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Businesses get a sneak peak to Vista

Software giant Microsoft Corp. with typical global fanfare yesterday unveiled Windows Vista, its first new operating system in five years.

Microsoft said Vista will make computers more secure, powerful and graphically dynamic, especially when combined with other software products that Microsoft released simultaneously. Although it won't specify how much it spent on developing Windows Vista, Microsoft spends $7 billion (U.S.) annually on research and development, including on its latest products, Vista and Xbox 360."This is nothing short of a breakthrough in terms of innovation," Phil Sorgen, president of Microsoft Canada, said yesterday. "These products deliver game-changing innovation."Sorgen said the three products, including Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 and 2007 Microsoft Office, are "the most tested products ever brought to the market."Windows Vista will take at least two years to overtake Windows XP and become the essential operating system, according to Brian Sharwood, an analyst at technology consultants Seaboard Group in Toronto.

Sharwood said Microsoft executives have ambitious plans for the Canadian market and are hoping for a 20 per cent share of desktops within a year.Microsoft's new operating system is backwards compatible with older software systems, but is not compatible with Microsoft's latest MP3 player, Zune, currently available only in the U.S."They're not without fault," Sharwood said. "Incompatibility with Zune is just standard. One of the issues they have is making things backwards compatible. That's one of the reasons why it takes Microsoft so long do things. They don't want to lose clients who are working on old systems."Work on Windows Vista, at first code-named "Longhorn," started before the release of Windows XP in 2001.

It was to be released in 2003 as a minor bridge between existing operating systems. But by 2004, Microsoft announced it was making significant changes to Longhorn, which was then renamed Vista. Although Windows Vista will be available to business customers who buy in bulk immediately, it will not be sold to individual consumers until Jan. 30, 2007. Dell Canada is one of many companies already offering Windows Vista to businesses with a volume licensing agreement with Microsoft.Windows Vista has a number of new features including three-dimensional graphics and much better search capabilities.Its programs have less access to the core of the operating system, closing a vulnerability that hackers have exploited in the past. Vista also includes basic anti-virus software.Widgets or mini-programs — such as a clock, calculator, stock ticker or weather report — that run simultaneously on a computer have also been upgraded.

Many of these features are already available in some of Apple's Mac computers."Microsoft doesn't have to be the leader. They are a fast follower," Sharwood said. with files from the Star's wire services. -thestar

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Old TechTV "family member" goes missing with wife and kids!

Submitted by Leo Laporte on Fri, 2006-12-01 01:36.

I just received this disturbing news. If any of you knows anything please help...

CNET editor and former Fresh Gear contributor and Lab analyst James Kim has been missing since Saturday. ANY word, especially from people in the Oregon area is appreciated. The information is all below from the official investigation by the SFPD.

Missing Family Includes: James, Kati, Penelope (age 4.5) and Sabine (6 months). Last name is Kim

Overview: The Kim Family left San Francisco on November 17th on a road trip to the Pacific Northwest. They had Thanksgiving in Seattle with family and then drove to Portland. They were last seen by their friends in Portland whom they had brunch with on Saturday, November 25. According to their friends, their plans were to drive out to the town of Gold Beach on the Oregon Coast and then make their way back to San Francisco. James was expected back at work on Tuesday, November 28th. When no one had heard from him by Wednesday morning employees at the Kims' two stores and his colleagues at CNET began to make phone calls to his family and friends to inquire of his whereabouts. Presently, the SFPD is investigating the case.

The family was last heard from at around 5:45 PM on Saturday. A hotel clerk at the Tu Tu Tun lodge in Gold Beach, Oregon took a call from James. He said he was about five hours away. The hotel clerk said she would leave the keys out for them as the lobby would be closed after 10. The keys were still in the same place the next morning. The clerk believes James referred to being near Salem, Oregon at the time. They were driving a 2005 silver Saab station wagon with California personalized plates of “DOESF”.

More details and pictures of the family are available on CNET's Crave Blog.

If you know anything about James' whereabouts, you can contact the SFPD by calling 415-558-5508 during normal business hours and 415-553-1071 after hours.

[This originated on I thought I'd post it here in case anyone knows anything.]


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EA: Sony said PS3 sales were only half as expected

By Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Electronic Arts Inc. CEO Larry Probst said on Wednesday that initial sales of Sony Corp.'s new PlayStation 3 were half of what the console giant had targeted, due to shortages

Probst's remarks pushed down EA's shares by nearly 2 percent, even though he said sales of video games and players were at or slightly ahead of targets at the start of the holiday season.

The chief executive of the world's biggest video game publisher said demand for the much-anticipated PlayStation 3 (PS3), which made its U.S. debut on November 17, was strong, but a shortage of supply meant that only about 200,000 units of the game console were sold at retail outlets.

Sony had originally aimed to ship 400,000 PS3 units for its U.S. launch, and has not given actual figures.

Probst told the Reuters Media Summit in New York that EA had set a lower bar for initial PS3 shipments, but "where they ended up was a bit of a surprise."

By the end of 2006, he expects Sony to ship 500,000 to 800,000 units in the United States.

"We think they'll get into that range," said Probst, who noted that console sales and corresponding game sales were typically slow to begin with because of supply constraints, and a clear winner will not be known for as long as five years.

Large crowds had camped out for days ahead of the PS3's U.S. debut. Supplies were scarce, and Probst said some 20,000 owners were able to flip their new machines on Web auction site eBay Inc. for, on average, more than double the $600 price.


This holiday season is crucial for the $30 billion global video game industry as U.S. game makers reap more than half of their annual sales during this period.

Game makers are also at the tail end of a rocky 18-month transition to new console technology since the arrival of the PS3 and Nintendo Co. Ltd.'s Wii consoles earlier this month. Those machines compete with Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360, which hit stores a little over a year ago.

EA, whose titles include football game "Madden" and "The Sims," recently raised its 2006 outlook to call for flat to 5 percent growth in overall U.S. game sales. Previously, it expected overall sales to be flat to down 5 percent in 2006.

"That's a much more optimistic outlook for the year than people were previously expecting," Probst said.

"Bottom line, I would say that the first holiday weekend met or slightly exceeded expectations," he added, citing solid sales of the Xbox 360 and Wii, Sony's legacy PlayStation 2, as well as the PlayStation Portable (PSP) and Nintendo's DS handheld devices.

Nintendo has reported sales of 600,000 Wii consoles in the eight days after its release on November 19—and that Wii-related revenue including games and accessories had hit $190 million.

"Clearly the Nintendo Wii had a spectacular holiday," said Probst, adding that Wii sales came in ahead of EA's forecasts.

Microsoft looks to be on schedule to hit its target of shipping 10 million units Xbox 360 units by year end, Probst said. Microsoft and Nintendo each hope to chip away at Sony's lead in this console war.

EA's shares fell 1.8 percent to $56.19 after Probst's comments, before recovering a bit to close at $56.77, still down 0.8 percent on the Nasdaq.

Shares in Activision Inc., the No.2 U.S. game maker, which has a smaller exposure to the PS3, fell 0.6 percent before rebounding to close up almost 2 percent at $16.58.

Separately, EA Chief Financial Officer Warren Jenson said at an investor conference in Arizona that the game "Superman," an important holiday title that released after the film, was a disappointment and sales would fall short of company targets.

Analysts said Jenson's comments also weighed on EA's stock. -pcmag

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