Sidebar Geek

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

December 2005 - Posts

  • Windows Sidebar Updates

    Sean Alexander, which many of you may know from the team doing Windows Sidebar and Desktop Gadgets, has decided to follow his passion and join the staff of VP of the Windows Digital Media Division as a Senior Program Manager. That means he's no longer with the Windows Sidebar Team.

    But that doesn't mean Windows Sidebar isn't on track. You can check out an update on Windows Sidebar from Shawn Morrissey from his blog. It looks like the Windows Sidebar Team is aiming for a "next CTP" release rather than Beta 2. Of course, if its not ready to go out we can still expect it by atleast Beta 2. Very exciting.

    I agree with BetaNews that the Windows Sidebar is "Vista's most prominent feature". With Desktop Gadgets, we will be able to do wonderful things in our desktops in the near future.

    Keep paying attention to Shawn Morrissey's blog and MicrosoftGadgets.com for updates regarding Windows Sidebar and Desktop Gadgets.

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  • Windows Vista Hardware Suggestions

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    Charlie Russel, MVP for Windows Server, Security and Tablet, writes about what decisions need to be made in regards to hardware and running Windows Vista. Check it out, it gives you a great idea on what you might need to do to run Vista to its fullest.

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  • RSS Bandit gets updated for .NET 2.0

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    RSS Bandit got an update today allowing for .NET 2.0 Framework installations. Check out some info and a list of other bug fixes over at Dare Obasanjo's blog.

    I was able to install RSS Bandit on Vista without any tricks. But unfortunately running RSS Bandit on Vista still isn't the best. RSS Bandit doesn't like running in Aero. Once you leave Aero, the program runs fantastically. Could I get by using RSS Bandit on Vista anyways? Yes.

    I've recently have had some more issues and troubles with using Outlook "12" as my main feed reader. I do continue to use Live.com, but would like an non-browser based feed reader as well. I'm going back to RSS Bandit. Having to redo all my subscriptions whenever Outlook "12" has a hiccup is very annoying. I hope they fix this in Beta 2.

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  • Applications working in Build 5270

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    I like how Sam Gentile posted about what he got working in the December CTP Build of Windows Vista. I can't say that I've tried installing too many applications yet.

    Office "12" seems to be working quite well for me. I'm using Outlook "12" for Email and RSS Feeds since RSS Bandit doesn't work in Vista. QuickTime 7 installed but everytime you use the program to view a movie or a setting, it shuts off Aero. It did this in earlier builds of Vista as well. But it still worked and I can view the movies just fine including high definition. WinRAR works. Windows Live Messenger works "sort of".

    I'll be installing more programs this week as I continue my testing. I've moved over a bunch of my files and settings from my XP machine in hopes of using Vista for the entire week straight. Let's see how well it goes.

    Robert Scoble is using Windows Vista too. He just made his first post in Vista on his blog.

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  • MicrosoftGadgets.com gets updated

    This evening, MicrosoftGadgets.com - the ultimate place for Live.com Gadgets - has gotten updated.

    Want to know what's been updated? Just visit the site and you can already see some things have changed. But Erik Porter talks about the updates in more detail that have been made this evening on his blog. Tonight's update to MicrosoftGadgets.com is Erik's first major release at Microsoft, and I'm sure there's going to be bigger ones coming up in the future. Nice job Erik. Adam Kinney also worked on tonights update for MicrosoftGadgets.com.

    Both Adam and Erik did tonight's update while playing Xbox 360 games at Jeff Sandquist's house with Robert Scoble and his son.

    Another neat thing: Scoble points out MicrosoftGadgets.com is the first Microsoft site to feature user tagging.

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  • Using my applications in Windows Vista

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    Today I am writing from Build 5270 of Windows Vista. I am trying to set up Vista with all of my essential programs I use daily. I want to be able to try and use this build for everyday use. Unfortunately it doesn't go well enough to say I can use it for my everyday use just yet.

    RSS Bandit doesn't work correctly. It installs just fine but when you go to actually use the program, it causes a mess. Robert Scoble talks about the RSS applications he uses. So I decided to give FeedDemon a try. I don't like it. I'd prefer to continue to use RSS Bandit but according to their Discussion Forums a .NET Framework 2.0 Framework RTM version is almost a year away. Right now it runs .NET Framework 1.1 (by the way, .NET Framework 1.1 installs fine in this build of Vista). As Scoble talks about in his above mentioned blog post, Outlook 12 does RSS too. Luckly for me, I am testing Office 12. So now I am running Outlook 12 just fine in Windows Vista but the RSS reading seems to get all screwed up when a ton of RSS Feeds are subscribed too. I had this problem in XP too so its not just an issue with Outlook 12 on Vista. I will try to make do with it though. Office 12 actually works quite nice in Vista suprisingly although Microsoft recommends against it.

    Windows Live Messenger works - kinda. I decided ,after playing with it and actually getting it to run, to uninstall it and wait until the Messenger Team comes out with a new release. Why? Because many of the features in Windows Live Messenger don't work in my "cheated" way of getting it to run on Vista - defeating the purpose of testing the program. I can't use MSN Messenger 7.5 because being on the beta program makes my Passport account use a different way of logging in onto the MSN Service. So no IM at the moment in Vista.

    I was able to get WS_FTP Professional 9 to install which is good so I can upload screenshots.

    I've gotten some major performance improvements after tinkering with some drivers. Having application issues is normal for a non-Beta release of a new operating system. I can't expect all my applications to run perfectly. So I am being patient and working with what I got.

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  • Performance Improvements in Build 5270

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    I was able to get performance improvements last night in Build 5270 by installing some of my system drivers that came with my motherboard instead of using the standard Microsoft-given drivers originally loaded by default. When running the December CTP, my system seemed to lag this time around. The lagging is less noticable now but my system still struggles at bit...more than it should for a dual-core 3.2Ghz Pentium 4 with a 1 Gigabyte of RAM.

    Next step is to buy a new SATA drive and do a clean install without doing the dual-boot options I've been doing.

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  • Windows Live Messenger in Build 5270

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    Tonight I sat down in front of my PC and booted into Windows trying to think of other ways I could try and get Windows Live Messenger working in the December CTP of Windows Vista - Build 5270. I fully disabled UAP. Still didn't work. So what I did was since I am dual booting between Windows XP Media Center and Vista, I copied the entire MSN Messenger Directory from the Program Files in Windows XP install and put in in Program Files under Vista. I created a shortcut to the Messenger executable and bingo - Windows Live Messenger in Build 5270.

    Unfortunately Shared Folders no longer works and I'm not sure yet on what else doesn't work just yet.

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  • Build 5270 Screenshots

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    Here are a few screenshots to enjoy. I've tried to take some of each of the major features seen in this build but there's alot more than what I'm showing here. I plan to look at each of these features in detail seperately with more screenshots.

    Screenshot: Windows Calendar
    Screenshot: Windows Defender
    Screenshot: Windows Photo Gallery
    Screenshot: Windows Internet Explorer 7
    Screenshot: Windows Mail
    Screenshot: Network Center
    Screenshot: Personalization
    Screenshot: Windows Media Player 11
    Screenshot: Windows Update

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  • Day 2 with the December CTP

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    I've been using the CTP alot this evening and I've come to the conclusion that as much as I want to, this build isn't ready for everyday use - atleast for me and my hardware.

    In terms of my drivers for my hardware, this build moves completely backwards. Before hand in builds such as 5231, all my drivers worked absolutely wonderfully. Build 5270 has not been nice to my hardware this time around. Especially with my sound and graphics. My graphics card, an ATI Radeon X300, does all the neat Aero effects quite nicely, but performs extremely sluggish. I tried loading some of the LDDM drivers ATI has on their site  - but that literally devestated my PC. Fortunately for me, the awesome System Protection feature in Vista rocks. I was able to restore my PC to the previous state before installing the ATI drivers. My sound card works and installs the drivers just fine, but when it boots up into Windows...for approximately 30 seconds I am able to adjust my volumn - the everytime I go to adjust the volumn again, the volumn control fails to appear. Sound does continue to work and I can adjust volumn in Windows Media Player, but that's it.

    Looking at the software side of things, most of the new Windows programs in this build work like a charm. I absolutely love Windows Mail and Windows Calendar. I can definately see myself using these programs continuously. But UAP (User Account Protection) is something I wish I can just turn off and forget about. UAP is blocking my every move. Yes, I could log in as Administrator and do all my testing there but what's the point? I am testing Vista as Vista should be run by any average home user - never as an Administrator. I broke down and added my "Brandon" account to the Administrator group but that did absolutely nothing. UAP is the reason why Windows Live Messenger won't install. Something about a "leastPrivilage" level not being what it should in order to execute the install.

    Despite my above mentioned issues, I feel very strongly that Windows Vista is heading in the right direction. The user interface is just amazing. Its a real nice refreshed look to the same Windows user interface we've grown accustom to seeing since Windows 95's debut. Many people argue it looks "just like XP" but I beg to differ. While it has elements similar to that of XP's interface, its definately something different. Think of it as an "extreme makeover" to the the existing user interface with a new technology - the Windows Presentation Foundation. Windows Vista also comes with a great deal of Windows programs that allow you to do exactly what every user should be able to do with their PC, from email right down to calendars and organizing photos and other media. The Network features allow you to save networks and give you better troubleshooting features. There's so much more.

    But Microsoft still has alot of work to put into Vista yet. The UAP stuff needs to be refined alot more than it is now, that's for sure. I look forward to continuing my testing with this build and can't wait to see what's next from Redmond in 2006.

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  • Windows Collaboration: Very Cool

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    Like many other features in Vista, Windows Collaboration is one feature that looks like it has alot of promise. With Windows Collaboration, you can start sessions with other Windows users for collaboration sessions.

    Screenshot: Windows Collaboration

    I like collaboration. I feel, just like Windows Sidebar and Desktop Gadgets, that Windows Collaboration has alot of potential to be a very interesting and useful feature in Windows Vista. But several questions arise when I think about it more. Will Microsoft only allow Windows Vista users to collaborate back and fourth with this feature? Will Windows Collaboration be back-ported to Windows XP SP2? I think I need to start following this feature a bit more closely.

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  • First Experiences with the Windows Vista December CTP

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    Well, its about 1:47am PST here and I finally got the December CTP of Windows Vista loaded. It runs, it works...but not without problems.

    Installation
    My installation hit a snag when the DVD I burned from my first downloaded .iso image was corrupt, so I ended up having to spend three hours downloading at a crappy download rate to get a new .iso image. From there, I used a neat tool Robert told me about where I could create a virtual CD/DVD device and mount an .iso file directly in XP. From there, I began my installation a second time. Everything went well second time around until my monitor went crazy when Vista came to the end of the installation asking for the Personalization for your accounts. I fixed that by changing the refresh rate on my monitor and Vista came right up.

    Post-Installation
    Vista's new User Interface is quite impressive and you can tell where Microsoft is going in re-energizing the Windows interface we've all been using for many years. New icons, branding, Windows programs - the works. Much more seems included in this build than ever before. And more seems to work too - software wise. Hardware seems to be a bit of an issue. My audio drivers are having a bit of an fit this time around. In previous builds, there was no problem. I have built in sound on my ABIT AL8 Motherboard which is RealTek audio device. After installing the drivers, Vista gives me the Volumn Control Icon in the Taskbar but does not let me open it up to change the volumn. Sound does come out of my speakers though. Ok so it kind of works. I'm going to have to fiddle with it tomorrow. Windows Media Player 11 has a new interface, but seems a bit sloppy in this build. Windows Mail works like a charm though. It also takes some time getting used to navigating through the new Control Panel interface which is introduced in this build. But I like it.

    First Impressions
    Build 5270 is worth the excitment and shows alot of progress from the Windows Team and I am excited to continue testing it out over the next couple months until our first feature-complete build hits us sometime in the first part of 2006. I can't really make any good criticism right now as I haven't really dug into this build just yet.

    There's my first experiences with the new CTP this evening. I'll try to get some screenshots posted tomorrow morning.

    Oh and Windows Live Messenger doesn't seem to want to work with Build 5270.

    Screenshot: The New Windows Vista User Interface / Desktop

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  • Windows Vista Build 5270 Screenshots at ActiveWin

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    ActiveWin has posted some screenshots of the latest CTP released today for Windows Vista. Stay tuned as we'll be getting some screenshots online here later this evening.
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  • International Domain Names in IE 7

    With the December CTP of Windows Vista released today, we see International Domain Name support in IE 7. The IE Team Blog has a good post on this new feature. Head on over to the IE Team Blog to read about it.
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  • IE 7 to get Firefox's RSS Button

    I like hearing about collaborations between two competing browser teams on making some things standard in their browsers. The Internet Explorer Team  and RSS Team has decided to adopt the same RSS Feed button that Mozilla Firefox uses in theirs. The Microsoft RSS Team has the details on their blog:

    "I’m excited to announce that we’re adopting the icon used in Firefox. John and Chris were very enthusiastic about allowing us (and anyone in the community) to use their icon. This isn’t the first time that we’ve worked with the Mozilla team to exchange ideas and encourage consistency between browsers, and we’re sure it won’t be the last.

    We’ll be using the icon in the IE7 command bar whenever a page has a feed associated with it, and we’ll also use it in other places in the browser whenever we need a visual to represent RSS and feeds. Look for more details on the look and feel of IE7 when we post the public pre-release build next year."

    I look forward for more possible collaborations between the two in the future.

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