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Microsoft Montage, Create Visual Albums Of Topics Of Interest

How do you keep track of topics of interest on the Internet? Do you visit news site, subscribe to RSS feeds, email newsletters, Google Alerts, Twitter? Many Internet users are overwhelmed by the information at their disposal.

Montage is a new online service by Microsoft Fuse Labs that allows everyone to create visual web albums of topics of interest. The information can be supplied from a variety of sources including RSS feeds, Youtube, Twitter or Bing. To make it better, they are also updated in realtime to always displays the latest and greatest.

You get started by visiting the Montage website and entering a topic of interest. This can be anything, from your favorite blog to a sports team, celebrity, brand or hobby.

All Gallery



Montage automatically pulls information from various sources and displays a first suggestion to the user.


It is possible to try different layouts. Once an initial layout has been selected it can be edited before it gets published. The layout is divided into widgets that can be removed or split either horizontally or vertically.

Contents can be edited or added easily by selecting the option and performing a search. Searches currently available include text, video and image searches but also Twitter, Bing Twitter Maps, Facebook Comments, News and RSS.

Its flexibility is one of the strength of Montage. It is possible to use realtime updates or select a specific element that should always be displayed on the page. Even better, it is possible to combine information from different websites in one montage.

Montages can be saved and published. This requires a Twitter, Facebook or Windows Live account. TheMontage gallery lists already published Montages by users grouped into categories such as technology, business, news or sports. The gallery can be used to take a closer look at the online service which is especially helpful for users who are not sure yet if they should create their own montage.



Cool New Features In Internet Explorer 9

Internet Explorer Mobile Logo

Image via Wikipedia

Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) will come with cool new features, beyond what the four Platform Preview releases of the browser have offered early adopters.

While Microsoft is completely mum on the feature set for the next major iteration of Internet Explorer, the fact is that the company has already decided on the goodies that the successor of IE8 will bring to the table. Moreover, the software giant has also been sharing details related to the new features in Internet Explorer 9 internally.

This should of course, come as no surprise, especially since Microsoft is well known for dogfooding its own software (eating its own dog food, namely testing products internally). Microsoft has not confirmed officially any features for IE9, but most people expect , the wait will be certainly  worth it.

With the last Platform Preview of IE9 already available, Microsoft is now focusing on wrapping up the first Beta development milestone of the browser.  IE9 Beta will be a fully-fledged browser, and judging by the information will also feature some of the new features planned by the software giant. Microsoft  had been holding back on us. Yes, performance is looking great – but they’ve got more up their sleeves. So, wait until the unveiling of the beta.Microsoft has already sent out the Beta invites to the Beauty of the Web event in San Francisco on September 15th, 2010, for the launch of IE9 Beta.

Still, the Beauty of the Web site offers no clues as to what IE9 Beta will bring to the table, acting only as an R.S.V.P. destination for those invited. In the meantime, check out the announcement from James Pratt on the Exploring IE blog. The post is titled Announcing the Beauty of the Web event for IE9 Beta Launch.The only clues related to new IE9 features came from leaked screenshots of an early Beta Build, which sported additions such as a download manager.

Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) Platform Preview 4 is available for download here.

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New Features In Windows 7

Microsoft’s Windows 7 is finally here. The new perating system (OS) is the the company’s most important release after the disappointing performance of Vista, its earlier release. With Windows 7 Microsoft aims to once again strengthen its grip on the PC market.
Here’s looking into all that’s new in Windows 7.

  1. You can have a photo library, for instance, that gives you quick access to pictures in folders spread out over your hard drive, or even several hard drives. This is great because many applications don’t automatically put files into Microsoft’s My Documents and My Photos folders, and tend to deposit windows-7-logo-300x300 content in their own folders. The new arrangement also makes for easy backups.

  2. Windows 7 can sense if you use more than one finger on your touch pad or touch screen, allowing for neat tricks such as spreading your fingers to zoom into a picture, just like on the iPhone. This isn’t revolutionary per se – computer manufacturers have bolted multitouch sensing on previous versions of Windows. But it does make it easier for them to include advanced touch capabilities, and many of them are planning to do so. That is what could really revolutionize how we use computers.

  3. For a lot of users, the step up to Windows 7 will also mark a transition to a 64-bit operating system. That means computers will now be able to use a lot more Random Access Memory, or RAM, for better performance in demanding applications such as video editing. Vista and XP came in 64-bit versions in addition to the regular 32-bit versions, but the XP version was never popular, and the Vista version became mainstream only last year. But 64 bits will be standard on Windows 7, installed on nearly all new computers.

  4. Windows XP users have a lot more to gain by going to Windows 7. Vista introduced some great features, such as fast searches of the entire hard drive that of course are present in 7 as well. Windows 7 addresses Vista’s problem of resource hungriness. The boot time was fast, and so was the time taken to come out of the hibernation mode. Reviewer Benny Har-Even in IT PRO found that "Windows 7 brings a more responsive and sprightly feel."
    It also seems to work with the smaller and cheaper netbooks that’s fast getting popular. Reviewer Adrian Kingsley-Hughes writes in ZDNet, "Windows 7 works on netbooks, but if you push the system the same way as you push a desktop system then you might need to add more RAM. On top of that, remember that Windows 7 takes some 7.5 GB of disk space, so you need to factor this in. My advice would be not to bother upgrading an existing netbook unless you really feel you want a particular Windows 7 feature. Wait for Windows 7 netbooks to arrive on the scene as some of these will hopefully come with 2GB of RAM fitted."

  5. For those who use a number of applications and files at the same time, there’s a new facility that helps to reduce desktop clutter. You can now drag them and stack them in groups on the taskbar.
    And what’s more, if you hover the mouse over, say, the Windows Explorer stack, each window in it will appear horizontally as thumbnails, and you can click on the one you need to start using it. Right clicking on a stack gives a ‘jump menu’ that lets you see your most recent files. You can also ‘pin’ files that you use regularly on to a stack, so that they are always there on top of a stack.

  6. If you have a number of windows open and you want to focus on one and avoid the clutter around it, just take the mouse to that window’s titlebar and shake it. Everything else disappears. Shake the same way again, and all others reappear.
  7. This one wasn’t there in the beta version but was available on the RC. It allows users to access all the files on their home computer remotely, somewhat like how Slingbox allows users to remotely access the TV channels they get on their home TV.
  8. Users who like to keep their old stuff longer will like this. It allows you to run a XP application on Windows 7. But Preston Gralla of Computer World who tested the feature says home users are not likely to have a great experience with it.
    "Sharing files between the two environments (XP and 7) will be a challenge… (and) it’s not designed for games," he says. However, he finds it a great tool for businesses that have already sunk money into XP applications. Microsoft says small businesses using, say, Tally accounting solutions on XP will be able to continue using those on Windows 7.

Microsoft In Twitter

Microsoft officially launched a customer service ID on Twitter,@MicrosoftHelps. Initially thisTwitter-Logo ID will only help with and answer questions related to Windows 7, however, the service will later expand to cover other products Microsoft offers.

@MicrosoftHelps feed has been quite active and we can already see quite a few tweets in just about 24hrs time since its launch.

Here is how Microsoft defines the new Twitter initiative, @MicrosftHelps is the official Twitter account for Microsoft Customer Service. Our initial focus is to provide a quality experience helping you find answers to your Windows 7 questions. We are planning to expand the scope of our support over time.

The company chose CoTweet as the platform to serve the Twitter community making CoTweet as the #1 enterprise tool on Twitter.

Such initiatives by companies like Microsoft underline the importance of communities on twitter and interacting with the existing/potential customers in real-time.

Click here to subscribe to @MicrosoftH elps

Microsoft goes of open

Old dogs may struggle with new tricks, but they seem to be able to figure out new licenses.

In a shocking move, Microsoft announced the release of Hyper-V Linux Integration Components (LinuxIC).

The news reflects Microsoft’s continued interest in lobotomizing its virtualization competition through low prices, but also the recognition that it must open up if it wants to fend off insurgent virtualization strategies from Red Hat, Novell, and others in the open-source camp.

But the truly startling news is that LinuxIC is being released under the GNU General Public License (version 2). Microsoft once called GPL anti-American. Now it calls it friend.

The gods must be crazy.

Or maybe Microsoft is simply recognizing (finally!) that GPL can be a capitalist’s close ally. That and the fact that many components within the Linux kernel are GPLv2-licensed make the move completely natural…at least, once you forget that this is Microsoft embracing GPL, rather than some other company like Red Hat.

LinuxIC is a collection of kernel drivers that enable Linux to recognize that it is running on Microsoft’s Hyper-V and optimize accordingly, resulting in an "enlightened version of Linux," according to market researcher IDC. The device drivers have yet to be accepted into the Linux kernel, but the GPL license and general utility makes their inclusion probable.

The move opens up Hyper-V to much more than Windows, which has arguably been its weakest point. As IDC notes, this embrace of Linux is a "key element if Microsoft is going to successfully go head to head with VMware in large accounts–many of which already are dedicated VMware customers."

Importantly, Microsoft is now opening up even beyond its long-time Linux partner, Novell, to embrace an array of other Linux partners, including Red Hat. While Novell was the first Linux vendor to certify for Hyper-V, Microsoft’s lack of real support beyond Novell’s Suse Linux Enterprise Server was a weakness, as some have complained.

But this is arguably a new Microsoft. Redmond recently announced that Office 2010 will support Internet Explorer and Mozilla’s Firefox. The company is learning that its customers run heterogeneous software environments, and it’s (slowly) responding. Microsoft’s Sam Ramji, senior director of Platform Strategy, notes: "We are seeing Microsoft communities and open source communities grow together, which is ultimately of benefit to our customers."

Microsoft, in short, can’t ignore open source, including Linux, without ignoring its own customers.

But surely this move is more Machiavelli than Santa Claus? Maybe, maybe not. I asked Novell’s Greg Kroah-Hartman, a prominent Linux kernel developer who was deeply involved in influencing Microsoft to release LinuxIC, what Microsoft’s move means for Linux. His response reflects an enthusiasm that is as surprising as it is refreshing:

We want Linux to work well for everybody. This move is not bad in any way for Linux, Xen (Novell’s preferred virtualization technology), or KVM (Red Hat’s preferred virtualization technology). This is not a competition, per se.

With LinuxIC, Microsoft is doing two things. First, it’s saying that contributing open-source software under GPL is acceptable. And second, it’s supporting the idea, which I and others in the Linux kernel community have long advanced, that all Linux kernel drivers should be open source.

LinuxIC is the latest example of how Microsoft is changing, and it’s a big proof point. When Microsoft embraces Linux, that’s news. When it does so by embracing GPL, it’s perhaps time to start the countdown to Armageddon.

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