Robert McLaws: Windows Edition

Blogging about Windows since before Vista became a bad word

June 2006 - Posts

  • Office 2007 Slips, Is Vista Next?

    Microsoft-Watch, News.com, and others are reporting that Office 2007 has slipped. It will now be delivered later in the year, and will be broadly available with WIndows Vista. The question is, will Vista still be available in January, or will it slip to winter/spring 2007? Mary Jo has the scoop:

    On June 29, a Vista spokeswoman reiterated: "The (Office 20007) announcement today does not impact Windows Vista timing."

    Developer and partner sources have been skeptical whether Microsoft can meet the Vista targets it outlined in March. Some said they were encouraged by the improvements in the latest Vista test build, Number 5456, which Microsoft released on June 23. But others said they were doubtful that Microsoft could make all the fixes required to release Vista to manufacturing this fall.

    "If it (Vista) is delayed another month, they can still get it to OEMs to be out by January," said one Windows tester, who requested anonymity. "If it is longer than that... well, they already missed the holiday season. I just want it to be rock solid, and if that means January - March 2007, well so be it."

    We'll have wait and see, but if we're going to hear anything, I'm gonna bet it will be soon.

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  • Want Beta 2? Better Get It NOW!!!

    News.com is quoting Microsoft employee Ian Molster as saying that Microsoft is rapidly hitting their download ceiling for the Windows Vista CPP, and will shut off new downloads sometime tomorrow.

    In case you weren't aware, we are only providing a limited number of copies of Windows Vista Beta 2 - either download or physical copies - and we're fast approaching the cut-off point.

    What this means is - if you want to get a copy, get it now (and I mean now). Visit www.microsoft.com/betaexperience/engb  and either download or order. Because WE WILL BE WITHDRAWING ACCESS VERY SOON. Did I say that loudly enough?

    His updated entry says that the program WILL close tomorrow. Who know what time, so you'd better start your download today, even if you don't finish it for a few days. And make sure you get your key, and activate as soon as you install.
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  • The Post Team WinFS Meant to Make Last Friday

    Quentin Clark from the WinFS Team comes back at us with some... shall we say clarifications... on last Friday's bombshell.  

    Hi. Wow there has been a lot of, let’s say, interest in the posting Friday. I knew there would be interest, and I knew that the news that we would not ship WinFS as a separate thing would make news, but didn’t expect quite the thread lengths we are seeing! Whew.

    ...

    Is WinFS dead?
    Yes and No. Yes, we are not going to ship WinFS as a separate, monolithic software component. But the answer is also No - the vision remains alive and we are moving the technology forward. A lot of the technology really was database stuff – and we’re putting that into SQL and ADO. But some of the technology, especially the end user value points, are not ready, and we’re going to continue to work on that in incubation. Some or all of these technologies may be used by other Microsoft products going forward.

    ...

    Will the "Relational Filesystem" ever be in Windows?
    Hey – we are very busy finishing Vista, and just aren’t ready to talk about what comes next. The vision for a richer storage in Windows is very much alive.  With the new tools for searching and organizing information in Windows Vista, we are taking a good step towards that vision.

    I'm thinking this is stuff that probably should have been addressed on Friday, but that's the beauty of the blogosphere... at least it happened.
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  • Internal Microsoft Discussions on The Death of WinFS

    You know, when someone/something dear to you dies, it is not unusual to discuss their/its legacy. So it's no surprise that there is an internal discussion going on about WinFS. What jumpstarted it? I had a feeling it's a quote from this post:

    Journalists know the game, and play it because that’s how things are done. Take the middle-man out, though, and the whole thing just looks like what it is: fake, fake, fake. It’s perfectly reasonable to sugar-coat a bitter pill, but giving someone a teaspoon of sugar while you sneak up behind them with the suppository won’t make you any friends at all.
    That conjures up one hell of a mental picture. Either way, Chris Miller is completely on point. By trying to bypass the references to Cairo, Microsoft deserved the references being leveraged. It was the absolute worst way to play it, and I thought Microsoft was done playing this game. Old habits die hard...
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  • Windows Vista June CTP Emminent?

    There is weirdness afoot in Microsoft developer land. First off, the June CTP of the .NET Framework 3.0 was released today, along with supporting elements for Visual Studio and Windows Workflow Foundation. In reading the supporting documentation, there are curious notes... For example, from the runtime download page:

    This CTP (Community Tech Preview) is intended for users of Windows Vista build 5456, (emphasis mine) Windows XP, or Windows 2003 Server. It is not supported for users running the Windows Vista Beta 2 for .NET Framework 3.0 development.

    Another lead from the Windows Workflow extensions page:

    The Windows Workflow Foundation SDK has been merged into the Windows SDK which includes pre-release content for application development with the APIs in Windows Vista, including the .NET Framework 3.0 technologies: .NET Framework 2.0, Windows® Presentation Foundation, Windows® Communications Foundation, and Windows® Workflow Foundation. Because the Windows SDK contains the former Windows Workflow Foundation SDK content, the Windows Workflow Foundation SDK is no longer released separately. Microsoft® Windows® Software Development Kit (SDK) for June CTP of Windows Vista and .NET Framework 3.0 Runtime Components. (Emphasis mine, link is currently not functional)

    But wait a second. The .NET Framework 2.0 has it's own SDK. Whose bright idea was it to merge .NET 3.0's SDK with the Windows SDK? .NET 3.0 development is not limited to Windows Vista. But I guess that's why they called them Windows ______ Foundation. Ugh. If I have to download a 2GB SDK to develop with .NET... I'm NOT going to be pleased, and I don't think many others will be either.

    At any rate, all these signs point to the Windows Vista June CTP, Build 5456, being released to the community extremely soon.

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  • WinFS Project Ends, No Beta 2 Release

    In the post that is sure to be slashdotted all to hell in the coming days, Quentin Clark of the WinFS Team posts of the projects demise. Ok, well what he actually said was they broke up the project across different products, and some day they'll go into Windows, etc. Well, I'll let you read the post and the comments and weigh in yourselves, but at this point I have to ask...

    When did WinFS stop being about a relational file system?

    Entities, self healing, and what not... that's swell, really it is. But some of the top minds have been working on this for over 10 years now... is it even possible to relate my data to my contacts? I could do it in Longhorn circa 4074... why is it not possible now?

    Hey, I chug the Kool-Aid from a freakin beer bong here, but even I have to say that Microsoft's putting a PR spin on this albatross that probably isn't going to fly. "it's not dead... it lives on in productized form in Katmai!" Yeah, and Bob lived on to become Clippy.

    Ugh. How disappointing.

    UPDATE: Alain has a slightly more eloquent answer, but I still don't like it.

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  • New Localized Vista Beta 2 Builds Available

    Microsoft just posted a couple new localized versions of Windows Vista Beta 2. Sign into your Connect account, and you can get Beta 2 in German, Japanese, and Arabic.

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  • Five Important Windows Vista Updates

    This is the first of several pertinent Vista-related news items for the day.

    I just came back upstairs from a nice dip in the hot tub, and what do I see but 5 important updates for Windows Vista from Windows Update. They contain fixes for the following problems:

    • Sidebar crashes when you try to install compressed Gadgets
    • Programs attempting to use comdlg32.dll (kind of an important library) tend to crash
    • Using IPSec on a multiproc computer tends to crash your computer
    • Customer Experienec Improvement Program data may not get sent to Microsoft (my heart bleeds on this one)
    • Update for Windows Mail junk mail filters
    • Windows Activation tends to crash after the 14-day grace period.

    Click the globe icon in the corner of your desktop now to install these fixes. And thanks to Microsoft for pushing out patches on beta software. That's pretty cool.

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  • Introducing Kristan Kenney!

    Just wanted to let everyone know about a new blogger in the fold. Brandon came to me yesterday raving about Kristan Kenney from DigitalFive, and how he wanted to join the team. One look at his site and I couldn't say no! Kristan is going to help out with migrating to our new home, which I will announce in the coming days. Meanwhile, he's started his own blog here. I'm really glad to have him aboard, as he's a great writer with lots of Windows Vista experience.

    I'm sure some people are going to wonder what will come of the content on DigitalFive. I would expect Kristan will probably post about that soon. Anyways, welcome to the team Kristan!

    UPDATE: Kristan posted about his plans here.

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  • What I Want from Virtual PC on Windows Vista

    One of the most important applications Microsoft makes is Virtual PC, and unfortunately, it's the app whose direction we know the least about. We know that there will be a version shipping with Windows Vista Business called Virtual PC Express... but no one has publicly said whether or not VPCExpress will be a member of Windows Vista Ultimate Extras or not. Nor have they said anything about planned features. I, for one, would like to see VHD support become a first-class citizen in Vista. I should be able to mount a VHD like it was a normal hard drive, and access the files in it. It would be super-cool if I could have a boot-time utility that let me boot the physical PC from a VPC image... although there are probably several dozen reasons why that is not technically possible.

    But what I really want to see is Virtual PC leveraging WDDM support to increase Guest OS performance. I don't mean getting Glass inside a running VM (which would be cool, but not necessary), I mean using the same desktop composition routines to render the graphics system inside the virtual machine. Basically, the way I see it, the VPC Additions could have an WDDM-enabled generic driver that could tie into the GPU to render the interior of the VPC screen in hardware instead of software. Because you wouldn't be using regular RAM to emulate a virtual video card, I think you might be able to see increased performance, especially if the Guest OS was running Vista.

    Hey Microsoft, do you have anything to lose by sharing your Virtual PC roadmap on the client side? VMWare is kicking your ass here. You guys should be moving faster than this. I mean, come on... VPC 2004 SP1 came out on October 12, 2004 for pete's sake! We saw more WinFS builds than this during the same period.

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  • Time To Upgrade! Graphic Design Work Needed

    Hey all you graphic designers! Are you excited about Windows Vista? Do you like building standards-compliant websites? Are you familiar with skinning CommunityServer 2.0? Are you tired of this site looking the same way it did when it launched three years ago? If so, we need your help! I'm looking for someone to help me upgrade look and feel of the site, so I can ditch the "Longhorn" moniker and rebuild our search engine relevance. If you're interested, please send me an e-mail at robert at interscapeusa dot com with your rate, schedule, and links to some previous work. Thanks everyone!
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  • Hey Adobe: Shut Up And Innovate!

    You know, it really irritates me when corporations use the legal system to "enhance" the competitive advantage an inferior technology has to a superior technology. There are many historical examples of this behavior being leveraged against Microsoft. The lawsuit with RealNetworks is a prime example. Real was upset that Microsoft packaged WMP into Windows and strong-armed OEMs to not put RealPlayer in. They tried to label Microsoft has anticompetitive, saying that "the market should decide" and the check Microsoft wrote in the end is the only reason Real is still around today.

    The reason WMP succeeded over Real couldn't have been because the market already made it's decision, and RealNetworks didn't like it. It couldn't have been the fact that RealPlayer is a bloated, overbearing, codec-hijacking, popup-every-five-seconds horrible piece of trash that just plain sucks ass. No, how could anyone possibly not like their software? It had to be Microsoft's fault.

    History is repeating itself once again with this whole Adobe v Microsoft thing. Microsoft didn't re-invent the PDF wheel in their implementation. They were just responding to overwhelming customer demand not to pay $200 a pop for a free spec. People want to save Word documents to PDF, and since the PDF spec is freely available, Microsoft listened to their customers. But wait, I thought Microsoft never did that?!?!? Apparently, when Adobe made PDF into "a freely-available Internet standard", what they really meant was: "Free to everyone except Microsoft."

    But Microsoft didn't stop there. You see, developers *HATE* PDF files. Why? Because PDF is a presentation/finalization format. It doesn't hold the document's data in a way that can be easily extracted and reused. Developers have been clamoring for Adobe to make it easier to programmatically manipulate an existing document's data for years, and our pleas have fallen on deaf ears. Microsoft wanted to solve that problem, so it took the same format it was using to define the presentation (XAML), and extended it to document data storage. This technique separated the data from the way it was presented, and stored it in another Internet standard, a ZIP file. This makes it extremely easy to manipulate and extract the data in a document for other purposes, such as workflow, reporting, and data mining.

    Speaking of ZIP, it's a perfect example of how companies can still thrive when Microsoft enters the space. The Windows shell can create ZIP files in Windows XP and Server 2003, but WinZip still thrives as commercial software program. Why? Because it still gives users far more control over the way archives are created than Windows does. And they keep coming out with newer versions that have better features.

    So anyways, now Adobe wants to throw a hissy fit. And since Microsoft hates writing checks to arrogant bastards who can't compete, they're making the end user go through the extra effort to download a separate package and install it. Adobe's not satisfied that they waste my time by making their documents an airtight coffin of data... now I have to go through more effort to get a better solution. Furthermore, they want Microsoft to stop using their own invention, because it might be <gasp!> better than

    So my message to Adobe is this: Developers are still cheaper than lawyers. Maybe if you paid attention to your customers, and tried competing in the marketplace with great software written by great people, instead of through a BS legal system, maybe you could return some of those saving back to your shareholders. Not only that, but you might not drag your own name through the mud in the process. If you're not going to do that, then why don't you step aside and leave the work to people who actually know how to innovate?

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  • Bill's Real Reason for Leaving...

    ... since Scoble's moving to Silicon Valley, and Bill's foundation is on the other side of Lake Washington, it was the perfect opportunity for Bill to swoop in and buy Scoble's house before anyone else. Two years is more than enough time to complete a hostile takeover of the whole neighborhood, and turn it into his Westside fortress.

    And he almost got away with it...

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  • Bill Gates Leaving Microsoft

    Robert Scoble isn't the only high profile employee to leave Microsoft this week. MSNBC's front page story right now is that Bill is leaving in two years to focus on his charitable work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He will remain chairman of the company.

    This was a hard decision for me,” said Gates, who founded the world’s largest software company with childhood friend Paul Allen in in 1975. “I’m very lucky to have two passions that I feel are so important and so challenging. As I prepare for this change, I firmly believe the road ahead for Microsoft is as bright as ever.”

    I’m not leaving Microsoft,” he added.

    Microsoft chief technical officer Ray Ozzie will immediately assume Gate’s title as chief software architect and begin working side by side with Gates on overseeing the technical design of the company's software, Microsoft said.

    You know, this doesn't surprise me one bit. They didn't bring Ray Ozzie on board for nothing. His transition into this role is only appropriate given his pull in the industry. In my opinion, he's probably one of the only people on the planet qualified to take the job.
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  • Bob Muglia Talks Strategery

    News.com brings us an interview with The Man, Bob Muglia.

    Can you give us an update on the status of WinFS, the new file system originally intended for Vista and Longhorn Server?
    Muglia: It's going into beta 2 in early fall. People are playing with it. I think WinFS is one of those examples where we clearly got ahead of ourselves; there's no ambiguity on that. It never went through the appropriate incubation phase. The right way to build a technology like WinFS, and certainly the way we will do that in the future, is to spend a couple of years in incubation and gather some feedback. Where we're going with it is that we basically see many of the WinFS technologies very clearly as being important to incorporate into our overall database product line, into SQL Server. So you will see some of those features being incorporated into SQL Server over time. And some of the other pieces which may not be appropriate for SQL, we're looking to see where and how it's appropriate to bring them to market.

    Possibly into the operating system?
    Muglia: Possibly into the operating system, maybe into the Office products even.

    How did WinFS get ahead of the process, so to speak?
    Muglia: It's part of the Longhorn wave of getting ahead of ourselves. A little overambitious. We learned from that.

    Looking forward, does Microsoft envision doing these monolithic operating system releases, or will you adopt more of a downloadable model of adding onto the base kernel?
    Muglia: We've done a lot of downloads and we will continue to do those. An example of where we need to do those is when the industry moves and you've got to be there. So for example, we just did this scalable networking pack for Windows Server 2003. The industry was there. We needed to do that as an out-of-band release. So we will continue to do those. That one was relatively easy because we're attached to the hardware community. What we've learned is that out-of-band releases have a hard time getting customer acceptance in the enterprise. Businesses don't like lots of little things.

    Read the rest of the interview here.
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