Control Windows 8 by looking at it

January 10, 2012

I am very excited about the forthcoming Windows 8 and I have been playing around with it since the Developer Preview was released.

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We have a big touchscreen in the office here so it is perfect for the Metro UI, but I have to say that the mouse interaction on a laptop without a touchscreen is very average.

Along came Tobii and at first you think it is just another gimmick, but everybody on the net who has actually tried it is blown away by it.

Tobii comes with an eye control device, a rectangular glass obilisk that is attached to the hinge of the laptop. It requires a personal calibration and off you go. It also controls all the swipe gestures available in Windows 8.

But enough said, check it out in the video.

here is another video of it in action

can’t wait to try it out

@maniac13


Track your retail shoppers with Kinect

December 9, 2011

We have seen a lot of different uses for Kinect and more and more useful things have slowly come around (e.g. this mobile armchair Smile)

Now there is another way of using Kinect – this time to track your customers in a retail environment. It’s called Shopper Tracker.

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The sensor sits on top of the shelf and tracks the shopping behavior of the customers underneath. It then creates a heat map of the shelf so you can tell what your best selling items are. As far as I can tell it is not commercially available yet and no price has been announced, but that might change soon.

Check out their video below.

 

maniac13


Free your mouse (or your desk)

September 13, 2011

having worked in IT before and now working on lots of cool emerging technologies and experiences, I always seem to have multiple PCs on my desk that I am simultaneously working on.

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At some stage I had 4 keyboards and 4 mice on my desk and no more space for my lunch. So I am constantly looking for solutions for that and I have played around with software and hardware KVMs. Most of them are buggy and the hardware ones just add too many cables to my desk.

Today I came across a little tool build by a developer in the Microsoft Garage project called Mouse without borders.

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Simply put it is a software kvm that can connect 4 of your PCs that are on the same network and you can use your 1 keyboard and mouse for all of them.

A simple installer and setup process and you are up and running. It works quite seamlessly and you can easily configure the location of your physical machine – just drive your mouse out of the screen towards the next and it will appear there.

Other feature are copy and paste, drag files across

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you can download it here and try it for yourself.

let me know your thoughts in the comments.

@maniac13


Microsoft Research shows off the life after touch

February 27, 2011

By now we all experienced kinect one way or another and I personally really enjoy my kinect at home.

Kinect has been talked and hacked a lot and most people can see much more in it than just a game controller.

Looks like MS Research is thinking the same thing and in the video below they are showing off some cool things, like head tracking, glasses free 3D, gesture based interfaces and more.

As we all know from past experiences, these may or may not happen, but right now they are pretty cool.

thanks engadget

@maniac13


Ultimate list of Cool Touch and Gesture Based Video Walls

February 17, 2011

So who has the best interactive walls? Here’s some of our picks below. As we move into a world which is transitioning to devices using the NUI (Natural User Interface) there’s a lot to keep an eye on. If you know any more please post them in the comments.

1.University of Groningen:
Pros: Looks awesome, very responsive. Multi-user capable.
Cons: You can’t go out and buy one off the shelf. Touch based only?


2. Microsoft Xbox 360 Kinect AND Windows Phone 7, working together!
Pros: Kinect SDK on the way for PC (fingers crossed) so a very affordable way to develop. Multi user. Facial recognition. Supports second screen in this video.
Cons: None. Seriously! SDK pending, this will be the easiest entry point to start building your first video wall.


3. Toyota Vision Multi Touch Wall:
Pros: Massive 82 inch screens at high res. Very responsive.
Cons: Expensive setup.

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4. HD 18 Screen 20 ft Paint Wall with iPad integration.
Pros: Very cool. Huge. HD. Responsive. Works with a second screen (iPad)
Cons: Looks a bit like a one off application for now. Can’t go out and buy one.

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5.Yahoo’s Gesture based Video Wall. http://vimeo.com/19177169
Pros: Looks good, hi-resolution and seems responsive.
Cons: Tiled screens. Looks like only one user at a time?

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6. Microsoft LightSpace
Pros: It’s a true 3D interface for an entire toom. It projects working interfaces onto your arm/ hand.
Cons: Early days. Long way to go here (but still very cool).

7. Hard Rock Cafe Vegas:
Pros: Multi user. Smooth and responsive. Great content.
Cons: Looks expensive?

8. Ring Wall http://vimeo.com/6648869
Pros
: It’s a massive 425 square metres in size. Enough room for everyone to play.
Cons: With 15 HD projectors we’re betting the ongoing running costs might stack up? 
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9. The Schematic TouchWall with RFID
Pros: It recognises RFID cards allowing you access to personal info. Social integration.
Cons: Nothing obvious. This wall is pretty cool.
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10. The BendDesk.
Pros: It’s horizontal AND vertical.
Cons: Not quite wall sized! It’s a prototype so a little rough round the edges.

 

11. Canon’s big wall – Expo 2010
Pros: It’s looks big and multi user.
Cons: We can’t quite tell if this is a ‘smoke and mirrors’ job. This video is more about the camera than the wall itself.

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12. HP’s video wall of touch (link):
Pros: Nice tight looking tiled screens. Cons Already looking a bit dated compered to the others. Touch only. Touch looks a little laggy.
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13. The Giant iPhone – Table Connect
Pros: Pretty simple concept. Just plug in your iphone and mount it on a wall!
Cons: Do they make a wall sized one yet?

We’re pretty sure we’ll be seeing a lot more of these soon. Please send us any good ones we might have missed! 🙂


Hacking the Xbox Kinect

November 29, 2010

I have to start this post with a whinge, I pre-ordered Xbox Kinect from JBHifi. When I pre-order something I do expect it to get to me on the day it gets released or at least the day after. We finally got our Kinect here at the office after it was already released for over a week. I could have just walked  down the street and picked on up.

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but that is not what I want to talk about here. It is all setup in our reception area and we already had a lot of people trying it out and loving it.

There are some very smart people out there and it only took 3 hours before the Kinect was hacked and an open source driver was created so you can use it on your PC, a little later on your Linux box and then on your Mac.

and what are people doing with it? They are creating some awesome things. Here is a small collection of the things I came across:

Best interactive Puppet

Have your own lightsaber

Capture yourself in 3D

same guy in 3D with a little awesome surprise at 0:53 – watch it it’s worth it

use Kinect to control Windows 7

there are heaps more videos after the break

Read the rest of this entry »


The multitouch desk of the future

November 28, 2010

We all know that Steve Jobs doesn’t like vertical multitouch, but I think it doesn’t hurt having that as well.

And the guys from Media Computing Group seem to share this opinion as they just showed off a cool concept workspace that is curved. For them this is the multitouch desk of the future.

It holds 2 projectors and 3 cameras and supports 10 touch points at a time.

multitouch desk of the future

If you thought a Microsoft Surface table was big and spacious then have a close look at this one. I think I will need to build a new office to fit it in.

Check out the video below as they are showing off a couple of applications (including a version of space invaders)

@maniac13


Getting one step closer to a minority report future

October 6, 2010

Microsoft Research always has some cool stuff to show and this time it is called Light Space.

Just imaging a room that is monitored by depth sensing cameras and projections that react like a surface table on any old surface.

But not only that – just grab some content from the table projection and move it to the wall by simply touching it. Not quite as smooth as Tom Cruise did in Minority Report, but it is a first step.

Sounds futuristic? Check out the video below

@maniac13


Alan Wake – The Project

May 12, 2010

Here’s a little something we worked on recently for Xbox Australia that was pretty fun. We kidnapped a bunch of Xbox gamers, stuck some probes on them and then left them alone in various locations at the Quarantine Station at Sydney’s North Head. Oh, yeah, they got to play Alan Wake before anyone else in the country.

Interesting to see how the body responds to intense situations in games. Alan Wake has its share of them too. I’ve had a go myself and I’m in no hurry to go wandering in the woods at night any time soon.

Check the site out at http://www.xbox.com.au/theproject/

There’s some more videos you can check out and a bunch of pics on Flickr.


The Courier: Microsoft wants to send you something nice.

April 14, 2010

We haven’t blogged about this here yet, and given all the tablet-like devices we’ve covered over the last couple of weeks (iPad mania? Maybe.) why not add Microsoft’s possible entry into the fray.

The Courier appears to sit somewhere between a smartphone, PDA, the current imaginings of a tablet and… a book. It may sound odd, but if you can see the picture below, you’ll notice just how enticing this might be to certain creative folk, myself included.

Microsoft Courier

Courtesy of Engadget

Notice the menu on the left hand page, sketching. Sure, reading, playing, all of that is great – but for someone who loves to draw, and loves to draw on the go, this is some kind of dream come true. It hasn’t come true yet, but it looks to be on the way. This concept is intended for both touch and stylus, recognising (much like this) that touch is great for some things… but for others, it’s honestly best to have another tool in hand.

Not all fancy new devices have to come in iPad/Slate/Tablet form, and the idea of a digital note/sketchbook complete with camera and mobile web capabilities is a fantastic step into an innovative, digital future. Better yet, it should fit in your pocket.

@tali3sin


Microsofts new touchscreen mobiles are all about being social with your friends

April 13, 2010

Microsoft today launched its new series of touchscreen mobile smartphones called Kin.

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There is a 4GB and an 8GB version with 5 and 8 Megapixel cameras with flash, capable of HD video and both models focus heavily on all your social networks, e.g. Twitter and facebook.

It seems that these phones are targeted at 18 to 35 year olds.

check out the video here

 

not the phone I am going to go for, but impressive to see how MS is putting all its eggs into social networking.

@maniac13


The First Ten Years of Search

February 4, 2010

Search just finished its first decade! Our US Search teams have put together a look back over the past 10 years and key milestones which have shaped the search landscape today. It’s amazing how far the industry has come in such a short space of time and how much it has changed. Most notably, back in 2000 Google was the default search engine for Yahoo users and now they’re main competitors!

Click here to see The Decade in Search highlights and below our thoughts from Amnesia, it’s effect on the APAC region and what the future is set to hold – for the moment at least!

Why has Google become so strong?

  • Leading innovation, products and add ons that are simple for consumers to use and make Google the one-stop shop for consuming and sharing online
  • For advertisers they have developed user friendly interfaces, in-depth reporting and free applications such as Analytics and Insights to make sure we can target consumers as effectively as possible on the Google network
  • Both Yahoo and MSN have both lagged behind in innovation which has ultimately held back their advancement in the majority of APAC

Key Changes for the APAC region:

  • Reputation management – the force that is social is an exciting time as online becomes more of an open forum. As search engines start to rank more and more social content the process of reputation management becomes more challenging and also brings up the age old question – is all news good PR?
  • Censorship – hot topic at the moment especially here in Australia. Is the free availability of information set to end? We’ll be keeping a close eye on proceedings and also the effects this may have on advertisers
  • China is the key market for change, with recent heavy news coverage that Google may pull out over a combination of high levels of censorship and hacking linked to the government.
  • Accessibility – the imminent launch of new devices, such as, the iPad and Android phones, will open up the way people can search and the frequency in which they can do it
  • Bing – Microsoft’s new search engine has reportedly been growing, albeit at a small rate. It will be interesting to see locally if consumers in each market will transition once it comes out of Beta and all features are available. Look out Google? Only time will tell!

All in all we are about to enter the next chapter in Search. Especially here in APAC where there are many different types of market, from emerging to mature and everything in between. The key to success is strategy localisation to ensure your advertising is meeting the needs of consumers from very varied backgrounds.


Introducing Razorfone: Simplifying Buying Decisions in Retail

November 25, 2009

Razorfish is proud to present Razorfone. The latest multi-touch project from Razorfish’s Emerging Experiences Team.

From the Emerging Experiences blog:

“Customers are being faced with increasingly complex buying decisions, especially when it comes to technology and services. As a result, increased pressure is being placed on store associates to provide knowledgeable service to customers. Our Emerging Experiences team used this opportunity to develop a solution to demonstrate how an immersive interactive experience can assist customers and store associates with complex buying decisions in a retail setting.”

Using Windows 7, the Razorfish Touch Framework and NextWindow touch screen technology, Razorfone is another example of how multi-touch experiences are going to become a bigger and bigger part of our lives.

Kudos to the Emerging Experiences Team!

 


Microsoft’s Project Tuva

July 17, 2009

I came across an article this morning that mentioned Project Tuva and because I didn’t know what that was I looked it up and I was really impressed.

What does it do? It explores core scientific concepts and theories by presenting timeless videos with a new enhanced silverlight player.

It features searchable video, linked transcripts, notes and interactive extras.

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It looks very promising and I hope it will make it into the wild one day (soon)


Xbox 360 Project Natal – Body sensing controller. Potential Wii beater?

June 2, 2009

Having worked on the Xbox account for 5-6 years and being part of Microsoft you’d probably expect we knew all about this. Nope! They kept this one under tight wraps and surprised the lot of us today. Of course there have been rumours on the web, but the fact is we did not expect to get an announcement this exciting! Most expected a ‘me too’ Wii catchup controller – but instead we have something truly groundbreaking.

Project Natal

What is it? Best to watch the videos, but in summary the hardware is a new breed of sensor for the Xbox 360 that can recognise a persons body movement accurately within a 3D space, full facial recognition and voice – without a controller. The potential is amazing… just watch. We understand that all the footage shot are real demos. Nothing canned.

The Ad: When Microsoft figures out how to make a decent ad, the competition will be in trouble – it’s the only thing we didn’t like.

Meet Milo – the virtual boy. (below)

Painting Demo

The ‘Sensor’ that lives under your telly:
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More juicy videos and gossip from the rather raw Xbox staff blog at www.insiderx.com


Microsofts answer to Nintendos Wii

June 2, 2009

is project Natal which they announced at their keynote speech at E3 this year.

It is using camera technology developed by 3DV and according to the promo video it will have some nice features, e.g. voice recognition, scanning features and of course full body motion control.

check out the video here:

Unfortunately it doesn’t look like we will be using it this year.


Razorfish Emerging Experiences blog and labs

May 22, 2009

If you’re into the next generation of devices, technology, multi-touch – check out the new Razorfish blog ‘Emerging Experiences’ – http://emergingexperiences.com – there’s some really fascinating content to explore. As we move from the GUI (Graphic User Interface) to the NUI (Natural User Interface) this is great first look into what’s coming.

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Microsoft Integrates Photosynth With Virtual Earth

May 8, 2009

Microsoft announced the integration of Photosynth, technology that enables you to automatically stitch groups of photos together into one big interactive 3D viewing experience, with its mapping service Virtual Earth.

Check out the marketing video below

In addition to the integration, Microsoft announced that the latest release of Photosynth introduces commercial licensing, privacy controls, and one-click highlighting for viewers to easily explore synths.

I personally think its pretty cool and I am looking forward to see how it can be integrated into business ideas.

found it here


Top 100 most valuable brands in the World? Why they got it all wrong.

May 6, 2009

Article by Iain McDonald – Founder / Exec Creative Director at Amnesia Razorfish. (@eunmac)

Each year Millward Brown puts out it’s index of the top 100 brands every year (here). I’m going to offer a different opinion (and yes, it’s only my opinion) on why I think it’s a load of old-school corporate phooey which is sending a financially skewed perspective on the value of brand compared to the modern consumer REAL thoughts about brands.

Note: I take the point that not all brands in this list are consumer facing per-se, but when publishing a list of the “Most Valuable Global Brands” I believe the word ‘value’ and ‘brand’ needs to take a deeper dive into broader consumer data and well beyond “highest margins and the most recognisable logo”.

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In my humble opinion the power of a brand should mostly be judged by how well it is able to reach, interact with and influence a consumer, in particular with regards to their decision making process (which has a lot to do with ‘Trust’). It’s a big subject area and worth a lot of $ when you look at the $ad spend invested by these brands. Millward Brown have their ‘formula in a bottle’ to compare brand power but I believe the only place this list belongs is in a Sunday-Financial-Pullout-Section and that it is not indicative of a modern day ‘powerful consumer brand’ particularly in today’s digital world.

As a footnote I should say that my core interest lies in understanding the ever-evolving ‘digital’ consumer, (which of course is now an every day consumer too). I spend most of my day listening, observing (some might say spying), engaging in real conversations as well as looking at a lot of quant data and an array of third party research. I’m of the school of thought that you can define a brand by what consumers actually think and feel about a brand – I do not believe a brand is always what the CMO says the brand is so when I see a list like the one above it makes me squirm slightly. I’ll tell you why in a second.

Firstly I do recommend reading the full PDF of Millward Brown’s Top 100 Brands (here) and come to your own conclusion – hey… you may just love it and agree with their definition of ‘brand power’ 100%. That’s ok by me – I’m just offering another way of looking at things.

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The first problem for me is right here below an excerpt from their report:

“Customer Opinion
The secret ingredient is WPP’s BrandZ
database, based on an annual quantitative
brand equity study in which consumers and
business customers familiar with a category
evaluate brands.
Since BrandZ’s inception over 10 years
ago, more than one million consumers and
business-to-business customers across
31 countries have shared their opinions
about thousands of brands. It is the most
comprehensive, global, and consistent study
of brand equity.”

As you can see the above plays a critical part within the formula below used to calculate the list.

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So why do I have an issue with this? For a start I’m not a big fan of anything that tells me they have “secret ingredients”… especially when I believe the raw data is available elsewhere in digital channels already and in much larger quantities. Secondly I do not believe the final list reflects the actual brand sentiment or evidence that can be seen daily by the interactions consumers have in the digital landscape, which as a source of information offers a lot more qual and quant data than any one study a single company can undertake to produce in a ‘comprehensive study’.

Search Trends – An alternative way to measure Brand Power
When you have enough data, the signal usually rises above the noise. Search trend data (which Google makes available here) gives us some critical insight into ‘real’ Brand Power pull and arguably the biggest source of data available on a brand. In this instance if a brand is unable to PULL its consumers into active search through it’s spend on marketing, comms, PR, CRM, new product innovation etc then there is probably an issue in here that needs to be addressed. I know some will question if search is relevant to all brands, but I would argue that even with ‘low interest categories’ the global data is there. Example: Here’s Wrigley’s in amongst the category mix for Chewing Gum and Bubble Gum over the last 4.5 yrs.

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The argument against the top 100 brand power list:
Let’s take some of these brands in the top 100 and look at search trend data from the last 5+ years in Google as well as the last 12 months. (Note: I’ve chosen unique brand keywords to look to keep the data more ‘pure/clean’ for my examples). Given that the growth of the Internet during this period you would expect to see a brand in good health showing positive results in search and an upwards curve. This is NOT the case with many of the brands listed in Milward Brown’s top 100. In fact IBM (#4 on the list) has seen a steady decline in search traffic, yet it is listed as being 20% more valuable than the previous year. Sure – they are not focussing efforts on the consumer these days, but that to me means they are not as powerful as a global brand as I see it. IBM belongs in a list which talks to corporate, finance, and niche brand power and does not belong at #4 on a list which defines Global Brand Value/Power. To the image below – in general when it comes to consumer facing brands my own opinion is that when search data trends down it usually represents negative brand health.

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In fact many other brands in the list (and yes, I include Porsche in here) are flat-lining which in real terms represents a relative decline given the growing internet usage and penetration occurring. (Please note I’m keeping data simple here and concentrating on Search  – I have actually taken time to look at plenty of Buzz/Social media trends and available traffic data as well and most trending data is in line with search data).

Going Up or Down?
Millward Brown states that Vodafone’s brand value is up 45%, IKEA is DOWN 21% (at #95 in the table) and Tesco is down 1%. (Strange?! IKEA attracts double the search volume of Tesco but is ranked 74 places behind on the list which begs the question: Does Tesco’s financial performance really make it that much more powerful as a brand?). In fact all of these three brands are seeing marginally positive search growth when adjusting for seasonal trends and economic factors so I would suggest a positive brand increase overall for all three.

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I’m the Chairman of IBM what do I do?
Now, I’m sure Millward Brown’s report probably makes a few CEO’s feel a little better about their business (and no doubt helps WPP’s advertising empire too), but personally I cannot agree with these results as a definitive list of modern day brand power. The reality is that the consumer of 10 years ago does not exist anymore. Today’s consumer connects, shares, evaluates in entirely different ways which of course is another blog post for another day. If you are the Chairman of IBM and you’re reading this, then my advice, “It’s time for you to rethink your brand strategy – your consumer has shifted and you as a brand haven’t moved and are certainly not moving with them at the moment” and if you think that the only people you need to impress with your brand is the CTO, CMO, CEO and CFO then I would beg to differ.

So… what are the most powerful brands?
As a start point I believe the most powerful brands are the ones which consumers trust the most, identify with and feel comfortable enough to share with others. Yes of course financial stability is important and plays a big part when it comes to “Trust” which is possibly the single most important word when it comes to Brand Power.

I find it amazing that there was no section in this report on ‘digital brands’ especially when you look at the search data below… now  you start to get an idea of how BIG these new digital brands are in peoples lives. Facebook has actually outpaced Google in search trends by almost 3:1. YouTube is the worlds second biggest search engine, and ranks higher than Google itself in trends.

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On the chart above none of the top 100 brands make a dent on Google, and even Microsoft looks small next to that. I could go on and on… but I’ve probably made my point and this is supposed to be a blog post not a thesis.

My Conclusions:
– The top 100 brands in Millward Brown’s list do not match available trend data on brands from independent sources such as Google, Blogpulse, Alexa etc.
– Digital Brands like Facebook clearly belong in any Power Brand list if sheer volume of interaction plays a part in establishing the power of a modern brand.
– IBM and many other brands on this list that were given positive brand health in 2009 by MB are in fact declining (from a consumer perspective).
– Big brands are still not investing enough in digital as a channel as a proportion of overall marketing spend.
– Traditional agencies still selling too many brands ‘the old way’ – not investing in digital relationships with their customers.
– Reports of this kind should include public sources of data. Why not include search data, twitter mentions, blog posts and semantic data in forming these kind of studies?
– Brand Power should not be based so heavily on financial data. Some of the biggest brands are also the most complained about brands.
– Lack of competition in a category yielding financial success should not be mistaken for positive brand sentiment.

Article by Iain McDonald – Founder / Exec Creative Director at Amnesia Razorfish. (@eunmac) – feel free to drop me a comment!


Windows XP Mode for Windows 7

April 27, 2009

Windows XP Mode dramatically changes the compatibility story for Windows 7 and, we believe, has serious implications for Windows development going forward. It is a host-based virtualization solution like Virtual PC.

XP Mode consists of the Virtual PC-based virtual environment and a fully licensed copy of Windows XP with Service Pack 3 (SP3). It will be made available, for free, to users of Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions via a download from the Microsoft web site.

Office2003 running in XP Mode alongside Office2007

XPM does not require you to run the virtual environment as a separate Windows desktop. Instead, as you install applications inside the virtual XP environment, they are published to the host (Windows 7) OS as well. (With shortcuts placed in the Start Menu.) That way, users can run Windows XP-based applications (like IE 6) alongside Windows 7 applications under a single desktop.

I remember the days when I cursed MS for not being compatible with my beloved XP programs. This way it might just work from the start 🙂

found here.