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Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Microsoft Open Door, the software giant's road show, rolled into town this week after making stops in Mauritius and Nigeria.

In an era where the headlines are now hogged by Facebook, Google and Apple, the world's largest software maker feels it is no longer cool and to dent the myth, Louis Otieno and team broke out the fanciworks.

At the entrance to Onami restaurant at Westgate, Microsoft's much ballyhooed video game console Xbox Kinect was on display. Scribe Larry Madowo gave it a go and by the look of it, he would have been sweating bullets had he chosen to continue playing. The player has a sensor that takes in a persons dimensions when they stand in front of the TV screen and from there you control the game by moving your body, jumping, swaying, moving your arms and so on. The folks don't seem to have settled on a retail price but they are coming in from Dubai at about Sh30,000.

Inside the presentation area, Microsoft which seems to have woken up from monopoly induced arrogant slumber with the release of Windows 7 had some serious products.

First, there is Lync previously Office Communications Server.

This is proprietary software for business to integrate its communications. It's touted as a PBX replacement because you can make voice or video calls from PC to PC and even include people in the conversation by clicking on them from your contacts.

The software can work within companies, between different organizations and with individuals and is also available on Windows Mobile.

Windows Live Essentials a freely available download is an exciting piece of software for individual use. It's basically your own personal cloud. You get 25GB in the cloud where you can mirror your PC such that you can even work on it from anywhere with any browser.

You get to also include your various emails, office and personal such as gmail, yahoo and hotmail as well as connecting to all your social networks and you have it all on one screen. You can see who is logging in via LinkedIn or Facebook and also keep up with Messenger.

You can also upload your phone contacts and synchronize them automatically. For example if you have two phones you don't have to keep updating each with a new contact. As long as you add it to one phone it Live Essentials synchronizes it on your Skydrive (the 25GB) and also on your other phone.

There is also a feature on it called Locate my phone. It is only live in the US but Louis Otieno the CEO Microsoft East Africa issued a challenge to local developers to come up with an application to make it work here.

All in all, this was a great start for Microsoft and it looks like they have stuff you can use. Live Essentials especially is worth a try since its a free download although it works best with Windows Vista and above.

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