Microsoft has started upgrading Hotmail users to the new version of the Web mail service, an update that includes support for larger attachments and new views for looking at attached photos and documents.
The company is upgrading to the new service one server cluster at a time--and it has hundreds of such clusters--so not everyone will get the upgrade right away.
"If you don't see these features today, please hold on just a little while longer--everybody will be upgraded this summer," program manager Mike Schackwitz said in a blog post on Tuesday.
Microsoft is once again betting that its customers can do a better job than anyone else of selling its software.
The company's $80 million "Make it Great" ad campaign for Office 2010, which kicks off today, is focused entirely on letting a small group of early users of the product tell their stories. Microsoft faces the not insignificant challenge to convince consumers that the product is worth shelling out cash for, as opposed to using free rivals, sticking with their old version or even using one of Microsoft's own free products.
Redmond has long had to deal with free alternatives, including everything from OpenOffice to Google Docs. And Microsoft has also battled both piracy and the "good enough" factor that prompts many consumers to stick with older software--sometimes several versions old.
With Office 2010, though, Microsoft has created a couple of its own new products that could create an opening for those who want Office, but don't want to pay. Most prominent are the free, browser-based products known as the Office Web Apps seen as a response to Google Docs. The software, which includes slimmed down versions of PowerPoint, Word, OneNote and Excel, are all free to consumers, along with 25 gigabytes of online storage via Windows Live. However, the applications only work when the browser is connected to the Internet.
The second free version of Office is Office Starter, a product that is replacing Microsoft Works as the software most consumers will get for free when they buy a new PC. Although it will give users a genuine, if limited version of both Excel and Word, Microsoft Senior Vice President Chris Capossela said that the goal is to make it easier, not harder to sell the full version of Office.
"Consumers have an Office experience right out of the box," Capossela said. Plus, since the bits for the full Office are on the PC, retailers can sell just a simple card with a product code--cards that can be placed not just in the software aisle, but also in other key selling locations, such as near new PCs and by the cash register.
As for the notion that customers will just stick with the starter edition, Capossela said he isn't too worried. He notes that Windows itself has a basic word processor--WordPad, included by default. And while Starter does include a bona fide version of Word and Excel, he said it lacks PowerPoint, OneNote, as well as many key spreadsheet and word-processing features. To drive that point home, Starter also has a small advertisement that rotates different messages reminding users what they are missing. … Read more
You know that annoying plastic horn that makes the World Cup almost unbearable to listen to? Yep, there's an app for that.
Like millions of people around the world, I've spent the past few days developing a loathing of a plastic horn known as a vuvuzela. One vuvuzela sounds kind of like a loud kazoo, but get a few thousand of them in one crowded soccer stadium and they sound like the most annoying swarm of bees you've ever heard.
But, amid the growing headache, I had one clear thought. I wonder if someone has thought to … Read more
VMware says that, like its rival Parallels, it has virtualization software that can help ease the transition from Windows XP to Windows 7.
While its approach is less comprehensive than Parallels $50 product, VMware's approach is free, using a combination of VMware Converter and VMware Player, both of which are available from the company's Web site. VMware's approach uses Converter to package up and transfer a physical XP desktop into a virtual machine and then allows that XP desktop to run virtually inside the new Windows 7 machine.
VMware's products have been available for some time, … Read more
Bing is hoping to be the next American Idol, or so it would seem from an invitation that CNET just got for a June 22 event in Los Angeles.
The company promises a 40-minute session to announce new updates to the search engine, followed by a panel on the future of entertainment, to be emceed by "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest. The invite also promises musical guests and an LA-worthy after-party.
Whatever the news is, it's not the first foray into the celebrity arena for Microsoft's Web unit.
With Microsoft's Office Web Apps out in the wild, I thought it was time to try to test their limits.
For a while now, Microsoft has said that the experience on the iPhone would be similar to that in other mobile browsers--allowing document viewing, but not the editing and other features found in the full Web Apps.
Through some work, though, I managed to get the iPad to try to open up the full Office Web Apps. By clicking around various pages within Windows Live, I found some that had an option to click to switch to the &… Read more
The massive earthquake in Haiti in January destroyed a third or more of the country's banks and ATMs, but even before the quake fewer than 1 in 10 Haitians had ever used a traditional bank.
Aiming to broaden access to financial institutions and aid in the recovery, the Gates Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development announced Tuesday a plan to back up to $10 million in funding to spur the use of cell phone banking, an approach that has worked elsewhere to bring financing to the poor.
Microsoft has found some creative ways to advertise its Bing search engine, but last night's tie-up with "The Colbert Report" might be my favorite.
The company pledged $2,500 for each time that Colbert mentioned the word Bing, something he managed to work in 40 times in the show, if you count the time he said he was "rob-bing" Microsoft blind. In all, the stunt raised $100,000 for the Colbert Nation Gulf of America Fund. (Why the Gulf of America? Because, as Colbert says, "We broke it, we bought it.")