Robert McLaws: Windows Edition

Blogging about Windows since before Vista became a bad word

October 2005 - Posts

  • WPF Versioning

    Nick has a great post on the status of versioning in Windows Presentation Foundation ("Avalon"). Which do you think Microsoft should support... roll-forward or side-by-side? Let him know, but as always, please be polite.
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  • Success! Aero Glass on my Tecra M4

    Woo hoo! I finally got Glass working on my Tecra M4... and I don't even need LDDM drivers to make it happen. It's actually really simple. Just follow these simple steps, from the beginning:

    1. Install a clean copy of Windows Vista, build 5231.
    2. Run the supplemental driver pack.
    3. Download the following Toshiba drivers, and extract. DO NOT automatically run the install routines.
      • SoundMAX Sound Card Drivers - (Device ID = PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_266E)
      • Toshiba Bluetooth Drivers - (Device ID = ACPI\TOS6205\2&DABA3FF&0)
    4. Install the drivers manually by selecting the driver directory from the "Install device" context menu in the Device Manager.
    5. I would NOT recommend installing the following, as I've had Bluescreens with them at one point or another:
      1. Intel Chipset Drivers
      2. Toshiba TBIOS Drivers
      3. Toshiba Common Modules
      4. Toshiba Rotation Utility (Tablet stuff is borked all to hell in 5231 anyways)
    6. Open up the Advanced Display Properties for the Nvidia GeForce Go 6200/6600
    7. Move to the "Troubleshoot" tab, and move the "Hardware accelleration" slider all the way to the right, and enable "Write combing."
    8. Execute this registry file on your computer. It does the following:
      • Creates a registry key for the Desktop Window Manager, if it doesn't exist.
      • Disables the process for checking for LDDM drivers.
      • Enables Aero Glass.
    9. Restart your computer

    Now, there are some things to keep in mind:

    • You will get the standard Aero Glass effects in the windows, such as animated minimize, Flex3D through WinKey + Tab, viewing window contents through taskbar hovering, etc.
    • You're not using LDDM, so there is a higher probability of the driver failing, bluescreens, or dropping out of "Glass". To re-start "uxss.sys" if it fails, right click on "Computer", go to "Manage", click on "Services", and restart the "User Experience Subsystem" service.
    • I've had the worst luck with Vista on my Tablet so far, so use at your own risk!
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  • VS2005 RTM Build Numbers Revealed

    Quan To, who runs the VS2005 Setup Issues and Workarounds Blog, informs us of the final build numbers for Visual Studio 2005 and .NET 2.0.

    • VS2005 = 8.0.50727.42
    • .NET Framework 2.0 = 2.0.50727.42

    That matches up with what my sources told me two weeks ago when I was investigating rumors about build numbers and early releases. I'd expect .NET 2.0, VS2005, and SQL Server 2005 to go gold (RTM) any day now. Say that happens before the end of the week... then I'd expect RTM builds available for download on MSDN before the end of next week. While some people have said that we'd be able to download it on October 14th (come and gone... no bits), I'm not anticipating any more than a 72 hour head-start before the Monday, Nov. 7, 2005 launch date.

    Can't wait to get access to the RTM bits. Hopefully, lots of MS teams building frameworks for the Vista wave will start releasing bits compatible with the RTM build soon.

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  • MSN Phishing Filter for Windows XP

    Microsoft has released another Windows Vista technology to Windows XP. The MSN Phishing Filter is an add-in to the MSN Toolbar that hooks into the same Phishing Filter service that is in IE7. It is updated "several times an hour" to prevent users against fraudulent websites. You can't get that in the Google Toolbar ;).

    But seriously, I haven't installed ANY search toolbars on my system, but you better believe this will be on every computer in the real estate office I manage by tomorrow morning. Gotta protect my users.

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  • Windows Vista - November CTP Confirmed

    Ina Fried over at News.com, had a chat this morning with Mike Burk, a product manager on the Windows Vista team. At the end of the article, he confirmed that there would be a CTP released in November.

    I do need to note that Ina said that IE7 will ship with Windows Vista. That's only partially true. That's the version that will be in Windows Vista, but it will ship out of band, my guess is before Windows Vista RTMs.

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  • It's NOT Windows Vista CTP2, Guys

    I know Windows users are new to this whole Community Technology Preview (CTP) thing, but we've been doing it with Visual Studio 2005 for almost a year now. Here's the thing... it's not CTP2. I know it's the second CTP, but you don't number them like you do Betas and Release Candidates. Numbering them works fine for now, but what happens after you release CTP4 and then Beta 2? Calling the post-Beta 2 build "CTP5" does not accurately reflect the build progression.

    Just stick with the way Visual Studio does it, and call it the Windows Vista October CTP. It alleviates confusion between builds and between Microsoft divisions.

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  • Windows Vista - October CTP Availability and Overview

    I jumped the gun last week, but as of right now, the Windows Vista October CTP is available to all beta testers on Microsoft Connect, and should also be up on MSDN and TechNet shortly. I've been playing with the build all weekend, and here's a taste of what's in there:

    What's New:

    • Internet Explorer - This is a build closer to Beta 2, with a bunch of new features:
      • Tabs - Now under the address bar... woo hoo!!!
      • Better Phishing Filter
      • ActiveX "Opt-In" - Practically all ActiveX controls are off by default. Users have to specifically enable the ones they want to use. As a result, the XMLHTTP object that is so heavily used in AJAX websites is now native code for the browser, and not an ActiveX control.
      • Parental Controls - Windows Parental Controls tied into the browser.
      • Favorites Center - FINALLY a better Favorites management experience.
      • QuickTabs - Microsoft one-ups Firefox with an overview screen of all open tabs.
      • Tab Groups (or Tab Favorites) - You can save a series of open tabs as a single group, and open that group as a favorite.
      • Advanced Printing - Multi-page print preview with a default option to print only the selected text. You can also manipulate the margins live and see the results in a "print designer".
      • Developer Toolbar - I'm presuming that this is the same as what was released for IE6.
      • Standards - Improvements to the way IE handles international domain names, and CSS 2.1 support.
    • Networking
      • Network Center - Replaces "My Network Places" and "Network Neigfhborhood".
      • Improved TCP/IP stack - You now have more control over network bindings, and there appears to be more fit and polish to the unified IPv4/IPv6 stack.
    • Diagnostics - Built-in memory, hard drive, and network diagnostics to help resolve common problems automatically.
    • Windows Mobility Center - New control panel to access common settings, such as screen brightness, volume, and power management. It's reminiscent of a car dashboard.
    • Windows Media Player 11 - It may still be branded WMP10, but it's definitely v11. The UI is nowhere near final, but it's still sweet. Definitely worth playing around with.

    What's Hinted At:

    • Windows AntiSpyware - It's in the Security Center, but it's just a visual cue... there's no code in there yet.

    What's Broke:

    • Windows Media Center - doesn't seem to work on my Tecra M4 if I use the Nvidia GeForce 6600 driver (to finally get Glass) instead of the Nvidia GeForce Go 6200/6600 drivers for XP.
    • Tablet features - The TIP throws a Win32 exception when I shut down, and the neat pen-related visual cues (the "magic" halo when you hold the pen down, etc). The TIP still renders horribly under Glass.

    What's Missing:

    • Sidebar - Don't expect to see it in distributed builds until Beta 2. NOTE: The bootleg Sidebar that's been going around the net doesn't work on 5231.

    I'm still experimenting (and running into issues on my machine... I think it's broke) and I'll have more feature feedback over the next few days. Go pick up your copy (2.3GB) and enjoy!

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  • The Windows Vista October CTP is Here... Sort Of.

    OK, I was partially wrong......but I was mostly right, too. Build 5231 (aka Windows Vista October CTP), compiled on Oct 4, 2005, was posted to the Connect website a short while ago. Apparently, my source was referring to the build in the screenshots being the one that would be distributed, and was not referencing the build number itself. Oh, well. I was, however, right about the date. The PDC build was only distributed 12 days from the build date. This one had a 10-day difference.

    Now it remains to be seen if there will be a November CTP before Beta 2. Time will tell. Maybe if this my experience with this build goes well, I'll attempt it on my Tecra M4 again, instead of from in Virtual PC.

    UPDATE: Apparently, connect.microsoft.com's permissions are kinda weird. They don't filter permissions based on the program you're a part of (I'm enrolled in 3 different beta programs), so it appeared to be in the MVP and Regular groups when it showed up in the TAP group. My bad.

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  • RumorBuster Rob on Visual Studio 2005

    I've seen some more runors going around the web today, this time about developer-related stuff. Time to break out my sleuthing skills and get some answers.

    Rumor: Visual Studio 2005 RTM bits will be live tomorrow.
    Reality: FALSE. Brian Goldfarb, Product Manager, Web Platform and Tools, said “Bits for Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005 will be available as of the worldwide launch event on November 7th, 2005 in San Francisco." That means, don't expect them before that time. Dunno who posted otherwise, but it just isn't true.

    Rumor: The .NET Framework 2.0 RTM is available now, and the build number is 2.0.50727.26.
    Reality: FALSE. 2.0.50727.26 is the build number for the Visual Studio 2005 / .NET 2.0 Release Candidate, which is available for download right now from MSDN Subscriptions. By definition, an RC build is a build that is still being tested by partners and testers. If everyone signs off on it, that build, plus a few really last minute tweaks if necessary, becomes the final RTM version. According to my sources, there have been more than a handful of builds since then.

    Both these rumors started from Ryan Hoffman's misunderstanding of (frankly) bad marketing materials on the ASP.NET "Atlas" website. I was a little confused on this at first glance as well. Microsoft should have worded it "Beta 2 and RC versions" until VS2005 RTMed, and then changed it afterwards.

    The reason that there are two different downloads for "Atlas" is due to changes in the Visual Studio Content Installer (an idea whose time was overdue, BTW) between Beta 2 and RC/RTM.

    Hope that helps clear up any confusion. All in the days work of a non-journalist ;).

    UPDATE: Brian's team updated http://atlas.asp.net to clear up any additional confusion.

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  • Microsoft @ 30: Going Beyond

    I spent at least 20 minutes reading interviews and watching videos on this interactive timeline on Microsoft's past, present, and future. I only scored 60% on the trivia questions, though.

    My favorite part was the updated Windows Vista commercial (in the top right corner of the "realizing potential" section. Notice the return of the sidebar in the video.

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  • I Hate To Say It...

    ... but I definitely mentioned a while back that there were a bunch of editions under consideration for Windows Vista. Paul Thurrott called it "wishful thinking". (Look at 3:33pm), The details:

    I was also told about some bizarre speculation/opinion/wishful thinking (emplasis his, note the lack of a link) by some blogger that I essentially pulled this information out of my butt. That's hilarious. But I actually got this information from internal--and recent--Microsoft documentation that is real and up to date. There will be no more dedicated Tablet PC and Media Center Editions of Windows in the Vista time frame. That functionality is being rolled into other product editions. I'm sorry if you don't believe that, but I'm too busy to engage in fiction. Plans change, especially release dates, but I just deal with the facts, not speculation. And what I published over the weekend is real. It's been confirmed by many, many people from Microsoft at this show. Deal with it.

    But, as the last few weeks have shown, Paul definitely re-entered the fiction business. I bet you'll see fewer exclusives from him in the future.

    I've consulted my crystal ball once again, and here's my opinion on the current rumors:

    • Rumor: Build 5231 is the October CTP. Reality: FALSE. Rob Chambers @ Microsoft publicly talked about Build 5235 being more recent. Besides, if you look at the screenshots, the build date was September 19th. There's no way they'd put out a build that old. Expect something around 5237, with a build date on or slightly after September 30th. That's not from any sources, but a very educated guess.
    • Rumor: Beta 2 is in November. Reality: FALSE. Don't expect anything till after Thanksgiving. I'm expecting Microsoft to leave me a nice present under my tree. Given that, I'm predicting a November CTP as well. Again, the CTP is an educated guess, but the Beta 2 date comes from reliable information.
    • Rumor: I pull information out of my butt. Reality: Anyone who knows me knows my butt is WAY too small to fit all the stuff that comes out of my mouth ;).

    That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

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  • My Windows Vista Experience Thus Far

    When I was at PDC 2005, I had the pleasure of meeting Jerry Pournelle. I talked about "journalistic integrity" this morning... well, when it comes to journalism, it doesn't get much better than Jerry. In his PDC opening day article for Dr. Dobb's Journal, he quoted me as saying:

    Robert McLaws of http://www.longhornblogs.com summed it up this way: "Up to now the only emotional connection Microsoft Windows has with its users is to generate a deep-seated desire to see how far they can throw it out the window." But, he added, Vista may well change that. Microsoft is clearly trying to get its users excited, to be as cool as Apple; to generate the kind of love for Microsoft that Apple users have for their systems.

    Well, I know it's just a beta, but lets just say that I've reconnected with that deap-seated desire. Testing Windows Vista has been the most miserable experience I've ever had testing software. I've installed it on my Toshiba Tecra M4 no less than 9 times. I installed Beta 1 three times, and I wiped out the whole thing, and tried to dump XP for the September CTP. BIG MISTAKE. I installed it 6 times, and I couldn't stop getting bluescreens for the video card or the network driver. The whole networking experience has really left a bad taste in my mouth. I cound't connect on my wireless card to anything, even with the XP drivers. It's been two weeks since I dumped Windows Vista for XP again, and I'm still not sure if my WiFi card is broken or not. To this day I cannot connect to T-Mobile's WiFi.

    So today I found the Virtual PC Additions for Vista Beta 1 on the MVP Download site, so I thought I'd try them out. Well, they don't work on Build 5219, that's for sure. I was able to extract the files long enough to install the emulated video card

    Maybe it's just me. Maybe it's just my Toshiba. Maybe it's just a beta. I'm hoping that things get better in a couple weeks with the next CTP. But from my interview with NVIDIA a couple weeks ago, somehow I don't think my video card is going to support Glass until Beta 2 or later. <sigh>

    Having said ALL that... I'm still excited to see what's going in for Beta 2. I've bet a lot on Longhorn/Vista... and nobody wants it to work more than me. Well, OK... maybe Jim & Bill want it more.

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  • Journalistic Integrity Revisited

    I came across a post from colleague Ed Bott that got me thinking today. Since when did blogging trump journalistic integrity? More importantly, why the hell are people still listening to Paul Thurrott? He doesn't link to his sources (or even mention them, for that matter), he doesn't investigate anything her hears, he just posts whatever he can get his hands on (XP Reloaded, anyone?)... how does he even get access anymore? Cause Microsoft is afraid of him?

    Ugh. Ranting aside, this brings up the need for some integrity in what we do here. You might say that I drink the kool-aid around here, and maybe I do. But there's such a thing as fact-checking and corroborating sources. Paul does nothing but plagarize everyone else's work, without even giving the author the courtesy of a link. He hasn't had an original thought since the first Bush administration. When is everyone else going to wake up and see that he's nothing but a hack who cares more about being first than being right?

    But it's not just Paul. Ed quoted like 5 other sources who also didn't do any fact checking. I love Bink.nu, but Steven makes it a point of stating every chance he can that he's not an MVP anymore, and has no idea why. I'm guessing that posts like these might have something to do with it, although I must note that Steven changed his article after the fact to say it was "Paul's opinion." Steven said the article always has that title, and I apologize, because I thought he changed it.

    You know, there ought to be a way to publicly rate bloggers based on their credibility, and they ought to get more press access for maintaining that credibility. Kind of like an MVP program for people who consider themselves "press". Those who report facts and respect embargos can get more access... those who don't sit outside. Maybe then News.com wouldn't get so many exclusives.

    It seems like the desire to be first is trumping the desire to be right all over the establishment media... is this a sign of things to come? I sure hope not.

    Looks like I fixed the comments just in time. Let the flaming begin.

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  • BillG / Napoleon Dynamite Back and Better!

    Well, my Bill Gates / Napoleon Dynamite spoof footage was a huge hit all over the web. It sucked pretty bad, though. Granted, it was shot on a dinky HP snap camera with no tripod... but it did the trick.

    Well, I was able to get my hands on some super-high quality footage from a friend of mine, and now it's back online! The video's better, and more importantly, the audio is far better, so you can hear all the jokes. It's up on iFilm.com and MSN Video now... so enjoy!

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  • Comments Fixed - Let The Flaming Begin!

    <WHEW!> I finally figured out how to fix the comments on the site. It turns out that one of the comment skins was missing an ASP.NET Server Control. I was finally able to compile and install a debug version of the site, which helped me track down the error.

    So now that you can post your opinions again, please try to keep it civil, ok? Rudeness, profanity, etc. are not necessary to prove you point... and if you think they are, then we'll exercise our right to excercise the delete button.

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