Sidebar Geek

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

  • 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

  • Publishing Calendars in Windows Calendar

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    Want to know the logistics of sharing and publushing calendars in Windows Calendar? Steve Makofsky writes a detailed post on how you can do about using WebDAV to publish calendars. For everyone wanting to know all they need to know about sharing calendars with Windows Calendar - this is THE article to read.

    I'm excited to announce I was able to publish my first Calendar successfully in Windows Calendar. And what's even cooler is I was able to subscribe to my test Calendar in Outlook 2007 running on XP. I think Windows Calendar will be a huge asset to the average Windows user. Entire families can share their schedules among themselves. Parents can publish and subscribe to their family's calendar from home.

    I'm working on setting up a test Calendar to release for the general testing public running the latest Windows Vista CTP to test the subscribing feature in Windows Calendar. I hope to have the Calendar online for folks to subscribe to by the end of the weekend.

    In future builds of Windows Calendar, sharing calendars will go beyond just sharing them online. You will be able to share them on your local filesystem or on a network share as well.


  • New Vista Animation / Logo / Symbol?

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    I noticed this yesterday at - they have this new mouse over animation of an symbol that links you to their Windows Vista product page. Here is a screenshot:

    The logo/symbol looks to be trademarked. I wonder if this is some sort of new trademark and or animation we will be seeing in Windows Vista?

    You can see something VERY similar to this symbol/logo in the below screenshot from Microsoft's Windows Vista Product Page for Sync Center:


    I thought it was interesting to point this out.

  • Project Origami: The Ultra-Mobile PC

    As expected, Microsoft officially announced what Project Origami is after three weeks of speculation. Of course, we've all been seeing the videos and photos floating around the internet so for those who've seen those - nothing really new here except the information that follows the pics. Here is a tidbit from the Microsoft Q&A with Bill Mitchell, Corporate Vice President for Windows Mobile Platforms:

    "Microsoft today unveiled details for Ultra-Mobile Personal Computers (UMPCs), a new category of mobile computing devices that features small, lightweight, carry-everywhere hardware designs coupled with the full functionality of a Microsoft Windows-based PC and a choice of input options, including enhanced touch-screen capabilities. The debut of UMPCs here at CeBIT, the world’s largest trade fair showcasing digital IT and telecommunications solutions, follows Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates’ call in 2005 for the computer industry to develop a new category of PCs that are less expensive, lighter and more functional. PressPass asked Bill Mitchell, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Windows Mobile Platforms Division, to discuss UMPCs and explain how these new devices are different from other mobile computers.

    PressPass: What are Ultra-Mobile PCs?

    Mitchell: UMPCs are a new category of mobile PCs designed to support our increasing mobile lifestyles. They support mobile-tuned user interface features such as touch, pen and dedicated buttons as well as keyboards for convenient access to Windows-based applications on-the-go. The extremely mobile nature of these devices, together with the richness of Windows PC technology, combine to create a powerful platform for mobile communications, entertainment, gaming and new scenarios such as location-based services as well. The "Origami" project is really our first step toward achieving a big vision. We believe that UMPCs will eventually become as indispensable and ubiquitous as mobile phones are today. We are working toward that goal with a sequence of advances in hardware and software. Our next step along the roadmap will take place in the Windows Vista release timeframe. But today’s UMPCs are a great choice for all those situations when you’re on the go, but need to keep informed, entertained and connected via the full functionality of a Windows PC."

    These Ultra-Mobile devices, when they are released, will run Windows XP and from the photo above - you can see its running a nifty little interface system. That interface seen in the photo is called the Microsoft Touch Pack. The Touch Pack runs over XP and "optimizes the touch screen user interface for UMPCs to simplify navigation and ease-of-use while on the go".

    The Community website for the Origami Project is now officially online. Check it out. Week 3 is here. You can also see Microsoft's Product Page for the Ultra-Mobile PC online at

    You can also watch the Channel 9 Interview with Otto Berkes - General Manager for the Ultra-Mobile PC.

    Let the discussions begin!

  • Office 2007 Beta 1 Refresh next week?

    CNET thinks so. They say we can expect changes to the UI and bug fixes to make it more stable.

    Can't wait to install the Office 2007 hotness on Windows Vista. Currently, Beta 1 from my experience is pretty much useless in the February CTP.

  • Completely locked out of Vista...

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    I figured it wouldn't take long before my Dad would hit some troubles (see my previous post about my Dad installing Vista). And boy, did he hit some troubles. Just to give some background, my Dad is the Cheif IT Officer of a Pharmaceutical company. He has sites across the U.S. and a site in the U.K. They have implemented a very sophisticated cross-site network.

    Anyways back to my Dad using Vista. Today, at work he had some issues with Outlook communicating through his ISA so he went into his Network Center in Vista and changed his IP from DHCP to static and input all the information he needed to belong to a different network. He had previously logged in, via a Windows Server 2003 Domain Controller, to a network using DHCP. So he rebooted and when his Laptop came back up, it refused to let him log in. No cached profile. Nothing. He couldn't even log in using the local Administrator account. I've yet to find my local Administrator's account or a way to log in as well. So virtually my dad was completely shut out of his system. Safe Mode didn't work either. So he tried to go back to his previous network, plugged in and all by since the Network Center was configured for that IP address and network settings that caused the problem in the first place, he was stuck.

    So here is my Dad, on a Laptop that he uses all the time going from place to place (home, work, business travels, etc) completely shut out from using his Laptop after making what is normally a minor network configuration change in XP or 2000. In XP, you would be able to log in no matter what just without network access if Windows didn't like your network configuration. With Vista, the mere thought of having a configuration it doesn't like completely shutting you out of your own system is extremely disturbing. How are folks suppose to travel? My Dad uses one profile on XP and uses VPN's to authenticate into his network when needed. He authenticates to multiple networks. Vista just doesn't seem to cut it in this area.

    I catagorize the way my father runs his network as a typical way a large network is run. They use VPN's, Domain Controllers, Exchange Servers, SharePoint, etc to run their corporate network. These technologies they are quite dependant of. These are technologies the company has been using for over 3 years now. For Microsoft to come out and tell folks that the February CTP is the "Enterprise" CTP and yet my dad has experienced this kind of trouble is actually disappointing to me. I would have figured, at most, he would have issues with drivers and what not regarding his tablet. Not doing some of the most basic things such as changing IP addresses. Now maybe my father has one of these moments where Vista just burped up and this isn't such a widespread issue. I would guess if there were widespread issues, we would all be hearing about them from the numerous bloggers and newsgroup postings out there.

    Some of you may think I'm jumping the gun a bit. Please don't take it that way. I am just expressing my thoughts on top of explaining my Dad's experience. Vista has come a long way from being known as "Longhorn" and still has some things to be done yet. My experience with Vista hasn't been terrible. I've had minor issues compared to what others have had. I personally still feel and believe Vista will turn out to be a fine operating system. I simply love the way it look and feels from today's standpoint and can only imagine what goodies we have still yet to see from Microsoft - both performance and otherwise.

    Microsoft just has to make sure that the simplicity that users enjoyed in XP (like changing Network settings) is either carried over to Vista or refined to be ever more simple or users, such as my Dad, might become alienated and become turned off by Windows itself.

  • My Dad installed Vista tonight

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    My Dad has never installed a operating system Beta from Microsoft as far as I can remember ever since Windows 95. So today, I get all these questions about Vista and began to wonder why he was asking me these questions. He then informed me he was currently installing Vista on his Acer Tablet PC Laptop. I was stunned.

    He's had very little troubles installing it. His video card doesn't support Glass, but he's the type of Administrator who disables all the "eye-candy" themes. For example first thing he does in XP is disables Luna going back to Classic. I assume he will do so with Vista, but current he's running it as it appears Default with the "Scrap Metal" theme. He's definately not bothered by not getting Glass. He's installed everything he uses from Oracle stuff to the entire Office 2003 suite as well as VPN'd into his work.

    He hasn't really given me much of his thoughts on Vista yet although he's not doing as much complaining as I thought he would. I guess we'll have to see what happens by the end of tomorrow after he had brought his Laptop in to work for a full work day. This should be good.

  • A week with the Windows Vista February CTP

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    I've been using Windows Vista on a daily basis ever since the February CTP came out. I thought I'd give a low down of my thoughts.

    At work, I've gone to Vista as my primary PC OS finally testing Vista's ability to log in to a domain. I've noticed a few problems in this area. Vista is slow to log out in some cases and Vista also creates a "new" profile for the same profile I had been using. So all my stuff on my profile I had been using on XP didn't carry over when logging into the domain under the same account. I would guess this is by design as the user profile folder structure (Documents, Photos, etc) are diferent in Vista than XP. The performance of Vista on my PC at work has been outstanding though. No crashes and it reacts fast, responds fast, and does what I need to do. Most of my applications I use at work work on Vista which is nice to know so I don't foresee any application compatibility isses in the future.

    Now using Vista at home is a different story. I am pretty sure I have a pretty beefy machine - an ABIT AL-8 Motherboard with a Dual Core 3.4Ghz Pentium 4 with 1 Gigabyte of DDR 2 Memory. Yet for the last few CTP's, my system seems to just lag - it has slow response time to many of the common things you do in Windows. My mouse moves really slow. I thought it was just maybe my USB's drivers weren't working like they should causing some slowdown in my USB devices - I still think this could be the problem. But I tried a PS2 mouse with not much difference. Matter a fact, I think the whole reason for my system's slow response is possibly the drivers for the chipset itself aren't working great in Vista. I'm also dual booting - not sure if this is causing any performance issues but I think I might backup everything I have on XP and go straight Vista by the next CTP. Overall, despite slowness, Vista works well. I've been using it for a few days straight at home and I've had no real big troubles.

    My issue is this though: I set up another PC at work with the same processor as my above Home PC (Dual Core Pentium 4) but different motherboard. Installed Vista. No lagging. Its fast, response awesome. Works great. Why is there so much variation between performance on PC's with similar hardware? One will work great, another will not. That's not cool.

    I wrote my own Gadget last week which I am very proud of. I am working on it still and hoping to release it here at LonghornBlogs in the near future. The new Messenger works well on the CTP this time too which is great. I am using Office 2003 until the Office 2007 Beta 1 Technical Refresh is released - which I hope is soon.

    I think things are rolling for Windows Vista but feel there is still this hardware bump that's there. Overall though, I think the progress seen in the February CTP is pretty good.

  • February CTP Quality Issues?

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    Matt Goyer, Program Manager for the eHome division at Microsoft, posts about what he's seen on newsgroups about the quality of this month's CTP in regards to using Media Center.

    "Since we released the February/Enterprise CTP, build 5308 of Windows Vista, I have spent a few minutes each day reading through our beta newsgroups, microsoft.beta.longhorn.mce.*. Unfortunately I see a lot of posts about black screens, blue screens, glitching, freezes, etc. And that’s if the user was able to get the build with drivers installed!"

     I've used Media Center a few times in this CTP and it doesn't really give me any blue screens or freezes, it does seem awfully sluggish. But at this point, I'm disappointed on how much variation there is in performance between two PC's running the CTP with almost equilivant hardware. My desktop PC just doesn't perform like it should. Its supposedly state of the art, with a Socket 775 Dual Core Pentium 4 3.4Ghz processor. Its an ABIT AL-8 motherboard - a motherboard I'm not particularly happy with in terms of performance on XP alone. I sometimes get these freezes and the Windows XP Event Viewer shows absolutely no errors and Windows doesn't even show my PC has recovered from a system's crash. Yet I go to my Work PC running the CTP and essentially very equilivant hardware and it runs awesome.

    I'm having more troubles as each CTP comes by and as time progresses. I'm thinking I'm going to need to figure out something soon.

    Matt says we can expect a giant improvement with the next CTP. I already can't wait!

  • February CTP Review at ActiveWin

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    Andre has put together a very extensive and well thought-out Preview of the February CTP over at ActiveWin. He's put alot of time and effort into it and I suggest taking a look and reading through it. Andre starts from Installation all the way through the new security features in Windows Vista seen in the latest Community Technology Preview.

    Oh and he's even posted a shot of the new Vista boot logo...


  • New CTP SKU's arriving soon to Connect

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    Microsoft looks like they will be putting online new SKU versions for the February CTP Build 5308 on Connect in the near future. Product Keys for Windows Vista Home Basic, Windows Vista Home Premium and Windows Vista Business have shown up for Build 5308 on Connect today. This is going to be the first time testers are able to test specific SKU's other than Ultimate.

    I probably won't be giving these new SKU's a try. The current Ultimate version of the February CTP is doing just fine for me and it has all the features the others have. But I might change my mind later.

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