RealTime IT News

Eye Candy to Enhance Windows XP

It's now less than a month before the greatly-anticipated new operating system from Microsoft Corp. will roll out in stores and the software giant has been offering snapshots of its features and announcing partnerships with major software companies who are lining up to support Windows XP.

Wednesday was no different as the Redmond, Wash. firm announced new software geared to boost the Windows XP experience with its array of enhanced digital media tools, games, and knickknacks like 3-D screen savers. Priced at $39.95, it's called Microsoft Plus! and like XP, it will be available Oct. 25. Plus! can be preordered from such e-tail notables as Amazon.com, BestBuy.com, Buy.com and Walmart.com beginning today.

The software package builds on Windows Media technologies and the DirectX 8 API, Plus! as it includes digital media tools that let users control Windows Media Player by speaking commands, in addition to eye candy such as 3-D visualizations, screen savers and games.

Other features of Microsoft Plus! include: speaker enhancement, which uses digital signal processing technology to boost the clarity and richness of desktop PC speakers; a "label making" tool, whereby music lovers may create and print customized CD covers, labels and automatically inserts the artist, track and album information; and a feature that converts MP3 to Windows Media Audio.

Microsoft has been on a veritable world tour in recent months with regards to its hype for Windows XP. Despite lamentations from various consumer groups that the pending OS is treading on unfair competition grounds, Microsoft has announced partnerships with Macromedia (XP will include Flash Player 5) and Shutterfly to name a couple, and pledged to unveil XP in New York City when the time comes.