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Uncovering the Bells and Whistles of Windows ME

Aired September 14, 2000 - 1:18 p.m. ET


LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Before the bell, we're going to talk about Microsoft today, which is entering the ME generation.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Windows ME -- ME for Millennium Edition -- is the latest incarnation of the system that runs the vast majority of the world's personal computers.

WATERS: And CNN technology correspondent Rick Lockridge joins us today with all the bells and whistles.

They have bells and whistles on this new deal?

RICK LOCKRIDGE, CNN TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: I thought it was going to be some play on words, what about ME? This is all going to be about ME, isn't it? something like that.

ALLEN: I like that, yes.

LOCKRIDGE: What about you? Well, there are three kinds of people I think who will want to run out and spend the $59 that you'd have to spend if you want to buy this as an upgrade from Windows 98. If you have Windows 95, it's going to cost you $109. And those type of people are people who love to play with audio and video, people who just can't stand it when their computer crashes and want to do something about that, and people who just have to have the next new thing. And there are an awful lot of those people in the Microsoft world.

When Windows 98 was rolled out, I was there at midnight at one of the computer superstores and there was a huge crowd. And you sort of wonder why people want to spend their money on an operating system. It's an operating system, it's not a game or a graphics card or something, but...

ALLEN: Don't want to be left out.

LOCKRIDGE: All right, well, let's see what's new in it.


LOCKRIDGE: Let's go ahead and take a look. First of all, we mentioned playing with audio and video. This Windows ME comes with the latest version of Windows Media Player. I'm showing you a little video on it right now, if you can zoom in on that. And you can see it looks pretty good there. And I don't know that Microsoft gets enough credit for Windows Media Player. It's a nice little bit of software.

Now, this is a promotional video for Microsoft. We don't really want to see that. Let's say we want to play a music file instead. But first we want to show a different skin. You see this little outline here; that's the flavor of it.

Natalie, let's have you pick one. I'm going to give you some choices here. It could either be that one, or we'll go down the list here. There's another Windows one, and there's that head. It kind of reminds me of an anchor.

ALLEN: Yes, let's do that.

LOCKRIDGE: You want to do that one? Let's do the anchor skin or the talking head, or the musical head anyway.

ALLEN: Is that an empty head, though?

LOCKRIDGE: So we'll find a skin, and you can see the video is playing right there inside it. And you have all sorts of controls up here. And you can even pull the ears out if you want to. See if I can get -- come on, come on, there we go. And you can, you know -- it's an equalizer. Well, that's kind of neat. And I think a lot of people who like to customize their computers will appreciate that.

Now, Windows Media Player didn't used to handle the MP3 format. You know, Microsoft had its own audio file. They wanted to take over the world and they wanted to dethrone the MP3 and so they came out with their own version. Well, it didn't work because MP3s are really here to stay. So now they finally decided they are going to support MP3s.

So let's go and find one that I've got. And, by the way, I did not download this off of Napster because I know that I'm going to get an e-mail, like, hey, did you download that song? No, this is from one of my own CDs, so let's go ahead and cue that up and see if we can get that to play.

Critics say this is the piece of software most likely to crash Windows ME, so let's see if I can accomplish that right here. Come on now. All right, I'm not getting it to play.

ALLEN: Don't you hate it when that happens?

LOCKRIDGE: The Microsoft video, the promotional video, still wants to play. That's hard to conceive, isn't it, that they still want to go on with it.

ALLEN: They've locked it in for the first two hours.

LOCKRIDGE: All right, let's -- but I was playing the MP3s on it earlier and it sounded great. You just have to take my word for it I guess. Now...

ALLEN: Well, the demo sounds really good, too. LOCKRIDGE: Another feature they think beginner users will like, in particular, is My Pictures. And you -- what this does is it makes it easy for you to get your pictures into a computer, which a lot of people, when they want to go out and buy a digital camera, they think, how am I going to get the pictures into the computer?

ALLEN: Yes, I'm clueless.

LOCKRIDGE: Well, the way it works is, if you buy a certain kind of cable, it will automatically recognize that you have hooked up your camera to the computer and it will import the pictures. And then they have a menu here that makes it real easy for you to go ahead and send those pictures on to whoever you want to if you want to e-mail them.

And then we'll also look -- sorry -- we'll also look quickly at their movie software, which is another kind of the same deal. It's very easy. you can get your pictures in from the camcorder, your video, and you can make your own movies down here at the bottom on this timeline, then you can e-mail them to grandma and she can see the little kid sliding down the slide.

WATERS: Any video camera?

LOCKRIDGE: Yes, you don't have to use a digital camera, unlike Macintosh's counterpart, which just really works with digital cameras. You can use your old analogue VHS camera. We know there are still a lot of people out shoot their kids' soccer games with those cameras.

Quickly, I want to mention two other pieces of software that are important to consumers -- or will be. One helps you set up a network in your home so that, as is so saw often the case now, if have a household that has more than one computer in it, you can get those computers tied together in the house and they can share a printer or, you know, you can just swap files back and forth. And this is the wizard that helps you do that.

And, finally, this is the greatest thing about it, I think. And this is the compelling reason, if there is one, to go out and buy this upgrade, and that is Software System Restore. And you can go back in time. If you crash your computer, this lets you actually go back in time and pick a date that the computer was working right, and you can go back to that date...

WATERS: Oh my.

LOCKRIDGE: ... and your computer will be just as it was on that date. And don't we all wish we could do that elsewhere in life? Would you pick a date? How far in the past would we go? I'd be 8 years old again.

ALLEN: I'd be 4, 4 1/2.

WATERS: Eight years old?

What will you give me for my Windows 95?

LOCKRIDGE: Yes, no -- you're still running Windows 95? Yes, well maybe on eBay you can get $1 for it, I don't know.

WATERS: There you go.

ALLEN: Thanks, Rick.

What would we do without folks like Rick to come help us tell these stories, Lou?

WATERS: I know what I would do. I have to call him every time I want to make a move.

ALLEN: Thanks..



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