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October 29, 2008

Microsoft’s Xbox will be the first to get HD Netflix streaming

Posted by David Hunter at 3:56 PM ET.

Xbox Live LogoNot all the promised features of the New Xbox Experience will arrive on November 19, but streaming of HD movies from Netflix will and and it’s a first for Microsoft:

It’s something you can’t get on the Roku. Nor on LG’s BD300. Nor on Samsung’s P2500 / P2550 Blu-ray players. Nor through Netflix’s own "Watch Instantly" portal. It’s high-def Netflix streaming, and it’s coming first to Microsoft’s Xbox 360. Yes friends, when the all new dashboard hits on November 19th, with it will come HD Netflix streaming for (US-based, presumably) Xbox Live Gold members.

There will only be 300 movies to start with and all the details haven’t been released yet, but it is on the way. For more on the interface changes coming in the New Xbox Experience, see Engadget’s exclusive first look.

Filed under Coopetition, Microsoft, Netflix, Xbox

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October 28, 2008

Microsoft reveals Azure cloud computing platform

Posted by David Hunter at 9:50 PM ET.

It wasn’t the cloud operating system promised by Steve Ballmer, but Microsoft’s Azure Services Platform revealed yesterday by Ray Ozzie at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference will surely get Microsoft a place at the table with the other big cloud platform players like Amazon and Google.

So what’s in the Azure Services Platform? A bit of old and and a bit of new:

Unlike many of today’s service-based solutions, the Azure Services Platform provides developers with the flexibility and ability to create applications while taking advantage of their existing skills, tools and technologies such as the Microsoft .NET Framework and Visual Studio. Developers also can choose from a broad range of commercial or open source development tools and technologies, and access the Azure Services Platform using a variety of common Internet standards including HTTP, representational state transfer (REST), WS-* and Atom Publishing Protocol (AtomPub).

Key components of the Azure Services Platform include the following:

Windows Azure for service hosting and management, low-level scalable storage, computation and networking

Microsoft SQL Services for a wide range of database services and reporting

Microsoft .NET Services which are service-based implementations of familiar .NET Framework concepts such as workflow and access control

Live Services for a consistent way for users to store, share and synchronize documents, photos, files and information across their PCs, phones, PC applications and Web sites

Microsoft SharePoint Services and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Services for business content, collaboration and rapid solution development in the cloud

A limited community technology preview (CTP) of the Azure Services Platform was made available to PDC2008 attendees. There were no promises on commercial availability or pricing although according to Ray Ozzie (via Nicholas Carr):

During its preview stage, Windows Azure will be available for free to developers. Once the platform launches commercially – and, according to Ozzie, Microsoft will be "intentionally conservative" in rolling out the full platform – pricing will be based on a user’s actual consumption of CPU time (per hour), bandwidth (per gigabyte), storage (per gigabyte) and transactions. The actual fee structure has not been released, though Ozzie says it will be "competitive with the marketplace" and will vary based on different available service levels.

There are more technical details at

Filed under Azure, Cloud Computing, Conferences, Microsoft, PDC08

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Microsoft shows off pre-beta release of Windows 7

Posted by David Hunter at 9:29 PM ET.

Microsoft today lifted the veil on Windows 7:

Today at its Professional Developers Conference 2008 (PDC2008), Microsoft Corp. rallied software developers by sharing the first full public demo of Windows 7. Windows 7 extends developers’ investments in Windows Vista and encourages the creation of new applications and services for the Windows platform. The company also delivered a pre-beta build of Windows 7 to PDC attendees and announced plans to release a full Windows 7 beta early next year.

In addition to Windows 7, PDC attendees received a pre-beta developer release of Windows Server 2008 R2, which will deliver many enhancements to Windows Server 2008, including live migration of virtual machines, power saving capabilities, and developer features to build and host next-generation applications and services.

Developers should go to to learn more about developing for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

If you would like to kick Windows 7′s tires vicariously, Peter Bright has an overview of the user interface changes.

Filed under Beta and CTP, Conferences, Microsoft, OS - Client, OS - Server, PDC08, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2

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Microsoft Office goes to the Web

Posted by David Hunter at 9:17 PM ET.

Microsoft today announced "lightweight" Web versions of Microsoft Office stalwarts Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote to be delivered with Office 14 at some unspecified date which is generally believed to be in the latter half of 2009. According to Microsoft, the Web versions will have functionality comparable to Google’s suite of online office applications.

The formal name of Microsoft’s Web office suite will be "Office Web applications"  and they will be delivered to consumers through the existing Office Live service or via subscription to business customers. No details on pricing were provided.

Filed under Microsoft, Office, Office 2010, Office Live, Office Web Apps

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