding for years, but have never received. But TV fans shouldn’t hold their breath: the service, if it materializes, could be as much a a year away. (Digitrends)

Instead of creating a whole new device to hook up to your TV, Microsoft is taking the shrewed path by utilizing both Xbox 360 as well as Windows Phone 7.

While the Xbox integration is a no brainer, allowing smartphone users to view television upon their phone could give Microsoft another edge over its Android and iOS rivals (note: the iPhone does have apps that provide a similar service, although truth be told the app is rather sub par).

Although the company has refused to confirm or deny the rumors surround the Microsoft TV reports, they may want to consider “speeding up” the process before Apple decides to redouble their efforts in the television arena.

FCC Getting Serious About Net Neutrality?

fcclogo 297x300 FCC Getting Serious About Net Neutrality?After Google stabbed the government in the back by advocating Verizon’s approach to wireless internet, it looks like the FCC is scheduling a meeting to discuss how it will be able to keep the internet free of corporate interference for consumers.

Unfortunately for net neutrality advocates, it looks like the FCC is once again pushing back the meeting which is making some people nervous.

On Wednesday, the Federal Communications Commission pushed back its December meeting by one week — from Dec. 15 to Dec. 21 — which means the agency doesn’t have to publish the meeting agenda until next week. That means the public won’t know if new rules will be taken up or what form they will take until next week. [...]
That means more uncertainty for both the public and the broadband industry over the government’s plans to regulate the internet. It’s just the latest delay by the government on the issue of network neutrality, the principle that broadband companies should shouldn’t block or degrade rival web content, services or applications. The delay also pushes the FCC’s meeting to the week of Christmas, typically a slow news week. (Wired.com)

Ironically there are  a few ISP’s (aka Internet Service Providers) who support the idea of net neutrality, although truth be told the FCC will have to convince congress (especially Republicans) on why greater government oversight is good for the internet (lest the party responds by defunding the agency).

Unfortunately for the FCC, they have an uphill battle convincing the public as well, especially in light of their sister agency’s attempt to regulate the political blogosphere (which not surprisingly backfired).

Although America needs to come up with a solution to ensure that everyone is treated equal on the internet without having to pay a premium tier fee, it might be wiser for the FCC to partner with companies instead, lest we hear another outcry of “government takeover” online.

Windows Phone 7: Buy One Get One Free?

windowsphone7att Windows Phone 7: Buy One Get One Free?No, this deal isn’t from Microsoft (at least that I’m aware of) but it looks like users in love with Windows Phone 7 can purchase 2 models for the price of one (provided you are on the right carrier of course).

I know many of you have been waiting for the perfect time to pick up your new Windows Phone. AT&T just sweetened the pot a bit for the holiday shopping season with the announcement of a buy one get one free deal for the HTC Surround, LG Quantum and Samsung Focus. To take advantage of this offer head down to your local AT&T retail store, sign up for a two-year contract and you and a friend will have a couple of the coolest phones of the season.

Combine that offer with the AT&T entertainment pack which includes a free download of the Xbox LIVE puzzle game ilomilo, 30 days of Zune Pass service plus 10 free song downloads and 30 days of AT&T U-verse and you have a great way to pass the long drive to grandmas house for Thanksgiving. (Official Windows Phone Blog)

To my knowledge AT&T is the only US carrier offering this deal, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see T-Mobile and Verizon (the latter who is also embracing Windows Phone 7) adopt this policy in order to prevent users from defecting.

It will be interesting to see whether this deal bumps up demand for Windows Phone 7, whose sales have been decent but not blockbuster hits (at least when compared against the iPhone and Android).

Note: Microsoft has thus far declined to disclose how well Windows Phone 7 has done, giving generic praises of the device which is rumored to only have sold 40,000 units at launch.

Chrome OS About To Make It’s First Mistake

Google Chrome OS Tablet 490x339 Chrome OS About To Make Its First Mistake

Remember the Chrome OS Tablet Google was talking about earlier? Well apparently the Mountain view giant is releasing their iPad contender before the end of the year.

Unfortunately it looks like they are about to make their first public mistake (which would make Steve Jobs smile).

I had a chance to ask the Googlers about Chrome OS  recently, and was told that a preview version of Google OS is still going to hit this year and be available in test form on several new form factors.

Bottom line: Google, like Microsoft, is not going to have a viable iPad competitor available in time for holiday 2010. (ZDNet)

While I am glad that Google is releasing a Chrome OS of some design this year, truth be told allowing the public to “beta test” the OS before its fully ready is insane as it will hurt future sales of Chrome OS as the public will most likely judge Google based on its initial tablet.

Although the iPad does have its share of issues, Apple (more or less) built a quality device that was ready for the masses from the very first day.

Worse, Google is not apparently excited about Chrome OS in tablet form, claiming that the OS is more for laptops and computers (i.e. netbooks).

Unless Google wants to be embarrassed in Steve Jobs upcoming iPad 2.0 keynote as why Apple’s rivals make horrible products, the search engine giant should would be better off delaying Chrome OS’s debut in order to save the device from public scorn.

Google Docs Syncs With MS Office, Is OpenOffice Next?

googlecloudconnect 490x357 Google Docs Syncs With MS Office, Is OpenOffice Next?

Despite Google Docs embrace by numerous charities, corporations and road warriors (thanks to Google’s ever-so-helpful web app) there are still many individuals who refuse to leave the domain of Microsoft Exchange.

In order to make it easier for users to embrace the cloud, Google is allowing business users to sync changes from their office suite to Google Docs online.

Users of Office 2003, 2007 and 2010 can sync their Office documents to the Google cloud, without ever leaving Office. Once synced, documents are backed-up, given a unique URL, and can be accessed from anywhere (including mobile devices) at any time through Google Docs. And because the files are stored in the cloud, people always have access to the current version.

Once in the Google cloud, documents can be easily shared and even simultaneously edited by multiple people, from right within Office. A full revision history is kept as the files are edited, and users can revert to earlier versions in one click. These are all features that Google Docs users already enjoy today, and now we’re bringing them to Microsoft Office. (Official Google Docs Blog) [Read more...]

Windows Phone 7 Throwing Road Block For Hackers?

windowsphone7image Windows Phone 7 Throwing Road Block For Hackers?With developers excited about Windows Phone 7 and hackers attempting to jailbreak the device, it looks like Windows Phone 7 users desiring to create a custom ROM will have a serious hurdle to overcome thanks to three simple letters.

Although there have been reports of people porting over WP7 to the HTC HD2 and some chatter of people being able to make ROMs  (though not load them), there may yet be one final hurdle that could be very difficult to overcome: PVK.

PVK are the private keys Microsoft evidently uses to sign off on the OS that is also tied to the hardware. Specifically, some aspect of the OS looks for and then pulls these keys from the device motherboard for verification. If the keys cannot be found, the motherboard must be replaced or serviced. While elements of the phone/OS might still work without the PVK key, core elements such as Xbox, Marketplace, Windows Live or Zune…basically any “cloud service” will not. (Windows Phone Central)

Truth be told the PVK barrier will not prevent hackers from finding a way to install a custom ROM upon the phone, although it could be awhile before we see one unveiled to the masses.

While Microsoft understandably has to protect their Marketplace, Xbox and Windows Live services from manipulation (for obvious reasons), hopefully they will provide greater efforts to work with the hacker community instead of against them.

White iPhone Only For Verizon?

 White iPhone Only For Verizon?

It looks like those of you seeking out a white iPhone might be able to finally purchase one by 2011 in the US, but only if you are willing to embrace “big red” (aka Verizon).

We contacted our source and it was CONFIRMED that is a Verizon iPhone. In other words, our source was right 3 weeks ago. Also we got some more dirty details on what the deal is!

Evidently we were told the following (again, same source that was right before, but not confirmed from a secondary source).

1 – Verizon’s White iPhone 4 will go for about 199

2 – AT&T will not get the White iPhone 4 for nearly 4-6 months after the Verizon Exclusive deal. (Tribble Ad Agency) [Read more...]

Dell Makes Netbooks Cool Again (Inspiron Duo)

Ever since Apple graced the masses with the iPad, the demand for netbooks has more or less evaporated, as companies were forced to either reduce prices further (and lose out on profits) or attempt to reinvent what was once seen as the “poor man’s” laptop.

It looks like one company has chosen to do the latter, which a few Microsoft employees were able to demo for the rest of the world (note: video is from Dell, not Microsoft).

The core of the duo’s uniqueness is the screen itself; rather than have a convertible screen that is hinged at a single point on the chassis and rotates laterally, the duo’s lid is fixed and the screen rotates inside the bezel[.] [...]

I found the duo comfortable to work on – the tight 1366 x 768 resolution, even on the 10” viewable screen area, was easy to read, and 12” body offers up a keyboard that was big enough to type on without my fingers cramping. Sound was impressively good for something this diminutive and I enjoyed singing along to the new Zac Brown Band album on Zune.  My office mates, however, did not.

In touch mode, the duo is a capable entertainment companion.  When you flip it to reveal the touchscreen, a finger friendly interface called “Dell Stage” pops up, and gives you one-touch access to your photos, movies, the Blio reader, and games.   It’s an unobtrusive overlay to Windows 7’s standard interface that’s there when you want it to be there, and hidden when you don’t. (Windows Team Blog)

The Inspiron Duo starts at $549 and may actually prove to be a serious contender against the iPad, although that depends upon how well Microsoft Windows 7 works with the netbook tablet laptop (or whatever one wants to call it).

Dell’s visionary netbook also boasts plenty of space by offering a 250 GB hard drive as well as 2 GB of RAM.

Truth be told however I’m not so sure if that last fact matters as the netbook is sporting an Atom processor which honestly are not the best processors for computers (smartphones are a different matter however).

While this netbook could prove to be a holiday blockbuster for Dell, it may also be the company’s ticket to compete against not only Apple, but HP as well (the latter who is creating a tablet for Windows 7 as well as webOS).

Google Listens To Reason, Makes Google Apps More Relevant

After unveiling Google Apps to the masses many years ago, it looks like the search engine giant has finally decided to expand its official catalogue by including a variety of other services ranging from Google Voice to even Blogger.

Starting today, customers worldwide can access a full spectrum of services from Google—including more than 60 productivity-boosting applications that extend far beyond any traditional software suite.

Coupled with the ability for administrators to provide different sets of applications to different groups of users, the possibilities for empowering workers in new ways are remarkable. For example, you could equip your marketing team with Picasa Web Albums so they can collect and share photos from customer appreciation events, and let that team publish your company’s blog with Blogger. Services like iGoogle and Alerts, on the other hand, may be broadly useful, and could be enabled for your whole organization. (Google Small Business Blog)

Despite the fact that companies and not-for-profit organizations can already install a variety of third party apps from the market place, there were not many Google services available for users, which (truth be told) was rather frustrating.

The edition of extra services like Picasa Albums, Blogger and Google Voice should help the search giant compete better against rivals like Microsoft and Facebook (both who have been tag teaming Google recently).

Google Apps is currently available for free, although users wanting greater security can purchase their premium services for $50/year per user.

Windows Phone 7: Use Any Browser As Long As It’s IE?

windowsphone7image Windows Phone 7: Use Any Browser As Long As Its IE?For those of you hoping that Microsoft would allow rival browsers to appear upon their beloved mobile device, you may want to consider jailbreaking as a serious option.

Internet Explorer not stirring your cup of Windows Phone 7 tea correctly? Well, you now have an alternative in the form of a new browser that’s arrived in the Marketplace: Browser+. It does seem to have been built on IE code rather than its own framework, so don’t get your hopes up for Chrome to Phone on WP7 any time soon. (via Engadget)

Other bloggers are also confirming the IE only flavor that Microsoft is establishing, which ironically makes Microsoft more of a locked down OS than Apple’s iOS (who allowed Opera to grace the app store in April of this year).

Although it’s not surprising to see a third party browser apps emerge embracing IE (as iOS has numerous apps embracing mobile Safari), hopefully the software giant will consider opening up their smartphone to competitors in the future.

While IE on Windows Phone 7 is a vast improvement over its predecessors, giving users browser choice could help improve Microsoft’s image in the mobile market, something the company desperately needs to do in order to catch up to Android or iOS.