Save time by creating an Excel workbook workspace

If you’re like most of us, you probably work with the same few workbooks every day. You might work with them as a group or separately, but you open these files, individually, most every day and that’s inefficient.

You can save a bit of time by saving the files you use every day as a group as follows:

  1. Open all the workbooks you want to save as a group.
  2. Click the View tab.
  3. Click Save Workspace in the Window group.
  4. Enter a name for the group, and click Save.

To open the group (all the workbooks in the group), open the group as you would any other file.

Your workbooks are still separate files. You can open and close them individually, as you normally would. However, Excel also saves a reference to the workbooks as a group now, using the xlw extension. It’s a simple way to reduce a few keystrokes every day.

Taking a glimpse at the future of SkyDrive (from their blog post)

Over at the official Inside Windows Live team blog, Omar Shahine and Mike Torres, Group Program Managers for SkyDrive, recently made a blog post analysing some of the stats of the current competitive environment, outlining what they think are the “winning factors” for a personal cloud service, and what (a bad) situation SkyDrive is currently in. However, buried deep in the blog post we think the SkyDrive team is trying to actually set a stage hinting at what will be coming for SkyDrive. In the table below, we will analyse some of these “winning factors” that Omar and Mike talked about in the blog post, and how these translates to what Microsoft sees in the future of SkyDrive:

Winning Factors
What will this mean for SkyDrive?

Simple & secure
It would sync the files you have to the cloud and other devices. It would be simple enough to use to share files with anyone so you could finally stop emailing attachments. It would also protect your content using industry leading security measures. In short, you could trust it to “just work”.
The current Windows Live Mesh software, and the future Windows 8 SkyDrive sync feature, will allow users to sync files directly to the cloud and share them with others. But of course, the current situation with SkyDrive and “SkyDrive synced storage” for Windows Live Mesh doesn’t exactly make it simple for users. Will this change soon?

In addition, to stop people from emailing attachments, we know that the latest version of Hotmail already allow users to upload their documents and photos directly to SkyDrive, and share them with your email recipients. So nothing really surprising here.

Straightforward and flexible storage limits
It should provide a modest amount of free storage for key scenarios. It should actually make it easy for customers to use this storage – and provide options to purchase more if needed.
This gets a little bit interesting. We previously reported that SkyDrive might soon provide unlimited storage for photos and documents, and 25GB for everything else. I wouldn’t call this “modest amount”, but if true, this would really make SkyDrive one of the best cloud storage provider on the market.

In addition, we’ve also told you that purchasable storage plans are coming to SkyDrive soon.

Work across any device
It would be built with the understanding that we want to have our content available anywhere, even if we use devices made by different companies with different operating systems. This is how important services like Hotmail and Skype work, and personal cloud storage should be no different.
We’ve previously reported that the SkyDrive team is working on building client apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and of course Windows Phones. In addition to SkyDrive.com, this would make SkyDrive truly cross-browser and cross-platform, allowing you to access your SkyDrive files everywhere on any device.

Cloud-enable the entire PC
While it’s critical to support all types of devices, it’s particularly important to connect the billions of PCs in the world to the cloud. The PC is the most popular smart device and stores most of the world’s personal content. A cloud tailored for this device would provide access to all of your content from anywhere, with no complex setup or configuration.
With the upcoming Windows 8, all your favorite content — Photos, Music, Documents, Contacts, Calendar, Mail, apps and settings — will be synced via SkyDrive (if you choose to) and be able to be accessed anywhere. And best of all, this is built right in to Windows 8, so definitely no “complex setup” is required.

Work with key apps and services to let you organize, collaborate, and share in new ways
It would work seamlessly and automatically with leading email, productivity, or photo apps to let you organize, collaborate, and share content in entirely new ways. It would also connect with the services you already use for sharing so that you could upload once and share the way you want. It would do all of this while supporting the files you use today and keeping you in control of your content.
Microsoft Office 2010 already features SkyDrive integration, allowing you to save, open, share and collaborate on documents stored on the cloud.

With the upcoming SkyDrive APIs as part of Live Connect, any developers building apps – whether it be Windows 8 apps, Windows Phone apps, or web services – will be able to utilize SkyDrive for cloud storage to be used within their apps or websites.

Connects people, content, and devices at scale
In addition to having the right features, the scale of a cloud itself can provide value for customers. Sharing and collaborating is more convenient when more people can connect to a given cloud. Also, people benefit from a cloud that connects content to more apps, and app developers prefer to integrate with clouds that have the most content and connect the most devices.
After Windows 8 gets released in 2012, and if (and that’s a big if) app and web developers start taking advantage of the newly released SkyDrive APIs, Microsoft is hoping that it would push for a wider adoption for its SkyDrive service.

Given the competitive environment SkyDrive is in, and the team’s delayed realisation on the need to continuously improve and innovate the service, could Microsoft achieve the scale that they’re hoping for?

In addition to the “winning factors” Omar and Mike listed, their latest post also specifically points out several feedbacks and requests from consumers which they have heard “loud and clear”. The table below takes a look at these, and provides a quick analysis on what this means for the future of SkyDrive:

Feedbacks from consumers
What will this mean for SkyDrive?

Why are “synced storage” and “My Files” separated? I dream of a day when my docs & files can be together everywhere.
We previously reported that devices integration is coming to SkyDrive, and actually saw a demo at BUILD showing how you can directly access files on your PCs (and other devices?) from SkyDrive.com.

What we haven’t yet seen is the merging of SkyDrive’s storage space with Windows Live Mesh’s “synced storage”. If the SkyDrive team has heard this feedback loud and clear, does that mean it’s coming soon?

How do you move files or folders on SkyDrive?
Based on what we saw at BUILD, the upcoming update for SkyDrive will come with new right-click options, which presumably will make it easier to navigate and perform file operations on files and folders.

Why limit video size to 100MB when you give us 25GB of storage?
Microsoft just recently upgraded the individual file size limit from 50MB to 100MB, but this still pales in comparison to competitive services like Google Docs (10GB) and Dropbox (Unlimited via desktop app, 300MB via website).

Is this a hint that Microsoft will be increasing the individual file size limit again?

We need the ability to share individual files without sharing the entire folder.
The demo we saw at BUILD mentioned “simplified file sharing” is coming soon to the upcoming update for SkyDrive. Does that mean we can now choose to share individual files as well as entire folders too?

Please add check-boxes…so people can quickly [manage] content in batches, whether to delete, download or move the selection.
We’ve previously reported that check-boxes for multiple-file selections will be available in the upcoming SkyDrive update. And this was confirmed during the SkyDrive demo at BUILD.

With the recent rollout of the Hotmail update, we speculated a few weeks ago that Microsoft might be rolling out an update to its other Windows Live web services, including SkyDrive, very soon. Could Microsoft really transform SkyDrive into a winning product and achieve the scale they’re hoping for? Are we going to see all the improvements and features that we have hoped for? I guess we’ll have to wait and see what the SkyDrive team will bring us.

Windows Live Service Status page gets an update, now tracking Live ID and Family Safety

As part of the latest SkyDrive update today, as we predicted earlier, the rest of Windows Live web services received an update too, up to Wave 5 M2 (version 16.2). As part of this update, Windows Live Service Status, the website that allow you to keep track of the current status of Windows Live services, received an updated too:

Windows Live Service Status

The update means that the service is now located at http://home.live.com/status, different from the previous status.live.com. Besides an URL change, the website itself also received some minor enhancements, now reporting real-time service status of Windows Live Family Safety and Windows Live ID as well. Given that Windows Live ID will become a core part of the upcoming Windows 8, it makes sense that this service needs to be monitored closely and provides the latest status info to its customers.

You can check out the new Windows Live Service Status website now at http://home.live.com/status.

Microsoft buys Skype for $8.5 billion; creates new business division

microsoft skype

The rumors were right. Microsoft announced on May 10 that it bought Skype, an Internet communications vendor, for $8.5 billion.

Instead of trying to mash Skype into an existing Microsoft business division, the company has decided to create a new, separate Skype business division, with Skype CEO Tony Bates as the newly minted President. Bates will report directly to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

In its press release announcing the deal, Microsoft played up the potential synergies between Skype and its own communications offerings, including its Lync VOIP platform, Outlook mail, Messenger instant-messaging, Hotmail Web mail and Xbox Live gaming service.

“Skype will support Microsoft devices like Xbox and Kinect, Windows Phone and a wide array of Windows devices, and Microsoft will connect Skype users with Lync, Outlook, Xbox Live and other communities. Microsoft will continue to invest in and support Skype clients on non-Microsoft platforms,”
said the release.

Microsoft offered no timetable or further details as to when and how it will make Skype available as part of any of its existing product offerings.

According to earlier reports, Microsoft was bidding against Google and Facebook for Skype. As my colleague Larry Dignan noted, the $8.5 billion Skype purchase price made for one expensive game of keepaway.

Today’s deal with Skype marks Microsoft’s largest acquisition (dollar-wise) in the history of the company. For the past couple of years, Microsoft execs seemingly had decided that Microsoft’s history of assimilating successfully its big acquisitions (aQuantive, Danger, AdECN, Bungie, etc.) was not so great, resulting in the company shying away from anything but relatively minor, targeted acquisitions

  • Xbox 360 Kinect + SkypeTV: There is already a video chat feature on the Kinect but a Skype-login and interface could encourage more people to make this a part of their Xbox experience. Skype is already on some televisions so integration with the Xbox seems to be a good fit.
  • Windows 7 OS + Nokia + Skype: This could be quite a powerful combination as more and more smartphones are equipped with front-facing cameras and make use of the 4G network, which means video calls will only become the norm on mobile devices. Plus, it gives the partners an edge against Apple’s proprietary Facetime application. Skype users are also able to send SMS messages from the Web to handsets so this could be a great bonus for future customers with Nokia phones running Windows 7.
  • MSN Messenger + Skype: Hopefully, Messenger will be replaced with Skype because IMing on Skype is a breeze but uninstalling Messenger from machines running Windows is a hassle. The combination of Messenger and Skype users will give G-Chat and Google Voice some competition (perhaps to finally roll out to more countries)
  • Outlook + Skype: By integrating your Skype contacts with your email address book to make voice and video calls, Microsoft is looking to the beefed up Outlook to better compete with Gmail/G-Chat/Google Voice.
    MS Lync, Xbox Live + Skype: These new groups will expand Skype’s user base, according to the press release.

Last night, AllThingsD reported that Microsoft dealmaker Charles Songhurst was key in helping Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer broker the Skype deal. Interestingly, Songhurst also was credited with helping convince the Microsoft brass to call off the Yahoo acquisition.

What Comeing with Windows 8?

When Will Windows 8 be Released?

According to the article, Microsoft currently plans to ship Windows 8 by mid-2012; thus, the first beta should be released by mid-2011 and public beta should follow by the end of 2011. Windows Server “8″/2012 is also being developed concurrently.

User Detection

Windows 8 will likely support detection of which user just walked in the room so that it can automatically turn on your PC, log you in, and play your favorite music. When you get up and leave, Windows will automatically log your PC off for you.

Emphasis on Appliance-like Power On

System bootup speeds will probably improve a little (especially since SSDs are becoming standard) but Microsoft plan to emphasize the current power-saving features: Sleep and Hibernate, which they’ll probably rename to something like “Pause” or “Low-power Standby”.

Digital Media Support

Windows 8 should support the following emerging digital media formats:

AVC HD (with chapter seek.)
3D video.
Multiple MPEG-4 formats for the web.
Improvements to MJPEG (webcams and still cameras.)
MPEG-2 (decoding/encoding.)
H.264 (encoding.)
WMV Improvements .

Windows 8 should also come with native TV tuner support so third-party cards and software wont be needed for TV tuning (possibly to coincide witht he RJ45 digital media standard, which is coming.)

Next Generation Device Support

Windows 8 will natively support the USB 3.0 standard (and devices with USB 3.0) and Bluetooth 3.0 (but not Bluetooth 3.0 + High Speed.) Microsoft is also considering deprecating Firewire/IEEE1394 support (i.e. Firewire/IEEE1394 devices will still work but enhancements to support will cease.)

Software Purchases Through the Windows Store

It’s looking likely that Microsoft will adopt a similar (albeit a little less restrictive) software similar to Apple’s App Store. Software and upgrades will be available for purchase through this store. I look forward to the development of this feature.

Internet Explorer 9

Internet Explorer 9 will be part of Windows 8 (IE 9 beta is expected in August 2010 with a Released to Web version date TBD.)

Windows Live Wave 5

Windows Live Wave 5 be shipped/developed concurrently with Windows 8. (Windows Live Wave 4 will ship sometime in late 2010.)

Microsoft Office 2010 Filter Pack Released

With the retail availability of Office 2010 just a couple of days ago Microsoft has released the official and final filter pack which has been updated to include the new file formats in the newest version of Office.

So what is the filter pack?

The Microsoft Filter Pack is a single point-of-distribution for Office IFilters. IFilters are components that allow search services to index content of specific file types, letting you search for content in those files. They are intended for use with Microsoft Search Services (Sharepoint, SQL, Exchange, Windows Search).

Install this product if you want to search for content in the file types listed below.

The Filter Pack includes:

* Legacy Office Filter (97-2003; .doc, .ppt, .xls)
* Metro Office Filter (2007; .docx, .pptx, .xlsx)
* Zip Filter
* OneNote filter
* Visio Filter
* Publisher Filter
* Open Document Format Filter

System Requirements

* Supported Operating Systems: Windows 7; Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2; Windows Server 2008 R2; Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2; Windows Vista Service Pack 1; Windows XP Service Pack 2; Windows XP Service Pack 3

The Microsoft Filter Pack requires the Microsoft Search Service.

Download the Microsoft Office 2010 Filter Packs

Office 2013 details surface on the web

Hot on the heels of the official worldwide release of Office 2010 yesterday, details have surfaced on the next version of the award winning suite – Office 15, or its likely name, Office 2013.

Microsoft Kitchen is reporting that they located a PDF file hosted on a Microsoft-partner owned server, describing details regarding next version of Microsoft Office.

“By the time Office 2010 was released, some Microsoft Engineers had already begun work on the next version (code-named Office 15).”

Microsoft Kitchen also noted that a few Microsoft Employee’s have been writing information about products they are working on, into their LinkedIn profiles – Josh Leong has written on his LinkedIn profile that he is:

“Designing the new visual & interaction experience for Office 15.”

And Ben Gable’s profile says he has:

“Designed major new feature to be introduced in Office 15”

The post notes that there are other new changes that have been mentioned across the web, such as Office Mobile 15 being considered in the planning, that Collaboration is a key point in Office 15, and it should see an Improved Automation Framework. The UI change comes as quite odd, considering the effort Microsoft has put into the ribbon, and the integration they have built into Windows 7 and it’s built in applications, so it is very unknown how large the change could be.

It’s best to remember though, that these details can likely change, and this is very early in the lifecycle – considering Office 2010 was just released, it’s likely not many other details will emerge for a while.

More Hotmail Changes with Windows Live Wave 4

The most recent official voice from Microsoft is Brian Hall. He is the General Manager of the Windows Live Business Group and in a recent Windows Team Blog post he mentioned three features in the upcoming release of Hotmail under Wave 4:

Removing text from the bottom of messages sent from Hotmail – We’ve seen a lot of feedback regarding the text that gets added to the bottom of email messages sent from Hotmail and some other email providers. In the image above, you can see an example of this text, “Hotmail goes with you. Get it on your BlackBerry or iPhone.” We call this text a tagline, and we’d like to address this pretty simply – we’re getting rid of it.

Don’t open our email? We’ll stop sending it. If you aren’t engaging with our email, our goal is to stop sending it to you, except in the cases of critical account updates or service notifications where we don’t want you to be surprised. We’re also making our opt-out options more prominent.

More relevant email. Targeted email improves your experience by keeping you up-to- date on the upgrades, changes, products, and services you use. So we’re improving the relevancy of the email we send by taking into account which services you’re using and what you have or haven’t clicked in the past.

Single-use Code in Windows Live Hotmail Wave 4

One of the features of the Wave 4 version of Windows Live Hotmail is the Single-use Code feature.

This is a code you can use in place of your password when your at a public place like an Internet Cafe or public library. Just one more step in helping to protect yourself from nasties that might be on those public machines.

Here is how you go about getting and using a single use code:

At the sign in page for your Windows Live Hotmail account you will notice a new entry below your email address and password Sign in with a Single-use code.

Click that link and you will then get the following dialog:

Click on the Request a code and that in turn will lead to this page:

You will need to set up your Windows Live ID account with your cell phone number for this to work. That is because you are sent the Single-use code via a text message. Make sure you do that now before you are out and about needing that Single-use code because you will not be able to get it any other way except via your cell phone.

Once you have the Single-use code just start with the sign in screen and this time you can enter your Windows Live ID and the Single-use code you received via text and then sign in safely and securely.

Microsoft’s Office Web Apps go Live

Anyone keeping up with Microsoft Office news in the past year knows about Office Web Apps. With Office 2010, Microsoft has promised the world a free version of its world dominating office productivity suite via the web browser. Unlike traditional versions of Office, Web Apps will live in the cloud and have limited functionality. As of yesterday, the new service has gone live to the public.

On the Windows Team Blog, Microsoft has officially launched Web Apps for everyone in the US, UK, Canada, and Ireland. It is also accessible to other countries as well, just not yet in their native language. Web Apps is built around your personal SkyDrive, which gives you 25 GB of free online storage space for all of your documenting needs. With the desktop version of Office 2010, documents can also be saved to your SkyDrive, then revisited and shared online through your web browser. This makes accessing your personal files on-the-go a cinch. Web Apps also allows multiple people to collaborate on a single document simultaneously, while still maintaining a version history in case you ever need to go back in time. You can even view your saved documents on most smartphones.

At office.live.com, you are greeted with your typical Windows Live ID login screen. Once inside, you will see the ability to create Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, or OneNote notes. You can also upload existing files from your PC, making the move to SkyDrive an easy one. If using a Silverlight enabled browser, you will gain the additional ease of dragging and dropping your files directly from your PC into SkyDrive.

Windows Live Hotmail Changes Coming

More update information is coming from Microsoft and this time it is in the form of an email from Dick Craddock who is the Microsoft Program Manager for the Hotmail Partner Group.
This email highlights some of the major changes coming to your Hotmail inbox:

Here’s a sneak peek at what’s coming.

Keep your inbox free of spam
Using the same Microsoft SmartScreen® technology used in other Microsoft products like Microsoft Office Outlook® and Internet Explorer®, Hotmail is automatically helping to filter out junk mail for you.

Sweep away unwanted email
As you complete email actions like deleting email or moving email into folders, the new Sweep tool will prompt you to see if you wish to automatically apply that action to all similar email in the future.

Send hundreds of photos without worrying about size limits
We’ve built a way to send up to 10 GB of content via a single message—up to 200 photos or 200 files of up to 50 MB in size each. When you hit send, we deliver a nicely formatted email with a link to where the photos are stored on your password-protected Windows Live™ SkyDrive™. Recipients can then easily view your photos as a slide show or download them to their computer.

Smart filters organize your inbox to find the email that matters
Hotmail Quick Views will sort and group email by content or sender into one list in your inbox. Now items like your Facebook updates, or your cable TV bills, or just the mail containing photos can be easily sorted with just a few clicks.

View entire email conversations at a glance
With the new Conversation View, you can automatically group all the email you have sent and received on a specific topic together in one view.

Respond to social network notifications without leaving Hotmail
When a friend or family member sends you a link to a YouTube video or a Flickr photo album, you can view it without leaving your inbox. You’ll also be able to take actions on shipping notifications as well as social network invites.

Open, view, and edit documents right in your inbox
Now the Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files in your inbox can be viewed and edited without leaving Hotmail. If you need to make edits to an attachment, Hotmail lets you do it from your inbox without worrying about downloading files or installing software. You can even start a PowerPoint slide show and it will include all the animations and transitions.

Share Microsoft Office documents online and work together with others
Just like how you can share large photo albums, Hotmail lets you send large documents and other files via a link—up to 200 files, each up to 50 MB—using online storage, so you avoid clogging anyone’s inbox. And by sending from your Hotmail account, recipients can also use the free Microsoft Office Web Apps to view and edit your document—no matter what email service they use or version of Microsoft Office they have installed.

That’s just a peek at what we’ve been working on for you. Look for these updates and many more over the coming weeks as we start delivering them to your Hotmail account.

The Hotmail Team at Microsoft

I have seen these new features in a demo session and they are impressive. I just wish I knew what exactly the time frame coming weeks meant to have a better idea of when these changes will be published to everyone.

Let us know when you see these updates in your Hotmail inbox.

Complete List of Keyboard Shortcuts for Window Live Hotmail

Windows Live Hotmail is the email service from Microsoft and it is the most popular email service used all over the world. Keyboard shortcuts are always handy as they helps you to be more productive by saving time. Unlike any other service or application, Windows Live Hotmail also supports a wide range of shortcuts. Keyboard shortcuts can save you time when you use Windows Live Hotmail.

Delete a message – Delete

Create a new message- Ctrl+N

Send a message – Ctrl+Enter

Open a message – Ctrl+Shift+O

Print a message – Ctrl+Shift+P

Reply to a message – Ctrl+R

Reply all to a message- Ctrl+Shift+R

Forward a message – Ctrl+Shift+F

Save a draft message – Ctrl+S

Mark a message as junk – Ctrl+Shift+J

Mark a message as read – Ctrl+Q

Mark a message as unread – Ctrl+U

Move to a folder – Ctrl+Shift+V

Open the next message – Ctrl+.

Open the previous message – Ctrl+,

Close a message – Esc

Search your e-mail messages – /

Check spelling – F7

Select all – S then A

Deselect all – S then N

Go to the inbox – F then I

Go to your Drafts folder – F then D

Go to your Sent folder- F then S

Next time you use Hotmail, try out these shortcuts.

ABUSE PAGE OF OUR HOLY PROPHET MUHAMMAD (S.A.A.W)

Islamabad: Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has directed all concerned operators in Pakistan to block website http://www.facebook.com till further orders. These directions have been issued in compliance with the directions issued by Ministry of IT & Telecom (MoIT) in view of decision of the Honorable Lahore High Court (LHC).
Earlier on May 18, PTA has issued instructions to all concerned to block the objectionable link/URL on facebook which were immediately blocked.
PTA has established a Crisis Cell to monitor all such contents. PTA’s helpline toll free number 0800-55055 and email complaint@pta.gov.pk can be used to notify all similar URLs where such objectionable material is placed.
Khurram A. Mehran
Director (PR)

Facebook opens Chat to XMPP: Will Windows Live Messenger join in?


Facebook opened up Facebook Chat to 3rd party clients using the XMPP/Jabber protocol. While this is good news for users of Pidgin, which can access both Windows Live Messenger and XMPP Clients, Windows Live Messenger does not use the XMPP protocol and can not currently connect directly to Facebook Chat. So will that change? We asked for a Microsoft response, and got this:

“Windows Live participates in an industry defined by change. Consumer choice is continually expanding with new services launching almost daily. To this end, with Windows Live and Messenger, we are making it easier for consumers to integrate contacts, communications and sharing across the multitude of internet services they want to use. We’ll interoperate where it makes sense, as we’ve done with Yahoo! and customers of Office Communications Server. We’ll continue to invest in contact portability and identity standards, as we’ve done with our contacts APIs. And we’ll integrate feeds, as we’ve done with over 75 top web services in the last year. This will continue to be a major focus going forward.”

Dharmesh Mehta, director of Windows Live Product Management

Well of course to us, it “makes sense” to interoperate with Facebook (we hate having to keep the browser open during a FB chat), but Windows Live Messenger has been a notoriously closed system in the past, so we’re not sure it will make sense to Microsoft. However if it means losing customers who find themselves using Facebook Chat more and Windows Live Messenger less, that may change. We should be hearing more about the Windows Live Platform later this year, so maybe there’s hope that Facebook Chat may be part of that “major focus”.

Do you find yourself using Facebook Chat more? Let us know in the comments how important Windows Live Messenger/Facebook integration would be to you.

WINDOWS 8 “Mind Blowing” and “Completely Different”?

This week, several Microsoft employees took the liberty of describing Windows 8 for us, without actually describing Windows 8 for us. An MSDN blog titled, “Whats in store for the next Windows,” which was promptly taken down by MS, bragged:

“The minimum that folks can take for granted is that the next version will be something completely different from what folks usually expect of Windows – I am simply impressed with the process that Steven has setup to listen to our customers needs and wants and get a team together than can make it happen. To actually bring together dozens and dozens of teams across Microsoft to come up with a vision for Windows.next is a process that is surreal! The themes that have been floated truly reflect what people have been looking for years and it will change the way people think about PCs and the way they use them. It is the future of PCs…”

John Mangelaars, Mirosoft’s Regional VP of Consumer and Online, was quoted as saying, “[Apple is] doing well on the PC side but Windows 7 is a blockbuster. We got it really right. For me, Windows 8 will be mind-blowing.” All of this rabble-rousing is great, but it doesn’t hold a ton of weight. Remember how Windows Vista was going to change everything? We agree with the VP, Windows 7 was a killer upgrade, and perhaps worth the wait; we can only hope the improvements, in speed and features, continue with Windows 8.

Posted via web from M.M.G’s another Technophile Adeel Ansari

Movie Maker: YouTube publishing issue now resolved

It came to our attention late last week that a change was made on YouTube.com resulting in a failure to publish movies directly from Windows Live Movie Maker.  The change was minor and behind-the-scenes, but unfortunately it did affect Movie Maker and the way it authenticates with the YouTube service for a set of our users.  This change wasn’t specific to Movie Maker – some other applications and websites that connect to YouTube were also affected.

Once users let us know, we alerted the YouTube team who promptly rolled out an update to the service, restoring the ability to publish from Movie Maker.  At this time, Movie Maker users shouldn’t have difficulty publishing directly to YouTube.  Thanks to the YouTube team for being great partners and turning this around so quickly!

Those of you on the Windows Live Answers site were also very helpful in raising this problem to our attention.  This is exactly what we had hoped people would use the new forums for – so thanks to everyone who helped raise this issue!

– The Windows Live Movie Maker team

Windows Live Engineering Blog Gets Rolling

While we took a little time off for the holidays (and moved web hosts), we didn’t want to miss commenting on Inside Windows Live, the new Windows Live engineering blog over at the Windows Blog.  We decided to hold our tongue after a welcome post and the obligatory we’re not going to talk about the future post got the blog off to a bit of a slow start, and we’re glad we did.  Even though we missed commenting on this latest post from just before Christmas, we think it’s too good to miss.

In A peek behind the scenes at Hotmail, Arthur de Haan makes up for the first two posts with some very interesting numbers about the massive scale of a project that is Hotmail.  de Haan lays out some of the facts:

  • We are a worldwide service, delivering localized versions of Hotmail to 59 regional markets, in 36 languages.
  • We host well over 1.3 billion inboxes (some users have multiple inboxes)
  • Over 350 million people are actively using Hotmail on a monthly basis (source: comScore, August 2009).
  • We handle over 3 billion messages a day and filter out over 1 billion spam messages – mail that you never see in your inbox.
  • We are growing storage at over 2 petabytes a month (a petabyte is ~1 million gigabytes or ~1000 terabytes).
  • We currently have over 155 petabytes of storage deployed (70% of storage is taken up with attachments, typically photos).
  • We’re the largest SQL Server 2008 deployment in the world (we monitor and manage many thousands of SQL servers).
  • Microsoft needs to talk more about the services they have to offer, in our opinion, and we think it’s great that the new blog is beginning to do just that.  Congratulations again to the Windows Live team for getting this off the ground, keep up the good work and can’t wait for more!

    Protecting you PC using Windows built in Features and Software

    safteyOften we find our computers to be infected with virus and malware.   We believe we need to buy and install expensive anti virus and internet security software programs. Yes, I do agree it’s a good way too. But it’s not feasible for everyone of us to buy and use these programs. We have some built in software programs within our windows operating system which would help us not to get infected in most of cases when we use the internet. This article will discuss in detail about them. if you have not done enabling these built in programs, do it, so that you can be safe (How much is safe always an argument).

    I have heard people say to me the following statements when I tell them “My computer is infected often from the internet”.

    1. Use LINUX dont use windows
    2. Use other internet browsers like Firefox, Safari and not Internet explorer
    3. Download free anti Virus Software
    4. Download free anti Malware Programs
    5. Install this little program as a plug-in
    6. Use internet PC scanning software’s once in a while; if virus is found delete that file

    Everyone cannot use linux, it’s not for desktops, well as it is today ! (maybe in the future). Most of the programs that we install and use are developed for windows and not for Linux. 80% of the internet users use Internet explorer, meaning 80% of the web is best programmed to view and use in Internet explorer. Free this and free that, well lets not talk about it a lot. So we have windows in our PC and our browser is Internet Explorer.

    Now the fact is the above mentioned options are not bad. Practically everyone of them is not posssible. Even though it’s advisable to buy an security programs for your computer, windows being an operating system has some software’s that will try to protect itself for its own self defense (As we will do something to protect ourselves even thought we are not karate black belts). If we could just enable/turn on/use these, we have some basic protection from spyware, viruses, identity theft and spam. Also we have to acknowledge the fact  that windows Operating system is developed by Microsoft, they do know what “the system is” (They might not be black belts in karate but they have passed first 5 levels).

    Therefore the basic security Features built by them will work.

    So lets do something about it.

    1.Always keep your firewall turned on.

    Firewall will work like your security guard in your office, its not easy to get past him without a proper Identity card. Windows has one of the good firewall software that is available. If you have not done it this is how you have to do. Here is something more to it. A firewall is a software program or piece of hardware that helps screen out hackers, viruses, and worms that try to reach your computer over the Internet.

           To turn on Internet Connection Firewall:

    1. Point to Control Panel, double-click Network and Internet Connections, and then click      Set up or change your home or small office network.
    2. Follow the steps in the Network Setup Wizard to turn on the Internet Connection Firewall.
    3. 2. Keep your operating system up-to-date with updates from Microsoft.

      Microsoft constantly finds out bugs/hacks/security issues and gives out patches which   are     available over the internet for download. If we are up-to-date then we are as safe as   any Microsoft computer used in Microsoft itself. These are critical updates that we would have to have in our PC. There is no point having a virus removed after its infected, why don’t we just stop it?. If you are using windows Vista here is the way to receive automatic updatesII. If you are using windows XP here is the way to receive automatic updates

      Now we have done some basic part of securing our computer lets do some other things that are available with Microsoft Windows.

    1. Download Windows Defender                   
                          This is a free antispyware software for Windows XP SP2  and its a integrated part of Windows Vista. Windows Defender is software that helps protect your computer against pop-ups, slow performance, and security threats caused by spyware and other unwanted software by detecting and removing known spyware from your computer. Visit here for more information about installing and using it
    2. Download Malicious Software Removal Tool            
                        This tool work with windows and it searches  for infections by specific, prevalent malicious software. Microsoft releases an updated version of this tool on the second Tuesday of each month. Get more information and donwload it from here.
                                        
    3. Download Windows SteadyState 
                         This is a free tool that can be downloaded. Our personal computers are not just used by us. It’s used by our family and friends. Due to some reason other users may change some setting or download and use certain programs, use the control panel and change vital settings. Now to stop all this and make sure your Computer work with the best settings and no change is done we can give users specifc rights to access programs. So that everyone does not have access to everything. More info vist here.
                                                                                                                        
    4. Download Microsoft Phishing Filter                                                                                                     This is Phishing way a by which fake web sites ask uses to give personal information like name, address, credit card number, bank account number. There is a big list of websites of this kind. We will not know all the sites, good news is that IE7 has this feature built in. So we just have to download and install Internet Explorer 7. follow these steps to enable anti phishing. One important point is we always have to install the new version of the browser, because it will help us safe guard against such things. Old browsers will have many faults, all those will be corrected and enhanced in there new versions. if you are ready to try out Internet Explorer 8 which is not officially released, try it but its not a complete software.
      Microsoft has understood that antivirus is something very essential as a part of an operating system. They would be giving out free anti virus program for all to be installed. But that’s coming only by late 2009.

    Do safe guard your computer by using these options. Help our operating system to perform better and safe guard yourself.

    How To Fix – “Windows Live Writer requires the installation of the .NET Framework” Error .

    In an unavoidable circumstance, I had to rebuild Windows Vista OS today.  After rebuilding the OS I noticed the recent Technology Preview of Windows Live Writer is no more part of my Start Menu Programs list. I searched for installation folder of Live Writer CTP under program files, but no luck. Seems to be it was erased while rebuilding the OS.

    The only option I had is to download and reinstall the CTP of Windows Live Writer. I headed to Writer Zone blog and downloaded the installer. Up on launching the Installer, I was greeting with a following error message

    Windows Live Writer requires the installation of the .NET Framework. Please install this before installing Windows Live Writer

    windowslivewriterinstallationerror-thumb

    Surprised to see this message and verified whether .NET Framework is installed or not. As I’m a .NET software developer, I always have the latest .NET Framework installed on my laptop. Versions 1.1, 2.0 & 3.5 are installed on my Laptop. So problem is not related to .NET framework but something else.

    I Googled for solution on the Internet but seems to be not many people are facing this type of problem. I did not get any information that can help me to solve the issue.

    Then I decided to try my luck by first uninstalling the older of Windows Live Writer and then install the new Live Writer CTP. Luckily it worked :) . Now I’ve the latest version of Windows Live Writer installed on my laptop.

    Hope this post is going to be useful for someone who faces similar kind of Installation problem with Windows Live Writer CTP

    How to Watermark Images Using Windows Live Writer

    Microsoft’s Windows Live Writer is the best free application for blogging. The ease at which one can blog with Windows Live Writer is amazing as we get all the tools required for composing a blog post right inside a single window.

    One of the such useful features available in Windows Live Writer is the ability to watermark  images. It is a good idea to watermark(add text or a logo which identifies the owner of the media) images and photos of your blog so that it is hard for others to steal your work. Look at the below image which is watermarked with the text techdreams.org (visible at the center of the image).

    watermark-images-with-windows-live-writer

    Lets see how to watermark images using Windows Live Writer

    1. Select the image of your blog post being composed in Windows Live Writer

    2. Choose the option “Watermark.” available on the right side options panel; Open Watermarking options window

    watermark-images-with-windows-live-writer-1

    3.Enter your watermark text, customize the font and position of the watermark with the help of onscreen controls

    watermark-images-with-windows-live-writer-2

    4. Click Ok to add the watermark. That’s all.

    So you know how to watermark images easily with Windows Live Writer. It is advised to make it as a practice to watermark all the images of blog posts as it keeps content pirates at bay.