Pic of the day #153

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Vista SP1 Targets Pirates

vista-sp1-targets-pirates.pngMicrosoft has big plans in store for its Windows Vista operating system. The company released a release candidate version of Service Pack 1 (SP1) for Windows Vista in mid-November. SP1 is supposed to address a number of performance-related issues with Vista and includes a number of security update and bug fixes that have been rolled out since the operating system launched over a year ago.

In addition to the previously mentioned SP1 features, Microsoft is looking to make pirating Vista a tougher endeavor. The Redmond, Washington-based company says that new measures introduced with SP1 will further reduce piracy — piracy for Vista is already less than half that of Windows XP according to Microsoft.

One loophole that Microsoft will close is the current method of extending the “grace period” to activate Vista. Original versions of the exploit allowed users to extend the grace period from 30 days to 120 days. Later variations of the hack extended the grace period to a full year, while yet another extended the grace period to the year 2099.

“Under this new system, no features will be disabled. Instead it will be a notification-based experience similar in some ways to what we have done with XP. A user of a system that has not been activated and gone through the 30-day grace period to activate will, when logging in on the 31st day, see a dialog box on a plain black background,” said Microsoft group product manager Alex Kochis.

“That will give them two options: Activate Windows now, which will bring up all the options to do this, and activate Windows later, which takes them directly to their desktop, which will be exactly the same as it had been the last time they used it, except that there will be a plain black background and a message in the lower right hand corner over the system tray telling them that their copy of Windows is not genuine,” Kochis continued.

Microsoft will also put a stop to the OEM BIOS exploit which allows unscrupulous Vista pirates to edit systems files and a motherboard’s BIOS to fool Windows into thinking that it is installed in a genuine OEM system.

These latest additions to Vista, however, will do little to quell those who continue to rally behind Microsoft’s venerable Windows XP operating system. Due to customer demand, Microsoft extended the shelf life of Windows XP and has given OEMs the ability to provide Windows XP downgrades for customers who are unhappy with their new Windows Vista-based machines. In addition, recent testing has shown that Vista SP1 is no match for Windows XP SP3 in OfficeBench performance which got much play around the web.

Not surprisingly, Apple has pounced on Microsoft’s Vista woes and has a number of television commercials which poke fun at Vista’s “inferiority” to Windows XP.

Source: DailyTech

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Pic of the day #152

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Microsoft’s Response to Piracy

microsoft-logo.pngMicrosoft Corp. is pulling back from a system that disables programs on users’ computers if it suspects the software is pirated, opting instead for a gentler approach based on nagging alerts.Microsoft said late Monday it will roll out the new version of Windows Genuine Advantage with the first “service pack” for Windows Vista, due in the first quarter of 2008.

When computer users activate a copy of Windows Vista or try to download certain software from Microsoft’s Web site, the Windows Genuine Advantage system scans their PCs for signs of pirated software. Today, if the tool finds an unauthorized copy of Vista, the glassy Vista user experience disappears and other features are suspended.

In the new version, PC users found to have a pirated copy of Vista will continue to be able to use their computers, but with unmistakable signs their operating system is a fake. The desktop wallpaper will turn black, and a white notice will appear alerting users to the problem. Each time they log in, they will be prompted to buy legitimate software, and every hour, a reminder bubble will appear on the screen.

Users with a high tolerance for irritation can put off switching to genuine software indefinitely, but those who relent and buy a real copy of Windows can do so at reduced prices — $119 for Windows Vista Home Premium, half the regular retail price.

“We want to make sure unwitting victims get a great treatment,” said Mike Sievert, a corporate vice president in Microsoft’s Windows marketing group.

Windows Genuine Advantage collects several pieces of information about a PC during the check, including the serial number on the hard drive and its IP address, but Sievert says none of that can be used to identify individual PC users.

In August, the Windows Genuine Advantage team at Microsoft accidentally updated its servers with computer code that wasn’t quite ready for prime time. As a result, Microsoft said “fewer than 12,000” people who tried to validate software over a two-day period couldn’t.

Some found legitimate copies of Windows hobbled after the tool labeled them pirated, and an outcry spread across Web forums and technology news sites.

Sievert said the glitch in August was unrelated to the change in how the Windows Genuine Advantage tool will work.

“Microsoft realizes it has to take a different approach with their customers,” said Chris Swenson, a software industry analyst for market researcher NPD Group. “If you shut down someone’s computer, you’re going to anger customers.”

Microsoft also said Monday the package of Vista updates will fix two holes in the operating system that have allowed pirates to create counterfeit copies — one that mimics the activation of software by computer makers before a PC is sold, and one that extends a grace period given to people who install new software, before they must activate it.

Sievert said Microsoft plans to offer an update for Windows Genuine Advantage that will run the piracy check regularly without the computer user initiating the process.

Source: Yahoo! News

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Pic of the day #151

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Top 100 Games Of All Time

ign_logo.png“We like to hear people scream at us. Unfortunately, it has been a long while since anyone’s actually done it. To compensate, the editors of all three IGN Editorial offices (US, UK, and Australia) got together and decided that it was time to revisit one of the most controversial topics in our business…


The Top 100 Games of All Time!”

 

Click here to see IGN’s Top 100 Games Of All Time.

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Pic of the day #150

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Activision and Vivendi merge

activision-vivendi.jpgIn the most shocking and important news of the year publishers Activision and Vivendi have merged, dethroning Electronic Arts as the world’s biggest games publisher.

The shock power-shifting deal is worth $18.9 billion and sees the two form into Activision Blizzard, ‘the world’s largest pure-play online and console game publisher’.

This deal comes a few weeks after EA’s boss said there would be no more big mergers in the industry.

You can see straight away from the name then that Activision’s motives are clearly for the World of Warcraft cash bounty, while Vivendi’s other IP’s include Crash, Spyro, F.E.A.R. and Timeshift. Activison of course is the owner of the massive Guitar Hero and Call of Duty franchises, developer Bizarre Creation and film licenses such as Spider-Man and James Bond.

The goliath company will also have access to Blizzard’s stellar properties Diablo and StarCraft.

Activision Blizzard says it expects to make around 70 percent of its revenues from its library of IP-based franchises, boasting that it has “the most diversified and broadest portfolio of interactive entertainment assets in its industry”.

Jean-Bernard Levy, CEO of Vivendi said: “This alliance is a major strategic step for Vivendi and is another illustration of our drive to extend our presence in the entertainment sector.

By combining Vivendi’s games business with Activision, we are creating a worldwide leader in a high-growth industry. We are excited about the opportunities for Activision Blizzard as a broader entertainment software platform.”

Robert Kotick, Activision’s chairman and CEO added: “This is an outstanding transaction for Activision and our stockholders, as well as a pivotal event in the continuing transformation of the interactive entertainment industry. By combining leaders in mass-market entertainment and subscription-based online games, Activision Blizzard will be the only publisher with leading market positions across all categories of the rapidly growing interactive entertainment software industry and reach the broadest possible audiences.”

Well, bloody hell then. This really has been a shocking year for the games industry, hasn’t it? Peter Moore and Ken Kuturagi jump ship, Bungie leaves MS, GTA slips… we don’t know how much more our heart can take.

We can only see this move as a good thing for gamers though. The increased competition will surely keep EA on its toes and perhaps we’ll see less lazy franchise updates from both companies from now on. We hope so, anyway.

Source: CVG

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Pic of the day #149

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PDF Ads

pdf.jpg Yahoo! and Adobe are bringing pay-per-click ads to Adobe’s Portable Document Format so that publishers can serve up ads inside PDFs distributed on Web sites and over e-mail that are contextually relevant to the content.

The text advertisements appear in a panel to the right of the content in the PDF and are subject matter matched using keywords and analysis of associated concepts. The ads are dynamic, meaning different ads can pop up at different times and clicking on an ad takes you to the advertiser Web site.

Publishers upload their PDF content into Yahoo’s ad serving system and then monitor the performance through Yahoo!’s system. Publishers take a cut of the revenue from each click on the ads and Yahoo will split its share of the revenue per click with Adobe.

The service gives PDF publishers access to Yahoo’s network of advertisers and allows them to make money off the content without having their own sales force or having to do the ad insertion themselves, says Josh Jacobs, vice president of publisher solutions at Yahoo.

Publishers participating in the beta include IDG’s InfoWorld, which moved to a Web-only format earlier this year, as well as Wired, Pearson’s Education, Meredith Corporation and Reed Elsevier.

Source: CNET News

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