Sidebar Geek

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

  • Using Google Calendar with Windows Calendar

    Shawn Morrissey has a guide online for using Windows Calendar to access your Google Calendar. What's really cool about this is that Google Calendar uses, just like Windows Calendar, the iCalendar file format standard. So if you're testing out Vista, give Google Calendar a try and subscribe to your calendar in Windows Calendar.

    If you want, go ahead and share your Google Calendar with some other folks you know who are using Windows Calendar and try subscribing to each other's calendars.

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  • DOWNLOAD: Windows Media Player 11 Wallpaper

    Sean Alexander posts a very cool Windows Media Player 11 Wallpaper for download off his site.

    You can download the entire set of different screen resolutions from Sean. He says he'll make more at other resolutions if requested enough. The Hive is also offering this desktop wallpaper download.

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  • June brings Windows Media Player 11 for XP

    Ed Bott reports of a CNET article on Windows Media Player 11 which tells us we can expect the player to fall in to the hands of XP users sometime in June. Check out what Ed has to say. Ed also reveals a list of features that the XP version won't have in comparison with its Vista companion and that the XP version will look a bit different than what we're using currently in latest Windows Vista builds:

    When running on Windows XP, the following Windows Media Player 11 features are not available:

    • Playing content (including DRM) on your PC from another PC or device
    • Viewing content from the Vista Media library on other PCs or digital devices, such as Tivo
    • Playback of High Value video content
    • Shell integration with Windows Media Player
    • Content Indexer change notification to sync My Music and WMP library
    • DVD Fullscreen playback enhancements
    • DRM Transcode
    • High quality video streaming over home networks
    • Media foundation for playback

    The question I have is whether or not the player we see released in June for XP is going to be a Beta or is Microsoft going full speed ahead?

    This is how CNET describes Windows Media Player 11:

    The software, which will be built into Vista, is designed to offer better synching with portable devices, make it easier to scroll through long libraries of music, and be tightly integrated with Urge, a new subscription and download music service co-developed by Microsoft and MTV Networks.

    I'm really anxious for this release. I've already started pushing myself to use Windows Medid Player 10 in preparation.

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  • CONFIRMED: No New Windows Vista Build Today

    Ryan over at Bink has posted a confirmation from Windows Beta Team guru Paul Donnelly that there will not be a new interim Windows Vista release today and that testers won't be getting Build 5365.

    "We are considering releasing updated Windows Vista code to Windows Vista Technical Beta program participants as well as select TAP customers," a Microsoft spokesperson tells me. "In addition to the CTPs, we sometimes provide a select group of testers with current pre-release versions of Windows Vista based on their feedback and testing needs. These builds are not CTPs. As we have said, the next CTP will conclude the Beta 2 process and will be called Beta 2. We are on track to deliver Beta 2 in the second quarter of this year."

    So here are the facts we have currently: No new interim build today. Microsoft is "considering" releasing another possible interim build. No current date of release or build number has been decided or publicly revealed.

    I am curious whether or not Microsoft ever even intended to release a build today at all. By the sound of Paul Donnelly's comments over at Bink, he sounds a bit irritated people thought a new build was coming. "This is not the plan and it seems some people out there that have popular Windows rumor sites have gotten some bad information," Paul says.

    Thanks to Ryan from Bink for the heads up.

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  • New Interim Build of Vista coming Monday?

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    Bink is reporting of the possibility of seeing another Interim build of Windows Vista (from hdrive.org which seems to be down at the moment) to be released to beta testers Monday. This won't be the first interim build between CTP's. The previous build, Build 5342, was also an non-CTP interim build. According to what's being said, testers can expect to see Build 5365 heading their way.

    I guess we'll find out Monday if we're really getting a build or not. It will be nice to get another suprise in between CTP's. Its good to get previews of what we can expect for Beta 2. I'm always up for a new build!

    UPDATE: Paul Thurrott feels left out because he reported news of a possible new build for Monday during his Friday Short Takes before anyone else was reporting news of a interim build. I feel bad because there have been times where I've said something first on one of my blogs but get over-shadowed by someone else so I know how it feels. Problem is Paul, you very rarely link to other people so why should people link to you? I would really like to see you start sharing the credit and linking to folks. Having a positive open dialog with other community members always helps.

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  • Microsoft to Launch Calendar Assault

    As many regular readers may know, Windows Vista's new calendar application Windows Calendar is one of my favorite new additions to the Windows operating system. In recent days, there has been alot of talk about Calendar technologies up and coming which is pretty exciting to me. Google just released a beta of their new online Calendar service - Google Calendar. Mary Jo Foley takes a minute to discuss Microsoft's future plans for Windows Calendar coming with Windows Vista as well as Microsoft's plans to launch an online calendar service - most likely called Windows Live Calendar. Here's what she has to say:

    Like other AJAX calendaring applications, the calendar that is part of the Windows Live Mail beta includes basic sharing and alert capabilities, MSN officials said. Google Calendar, for its part, features shared contact lists, cell-phone text notifications and built-in search, according to Google officials.

    "We've simultaneously been improving our Calendar to complement our suite of Windows Live services," the MSN spokesman said. "Calendaring is an area where we will innovate, so stay tuned."

    On Microsoft's Windows Live Web privacy page, Microsoft already has an entry for "Windows Live Calendar and Contacts," describing the pair as a place for storing "contact information you enter there about yourself and others including calendar appointments, email address, first and last name, nickname, home address, work address, phone number, and birthdate. You may view, edit, and share that information with your friends and acquaintances."

    So it looks like Microsoft is planning to move full speed ahead with Calendar technology. What's even more exciting is that Windows Calendar might play a interesting role in Microsoft's upcoming plans. Windows Calendar allows you to subscribe and publish calendars to the web. Imagine having a service to publish your calendars to and giving folks in your Windows Live Contacts permission to subscribe to your calendars, or even make them public for all to see - all from Windows Calendar. The potential is there with Windows Calendar and I can't wait to see what Microsoft does with it.

    In the mean time, Shawn Morrissey who is leading work on Windows Calendar, comments on Google's Calendar service:

    Yes it’s interesting.  Yes, I think the Windows Live calendar is very competitive.  Yes, I think there are some features that could be added to make it even more competitve.  Yes, I am glad that the work we’ve been doing on a calendaring app for Windows is still on track to be included in Vista.

    I look forward to seeing where Microsoft's Calendar efforts lead to in the near future.

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  • Windows Defender Beta 2 Refresh

    The Anti-Malware Engineering Team is called the latest build release of Windows Defender Beta 2 a "refresh". Adam over at their blog talks about some of the changes we can see in this Beta 2 Refresh:

    First off, we have added a checkbox option to continually display the system tray icon. We heard your feedback loud and clear on this one, so those who want to see our icon with the little green check in their system tray as a sign of system health can now do so. We have also improved Windows Defender's ability to report more accurate data about potentially unwanted software through SpyNet so that we can help create better definition updates.

    Its great to see some updates pushed out from feedback offered from users. ActiveWin first mentioned the updated build yesterday.

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  • Windows Defender Beta 2 Build 1347

    ActiveWin reports that Microsoft has released a minor update to Windows Defender Beta 2 - Build 1347. You can download it via Microsoft's Download Center or also through the Microsoft Update engine.

    I'm not too entirely sure what's changed but my guess is they did some bug fixes.

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  • Charlie Owen's Desktop Wallpaper Now Available

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    Due high demand and requests, Charlie Owen has made available the desktop wallpaper seen from this screenshots of Build 5355. You can download the wallpapers at 4 different sizes here. If you're using Windows Vista Build 5342, or the February CTP, Charlie suggestions downloading his wallpaper and taking a screenshot of your desktop and put it online for everyone see. He thinks it might be fun to see how folks are configuring their Vista desktops. I agree.

    Charlie took this photo of the "Leaves and Water Droplets" at Washington State's beautiful Deception Falls.

    I personally think this wallpaper is amazing and should be included with Windows Vista when it RTM's. His camera really captures the color and its very sharp almost as if you can reach out and touch the leaves. This is now my desktop wallpaper on all my machines.

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  • Windows Vista R2: Code-named "Fiji"?

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    Mary Jo Foley has posted a very interesting article regarding the latest Windows Vista delay (announced in March) also delaying post-Vista releases. What's more interesting is she reveals a new code-name for us to get familiar with: Windows Code-named "Fiji". According to Mary Jo, some folks are calling "Fiji" Windows Vista R2.

    I've heard the idea of having R2 releases for the Windows Client. Currently, we've seen R2 releases for Windows Server and Server-side applications. I will admit, I have been pretty apprehensive in believing there would be a Windows Vista R2. But in light of Mary Jo's recent article, I'm thinking maybe I should re-evaluate the possibility. I'm curious if Microsoft intends to do client-side R2 releases how this will effect Service Pack releases. Traditionally, Service Packs have been a combination of importat bug fixes and hotfixes. Will Client-side R2 releases offer us enhancements to already existing features and introduce us to new features? Maybe Microsoft intends to give us WinFS in Windows Vista R2?

    There's alot to speculate about at this point on post-Vista plans for Windows. Mary Jo's article certainly brings up some interesting possiblities and also some very interesting questions.

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  • Want a Peak at Build 5355?

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    Head over to Charlie's blog - he takes some time going over the Windows Vista UI and highlights some major improvements to the UI users should find to their liking. He uses screenshots from Build 5355 to support his statements. You can see the use of a new background and user image on the Start Menu in this build. Look even closer and you may notice a few other things as well.

    CORRECTION: The background in the screenshots is a personal shot taken by Charlie. Charlie looks to be a very good photographer. Would love to see him make the wallpaper available to download!

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  • Windows Contact Store?

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    Microsoft has developed a RSS Feed Store system built right into Windows Vista using Internet Explorer 7. This feed store can be accessed using other applications such as Outlook 2007 and any other application designed to grab feeds from the store.

    Why can't Microsoft do this with Contacts? Why can't there be a centralized Contact store where multiple email applications and IM applications can tap in and grab the same contacts which can be managed by Windows Vista's Contact system? I would love to see this. Then also see the ability to sync up with perhaps Windows Live Contacts too?

    I wanted to bring this idea up with the community and see what kind of response this brings if any.

    UPDATE 4/9: Thanks to davidacoder, he brought to my attention that Microsoft has indeed designed a sort of Contact store built in to Windows Vista. Called Windows Contacts - there is a specific set of API's designed for developers to use to create applications that takes advantage of the new Windows Contact system. You can check out more information here at MSDN.

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  • Turning a corner with Windows Vista

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    Charlie Owen reports he was able to install a newer build of Windows Vista on his Toshiba M200 Tablet PC - getting Aero Glass to work on a 32MB nVidia Mobile 5200 video card. He hopes that its not a "anomaly". Me too. Charlie suggests this is possibly an example of Vista finally turning the corner it needs to be turning at its stage of development.

    Its exciting to hear about performance improvements in Windows Vista as we inch closer to Beta 2. Beta 2 should be awesome.

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  • New Windows Application: Code-named "Monaco"?

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    Microsoft may be working on a competitor to Apple's GarageBand software for Windows Vista, according to Mary Jo Foley. Code-named "Monaco", the new sound mixing application is expected to take advantage of Windows Vista technologies such as the Aero UI.

    Its unknown at this time if "Monaco" would be included with Windows Vista or offered seperately. Like Apple's done with their OS X, Microsoft is including a set of applications in Windows Vista to give users a rich experience - such as Windows Calendar, Windows Sidebar, and Windows Photo Gallery. Mary Jo also mentions Microsoft's ongoing development of a photo-sharing application code-named "Max". Apple also offers iLife seperately for users who want more - sold seperately in stores. Could Microsoft be developing a set of enhanced Windows applications, similar to Apple's iLife suite, to offer Windows Vista users? Could "Max" and "Monaco" fit into those plans?

    Its certainly something worth watching out for.

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  • Windows Vista Parental Controls

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    The UAC Team has posted an indepth article on Windows Vista's Parental Controls. The Parental Controls appear to be quite extensive. I don't think it will be useful to me, as I am not a parent, but for folks wanting to use the benefits of Windows Vista in a family setting should check out their post on their blog. I'm half tempted to give Parental Controls a test run by setting up a pretend profile for a pretend child. Not sure yet if I'm going to do it.
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