Robert McLaws: Windows Edition

Blogging about Windows since before Vista became a bad word

December 2008 - Posts

  • The 2009 30GB Zunepocalypse. Don’t Panic.

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    Holy crap. It seems these days that no one wants to write about Microsoft unless something goes wrong. One look at Techmeme today, and you’d think that all the Zunes rose up at once, coming to life with the sole purpose of killing your mother.

    In case you hadn’t heard yet, the 30GB Zune (and only that model, as far as anyone can tell) has some kind of bug that caused it to freeze on the boot up screen on December 31, 2008. Which I find interesting, since there is no (apparent) way to set the date on your Zune. But the DRM has to tell how long you have somehow, so I guess the internal calendar is managed by syncing with your computer.

    I’ve seen the gamut of opinions today, from the downright stupid (“I’m going to die without music to listen to at work” [One can only hope…]) to the usual (M$ suxors, buy an iPod [recession… what recession?]) to the just plain incorrect (Microsoft’s official forums are at, not [hey Consumerist, it’s called fact-checking]). It’s really funny how derided the Zune is around the web, and how many people say that no one uses it, and yet the second it breaks down, there are apparently millions of users out there. Amazing how that works.

    Microsoft knows about the problem, and is working on a fix. I took mine apart and pulled the battery, and now it works fine. It may very well work fine tomorrow. Who knows. In the meantime, there is no need to call tech support. Just be patient (I know, that’s a lot to ask these days) and they’ll have a solution soon.

    UPDATE: Microsoft posted details of the problem and offered a solution. The problem was simply that the firmware was not able to handle a year with 366 days. The solution is, as I suspected, patience…

    Early this morning we were alerted by our customers that there was a widespread issue affecting our 2006 model Zune 30GB devices (a large number of which are still actively being used).  The technical team jumped on the problem immediately and isolated the issue: a bug in the internal clock driver related to the way the device handles a leap year.  The issue should be resolved over the next 24 hours as the time change moves to January 1, 2009.   We expect the internal clock on the Zune 30GB devices will automatically reset tomorrow (noon, GMT). By tomorrow you should allow the battery to fully run out of power before the unit can restart successfully then simply ensure that your device is recharged, then turn it back on.  If you’re a Zune Pass subscriber, you may need to sync your device with your PC to refresh the rights to the subscription content you have downloaded to your device.

    Hopefully all those vitriolic users screaming about class action lawsuits and threatening suicide will have calmed down by then.

  • Merry Christmas from Windows Now!

    Hey everyone. I just wanted to take a break from wrapping presents to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, Hanukkah, or <insert your holiday here>. Please, take some time and enjoy the company of your loved ones. I hope you all have a very safe and happy holidays!

    -Robert :)

  • My Christmas Wish

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    Too bad it’s not gonna happen. Hey, a guy can dream, can’t he?

  • Zero-Day IE Vulnerability Out-Of-Band Fix Coming Tomorrow

    Microsoft just put out an APB that they are releasing a fix for the Zero-Day IE Vulnerability that Microsoft has been tracking for a few weeks.

    Microsoft is hosting two webcasts to address customer questions on these bulletins: on December 17, 2008, at 1:00 PM Pacific Time (US & Canada) and December 18, 2008, at 11:00 AM Pacific Time. Register now for the December 17 webcast and the December 18 webcast. Afterwards, these webcasts are available on-demand. For more information, see Microsoft Security Bulletin Summaries and Webcasts.

    For all of you IT Admins prepping to go home for the holidays, don’t jump out the door just yet. Microsoft doesn’t put out of band patches out too often, so this one is extremely important.

    [via Roger’s Security Blog]

  • An Obvious Case of Blatant IP Theft

    imageI know this is a blog about Windows, but this item is Microsoft-related, so I thought I’d indulge myself. I was on Facebook a little bit ago, wasting time that could have been spent on coding or something, and I came across this ad, pictured at left. Does anything about it look vaguely familiar?

    Yep, that’s right, it’s from Halo 3. Need a closer look? try this on for size:I’d even be willing to bet that the image I’m linking to is the exact one they used to make their ad. Note the bottom is cut off past the point where the spires start to come out of the ground.

    Now, I’m no attorney, but I’m pretty sure this image is Microsoft’s intellectual property. Somehow I doubt they’d be very happy with this, if only I could figure out who is doing the advertising (I flagged the ad on Facebook before I clicked the link, stupid, I know).

  • Clearing Up Misinformation About the Leaked Windows 7 Build

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    I’m starting to see more and more chatter about the Windows 7 build that was “leaked” (I would say stolen) from WinHEC China. I can already see the beginnings of the misinformation campaign that damaged Windows Vista in the Court of Public Opinion, so I’m going to nip some things in the bud right here (because Microsoft isn’t going to do it). You can take what I have to say as the truth, because unlike some others reporting on second- or third-hand information, I am actually running the build on my day-to-day laptop. This is not likely to endear me to any of Team Sinofsky, but I’d rather get in trouble with Microsoft than let false information float around.Start Menu Settings

    • Nobody is getting a Windows 7 build tomorrow at the Houston MDC. Keith Combs cleared this up last week.
    • This video of the new bootscreen is not a fabrication, it is real. The quality of the video sucks, but in person the animation is really cool. Rafael has an interesting analysis of how it works.
    • There are other screenshots floating around out there, in varying degrees of quality and OS default settings. Paul Thurrott has the only ones you should trust, with the default post-install experience.
    • Again, in some screenshots, there are images of windows with transparent side chrome. Some are saying that, because the build originally got out in VHD form, that the build must be using DXWARP10 that Long talked about last week. While I cannot say whether or not DXWARP10 is in this build, any purported tying of DXWARP10 and Microsoft’s virtualization technologies should be treated as speculation.
    • The SuperBar has not been “un-rethought” or “un-redesigned” in any way. The default SuperBar settings are as shown in Paul’s Screenshots, and have not changed. However, there are settings that were available to anyone using Rafael’s Blue Badge tool that let you control whether or not the SuperBar renders text or not. A screenshot of that dialog is a right. if you check “Use Small Icons” and select “Never Combine” from the group, the newest build’s Taskbar displays like this:
      Small Start Menu 
      (the icons interspersed in between are the pinned programs in their original organization. And unlike Windows Vista, you can drag and reorganize the taskbar items in this state.) Microsoft has previously stated that the old Taskbar would not be available in Windows 7, so I’m not sure if the feature and rendering depicted above are going to remain. But if I were Microsoft, I’d leave it alone.

    I would ask that bloggers and the press be responsible in their reporting and observations, and clearly identify the facts they are reporting from their guesstimates and speculation. Windows Vista’s reputation was damaged just as much by it’s own initial issues as it was by individuals people trust relaying unsubstantiated rumors, speculation based on partial facts, and outright lies. in other words, don’t tell us what is in a particular Windows 7 build unless you have been in the immediate presence of a machine running it, mmmkay?