Robert McLaws: Windows Edition

Blogging about Windows since before Vista became a bad word

July 2005 - Posts

  • Windows Vista Marketing: First Thoughts

    A year and a half ago, I wrote about how Microsoft should completely abandon the name "Windows" for their OS name. I was completely serious about it, but I knew it would never happen. It seems that maybe the Windows marketing team took some of what I had to say to heart in coming up with the new name for Longhorn. They didn't ditch it, but I think they did the next best thing.

    Windows Vista... where do I start? Well, I think it's freakin awesome! How in the world can anyone get excited about "Windows 2006"? Yawn. That's fine, as long as it's still 2006. But when 2007 rolls around, it already sounds dated. Think about when you last heard someone talking about Windows 2000. I bet your first reaction is "that's so 5 years ago." In computer years, that's practically a lifetime. But with "Windows Vista'', you get a very emotional reaction. Personally. The word "vista'' makes me think of standing on the ledge of the Grand Canyon and looking out on the horizon. From a logical standpoint, it makes perfect sense. What are you gonna see when you look out a window? A view. Vista is Spanish for view. Do I need to draw you a freakin picture? Hah. Just kidding.

    It's almost uncanny, the response from average users. So far, it has followed almost the exact same pattern, verbatim:

    Me: What do you think of "Windows Vista"?
    Person X: (silence...) That's like a view, right?
    Me: Yeah
    Person X: (silence...) Yeah. (tone of voice goes up.) I get it. That's really cool!

    It's very interesting to me the tone of voice in the reaction after the name clicks in their head. Regular people get excited about it. Think about it. When was the last time that happened? People lined up by the thousands for the midnight launch of Windows 95. But that was 10 years ago. Maybe a creative new name will help generate enough interest to get people to make the switch.

    One other thing I've noticed about the name... most geeks hate it... at least at first. They like the date names and stuff. But most end up feeling the same way Ryan Hoffman felt after a day or two. Also an interesting pattern to watch.

    Now lets talk about the tagline...

    Clear. Confident. Connected. Bringing clarity to your world.

    That's really powerful start. Three words that invoke a very visceral response from people. These are things that people want their computers to be. The world is a really fast-paced place, and the masses hunger for technologies that can make life simpler a easier to understand. But the masses shouldn't have to understand the details of how their computer works to get it to work. It should just work for them, and it should provide clear answers when it doesn't work.

    That's not the case today, not even with Windows XP. Except for "Connected", Windows today does not embody these terms. Computes do not bring clarity to most people. Most people cannot stand interacting with their computer. They have to deal with viruses, spyware, or spam. They have to deal with device drivers & network connections. Computers don't made life easier... just more complicated. Hell, I LOVE technology, and most days I still want to chuck my laptop out a window. You shouldn't have to be a geek like me to get through a day with your computer.

    Confident. That's such a great word. You almost stick your chest out a little further as you say it. Many if its synonyms are so overused in the industry. Words like "secure", "protected", etc. But "confident" works differently in the mind; its much broader in scope. For example, it makes you think that after 6 iterations, Microsoft is confident they're finally getting it right. And you can be confident that your computer isn't going to become a zombie, handing out your personal information to anyone and everyone it can. Confident is a very strong word, especially in a world where so many people lack basic confidence in themselves and others.

    So Windows Vista has a bright future, I think. Microsoft has done a fantastic job trying to make this release about what Windows can do for people, not what it can do for the hardware. Think about it. For 20 years, Microsoft has been focused on how to make your computer do stuff. Where Microsoft has totally sucked for about as long is in finding out how their customers took advantage of all that stuff their computer could do. I was up in Redmond last week, and I found out that this time around, Microsoft did a ton of really innovative testing with average users. The results of that testing will be very apparent when Windows Vista Beta 2 rolls around, although some of it is already apparent in this release.

    Now, Microsoft engineers have to deliver on the marketing-speak (typically referred to as B.S.) Seriously, when was the last time you felt like Microsoft's software really delivered on the capabilities that the marketing people said it had? There's definitely a gap there. It's time to close that gap, and overdeliver on what Windows Vista will be capable of. Take note, marketers: you've done a good job so far... now let the OS speak for itself. You are confident in it, aren't you? ;).

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  • nVidia Needs To Get Their Act Together

    So I installed the nVidia Vista Alpha drivers I talked about earlier... and I am extremely disappointed.

    First of all, the drivers don't support my GeForce Go 6600 TE graphics card in my Toshiba Tecra M4. I don't know what the deal is, but apparently the card is a custom design specifically for the Tecra M4, and isn't covered in the standard driver package. From the site:

    NVIDIA has made available the following alpha drivers for Windows Vista Beta 1. The current ForceWare alpha driver is a preview release that will enable you to test the basic features and capabilities of the new operating system. This alpha driver has no performance optimizations included and has received limited stability testing.

    The drivers are absolute ***. As I said, the drivers from my version of the 6600 aren't even there. So I manually picked another flavor of the 6600 instead. Well, it won't recognize the resolution of my screen at all. It doesn't scale the resolution to fit the screen. Instead, as previously reported, the resolution scales down the screen, past the bottom edge so I can't even see the start menu or the taskbar. I get Aero Glass, whoopety doo, but I can't do anything anyways. My only option is to dock my taskbar to the top of the screen, which I can bet is going to be a poor user experience.

    What pisses me off more than anything was nVidia's overwhelming presence at WinHEC, where they touted their "commitment" to the platform. They plastered their own stylized Longhorn logo everywhere, and told people like me that their stuff was "ready for Longhorn". So Vista Beta 1 is here, and there is no visible download link for updated drivers on the site. I had to find out about it from whatever source Neowin came up with.

    Meanwhile, ATI's drivers are rock solid, and came out the DAY AFTER Windows Vista Beta 1 hit the streets. They showed up as a new item on their website, and the direct link was readily accessible. I understand now why nVidia doesn't have a direct link on their site. If I were them, I'd be embarassed as hell at these drivers.

    But forget it if I want to tell someone at nVidia that myself. Cause my graphics card came with my computer, so technically I'm not an nVidia customer, and I can't get support. I can't even get a phone number of someone to talk to. I'm not "worthy" enough for that.

    You guys have had a very long time to come up with drivers for your customers. Instead, you put out drivers that feel like they were whipped together in a few days at the very last minute, without testing. What the hell have you guys been doing for the past 2 years? You aren't making enough money that you can't put a team together to have a solid driver model? ATI's gonna kick your ass on Vista if you don't get your act together. And if I don't get some solid drivers that work for my graphics card soon, you better believe my next graphics card will be an ATI.

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  • IE7 on XPSP2: Uninstalled

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    Well, I'm all for Microsoft coming up with another version of IE. I think when it's done, it will be great. But I've been having connectivity issues ever since I installed Windows OneCare Live and IE7 together. Plus, I tried to launch Trillian this morning, and it crashes cause of a problem with the MSN plugin. Since most of my contacts are on MSN, and Cerulean Studios hasn't responded with an ETA for the fix, IE7 had to go. I'll still be testing it on Vista... but it's not solid enough to be a part of my every day browsing experience.
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  • NVIDIA: I want my GeForce Go 6200 TE Vista drivers

    I can't enable Aero Glass on my new Toshiba Tecra M4 tablet cause my brand new 128MB graphics card from nVidia doesn't have WGF drivers for Vista. Hey guys - ATI had their Vista drivers yesterday. Where are yours?

    UPDATE: Bink.nu had a tip from Neowin that nVidia has put up WGF (LDDM) -compatible drivers for their graphics cards. I have to reinstall Vista cause I screwed up my dual-boot installation. After that's done, I'll post details on how the drivers work on my Tablet.

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  • Installing Vista on VirtualPC or Blank Drives

    The Release Notes for Vista specify that you can't install Vista on a "RAW" or unpartitioned and unformatted hard drive. That's exactly the kind of drive that VirtualPC creates when you set up a new OS. Fortunately, the release notes have a work around.

    Setup in this release of "Longhorn" versions of Windows does not support installing to "RAW" disks (disks without a partition). To work around this issue, install the "Longhorn" version of Windows on a partitioned disk. If you must install to a RAW disk, press SHIFT+F10 to open a command prompt. Use the Diskpart utility to create a disk partition. Restart the computer after creating the partition, and start Setup again. The disk should be available for use.

    That should help. The previous workaround was to pop in the Windows XP cd and create a partition with that setup routine. At least this is a tad easier. Just one of the many reasons why Windows Vista Beta 1 is not yet ready for public consumption.

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  • IE7 on XPSP2 - First Impressions

    So I FINALLY got access to my beta account, so I could test out Windows Vista and IE7. I'm posting this entry from IE7, and I wanted to share some first impressions.

    Setup was really simple. One thing I did want to mention is that Windows Geniune Advantage checking is built into the setup program. That's right... you have to have a legit copy of Windows to install it. After that, it quickly installed all the files it needed, and restarted my computer.

    When it came back on, I was greeted with the "Creating personalized settings for... Internet Explorer 7" dialog that I hadn't seen since like IE5. Talk about a trip through the wayback machine. Some code never changes ;).

    Now, onto the browser window. I cannot stress this stongly enough. I ABHOR the tabbed browsing implementation. Having the tabs above the "File | Edit | View..." menu is terrible. And why would I have the address bar above the tab? Wouldn't it be below the tab?!?? ARRGH. My opinion: if you're gonna do tabs, don't interrupt the "File Edit View" menu paradigm everyone is already used to. Put the tabs on the bottom of the window or something. Or switch the File menu and the Address Bar so it feels more like what most users would expect.

    I may be dumb, but it took me 5 minutes to find the damn "Stop" button. Here's a hint. It magically disappears when it's not needed. The "Refresh" button to the left of the address bar turns into the "Stop" button when the page is loading. What happened to my big red stop sign?

    Oh yeah, another funny thing. You may have heard about the new "Connect" beta program. Well, the connect site won't let me log in with IE7. Oops. That's OK though, cause the FreeTextBox control that CommunityServer uses to post entries (the one I'm using now) doesn't like it either. I'm writing this entry in a very large text box.

    Finally, I'm hoping that the RSS functionality has some kind of API for aggregators to interact with. Because the button on the chrome on XP is pointless without the RSS functionality in Vista. Right now, it's confusing, and doesn't do anything... so IE Team: if it's not going to have a function in Beta 2, pull it from the XP builds. Seriously.

    We'll see how I get used to it in a few days. I'll tell you what though... it's nice to not have 12 IE windows open in my taskbar. I might even be able to bump it down to 2 row instead of 2 now. That's a whole 6 square inches of screen real estate that I never had before ;).

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  • While You Were Sleeping...

    ...Microsoft posted the IE7 beta to MSDN. It's under "Operating Systems | Internet Explorer". Now all the people who when nuts on the IE blog can stick it. The beta is public now.
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  • Speed Up Your Windows Vista MSDN Download

    Jason Mauss has a great tip for speeding up your MSDN downloads using the File Transfer Manager. Thanks to Jason, my Windows Vista download is humming @ over 150KB/sec.
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  • Windows Vista Logo Program

    Microsoft has announced details on how to qualify for the Windows Vista partner logo program. It outlines the benefits of the program, as well as details for the Windows Vista-Ready PC program.

    Download the brochure.

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  • Windows Vista for IT Professionals

    Windows Vista also has a new home on TechNet, where you can find out about Desktop Management, Security and Protection, Deployment, and other new features, specifically designed for IT Professionals.

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  • Windows Vista Beta 1 on MSDN

    Microsoft has launched the Windows Vista Developer Center on MSDN. It has links to download Windows Vista Beta 1 for MSDN subscribers, although I haven't been able to locate the download yet. It has an overview of what Windows Vista means for developers, as well as links to WinVi related downloads

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  • Fun with Acronyms

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    According to eWeek, Longhorn isn't the only one to have a name change. Even thought Microsoft stepped away from the alphabet soup for Windows Vista, we're back to dealing with three-letter acronyms (TLAs) for Indigo and Avalon. (Side note: isn't it funny that the acronym for Three Letter Acronym is itself a three letter acronym?)

    Indigo = Windows Communication Foundation
    Avalon = Windows Presentation Foundation

    Personally, I think Avalon's name is dumb. When I try to explain Avalon to a non-techie end user, and I use the word "presentation", they say "Oh, you mean like Powerpoint?" Microsoft's mantra for names from this point forward should be "eschew obfuscation".

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  • Jim Allchin on Windows Vista

    News.com sat down with Jim Allchin, VP of the Windows division at Microsoft, to discuss what's coming in Windows Vista Beta 1.
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  • Windows Vista Beta 1: Just The Facts

    Microsoft's PressPass has an overview of the capabilities of Windows Vista Beta 1. It outlines the different ways that Windows Vista is Clear, Confident, and Connected.
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  • eWeek Reviews Microsoft's Beta Day Releases

    eWeek's Peter Galli discusses Windows Vista Beta 1, as well as IE7, with Microsoft's Greg Sullivan.
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