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In tonight's CES Keynote, Robbie Bach - head of Microsoft's entertainment division - noted that Zune 'had a great year' in 2008. He cited the critical acclaim that Zune has received for MixView, and the second generation players.

Zune Social members have climbed to 2 million in 2008, and he touted Zune Pass, with its ten download-to-keep monthly downloads, as part of Zune's success in 2008. Nice to hear this public emphasis on Zune Pass, which is an almost-too-good-to-be-true subscription model and one that I love hearing that Microsoft remains committed to.



Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was the main keynote speaker, of course. Here's a recap of that keynote. (For a fuller perspective, I recommend the Gizmodo live-blog of the event.)

The big news from Ballmer was the release in beta - today - of Windows 7. Participants in Microsoft's MSDN network can download it today, and the general public can download it by this Friday. This is the new version of Windows that will replace Vista. And, from our preview tonight, it looks wildly compelling. I can't wait to get back home and download the beta.



Ballmer spoke about the evolution of Windows, and computing in general, from one screen - the PC - to the convergence of the three screens of PC, phone, and TV. He spoke about the evolution of UIs, and the trend to connected computing - the socially interactive computing and cloud computing models that are redefining how people use technology. With Windows 7, Microsoft is further extending the Windows platform across those three screens, and into the cloud where data and services are located in and are delivered from the web.

This was followed by a compelling demo of Windows 7 by a Microsoft rep, as well as a demo of Window Mobile and Windows Live. Windows Live Essentials are made up of Windows Live Messenger, Windows Mail, and Windows Photo Gallery. Ballmer announced a partnership with facebook in which Facebook data, such as status updates, are integrated with Windows Live. Also, Microsoft has reached agreement with Dell to pre-install Windows Live on Dell PCs.







Robbie also gave an impressive rundown of Xbox Live statistics - including an impressive 10 billion hours of Xbox Live gameplay in 2008. He described the Xbox community games channel, and the new Kodu Game Creator - which allows kids to program games through the Xbox controller. He brought out Sparrow, a girl who looked to be about eleven years old. She impressively modified a game that she had developed and then played it against Robbie. (She won.)



Pretty fun keynote, and even though no Zune announcements in it, it left me impressed with Microsoft and its prospects for 2009.
 

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YAY!!! New program to take the place of Vista! Thanks Harvey. I'm be sure to download it on Friday. I guess microsoft isn't debuting their rumored Zune Phone at CES. Have fun and thanks again for the update
 

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After doing some research on windows Beta 7 (I like the look of) I found:
available on 9 jan (like harvey mentioned)

From the The Windows Blog
Title:Information on Downloading and Installing Windows 7 Beta
dated: 7 Jan

On January 9th, the Windows 7 Beta will be available for Windows enthusiasts to download via the Windows 7 page on Windows.com. The Windows 7 Beta is going to be available download-only (we're not sending out physical media) and available for a limited time to the first 2.5 million people who download the beta.

The Windows 7 Beta will be available in English, German, Japanese, Arabic, and Hindi, and each language will be available in 32-bit and 64-bit versions (except Hindi which will only be available in 32-bit). Because the Windows 7 Beta will be offered download-only, it will be provided to you as an ISO image (an .iso file) that you download. After downloading either the 32-bit or 64-bit ISO image of the Windows 7 Beta, you will be required to burn the ISO image to a DVD to install Windows 7. So you want to be sure you have a DVD burner before spending the time downloading the ISO image.

To burn the ISO image of the Windows 7 Beta to DVD, if your PC comes with Nero or Roxio products - you should be able to burn the ISO image to DVD. If you don't already have DVD burning software on your PC, you can also check out ImgBurn which is free and can be downloaded here.

The Windows 7 Beta only supports Windows Vista SP1 to Windows 7 upgrades. So if you intend to do an upgrade - be sure it is on a PC running Windows Vista with Service Pack 1. We are not yet announcing anything regarding finalized upgrade paths for Windows 7.

The Windows 7 Beta will be only available in one edition, which is roughly equivalent the Ultimate edition of Windows Vista.

Also, another important thing to keep in mind is that the Windows 7 Beta will expire on August 1st, 2009.

I also need to emphasize that this is a beta of an unreleased operating system. Be sure to backup all your important data. As much as the Windows 7 Beta completely rocks, part of the beta process is discovering bugs and reporting those bugs. Some of those bugs could possibly lead to data loss. I tend to be a risk-taker myself and have gone all-out with the Windows 7 Beta by putting it on almost all my PCs both at work and at home, but not everyone should do this. I recommend using Windows Vista's Backup and Restore features to ensure your information is backed up before trying out the Windows 7 Beta. Click here for several methods of backing up your data in Windows Vista.

The Windows 7 Beta is targeted toward the enthusiast crowd - people excited and knowledgeable with technology. If you don't quite understand much of what I've written above, it is probably best you don't try to install the Windows 7 Beta.

If you are an IT Professional, you can visit the Springboard Series for Windows 7 on TechNet (see the Windows 7 tab) on January 9th to sign up for the Windows 7 Beta but also can also get access to dynamic resources including video walkthroughs and the new Windows 7 forums.
 

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I'm still on XP. . .just never spent the money to change though I like the 'look & feel' of Vista.  DH has it on his new laptop and he's not enamored.  Usually runs Ubuntu Linux anyway.  Guess I can't try the new Beta though since it seems to indicate I'd need to already be on Vista SP1.

Ann
 

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After reading up on the new windows version..

Its based off of the same engine as vista, with just less security warnings and such, and doesnt use up laptop batteries as fast. Niether of which is a concern of mine, so Ill just stick with vista ultimate.
 
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