Microsoft’s outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer has been talking to Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley in what will probably be his last interview while still in charge of the Redmond firm that was once the ruler of the world. Now though, and partly under Ballmer’s stewardship, Microsoft has found itself falling behind its competitors in all kinds of metrics.

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It’s pretty clear for all to see that Redmond based Microsoft have pumped significant resources into the design, development and marketing strategies of their latest operating system, Windows 8. After going through the process of claiming that the software is the best version of Windows yet, it would seem that a number of hardware partners seem to disagree, with an executive of Samsung Electronics now chiming in with his thoughts on Microsoft’s latest operating system.

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With Windows 8, Microsoft made some different (if not difficult) choices, especially when it comes to licensing. You would already know that Windows is a closed-source operating system, and hence, when you purchase a copy of Microsoft Windows, you’re basically acquiring a ‘license to use’ for the operating system, and not the OS itself. When the company released Windows 8, one of the approaches that they took to making it even more popular (and combat piracy at the same time) was making it available for lower prices as compared to previous versions. This, at the same time, brought on some tough licensing choices, too. For instance, Microsoft had to do away with native DVD playback capability in Windows 8, because the patent holder for MPEG-2/4 (the video codec required to play said media) charges Microsoft $2 per copy of Windows 7 (the relative figure) sold. They had to cut back on such costs to achieve the pricing point that Windows 8 claims.

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Do you live your life on Facebook but happen to be unfortunate enough to be forced to use either Windows Vista or XP? Maybe you’ve got some bespoke hardware or software that needs one of Microsoft’s older operating systems in order to function, but still need to be able to keep in touch with everyone via the modern wonder that is Facebook. Well, you’re in luck.

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If you’ve not yet gotten around to downloading and installing the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, the Windows X guys have compiled an update to its Windows 8 Transformation Pack.

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Those who’ve seen Windows 8 are probably familiar with its new login screen and how a giant digital clock now takes center stage. Ever wished you could port that clock to your desktop? If you have a Windows 7 or Vista computer, you can get W8 Desktop Clock, a Windows customization that does just that.

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We have already seen a tool named AirPlayer for Mac OS X which allows you to AirPlay videos from iOS devices to Macs. And now, a similar tool named AirMediaPlayer for Windows has been released which will allow you to stream videos wirelessly from your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to your Windows PCs.

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There is no question about Windows Vista being a PR failure for Microsoft. But so is iPhone 4 turning out to be one for Apple. Speaking at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference, the Chief Operating Officer of Microsoft Kevin Turner called iPhone 4 a Windows Vista of Apple. “It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I’m okay with that.”, said Turner in his keynote address on Windows Phone 7 at Microsoft WPC. He further added:

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The final version of Silverlight 4 has been released today for Windows and Mac OS X. The RTW (Release to Web) version of Silverlight 4 can be downloaded today for the said mentioned platforms to view and create RIA apps. Also released today are Silverlight 4 Tools RC for Visual Studio 2010, Expression Blend 4 RC and Silverlight 4 Toolkit April 2010 Release.

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Remember Ultimate Extras from Windows Vista’s era? Well, it seems like some of those Ultimate Extras are going to make a comeback on Windows 7, but this time in the form of free apps. Paul has confirmed that Microsoft is set to release two popular games from Vista Ultimate Extras on Windows 7 via Games for Windows Live. What’s even more exciting is that these two games will be available free of cost and will run on all versions of Windows 7. A specific release date hasn’t been finalized yet. Games for Windows site states it as “coming soon”.

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While Windows 7 is already out, it may take days, weeks, or even months for many of us before we get our hands on the final bits. So if you are among those who are not upgrading to Windows 7 immediately but still don’t want to miss out on all the new look and feel that it offers then Seven Transformation Pack is for you! You can give the fresh new look of Windows 7 to your existing Windows XP or Vista based PC by using Seven Transformation Pack 2.0 by WindowsXLive.net.

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In the latest version of the ongoing Laptop Hunters Ad series, Matt and Olivia goes on hunting to buy a notebook for under $700. They wander around the store, looking for different notebooks including a Macbook which they needless to say reject, saying ”Mac is just too small”. They finally settled on buying a freaking HP branded notebook (again) for just under $700.

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Windows Vista Service Pack 2 is another milestone to improve the reliability, compatibility, stability and performance of Windows Vista. SP2 contains all the previously released updates as well as support for new types of hardware and several emerging standards.

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As was expected, Microsoft today has released the Service Pack 2 Release Candidate build for both Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 to general public. Just a few days ago, we posted exclusive screenshots from Windows Vista SP2 RC when it was released to Microsoft Connect testers, MSDN and TechNet subscribers.

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Microsoft has released Service Pack 2 RC version of Windows Vista to Microsoft Connect testers, MSDN and TechNet subscribers. The Service Pack 2 for Windows Vista is part of the ongoing process to improve the performance and stability of Windows Vista.

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Apple has released a public beta of the upcoming Safari 4 for both Windows and Mac users. Apple has posted a huge list of all the features new to this release. The most prominent of these features is the new “Top Sites” features which works identical to the way how “Most Visited” page works in Google Chrome.

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Microsoft has changed the way how Windows handles Gadgets on the desktop. In Windows Vista, Sidebar provided a containing environment which hosted mini-apps built using XML, DHTML and JavaScript. Now starting with Windows 7, Windows Sidebar is no longer required to run gadgets as these mini DHTML based apps can now be placed directly on the desktop without having to have Windows Sidebar running.

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We did a comprehensive review of Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 when it was released back in August 2008. Not surprisingly, there is no major change since Beta 2. I did some testing of RC1 bits installed on Windows Vista Ultimate (x86) and my own impressions are that IE8 is indeed generally faster than Beta 2.

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I have a free copy of Windows Vista Ultimate to giveaway. Its hot, ready and I am eager to give it away here on Redmond Pie on this New Year’s Eve. So you must be wondering what you would have to do to enter? Just leave a comment here on this post you are reading and you are in. You can be of any age to enter and yes its open for everyone around the world.

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Wouldn’t it be cool to run the most popular and widely used operating system on your beloved iPhone? According to this blog post on the Citrix Community Blogs, Citrix Receiver will soon enable iPhone owners to run millions of Windows applications on their iPhone’s (not natively though).

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