Robert McLaws: Windows Edition

Blogging about Windows since before Vista became a bad word

  • WinFS Scaleback Speculation

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    PLEASE NOTE: Before I go into my post, I need to state explicitly that what follows is pure speculation. It is not based on any discussions with Microsoft employees, NDA material, or the like. I am not a Microsoft employee, and I cannot verify in any way that the information contained within is accurate.

    So I was thinking earlier today about the recent hubub around WinFS. Lots of people have been upset that the Microsoft Business Framework and ObjectSpaces have all been brought under the WinFS umbrella. I discussed my opinions on the ObjectSpaces strategic decision over on my .NET weblog. And at the same time that Microsoft is broadening the scope of WinFS, reports that Microsoft is "scaling back" some server functionality in certain scenarios, without going into specifics on what those scenarios actually are. In connecting the dots over the recent months, I may have an answer that is plausable enough that it could be true.

    Back at PDC2003, while I was sitting in on the Longhorn keynotes, I saw materials (though I can't recall if they were slides or handouts) that discussed the structure of the WinFS APIs. I remember being surprised to see hints in the class naming structure that WinFS was going to be extensible. I'm not talking about extensibility by adding new data types and what not, that's a given. I'm talking about extensibility about the database backend that was used.

    I saw a class design that hinted at a WinFS API based on the Provider Model, an extensibility architecture that Microsoft has backed into the Whidbey release of the .NET Framework. Based on the class names and structure, it seemed like you would be able to run WinFS on any database back-end. If you needed your file metadata to be on a DB2 backend, you could write a separate managed assembly that could do so. You'd then specify in the provider in some sort of configuration file (WinFS.exe.config?) and roll with it.

    So, based on the evidence, I'm gonna jump out on a limb and say that the server scenarios were WinFS metadata storage running on different databases, and that the WinFS API won't be provider-based until a future release.

    [Now Playing: John Mayer - Room For Squares - Why Georgia (04:31)]

  • Windows Server Guru Speaks

    Bob Muglia Talks Longhorn Server:

    Jim Allchin told us that some features of Longhorn won't be in the first release. Was he referring to WinFS?
    There were two aspects that Jim was talking about. One is areas of maturity, associated with what you would expect from an enterprise-class file system that we are going to continue to work on. The other is that there were a lot of dreams that people had inside of Microsoft for what Longhorn Server would do. There is a natural process, whereby as a release transitions from the early dream stage into the reality stage, in which functionality and the scenarios get cut back. Jim was referring to some of those things. That's part of the natural process that every release goes through.

    [Courtesy of]

  • VisualBlogger 2004 Beta 2 Released, and a Contest

    This morning, we officially launched VisualBlogger 2004 Beta 2. I talked about it a bit earlier over on my corporate blog. We've made some nifty changes, so if you want to find out more, head on over. I did want to mention here that we now support dasBlog, Radio, TypePad, and BlogWare, with more to come.

    Along with this new release, I'm launching a new contest. VisualBlogger 2004 needs a logo. Since I don't have time or the skills to make one myself, and I don't want to hire anyone to do it, I figured it would be a cool contest. The prize is your choice of any Interscape product, or a copy of the PDC 2003 Highlights DVD. Oh yeah, and the winner will get a free copy of VisualBlogger 2004 when we do a final release in late July, early August. Here are the criteria:

    • Must fit in with Interscape's look and feel. See the logos at for more information.
    • Submission must include a text logo with some kind of graphic. Graphic must be easily distinguishable in large scale for the website and splashscreen, as well as in small scale for the program, document, and system tray icons.
    • Submission must convey the purpose of VisualBlogger, so that you can tell what it does by looking at the logo.
    • Winning submission must be accompanied by the original source file in either Photoshop or Illustrator. No other drawing program formats will be accepted.

    To partipate, create your entry, upload it to the site of your choice, and link to it with your name and contact information in the comments of this entry. The contest will run through June 15th, and later if I have to. I'm looking forward to seeing what you guys come up with. Should be fun!

    At any rate, sign up for the VisualBlogger 2004 Beta 2 today and let me know what you think.

  • Using the Whidbey CTP Bits on Longhorn 4074

    WARNING: The following is NOT condoned by Microsoft. Use at your OWN RISK.

    Miguel Jimenez has a way to install the Visual Studio 2005 Community Technology Preview - March bits on the WinHEC build of Longhorn. Great Job Miguel!

    [Now Playing: Superchick - Karaoke Superstars - Help Me Out God]

  • The Longhorn Graphics Nazi: No 3D For You!

    If you don't have at least a 4X AGP Graphics card, forget about seeing the coolest features of Longhorn.

  • Longhorn on the Tablet

    According to, Microsoft has some pretty ambitious plans for Longhorn. But who didn't know that already? Day 3 of WinHEC saw "announcements" of new features specifically designed for Laptops and Tablets. I quote that as a word of warning, because these are just ideas, and all the details haven't been worked out yet. Should be interesting. I like that MS is working to make portable computers work more like other appliances. I shouldn't have to completely boot up my system to play music or watch a DVD. Will be nice to see how that turns out.
  • Top 10 Things To Do While Downloading Build 4074

    I'm about 30 seconds away from installing Build 4074 of Longhorn, so I thought I'd take a few minutes and give you something to do while you're waiting for your copy to finish downloading.
    1. Learn how to enable the cool new rendering features in Longhorn's DWM (Desktop Windows Manager, formerly Desktop Compositing Engine)
    2. Watch the Neowin video of Longhorn with DWM enabled.
    3. Check out Paul Thurott's WinHEC Day 1 review, with photos.
    4. See Paul's snapshot of the Aero UI - updated for WinHEC.
    5. Read about Microsoft's new Web Services initiatives.
    6. Read about the Longhorn Self-Guided Tour, and drool over the features.
    7. Learn how to get the files out of the DVD ISO once the file is downloaded.
    8. Shop for a DVD burner on or
    9. Read about "Troy" and "Hermes", new ConceptPCs from HP.
    10. Donate $1 to for keeping you abreast on the latest Longhorn information.
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  • Exclusive: Build 4074 Setup Screenshots

    I just finished installing Build 4074 on my system. You saw it here first, an exclusive look at the setup process. Check it out!

  • Windows Client/Server Roadmap Update

    UPDATE: Microsoft announced today that Windows "Longhorn" Server is going to be synched with Windows "Longhorn" Client, and both beta are due out next year.

    We're "building it in sync," Allchin told attendees at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference here. Allchin noted that this represents a change of plans, compared with the company's vision a year ago. "That wasn't our plan...but it is our plan today," Allchin said.

    Allchin also indicated that there is a "Windows Server 2003 update" on the road map for next year, but he did not offer much in the way of details. The update is in addition to "Service Pack 1" of Windows Server 2003, which is slated to be released later this year.

    Microsoft had earlier indicated that it was considering an update to the server OS prior to the arrival of Longhorn server. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates first mentioned the update in an interview in March with CNET


    This is good news for everyone. With Microsoft being more open about the whole development process, it is interesting to see this stuff take shape. These kind of decisions happen in software development, but because of the relative secrecy outside of the company, the media rarely picks up on it. What you're seeing right now is a transition in which the public gets a better idea of just what it takes to build software, and you'll begin to see a much more fluid operation. That will make articles like this in Time magazine more irrelevant with, well, time.

  • Where's My Alpha?

    Alright. WinHEC is here. All attendees are getting updated builds of Longhorn. I'm curious. When is that build going to be on MSDN for me to try out? Why has there been almost NO communication from MS about this? Ugh.
  • Announcing VisualBlogger 2004 Beta 1

    OK guys, here it is. The moment one or two of you have been waiting for. The VisualBlogger 2004 Beta is finally available for download.

    To make sure we're all on the same page, VisualBlogger 2004 is a blog editing tool for Windows. It doesn't need Visual Studio .NET, only the .NET Framework 1.1 and a .Text blog engine to post to. Sorry guys, you won't be able to post to LiveJournal,, etc until Beta 2. Here are all the features that are working/need to be tested:

    • Full WYSIWYG Editing
    • Raw HTML Editing
    • Blogging ScratchPad
    • Post To Mutliple Weblogs
    • Post To Multiple Weblogs with Categories
    • Blog Credential Hashing in Local Store
    • Save Posts
    • Load Posts
    • Clipboard Access
    • Code Formatting
    • Provider Model-Based
    • 2 BlogProviders
      • .Text Simple (SimpleBlogService.asmx)
      • .Text 0.95 (AspNetWeblog.asmx and BlogContent.asmx)
    • Abstracted object model mapped to provider-specific objects
    • Central Bug Reporting / Feedback System
    For Beta 2, I'm going to finish the reorganization I started on Tuesday. I'm going to move a good deal of the actual posting framework to the VisualBlogger.Framework.dll file, so that I can expose some of the API to the public. Anil Dash (how frickin cool is that?!?) offered to help me implement the AtomAPI. So that will be in there. Plus all of your feedback. So make sure you use the built-in feedback mechanism (last button on the toolbar) and help me make this tool kick BlogJet's butt.
  • Longhorn Network Issues

    Has anyone had problems connecting to an external network on Longhorn? For some reason, my system is not recognizing the Gateway address and won't let me out of my internal network. It's kinda weird, and I'm stumped at the moment. Any ideas?

  • Longhorn Beta in 2005, XP Reloaded Clarified

    In an exclusive interview with today, Jim Allchin, VP of Microsoft's Platform Group, clarified the Windows strategy through the Longhorn release. Unlike some other news today, this one is definitely not an April Fool's joke.

    Microsoft had said it planned to ship the test version of Longhorn, a major update to the company's Windows operating system, this summer. The company has reassigned a large number of developers working on Longhorn to build updates to the existing versions of Windows to bolster security, said Jim Allchin, vice president of Microsoft's platforms group.

    Asked whether the company would make its self-imposed deadline for delivering a Longhorn beta by summer, Allchin said, "I don't believe it will be this year." He also said that some minor features planned for Longhorn will be cut to accelerate development, then rolled into a future Windows release. "If we don't really know how to do something by now, it's probably time that we think about not putting it into the product," Allchin said.

    Underscoring the growing pressure from customers, the company has made the security of Windows its top priority. New security features are planned for updates, or service packs, for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 debuting later this year, Allchin said. Microsoft plans to ship Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) by summer, and Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 in the second half of the year. Allchin also said that, despite speculation, there will be no interim releases of Windows before Longhorn. A rumored update to Windows, called XP Reloaded, is just a bundling of existing features and tools intended to drive greater adoption of Windows XP, he said.

    Finally, some much needed clarification on where Windows is headed. I was pretty sure that the XP Reloaded rumors were misinterpreted, but it's good to see all that finally put to rest. Hopefully we'll get an even clearer picture at the MVP Summit next week. Read more about the Windows Timeline here.

  • Security and Longhorn

    Last time, I posted a bit about Microsoft's plans to fortify your computer with Longhorn. Well, recently I had the pleasure of sitting down with Ryan Nariane, resident security expert at We discussed Longhorn, Windows XP Service Pack 2, and my efforts to increase patch awareness through You can read all about it here.
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