Sidebar Geek

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

March 2006 - Posts

  • New Sidebar Gadgets in Build 5342

    The Sidebar Team has introduced new Sidebar Gadgets for Windows Vista in Build 5342.

    The new Gadgets are:

    • Calculator
    • Minesweeper
    • Number Puzzle
    • Picture Puzzle
    • Timer

    Take a look at the new Gadgets in the Gadget Picker here.

    There seems to have been some changes to Settings for the Clock, RSS, and Recycle Bin Gadgets in this build as well. Also, the "Add" button and the page arrows for the Sidebar are no longer displayed on the bottom of the Sidebar but now displayed on the top. See this picture of my Sidebar here for an idea on what I'm talking as well as a few of the new Gadgets.

  • New Taskbar Network Icon: Yay or Nay?

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    In Build 5342, Microsoft shows off a new Taskbar Network Icon - different than what we've previously seen:

    I can't get my Wireless to work (reasons I'll blog about later on) so I can't show you the Wireless version of the new icon.

    So what do you folks think of the new icon?

    I like the white icons on the taskbar when Glass is enabled. The concept is similar to how Apple has their network icon displayed at the upper right hand corner of the Apple menu in OS X. Menu icons in OS X are all the same. No flashy colors, just simple one color icons next to the clock. Windows has always had a rainbow of different types of taskbar icons. I hope Microsoft intends to set the standard for the type of taskbar icons we are going to see. Maybe software developers will follow in their footsteps. I imagine that we'll continue to see a rainbow of icons in our taskbar though.

  • EXCLUSIVE: Office 2007 and Aero Glass

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    I'm going to try this "exclusive" thing out and show you guys Office 2007 using Windows Vista's Aero Glass.


    Click on the above screen "clip" for a larger screenshot.

    I was able to get the Office 2007 Beta 1 Technical Refresh to install just fine in the latest Windows Vista release - Build 5342. I've had no issues as of yet with major application crashes although its apparent the UI still needs some tweaks to look good in Vista.

    ALSO: Anyone else notice in Build 5342 that when a window is maximized, instead of getting the plain Black UI you now get the Glass UI carried over to the maximized window? Take a look at what I'm talking about here.

  • Bumpy Ride coming for Vista? Nah.

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    Josh over and WindowsConnected talks about some anonymous comments made over the Mini-Microsoft blog in regards to the current state of Windows and morale on in the Windows Division. He goes on the assumption most of the anonymous comments made are most likely from Microsoft employees - signifying a "in for a bumpy ride from here on out with Windows Vista and related products".

    I disagree.

    Personally, I think these anonymous comments are a mere shadow of the Windows Division - full of hundreds of employees. A few negative comments by some employees doesn't mean the entire Windows Vista team or Windows Division thinks the same way or we're all in for one "bumpy" ride. If these anonymous folks do work for Windows, why the hell are they spending time knocking Vista when they should be working on getting it out the door or making better?

    I think this delay is being blown to far into the negative - with folks not looking at the positive. Microsoft is getting far more feedback from its beta testers than ever before on the development of Windows Vista - and getting ALOT of it too. Allchin says that feedback from testers was part of the reasoning that has caused Microsoft to rethink its Windows Vista Roadmap. This is a good thing. I''ve heard from years from bloggers and technology websites about how bad Microsoft is about actually listening to their customers and the folks that use their software. Well, now they are listening. They've gotten a ton of feedback and are wanting to make changes that accomodates that feedback. I see this as a very positive thing for Microsoft.

    Some readers have pointed out I sometimes may be overly positive when it comes to Microsoft but I'm one to not focus on the negative too much. I will admit these delays have hurt Microsoft bad. But I feel its the earlier delays that have hurt Microsoft more than the current delays. Why? Because the earlier delays, such as the so-called "reboot" - was Microsoft's fault. They had no customer feedback. They figured out Longhorn sucked and had to reboot. That's when Windows was having a bumpy ride. These delays wouldn't have been such a problem now if Microsoft didn't have their stuff together for Longhorn. Let's hope that when Steven Sinofsky takes over with "Vienna", it will be different - which I have no doubt it will.

  • Steven Sinofsky to lead future Windows and Windows Live Development

    Microsoft announced today that Steven Sinofsky will be joining the Platforms and Services Devision (PSD) at Microsoft to lead Windows and Windows Live development. According to Microsoft, Steven will help better align the Windows and MSN "assets" with the Windows Live strategy.

    Is this the management shake-up folks were talking about a few days ago? Maybe.

    According to Paul Thurrott, Microsoft is "getting ready to shake up the management team in its Windows Division and bring in Microsoft Office head Steve Sinofsky to put Windows back on track". Mr. Thurrott hints that perhaps the recently announced delay for the Windows Vista launch has caused Microsoft to switch gears, shifting around management to see that no more delays occur.

    A Microsoft spokesperson today was able to confirm for me that this isn't the case. "While Jim (Allchin) and Brian (Valentine) finish the work on this year, Steven and team will be squarely focused on the future planning for Windows and Windows Live," the Microsoft spokesperson tells me. Think of it as if Steven Sinofsky taking charge right at Windows code-named "Vienna". I would assume that any development beginning on "Vienna" now will be supervised under the direction of Sinofsky while Allchin focuses on just getting Vista out the door. The spokesperson for Microsoft continued - telling me Jim Allchin is fully committed to seeing the development of Windows Vista through to RTM and its launch: "Jim will remain co-president of CSD and is committed to staying on until Windows Vista ships. He realizes the importance of this product to the world, and knows that when Windows Vista is released it will create new opportunities for innovation and growth across the broader industry and partner ecosystem."

    I look forward to see what direction Steven Sinofsky takes Windows after Vista ships. Previously, Steven had been in charge of the Microsoft Office development.

  • Windows Management changes coming at Microsoft?

    The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Steven Sinofsky is tapped to take over as lead Windows honcho for the development of Windows. They report Microsoft wants to "inject" a more managed way of developing Windows.

    I think it would be interesting and refreshing to see a new face in charge of Windows. Jim Allchin has been there for quite some time. I can't really think of anyone else at Microsoft that would be more interesting to see in the front seat that Steven Sinofsky. Steven has his own blog here. Would love to see him post more.

  • Gadgets Showcased at Mix 06

    InfoWorld has done a really neat article on Windows Vista's Sidebar Gadgets - showcased at Mix 06 this week. Microsoft's goal behind Sidebar or Desktop Gadgets is to offer rich content that runs "beyond the browser" and enhanced the overall Windows user experience.

    I really do think Sidebar Gadgets will definately enhance the user experience in Windows. Exclusive content can be developed for Gadgets that Windows users download and run on their desktops. Lets take one of my favorite bands, the Foo Fighters. Let's pretend the Foo Fighters launch a exclusive downloadable Sidebar Gadget off their website. I download it and add it to my Sidebar. Then the Foo Fighters now have an opperunity to allow me to see exclusive content right on my desktop. They could do anything from letting Gadget users listen to a new single before its out to offering exclusive news on concerts and upcoming albums.

    Yahoo showcased a Gadget of their own at Mix this week:

    This Yahoo! Music Unlimited Gadget gives you access to Yahoo's Music store right from your desktop. Its an impressive little Gadget - but sorry Yahoo, I'm waiting for URGE.

    I'm hoping as we move forward with Windows Vista, vendors such as Yahoo will come out and let us Beta Test their Gadgets for them in Windows Sidebar. I would expext as we get near the time of the next CTP, we'll see several vendors offer us a chance to give their Gadgets a test run.

  • Windows Vista End-User Beta Coming Next Quarter

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    A Microsoft spokesperson was able to elaborate a little more on a few things concerning today's news of Windows Vista's "delay".

    They are on track to deliever a end-user Beta to over 2 million users next quarter. That means between April and June, a major end-user Beta (expected to be Beta 2) will be released.

    "The industry requires greater lead time to plan and deliver Windows Vista on new PC’s during the December selling season. Industry partners have asked us to commit now to a roadmap that ensures predictable execution through this period.  Current feedback is that we may need additional time to get quality where we want it to be. To optimize for the most predictable plan for the industry and prioritize around customer and partner satisfaction, we are updating the Windows Vista Roadmap," the Microsoft spokesperson tells me.

    They are targeting:

    • Making Windows Vista available direct to their business customers in November via Microsoft's Volume Licensing program.
    •  Broad consumer availability and new PC availability in January 2007.

    From what it looks like, it seems that with the current feedback being provided by TAP and Technical Beta Testers - Microsoft needs more time to take in the feedback and boost Vista up to the quality desired before RTM. I'd like to point out with more frequent builds (with Community Technology Previews) and more beta testers, Microsoft is getting much more feedback during the testing process ever seen before in the development of Windows. Looking at the feedback and stepping back and saying they need more time shows Microsoft is after quality of the Windows Vista release.

  • January 2007 Availability for Windows Vista

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    Last week, some folks on the Microsoft Connections blog accidentally let slip of a Novembmer Launch for Windows Vista. Today ActiveWin reports while Novemember might still see the launch of Windows Vista, only businesses will have access to the RTM Windows Vista. General consumers can expect to see retail versions of Windows Vista hitting shelves in January 2007 as quoted by Jim Allchin himself by ActiveWin. Read ActiveWin's original post.

    The information from ActiveWin has been confirmed by Microsoft's Press Release here.

    So I guess the main question remains: when will Microsoft hold a official launch for Windows Vista? In November when businesses get access to it or closer to January when the general folks can get their hands on it?

  • Beyond the Browser at Mix with Sidebar and Gadgets

    You can take a look at Joe Belifiore, Microsoft's Vice President for the eHome division, talks about technologies that take the Windows User Experience "beyond the browser" with technologies such as Windows Sidebar and Desktop Gadgets. He showed off a pretty impressive Yahoo Stock Gadget which was pretty cool as well as a Yahoo Music Gadget. I'm guessing Yahoo is one major company that's going after the new platform with Desktop Gadgets in Windows Vista - which is great to see. Joe really showed off some very impressive uses of new Vista technologies such as WPF. I can't wait to see all this mainstream.

    Take a look at the video at Virtual MIX.

  • In the future with Internet Explorer

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    At Mix 06 today, Bill Gates talks about the future of Internet Explorer as well as several improvements in key IE 7 features coming for Windows Vista I thought were worth pointing out.

    "Gates said that Microsoft is already working on the next two versions after Internet Explorer 7, which is due later this year with Windows Vista, a long anticipated update to Windows XP."

    This is certainly an interesting piece of information to see come to light. Are we looking a IE 7.5 and IE 8?

    "Microsoft intends to build deeper RSS support in Windows Vista and Internet Explorer 7, allowing people to subscribe to Web pages as well as podcasts and photos."

    I think it will be incredibly valuable to see deeper RSS integration built deeper into IE 7 in Vista. But also I feel RSS needs to be more deeply integrated into Windows Vista in general. But to see Podcasts and Photos integrated with RSS in IE 7 will be very interesting to see.

    Thanks to Andre for pointing out the article via CNET.

  • Windows Sidebar has big day at Mix

    Shawn talks about some cool Gadgets being shown off from numerous vendors for Windows Sidebar at Mix 06 today. You can expect to see a Sidebar Gadget for I can't wait to see more vendors come on board and start developing Sidebar Gadgets for their content and services.
  • Vista launching in November?

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    According to the "Official Microsoft Connections" Blog - Microsoft will indeed be launching Windows Vista some time in Novemember. Here is the exact quote from Microsoft's blog - Mary Jo Foley copied the quote just in case it disappears off Microsoft's site (which is has by the way):

    "This is the year… the year that Microsoft releases the newest version of Windows. Yes, Vista will be released in November of this year."

    Seems like Novemember is a good release month for Microsoft. Last Novemember it was the Xbox 360 and Visual Studio 2005 - looks like this coming November we get Windows Vista and Vista-related technologies.

  • New IE 7 Release at Mix 06

    Looks like Microsoft is planning to release a new preview of IE 7 at Mix next week. This won't be Beta 2, but will be a "layout complete" version - meaning website developers will want this build because no more changes will be made that will break websites (hopefully). Its unknown at this time when and if Microsoft intends to make the Mix build available to the general public.

  • Office 2007 Beta 1 Refresh on the Vista

    I've taken the liberty of installing the 2007 Microsoft Office System Beta 1 Technical Refresh on the February CTP on Windows Vista (Build 5308). I took a few screenshots too.

    Screenshot: Microsoft Office Word 2007
    Screenshot: Microsoft Office Excel 2007
    Screenshot: Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007

    My experience so far with the Office 2007 Refresh on Vista hasn't been too bad so far. All the applications seem to work and function with no crashes so far. The "ribbon" applicatioons seem to come up fast and perform nicely with the new UI. I am impressed with how the new UI looks in black and on Vista. I am, however, unimpressed with how Outlook looks in Vista. The black, or obsidian, skin makes Outlook look absolutely terrible. And you can't choose one application in Office 2007 to use one color while the others use another.

    Also: the "ribbon" applicatiions aren't using Glass yet in the February CTP.

    Screenshot: Word 2007 with no Glass and in Blue

    I will talk more extensively of my experiences with Office 2007 and Vista as I continue to test it out. These are just a few observations and first impressions. I still need to dive into the functionality.

    UPDATE: As requested, here is a screenshot of how "unimpressive" Outlook 2007 looks in Windows Vista. Now, mind you, this is just how it looks. Outlook 2007 performs great in Vista and some of the updates and enhancements made to Outlook (like RSS) are alone worth using it even if it does look, well - a bit off.

    Screenshot: Microsoft Office Outlook 2007

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