I”ll be disconnected for awhile

As you’ve noticed, I haven’t blogged in awhile. I’m in the transition of moving to a new house, so it’s been kind hard. Sadly, internet is not ready yet.
It will be a long while until I can blog again. Sad to say. I’ve been missing out the joys of the internet. The blogs, the news, some of the sites, everything. Sigh. It will probably be another week. I’ll write an article about internet addiction, and how people like me suffer.
So please don’t think I’m dead or anything. I’ll be back. Sorry for not warning you guys earlier. I’m dying here.

Microsoft buying CNET Networks for $90 Million – how would it work?

NOTE: This is not a true story. Just a possible think tank of what an acquisition would be like.

I was wondering, what if Microsoft bought CNET Networks for like $90 Million? CNET Networks is like a media company focused on the web. They own CNET, ZDNET, MP3.com, TV.com, and many other web properties. Especially in famous domain names.

They would make a great source of content for MSN‘s content networks. A partnership between content sites are usually so-so.Exactly why Microsoft would really want to acquire, rather than partner with CNET Networks.   

Many of CNET’s site could easily be integrated into MSN’s other content sites, with a name change.

Here are some examples:

Then there are sites that might make a so-so list. Like UrbanBaby, Chow Hound, and Chow could like go into MSN Lifestyle or City Guides. MySimon would go into MSN Shopping (if Microsoft doesn’t kill MSN Shopping first)

Then there are sites that wouldn’t at all fit into MSN or Windows Live, or they just suck.

ZDNet and TechRepublic are sites for IT-like people. Of where "technology meets business". Microsoft owning a tech forum wouldn’t be a good indicator at all for that site. It would die from users not wanting Microsoft owning a tech forum site. This is an example of how it doesn’t fit in.

Sites that suck would be Consumating and Webshots. There’s already way too many social network sites, so Consumerating is already dead. Webshots is a photo-sharing site, but they have to dream on to beat Flickr.

One of the main things is that CNET really does have some good content sites. Like the top 6 that could easily be integrated into MSN, have great content. If MSN had the same type of content as them, then it would really have something.

CNET.com has a lot of great tech info. and stuff. I could see Microsoft doing a redesign, and integrating that into their MSN Tech site. Where MSN Tech will finally be all about tech and gadgets and stuff. With proper specs, reviews, pictures, and videos. All with a nice look.

MP3.com is all about the music. They give an offering of free music, and have had a couple of exclusive interviews. They also offer reviews of music players, forums, categories of music, and tons of other music offerings. MSN Music could use some of their content, specifically music videos and interviews.

TV.com is all about TV. They have tons of TV series listed on there. From reviews, videos, episode guides, ratings, and tons of stuff. It’s like the ultimate place to get TV info. MSN TV also offer a very broad list of TV series, but does not give full episode reviews, user reviews, ratings or anything where users can put input on TV episodes. TV.com is a top dog, and it would help MSN TV a whole lot on the content side.

GameSpot.com is all about game reviews. They offer reviews for all game consoles, portable gaming machines, and even the PC. MSN Games currently offers a selection of casual games – no reviews, video gaming or anything. Just casual games. MSN Games could start offering the same kind of content as GameSpot.com for a real MSN Games.

GameFAQ‘s is kinda similar to GameSpot, but they’re more into help getting through the game. Like cheat codes, and walkthroughs. It’s not as good as GameBoomers, but it does the job. This should also be bundled along with GameSpot into MSN Games.

FilmSpot is a movie site. It’s not really that good of a site. It pretty much offers as much as MSN Movies, only with an awful look. Not real much from this site. IMDb is a much better site.

BNET is about business management stuff. It seems to offer real quality articles about business topics. It would go great in MSN Money.

As for the other sites, most of them would/should be independent. Especially ZDNet and TechRepublic.

Microsoft would also have to ensure that they won’t throw bias or any super controll on the integration and their own sites. Like if I see bad reviews of the iPod, and Zune ads plastered all over a site, that would be disappointing. Microsoft has to ensure that they won’t reach their arms into the site, and try to put pro-Microsoft stuff onto the place. Or else, nobody, even me, would want to go near Microsoft for ruining great sites and putting FUD into them. Anti-Apple and Anti-Linux, or Anti-Google would really kill Microsoft if it hits those sites.

Microsoft can’t do any bias like that on their site.

They also have to make others understand, and ensure that Microsoft will not be running the content in their favor.

Content is a very tricky thing. Sometimes it may sound bias, or sometimes it may not. If Microsoft fails to do it right, they’ll look like fools. If they can prove that they are not going to be FUD throwers, then they’ll be ok.

Buying CNET Networks, and integrating their content into MSN sections would be a good deal – if done correctly.

I love Windows Live Toolbar!

Now I know that I’m usually critiquing Microsoft products/services, but today, I’ll tell you what I like about one of their stuff.

Windows Live Toolbar works great for me. I use it for search, a quick button access to another site, and other little things.

Now I know not everybody is a fan of Live Search. Maybe other Windows Live stuff, but not search. Well that’s your opinion. I just like Live Search for the clean looks, speed, Instant Answers, and other little things. Relevancy seems just as great as Google’s. The toolbar does search real great. It’s easy to access right off the browser.

The search toolbar also does, (with a little arrow on the side to extend these options) news, images, local, feeds, inline site search, movie, music, yellow pages, tons of stuff. You can even download buttons from Windows Live Gallery to extend more search options. You can search on these buttons if you want to take a look at these sites. I have a Flickr, Xbox, MSNBC, and Live Gallery search extenders. They are highlighted in green if you enter text in the search box, so you can search by them.

The search box also has a drop-down menu that lists some of the most common searches associated to the text you’re typing. It’s pulls up the most common searches instantly as you enter text. It also saves your last searches at the bottom, so they’re easy to access too. You can erase/clear them if you want.

I have other neat buttons too. I have a Gizmodo and Engadget button, that checks the latest news hourly, and displays them with a drop down arrow list. For my tech news. You can also press the button too (like all the other buttons) and get instant access directly to the site. There’s also an MSN button, which I just check for some interesting content sometimes.

I also have a pop-up blocker with the toolbar. There’s already one built-in into IE7, but it really makes this annoying sound when there’s one. I like how the Windows Live Pop-Up blocker, show up at the top of the page, and notifies you if there’s one. And if you click on it, there’s an option to allow it this one time, allow them for this site, or reset the pop-up counter. Pretty useful compared to annoying clicking sounds from the one in IE7. It works great for the most part. I love it. The one in IE7 should work the same way, instead of the way it does now. It also displayes a counter, telling how many pop-ups have tried to get in.

There’s a Windows Live Hotmail button. Pressing the button takes you directly there. There’s a counter in parenthesis telling you how many new e-mails are in your inbox. Like (5) means 5 new e-mails.

The Spaces buttong is useless. I hate how it opens up a whole other browser, then change the page I’m on.

My last two buttons are Toolbar Options, and Toolbar Help.

Live Toolbar also does browser tabs in IE6. If you have IE6 and are looking for tabs, Live Toolbar does a pretty god job with it. But if you can’t even get IE7, then you have better luck with full functionality in Firefox.

There’s also one other neat thing about Live Toolbar – Text Highlight options.

When you highlight anything, there are two little buttons that come up right next to it. From these 2 buttons, you can pretty much search or do anything. Like if you highlight an address – you can use one of the button options to see it in a Windows Live Maps. And the maps appear in a small box onscreen! No linking to another page or anything, it just appears. Of highligh a phone number, and it comes with an option to give that number a call on your computer. Or highlight a pieces of text and search it on Live Search, or Yellow Pages. Little things like that. Really neat and useful.

For the most part, I love Windows Live Toolbar. It’s so helpful and great to use. There a few things I wish though:

  1. Support for Firefox (or other browsers) – It would be wonderful if everybody had a chance to use it. So make one support Firefox, and maybe even Opera, and Safari. It only does IE6 and IE7 right now. Be more open, and deliver it to all browsers.
  2. More official Microsoft buttons – It’s great the Live Toolbar is open for many developers to customize and make and stuff, but sometimes it just doesn’t work. Developers are always trying to make great stuff, and they sometimes do. But how about some official buttons from Microsoft? Instead of depending on other developers to do so? Because sometimes, they’re are really crappy buttons made by developers. And they really stink. It also doesn’t help that Microsoft doesn’t make offical great working ones either. So how about making better/nicer buttons for users?

Well that’s about it really. Make one availiable for FireFox and other users, and make more better offical buttons for users. That’s really what I’m hoping for. If Microsoft could do that, that would be wonderful. If you use IE6 or IE7, I really suggest you give Live Toolbar a try.

Windows Live Hotmail – Wishlist

 I decided to make a Live Hotmail Wishlist.

I kind of like Live Hotmail in it’s own way. I think the UI is kind of neat. Not really hard to use at all. Compared to ugly MSN Hotmail, and cluttered up Yahoo! Mail. It doesn’t really slow me down, because I use high-speed cable internet. Although I guess if you are a user of DSL or even dial-up, then I guess it might be slow on your end. I also don’t get why people even care about extra GB’s. According to Live Hotmail, I only use up 1% of my 2GB. If you really need any more than that, you’re either really busy with contacts, or you have spam. No problems for me.

For me, it works great as a web e-mail thing. It does it job real great, and I’ve had like no problems with it. Well except for a few things that I haven’t liked.

So here’s my simple list of things that I hope they can take care of in Live Hotmail:

  1. Speed it up for many users – Although speed really doesn’t affect me considering I have a high-speed cable connection, I hear that for other users (who I guess have DSL or even dial-up) Live Hotmail takes too long. The only thing it really takes long for me, is when I first enter, and it loads up my inbox. Like around 6-10 seconds for the inbox to load up the first time I access it. Although it only takes 1 second if I visit again. I don’t really mind (I’m not a speed freak, 6 sec. won’t dilute my life time), but I guess for some people, it should be faster. It does kind of look redundant when it says "Taking too long? – Try the Classic version." – NOT a good way to show off Live Hotmail. Maybe the should fix their AJAX thing to optimize it for speed like Gmail does.
  2. Windows Live Calendar (make it come!) – That’s one thing I was really not happy about. Live Hotmail left beta, and became official – without being feature complete (Microsoft!). Instead, for me, it first redirects me to a "Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage". And pressing the back button, brings me to the old MSN Calendar interface. Sigh. Guys, couldn’t you just wait until Live Calendar came? Or pushed Live Calendar first? To tell you the truth, I don’t use calendars or any type of fixed schedule at all, but it wouldn’t hurt if Live Calendar was available. I’m really hoping that Live Calendar offers what Google Calendar, iCal, Windows Calendar, and even Outlook‘s calendar, in terms of function/design, and improve it even more somehow. Make it work with the web, and have some good way of connecting the same data to my desktop either through Windows Mail or it’s own offering. C’mon, we really need a full functioning calendar.
  3. Offering @live.com accounts – I think @hotmail.com offers too many small inconveniences.  1. it’s pretty long compared to @yahoo.com, or @gmail.com, or even @msn.com. So it’s takes extra time to type/write it, and saying it all outloud. And it would be great to have another account system, to get some cool domains. Like if somebody already took michael@hotmail.com, maybe a michael@live.com is available once it’s released. You know, a 2nd account to fall back on. And it’s shorter too. So how about offering it, and giving users something to cheer about?
  4. Giving POP3 to free users as well – It pretty much says itself. I know that it’s offered for paid users, but being nice to your free users counts too, right? It is available for free if you have Microsoft Outlook or use Windows Live Mail, but I’m not sure that really counts.
  5. Full support for Safari browser – Now I am far from ever using Safari. It ranks at the bottom of my list of browsers. Heck, even OS X users preferred Firefox over Safari. I can’t blame them. But I saw in the Wikipedia article that it’s not really usable in Safari. Windows Live/MSN really needs to stay committed to being cross platform, or it won’t be leading happy users at all.
  6. Better support for Hotmail Plus subscribers – I’ve heard that Hotmail Plus doesn’t really give you a whole lot more than the free version so it should work on that. I don’t know if it’s to add some extra features, more storage, or even a cheap price. Just something to make sure that they’re really benefiting.
  7. Integration of a Web Messenger – I’m not talking about this sad old MSN WebMessenger thing. I’m talking about an integration of something with the look and feel of Live Messenger, in a internet browser window. Sometime people are on the go, and can’t take their personal computers with them. And sometimes, a computer they borrow may not have Live Messenger installed, and it’s a hassle to find a way to IM. Meebo is great, but it doesn’t offer the full features as the regular Windows Live Messenger. So here’s to hoping that the Hotmail team, and the Live Messenger team can work on putting together a Live Web Messenger onto Live Hotmail instead. Much more convenient and better for users.
  8. Changing the name (minor wish) – Not a really important thing needed, but I think they should change the whole Hotmail name thing. Hotmail sounds so 90’s. They got the name from some geek-speak, where Hotmail’s letters represents HTML when spelled: HoTMaiL. Yeah, I know, really geeky. But Hotmail still sounds old, and I think it should be changed. I was hoping for Windows Live Mail. I already know that they have some desktop application that does mail, but I don’t see why their web-based e-mail should be call Windows Live Mail. Maybe the desktop one could be renamed Windows Live Mail Desktop (WLMD – yikes!), or Windows Desktop Mail. I don’t know, something? Anyways, I still think that changing the name of the web-based e-mail to Windows Live Mail seems more important, and is a good idea to me. Just to keep up with the times.

Well that’s about it. That’s the stuff from the top of my head. So if the Live Hotmail team can accomplish this, I’d really appreciate it. I hope they consider these wishes.

I got the scoop of some of the latest updates from LiveSide.  

Sorry for the lame posts

Hey guys. Sorry for the lame posts I’ve been putting up lately. I guess they do sound kind of boring.

It’s not easy blogging. I don’t always know what to blog about. There’s too many things.

Plus putting together a new blog post is kind of hard for me. I have to go through these steps:

  1. Come up with something to write about
  2. Use Live Writer and start typing up what comes off your mind
  3. Continually checking up sites to hyperlink, and getting the info. right
  4. Possibly finding a good picture to add to the post
  5. Spell Check
  6. Make it look nice and presentable
  7. Done

7 steps, but for me, they’re hard. I usually take up about 1/2 an hour to write one post. I try to post every 2 days if I can.

I like to put make-believe posts about a pretend Microsoft product/service that I’ve always wanted or expected, but it’s really hard to put it in writing. And then drawing up sketches is kind of lousy. I just do it to share some ideas, and maybe Microsoft might consider them and make it a reality. Silly, but if you don’t try, you can’t succeed.

I’m also a wishlist kind of guy. In these posts, I’ll directly point out what’s needed from Microsoft.

Then there’s other posts, like ones where I give a thought or comment about something coming up, and other stuff like that.

I don’t ever have any true insider secrets. Most of my blog posts comes from the top of my head, or from news that I’ve heard. Although I do have a few Microsoft employee contacts.

Plus the fact that I’m balancing my daily life, versus my web life, it’s kinda hard taking the time to write up posts.

So I hope you forgive me. But if readers would please put input, like comments, than I would have a better idea of how to go.

IE7 or Firefox 2.0?


It’s comes to a matter of what’s more secure, useful, less bothersome, and just overall better. There’s also Opera and Safari, but the big dogs right now are IE7 and FF. (NOTE: This is not a technical review – it’s opinion-based).

Personally, I just use IE7. I’ve really had no problems with it. It’s crashed a few times before, like only 3. The only other thing remotely annoying is the ActiveX prompt. That’s it. I appreciate what it does, and it does it well. It’s not really complicated or anything.

Firefox is cool too. It does offer more extensions (because it’s open source) and freely allows developers to put as many as they want. So that’s cool. Plus it was like the first browser to actually do some good compared to old IE6. But I hate how it’s a real resource hog, and it’s really slow compared to IE7.

Plus I’ve read articles that claim Firefox really isn’t that more advance in security. It’s just the low adoption rate. Although since it is rising slightly, we are seeing more frequent attacks coming. So win some, lose some.

The only add-ons I put on IE7 are the Windows Live Toolbar and IE7 Pro.

I love the Windows Live Toolbar, because I’m kind of a fan of Live Search and I like how you can add buttons made by developers. I use Wikipedia as my browser search box.

IE7 Pro is also awesome. Many of the pro users use it. It includes some handy features not available in IE7. My favorite and most used is really the inline spell check. It gives a red underline to any misspelled text I put in. Real useful. It also contains a lot of other goodies, which you can view on their site. Free and safe to use.

So my IE7 isn’t really weighed by anything. So it just works and I appreciate it.

So here’s the low-down:

Firefox is great if you can’t get IE7. That’s like on Windows XP SP1, Windows ME, 98, Linux, OS X, lots of systems. Pretty much does anything that a browser should do. Many people appreciate how the stability is compared to other browsers, and the many extensions it offers. Note, it is not any more secure than IE7 based on features.

If you’ve got Vista and SP2, IE7 is a great offer. It works for the most part, and it isn’t as bad as people may want you to believe. I think most criticism of IE7 comes from past users who never appreciated IE6 compared to Firefox, or they’re just simply Microsoft haters, and never even tried IE7. Whatever. It’s just a dumb browser. I could care less.

So that’s about it. That’s my opinion on the browser debate. Safari just sucks, hands down. Opera is noted for it’s speediness and reliability compared to Firefox.

I’m also putting up a simple IE8 wishlist. Here’s what I want:

1. More support for web standards – I’ve heard lots of developers complaining about CSS and that kind of stuff. How it’s harder to work for in IE than it should be. And a bunch of other stuff. Silly really. I mean is it really that hard to support all these web standards? Stop being proprietary Microsoft. Developers want an easy way to do stuff, and making it difficult doesn’t make them happy.

2. Cross platform – Works on any OS. Whether it’s Windows, OS X, or Linux. People want to be free, and I guess as long as their still using your software, you should be happy. No reduced functionality either. We want the real thing.

3. Fix up the UI – IE7’s UI is a mixed bag. It’s ok, but they could have done better. One thing I don’t like, is the zoom level button. I would really love a magnification slider bar, like in Office 07′, instead of the quirky selection option provided.

4. More built-in stuff – How about adding a built-in pop-up blocker? Live Toolbar offers it, yet IE7 doesn’t? I mean a pop-up blocker seems important to me. And how about already supporting the latest version of Flash, or Java or whatever it is. Inline spell check? Maybe an adBlocker (which of course clashes with Microsoft’s adCenter)

5. Better security – IE7 already has some better security within itself (definitely compared to IE6), but it could still work on it. Like installing updates faster? Getting those patches quicker? Make the browser invincible? Just kidding. I don’t know how, but just make it more secure than what it is. Without slowing users down.

6. Pass the Acid2 test – If IE8 passes that, then I’m guessing most people won’t hold a grudge. Of course, it’s said that FF 3.0 is already compliant.

Do all 6 and people will trust you again. Firefox is winning right now with popularity, so if IE doesn’t shape up in the next version, or takes too long, than IE is a lost cause. Microsoft might as well start digging a grave for IE.

Like I said, I could care less about internet browser wars, but it wouldn’t hurt for Microsoft to actually ‘try’ instead of depending on their current marketshare to do it for them.

Encarta Reader – My (pretend) review


NOTE: This is not a real review of a Microsoft product/service. It’s is just a pretend joke review to express my feelings of what a Microsoft product/service should be. So please, do not regard this as a real review or product. Thank you.



For those of you who aren’t into reading, Encarta Reader is the latest eBook reader to hit the streets. Microsoft Reader died (no wonder) due to the fact that there was no reason to bother installing it, or anything good to read. So of course, it died.

But then Microsoft got back on its balls, and released a new eBook reader. A full scaled one. Not some lame version with absolutely no way to get content. Inspired from the latest awesome version of Encarta, Encarta Reader is like the best eBook/audiobook reader there is. It’s to further extend the Encarta (education) platform Microsoft had launched recently. To make Encarta the way of spreading knowledge, education, and whatnot.

Encarta Reader is a great mix of features and content. It’s where quality and design go hand-in-hand (yay! Microsoft finally did it right again!). It looks pretty much like a mix between WMP11 controls, and Office 2007 Ribbon UI. Kind of cool, kind of weird, depends on how it is to you, when you use it.

There’s like so many things on Encarta Reader. There’s book tools like annotate, highlight, bookmark, etc. You can even change the look of a book, to the one that you find pleasing, similar to styles in Office 2007.

The book controls at the bottom of the app. (similar to that as of WMP 11) work as you might guess them. The ‘play/pause’ is available if there’s an audiobook (which these days, most ebooks are). The ‘previous’ and ‘next’ buttons (on the side of the big round play/pause button) flip the pages. ‘Stop’, starts back at the start. ‘Shuffle’ shuffles up all the books in your library, as to what you will see next. ‘Repeat’ will repeat the book once it’s done (although I don’t know why anyone would want to reread it again so fast). Sound, does the audio sounds of the book of course.

There’s also a zoom slider, that does dynamic scrolling to increase/decrease magnification. And you probably already know what else is at the bottom.

The top of the app. has the Office 07′ Ribbon/fluent UI. Kind of looks neat, but weird in an ebook program. The tabs include: "Home", "Library", "Book Layout", "Marketplace", "eBook Creator", and "View".

A quick rundown of each tab:

  • Home – All your basic tools when reading an eBook. Spread out right on this tab for ease and convenience.
  • Library – Displays your library of eBooks/audiobooks. 6 Layout views including List, Album + List, Cover Flow, Carousel, Tile, and Shuffle Space
  • Book Layout – Displays quik buttons to access parts of the book. Like front cover, publication page, 1st page, table of contents, etc.
  • Marketplace – The store the sells all the eBooks. So far, only Microsoft does it (but real well), and it’s just called "eBook Marketplace". It’s the largest online eBook store in the world with almost 3.5 million books. All of them real good.
  • eBook Creator – a simplified eBook making app for yourself. You can make your own eBooks and send them to your friends and family. It does a pretty sweet job as far as styling and tools go. It’s just up to you to make the content. Microsoft is considering making a different marketplace for independents like that.
  • View – Different ways to view the eBook and whatnot.

So that’s the tabs. Across from the tabs is the forward and back buttons, for either navigating through the marketplace, an eBook, or pretty much anything that appears on the screen. There’s the layout button (all 6). There’s a search box that does your library, inline search, or the marketplace. And a help button.

The most major thing about it is the way eBooks/audiobooks have been done on ER. It’s done like no other.

We’re not talking about the old eBooks. The ones where selection was limited, no color, sometimes copied (badly) from copiers, and it pretty much gave you a reason to use regular physical books.

Nope. These are way better. Microsoft worked with publishers to get it done right. So now what do we have? Practically every book ever made (or wanted), books in full color, books that come with more extras than the ones from a bookstore, and practically every book has an audio option. An audio option that has realistic sounding characters and narrators, and sound effects and all. It’s just like being there and hearing everything. They also come at a cheaper price, since there’s no shipping and manufacturing involved. It’s pretty much a dream world for eBooks/audiobooks.  

Here’s the real reason why Encarta Reader is a major success story:

  • The only true eBook reader/store app. there is – I guess other companies have tried and failed, but Microsoft had the resources and people to get it in. Thanks to them, we have a true quality eBook reader that has many functions, and a online store that sells pretty much every book that you could want. More than the iTunes store even.
  • The way eBooks are done (very well) – Now eBooks have come to the state where they really can challenge the ease and convenience of regular physical books. Microsoft made a deal with many publishers to make true quality eBooks. Practically every book you want, can be found all on Marketplace. Like every one. The eBooks are clean and crisp – not copied off some copy machine. There’s also a wider offering of audiobooks, along with regular text. Now these two can actually combine. Audiobooks are essentially eBooks + audio. Practically every eBook comes with an audio option, and Microsoft made sure that there were realistic speaking actors to do the job real well. More offerings like tidbits attached to each book, and even ‘Author Page Info.’ where you can view the extension of each page, and maybe the author may have left a note or even paragraphs about what they wrote on each page. Like their own description/reasoning as to why it’s there. You can even change the fonts on them! And use tools like bookmarking, highlighting, notes, like you can with real books. Man is it so cool.
  • Lower cost – Since regular physical books have to be manufactured and shipped, that adds as part of the cost of your books. Since eBooks don’t have to be manufactured physically, and have to be shipped across the country, they cost less. Like a regular paperback book that cost $5.99, would be around $2.50 on Marketplace. Much better if you ask me.
  • Support for office file types – So you can also read documents in Encarta Reader. Support goes all out for .doc, .ods, .odp, .odt, PDF, and .xls
  • No DRM! – Yeah, no DRM at all. Pretty surprising since before, publishers never put much eBooks up in concern that there work would be pirated, and given for free to anyone. Although of course, since there’s no DRM, Microsoft put some other piracy preventions in.
  • The Reader is free – Yep, the reader is free. No cost at all. You have to at least have Windows (sorry OS X) to get it. A legal one of course.
  • Books work in WMP and devices – The books can also be viewable in the latest version of WMP, and can sync to any portable media player. You can view, or listen, or both on any PMP, since there’s no DRM.
  • Subscription feature – Many people just read a book once, and that’s it. So if you’ve bought a lot books, read them once, and they just sit there all day, what a waste. With the subscription feature on Marketplace, you can read as many or any books as you want and not have to worry about paying and keeping them forever. This is really a true convenience to people who don’t read often, or only want to read new things.

There’s also been some criticism, like you can’t print, and copy & pasting text is limited. Since no publishers wants their author’s work printed off on to a bunch of paper, and copied, and given to free to anyone, there’s no printing feature. At least not for the ones bought from Marketplace. You can however print your own eBooks. That’s the only option to do so.

There’s also the issue of copy & pasting text. Anybody could just copy & paste the text of all the pages in the books, and print them right out. Well not in Encarta Reader. There’s a limit to how much you can copy and paste, like if you need it for a quote or something. But not more than a paragraph’s worth.

Regardless of that, since I don’t do pirating or lame enough to spend time on getting free versions out, it’s great. Practically anyone who’s interested in reading books have tried it, and liked it. It’s a true contender against regular physical books.

So Microsoft really made a success with this one. I recommend that you get it. Just to give it a try.

 Here are some sketches of it in pre-beta (no color/hard to see – sorry):



 Here’s also some pics of the layout views (including the popular carousel view):