Robert McLaws: Windows Edition

Blogging about Windows since before Vista became a bad word

October 2006 - Posts

  • Open Source = Bad Code? Say It Ain't So!

    Open Source programer Harald Welte enforces GPL provisions for a living. So you'd think he'd walk the party line about code quality, right? Heh. CNET reports:

    "If somebody asks me how much the actual free software source code benefits from the code that was released by the vendors, my honest reply would be simple and sad: None," Welte said in his blog Monday.

    "The code quality is usually extremely bad. Looking at kernel patches from the various vendors, I'd say the code quality is, by far, off any scale that would ever even remotely be considered to be suitable for upstream inclusion" in the code base of mainstream projects such as Linux, he said. The commercial programmers spend no time making sure code will be portable to different varieties of processors, including 32-bit and 64-bit chips, will work on multiprocessor machines.

    "This code is 'throw-away software,'" Welte said. "I would be the most embarrassed man if I ever was involved with any such software. Having your name associated with such poor quality would be like a stigma. Any technical person would laugh. And yet, the managers of those respective companies proudly announce the availability of their so-called 'GPL code releases.'"

    But wait a second. I though Open Source was supposed to lead to better software. You mean the code quality is just as bad as closed-source companies? But I... what the... huh?!?

    I need to go lie down. I can't keep this stuff straight anymore.

  • Microsoft Lays Groundwork for Xbox Live vs iTunes Showdown

     1080p, WMV streaming, and the Xbox Live Arcade update seemed to take the lion's share of attention with the latest Xbox 360 Dashboard update that went live last night. But the least talked-about (and even more telling) feature is the reorganization of the Media blade.

    The new "Video Marketplace" link on the Media blade (above the Media Center, no less) is not much more than a quicker link to the "Videos" section from the 'Xbox Live Marketplace" link on the home blade. BUT it shows that Microsoft considers the video download functionality in the 360 a first-class citizen, along with connecting to various media on your home network.

    This is just the first of what I predict will be many enhancements to the Xbox Live Marketplace to make it compete directly with iTunes. For starters, they'll need to make it easier to get to TV shows. They should be getting their ideas for the overall experience from Windows Media Center in Windows Vista. The Movies Guide is a great way to check out what movies are playing right now, and a similar concept would be really sweet for browsing and buying TV shows on Xbox Live.

    Call me crazy, but I think Microsoft is going to win the battle for the living room. In some respects, they already are. Apple's Front Row is terrible compared to Vista Media Center, and with Digital Cable Receivers, next generation Extenders, and Wireless-N coming, combined with Zune and the Xbox Live Video Marketplace, the overall experience between all your devices will slaughter Apple like so many other competitors in the past.

    Let the flaming begin.

  • Final Windows Vista Packaging Revealed

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    It looks like Long was right. Nick White announced the retail packaging for Windows Vista & Office 2007 on the Windows Vista Weblog today. I thought i'd take the liberty of assembing them all for you, and making them easier to see side-by-side. Click on the original for a bigger version.



    Apparently, people who use Office Professional work in much cooler buildings than the people that use Office Home & Student.

    Personally, I think it's really cool. I'm sure retailers will figure out how to encase that sexy packaging in something horrid so it won't be stolen, but maybe Microsoft has that figured out already too.

    The box for Vista Ultimate better look sexier than that though. Maybe they could add holographic flames... or how about a built in SideShow display that lets you calculate how much Microsoft will screw you for every additional PC you have in your house. Now THAT would be cool.

    UPDATE: Added the other box shots from Microsoft PressPass. Thanks Kristan for the heads-up.

  • Secunia Attack 3 Fails on Vista Too

    Secunia continues to prove that it's more interested in staying in the news than it is in making sure the world's browsers are secure. Because what's the point in trusting them as a security company if they helped fix the vulnerability before RTM and no one ever knew about it, right? No, it's much better to let the vulnerability get out in the wild and come back and appear to be Microsoft's savior.

    But more importantly, what they fail to mention (again) is that this attack fails on Windows Vista. I wonder why they left that information out? Maybe they think that it's not in their best interest for people to think that Windows Vista is secure?

    [Thanks Bink]

  • NBC's "The Office" Promotes

    I was watching the "House" marathon on USA this weekend, and I was surprised to see two different ads from NBC using characters from "The Office" promoting Microsoft's Live services. I've been trying to snag it on my Media Center so that I can post it, but no such luck... yet. If anyone else grabs them, send me a link and I'll post 'em. UPDATE: Here is a low-res version on YouTube.

    I expect that Microsoft is going continue to ramp up their presence in commercials over the next 6 months. Between Vista / Office 2007 / Xbox 360 / Zune / IE7 / / Office Live, the word for Microsoft's consumer marketing strategy will be "visibility". Personally, I think one of the reasons Microsoft has been so quiet with marketing lately (save for the Xbox 360), is so that they can use Launch 2007 to carefully craft the appearance of a "company resurgance"; a renaissance of sorts that can prove the company will remain viable through it's next decade.

    But what I DON'T expect is for Steve Ballmer to be personally pitching Windows again. Used car salesman tactics won't sell Windows quite like it used to.

  • Faulty Battery Possible Source of Vista Power Issues

    I was surfing Toshiba's support website this evening, looking for updated drivers for Vista (there aren't any yet), when I stumbled on updated information for Toshiba's battery recall. It turns out that Toshiba added a bunch of models, including the Tecra's (M3-7) and the Satellite's (R10-25).

    It turns out that the battery from my Tecra M4 was definitely one of the batches that have been recalled. So the battery issues I was having with early Vista betas may not have been related to Vista at all... could have been Sony's fault.

    But I have to wait 6-8 weeks for my replacement battery. Maybe my new one will get here in time for the consumer launch. ;)

  • IE7 Hits 3 Million Downloads

    It took just 4 days for IE7 to hit 3 million downloads. By comparison, it took 3 weeks for Firefox 1.0 to hit that mark. Since Firefox 2.0 has only been out for a day or so, no word yet on how many downloads they're getting. But MS did send them a cake. I would have used blue icing instead of black... but that's just me. It kinda look like the girl from Costco that decorated it was stoned when she did it... but it's the thought that counts, right?

  • Secunia and Irresponsibility

    You know, the IE Spoofing "bug" is getting a lot of press today. You know, I find it interesting that IE7 has been in beta for a really long time, and they pick 4 days after it's released to bring it to light. They had more than enough time to report it to Microsoft before RTM... it's not like they don't have an open line of communication directly with the IE team. Could it be that Secunia had something to gain from keeping it quiet until after RTM? Sure seems like it from here in the cheap seats.

    BUT, it's also important to note that this issue does not occur on Windows Vista. I'm running RC2 (without UAC, as you can see) and the "flaw" doesn't happen. A screenshot from their test page is below.

    So, if you're on XPSP2 and use pop-ups, make sure you right-click on pages and select "Properties" to make sure you're where you're supposed to be.

  • IE7 Radio Ads

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    Have you heard the new IE7 radio ads? Well, I think they're cheesy, and not in a good way. The don't talk about any of the features, like it being easier to print, or using RSS to make your websites come to you... they're just stupid skits that don't even really make any sense. They seemed really... amateur. Microsoft, the rolling billboards are really cool, but you guys definitely whiffed on these ads. I think you should switch ad agencies.

  • Microsoft Relaunches the Official Windows Vista Blog

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    Jim Allchin made the leap into blogging today by relaunching the Official Windows Vista blog at it's new homepage, Yep, Jim even has a profile... I hope his Inbox is ready for the deluge of e-mail he's gonna get.

    The new design looks awesome. It was done by Telligent System's new creative arm, Sound Creative (they really need a website), and they've done a fantastic job.

    Better head over and get your screen name while you still can!

  • Xbox 360 HD-DVD on Vista Confirmed

    A member of the Xbox 360 HD-DVD team confirmed for me today that the Xbox 360 HD-DVD drive will in fact be recognized by Windows Vista, but it will NOT ship with decoder software. I'm assuming that Intervideo will have a version of WinDVD sometime in the future that supports HD-DVD. Personally, I think the drive should come with the required software to dual-use enable the device (adding value to a non-trivial purchase), but I'm not a PM at Microsoft.

  • Busy Day For Vista-Related Releases

    Today was the best indicator yet that Vista is nearing RTM. Microsoft RTWed several Vista technologies today: Windows Defender, and Windows Desktop Search, and Peer Name Resolution Protocol (PNRP) for Windows XP. They also originally intended to release Windows Media Player today, but for some reason that was pushed back to Tuesday, October 30th. Combined with the recently-released Internet Explorer 7, these represent 5 of the major technologies in Windows Vista.

    They also announced the hotly-anticipated bribe upgrade program for people purchasing computers between now and the Vista/Office release in January. Specific details of the plan were as clear as mud, because each OEM is handling it differently, but at least Microsoft confirmed its existence.

  • Ready or Not, Here Comes Vista!

    Microsoft has been gearing up their ad campaign to get the world read for Vista. But is Vista even ready for the world? Mary Jo posted a great rundown today on the community's thoughts on this topic, so go check it out.

  • Gartner Has Officially Jumped the Shark

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    Joris Evers from C|Net covers a Gartner report that says that HIPS solutions will not work on Vista x64. But wait a second, didn't just post an excellent article about how the Sophos antivirus product works like a charm on Vista x64, without interfering with PatchGuard?

    In an interview with BetaNews on Friday afternoon, Sophos senior security analyst Ron O'Brien suggested that, even though his company plans to participate with Microsoft's program to build a security services API for Windows Vista SP1 -- and perhaps because of that fact -- Microsoft does not need to create a bypass mechanism for its upcoming PatchGuard kernel lockdown service, as other vendors have recently insisted.

    "Two of our largest competitors, McAfee and Symantec - which clearly have anti-virus products that compare to Sophos - have publicly complained that being locked out of the Vista kernel somehow prevents them from being able to innovate," O'Brien noted.

    "I would say that the opposite is really true: that by not focusing on having Microsoft provide us with the means to access the kernel, and in fact using the APIs that have [already] been provided by Microsoft, we are not experiencing any problems with PatchGuard for our latest HIPS technology, Sophos Anti-Virus, or any of the other aspects of our security offering for either 32-bit or 64-bit versions of Windows Vista."

    By HIPS, O'Brien is referring to Sophos' current Host Intrusion Prevention System, a version of which is being planned for the initial release of Vista. The system uses heuristics to examine the behavior of software that may not have been identified as viruses by way of signature, to determine whether it is likely to negatively impact the system.


    Sophos' Ron O'Brien contends, however, that this is not a problem, at least from his company's perspective. "I would say that other vendors may not have coded their solutions with 64-bit Vista in mind," he told BetaNews, "but because we've taken a slightly different approach to HIPS, focusing more on identifying bad behavior by analyzing code before it executes, we have been able to make do with the interfaces that have been provided by Microsoft, rather than trying to subvert the kernel. That's why we're ready for 64-bit Vista, and other companies are not."

    Wow. See, this is exactly what I've been saying. McAfee and Symantec are using FUD to cover the fact that their software sucks and they're too late to fix it, while forward thinking companies like Sophos have already adapted. It looks like with Scott's article (excellent reporting, BTW), Sophos gained more than a few new customers. Myself included.

    If it isn't plain as day that Gartner has an agenda other than finding facts, I don't know what will. Someone please show these guys the door. Looks like they can join the Irrelevance Club that John C. Dvorak and Paul Thurrott started.

  • More Windows Vista Licensing

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    No, this isn't a post that Microsoft has finally spoken up about Vista EULA changes (they haven't), or a post in support of a Vista Family Pack (it might happen).

    Nope. This is a post that lays bare the true nature of my geekdom for all the world to see. Yes, through all the testing woes, bugs closed as "won't fix, by design", Toshiba/Nvidia issues, etc... I still love Windows Vista. It is a testament that Microsoft has done good things, and great things are still to come.

    So, I've taken matters into my own hands, and enacted some Windows Vista licensing changes on my own. After a $25 upgrade, my car is now officially "Windows Vista Ready":

    So if you're ever in Phoenix and you see this on a silver Mustang, feel free to say "hi".

    You may commence your snickering now. ;).

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