July 17, 2014
Microsoft to cut 18,000 jobs over the next year

Microsoft to cut 18,000 jobs over the next year :(

Software giant Microsoft plans to lay off up to 18,000 workers around the world over the next year, mostly related to the company’s purchase of handset maker Nokia last year.

Not surprising, given the redundancy after merging the 25k people from Nokia, but still pretty sucky. On the upside, there’ll be a lot of smart and talented people looking to make their own cool stuff.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 01:04 PM
April 11, 2014
Escape From XP - A Game

Ok, Escape From XP is pretty awesome. Kudos to Microsoft for poking fun at themselves.

I got 111,000, how about you?

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 03:58 PM
March 17, 2014
Microsoft Announces Surface 2 LTE

Microsoft Surface 2 LTE is out and is the next logical step for mobile computing. Kinda. Tablets have had LTE for a couple of years now, but the Surface 2 (being a bit of an odd duck stuck between tablet and laptop) is getting it now.

Microsoft announced today that a long-expected new Surface model, the Surface 2 (AT&T 4G LTE), will be available for purchase starting to tomorrow. This LTE-equipped version of the Windows RT 8.1-powered Surface 2 device commands a $130 premium over a similarly equipped Surface 2, and will retail for $679. Whether this new model is worth such a heady sum is of course up to the buyer.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:11 AM
March 04, 2014
Windows 8 and the Microsoft Surface

A really interesting look at Windows 8 and the Microsoft Surface from someone moving from an iPad

Basic things that should really not be complicated are borderline impossible on Windows. For example, how do you create a bootable clone of your hard disk, so that you can boot from an identical external USB hard disk in case the internal disk goes belly-up? On a Mac, you just download Carbon Copy Cloner or Super Duper17 and run it. In case of emergency, connect the external disk, start the Mac, hit Option, select the external disk, you’re done.

Also:

That’s not an isolated example. Finding software for Windows is a nightmare. Windows users sometimes complain that Mac software is expensive. Maybe it is, but on the plus side, it generally tends to work, and typically doesn’t fill your computer with adware and browser toolbars and background processes that install weird buttons in the toolbars of all of your freaking windows.

It’s definitely not a Windows 8 / Surface hate-fest, or an iPad love fest. He finds lots wrong on both sides of the fence, with the conclusions reached fairly interesting.

Microsoft , Random Linkage - Posted by Arcterex at 09:26 PM
March 03, 2014
All About Cortana, Microsoft's answer to Siri

Microsoft’s answer to Siri is profiled over at The Verge.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:20 AM
February 12, 2014
Windows Phone 8.1 Preview

Paul Thurrott has a nice Windows Phone 8.1 Preview for those interested.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 01:52 PM
February 04, 2014
Satya Nadella Named As Microsoft's New CEO

Satya Nadella - Microsoft’s CEO is a great looking page to do the announcement, really nicely done. I don’t know enough about Satya, but I suspect that he’ll be analyzed by the tech press mercilessly over the next few weeks.

Will he be able to steer the ship that is Microsoft? Who knows. Will things change and the company become more “relevant” (to the iPhone, MacBook, Android, ChromeBook touting techies)? No clue. Will Microsoft to an IBM and move over to the enterprise only and leave the consumer space for Apple and Linux? I can only imagine.

It’ll be an interesting year.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 10:06 AM
December 18, 2013
New Nokia Ad Is Weird and Stupid

Comparing the newest Apple, Nokia marketing spots makes us weep for humanity. Sure it’s a biased source (9to5mac), but seriously, watch the ad and tell me what it’s trying to tell us. One thing that Apple has always (mostly) done well is show in their ads what they want the buyer to feel, show an advantage of the product, etc.

This one is about a creepy babershop and has only the barest connection to the product.

Oh, and showing the tablet rotate a square image a) shows how much lag their is in the rotation and b) why do you rotate a square image!

Microsoft , Random Linkage - Posted by Arcterex at 03:46 PM
November 12, 2013
Microsoft does away with stack ranking

Read this morning that Microsoft has done away with stack ranking. This was a controversial management technique that fell under some criticism when there was an expose on it a while back, linked to a few “Ballmer is the worst evah” type stories.

Microsoft is announcing to its full-time employees on November 12 that there will be no more curve and no more reviewing “on the curve” at the company. Lisa Brummel, head of human resources for the company, sent an e-mail to employees notifying them of the change today, according to my contacts. 

Wonder how much of this is Ballmer’s term as CEO ending? No matter the reasoning, the results will (hopefully) result in a better environment for employees.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 12:30 PM
October 23, 2013
The Surface RT Reviewed

OSNews has the punchline in the title: The Surface RT is simply a very bad product:

The Surface proposition is intriguing. Sadly, the quality of the software is not. It’s been 3.5 years since the release of the original iPad, and everything Microsoft has to show for itself is broken, crappy software that is entirely unpleasant to use.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 04:34 PM
October 02, 2013
Windows 9 Concept Mockup

Very cool Windows 9 mockup, via OSNews. Some pretty neat ideas in there. No idea how it would work in real practice, but something fairly cool looking for the Windows Desktop.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 10:16 AM
October 01, 2013
Windows 8.1 Ad

Via BGR, this Windows 8.1 Ad features the start button a lot.

Despite its return, the Start button now serves a different purpose — switching seamlessly between Metro and the classic Windows interface. The remainder of the ad focuses on the hotly-contested new Windows 8 interface and its potential for customization. The ad is titled “Windows 8.1 Everywhere,” as Microsoft hopes to push the new OS along with its RT counterpart to all Windows PCs and tablets, including the fresh new Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2.

The big question is, is the lack of a start button really the big problem with Windows 8?

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:45 AM
September 23, 2013
Microsoft announces Surface Pro 2

Microsoft announces Surface Pro 2, updating some of the hardware, speed, kickstand, a 60% battery life improvement, and a lot more. Pricing goes from $899 to $1799 based on configuration.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:17 AM
September 04, 2013
Xbox One Release Date: November 22

So we finally know for sure now: Xbox One Release Date: November 22.

Microsoft announced today that it will launch the Xbox One on November 22 in Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, UK, and USA. Microsoft previously delayed the launch of its next-gen gaming system in eight countries: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and Switzerland. The console will now launch in these markets sometime in 2014.

Thanks forgetfoo!

Gaming , Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 12:03 PM
August 23, 2013
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to retire within 12 months

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to retire within 12 months.

  • MSFT Stock is up 6.5%
  • No successor named

Interesting. Due to some of the (percieved) failure of Windows 8, a personal thing, or just “it’s time”.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 08:03 AM
August 12, 2013
Can The Microsoft Surface be Saved

Can Surface be Saved? asks Paul Thurrott over at WinSupersite:

Of course, Surface is a bit more dramatic of a story. Surface runs Windows, and Surface competes with the firms that catapulted Windows to great successes over 20 years, turning this once-humble MS-DOS hosted GUI into Microsoft’s core product. The fear at the time of the reveal event was that Microsoft would alienate these partners by making its own hardware. Some complained, some voiced indifference, and some remained silent. But the events of the past year or so should be troubling to Microsoft. Because actions speak much louder than words.

And towards the end:

It’s obvious, too, that the dysfunction of Surface mirrors the dysfunction of the Windows 8 and RT OSes which they run. In full-bore Monday Morning Quarterback mode, I think that Windows RT should be relegated to consumption-first devices that lack a desktop environment, and that the next Surface RT device should be the 8-inch Surface Mini we all know is coming. The desktop experience is lousy on these tiny devices. So just get rid of it already, and do so with the platform that makes the most sense.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 04:31 PM
July 05, 2013
Microsoft to add Bing ads to Windows 8.1 search

Saw via OSNews a link to the Forbes story about Microsoft adding ads into the built in Bing Search in Windows 8.1.

I can only imagine that this is an experiment that won’t ever actually be integrated (at least anytime soon) into the actual OS. I really really hope this.

Aggregated search is one of the pillars of Windows 8.1 and isn’t a terrible idea. However searching for something on your computer and having to deal with ads for “Looking for chicken recipes, head over to Church’s Chicken at 10th and Main!” or ($DEITY forbid) click through a 10 second video to get to your content on your machine. Apple also was investigated this when they filed a couple of patents a few years ago, but it never went beyond that.

Scary stuff.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:08 PM
June 26, 2013
First Look at Windows 8.1

Windows 8.1: a first look at what Microsoft is changing over at The Verge. Lots of pretty pictures, a new (lame, but better than nothing) start button, multi-monitor improvements, finally some (hopefully) less confusing differentiation between system settings (desktop control panel) and user settings (metro user settings), and a bunch of other bits.

Wonder if this’ll be enough to stem the Windows8 Hate?

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:48 AM
June 19, 2013
Updates on Xbox One

Sounds like the wild internet outrage over some of the new features from the Xbox One are going to be updated based on “user feedback”. Microsoft posted their update saying:

So, today I am announcing the following changes to Xbox One and how you can play, share, lend, and resell your games exactly as you do today on Xbox 360. Here is what that means:

  • An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games - After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. There is no 24 hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360.

  • Trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today - There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360.

Gaming , Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 03:19 PM
June 14, 2013
Microsoft's Office Mobile for iPhone Released (For Office 365 Users)

A Quick Rundown of Microsoft’s Office Mobile for iPhone over at MacStories.

I can’t say I’m terribly excited about what Microsoft is offering in Office Mobile, but it’s a start. Now available on the iPhone, Office Mobile requires an Office 365 subscription, which will give you access to all of Microsoft’s Office apps on up to 5 PCs or Macs, 20 GB of SkyDrive storage, and 60 minutes of Skype calls for $9.99 per month or $99.99 a year for Home Premium.

Honestly, they waited too long. I honestly can’t remember a time in the last 2 years when I’ve thought “I need excel” or “I need word”. Of course, I’m not an “office” guy anyway, but I really think they should have done this years ago. We’ll see what happens I guess.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:17 PM
June 05, 2013
Windows 8.1 Preview

Windows 8.1 Preview. Over half of the video is about how you can customize the start menu with colors or images.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 04:02 PM
May 30, 2013
Windows 8.1 Details

Continuing the Windows 8 vision with Windows 8.1 over from the Windows blogs tells all (most) about the Windows 8.1 “Blue” update.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 04:31 PM
May 21, 2013
Next Generation Xbox One Detailed

Next Generation Xbox One Unveiled, Everything You Need To Know | Macgasm over at Macgasm.

The biggest oddities for me are that it’s not going to be backwards compatible with XBox 360 games, and the DRM will prevent used games (as the game serial # is now tied to your account).

The latter I see as a natural evolution to the similar system as Apple has for tying iOS apps to your user account. It makes sense, but the side effect of killing the used game market (if it’s true) is a bad one, especially when you’re talking about $60 games instead of $1.99 apps.

The former I honestly don’t believe it’s true. MS is the king of backwards compatibility, and making it so that a hardcore games (no doubt considerable) library of XBox360 games is useless (unless they now have two XBoxes hooked up at all times) just seems ridiculous. I know the new XBox One is more than just gaming, but really, I don’t believe that’ll happen. Guess we’ll see on launch day (no idea other than “later this year”) when you can buy it (no idea for how much).

Gaming , Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:59 PM
February 13, 2013
Microsoft Surface Pro Teardown From iFixit

iFixit has their Microsoft Surface Pro Teardown (complete teardown is here). Seems that it’s less repairable than the latest offerings from Apple (surprising), by one point.

Cool to see what MS did with the innards.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:23 AM
January 29, 2013
Microsoft's 64GB Surface Pro will only have 23GB usable storage

Microsoft’s 64GB Surface Pro will only have 23GB usable storage.

I understand that there will be overhead.

I understand that Office and a bunch of apps are pre-installed.

I don’t understand 45G of overhead. I’m pretty sure that’s more than what I have used on my entire Windows 7 install!

Note: I have 57G of usable space on an iPhone 5. Just sayin’.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 04:31 PM
January 24, 2013
Child of the 90s | Internet Explorer Ad

While the new IE viral marketing video Child of the 90s is very nostalgic, I don’t know if it would make me, or anyone for that matter, connect it with something new and hip that I should try out.

Note to filmmakers: Putting a 56k modem in an ad about something that’s supposed to be new and fast might not be the best idea. Just sayin’. At least MS is trying (and realizes that their browser is mostly used to download other browsers).

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 12:28 PM
January 09, 2013
MSN Messenger Users Migrated to Skype on March 15

Via my buddy @halkeye is the news that Microsoft has confirmed that Messenger will be retired and users migrated to Skype on March 15:

Microsoft on Tuesday started mass emailing its 100 million+ Messenger users to let them know that the service is officially being retired on March 15, 2013. On that date, all users will be migrated to Skype, which Microsoft acquired back in May 2011 for $8.5 billion.

Messenger Upgrade Notice

I really wonder how they’re going to handle non-microsoft clients, or if it’ll be more a microsoft-client-only transition?

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:07 AM
January 03, 2013
Microsoft Surface Exchange Horror Story

Interesting read of My Quest For A Defect-Free Microsoft Surface Goes Surprisingly Poorly over The Consumerist.

Nitpicky? Maybe, but I spent ~$600 on this thing, shouldn’t it be well made? I dealt with these minor cosmetic issues for about two weeks, but then couldn’t stand it anymore. This Tuesday I went looking online for their support options, and found that they’ve got a nice warranty site set up.

After this things go badly. Recommended to read the full thing. Note that I don’t see this is a failure specifically against Microsoft or the Surface specifically, but more as just horrible customer service. They just get the top billing because they have a big name, similar to anything attached to Apple or Google.

Hardware , Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:12 PM
December 05, 2012
Jim Dalrymple On The Surface

The Beard has some good insights in his Microsoft forgot to solve a problem post on the Microsoft Surface.

What occurred to me is that Microsoft’s critical flaw is that they don’t solve a problem with the Surface. In fact, you could argue that the Surface actually causes more problems for users. That’s not a good start for a new product.

I disagree a bit with it not solving a problem, it solves the problem of Microsoft not having a Tablet computer in the marketplace.

Hardware , Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:08 AM
December 04, 2012
Nostalgic Windows 7 launch party

This Nostalgic Windows 7 launch party fan-fiction is worth if purely for the video.

Funny Stuff , Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 04:08 PM
November 28, 2012
Windows XP Support: Under 500 Days Left

Running Windows XP? Be scared, you have just under 2 years of Windows XP Support Left.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:28 AM
November 27, 2012
Crapware On Windows 8 Machines

Nice look at the Crapware that Lives On Windows 8.

The third category, trialware and junkware, is the most egregious. I can’t count the number of times I had to troubleshoot someone else’s system because the preloaded Roxio CD/DVD burning package’s drivers were doing horrible, unpredictable things to the rest of the system, or because some buggy variety of factory-added antivirus software was creating more problems than it solved.

Good table in the article on how much is installed on a bevy of Windows 8 systems.

Note that this is not (really) Microsoft’s fault, but the fault of the consumers, who demand a $300 laptop.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:33 PM
November 16, 2012
Microsoft Sued Over Surface Tablet's Disk Space

Microsoft Sued Over Surface Tablet’s Disk Space

The 32G device has 16G of space for users, as the operating system uses the other 16G.

This is as stupid as people suing Apple because the iPhone doesn’t have a removable battery, or any of the other hundreds of stupid lawsuits you hear about all the time. Get a life. If you really hate your new device that much, take it back and get your money back.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 10:04 AM
November 08, 2012
Windows 8 Feature: Built-In Advertising - WTF?

Uhmm…. WTF? If this article about Built-In Advertising in Windows 8 is true then they deserve all the mocking they get.

Despite the fact that I’ve been using Windows 8 for the past three weeks, I somehow managed to overlook a rather stark feature in the OS: ads. No, we’re not talking about ads cluttering up the desktop or login screen (thankfully), but rather ads that can be found inside of some Modern UI apps that Windows ships with. That includes Finance, Weather, Travel, News and so forth. Is it a problem? Let’s tackle this from a couple of different angles.[…]

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 05:18 PM
November 07, 2012
Ed Bott On Why there's no Office for Metro (yet)

Ed Bott blogs on Why there’s no Office for Metro (yet).

That’s the reason some of the built-in apps in Windows 8 are scrambling to add features now (Mail and Music, most notably). You can’t build full-featured robust apps until the underlying platform is solid.

The obvious question is then “why not wait until the platform is stable before releasing the SDK and waiting for devs to use it to create the new system and OS?” Isn’t it a bit of a black eye for Microsoft that on Windows RT they have to have the weird add on of the Windows Desktop that you can’t run anything but Office on? Is the obvious answer “they had to release now to stop Apple and Google from getting another half-year ahead.”?

Personally I think that the Windows RT that has a desktop that’s not a desktop but runs some things is potentially a huge cause of confusion for “normal” people. Windows RT that’s pure Metro Windows 8 App Store Style (or WTF they are telling people to call it), running only App Store apps, no desktop, and a Metro-ized office (and enough apps on day one to show you gave your developers the SDK a few months before release) would be a huge win. This weird two headed monster, no matter how nice the Metro environment and hardware is, will not be the winner it could be, in my opinion.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:56 PM
Microsoft Office for iPhone, iPad, and Android Teased

The Verge has some tidbits on Microsoft Office for iPhone, iPad, and Android.

Microsoft , iPhone - Posted by Arcterex at 09:14 AM
November 05, 2012
Microsoft Surface Review From Chris Pirillo

I’m not a huge fan of Chris’s style, but his Microsoft Surface Review shows me that maybe I was wrong. The content of the review seems fairly unbiased, though he definitely comes out on the side of “don’t buy”, though there is a lot in there that he likes, and says many positive things.

“Microsoft’s still playing in a different galaxy”

However, spoiler, it’s just not there yet.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:10 PM
Windows RT 32GB tablets actually only have 16GB of Free Space

Just a little bit of piling on, but Microsoft posted a disk space FAQ regarding the amount of space actually available on their new surface tablet. Basically a 32G Surface has 16G free (after OS, recovery tools, Office and other built in apps), and the 64G Surface has 46G free.

Via 9to5 Mac where the story obviously has a pro-Apple bias, and one should note that if you were to include the Apple office software you get:

  • Numbers - 255mb
  • Keynote - 286mb
  • Pages - 231mb

So you’d have to add an additional 800mb (approximately) to the size of the 1G iOS install size to be a more fair comparision. Of course, even 2G is a far cry from 16G used by the Windows RT install. Something to consider when doing an apples to apples comparison of various different tablets.

Hardware , Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 10:54 AM
October 30, 2012
Windows Phone Review

Big week for releases, here’s the Overview and review of Windows Phone 8.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 04:29 PM
October 26, 2012
Chinese Grandma Tries to Shut Down a Microsoft Event, Then Things Get Ugly

Via the loop a Chinese Grandma Tries to Shut Down a Microsoft Event, Then Things Get Ugly. I actually have no problem with the event organizers getting rid of someone trying to disrupt their event, and this has nothing to do with Microsoft itself of course, but it’s a bit jarring to see the manhandling of the old lady.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 03:48 PM
Trials and Tribulation Getting Into The Windows 8 App Store

While the title is a bit of flame bait, Windows 8 Doesn’t Want Your App. Try Again Later is the tale of trying to get a Windows 8 app into the

To start, let’s get one thing straight: Microsoft desperately needs apps in its store.  If not only for Windows 8, especially for Windows RT, which can only run apps from there.  It also wants as many apps in there as possible, and has been very active in courting and helping developers to write app for it.  For the most part, I think they have done a great job, as the tools, documentation and examples are excellent.  Where they really fall down though is in the last mile: app submission.

Just in case anyone has been saying that no one but Apple would cock up the app store submission process, looks like problems come from all sides. Hopefully this process, like that of getting apps into the Apple app store, smooths out as time goes on.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 10:49 AM
October 23, 2012
The Verge's Windows 8 Review

The Verge has their very nice Windows 8 review.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:15 AM
Under the hood of Windows 8

Under the hood of Windows 8, or why desktop users should upgrade from Windows 7 over at ExtremeTech notes some of the reasons why the innards of the new Windows 8 do matter.

At this point, if you’re a desktop or laptop user, you are probably laughing in my face. “Microsoft spent three years killing the Start menu and introducing a new tablet interface,” you say. “Windows 8 is Windows 7 with a cross-paradigm UI/UX trainwreck,” you bellow — and to an extent, you are correct. Windows 8 is undoubtedly a tablet-oriented operating system. Microsoft has tried to pass it off as a “touch-first OS,” but that’s just euphemistic swill from the PR department.

Boot, security, power management, and more.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:00 AM
October 16, 2012
Microsoft Surface RT Priced

Techcrunch has the details for the Microsoft Surface RT Pricing:

Microsoft today detailed pricing for its Surface tablets, at least those running the scaled down RT version of its upcoming Windows 8 operating system designed for use on low-power processors. The Surface starts at $499 for an entry-level 32GB version without the Touch Cover with integrated touch-sensitive keyboard, while one with the cover runs $599. At the top of the line, a 64GB version with the touch cover included costs $699.

Competative with the iPad, which is good, just remember than other than MS Office, the RT will only run “Store 8 Style apps” (or in the Banned Speech - “Metro Style apps”).

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 08:06 AM
October 15, 2012
Microsoft debuts Xbox music service to take on Apple

This could be interesting, especially with Windows Phone 8 looming on the horizon, with Microsoft debuting an Xbox music service to take on Apple.

The service includes a download-to-own music store with over 30 million songs in its global catalog, more than iTunes’ library of over 26 million songs. It also carries over 70,000 music videos, available only on the Xbox console.

Maybe this will give Apple a kick in the butt to make iTunes and the iTunes store better. Lets just hope that this is more “for sure” than the ill-fated Plays for sure.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 01:11 PM
October 04, 2012
Microsoft to launch Surface 26 October

Microsoft to launch Surface 26 October:

“Microsoft has started sending out invites to a special ‘Surface Reception’ event on October 25th. Alongside a Windows 8 introduction, the software giant will launch its highly anticipated tablet at midnight on October 26th - according to a company spokesperson.

Hopefully they’ll have pricing by then.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 01:51 PM
October 02, 2012
Machine Gun Kelly gig at Microsoft Store cut short by police

You have to watch the video of the Machine Gun Kelly gig at Microsoft Store cut short by police to believe it.

Microsoft regularly books recording artists for performances at its retail stores, but this table top performance was clearly not what it expected. We’ve reached out to Microsoft for an official comment and we’ll update you accordingly.

What could possibly go wrong. The thinking was no doubt:

  1. Lets copy the Apple Store experience
  2. Ok, we created stores with a similar environment, have all our products out, and the layout of the stores is almost exact, but no lineups for store openings….
  3. I have a great idea, lets book artists and give away tickets to get lineups at the stores!
  4. Sweet! We got lineups for big names like Beiber, suck it Apple! Now lets branch out a bit.
  5. A gangsta rapper will attract great lineups, what could possibly go wrong?

At least that’d be my guess anyway.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 03:32 PM
September 12, 2012
Windows Phone 8 And Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 Announcements

Not all news today is Apple related. The Windows Phone 8 team announced some things today too. Sort of.

At a waterfront convention centre in Seattle today, the Microsoft developer group made a big splash officially launching the Visual Studio 2012 suite of tools and services to help developers build the next generation range of apps for new connected devices. The Windows Phone 8 team also made some announcements today, but not from this event. Of course not. That would make too much sense. The announcements strategy surrounding Windows Phone 8 to date has been bizarre to say the least. For consumers, it’s been making big splashes whilst leaving big question marks. No release dates, no pricing information, and no preorders.

Pretty sure that Paul Thurrott will have a great deal to say about this on Windows Weekly on Friday.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 04:28 PM
August 17, 2012
Skype for Windows 8 Leaked

Now that Windows 8 has RTM’d, there’s also been a leak of Skype for Windows 8’s UI.

Very “windows phone”-y. Not terrible. Course, as with all things Metro Windows 8 style, I really wonder how well something like that scales if your skype contact list is 300 people long instead of 12.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:48 AM
August 15, 2012
Windows 8 Is Now Available For Developers

Techcrunch: Windows 8 Is Now Available For Developers (And For Everybody Else, There’s A 90-Day Free Trial, Too):

As expected, Microsoft today announced that Windows 8 is now available for download for its paying MSDN and TechNet Professional subscribers. The company, however, is also making a 90-day evaluation version available to all developers (or anybody else who wants to give the Windows 8 RTM a try) without the need to pay for a subscription. There are some caveats, though: this version will expire in 90 days and you won’t be able to upgrade to a non-evaluation version.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:19 PM
August 03, 2012
Linux Complaints About Microsoft Secure Boot

Listened this morning to the excellent Linux Outlaws podcast #271 where there was a lot of talk about the Linux community’s handwringing about Microsoft’s Secure Boot from both Canonical and Fedora, and a lot of it really sounds to me like this:

Linux: Microsoft security sucks, why don’t they do something about it, stupid Microsoft anyone can get a boot sector virus running Windows!

Microsoft: Ok, we’ve improved our security and have implemented very secure code signing for our hardware to specifically prevent any sort of boot sector viruses from getting in because you can’t run arbitrary code on boot.

Linux: Waaaaaaahhhhhh! Stupid Microsoft makes it impossible to boot our arbitrary code and it’s too secure so we can’t install other Operating Systems on the hardware!

Microsoft: sigh

(Sorry, I’m in a bit of a ranty mood this morning).

Linux , Microsoft , Opinion - Posted by Arcterex at 10:25 AM
July 17, 2012
Designing the Windows 8 Touch Keyboard

Another tome on the Windows 8 blog on Designing the Windows 8 touch keyboard, going into tons of detail on testing, metrics, and how they ended up with the design they have.

Best is this comment from “Swotboy2000”:

So you wrote this article basically to say “we’re going to have something VERY similar to the software keyboard from iOS”? Seems like you could have saved a lot of time and money on research just by copying.

It’s true, I admit I only skimmed the article, but I was looking at all the screenshots and looking for anything that’s different from iOS (other than the styling of the keyboard), and couldn’t really find it.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 03:41 PM
Office 2013 Touch Support... "Lacking"

You can tell by the title, Why bother? The sad state of Office 2013 touch support, pretty much what Ars thinks of the new Microsoft Office 2013. If this was it’s state on iOS devices, I could understand it, but the review is based on it’s performance on Windows 8.

This shouldn’t surprise anyone, as Office 2013 doesn’t look a lot different in layout (the theme looks very different, the new “flat” Windows 8 desktop look), and with it’s love of lots of menus, buttons and scrollers, you don’t have to be a genius to see it’d need basically a full rebuild and UI re-do (IMHO).

Thanks for the pointer from The Loop.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:54 AM
July 03, 2012
Microsoft Reveals Windows 8 Upgrade Price: $40

I’m not the biggest fan of Microsoft, but i have to give them kudos for their Windows 8 Upgrade Price. $40 is peanuts and is encroaching on Apple territory for the “oh sure, why not” price for the OS.

Users of Windows XP, Windows 7, or Windows Vista will be able to purchase and download Windows 8 Pro for just $39.99, a Microsoft spokesman said. “We set out to make it as easy as possible for everyone to upgrade to Windows 8,” said the spokesman.

Compared to the pain in the butt factor of pirating, defeating the Windows Genuine Advantage, getting upgrades, dealing with whatever spyware is included in the keygens…. $40 is completely worth it. I don’t think it’s quite as loose as Apple (which allows you to use the OS update software on up to 5 computers), but this is an upgrade to the Windows 8 Pro, not the normal consumer version. Anything shy of a three digit price is a huge win over the $200 Windows 7 upgrade price, or the $450 Vista Ultimate cost in the days of old.

So good on you microsoft, if I have any windows machines around when Windows 8 is released, I’ll be upgrading.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:26 AM
June 27, 2012
Sneak Peek at the Windows 8 Photos App

Sneak Peek at the Windows 8 Photos App.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:49 AM
June 22, 2012
Hands-Off: Microsoft Surface Tablet Review

Great Microsoft Surface Tablet Review that goes into what was actually happening when the journalists got to go “hands on” with the tablets.

Now, the Microsoft guys were rambling on about all the awesome stuff that makes these keyboards work as well — if not better — than a real keyboard, all the same stuff we’d already heard about an hour before during the main event. I wanted to try one of the damn things. You know, like hook it up to a Surface and see it for myself.

Very interesting, especially in light of all the “hands on” reviews and accolades for the surface that we’ve been seeing recently. Now this isn’t to say that it’s not as awesome as all that, just that we (the internet public) won’t really know until someone gets their paws on one.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:51 PM
June 20, 2012
Microsoft Holds Windows Phone 8 Event [Updated]

I’ve been consumed with other things so far, so I didn’t even hear about a Windows Phone 8 event until I saw the hashtag on twitter. Luckily you can check it out from the beginning at the Engadget WP8 Liveblog.

In other news, wasn’t Windows Phone 7 just released?

Hit up The Verge for more Windows Phone 8 details.

Sounds like MS is going balls to the wall putting products (or at least announcements) out there.

Update:

Short story is:

  • Fall release (I’m sure this won’t affect WP7 device sales until then, nosiree)
  • No updates for current Windows Phone 7 devices
  • Fairly nice looking specs and developer info, if you judge on specs. Most of what I saw though looks it’s on par with the current iPhone and Android offerings (multi-core, 1280x760, external SD storage (hopefully they’ve licked the issues previously where only a couple of very specific SD cards would work properly), etc.
  • NFC and wallet capabilities (somewhere in between what google wallet and iOS6 Passbook)
  • Unexciting but needed-by-IT-nerds enterprise capabilities
  • 3D Maps from Nokia, with offline map support, turn by turn, etc.
  • Tighter Skype integration, very cool for devs to be able to hook into that

In short this sounds like what WP7 should have been. I’m really interested to hear what Paul Thurrott has to say about this on Windows Weekly this week. He’s got two articles about WP8 and WP7.8 for some insight.

Hardware , Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 10:48 AM
June 18, 2012
Microsoft's Mystery Press Conference in Los Angeles

If you’re interested in hearing what’s going on at the mystery Microsoft press conference you should hit up the Engadget Live from Microsoft Event blog. Also the guys at TWiT are streaming live commentary (and a few jokes). Most rumors point to some sort of a tablet announcement, but that’s a wild guess it seems.

The guys at Penny Arcade also have their take.

Ballmer just took the stage, and I’ll update as we hear anything.

Update Looks like it’s a Windows 8 tablet called “Surface”

Update #2 The Surface Site. Not overly exciting so far, though the smart cover kickstand and cover thing having a built in querty keyboard is a bit interesting.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 04:09 PM
Microsoft Revives Flight Sim and Gives It Away For Free

If you thought that the last release of MS Flight Sim in 2009 was the end you’ll be happy to know that Microsoft is giving Flight Sim away for free:

Redmond is making the game available in a private beta at present, but plans to release it as a free download eventually. The game needs a minimum of 10GB of hard drive space, a dual-core 2Ghz processor, Windows XP SP3 and 2GB of RAM, according to the video trailer. Initially Flight will only have one plane - the ICON A5 flying boat - but Windows Live users will get access to extra missions and plane types if they sign in.

Makes sense, though I’m not sure how well other ‘play for free’ modelled games have done. But I’m doubting that Flight Sim hasn’t sold a whole lot lately, so the model of charging users a buck or two for new plans or new areas could give them a bit extra in the ‘ol MS coffers.

Gaming , Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:27 AM
June 16, 2012
Windows 8: A Design Disaster @ ZDNet

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes and his Final thoughts on Windows 8: A design disaster over at ZDNet.

On the face of it, the Metro UI looks good. It’s new and shiny and refreshing, and it looks like it could actually be quite usable. If you’ve used Windows Phone then the interface feel familiar. Things feel good. And then you start to use it. […] As a result, rather than keeping your attention focused on a small part of the screen, you’ve now got to scan over the entire screen. The larger the screen, the more area you have to scan. It turns the process of finding the app you want to run into a game of “Where’s Waldo?” — and I detest playing that game or puzzle, or whatever it is.

Glad someone has finally articulated why I don’t think that the new start screen is as good as the old start menu. I knew it was worse somehow, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 08:54 PM
June 15, 2012
Microsoft Is Doing Its Own Tablet?

According to All Things D Microsoft Is Doing Its Own Tablet:

The company isn’t talking about its effort, but Microsoft has scheduled an event Monday in Los Angeles, where it has promised a “major” announcement. AllThingsD reported earlier on Thursday that the event would center around Microsoft’s tablet strategy.

Makes sense being that their next OS is going to be distinctly targeted at tablets, and previous tablet hardware efforts by their hardware partners (correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think that MS has produced tablet hardware in house before) haven’t done well.

I suppose they’re taking something from the Apple philosophy of controlling both hardware and software for a better user experience. I wonder what other hardware partners will think of this though? Though if you remember the HP Windows 7 tablet debacle, this is a good move (assuming they can pull off the hardware production).

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:51 AM
June 10, 2012
Raunchy dance routine a PR nightmare for Microsoft

Apparently a Raunchy video dance routine has turned into a PR nightmare for Microsoft:

A techno-dance routine that preceded Microsoft’s Windows Azure presentation at the Norwegian Developers Conference this week featured a group of women jumping around on stage to a song that included several drug references and this line: “The words MICRO and SOFT don’t apply to my penis.”

Is anyone out there more confused that there’s any sort of dance routine involved in announcing anything to do with a cloud computing offering? What’s next, the next version of Exchange server getting a funky laser light show? Office point releases having mock funerals held to herald the death of the previous point releases?

This on the heals of the a funky hip hop dance routine for a crowd of gamers who I’m willing to bet, never dance… I’m really wondering what madman has got his hand on the “dance” lever at Microsoft PR headquarters.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:32 PM
June 01, 2012
Windows 8 Release Preview Released

Grab the Windows 8 Release Preview today and have a look at it. If you’re looking for ISO you have to go here. The product key is “TK8TP-9JN6P-7X7WW-RFFTV-B7QPF” (on the same page).

Really interested to see what’s up with Windows8, and how the users react to it.

There are lots of links with more information, and Paul Thurrott has compiled them here for your reading pleasure.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:34 AM
May 31, 2012
Fear and Loathing and Windows 8

Great article: Fear and Loathing and Windows 8

My conclusion is that Windows 8 in its current form is very different; attractive in some ways, and disturbing in others.  It combines an interesting new interface with baffling changes to Windows compatibility, and amateur mistakes in customer messaging.  Add up all the changes, and I am very worried that Microsoft may be about to shoot itself in the foot spectacularly.  Even the plain colorful graphics in Windows 8 that looked so cool when I first saw them are starting to look ominous to me, like the hotel decor in The Shining.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 03:23 PM
May 28, 2012
Looking At Windows 8 At MacWorld

An interesting look at Windows 8 from Macworld, talking about some of the ups and downs of the new OS.

But running Windows 8, it often seems that what’s been compromised is your sanity. Metro tiles seem analogous to app icons in iOS, but unlike iOS, there’s no persistence with the tile scrolling. Launch an application in iOS and close it and where are you? Right where you were. Launch an application in Windows 8 and close it and where will you be? Well, it depends on the application. If it’s a Metro-enabled app, you’ll be back in Metro, but at the first set of tiles because it operates like a menu. If it’s a traditional Windows application you just closed, you’ll be in the traditional Windows desktop.

Of course, being “macworld” they are completely crazy mac fanboys who don’t like anything that’s not from the hallowed halls of Cupertino right?

Which is good, right? Because it turns out it really was the Windows interface we didn’t like. We’re not just irrational Microsoft haters under the thrall of Cupertino’s Reality Distortion Field. Man, that’s a load off us, isn’t it?

Regardless, it’s a moderately fair and balanced look at Windows 8 and some of what might be good or bad in it.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:24 AM
May 25, 2012
Microsoft pulling free development tools for Windows 8 Desktop

Via Engadget: Microsoft pulling free development tools for Windows 8 desktop apps, only lets you ride the Metro for free.

Microsoft has instituted a big change with its free Visual Studio 11 Express suite that’s leaving some current- and soon-to-be Windows 8 developers up in arms: it’s pulling support for creating anything but Metro-native apps. After 11 becomes the norm, desktop developers will need to either cling to Visual Studio 2010 for dear life or fork over the $500 for Visual Studio 11 Professional.

Kinda sucky.

Microsoft , Programming - Posted by Arcterex at 09:57 AM
May 10, 2012
The 'New' Bing Adds Deeper Social Integration

Details of The ‘New’ Bing. Nothing seems changed for me. Either it’s not out yet , rolling out, or (once again), non-US users are getting the shaft. Kudos to microsoft for this, though I don’t see anyone switching from Google to Bing because of this.

Update: Ah I just got a notice about this, but it would like to post to Facebook on my behalf. Not sure if I’m comfortable with Bing posting my searches to facebook….

Your friend Arcterex just searched Bing.com for “big boobed dinosaur costume rentals for sex parties in New York” and got 18 search results! Click here to search on Bing too!

Declining the permissions gave me an internal error. Awesome.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:32 PM
May 07, 2012
Microsoft Stops Shipping DVD Player With Windows 8

… thus prompting the question of If VLC can ship a free DVD player, why can’t Microsoft? over on ZDNet.

“Microsoft says the cost of DVD playback adds up to several dollars,” the argument goes. “But I can download the VLC player for Windows and get DVD playback for free. How come VLC can do it and Microsoft can’t?” Welcome to the wonderful world of software licensing, where today we get to see a real-world example of the differences between commercial software and free software published under an open source license.

A good look at the why’s, and yet the answer still infuriates me. If you really care about Microsoft justifying this stupid decision, you can read their (lengthy and mostly unreadable) [FAQ response] (http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2012/05/04/q-amp-a-dvd-playback-and-windows-media-center-in-windows-8.aspx).

As a side note, both MacOS and Linux come with DVD playing software installed by default.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:35 PM
Microsoft RAW Viewer

New(er) download of the Microsoft Camera Codec Pack to view supported RAW images within the Explorer. Not great new functionality if you’re a photographer and using Lightroom or Bridge or the like, still good to see it’s available for 64bit now as well.

Microsoft , Photography - Posted by Arcterex at 10:49 AM
May 02, 2012
How to Backup Windows Phone

How to Backup Windows Phone.

If this was a pre-release of a hot new gadget, or a version 1.0 release this is acceptable. Using a beta or alpha of software I’ve done messy hacks like this before and would agree with Edd Bott and his assertion this is clever. But this is a Phone OS from one of the largest tech companies in the world. This is a Phone OS that has been out since November 2010. That’s a year and a half and I have to ask:

  • There’s no way to backup already?
  • If so, this is an acceptable ugly hack created by the community. However, even from day one the iPhone had a backup (I believe, if not it was shortly thereafter)[1].

[1] There was also a dark time in there when the iPhone backup was horrible, slow to the point of taking something like 15 minutes to complete. But it was there, and I think the procedure linked would take longer than 15 minutes.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 03:58 PM
April 18, 2012
Windows 8 Editions Announced

Windows-start-screen.jpgThe Windows Blog Announced the Windows 8 Editions recently. It seems that there will be three version (OMG ONLY THREE!?), Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro with more “enterprisey” features (though it seems that only pro will allow RDP in, which will suck) and Windows RT, which is the tablet edition. This seems to fly in the face of earlier rumours of there being the same huge number of SKUs as there were in Vista and Windows 7, but all I can say is “yay”. I guess technically there are 5 editions, as Windows 8 and Pro come in both 32 and 64 bit versions, but that’s barely noticeable.

Kudos for MS for simplifying things. Forbes also has written about this.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 10:04 AM
April 03, 2012
Lumia 900 From The Verge

The Verge has a Lumia 900 review (the Lumia 900 is the latest US offering of the premier Windows Phone 7 experience from Nokia). Overall though, it seems it doesn’t deliver.

I’ve already said this, but it bears repeating. I really wanted to love this phone. From a design standpoint, the Lumia 900 was immediately enticing. I’d already been salivating over Nokia’s N9 and Lumia 800, so knowing that a slightly larger (but more feature packed) version of that device was headed our way was fairly encouraging. But while the hardware — at least externally — delivers, the phone as a whole does not.

Gruber also pulled out some key points from the review. However it’s best to read it yourself as a whole, as not to be tainted by a few cherry picked phrases. As Josh says in his review, the phone has some excellent points in it’s favor.

Hardware , Hardware , Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:41 PM
March 28, 2012
Student-created "Bing Automatic" Concept Impresses

I have to admit I was sceptical of this Student-created “Bing Automatic” app concept (which essentially uses data you’ve already written or the context of your browser or document or selection to auto-search for you)… then about halfway through I thought “wow, that is pretty cool”.

First and foremost, “Bing Automatic” is a completely conceptual idea envisioned by what appears to be a team of marketing students for a college coursework assignment, so apply a generous coating of salt. I’m not even sure if Microsoft’s Bing team has seen this.

Of course, as described in the concept video, it’s a privacy nightmare waiting to happen, and frankly I think that Google should take this idea and run with it, as they have been pushing the “we’re a decision engine too” idea.

Still, ignoring the multitude of privacy problems with this, if it were to work and be created as shown, it’d be a pretty cool program (and frankly the search engine behind it is completely irrelevant, so it could be Bing, Google, Ask, Wolfram Alpha, etc.).

Microsoft , Random Linkage - Posted by Arcterex at 10:54 AM
March 27, 2012
Microsoft Metro Twitter Client MetroTwit 1.0 Released

MetroTwit 1.0 is now available, this is a “Metro” interface client for twitter.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 01:42 PM
March 26, 2012
The Smoked by Windows Phone Controversy

So the controversy started when an Android user was told he lost the “Windows Phone Challenge” just because. This is the marketing campaign where users of non-windows smartphones are asked to do a task (obviously stacked so it’s something that Windows Phone does well) and if they can they win a prize. The non-microsoft phone user won, but was told he lost, and obviously was a bit pissed off (losing out on a laptop and $1000). Things got big quickly, with social media sites carrying the story.

If you drew the right card by luck (a combination of scenario and which mobile OS/widgets/apps users have preloaded), you could technically beat them like Sahas did. However, the odds are highly stacked against players since Microsoft is only playing with a deck that is more advantageous to Windows Phones.

No doubt thanks to some of the pressure from Reddit and Twitter, Microsoft has made it right.

Good on MS for paying up, though I wonder if this was an evil calculated move to make people more aware of the Windows Phone Challenge? Or am I thinking too deviously here….

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 12:05 PM
March 05, 2012
IPad Vs Windows 8 Discussion

I’m a bit behind today but it seems like a lot of reviews out of Windows 8 and the comparisons to Windows 7 and the iPad seem to be coming out in droves. On Daring Fireball Gruber has accumulated a few of them. 512 Pixels has a charge of iPad Usage basically saying “use a tablet when you don’t want to use a computer”, ie: iPad is awesome because it’s just an iPad, not the “no compromises” platform that Windows 8 is.

I don’t own an iPad or a Windows 8 tablet, and have only ever used Windows 8 on a VM (not the best experience I’m sure). However, I have to come to Microsoft’s defence here, at least in a way. 512 Pixel’s point, noted from Jim Dalrymple is valid of course, but I can see where microsoft is thinking.

“Wouldn’t it be great if you could just have your ~~iPad~~ tablet device and when you need to, plug in a keyboard and mouse and boom, you have a fully working computer.”

I think it would be great, too, if you could do it well. I think that it’d be awesome to have an iPad that when I needed to I could just dock or plug in some how and get access (native, not a VNC solution) to my mac desktop. I don’t know how it’d work, if it would look something like what Ubuntu has done for Android, or an always running (kinda sorta but not on ARM unless you are Microsoft using these 5 applications) solution that Microsoft has. I don’t even know if it’s feasible, though the power available in tablets is increasing rapidly.

I’m just saying I can see what Microsoft was wanting to do. I don’t know if they did it right, or if Windows 8 will be a complete flop for “real” users (vs the “omg look at the pretty computer in best buy” users), but I can see where they were going with their design ideas.

Microsoft , iPad - Posted by Arcterex at 04:08 PM
March 02, 2012
9 Flavors of Windows 8  

The count of 9 Flavors of Windows 8 has been rumoured, or at least found through registry keys.

Windows 8 will be available in nine separate editions. That’s up three flavors from Windows 7. The unofficial news comes from a registry key found within the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. If this key is to be believed, Windows 8 will be available in the six editions of Windows 7 with the addition of Windows 8 Professional Plus, Enterprise Evaluation, and ARM edition. That makes nine Windows 8 versions in all — seven more editions than Apple’s OS X.

Seriously 9? I realize that some of those versions aren’t actually sold, but with their “no compromises” philosophy in Windows 8 that that would include not having 9 different versions of the product.

More from OSNews.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 01:14 PM
March 01, 2012
Windows 8 vs. iPad On The Verge (Video)

To me these aren’t as comparable, but the Windows 8 vs. iPad: feature by feature over on The Verge is a very cool look at how Windows 8 is supposed to work on the tablet (I’ve only seen it in a virtual machine setup for the desktop, which I think is how most people will use Windows 8).

Neat look though.

Hardware , Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 04:07 PM
February 29, 2012
Windows 8 Consumer Preview Arrives

So today is the big day and the Windows 8 Consumer Preview has arrived. First the relevant links:

The video doesn’t show much that is different from the Dev preview, but it’s mostly fast cuts between funky skydiving videos and some of the Metro UI. I’ve got an ISO downloading to give it a look ASAP though.

You can watch some of the reactions on Google+, or Google News. For the sake of inclusiveness, here are the Bing results as well :)

So what do you think? Desktop and tablet savior? iPad Killer? Total flop?

Note to install you do need the product key noted in the FAQ.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:32 AM
February 28, 2012
Windows Desktop UI Concept

Dear Microsoft: Implement this Windows Desktop UI Concept and I will sing its praises to the moon (assuming it works well of course). Damn that looks pretty!

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:43 PM
February 24, 2012
Microsoft Killing off the Zune and Windows Live Brands

Good stuff on The Verge on how How Microsoft is killing off the Zune and Windows Live brands in Windows 8. Good stuff, a more consistent identity solution across all your products and services is a Good Thing.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:57 AM
February 21, 2012
Windows Get 10 years of Support

Microsoft changes policy: all Windows versions get 10 years of support.

Through this update, customers who remain on the most current supported service pack will be eligible to receive both Mainstream and Extended Support, for a total of 10 years.

Read: “We’re pretty sure consumers will hate Windows 8”.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 12:39 PM
January 10, 2012
Microsoft's Tweet Choir: WTF

Seriously, what sort of brain damage do you have to think that the Microsoft Tweet Choir was a good idea? I know that any press is good press, but who takes these clowns seriously? This is supposed to be a fortune 500 (or 100 or 1000 or whatever it is) company at their last showing at the biggest consumer electronics show.

When people say things like "Well [favorite company here] doesn't make any good stuff, they're just really good at marketing", maybe send them this video. I love Ballmer at the end, just enjoying the hell out of it.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:25 PM
November 02, 2011
How Microsoft killed its Courier Tablet

The inside story of how Microsoft killed its Courier tablet over at CNET News. Really interesting look at the inside of how Microsoft works and thinks.

Here's what I said about it two years ago.

Of course, it looks awesome and the video shows it working perfectly for that example, but remember how the demos for tablet computers and the UMPCs that MS was all about a couple of years ago looked, awesome, yet that buzz kinda died. If they can pull it off though, and if it works in real life as well as it does for the very narrow use case in the video, hell, I'm all over it :)

And a year later when they finally killed it:

Well, turns out (again, shockingly) that the system was just a video of technology that doesn't exist, and may or may not have parts of it appear in future products. Ironically the Courier was cited a few times in the past months as "the iPad killer". Uh huh.

Bummer, as it looked very cool. Of course, something that cool (especially from Microsoft) is indistinguishable from a tech demo concept video.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:31 PM
October 27, 2011
Productivity Future Vision from Microsoft Office

Productivity Future Vision is a concept video from the MS office team, showing some very cool ideas about what things could be like in the future. A grand vision full of responsive touchscreens everywhere with full connectivity and 3D and everything connected, in a very Minority Report type future (but shiny and happy not dark and depressing). Of course, you also don't see anyone doing any real work (ie: typing) and it seems like the computers are doing most of the work. Also you can't alt-tab to the Windows 7 desktop either, unlike Windows 8. Just sayin' :)

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:04 AM
October 26, 2011
Nokia Introduces New Windows Phone 7 Phones

The first new Windows Phone 7 Phones from the Nokia / Microsoft partnership (started 8 months ago) poked their heads up at Nokia World.... the phones are the Lumia 710 and 800.

The 710 is a "... colorful and affordable [...] no-nonsense smartphone that brings the Lumia experience to more people around the world". I read that to be that it's a lower end more affordable phone. The 800 is "stunningly social" and has "vivid colors".

See the press release for full specs, or this macrumors link for more details.

Gadgets , Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:24 AM
October 14, 2011
The Windows 8 Task Manager

Sort of an interesting article over on the Building Windows 8 blog about the The Windows 8 Task Manager. It gets more interesting in the 'Lighting up the resource usage' section where some of the interesting new changes are shown, such as changing the colors of columns and data in the task manager when something runs over a usage threshold (ie: quicker visibility of what's sucking up all the CPU or memory).

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:58 AM
October 04, 2011
Microsoft Explains Why the Start Menu Needed to Die

Interesting: Microsoft Explains Why the Start Menu Needed to Die.

That may be an exaggeration of sorts, but a blog post by Microsoft explained that the used of the Start menu dipped by 11 percent between Windows Vista and Windows 7, with many specialized Start functions - such as exploring pictures - declining as much as 61 percent.

I can't say I disagree with this, when running Windows I tend to either use the search, or as a way to hit the control panel or a couple of pinned apps, but very rarely traverse through the all programs menu tree....

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 04:11 PM
September 27, 2011
Microsoft Begins Rolling Out Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango"

Hate to leave my Microsoft loving readers out in the dark, so here's the news that Microsoft has begun Rolling Out Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango". I'm sure that the 13 users of it will be happy to get the updates (the ones with the right phones, right carriers, and carriers who have cleared it through anyway).

Just kidding, 98% of WP7Ps will be get it, though only 10% will get to use it (artificially restricted by the slow rollout plan it seems).

Update: More info on Mango at istartedsomething.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:43 PM
September 23, 2011
Microsoft Attempt to Address Windows 8 'Linux Worries'

Microsoft Attempt to Address Windows 8 'Linux Worries':

But what Microsoft are not doing is asking OEMs to prevent Secure Boot being disabled by the user: -

"...such decisions are left to the OEM.  There may be good reasons why certain enterprises may not want PCs that can be configured in such a way, and there may be good reasons why an OEM or white box retailer may choose to allow that flexiblity (sic) for their customers.  It's all about choice and flexibility."

Interesting. Personally I think that throwing your hands up in the air and screaming about injustice is not the thing to do right, especially since (as I understand) this whole thing started with a Redhat employee wondering out loud if the new UEFI support in Windows8 could be used to lock out Linux. Also Windows 8 supports the new (modern, and built after 1981) BIOS standard, and if this is used to lock out other OSs it'll be done by OEMs, not Microsoft. Still to get the Windows 8 hardware certification OEMs do have to use this (as I understand it). I recommend listening to this week's Windows Weekly where Paul Thurrott addresses some of this (somewhere around the 28:22 minute mark).

Linux , Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 01:59 PM
September 15, 2011
Microsoft Abandons Flash in Windows 8

Story over at OSNews: Microsoft Abandons Flash, Silverlight in Windows 8. I don't see any reference to silverlight in the story itself, mind you, just the headline.

And now this. This is Microsoft kicking Flash to the curb. The world's most popular operating system will not be receptive to Flash, and Microsoft openly stating Flash is history pretty much means that as a platform for the web, it's done. Flash may still serve a purpose in other ways, but the Flash most of us know and hate - that's gone.

Personally I'm not sad at all, flash is great for little clicky games, but overall makes my browsing experience slower, my laptop hotter with less battery life, and I hope it goes away quickly. Sorry adobe.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:52 PM
iPad 2 running iOS 5 vs Windows 8 Slate

Great 10 minute video of iPad 2 running iOS 5 vs Windows 8 Slate which goes into pretty deep depth on features and details. Of course both are in beta, though iOS is less beta than Windows 8 at this point.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:41 PM
September 13, 2011
iPad iOS 5 & Android Honeycomb & Windows 8

IStartedSomething has an interesting take on iPad iOS 5 & Android Honeycomb: opportunities for Windows 8. Some of the points where they say that Windows 8 has the opportunity to make some inroads (italics are my commentary):

[...] Live tiles can offer snippets of contextual information in a consistent format that can be updated without actually launching the application. Developers can also differentiate similar applications by exposing better live tiles.

[...] Having an operating system on a single device that can cater to the best of both worlds independently means you only need one device instead of two to do both tablet computing and traditional PC computing.

To me this is completely missing the point of what a) made the iPad such a hit and b) what made previous tablet computer endeavors (case in point is the UMPC from Microsoft) fall flat, or at least sell barely anything compared to the current "tablet designed OS" tablets.

[...] Only recently has Apple started building social integration into its core platform with iOS 5′s native Twitter functionality.

True, but when Windows 8 debuts it will have been in iOS for as long as it'll have been in Windows 8, and iPad will be on version 3 (presumably) compared to Windows 8 version 1.

[...] One of the weakest aspects of the iOS is the ability to interface with other standard devices and external storage which has encouraged a diverse range of Apple-exclusive accessories. One such accessory, the iPad Camera Connection Kit should be a feature built into every device to make managing simple tasks like browsing and sharing photos much more accessible. I'm confident Windows 8 devices will have built-in SD card readers and the ability to manipulate content on them.

Have to agree here, especially that the camera connection kit should be built in, or at least included and not a $30 extra.

Assuming one can also simply plug in any USB keyboard and mouse to a Windows 8 slate, it will be a powerful capability to have a simple touch experience on the go and a productive typing experience at the desk with the same device and operating system.

Yes this is true, however Windows 8 has shown it's dedication to the "no compromise" UI that basically includes everything, and I think you can pretty easily argue that if you include everything you get something that isn't nearly as useful as a dedicated device. The iPad doesn't have 5 USB ports on it, and HDMI plug and 15 other ports stuck off the side of it, a file browser built in, and 3 different desktop modes, but that's because it's dedicated to doing one thing really well, and it's UI and form factor reflect that. Yes, sometimes it's a bit spartan and it would be nice to just plug in an SD card, but people with devices like this are ok with making that compromise.

That and my apple fanboy-ism aside, there are definitely places where a Windows 8 tablet can take on the iPad and Android Tablet market, and it'll be good to have a third player in the market segment. I just don't think that the direction they're taking with putting everything in one basket will have any better success (even with the new UI) than with their previous windows based tablet attempts.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:06 PM
Windows 8 Hands-on Preview

This is my next has a Windows 8 hands-on preview of the developer build from the BUILD conference. Some interesting stuff in the video for sure. The touch UI looks neat, but as someone who has a Windows 7 touch based computer on the wall at work, touch computing on a "normal" computer SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCKS.

I love Gruber's take on it. He knows how to cut to the chase for sure ;)

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 10:35 AM
August 30, 2011
Improvements in Windows Explorer In Windows 8

In the Building Windows 8 Blog some Improvements in Windows Explorer are highlighted.

I think that Marco's commentary says it best.

My comments on google plus are here.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 01:35 PM
July 26, 2011
Windows Live Photo Gallery now supports raw format

Aryk passed on that now Microsoft Live Photo Gallery now supports raw format, so you photogs who don't have a raw processor, or just want to view your RAW files from the explorer, will be able to. Bonus: it works for 64bit as well (previously not available for free without going to a 3rd party codec pack). Good stuff!

Microsoft , Photography - Posted by Arcterex at 01:18 PM
June 02, 2011
Previewing 'Windows 8'

Interesting look at the new touch-based (but still works great with mouse and keyboard apparently) UI on Windows 8: Previewing 'Windows 8.

The fundamental issue however is no one wants to use touch as the main input to a computer. Honestly, it's a great demo, but after spending 5 minutes installing some updates and changing the security software on a touch screen computer mounted on the wall my arm was sore and the experience was infuriating. Really, no one wants this, and the people who have are either a) dumb executives who see the iPhone and iPad and say "that's awesome, we want that on everything and b) people who have the need for cool demos or have one of the few apps that would be good on it (ie: Google Earth). Tweeting out "that's awesome" with a touch screen computer is fine, tweeting out lots of things from it, probably not so much.

Also changing the UI of windows to look and act more like an iPad is a great response to the iPad and other tablets, but your PC is not an iPad. Why do people not seem to understand that the two different environments are fundamentally different and don't need to be copied back and forth.

</rant>

Gruber has more as always, put far more elegantly than I :)

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 10:35 AM
May 31, 2011
Bing Streetside View

Bing's New Streetside View is now live and going (in some places).

It's nifty, though a bit odd to use interface. Nice to see some different ideas about street view. The challenge (as always) will be achieving the mindshare that google has, and their (IMHO) still far superior integration of search data results and their own sub-search types.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 05:06 PM
May 27, 2011
Joe Belfiore shows off Windows Phone Mango

Good look at the new features in Windows Phone Mango. Thanks Gruber.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:57 AM
May 10, 2011
Ballmer On Microsoft Skype Deal

You probably heard this morning that Microsoft bought Skype for over 8 Billion (with a b B-B-Billion) dollars. Some might wonder why, after it was bought by eBay a few years ago for $4 Billion (and most considered that an insane cost even then). Well now we get some explanation.

Ballmer And Bates Sell The Skype Deal: We Think We "Can Reach Everyone On The Planet"

The mac fans have interpreted this to mean that MS is going to try to fight back against Apple's FaceTime (though to be honest, I don't think I've seen anyone using facetime "in the wild" ever). A universal video calling client built into the OS is something I can get behind though, the more common and easy it is to video call anyone from anywhere, the better for us all (except those who like to work from home naked of course).

Business , Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:26 AM
May 06, 2011
Microsoft Wants Buyers To 'Do the Math'

Nifty new ad campaign from Microsoft where Microsoft wants buyers to 'do the math' and select a netbook over a MacBook Air.

[...]you'll see Microsoft's pairing of the 11" MacBook Air with three US$300-ish netbooks. While the price comparison is stark, the fact is that these netbooks are not even close to the MacBook Air where it counts, and to put them in the same category is silly at best and deliberately deceptive at worst.

As someone who was at an Apple store recently fondling lovingly checking out a MacBook air with a friend, the comparison of a MacBook air to a netbook is stupid. Of course, this is a company's ad campaign trying consumers to buy their products over someone else's products, so just like Apple will emphasize quality and user experience over HP/Dell/MS/etc, this isn't shocking. It's definitely interesting to see what's included and what's left out of all these ad campaigns, regardless of what "side" you're on.

Apple/Mac , Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:44 AM
April 13, 2011
Microsoft Unveils Internet Explorer 10

Microsoft Unveils Internet Explorer 10. More of the same as in IE9. They still need to nuke IE6 from orbit however.

Best thing in the article was this last paragraph:

Interestingly enough, Internet Explorer 10 was running on the ARM version of Windows. That never gets old. Windows on ARM. Tight IE release schedule. Linux the most popular mobile operating system. Apple entirely mainstream and boring and hated for it. We're living in frickin' wonderland!
Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 01:56 PM
March 15, 2011
Windows Phone 7 Extra Data Use Fixed

Seems the culprit for the extra data usage in Windows Phone 7 has been fixed. Yahoo Finally Fixed their IMAP Email System which was sending extra data with each request for new mail.

Bonus - Reddit link and discussion on a WP7 developer close to the breaking point (to which I say "all that and you're only close to the breaking point?" :)

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 08:59 AM
March 09, 2011
Thurrott on Lack of Windows Phone Update

Paul's latest post, Still no update shows a very frustrated person trying to continue loving MS WIndows Phone 7 and (apparently) having a hard time when the promised update to fix all the random things wrong with the initial release is (still) nowhere to be seen. I too find it hard to believe that a company as big as MS can't get an update out for a phone with a (I presume) fairly small market share.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 04:50 PM
March 04, 2011
IE6 Countdown

IE6 Countdown, Microsoft doing their best to stop people from using their ten year old product.

Good on them I say.

Via Daring Fireball.

A quick thought: The reason that this is happening (people continuing to use IE6 that is) I believe is because there's so much of Windows XP still around, and IE6 is the default on that install. If Vista or Windows 7 was as accessible (and piratable) then Windows XP would have less of an install base and therefor that much less of IE6. Just a thought anyway.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 03:43 PM
March 02, 2011
Upgrading Every Version of Windows

Reddit has a cool video of Upgrading through every version of windows, in VMware. Very nerdy, and a bit nostalgic. Also a testament to how much better Windows has gotten over the years, and Microsoft's dedication to software backwards compatibility.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:59 AM
February 23, 2011
The Windows Phone 7 Update

Whoah, sounds like Everything that could go wrong with Windows Phone 7 update does. Ars has the story.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 08:50 AM
February 11, 2011
IE9 RC Released

In what feels like a really quiet release, you can get IE9 RC over at Beauty of the Web. Not sure what's changed, but it's nice to see a release... and anything that pushes web standards and new technology like their GPU accelerated canvas stuff is a good thing. Great job IE team!

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 01:29 PM
Scobleizer On the Nokia/Microsoft Merger

Roberted has some good thoughts on the MS/Nokia merger, basically saying it's not that bad, and that since Nokia has the distribution and Microsoft has the good dev tools and OS (and having played with a WP7 a few times it's really pretty cool, though definitely not without it's flaws), and they'll compliment each other.

I mostly agree, though as even he notes, the smartphone world is now all about Apps, Apps, Apps, and Android and iPhone own that market right now. Guess we'll see what happens.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:45 AM
January 26, 2011
Microsoft's iPad Response is Too Tepid, Too Late

Microsoft's iPad Response is Too Tepid, Too Late - Great article by Paul Thurrott, noted MS guy, noted as telling it like it is, even when it means bashing MS a bit.

Microsoft, I'd like to introduce you to reality.

In reality, Apple sold tens of millions of iPads last year and is on track to sell tens of millions more next year. In reality, people are buying iPads. In reality, they're not buying Windows 7-based tablets. And in reality, they never will.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 08:23 PM
November 05, 2010
Looking at Kinect Using IR Goggles

Cool stuff, Gruber links a couple of videos (second one is better) of Looking at Kinect Using IR Goggles to see the way it does it's motion detection.

Gaming , Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 04:01 PM
September 30, 2010
Windows Live Essentials 2011

Windows Live Essentials 2011 has been released.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 03:00 PM
September 27, 2010
Microsoft to kill off Spaces

Interesting move, with Microsoft to kill off Spaces and will be apparently moving everyone to Wordpress. Probably a good idea, spaces always seemed to me to be very walled-garden and not very "bloggy". The fact that most of the blogs that showed up on the main page were either non-english or spammy didn't help either. Hopefully their users will have better luck with Wordpress.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 01:21 PM
September 24, 2010
iPhone versus Windows Phone 7

Video from pocketnow.com of the iPhone versus Windows Phone 7.

Microsoft , iPhone - Posted by Arcterex at 08:33 AM
September 23, 2010
HP's Forthcoming Windows 7 Tablet

Ok, so they're a bit biased, but the link from 9-5 mac on how HP's forthcoming Windows 7 tablet video speaks for itself seems pretty accurate. I'm not sure how even the most hardcore windows fanboy can say that the browsing and UI is "fast" or "easy to use" compared to the browser on the iPad. I'm not sure if it's the fault of the OS or the touchscreen or the computer hardware, but it really looks like you have to be pretty "purposeful" in your screen touches and swipes, instead of the more easy going screen touching on iOS devices.

Marco.org has some notes about some stand out parts of the video.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 10:24 AM
September 16, 2010
Windows Internet Explorer 9 Beta Released + My Mini Review

Look for a full review from me tomorrow, but if you're an IE sort of person, you might be interested to know that Windows Internet Explorer released their beta of version 9. If you click on the download link on the page you get a warning from bit.ly about the link (I think 4chan has been having some fun) but head over to the real site beautyoftheweb.com to see some demos and download.

My quick initial review:


  • Much cleaner UI.
  • "Wrench" menu a-la Opera/Chrome/FF4
  • New tabs load almost instantly like they do in FF/Chrome not taking a few seconds like they do in IE8
  • Plugins.... meh, no adblock, mostly "partner" (read: advertising) type stuff
  • Changing from Bing to Google is mostly easy, but note when you add a new search provider it's no longer set as the new default
  • Not sure I like the new notification bar
  • 95/100 on the ACID3 test (not bad, but not 100/100 as other browsers get)
  • The demos of things like hardware accelerated HTML5 canvas is cool, and the sites run on other browsers not like apple did making the demos Safari-only. The hardware acceleration seems to work well too, I saw the same page be perfectly smooth on IE9 but Chrome stutter a tiny bit. I wonder though if some of the things were done specifically badly so that the HA was needed (end tinfoil hat section).

Overall not bad, not horrible like I feel whenever I'm forced to use IE8, but they really only (IMHO) brought themselves up to the state of the rest of the browsers, not gone beyond it. That said, having IE on par or mostly on par with the rest of the browsing world is a really good thing.

Anyone else have any thoughts?

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 08:37 AM
September 07, 2010
Internet Explorer 9 UI Video Leaked

OSNews - Internet Explorer 9 UI Video Leaked. Looks pretty similar to the screenshot linked earlier. Fairly boring, but still a hell of a lot better than the overdone IE678 UI.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 04:33 PM
September 06, 2010
First Windows 7 Phone Ad

Well, Microsoft has never been known for it's eye catching and mindshare-grabbing advertising right? I can't dispute what 9-5 Mac says about the first Windows 7 phone ad. Seriously, you'd think that they'd want to grab the viewer with something of either technical wizardry (look, multiple exchange accounts! for example) or "feeling" (look! you can escape those silly iphone people and be good at business and fun! for example)... instead you get something that one would almost mistake as an empty screen if you were to see it on TV.

However, I'm sure that they planned it this way, wanting to create "buzz" on the internet as people talked about how horrible the "ad" was, because at least then we'd be talking about the ad. Still, I'm not convinced thanks....

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:57 PM
July 29, 2010
Microsoft's 'Street Slide' Technology

Microsoft has taken a new take on street map imagery with the Microsoft's 'Street Slide', and is taking aim at Google's Street View.

I have to say, this looks pretty damn interesting, especially when you combine it with their other seamless integration of video/imagery/etc into the new Bing Maps stuff (though none of this stuff has been released to the wild yet IIRC).

Microsoft , Software - Posted by Arcterex at 09:50 AM
July 21, 2010
Windows Phone 7 Reviews

A wrapup of some recent Windows Phone 7 Reviews based on the tech preview. Some say awesome, some say sucky.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:21 AM
July 07, 2010
Microsoft's Kin Humiliation

Great post from John Gruber on Microsoft's Kin Humiliation. Another post from him references mini-microsoft's post where he notes that the Kin is this generation's Microsoft Bob.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 01:11 PM
June 30, 2010
Microsoft Kills The Kin Project

I'm not sure if it's even fair to make jokes about how Microsoft has killed the kin less than 2 months after the product debuted.


The social media-oriented phone will not make its planned European debut and Microsoft is shifting the entire Kin team to work on Windows Phone 7, the Microsoft smartphone operating system due out later this year. Andy Lees, who heads up the company's cell phone efforts announced the move to Microsoft workers earlier on Wednesday, according to a source close to the company.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 03:41 PM
June 07, 2010
Free eBooks From Microsoft

Sure, the free eBooks are all about MS product guides and MS product-centric solutions, but if you're in that world, looks like good stuff.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:14 PM
May 29, 2010
Apple / Microsoft Flamewar Cliches

TUAW has their list of 7 anti-Apple cliches that need to die, and (with shorter details) a few anti-Microsoft cliches that are good as dead as well.

Apple/Mac , Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 06:52 PM
May 18, 2010
New Hotmail Interface Previewed

The Windows Live team is giving a nice preview of the new Hotmail interface. They introduce the "sweep" (which lets you filter off "grey" email, lists you legitimately signed up for for example), integrate more tightly with Skydrive for uploading images to send, and (sadly) sound like they're going to try to re-introduce an email thread as a new concept. You can skip the video at the top of the page, there's not a lot of real content there, or at least shiny screenshots anyway, which is what I was wanting. The main site for the page is here which lets you see some more details of some of the new features.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 01:12 PM
April 30, 2010
Microsoft Kills Courier

In a shocking, just shocking change, Microsoft has confirmed and killed the Courier. Remember the super-cool concept video of the split paned Microsoft tablet that people were all a-buzz a couple of months ago? Well, turns out (again, shockingly) that the system was just a video of technology that doesn't exist, and may or may not have parts of it appear in future products. Ironically the Courier was cited a few times in the past months as "the iPad killer". Uh huh.

Bummer, as it looked very cool. Of course, something that cool (especially from Microsoft) is indistinguishable from a tech demo concept video.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 01:14 PM
IEBlog On HTML5 Video

Sounds like for HTML5 Video in IE9 it will only support H.264, not Ogg, which Firefox supports. *sigh* more fragmentation, more differences in "standards", and all of it just turn into a PITA for developers.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:01 AM
April 28, 2010
Windows Live Messenger

Paul Thurrott pointed over to the Windows Live Messenger new features guide. Looks interesting, though I still prefer Pidgin for it's cleanleness and simplicity, though I would like a bit more flash (but ad free). I'll try it out anyway.

Microsoft , Software - Posted by Arcterex at 04:46 PM
April 26, 2010
Windows Phone 7 Looking Good

Winextra has a bunch of videos of different aspects in Windows Phone 7. Gotta say it looks pretty good, I'd definitely want to play with that (hint hint Microsoft). The one thing I'm still worried about with this new Phone OS is that it looks really good in demos, and like it came out of a designers dream, but will that work In The Real World. Case in point is the header in mail of the user, check out the email from Frank Wu in the first video starting at 0.27 in (link). That looks awesome, but do I really want half my email screen used up with a useless avatar? While it'd be great the first time, would it start to drive you crazy after scrolling half a page down for each email? Or would it end up with the user not adding in images for contacts to avoid this? Some of these things we won't be able to really see until these devices show up in the world.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 01:39 PM
Next Version of Windows Home Server "Vail"

The Windows Home Server Blog has some details of the next generation of their software, "Vail". Link has a video of the new features, as well as the highlights of hardware requirements (IE: only 64-bit).

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 01:35 PM
April 15, 2010
Silverlight 4 Now Available

If you've been waiting, you'll be glad to hear that Silverlight 4 is Now Available.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:57 PM
April 13, 2010
What's New in Visual Studio 2010

With their usual flair for excitement and great marketing, Microsoft has posted their What's New in Visual Studio 2010 page. I'm not saying that a programming IDE can be exciting, but I might point to the xcode page as a counter point. Just sayin'. (At least the main visual studio page has a tiny bit of color/graphics).

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 01:13 PM
April 12, 2010
Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Released

For you Windows Developers out there, you'll be happy to hear that Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 has been released.

Microsoft , Programming - Posted by Arcterex at 12:12 PM
March 16, 2010
IE9 Info From MIX'10 (updated)

From MIX '10 comes some Internet Explorer 9 Platform Preview Info. Short story: HTML5, hardware acceleration, and a public download that's appears to be available (Vista SP2 + only).

Personally I don't care about the IE9 rendering engine that much, even if it's faster than chrome/webkit/mozilla by a factor or 10x. What has put me off IE again and again is the user interface that sits around the rendering engine. The feel of it is sluggish and feels just.... "bleah". The big long list of icons to the right of the tabs, the menu bar sitting in the middle, the weird button/dropdowns for things like suggested sites, the little icon that pops up every time I select something and the huge long context menus.... Yech! I'm sure some of these things can be turned off, but honestly I don't get far enough to even bother, cause I just use IE to download firefox/chrome.

However for you fine readers, I'll take a bullet and am installing it on my home machine and will give it a run and report back. Who knows, maybe MS has taken the Windows 7 and Zune approach and hit one out of the park this time?

Update: OK, so the download is a tech preview, of no use to "normal" users as it is basically a rendering window with no UI. Only 55/100 on the ACID3 test, and the one quick test of the HTML5 site I tried (this canvas experiment) failed. The YouTube HTML5 site also doesn't work, but that could be a browser detection issue. Still, I have hopes that the speed/html5/css3 demos that they are showing off turn out being real in the end. Bringing these new technologies (blah blah not an official standard yet blah blah) to the browser that still (somehow) has 70%+ of the market (or whatever it is these days) is a Good Thing.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:52 AM
March 09, 2010
Different View of the IE6 Funeral

Just met Ralph on IRC (freenode #fv.rb if you care) and found this great picture from the IE6 funeral. Glad there were at least some protesters :)

Funny Stuff , Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:40 AM
March 02, 2010
Edward Tufte On Windows Phone 7 Series (WP7S) UX

Edward Tufte has some interesting things to say about the Windows Phone 7 Series (WP7S) interface design. Basically this is phase 2 in the new product introduction series, where the initial "ooohh! look how nice and cool it looks" fades away and some actual usage thoughts come in. IE:


On a small handheld device, screen real estate is extremely valuable. So the content-free big black band on the right margin is a puzzling waste of space, resulting in a 20% downgrade in screen resolution.

This is going to be interesting, as this is one area that (IMHO as a fanboy) the iPhone (main competitor of the WinPhone7Series, or at least what'll be compared most to it) has maintained well in. For example, yes, cut and paste was introduced a year after the iPhone's release, but when it was done, it was done very well. I've heard that cut and paste in Android is nowhere near as good. Same with the little details like deleting apps. In the iPhone you hold down the icon till it jiggles, hit 'x', confirm, and then 'no thanks' to the rating (the last step is annoying to me). In Android deleting an app is (apparently anyway, I have yet to use it myself) a long series of steps akin to windows, that is control panel, add/remove, find it, select, delete, confirm, etc.

It'll be interesting to see the W7PS in actual use to see if the "oooh shiny" holds up in terms of real world usability.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:04 AM
February 22, 2010
IE6 Funeral

Darren shared out the Announcement of the IE6 Funeral. I say rest in peace and good riddance. Now if we can only do something about IE7 and 8...

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 04:19 PM
February 16, 2010
Windows Mobile 7 So Good Even the Apple Blogs Giving it Props?

If The Apple Blog is giving Windows Mobile 7 it's due, then this must be something to pay attention to.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:32 PM
February 15, 2010
Microsoft Steve Ballmer launches WinMob 7

Seems that Microsoft is making a play to make their smartphone OS a bit less of a joke, and catch up to where the iPhone and Android are. They launched Windows Mobile 7, which has what looks like a Zune-like interface, a concentration on social media (status updates, XBox Live integration) and some fairly cool looking UI ideas. The link is maybe not the best place to get information (it's a Mac blog) but that's the first one I saw the story on, and it has the "press video" and a clip of Steve Ballmer on stage (sorry, but he's got about the stage presence of a turnip).

Other bits of info on this can be found at Paul Thurrott's WinSupersite.com or of course google news.

Will it do it? Can it do anything? Who knows. Some of the UI (from the glossy press video anyway) looks pretty cool, but as the iPhone and iPod has shown, having a "better" product with more features doesn't mean you will take over. There have been far "better" (in terms of features anyway) mp3 players and smartphones that have gone nowhere. Will WinMob7 be one of these? Who knows. They have a couple of things going for them, the Zune-like UI ditches (at least on the surface) the old stylus driven "hey it's Windows 95 on a phone!" interface (at least I assume there's no stylus anymore), and that the last 3 years of "next gen" smartphones have been a good benchmark of what works and what doesn't.

Will the business world want a phone that gives you XBox Live and Facebook (oh, and Windows Live, for the 3 people who update their statuses through there) integration? Will the business apps available be good and "corprorate-y" enough? Or will people choose to go the iPhone/Android direction instead?

That they have some of this social media built in vs the nothing that we got with the "naked" iPhone is good, it'd have been awesome for the iPhone to have a built in Twitter/FB client, not so much for the fact they'd be there from the start, but because then they'd be given some Apple-Love and maybe come with background processing and push notification from the start.

The one thing that the iPhone has shown is that the attention to detail and UI do make the experience that much better. I hope that WinMob7 will be as good in this department, and that their improvements are more than the skin-deep changes that we saw in WinMob6.5. Hey, as much of a fanboy as I am, competition is always good :)

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:11 AM
December 10, 2009
Windows Live Messenger 2010 Revealed

Neowin has some shots of Windows Live Messenger 2010 revealed. My first impressions, "cool they are integrating social networks, but good gods that looks awful!" Seriously, almost a full 25% of the UI is an ad!

Thankfully I still have Pidgin.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:44 AM
November 24, 2009
Hands-On Look at Office 2010

Lifehacker has the Hands-On Look at What's New in Office 2010 - Office 2010 for those who grabbed it from the Beta offer from a couple of days ago.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 04:00 PM
November 23, 2009
Microsoft "Cashback" Gives Negative Cashback?

An interesting blog post entitled Negative Cashback from Bing Cashback, which illustrates how, allegedly, that using the "Bing Cashback" deal isn't that good a deal at all. Basically if a site sees you coming in from Bing with the cashback bonus, it gives you a raised price so the discount you get back actually is just a bit off an artificially raised price. Allegedly. Interesting to see if this gets any traction.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:42 PM
November 22, 2009
Thoughts on IE9

At PDC this year Microsoft revealed an early look at IE9, what it's targeting, and what the plans are to come. The theory is that IE9 will ship sometime next year, possibly corresponding with Windows 7 SP1.

Here are a couple of links about it first.


The latter is the more informative link.

Basically Microsoft is going to concentrate on web standards, javascript engine speed, and most interesting, rendering using the computers GPU instead of CPU to speed up rendering.

I'm glad they're finally going to concentrate on web standards as well. Please don't give me the "but HTML5 and CSS3 aren't finished standards and Microsoft will support them when they're ratified" argument. The other major browsers out there support these, get 100% on the ACID 3 test (well, Firefox actually only gets 93/100, still a far sight above the 33/100 that IE8 gets), and when people are writing web apps and cool tech with these standards in mind, IE users get left out in the cold, which isn't good for anyone.

Here's my main complaint with IE. Other than the security issue's it's had in the past, the UI is too slow. Not the rendering speed mind you, the UI. IE's rendering speed is, within reason, completely irrelevant. A 10th of a second difference in rendering msn.com (ugh, what a horrible page by the way), or apple.com or whatever, hell, a 5 second difference really doesn't matter all that much. But when it takes me the count of five to open a new tab in the last updated version of IE on my dual core Windows 7 system, compared to almost instantly in Chrome or Firefox, that's where the failure is. I wish I knew what it was, it's not that silly "automatically detect proxy settings" setting, but it's consistant across the different computers I use.

I think that if Microsoft has the resources to do magic stuff like rendering webpages in the Graphics Processing Unit of my computer, they sure as hell should be able to make the "new tab" function happen in a second or less.

I think that even the IE apologists will acknowledge that some of the UI in IE is sub-optimal compared to other browsers out there. Even if the rendering engines and security were apples-to-apples the same, the responsiveness of Google Chrome and Firefox win out.

Microsoft , Web 2.0 - Posted by Arcterex at 04:44 PM
November 18, 2009
Office 2010 Beta Now Available

No doubt part of the ongoing PDC show, Office 2010 Beta is now available.

If you do get it, just be careful about creating or editing documents in it, to make sure you don't end up with a bunch of word docs you can't open anymore because they were created with a beta or RC :)

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:54 AM
November 17, 2009
Seesmic Moving to Windows Platform

Speaking of interesting PDC news, it seems that Seesmic is Moving to Windows Platform. Seesmic is a twitter/facebook client similar to tweetdeck and they announced on the blog that they're moving to the Windows platform.

This is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, are they abandoning the cross platform goodness of Adobe AIR (which incidentally announced AIR 2.0 beta this morning) and abandoning their Mac and Linux users? True, native apps are better than AIR/Java/etc apps, but both Seesmic and Tweetdeck were actually excellent apps for being non-native. Also I wonder what prompted the move. Being touted at PDC is a pretty big deal, I'm wondering if MS is looking to jump into the "social network" world and is going to use Seesmic as their champion?

Either way, it'll be interesting to see how this pans out, and if the move is beneficial to them.

Microsoft , Software - Posted by Arcterex at 10:40 AM
Microsoft PDC 2009: Day 1

Paul has some details on the Microsoft PDC 2009: Day 1. There's also a live stream going if you want to watch live.

Having just tuned in, lets say the talk is very.... "business" oriented so far. IE: Probably best to just read the crib notes when it's over :)

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 10:30 AM
Microsoft Stores Spontaneous Dancing

9-5 Mac brings us the video from the Microsoft Store and the attempts to do a spontaneous "improve anywhere" like dance in the middle of the store.


Remember yesterday I said that they were trying too hard with the Dolly Parton IE8 thing? I think I spoke too soon...

That said they should be commended for convincing (ordering?) their staff to do it and have them all (mostly) show enthusiasm, I can only assume that Bill Gates himself had their families tied up at gunpoint though (I keed, I keed)...

Probably the best part of the whole thing is the "more info" button on the youtube page, which is either a masterful stroke of sarcasm, an unabashed Microsoft shill, or someone completely deluded.

The Blackeyed Peas compel the employees at the Microsoft Store in Mission Viejo, California to break out in dance, let their hair down and have some fun. [...]

Darren rightly corrected me that the term is "Astroturfing".

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 08:36 AM
November 16, 2009
Dolly Parton endorses IE 8

9-5 Mac presented Dolly Parton endorsing IE 8 without comment. I however, will comment, and say that Microsoft really seems to mis-understand their market (or needs to have a serious talk with their marketing company) if they think that this is the sort of thing that doesn't make them look like fools.

(Note: I have no problem with Dolly Parton or her music).

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 01:19 PM
November 06, 2009
Thurrott Reviews Windows Mobile 6.5

Paul Thurrot reviews Windows Mobile 6.5. Given that the title of the review is "the sky is falling" I'm not all that hopeful :)

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 04:13 PM
November 04, 2009
Windows 7 Upgrade Media

Paul Thurrott has (maybe) the final word about Windows 7 Upgrade Media after talking with Microsoft.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 10:59 AM
November 03, 2009
80 percent of viruses love Windows 7

Davey Winder says that 80 percent of viruses love Windows 7, and that a Windows 7 machine without AV software on it gobbled up viruses like a fat kid gobbles up candy on Halloween. Now this was a bit of an unfair test, not installing AV software, but still, the "we're making Windows more secure" mantra has been going at MS for a while now, you'd think that this would be better.

As a note, here is the article that RoundTop mentioned.

Microsoft , Security - Posted by Arcterex at 02:02 PM
November 02, 2009
A Bit of Backpedaling and an Apology from Microsoft

There's been a bit of a saga going on with Paul Thurrott and Microsoft over Windows 7. The short story goes something like this:


  • Microsoft has great deal on Windows 7 Upgrades
  • Microsoft has no information about if you can do a "clean install" with Windows 7 upgrade media.
  • Around Windows 7 launch day, there's still no "official" information, and Paul publishes a post on how to install and activate your Windows 7 on a clean install using the upgrade media.
  • A Microsofty puts up a blog post basically accusing Paul of advocating and enabling piracy

A lot of this was gone over in this week's Windows Weekly podcast.

Anyway, the latest bit of this saga is there has been a bit of backpedaling and an apology from Microsoft, at least kinda. Paul's post goes over the high points from it.

End result is that most of the time, DRM and anti-piracy measures will affect more paying customers than it will pirates. Pirates have had a fully activated, WGA passing Windows 7 ISO since before the release date, and if you want pretty much any song by any band in lossless quality it's no more than a few clicks away, and pirates will pretty much never butt up against copy protected music, game ISO DRM, or Windows Genuine Advantage-esque protection. Sadly now that they've started using these, it'll be really hard to pull them out and save face, so now it's just another software arms race of corporations vs crackers.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 01:06 PM
October 27, 2009
Microsoft Bails on Family Guy Deal

Microsoft bails on sponsored comedy, specifically the deal for the "Windows 7 episode" of Family Guy.


A Microsoft spokeswoman said: 'After reviewing an early version of the variety show, it became clear that the content was not a fit with the Windows brand.'

The obvious question of course is WTF were they thinking they were getting? Did they not bother to watch any Family Guy episodes before making the deal? Guess the $100 million Seinfeld deal is looking better now. I think a new shoe store ad sounds more their speed....

Seriously, if they were to go with the Family Guy episode and show the world that they're OK with laughing at themselves and taking the penis/fart/puke/etc jokes associated with their flagship product, they'd show that the borg actually has a sense of humor about themselves. Unless of course the brilliant marketing department planned this all along and figured they'd get "buzz" by pulling out of the deal.

Funny Stuff , Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:04 AM
October 23, 2009
Clean Install Windows 7 with Upgrade Media: The Answer

Paul Thurrott has the answer to the question of "Can I do a Clean Install Windows 7 with Upgrade Media?"

The super-simple answer and instructions on how to do it, including registry hacking, is in the linked post. Thanks Microsoft!

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:51 PM
October 22, 2009
Windows 7 on Mac OS X Snow Leopard

A good look at how to run Windows 7 on Mac OS X Snow Leopard at no additional cost for those folks wanting to flirt back with a reverse switch :)

Apple/Mac , Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 01:02 PM
The Microsoft Store

Daring Fireball points out that in Welcome to the Microsoft Store it really is a carbon copy of the Apple Store. I think that even the Microsofties will agree that this is a pretty blatant rip off of the Apple store experience. It'll be interesting to see how these evolve and change (or die) in the coming months.

Funny Stuff , Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 01:02 PM
October 21, 2009
Prep Your PC for Windows 7

Lifehacker has all you need to know about how to Prep Your PC for Windows 7.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:15 AM
October 20, 2009
Windows 7 vs. Mac Snow Leopard: The Great Debate

In two days Windows 7 will be released, might be a good time to bone up on your Windows 7 vs. Mac Snow Leopard debate, presented by experts in both camps, for your argument for/against the windows/mac fanboy/girls.

Then you can both go and beat up on the smug looking linux geek hanging out on the sidelines.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:48 PM
October 15, 2009
Anonymous Microsoft Developers on Reddit

Musings from anonymous Microsoft developers on Reddit "Ask Me Anything" is pretty interesting, assuming this isn't an evil plant to make us feel more comfortable with the evil empire... :)

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 01:57 PM
Apple's Phil Schiller: 'Win 7 upgrade hassle - why not just buy a Mac?'

9 to 5 Mac posted this story: Apple's Phil Schiller: 'Win 7 upgrade hassle - why not just buy a Mac?' and I couldn't help but comment. First of all, I'm coming to realize that I'm an Apple Fanboy (the first step is admitting it) but I think I'm also a realist. First of all, a couple of points that I'm sure people have already made about the article:


  • The steps listed for a Windows upgrade are pretty much exactly the same for a Mac upgrade. The only caveat is that you can only upgrade from certain versions of Windows to certain versions of Windows 7, whereas there is only one OS/X version so you don't have to deal with "can I upgrade from Home Premium to Business or from Vista Ultimate to Windows 7 Home Premium". However, either OS if you're doing a fresh upgrade (re-installing the OS on a freshly formatted hard drive) you still have to back up, format, reinstall, and restore your personal data.
  • The people who upgrade their computers from XP/Vista to Windows 7 aren't "average". The average person will get Windows 7 when they get a new PC. These are probably the more common case than Apple users who upgrade from Tiger/Leopard by buying a new Mac.
  • "... those friendly staff at the Apple Store will swap all your personal files across for you.". Technically this is probably true, however when you have to schedule time a week in advance to have someone look at a broken iPhone headphone jack, I can only imagine the waiting period for someone who is bringing in a full PC setup and a Mac setup to move files across. I know I wouldn't have the patience :)

That all said, my first point about only one version of Mac vs 5 or 7 versions of Vista/Win7 is the reason that people (I believe) are more likely to upgrade from Leopard to Snow Leopard vs Vista to Windows 7. If there was only one Windows version, I think the numbers would be much different.

Apple/Mac , Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:30 AM
October 09, 2009
Largest-Ever Patch Tuesday Coming

Microsoft Plans Largest-Ever Patch Tuesday with 13 updates coming next week, 8 marked as 'critical'.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:11 AM
October 08, 2009
Windows 7 Doesn't Boot Faster

Interesting study noted over at CNet that Windows 7 doesn't boot faster. Note this isn't the time for the desktop to appear, but for the OS to become usable. I do remember something about MS moving some of the service startup to be after the user logs in instead of before, to make the desktop appear to boot faster. Similar to Mac changing the time for the dock bounces (or was it just not showing as many) to make apps "feel" faster.

Question is, even if it's not literally faster, will the user experience of your new Windows 7 desktop appearing faster make users happy enough that it doesn't matter that it's just as slow as before?

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 04:46 PM
October 06, 2009
Windows Mobile 6.5 Reviews Coming In

A start to sum it up is a nice wrap up over at PC World. My favorite so far is from mobilecrunch which includes this gem:


Typing on Windows Mobile 6.5 is an absolute miserable chore. How bad? Every time we sat down to review this thing, we got so frustrated with the keyboard that we had to stop. We. Hate. This. Keyboard. Typing on this keyboard is like sewing with your feet. Even with a stylus (do not even TRY typing without the stylus. You can not. Your fingers will hit every button except the one you intend to hit), an awkward lag between letters and the overall clunkiness made us want to rip out our hair. If nothing else did it, typing in Windows Mobile 6.5 immediately killed the entire OS for us.

Some in there aren't as bad, but the consensus for most of them is that while there are a couple of shining stars in there, they don't shine too brightly, and are overshadowed by the huge bag of FAIL that the rest of the OS is. Sounds like MS really mailed this one in, giving basically an IE update, a new home screen, and nothing else.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 12:26 PM
September 29, 2009
Microsoft's Security Essentials Free to Consumers

A sneaky inside source in the Microsoft world pointed me to uhm... well, already public information about Microsoft Security Essentials, which will be available to the public tomorrow, free of charge. MSE is Microsoft's integrated anti-malware, anti-virus solution, which I'm sure that McAfee, Symantec and friends are going to be happy with.

The original version was open to only 75,000 users, but if you knew where to look *cough*softpedia*cough* you could still find the download from the Microsoft site. Now they have announced that it is available now. No fees, no registration, no renewals, no nothing. OMFG, have they done this right? One might argue they should have done it sooner, shouldn't have done it at all, should just fixtheirdamnOSdammit, and the like, but a couple of people that I respect greatly in the security space (including Steve Gibson of the Security Now! podcast have given it a thumbs up (and if you know how paranoid Steve Gibson is, who just recently upgraded from Windows 2000 to XP... though that might take away some credibility :) ) that's quite the endorsement).

I've got this installed on my new Windows 7 install instead of AVG for the first time in years, and so far I can say it hasn't gotten in the way, has warned me of a couple of infected keyge... uhmm... files, and hasn't appeared to suck up too many system resources. I'm giving it a cautious "works for me" so far.

Anyway, Microsoft Security Essentials is out, free, and available for download now. Guess the next step is to wait for the reviews to come out and see what the other experts think of it.

Microsoft , Security - Posted by Arcterex at 08:28 AM
September 21, 2009
Accordion Guy On Microsoft

Joey DeVilla talks about his 11 Months as a Microsoft Man.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 03:17 PM
September 17, 2009
Microsoft's Zune HD Gets Accolades From... Mac Fanboys?

The Zune has gotten it's first few reviews, and I have to say, I was impressed that it took up a large chunk of this week's MacBreak Weekly where the guys (all Apple fanboys) gave it pretty much nothing but accolades! Not only that, but it made me want to buy one (well, if I had cash put into my hand of course, not with real money). Andy Ihnatko's review is similar (Andy is on MacBreak Weekly if you didn't know).

Not all are impressed though. The apps that are available with it come with pre-roll ads which would f-ing infuriate me. I know they're free apps, but at launch having to sit through a 20-30 second full screen video ad? No thanks. Even the free apps on the Apple App store are either small banner ads or splash screens. 20 seconds isn't long in the grand scheme of things, but check the videos to see just how crazy it would make you to have to sit through them.

That said, it's a 1.0 product from Microsoft, I have no doubts their App and store experience will get better.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 08:41 AM
September 16, 2009
The Zune HD Browser

Seems not everyone is happy with the Zune HD web browser. My evaluation copy from MS must have gotten lost in the mail :)

I did try out the new Zune software yesterday and have to say I did not like it at all. It looks fine if you have a music collection, but as a "I just want to play this one mp3 I downloaded" it's completely overkill (much like iTunes is. I have reverted back to plain old WMP for those.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 12:05 PM
September 15, 2009
Zune HD Launched

If you were looking at the calendar this morning and thinking "I just know there's something happening today," and when you got into work still couldn't remember? Well, it's the Zune HD release day! Also Microsoft has released new Zune software. Optimized for Windows 7, a smart DJ mix feature similar to the iTunes Genius, mini mode, and more.

Microsoft , Music - Posted by Arcterex at 08:36 AM
September 02, 2009
Zune News: Current Zunes To Be Discontinued

Let it never be said that I, or the UFies.org site, is rabidly anti-Microsoft and only ever put up Linux and Mac news! In this I want to make it known that according to the SuperSite, the Current Zunes are discontinued, it's just the Zune HD from now on, so if you have to have one of the "classic" Zune's, get it now.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:37 PM
August 27, 2009
Windows 7 Sins Site

Windows 7 Sins is the latest FSF fight against Microsoft. Personally I'm tiring of the whole thing a bit. Either MS has retreated from their big bully tactics in the last couple of years, or their marketing campaign to make themselves look like the little guy fighting the uphill battle against the big bully Apple and Google (which do kick their ass in the smartphone and search markets respectively).

Either that or the internet and computer world has just changed in the last while, and things like DRM and lock-in are starting to pass out of the consciousness. Do people really chose WMV over AVI? Or care since you can play WMV on any other platform with ease (I presume the protected WMVs aren't as easy, but when was the last time you saw one of those???)? Security and stability seem to have been getting way better lately (I haven't seen a BSOD on my vista box I don't think, and if I have it wasn't nearly as often as with XP, and the monopoly issues just seem ridiculous now the EU has been answered by making a Windows 7 edition without a browser.

It could be also that I've matured, and use the right tool for the right job. Coding is all done on my Linux box, gaming and photography/photoshop stuff is done on my windows box, and everything else is done on my mac laptop while watching TV on the couch. And I don't care anymore :)

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:45 AM
August 25, 2009
Extended Memory on 32bit Windows Vista

Very interesting and very geeky article on Licensed Memory in Windows Vista and basically how you can get access to more than 3G of RAM under 32bit Vista (and presumably Windows 7 as well).

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 07:50 PM
August 19, 2009
New Windows Live Movie Maker

The Windows Experience Blog posted that there's a New Windows Live Movie Maker today.

Anyone use movie maker? I have a few random movies (and by movies I mean 10 second to 3 minute clips) that I'd like to have organized similarly to how I have my images in Lightroom (ie: always there and available, editable, exportable). I've played with iMovie on my Mac, but that seems more project oriented, not library + project. Since I do my photography stuff on a windows system, I have no problem doing the minor movie stuff on there too, if only to have it there and in one place so those incredibly interesting 10 second clips of SCA fighting from 5 years ago don't go missing forever :)

Microsoft , Software - Posted by Arcterex at 01:31 PM
August 13, 2009
Zune HD Available on September 15

Daring Fireball points over to engadget's story about how the Zune HD is available on September 15. I have to say that the hardware does look pretty sexy. It's not going to replace my iPhone or iPod Touch, but I'd love to get my paws on one to see how it feels and acts. Anyone at Microsoft want a chance to convert me by sending me a review unit? :)

Hardware , Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 03:25 PM
August 12, 2009
Microsoft Won't Pull The Plug on IE 6

@Tecknology posted a link about Microsoft and them explaining why they can't discontinue IE 6 from the IEBlog. Best quote from the article, IMHO, is this one:

Dropping support for IE6 is not an option because we committed to supporting the IE included with Windows for the lifespan of the product. We keep our commitments.

*cough* I call bullshit. Plays For Sure anyone? The argument seems to be that people (and organizations) should have the choice to upgrade or not, and if you, or some large corporation or organization decides that they don't want to deal with upgrading 100s or 1000s of computer's browsers, Microsoft is going to keep on supporting them. While I applaud them and their dedication and agree that if you're in a huge corporation you shouldn't be left out of security upgrades and whatnot that's needed by IE6, I think that the web as a whole should not support IE6. If you're forced to use IE6 at work that sucks to be you, if 10,000 users start complaining that digg.com isn't rendering properly, they'll either be told to install another browser to do their personal surfing, or it'll put pressure on IT to actually upgrade.

Besides, IE7 and IE8 is available on XP, and neither of them is the hole-ridden pile of fail that IE6 is. The only reason someone with XP has for keeping IE6 is that they aren't online to get the update, and if that's the case, they won't be surfing. I wonder if anyone has figured out the developer cost of IE6 and keeping websites compatible with it as well as modern standards-compliant browsers.

Microsoft , Web Programming - Posted by Arcterex at 04:19 PM
August 06, 2009
Upgrade Differences

Ok, it's a bit of a cheap shot, but check out the comparison of upgrade methods between Microsoft Windows 7 and Apple Snow Leopard. In the Microsoft world, upgrading is hard. Of course, I think it's pretty obvious that if you have only one version of your software (take this as a good thing or a bad thing I guess), the upgrade path will be light-years easier compared to having 3 or 5 different versions to dance from/to).

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 08:20 AM
July 27, 2009
Making XP Sexier - XPize

Found this at WinExtra over the weekend, and was only able to check it out recently. XPize is a project to, non-destructively (I hope), make XP look better. Basically they patch some theme DLLs, replace some resources (like all those icons in windows that have been unchanged since the Windows 95 days) and generally tweak a lot of the display. The screenshots on the site give you a good idea on how things look, and point out some of the "problem areas" that this little app aims to tone and sculpt. So far (10 minutes or so anyway) this look good, feel slicker and better, and don't make me want to go against corporate policy and install Windows 7 quite as much :)

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:16 AM
July 19, 2009
Office 2010 Movies

A bunch of marketing videos from Microsoft show each of the components of Office 2010 in great detail. Some seem a bit "meh" to me. I mean, how much more can you do with a word processor?! Still, for business and collaboration there seem to be some neat stuff, though I have a feeling you have to go all-in with Microsoft to get all the features (like collaborative editing and click-to-call type features).

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:45 PM
July 15, 2009
Project Natal Coming to PC

To flesh out the Apple new today, how about the news from Microsoft that the "Project Natal" magic camera system that makes your game console act like it's in Star Trek (at least under heavily controlled technical demo situations and marketing videos) is coming to the PC. I'll believe it when I see it of course, both in the "coming to PC" and the "does work anything at all like the demo" aspects.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 04:15 PM
Office 2010 Preview

Paul Thurrott has a very nice Office 2010 Technical Preview in which he goes through the new features and look in quite a lot of detail. As someone who just started working in a "real" office again, and being saddled with Outlook again, I really hope that the new "conversation view" replaces the absolute suck that is the current outlook view. Come on, at least an option to have "real" threading guys.... Some shots of this can be found in search, still looking for something with some more detail though. I hope it takes the same tack as GMail and it's conversation view, as that seems to work very well for people.

Anyone got a technical preview I can be a part of? :)

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 08:46 AM
July 13, 2009
Microsoft Office Online

So the big Microsoft reveal turns out to be a free, online version of Office.

Didn't this come a while back, in the form of online saving thing that you needed office installed already for?

Even if it's not, and it's a version of google docs, I question the need, outside of course the one-up / copy / rip off of google docs. First of all, Microsoft doesn't live in the online space nearly as much as google. With google we're used to doing things online, with the RSS reader, mail, etc. Microsoft's offering in this realm is pretty small, hotmail for mail, and, uhm.... what else?

Secondly, this really smacks of "they have one so we have to have one too". Microsoft seems to have forgotten that they aren't online providers. They don't make money off of search (or at least as much), and they have a perfectly good set of desktop OS and apps that 90% of the world uses! I use google docs now and then for quick and dirty tasks, but even I, the evil anti-Microsoft guy I am, know that for "real" jobs you have to pull out excel, word and friends.

The article quotes:


"Web-based tools are not taking share away from Microsoft's desktop Office suite," Webster said. "But to the extent that these products are complementary, Microsoft needs to get in the game. They risk losing users as people get more comfortable using Web-based tools. And they risk losing their edge."

if you're looking for more of an explanation.

Maybe competition in this market is good? There are a bunch of online editors (or at least there used to be), though none of them seem to have the access / convenience of google docs, or the access to your local files as I'm sure Microsoft will have though their (I assume) IE only / activeX laden tool. Still, looking forward to seeing it when it comes out.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 10:52 PM
July 10, 2009
Office 2010 "Movie Trailer" Is Actually Funny

OK, after the last lame Microsoft marketing attempt, I have to give them props, cause Office 2010 The Movie "trailer" is pretty freakin' hilarious!

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:11 AM
June 29, 2009
MS's IE8 Ads

I'm unsure as to whether Microsoft's strange new ads for Internet Explorer 8 are either a) brilliant and reminiscent of the old internal funny spoof ads with Bill Gates and friends or b) a pathetic reach to be quirky and relevant which instead comes off, well, pathetic. Glad Dean Cain found work though....

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 04:38 PM
June 18, 2009
MS Announces Free Antivirus

This is kinda cool, from Ars Technica: Microsoft announces free antivirus, limited public beta. Anti virus, malware, spyware, etc, all in one package from the OS creator. Kinda gives me a warm fuzzy in a way. I have some computer cleaning to do some time soon, and this could be a huge win.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 06:26 PM
June 06, 2009
Thoughts on Bing (Not Mine)

Aryk pointed me over to an article on the Good Experience blog. Entitled A hundred million mistakes, you can probably guess that their Bing impressions aren't all that great.

What's the world coming to, when Microsoft can't build a monopoly around a knockoff? It's those effing customers. They keep choosing the best experience.

I was accused recently of hating Microsoft ("hate" is such a strong word) and that I'd never give Bing a fair shake anyway (only partially true). I thought my article a bit ago was fairly fair and perhaps the cold hard truth.

The main gist of the linked article is twofold. First, why the hell is MS trying to compete in the search engine space. Google has it locked up, and lets be perfectly straight, Microsoft's core competency is not the web. They do great operating systems, office apps, and gaming systems. Seriously, I give them 100% honest kudos for those. Even I, a hard and fast Linux lover am excited about Windows 7. You don't need to rule every single market out there.

The second point is that instead of building something better and letting the customers come to it, MS is spending a hundred million dollars (that's $100,000,000, lots of zeros) to advertise it, and in essence, shove it down the consumers throats. In setting up a Windows 7 virtual machine with the new IE 8 the "recommended" settings are live search (which is now Bing of course).

I also was contacted by a company called M80 on behalf of Microsoft pointing me (and my readers) to a series of youtube videos called talking about windows which is blah blah windows marketing. I've also seen a lot more Microsoft-centric / loving / etc random articles just happening to pop up around the web.

Anyway, hit the article for a good read.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 08:23 PM
June 03, 2009
Windows 7 Vs Leopard OS/X

Hot on the heals of the Windows 7 vs Linux link from the other day is the Lifehacker Windows 7 Versus Mac OS X Leopard feature by feature showdown.

Of course, as I've found, use whatever you want, and it's not just the features sometimes that make an OS a winner, sometimes it's the "feel" of it.

That said, still an interesting look, especially some of the features I didn't know were in Windows 7. Also you're comparing an OS that isn't out yet to one over a year old (wonder what Snow Leopard news will come out next week also).

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 08:14 PM
June 01, 2009
Bing Is Live!

Bing is up and working this morning. It's a "preview" (guess that's equivalent to the google "beta" moniker), and unfortunately doesn't seem to have a lot of the cool functionality turned on (the image filtering, relevance/trust filters, flight filters, etc). I'm not sure why, and frankly I'm a bit worried that this will be seen as just a re-skin of Live search and completely ignored. I have some feelers out to figure out why this is.

Update: Sounds like you have to change your location to the US to get the good stuff. It's at the top right under More -> Preferences and the Location. Sadly this doesn't work for me :(

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 07:47 AM
May 31, 2009
Bing Early Review

Over the last couple of days, the new re-branding (and re-imagining) of Microsoft's Live search, now called Bing has been made public. Well, almost public anyway, right now the service isn't available to the public, but a lot of journalists and techies have gotten access. Here are some of their early thoughts (via Digg).

I actually got a look myself from a friend who has access, and have a couple of thoughts. First of all, it's not going to un-seat Google. Nope, sorry, no chance. While it's search results are fine, so are most of the other search engines out there. Ask, Yahoo, etc all have decent search engines and search results.

Luckily, this isn't what Bing is going for (I hope it's not anyway). Bing is going for what Ask did a while back, taking their half decent search results and skinning and organizing the results to make the results more useful. When Ask did this they did an "OK" job I think, but I have to say the new Bing is impressive.

For certain searches (ie: "yvr to lax" or "pentax k20d" or "vw golf review") the results are filtered and presented in completely different ways. For example, plane flight searches have tips such as "prices dropping $50, wait" or "prices trending up, buy now". Product reviews (especially for tech gadgets) are the bane of Google, with SEO and spam hitting the top pages like mad. Bing will filter by "trust" (ie: the "x out of y found this helpful" notes on Amazon reviews) and various other factors to give a more useful result.

This isn't perfect though. A search for "digital camera" filtered in this method resulted in the top hit being a 3 year old DSLR (and a great camera by the way). Probably not what you were wanting, even if it is the most "trusted" hit. This sort of thing will no doubt become better over time though.

Bing also does what Google does with fancy image searches (including "portraits", "line art", only xxx color) and mapping results related to location right in the search result page. This sort of thing though is what people are used to these days. Not that it's inconsequential of course :)

So what's the downside? First of all, the results are going to be about the same as google, so why move away? I see Bing being a bit of a niche search engine, the sort of thing where if you're looking for plane flights or hotels, you go to bing, for everything else you stay with google. This is a perfectly fine place for Bing to be I think. Hell, right now Live search has as good results as google without any of these nicities! The problem with the fancy filtered airline searches is do you trust Microsoft to give you "honest" results? MS has partnered with certain companies to get the fancy airline data for example, but what if there's another company that gives better prices? By filtering down does MS miss the deals that a googler might get because they are getting the full results instead of the filtered view of what Microsoft thinks are the best results? I think some of this can be negated if Bing makes it obvious that the "yvr to lax" fancy filtered results are indeed connections with their partnered sites.

The interface, if I may digress for a moment or three, could be better too. Some of the UI is neat, but odd. For example to the right of search results is a little bar that gives you an overview of information from the site (such as a paragraph or three of context around your search result instead of just the one line that you get on the main search result). If it's person information it'll pop out contact information if it's available all nicely formatted. Great stuff, but as I said, a bit of odd UI.

My conclusion is we'll have to wait and see. I'm sure that Bing will become the default search engine for some, and will become successful for niche searches and certain types of information gathering. I don't think it'll unseat the 800lb Google-rilla though.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 12:46 PM
May 28, 2009
Zune HD Announced

So the Zune HD is finally (almost) real. Looks like a fairly sexy little beast, marketed head-to-head against the iPod Touch, complete with a touch screen and multi-touch. Looks a bit like a super-sleek first-gen iPhone.

Nifty features it has are HD Video out, wireless with a browser (more on this in a second) and HD Radio (who really uses this though?). Only issue I have with it is it's built on Windows CE (ugh) and the browser will (I'm guessing) be either IE 6 mobile or if you're really lucky, IE 6.5 mobile (which I believe is coming out with the new Windows Mobile 6.5). First of all, IE? Ugh, second of all, IE < 7.0? Double-Ugh.

That all said, it's good for apple to have some competition, and I'm fairly interested to see just how the UI and performance is. Microsoft always has a habit of one-upping apple with some of the features in their iPod-killers, so we'll see.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:14 AM
May 26, 2009
Vista SP2 Ships

Nope, it's true.... saw today on Paul Thurrott's site that As promised, Windows Vista (and Server 2008) SP2 ships in May and lo and behold with only 5 days left, SP2 has arrived. Looks like it's a rolling release though, and may not be available for your Windows Update just yet.

Sadly nothing notable shows up in the release notes :(

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 03:20 PM
May 14, 2009
Underhyped Windows 7 Features

Lifehacker has a nice list of Windows 7's Best Underhyped Features. Nice to see, not going to make me give up my MacBook Pro, but look forward to having it on my Windows gaming box :)

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 05:17 PM
May 07, 2009
The Mac Fanboy Look at Windows 7

The Apple Blog has their Windows 7 RC: Reality Check Edition, which is a fairly fanboy-ish look at Windows 7. They do reference legitimate articles when pointing out things like sluggish performance, edition confusion (even Paul Thurrott things this is stupid) and the XP compatibility issues, but it's a fairly cynical look. Some people I know have run Windows 7 for a while now and find it just fine.

That said, we'll see how it goes when things actually get released late this year.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 07:31 PM
May 04, 2009
Windows 7 RC Available for Downloadable

Ed Bott blogged that Windows 7 RC is now available for download. Lets go MS geeks, make those servers smoke!

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 08:25 PM
May 03, 2009
Now This is a Zune I Want!

Since I discovered the iPod a few years ago I've been a fan, and (along with a lot of the world) scoffed at the Microsoft Zune. However when I saw the IO9 story where you could Win a Zune Packed With Battlestar Episodes, and the Zune is laser etched with the Caprica logo... hell yea I'm there.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 10:36 AM
April 28, 2009
Office 2007 SP2

The 2007 Microsoft Office Suite Service Pack 2 is alive and ready for download. Boosting lots of bug fixes and some hefty performance improvements (so claimed, I haven't verified anything yet myself), sounds like a must-have (290mb) download. If it's not up on Windows Update for you the link above should do for you.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:51 PM
Windows 7's "XP Mode" Discussed

Slashdot discussion on Windows 7's Virtual XP Mode and what sort of pain it could cause IT professionals. Personally I think it's a neat idea to allow a transition for users, as well as a nice bridge for people who are still on XP and not yet up to Vista who may begin to feel really left behind when 7 hits sometime (this year maybe?).

That said, I don't have to support windows machines myself, much less windows machines with 2 copies of windows running on every desktop!

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 08:47 PM
April 25, 2009
Side-by-Side: IE6 and IE8

Paul Thurrott shows one of the fun applications of the newly announced Windows 7 "xp mode" - IE 6 and IE 8 side-by-side. This will definitely be an interesting feature for people doing web development. I think you can do it now with VMware and it's "Unity" mode (which allows virtualized apps to run as native windows within the host OS.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 10:59 AM
April 18, 2009
Windows Guy Loves His Mac

So along with the "macs are too cool for me" ads, every once and a while you find a gem like this article from Computer World entitled Living on Air: A Windows guru spends two weeks with a Mac


For PC users, Mac OS X takes some getting used to, but once I did, I found it a more elegant, polished piece of work than Windows (either XP or Vista). With so many nice little touches, it seemed as if I was finding a new one every day.

Essentially it's a story of Windows Boy meets MacBook Air, spends 2 weeks getting to know her, finding out that while she's a bit more pricey than some of the other girls on the block, she's worth it. Then after two weeks Windows Boy wants to keep her. Or something like that.

Could be all BS though.... and in a week some article will come out about how the author Preston Gralla was really a mac-sympathizer all along or something, who knows.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 04:22 PM
April 06, 2009
Thoughts on the Second MS Commercial

Over the weekend there was another Microsoft ad released. Again it focuses on the differences between Mac and PC pricing. I could go into how this is really missing the point (in a way) and how the ads are both good and reeking of desparation, but Jeff over at the iPhone development blog has some
good thoughts on it. To quote:


Whatever the actual numbers, there's not even a close second to Microsoft in this market. Apple is a very distant second, Linux (if you lump all the distros together) is an even more distant third. There are few industries where a company enjoys this kind of lead.

But, Microsoft is suffering an identity crisis because the world of computers has fractured into many components, of which the general purpose computer (laptop/desktop) is just one piece, and Microsoft has had a very hard time repeating their dominance in other sectors.

I guess my main objection or eye-roll to these ads are that people already know (at least I think they do) that Macs are more expensive. I don't see honda putting out ads about how if you went looking for a BMW under $20k you wouldn't be able to find anything, but you could get.... drum roll a brand new Civic! I've used and bought both (a) Mac and (multiple) PC laptops, and while the bang-for-buck and "apple tax" is kinda there (many people with more time on their hands than I have gone though component by component and no doubt proved that the Mac is on par price wise for the equivalently outfitted PC laptop already), the feel and quality and "vibe" of a MacBook is much higher than the $500 or $1000 laptop. Specs be damned, the light, thin, sexy aluminum case with less USB ports trumps 99% of the PC laptops that this ad portrays. Course, I'm sure I could be accused of being a fanboy :)

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:31 AM
March 19, 2009
IE8 Final Announced

Microsoft announced at Mix09 that IE8 is available now, via Ed Bott. The IEBlog has some info on making your IE8 experience more pleasurable as well.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 04:03 PM
March 13, 2009
Changes in Windows 7 RC

Paul Thurrott weighs in on the changes from Windows 7 Beta to RC. Not all good news IHHO.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:38 PM
February 25, 2009
Vista SP2 Preview

Paul Thurrott has some details on what to expect from the Windows Vista/Server 2008 Service Pack 2. The notes include a couple of stand out items, blu-ray disk writing, integrated windows search 4.0, better power management and general compatibility/reliability/performance improvements. Oh wait, hardly any stand out items. Very boring in fact. Course, this might be a good thing... I'm not sure if you want huge changes from a service pack.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:56 AM
February 17, 2009
Windows Mobile 6.5 Released

Microsoft Unveils WinMo 6.5, My Phone, and Marketplace via the Apple Blog (so they might be a bit biased). Short story is a tweaked (not completely new) Windows Mobile, a syncing solution a-la Mobile Me / Exchange called MyPhone and an app store type solution. Sadly while this is still a good step forward, MS (and pretty much everyone but Android based phones for that matter) are still playing catch up to the iPhone. Even the MS advocates such as Paul Thurrott have said this.

Now that said this isn't a bad thing. This forces other companies to innovate and push forward, and the people completely centered in the MS Mobile world still do get an upgrade, which is never a bad thing.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 10:25 AM
February 10, 2009
More on Windows 7 Ultimate

OK, so if what Paul Thurrott is reporting about Ultimate Extras in Windows 7 is true people should be up in arms, and any Microsoft lovers out there should really be ashamed of their favorite company's marketing.

So it appears (again, this is only rumor at this point as a) nothing is final b) Windows 7 isn't out yet and c) I just read this on the Internet), that not only will there be no Ultimate extras in Windows 7 Ultimate edition, but the UEs you do have installed if you have Vista Ultimate (more on this in a second) are removed during install.

Lets be straight... Vista Ultimate Extras are something that MS should be ashamed of. Vista Ultimate edition's golden feature was supposed to be all this cool extra content you get randomly made available in the form of these "Extras" (I've bitched about this before). The extras that were made available were a joke. Animated backgrounds, a couple of sound themes, and a poker game were about the extent that were delivered. Remember that people are paying top-f-ing-dollar for Ultimate edition. $399 rings a bell for the cost of this, but I'd have to look it up to be sure. Animated backgrounds and a poker game. And now these are silently removed (supposedly) when you "upgrade" to Windows 7 Ultimate.

Now I'm actually excited about Windows 7. I have it installed via bootcamp and it looks like a fairly clean, good upgrade to Vista, really more of a Vista++ than a whole new OS, but regardless I applaud Microsoft for Windows 7, I really do. They'd get a lot of cred if they sucked it up, gave Vista UE owners a high discount (hell, make it a free upgrade to Windows 7 Ultimate) and publicly say they screwed up and over-promised what would be coming from Vista Ultimate.

Let me also disclose that I was one of those people who got Vista Ultimate Edition, though I got it through the Microsoft store so it was a fraction of the cost of my guessed pricetag of $399.

Guess we'll see what happens when Windows 7 comes out....

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 03:33 PM
January 26, 2009
IE8 RC1

Just to show I'm not totally biased, IEBlog has the details on Upgrading to Internet Explorer 8 Release Candidate 1. Honestly I gave IE8 a shot in Windows 7 (see how progressive I am?) but the interface just seems to have gotten more cluttered and (for lack of a better word), "bleah". Honestly IE7 isn't that bad (for IE), and at least it's less sucky than IE6, but IE8 seems to have gone in an ugly direction and the interface is more cluttered than before. What do you guys think? Anyone going to be using IE instead of Firefox or Safari or Opera?

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:56 PM
Windows7 makes the Windows Key useful!

Windows 7 Tip: The Windows Key Is Actually Useful Now!

Microsoft - Posted by aryk at 07:41 PM
January 12, 2009
Windows 7 on a Macbook

Here's a guide to Windows 7 x64 Build 7000 on a Macbook Pro with bootcamp. I'm almost tempted to do this, just to see how well it runs on proper hardware (I have Windows 7 installed on vmware and don't get all the nice fancy graphics effects).

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:29 AM
January 10, 2009
Getting Your Key for Window

Lifehacker has the details (and worked for me) of How to Get Your Windows 7 Beta Product Key.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 07:00 PM
January 09, 2009
Windows 7 New Features

For those wondering what you may or may not be missing in Windows 7, howto geek has a What You Should Expect from the Windows 7 Beta extensive walk-through of new features. Via lifehacker.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 03:07 PM
Getting Windows 7 Beta

Wired has some details on How to Get Your Windows 7 Beta 1 on Friday (today) when it's released at noon PST. Course, if none of these work, or you're not one of the first 2.5M people to download it (or get keys, or however it works), there's always bittorrent...

Update 12PST: The page to go to seems to be this one, however, I'm just getting "server too busy". Oh, and I hate myself for being pulled into even wanting to try it.... :)

Update #2: The wired page has been updated with direct ISO links (thanks Oneiros Darren).

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 10:32 AM
December 03, 2008
Vista SP2 Details

Lifehacker has some details on What's Inside Vista SP2, based on a flurry of blog posts lately (apparently, I've been out of it). Sadly nothing hugely exciting is in there other than fixes and tweaks.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:56 AM
October 28, 2008
Windows 7 Info

Well, with PDC in full swing it seems that some folks have gotten a Hands-on With Windows 7's New Features. I'm going to reserve judgment for a bit as IIRC the first betas of Vista released at PDC a few years ago looked and felt like XP with a black skin, and (for me anyway, for the most part) Vista turned out OK. Mostly OK anyway.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 10:32 AM
September 23, 2008
Vista Ultimate Extras Updated(!!!!)

Paul Thurrott noted Microsoft actually updates Ultimate Extras. Sadly the content (one game, a sound theme and some backgrounds) are "junk". Not worth the extra $$ paid by Vista Ultimate users and definitely yet another blow to the faces of the dedicated Microsoft customers who believed MS's promises about what they were going to do with UE.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 03:07 PM
September 04, 2008
The new Microsoft Ad Campaign

So the Mac people's take on the first ad from the newly formed Microsoft-Seinfeld alliance is not good, saying: Microsoft’s first “Seinfeld ad” a bigger disaster than the Hindenburg.

Me, I'm not in the same mindset. If MS had fired back with a "mac vs pc" type ad they'd be playing in apple's playground, which would look even worse. That Apple ad campaign is fairly brilliant, and nothing short of something with the dial up to 11 would have looked like anything less than a cheap (or rather, expensive) knockoff, and the Mac community would have laughed even harder.

However, what MS is good at is the quirky, funny, internal type ads that they do for their conventions and developer conferences (or at least that's what I keep on hearing on Windows Weekly from Paul Thurrott :) .

This new ad definitely is taking this to heart, and has that same feel. It's also obviously not the end of the $30m or whatever huge amount was paid to get the not-all-that-relevant ex-sitcom comedian.

That said, I'd almost say they were trying too hard to be quicky, and seeing this on TV I'd probably ignore it after the first few seconds, and the only mention of anything MS oriented (other than Gates himself) is about half a second at the very last few frames. There isn't even a clear connection between the whole shoe thing and Windows, or software at all. Unless they're saying that if you accept things that you don't want and people can't properly sell you and that take a lot of work to eventually enjoy are worth it. And honestly I'm not even sure if that isn't a huge stretch. Of course, this is probably more of a "hey, look at us, we've got an ad campaign!" message. I think.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 08:39 PM
August 26, 2008
Vista Annoyances Resolved

Paul points to a good article on how to resolve lots of Vista Annoyances over at tweakguides.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:05 PM
August 08, 2008
Vista Security Issues

OMG a Vista exploit! This one sounds different though as the neowin article claims Vista's Security is Rendered Completely Useless by it. Somehow I think it might be over-exaggerating a bit, however if it is as big an issue as they claim (in that there's not much MS can do about it), maybe it has changed the game a bit.

Mark Dowd of IBM Internet Security Systems (ISS) and Alexander Sotirov, of VMware Inc. have discovered a technique that can be used to bypass all memory protection safeguards that Microsoft built into Windows Vista. These new methods have been used to get around Vista's Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR), Data Execution Prevention (DEP) and other protections by loading malicious content through an active web browser.

The way it sounds is that it's a browser attack, which means IE, so the solution might be similar to the last time IE was found to have huge holes and the recommendation from MS will be to turn off all scripting. There's nothing actually out in the wild yet, so at this point it's a theoretical thing that smart people have come up with but no one has actually seen (like black holes I guess).

To help guard against such things, here's a link to a browser that you'll be happier with if you're an IE user :)

Of course, depending on what side of the fence you are on OS leanings-wise, this is either BS or the first sign of the MS demise. OS News has people from both sides in the comments.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 01:48 PM
July 31, 2008
More on Mojave

Someone else chimes in on Microsoft and Why the 'Mojave Experiment' Fails.


The "Mojave Experiment" is conceptually a fresh marketing effort—at least for such a lame marketer as Microsoft. But after looking more closely at Mojave and reviewing Microsoft Watch reader comments, I have to call the experiment perhaps the worst kind of marketing.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 03:50 PM
July 30, 2008
More on MS Mojave Marketing

I'm glad someone other than myself has stepped up with a good explanation of why “The Mojave Experiment:” is Bad Science, Bad Marketing. They're wrong of course in the respect that this is bad science, this is no-science, this is marketing, just presented as if it were "real".

Next week I'll be running "The Atupquonihanque experiment", where I present Mojave users with a copy of Ubuntu and tell them it's Mojave's successor, and they all tell me how awesome it is next to XP, Vista, or Mojava! Come to think of it I just need to put a tiny little * Based on laboratory results at the bottom and I don't even have to do anything but get actors to say it!

See how well all this works? :)

I just thought of something.... hasn't Microsoft's new marketing campaign basically taken a page from the Burger King Whopper Experiment? Seriously, it's the same idea....

Not everyone agrees with me of course :)

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 07:03 AM
July 29, 2008
Microsoft's Mojave Experiment

So part of the new Vista marketing effort called The "Mojave Experiment" is online.

Not a lot to say about this, I give this about the same amount of credibility as I do to late night infomercials, paid programs on afternoon TV, and any commercial with a "(*) based on laboratory results" in tiny lettering at the bottom of the screen.

I could say that these were edited to make the people's assessments of Vista worse than it sounds and their assessments of "Mojave" better, but this is as "real" as a reality TV show, and shouldn't be seen as anything more than what it is, a commercial, and it's content should be taken with that in mind.

Please note I have Vista Ultimate at home and am perfectly satisfied with it.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:32 AM
April 29, 2008
New Vista Ultimate Extras!

Paul Thurrott pointed out that there were New Ultimate Extras Released. Wow. A new sound theme and three new dreamscene wallpapers. Well worth the extra $100 cost of Vista and the almost two month wait since the last ultimates release (language packs) and the one previous to that (the first dreamscenes in march 2007). Oh, did I sound sarcastic there? Not really, honest. Glad I didn't pay full price for Ultimate though, that's for sure.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:01 AM
March 18, 2008
Vista SP1 Now Available

Just saw the word on WinSupersite that Vista SP1 is available to the world.

Of course, it's not showing up on my windows update..... oh well. Anyone out there have things asplode because of this?

Update: Why you might not see SP1 in Windows Update.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 10:56 AM
February 01, 2008
Microsoft Wants To Buy Yahoo

BBC reports that Microsoft wants to purchase Yahoo. So is this the start of a major power move, where one family absorbs the other in an attempt to hit the big boss? (Sorry, just finished watching a bunch of Sopranos last night). Or is this just political posturing? If the merger goes through will it really mean anything to anyone? In my online world google is my search engine, and my online mail goes to gmail (though that's not a primary address). I have a yahoo account, and a hotmail account, but they were only really for getting access to downloads, or flickr, or something or other.

Microsoft has been putting lots of work into both hotmail and their Live.com search lately, so are they looking to replace them with the yahoo search and mail (both also (from what I've heard) updated and improved lately), or are they just looking to kill off Yahoo from the search engine market. Yahoo doesn't have online advertising (that I know of, feel free to correct me), but they do have things like Flickr.

Anyone out there have any thoughts? Or should I just keep an eye on the geek podcasts and news to see what the industry experts think?

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 08:10 AM
December 31, 2007
Disable UAC For an App in Vista

xPerts64 (a Microsoft x64 blog) has a hint on how to Disable UAC Prompt for a Single Application. Genius! Still a bit overly-complex for a normal person, but handy I suppose if you have something you use often that requires UAC (for me, BF2142 and Quickbooks) that you know is safe.

I wonder why a) Microsoft didn't put something like this into Vista to begin with (possibly to "force" application developers to change their apps to be UAC compliant) and b) if this could be scripted out by malware authors.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 06:10 PM
December 17, 2007
Vista SP1 (RC) Copy/Move Fun

So fellow vista users... you know how copying or moving files around, especially to/from network shares is worse than the smell from a sweaty wookie's pits? Well, acording to WinExtra, Vista Service Pack 1 RC may not bring a solution :(

From the article:


Well it would seem that the Service Pack hasn’t made one bit of difference to the problems I was experiencing despite what had been listed in their published changelog that Long Zheng was good enough to publish. I realize that some will say that this is just something I am experiencing and must be related to my setup. The problem with that wishful thinking is that it is just that - wishful thing - especially considering that more than few forums around the web are reporting exactly the same; or very similar, problems.

I installed the hotfix a while back and performance has gotten 100x better than it was from the default install, which saved Vista from being rolled back to XP, however the performance is still pretty crappy compared to my linux box copying the same files to/from the same network drive (a Linux system running Samba). No, I'm not going to turn my fileserver into a vista box to get the (alleged) benefit of Vista-to-Vista copies :)

All I can say is I hope that Steven is exaggerating or that some changes happen between RC and the final release sometime next year.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 10:15 PM
December 05, 2007
WGA Changes in Vista SP1

Looks like there are plans to ditch the Vista “kill switch” in Vista SP1.


When SP1 ships sometime in early 2008, it will strip away one of Vista’s most annoying features and remove one of the most persistent objections to Vista’s adoption. Microsoft plans to remove the infamous “kill switch” from Windows Vista when SP1 is installed, restoring the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) program to its original role as a series of persistent but nonlethal notifications.

Wonder if this will gain Vista more popularity through piracy, and put it on top of XP, instead of the current state where isn't not pirated half as much!

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:04 PM
November 08, 2007
Ballmer on Google vs Microsoft

TechCrunch has some commentary on what Ballmer's comments about how Google is Only Ahead Of Microsoft In Search. Guess everyone will have their own spin (or reality distortion field :)

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:06 AM
November 07, 2007
Microsoft's Live.com Apps

The Vista blog announces that they have "the next generation in Windows Live apps & services". Basically a suite of software and webapps for online tools. I wouldn't call it "next generation" though, more like "catching up with google". Still, competition is always good. I got my live.ca address.... wish I knew how to change it to live.com though :( Doesn't even seem to work even through a US proxy...

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:12 PM
October 04, 2007
More Pre-SP1 Vista Patches

Speaking of service packs, istartedsomething notes that Microsoft posts more Vista pre-SP1 ‘wonder patches’. These are performance updates that are going to be in VIsta SP1, but are being released early. This is most likely because some of the issues that Vista have are beyond aggravating for people (like the 'calculating time remaining' bug that was fixed with the last set of hotfixes that were released).

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 03:15 PM
October 01, 2007
Ars Looks at MS Surface

Ars Technica: A day on the Surface: a hands-on look at Microsoft's new computing platform. Interesting...

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:20 PM
September 26, 2007
Vista Ultimate Extras Dreamscene Released

Well, the Vista Ultimate Extras' Windows DreamScene has been released. These are basically animated backgrounds. From the page:


In early July, I wrote about The Ultimate Team’s intention to ship the remaining promised Ultimate Extras (DreamScene and the remaining Language Packs) by the end of the summer. Unfortunately summer never really came to Seattle this year—so we missed our cue. That being said, we are pleased to announce that Windows DreamScene is now available.

What I saw on my vista ultimate system is an update that required a reboot, and then the addition of five mpgs integrated into the desktop background control panel applet.

All but one of these was released in beta ages ago. WTF? Come on microsoft, you can do better than this. I'm not the only one who thinks this way.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 10:58 AM
September 25, 2007
Dreamscene Addons

Dream Gallery - Your home for Animated Wallpaper - addon's for Vista Ultimate's dreamscapes.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:25 PM
Windows Vista SP1 Overview

The Windwos Vista Experience Blog talks about Experiencing Windows Vista Service Pack 1 Beta and what's in there, including screenshots.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 10:43 AM
September 07, 2007
Vista UI Spoof Video

Windows Vista UI design spoof video. Sadly not nearly as funny as you'd think. The spoof on 'what if microsoft did the ipod packaging' was much better.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 01:55 PM
August 29, 2007
Vista SP1 News

IStartedSomething has the roundup of links about Windows Vista Service Pack 1 whose details are starting to emerge.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:24 PM
More on Vista Network/Audio Issues

A few days ago a story passed by my news aggregator about how under Vista if you are playing audio, your network connection will be affected. I just saw a new post by Robert Love about Those Dang DPCs Clogging the MMCSS which goes in to explain a bit more about this, and compare and contrast the same kernel systems in Linux.


In other words, consuming half of your processor is (surprise!) detrimental to multimedia playback performance. At this point, it becomes clear that the process scheduler folks and the networking folks are bitter enemies and do not converse. Consequently, the obvious solution of fixing the abhorrent networking performance was bypassed for a quick bandaid:[...]

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:02 AM
August 24, 2007
Not All Impressed with Microsoft Open Source Initiative

Not everyone is (still) impressed with MS's "we're doing open source now too!" initiative (Shared Source I believe it was called). Microsoft's Open Source Trashware is an article where a few of the open source MS projects are looked at. As you can tell by the title, the author is not impressed.

It does seem that the staying power of MS's initiatives falls off rapidly as the marketing campaign ends. Who has heard about the Zune (outside the zune specific blogs I suppose) in the last couple of months? The Vista Ultimate site remained silent for months after Vista's launch, and was only updated after 5 months because of pressure from the internet community bitching that the extras they were supposed to receive after paying the ultimate price for vista were a) lame and b) not updated. Even now, 2 months after the update (which really just said they were going to release more stuff "over the next couple of years") nothings been put on the site.

Of course this (the lack of MS open source projects) may simply be due to pressure at work. We all know how easy it is to be busy enough to really have no desire to do anything in the evening after work, maybe that's the case for these folks? Or they have realized that OSS won't make them money, while working for The Man at MS will.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 08:37 AM
August 12, 2007
XP SP3 and Vista SP1 Details Leaked

Today in Microsoft news, we have:

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 01:39 PM
August 08, 2007
Vista Performance Updates Available

Chris points to some (official) Windows Vista Updates which (they say) will fix various performance issues, including the dreaded "calculating time remaining" bug. These are official updates, from the MS support site, so I don't see any reason not to install them. If your vista experience is like mine... "mostly good with a handful of pissing-me-right-off", these sound like at least part of the solution.

Fingers crossed!

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 12:44 PM
July 30, 2007
News on Vista Performance Fixes and SP1

Istartedsomething has some news on Vista hotfixes improves file performance, reliability, standby/resume, games graphics and global warming.

If you were one of the many betting on performance and reliability improvements in anticipation for Windows Vista Service Pack 1, then your winnings has arrived early, in fact some can already claim the jackpot. Winning lotto balls KB938194 and KB938979 for Windows Vista were distributed today to a group of Windows Server 2008 testers which is said to fix many of the mass-reported performance issues in Vista and even some unexpected improvements.

Sadly these aren't available to the common folk yet, but they are expected to be coming out via Windows Update "in the coming weeks", unless you're feeling very brave and want to download the patches from some random site on the net (I'd recommend not doing this by the way :)

Another post on Vista SP1 is here.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:05 PM
July 15, 2007
Vista Driver List

Ed Bott has started a Vista Master Driver List. Still nothing there to help out my SigmaTel microphone issues, or my film scanner, but it's a nice place to start for others.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 12:24 PM
July 14, 2007
20 Worst Windows Features

The 20 Worst Windows Features of All Time - according to PC World anyway.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:26 PM
July 08, 2007
Vista 6 Month Security Report Debunked

The report that came out a while back saying basically how Vista has had hardly any security issues and Linux has had tons has been, debunked by insecure.org. First of all it's shocking that someone with interests in Microsoft would see less vulnerabilities and someone with interests outside of Microsoft would see more. Shocking. Next you'll tell me that statistics can be manipulated!

So read the debunking, and read the original report and commentary over at OSNews.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 10:30 PM
June 28, 2007
Microsoft Live Photo Gallery Beta

The MS Photography blog announces the Windows Live Photo Gallery, Beta 1. Vista and XPSP2 support, MS Spaces integration (does anyone use that anymore?), Panorama stitching and exposure tweaks are some of the features. Interesting move, we'll see how it pans out, and if it's good enough to move over other photo sharing sites and apps out there. Obviously integration right into the OS is a big plus, but being tied to Microsoft Spaces (if it stays that way) might be a deterrent for people to use it. We'll see how it goes.... right now it's an invite only Beta it seems.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:23 AM
June 13, 2007
MS Marketing Wins

I've criticized Microsoft and their marketing in the past, but this banner on why debugging matters shows a clear win for them from the Visual Studio team :)

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 03:06 PM
June 12, 2007
Leopard is Like Vista?

I found a story over on Digg entitled Leopard looks like … Vista from ZDNet. Assuming the entire article isn't a blatant troll, please excuse me while I rant a bit about so-called tech writers. Or maybe it's all satire, not sure... if it is please ignore this :)

1. New Leopard Desktop: Not a whole lot different from Vista’s Aero and Sidebar.

... or conversely, not much different than the original OS/X desktop from 2001. The Leopard desktop is (sadly) not all that revolutionary and more a nice evolution from the original.

2. New Finder: Many of the same capabilities as the integrated “Instant Search” in Vista (the subsystem that Google is trying to get the Department of Justice to rule as being anti-competitive). The new Leopard Coverflow viewing capability looked almost identical to Vista’s Flip 3D to me.

Well, the 'instant search' in Vista could be said to be snatched from spotlight which was introduced in 2006 in OS/X 10.4. The new coverflow is fairly different from Flip 3D from what I can see, and is actually a modification of coverflow from iTunes which was introduced in September 2006. Flip 3D could also be argued to be Microsoft's interpretation of Expose from OS/X.

More below....

3. QuickLook: Live file previews — just like the thumbnail preview capability available in Vista.

Kinda sorta but different. Looks almost more like the 'quickview' that was in windows 95 or the 'preview' app from OS/X. Thumbnailing open windows is IMHO nothing like viewing files without opening an app.

4. 64-bitness: Leopard is the first 64-bit only version of a desktop client. Vista comes in 32-bit and 64-bit varieties. And most expect Windows Seven will still be available in 32-bit flavors. Until 32-bit machines go away, it seems like a good idea to offer 32-bit operating systems.

I think this is correct, but this doesn't seem very much of a "Leopard is Vista" argument.

5. Core animation: Not sure what the Vista comparison is here. The demo reminded me of Microsoft Max photo-sharing application. The WWDC developers attending the Jobs keynote didn’t seem wowed with this functionality.

They probably weren't wowed because core animation isn't all that differnet from the offscreen video that OS/X and vista use already, giving things like Expose and Flip3D. Or it could be there's no Vista comparison because there is no Vista comparison.

6. Boot Camp. You can run Vista on your Mac. Apple showed Vista running Solitaire in its WWDC demo. But I bet those downloading the 2.5 million copies of Boot Camp available since last year are running a lot of other Windows business apps and games.

Probably. And?

7. Spaces: A feature allowing users to group applications into separate spaces. I haven’t seen anything like in in Vista, but the audience didn’t seem overly impressed by it.

Not sure about vista, but there is a similar powertoy called virtual desktop manager. Sadly it sucks :) Oh, and people weren't impressed by this because things like the Unix desktop have had multiple desktops since the '70s or so.

8. Dashboard with widgets. Isn’t this like the Vista Sidebar with gadgets?

Vista sidebar and gagets, aren't those like the OS/X's Dashboard (introduced in 10.4) or Gdesklets or SuperKaramba (2003)?

9. iChat gets a bunch of fun add-ons (photo-booth effects, backrops, etc.) to make it a more fully-featured videoconferencing product. The “iChat Theater” capability Jobs showed off reminded me of Vista’s Meeting Space and/or the new Microsoft “Shared View” (code-named “Tahiti”) document-sharing/conferencing subsystems.

Not sure if adding silly effects makes something more fully featured :) File sharing / viewing does though. I have no experiences with Meeting Spaces and minimal with iChat, so I won't comment on how similar they are.

10. Time Machine automatic backup. Vista has built-in automatic backup (Volume Shadow Copy). It doesn’t look anywhere near as cool as Time Machine. But it seems to provide a lot of the same functionality.

This was a critique when Time Machine was first introduced (it ripping off VSC). However, I think that since OS/X is built on a Unix core there aren't the file locking issues that VSC allows you to get around (I think anyway, not sure if it does just that or does other stuff as well). I don't think that the idea of automated backup is new (or a copy from Vista by any means), but the presentation of it is something new, and if that gives users more inclination to use or be aware of backups, great. I'd be interested in comparing the numbers of people doing backups though. I think that windows 95/98/xp had the ability to do backups built in as well (might be wrong about that) and how many people used that? Again, so how is time-machine (a backup application) a copy of Volume Shadow Copy (a file conversioning system/service)?

Anyway, that's my response to the IMHO quite bogus article.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 12:23 PM
May 28, 2007
Windows Server 2008 New Features

Those of you who drink the kool-aid, or do only on your employers time, might be interested to see the New Features in Windows Server 2008. Self-healing NTFS, Address space randomization, SMB2 filesystem (reason for this I heard on one of the TWIT podcasts was "to f*ck with Samba"), virtualization (oooh! that could be interesting) and Server core, a GUI-less system (hows that going to work I wonder.... hey, Microsoft is stealing all Linux's ideas! where's the innovation!?!?).

Like I said, an interesting read to see what's around the corner. The interesting question for the Linux camp is a) does linux have equivalents to these features and b) does it need them?

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:44 PM
May 17, 2007
File Deletion Problems in Vista

El Reg has an article on Windows Vista's file deletion problems, mostly related to the inordinate amount of time taken for what should be simple file operations, moving / deleting / copying files around. I see this all the time and it's a immensely painful experience when it takes 15 seconds to delete a 100kb file on a dual core 2.40Ghz machine with 2G of RAM.


To prove the point, one user found the problem went away when he ran an XP Pro Virtual Machine that was running on top of Vista. Mysteriously, it took him about eight seconds to delete the 23GB of files he wanted to get rid of. Using Vista on the same machine took him more than 25 minutes.

Interesting reading if you're using Vista and wondering if you're the only one having these issues, or if you're thinking of switching.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:38 PM
April 30, 2007
MS Silverlight CTP Released

So I saw today that Microsoft Silverlight CTP (public demo) was released. I downloaded and installed it, then watched the video using the new technology. Other than the video not having the standard controls, I'm not exactly sure exactly what this is. The video was typical marketting, showing flashy graphics (lots of images of skateboards) and throwing slogans around ("Light up the web"), but there is absolutely zero content! I suppose this is typical for big companies though, MS in particular. About the only thing you can gleam from the video is a short bit in which you see people with a buddy list or something like that.

Digging into the site a bit it seems this is a new plugin (yay) under 2mb (so what), for rich interactive applications on the web (isn't that already there with flash/quicktime/wmp?), vector graphics and overlays (isn't flash vector based?), enhancing existing standards/AJAX based applications (extending and embracing?).

All in all I'll wait till something either comes out or there's something more exciting out there.

Original post was via the vista experience blog btw.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:04 AM
April 13, 2007
Open Sourcing Vista?

I'm not sure exactly how much tongue in cheek or plain old linux zelotry (is that a word?) is involved in the latest "ask Microsoft to open source windows" letter, but I took a look through Dear Mr. Gates: save Vista, open-source it and found it ..... interesting.

Most of my comments amount to "not going to happen." Even if they did give it away, how long would it take to do anything on it? Remember mozilla and the problems they had when they open sourced just the browser? How long would it take for people to get in and know enough of the windows guts to do anything useful.

Sure, maybe a couple of minor itches could be scratched, things like stripping out the deluge of DRM processes taking up memory or maybe changing the logout button to separate icons or something (that's already done with tweak VI BTW), but addressing some of the real issues that are (IMHO) plaguing Vista like security, the UAC PITA, compatibility and performance? And doing it so that nothing else breaks, and that people trust it afterwards? I remember hearing that windows 2000 or 2003 or XP took 24 hours to do a full build. I really don't think that hobby hackers have quite that amount of patience.

What could come from it though, would be to take some of the core win32 code and use that in the Wine Project and in OS/X to give compatibility between the apps and whatever OS the user wants to run them on. The OS really doesn't matter as much these days, because people are really just running apps (or in extreme cases not even that in a web-based world). Wouldn't it be wonderful to have your sexy OS/X desktop and run [insert needed windows app here]? Or have the ease and convenience of GNOME (or KDE you freaks) and run [other needed windows app here] alongside [needed / loved Linux app here]? Heck, in a perfect world you'd be able to run OS/X apps on all three major platforms as well!

Or hey, port over the windows shell to run on top of Linux... Mac did it with OS/X didn't they?

Anyway, end rant. Short story is if you need/want windows and don't like Vista or don't want it, don't use it, use XP (at least until 2008). Ubuntu is very close to their next version and if you want super-sexy hardware, just get yourself a mac.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:54 PM
April 03, 2007
Speeding up Vista

Some tips on extremetech on how to Speed Up Windows Vista. I'll check these out tonight.... hopefully something addresses the default 600-900mb of memory that it seems to use just booting up and running no apps.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 03:17 PM
March 30, 2007
Scary Windows Vulnerability

Cool video of the latest Windows vulnerability, affecting Vista, XP, 2003 and others due to Animated cursors. The Microsoft advisory is here. The result is a crash-reload loop of explorer crashing, restarting itself, crashing, restarting itself, et infinitum.

What's really scary is that it doesn't seem to be affected by UAC or any of the new security precautions. It does still require the specially crafted ".ani" file to get onto the local system, but these days that still isn't that hard I don't think. Hey, it's just an animated cursor, right? :) This is 0-day because it's apparently been seen in the wild.... Slashdot flamefest here.

Of course, who uses animated cursors anymore. Most likely this will only hit 12 year old girls installing my little pony cursor sets.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 03:31 PM
March 23, 2007
IE7 / UAC Bug In Vista

I point out this post from Robert McLaws not so much because I've heard of the problem it's fixing, but as a note that the next time someone complains that "well, in Linux if you have to fix something you end up having to type cryptic commands into a scary black window", point them to it and contemplate on

icacls favorites /setintegritylevel (OI)(CI)low

Suddenly "apt-get dist-upgrade" or "umount /dev/hdd" doesn't seem so bad :)

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:43 PM
March 20, 2007
IE Addon Contest Winners

The IE Blog announced the IE Add-ons Contest Winners a couple of days, and I have to take a moment to bitch about this, even though the first few comments on the site echo my thoughts.

First thing is that the first criteria is:


Creativity: Creative and innovative application.

Fair enough. I applaud Microsoft for engaging the community, encouraging innovation and doing something different. However, lets take a look at the winning entries:


Grand Prize - Inline Search

Available in firefox since sometime at least in the 1.x series.

First - Spell checking

Available in Firefox version 2.0, released mid to late 2006.

Second - FoxyTunes (puts media player buttons in your browser)

Available as a plugin for firefox since 2004.

So basically the first three prizes, equaling a trip and $3k cash were won by re-creating features available on a competing browser. Huh?

Do the authors of the plugins deserve credit for the work they did? Yes. Are these features needed in IE7? Definately! That's why they were created no doubt. Do they deserve to win the top three prizes in a contest where innovation is the first criteria? Uhmm.... I don't know about that. Oh, and some of the winning plugins (not those top three though) are for pay as well (but I guess that follows the Microsoft philosophy).

Just when I just think that I am understanding Microsoft, they confuse me again.

Anyone else have any thoughts / opinions on this? Am I mindlessly bitching here?

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:55 PM
March 19, 2007
Latest MS "Marketing" To Linux Users

I think a project like Linux Personas quite well defines the term "passive aggressive". Basically they group Linux users into broad categories (experimenter, follower, application, geek, transitioner) to help "better understand the marketing opportunities". Then they provide stats like sales cycle length, potential revenue, etc.

There's even a funky screening tool (with well worded questions akin to "do you like linux, or do you care about your IT infrastructure" to let you determine if you should attempt a sale to them.

I so wish I could say that ironically the server that runs the site is Linux, but no, sadly it's W2k3.... I guess they won't make that mistake twice :)

Via /..

Linux , Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:50 PM
March 01, 2007
A(nother) Vista Cracking Program

The Inquirer has a look at a program that allows you to crack Vista activation by brute force.


The method of attack has got to be quite troubling for MS on many grounds. The crack is a glorified guesser, and with the speed of modern PCs and the number of outstanding keys, the 25-digit serials are within range. The biggest problem for MS? If this gets widespread, and I hope it will, people will start activating legit keys that are owned by other people.

I'm not sure how I feel about this... on one hand I'm a cheap bastard and admit that part of my not upgrading to Vista (which is attractive to me for some reason, though the love is fading with the various horror stories surfacing with nVidia driver issues, performance being bogged down by antivirus, etc) is due to it being harder to get a "clean" pirate version where it doesn't expire, WGA works, etc. MS did a fairly good job of protecting it, though there are some timer / clock hacks around (invalidated as soon as you run an update of course). On the other hand, if/when I shell out my $100 for a legit copy of Vista, and I get told I'm a stinking dirty pirate because someone's brute force hack has grabbed my activation key, I'd be pissed off, even if it is solved with a simple phone call.

If this starts happening in force do you think that...


  • a) MS will realize the error of their ways and discontinue WGA and activation or....
  • b) They will create even more invasive procedures to determine who is a dirty stinking pirate or not

My vote is on plan B myself.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 04:25 PM
February 22, 2007
Vista Kernel Innards

Here's an interesting look at some of the insides of the latest kernel from Microsoft. In Inside the Windows Vista Kernel: Part 2 there's some fascinating stuff on readyboost, superfetch, and their other superhero friends.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 04:29 PM
February 13, 2007
Vista UAC In Real Life

Taken of course with a grain of sale (this is slashdot you know), this commenters story of the most frustrating 10 minutes in front of a computer sounds eerily familiar to the "spoof" switch ad that Dana talked about the other day.

I'm told that after you have everything configured and setup, you never see the UAC prompts again, which is good, unless you're like me and enjoy trying new software and mucking around with the system, which may mean the best alternative for people like me is to disable UAC, which means that you end up with the situation in the ad of "then he doesn't warn me at all".

Interesting to see some of the reaction to Vista now that it is actually real and out there and people are able to use the final version and not base reactions on previews, marketing literature, etc.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 04:27 PM
February 09, 2007
Meanest Vista Review. Ever.

Found via Fake Steve Jobs' Blog is what looks like one of the meanest review of Vista I've seen so far.


Windows Mail is a mild reworking of Outlook Express whose big new feature is a spam filter that in my tests flagged nonspam as spam and vice versa an unacceptable 10% of the time. The bare-bones word processor WordPad used to be able to open Microsoft Word files. No more. What possible rationale could there be for "fixing" that, except to force users to shell out for the real thing?

The rest of it has some similar ranting, and not all unjustified in my opinion. I've been watching what Vista is shaping up to be, and some things, like games running slower under Vista than XP, are a bit disturbing. Aren't things supposed to get faster as new versions are released not slower? Maybe it's the driver manufacturers fault, maybe the architecture.

Personally I have a odd desire to run Vista, but I'm honestly a bit scared to move all my setup to a new OS just to find a deal breaker. I'm sure I will eventually though. Anyway, read through the review and make up your mind (and take it with a grain of salt).

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:02 PM
February 02, 2007
A Vista Gotcha

An interesting and cautionary tale on using Microsoft Vista. I'm sure there will be more like this in the future, as some of the less obvious features and bugs start appearing now that Vista is out in the wild.


Curiously, when i looked at the files in the folder, it didn’t look like the time stamp had changed. I figured i’d just modified the wrong one of several different versions, so i retraced my steps: nope, that was the right file. This is weird, i thought, so i re-opened the file from the folder, and all my content was there. I saved it again … no changes to the directory listing.

Definately an interesting "feature" that turns out to be the cause of the posters grief. "Lack of discoverability" would be the cause here I think.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 12:56 PM
January 09, 2007
Windows Home Server

Ars Technica has the details on Windows Home Server. Might be an interesting project to see something like this implemented in Linux. A lot of the major bits are there already, shadow copy looks equivalent to LVM snapshots and a bit of scripting + EVMS would give you the "plug in a drive and auto-expand storage" part. Of course, it'd take a bit of work to put it together in the package that MS has, course, they also have a bit more money to throw at this. Also sounds like they might have felt threatened by the availability of the easy home server setup that Linux offers as a file server. We'll see what happens though.

The ars discussion has some good talk on what it actually is and does, as well as (perceived) up and downsides.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 08:04 AM
November 28, 2006
Get Vista and Office Free

.... with a minor hitch. You have to watch some webcasts. See the details over at Robert McLaws blog. Apparently the Get Vista & Office for Watching Webcasts is legit, so we'll see.

"While supplies last" of course, and only open to US residents :( Anyone want to watch some webcasts for me?

Note, some of the graphics don't seem to work in Firefox, you may have to use IE to see the link/arrow beside the 'free gift' graphics.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 01:33 PM
November 17, 2006
Vista RTM on MSDN

There's a certain humor in that Vista RTM was available on bittorrent before it was available on MSDN and TechNet.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:14 PM
November 14, 2006
The Zune Software Install Experience

Engadget shows off the less than stellar software experience that apparently comes with the Zune. Looks like there are some bugs to work out still, at least on their test system. Not to spoil the end of the story, but after hell to get things going on one computer:


But just to be EXTRA sure, we tried the software on a second PC we had laying around. Besides 20 minutes to install (huh?) it worked just fine. Expect more from that PC in the near future!

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:21 AM
November 02, 2006
Microsoft Revises Vista Licenses

Bitch I do, but I have to give credit where credit is due when I saw that the license terms for Vista have been revised to create less pain for hardware enthusiasts and people who upgrade and change their hardware a lot. Good stuff, glad to see I won't have to re-buy my OS if I upgrade my computer.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:47 PM
Zune TV Spots

So what does anyone think of these Five Zune TV Spots? They are a bit reminiscent of the XBox 360 water balloon fight ads, all ending with "Find your audience".

Personally they are a miss for me. I honestly zone out because there's no focus or anything to draw me in or make me watch all the way to the money shot. Most of the commercials really have nothing to do with the player or any advantages it has. The first three basically are random shots of people socializing in a park, with some of them listening to generic looking mp3 players as a complete aside (to my eyes). The features that the Zune has that set it apart (large screen for video, wifi, landscape mode, comes in black, xbox integration, "social networking", etc) aren't mentioned, or highlighted. In fact, in watching the five spots, other than it's use for listening to music, I saw only one quick reference to watching videos (I think, it was a quick shot of someone turning it sideways, perhaps a reference to the landscape video mode) and perhaps a reference to the filesharing abilities by showing two zunes sitting beside each other.

The videos are very... "amateur looking". Not as if they weren't done professionally of course, but that stylized look. Definately focusing on the social aspects rather than the technology itself (maybe on purpose?).

Compare this to the iPod ads. They are a lot simpler, concentrating on the hardware itself and the enjoyment of music, or at least that's how I interpret it. Following the Apple simplistic style I particularily think that this U2 Video iPod ad is well done. A simple music video, and it just pulls out to show it's playing on an iPod, saying a lot.

Of course, I have a feeling most of the Zune marketing has been the grassroots kind that's over at ZuneInsider.

Anyway, I'm interested to hear what others think about the Zune marketing so far.

Hardware , Microsoft , Music - Posted by Arcterex at 10:06 AM
November 01, 2006
Thoughts on App Installation Annoyances

A nice article on the MSDN Blogs The Old New Thing entitled I bet somebody got a really nice bonus for that feature. It goes through what the quicklink menu, taskbar, and balloon help should be used for, as opposed to being cluttered up with useless crap by pretty much every app you install these days. A good / must read for application developers on the windows platform.


The rule for taskbar notifications is that they are there to, well, notify the user of something. Your print job is done. Your new hardware device is ready to use. A wireless network has come into range. You do not use a notification icon to say "Everything is just like it was a moment ago; nothing has changed." If nothing has changed, then say nothing.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:50 AM
October 21, 2006
Zune Review

Just so you know I'm not all anti-microsoft (though I do go on a tear sometimes), I'm pretty impressed with this Zune review.

All in all, any reservations I had about the device melted away after I had a few moments with the Zune. Yes, it is a first-generation product but I really like the direction Microsoft is taking with the Zune. Regardless of either the Zune or the iPod, the consumer will be the winner of this new front in the battle for our entertainment lifestyle.

I'm still not convinced it's an iPod killer, but it does sound like it's a pretty cohesive app / service and of course MS is going to leverage whatever they have to make sure it integrates with your OS, console system, etc. Lets say that I am hitting the point where I wouldn't mind checking one out at least.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 01:26 AM
October 19, 2006
Vista Licensing

Wendy has a nice article on how Windows licensing disserves the user. Apparently Microsoft doesn't realize that users actually should matter, instead of extra money.

2. Vanishing functionality through invalidation. "The software will from time to time validate the software, update or require download of the validation feature of the software. … [if validation fails] you may not be able to use or continue to use some of the features of the software." Again, your computer must make periodic (period unspecified) contact with the Microsoft mothership if you want to continue to enjoy what you thought you paid for. Microsoft, of course, disclaims any liability for the consequences if their servers fail or mistakenly deny you validation.

I forsee the next six months as very interesting. Either one of a couple of things will happen:

  • The licensing / DRM / functionality issues will be overblown and everyone will continue as they do now with XP, some pirating, some buying legally.
  • More and more people will rebel and go to other OSs.
  • Apple will come out with an ace in the hole with native windows application execution or something like that and suddenly desktops will move over to the Mac side of the world.
  • Hackers will fight with MS by releasing patches to un-DRM/WGA/etc Vista. MS will of course release security updates to counter these, hackers will respond, etc.
  • Microsoft will relent and realize they are squeezing too hard, either through their new and improved "interact with the users" attitude, or through floods of phone calls to the call centers complaining, and remove the restrictions (I believe apple did this with itunes at some point).

That's just my opinion though.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:33 PM
October 18, 2006
IE7 Released

Congrats to the IE7 team for releasing Internet Explorer 7, the first release for... well lets just say a while. Commentary as well as fixes and ways to get this installed if the standard WGA-infested way doesn't work for you is here.

Update: First vulnerability found. 'Nuff said.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 10:37 PM
September 28, 2006
Mac Fan on Vista

Hands on: A Mac fan takes on Vista... vista via bootcamp from a Mac. No surprise which one comes out on top of course, though the way that I read it it wasn't due to a glaring bias towards mac, the article seems relatively fair and balanced to me. Some of the critisism can also be boiled down to familiarity. If you're used to hitting a key combo to get your widgets up then not having that will seem like a bad thing. If you've never had key-combos, you won't miss it (as an example).
Course, if you're a Vista fan I'm sure you'll disagree with some of the assertations.... feel free to discuss here of course!

Apple/Mac , Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 10:27 AM
September 08, 2006
Thurrott on Vista RC1

Paul Thurrott has his thoughts on the newly released Vista RC1 in an article called The Dark Side of Windows Vista RC1. Some interesting finds and opinions in there as always. Anyone tried out RC1 yet? Any opinions?

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 12:20 PM
September 06, 2006
No WGA? No Problem!

Interesting article telling you how to download files from Microsoft without Windows Genuine Advantage. Useful for pirtates or folks who don't like Big Brother Bill snooping in on them. Not sure if there's a difference between that and pirates though...

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:10 AM
July 11, 2006
XP Monitor Refresh Rate Saving

So this is an issue that I'm asking the web at large to help with. My Windows XPSP2 system refuses to save the refresh rate setting for my CRT monitor. It seems to happen in conjunction with a dual monitor setup. Basically what happens is I reboot, and when the system comes back up the refresh rate is back to 60hz (ie: painful on the eyes). I go into the monitor settings, and it says it's set to 85hz. I set it to 75, hit ok, the refresh changes and it's all ok. I reboot and it's back to the painful refresh rate, go into monitor settings and the settings say 75hz. Change it to 85 and hit ok, and it's back to ok.

Very strange. The setting is saved, but the refresh rate doesn't change. I have the same problem on a relatively new XP install on my work setup where I have an LCD and a CRT (the LCD works fine), and at home where I have two CRTs. At work the monitor is using the PnP drive and at home I have the correct NEC monitor drivers.

Anyone know about this or have any idea how to fix it? I don't reboot that often, so it's not a huge deal, it is however a pain in the butt...

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 12:22 PM
June 07, 2006
Vista Beta 2 To be Available to the Public

So this is pretty intersting.... according to a digg story, Vista Beta 2 will be available for public download later today.

I'm not sure of a couple of things... is this only for people with MSDN access, or a 100% public beta such as they did recently for office 2007? What restrictions will be placed on it (I'm going to guess it'll be expireware)? Etc etc.

On the other hand, this is pretty brilliant. Vista is the "next big thing" for the home desktop market, and all the magic 8 balls say that it'll be available to the public Q1 2007 at the earliest. That's another 6 months before it can start being realisticly in the hands of the average joe, and then only at either the cost of the OS or bundled with a new computer. This way everyone can get access to it, free, get the brainshare going, and have an extra 6 months of (in theory) training to get used to the OS which will be a lot different than XP.

I wonder if they'll be taking tech support calls, or will be relying on the QA software built into the OS itself? Either way, it'll be interesting to see if this makes the final release less buggy and more secure.

Also, it kicks the pirates in the balls a bit. No more need to download the torrent from pirate bay, grab it straight from MS. Of course, this also goes along with my theory that MS actually likes pirates or at least does the minimum to protect their software from piracy so it gets into the hands of the most people, and increases their brainshare. Now, they have been cracking down lately, but when you have 90% of the market, you don't need to spread much further.

Things I'll be looking for...

  • Memory use.... Beta 1 uses about 600mb of ram doing nothing compared to 200mb with XP, hopefully that's debug uglyness that'll be gone.
  • How will games play? Most of my windows experience is for gaming, so it'll be interesting. Most of my hardware is pretty common so drivers shouldn't be an issue (knock wood).
  • Are the security warning popups that bad?

Anyway, I'll be downloading and installing this over the vista beta 1 install I have from an earlier torrent on my second hard drive :)

Update: Downloads now working.....

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 03:46 PM
June 01, 2006
Calling all Windows Security Experts... Firewall Dashboard 1.1 Now Available

I know I rag on Microsoft, and Windows security, but at least there are those out there doing something about it. My ex-boss, ex-coworker and good friend Dana has just released version 1.1 of Firewall Dashboard. New features include:


  • Import/export of config for deployment to multiple machines
  • A new plugin to aid in remote monitoring for managed service providers
  • New reports and the usual array of bugfixes and tweaks

For those of you who don't know what Firewall Dashboard is, it's a firewall log report creation tool for Windows firewalls. Probably pictures speak louder than words, so just hit the screenshots.

Microsoft , Security , Software - Posted by Arcterex at 08:47 AM
May 15, 2006
Introduction to ISA 2004

I'm not a huge Microsoft guy, however I do like to know what is going on in the rest of the internet world. My buddy Dana has published a slidedeck with an Introduction to ISA 2004, the windows firewall. Looks very nice, and looks like a good reference for you ip[fwadm|chains|tables] people to check out.

Good work dude!

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:58 PM
April 16, 2006
Recent Windows XP Updates Cause Freeze on Desktop Right Click

Took me a bit to find the solution to this issue I started having today after a windows automatic update..... turns out that KB908531 is at fault, and removing that in the add/remove programs fixes all (at least for me). Symptoms I had were that if I right clicked on the desktop, it would freeze up and I'd have to kill explorer.exe in the task manager to get my system back.

Hope this helps someone.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:27 PM
February 28, 2006
Why Vista Won't Suck.... So Says ExtremeTech Why Windows Vista Won't Suck over at ExtremeTech. A couple of thoughts.

The second point is the automatic disk defragmenter (second screenshot). Uhmmmm.... wasn't this a feature in Windows 98? Wasn't this removed in Windows XP for some strange reason? Hasn't MacOS been doing this truely automatically for 5 years now (OS/X automatically defrags files under 20mb just through general use of the system, whereas Windows requires you to say "defrag my disk").

"Sleep mode" - basically they are using the instant off/on that OS/X laptops have had for 5 years now on desktops, which is cool. Basically a less sucky 'hibernate'.

Improved networking stack, very nice, of course, you only get benefits connecting to other Vista machines. Go figure. Anyone want to bet if a) the new stack is open and b) if it is, and were implemented on *unix, the benefits wouldn't work? </cynic>

I'm sure it'll be nice for those moving files around at lan parties or in the local network though.

Media center... *yawn*

On page 3 I find that your audio drivers won't BSOD you anymore. Uhmm.... "yay". Built in speech recognition just like OS/X (and possibly before). Per-application audio control, been there, done that.

Better built in mail (outlook express finally overhauled!), good, hopefully this will be less of a virus magnet than the current iteration. Built in calendar app, photo viewer app, good to see. What I've seen of media player 11 it's less ugly now. Course, I wonder if it'll still have the same stupid UI issues it has now (ie: the hidden window frame that even though it can't be seen it still has an effect on the window).

The new Aero engine looks sexy, but I'm going to guess by the time that Vista is out technologies like XGL will be out and "standard" on the Linux desktop. I personally set up the latest Ubuntu with XGL and wow, very sexy. The screenshots of the new Vista UI does look quite nice though. It will be a delicate balance of "looks good" and "eyecandy overload".

Sidebar? *yawn*.

Better security - Yay!

Those are my thoughts anyway.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 03:20 PM
February 27, 2006
Project Origami Video? So is this YouTube post of Microsoft Project origami for real? Looks like a legit ad that someone managed to capture before it was taken down (link via digg. I've got two trains of thought on this:
  • Big F'n Deal - a smaller tablet with a flashy add to no doubt boost tablet PC sales (which we haven't heard a heck of a lot about lately). Note the accessories you need to make it useful (ie: the wonky looking keyboard setup).
  • Potentially cool.... they look like they have combined something like a PSP and a tablet with all the built in things like wireless networking, bluetooth, GPS, USB, etc etc. No evidence of bluetooth of course, but one can imagine.
      Of course, there are some issues. First of all, they appear to have magically solved the the problems of using laptops / LCD screens outdoors, or is it just bit in the video that should be titled "does not represent real usage". To anyone who has done work in the sun outdoors knows that the first part of the video is total BS. Also the video implies (but doesn't say right out) that WiFi is ubiquitous and you can hook into mapquest from anywhere without looking into a network to get mapping directions. The reality might be a built in GPS (or add on GPS unit) against a static map or something. Who knows.

      I guess we get confirmation early next month.

      Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 01:13 PM
December 20, 2005
New Vista Screenshots Some new Microsoft Windows Vista Build 5270 (December 2005 Community Technical Preview CTP) Screenshots & Features via Activewin. It loks pretty sexy I guess, however the real question is "will people care?". I installed a CTP (the last one I think) on a spare computer (which I admit was not that powerful and didn't have a really fast video card) and basically went "meh".
Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 08:50 AM
October 11, 2005
New HotMail Preview Paul Thurrott has a preview of the new MSN Mail Beta, the upcoming replacement for hotmail. Unlike the Vista screenshots, I'm pretty sure I'm not all excited about this. The mail interface looks ok (it's definately better than the old hotmail), however not that new, and still gobs of ads all around. I agree with Darren: 'meh'.
Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 10:27 AM
New Vista Screenshots Some new shots from Windows Vista Build 5231. Note the link at the top to some additional screenies. Still not sure if I should be excited or not.
Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 12:20 AM
April 06, 2005
10 Things Longhorn Should Have An interesting post by Brad Wardell over at wincustomize.com entitled 10 Features Longhorn needs. Some good hits on there, ranging from bundling and licensing issues to multitasking and networking. Via Robert McLaws.
Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 08:47 AM
January 24, 2005
Microsoft Should Open Source NT 4.0 Interesting piece by Jason Perlow entitled Microsoft: Let My NT Go! (via Microsoft Watch). Basically a good idea, it's old software that is still used (I was at science world this weekend and one of the crashed computers was a NT4 workstation system). Personally I don't use NT4, and think it looks and feels pretty old... Windows 3.1-ish to be precise.

Of course, Microsoft would never do it. They've put too much energy into discrediting Open Source and the GPL (if they released the source code, for free, they'd never use that evil, cancerous GPL license anyway). My $0.02 anyway.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:07 AM
January 05, 2005
Windows Longhorn Avalon Video Robert pointed out an interesting video Demo of Avalon 3D, showing how easy it is to do Avalon coolness. Kinda nifty if you're watching what good ol' MS is up to.

Of course, not to let anyone think that I'm selling out, this video decided to lose my currently playing mp3 without giving me any option to to re-start it. Normally not a big deal, but finding where I was in a 3 and a half hour mp3 sucks.

Also, I still disagree that the term "open source marketting" is a) even a real term or b) applicable to the fact that MS has a bunch of people blogging about how cool they are.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:07 PM
July 28, 2004
MS Antivirus Details Leak I seem to remember them saying at one point they'd never get into the AV market, and the AV companies shouldn't worry. Or maybe they should?
Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 03:45 PM
June 18, 2004
Response on the MS API Wars Robert McLaws responds to Joels excellent write up on the MS API War with his article Seven Reasons Why the API War is Not Lost After All. I haven't had a chance to read it completely yet, but some of it makes sense... some seems a bit rose-colored-glasses than realistic, just as Joel took the all-is-lost attitude in his article. Good read anyway. Of course, don't forget that someone hosted on longhornblogs.com may be just a bit biased :)
Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:38 AM
June 16, 2004
On IE and the API War(s) Mezzoblue points to a good article on How Microsoft Lost the API War. A nice look at IE, browsers, development tools, microsoft dominance, and all sorts of other good stuff. Long but good.
Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:59 PM
June 08, 2004
CEOs Disagree with Microsoft on TCO

This article says pretty much the opposite of what all the Microsoft advertising and rhetoric says, Linux lowers TCO.

We talked to independent analysts, developers, and IT company executives. They all pretty much agree on one answer to the question: Yes, generally there are fair to good TCO savings with Linux -- sometimes huge savings. But variables in every organization's mix will determine exactly what that monthly, quarterly, or yearly savings will be.

Surprising to anyone? Someone should tell these guys that maybe their "independant third party" tests were biased.

Granted, IT Manager's Journal is part of OSDN, a pro-linux organization, but two can play the bias game I guess. Course, I also trust OSDN a bit more.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 03:40 PM
May 31, 2004
First Look at Longhorn 4074 There is an interesting article with A First Look at Longhorn. Lots of screenshots and some commentary on some of the new features from the latest build (4074, WinHEC version).

My opinion on this is pretty much as follows. Looks mostly like XP with a black skin. Many of the changes appear to be cosmetic, and some major components are lacking in any really exciting upgrades (ie: IE has pop up blocking (which warns you that it might not work!), but no tabbed browsing or anything else that looks remotely revolutionary. Some things are just wacked, like the sync manager still uses the windows 95(!!!!) offline webpages icon, and the icons still don't seem to be scalable.

The 3D avalon mode looks pretty swanky, but nothing that hasn't been in OS/X for 4 years and Linux (in various forms) for a while. Basically it's dropshadows and a nifty thumbnailing alt-tab mode. All this requires a fair amount of hardware of course. Of course, sometimes features like this new alt-tab are far worse than the tried and true classic. Anyone using the new alt-tab replacement that came out for XP, which thumbnails and gives you huge ass icons in your alt-tab list? Didn't think so.

Overall the interface is pretty similar to XP, but in some places it looks far more cluttered, a step backwards, not forwards, to me. Of course, this is still pre-beta, full of debug code and un/half-implemented features, and the final product is still years from release. It's still interesting to see what's coming up. Based on this though, I'm not chomping at the bit yet.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 10:47 AM
May 27, 2004
Why You Don't Run Windows Luke points out some of the disadvantages of running Windows.

As a friend of mine mentioned it is possible to get 0 errors back from ad-aware by using your computer smartly (not running IE, watching cookies, changing your security zone, not running as admin), but in my opinioin this isn't the way that most "normal" people work. They turn on the computer and use what is available, click on pop ups, click executables that come in email, and are blissfully are hosts to adware, spyware, worms and viruses. The number of worms and crap that float around support this theory :)

Funny Stuff , Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:08 AM
May 17, 2004
Windows XP Tweaking Guide Found the XP Tweaking Guide via OSNews. Here's another.
Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 12:45 PM
April 25, 2004
Getting rid of WISPTIS.EXE Doing a bit of looking around on my system and noticed a strange process running... wisptis.exe. After a bit of research I found it's part of the tablet input system. Being that I don't have a tablet, I figured it's not really supposed to be there. I found these instructions on how to get rid of it. Simple huh? Just delete about 80 uniquely named registry keys. Oh don't worry, they're all easy to read/remember, like :

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{F0291081-E87C-4E07-97DA-A0A03761E586}

See how easy that is? Ok, that's the first, only 79 to go!
Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:22 PM
February 03, 2004
MSN Toolbar Apparently there is a MSN Toolbar Beta out. Looks pretty familiar to me. Uhm.... with the exception of the MSN specific links (messanger, hotmail, etc which are dups of the google news, etc) it looks almost exactly the same as the google toolbar. Except it's a version behind. And about a year behind. And uhmm.... why would I want it again? Oh right, because it'll probably be shipped with IE, or installed via an IE security update.

Once again, thanks for nothing microsoft.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 10:10 AM
January 27, 2004
Gates on Linux Security

On the day that a the nice big Windows Outlook Worm is filling up email inboxes (mine included, since yesterday morning), news.com has a story called Gates takes swipe at Apple, Linux security.

"A high-volume system like (Windows) that has been thoroughly tested will be by far the most secure," Gates told the audience at the Developing Software for the future Microsoft Platform conference...

What crack is this guy smoking? Of course he follows this up with:

"To say a system is secure because no one is attacking it is very dangerous," [regarding os with less market share].
Following this logic Windows is the most secure OS in the history of the universe. While his intentions are correct. If FooOS has only 5 users and is completely unknown then it's security is untested compared to one that is in use by a larger population of the net. However, according to the January stats, apache has 67% of the servers on the Internet. Sorry Bill, the logic doesn't hold.

Of course, when you're talking to a bunch of MS developers you can't tell them the truth can you? I wonder if they actual believe this stuff? There was no indication that he was talking about the next generation windows (longhorn) which is touted to be much more secure either, but the current one.

Sorry Microsoft, you're still full of it.

Thanks to Christophe letting me know about it.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:15 AM
December 16, 2003
XP SP2 Details Some of the changes for Windows XP in XPSP2 look like they might actually be on the right track. Improvements to IE, the firewall, a pop up blocker!!!!! (not enabled by default, but prompting when the first pop up arrives), proper mime type handling and some other good looking stuff that sounds like it'll make XP a bit nicer to work with. Welcome to the year 2003!

Of course, unless you buy a new computer, you'll have to install it, and if you're installing your original XP from scratch, you'll still be screwed until SP2 is installed, but I guess it's better than nothing. Anyone want to take bets on when the first new or old vulnerabilities show up in it? BTW, it's not in beta yet though.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:56 AM
December 04, 2003
Longhorn UI Notes Some good Longhonr Notes over at Gritstone & Chips. Basically some things that were broken then fixed are back again, and others that were never fixed still aren't. However, as from what I've seen the Longhorn UI is nothing like what it'll be in 2+ years when it's released, and is just a hacked version of the Windows XP UI (except for some of the new tray, window border and the new ugly space wasting crap on top of all the explorer windows of course). Anyone whose seen it will know what I mean.
Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 05:51 PM
December 01, 2003
Longhorn Leak Review A two part Longhorn PDC Review in video format (wmv).
Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:37 AM
November 28, 2003
Microsoft's Methods Ah, gotta love Microsoft and their methods. According to this article on The Register they are holding $1.1 billion in compensation for the class plaintiffs in California, trying to get them to side with them agains their "Lindows competitor". *sigh* This is the sort of thing that some of the Microsoft evangelists so easily forget, or excuse with "I don't know what's going on, I'm just a peon."

There is another story with some of the start of this and Microsoft's objectsions to Lindows.com setting up MSFreePC.com to help Californians get their rightfully deserved piece of the anti-trust settlement pie.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 02:00 PM
November 25, 2003
Windows XP UI Oddities Windows XP: rough around the edges doesn't really apply with Longhorn a mere 3-undefined years down the road, but it's an interesting read. I wonder if there is a similar article for MacOS? Maybe MacOS is so perfect that the nitpickers can't find anything wrong with it? Guess not. There are others all over of course, and since the original article is from 2001, some of the XP UI bugs have hopefully been fixed :)

Thanks to this page for the link. John's updated observations are also up.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 12:51 PM
November 04, 2003
Thoughts on Longhorn Dumky has some good thoughts on the LongHorn Developer Center and how relevant it actually is right now, as it'll be released in 2006 (maybe).
Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 10:53 AM
November 01, 2003
Microsoft Bits A couple of things about MS and their tech that I found this morning:
  • Windows XP SP2 is a look at what to expect in the as-yet-unreleased SP2 for Windows XP.
  • The version of Longhorn that was released at the Microsoft PDC show did not include the littlebit touted "Avalon" interface which utilizes hardware graphics rendering like OS/X and can (apparently) do wonderful and amazing things. Anyway, the interface is kept under tight wraps, but there are some digicam shots of it that were found over at betanews.
Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 12:51 PM
October 27, 2003
Visual Studio .Net 2004 Screenshots Wow, lots of MS stuff here today, I must be coming down with something :) Anyway, here are some VS.net 2004 screenshots found over at Dylan Greene's blog. This is from the next version of Visual Studio .NET 2004, or at least, that's the rumor.

Some of the stuff looks nifty, some is pretty obvious. I don't develop under windows though, so they don't excite me a whole lot. I know some do though, so chime in to what you think.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 04:30 PM
October 26, 2003
Longhorn Screenshots Over at NeoWin.net there are some leaked screenshots from Longhorn PDC Build 4051. It doesn't look any cleaner than before, but it does look different. Of course, that said, the release is more than two years away (at least), so I'm sure that these have as much relevance as the early leaked shots from WindowsXP. This was linked from a story on the register regarding whether this leak is just another way to get hyped about Longhorn early. Anyone remember the two years or so leading up to Windows 95?
Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 10:23 AM
October 17, 2003
Thoughts on Windows Security Some ideas on how Microsoft could do better with their handling of security were written out here in Brian Sullivan's webblog. Some good thoughts on how to deal with the problem currently, hopefully the "fix the problems for the next release" were implied :)

Ideas like making patch CDs freely available at computers stores etc would be useful, as well as having OEMs release fully patched versions, as that would have made the latest eXPerience Silverstr had a lot less painful.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:17 AM
October 08, 2003
How To Make Windows Suck Less Dylan Greene has a good list of how Microsoft could stop spyware and adware with Longhorn. I personally like the way that OS/X does it with an integrated sudo type system (the reasons for this I left in my comment on the article). Maybe MS can do better? Course, chances are it'll be some half assed system that you need to connect software B to software B, while not uninstalling software C that no "normal" user (ie: those hit most by adware and spyware) would ever do.

Course, we'll probably have to wait till 2005 or so before it comes out, but on the upside, we'll have from enduring hype, hype, hype from october 26th till the actual longhorn release to convince us it's the right and only way to do it.

Hopefully they'll design an OS that isn't so userfriendly in it's installing of software. Think that'll happen?

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:44 AM
September 26, 2003
Things to Fix in WindowsUpdate A good list of the things that have to be fixed in windows update. As someone who has just spent the last week or so doing three separate installs of XP from scratch on various computers, the hour or more spent each time downloading, waiting, installing, rebooting, downloading more, waiting, installing, rebooting, going back to windows update yet again, etc etc gets a bit.... "tiring" after a while. Hopefully someone will see that list and think about fixing things.

I know that not having to download patches off an install would require a new CD for each patched version of Windows, and that's not that realistic, but just running one update once would be nice.

Some of his other suggestions I'm not sure I completely agree with. I don't trust Microsoft to install software without my approval. I don't trust anyone to install stuff without my approval, so having your system patched and having things installed in the background without my consent doesn't make me all warm and fuzzy. On the other hand I cleaned off about 500 virii and infected files (via AVG and ad-aware) off a system not that long ago. When I asked if the user ever updated she said "oh, that think I always hit 'later' on?". *sigh* Maybe a "I am a techie" button somewhere that will convert from a "do whatever you want MS" to a "ask me before doing anything" schema.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:04 AM
September 09, 2003
Longhorn Screenshot?

This screenshot shows what appears to be a crashing version of Longhorn. Interesting look. I'm going to ignore smarmy comments about the bug as it is a few years from release :)

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:24 AM
August 20, 2003
New Longhorn Screen Shots? Wow, the direction is certainly not going toward simpler to use! This is from Paul Thurrott's site with some shots he says are from the new Longhorn (Windows 2003(2004?)(2005?)) interface. Scoble says that they are early demo screens however, and not the real "Aero" interface, which is one of Microsoft's biggest secrets.

Personally they have the "ooh! cool!" look, but in reality, would I want my grandmother trying to use something that needs this many lines explaining what it is? I wonder why they aren't moving towards a more simplistic and easier to understand look? (from XvsXP's discussion on the dock icons vs the taskbar icons). Do you really need this wide a control to indicate the volume level?

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 10:17 AM
August 19, 2003
Recall Microsoft Forget California, it's time to recall Microsoft is an interesting article on why we shouldn't put up with this lack of security crap from the company that "owns" 90% of the the desktops in the world. Linked from scoble.
Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:42 AM
July 13, 2003
What do you want from Microsoft The Scobleizer Weblog run by an MS employee who seems like a pretty decent guy has some responses to Dave Winer and asks the interesting question "... tell us what you'd like to see on the Windows platform... I'll make sure the right people see the best responses"

Interesting question eh?. Right now a lot of geeks aren't too Microsoft friendly and this guy is a big player (I think) on the Longhorn team, and we have a chance to respond. A few people have, but I'd encourage all y'all to throw a (politely and maturely phrased) response back to him.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:21 PM
July 07, 2003
Longhorn Replace Dialog Critique A funny/interesting critique of the Longhorn "replace file" dialog. Lets just say that the way that MS is going with longhorn seems to be the opposite direction of the mac in terms of un-complicating their UI.
Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 03:29 PM
June 25, 2003
Gates on Spam A good dissection of Gates' spam manifesto over on The Register. Personally I think the better way to stop spam is to start hunting down spammers one by one and after using the tried and true draw and quarter method, display them in a public area. This I'm sure will start to persuade spammers that getting a real job is a much better idea.
Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 11:29 AM
April 21, 2003
Microsoft Showing They Are a Monopoly (Again) This sort of thing really makes me sick. Reported in The Register is the story of a foxpro developer who was told he could not demonstrate an application because running on a linux machine because it would violate the EULA. The article goes on to explain that according to microsoft:
The suggestion every Linux machine running VFP-created aps would need a VFP license. For Windows, only the development machine needs to have a VFP license.
Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 01:02 PM
April 01, 2003
IT Doesn't Trust MS Apparently IT doesn't trust MS. Well Duh!
Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 05:15 PM
March 19, 2003
Windows Users Update Now! There is a new windows flaw out there. MS recomments everyone updates ASAP. It sounds like a typical outlook virus, executing arbitrary code via web pages or email (outlook email that is), and is interesting because it affects so many different versions of windows. The good news is if you are using OE 6 or Outlook 2002 you aren't affected.
WASHINGTON -- Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday warned about a serious flaw in almost every version of its popular Windows software that could allow hackers to seize control of a person's computer when victims read e-mails or visit Web sites.
Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 04:08 PM
February 02, 2003
CVS and Visual Studio For all the microsofties out there, a nifty article on how to integrate CVS into Visual Studio.net. Now if only they had something like that for Frontpage (don't ask).
Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:56 PM
November 22, 2002
Longhorn Info [OSNews] Interesting preview information on about the Windows "Longhorn" Alpha.
Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 07:09 PM
October 23, 2002
How to Kill MSN Messanger This post tells you how to get rid of MSN "lets just shove it down their throats" Messanger, and how to prevent it from loading automatically. I love flipping bill the bird.
Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 10:28 PM
October 15, 2002
Open Letter to Ballmer OSNews has a link to an article with an open letter to Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft from Micheal Robertson of lindows.
Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 06:06 PM
September 22, 2002
Microsoft Loves Open Source In a ZDNet article entitled Microsoft warming to open source? an MS exec tries to explain how shared source is just like open source, and they are doing it because their customers want it, and love them for it. There are a couple of caveats though:

The Windows program is a reference-only license. So in the Windows team today we let you view the code and debug against it, but you can't change the code.

and

Can people access all the Windows source code?
No.

Of course, the best quote has to be:

Microsoft does not subscribe to security through obscurity.

Course, it's only fair to go read it for yourself! :)

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 08:00 AM
September 19, 2002
The Direction of Microsoft I'm more paranoid than some people, but this page is over the top, even for me :) It is a long list of evil horrible things that Windows does and doesn't do, or used to do and now doesn't.
Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 05:59 PM
September 12, 2002
Security Through Obscurity An article on the Register details a fix that Microsoft has silently rolled into Windows XP SP1.... Apparently a bug in the XP Help Center allows you to wipe your hard drive (or selected directories) with just a link to a URL.

Anyone tried this yet to confirm? If it's true... wow, that's a big bug.

Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 05:00 PM
September 11, 2002
XP SP1 Performance Review A performance review of Windows XP SP1 shows that it dropped a few points in the benchmarks.... Interesting stats. I wonder what else is messed up (other than all those darn pirates' serial numbers -- bill)
Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 10:15 AM
August 07, 2002
Windows API Broken? Say it ain't so! An article on the Register has some info detailing how the windows messaging API has no authentication or verification for messages sent between programs (for repainting, etc), which could cause a serious and "irredeemable" problems. Any windows programmers have any comments on this? Or did you know that the API is broken long ago? :)
Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 01:49 PM
July 21, 2002
XP Warez Beware Looks like Microsoft is doing a good attempt to shut down the XP pirates who use the XP Professional edition. Included with SP1, this shiny new feature is included. Rumor has it that the way it will work is report it's unique IP to MS upon installation, to ensure that the number of installations doesn't exceed the corporate license. Still rumors at the moment, but interesting nonetheless.
Microsoft - Posted by Arcterex at 09:36 PM