Robert McLaws: Windows Edition

Blogging about Windows since before Vista became a bad word

  • Indigo 'Elevates the Architectural Dialog'

    Rocky discusses why Indigo is a compelling platform. In his words:

    By merging these technologies into a single API, Indigo may allow us to elevate the level of dialog. Rather than having inane debates between Web services and Remoting, we can have intelligent discussions about the pros and cons of n-tier vs SOA. We can apply rational thought as to how each distributed architecture concept applies to the various parts of our application.
    He goes on to say...
    There are a lot of very hard problems to solve in distributed computing. Unfortunately our underlying communications protocols never seem to stay in place long enough for anyone to really address the more interesting problems. Instead, for many years now we’ve just watched as vendors reinvent the concept of remote procedure calls over and over again: RPC, IIOP, DCOM, RMI, Remoting, Web services, Indigo.

    That is frustrating. It is frustrating because we never really move beyond RPC. While there’s no doubt that Indigo is much easier to use and more clear than any previous RPC scheme, it is also quite true that Indigo merely lets us do what we could already do.

    What I’m hoping (perhaps foolishly) is that Indigo will be the end. That we’ll finally have an RPC technology that is stable and flexible enough that it won’t need to be replaced so rapidly. And being stable and flexible, it will allow the pursuit of solutions to the harder problems.

    Well said Rocky. Read the rest here. [Via Randy Holloway]
  • Remote Desktop Assistant 1.0

    I know this isn't Longhorn-related, but I wanted to post it where as many people would see it as possible.

    The other day, I needed to connect to my new web server, and noticed that my Remote Desktop Connection list was cluttered up with old servers that I didn't deal with anymore. I tried deleting them by hovering over the server I wanted to delete from the list and hitting the delete key (works in IE), but that didn't work. So I looked it up in the MS Knowledge Base, and came up with this article.

    I figured I wasn't the only one who would want to clean up their list, and so I wrote a little tool to help me (and others) out. It's called the Remote Desktop Assistant, and it's super easy. Here's what it looks like:

    You can add computers, delete computers, and change the order they appear in the list. Your changes are not saved until you tell it to.

    It should be really straightforward, so this version does not have any instructions. If people say they need some, I'll write one up and add it in. You can download it here. It requires the .NET Framework 1.1 installed on your system. Please note that it is not an officially supported product, but you can leave comments in this post and I'll fix any problems with it.

    And hey Microsoft - maybe you could add this functionality to the RDC client in Longhorn?

  • Here Comes WinHEC 2005!

    WinHEC 2005 is almost upon us, and soon we'll get to see what Microsoft's been working on with Longhorn. It's the first public build in quite some time, and the'll be plenty to show off. will be there in force, with extensive coverage of the conference. I'm still working with Microsoft's PR people on interesting ways to deliver this information. In the meantime, I'm looking for a few people who are already going, that would like to help me cover the event. Contact me offline if you're interested, and we'll discuss it.

    See you at WinHEC!

  • Take With You

    I'm pleased to announce that the new Mobile Edition is now live! This is a stripped-down version of specifically designed for Windows devices. When you click the new tab in the header, or visit with your PocketPC or Smartphone, it will automatically redirect you to our Mobile version. Here's what it looks like:

    Windows Mobile 2003 Smartphone 2003

    Each title is a hyperlink to the full article, with font sizes and layout optimized for small screens. I'll be adding support for other OSes soon. I'll also be adding features to the Mobile Edition over the coming weeks, to let you see older entries, and view comments on those entries. If you have any problems with it, or want to make a feature request, please post a comment.


  • 10 Features Longhorn Should Have

    Brad Wardell tells us the 10 things he thinks Longhorn must have to be widely adopted. He thinks Windows XP is just a facelift of Windows 2000 (which I don't totally agree with, but oh well) and that Longhorn needs a lot more (we agree there). Without further ado, take it away Brad.
  • VSLive! Interview: Don Box Talks Indigo

    At VSLive! San Francisco, I had the chance to spend some time with Don Box, Product Manager for Indigo. It was a very interesting conversation, and Don is quite a character. Here's an excerpt:

    RWM: Where does this Indigo CTP stand on the Road to RTM?
    DB: This CTP will be followed by Beta 1, and there may be CTPs between Beta 1 and Beta 2, as well as probably one or two more between Beta 2 and RC1. There probably won't be any CTPs between RCs, God help us if there are. :). The goal is to keep the flow going as much as possible, and getting the world of Microsoft set up to do that.

    RWM: Does "Beta 1" mean Longhorn Beta 1, or will they be separate?
    DB: That's Indigo Beta 1, and that will be in the second half of 2005.

    Read the rest here.

  • Windows Server 2003 SP1 RTMs

    I know this isn't quite Longhorn-related, but Windows Server 2003 SP1 has just been RTM'd. Beta testers can grab the final bits at, and everyone else can get it here (link courtesy

    The new server has been running SP1 RC2 for several weeks now, and it has been very stable. I love the firewall and security changes, and the Security Configuration Wizard is a great tool to lock down your servers. I'm anxious to have the RTM build finish installing, which should be anytime now.

  • Is Back!

    After a long delay, is back online, and just in time for the public release of the Avalon and Indigo March CTP. Sorry we've been out of commission for a while, our servers went down last week due to hard drive failure, so we had to ramp-up the conversion to CommunityServer we've been planning. There still might be a few kinks in the system, so if there are, please leave a comment in this thread, and I'll repair it ASAP.

    I'd love to post more about some of the site, but it's going to have to wait until later this evening... hope you like some of the changes... more are on the way!

  • When The Marketing Team Goes Off The Deep End

    Microsoft's marketing team is completely off their rocker if this rumor has any shred of accuracy. Note to BillG, SteveB, and JimA - if this is the best you guys can do, it's time to fire your entire Windows Marketing division. The only way you could make it ANY worse is by calling it iWindows.
  • VSLive Day 1 - Soma's Keynote

    Soma spent most of his keynote highlighting the momentum of .NET Framework development over the past three years. He highlighted a number of partners, including the Zurich Airport, Baylor Health Care Systems, and 3M.

    He was also quick to point out developer adoption. The numbers speak volumes on Microsoft's success in the field. When .NET was announced at VSLive! on February 14, 2002, there were 300 listings for .NET developers on As of this morning, there are over 10,000 listings for jobs on the site. Some other interesting statistics:

    120 Million framework downloads
    2.5 million copies of VS.NET
    VSIP - 225 partners, 450 products
    Community - 5M

    To build on that momentum, Soma announced that a company called MicroFocus will be bringing development to support legacy platforms on the .NET Framework. I'm sure there will be more details on that soon. He then mentioned the Connected Systems Business Kit - It contains presentations, samples, and training on SOA and interoperability, and the already announced but formally recognized Enterprise Library -, which is the next generation of Application Blocks.

    Soma then spent a good deal of his presentation on the power of the Smart Client. Microsoft is really pushing the Smart Client line lately, putting a lot more focus on building Windows applications that can handle mobility requirements while having a rich UI. It is interesting to see Microsoft's focus shift over the past several years. Web development has had a huge emphasis for building applications that you could access anywhere, and now it seems they are backing away from that tance. Avalon got so little coverage, (less than 1 minute) that it's hard to see what the strategy is post-Whidbey.

    Soma then took a minute to announce the Tablet PC Game SDK, built by our friends over at 3 Leaf Development. The first game built on it, Arcs of Fire ( comes with the source code. Also, Agilix has built drag-and-drop WinForms controls for taking notes in ink. Microsoft and Agilix are making a version of that control available for free to Visual Studio customers. I haven't been through the press kit yet, but I'll check it out and talk about it more later.

    In a demo, they showed an ASP.NET application that displayed data in a DataGrid server control. They then showed the same application accessed by a machine with the .NET Framework 2.0. ASP.NET detected the newer version, and instead of the ASP.NET DataGrid, it hosted the WinForms DataGrid control. As in any Microsoft demo, they didn't say a lot about how that works, but I'll be finding out more about that later. At any rate, it was a very good demo, and fortunately for him, error free.

    The final piece of the keynote was a demo of Visual Studio Team System. The Microsoft employee doing the demo kinda sounded like a radio announcer though. Soma made a point to emphasize the fact that VSTS has the same testing and analysis tools that Microsoft uses to its own code. That might scare some of the AntiMicrosofties, but you can bet Microsoft will be working to improve those tools, now that they are public.

    Express, Standard, Pro, Team System
    Novices & Students, web developers, small teams, enterprise

    To close out, "I really want to think about you as an extension of our product development organization." "The steps we took last year are just the beginning." "Every build we make, I want to share with you." That's an interesting promise to make. Microsoft has been delivering builds to close partners for some time. They only recently expanded that to include CTPs to everyone. While people like Joe Wilcox would be upset that there are so many "beta" builds, Soma wants to have even more. I hope Joe is here. I bet he passed out when he heard that.

    My Summary:
    All and all, nothing really big was announced. I was lead to believe otherwise, so I'm holding out hope for later. the next Avalon CTP was almost an afterthought, and should have had a lot more attention. That would have detracted from the "Smart Client" party-line that has been so prevalent today. Either way, I wish Microsoft talked about Windows as much as it talks about developer stuff. I'll ask John about that when I talk to him in a few minutes.

  • VSLive Announcement: Avalon

    Soma announced it almost as a footnote, but the next CTP of Avalon will be released in the next six weeks. That means you can expect the next drop on or before March 16th.
  • Interview #3: Don Box on Indigo

    My third and final VSLive! Victim is the venerable Don Box. Once I'm over being in the presence of greatness, we'll be talking about the big Indigo announcement they'll be making on Tuesday. (Sidebar: I've talked to Waggoner Edstrom, and, while they won't tell me what they're announcing yet, they tell me that the dates eWeek announced were just speculation, and as of today no dates have been confirmed to them. That may just be PR-speak... we'll see on Tuesday.)

    As before, use the comments to submit your questions on Indigo, and I'll pick the top 5 to ask him. What's your most pessing question about Indigo? Let me know and I'll try to get it answered.

  • Interview #2 - Brian Goldfarb on Web Strategies

    My second VSLive! Victim is Brian Goldfarb. I have no idea what his actual title is, but his responsibility is to make sure the community surrounding Microsoft's web tools is thriving. We're going to be talking about Whidbey, Orcas, and IIS7, so submit me your questions and I'll pick the top 5 to add to my list.
  • Interview #1 - John Montgomery on the Developer Roadmap

    My first VSLive! Victim is John Montgomery, Director of Product Management for Microsoft's Developer Division. I have 30 minutes to grill him on things that are going on in the Tools and Servers Division, so I'd like to see what you guys want to know. Please submit your questions as comments on this post, and I'll select the top 5 to add to my list of questions.
  • Submit Your Longhorn-Related RSS Feeds

    I'm going to be spending the next several weeks coding the next version of the site. We're going to be doing a really big expansion, to bring you even more Longhorn-related content. So, if you write Longhorn-related blog entries, please make sure you're categorizing your posts, and leave me a comment with your Longhorn-specific RSS feeds. It would be even better if you broke your categories out into topics such as XAML and Indigo, as I have done at this blog. Thanks for your help!

    UPDATE: The feeds need to contain only Longhorn information. No personal posts or off-topic discussions. For most blog engines, that means giving me separate category feeds for each Longhorn category.

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