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September 1, 2015


Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld go to Shoe Circus - VIDEO

by Brett Love, posted Sep 5th 2008 10:00AM

Bill Gates and Jerry SeinfeldWe talked about this when they announced that Jerry Seinfeld had signed on to promote Windows for Microsoft. If you were watching the big NFL kickoff Thursday night, you might have seen what that looked like. If you missed it, it's embedded after the jump. I've watched the commercial a few times now, and I'm torn. I agreed with Brad's take in the original post, that Seinfeld may be a few years past the point of ideal pitchman.

That being said, the first half of the commercial is quirky, and pretty funny. The idea of stumbling on Bill Gates in a discount shoe shop is an amusing place to start. And Gates does a good job as the straight man for Seinfeld. I really like the odd cut to the family watching through the glass. "They run tight." It all pays off nicely with that familiar image of Gates on his Platinum Shoe Circus Clown Club card. It loses steam when they leave the mall. A moist and chewy cake computer? I think the writers got tripped up by the iffy tag. The future. Delicious.

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Jerry Seinfeld will be selling us Vista

by Brad Trechak, posted Aug 21st 2008 2:25PM
Jerry SeinfeldIn an attempt to appeal to the hip, mod audience, Microsoft is hiring Jerry Seinfeld to be its pitchman for the Vista operating system. This is being considered as a counter to Apple's successful "Mac vs. PC" commercials. It is expected that he'll use a variation of the new "Windows, not walls" slogan.

There are two problems with this strategy. First off, while he was an icon of the 90's, Jerry Seinfeld hasn't been relevant for a few years now (Bee Movie didn't do so well, despite his major attempts at promotion). American Express got him when he was a big deal and I'm sure more people used their production as a result, but I'm not so sure that would work now. Plus, it's not like he needs the money.

Second, the Vista operating system has gotten bad press. I mean baaaaaad press. Much of it deserved. Microsoft would be better served by having Jerry pitch whatever operating system came next rather than Vista, because there is a lot of negative publicity there to counteract.

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Microsoft ships Windows Media Center TV Pack update - to OEMs only

by Brad Linder, posted Jul 18th 2008 9:04AM
Windows Media Center TV Pack
As reported last week, Microsoft has been working on an update for Windows Media Center that adds support for international users and removes the restriction on the number of TV tuners you can use. The update, which has often been referred to by its codename, Fiji, has been veiled in secrecy. Now it looks like there's good news and bad news.

The good news is that Fiji has shipped. A Microsoft knowledge base article refers to a "Windows Media Center TV Pack," which was released on July 16th. The bad news is, the update was released to OEMs, not to end users. In other words, there's no way for you to download and install the update on your Windows Vista Home Premium or Ultimate computer. You'll have to wait until Microsoft either issues a wider release or until you purchase a new computer with the software preloaded.

[via Geek Tonic]

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Microsoft releases cumulative update for Windows Vista Media Center

by Brad Linder, posted Jun 12th 2008 5:54PM
Windows Vista Media CenterMicrosoft has rolled out a cumulative update for Windows Vista Media Center that addresses several known issues. The update is available for x86 and x64 systems running Windows Vista Home Premium or Windows Vista Ultimate. It doesn't matter whether you have Windows Vista SP1 installed or not: the update will work either way.

Here are some of the issues addressed:
  • Improvements for recording teleivion programs on systems with analog TV tuners
  • Fixed a bug that sometimes caused a blank screen to appear when switching between full screen and windowed modes while playing a video
  • Empty removable media devices should no longer be displayed in the galleries
  • Solved a memory leak in extender sessions
  • Regional fixes for Chinese media center users
[via Aaron Stebner]

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CinemaNow movies now available in Windows Media Center

by Brad Linder, posted May 22nd 2008 6:29PM

CinemaNow MCE

Raise your hand if you'd kind of forgotten that CinemaNow existed. Go ahead, don't be shy. While Apple, Amazon, and Netflix have been making headlines for distributing digital movies and TV shows over the last year or so, CinemaNow's been doing this for ages. Along with MovieLink, CinemaNow was one of the first digital distributors to sign deals with major Hollywood studios. (MovieLink had a bit of a leg up, since it's co-owned by several of those studios).

CinemaNow's not resting on its laurels. The company today launched a partnership with Microsoft to bring CinemaNow content to Windows Media Center. That means you can browser and purchase or rent videos using a remote control and a 10 foot interface. CinemaNow has over 3400 feature films, 3000 TV episodes, and 2900 music videos in its library.

If you don't notice the CinemaNow icon in the "more TV" section of Windows Media Center right away, try going into settings and forcing Windows Media Center to download updates.

CinemaNow isn't the first company to launch an MCE application. MovieLink and Vongo have had a position in the Showcase section of Windows Vista MCE for some time.

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Microsoft begins beta testing next gen Windows Media Center

by Brad Linder, posted May 21st 2008 11:04AM


Microsoft has reportedly begun testing the next generation of Windows Media Center, which bears the codename Fiji. There's not a lot of information about the beta test. We can't say for sure how many users are involved, or if and when Microsoft will expand the beta.

It's likely that the update will add support for the upcoming DirecTV tuner. But other than that, it's not entirely clear whether Fiji will sport any new features, or whether it'll just be a refined version of Windows Vista Media Center.

Microsoft is on track to release Windows 7 sometime around 2010. Windows 7 is the codename for the operating system that will eventually replace Windows Vista. Fiji, on the other hand, will be an intermediate update that will basically bring a new version of Media Center to Vista users. There's no official word on when Fiji will be released, but it could be out by the end of this year.

Participants in the private beta are bound by a pretty strict non-disclosure agreement, which is why it's been difficult to get any real information about the beta. But if anyone feels like sharing some info feel free to hit the tips link at the top of this page.

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mControl adds Vista Media Center support to home automation software

by Brad Linder, posted May 14th 2008 2:56PM


Embedded Automation has released a beta plugin for their budget home automation software that lets you control your lights, home security system, and personal video recorder all at once. The company's mControl software is basically a cheap version of the Life|ware software from Exceptional Innovation. While EI charges thousands of dollars for their software, you can get mControl for under $100.

So what exactly does the new mControl Vista Media Center Controller driver do? It lets you send and receive messages to your Windows Vista Media Center machine. That means you can have your TV playback pause any time the phone or doorbell rings. Or if you leave the lights on in another room, you can have a message pop up periodically reminding you to turn them off.

Currently it doesn't look like you can use the software to automatically dim your lights when you're watching a video and bring them back up when you hit pause. But that sort of functionality should be available in a future release.

[via EngadgetHD]

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MceFM: Last.FM plugin for Vista Media Center

by Brad Linder, posted Mar 22nd 2008 9:01AM
MceFM is an awesome little plugin for Windows Vista Media Center that lets you stream music from Last.fm. If you're not familiar with Last.fm, it's an online music recommendation service combined with a streaming radio service. All you have to do is type in the name of an artist or song and Last.fm will dig up music by that artist and then find similar songs you might like and start playing one song after another.

In order to use MceFM, you'll need to have a Last.fm account, but accounts are free, so that's easy. The plugin isn't much to look at. You can enter an artist name and MceFM will connect to Last.fm, find your music and set up a playlist.

One of the coolest features of this plugin is that you can find music similar to songs and artists already on your computer. Just locate a track in your music library and then click the More button on your remote (or hit the Ctrl+D keys on your keyboard to bring up the context menu and select More), and you can search Last.fm for similar music.

[via Ian Dixon]

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Yougle 0.4.0 brings YouTube, Flickr to Vista Media Center

by Brad Linder, posted Mar 18th 2008 9:02AM
Yougle 0.4.0
Yougle developer Steven Harding has released a major update to his Windows Media Center plugin which lets you access online video and image sites like YouTube, Soapbox, and Flickr. Yougle 0.4.0 includes a slew of new features including an improved menu layout, improved parental controls (and an option to enable adult video channels if you're not worried about that kind of thing), and a slew of other updates, including:
  • Yougle 0.4.0 automatically saves your data more frequently so you don't have to worry about losing your saved filters or other information in the event of a crash
  • New content sources have been added
  • Google Video has been removed from the list of sources, due to problems with playback
Youtle 0.4.0 beta is available as a free download.

[via Ian Dixon]

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mcePicasa brings Picasa web albums to Windows Media Center

by Brad Linder, posted Feb 17th 2008 1:05PM
Windows Media Center makes it easy to browse any photo collection stored on your PC using a remote control and a 10-foot interface. But what if your pictures are stored online, not on your PC? Media Center plugin mcePicasa lets you login to your Picasa Web albums and view your online photo albums from the comfort of your couch.

Installation couldn't be easier. Just download the setup file, run it, and when you next load Windows Meida Center you should find a Picasa icon in your More Programs menu. Click the icon and you can enter your Picasa username to access your web albums.

In my test, mcePicasa only managed to locate one of my Picasa albums, even though I have several different folders. The current release is just an Alpha, so hopefully the kinks will be worked out eventually. The program is also open source, so if you know your way around Windows Media Center plugin development, you can lend a hand and help make mcePicasa better.

[via Ian Dixon]

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Media Center plugin tells Facebook contacts what you're watching

by Brad Linder, posted Feb 13th 2008 4:01PM
Facebook Media Center
If you're the sort of person who doesn't do anything without updating your Facebook status first to let all of your friends know that you're eating dinner, heading to work, reading a book, or updating your Facebook status, have I got a Windows Media Center plugin for you.

Developer Jussi Palo whipped up a little Facebook application that will automatically update your Facebook status to reflect what you're watching with Windows Vista Media Center. If you're watching a program called "News," your status will be set to ".. is watching News." If you're watching a DVD or listening to music, that will show up too.

In order to run install the Facebook Media Center plugin you'll need to download an executable file to your Windows Vista machine, run the installer, and reboot your system. Then you need to login to Facebook. Everything else happens in the background. Unfortunately you're login information won't be remembered, so you may have to login to Facebook every time you restart your PC.

[via Ian Dixon]

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Niveus releases Media Center Companion software

by Brad Linder, posted Feb 3rd 2008 1:57PM
Niveus Media CenterNiveus has publicly released its Media Center Companion software for Windows Vista Media Center, which lets you control Windows Vista Media Center using a second PC as a virtual remote control.

I first looked at the MCC software back in October when it was in beta. At the time, I was pretty certain Niveus was going to slap a price tag on the final version, but it turns out it's still free.

The Niveus Media Center Companion comes in two versions. The basic version is available for anyone with Windows Vista, while the full version requires a Niveus branded computer. The full version includes controls for media extenders and television features. But the basic version will let you control your picture and music libraries. Probably the coolest feature is the on-screen remote control that essentially lets you control your entire Windows Vista Media Center system without buying a separate remote. You know, if you happen to have a spare computer lying around.

The software comes in two parts: a server which you set up on your Windows Vista computer and the companion software which can run on any Windows XP or Vista machine. It's great for laptops or UMPCs.

[via Chris Lanier]

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Ikanos software lets you control your PC with an iPhone/Windows Mobile

by Brad Linder, posted Dec 22nd 2007 3:57PM
iPhone SideShowOne of the coolest features in Windows Vista (for Media Center users anyway) is SideShow. This new protocol lets you interact with your PC from a secondary device. For example, there are a handful of pricey remote controls that let you browse your media library and play music or movies without turning on your primary display. But these are niche devices for serious home theater enthusiasts who are willing to spend over a hundred dollars on a remote control.

But what if you could turn your PDA or cellphone into a SideShow device? We've been hearing for ages that Microsoft plans to add SideShow features to Windows Mobile devices, but it looks like Ikanos Consulting has beat them to the punch. The company is beta testing its Go Gadgets software that lets you use any Windows Mobile 5.0/6 phone or PDA as a SideShow device. That means you can use it as a remote control, or if you're away from home, you can schedule TV recordings, check a grocery list, or access other features on your home PC.

Ikanos is also developing an iPhone compatible version of its software. While turning an Apple product into a Windows SideShow device might sound a bit crazy, it actually makes a lot of sense. Ikanos is developing a web-based service for interacting with Windows Vista SideShow. And since Apple's vision for the iPhone was all about web-based software applications, all Ikanos has to do is ensure that their service works well with the iPhone's Safari browser. The iPhone application isn't available for download yet, but you can grab a beta of the Windows Mobile by emailing Ikanos at beta _at_ ikanosconsulting.com.

Check out a video demonstration of the Windows Mobile software after the jump.

[via Mobility Site]

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Windows Vista SideShow coming to Windows Mobile?

by Brad Linder, posted Nov 23rd 2007 9:00PM
Windows Mobile SideShowOne of the coolest underutilized features of Windows Vista is SideShow. Essentially, SideShow lets you access certain Vista feature from a secondary display. For example, check your email or calendar on your laptop without actually opening your lid. Or better yet, schedule a recording in Windows Media Center using a touch panel on the front of your PC case.

But very few hardware makers have really taken advantage of SideShow. We don't see it in many media center remote controls, which is where it would really come in handy for a PVR nut.

But the::unwired suggests that we could be seeing a whole lot more SideShow action soon if Microsoft develops a SideShow application for Windows Mobile. Suddenly your phone or PDA could turn into an awesome remote control for your Windows Media Center. You'd be able to play music, schedule recordings, or perform other basic actions without turning your TV on.

There've been inklings that Microsoft was going to launch a Windows Mobile version of SideShow since May. But now that Microsoft has released a new SideShow SDK that features support for QVGA screens and Bluetooth (read: features that many Windows Mobile devices already have), we wouldn't be surprised if a full release was just around the corner.

[via Engadget]

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EMUCenter 0.5: playing games with Windows Media Center

by Brad Linder, posted Oct 30th 2007 2:58PM
EMUCenter 0.5
Last time we checked in on Steven Harding's EMUCenter application for Windows Vista Media Center, it was still pretty rough around the edges. But EMUCenter 0.5 seems like a pretty polished interface for launching all of your old school games on a Windows Media Center machine.

The plugin lets launch emulators such as MAME and KEGA using Media Center's 10-foot interface. You'll need to figure out how to get the games on your own. Here are a few of the updates in the latest version:
  • Now you can close your emulator from EMUCenter. Previously you could only launch applications.
  • Faster, smoother movement between games
  • Choose different appearance for different games or systems
  • Search for games by name
  • MAME automatic update now downloads in-game art
[via Ian Dixon]

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