Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Windows Vista hardware issues

Top Windows Vista hardware issues
Install a device driver by using its installation program in Windows Vista
Get help when the CD drive or the DVD drive does not work as expected
SATA optical drives are not available after you start a Windows Vista–based computer
Find help when disconnecting your iPod while disconnecting the USB cable
Troubleshoot network adapters
Device drivers
Get help when a device driver is not installed, or a hardware device doesn’t work after you install Service Pack 1
Troubleshoot sound problems after you install Service Pack 1
Windows Update automatically installs updates when you connect to the Internet
Troubleshoot driver problems
Restore a driver to its previous version
Printer, scanner, camera and video help
Get help when you try to install a shared printer and receive one of these error messages: "Windows cannot connect to the printer"
Find Windows Vista-compatible printers and scanners
Solutions to common problems with printers
Troubleshoot scanning problems
Find help with camera connection problems
Troubleshoot importing video problems
Get help with monitor and video card problems

Windows Vista: Programs and games

Installing and uninstalling programs
Install a program
Uninstall or change a program
Turn Windows features on or off
Troubleshoot installing or uninstalling programs

Program compatibility
What is program compatibility?
Make older programs run in Windows Vista
Start the Program Compatibility Wizard
Program Compatibility Assistant FAQ
Check program compatibility at the Windows Vista Compatibility Center

Setting default programs
Change which programs Windows uses by default
Change the default music or video player
Change the default e-mail program
Change your default web browser
What is Set Program Access and Computer Defaults?

Troubleshoot installing or uninstalling programs
Exit a program that is not responding
End a process
Why is Windows closing my program?
Stop a program from running automatically when Windows starts

Learn about Windows games
Install a game in the Games folder
Troubleshoot game problems
Fix game performance problems
How can I tell if a game will run on this computer?
Specify which games children can play
See more topics in:
Programs, tools, and games

Featured article
Working with programs
Watch this video to learn how to install, find, open, and work with programs.
Related sites
Windows Vista Compatibility Center
Browse programs at Windows Marketplace
Games for Windows
Windows Media
Mobile PC

Top Issues on Vista

Update Vista
Download Vista Service Pack 1
Free support for Windows Vista Service Pack 1 issues
Get help with “Installation was not successful” or “An internal error occurred while installing the service pack” error messages
Troubleshoot sound problems after you install Service Pack 1
See what’s new in Vista Service Pack 1
To make sure that your computer works best, visit the Windows Vista Compatibility Center
Top Windows Vista help
Install Windows Vista
Supported upgrade pathways to install Windows Vista
Restore your personal files after you perform a custom installation of Windows Vista
Activate the hibernation feature after you use the Disk Cleanup Tool
Troubleshoot when you receive "Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage" error message
Get help with stuck messages in your outbox when using Windows Mail
Find help when disconnecting your iPod while disconnecting the USB cable
Learn more about the behavior of reduced functionality mode in Windows Vista
Use System Restore to log on to Windows Vista when you lose access to an account
Tips for fixing common sound problems
Optimize Windows Vista for better performance

Sunday, September 28, 2008

IE8 Performance vs. Google Chrome and Firefox

With Microsoft making headway towards the gold build of Internet Explorer 8, the Redmond company has to face an ugly truth. Performance-wise, with emphasis on JavaScrip performance, the software giant is getting ready to release a browser inferior to what is already available from rivals Google and Mozilla.
Microsoft's aim is to make the next iteration of IE superior to what Internet Explorer 7 brought to the table back in 2006 on Windows XP and the start of 2007 on Windows Vista, and in this regard the company is on the right track. However, there is little focus on shifting Internet Explorer 8 into high gear and making it outrun Firefox 3.1 and Chrome.

When he launched Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 back in March 2008, Dean Hachamovitch, general manager Internet Explorer, revealed that "some of the tests we have done show pure JScript performance improvements up to 2.5 times. We also measured the performance gains on common Gmail operations, like loading the inbox (34%), opening a conversation (45%) and opening a thread (27%) compared to IE7."

The fact is that, with Google and Mozilla praising the JavaScript horsepower under the hood of Chrome and respectively Firefox 3.1, Microsoft cannot afford not to make "speed of the essence," although this is exactly what the company is doing. Stephane Kimmerlin, product marketing director, Windows client business group, Asia-Pacific, Microsoft, told ZDNet at the beginning of September that "when we designed IE8, we did not start with performance in mind."

Christian Stockwell, IE program manager, said at the end of August 2008 that Microsoft would not be joining the chorus of browser developers trumpeting their product as the fastest in the universe. And believe it or not, there's a good enough reason why Microsoft is not applauding the performance superiority of IE8 over that of its rivals... because it's simply not there.

The need for (JavaScript) speed
The fact is that Microsoft has so far managed to avoid making their JavaScript benchmarks for Internet Explorer public. While Google has the V8 Benchmark Suite, the WebKit Team has SunSpider and Mozilla is offering Dromaeo, the Redmond company continues to remain loyal to its proprietary strategy with IE. In this regard, the conclusion presented by Asa Dotzler, Mozilla's community coordinator in the past, is that Microsoft is simply falling far behind the developers of open source browsers when it comes down to speed. Dotzler noted that Microsoft simply "can't keep up" with open source projects and that it's "a shame that they're falling so far behind" with IE.

Is IE8 evolving in terms of JavaScript performance? Undoubtedly. Just as undoubtedly as the fact that Google Browser (Chrome) and Firefox 3.1 have already evolved past the stage where the next version of Internet Explorer is now. Whether Microsoft likes it or not, Chrome and Firefox 3.1 are “state of the art” in terms of JavaScript performance, while IE8 is lagging behind, with no consistent push from the company to make the browser measure up to the standards of its rivals.

What did Microsoft do with IE8?
"When we took a hard look at our goals and considered what we could do to build the best browser we were presented with a quandary. On the one hand, we could focus very narrowly on scripting performance, trusting that our investment would noticeably improve our users’ browsing experience. Alternatively, we could invest more broadly in realistic scenarios, measuring heavily-used subsystems and investing our optimization effort accordingly. We opted for the latter approach," Stockwell explained.

In translation, Microsoft abandoned the idea of focusing on boosting JScript and JScript alone and went a different way, namely optimizing the browser for top usage scenarios. But in this context, Microsoft has left itself wide opened to a perception problem. And make no mistake about it; just as it was the case with Windows Vista, while poor performance is survivable, the generalized consumer perception of poor performance however acts as a deal breaker.

Firefox 3.1 TraceMonkey
For Firefox 3.1, the successor of Firefox 3.0 and the next iteration of its open source browser, Mozilla introduced native code compilation JavaScript engine ("SpiderMonkey"). Just make sure to remember the key phrase “native code compilation." This created TraceMonkey. It's rather simple; Mozilla is cutting down significantly on the interpreting aspect and is increasing the focus on native code. The next generation JavaScript implementation in Firefox 3.1 uses a trace as the compilation unit.

By turning to traces in order to compile JScript "just-in-time" and renouncing to utilize functions or code files, Mozilla ensures that the JavaScript engine performs less interpreting and executes JS applications directly in native code. The raw beauty of the new "trace trees" technique and tricks that evolved SpiderMonkey into TraceMonkey is the loop optimizations made possible by the trace (sequence of instructions) for patch executed repeatedly which are no longer interpreted. Mike Shaver, Mozilla's chief evangelist pointed out that Firefox 3.1 is competing directly against native code.

Google Browser Chrome V8
Remember the "native code compilation" key phrase for Firefox 3.1 and TraceMonkey? Guess what?! The same is valid for Google Chrome. In fact, Lars Bak, software engineer, revealed on the launch of Chrome that one of the cornerstones of the browser was the fact that its JavaScript engine was capable to compile source code directly into "native machine code." In this context, while Firefox 3.1 still performs some interpreting in addition to using traces, Chrome has no interpreter; compilation is done directly in native code. In addition, deploying virtualization and turning to "hidden classes and inline caches," Chrome delivers additional optimization, as the dynamic hidden classes streamline access to JavaScript objects.

Swimming in Native Code

This is what Microsoft needs to make Internet Explorer do, although it looks like it's already too late for IE8 with a reported Release to Web deadline set for November 2008. Microsoft's Christian Stockwell touted Jscript performance gains of 400% with IE8 compared with IE7 as far as the SunSpider benchmarking suite is concerned. The Redmond giant did introduce optimizations when it comes down to JavaScript-DOM and JavaScript Object Notation. But at the same time, while the company too should have focused on native code, it didn't.

Microsoft has indeed worked on IE8 performance, from runtime to memory optimization, but also on taking the AJAX subsystems a step forward, and the actual evolution of the existing JavaScrip engine of the browser. However, this does not change the fact that Internet Explorer needs a native code compiler so as to at least keep the same pace as its rivals.

Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 is available for download here.

Google Chrome is available for download here.

Firefox 3.1 Alpha 2 for Windows is available for download here.
Firefox 3.1 Alpha 2 for Linux is available for download here.
Firefox 3.1 Alpha 2 for Mac OS X is available for download here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Windows XP Popular Downloads

Keep your computer current with the latest fixes, enhancements, and drivers straight from Microsoft.

Featured Downloads

Windows Vista Upgrade AdvisorWindows Vista Upgrade Advisor

The Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor will help you to determine if your Windows XP-based PC can run Windows Vista.

Windows XP Service Pack 3Windows XP Service Pack 3

Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) includes all previously released updates for the operating system, and a small number of new updates to ensure that Windows XP customers have the latest updates for their system. Windows XP SP3 will not significantly change the Windows XP experience.

Try Windows Live OneCare today for freeTry Windows Live OneCare today for free

Help secure your computer with round-the-clock protection and maintenance—virus scanning, firewalls, tune ups, and automated file backups. Try Windows Live OneCare free for 90 days.

Experience Pack for Tablet PCExperience Pack for Tablet PC

Extend how you use pen and ink and make your Tablet PC more productive, convenient, creative, and expressive with this free download.

Education Pack for Windows XP Tablet PC EditionEducation Pack for Windows XP Tablet PC Edition

Five programs to help students get organized, study effectively, and have a little fun while they’re at it.

Photo Story 3 for WindowsPhoto Story 3 for Windows

Capture memories, bring photos to life, and share your stories with Photo Story 3.

New Microsoft Color Control Panel Applet for Windows XPNew Microsoft Color Control Panel Applet for Windows XP

This new tool helps you manage Windows color settings in one place. Download it today!

SyncToy for Windows XPSyncToy for Windows XP

With new sources of files coming from every direction (such as digital cameras, e-mail, cell phones, portable media players, camcorders, PDAs, and laptops), SyncToy can help you copy, move, and synchronize different directories.

PowerToys and Add-ins for Windows XPPowerToys and Add-ins for Windows XP

Create great photo stories, make movies like a pro, copy or synchronize directories, find games to play on a Tablet PC, and more.

Software UpdatesSoftware Updates

Check here to learn about the latest hotfixes and security updates. Plus, find ways to keep your system current and tuned.

Tools and UtilitiesTools and Utilities

Get Remote Desktop downloads for Windows XP and accessories for Tablet PC.

Desktop EnhancementsDesktop Enhancements

Put fun on your PC with these cool skins, screensavers, images, songs, and more.

Professional Photographers: Experience the Power of Windows XPProfessional Photographers: Experience the Power of Windows XP

Spend less time on photo management and more time shooting. Download Windows XP photography-related PowerToys today!

Related Download Sites

Microsoft Update

Featuring the same updates and downloads available from Windows Update—plus the latest updates for Office and other Microsoft applications—it can help keep your computer more secure, up-to-date, and performing at its best.

Office Update

Check for free updates that improve Office's stability and security.

Microsoft Download Center

At the Microsoft Download Center you'll find updates for other Microsoft products, including Internet Explorer, DirectX, Windows Messenger, and many more.

WUGNET Shareware Picks

In every edition of the Exploring Windows XP newsletter, WUGNET and Microsoft feature a shareware pick demonstrating the highest standards available today in shareware for Windows XP.


New Windows Ultimate Extras Now Available

3 new Windows Ultimate Extras are now available for installation via Windows Update! This is the 6th wave of Ultimate Extras released by Microsoft exclusively for Windows Vista Ultimate users. Users will find the following Ultimate Extras waiting to be installed:

Microsoft ® Tinker (TM): Microsoft Tinker is a casual game that provides players with short puzzle game play sessions set in a warm, calming environment.

Ultimate Extras Sounds from Microsoft Tinker: Based on the positive feedback we received from the release of additional Windows Sound Schemes in April, we've integrated the unique audio sounds from Microsoft Tinker into a new sound scheme.

Windows ® DreamScene (TM) Content Pack #4 Windows DreamScene Content Pack #4 which adds three additional nature-setting Windows DreamScenes.

Microsoft Tinker was developed for Microsoft as an Ultimate Extra by our Partner Fuel Industries.

Windows Ultimate Extras are only for Windows Vista Ultimate users and designed to add to their Windows experience. We will be shipping new Windows Ultimate Extras in the near future and will post additional information here on the blog when that occurs.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Windows 7 Beta 1 available for download on December 2008

The constant wave of Windows 7 Beta chatter from Redmond, even without an official confirmation from Microsoft, is a clear indication that the company is gearing up to move the next iteration of the Windows client beyond the development milestone (M) stages.

With the Windows 7 roadshow approaching at a fast pace, as Microsoft is getting closer and closer to events such as the Professional Developer Conference 2008 (October), Windows Hardware Engineering Conference 2008 (November) and TechEd 2008 EMEA (November), the first Beta build of the operating system is starting to take contour. Still, Windows 7 Beta 1 will not make it to the October and November conferences, as it is planned for availability in mid-December 2008.

Microsoft has failed to either confirm or deny this piece of information at this point in time, but according to Mary Jo Foley, citing unnamed sources, Windows 7 beta 1 will drop just ahead of Christmas 2008. On Vista WinHEC 2008 homepage, Microsoft is claiming that Windows 7 “is coming soon” but doesn't give any indication of the actual deadline, although it is rushing hardware manufacturers to get ready for the operating system.

The Redmond giant released the first taste of Windows 7 back in December 2007. At that time, Milestone 1 was virtually indistinguishable from Windows Vista. Moving forward into the development process, the Redmond company has also produced a Milestone 2 Build of Windows 7, which was kept tight under wraps and wasn't leaked like M1. The next move as far as the evolution of Windows 7 is concerned is a Milestone 3 release, which in its turn will be followed by the first Beta build of the platform. One thing is for sure, under the leadership of Steven Sinofsky, Senior Vice President, Windows and Windows Live Engineering Group, Windows 7 will have a short Beta life, approximately a year. Microsoft is reportedly not preparing a wide release of Windows 7 Beta until the client is either feature-complete or very close to the final version.

Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 9 – 1 Billion and Counting

Is Windows dead? Or, at least, is this the beginning of the end for Microsoft's proprietary operating system?

And, if so, what solution/platform will be THE Windows killer? It's not like candidates are in short supply. From the Google Browser (Chrome) to Linux, Mac OS X, to RIA platforms, to dedicated thin clients, to Microsoft's very own Singularity and Midori non-Windows operating systems, Windows killers come in a variety of flavors, but none with sufficient kick to wash down Microsoft's flagship OS for good. At least, not for the time being.

Windows 8 and Beyond

Microsoft has debuted planning for Windows 7 even before Windows Vista hit the shelves at the end of January 2007. And, approximately a year ahead of the delivery of Vista's successor, the company is looking beyond Windows 7, planning for Windows 8, and even beyond that, for Windows 9. Even though it is indeed exploring non-Windows alternatives, with all indications pointing to the Midori incubation ending up as a commercial project, while Singularity will remain a research-focused initiative, Microsoft is, in fact, committed to Windows.

Following Vista's general availability, predictions pointed to the sure death of the mammoth Windows release. But Vista was not the last one of its kind, and neither will be Windows 7. The reason is sufficiently simple. Microsoft needs to ensure that the ecosystem of software and hardware products continue to integrates seamlessly with the operating system (ensuring support for legacy solutions) and, by doing this, delivering the best possible user experience to all customers – and they are quite a few, with Windows' install base of 1 billion strong and counting.

Microsoft Technical Fellow Mark Russinovich has revealed, in a recent interview, that he is “working on Windows and day to day kind of architectural oversight and input into feature teams about what they're doing with the current release of Windows – Windows 7, as we're seeing that through to the competition and then also doing longer range things with Windows like architecturally where should Windows be going, what are the important things Windows should be addressing in the next five years. So looking further out past Windows 7, into Windows 8, Windows 9.”

But What If the Ecosystem Turned on Microsoft?

The latest signs of what is advertised as a widening crevasse between Microsoft and its traditional partners come from HP. Reports indicate that Hewlett-Packard has put together a customer experience group designed to enhance Windows (specifically Windows Vista), in concordance with new touchscreen technology - this, even if Windows 7, Microsoft's next iteration of the Windows client will feature touch capabilities by default. In addition, HP is also rumored to have considered building an in-house operating system, based on the open source Linux platform, in order to make its hardware independent from Windows.

Phil McKinney, chief technology officer in HP's personal systems group, confirmed to BusinessWeek the existence and work of the HP customer experience group. But, otherwise, McKinney denied any HP efforts of building an operating system to replace Windows. “Our customers are looking for insanely simple technology where they don't have to fight with the technology to get the task done. For us, it's about innovating on top of Vista,” he stated. Of course HP is flirting with Linux, and so are Dell, Intel and additional Microsoft partners, but this doesn't mean that Windows is going anywhere. Despite the inroads made by Apple into the PC market, the Cupertino-based Mac maker has an impact largely limited to the US. Internationally, Microsoft's OEM partners own the computer market with the biggest opportunities for growth on emerging markets.

“I think that one of the things that you have seen Windows doing over the last couple of years is reaching out and working more closely with the hardware partners, with the OEMs, to make sure that the systems delivered to users provide a good Windows experience and not one where Windows is loaded with a bunch of junk and also that the hardware is designed and capable of running Windows the way it should be run. And no “hey lets save a few dollars and put in 512 MB of RAM instead of the couple of GB that really make Windows.” When you talk about the amount of cost for that these days, it's marginal and really the difference in user experience when you look at that is pretty drastic. So I think that's the way that we should continue to have these deeper partnerships with companies to make sure that customers do get a great experience,” Russinovich stated.

And What If Microsoft Started Building Its Own Hardware?

The commitment to build Windows 7, Windows 8 and then Windows 9 is intimately connected with the strong response from OEMs to continue supporting the operating system. Microsoft accounts for in excess of 80% of the revenue of its Windows client division from licenses associated with Windows pre-loaded on new computers. But a divorce between Microsoft and OEMs could go both ways, as the Redmond company could develop and sell its own hardware. Microsoft Hardware is an excellent example of how the company has ventured past software, although the division is strictly focused on peripherals. Russinovich confirmed, however, that there had been discussions inside Microsoft in relation to adopting an Apple-model, by developing both the hardware and the software to go along with it.

“There's a lot of discussion about that and not just in the industry but also within Microsoft. Should we be developing the Windows notebook, or the Windows desktop. My opinion is that what has made Windows so successful is the fact that it's got an ecosystem with partners that are developing software and doing different things with hardware and software. And for us to block all that innovation, to block up that playground that people have to do cool things for customers that we can't think of, or have the agility to do, I think it's not the way that Windows has gotten successful and I don't think it's the right thing to do now. Not even in response to what people see as market pressure coming from other people that are doing that,” Russinovich revealed.

Vista SP1 Desktop Optimization Pack 2008 R2 RTM

Since the introduction of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack, the Redmond company has sold in excess of 10 million units of the package of solutions, and on September 15, the R2 version of MDOP 2008 was released to manufacturing.

According to Jameel Khalfan, Microsoft Technical Product Manager, customers will be able to acquire Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack 2008 R2 starting with the first week of October. Built to be used in conjunction with Windows Vista (now with Service Pack 1), MDOP 2008 R2 is essentially a suite of products designed to catalyze an evolution of the existing relationship between IT and end-users in what Khalfan referred to as traditional desktop infrastructures.

“We know that this is where IT is going, and today’s news plays a critical role in fulfilling that vision. In an Optimized Desktop, a partnership is established in which IT can constructively maintain control over the desktop infrastructure, without getting in the way of the users they’re supporting. With MDOP 2008 R2 and Windows Vista, you get a solution that’s greater than the sum of its parts… a '1+1=3' scenario where IT is controlled and managed, users are empowered and productive, and the pace of business accelerates,” Khalfan revealed.

MDOP 2008 R2 will deliver the recently RTM'ed Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.5 (formerly Microsoft SoftGrid Application Virtualization), but also the Microsoft Asset Inventory Service, the Microsoft Advanced Group Policy Management, the Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset, and the Microsoft System Center Desktop Error Monitoring.

According to Khalfan, the App- V, AGPM, DEM and DaRT technologies are localized in no less than ten languages, including: Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Simplified & Traditional Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, and Russian.

“It’s important to note that this isn’t the end of our development cycle. Rather, it’s another milestone on our continuing mission to make 1 plus 1 always equal 3 (or more!) standard math when it comes to Desktops. Next, in the first half of 2009, we’re planning to release Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V). MED-V, which will be the first Microsoft-branded release of the recently acquired Kidaro technology, will be a key addition to MDOP; it provides a secure, fast, manageable, local hardware virtualization solution that complements App-V, and will serve to further strengthen our 'desktop to datacenter' virtualization story,” Khalfan concluded.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Windows Vista and Windows PowerShell

Windows PowerShell is Microsoft's new command-line shell and scripting language designed specifically to improve the manageability of Windows and products running on Windows such as Exchange Server 2007. If you haven't heard of Windows PowerShell before, think of it as an integrated version of the Windows Command Prompt (cmd.exe) and VBScript that is easy to use and will allow you to automate and control system administration tasks.

I asked the PowerShell team to put together some examples that show how PowerShell makes it easy for IT Pros to manage Windows Vista. Wow! I had no idea that PowerShell was this awesome. I think you will find that PowerShell will really jumpstart the productivity of a lot of IT pros as well power users who like to tweak their systems. To try any of the following tasks, you simply need to install Windows PowerShell on your Vista computer.

12 Cool Features of Windows PowerShell
By David Aiken, PowerShell Architect Evangelist and Jeffrey Snover, Windows PowerShell Architect. David Aiken has also recorded a video of these examples that you can view online on his Channel 9 DFO Show.

1. Built-in Cmdlets (pronounced "commandlets") for Managing Windows
All Cmdlets in Windows PowerShell follow a verb-noun syntax such as get-service, get-process, stop-service, get-wmiobject. Type get-command at the prompt to see the over 130 cmdlets provided by Windows PowerShell.

To get all services, type:

PS> get-service

2. The power of wildcards and working objects.
To get all services that start with "w" and then also get all dependent services associated with these services, simply type:

PS> get-service w* | format-list DisplayName, DependentServices

3. Whatif you could test your commands before committing to them.
Windows PowerShell has a unique feature called Whatif that will tell you the result of the command without executing the command.

The following command tells you which services starting with "w3" would be stopped. This utility is addictive once you start using it as it allows you to explore the features of PowerShell without causing any harm.

PS> stop-service w3* -whatif

Windows PowerShell Whatif

4. Take a transcript
PowerShell allows you to start and stop transcripts of all your commands. This makes it easy to test commands and simultaneously save them for use in a script.

PS> Start-Transcript -Path c:\demo\dfoshow.txt
PS> Stop-Transcript

5. Make Windows talk from the command line.
Because Windows PowerShell is optimized to work with objects it is easy to access COM objects as well as the .NET framework from the command line. The commands below tell your Vista machine to pronounce the words "Windows Vista and PowerShell". Substitute your favorite phrase. Talk about easy command line access.

PS> $spVoice = new-object -com "SAPI.spvoice"
PS> $spVoice.Speak("Windows Vista and PowerShell")

6. Using Windows PowerShell to access applications such as Windows Media Player 11.
The following commands - which can easily be put in a script - will play a song by the band The Posies in Windows Media Player. This is a trivial example (see ScriptCenter for more WM11 examples) but demonstrates how Windows PowerShell provides comprehensive command line access to applications.

PS> $band = "The Posies"
PS> $player = New-object -com wmplayer.ocx
PS> $playlist = $player.mediacollection.getbyauthor($band)
PS> $player.openPlayer($playlist.item(0).sourceurl)

7. Windows PowerShell as a command line storage calculator
PowerShell allows you to complete basic calculations from the command line.

PS> 2*2

But PowerShell will also allow you to quickly solve storage problems. For instance, how many 700MB cds are needed to backup 11GB?

PS> 11gb/700mb

Or, how many terabytes (1000 GB) of storage is needed to backup 425 Vista desktops with 320gb storage each?

PS > (320gb*425)/1000GB

8. Using PowerShell as a calendar calculator
To find out how many days until the New Year, simply type:

PS> ([DateTime]"1/1/2007" -[datetime]::now).days

Using PowerShell as a calendar calculator
Using Windows PowerShell to manage Windows Vista: Files, WinSAT, UAC, and Bitlocker
If you are an IT Professional and you are evaluating new Windows Vista functionality, you should also evaluate Windows PowerShell. Here are some examples to get you started.

9. How many files of type X do I have on my machine?
Windows Vista has many new file types for event logs, group policy files, etc. .PS1 is the extension for Windows PowerShell scripts. Here is a command that will return the number of VBScript files, Bat files and PowerShell Scripts in a directory and its subdirectories.

PS> dir -include *.vbs, *.ps1, *.bat -recurse | group-object extension -noelement

10. Collecting Windows System Assessment Tool data from the command line.
The Windows System Assessment Tool (WSAT) provides numeric ratings (1= bad, 5=good) of system performance for processor, disk, graphics, etc so you can get a summary and potential solutions for improving performance. Because this data is stored in WMI, Windows PowerShell can programmatically collect this data from multiple computers and allow you to quickly evaluate the health of a set of machines without having to log in to each one. Here is a command to get WSAT data from a single Vista machine and format it in a nice, auto-sized table for viewing. Also an example of a PowerGadgets chart.

PS> get-wmiobject win32_winsat | format-table __SERVER, *SCORE -autosize
PS> get-wmiobject win32_winsat | select *score | out-chart -Title "System Assessment Scores by PowerGadgets"

Collecting Windows System Assessment Tool data from the command line

11. Configuring User Account Control
Windows Vista's User Account Control (UAC) helps improve security by requiring that all programs run in standard user mode by default, rather than with administrator privileges. Some IT pros have asked if they can temporarily disable the prompts if they need to do a sequence of administrative tasks in a row. The following example can be used to temporarily disable the UAC prompt, and easily turn it back on. A value of 0 will turn off the Prompt Behavior of UAC on Vista. With a Value of 2, the UAC prompt will be turned back on.

PS> set-itemproperty -path HKLM:\SOFTWARE\MICROSOFT\WINDOWS\CurrentVersion\Policies\System -name ConsentPromptBehaviorAdmin -value 0

12. Managing BitLocker with PowerShell
Vista's BitLocker feature helps prevents data loss via encryption. A thief who attempts to use another operating system or run a software hacking tool is prevented from overriding Windows Vista file and system protections or performing offline viewing of the files stored on the protected drive if BitLocker is installed. Here is how you can view, disable and enable BitLocker features from the Windows PowerShell prompt. (For this example, Windows BitLocker needs to be enabled on the c: drive.)

PS > $drives = get-wmiobject -namespace root\CIMv2\Security\MicrosoftVolumeEncryption -class Win32_EncryptableVolume
PS> $drives | format-table DriveLetter, PersistentVolumeID -autosize
PS> $BitLockDrive = $drives[0]
PS> $BitLockDrive.GetProtectionStatus()
PS> $BitLockDrive.DisableKeyProtectors()
PS> $BitLockDrive.EnableKeyProtectors()

One customer already using PowerShell is MySpace. It's been so useful for them that they are already using Windows PowerShell in their production environment to manage thousands of Windows Servers. Ad-hoc system administration tasks that used to take MySpace 10 minutes now take them only seconds.

A number of Microsoft partners have also provided Windows PowerShell-based tools designed specifically for Windows Vista. FullArmor announced Windows PowerShell cmdlets that improve the manageability of Group Policy on Vista. /n Software announced a beta of their free PowerShell-based network management tools. And PowerGadgets has built amazing charting and gauge utilities including gadgets that easily integrate with the Windows Vista Sidebar. These gadgets allow Windows Vista users and application developers to easily visualize system or application data - such as sales numbers or website performance -- and other line-of-business relevant data visualization needs.

This was a long post, but we were only able to scratch the surface of what PowerShell can do. For more comprehensive info see www.microsoft.com/powershell, the PowerShell team blog and the TechNet PowerShell ScriptCenter.

Behind the Scenes of the Windows Vista Sound Schemes

Default Windows Vista Sound Scheme
The default Windows Vista sound scheme was designed with the same principles that were used in designing the Windows Vista visual elements and desktop experience. In contrast, the Windows XP sounds, while appropriate at the time and for that product design, were very ‘Western' and literal, using pianos and western orchestral instruments. The XP sounds were designed to complement the ‘photo-realistic' Bliss desktop (blue sky, green grass photo.) The Windows XP sounds can also be rather percussive and jarring in the context of day to day PC use, so it was an explicit goal to re-orchestrate the default Windows Vista sounds to complement the softer, cleaner theme and user interface elements in Windows Vista.

For Windows Vista, it was an intentional design goal to avoid ‘reinventing' the User Interface language for sound. For example, the "new mail" sound in Windows XP and in Windows Vista consist of the same pitches, interval, and timing.

New Mail (Notify)

The Windows Vista ‘new mail' sound has simply been re-orchestrated to match the softer, more -rounded Windows Vista Startup Sound whose ‘sonic palette' was derived from the gentle and flowing Robert Fripp Soundscapes sessions that were recorded at Microsoft Studios in 2005 and 2006.

Session 1: http://channel9.msdn.com/Showpost.aspx?postid=151853

Session 2: http://channel9.msdn.com/showpost.aspx?postid=287615

Fan Fact: The shutdown sounds for both of the new UE Sound Schemes are pulled directly from these Fripp sessions. There are in fact two shutdown sounds included with each of these UE schemes - for each scheme, there is also longer shutdown sound in the %windir%/media/%scheme_name% folder that is actually too long to use as a Windows Vista shutdown sound -- but we included it anyway so Fripp fans could get a greater sense of context about where this shorter sound came from - or map it manually to a different sound event if they wish.

Here is some additional background about each of the new schemes:

Ultimate Extras Glass Sound Scheme
The "Ultimate Extras Glass" sound scheme utilizes the same design language and principles as the default Windows Vista sound scheme, however, this set has an additional glassy ‘edge' that can be heard as a more percussive envelope applied to each of the sounds. From one point of view, the sounds in this set feel like they are made with ‘glass' instruments. The sounds in this set have a sort of clinking glass root with a polished or ‘frosted' haze effect applied to their outer surface - this is intended to be directly analogous to the transparent ‘glassy' window effects that are built-in to the Windows Vista chrome.

Ultimate Extras Pearl Sound Scheme
The Pearl sound scheme further extends the intentionally-subtle design attributes of both the Windows Vista default sound scheme and the Ultimate Extras Glass scheme, with less focus on reverberant, sometimes clinking ‘glassy' sounds in exchange for a richer, milky, more percussive sonic palate. The Pearl sounds are harder and less reflective and reverberant, more like the rich and rounded surface of a pearl in contrast to the fragile resonance of a wine glass. More concretely, the Pearl sounds are cleaner, clearer, and brighter than the ‘Glass' sound scheme.

Both of the new Ultimate Extras sound schemes embody more percussive elements in contrast to the soft edges of default Windows Vista sound scheme and they extend of the existing sound design language established by XP and Windows Vista. Functionally, the percussive elements of these sound schemes may also help users hear Windows events from a greater distance, if that is desired. They are intended to provide an extended personalization option for users who wish to differentiate their Windows Vista experience from the default experience.

Occasionally, people stop me in coffee shops and cafes and ask: did the Robert Fripp sounds make it into Windows Vista? There is a long answer and a short answer. Here is the short: the Windows Vista Startup Sound is the primary "Fripp" appearance in Windows Vista, although many of the new inbox sounds were orchestrated based upon the sound and feel of the hours of Fripp Soundscapes we recorded at our Windows Vista sessions.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Vista SP1 FAQ

How big is SP1?

That depends on how you get it. The standalone updater for the five-language version weighs in at 434MB (455,562,200 bytes) for the x86 version, and 726MB (761,740,600 bytes) for the x64 version. If you download the installer via Windows Update, however, the package is much smaller, typically over 50 MB but well under 100 MB. The updater uses Remote Differential Compression to compare the currently installed OS files with the SP1 files on the server, downloads the changed portions from the Windows Update server, and then combines the updates with the unchanged contents on the computer being upgraded.

The 32–bit standalone installer is approximately 60% larger than Windows XP Service Pack 2. Delivered via Windows Update, Vista SP1 is slightly smaller than the Windows Update version of XP SP2.

Will SP1 install on my copy of Windows Vista?

Yes, as long as you have a retail, OEM, or Enterprise edition in English, German, French, Spanish, or Japanese. If you have any other language packs installed (in Vista Ultimate or Enterprise), you’ll have to uninstall them first. A standalone updater for all worldwide languages will be available in April.

What are the file names and MD5 hashes of the standalone updaters?

The following information applies to the standalone 5-language packages:

x86 (32-bit): Windows6.0-KB936330-X86-wave0.exe
MD5 checksum: d597866e93bc8f80ecca234c4e9ce5a2
x64 (64-bit): Windows6.0-KB936330-X64-wave0.exe
MD5 checksum: 983308426e8ee7649f53b41f4e5c42d4
How long does the SP1 installation take?

Usually under an hour, assuming you have reasonably modern hardware. Some people claim to have completed an install in less than a half-hour; an upgrade that takes significantly longer might indicate problems with installed hardware or software.

Windows Vista Adoption Keeps Growing

There's been a steady amount of buzz around the ‘net recently about Windows Vista adoption, sparked by a blog post last week questioning Windows Vista adoption rates and most recently by some great number crunching by Computerworld. In light of the various claims, I thought I would offer up some perspective on Windows Vista deployment numbers ... and what experienced industry watchers, like Forrester and CDW, are saying about Windows Vista.
First, you've heard us say before that we've sold more than 180 million Windows Vista licenses (40 million of those in the last quarter alone) and that major enterprises like Continental Airlines, the United States Air Force, Virgin Megastores, Charter, Avanade, Eastman Chemical and PPG are deploying seats by the thousands (and in some cases by the tens of thousands). That's still true. You can read about these and other Windows Vista deployments at Microsoft.com/casestudies.

Consistent with findings from other reputable sources, Forrester Research just published a new report on enterprise OS adoption. According to the abstract: "Forrester's month-on-month study of more than 50,000 of our clients' OS preferences confirmed that users are on track with enterprises' initial Windows Vista deployment plans. IT operations folks are at a critical inflection point and should deploy Windows Vista to: 1) stay current with Microsoft's and independent software vendors' (ISVs') support life cycles; 2) help minimize today's security, management, and productivity challenges; and 3) better position your business to eventually embrace "Windows 7," because Windows Vista investments will ultimately pay off with better compatibility for this next release." Even the Wall Street Journal is picking up on this and in his blog post over the weekend, Ben Worthen includes some nuggets from the report like: "between October 2007 and June 2008 the percentage of visitors running Vista climbed from 5% to 8.8%." Ben also says that "it's pretty safe to assume that the operating system's image problems with the general public will soon be a thing of the past."

What about the guys on the ground who are selling, installing and implementing Windows Vista? Not surprisingly, they're seeing growing demand too. For example, CDW, one of the nation's largest technology resellers and system integrators, found in their third Windows Vista Tracking Poll that Windows Vista is "gaining traction" in the business market, with 48 percent of respondents saying their organization is using or evaluating Windows Vista. That compares with 29 percent in CDW's February 2007 poll. You can check the Seattle Times commentary on this.

The chorus of industry commentators, analysts, partners and real enterprise users confirm what we already knew - businesses are buying, using and liking Windows Vista. If you haven't already, try it and decide for yourself.

Ice Angel for Vista Basic


Friday, September 12, 2008

Aero Dynamic A0 Theme - Free Download

I haven’t seen a great Vista theme like this for a while. I think if there where more themes like this then more people would make the switch to Vista. I love the color coordination of the this package. All the different shades of grey and blue work perfectly together. I love the taskbar and how the Start button adds a little color to the whole scene. I know that the creator of this theme has an amazing habit of creating great looking designs. Keep up the great work.

Are you still using Windows XP? If you want to use this theme on XP, then you have to download the XP Theme Patcher. If you’re using Windows Vista, you don’t need the Theme Patcher.
Title: Aero Dynamic A0
Author: downtheory
Download:Download Vista Aero Dynamic A0 for Vista Here

Clear Vista Theme - Free Download

Here’s another theme that is not heavily modified but still has some neat design features. All the elements of this theme flow together pretty good, but the creator really needs to choose his colors better. Even the background is a little too distracting for this theme. In the end, I think that this theme is still far better then anything Microsoft has ever designed.

Are you still using Windows XP? If you are, then you have to download the XP Theme Patcher. If you’re using Windows Vista, you don’t need the Theme Patcher.
Title: Clear Vista
Author: Dannocampbell
Download:Download Vista Clear Vista for Vista Here

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Microsoft, Closer and Closer to the Anti-Apple Panacea

Apple had no problems whatsoever in leveraging the weight of its brand in order to kick Windows Vista while the operating system was down. But the time is drawing near when Microsoft will no longer be a silent and passive participant in the Apple monologue marketing show. The Redmond company has been building up its forces, signed an advertising deal with Crispin Porter Bogusky advertising agency, and is getting ready to unleash the anti-Apple panacea, as early as September 4, 2008.
And with a $300 million investment, the Redmond company seems readier than ever to jump at Apple's jugular.

As early as the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2008 at the start of July 2008, Brad Brooks, corporate vice president, Windows Consumer Product Marketing, revealed that the Redmond giant would start telling the real Windows Vista story. In this context, the focus will be on breaking down the Vista myths built via Apple's Get a Mac ads. Brooks indicated that Microsoft cannot fail in its endeavor, since the truth is effectively on the company's side.

According to the WSJ Online, Microsoft and Crispin Porter Bogusky have hired Jerry Seinfeld, and additional celebrities, to show the true face of Windows Vista. Seinfeld alone is reportedly being paid some $10 million in order to appear in advertisements alongside part-time Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, but the information has yet to be confirmed by the Redmond company.

Still, while the Empire striking back is nothing short of a critical move for Microsoft, and one long-overdue for that matter, the software giant needs to ensure that it will not catalyze a martyr aura to form around Apple. Essentially, the Redmond company has to deliver a subtle and sufficiently elegant reply to Apple, and try to dodge the resulting media shrapnel, because each move it makes is bound to backfire, to a greater or lesser degree.

Microsoft: PCs (with Vista) Are Superior to Macs (with OS X)

Signaling yet again that the time for inaction when it comes down to the damage delivered by Apple's Get a Mac ads is over and done with, Microsoft has come out with the proverbial guns blazing. The Redmond giant, through the voice of Christopher Flores,
Director Windows Communications, is applauding Windows Vista PCs as superior to Mac computers running Mac OS X. Flores is basing his claims on an independent journalistic source.

"Windows Vista PCs win "hands-down" over Macs for things like better software compatibility, better community support, IE and greater user productivity. And his fundamental point on cost should hit home for anyone (not just online investors) in the market for a new computer," he indicated.

The key criterion offered by Flores is a comparison between the price of a Compaq Presario CQ50Z laptop and a MacBook. Sporting a 1.9 GHz dual-core CPU, 1 GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce graphics card, and a 120 gigabyte HDD, the Compaq Presario CQ50Z comes with a price tag of just $500.

In contrast, the MacBook machine, featuring the same hardware characteristics, but with a 2.1 GHz processor will cost customers no less than $1,099. That is a difference of $600, weighing in to the disadvantage of Apple.

"For most people, a 156% price mark-up is too steep for admission to the club (and most people don't buy computers to join clubs anyway). Picking a Windows Vista PC over a Mac is no-brainer for business customers in particular - it's a smarter use of resources, offers hardware choice (something sorely lacking with Macs), and flexibility to use whichever applications make the most sense," Flores concluded, indicating yet again that the software giant will no longer sit back and be trashed by Apple, and that it will fire back.

Microsoft: XP SP3 Activations Will Continue

The end of June 2008 brought with it the availability cut off date for Windows XP, now with Service Pack 3, via the retail and OEM channels. Microsoft made it clear that discontinuing XP Direct OEM and Retail Licenses would have absolutely no impact on the support lifecycle of the operating system, and the same is valid for the activation process of the platform.
Just because Windows XP is no longer sold by retail outlets or preloaded on new computers shipping from original equipment manufacturers, it does not mean that the Redmond company will not continue to activate new installations of Windows Vista's precursor.

Microsoft indicated that the retail and OEM availability end date "has no bearing on one's ability to activate XP installations," according to PC World, and that end users will continue to be able to activate new installations of the operating system for the foreseeable future. In fact, Microsoft is prepared to keep Windows XP alive until April 8, 2014, the date at which Extended Support will be cut off, with Mainstream Support scheduled to run out by April 14, 2009.

But at the same time it cannot be any other way. Windows XP is still very much available via machines from System Builders, and will continue to be so until January 31, 2009. On top of this, Microsoft has already announced that it was extending the availability of XP on ultra-low-cost desktops and laptops until at least June 30, 2010 or one year following the general availability of Windows 7, whichever comes first.

And in the end, Windows XP continues to be available to business customers along Windows Vista. As long as the downgrade rights permit the installation of XP under a Vista license, Microsoft will have to keep XP activations alive. And even with Windows 7 Beta 1 on the horizon, Microsoft has failed to give any indication as to when it plans to discontinue sales of Windows Vista, which in mid-2008 has reached the 180 million sold licenses milestone.

XP SP3, Windows 7, and Linux Not Sufficient to Avoid Vista SP1

Windows XP, now with Service Pack 3, Windows 7 and even the open source Linux do not provide sufficient reasons to avoid upgrading to Windows Vista SP1. According to market analyst company Forrester, in the corporate environments, Vista adoption is up no less than 75%, taking into consideration data from the fourth quarter of 2007 and the second quarter of this year. In fact, Forrester indicates the IT infrastructure soil is fertile and the time is ripe for Vista migrations to be underway. In excess of half of 100,000 customers were surveyed in this context.

"IT operations professionals need to prepare for a more decisive shift in their desktop operating
system (OS) strategy. Why now? Because Microsoft released Windows Vista to the general public more than 18 months ago - which is typically how long IT departments need to test their applications and hardware against any new OS. Forrester's month-on-month study of more than 50,000 of our clients' OS preferences confirmed that users are on track with enterprises' initial Windows Vista deployment plans," said Benjamin Gray, Forrester Analyst.

Back at the end of July, when Forrester Research analyst Thomas Mendel published a whitepaper indicating that Windows Vista continued to fail at gaining traction in among business customers, Microsoft came out guns blazing. Christopher Flores, Director Windows Communications, called the report schizophrenic, for claiming that corporations were looking past Vista and waiting for Windows 7. The latest Forrester report on Vista is much more favorable to the latest Windows client indicating that no less than 8.8% of businesses are running the operating system (via VistaBlorge).

"IT operations folks are at a critical inflection point and should deploy Windows Vista to: 1) stay current with Microsoft's and independent software vendors' (ISVs') support life cycles; 2) help minimize today's security, management, and productivity challenges; and 3) better position your business to eventually embrace 'Windows 7', because Windows Vista investments will ultimately pay off with better compatibility for this next release," Gray added.

With Vista smoothing the way to Windows 7, Forrester claims that Windows XP will not be an alternative much longer. Despite SP3 and Vista downgrade rights, XP is increasingly becoming obsolete, with the new Windows campaign bound to bring the focus back to Vista and with much more powerful 2GB machines available for lower prices. At the same time, while Linux is not a big hit with corporations, Apple's Mac seems to benefit from a growing appeal. "Our study also revealed interesting insight into Mac and Linux penetration, where desktop managers are painting a rosy future for Apple on the corporate desktop, but less so for Linux," Gray said.

Microsoft Applauds Growing Windows Vista Adoption

Windows Vista sales have long jumped over the milestone of 180 million licenses offered in mid-2008 by Microsoft, and while failing to come out with a different figure, the Redmond giant revealed that the adoption rate of the latest Windows client is steadfast. Through the voice of Christopher Flores, director, Windows Communications, the software giant applauded what it referred to as growing Vista uptake, with an emphasis on the corporate environment.

"First, you've heard us say before that we've sold more than 180 million Windows Vista licenses (40 million of those in the last quarter alone) and that major enterprises like Continental Airlines, the United States Air Force, Virgin Megastores, Charter, Avanade, Eastman Chemical and PPG are deploying seats by the thousands (and in some cases by the tens of thousands). That's still true," Flores indicated.

Microsoft is little shy of parading corporate customers who have already made the jump to Windows Vista because of the ill aura that the operating system has as far as businesses are concerned, because of the platform's initial failure to gain a consistent traction with this consumer segment. After calling a previous Forrester report schizophrenic because it emphasized Vista's slow rate of adoption in the business space, Flores now praised another Forrester study claiming that between October 2007 and June 2008, the operating system's uptake has jumped over 70% from 5% to 8.8%.

Microsoft is investing heavily, a reported $300 million, in a new marketing campaign designed to virtually change the face of Windows Vista and to heal the platform's ailing public image. Flores even delivered data offered by Forrester involving client preferences for 50,000 OS, confirming that initial Vista deployment plans are in place. Based on the Forrester study, Microsoft's Director of Communications emphasized that Vista's growing adoption is driven by the need to keep up with support life cycles, to enhance productivity, security and management, and to pave the way for Windows 7.

"What about the guys on the ground who are selling, installing and implementing Windows Vista? Not surprisingly, they're seeing growing demand too. For example, CDW, one of the nation's largest technology resellers and system integrators, found in their third Windows Vista Tracking Poll that Windows Vista is "gaining traction" in the business market, with 48 percent of respondents saying their organization is using or evaluating Windows Vista. That compares with 29 percent in CDW's February 2007 poll," Flores added.

Windows Laptop Selector Guide Available for Download

While Apple's Macs running OS X are without a doubt making inroads into the territory owned by Microsoft and PC makers with Windows machines, the fact of the matter is that the Redmond company and its OEM partners still account for the vast majority of the operating system and computer markets.

As far as consumer trends are concerned, there is a palpable shift from traditional desktops to laptops, and Microsoft is not only delivering Windows Vista, an operating system tailored to a mobile lifestyle, but it is also prepared to offer guidance on the acquisition of a new computer. From the Windows Guide library, the Redmond company has made available for download the Windows Laptop Selector Buying Basics.

"GHz? MBs? SDRAM? You don’t have to speak nerd to find a great laptop. Our Buying Basics makes it simple and straightforward to understand what you need to know when looking for your next PC," reads an excerpt from the guide. Of course that the decision to buy a new machine orbits around money. "Many people see price as the biggest factor when buying a PC. A bargain-basement price may seem tempting now, but will it give you the laptop you want for the long haul? Technology changes rapidly and even if you spend less today, you might end up paying more tomorrow just to keep up with new software."

Microsoft offers a comprehensive breakdown of what users should expect their machine to do, in accordance with a range of prices from $500 to over $3,500. But in addition to price, Microsoft is offering advice on aspects such as weight, speed, storage, screen size, ports, video and graphics, CD/DVD and even operating system. As far as the platform is concerned, all that Microsoft recommends is Windows Vista. However, that is understandable, now that Windows XP's availability through the retail and OEM channels was discontinued at the end of June 2008, and Vista's precursor is only available on ultra-low-cost desktops and laptops, from system builders and via downgrade rights.

Mac OS X and Linux Continue to Erode Windows' Install Base

Apple's Mac OS X and the open source Linux operating systems continue to erode the install base of Microsoft's proprietary platform. According to statistics made available by Net Applications, Windows accounted for a market share of no less than 93.06% back in August 2007. One year later, and all the available versions of Windows own just 90.66% of the operating system market – a consistent drop, which places Microsoft dangerously close to the 90% milestone. In fact, by the end of 2008, the Redmond company could see Windows' share of the OS market depreciate under 90%, if the current trends continue.

The release of Windows Vista Service Pack 1 in March 2008 has done little to stop Mac OS X and Linux from gaining additional users. At the end of August 2007, Apple had 6.18% of the operating system market. A year later, and the Cupertino-based hardware company has managed to climb to 7.86% and, considering the explosion of the iPhone's install base to a high of 0.30%, it is now well over 8%. In fact the availability of the iPhone 3G has caused the phone's OS share of the overall market to jump over 58% just from July to August 2008.

According to Net Applications, at the end of the past month, Linux enjoyed a share of 0.93%. The distributions of the open source platform may very well still be under 1%, but the growth from August 2007 is nothing short of spectacular. Last year, Linux only owned a share of 0.47%. August 2008 has seen Linux's install base almost double compared to the same month of 2007, and September 2008 might very well see the platform over the 1% milestone.

Following the rollout of Windows Vista and the June 2008 retail and OEM availability cut-off date, Windows XP is down to just 69.49% in August 2008, having dropped from 79.66% in August 2007. During the same period Windows Vista has increased its market share from 7.41% to 17.85%. Microsoft has in fact been claiming since mid-2008 that it has sold in excess of 180 million licenses of Windows Vista.

XP SP3 and Vista SP1 Share New Critical Vulnerabilities

Despite being different releases associated with the evolution of the Windows client, Windows XP and Windows Vista share not only common elements and components through their architecture, starting with the kernel, but also flaws in the source code.

In this context, the Service Pack 1 and respectively Service Pack 3 refreshes for the two operating systems have done nothing to break the intimate connection between the two products. An illustrative example in this situation are the new Critical updates Microsoft is wrapping up for the 32-bit and 64-bit Vista SP1 and XP SP3, designed to patch security vulnerabilities in the two operating systems.

Next week, on September 9, 2008, Microsoft will make available three security bulletins impacting both the latest service packs for Vista and XP. According to the Redmond giant, the updates will patch vulnerabilities in Windows Media Player 11, Windows Media Encoder 9 Series, and Windows itself.

"It is important to remember that while the information [offered] is intended to help with your planning, because it is preliminary information, it is subject to change. As part of our regularly scheduled bulletin release, we’re currently planning to release: four Microsoft Security Bulletins rated as Critical. These updates may require a restart and will be detectable using the Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer," revealed Bill Sisk, Microsoft Security Response Center Communications manager.

But at the same time, it’s not just Vista SP1 and XP SP3, or the two clients' components that are affected. X86 and x64 variants of Windows Server operating systems will also receive patches including Windows Server 2000, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008. In addition, Microsoft is cooking Critical updates for Office XP SP3, Office 2003 SP2 and SP3, and Office 2007 SP1. And on top of it all, security updates will be provided for SQL Server 2005 and various versions of Visual Studio, including 2008.

The Evolution of Windows Codename Mojave

It's nothing short of a veritable Windows fiesta over in Redmond. Following the launches of Windows Vista Service Pack 1 and Windows XP Service Pack 3 earlier this year, Windows 7 Client and Windows 7 Server/Windows Server 2008 R2 are now taking center stage. But at the same time Microsoft has not given up on Windows Vista. Not only is the company pouring a reported $300 million to catalyze a face lift for Windows, but in addition to the marketing acrobatics planned for debut in early September 2008, the Redmond giant also introduced the Windows Codename Mojave. As of August 26, Microsoft is yet again focusing the limelight on Mojave, delivering evolution of the experiment complete with updated Vista content.

Fathered by David Webster, general manager, Brand & Marketing Strategy at Microsoft, Mojave is no longer an item of novelty by any means. The new website features a close integration with Silverlight, including Deep Zoom capabilities, but also new content focused on Vista. The new Mojave redesign and the updated videos are live as of August 26.

"We've heard from supporters loud and clear that we needed to do more marketing around Windows Vista to regular users, and that is exactly what we are doing with the Mojave Experiment. As we have discussed, we're working to get the Mojave message out to consumers through website updates, retail activities and ads on cable stations. However, I do want to stress that while the Mojave Experiment is part of Microsoft's broader effort to talk about the value of Windows Vista, it is separate from the Crispin, Porter & Bogusky campaign," Webster stated.

Windows codename Mojave, experimental as it might be, serves a purpose beyond Microsoft's initial intentions. While promoting the need for a new perspective on the latest Windows client, Mojave is also inherently emphasizing the severe depreciation of the Vista brand since the operating system hit the shelves back in early 2007. Microsoft was never shy of applauding Vista as what it referred to as a “great product,” and as usual, the company has the statistics to back up its claims.

"We researched satisfaction levels among existing Windows Vista customers - the survey found that nearly 9 of 10 (i.e. 89%) customers are either satisfied or very satisfied with their Windows Vista experience. And, satisfaction is increasing over time - customer sat level is 92% satisfied/very satisfied among those who bought Windows Vista during the last 6 months. More than 180 million Windows Vista licenses have been sold (as of June 30, 2008), and, as analysts have reported, corporate adoption rates are consistent with Windows XP rates in similar timeframes. So looking strictly at customer satisfaction and sales data, things are going very well for Windows Vista," Webster added.

In the end, Mojave is designed exclusively as a catalyst aimed at convincing potential customers to at least give Vista a look if not a test drive or even a second try. The experiment was born from the need to deliver a reaction to the Apple “Get a Mac” ads, and is an illustrative of a new Microsoft, gearing away from a passive presence. Of course that with SP1 having softened all the rough edges of the RTM version of the operating system, the Redmond company indeed has now a chance to Wow users.

"The Windows Vista operating system delivered big changes in security, performance and graphics capabilities. These were long-term changes designed to bring customers forward and they are paying off, but it's true they also created near-term pain for customers immediately following launch - notably, some applications and devices didn't work (or work well) on Windows Vista. The product has come a long way since then. We and our partners have worked extremely hard to fix incompatibilities and optimize drivers for increased performance and stability. We shipped SP1 and countless other Windows Updates that have significantly improved Windows Vista over the last 18 months," Webster concluded.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Microsoft finally earns a passing grade (barely) for WGA

Certain amount of error is inevitable in any activation and registration system, but those numbers were clearly too high when WGA first rolled out. In an interview last week, Microsoft WGA director Alex Kochis tacitly acknowledged that fact, pointing out that “we’ve made major strides in the accuracy of the program” in the past two years.
How bad was it? Users began suffering unpleasant consequences almost immediately, including system failures and false positives that flagged perfectly legitimate Windows copies as “non-genuine.” I wrote about WGA and its problems extensively throughout 2006 and 2007, documenting the extent of the problems. (The complete index of WGA-tagged posts is here.) In August 2006, I performed an exhaustive survey of problem reports from Microsoft’s own WGA support forum and discovered that “42% of the people who experienced problems with WGA and reported those problems to Microsoft’s public forums during that period were actually running Genuine Microsoft Windows.”

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Google's Chrome browser ready for download

Google's new browser software is designed to work "invisibly" and will run any application that runs on Apple's Safari web browser, company officials said.

The company said the new web browser, dubbed Google Chrome - a long-anticipated move to compete with Microsoft, Mozilla Firefox and other browsers - is now available for download at http://www.google.com/chrome/.

The public trial of the Google browser will be available in 43 languages in 100 countries, Sundar Pichai, Google's vice president of product management said at a news conference at the company's Mountain View, California headquarters.

"You actually spend more time in your browser than you do in your car," Brian Rakowski, group product manager for the browser project, said of the significance of offering a faster browser and forcing greater competition in the market.

Google Chrome relies on Apple's WebKit software for rendering web pages, he said. It also has taken advantage of features of community-developed browser Firefox from Mozilla. Google is a primary financial backer of Mozilla.

"If you are webmaster, and your site works in Apple Safari then it will work very well in Google Chrome," Pichai said.

Officials said Chrome's code would be fully available for other developers to enhance. A Google official said it planned to share code that makes Chrome work with WebKit openly with other WebKit open source developers.

Apple WebKit is widely used by web developers, not simply for Apple applications like the iPhone but also by Google itself with its mobile phone software, called Android.

"We have borrowed good ideas from others," Pichai said. "Our goal here was to bring our point of view but do it in a very open way," he said in response to a reporter's question.

"We don't want to live in a world where all that (innovation) is locked up and kept secret," Google co-founder Larry Page told the news conference. Page was a primary supporter of the Chrome project among Google's executive team.

Sergey Brin, Page's fellow co-founder, said Google planned to continue to work closely with Mozilla and hoped to see future version of Chrome and Mozilla's Firefox become more unified over time.

"It is probably worth noting that they (Mozilla Corp) are across the street and they come over here for lunch," Brin said of Mozzilla employees visits to cafeterias at the Googleplex headquarters. "I hope we will have more and more unity over time."

Chrome introduces various features that promise to make Web browsing faster, more secure and stable.

The browser allows users to keep working even when one of its open windows crashes.

Chrome is designed to take advantage of multi-core chips, recently offered by Intel Corp and Advanced Micro Devices, which allow computers to handle multiple processes simultaneously and with greater speed, Google engineers said.