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Microsoft unveils more details about Zune HD

Microsoft, without doubt, is prepping Zune HD to compete with Apple’s iPod Touch portable media player. Last weekend, images of Microsoft’s Zune HD were leaked, and now WMPUser has been tipped off about the technical details. The new Zune HD is expected to be launched this September in the US, Canada, UK, France, and other European countries. Microsoft would obviously like to get competitive by grabbing more market share in the portable media player market. A confirmed list of features include LiveSide and NeoWin. The new Zune HD will have a 3.6-inch OLED touchscreen with capacitive multi-touch support. Nvidia’s Tegra chip will power the Zune HD, and we think it might be the new Tegra 600 series announced in mid-February at the Mobile World Congress 2009. Hopefully, Zune HD’s Tegra chip would be faster than Apple’s Second Generation iPod Touch’s ARM11-based S5L8720x chip clocked at 532MHz.

Microsoft’s Zune HD will have a HDMI out for streaming content directly to the television. Again, the Tegra platform, which is HD video friendly, would be helping out in this process. Also, Zune HD has HD Radio, which is not a built-in feature in Apple’s iPod Touch but available through Apps from App Store. Zune HD would also be WiFi compatible and capable of Wireless Sync with Windows Marketplace. Zune HD will obviously have a web browser with multi-touch support. It seems like it will be a showcase for Windows Mobile 7 since rumor mills have been buzzing about Zune’s integration with the Windows Mobile 7. Microsoft will make Zune HD available in 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB versions with a limited edition dock in different colors. Additionally, charge packs, car packs, and Home AV packs will be bundled with the Zune HD.

Source: Techtree

CNN bought most popular Twitter account (yes, for cash)

CNN gained nearly a million Twitter followers on Wednesday when it acquired the @cnnbrk Twitter account. The account, the largest on Twitter with more than 947,000 followers, had been maintained and nurtured by James Cox. CNN did not disclose financial details of the acquisition, probably because rules at the microblogging site prohibit the selling of Twitter accounts. The acquisition comes as the race to 1 million Twitter followers heats up. As of Wednesday afternoon, Ashton Kutcher was in second place with 917,000 followers, followed closely by Britney Spears, who has about 913,000 followers. Kutcher publicly challenged CNN to a race to 1 million users on Tuesday in a video posted to Qik.com.

“I found it astonishing that one person can actually have as big of a voice online as what an entire media company can on Twitter,” Kutcher said. “And so I just thought that was just kind of an amazing comment on the state of our media, and I said that, if I beat CNN to 1 million viewers, then I would ding-dong ditch Ted Turner–because I don’t think it’s gonna happen.” CNN accepted Kutcher’s challenge Tuesday on the “Larry King Show.” Kutcher, who is best known as star of TV’s “That ’70s Show” and husband of actress Demi Moore, has said he will donate 10,000 mosquito bed nets to charity for World Malaria Day if he is first to 1 million followers.

Source: Cnet

Spam kills climate: 0.3 grams of CO2 per message

Not only is spam a nuisance and sometimes criminally deceptive, it’s got a carbon footprint. The mere act of people around the world deleting spam and searching for legitimate e-mail falsely labeled as junk creates the annual energy consumption equivalent in the U.S. of 2.4 million homes using electricity and the same greenhouse gas emissions as 3.1 million passenger cars using two billion gallons of gas. That’s according to “The Carbon Footprint of Email Spam Report” conducted by climate-change consultants ICF and commissioned by security vendor McAfee. The average greenhouse gas emission associated with one spam message is 0.3 grams of CO2, about the same as driving three feet in equivalent emissions. When multiplied by the 62 trillion spam e-mails sent globally, that is like driving around the Earth 1.6 million times.

Eighty percent of the energy consumption associated with spam messages come from people having to do spam maintenance, the report found. Spam filtering accounts for only 16 percent of the energy use and saves the electrical equivalent of taking 13 million cars off the road per year. If spam filters were used universally, the energy saved would be equivalent to taking 2.3 million cars off the road, the report said. When major spam-hosting provider McColo was taken offline last November, global spam volume dropped by 70 percent overnight. That was the equivalent of taking 2.2 million cars off the road. Unfortunately, spam levels are back up as the spammers found other places to host their spam command-and-control servers.

Source: Cnet

Microsoft unveils Office 2010, details new Exchange

Microsoft released a beta of Exchange Server 2010 on Wednesday, the first product that enterprise customers will see from the next version of Office. Microsoft also went public with the official branding of its next productivity suite — Office 2010. Until now Microsoft had been referring to it as Office 14, but the new name had been widely expected. Exchange Server should be in full release by the end of the year, but the rest of the products in the suite won’t be out until early 2010, said Julia White, director of the Exchange product management team. Microsoft will release technical previews of other products in the suite, including Office 2010, SharePoint Server 2010, Visio 2010 and Project 2010, in the third calendar quarter. A technical preview is tested by hundreds of thousands of users, while millions of people will have access to the Exchange 2010 beta, White said.

Main features of Exchange 2010:

  • Exchange Federation: Allows cross-premise sharing of resources including federated messages and calendar sharing both within and outside an organization.
  • Support For SATA: Exchange 2010 can utilize Serial Advanced Technology Attachment desktop-class hard-disk drives.
  • Database Availability Groups: Databases can be grouped together so that they use continuous replication to provide automatic disaster recovery.
  • Role-Based Access Control: Via the Windows PowerShell, Exchange admins can designate certain administrative roles to end users, such as Organization Management.
  • Exchange Control Panel: ECP is a Web-based interface that enables users to “self-help” themselves. Users can perform tasks as varied as running delivery reports to managing distribution groups.
  • Device Security: Per-user mobile device policies can be set, such as allowing attachments to specifying PIN requirements. Admins can also deem which mobile device can sync and which to block.
  • Mail Tips: This feature walks a user through ” checking” a message before sending to avoid potentially embarrassing sent messages.
  • Conversation View: Related messages pertaining to a specific conversation can be filtered in a threaded view.

Another of the Office System products, Office Communications Server (OCS), is on a different schedule. The latest version, OCS R2, was released only in February, and Microsoft has not discussed plans yet for the next big upgrade. Microsoft will begin the process of upgrading its hosted version of Exchange, Exchange Online, at the same time it ships the Exchange 2010 on-premise product. Exchange Online customers will have the ability to determine when their users are upgraded to the new Exchange 2010 capabilities in Exchange Online, starting in the first half of 2010. It made it easy in Exchange 2010 to automatically configure access for certain employee roles, such as a compliance officer or human-resources manager, White said. “You can set it up [for people] to just have access to the mail boxes they need to search, and can turn that access on and off very quickly,” she said. In Exchange 2007, IT pros needed “an 80-page white paper” to do something similar, she said.

Source: PC World

Apple raking in cash: iPod manufactured for $22

Apple’s new iPod Shuffle has had a bit of controversy, ranging from its lack of physical buttons, restricted headphones, to the sheer (lack of) size of the device. This, certainly, isn’t going to provide any good free advertising either. According to BusinessWeek, the latest iteration of Apple’s smallest iPod only costs a mere $22 to create, but how much does it retail for? $79. That’s right, you’re being charged almost an extra $60 to own one of these tiny creations, which to some people is an amount that is unacceptable. The main application chip of the Shuffle, which runs music controlling and other functions, is worth $5.98.

To quote iSuppli analyst Andrew Rassweiler, “It’s almost like six dollars worth of flash memory tied to some flash and a battery and not much else. It’s very basic and downsized.” As the BusinessWeek article states, “All told, the cost of the shuffle’s components, the headphones, and the packaging it ships in comes to $21.77, according to iSuppli’s estimates.” This suggests that, as many people assume, if the markup on this is that high, then others will be the same. For example, for the first iPod touch, manufacturing costs were $147 whereas retail prices were $299.

Source. Neowin

Study: Facebook users get worse grades

A new study released by Ohio State University shows that college students who use Facebook spend less time studying and have lower grades than students who don’t use the popular social networking site. But don’t count on the Facebook users admitting the problem. The university report noted that 79% of them said that using the social networking site was not interfering with their studies. “We can’t say that use of Facebook leads to lower grades and less studying — but we did find a relationship there,” said Aryn Karpinski, co-author of the study and a doctoral student in education at Ohio State University. “There’s a disconnect between students’ claim that Facebook use doesn’t impact their studies, and our finding showing they had lower grades and spent less time studying.”

The university reported that science, technology, engineering, math and business majors were more likely to use Facebook than students who are studying social sciences and the humanities. The survey of 219 Ohio State students only asked about Facebook and did not focus on other social networking sites, like Myspace or Twitter. Facebook, which just turned five years old in February, had nearly double the number of global users last December as rival and longtime market leader Myspace.com Inc. Just last week, Facebook itself reported that it was hitting a major milestone: It had captured its 200 millionth user. The Ohio State University study found that 85% of undergraduates use Facebook, while 52% of graduate students had accounts. It also found that Facebook users, who generally studied between one and five hours per week, had GPAs between 3.0 and 3.5, but nonusers, who studied 11 to 15 hours per week, had GPAs between 3.5 and 4.0.

Source: Computer World

Microsoft will deploy IE 8 through Automatic update

Microsoft plans to distribute Internet Explorer 8 to computers running previous versions of IE (IE 6 or IE 7) via Automatic Updates starting from the 3rd week of April. The update will be rolled out gradually from a small user base to large number of users. The update will be a ‘high priority‘ update for systems running Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 and is an ‘important‘ update for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008. The final version of IE8 was distributed via automatic update recently to users still running pre-release versions of IE8, Beta 2/RC1.

Organizations can use the IE8 Blocker Toolkit to block automatic delivery of IE8. The blocking tool has to be in place by the week of April 20th. IE8 will be released to Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) in July 2009 and will be classified as an Update Rollup.

Source: Neowin

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