A New Look for Visual Studio 2010

At the PDC and TechEd EMEA last year we described our new editor support built on the WPF technology in .NET Framework 4.0.  Today I’m happy to reveal the new UI for Visual Studio, also built on WPF:


In this image you can see several areas of concentration:

  • Reduced clutter and visual complexity by removing excessive lines and gradients in the UX and modernized the interface by removing outdated 3D bevels
  • Placed focus on content areas by opening negative space between windows and drawing attention to the current focus with a dominant accent color and a distinctive background
  • Added an inviting new palette to make VS 2010 more distinctive

In the following image you can see floating documents which allows you to utilize multiple monitors while designing your project and writing code:


This image shows new support in the editor for outlining:

  • Triangle glyphs in the margin are used to collapse or expand your code blocks
  • Collapsed sections of code are marked with an empty triangle (pointing straight) as well as a set of ellipses
  • Colors on the margin indicate edits that have been made


The New Project dialog has also gotten an update to include online template viewing, a search box, and easier navigation.  Multi-targeting remains in this version but now with .NET Framework 4.0 included as an option:


Visual Studio has a very broad and rich ecosystem of extensions written by our partners and folks like you.  In VS2010 we wanted to make it easier for you to find those extensions and install them.  We’ve enabled the new Extension Manager for this purpose:


With the Extension Manager you will be able to browse for templates and tools online and install them easily into the Visual Studio environment.  The next public release of VS will have this new functionality and we’ll be hooking up the online capabilities through the Visual Studio Gallery as part of the final release.

These designs were developed and tested for user feedback by our User Experience team and implemented by the VS Platform team (excellent job!).

We hope you like the new look and feel of Visual Studio 2010.  You’ll be able to play with these bits when we release Beta 1 which we are working hard on right now (no formal announce date just yet, stay tuned).


Published 20 February 09 07:51 by Jasonz

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NASA, SETI Prepare for the Arrival of Aliens

Even though it may sound like something that comes out of the science-fiction books, the NASA American space agency and the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) initiative, along with scientists, psychologists, ethicists, lawyers, representatives of the media and anthropologists, have recently held a three day-long workshop, trying to find ways of dealing with the issue of how people would react if they were told that aliens had been found.

And the reason they have met is not that they have already found a little green man and don't know how to break the news to the public. They have met because modern advancements in science and in monitoring technologies might soon give scientists and astronomers the possibility to discover life, no matter how small, on moons such as Titan and Europe, or even on Mars. Astronomical finds already number in the hundreds, and new ones are made almost daily.

At this rate of progress, it shouldn't surprise anyone if, at some point, some astronomer goes live and says that his or her team has found some microbe colony on Mars, or fish-like creatures in the underground oceans of Europa. However it is most likely that panic would ensue immediately, with individuals expected to fall under two categories: one that would be completely oblivious to the news and go on about its daily life as usual, and another that would panic and lock itself in the basement, with a lifetime supply of dehydrated food.

One of the hypothetical problems that has been discussed at the workshop has been the potential path the world would be faced with if we learned that Mars had living creatures on it. Not necessarily beings with legs and teeth, but tiny bacteria living below the surface, which could indeed be causing some of the planet's methane accumulations, would people care to move to Mars, turn it into a reserve, or simply limit their intrusion.

It may seem like a laugh that scientists and representatives of various groups are discussing about this now, but, when the time comes, we could use a little planning. We do create sketches before erecting a building, shouldn't we have one for colonizing or accepting other worlds?

Source : news.softpedia.com 

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Symantec hit by hack attack on website

The website of security specialists Symantec was hacked into recently by a Romanian ethical hacking group known as HackersBlog.
Taking advantage of a SQL injection vulnerability in a section of Symantec’s EMEA site, the hacker was able to gain unauthorised access to the company database.

“The irony of the situation is that it’s done on https , on a login page , a page that promotes security products like Norton AntiVirus 2009 and Norton Internet SECURITY,” the hacker, going by the name of unu, revealed.

Unu has decided not to release any further details in order to give the prominent security software provider time to patch the vulnerability.
The attack is the latest in a series of successful hack-and-shame attempts by HackersBlog members on prominent security vendors, including Kaspersky, F-Secure and BitDefender.

Kaspersky went on record a few days ago to confirm that the data breach on its US website last week did not expose any customer information.

Source : arabianbusiness.com

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The New Internet Games in Windows 7

If you’re running the Windows 7 Beta and hadn’t already noticed, we are introducing 3 new Windows Games for Windows 7. 

Tired of Minesweeper? Definitely give these games a try and join the thousands of other players online who are playing too. I’m actually quite addicted to Internet Checkers.

Internet Backgammon:

Internet Checkers:

Internet Spades:

These games were well liked in Windows XP. Due to the amount of requests we received, we are bringing them back!

The new versions of these games have been completely redesigned and improved over their old-school predecessors. With each game, you can:

  • Play online against human opponents (up to 4 players at the same time with Internet Spades).
  • Select from 3 skill levels to be matched with similarly skilled players from all around the world.
  • If your opponent drops out, a computer opponent takes over to finish the game.
  • Choose from cool different backgrounds and piece/card designs.

And as I mentioned in my post about Games Explorer, you can track statistics for games played as well.

Source : windowsteamblog.com

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Microsoft's new calling: innovative wireless applications

Honeycomb Start Screen 1.JPGMicrosoft's mobile efforts are facing a critical stretch.

After a lull in activity, the company is expected to formally announce today a marketplace for mobile applications, a new backup-and-restore service and the latest version of its mobile operating system.

The plans will be aired at Mobile World Congress, the biggest trade show for the wireless industry, taking place this week in Barcelona, Spain.

Several of these efforts emerged in media reports earlier this month. Executives say this is just the beginning.

"You're going to see from us over the next 24 months, probably more innovation than you've seen in the last, I'd say, three or four years in the Windows Mobile space," said Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices Division, which includes the mobile efforts.

The company is looking to wrest back some of the mind-share in the mobile marketplace from Google, which launched a mobile operating system last year, and Apple, whose iPhone has become the poster-gadget for powerful, Internet-connected phones that are essentially pocket computers.

Indeed, one of the hottest areas for software developers is mobile applications, and Apple has, so far, created the most extensive marketplace for selling them.

Microsoft executives note that mobile is a huge market that's still relatively young and up for grabs.

Bach, talking to students in Redmond last week, said a billion phones are sold around the world each year.

"What it does for us from a business perspective is create tremendous opportunities," Bach said.

He said the next two generations of Windows Mobile — 6.5 is expected today with 7 set to come in 2010 — will have improvements to the user experience, including a greater emphasis on touch controls; "dramatically better" mobile Web browsing (the company announced a new version of Internet Explorer mobile in January); expanded music, video and other consumer-oriented capabilities; and connections to Web services such as Facebook and Twitter.

Microsoft's mobile executives also realize this is an important period for the industry and the company's place in it.

"What happens in the next three years is what's going to define the next 10," said Scott Rockfeld, director of Microsoft's Mobile Communications Business. "And we're truly scratching the surface on what's possible these days."


Some observers are comparing it with the early days of the personal computer industry when Microsoft, IBM and other players jockeyed to attract the most users and application developers to their platforms.

Battle for mindshare

"This is actually the battle of the developers' mind share," said Satoshi Nakajima, who was at Microsoft for 13 years ending in 2000 and now runs Big Canvas, a small Bellevue application developer making on-the-fly photo-editing applications for the iPhone. "I can tell you that at this moment Apple is the clear leader, and just like anybody else, I'm watching Google and Microsoft."

Microsoft is sending CEO Steve Ballmer to lay out the strategy at the Mobile World Congress.

Ballmer first spoke to the industry at this event three years ago, assuring the audience, "We come as a friend."

More : blog.seattletimes.nwsource.com

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GTA Chinatown Wars Hands On

Last Wednesday we had a few hours to kill before our flights took off, so on Tuesday night Rockstar invited us to stop by the office the next day. Due to the number of us there, we split into two groups. Adam, Jev, Psy, and Chris went first since their flights were earlier and morning here is like afternoon in UK time.

G-WizZ, Kodo, Zidane and I got to sleep in late (and lounge in the hotel lobby scaring tourists), then around lunch time we piled into a cab and headed over to the office. Having only seen the place from the outside during our last visit, it was great to finally make it past security and the legendary zombie-proof door. Had we just been there to hang out, this would have been cool enough by itself. But, no, the Rockstar guys had something even better in mind..

Chinatown Wars ScreenshotMmmmm, polygons.

After arriving and chatting for a bit outside, the UK group went out for lunch while us Americans were led into Rockstar's inner sanctum, and up to a conference room decorated with framed prints of various San Andreas artwork. It was there that we saw the giant Nintendo DS Rockstar built from a dev-kit. Upon which we were given a demo of Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars.

Previously I had only seen a handful of screens, so going in I was pretty much expecting a classic "2.5D" game with a blocky map and a lot of fancy sprite work to simulate 3D. Being a big fan of the old school GTAs, this would have been more than good enough for me. Once again, however, Rockstar had something better in mind; namely wowing us with a fully 3D game. Obviously the tiny DS can't render every little pothole/doorknob/finger/etc.. in 3D like GTA IV, but all the buildings, cars, peds, on down to street rubbish and signs, are made of polygons.

Naturally, the peds and cars are somewhat simple since they're so small, but on a triangle for triangle basis, the level of detail in the map is roughly comparable to GTA III. Given the size of the screen and the limitations of the hardware, this is truly impressive. On top of just being detailed, the map is huge. While they've tweaked and moved things around a bit so the scale would better match the action, the map is essentially the same Liberty City (minus Alderney) found in GTA IV. As such, the world should feel instantly familiar to anyone who has played IV, yet totally fresh at the same time, thanks in part to the slick cartoon shader. Oh, yea, and everything casts real-time shadows which move as the time of day changes.

Chinatown Wars ScreenshotClassic chaos.

But enough about the technical artsy stuff, how does it play? Well, after picking up our jaws off the floor following the demo on the giant DS, we all gathered around the table in the conference room to try it out for ourselves.

More : gtanet.com

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Windows 7 RC1 Branch Builds being Compiled?

News has come down the grapevine that Microsoft has already branched off winmain and started compiling RC1 branch builds, no doubt preparing for the public release of Windows 7 RC.  This tells me that Microsoft is far ahead of schedule with Windows 7 development and are going full speed ahead to get this release polished up and done.

This news has come to us in the form of a build tag which sports the typical naming scheme for milestone branch builds.  7048.winmain_win7rc1.090211-1625 is the tag.  As you can see, this build was compiled on February 11th 2009 at 4:25 PM.  On one hand it is good to see Microsoft moving this quickly with the development of Windows 7, but on the other it is a little concerning.  Microsoft have only officially released one build (7000) which went to beta testers and the public alike.  One build is not enough to gather enough feedback to move ahead this quickly IMO.  Windows is a far more complex piece of software than Office and I hope Mr. Sinofsky can learn that before this beta cycle is over.

Beta testers (and the public) will likely see RC1 within the next month or two and then likely will not see anything until Microsoft declare Windows 7 to be RTM, thus making the technical beta utterly USELESS.  I am a part of the Windows 7 beta and I am not pleased with what I am seeing.  There is no incentive to testing anymore, anything we get the public gets, so can someone remind me why I’m on the techbeta?  We have gotten no new builds, our feedback is not being taken seriously, etc…  Granted they have the public testing and they are getting BOATLOADS of SQM data, but that simply isn’t enough.  That won’t fix rogue usability issues, or odd app incompatibility issues, or driver issues etc…  So if anyone from the beta team reads this, please rethink your strategy and think about releasing some more builds for testing.  It can’t hurt, it can only help the end product.

So anyway, I know I drifted off into a bit of a rant but I feel the above needed to be said, and hopefully this feedback is taken seriously by the Windows team (hey there’s a chance, it’s not like we’re dealing with the Windows Live team, those people don’t know the meaning of the word feedback).

Source : geeksmack.net

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Microsoft offers $250,000 to nab author of Conficker worm

Microsoft has announced a $250,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for an internet worm that has been infecting more than two million computers a day for the past five days.

The company said in a news release Thursday that it has also joined forces with several major organizations and firms in the industry an effort to stem the spread of the Conficker or "Downandup" worm, which infects computers running various versions of Microsoft Windows, especially those that have not been patched with a security upgrade issued by Microsoft in October.

Norton Antivirus maker Symantec Corp. said Thursday that in the past five days, an average total of 2.2 million IP addresses have been infected with two different variants of the worm, which was first noticed on the internet in November.

The worm disables Windows security features and makes the computer part of a "botnet" of other infected computers that take orders from a varying series of servers on the internet. As such, it may gather personal information, install malicious programs on the computer, and attack or infect other computers.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the organization that ensures each computer on the internet has a unique identifier, is working with Microsoft and internet security firms to help disable servers used by Conficker.

Unlike some other worms, Conficker doesn't require any user intervention to spread, and that makes it harder to stop, said Richard Reiner, founder and CEO of Assurent, a company and specialized in studying and managing technology security vulnerabilities and was later bought by Telus.

Source : CBC

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