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Thoughts & news on technology…well, mostly

Windows DreamScene Preview: Initial Impressions


Since Microsoft won’t be releasing the final version of DreamScene until mid-2007, they decided to release a “preview” version. I noticed it in Windows Update back on February 16 and finally had the chance to check it out. For those of you who are not familiar with DreamScene, it allows you to replace your desktop wallpaper with a video (in .mpg or .wmv formats) that plays on your desktop.

DreamScene comes with one video, which is an animated version of the standard ‘Vista wallpaper’ but you can change it to any .mpg or .wmv video file. Here’s how to download and enable DreamScene:

  1. Click the Windows start button
  2. In the search box, enter “windows ultimate extras”
  3. In the search results, click “Windows Ultimate Extras.” This will open the Windows Update window.
  4. You should see DreamScene listed in the “Windows Ultimate Extras available for download” section. If not, you probably already installed it (you can verify if it was installed by clicking the “View update history” link).
  5. Install DreamScene.
  6. After installation, right-click on your desktop and choose “Personalize.”
  7. When the Personalization window opens, click “Desktop Background.”
  8. In the Location drop-down list, choose “Windows DreamScene Content” (see image).
  9. After choosing this option, you’ll be able to choose which video you’d like to play. After choosing the video, click “OK.”

Once you have DreamScene enabled, there are shortcuts to 1.) pause the video and 2.) to choose a different video file:

To pause the video, right-click on your Desktop and choose “Pause DreamScene.” See below.

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Filed under: Microsoft, Reviews, Technology, Video, Vista, Vista Ultimate Extras, Windows

New Windows Vista Ultimate “Extras”


Microsoft has released 2 new Vista Ultimate Extras: Windows Bitlocker & Texas Hold’Em. If interested, you download them via the Ultimate Extra control panel. In fact, the Ultimate Extra control panel should automatically notify you that these new extras are available. The deets:

  • Texas Hold’em: Pretty obvious.
  • Windows BitLocker & Online Key Storage: Allows you to encrypt all data on your hard drive and to store your BitLocker recovery key/password and Encrypting File System certificate on Microsoft’s website (Windows Marketplace Digital Locker) for access to the key anytime, anyplace, and from any computer that has an Internet connection.

There’s also a third Extra but it hasn’t been released, yet: Windows DreamScene, which allows you to play videos on your desktop instead of a static image.

For those of you who don’t know, one of the marketed benefits of Vista Ultimate is the ability to download “extras” for free. All of these “extras” are exclusive to Vista Ultimate – in other words, if you don’t have Vista Ultimate, you can’t get the “extras.”

I haven’t downloaded these, yet, but am planning to download only Texas Hold’Em. When I do, I’ll let you know what I think. I’m not planning on using BitLocker since I don’t like the idea that if I lose the key, I will never be able to access my data, again. Yeah, I know, the key is stored on Microsoft’s website but I’m a bit weary of storing my keys/passwords on a server which can be compromised.

For screenshots of these Extras, checkout Engadget and WindowsUltimate.com.

Update: I just installed Texas Hold’Em and played it for about 15 minutes – it’s a great free game. The design of the game is very nicely done and there are 3 different difficulty levels. I chose the intermediate level and noticed the computer plays somewhat loosely.

Update 2: Looks like DreamScene won’t be released until mid-2007.

Filed under: Microsoft, Storage, Technology, Vista, Vista Ultimate Extras, Windows