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Are we any closer to WMP 12?
Not yet, at least that's what we can say when looking at the screenshots from the M1 build of Windows 7. Over at they have a series of screenshots from the Milestone 1 build and, while it is obviously far too early to comment on anything that may or may not be in the next Windows incarnation, as things stand the current build of WMP in Windows 7 (which has been tweaked from the Vista version) is still a variant of WMP 11 (11.0.6519.1).
So, there we have it. At the moment there is not a WMP 12 which still leaves the door open to a combined WMP/Zune alternative that can sync with both Zunes and Windows Mobile.
Related Posts
Can Windows 7 keep everyone happy?
She is talking about the problems Microsoft face keeping both the business and consumer markets happy - a problem they have faced since deciding to merge both windows strands with XP.
Were things easier when the two versions of Windows were separate? A tricky one to answer.
Should MS build a Windows Seven core for stability and compatibility aimed at the business market and then look to add the extra bells and whistles that would appeal more to the consumer market and fend off the Mac OSX insurgence?
Currently with XP (and no doubt as Vista adoption takes off) businesses tend to turn off the flashy UI - I've heard both save resources and reduce distraction given as reasons - so should MS save them the trouble? Do they need to differentiate further between the consumer and business SKUs?
Is it realistic in the face of increasing competition to be able to produce an OS with enough glitz to tempt people to upgrade again so soon after Vista (many haven't even taken that step yet) whilst still remaining staid enough for the business market to upgrade smoothly?
If I was shipping Seven I would want to see the consumer product give OSX a real run for it's money. Apple will no doubt take the success they have had with the iPhone interface and see how the slick styling can be applied to their desktop OS (especially now the MacBook Air has multi-touch) and you can't deny that Apple do style very well.
Aero in Vista was a good start but by 2009 I think MS will need to really pull the stops out to make Windows Seven an OS that people will WANT to use. MS needs to develop that religious devotion to products that Apple commands and this will only come from creating something so compelling in appearance and functionality (read intuitive) but this will not come from Windows Seven or even Windows 8 as long as the different SKUs are developed in tandem.
It made sense to pull Tablet PC functionality in to the core OS rather than keep it as a separate edition of Windows, the same with Media Centre, but the needs and expectations of consumer v business are radically different and I'm not so sure that they can fully co-exist and do justice to both.
Should businesses hold off on Vista in favour of waiting for Windows 7?
This question is being asked a lot at present. The answer? No!
Business often adopts the SP1 rule - they will not upgrade to a new version of a Microsoft product until Service pack 1 hits. Well, Vista SP1 is just around the corner so the time is right to start planning. Yes, we will have XP Service pack 3 which will include some of the networking technology which links Vista and Windows Server 2008 so closely but is this enough to save such an ageing platform?
The differences between Windows XP and Windows 7 are going to be far wider  so it would only make sense to go for a stepped migration. If the "shipping seven" blog is to be believed there will be little major architectural change between Vista and Windows 7 so anything that works on Vista should generally work on 7; the same will most definitely not be said of XP. A gradual change is better than a big jump.
Windows 7 may be rumoured to be available at end of 2009 but realistically the adoption date will be more like the end of 2010 / beginning of 2011. If business is wary of adopting Vista now then they are going to be equally wary of going to 7, if not more so, and again will most likely wait for sp1 before making the switch.
The first beta of 7 may be due in around a years time but this is a long way off a final release - don't let the apparent timescales fool you. We are basing the release at the end of 2009 date on rumours rather than facts so it is still likely that we could be looking at a 2010 release anyway. This was the first date announced in the Windows Roadmap so gives Microsoft some "slipping room" even if they were planning on moving the schedule forward.
The answer, therefore, has to be not to hold off; move to Vista and at least keep up with the curve.
Microsoft to fix broken OneCare.
I thought it was just me having problems with the install of Windows Live OneCare v2.0 on the Tablet but according to a post over at it seems that since an update was released for OneCare in November a number of people have been experiencing problems with it.
The most common issue appears to be with the OneCare service not starting on boot even though it is set to Automatic. Because of this the application itself is unable to load and you are unprotected. You can, of course, start the service manually and then launch OneCare itself but obviously should not have to.
I had tried the OneCare repair tool (antimalwarerepair.exe) and, then when the updates failed to run through tried the CaclsDeleteDB.exe utility to clean out the OneCare database.
It is a relief to discover that it's not just me having problems and that Microsoft hope to ship a fix on the 31st January.
From the front line: locking Windows from the command line.
I had a strange issue today where a users PC would not lock by the traditional methods. CTRL-ALT-DEL would not respond and Windows + L just beeped at me.
The user was away from the desk so restarting was not an option due to various open applications that could not be closed.
The answer? Lock Windows from the command line or create a shortcut to do it using the following command:
rundll32.exe user32.dll, LockWorkStation
I have no idea what was causing this - something is obviously causing a conflict in the background - but the shortcut will at least serve until the PC is rebooted.
OneCare anti-virus and spyware repair tool.
Doug Knox has linked to a tool that can repair OneCare it if fails to start correctly after an install or upgrade. Maybe this would have come in useful when I installed XP SP3 on the Tablet - it may have solved the problems I was having in one easy step - it certainly sounds as though I was getting the kind of errors that the tool is designed to resolve.
If you get the error that OneCare cannot start then grab the repair tool here.
SP3 and strange behaviour.
OK, this is wierd.
I left the Tablet with SP3 installed and the OneCare service failing to start with a view to going back and ripping SP3 off. Last night, however, I came to look at it after the kids had been on it and OneCare was working.
I just don't get it but I'm not going to complain ;)
Initial thoughts on XP SP3.
As previously mentioned I was planning to install the XP Service Pack 3 beta on the Tablet and it has been on and back off again about four times so far.
A couple of times I have had a problem with the Login Screen keyboard getting stuck on screen and not disappearing after login - I have had to manually end the task to get the rid of it.
Drivers all seem to be unaffected by the Service Pack - the digitiser and screen rotation seem to be okay but, the real fly in the ointment for me has been that the Windows Live OneCare service will not start correctly with SP3 installed.
I have removed and reinstalled OneCare and everything looks okay until a reboot - the service fails to load correctly again.
There are a couple of known issues in SP3, one of which is that Internet Explorer reports and version 6 even though IE7 is installed. Prior to a reboot this causes OneCare to complain that IE is not up to date (easily worked around by editing the version number in the registry).
One interesting thing included in SP3 is that the address bar is no longer available for adding as an item on the Taskbar. In line with the requirements for MS to allow users to choose default applications etc. this has been removed so that there is not a direct link to IE that cannot be used with other browsers.
XP SP3 beta released to testers.
Microsoft finally released the Windows XP Service Pack 3 beta to more testers yesterday (better late than never).
After the non-event that was Vista SP1 I'll be installing XP SP3 on the Tablet and testing there as I hardly ever boot in t XP on the desktop.
Shared printers in OneCare v2.
I hadn't used my Tablet for a while (not since installing the OneCare v2 beta) so turning it on yesterday saw it receive the last version update.
After the required reboot, login saw the following prompt appear automatically:
Shared printer
How easy is that? Works a treat.
The only thing is that there is duplication if you also have file and print sharing enabled on the host PC:
Duplicate printers
As I mentioned before, the OneCare Circle is added to your network as an object in it's own right so, not only do we have the automatic printer sharing from Vista but also the auto printer share from the Circle even before we enable printer sharing in OneCare.
Do the Taskbar Shuffle.
Bil Simser has linked to a nice little utility giving functionality which, as he says should have been included in Windows itself.
Taskbar Shuffle does exactly what it's name implies: it lets you move the items around on your Windows Taskbar.
Just click on an item and drag it to where you want it to go:
Taskbar Shuffle Drag
and, voilà!
Taskbar shuffle result
Someone commented over at Bil's blog that they're not sure how they would use it productively. I know when I'm at work, however, that I like it when the various tools I use are open in a particular order (I tend to have somewhere between 15 and 20 windows open at any one time) so, if anything crashes and has to be re-opened it will be out of order. This tool will therefore be just the ticket.
You can download Taskbar Shuffle here.
While we're on the subject of the Taskbar, here's something from the "I never realised that before" files.
Now, we all know about Taskbar previews in Vista but I never noticed that grouped items still give a preview like this:
Grouped items preview
That'll teach me to not pay attention.
Windows Live OneCare v2 Beta now available.
As you may well have read elsewhere the next beta of Windows Live OneCare is now available and everyone can sign up for it here.
What was originally supposed to be an initial private beta has been opened up for everyone to sign up to.
My installation updated itself earlier this evening but didn't give any kind of indication that it was doing so resulting in a slight panic when it turned itself off and responded with errors that the services had stopped when I tried to restart it.
I've got a bunch of screen shots but I'm not sure how much we're allowed to post yet although, as it's a public beta and the forums are open to all, I wouldn't think it'd be too much of an issue. 
I'll post some stuff in the morning.
UPDATE: Been given the all clear.
Windows Live OneCare v2 Beta starting soon.
Despite the email to testers advising not to post any info about the impending v2.0 beta of OneCare the details on how it will shape up have been posted to numerous blogs and news sites (I'm not going to link to any). It is initially to be a closed, private beta.
Hopefully, the update will hit soon as I'm currently getting "Service Unavailable" when trying to do updates.
Back to XP, and SP3 can't come quick enough.
I'm stepping back to XP on the Tablet - at least until I get a RAM upgrade (I plan to go up to 1GB from 512MB).
The performance under Vista has been significantly worse than under the betas and, even though I've disabled SuperPreFetch the hard drive is still being thrashed. This may well be having a huge impact on battery life as I can sit and watch the battery drain.
So, no Vista for the time being.
I'm currently going through the updates for XP (post SP2) and have a total of 94 to apply. Yes, 94! XP SP3 can't come quick enough if you've got to go through that every time you do an install, and there'll only be more before SP3 hits next year.
Just another manic Thursday!
It may not be Monday like the Bangles record but it's been pretty manic.
The out-of-cycle patch from Microsoft (MS07-017) has got everyone in a bit of a panic. The normal process is to patch a few "pre-pilot" PCs the Wednesday night after Patch Tuesday, and "Pilot" PCs on the Thursday prior to the patch going in to production over the weekend. This weekend being Easter weekend the timescales have all been collapsed leaving us to finish half of the Pilot PCs during work hours!
I'll be glad when today is over!
All looks good.
The install of Windows Server 2003 SP2 seemed to go well last night; everything looks like it's working properly and the Help and Support Service is there.
I've not had time to go through event logs etc. to check for any problems or niggles that may have occured but, hopefully, all is well.
Planned downtime this weekend.
The blog will be down for a while at some point this weekend as I will be upgrading the server to Windows Server 2003 SP2 which was made available recently.
During the beta of SP2 I experienced, and bugged, and issue where the Help and Support service was missing after installing. According to this post at the Small Business Server blog it looks as though the problem can still occur. They have, however, given us a workaround to re-initialise it should it go walkabouts again.
OneCare on the ropes - roll on v2.0
It's been a tough time for Windows Live OneCare recently, what with coming bottom in a recent roundup of anti-virus/malware applications and now the admission that the scanning engine can quarantine a whole Outlook PST file or Outlook Express DBX file should it find a virus in one of your emails.
Well, let's hope that the OneCare team are fighting back. Paul Thurrott reports that OneCare v2 will hit beta in April.
Links to the program nomination survey appear to have been taken down so you'll have to wait before you sign up for this puppy.
UPDATE: LiveSide has this link for the survey (requires sign-in to the Connect website.) 
Virtual Longhorn Server goodness.
So, I've downloaded and installed Longhorn Server Beta 2 in to a virtual machine after I received my invitation the other day. I'm liking what I'm seeing so far.
The first thing you come up against is an obvious attempt to get up and running as quickly as possible (just like WSS or MOSS 2007 give you with the server task lists). The initial configurations tasks screen is a one stop shop for getting your server configured just how you need - and it even advised you to change the name of the default admin account.
 Initial Configuration
(click for full size image)
I doubt I'll add this to my normal domain so I may set it up as a DC and then set up a second virtual machine with either WSS or Exchange 2007 Eval.
Virtual PC 2007 now available.
Microsoft today made Virtual PC 2007 available for download (yes it's free) which now supports Windows Vista as both host and guest operating system - but there's no mention of Longhorn Server Beta but I presume it's okay. It also supports 64 bit operating systems.
Grab it here: Virtual PC 2007.
OneCare feedback on its way.
Thanks to Stephen Boots (Microsoft MVP Windows Live / Windows Live OneCare Forum Moderator) the feedback from the Windows Live OneCare competition is on it's way to the OneCare team.
Thanks again for everyone who entered, let's hope your feedback can help make OneCare an even better product than it is already.
And the winner is...
*drum roll*
John Adams
*cheers and applause*
Based on the kind of entires I was expecting John's fit the bill the best and I've included it here:
"Since OneCare disables Windows Defender, OneCare needs to supply an equal or superior level of control over one's PC.  To do this, it needs to include its own Software Explorer for viewing/disabling running programs, startup programs, network enabled programs, etc...  If using OneCare means sacrificing these options, it fails as an improvement".
So, congratulations to John and thanks to those who entered. I'll now sort out passing all of your comments on.
OneCare competition result coming soon.
I was unfortunately a bit disappointed by the level of response to the competition - I have only had 7 entries but did not want to extend the competition date any further.
I'll be running through the entires I have and picking a winner and, don't forget, all feedback will be passed to the OneCare team for their info.
Stay tuned.
Last few days to enter.
Don't forget, you've only got a few days left to get your entries in for the Windows OneCare Live Competition. Closing date is midnight Sunday 11th Feb (GMT) so you haven't got long.
Go here for all the details and rules.
Competition extended to 11th Feb.
I posted about the Windows Live OneCare competition on 1st Feb so I thought that it was only fair that I extend the closing date for the competition to give everyone that wants to a reasonable chance to enter.
The competition will now close at midnight on Sunday 11th Feb (GMT) so make sure you submit your entries on time.
Don't forget, all feedback will be passed to the OneCare team so try to be as constructive as possible.
A disappointing response.
We still have just under a week left on the OneCare competition and I realise that people will first need to download, install and use OneCare for a little while if they want to enter but the response so far has been terrible.
I have received only one entry and one comment (link) that obviously doesn't comply with the competition rules.
Aren't people interested in OneCare?
Is it too much work to actually have to install the application and check it out before you can enter?
It's annoying as I wanted to provide the OneCare team with at least a reasonable amount of feedback from people but that looks like it may not happen.
Do I extend the competition? Do you know anyone who may be interested but doesn't read my blog?
Spread the word so that we can help the OneCare team make this even better.
UPDATE: I forgot to link back to the competition in this post (thanks Sarah) so I've stuck that in above.
Still time to enter the competition.
That's right, there's still plenty of time to get your entries in for the Windows Live OneCare Competition.
All you have to do is download and install the trial version of Windows Live OneCare then, once you have had a chance to have a look round, your biggest impression - be it good or bad.
It's as simple as that!
The winner takes home a year's free subscription for use on up to three PCs, Tablets, UMPCs - you get the picture.
Yes, I want you to do something in order to enter but it's not exactly rocket science. Get your entries in before it's too late!
Win a years subscription for Windows Live OneCare.
It's time!
I am giving away my complimentary subscription to Windows Live OneCare but you've got to do a bit of work to get it (no easy giveaways here!)
As per the letter I received from Microsoft: "This subscription will enable you to get always-on protection and maintenance for up to 3 PCs for one year".
The product key I have can be used only on or after Jan 30th when Windows Live OneCare will be available in additional markets. As such, the competition will extend to after this date so that whoever wins will be able to subscribe right away.
Now, here's what you have to.
If you have not already done so you must visit and install the trial. Once you are using OneCare you should note down your biggest impression - either bad or good - based on your "real world" usage. You will then need to with the subject line: Windows Live OneCare Competition (the link in this post or in the right hand pane will set the mail up automatically for you).
I will then choose a winner based on what I think is the best response - not necessarily the most original or most technical - and the judge's decision is final.
The competition is open from NOW until midnight on Tuesday 6th Feb Sunday 11th Feb GMT so you've got two weeks to enter. Any entries sent after this time or not in the correct format will not count. Please note, OneLive will be available in the following countries so I can only accept entries from these locations: Australia, Austria, Belgium (Dutch and French), Canada (English and French), France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland (French and German), the United Kingdom and the United States.
Good luck!
Why have I chosen to do this?
I am a firm believer that beta testing software helps create a better product and the more feedback a developer can get the better the product can be. I really appreciated the offer of a free subscription so I want to return the favour to the OneCare team. As such, all entries will be forwarded back to the OneCare team (anonymously unless you specifically request otherwise) to enable them to get some real, end user feedback and impressions on the product now that version 1.5 is available.
Windows Live OneCare 1.5 launch officially announced.
Microsoft officially that OneCare v1.5 will go live at the same time as Vista on 30th Jan (as I posted before, it looks like all trials are already v1.5).
The US price is an annual fee of $49.95 and OneCare "will also be available at similar pricing and licensing structures" in other markets including the UK.
Beta testers are to be offered a year's subscription at around 60% off the regular price but I was lucky enough to get a complimentary subscription. It is this complimentary year's subscription which is to be the prize for my competition that I mentioned previously. Watch out for a post giving all the details and rules later.
Media Player annoyance.
This isn't just limited to Vista but Windows Media Player in general. It just happens to really bug me in Vista when I go to burn an audio CD direct from WMP.
MP3s with unusual bit rates or variable bit rates never seem to get interpreted correctly by WMP. The end result of this is that WMP shows an incorrect duration for the track. Not normally a major issue but will stop you burning stuff to an audio CD if WMP thinks that the content is too long.
I'm a lot happier burning audio CDs directly from WMP in Vista as Vista seems to handle my hardware a lot more effectively that XP did. Under XP I always had to burn audio CDs at either 8x or 4x to avoid any jumps. With Vista I can sometimes burn them at 40x and get a pristine burn and will always have a reliable burn at 16x.
You'd think that this far down the WMP evolutionary tree that the application would be able to handle variable rate MP3s and those with unusual bit rates correctly.
Has Patch Tuesday broken XP themes?
James Kendrick has postulated that the patches in this month's patch Tuesday have caused an issue with the Energy Blue (part of the Tablet PC Experience Pack) and Zune XP themes.
The past couple of days have seen him experience theme issues when returning from standby on three separate machines, all problems started around the same time and the only commonality is Patch Tuesday. Others are replying that the same thing has happened on their Tablets.
I've not seen this issue but I have been experiencing a problem on my work PC over the past couple of days. I've got the Zune theme installed and the Explorer.exe process keeps hanging and task manager shows it using 50% CPU. Ending and restarting the process doesn't work so I have to restart. I've changed back to Luna and it's OK again.
Are you having issues as well? If so, why not add your voice to the comments on James' post: Is there something rotten in Windows XP theme-land?
You've just got to love Web Admin!
So, you suddenly start getting "page cannot be found" errors when trying to post on your blog but you're not at home and can't access your server physically. Thank goodness for remote Web Administration.
 Web Admin
Stopping and restarting the site did not help so being able to actually reboot the server from miles away is absolutely fantastic!
It's the simple things... ;)
Should Microsoft delay Vista again?
I've said all along that with Vista Microsoft should ship a stable product rather than just getting it out of the door to meet a deadline so it was good to see that they weren't afraid to put the general release back to Jan 2007. Now, however, it is becoming apparent that many do not think that Vista will be RTM-worthy by October in order to hit this target.
Robert McLaws over at Longhorn Blogs has written "The Entry I Didn't Want To Write" and has sparked a big discussion over whether Vista will be ready to RTM, what can be done about it and how long MS should consider delaying it to ensure that it is ready. Robert is adamant that things should change and that RC1 and RTM should be moved back by 4-6 weeks.
Scoble agrees that Microsoft should consider a delay and says of Vista "This sucker is just not ready. Too many things are too slow and/or don’t work".
Ed Bott also feels that Vista is not ready but, rather than the 4-6 week delay suggested by Robert, he suggests that Vista should not ship until the end of March!
It is recommended that an extra Beta 3 is introduced prior to RC1 and this could only be to the benefit of the product but it still doesn't detract from the fact that Vista is to be a shadow of what was originally promised (e.g. the loss of features such as WinFS) or what it has the potential to be.
Great stock has been made of the joining of the different "editions" in to one package but I feel that compromise is inevitable if you try to make Vista all things to all people. There is an argument to putting MCE functionality in all SKUs but I firmly believe that the Tablet Edition should be retained and keep it's own individual development path. Tablets are a specific animal and should therefore not be compromised. Imagine the difference direct in-line ink controls would have made to Vista. Josh Einstein with TEO, Christian Falch with Ink Everywhere and Imran Qureshi with InkIE Address Bar all show us how direct Ink integration SHOULD work.
While I really like the improvements to navigation with a pen in Vista, from a general consumer point of view (and not with my geek head on) Vista is becoming more and more frustrating. Take away Glass and there is very little that will make the average user take stock and think "Why wasn't it always like that?". Unless you can really demonstrate that things are bigger, better and faster then Vista may appear to be change for changes sake to many.
Should Vista get a Beta 3? Undoubtedly if it's not ready and will enable Microsoft to release a better product but should the question really be "Should Vista really have been sent back to the drawing board and started again?"
Were Microsoft unreasonable in their expectations as to what the new OS could achieve and could be? We have had the cream of PC developers working flat out on a product only to go one step forward, two steps back.
I have no doubt that Tablet platform development has been compromised by lumping it in with the Vista "Uber-edition". Tablets are all about the flexibility they afford and the input and I have to say that Johnny 5 would be most disappointed: "Major Input" is not a reality with Vista - or even Office 2007 - on a Tablet.
Initial thoughts on Vista build 5472.
I have spent some time this morning having a quick glance at Windows Vista build 5472 on the Tablet.
"For this build I broke with tradition and performed an in place upgrade rather than a clean install. As 5472 should not be too different from 5456 then I thought it would be safe to do so".
Check out the full article here - Article: Initial impressions of Vista build 5472.
5472 Start
UPDATE: tonight I'll update the installation on the main PC.
More updated Vista visuals coming soon.
Following on from the news about the updated Vista Basic theme details have been emerging of more work on the "fit and finish" to Vista which will most likely hit in RC1 due in August.
Long Zheng has posted a comparison on his blog of different parts of the UI. Images on the Microsoft Design website show a sleeker look to some components including the Taskbar and Start Menu.
Vista taskbar
(from Microsoft Design)
While these changes are expected around the RC1 time frame there is every possibility that we could be seeing them sooner as expected. Bink reports that Microsoft is expected to release a new interim build this week (that doesn't leave them long seeing as it's Friday already and they won't put out a release over the weekend). The news around this build is promising in that we are supposed to be seeing "a huge difference" in the performance of the OS.
New Basic theme in Vista.
You've no doubt by now seen that Windows Vista is to get new clothes. The Windows Vista Basic theme is getting a make-over and the "scrap metal" we have been using up to this point will be no more.
New Vista basic theme
As was acknowledged on the Vista Team Blog, "Many community members have expressed concerns over the visual experience of the Windows Basic theme, and, we heard you loud and clear". I agree with others, however, that while the new blue theme does look better than it's "metal" predecessor there are number of things which could - and should - be improved.
Andre points out a couple of things which really should be included with the Basic theme on the grounds that they certainly DO NOT require a graphics card running at light:
 - the new Vista minimise, restore and close buttons
 - the floating icon on the start menu
Window buttons.
The minimise, restore and close buttons in the Vista Aero theme are a bit larger than those in XP and are, therefore, easier to hit with the pen. Let's face it, they look so much nicer to.
Why give those with a less powerful graphics card - or even those who choose to run the Basic theme - a grossly inferior looking product when you don't need to? The button placement and graphics certainly don't need any fancy hardware - just look at the buttons in Office 2007:
 Office 2007 toolbar buttons
The main thing which concerns me, however, is that the new Vista Basic is blue but, by default, Office 2007 on Vista will use it's grey theme. Perhaps this will be addressed in later builds.
For now, if you are curious as to how various windows look when dressed in the new Basic theme you can view some screenshots of Vista build 5466 over at (images 043 - 051).
Vista Pen Flicks on the Tablet PC.
Not had a chance to play with Vista on a Tablet yet? Well, one of the most useful new navigation features for the stylus are Pen Flicks which I took a look at on the previous version of the blog.
Pen flicks
Now, Rob over at has put together an InkShow giving a full demo of the capabilities of Flicks.
While Vista is desperately lacking in Ink integration, Microsoft have done a pretty good job of improving the pen based navigation.
I urge you to go and view the InkShow, you can watch if here: Vista and Tablet PCs - A Pen Flick InkShow.
Vista continues to fail the Tablet.
Rob Bushway is continuing his examination of how Microsoft has really missed the boat as far as integrating Ink in to Vista is concerned and I wholeheartedly agree.
His latest point is something I was also going to raise: the lack of Ink support in SideBar gadgets, more specifically the Notes gadget.
Looking like a mini version of Sticky Notes this should really be a prime candidate for integrated Ink support, but again Microsoft have failed to take the initiative.
Following on from Rob's posts the prime locations for integrated Ink input have to be:
  • search
  • the Run box
  • Notes fields in the Calendar and Contacts
  • Windows Mail
  • captions for items in the Photo Gallery, and why not Ink annotations directly on the items themselves

Now that WinFS is no longer part of Vista we have also lost the extended file attributes such as notes and keywords - these would also have been an ideal place for Inking.

But it is not just the lack of Ink support that shows a lack of support for Tablets.

While there is a tendancy for new Tablet models to have 14 inch screens there are a lot of devices with 12 inch screens or less where the screen resolution is 1024x768, or rather 768 x 1024 in portrait mode which is how slates are going to be by default.

As part of my Beta testing I have been going though each icon on the Start Menu and in the Control Panel in turn and kicking the tyres of each application/feature. I arrived at the Windows Easy Transfer icon and tapped only to be greeted by the error "Windows Easy Transfer requires a screen resolution of 800x600 or greater". Why force a Tablet user to change their screen orientation just to use this tool? Why can the UI not adapt itself and reduce it's width by 32 pixels?

When you consider that Microsoft is supposed to be championing the Tablet form factor you cannot help but be left with the opinion that they are falling far short of the mark.

Don't need Glass to use Vista? Think again!
The debate over whether or not you need a system that can run Aero Glass to get the most from Windows Vista has rolled on for what seems like forever.
On the one hand, there are those who say that if you are going to take the time and effort to upgrade then you should ensure you have the necessary hardware to cope with the eye candy. On the other hand, however, there is an opinion that you do not need Glass to appreciate what Vista has to offer and that Glass can even cause the UI to become confusing.
We are well aware that Vista will install and run fine on a device that does not have the graphics hardware required for Glass (my Tablet is not able to run Glass, and the registry hacks have been disabled) so why should we feel the need to upgrade?
Well, one possible reason is the bundled application Windows DVD Maker. Try running this application on sub-standard hardware and you are greeted with the error "Video card does not meet minimum requirements". Clicking on the 'learn more' link takes you to a Help item for Windows Movie Maker saying that the video card on your computer must support version 2.0 (or later) vertex shaders and version 2.0 pixel shaders. Yes, the same applies to Windows Movie Maker in Vista.
If you need/want to use these applications then there is no debate - you need to upgrade your hardware, and on a device like a Tablet with integrated graphics that means a whole new unit!
Initial thoughts about Vista build 5456 on the Tablet.
I deliberately took a few days out to spend some extra time with Windows Vista build 5456 before posting any reactions. I wanted to take the time to give it a reasonable chance rather than posting some knee-jerk reactions, as well as submit bugs before raising issues in a public forum.
As I mentioned previously, the Beta 2 build was buggy and it's a shame that this was the build released for public consumption. Build 5456 clears up a number of issues experienced within Beta 2 and has improved my opinion of the OS considerably.
Build 5456 is the first build that plays nicely with all of the hardware buttons on my Acer C110 Tablet - even the 'press and hold' functionality works which, essentially, gives an extra 6 actions that can be triggered without having to flip the screen and dive for the keyboard or follow a convoluted series of taps with the pen. Once the Acer Program launcher, Hardware Button drivers and wireless device control are all installed everything works as expected which is a big relief after the numerous frustrations of previous builds.
The Windows Mobile Device Center will now connect to my SmartPhone but only using the Quick Connect Option which is a real shame. The Center has been altered since Beta 2 so it automatically checks for softwar updates when opened. After the check, however, it reports that the software which would allow me to create a partnership is not available. Perhaps it's just because I have a WM2003 phone and not WM5 and the full driver set is not yet available.
I hav always thought that the new Network Center is overly complicated and also had a number of issues with it in Beta 2. Build 5456 has made me re-think this position. In this build I find it much easier to manage my connections, especially wireless. Whether it is just because the performance has improved considerably or that bugs have been ironed out I don't know, but the build makes it 'feel' much simpler to use that in previous builds. I don't think ther has been any change to the layout and functionality.
Rob Bushway has posted over at a list of the things he likes about Vista so check out his thoughts here: What I'm loving about Vista.
My posts in the past have highlighted a number of ways the UI has been improved which help navigation with a pen (selection via checkboxes, TIP auto-complete) etc. but I will always argue that Microsoft should have done much more to integrate Ink directly in to the operating system. Rob also takes a stand in his other Vista post here: Vista and Ink - a missed opportunity.
UPDATE: according to the Connect website, the Network Center in build 5456 "has some brand new UI and bug fixes" which may well explain the differences in my perception of how it operates.
Beyond the bullet.
As you may have already read in other places (e. g. Paul Thurrott's WinSuperSite) Vista Beta 2 was a bit of a bug laden train wreck. I had numerous problems with it and was incredibly disappointed.
Well, with the release of vista build 5456 to testers I have decided to go one stage further than "biting the Vista bullet". Reviews have so far been positive for this build and I have, therefore, repartitioned the drive in my Tablet and now installed this build as the ONLY operating system.
The news so far is very positive!
More to follow.
Biting the Vista bullet.
One of the annoyances I have bug about previous builds of Vista was the inability to sync files with my SmartPhone using the new Window Mobile Center.
Well, now Tekmaven over at has reported that an update for the Windows Mobile Center has been posted to Connect which gives full synching functionality including OneNote Mobile Beta!
I'm away over the weekend but will bite the bullet on Sunday night and install Vista Beta 2 on the tablet (Glass or no Glass).
More news to follow...