Happy Independence Day America!

In honor of your national holiday south of the 49th Parallel I am not only spelling HONOR wrong, but I am also going to share with you a video that showcases a new collaborative effort between Xbox and Nokia! –M


The Microsoft Store: The place to be this week-end

WP_000870If you are in or around the Greater Toronto Area this week-end then there is no better place to be than the Microsoft Store in Yorkdale Mall.

The first international store and the largest in the chain, the opening of Microsoft’s newest retail store can only be descried as a huge success, with literally hundreds of people lined up hours in advance to get their first glimpse of the retail marvel.

Microsoft Canada president Max Long was joined by Tami Reller, Corporate Vice President and CFO of Microsoft’s Windows Division were on hand to open the store with a crowd of 700 onlookers.  They did not only welcome the crowd and talk about the store, they also announced that Microsoft Canada was making a new donation of $1.500,000 to local charities – presented by store manager Alison Evans.

When the curtain dropped the entire staff was leading the cheers, and then lined up to form a passageway into the store where they high-fived the first visitors.  By the time this VIP got in the door (in the first minute) the store was already bustling with activity, a level that has hardly abated at all thus far.

I spoke to a lot of people lined up and they were all here for different reasons – deals on new hardware, Xbox and laptops and accessories… but the two things that drew the most people were the Microsoft Surface and the new Windows Phone 8 devices.

While the Surface has been available since the launch of Windows 8 on October 26th, the only place you were able to see it in Toronto was at the pop-up retail kiosk in the Eaton Centre.  Now that the full retail store is open there are dozens of Surfaces everywhere, as well as Sony, Acer, Asus, Dell Samsung devices ranging in size from 9" ultrabooks and tablets to 27" all-in-one machines.

The greatest thing about the store in my opinion is that the display machines are all available for visitors to try out — as I write this article from a handy Sony Vaio T, complete with multi-touch sreen and reasonably priced at $899.  They are all internet-connected, and nobody is telling visitors not to touch, try, and in the Xbox corner play.  It is a great hands-on experience, and the store associates are as welcoming and helpful as I have ever seen.

In the Windows Phone corner there are representatives not only from a couple of the local carriers but also from the manufacturers as well.  Although the platform released October 26th, this is the first time I have even seen the devices outside the Microsoft offices.

Everywhere you look people of all ages and knowledge levels are asking questions, learning, and trying out great devices.  Of course every PC is running Windows 8, so it is a great opportunity for people to get their first glimpse of Microsoft’s flagship product, barely three weeks old.

In the back of the store there is an area called the theatre where during the regular hours people can play on the Xbox connected to an incredible 103" touch screen.  This afternoon (and tomorrow and Sunday) the Microsoft MVPs are taking over – we will be presenting sessions every hour on topic including Windows 8, Office 2013, Office 365, Xbox, and of course Windows Phone 8.  I have several sessions over the course of the week-end, but am more interested to sit in and listen to what my fellow enthusiasts have to say (I usually know what I am going to say so I am seldom surprised).

It is definitely the place to be this week-end.  Even though the initial ‘line up and wait’ is over, the store has been consistently hopping since it opened, with no signs of slowing down.  I spoke with several members of the management team who are all pleased by the turnout.  Alison Evans, the store manager, told me she is ‘ecstatic about the turnout.’

To make things even hotter, there will be an exclusive concert with the band Train tomorrow evening, and store staff are handing out wristband passes to the lucky few; and this afternoon The Great One – Number 99 himself – Wayne Gretzky will be in the store, and people will be lined up to meet him, get autographs, and get the chance to play Kinect games with him!

So if you haven’t come down yet what is stopping you?  Trust me, you will not be disappointed… your only regret will be if you do NOT come down!

Free software? Contest with Giveaways? Wow, this is good stuff!

Hey folks! So many of you have heard me talk about the importance of backing up your software (See Oakville.Com Tech Tuesday) but if you have kids it is also a good idea to back up other media – especially things like DVDs that you have invested money in.  Digiarty Software, Inc. has a couple of great tools for that, and for the next few days they are giving them away!

During their Easter Software Giveaway” they are providing two pieces of software for free, in stages.

Stage 1: WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe

From now until April 10, Digiarty will be giving away their WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe.  This is a great package that allows you to convert video between file formats.  However you have to hurry – the offer ends Tuesday!  To download the software for free, click here.

Stage 2: WinX DVD Copy Pro

For five days only – April 11 through April 15 (that’s next Sunday!) they will be giving away their WinX DVD Copy Pro software.  I know that as a parent I have already had to buy a lot of my kids’ DVDs a few times, because they scratch, break, get fed to dogs.  WinX DVD Copy Pro allows me to buy the DVD and copy it before giving it to the kids.  If the copy gets destroyed, all I have to do is make another copy, and not go out and pay full price again.  For those of you who are wondering, this is completely legal… as long as I do not give the copies to anyone else.  To download the software for free (starting Wednesday), click here.

Contest: WinX DVD Ripper Platinum

To celebrate all sorts of things – the coming of Spring, my 1000th follower on Twitter, and what should be this Monday or Tuesday the 45,000th visitor to the new World According to Mitch Digitary has given me five copies** of the software you will want most from their catalogue to give away.  So for the next ten business days, I will give away a copy of WinX DVD Ripper Platinum to one lucky reader, with the following caveats:

  1. I will only give away a copy on days where the site has over 150 visitors (Of the last 21 weekdays, 18 have exceeded 150 hits, and Good Friday probably shouldn’t count as a weekday).
  2. I will give the software away at random to a visitor who comments on my blog – any comment will do, as long as WordPress and I do not consider it spam.  That means you can comment on certifications, virtualization, Windows 8, or you can comment here and say ‘I want to win the prize!’
  3. I have to have your e-mail address.  That will not be published, but if I cannot contact you I cannot award you the prize!

I use WinX DVD Ripper Platinum all the time – we buy DVDs, and I rip them into our Windows Home Server Media Center so that the kids can watch them from the XBox any time they want without accidentally feeding DVDs to the dogs.  I also use it for myself – I can now watch movies on airplanes on my HP EliteBook 2740p tablet without bringing the docking station (the PC itself doesn’t have a DVD player).  I can rip my movies into any format, which means I can watch them in full size on my laptop, or really small on my Zune or Windows Phone 7.5.  If you don’t already have this software you will want it!  And all you have to do is… click Comment once Smile

Good luck, and happy Spring/Easter/Passover/45000th hit/1000th visitor!


**Software giveaways will not be hard copies, but will be fully licensed software codes already in the possession of the writer.  These copies are given away freely with the permission and endorsement of the software vendor.  They are distributed by The World According to Mitch, and not by any company or corporate entity that the writer may work for or contract for.  Odds of winning are directly related to the number of valid entries received.  The winners will be chosen at random according to the terms stated in the contest, however the selection process will be at the discretion of the writer, and his decisions are final and not subject to any audit process.  There are five licenses of the software to be given away beginning on Monday April 9th, 2012.