12 Mar 2012

Microsoft showed a demo of new software at TechFest 2012 that can basically create an avatar of yourself and speak on the fly, using your own voice.  It does so by only using a few minutes worth of actual spoken text from the user.  These are called real-time multilingual vocal translations.  Monolingual TTS (text to speech) can currently handle 26 languages but isn't instant.

This software demoed by Microsoft can even add foreign language pronunciation of place names with directions using your native speech.  There is a 3D image of your head to go with it, along with animation of your lips to foreign languages that you may not even know how to properly speak in real life.

This video, eh hem, speaks volumes to how the software works:

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07 Mar 2012

As we know, Microsoft has made the Windows 8 Consumer Preview available for download at this location.  They have both a web installer and an iso installer.  Here I will go over my first impressions of the new beta.  Many will call Microsoft's new Metro design like going back to the 80s and 90s where we had to switch between DOS mode and Windows.  Having used Windows 8 for a bit, I have to say that I think the extreme nature of the previous statement to not be entirely true.  Sure, we will have desktop mode apps for awhile, but Microsoft has done a good job of making the transition between Metro and Desktop Mode fairly seamless.

I've put together this short demo video to outline some of the highlights shown in this article:

The Metro tiles all have a purpose and can be removed, rearranged and resized according to your preferences, however only 9 colors can be used and five patterns for the background.  With this new beta you will find the round Start button is gone.

They have added new ways to switch between apps and more updates for desktop tools and options.

You can only download the desktop version of the Consumer Preview for x86/x64, there is no download for ARM, due to the way ARM devices are custom made.  As we know from the my previous article that Windows on Arm (WOA) will be basically the same and still include the desktop experience, though any apps that aren't Metro apps will need to be made into Metro-styled apps to work on WOA.  Of course on the desktop version we don't get to test out the Office applications that will be bundled with WOA, but the desktop version will run all the x86 apps that won't work on WOA. 

29 Feb 2012

Microsoft has made the Windows 8 Consumer Preview available for download at this location.  They have both a web installer and an iso installer.

Microsoft outlined the system requirements in the Building Windows Blog post.  Anyone who is already running Windows 7 can run Windows 8 just fine, and basically anyone with a decently modern machine should be good to go as well, at least for the Consumer Preview.

Microsoft Recommends:

-1 GHz or faster cpu
-1 GB RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
-16 GB hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
-DirectX 9 Graphics card with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver

They go on to list some other recommendations as well.

29 Feb 2012

As I've mentioned before, I am a big Flight Simulator X (FSX) fan and am quite familiar with the hardware dependencies of that platform and have built a beast of a machine to run FSX to the full tilt.  Many are welcoming Microsoft Flight on less stringent hardware requirements alone, which should fly with better frame rates on lesser hardware and use DirectX 11, but will this be enough to enchant flight sim enthusiasts?  Microsoft has decided to make the base platform of Microsoft Flight a free-to-play model.  The profit will come from their premium plane and scenery add-ons.

You can download your very own free copy of the simulator from this link.  The download is just a web installer file.  The web installer file will then download the entire program, around 1.5 GB to your machine.  It installs as a Games for Windows Marketplace game.

At least as of now Microsoft Flight is land locked in Hawaii, which compared to the Microsoft Simulators is extremely limited.  One would hope these scenery add-ons will expand the options into the rest of the world.  The only option you have in the free-to-play initial release is to fly a mission around some balloons in the default Icon A5 aircraft.  If you stray too far or take to long they force you to start the mission over.  This initial version feels too much like an arcade to me because of its mission orientated play and stripped down controls.  No where in any of the options could I find a way to break free of the mission(s).  You are very limited on planes and ATC at this point as well, disappointing.

28 Feb 2012

Microsoft recently announced new SkyDrive applications.  One will be a Metro app that will provide access to all SkyDrive files and through a touch friendly interface.  It will use Windows 8 charms and contracts to let Metro apps store data to Skydrive and share documents and photos through other applications.

The other application will be a desktop version of the cloud in Windows Explorer.  It will allow Windows 7, Vista and 8 users to drag and drop or upload and download Skydrive files inside of Windows Explorer.  Skydrive would appear as a "favorite" on the left hand side of the interface.  According to Microsoft they will limit the uploading of large files to 2GB through Windows Explorer and the application will auto synchronize changes from SkyDrive to the local folder similar to Dropbox.

Another feature is something called fetching, a way to access non-SkyDrive files from PC's with a SkyDrive account.  Fetching is only on Windows 8 PCs and will allow the downloading of documents from PC's connected to SkyDrive.  Effectively this is the feature that you would use if you forgot something on your home PC, as you can browse to it and upload it to SkyDrive.

There are rumors of paid storage plans, but nothing was confirmed yet from Microsoft.  In the Building Windows 8 blog post, it was noted that the SkyDrive service will not support PC-to-PC syncing without using the cloud, due to added complexity.

Source: Building Windows 8 Blog


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20 Feb 2012

Windows 8 Consumer Preview and the Windows Store

If you have not heard by now there are some new details regarding Windows 8 and Windows 8 on ARM (known as WOA).  It was announced that the Consumer Preview of Windows 8 will be given out during the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona on February 29th.  It seems likely that the rest of us will see a download for it, shortly afterwards, as Microsoft had previously stated it would be released the end of February.

This release will have several Metro-styled apps such as Camera, Messaging, Mail, Skydrive, Photos, People and Music along with possible support for SMS in the Messaging app.

In addition the Windows Store is coming and in a test phase, meaning there will only be free apps during the testing period.  Be sure to check out the screenshots at the end of the article.

16 Feb 2012

Take your pick on names for the next Xbox.  There have been names floating around such as Xbox 720 and neXt-box.  Now there is a new one in town, called Durango.  Sources on the internet are a-buzz with reports that "multiple sources close to the project" state it is called Durango.  Granted this won't be the final branded name, but it will be the secret codeword you will hear in the coming months.  Rumors had already been previously floating around that the next Xbox is already in development.  No word yet on whether an official announcement will come during E3.  Some of the previous rumors include Bluray support.  Bluray support seems logical given the growing size of games these days.  There are also Microsoft job postings that seem to hint that the next console will feature more support for 3D.

Source:  Gamespot

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