Sidebar Geek

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

  • Windows SideShow on 10

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    Laura and Tina over at the 10 Show take a look at Windows SideShow. Windows SideShow is the new hardware technology that is exists in an auxiliary display on the exterior of devices such as laptops, cell phones, and even Media Center Remote Controls. You can read more on the low-down about SideShow here. But in the meantime, I suggest watching this episode as it will surely get you excited for new hardware technologies coming with Windows Vista.

    I hope to have a more indepth look at Windows SideShow here at LonghornBlogs in the near future.

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  • Windows Vista Build 5381 Released

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    Microsoft last night released yet another interim build of Windows Vista - Build 5381. This is certainly a very interesting releasing seeing as Paul Thurrott had stated this build would be Beta 2. My only guess is they might be giving us step one of a 5381 fork that will eventually be stablized and turned into Beta 2 later this month. Or...5381 isn't Beta 2. Utakz has a interesting post about screenshots put online by the UAC, which I posted about here a few days ago, in which some of the shots were from a Build 5421.

    So let's pretend for a moment that 5381 has forked and will become Beta 2 - it takes a few weeks to stablize the build for such a massive release such as Beta 2. While they have forked for Beta 2 with Build 5381 - the Windows Team will still be putting out new builds so it makes complete sense why we see the 5421 shots from the UAC Team. That being said, nothing has confirmed Build 5381 as Beta 2. Another possibility is that Build 5381 is just another interim build and another build somewhere has forked to become Beta 2 already, possibly more toward the 54xx's.

    I am currently downloading Build 5381 right now and will post after installation of anything new I discover with this build. Seeing as this build is closer to whatever Beta 2 might be, this should be a interesting build to install.

    My Windows Vista Beta and CTP Timeline has been updated for the new release.

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  • Windows Vista Beta 2 Coming to WinHEC

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    According to Paul Thurrott, Build 5381 will be finalized and released at WinHEC this year - with a broader Customer Preview Program (CPP) release in the following days. While I have no doubt Paul is correct about getting Beta 2 at WinHEC, I remain skeptical about the build number. Several weeks ago he stated Build 5372 would become Beta 2. I've found that build numbers are quite fluid. We'll see what happens though. Its very exciting as we near Beta 2 for Windows Vista.
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  • New User Access Control Articles

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    The User Access Control (UAC) Blog talks about the Application Compatibility Toolkit 5.0 that's coming. The toolkit will be a major asset for Developers wanting to test their applications for Windows Vista and UAC.

    ALSO: The UAC Blog has an indepth article on UAC Prompts in a Secure Desktop Environment.

    I think UAC is a huge improvement for OS security in Windows but there still needs to be improvements. I still feel like I have to do alot of "saying ok" to run applications etc.

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  • Glass with Office 2007 on Windows Vista

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    Jensen Harris put online some screenshots that show us exactly what Glass will look like on Windows Vista.

    Here's what Jensen tells us about the screenshots:

    We're still planning on some visual tweaks based on feedback and to optimize for glass, especially in the upper-left corner (or, as we call it internally, the "northwest" corner.) But these won't debut until after Beta 2 ships, so these pictures are an accurate picture of what Office 2007 Beta 2 will look like on top of Windows Vista Beta 2.

    I think Glass looks absolutely FANTASTIC on Office 2007. I'm impressed. Head to Jensen's blog for larger shots.

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  • New York Times Embraces Vista

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    The New York Times has developed a desktop application for reading your news called Times Reader. Times reader takes full advantage of the technologies in Windows Vista. Here's a bit from the Press Release:

    Overall, the Times Reader enhances the onscreen reading experience through Windows Presentation Foundation, Microsoft’s advanced display technology in Windows Vista. The text in Times Reader is displayed in columns and formats to fit the size and layout of any computer screen and enables readers to customize the display according to personal preferences, such as font size and content relevance. The Times Reader also uses the same font styles as the printed newspaper, extending the strong brand identity of The New York Times.

    “The Times Reader is a powerful example of how companies can use software to forge new types of customer connections that span beyond the browser to the desktop and mobile devices,” said Bill Gates, chairman and chief software architect of Microsoft. “The New York Times is setting a standard not only for media organizations, but for all companies looking for new ways to interact with consumers through software.”

    They also list some of the features expected to come with Times Reader: ability to annotate documents, slideshow of images for each issue of the Times, and locally stored archive for up to 7 days.

    I can't wait to try Times Reader out. The application faintly reminds me of Microsoft Code-named "Max".

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  • What's up with Internet Explorer 7+?

    In the latest build of Windows Vista (Build 5365), users have noticed that in the About information for IE 7 it displays the name "Windows Internet Explorer 7+". I decided to do some digging as to what the + means.

    According to a Microsoft spokesperson, the IE 7+ is a "internal, working name we have considered calling the browser in Windows Vista, but no final decisions have been made". "We are still referring to the browser in Windows Vista as IE7.  The browser in Windows Vista will have some enhanced security features Protected Mode and Parental Controls that utilize some of the platform enhancements being introduced in the new operating system; however, the majority of features will be the same for both IE7 in Windows XP and IE7 for Windows Vista," the spokesperson elaborated.

    Whether the + sticks or not when Windows Vista RTM remains to be determined.

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  • Windows Mail Tray Control

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    My good friend Kristan from digitalfive.org felt Windows Mail in Vista needs a Tray Control feature so he decided to make one himself! I was one of his beta testers and found the new Tray Control tool he created actually quite useful.

    Head over to his blog and download Windows Mail Tray Control (also available for Outlook Express) and give it a try yourself!

    Kristan is also know for several Sidebar Gadgets he's created such as his Dictionary Gadget and Thesaurus Gadget. You can check those out here. I believe they do still work with 5365 as well.

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  • Windows Vista Preview on 10

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    Microsoft's 10 Show does a Windows Vista Preview. Here's what they say about the Preview:

    "Microsoft Windows Vista! Are you kidding me? We get an inside look at Microsoft's new operating system. From music to digital photos to new search capabilities to Internet Explorer 7. Can you say 3D? Maybe you can but you're going to have to watch 10 to find out what the heck I mean when I say it. See ya on the other end."

    If your someone who wants a real quick sneak peak at Vista and what's to come, this is a great video to watch and recommend it strongly.

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  • Windows Internet Explorer 7.0 Beta 2 Now Available

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    You can now test Windows Internet Explorer 7.0 Beta 2.

    You must uninstall any previous Beta 2 Previews before proceeding to install the full Beta 2 of IE 7. After installing Beta 2, you will notice the UI is the same has seen to some extend from the recently released Windows Vista Build 5365.

    I just installed Beta 2. I haven't noticed any significant improvements just yet but give me a few days with it. At this point I've noticed that IE 7's memory usage is still high compared to that used by Firefox 1.5 which disappointments a bit. But it seems to respond quite a bit quicker than the previously released Beta 2 Preview.

    Also: an x64 version of IE 7 as well as IE 7 for Windows Server 2003 are also available.

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  • Windows Sidebar Review, Updated Timeline and More

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    This evening I've put together an extensive Review of Windows Sidebar in Build 5365. Windows Sidebar is one of my most-watched features of Windows Vista. In this build, we see a few new Gadgets appear as well as enhancements to the performance of Windows Sidebar. I talk about what I like and dislike about the new Gadgets seen in this build.

    Check out my Windows Sidebar Review here!

    I've updated my Windows Vista Beta and CTP Timeline to account for Build 5365's release yesterday evening.

    Kristan Kenney has created a Windows Vista Build 5365 Tips and Tricks article worth checking it. If you want to see the network activity animation, this is where you can find out how to enable it!

    Build 5365 is a big improvement over Build 5342 and 5308. Its an very much-needed preview to the upcoming Beta 2 which is expected to be released late next month. I've been running 5365 all day today, including setting up Office 2007 Beta 1 Technical Refresh and I'm having great system performance. I've had minor issues with IE 7 viewing webpages, for some reason IE 7 flickers while viewing pages that, well, shouldn't flicker. I like IE 7's new UI change. And the best part is most of my hardware came right up after install without any extra driver installations.

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  • Windows Vista Build 5365 - Beta 2 Preview

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    This evening, Beta Testers for Windows Vista were given a new interim build - Build 5365 - to test. Microsoft is atleast a month away from releasing Windows Vista Beta 2 and this interim build showcases several enhancements we can expect to see coming in Beta 2. There seems to be alot more UI refinement in this build as well as some great performance enhancements. Setup has also be refined to let you see what stage the setup is at during the process. I can say that setup was a little bit faster this time around but there's still alot of work in this area to be done to get the setup time down even more. Let's take a quick look at a few things we'll see in this build:

    Windows Internet Explorer 7:

    The UI has been updated a bit from previous builds. The browser seems to perform faster and take up less memory usage. I've not had a great deal of time to play with the major features of this build of IE 7 just yet but I'm impressed by how quick it responds. I only wished IE 7 on XP performed as great. IE 7 in this build also sports a new start page for being ran for the first time after install.
    Screenshot: Windows Internet Explorer 7

    Windows Contacts:
    The UI for Windows Contacts has been updated quite a bit, and works even better in my opinion. Windows Contacts, and the new underlying store for Windows Contacts, is a new feature in Vista I'm very excited about.
    Screenshot: Windows Contacts

    Logon UI:
    The logo UI has been updated. It now has the new "swoosh" logo that we've seen hints of at Microsoft.com. The "swoosh" logo is also showcased in the Welcome Center and Explorer windows. I'm not sure exactly what to call the logo really other than "swoosh" because its animated and goes - well, swoosh. I'm interested in hearing what the folks at Microsoft are calling it. They even trademarked it.
    Screenshot: Logon

    Explorer UI Changes:
    The dark green color at the bottom of the Explorer windows seen when browsing your computer is no longer that dark green but rather a nice brighter gradient of white/green which I think is a major improvement. There is also a line seperating the folder list with the contents of the folder.

    Windows Sidebar Gadgets:
    New Gadgets are available in this build. Refinements to older Gadgets have also been made. The new Feed-Watcher Gadget is supposed to allow you to monitor multiple feeds instead of the previous RSS Gadget that monitors only 1 feed. I'm not a fan of the dot-matrix printer theme they are using for this Gadget. I wish they went with something more professional looking. I don't want my desktop filled with cheesy looking Gadgets that look like printers. For the most part, I've noticed Sidebar is more stable. Unfortunately Sidebar doesn't start-up as graceful. When it started up for me for the first time, all the Gadgets were all layered upon each other in the top right hand corner of the Sidebar. I had to restart to restore it to its nice looking layout.
    Screenshot: Windows Sidebar Gadgets

    Windows Calendar:

    Windows Calendar has updated UI featuring a more refined toolbar. Subscribing to Calendars is also alot more usable. Another feature I'm really excited about.
    Screenshot: Windows Calendar

    User Access Control:
    User Access Control responds differently than previous builds. I am hoping we will see a decrease in the amount of clicking a user must do just to access a simple application. UAC has become a pain in my side, at the same time its a well needed feature. Microsoft's spending alot of time refining this feature.
    Screenshot: User Access Control

    These are just a few of some of the changes to features and noticable refinements to Vista users will experience with this build. I'm going to take a look at individual features later throughout the weekend and into next week. There are new backgrounds, performance changes to Windows Media Player 11 (including hints of URGE), impressive Desktop Search capabilities that seem more refined.

    At first glance, Build 5365 is a nice improvement and change for me from Build 5342. I look forward to putting this build to the test and seeing what its fully capable of doing.

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  • Introducing the Windows Vista Team Blog

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    Members of the Windows Vista Team will now be contributing to a official Windows Vista Team blog - which has the tag line "The official and authoritative resource on Microsoft Windows Vista". Their latest articles are "Windows Defender Explained" and my personal favorite "Consumer Photo Features".

    Check out the Windows Vista Team Blog!

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  • Here We Go Again: Interim Build Release Expected?

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    Paul Thurrott is still sticking to his guns about getting a interium build release sometime in the near future. I would have to agree that it seems likely we'll get another interium build to play with. I was able to get a Microsoft spokesperson to confirm a few days ago Microsoft was in fact considering releasing a new build, probably similar in fashion to how Build 5342 was released.

    Microsoft has yet to officially confirm a specific build or date when they intend to release the possible interim build so until then, build numbers and release dates are speculation at best.

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  • Matt Goyer Explains Media Center Changes

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    Matt Goyer talks about Microsoft's changes to Media Center in Windows Vista. He makes some interesting statements concerning some features and changes current Media Center users may or may not like.

    Yes, we’re changing the interface, and existing users will have to spend some time getting aquainted with the new interface. But given our new distribution strategy of bundling Media Center with Windows Vista Home Premium and Windows Vista Ultimate, Media Center will go out to orders of magnitude more users; new users. Users who have never used Media Center before. Users who likely aren’t going to care that we’ve changed the interface.

    As a current Media Center user, I happen to like the changes seen in Windows Vista's Media Center. I am particularly fond of the left-right, right-left scrolling of photos, music, videos etc instead of the tradition up and down scrolling.  Matt says alot of the design into the interface places bets that users will have 16x9 displays. I agree. I believe 16x9 displays are quickly finding themselves standard.

    Matt says "Don’t get too hung up on look and feel and fit and finish in the early CTP builds". So for those unhappy with the Media Center UI, let's see what Beta 2 brings us.

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