World's Richest Man Unveils New Computer Program
BY Leslie Taylor
A weekly look at the latest products and services designed to help you run a better business.
Amid a worldwide media blitz, including a visit to The Daily Show by chairman Bill Gates, Microsoft on Tuesday released the much-anticipated Windows Vista -- its latest operating system, which includes a number of features targeting business travelers.
One of those features: all editions of Vista (NASDAQ:MSFT), with the exception of Windows Home Basic, support Tablet PCs. The new operating system also allows users to easily synchronize home, office, and mobile devices.
To woo early adopters, Vista users will be able access free WiFi at the more than 8,200 North American T-Mobile hotspots -- including retail locations such as Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX), Borders Books (NYSE:BGP), and FedEx Kinko's (NYSE:FDX) -- through April 30.
Since Windows XP was heavily criticized for its porous security, Vista was subject to rigorous beta testing, and makes security a top priority with features such as Windows Defender, which detects and removes malware and other unwanted applications.
As users store more and more digital content on their PCs, it has become more and more difficult for them to access the files they want. To help with this problem, Windows Vista has also enhanced its search capabilities. Instead of just storing information in folders, users can add "tags" to their files, to make retrieval easier. In addition, Vista offers Live Icons, which display a thumbnail of the contents of each file to help users find what they are looking for.
Vista is available in four editions -- Home, Home Premium, Business, and Ultimate.
How to Take on Amazon.com
For years, large brand-name stores have often had an advantage in cyberspace over mom-and-pop retailers because online shoppers are wary of doing business with unfamiliar merchants. In an effort to raise the profiles of lesser-known retailers, PriceFight, an Austin, Texas-based shopping site, will begin displaying retailers' logos, security policies, and customer service information on every product page.
Unlike traditional comparative-shopping search engines, which compare only the price of merchandise offered by different online retailers, PriceFight also compares offerings based on a metric it calls "People's Choice" -- a merchant ranking based on a proprietary algorithm, which includes factors such as customer service and the number of purchases made by the PriceFight community.
PriceFight does not use a cost-per-click model, but rather charges retailers on a cost-per-acquisition basis. There is no start-up fee for retailers who would like to begin including their inventory in the PriceFight search. To help emerging retailers establish trust with consumers, PriceFight also does not charge online retailers to display their logos, special offers, and ad copy alongside their product feed.
Turn Your Voicemail into E-mail
When listening to a colleague's rambling voicemail, have you ever wished you could prioritize or scroll through voice messages the way you can with e-mail? A new service from CallWave, a Santa Barbara, Calif.-based phone applications company, lets you do just that.
CallWave Mobile relays mobile phone voicemail messages to e-mail accounts, displaying the caller's name and message length in the subject line. The service lets users sort, prioritize, listen, and respond to messages from their e-mail inbox.
The free service, which works with most US carriers including Cingular (NYSE:T), Verizon, (NYSE:VZ) and T-Mobile (NYSE:DT), does not require users to download software, purchase a new handset, or change mobile numbers.