What is Windows Blue?

I wondered when I was going to use the Windows Mobile Marketplace logo again. It seems suitable this time. Microsoft fan sites have rumors of Windows Blue flying all over the place. We don’t know much, and some of the articles I’m reading are crossing themselves trying to explain what they think it is. Here’s my take on Windows Blue.

Windows Blue is what most people would call Windows 8 Service Pack 1. But don’t think of it as a service pack. Think of it as an upgrade. Because Microsoft is most likely going to charge a modest fee (honestly? I’m hoping it’s $20. If it’s much more than that, Microsoft will probably blow their chance, have to release it for free, and refund people’s money). They’re trying to cramp Apple’s style and get in on the pricing model much like how Apple has released several releases to OSX in the form of Snow Leopard, Lion, and Mountain Lion.

If you were around for the transition to Windows XP Service Pack 2, you should understand what I mean when I say “upgrade” rather than just a service pack. Microsoft had every right to charge full price for Windows XP SP2. It replaced swaths of the operating system, it almost eliminated most Kernel differences between Home and Pro versions of Windows XP. For all intents and purposes, it was one of the largest operating system releases Microsoft never had! There were new features, additional support for new features, future-proofing the operating system in a way that hadn’t been done before. And it was all behind the scenes. Blue is supposed to really be a major step for Windows as brand.

It’s been discussed, but my theory as that Blue will unify the code bases of Windows Phone, Windows RT, and Windows 8. An app designed for one, will run on any. Blue has support for many resolutions, which is prepping it for things like a Microsoft Surface Mini. I anticipate a Surface Mini would likely run Windows RT (it would be hard to fit an x86 processor in such a small package with passive cooling – an Intel i5 would melt the plastic!), but if Blue does what we expect, it’s going to simplify the “app” Store a great deal and broaden the audience of developers in one quick move. People don’t want to develop for Windows Phone because it hasn’t seen mass adoption. But if you could develop your app and release it to every Windows Phone, Windows RT, and Windows 8 device with just a few clicks? Suddenly you have a massive audience which will grow by the day.

Rumors abound that Microsoft’s Windows team hit their first Milestone with Blue just a few weeks ago, and if it stays on schedule we’ll see an RTM in the summer, and early in the fall we should be getting access to Windows Blue. Time will tell what all that really means, but I’m pretty excited – and surprised at how little chatter there has been! I mention this to other people in the tech industry and they haven’t even heard of Blue! Open your eyes and ears, because it’ll be here before you know it! And whether it’s free or paid, I don’t care. I’ll be all over it!

1998 – The Dingees – Armageddon Massive

The Dingees are a band that I find not many people know, because they were relegated to “Christian Music” for a very long time. Evidently all that means is that they didn’t swear in their music, because apart from one reference to David and Goliath, most of the alum is your boilerplate punk and ska album.

I think that is what I like most about Armageddon Massive. It doesn’t pretend to be much more than a first album from a band who was influenced by everything that was popular at the time. As soon as you play the CD, you are greeted by a punk music riff, and vocals clearly inspired by Billie Joe Armstrong (of Green Day).

The album the winds down a path of ska and reggae, taking a brief stop to hint at jazz and swing styles. What’s great is that the hooks may be simple, but they are so widely varied that you have to argue that the band has a range of talents. I haven’t heard it in years, and when I found my CD in my parents’ attic, it had been scratched to unfixable ends. So I recently bought another copy and have been enjoying it lately. I have never heard any albums from The Dingees other than Armageddon Massive, but I also bought their others. Maybe I’ll have an update for you all once I listen to more, but from what I hear, this album was not their most popular – it just happens to be one I remember from years back!

Which Xbox 360 should you buy? Things to consider…

I miss the simpler times, when the Nintendo was the Nintendo, and the Sega Genesis was just the Sega Genesis. Sure, the consoles were revised, but at least you didn’t have to worry about different specs. I was recently asked by someone if they should buy the 4GB or the 250GB Xbox 360. After thinking for a minute, I found it a surprisingly easy question to answer.

The question comes down to money. Not how much do you have, but how much do plan on spending long term? If you already have a collection of videos from the Zune Marketplace that perhaps you bought a while ago, maybe you’ll want the 250GB drive. If you plan to download your games from Xbox Live, rather than buying them at Gamestop or Target, then you’ll want the 250GB drive. But for most people the 4GB drive will suffice.

4GB is quite a small drive, but if you don’t plan on downloading games or movies, you’ll be fine. A 4GB Xbox 360 is still capable of streaming from services like YouTube and Netflix. To use those apps, you must download them to the hard drive, but 4GB is ample storage. You will also have room for your title updates as game patches are released. You won’t be able to download very many Xbox Live Arcade games, but at $5-$20 each, it is just as I mentioned above: how much do you want to spend long term? If you ever do change your mind? You can upgrade to an even bigger 320GB drive for the same price as it would cost to buy the $250! I suspect the price drop to be permanent, although it is possible that the drive may return to it’s $130 price tag. Still, an upgrade later is always an option if you decide that 4GB is not enough for you, once you get a taste of all the offerings on Xbox Live!