This week, as the temperature continues to dip all across the country, it looks like things in the tech world are actually starting to heat up. Garmin is making a phone, more details about Windows 7 leaked out, and it appears that video game sales are recession-proof. Here are our picks of the week:
Microsoft has officially announced the five versions of its new Windows 7 operating system that will be on sale when the OS launches in the United States later this year. There will be five versions for U.S. customers: Windows 7 Starter, Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Enterprise and Windows 7 Ultimate. Don't freak out if you're not sure which version is for you because, although five versions will be "available," Microsoft is only going to sell Windows 7 Home Premium and Windows 7 Professional at retail. The versions are pretty straightforward. Home is for consumers and Business is for professionals. Both versions will have special features not available on the other version. So, if you buy the Business version thinking it's just an updated version of Home, you would be wrong. Windows 7 Ultimate will be an upgrade offered only as an add-on, so, if you want a version of the OS with every possible feature, you will have to buy Windows 7 Home or Professional and then pay a second time for the upgrade.
Plenty of cell phone manufacturers have placed GPS functionality into their handsets, but now it looks like at least one GPS company has decided it's a phone maker. Garmin announced it will test the phone waters. It said that it will team up with discount gadget maker Asus to make the Nuvifone series. The new Nuvi looks interesting enough. It has an iPhone-like shape, a neat interface and some very solid navigation features. The full unit will debut as part of the upcoming Mobile World Congress, which starts Feb. 16. But honestly, this dabbling in telecom looks like a pretty risky venture during these tough economic times.
A recent report released by the NPD Group (U.S.), GfK Chart-Track Limited (U.K.) and Enterbrain (Japan) combined the sales data of the U.S., U.K. and Japan and found that 409.9 million video games were sold across the three countries, and sales were up 11 percent in 2008. Sales in the U.S. and U.K. rose 15 percent and 26 percent, respectively, but sales in Japan actually fell 13 percent in 2008. There was a big market shift last year, and for the first time, the U.K. actually overtook Japan in total sales numbers and became the No. 2 video game market in the world, behind the U.S. Experts blame Japan's drop to No. 3 on the soft sales of games for the PlayStation 2. Game sales for this older console were off 46 percent. The No. 1 game sold across the markets was Nintendo's "Wii Mario Kart" followed by Nintendo's "Wii Fit" and Take-Two's "Grand Theft Auto."