Sidebar Geek

My experience with Windows Vista. Windows Sidebar and Microsoft Gadgets.

  • A Closer Look at Windows Vista Build 5456.5

    I did a HUGE write-up today at The Insider reviewing Build 5456.5 - which was released today to technical beta testers and an interim release. Its also our first peak at post-Beta 2 - on the road to RC1.

    Some notable changes ontop of performance and stability:

    • Network Center UI
    • UAC interaction with apps and the desktop
    • Performance Rating changes
    • New Windows Aero mouse pointer
    • Fit-and-finish with many new icons
    • Windows Update UI refinement

    And a bunch more!

    Check out my review!

  • CNET looks at the Post-Gates Era

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    CNET takes a moment to ask members of the community what their thoughts are on Windows in a post-Bill Gates Era at Microsoft when he departs the company in 2008. Our very own Robert McLaws was one of those community members they interviewed. I totally agree with what Robert said. Gate hasn't really done much in terms of Windows developement, other than having a strong oversight over Windows amongst a sea of other technology projects which of course is admirable. I still hate to see Bill go.

    I don't think CNET is asking the right question though. If we're talking about Windows here, a much more important question we should be looking at Windows in a post-Jim Allchin Era. I do a little write up here at The Insider. I think its worth taking a look at this question now because once Vista ships, Allchin retires and Steve Sinofsky takes over Windows - and this is happening much sooner than Bill Gates' departure in 2008.

  • My New Columns!

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    I've started up three new weekly "round-up" columns this week:

    "This Week with Windows" - a weekly round-up of conversations within our community along with some commentary by me of course. I think this is a great way to try and showcase some of the great stuff being put out by the Windows Community. Its not much now but it will develop over time which should be cool.

    "This Week with Windows Live" - I'd like to cover the latest happenings with Windows Live as they move services out of Beta in the upcoming weeks. Windows Live will always be in a fluid state of change and hopefully this column can server as a great way to keep track of it.

    "My URGE Pick of the Week" - If you are looking for some new music to download each week from URGE, check out my showcase of an artist that stood out for me during the week that I downloaded off URGE.

    Check them out and let me know what you think!

  • Windows Mobile Device Center Update for Beta 2!

    Microsoft tonight released a update to Windows Vista Beta 2's Windows Mobile Device Center giving users the ability to sync their Windows Mobile Device with Outlook. You can read more and see a couple of screenshots I took by heading here!


    Goodbye ActiveSync!

  • A Few Vista CPP Updates

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    Here's a few updates on Microsoft's Customer Preview Program for Windows Vista:

    Users flock to download Vista through the CPP: As of last night, over 18,000 orders of Windows Vista Beta 2 were made! Also: CPP Customers will get access to RC1 when available.

  • Windows Vista Beta 2 CPP Launched

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    The Windows Vista Beta 2 Customer Preview Program has officially launched this evening making Build 5384.4 available to the masses. Not in the Technical Beta Program and dying for a chance to test out Microsoft's next version of Windows? You can now sign up to download images to burn to DVD's to install on your PC. If that option doesn't work for you, the option of ordering media is there too!

    Click here for Details on the Customer Preview Program for Windows Vista!

  • My WinHEC 2006 Round-up

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    You can view a round-up of my WinHEC 2006 Coverage by clicking here.

    Overall, I found my experience at WinHEC very rewarding.

  • WinHEC 2006 Keynote Tidbits

    I took some notes during the Keynotes today at WinHEC 2006. I've posted a pretty comprehensive outline of what was talked about here.

    They covered the following:

    • PC Trends
    • Virtualization
    • Windows SideShow
    • Windows Live
    • Microsoft FlexGo
    • Windows Rally (Robert mentioned this earlier today[;)])
    • HD-DVD

    Was a pretty good Keynote if you ask me!

  • WinHEC 2006 Coverage

    You can read my coverage of WinHEC 2006 over at The Insider.

    We had a wonderful dinner this evening with several Windows Communities which was awesome. Tomorrow should be a BIG day. Bill Gate's keynote and perhaps the availability of some really cool betas. We'll see. [;)]

  • Windows Mobile Device Center

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    Microsoft is using "Centers" to control certain aspects of Windows rather than smothering you with tons of "Wizards". And in one area they use a Center is for Windows Mobile Device Control.

    You can read about Windows Mobile Device Center by clicking here to visit a new blog offered by The Hive called "The Insider".

  • Windows SideShow: My New Best Friend

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    I just saw an incredilble presentation from the Windows SideShow Team and they have some amazing stuff planned. Having Auxiliary SideShow devices embedded in hardware such as keyboards or remote controls to access your data such as email, calendars, etc very quickly. They have SideShow Gadgets, which are a bit different in their construction than Sidebar Gadgets, that allow you to use Windows Calendar data and Windows Contacts data in Windows Vista. What's even better is Sidebar has support for Gadget to SideShow Gadget communication. That means Gadgets on Sidebar can talk to Gadgets existing on a SideShow device. SideShow devices will be flash-based although there isn't anything stopping devices with harddrives from using SideShow technology. In some cases, auxiliary devices embedded on laptops or desktop PC's can be removed. They are connected to the PC via USB.

    Lots of cool stuff happening with Windows SideShow! I can't wait to see more devices.

  • Enable Windows Vista's New Boot Screen

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    A member of AeroXperience's Forum has posted instructions on how to enable the new Windows Vista Boot Screen that supposedly replaces the empty black screen with the gray status bars we've seen for quite some time.

    Click here for the instructions to enable the new Boot Screen in Build 5381.

    Thanks Andre for the link.

  • Beta 2 May not be Build 5381 (Updated)?

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    Paul Thurrott is now reporting that although Microsoft still intends to had out Windows Vista Beta 2 DVD's out at WinHEC, we may not be seeing Build 5381 as the Beta 2 Build. Its interesting to see how the road to Beta 2 is unfolding. I would have thought seeing as WinHEC is less than two weeks away and they need to print the DVD's, that Beta 2 would be finalized sometime this week. But if Paul is right and they moved to a different build, I'm curious how they are going to make it all happen in such a short time frame.

    UPDATE: We were informed here at the Windows Vista Beta 2 Lab that Microsoft does not have a set Build number scheduled for Beta 2. Nor is Microsoft giving any official statements in regards to distribution of Beta 2 or its release date. Its important to note that despite speculation made within the community, if Microsoft does indeed not ship Beta 2 during WinHEC, this would NOT catagorize as any delay in any shape for form. Until Microsoft officially releases a statement regarding distribution and any release date and where it will become available, all we know is Microsoft is on schedule to release Windows Vista Beta 2 in second quater 2006. Second quarter 2006 means they have anywhere between April and the end of June to release Beta 2 and not have the release be considered "delayed". That said, there is nothing saying that the speculation of seeing Beta 2 for Vista and WinHEC is incorrect. But if we don't, we cannot consider it a delay.

    I am saying this because folks tend to believe the speculation they hear on the internet and if Microsoft fails to meet the expectations of that speculation, folks believe the product is "delayed". This is surely not the case until Microsoft releases an official statement via their Press outlets.

    I am very much looking forward to Windows Vista Beta 2, which is coming very soon no matter which way you look at it.

  • Windows Media Player 11 for XP Details

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    Bink talks about some details posted by the website The Hot Fix in regards to possibly seeing Windows Media Player 11 Beta for XP enter public preview mode later this month. The beta is expected to hit May 17th, and be open to the public. As expected, some features available on the Vista version of Windows Media Player 11 won't be carried over to XP. But even without some of the extra features, Windows Media Player 11 is looking to be quite a bit of an improvement over 10 for XP.

    I can't wait to get my hands on Windows Media Player 11.

  • At the Windows Vista Beta 2 Lab: Day 1

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    Today was an awesome day. Robert and I flew out to Seattle for the Windows Vista Beta 2 Lab for Featured Communities. This lab is designed to give the Featured Communities a closer look at the upcoming Beta 2 Release, slated for the week of May 22nd to be handed out to folks attending WinHEC.

    Tonight the attending Featured Communities were given the oppertunity to get to know each other at Safeco Field watching the Mariners play against Tampa Bay.

    safeco 007

    Seeing Safeco Field was amazing. The stadium is huge. My first big Baseball game. You can check my Flickr Photos for another pic of Safeco Field.  I met Steven Bink and Ryan Hoffman. Both were incredible people. Both Ryan and Steve have alot of great things to say as well as great ideas. I also met Bob Stein from ActiveWin. Bob's really cool too. It is very neat to finally put faces to people I've exchanged instant messages and emails with. I missed Mary Jo Foley tonight, hopefully I can meet her tomorrow.

    We've got a great line-up of presentations for the next two days and we'll try to post what we can as we move forward. Special thanks goes out to Nick and Terri who worked really hard to put this event on.

    ALSO: Tonight was the first time I've met Robert McLaws. Its really cool to finally put a face to the guy I've been blogging for. He's just as cool as I pictured him although a bit tall.

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