Sidebar Geek

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

November 2005 - Posts

  • Windows Live Mail gets an update too

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    According to the Windows Live Mail Blog and Program Manager Imran Qureshi, Windows Live Mail hit M4 (Milestone 4) yesterday applying new features and a bunch of bug fixes testers have found over the past couple months.

    "The wait will soon be over. This week we will be releasing the “M4” (Milestone 4) update to the Windows Live Mail beta (codename: Kahuna).

    We listened to what you, our beta users, told us. We fixed many of your issues, improved reliability, made Kahuna even faster and added some great features that will improve your mail experience.

    One of the really awesome features we’ve added, that no other webmail has, is 'Spell check as you Type.' (You can watch a demo of this here). This spell check feature runs in the background and highlights spelling errors while you type unlike the spell check feature in existing webmail services that require you to click a button and then correct spelling errors one by one.

    Keep using Kahuna and keep the feedback coming. We're not joking when we say that you're now part of our development team."

    Head on over to their blog to read a few of the noted changes and new features for M4.

    To be honest, I've never been fond of Hotmail. But Windows Live Mail looks very impressive. I've been trying to get on the program to test for a few months now and unfortunately I've been unable to do so. But I can't wait to use it. There is one feature that I could safely say would win me over though - the ability to use POP3 for my Windows Live Mail account. I'd like the ability to use Windows Mail in Windows Vista to check my Windows Live Mail. I'm not saying I wouldn't use their impressive new web user interface - that is definately not the case. I simply would like to have the ability and feel that having this feature would be a great asset to Windows Vista. I go between my home PC and work PC and would check my mail using their web interface at work while I'd use Windows Mail at home.

  • Windows OneCare Beta Open to Public Testing

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    Microsoft has opened the Windows OneCare Beta up to General Testers today. I've been using Windows OneCare for quite some time and its a fantastic program. Head on over the the Windows Live Ideas page to sign up or click here to go to the Windows OneCare Live page and sign up there!

    Expect Windows OneCare to support Antispyware detection in the near future. From what it looks like, Microsoft intends to embed most of Windows OneCare's features into Windows Vista in late 2006 but their plans could change and we could see Windows OneCare for Vista later this year. I'm betting it will be built in like Windows Defender will be for Vista.

    Screenshot: Windows OneCare Main Window
    Screenshot: Items to Scan Window
    Screenshot: Backup Media Window
    Screenshot: Windows OneCare Quarantine Window
    Screenshot: Antivirus Settings Window
    Screenshot: Right-Click Scan Feature

  • Microsoft updates testers on Windows Vista Testing

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    Microsoft today held online chats with both Beta Testers and the Media to discuss the future of the Windows Vista Testing Program after questions came up after TAP Testers received Windows Vista Build 5259 to test - a build which seemed to be problematic at best. Being a Technical Beta Test for Windows Vista, I'm not sure what group I fall into and what group Microsoft invited for their online chat today as I did not receive any information about attending the online chat. But thankfully other websites were able to fill me in on the details I missed.

    This is what we know from today's developments:

    • There will not be a November Community Technology Preview (CTP).

    • There will be a December CTP to be released before Christmas.

    • The December CTP will be "very close" to feature complete.

    • Microsoft hopes to have all of Windows Vista's features locked in by the end of December.

    • Windows Vista Beta 2 will be released sometime in early 2006.

    • Build 5259 will not be a CTP and released to Technical Beta Testers. Only TAP Testers received the build.

    • Microsoft is no longer committed to a monthly CTP release schedule.

    By Microsoft not committing to a monthly CTP release schedule, they now have the ability to be flexible with their releases to testers and taking alot less negative feedback from the technology community if they were to committ to the release schedule and miss a CTP or put out a buggy CTP. While I am disappointed I may not be receiving a new Windows Vista build every month - I can look to the bright side of not having to install a new build every month instead focusing more time in one build taking notes and blogging about it.

    I also find it interesting to take a look at Microsoft's goal of having Vista feature complete and locked down by December. This gives Microsoft 7 months of testing out bugs in the features it intends to ship in Windows Vista - that's going by if we see a Release Candidate or Preview Release by July 2006. 7 months of stabilizing features and working out all the bugs should give us a pretty stable and secure Windows release when it ships toward the end of 2006.

    I look forward to the December CTP and where the future of Windows is heading.

  • Confusion Strikes the Windows Vista CTP Program

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    Mary Jo Foley writes an awesome article today regarding the Windows Vista CTP program and addresses several questions that have yet to be answered by Microsoft. One of them is what is happening with the future of the Windows Vista CTP Program? As of today, Build 5259 (which went to TAP Testers on Nov. 22nd), has yet to reach my Microsoft Connect site. As a Technical Beta Tester, there has been no word from Microsoft whether I'll see a CTP before the end of Novemember or even in December. Mary Jo reports that one tester believes we could possibly be seeing the end of the Windows Vista CTP Program.

    "As of Tuesday morning, Microsoft had not committed to releasing a December CTP of Vista. Up until a month or so ago, the Vista team was hoping to release Beta 2 — which Microsoft has said will be feature-complete — some time in December, company officials had told partners privately. Now, Beta 2 is expected in January, according to testers, who requested anonymity."

    Mary Jo goes on to mention MVP Sandro Villinger, who is the webmaster of Windows-Tweaks International website, says Build 5259 is quite buggy. Villinger explains his experience:

    "I have tried 5259 as well for the past couple of days and I can say that it is completely unstable and totally buggy. As you know, 5259 was a possible November CTP candidate and I think this would have been a disaster for Microsoft."

    I've heard reports of the same thing from other people regarding Build 5259.

    Microsoft has recently made available, shortly after releasing Build 5259 to TAP Testers, a development kit with the build number 5262. Speculation began whether we'll see Build 5262 as the November or December CTP. Sandro Villinger was able to take a look at 5270 saying even more features are fine-tuned than in Build 5259 including the built in Windows Defender.

    I would find it a shame is Microsoft decides to halt releasing monthly CTP's for Windows Vista. But I can't help but wonder if getting these CTP's out to testers every month is causing issues with the development of the operating system. Every month, developers need to get a build out to testers while as before, it was just a build every few months as Betas. It will be interesting to see how this confusion gets cleared up.

  • My thoughts on the new UI in Build 5259

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    Looking at a few of the screenshots posted on many websites out there such as ActiveWin, I thought I'd give an overall impression on the new UI being introduced in Build 5259.

    I absolutely love it. I love the new "orb-shaped" Start Button with its bright new colors and updated Windows logo. The new transparent taskbar is something we've seen in previous CTP's and I like that change as well. What's nice about this updated look is it doesn't alienate those people who are used to the classic Windows 95 / XP style use of the Start Menu - rather working off of it and giving it a more updated and refreshed look to the same way we're all used to using our Windows systems.

    Robert and I have been speaking this week and he is challenging me to write about things that I don't necessarily like - he points out I'm always writing positive things about Windows Vista and Microsoft technologies. He's right. And I've found a few things I don't feel positive on.

    The user icon at the top of the opened Start Menu looks way too funky just right out in the open like that. It sticks out and just looks weird. Also, I'm not liking the way Microsoft has arranged and organized all the bundled programs that Windows Vista comes with. Some programs are in the Accessories Folder, some aren't. Put all the Windows applications into the same spot where people can see what they have without forcing them to navigate through folder after folder to see what they've got. Simplify the Start Menu a bit maybe. This isn't too much of a big deal to me, its more of an idea or suggestion than an issue.

    I'll talk more about the User Interface changes once I am able to actually experience it and play around with it myself. Again, this is first impressions based off Screenshots.

  • New Update to my Windows Vista Timeline

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    I've added a new update to my Windows Vista Timeline accomodating for changes with the Beta 2 Release and the newly released Build 5259. As many of you know, last week we saw the release of Build 5259 to TAP Program Testers introducing many refined features and the new User Interface.

    Click here to view my updated Windows Vista Timeline.

    Once Technical Beta Testers are given access to the new CTP, I'll be talking alot more about the new Build. Its interesting to note that previously, Microsoft openly said that the new UI won't be introduced until Beta 2 at the earliest. Its really nice to see the new UI introduced now as well as many more new enhancements such as the built in Windows Antispyware. Can't wait to give Build 5259 a shot.


  • Interesting article on the Segoe UI Font

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    I found this interesting article over at BetaNews about the new font Segoe UI that we'll be seeing more of in Windows Vista and Office "12". 2 years is alot of time to spend developing a font.
  • November CTP Update

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    WinBeta has posted an update to the article I talked about yesterday which discusses this month's Community Technology Preview. It doesn't look like we'll be getting the CTP today:

    "*UPDATE* Microsoft sources confirmed this morning (Friday) that they are still compiling 5259 builds and have yet to settle on one they are willing to release. Until this is achieved, testers and enthusiasts alike will settle back and wait."

    Maybe they will decide by the end of the day today for release early next week.

  • November CTP

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    So its November 17th and no Windows Vista November CTP. Not a big deal. Build 5231 has served me quite well and my experience hasn't been that bad. There are some features that don't perform but thats to be expected with a pre-Beta 2 build.

    I was reading WinBeta and stumbled upon an article about possible Beta 2 delays, which also talks about some information from Microsoft about the upcoming November CTP:

    "Sources at Microsoft also confirmed that the November CTP (Community Technology Preview build) tagged as build # 5259 should be available to TAP and beta testers [only] (sorry MSDN subscribers, no Nov CTP download is planned at this time) this coming Friday, Nov 18th. Having said that, it appears likely sources confirm that the release may now slip until Monday or Tuesday of next week. This is not certain as yet and no final decision has been made at this time."

    So we could see the November CTP of Vista in tester's hands by the end of the week or early next week. Would sure make an excellent Thanksgiving treat.

    I haven't talked much about the possible Beta 2 delay. I don't really intend to talk about it either aside from this: if Microsoft isn't ready to give Beta 2 to testers, then its probably for a good reason. I'd rather have good code and working features than something that was rushed out the door. Again, Microsoft has yet to confirm anything regarding Beta 2 so at this point, most of what we're hearing about Beta 2 is just speculation.

  • Office "12" Beta 1 Released to Testers

    Beta 1 of Office "12" has been released to testers today. You can count of me blogging about my experience with Office "12" - especially on Windows Vista - once I have done the necessary reading to make sure I understand what I can and cannot talk about. Testing Office "12", although not as exciting as testing Vista, is exciting to me because I was a technical tester for Office 2003 back in the day. Office 2003 was my first big technical beta.

    Some of the things I am most excited about in Office "12" or the new "ribbon" menus as well as the new features in Outlook "12" and OneNote "12". I love OneNote.

    I look forward to testing how the Office System will be progressing with its new features and how it will make my life alot simpler.

  • Ray Ozzie is blogging

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    I never knew Ray Ozzie blogged before, but I caught a link to his new blog from Mary Jo Foley at Microsoft Watch. Ray Ozzie is now Microsoft's Chief Technology Officer. So why is he blogging now? Well this is what he says:

    "A couple of weeks ago, Bill and I brought life to a new initiative that, over the course of the months and years ahead, will catalyze and deliver a number of things that I'm very excited about. At that event, I said that unlike many other stealth projects I've/we've done, in this case many of our plans and offerings will evolve progressively and in the open, shaped in good measure by a dialog with you. This is not just feel-good marketing speak: the conversation related to Microsoft - its reputation, its intent and its offerings - is occurring and will continue to vigorously occur on the 'net with or without us. I'd rather it be "with", and I hope to add value in becoming another of the varied Microsoft voices conversing on the 'net."

    I think its really cool an executive at such a big company can find the time to share his thoughts through his blog. I look forward to continuing to read what Ray has to say and hope he continues writing on his blog. Head on over to Ray Ozzie's Blog!

  • New Mockup Windows Vista UI Shots

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    Over at the BlueScreenOfDeath blog are a series of new screenshot mockups that look to be like that of the new User Interface that will be seen in Beta 2 that Microsoft has been telling us about for months now.

    You can view the rest of the screenshots at BlueScreenOfDeath.

    Special thanks to Jaspr180 for the heads up! 

    Again, these are just mockups by Ryan from BlueScreenOfDeath. He's pretty good!



  • How many themes will ship with Vista?

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    A very interesting article by about the Windows Vista graphics gap talks about some of the different themes that will ship with Vista and how Aero will only be enabled if the system detects a worthy graphics card. The article brings forth some good questions regarding how some of today's PC's will run Vista when it ships in 2006. I can tell you now, the PC I have running testing Vista currently runs quite well.

    But the article got me thinking, how many themes will ship with Vista? I did blog about the non-Aero theme in Vista currently several weeks ago hoping Microsoft will choose to enhance the non-Aero themes a bit to still give Vista a fresh look despite not using the high end Aero theme.

    But eWeek's article has me thinking of how many themes will actually ship with Vista? Right now, we have of course Aero, then we have Classic and then we have an XP-ish metallic theme that is loaded default if your graphics card cannot sustain Aero. I wonder what's up Microsoft's sleeve.

  • Hint of upcoming UI changes in Vista

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    I stunbled upon Kam VedBrat's Blog from Microsoft today with a post talking about Robert Scoble's latest goal to make 100 blogs without mentionining Microsoft, Yahoo, or Google. He's on #27 now. Anyways, Kam mentions how he wishes he could talk about some UI changes coming for Windows Vista so he could steal some of the attention while Scoble is busy *not* blogging about Microsoft for a day or so.

    Note to Kam: When and if you blog about any UI changes coming for Windows Vista I can certainly promise all the attention you want from my end!

  • Static Driver Verifier

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    Wired News has an interesting article on a new technology called Static Driver Verifier (SDV) which is rumored to be included in Windows Vista when it ships and protects Windows PC's from bad device drivers which could crash your system.

    "Microsoft has developed a tool called the Static Driver Verifier, or SDV, that uses "model checking" to analyze the source code for Windows device drivers and see if the code that the programmer wrote matches a mathematical model of what a Windows device driver should actually do. If the driver doesn't match the model, the SDV warns that the driver might contain a bug."

    This sounds very interesting. It would certainly decrease the amount of crashes loading incorrect device drivers would cause for users trying to load new devices. I wonder if this "model" that will be used to compare drivers with will be updated via Microsoft Update to accomodate for new hardware that enters the market?

    I picked up on this newsbit from Digital Dave over at WinXPCentral.

    UPDATE 11/15: A comment left by "ewohlman" indicates that perhaps SDV won't be included in the RTM version of the Vista client, instead being included in the Driver Development Kits specifically for driver developers so they can develop stable drivers for consumers. I would imagine this is probably better instead of having SDV running on the client's machine as I would think it would bog down a system as it checks to see if the driver is good or not.

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