Robert McLaws: Windows Edition

Blogging about Windows since before Vista became a bad word

December 2003 - Posts

  • A Friendly PDC Reminder

    If you got “The Goods” from PDC, and you haven't gotten your Longhorn installation key yet, you have less than a month to do so. Your login (found on the white sheet between Longhorn DVDs 1 and 2) expires on January 24th. Pick it up at today!
  • Intelligent Searching in Longhorn

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    Here's what I want for the file system in Longhorn. I want the file search capabilities in Longhorn to be just as robust as web searching. Take, for example, Google. Wouldn't it be killer if you could Google your hard drive? (Google, are you paying attention?) Just by typing a search string in the IE address bar, something like “filesearch:mypicture.jpg”, you would run a local copy of the Google Engine, ported to the .NET Framework with a full XAML interface. Then, you'd get all the locations of the file, including details and possibly versioned histories if you're using Volume Shadow Copying or something like that. It would also be intelligent and say “Did you mean these files?” and give me a list of files that match based on a probability percentage range that I could choose.

    Then, I wouldn't have to go to the Start menu, go to “Find”, then select “Files or Folders”, then type the name, blah blah blah. I got the idea because I had to search for a file, and my first inclination was to type my search terms in the address bar of the “Search Results” dialog (putting the address bar there was really lame, especially if it doesn't do anything).

    You could make it even cooler by having the Google engine run locally and have queries run over Indigo, so you could search over your computer and the web simultaneously. It would be multi threaded, so that the searching was done independantly.... Google Desktop would handle the work locally of searching the files system and displaying all of the results.... the query over Indigo would bring back web results, and the contents of the file system would never be transmitted. Then, not only would Google Desktop search for files, but it would also search your Internet history and tell you if you've visited any similar sites, and show you the top 5 results based on the probability of all those factors. And, it would learn about your different search habits, both locally and remotely, and apply them to future searches.

    But that's not all. Think about the possibilities in an intranet environment. Using Google Intranet, you could Google all the public folders across the network, using Indigo to create a P2P network similar to Kazaa, Overnet, and Skype, to interface with all the Google Desktops in the intranet. Then, IT Managers would also be able to search using Google IT, for not just files, but errant policy settings, logs, inappropriate files, etc.

    Just a thought.

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  • Longhorn Developer Platform Survey Program

    As you are all probably well aware, a lot of Microsoft folks have really upped their efforts in the world of “community” over the past few months. One of the benefits we get from this is that there is a lot of product feedback through blogs, newsgroups, meetings at trade shows, etc. While this is really useful feedback, sometimes it’s hard to decide which product changes need to be made or which changes to prioritize based how many developers are affected. Finding a way to quantify feedback can be hard.

    Today I’m here to announce the “Longhorn Developer Platform Survey” program. Before anyone gets too excited, however, I’d like to let you know what and who this is for. First of all, this program isn’t giving out Longhorn bits, so please don’t join if you’re only doing it to get bits because I don't want you to be disappointed.

    This program is intended to help us get feedback on Longhorn from developers who already have Longhorn bits, whether through PDC, an MSDN subscription, or other channel. (If you don’t have bits, but want them, you can get an MSDN Universal subscription from To sign up for the program, you’ll be asked to fill out a nomination survey that has some basic developer demographic data, such as the size and type of company you work for, the platforms you develop for, and other “classification” data. We use this data to perform pivots on feedback so we can see if there are trends in data. For example, it would be valuable for us to know if developers using WinFS are mostly VB developers (which is just a randomly arbitrary example from me). Then we would take that information and use it to make sure the WinFS tool stuff we do in Orcas fits in with the VB paradigm.

    [via Ed Kaim]
  • Introducing Longhorn for Developers

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    Chapter Three of Brent Rector's book, “Introducing Longhorn for Developers” is now online. This is the book that everyone was given at PDC, and is probably one of the best technical books I've ever seen. The third chapter is a must-read for anyone wanting to understand how XAML works.

    It looks like the introduction book is just the beginning of a bigger book to be released in January. It's only $21 if you buy it from Amazon now. I think I'll pick up mine today.

  • Fawcett on Longhorn

    Fawcett has posted a great overview of the Longhorn architecture, including what looks like versions of the Microsoft architectural diagrams. It looks like they'll be publishing more stuff in next month's issue.

  • Longhorn and the ISV

    Hey all you ISVs out there, have you checked this out yet? I knew there was a reason that I didn't order the PDC DVD yet... cause good things come to those who wait. Just in case you haven't gotten enough free swag from Microsoft, here comes the Longhorn Readiness Kit for ISVs. Here's what you get:

    * Your free copy of "The Developer Guide to Migration & Interoperability in 'Longhorn'". Please allow four to six (4-6) weeks for delivery

    * Your free copy of the official Microsoft PDC 2003 Conference DVD. This DVD set contains streaming media files and PowerPoint slides from the breakout presentations. We will send you the PDC 2003 DVD Conference once it becomes available. The estimated time for availability is late December 2003. Please allow an additional four to six (4-6) weeks for delivery.

    That's pretty cool. If you're signed up as a Microsoft Registered Partner, then the package is free! I love it when MS gives out free stuff. I think they mentioned something about local training, too. You better believe that I'll be there when that happens.
  • What's Behind Whitehorse?

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    Early word is it won't be based on standards, which I find that a bit hard to believe considering the prevalence of UML.  Time will tell.

    What's behind Microsoft's Whitehorse modeler? [ADT]

    [Via Jeff Key]

    Of note was something that was attributed to the lead product manager of Microsoft's Developer Division:

    “He said Whitehorse will ship with Microsoft's Whidbey, the next version of Visual Studio .NET., scheduled for release at the end of 2004.”
    Good, then we won't have to wait too long. I wonder if it will be in the beta...
  • Avalon Dissected

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    No, this isn't Biology class... put that frog down! Drew Marsh rips apart Avalon to feast on the chewy chocolatey goodness inside. Check it out.

  • Longhorn + Virtual PC 2004

    Jesse Ezell installed Longhorn under VPC last night. He has some great tips.... read more.
  • Microsoft Returns To Platform-Centric Strategy

    Want Proof? Microsoft Monitor reports on the reorganization of 1/6th of Microsoft's core business.

    As I blogged before, for the last 18 months or so, Microsoft has put significantly more emphasis on software developers and returning focus to Windows as a platform other people build products onto. In many ways, today’s realignment is consistent with Microsoft’s refined development efforts. [Joe Wilcox]

    This will be a big boost for Longhorn. Not just the client and the server, but the whole Longhorn wave. You better believe that this affects all of the Windows line, including the Windows Mobile, Tablet PC, Media Center, and Windows Embedded versions. The benefit of having a Core OS team, with the different flavors extended around that? Come on, do I really have to spell it out?

    Not only is it a big boost for developers, it's a big boost for everyone. Think about it. nearly 20 years ago Microsoft released a rich platform from which thousands of geeks created software. This was the catalyst for the technology advances of the last two decades. How much of our entire economy as it stands now is the direct result of guys like Gates, Wozinak, Ray Ozzie, and others? Then, after building a great platform, Microsoft entered its “b0rg” era, where it wanted to assimilate all things tech into its collective. “Your distinctiveness will be added to our own. Resistance is Futile”.

    Now, 20 years later, Microsoft returns to its roots. Who is going to benefit from this? EVERYONE. Developers, end users, everyone. I no longer get to curse the fact that I was barely in Kindergarden when Windows 3.1 came out. I know longer regret sitting in homeroom watching the rise and fall of the “DotCom“ era. Because this “second age” will probably be better than the first. Who will be the next Gates, Wozinak, or Ozzie? Who will be the next to change the world with great software? Who knows. All I know is that Microsoft made a good move today. It's making a good move with Longhorn. And the results will be worth the wait.

    UPDATE: confirms the move.

  • Dynamic Systems Initiative

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    Bill Veghte, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Windows Server Group, talks about the Microsoft Dynamic Systems Initiative. In it is information on how systems management will be shaped in the Whidbey/Yukon/Longhorn timeframe. Here's a tidbit:

    With DSI, Microsoft is moving to a “Design for Operations” model. We’ve learned that dollars spent up front coordinating between the design team and the manufacturing team will end up saving businesses an incredible amount over the lifetime of a product. We’re really enabling that concept through DSI, dramatically simplifying and automating development, deployment and operation of distributed computing systems.
    Hint: This is what Whitehorse will do.
  • Longhorn and Usability

    I came across this video today about the frustrations users go through when computers don't work as expected. Microsoft is using feedback from users like this to help craft a better user experience in Longhorn.


  • XAML Intellisense Patch for VS.NET "Whidbey"

    Filed under: points us to a Microsoft patch for VS.NET Whidbey and the Longhorn SDK that cleans up Intellisense problems while editing XAML. You can get it here.

    It's kinda funny, because I don't remember having very much of an Intellisense experience in the Hands-On Labs at PDC. I'd test it here, but I have yet to get a box powerful enough for it. I'd love to hear if it improves anyone's development experience.