Mack D. Male

Longhorn from an Academic Perspective...

  • Search Folders?

    I have to say I completely agree with Rory Blyth on why "Virtual Folders" is a bad name for a great Vista technology:

    If the whole point is to shield users from the (relative) complexity of understanding the hierarchical file/folder abstraction, then why do we draw their attention to it by calling these things “virtual” folders? By calling them “virtual,” we’re already giving away more information than users need – we’re asking them to think about the implementation which is exactly what we’re trying to avoid in the first place.

    I say we call them search folders! I think it's a much more intuitive name.
  • Impressed by the stability of Vista!

    I for one have been really impressed with the stability of Windows Vista, even though this only the first beta.

    Instead of installing Vista in Virtual PC or something, I opted to wipe out an XP installation and test it that way. The machine I installed it on has an Athlon XP 2800+ and 512 MB of RAM, so it's pretty speedy. Under XP, I never really had any problems except for one device driver issue. If I left the computer running for an extended period of time, it would completely freeze up so that the next time I went to use it, I'd have to hard reset the damn thing. Of course, after XP restarted it would detect that a major error had occurred, and would let me send an error report, which I always did. It never could tell me what the problem was though, and it certainly couldn't prevent the issue from bringing down the entire computer.

    Under Vista Beta 1, if I leave the machine running for an extended period of time, it never freezes up! Once or twice I have come back, pressed a key to wake up the computer, and found that Vista had encountered an error, but the machine never stopped working. A little message box saying an error had occurred is all that I see, and so I send off the error report.

    Now while in this example Vista seems to be much more stable (device driver doesn't bring down the entire system), it would be really nice to know what caused the problem! Windows XP doesn't tell me that information, and in it's current incarnation, neither does Vista unfortunately. Something we'll see in the future, hopefully?
  • Back again! Yukon on Vista?

    It sure has been a long time since I posted anything to this blog. With the release of Windows Vista Beta 1 however, I couldn't resist! I plan to post some observations and thoughts and stuff, much like Brandon LeBlanc, who's blog I have been really enjoying.

    So how about a question! Has anyone gotten the CTP of SQL Server 2005 to install on Vista Beta 1? If you have, I'd really love to know how! I have tried so many different things, but the installer fails every time.
  • Microsoft, regulators to meet over Longhorn

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    The DOJ and the states that settled with Microsoft are still in the process of reviewing XP SP2, but already there are plans to meet and go over Longhorn to make sure it complies with the settlement:

    Microsoft is slated to meet with federal and state antitrust regulators next month to discuss possible areas of concern regarding Longhorn, Microsoft's next version of Windows.

    The meeting, which is an outgrowth of the long-running Department of Justice antitrust case, will take place in mid-February, according to a joint status report filed late Tuesday with U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly.

    Apparently the DOJ and several states have already looked at plans and other documents related to Longhorn, so does that mean a meeting is a negative thing? I would assume that if they did not foresee any problems there would be no need to meet, but I suppose there is always room for clarification.

    [Via CNET News]

  • Longhorn May Blend Tablet PC, Media Center

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    Though not earth shattering for anyone who has been following Longhorn, PC World is running a new article that says Microsoft plans to drop the "Home" and "Pro" tags and could make Tablet PC and Media Center features part of the core operating system.

    Building Media Center and Tablet PC capabilities into the basic operating system would allow for a rich and flexible user experience, Brooks says. For example, a high-end laptop could be set to function as a Media Center PC when it is docked and as a Tablet PC when out of the docking station, he says.

    The ideal scenario is to have a laptop that acts as a Media Center PC when docked and as a Tablet PC when on the go. That would be pretty neat, and would make for some pretty cool applications too! On the other hand, it probably means the price of laptops will stop going down, as they would be required to include hardware only found in more expensive tablets right now. And I'd imagine the specs would have to be higher for the media center features, ignoring of course that Longhorn is going to have higher spec requirements anyways (at least for the full experience).

    The one thing in the article that I haven't really heard before (at least not with any sort of credibility, but perhaps I am missing something?) is that a beta version of Longhorn is set to ship in the coming months:

    While still mum on many Longhorn packaging details, Microsoft representatives are more willing to talk publicly about the product now that a first beta release is set to ship in the coming months and the decisions about key operating system components have been made.

    That would be awesome, but I'll believe it when I see it.

    [Via Engadget]

  • Longhorn makes Wired 2004 Vaporware List

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    Eagerly awaiting Longhorn? So is everyone else. That's why the operating system made Wired's 2004 Vaporware list, in the number 3 position. I guess it will be on the list next near now too.

    The list is meant to be funny, and for the most part it is. But this comment about Tiger doesn't seem necessary to me!

    Microsoft's successor to Windows XP was originally promised to ship in 2004, though the company subsequently pushed the launch date to 3015 or something. Obviously, Microsoft won't be able to finish the code until it's had a peek at Apple's forthcoming Tiger.
  • Microsoft, Citrix renew ties for Longhorn

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    Citrix Systems Inc., manufacturer of popular access products for Windows Server recently announced with Microsoft an extension of their partnership that covers Longhorn:

    The five-year agreement will provide Citrix continued access to Microsoft Windows Server code while providing for patent cross-licensing between both companies. In addition, the agreement details new technology collaboration to enhance the extensibility of the Windows Terminal Server.

    I think the agreement is good news for everyone involved. In addition to providing a roadmap for existing Citrix users, it might lead to some new features for Longhorn. Especially when you consider the workforce that Citrix has behind their software:

    In addition, the new technical collaboration piece of the agreement may lead to enhanced features to the Longhorn server, Dwight Davis, an analyst at Summit Strategies Inc. in Boston added, noting that while Citrix has 600-plus engineers working on Terminal Server, Microsoft has only about 40.

    [Via Computerworld]

  • New Concept Video Posted

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    MSDN posted a new Longhorn Concept Video yesterday focusing on Emergency Response Services:

    Watch David Weller describe how Accela helps cities set the bar for next-generation Emergency Response Services. Government agencies, citizens, and businesses collaborate efficiently to prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies by taking advantage of the advanced data, communications, and visualization capabilities in Windows. Mobile inspectors, volunteers, and connected businesses mitigate damages by using a fast-moving "information supply chain" that keeps everyone informed and prepared to act quickly. This video covers technology to be delivered in 2005, as well as demonstrating platform advances coming in Longhorn in 2006.

    The video features some very nifty technology from the latest Google acquisition, Keyhole, so presumably this video was made before that deal was announced. Also, for all you students out there, be sure to check out the Higher Education concept video - amazing stuff!

  • Longhorn to put squeeze on gadgets

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    From CNET

    Windows makes it easy to quickly download files to iPods and other portable storage devices--a little too easy in the minds of many IT managers.
    In the next version of Windows, Microsoft will give big companies an easy way to block use of such devices, while making it easier for consumers to connect their home systems to them, a company representative told CNET

    Sounds like a good idea to me, especially if the technology to allow devices to connect like USB keys do now becomes a reality.

    To put the new features in place, Microsoft is hoping to move to a common model for how wired and wireless devices connect to a PC in 2006, around the time that it releases the next version of Windows, code-named Longhorn. For consumers, that means that wireless printers, networked music players and other wireless devices should be able to connect to a PC as easily as the USB drives today.

    Read the article here.

  • Longhorn to lose WinFS

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    The new plan for Longhorn does not include WinFS. By removing WinFS, Microsoft hopes to be able to ship Longhorn in 2006 - around the time they expect WinFS to be in beta. There are also plans to have Avalon and Indigo (previously known about Indigo) work on Windows XP and Server 2003.

    Looks like the release is being driven by ship date after all. Let's just hope they don't sacrifice security for that ship date as well.

  • Is the flaw in SP2 really a flaw?

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    According to a article, an independent researcher has found a flaw that affects Internet Explorer users - even those who have installed Windows XP Service Pack 2. The article says "An attacker using the flaw could install a program on a victim's computer after convincing the person to visit a malicious Web site and click on a graphic."

    It seems over the years a lot of comparisons and parallels have been made between the computer and automotive industries, so I will make another one. Is Ford responsible for you jumping in a Focus and heading out on the highway and smashing into some other cars because you never learned to drive? Of course not! You're responsible, and you'll be charged and fined, if not sent to jail.

    Why is the Internet and computers any different? Why do we allow uninformed individuals to get out on the "information highway"? And more importantly, why does the blame fall to Microsoft? To be frank, if you're dumb enough to be scammed into something like the above "flaw" you deserve it. (Granted there are some good scams out there, but seriously, do you ever open attachments without first scanning them? Or visit websites with popups, etc for more than 10 seconds? I could go on...)

    Which brings me to a suggestion for Longhorn. Perhaps instead of focusing entirely INSIDE the company on security education (dont get me wrong, this is still essential), Microsoft should use Longhorn and an associated campaign to educate those OUTSIDE the company, namely the users who never took "computer/Internet driving lessons". Instead of advertising Longhorn as the "easiest to use version of Windows yet" Microsoft could instead advertise Longhorn as the "most educational version of Windows yet" and build some serious training into the OS.

    Just a thought. In the meantime, make sure you install SP2!

  • Longhorn Counter-Point

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    Seems that fellow Longhorn blogger Robert McLaws isn't the only one speculating on WinFS! John Udell has started a series of questions about the pillars of Longorn by asking some questions about the database technology. But what is a good point without a good counter-point? Longhorn evangelist Jeremy Mazner provides just that.

    In a time where (at least to me) it seems that hype surrounding Longhorn has died down, its interesting to see a discussion like this. Yet at the same time, I wish there was just some really great, super, fantastic demonstration that will put an end to questions like John's. For better or for worse. Maybe I just have to wait until release?

  • Longhorn Speech!

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    I think that adding voice command functionality to Longhorn is an excellent feature that will likely take a back seat to the eye candy of Avalon. In any case, Jason Nadal has an awesome article on the Longhorn Speech API. Sample code included!

    Talking to your computer can be a little strange, and most people find it uncomfortable at first. Yet if speech could be integrated really well, the possibilites are exciting! I have been running an Internet radio show with some friends as a hobby lately, so slowly but surely talking to the computer seems less strange :)

  • The risk of scaling back Longhorn

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    A recent article on claims that Microsoft is scaling back certain features of Longhorn in order to make a 2006 launch date a reality. BusinessWeek also talks about how Longhorn is getting its horns clipped. The article goes on to say that the company's internal goal for Longhorn is "shipping it by the middle of 2006."

    What happened to "this is not a date-driven release"? I was so happy to hear that for once Microsoft was going to release an operating system when it was ready, not when it was time. At the same time, I understand everyone needs to be paid, so here are the main features I think Longhorn needs to include:

    • First and foremost, better security than Windows XP SP2. I say better because there should be an evolution from SP2 to Longhorn, not because I am trying to knock SP2. Longhorn simply must raise the bar.
    • WinFX, WinFX, WinFX. While I do not think this is a feature that would be scaled back (or could be at this point), I think it is important to mention that WinFX is one of the single greatest features of Longhorn, at least from a developer perspective, and that in turn will encourage great applications to be written for the OS.
    • Avalon brings some awesome advancements to the UI, and I think they are important. If Avalon can bring Windows on par with OS X's fancy UI features (but run significantly faster) then I would be happy. Some incredible new 3D interface is not important in my mind, because I don't think the majority of users are ready to use such a feature. I think Avalon is looking good to be mostly completed anyway.
    • I think the feature that will be scaled back the most (as in the past) is probably WinFS. To be honest, I just want my Outlook database to be accessible by other applications, and thus stored using WinFS. The contacts in the database would be nice too. I don't think most users will use any feature beyond searching for email using the OS instead of using Outlook, at least not initially. I don't know how much of that has been accomplished, but if it has, let "advanced scenarios" wait until Blackcomb.

    I do not mention Indigo above, because I think it is probably the project that is the furthest along at this point, and thus the least likely to be scaled back. I think the features above (and Indigo) NEED to be included, otherwise we will have Windows XP all over again. By scaling back features, I think Microsoft runs the risk of scaling back the desire to upgrade to Longhorn.

    Is a new interface by itself enough to upgrade? I doubt it. Are new security features alone enough? Not with SP2 making XP more rock solid than ever. Is a new communications subsystem enough? Not for the client. I think we need a combination of working, secure features to make Longhorn a pivotal release, and set the base for Blackcomb to build upon.

    Perhaps I am just giving too much significance to the articles I linked above. In any case, we should get a better idea of how the various features are looking from Channel9 and especially from Scoble's interview with the WinFS team on Monday.

  • Alpha Due out 2004!

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    As you might have guessed from reading my previous posts, I like to try and keep up to date on the Longhorn timeline. This is partly due to the fact that I cannot wait, but also partly because whenever I tell someone about Longhorn, their first question is "what is it?" and the second is ALWAYS "when is it coming out?" So I must be prepared!

    It appears as though we will see an alpha version of Longhorn out this year, but no beta. This comes from comments Gates made at Gartner IT Expo, where he also called talk of a 2006 release as being the earliest "probably valid." You can read more about this at Microsoft Watch.

    I suppose the announcement was only a matter of time now that it is common knowledge Visual Studio and Yukon have slipped. So now I am interested, what is the #1 thing you would like to see in the alpha version this year? I vote for a mostly completed Indigo!

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