New screenshots reveal more Windows 8 features

Windows 8 will include a PDF reader, greater customization of the Aero interface, and a new version of Internet Explorer 9 that works like its Windows Phone counterpart, according to new details posted online by Microsoft partners.

Offering new tidbits and screenshots from a Windows 8 pre-beta build, "Windows 8 Secrets" co-authors Rafael Rivera and Paul Thurrott revealed some notable new features this week via the Web site Within Windows.

Windows 8 will reportedly offer a new interface dubbed Immersive as an alternative to the traditional Aero user interface introduced in Vista, according to Windows 8 Center and … Read more

Improve system performance

WinZip System Utilities Suite offers a one-stop shop for optimizing, defragging, and generally cleaning out your system--and it does a pretty great job, adding extras that will come in handy whenever you need to perform routine maintenance. The interface smartly mimics many of the utilities in this genre--with various tools on the left, and the main window showing the options for each tool--making it easy to clean each area of your system quickly.

Like many modern system utilities, WinZip offers the option to be as involved with the process as you want to be. From the Home screen, you can … Read more

Could subway dig topple Michelangelo's 'David'?

Michelangelo's "David" has seen better days. He's spent centuries on his feet. He's tired, yet he cannot take a seat.

Now some are wondering whether engineering work that's taking place beneath him might cause the Renaissance icon to quite simply collapse with exhaustion.

The Telegraph reports that construction of a high-speed railway being built beneath Florence might cause one vibration too many for David.

The paper quotes Fernando de Simone, a specialist in subterranean engineering, as saying: "The tunnel will pass about 600 meters (2,000 feet) from the statue of David, the … Read more

Timeline: A look back at Kinect's history

Kinect has turned out to be a big success for Microsoft, and Monday's news that the company is planning to officially bring the technology to Windows users marks an important step in Kinect's progress as a platform for new types of software and gesture-based user interfaces.

That said, if you take a look back, it's not like we didn't see this coming.

Even so, Kinect has turned out to be more successful than Microsoft originally imagined, with sales that dramatically beat estimates. It's also helped reform the image of the software giant from a company … Read more

A revolution at the Computer History Museum

A new exhibit that was two years and $19 million in the making opened at the Computer History Museum today, and if you have even a passing interest in technology (That's everyone, right?) you need to head to Silicon Valley and check it out.

Revolution: The First 2,000 Years of Computing is the name of the exhibit that contains thousands of products that track our obsession with creating machines to expand or augment human intelligence and capabilities. The abacus? Check. An original Apple I computer? Check. A working PDP-1 that you can actually play the first video game, … Read more

U.K. rebuilding EDSAC computer from 1949

Turning up their noses at modern handheld devices, British researchers are rebuilding a 60-year-old, room-size computer that used 5-foot-long tubes of mercury as memory.

The Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator (EDSAC) was first built at Cambridge University. It's recognized as the world's first practical electronic stored-program computer, and unlike earlier program-controlled computers, none of its wiring or switches had to be changed to perform a new calculation.

Programs were fed into the machine on a punched tape. The first was run on May 6, 1949, computing a set of square numbers.

As a general-purpose research tool, EDSAC was … Read more

Computer History Museum gets a reboot (podcast)

The Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif., tomorrow will unveil what it's calling a "21st century makeover" with its newly renovated building and greatly increased exhibit space.  After two years and $19 million, the museum has an entirely new look and feel and a major new exhibit called "Revolution: The First 2,000 Years of Computing."

As you enter the museum you see some of the first computing devices other than our ancestor's 10 fingers and 10 toes, including the abacus. But as you walk around, you see how technology has progressed … Read more

British Library app brings Beowulf, The Beatles

Injecting some high-brow culture into a smartphone realm more characterized by people texting at dinner and playing video games on the subway, the British Library has released an application to allow exploration of some of its collection.

OK, so perhaps it won't mean people rushing to read Beowulf in the original Old English from 1,000 years ago. But it's nice to know the option is there, and the application comes with commentary from experts such as a video on Beowulf by linguist David Crystal.

In any event, it is encouraging at least to this history and museum … Read more

The top 12 gifts of cloud from 2010

What a year 2010 has been for cloud computing.

We've seen an amazing year of innovation, disruption, and adoption--one I personally think will go down in history as one of the most significant years in computing history. Without a doubt, a significant new tool has been added to the IT toolbox, and its one that will eventually replace most of the tools we know today.

Don't agree with me? Well, with the help of my generous Twitter community--and in the spirit of the season here in the US--I've assembled 12 innovations and announcements from 2010 that had … Read more

Details emerge of Microsoft's failed Facebook buy

While the dollar figure and partnership details of Microsoft's investment in Facebook back in 2007 were made public, one detail that had not been discussed by either company was that Microsoft had made a valiant effort to acquire the social network outright.

That much was confirmed this morning at the Le Web conference in Paris by Fritz Lanman, Microsoft's senior director or corporate strategy and acquisitions, TechCrunch reports. Speaking to Le Web conference organizer Loic Le Meur as part of a panel on "how to get acquired," Lanman shared details on how the deal had gotten … Read more