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Journal Journal: Vista SP2 is Released to Manufacturing

Windows Vista and Server 2008 SP2 has gone gold.

Key features include: Windows Search 4.0, Bluetooth 2.1 Feature Pack supporting the most recent specification for Bluetooth Technology, ability to record data on to Blu-Ray media natively in Windows Vista, Windows Connect Now (WCN) to simplify Wi-Fi Configuration, and SP2 enables the exFAT file system to support UTC timestamps, which allows correct file synchronization across time zones.

The update is the same for both Vista and Windows Server 2008


Journal Journal: iTunes 8 causing Vista BSODs & Lockups 1

Windows users installing iTunes 8 might get more than they bargained for with this lastest iTunes incarnation. With it now comes the normal Quicktime & Bonjour service, but also now MobileMe, a new USB driver, and crucially GEARAspiWDM.sys - a CD/DVD writing driver with a history of causing STOP errors. This new iTunes version has already cause stability complaints and there's no warning about any driver modifications in the update/install process.

GNU is Not Unix

Journal Journal: Inside the FOSS Lab in Microsoft HQ

Port 25 on Technet have given a glimpse into the FOSS lab at Microsoft, with some photos to boot.

FTFA: "To some folks outside of Microsoft, the Open-Source Software Lab has been a sort of mysterious place. A place where we study Linux and open-source software, cursing our enemies while brewing our malevolent plans to combat those nasty FOSS developers."


Journal Journal: SharePoint Becoming a Must-Have for Business

Microsoft's SharePoint Server is on a billion dollar juggernaut to potentially become the next must-have technology, offering companies tools for building everything from collaborative applications to Internet sites and potentially handing Microsoft its next cash cow.

First introduced in 2001 to less than lukewarm reviews as SharePoint Portal Server. In 2003, a stripped down version was offered for free as part of Windows Server 2003 R2, which made it easy for users to test drive the software and soon end-user created team worksites began popping up all over corporate networks.

PC Games (Games)

Journal Journal: Quake 3 Ported to .Net - Runs Faster

The Quake 3 engine has been ported to managed C++ .Net 3.5 from native C by a Microsoftie named Greg Dolley who discussed the operation on his blog and posted the source-code on-line.

After the migration was complete, the timedemos showed a slight increase in game performance (see comments).

The Internet

Journal Journal: First look at FireFox 3 UI Changes

The proposed new icons for FireFox 3 have been released for a sneak peek over at Alex Faaborg's blog. A key new feature in FireFox 3 is how it will blend natively into each environment, thus there are four sets of icons effectively; one for Vista, XP, OSX, and Linux.

Journal Journal: Visual Studio 2008 + .Net 3.5 Gone Gold

Visual Studio 2008 and the .Net 3.5 runtime has gone gold and has been made available for download on MSDN.

Key to the new releases are LINQ (a unified query language system for SQL, XML and other relational data sources), new templates for the Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) and Windows Communication Foundation (WCF), and a new feature in Visual Studio, .Net version targeting for development projects.


Journal Journal: First Details of Windows 7 Emerge 615

Some small but significant details of the next major release of Windows have emerged via a presentation at the University of Illinois by Microsoft engineer Eric Traut. His presentation focuses on an internal project called "MinWin"; designed to optimise the Windows kernel to a minimum footprint, and for which will be the basis for the Windows 7 kernel.

Journal Journal: Microsoft no longer a 'Laughingstock' of Security? 282

Computerworld have a Q&A with Scott Charney, the vice president of Trustworthy Computing (TwC) at Microsoft. He suggests that, while not perfect, the security in Microsoft products has moved on from being the "laughing stock" on the IT industry to something more respectable, thanks in large to the new Security Development Lifecycle (SDL) implemented in development practises nearly six years ago.

So, to the masses at large, do you agree or disagree?


Journal Journal: Ms Client Platform

As it turns out, the client offerings from Microsoft aren't doing so bad after all.

To summarise, Office 2007 is doing the best with the new interface proving to be far less a learning curve than originally feared (in fact people find it much easier - shock/horror/etc)
Vista still isn't doing so well of course, I expect because of the incompatibilities that are still being ironed out.

Of course none of this is particularly news as such. Neither product was going to fail, being market leaders and so on. Maybe one day Linux will be a threat to Windows and OOffice a threat to MS Office (which I find far less likely), but not for now it would appear. Vista has been slow in the uptake, doubtless, but that's Microsoft's own fault for releasing it too early and expecting people to believe "it will just work". Better late than never.


Journal Journal: Vista Misunderstood

One of the common misconceptions I've noticed with open-sorcerers is the validity and purpose of Vista. This is based not only from comments on /. but also conversations with friends based heavily in the open-source world. The comments of most open-source people can be divided into two categories; pure FUDers, and simple misunderstanding - often fed by FUDers. Well, here's my take on it...

The Vista 'upgrade' is, by most accounts a ground-up re-write of the most popular operating system on the planet that runs the biggest selection of software on the planet. As mentioned before in comments on this site, the changes are fundamental from a technical aspect - ranging from a completely new driver model to a re-written network stack. A fairly comprehensive list is available at
The decision to do this is both a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing because the new changes are genuinely beneficial - improved kernel scheduling, better separation between driver & kernel code, improved engrained security and so on. However, currently, because of the relative freshness of the Vista code-base, it is also a curse because of the incompatibilities these changes raise in everything from driver binaries to utility apps that sit in your system-tray that can no longer "just write to the registry" without causing havoc, as you could in the shit old days when every man + dog was a local admin.

Now, for all the changes under the hood that Vista represents, does it present a reason to upgrade from XP? Well, the answer is 'no' of course - improved kernels alone don't arrant switching from a perfectly stable system. Nor does the flashy new Aero interface. In fact, I can't personally think of any reason why you'd want to convert a working OS into an unstable code-base that's been in use in production for less than 12 months.

The thing is, Vista is the OS for computers being built now and in the future. Microsoft is clearly only as big as they are now in part because of their dominance in the OEM channels; it is there they lay the groundwork for further Microsoft software to be sold.

It's a mutual relationship too of course - the OEM's want a platform that is going to run their odd boxes of magical hardware combinations with the least hassle and that will let their customers run the most software written by any Joe in his garage. Windows does that, and very well too. Proof in point is the game I'm playing right now - C a game over 10 years old, running just fine unmodified on Windows XP SP2. Could you run StarOffice from 10 years ago on Ubuntu Linux without manual modifying a single file? I think not.

But anyway, why Vista in particular? Why not XP if it works? Vista is, if nothing else, a multimedia upgrade from XP by a significant amount. It makes the bargain OEM machines look like they're not so crappy after all (Microsoft has invested billions into just how Vista looks and feels, and it shows). Not only that but you can (in theory) walk into a shop, but some 20euro game/utility for yourself and it'll probably work on Vista (probably less likely right now, but a situation that will improve). Vista/Windows is also just happens to be supported by a huge multi-billion dollar company too - OEMs have someone to sound off at when/if things go wrong.
And that is all OEM's care about - that their machines look impressive, their customers can put their own crapware on it, and that there's someone to whine about when it goes wrong. The OEM's are driving here, not Microsoft - no one buys an OS no matter how cool the backgrounds! It's the OEMs that Vista was made for in my opinion - no one cares about the new kernel enhancements in real life, they are simply evolutionary steps that possibly should've been there in the first place. Not that they go unappreciated of course, but that's another matter.

So why make kernel changes if no-one will notice in the first place? Well, some reasons include avoiding negative press - the limp security aspect of Windows previous for instance caused a right storm in the press over various holes in the OS. Second, every system has to grow in all directions. Look at Linux for instance...with almost every new build of the kernel comes newer and more efficient ways of crunching data & managing resource - the difference is changes in Linux are more of a trickle. Windows needs to keep up, but gets major overhauls rather than trickle increments which is one reason for compatibility issues as mentioned earlier.

Also, DRM. Vista supports more DRM encoded material than previous versions (which too support most DRM media). It does not convert your normal media (mp3s, jpg images, avi videos) into DRM encoded versions. It just doesn't. However, if you come by some DRM media, Vista will be able to play/view it assuming you have the rights to. It's no big deal.

The Vista upgrade in many ways reminds me of the Windows 98 > XP upgrade. That too was a huge step too, except that Windows 2000 had been out previously for business mainly that took most of the compatibility stings out of the process. Still, there was plenty of wailing & gnashing of teeth when users took this jump. It worked out fine in the end, and certainly for the better. The same will be true of Vista.

So, to conclude: Vista is an upgrade from XP visually & technically. In my opinion, it does not warrant purchasing if you have another OS running fine, but more importantly it is there to make the OEMs look good; which are the people that will really sell Vista anyway. The issues being experienced by the new changes are temporary; it will not always be this way - things will only get better with the advent of properly written software, mature drivers, and possibly a service-pack.

I can't wait for Vienna to come around so I can hear all about people protesting by saying "Sod Vienna, I'm sticking with trusty Vista!"

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It is masked but always present. I don't know who built to it. It came before the first kernel.