cbhacking writes: In June of 2012, Microsoft announced that they would be providing a system whereby "registered [Windows Phone] enthusiasts get early access to updates" without waiting for carrier approval and broad distribution. For more than a year, that has been an unfulfilled promise, and for many users, updates have been delayed or may even still be unavailable. Today, coinciding with the release of WP8 Update 3 (a.k.a. GDR3), Microsoft is allowing "developers" (anybody who has enabled app sideloading on their phone) to opt into a "Windows Phone Preview" program to allow updating immediately.
Like the update itself, this is likely a move in response to consumer demand and comparisons to iOS and Android, as there is little in the update which specifically interests developers. However, the program does warn that participation may invalidate your device's warranty; this may have been required by the carriers to relieve concerns of high support costs in the event of a botched update. While only the Microsoft portion of the updates (as opposed to driver firmware or OEM customizations) are available through this program, participating phones will also continue to receive public updates as they are rolled out.
cbhacking writes: "Microsoft released the Zune 3.0 yesterday. The device firmware has been immensely upgraded: it now supports connecting to wireless access points, sampling and purchasing music through a built-in store interface, playing games, and several other new things. You can read Microsoft's blurb on what's new at zune.net.
The Windows software has also been improved, etter integrating the social features.
Additionally, zunes are now available in more colors, the 4GB flash player is being discontinued for a 16GB player, and there's now a HDD-based 120GB model."
cbhacking writes: "CodeWeavers, the company that supports the open-source Wine project that allows running Windows applications on UNIX-like operating systems, has released CrossOver Games for Linux and OS X. The launch includes a considerable list of supported titles, including such popular (and graphically intensive) games as EVE Online, Counterstrike: Source (and other Steam games), and World of WarCraft.
cbhacking writes: "A post on the blog of Microsoft's Scott Guthrie has some exciting news for.NET developers: with the release of Visual Studio 2008 later this year, the.NET Framework 3.5 source code will be released for reference purposes. Most of the libraries, including System.Runtime, System.Security, System.Windows.Forms, and System.Web will be made available with the release of VS2008, with more some additional non-core libraries coming later. The code will be available for either standalone download and viewing, or as debugging symbols with associated source for integrated debugging with VS2008.
There's a catch though: although the license abbreviation used in the post, MS-RL, usually refers to the copyleft and OSI-approved Microsoft Reciprocal License (which allows modification and redistribution), the license actually explicitly mentioned and linked to is the Microsoft Reference License, which prohibits modification or redistribution. Although an open-source release of the code would be great, this is still likely to be very helpful for debugging, examining behavior of the libraries, and selecting the correct methods or algorithms for a given situation."
cbhacking writes: "Forbes.com has a telling story on the fraud and corruption that has plagues the Iraqi reconstruction efforts and, more frighteningly, the harsh penalties faced by whistleblowers. Many have been vilified, demoted, or fired outright. Now, the story has come out of Navy veteran Donald Vance, who was working as a civilian in an Iraqi company. After reporting to the FBI that his company was making illegal sales of military weapons to customers ranging from State Department workers to Iraqi insurgents, Vance was held without a trial for 97 days in Camp Cropper, an American military prison outside Baghdad. During his time there, he was subjected to "that head-banging music blaring dawn to dusk and interrogators yelling the same questions over and over."
Vance is now back in the USA and, along with a colleague who helped him gather evidence and was treated similarly in return, has filed a federal lawsuit alleging they were illegally imprisoned and subjected to physical and mental interrogation tactics "reserved for terrorists and so-called enemy combatants.""
cbhacking writes: "Previously, searching for 'Powertoy Vista' has been a quick road to failure. However, Brandon Paddock, a MS developer, has independently produced and is maintaining a very handy tool called Search++ that adds all kinds of capabilities to the built in desktop search. Some of the standard features are things like typing 'g <search string>' to launch a Google search, or 'play[artist|album] <name>' to find and start playing music. Another, very nice for those of us who start almost all programs in Vista from the Start menu, is the ability to start programs with elevated permissions via 'sudo <Program>'. The basic features are great and very easy to use, but Start++ is also extensible and user-modifiable. You can even import additional search tools (called 'Startlets'), and export your own Startlets. You can download Search++ and additional Startlets here."
cbhacking writes: "ABC News has a well-written review of the latest version of the Microsoft Office suite, which has been shipped to manufacturers. Representing the first major upgrade since 2003, Office 2007 has an incredible and instantly visible collection of new features, including an innovative new interface. For those who downloaded the public beta (all ~5 million of us), Office 2007 has already shown itself to be an amazing software suite.
The review includes overall impressions of the new version, plus ratings of the most common individual apps. It is mostly positive, from the easy learning curve for the new interface and the capabilities it offers, to the number of things Microsoft finally got RIGHT, to the good migration tools.
cbhacking writes: "The Pentagon is currently considering options for developing "the ability to strike targets around the world within an hour." According to Space.com, there are several main options being considered: an "Advanced Hypersonic Weapon", placing weapon payloads on small space launch vehicles, fitting missile submarines with a new design of ballistic missile with a conventional payload, or placing conventional warheads on the (traditionally nuclear) Trident missiles our subs currently carry.
Aside from the coolness factor of an autonomous hypersonic vehicle which achieves suborbital altitudes but for the most part flies towards its target like an aircraft, the main advantage of the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon seems to be that it wouldn't be confused with a nuclear launch. Several prominent people, including Ted "Series of Tubes" Stevens, have suggested that using Trident missiles would be dangerous as it may cause other countries to believe we are launching nuclear warheads at them. However, it appears to be the option involving the least re-invention of the wheel, and could be operational "before the end of this decade."
The option of weaponizing space launch vehicles seems to already be facing significant opposition. The Advanced Hypersonic Weapon is receiving some funding, but re-arming the Tridents is out at least until completion of a report on — among other things — the military and political issues.
Is it just me, or aren't there any major reasons the other weapons couldn't be equipped with nuclear warheads anyhow? Do we actually need a different weapon for everything?"
cbhacking writes: "The Windows Vista Team has posted a blog about the "Express Upgrade" program. Basically, if you buy a new computer with XP, Microsoft will make the upgrade to Vista available for a relatively low price.
The edition(s) you can upgrade to through this offer vary by what edition of XP you have. For example, Media Center will upgrade to Vista Home Premium, and Professional or Tablet to Vista Business, for a nominal cost. XP Home can be upgraded to either Vista Home Basic or Premium, for a 50% discount off the normal upgrade pricing. Enterprise and Ultimate are not offered in this list. Note that the upgrade versions of Vista will already cost less than the full retail versions; this program reduces the cost further for people who purchase a PC just before Vista comes out (or shortly thereafter).
It seems that very few people actually upgrade the OS; they simply buy a new computer with the new version. Maybe this program will increase the Vista install base in its first few months?"