This will be the third year that the Consumer Electronics Association has asked CNET to judge the Best of CES Awards. Before we start the nominations for 2008, take a look back at what won us over last year.
Because Microsoft often gets rapped for delivering products late, it seems worth noting that, on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2007, it delivered a product early.
The new update, which has gotten a whole lot less attention than Vista SP1, adds largely performance and stability improvements, along with making the server components of Office fully compatible with the forthcoming Windows Server 2008 update.
"These enhancements span the software applications and servers that home and office workers use each … Read more
As 2007 closes its doors, Webware writers Rafe Needleman, Josh Lowensohn, and Caroline McCarthy look back on the best and the worst to come out of it...2007: Hits
The Facebook platform. Facebook's new open platform has proven to be a great way to give Facebook users more to do, while putting eyeballs on and dollars into developer's sites. While the usefulness of some of the apps is questionable (see the misses category below), Facebook has built a solid foundation for new social applications, something that did not exist previously.
Google Gears. This platform lets developers write Web apps that can work offline. It is in its infancy, but it's an important step in the right direction for road warriors and anyone who wants to use Web 2.0 apps while away from a live connection. So far, it's limited to just a handful of apps, including Google Reader, Zoho Writer, and Remember The Milk, but with a developing API and support from Google, we think you'll be seeing Gears as a standard part of new Web apps in 2008.
Adobe AIR. AIR lets Flash (and other) developers take their apps off the Web and put them onto people's desktops, and it's seen a lot of progress this year. From launching an alpha version in late March, AIR has been met with considerable interest from both developers and users. Many of the apps that have been created are slick and easy to install. AIR, like Google Gears, is a key technology in the development of "hybrid" apps--Web services that work for users whether they are connected or not. AIR's special power is that its apps work outside of a browser. AIR apps look and feel like real desktop programs.
Twitter. Twitter was one of the first microblogging platforms to get it right. In addition to its open API, which has encouraged the development of dozens of ways to read and post Twitter messages on a variety of platforms, Twitter got the social angle right. It's simple, but not too simple, and it's fun. Twitter's brief messages tend toward the forgettable, but that's the platform's blessing: it doesn't ask too much of its writers or its readers.
Microsoft is stepping closer to providing anywhere access to Office files. The free Office Live Workspace (more here), which lets people share work in Word, Excel and PowerPoint online, is expanding today to invite more beta testers.
You can sign up to try the work in progress at OfficeLive.com, although access may not be immediate. A final version is set for next spring.
When Office 2007 debuted nearly a year ago, it seemed curious that Microsoft offered no easy, one-click option for accessing work from the Web. Meanwhile, Zoho built an add-in for Office 2007, as Google Docs & Spreadsheets and other tools allowed people to share as well as compose work within a browser.
The free, ad-supported Office Live Workspace is a bridge to Office software, not a browser-based replica. Workspace synchronizes changes made to files stored both on a desktop and at Office Live's servers, including Outlook contacts and events. It works with Windows XP SP2, 2003 Server, or Vista with Internet Explorer 6 and Firefox 2 or higher (required for users of Mac OS 10.2 and up).
The online tools preview Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files as well as PDFs, PNGs, and JPGs. Workspace is meant to work in tandem with Word, Excel and PowerPoint XP, 2003, or 2007 running locally on a PC. You can preview, not edit, documents from a browser. Web Notes, on the other hand, do enable the creation and formatting of small text documents online.
Office Live Workspace emphasizes collaboration rather than composition. To share documents with other people, you can send them a secure URL without requiring them to sign in with a Windows Live ID. Everyone with access to the workspace can make and view each others' comments.
Those invited for editing can make changes to the work, as long as they have Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on their hard drive. Office Live Workspace handily preserves the Track Changes feature from Office apps while also keeping five histories of a file. And the Share View screen allows control of another user's PC.
Another desktop component of this service is the Office Live Add-In for Microsoft Office. This is a quick download, although you'll have to restart the system afterward. Once it's installed, a Save to Office Live option will appear under the Office button within Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, with the subsequent dialog box showing your available workspaces.
Workspaces are collections of documents. Ten templates are built to manage a classroom, sports team, travels, job search, household, and so forth. For example, a travel workspace will include an expense report spreadsheet with Word files for an itinerary, packing list, and personal data. You can store a maximum of 500 workspaces containing 500 documents each for a total of 500 MB per account and 25 MB per file.
Office users who learn about these tools are likely to come to depend upon them to stash their work online with a few, quick clicks. Workplaces that use Microsoft's staple software will probably find Workspace a fine collaboration tool that makes it easy to take work away from the office.
This is a well-designed service, but I'd still like something not only to store work, but to let me make edits without opening local applications. What if you only want to correct a misspelled byline in a 20 MB report? You'll have to open Word, since Office Live Workspace doesn't even allow light, text only edits within a browser. I'll continue to lean on Google Docs for that.
Office Live Workspace, by the way, is not to be confused with Office Live Small Business, which offers a free domain name and Web design templates.
Please see more images after the jump.… Read more
On Thursday, Microsoft announced that it will have seven patches available on Patch Tuesday, December 11. Three of these will be ranked by Microsoft as critical. One critical patch concerns DirectX versions 7.0 through 10.0. Another affects Microsoft Media Format. The third appears to be a cumulative update for Internet Explorer.
The important patches include two for Windows Vista, one for Windows 2000 and Windows XP, and one for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.
With three stellar albums under its shiny metallic belts, Homework (1997), Discovery (2001), and Human After All (2005), the helmet-wearing heroes known as Daft Punk continue to win new fans across the globe with the group's bangin' blend of acid-house, funk, electro, hip-hop, and love of a good sample as heard in hits including "Da Funk," "Around The World," and "Harder Better Faster Stronger," among others. Speaking of which, I couldn't believe it took someone like Kanye to discover the talent behind the duo which in turn went on and sampled "… Read more
Where do all the coolest robots hang out? Japan, of course.
The 2007 International Robot Exhibition sponsored by the Japan Robot Association claims to be the largest robotics trade show in the world. The show, which runs November 28 to December 1, serves as a venue for everything from tiny robot toys and educational tools to giant industrial robots that manufacture cars.
This headless-looking robot is actually fully intact. The E-nuvo walk robot from Japan-based ZMP could be thought of as the Japanese version of a Lego Mindstorms robot. Only this line of learning robots, which is offered in basic, … Read more
Historians, take note: Honda's FCX is the first hydrogen-fuel-cell car in production. Get a first look from the floor at the 2007 LA Auto Show.