Robert McLaws: Windows Edition

Blogging about Windows since before Vista became a bad word

October 2007 - Posts

  • Doncha Love That New OS Smell?

    BSODs (oops, sorry "kernel panics"), application compatibility problems, new security dialogs, pundits warning users to postpone upgrades, users canning the OS entirely... is it time for Vista SP1? Nope, seems like Vista isn't the only operating system that had a lot of issues right out of the gate. OS X "Leopard" has finally launched, and all those Mac fanboys who laughed haughtily at Vista users have been choking on crow feathers for a few days now.

    Even Microsoft-watchers-turned-Mac-fanboys are having second thoughts. Joe Wilcox, who is arguably no great fan of the company he writes about, says [via Neowin]:

    Apple's newest operating system is at best an evolution from predecessor Tiger. Some of the criticisms leveled at Windows Vista apply to Leopard. Seriously.

    ...

    By comparison, Vista's shakedown is largely over. I have little to complain about and lots more to like about Vista than I did in February.

    Before I get flamed for posting about it, Joe also posted a list of reasons it is better than Vista, but as he said himself, they had little to do with Leopard itself and more with the ecosystem. (His post about the Microsoft/Apple Double-Standard is also a good read).

    Switchers aren't the only ones pissed. Even Apple co-founder Steve Wozinak doesn't have very good things to say about the company right now.

    Of course Apple will post fixes for all this stuff, and life will go on. But between this, the iPhone unlocking debacle, using credit cards to track who purchased what iPhone (and limiting the number you can buy) to fight unlockers, screwing their early iPhone adopters, Apple may very well be architecting the worst PR turnaround in history.

    In the meantime, Brad Wardell, one of the most well-versed people on the technical details of the Windows platform (and therefore one of it's more vocal critics) just posted a list of the "Ten Cool Things about Vista you may not have heard of", otherwise known as "10 of the 30,000 new features in Vista you're guaranteed to take for granted."

    Now Microsoft should come out with commercials making fun of Leopard, like Apple did with Vista. But I don't think Microsoft would do that... they have more class than that.

    Apple users: Enjoy your new OS, and us Windows fanboys will try to refrain from laughing at you... too hard.

    UPDATE: Apparently Leopard has other quality control issues as well. Apple, your arrogance has just gone too far. The day is coming where it will come back to bite you, just like it did Microsoft.

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  • The Feature Comparison Chart Team Windows Should Be Watching

    Engadget has put together a side-by-side comparison of Vista vs. Leopard. It shouldn't be surprising to anyone that Engadget thinks Apple is better (the same as it shouldn't be a surprise that, I'd probably dispute that, if I had a copy of Leopard to try out), but it was a lot closer than I expected.

    Vista beat out the Mac in media features (well, duh), but iLife still edges out the integrated Vista counterparts. Hopefully the Windows Live takeover of most of those apps will lead to greater improvements over a shorter timeframe.

    If I were on the Windows team, I would be actively engaging with these people to find out what they can do to beat out Apple in the usability department (at least something a little more intelligent then "cuz Apple rulezors", anyways)

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  • Microsoft Releases New Live Maps, Adds Photosynth Integration

    So I was goofing around with the new Live Search maps today, and I've been really impressed with the new UI. Interacting with the site has been a lot cleaner then it used to be, and I think they've done a great job with interface design.

    Then I switch to the 3D view, and I discovered some truly amazing new features. Apparently the team has integrated technology from Microsoft Live Labs Photosynth into the 3D suite, and now you can hover over the different areas, and see the exactly what region the Birds-Eye shot is from. It also moves seamlessly between each shot, which was a poor experience before.

    Kudos to the Live Maps team. V2 is an amazing piece of software, and I hope the rest of the blogosphere takes notice too.

    [YouTube:r4L4T1pUZUU]

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  • Remaining Vista Ultimate Extras Language Packs RTM

    The Ultimate Extras team has finally shipped the remaining batch of Language Packs that they promised. The languages we are adding today are as follows:

    • Arabic
    • Bulgarian
    • Croatian
    • Czech
    • Estonian
    • Greek
    • Hebrew
    • Hungarian
    • Latvian
    • Lithuanian
    • Polish
    • Portuguese (Portugal)
    • Romanian
    • Serbian (Latin)
    • Slovak
    • Slovenian
    • Thai
    • Turkish
    • Ukrainian

    ...bringing the total number of supported languages to 35. Before you download these, you should download the updated Language Pack Installer, which fixes a number of issues. (Why they didn't send this out with Windows Update, I don't know.)

    Barry also had some words on the future of Ultimate Extras:

    Given our track record, it would be unwise to provide details of what comes next until I am 100% confident in our ability to deliver. Please rest assured, though, that our team is working on hard to deliver on our promise to Ultimate customers. I look forward to announcing the next Ultimate Extra. Please stay tuned…

    I think it is fantastic that the Ultimate Extras team is dealing with the situation in an open and honest way. While it's really easy to lambaste Microsoft for not delivering on the UE promise, they were really going out on a limb to try something different. I really hope they can pull it together and deliver some really cool things for Vista Ultimate customers.

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  • Microsoft Closes Facebook Investment Deal

    Microsoft and Facebook have just announced that Microsoft has bought a 1.6% share of Facebook for $240M. That puts the valuation of the company at over $15B.

    That seems a bit high to me, seeing as how Microsoft's value is at about $290B right now, but isn't that what makes a tech bubble so great?

    it will be interesting to see what comes of this from the developer side of things. Will Facebook integrate with Windows Live ID & CardSpace? Will Microsoft launch a new product offering for adCenter that specifically targets Facebook? Will Microsoft build a Facebook SDK for .NET? Only time will tell...

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  • New Products Added to the Windows-Now Store

    Recently, Amazon added a new "widgets" platform to their Amazon Store system. I had been trying to build my own Vista/Live Gadget for this purpose for a while, fortunately now I don't have to worry about that.

    So today, I rolled out the Amazon gadget throughout the site, and added a bunch of Microsoft-related Amazon products to the Windows-Now Store. It randomly shows a new item on each page load, showing off Microsoft products that our contributors recommend. Besides just Windows Vista stuff, you can now pick up the new Zunes, copies of Windows Home Server, some Xbox 360 gear, or check out a couple more books that I'm recommending.

    So please, help support our upcoming expansion and get your Microsoft gear through our Amazon Store. I'm hoping someday this site will actually break even.

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  • What Would You Ask Bill Gates about Philanthropy?

    Newsweek posed just that question earlier this month, and received more than 400 questions about how his plans to change the world. Today, they published his answers.

    Edit: Corrected my spelling mistake in the title.

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  • Windows Home Server Toolkit v1

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    The Windows Home Server Toolkit is a collection of tools that help you troubleshoot issues with Windows Home Server. The toolkit has the following components:

    • Error Reporting
      The Error Reporting tool collects log files from your home computer and sends them to Microsoft. These log files are useful to Microsoft Support when troubleshooting problems you may encounter with Windows Home Server.
    • Windows Home Server Connector Troubleshooter
      The Windows Home Server Connector Troubleshooter is a program that runs on your home computer to help troubleshoot problems you may encounter while installing the Connector software. The Connector Troubleshooter runs a series of tests to check the most common Connector Setup problems, and then it recommends possible solutions.
    • Windows Home Server Toolkit Add-in
      You can also use the Troubleshooter to install a Windows Home Server Toolkit Add-in on your home server. With this Add-in, you can run troubleshooting tasks from the Windows Home Server Console Settings page.
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  • .NET 3.5 Source: Microsoft's Open Source Killer?

    You know, there are just some days where Microsoft can never win. Take Wednesday for example. Microsoft made their big announcement that they were releasing the source code for .NET 3.5 under the Microsoft Reference License, which is a "look but don't touch" license. It's a really great development for developers, because now we can step through .NET code while debugging our applications, which sometimes can be a HUGE help.

    So then Steven "The Sky Is Falling" Vaughan-Nichols writes up a piece for eWeek saying that it's a trap for Mono. His chief argument is that Mono and Moonlight are all in jeopardy, because the license doesn't allow for the MS-RL code to influence other code.

    But while Mr. Vaughan-Nichols like to reference Mono, he conveniently forgot to mention that Microsoft and Novell just entered a partnership to give the Mono team assistance on the Moonlight project. He also forgets that .NET is already an ECMA standard, and the source code for .NET has been published under the name "ROTOR" ever since version 1.0. Finally, Microsoft doesn't obfuscate the .NET runtime, so it's really easy to use Reflector to reverse-engineer the code, which is what most developers have done up to this point.

    I find it funny that open source advocateand publishing powerhouse Tim O'Reilly thinks that Microsoft is doing a great job supporting open source, yet Steven thinks that Microsoft would deliberately undermine that by enforcing some weird interpretation of the license. Steven, I'm not sure what distro of Linux you've been hiding under lately, but Microsoft has been working to play nice with Linux & Open Source. Didn't you get the memo?

    UPDATE: Mary Jo weighed in on this very topic earlier today.

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  • Zune Team Thinks GamerCards Trump a WiFi Store

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    The Zune Team made their huge announcement today, launching the new Zune 2's and the rewritten Zune Marketplace. While I'm not going to belittle the work they've done in that respect, I have to wonder... ZuneCards? WTF?!?!? How in the world is that more important than being able to buy stuff over your WiFi connection? How long is Microsoft going to let Apple have the uncontested lead in that space? Yeah, WiFi sync is pretty cool, but I'd rather have WiFi store. And while we're at it, what about Xbox Video Marketplace integration?

    All in all, today's announcement was pretty disappointing. I could have lived with the WMP11 version of the Marketplace if I could have played with tighter Xbox Live Marketplace integration. I'm not sure I like the new Zune UI either. My Master Chief background won't look quite as cool on it after the upgrade.

    One question I have outstanding is whether or not HDTV recorded off of CableCARD tuners will be able to be synced to the new Zunes. If they can, that might help deflect some of my disappointment, seeing as how right now all that content is trapped on my Media Center.

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