Software // Enterprise Applications
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1/24/2007
08:44 AM
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Push 2.0: Big Brands Line Up To Deliver Content Directly To Windows Vista Desktops

Microsoft and its partners are poised to release dozens of new information services designed to be pushed directly to the Windows Vista desktop.

Information junkies are in for a big fix next week as major media players, retailers, and other big brands are poised to release dozens of new information services designed to be pushed directly to the Windows Vista desktop.

CNN, Time, The North Face, and Sports Illustrated are among the consumer brands that will be popping up on a Vista desktop near you, thanks to marketing agreements in place with Microsoft. The retail version of Vista is slated to go on sale Jan. 30.

Other companies or brands that have secured prime real estate on Vista, according to Microsoft, include InStyle magazine, People magazine, Workopolis, and Canada's Weather Network. To keep it all neat and tidy, users will be able to organize the offerings in the new Sidebar pane on the Vista desktop.

It's all part of Microsoft's effort to deliver what it calls "persistent online content" directly to Vista using Web services standards that create seamless connections between the desktop and the online services. The approach is reminiscent of earlier efforts in the 1990s to push news and information to the desktop. But those efforts largely failed due to bandwidth and hardware limitations.

Microsoft and its marketing partners are confident things will be different this time around because of improved technology and because they're planning to offer a rich array of always-on "mini-applications" that users can activate to create personalized dashboards. CNNMoney.com, for instance, has created a gadget that will deliver popular lists, including "The Best Places To Live," directly to users. Time will deliver a quote of the day, while Sports Illustrated will, naturally, offer live scores and other sports news.

There's just one potential downside: Some of Microsoft's previous efforts to deliver content by default and bundle services on its desktop have put the software maker in hot water with antitrust watchdogs and hardware manufacturers that also want a say in the end-user start up experience. The Department of Justice, for example, sued the company in 1998, claiming Microsoft was exercising monopoly power to control the desktop Web browser market.

Stay tuned -- or read your desktop.

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