Sidebar Geek

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

August 2005 - Posts

  • Windows Vista Release Timeline Revealed

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    Paul Thurrott has dug into the depths of Microsoft to discover the Release Timeline for Windows Vista Beta 2 and beyond. Of course, just because its reported through Paul doesn't mean I'm holding Microsoft to these dates. Instead, I look at these dates as a generalization. It gives me a timeframe on when to expect Beta 2 and so fourth. That said, here is what we can expect the timeline for the upcoming Vista releases to look like:

    Windows Vista Beta 2: According to Paul, Beta 2 has to be "feature complete" by the end of September. This probably means whatever features they want to include in Beta 2 needs to be working in whatever build they come up with by the end of September. From there, they do internal testing I believe and internal bug fixes before releasing to the general testing public (us). Supposedly, we're suppose to expect Beta 2 on December 7th, 2005.

    Windows Vista Beta 3: At this time, Microsoft does not have a third beta planned for testers. But this could change - this is just my thoughts here.

    Windows Vista RC0: Expect to see this puppy to come running in on or around April 19th, 2006.

    Windows Vista RC1: June 28th, 2006 is the date for this one.

    Windows Vista RTM: Vista will be released to manufacturing on August 9th, 2006 with a broad release expected in November 2006.

    The "Longhorn Server" Development will follow the same release schedule for the betas but they do their own thing when it hits RC0.

    I will make a bookmarkable article link for the Windows Vista timeline and add and change it as new information comes in. I will get that going pretty quick here.

  • Xbox 360 and Windows Vista

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    I'm not a gamer (yet) but Xbox 360 has gotten me real excited. The multimedia features alone within Xbox 360 is enough for me to justify owning it when it comes out.

    And it gets better.

    According to Planet Xbox 360, Xbox 360 will run an Windows Media Center-ish environment on the console. Also, according to them, Vista will ship enabled with a Media Center Connect tool which will enable your Xbox 360 to connect to your Windows Vista PC.

    "Apparently the Xbox 360 is going to be able to communicate with the next version of Windows - Vista. The consequences of this are that your console will effectively be turned into a Media Centre."

    Of course, Windows XP does this to a certain extent already but I think the goal of this article is to make users aware that there will be perks to owning Windows Vista and Xbox 360. I certainly can't wait for the Xbox 360 this November. I have a feeling I might become a gamer. Anything is possible!

  • Why I like Windows OneCare

    I really like Windows OneCare. Its worked out extremely well for me. And I'd like to explain why.

    Now, first off: I am a firm believer that Microsoft doesn't have to go and try to do EVERYTHING everyone else is doing like antivirus and so fourth. I'd rather see Microsoft work closer with its partners allowing its partners to develop better products.

    But with OneCare's PC Health service, I'm forced to ditch some of Microsoft's antivirus partners in favor for Microsoft because Microsoft does it better and the way I want it to be done as the consumer.

    I've heavily used Symantec's Norton Antivirus for the longest time. I've also tried out McAfee and AVG. But mostly, I used Symantec products. When OneCare came out with a full on PC Health service, I really wanted to see what Microsoft could come up because I was very tired of Symantec's bloated software. Each year brought a new Antivirus program (that was ALSO was very irritating) which seemed to take up more and more memory on my PC.

    So I uninstalled Symantec's software and quickly installed OneCare once I got into the Beta.

    OneCare was quickly able to erase my memories with Symantec's Antivirus software within minutes. It ran faster, took up less memory, updated itself all the time, did all the warnings I appreciated letting me know to run antivirus or do backups. It caught viruses.

    OneCare, by far, isn't the perfect program. I'd like to see the ability to configure email and IM scanning, I'd like to be able to right click on a file and scan it using OneCare, and integration of Microsoft's Antispyware in OneCare.

    Oh and I want OneCare to run on Windows Vista too!

    When OneCare eventually makes its way into the market when its released, I believe it will be an excellent program for home users to ensure their PC is healthy and safe. I sincerely hope companies such as Symantec re-engineer their software to be less bloated.

  • My Experience: nVidia graphics with Windows Vista

    I had installed Windows Vista on a seperate hard drive partition on my work PC a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, I had an ATI 9200 AGP Video Card...just a notch below what was needed to get the Aero Glass effects working.

    Today, I went out to buy a new video card to see if I can get my work PC to be a spiffy install of Vista - graphics and all. I bought an nVidia GEFORCE FX 5200.

    As noted by Robert a few weeks ago, the drivers offered by nVidia for their graphics cards to work with Vista are crap. I installed the video card, no problem, but when you run the LDDM drivers given out by nVidia - it enables all the neat Aero stuff only to a certain extent.

    By certain extent, I mean some things show up and some things don't. Hell, the whole installation I had ran pretty awesome before I installed the card and nVidia drivers. Now, it runs horribly.

    Yeah, its only Beta 1 and I installed beta drivers from nVidia. I did the same with my ATI card at home and had no problems whatsoever. This tells me ATI is there, keeping up with where Windows is going. This tells me ATI very much intends on offering us, the customers, good video cards with the latest and greatest technology. They are on top of it. Microsoft has made the Longhorn code available to software and hardware developers for over a year now and you can see ATI has taken advantage of that - and nVidia just sat on it.

    I'm off to return this nVidia card to get my money back.

  • Windows 95: Ten Years Ago

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    Wow, has it really been ten years ago?

    I remember way back when, my dad brought home a new HP Vectra with this new "program" called Windows 95 Beta 3 or something to that effect (I could be mistaken, it was a long time ago - all I know is that it was some beta). I believe it was the last Beta for going public. To me, this was entirely a new world. I was in 4th grade and was just familiar with Windows 3.1. My dad loaded up Windows 95 and that, as they say, was history.

    Yeah, I know alot of you came in with those commadore 64's and used the internet in 1989. I'm young though! Cut me some slack.

    Windows 95 was the very beginning for me and technology - specifically Microsoft technology. My dad was always working, and although he had time to help me familiarize myself with Windows 3.1, he didn't have time to introduce me to Windows 95. So I spent time myself getting use to this new operating system. And boy, was it different than Windows 3.1!

    If I remember correctly, the HP Vectra was top of the line for its day with I believe 16MB of RAM and 500MB Hard drive. I think it was a 150MHz processor but I can't remember.

    I was logging in to the internet at 28.8k! At the time of Windows 95, Netscape was THE browser to use. I barely touched Internet Explorer. I didn't touch IE until version 3 came out. Migrating from Netscape to IE is another topic in itself. What happened Netscape? Geez.

    I also had the advantage of being on the internet before it was so popular as it is today. My dad started up an ISP with some buddies right out of our garage. I remember telling my friends the internet is so cool and its going to be cooler in the future - they didn't give me the time of day! Even my teachers thought I was nuts.

    Back then, Exchange had its own email client called Exchange and there was no Outlook. I used that for email. It was bundled into Windows 95 I think.

    Wow, ten years ago I was playing with the Windows 95 Beta. Now I'm playing with the Windows Vista Beta. I wonder what I'll be playing with in ten more years? Windows 2015?

  • Google Talks

    Google released their new IM Client last night. I'm giving it a whirl.

    So far, I am unimpressed. The program is pretty basic and does pretty much whatever any other IM client does that's been out on the market for years before Google. Yeah, Google Talk does this neat little voice-call feature, but that's not enough to lure me into using Google Talk over say MSN Messenger or AOL's AIM. I'm talked to a few friends who've given this a test try and they seem to agree with me.

    Strangely, Google Talk looks and feels like Apple's iChat program that comes built into their OS X operating system. I like the fact that iChat users can connect to Google's IM network and chat with users using either iChat, Google Talk, GAIM, or other IM programs that are on the same network. I'm going to hook my girlfriend up and see how it is chatting from Google Talk on a Windows PC to a iChat on OS X on her iMac. MSN, how about opening up your IM Network so others can connect to yours? I'd like that.

    I'll write more after a few more days of testing. Google has done well with its new Sidebar that came out a few days ago. But this new IM client isn't too spectacular. My next step: Loading Google Talk and Google's new Sidebar onto Windows Vista. I wonder how that will go?

  • MSN Messenger 7.5 Released

    MSN has released the final version of MSN Messenger 7.5 to the web. You can download MSN Messenger 7.5 here!

    This thing has a couple of new enhancements and features like new animated backgrounds that change during conversations and some audio enhancements. I guess your able to record 15 second audio snippets to send to your buddies. Oh and it has a new log-in screen!

    I haven't played around with it much aside from installing it and logging on so I'll write more when I discover neat things.

  • Google has a Sidebar

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    Sorry for the lack of blogging lately - been real busy at work.

    Google announced their Desktop 2 Suite with a nifty new Sidebar.

    Now, I'm all for Google releasing cool products and all that. But I can definately see why Microsoft was so hush hush previously with older builds of Longhorn that included the Sidebar. If everyone remembers at WinHEC this last year, Microsoft put a clause in the EULA Agreement stating attendees who use the WinHEC Build of Longhorn are not allowed to release screenshots of the product online due to copyright and trademark of certain products. Of course, the sidebar has subsequently disappeared with rumors of its comeback in Beta 2.

    I am writing this because I can't help wonder if Google saw this as a oppertunity. They saw Microsoft was potentially going to do a Sidebar with their next release of Windows and thought "hey, we can do it better" and created what we see today in their Desktop Search 2 Suite.

    I haven't given this new Sidebar from Google a test drive yet, but Microsoft's sidebar in older builds of Longhorn had some really cool potential but just didn't have enough to generate the excitement needed at the time to actually like it.

    But now, I am thinking otherwise. Seeing what Google has done and knowing RSS is going to be big in Windows Vista, a sidebar could definately be a very useful tool.

    Seeing that Google has released its own Sidebar opens my eyes up to why some software companies are so protective of pre-beta and beta builds of software releases. If certain aspects of the technology demonstrated within certain betas are not copyrighted, patented, or trademarked, its an open market for other software companies to move on those features - which is perfectly legal.

    On a personal note after reading several websites, I do not think Google "stole" Microsoft's sidebar idea. Rather, I believe Google saw an oppertunity with it. Microsoft removed the Sidebar from Vista and isn't in Vista Beta 1, so it could have been assumed Microsoft backed off from the sidebar in Windows Vista. I do encourage Microsoft to rethink their sidebar idea a little more if they haven't already.

  • SharePoint: My thoughts

    I love SharePoint. I've set it up many times and used it for many uses. I love the Photo Gallery feature and Document Sharing as well as the ability to easily add topics and announcements.

    At one time, before I was blogging here, I was trying to use SharePoint as a blog tool. I had gotten the domain and intended to try to be one of the first blogs using SharePoint as its backbone.

    Unfortunately it didn't work as I had hoped, having tons of trouble customizing and making it do and act bloggish and less like a corporate intranet site.

    Microsoft has been putting tons of different SharePoint themes and site layouts online for different purposes for businesses.

    I understand SharePoint is mainly a business tool, but Microsoft - make a SharePoint theme that can be used for personal bloggers! I personally would use it the first minute to come out!

  • Exchange 2003 SP2 August 2005 CTP

    I've managed to install Exchange 2003 SP2 August 205 CTP on my Exchange server. I haven't had time to play with some of the new features like the enhanced Public Folders configuration or the new mobile access things. But I am interested in seeing if the enhanced Spam Protection will work well.

    I'll post more later as I play around with it a little more.

  • My view from Vista so far...

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    I have a few issues right now with Windows Vista as the weeks of testing go by. These issues, by far, aren't making the operating system unusable. But here is a list of all the problems I've had and am currently having with Windows Vista large or small.

    1. CD-RW/DVD-RW: Reading any CD or DVD is pretty much shot. Not sure how to fix this problem and not sure why its happening. The unit itself doesn't have any drivers that came with it or for it. But hey, I can still burn music via iTunes with it. Now, a USB external DVD-RW unit still works just fine.

    2. Hibernate and Standby: By default, if Vista is left alone, it goes into Standby. My Vista does this and boots up real fast but then tells me the system just recovered from a fatal error but still runs. But when I try to tell Vista to go into Standby or Hibernate, it crashes.

    3. MSN Messenger 7.0 (latest build): Doesn't show text being written in message window unless you enable "Show Window Frame".

    4. Microsoft AntiSpyware Beta 1 (latest build): Numerous icons at the bottom of the taskbar appear as time progresses. I call it "attack of the antispywares".

    5. Apple's QuickTime and iTunes: Whenever these programs are running in an open window, the transparency in Aero Glass doesn't work. It shuts off while the program in an active window and running.

    I apologize for those having more pressing issues than myself, I am just wanting to share my issues from what I've gathered from testing Windows Vista thus far.

    Overall, I've had some very positive experiences. Photoshop CS seems to work great, as done Microsoft Office 2003. I did have an issue with an Outlook account using RPC to an Exchange server. I need to check back to see if I am still having the problem though.

    Can't wait to head to PDC in a few weeks and get a hold of the Beta 1 Developer Build 2!

  • Xbox 360 Box Graphics

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    As Robert reported below, the pricing and details of the Xbox 360 launch have emerged from Germany today. You can see more of the above graphics for the Xbox packages by going to Major Nelson.

    Now, I'm not a gamer. I've tried to be, but failed horribly. But I've been tracking the Xbox 360's development for some time now and will definately be getting one. I might try a few games, but what really has my attention is the media abilities like music and photos displayed right up on TV through the Xbox. Not only will the Xbox 360 be the ultimate gaming machine, but it will also be a pretty cool multimedia center.

    Now, I haven't followed the Xbox 360 that closely as I would have liked. I heard they were enabling it to recieve Windows Media Connect streams of music and photos from XP machines. I wonder if there's going to be anything special in Windows Vista that enhances this technology?

    There are a few games I'm wanting to get my hands on as well when Xbox 360 comes out like Project Gotham 3.

    I think I'll be getting the $399 package deal. I want everything!

  • PDC 2005 Blog Contest Ends Tonight

    blogging my way to pdc

    Tonight at midnight, the contest "Blogging my Way to PDC 2005" put on by the Channel 9 Team at MSDN ends.

    I wrote the required essay as well as expressed a creative way I would take notes and blog about PDC to enter the contest. It was one of my first major articles I wrote when I was doing my own site before I came to LonghornBlogs. I've always wanted to go to a big tech convention like PDC. PDC was cancelled last year so I couldn't go then. I've been pretty excited for this for the last two months.

    Unfortunately due to some committments at my work, it may look like I might not be able to attend PDC like I had hoped anyways.

    Anyways I'd like to bring my essay out once again for people to read.

    Read my "Blogging My Way to PDC 2005" here!

  • Microsoft Product Naming Changes?

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    As many of you have noticed, Microsoft recently changed the branding for their browser Internet Explorer. Now, its Windows Internet Explorer. According to Paul Thurrott, this is because Microsoft does not intend to keep developing IE for any other platform other than Windows. So all you IE users on the Mac, no more new browsers from Microsoft.

    This brings me to wonder, is Microsoft changing up their naming format for their products?

    I came up with this little logo graphic demonstrating what direction Microsoft could be heading:

    Please keep in mind, Microsoft has in no official way changed its AntiSpyware product name from "Microsoft AntiSpyware" to "Windows AntiSpyware". This is just a guess on my part, which would fit in terms of what Microsoft is doing so for with Windows and IE. Then we got Windows Media Player and so fourth.

    I think dropping the "Microsoft" out of these names from "Microsoft Windows" to just "Windows" then having sub-products with the Windows naming theme is a pretty cool idea. For some reason I really like it. You don't see Apple labeling all their products on their OS "Apple iTunes" or "Apple Garage Band" and so fourth. Its just iTunes or Garage Band.

  • My next Adventure: Microsoft Acrylic

    eWeek talks about Microsoft's new graphics program code-named "Acrylic" today as Microsoft launches a new Community Technology Preview (CTP) and reveals its plans for this graphics program.

    According to the article, Acrylic is meant for Windows Vista, although will run on XP with Service Pack 2. It will harvest alot of new technology that is within the Windows Presentation Foundation like XAML.

    I heavily use Adobe Photoshop for alot of graphics work I do. But I'm willing to give this little program a try. I am currently loading it onto my XP machines and will attempt to load it onto my Windows Vista machine tonight. Now, I did give this program a try a few months ago but found it diffacult to do the same things I could with Photoshop so I uninstalled it. But I think its maybe time to give it a second shot, especially on Windows Vista.

    I will post screenshots and some graphics work done in the program as soon as I can.

    You want to test it out yourself? Click here to go to Acrylic's webpage at!

    Screenshot: Main Window

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