back to article MS whips lens cap off WorldWide Telescope

Microsoft yesterday whipped the lens cap off the public beta of its much-anticipated WorldWide Telescope - a "rich Web application that brings together imagery from the best ground- and space-based observatories across the world". Bill Gates duly trumpeted: "The WorldWide Telescope is a powerful tool for science and education …


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  1. Michael

    It's obviously Vista-tech.

    When the MINIMUM recommended processor is a 2GHz Core 2 Duo, you've got to wonder if Microsoft is just abandoning the lower-end market entirely.

  2. Geoff Mackenzie

    In fairness ...

    ... if it did work, it would be breathtakingly unoriginal.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    I remember, back in 1993 or 1994 or thenabouts, exploring the entire universe with David Braben's "Frontier". He managed to squash the universe onto a single DD floppy disc, and it ran fine on a 14mhz Amiga A1200.

  4. Tim

    It's not rocket science!

    As MS have clearly demonstrated, maybe they should get some rocket scientists to get their stuff to work. Even basic office apps get my computer fan to whirr while the whole thing sits there like a big lump of uselessness.

    God help us if NASA send men to the moon using MS Apps.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Mac support - not really

    "we decided to download WorldWide Telescope, which is available for PC or Mac"

    But only if your Mac is running XP or Vista under bootcamp. At which point it's not a Mac, it's an over-priced PC in a nice case.

  6. Phil Arundell

    Runs on a Mac too

    Microsoft do at least seem to be finally embracing the cross-platform nature of the web: They have system requirements listed for Macs.

    Unfortunately, it's as follows

    Microsoft® XP SP2 (minimum), Windows® Vista® (recommended) with BootCamp

  7. Richard Comley
    Thumb Down

    A Microsoft product native to Linux?

    Why does it ask to install Cygwin when I install? Microsoft not even happy with their own stuff?

  8. Anonymous Coward


    ...does all the same stuff, and it's free and readable-source.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Re: 2GHz

    "He managed to squash the universe onto a single DD floppy disc, and it ran fine on a 14mhz Amiga A1200."

    Yebbut, Braben and Bell managed to fit 8 galaxies onto a single floppy sometime in the early 80s :-)

    Anyone interested in this sort of thing should take a look at 'Celestia', if they haven't already done so - OK, so it's not a web app but it's very good and doesn't require a 2GHz CPU to run (a semi-decent graphics card helps though) but it's very, very well done.

  10. Kent Rebman
    Gates Horns


    Typical MS arrogance ... Mac version my eye!

  11. Jaster
    Gates Horns

    Celestial Shere

    Java based - Web Browser hosted

    So already full cross platform

    Appears to do everything this piece of MS Cr*p fails to ....

  12. SpitefulGOD
    Gates Halo

    What is this a review of

    Seems to be a review of someone who can't even install a simple app, tell you what boys get your IT lot to uninstall your porn dialers or go back to google earth Lester and continue your search for your little black helicopters.

    Anywho having installed and run the software flawlessly I am presently surprised although this review doesn't seem to note that the application itself does piss all over Google Sky. But why bother to state the fact anywho when el reg of late is absolutely brimming with MS haters, you'll get a much higher rating by simple stipulating "Crap... don't work", but to help you out i'll rate it as "Oh orgasmic" anyway...

    Walks off mummbling "Journalist my arse"

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Pi$$ing Contest

    Actually my old 7Mhz A500 would run Frontier just fine and dandy, although I did cheat and use the massively huge 20Mb hard drive.

    Paris, cos I have heard she enjoys a bit of whipping now and then :-)

  14. Tim

    Space software

    If you want to look at space try Stellarium. at least you can see the stars and galaxies and it's free.

  15. Hugh

    Google Sky

    Didn't Google already do this but browser based?

  16. eddiewrenn
    Thumb Up


    And here's the proof! I call it the Black Screen of Death.

    /goes back to Google Sky

  17. Adrian Challinor

    Got to love Xephem

    The page shows all the platforms it runs on. Its quite a lot, but it only runs on Windows if you load Cygwin (ie run it under a Linux shell) !

    This a peachy - true open platforms, and forget the closed platforms.

  18. eddiewrenn


    And they wonder why people don't find Windows easy to use.

    I sometimes wonder why 'older members of my family' can't get to grips with basic computer stuff, and then I see how straightforward it is to install a Microsoft designed app on a Microsoft designed Operating System.

    " * Review the System Requirements to ensure that WWT can run on your computer.

    * Click Download.

    If you don't have Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0, or later, installed on your computer, a message box

    displays prompting you to install it. Click Yes to go to the .NET Framework 2.0 SDKs, Redistributables

    & Service Packs page.

    o On the .NET Framework 2.0 SDKs, Redistributables & Service Packs page, scroll down the page to the .NET Framework Version 2.0 Redistributable Package section, and then click the link for your computer's architecture and operating system.

    Note Most computers currently use a 32-bit architecture and operating system and should click the

    Download x86 version.

    o On the Microsoft .Net Framework Version 2.0 Redistributable Package page, read the system requirements to ensure that your computer has all the necessary software installed, and then click Download.

    o In the File Download – Security Warning message box, click Run.

    o In the Internet Explorer – Security Warning message box, click Run.

    o Follow the software installation instructions.

    o After the software has been installed, click the Windows Update link to make sure that you have all the latest service packs and security updates. Click Express to review all recommended software and follow the software installation instructions.

    * In the File Download – Security Warning message box, click Run.

    * In the Internet Explorer – Security Warning message box, click Run.

    * Follow the instructions in the WorldWide Telescope Setup Wizard.

    * After WWT installs, double-click the WWT icon on your desktop to open WWT."

    ...Or in a nutshell: "Click here to install and hope for the best"

  19. lIsRT

    Celestia - another alternative

    Won't bother downloading the MS thing, but Celestia probably does it all too, on win/mac/linux.

  20. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    MS users, welcome to the 20th century

    Stellarium is a bit ambitious for my cheap laptop, but it did run without a fuss even if it was a little jumpy. I am sure it would work much better with a cheap graphics card. Kstars was very smooth.

    A quick glance at the subversion trees shows modifications to each project as far back as 2002, so neither is particularly new.

    Laptop: Intel T7200 @ 2.00GHz, 945GM (G=graphics decelerator, M=64 bit data bus).

  21. Darren Mansell

    For Anyone?

    Curtis Wong, manager of Microsoft's Next Media Research Group, joined the love-in with: "WorldWide Telescope brings to life a dream that many of us in Microsoft Research have pursued for years, and we are proud to release this as a free service to anyone who wants to explore the universe.

    I want to explore the universe but I don't want to pay for Windows. How can I use this?

  22. Jon

    well done ms

    think i'll stick with kstars and google sky personally...

  23. James Pickett


    "Anywho having installed and run the software flawlessly I am presently surprised"

    So even MS fanboys are taken aback when something of theirs works..!

  24. Mark





    All of them have terrabytes of data (stored on, ooh, NASA servers, Australian Observatory servers, etc...)

    Heck, you can register to a webpage that gives you time on a REAL telescope THERE AND THEN and take pictures of the sky with the CCD camera and track the telescope to something YOU want to see and take a picture.

    About all it has is bling for the front-end. And bling is hardly innovation.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    the 'royal we' again!

    "we decided this... we downloaded that... we clicked the other..."

    what is it with reg hacks that they insist on using 'we' when they mean 'i' all the time? it's like reading an article written by the queen!

  26. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: the 'royal we' again!

    It's a journo thing. One wouldn't understand.

  27. Andrew Wigglesworth

    The Gates Bozo particle :-D


    Now, which El Reg department do I send the bill for cleaning the coffee out of my laptop?

  28. Steven Hewittt


    It's El Reg reporting on a Microsoft technology - of course they'll hate it / struggle with it.


    I notice that the review didn't mention that this is a public BETA. This is NOT released of even RC software.

    Secondly, I can't really find any problem with it. I'm looking at Messier 82 without any problem.

    This tool is a research platform for school and college students. Stars, galaxies etc. have links to SIMBAD, Wikipedia and SEDS, and the search facility is pretty good too.

    All in all, it's pretty decent. Runs OK on my P4 2.6Ghx with HT on 1.5Gb RAM Vista box. Very smooth, very intuitive and as mentioned above - pisses all over Google Sky.

    It's not particularly original, but then again the majority of software isn't. Take a look at the new Fedora 9 release. Nearly everything new is straight from Vista...! :-)

  29. Chris S

    Downloaded it......

    ... played about with it... closed it after about 5 minutes. Lagged my PC and I was less than impressed when the Saturn picture was a block.

    At least Google do it right...

  30. Alex
    Gates Halo

    Years back....

    People would attempt to fix the issue before they reviewed a product....

    Works fine.

  31. Geoff Mackenzie

    "Nearly everything new is straight from Vista"

    At best, from MacOS via Vista... and anyway, most of that chrome isn't all that new.

  32. Andy


    A great deal is made out of this being Web2.0 and it's easy to say "where's the browser?", but Microsoft seem to be getting all the back-end services ready. I wouldn't put it past them to put this stuff in the browser by using Silverlight. There does seem to be a strategy and does Google have a big enough R&D budget to compete? It looks like an early "Embrace" of the Embrace-Extend-Extinguish to me. It seems to me that Microsoft is after the web-apis I'm guessing they see the web much the same as a operating systems market. They almost have the same services as google then it will be interesting: when they start extending.

  33. Simon Fowler

    I should have read the comments first!!

    Read the story - downloaded the "software". This machine runs as a restricted user, so I switched into Admin mode to install - no problem. Finished install - went to fire up as a restricted user, and it wanted the .msi file to install something else!! Of course the wonderful M$ install had erased the .msi file that had been extracted from the download. Next step - fire up AppWiz.cpl in Admin mode and remove!

  34. David Stevenson

    @ James Pickett

    "Here's a partial quote from a sentence taken out of context"

    Are you a journalist as well then?

  35. Jim

    I'm Curious...

    Why are you even bothering to report how bad a Beta is?

    MS Betas are horrible, nasty Crap, that I wouldn't put in a ShoeBox!

    But come on!! It's like your cronies got around a table and said "Ha Ha Bill Gates talked it up.. Let's trash it!" You're comming off as crybabies.

    No Directx 9.0c? No .Net 2.0? Both of thoes have been out for at least 2 years. Somehow I doubt your collective "We" computer came up to the minimum specs..

    August 2004 for DirectX 9.0c, January 2006 for .Net 2.0 if you were wondering.

  36. Anonymous Coward

    Just for the benefit of history-challenged Google fanbois...

    ...Microsoft were doing some neat online aerial/mapping stuff with TerraServer when Google was just an advertiser's wet dream in a garage. That was way back in the last century when most Google fanbois were still being potty trained and us greybeards thought that a 56k modem was the dog's bollocks. Slow to download? You don't know the meaning of slow. All we had a was a dialup shoebox in middle of t'motorway...

  37. Ross Fleming Silver badge

    I've pinpointed the anomoly

    It's rather obvious really - it appears MS didn't "whip the lens cap off WorldWide Telescope" after all...

    Mine's the first one you find in the darkened cloakroom

  38. fred

    Cygwin - Que?

    I downloaded and it lauched the Cygwin setup programme. I had already installed cygwin. I cancelled and decided to await more info...

  39. Fluffykins

    @Simon Ward, @Ashley Pomeroy

    Ah, yes, but I can do it without a CPU at all: have a complete black hole in my bottom.

  40. Dave

    Not a web app

    This is not a web app. It is a Network app that happens to download data over http. A web app would be platform agnostic and would run on my Windows 2000 machine in Firefox. Err, yeah, kinda like Google Sky...

  41. Dr Who

    Nope ...

    Doesn't work for me either. But then I don't need it do I.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thanks but no thanks.

    I'll wait until Apple releases iUniverse because at least I'll be sure it'll run properly and will have a familiar iTunes-like interface.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Very Cool!

    Just installed this morning... very nice!

  44. Steve

    Nevermind the Bozos...'s the Phormions that I'm worried about.

    The Pauli Exclusion Principle never needed a cookie.

  45. John Bayly
    Thumb Down

    Pile of crap

    It won't run as it doesn't think my 3d Graphics Card is 3d enough. Either that or it thinks DirectX isn't installed.

  46. Mike Moyle

    So, is David Letterman going to sue...?

    ...Because it definitely sounds like it's WorldWide Pants!

    Oh, and @ Sarah Bee: One's response was priceless!

  47. TheThing
    Thumb Up


    Is there a prize for the first person to get stars to align to say "Bollocks"?

    (© Douglas Adams)

  48. Don Mitchell

    Terraserver came before Google

    Microsoft did the global satelite image project, Terraserver, in the mid 1990s, which predates the Keyhole (Google Earth) software by many years. Keyhole is much nicer, but Microsoft didn't copy the idea from anyone, they were the first.

    Same with WWT. Database researcher, Jim Gray, had been working on this sky project for years before Google Sky came out.

  49. Anonymous Coward

    Well I got lost in space for a whole afternoon... the deep field with Hubble, found the black hole in the middle of Saggitarius and got lost on the earth too. I went to the US, Africa and the south of France. The guided tour of the earth at night is just superb.

    Not being a great believer in marketing, I didn't bother reading the sysreqs and it runs sweetly on my

    3.20 gigahertz Intel Pentium 4 HT

    NVIDIA GeForce 6200 TurboCache

    Windows XP Home Edition Service Pack 3

    1024 Megabytes Installed Memory

    And I had outlook, visio pro, word and three lots of security running at the same time.

    This app rocks. Despite Office 2007 and Vista (I get to be 1st line support for gf's machine ugh), I might start to like Micro$oft.

  50. Chris Cartledge

    A Real Telescope

    A small telescope (or pair of binoculas) will show the real wonders out there. It may take time to find your way about, but there is a huge amout of data up there! As with PCs there are some issues...

    Warning: Only works at night.

    Warning: Will not work if cloudy.

  51. Pierre

    It's Just a Linux app

    With a MS frontend. So much for the innovation. Priceless.

  52. Ian Oliver
    Thumb Up


    Windows only...hmm...noted that the BBC has a link to a free/open source piece of software called Stellarium. (amazing for the impartial Microsoft loving BBC)...

    Anyway, 10 seconds searching the download tool in Ubunutu (Hardy Heron), 30 seconds of downloading and installing and it runs without problem. Nice!

  53. Solomon Grundy

    I like it

    I like it. It works fine even on a PC far below the stated specs. It's far better than Google Sky too. It'll be nice to see how it changes after this beta version.

  54. Ian Ferguson

    Beta app in bug shocker

    So a product in beta has a bug? Pretty poor reporting to jump to the conclusion that the entire product is rubbish. Unfortunate, yes, but a little harsh. I think we've all been spoilt by Google's definition of beta - 'fully working but we might tweak it to make it even better'

    Unfortunately I won't be able to try it out as I only have Macs - but it's entertaining that Microsoft are endorsing Boot Camp.

  55. bygjohn

    Eee alternative

    The Planetarium app included on the EeePC is KStars as mentioned above, and runs very well without a 2GHz processor or 2Gb of RAM. One more goal for Tux...

  56. Andy Bright

    I think I know what your problem was

    Perhaps it was night time where you were trying to look at. I though everyone knew this. The reason why telescopes often don't work is you're not taking into account the time zone of the celestial body you're attempting to watch. Simple answer is to wait till it's bright and sunny outside and take a peek then.

  57. Michael

    I got it to work

    I got the app to work on my old school Tandy 8088. No HDD at all on that bad boy. Just a 3 1/2" and a 5 1/4" floppy. Man, to see Andromeda in full 16 color brilliance...just fantastic!!

    Ok, so not really, but it's fun to talk about the days before PCs had HDDs.

    Now I'm off to go play the ORIGINAL "Falcon" flight sim. Still can't land the friggin plane...

  58. chromoplastic

    Here it is

    If you want a glimpse at Sombrero Galaxy in WWT follow this link:

    Tried it and in runs flawlessly...

    Running in Vista 64 SP1, Core Duo E6320 1860Mhz, ATI HD2400 256Mb PCIe, 3Gb 667Mhz DDR2.

  59. Ed Fowler

    You lot whine a lot

    it worked first time for me, nice enough app will be great when it's finished and they add a few more data sources.

    Are you sure you're actually techies or are you just a bunch of whiney console junkies who can't work real computers?

  60. s. pam

    Only works on the Widows Operating System

    I think the above summary which is the final line from today's Sydney Morning Herald really says it all. No that's not a typo kids, the SMH printed this as well as having it in their online edition 14.5.08

  61. b166er

    Do you all have a board meeting

    to decide who to bash next week?

    What machine was it anyway? No DX9c???

  62. Anonymous Coward


    I have absolutely no problem with El Reg's anti-MS bias. I've spent most of my professional life working with their revolting hackery and they deserve a regular kicking.

    So stick it up Uranus.

  63. Matthew


    For those of you moaning about the system requirements, which don't seam that bad to me, there is another lower spec version called *starfield*, in your screen-saver menu - it looks amazing

  64. joe

    Nice site but...

    why is the site running Flash? Wheres the Silverlight?

    Bill, are your boys are asleep at the wheel? Boy i want to develop rich content just like Microsoft... Hmm what should I use? Well, MS is pushing Silverlight instead of Flash hmm but they don't even use it on their beta sites to showcase it. Hmm... they use flash, must be better then eh Bill?


  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    With apologies too......

    In Micro$oft space, no one can hear you scream.

  66. SpitefulGOD
    Gates Halo

    @Evil Graham

    Go back to your back street shop and format a few drives (cause isn't that what you guys do when you can't solve a simple issue?) you stinking hack..

    As for the comments of Kstars, stellarium and Celestria this kit isn't the same type of software as it uses real imagery like G sky not a database of points like the other 3. But having used all but Kstars I'll stick with this beta and Celestria with the high res maps.

  67. Anonymous Coward


    "Go back to your back street shop and format a few drives (cause isn't that what you guys do when you can't solve a simple issue?) you stinking hack.."

    Wow. A few wild (and completely wrong) assumptions there fanboi. Actually I was referring to the revolting innards of the software architecture, you know from a software development point of view. When you are writing software. That kind of thing.

    I don't fix PCs for a living, just for friends who aren't as computer literate as (for example) you and I. I expect a lot of Reg readers do the same. It's a kind of unpaid job for Microsoft, which partly explains why Bill Gates is one of the richest men in the world and we aren't.

    "Stinking hack" was good though. If you could have spun it out further and directed it at El Reg, it might have made FoTW.

  68. SpitefulGOD
    Gates Halo

    @Evil Graham

    I've been too angry of late, apologies.

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