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Hands-On: Windows Media Player 12's Surprising New Features

50°
307w ago - Though many previously bundled applets now will ship separately to Windows 7, Windows Media Player remains part of the core OS. Windows 7 will ship with Windows Media Player 12, which includes some surprising new features.

The UI itself is brighter and lighter than WMP11. Some buttons and toolbar items have been moved around, but the experience should be pretty familiar to users of version 11. What does represent a big change is the removal of the Now Playing button, which in WMP11 switches to a view showing the current playlist.

This is because WMP12 completely separates library management from what's currently playing, with two distinct player modes; Now Playing view, and Library view. Library view contains all the library manipulation features that should be familiar from WMP11. Now Playing view contains the current playlist, visualizations, and videos.

There's also a new taskbar miniviewer that works with the new Windows 7 taskbar, and WMP12 includes support for Jump Lists.

Aside from the split between Library and Now Playing, the basic operation of WMP12 is the same as in version 11. There are plenty of small refinements, like automatic previewing (hovering on any song plays a 15-second preview of the song), and the Library view now shows all media types in the tree simultaneously...
 

First Look at Windows 7's User Interface

50°
308w ago - At PDC today, Microsoft gave the first public demonstration of Windows 7. Until now, the company has been uncharacteristically secretive about its new OS; over the past few months, Microsoft has let on that the taskbar will undergo a number of changes, and that many bundled applications would be unbundled and shipped with Windows Live instead.

There have also been occasional screenshots of some of the new applets like Calculator and Paint. Now that the covers are finally off, the scale of the new OS becomes clear. The user interface has undergone the most radical overhaul and update since the introduction of Windows 95 thirteen years ago.

First, however, it's important to note what Windows 7 isn't. Windows 7 will not contain anything like the kind of far-reaching architectural modifications that Microsoft made with Windows Vista. Vista brought a new display layer and vastly improved security, but that came at a cost: a significant number of (badly-written) applications had difficulty running on Vista.

Applications expecting to run with Administrator access were still widespread when Vista was released, and though many software vendors do a great job, there are still those that haven't updated or fixed their software. Similarly, at its launch many hardware vendors did not have drivers that...
 

Tips on How to Make Windows Boot Lightening-Fast

50°
308w ago - Many users live with boot problems or re-install Windows and start again, but there is a better way. If you learn what happens during the boot process then you'll be able to diagnose and fix any issues that might arise.

The BIOS

The boot starts with your PC's BIOS, which grabs its settings from CMOS RAM before initialising your video adaptor and any expansion cards. A Power On Self Test does basic hardware checks, tests your RAM if required and usually delivers a single beep to indicate that everything is working.

If there's a problem at this point then the BIOS will display an error message or issue a number of beeps; check your motherboard manual to figure out what they might mean. If it's accessible, launch your BIOS setup program to confirm that no settings have been changed. If they have, this could mean that your motherboard's CMOS battery has failed, in which case you'll need a replacement.

If you've installed an expansion card recently, try it in a different slot. Other new devices should be removed altogether to see if they are causing a problem. You can also check the support section of your motherboard or your PC manufacturer's site for more advice.

These hardware problems are relatively uncommon, though. It's likely that this first boot stage...
 

Sanity Check: Five Reasons Why Windows Vista Failed

200°
311w ago - On Friday, Microsoft gave computer makers a six-month extension for offering Windows XP on newly-shipped PCs. While this doesn't impact enterprise IT – because volume licensing agreements will allow IT to keep installing Windows XP for many years to come – the move is another symbolic nail in Vista's coffin.

The public reputation of Windows Vista is in shambles, as Microsoft itself tacitly acknowledged in its Mojave ad campaign.

IT departments are largely ignoring Vista. In June (18 months after Vista's launch), Forrester Research reported that just 8.8% of enterprise PCs worldwide were running Vista. Meanwhile, Microsoft appears to have put Windows 7 on an accelerated schedule that could see it released in 2010. That will provide IT departments with all the justification they need to simply skip Vista and wait to eventually standardize on Windows 7 as the next OS for business.

So how did Vista get left holding the bag? Let's look at the five most important reasons why Vista failed.

5. Apple successfully demonized Vista

Apple's clever I'm a Mac ads have successfully driven home the perception that Windows Vista is buggy, boring, and difficult to use. After...
 

Sony PlayStation 3 EYE Camera running under Windows

550°
312w ago - As posted by AlexP on the forums of the Web site linked above:

As you may seen it before, here are the specs:

- 4 channel audio input:16 bits/channel, 48kHz, SNR 90db
- 56 or 75 Field of View zoom lens
- 2.1 F-stop, less than 1% distortion, fixed focus (25cm to 8 at 75 FOV)
- 640 x 480 at 60 frames/second
- 320 x 240 at 120 frames/second
- USB.0 high-speed data transfer
- Uncompressed video or optional JPEG compression

Downloads: PS3 Eye Driver / PS3 Eye Test [Fixed 320x240 frame (full sensor), Now capturing at 60fps.]

This makes the PS3Eye ideal for multitouch applications. The best part is the price $39.99!

Now, the main problem with this camera is that there are no drivers for Windows. The camera's chipset info is virtually non-existent on the Web.

After examining the camera internals I found that it features the OV534-LB50 camera USB 2.0 bridge and the OV7720 CMOS VGA sensor. Both of these are made by OmniVision.

I started thinking to my self: "This camera is awesome and it will be such a great and inexpensive replacement for...
 
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