Category: Microsoft

Microsoft Vista Service Pack 2?

Microsoft’s Windows Vista is a buggy product. Heck, even I found an unreported bug in it after playing with it for less than ten minutes!

I was talking to Microsoft folk in Madrid last week and I said to them that I couldn’t wait for Service Pack 2 for Vista to be released. Their response was – “You mean Service Pack 1?”

Nope, I meant Service Pack 2. Vista is so buggy that I don’t think Microsoft will address all the problems in their first Service Pack release. Like Windows XP, Vista will not be reliable until SP2.

The Microsoft guys weren’t impressed with my opinions of Vista!

It looks like SP1 is getting closer though. According to istartedsomething.com the Microsoft Downloads site had links to documentation for SP1 for OEMs – as of this writing the docs are still available.

Vista SP1 docs

Cool, now has anyone seen any sign of Vista Service Pack 2?

Ad supported Office in the works?

I see Microsoft are following Google into the Advertising business with their announced purchase of aQuantive for $6bn.

Advertising definitely seems to be where the money is at right now – as Michael Arrington put it earlier on TechCrunch:

Google bought Doubleclick for $3.1 billion in April. Later that same month, Yahoo acquired competitor RightMedia for $680 million. Just yesterday, WPP Group acquired yet another company in this space, 24/7 Real Media, for $649 million.

Just as an indicator of how seriously Microsoft is taking advertising as a revenue stream, this is Microsoft’s largest acquisition to-date. Look to Microsoft to start generating more and more income from advertising and less and less from the traditional software licencing model.

I suspect that we will see an online version of Office, developed in Silverlight, free to use and ad supported in the next 12 months.

Lot of travel coming up!

In the next few weeks I am flying to Bilbao where I have been selected to be on the prestigious jury forStartup 2.0 – an international competition judging startup companies.

Then I am off to Copenhagen for Reboot 2.0 where my suggestion for a talk about the energy efficiencies in the CIX data centre has been moved to the official program! I’m really stoked about that. It is an incredible honour because the quality of speakers and delegates at Reboot is stratospheric.

And finally I’m off to Remix 07 in Madrid (yes, Spain again – is it my imagination or are the Spanish becoming really active in the web space lately?) to give a couple of talks on social media.

I’m looking forward to the events but dreading the travel. I used to love travel the the mindless security theatre we are now put through makes flying a complete PITA.

Does Silverlight kill Internet connectivity on Macs?

I had a problem with my MacBookPro the other day. It lost Internet connectivity. It couldn’t get an IP address from the DSL router. Restarting the router didn’t help. Nor did stopping and starting Airport or using a wired connection.

At first I figured the router was fried. But then, I restarted the Mac and lo! connectivity came back.

I wrote it off as a once off and didn’t think any more of it.

Then over the next few days I had problems with Firefox freezing. Uninstalling plugins didn’t help. What did fix it was closing all the tabs which contained Silverlight content.

Then the problem with the Mac losing Internet connectivity recurred. Several times. Both at the home office and outside of it.

I finally had an Aha! moment. I searched the hard drive for all occurrences of Silverlight, found the Silverlight plugin, deleted it and re-started the Mac.

I haven’t lost Internet connectivity since!

Has anyone else had this happen to them?

Sun's answer to the Microsoft litigation threat

Microsoft’s announcement yesterday that they are going to charge open source companies and users for patent infringement is largely being seen as

  1. an act of desperation
  2. a scare tactic to get enterprise open source users to pony up more money to Microsoft (or buy Microsoft software) in lieu of litigation and
  3. a great way to, once again, succeed in annoying the majority of people on the planet

Jonathan Schwartz, CEO of Sun Microsystems, has a great post on his blog today in response to the threat by Microsoft.

In his post Jonathan outlines how when beset by difficulties, Sun chose to open source their products instead of litigating!

He concludes his post by saying:

no amount of fear can stop the rise of free media, or free software (they are the same, after all). The community is vastly more innovative and powerful than a single company. And you will never turn back the clock on elementary school students and developing economies and aid agencies and fledgling universities – or the Fortune 500 – that have found value in the wisdom of the open source community. Open standards and open source software are literally changing the face of the planet – creating opportunity wherever the network can reach.

That’s not a genie any litigator I know can put back in a bottle.

Microsoft: "You are going to have to pay us for NOT using our products too!"

Microsoft have an image problem. You know they have. They know they have. Almost every time you see a Microsoft employee get up to speak they invariably start by meekly, almost apologetically, admitting they are from Microsoft.

Why do they have an image problem? It dates back to the browser wars of the 90s when they used their market dominance to squash competitors. They were bully’s.

Over the last number of years they have been fighting hard to combat that image. They have tried to appear all warm and fuzzy. They have made clever hires like Jon Udell and even contracted Hugh MacLeod to help improve their brand.

Then what does Microsoft go and do? In an article in Fortune

Microsoft claims that free software like Linux, which runs a big chunk of corporate America, violates 235 of its patents. It wants royalties from distributors and users.

Update: Wow, this one is really exploding on Techmeme
Good God, are they really serious? Many people use Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) precisely because they don’t want to be giving money to Microsoft and now Microsoft are saying “You know all that Free and open Source Software you are using, yeah well, you are going to have to pay us for using that now too, thanks!”

It really is quite an incredible situation. What if the oil industry started saying, “All you solar energy, wind energy and renewable energy users will have to pay us for not using our products”

Talk about damned if you do and damned if you don’t!

As Simon Hibbs said:

It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the fact that so many Microsoft products are based on patentable innovations contributed freely. I’m thinking of Kerberos and LDAP that are the guts of Active Directory. Where would we all be if Tim Berners-Lee had patented key elements of HTTP, or if the TCP/IP stack were proprietary? Microsoft has done very well embracing and extending the innovations of others.

Silverlight

Microsoft launched Silverlight yesterday in a blaze of stunning demos at the MIX07 keynote yesterday. The demos were not done by Microsoft but by partner companies who were given access to Expression Studio (the Silverlight development tools) a couple of weeks ago.

Everyone I have talked to at MIX was blown away.

To my mind the most impressive demo was by Beau Ambur of Metaliq. Beau demo’d a video editing app which was extremely easy to use, very powerful and browser based. Yes, you read that correctly, browser-based! It took me a while for that to sink in with me too. I was watching Beau’s demo, thinking, wow, that’s cool when it suddenly dawned on me that there was an address bar at the top of the screen! Hang on a sec, he’s doing this in a browser? You can do this in a browser? Wow!

Even more impressive was that the demo (called Top Banana) had a 50k footprint!

What is did Microsoft announce? It breaks down into:

Silverlight, and its development tools have changed radically how video will be created, published and consumed on the web. The guys in Joost must be watching this with interest!

[Disclosure – Microsoft paid most of my travel, conference entry and accommodation expenses for the MIX07 conference]

My move from OS X to Vista – Day 6

Good news for a change!

I received an email from Miel Van Opstal alerting me to the fact that NVIDIA has updated its video driver for the Vaio (Miel is the guy in charge of the Vaio Influencer program in Microsoft).

Previously SecondLife refused to run on the Vaio because of video driver issues. Steve Clayton had kindly offered to help out at MIX07 but that won’t be necessary now because the new driver which Miel emailed me about, fixed the problem (after I uninstalled and reinstalled SecondLife and restarted the Vaio!).

I have already wasted the morning grappling with Windows Live OneCare, I might as well blow the rest of the day now trying out SecondLife on Vista!

Thanks Miel.

Windows Live OneCare is a POS

Windows Live OneCare is a fantastic idea. Write buggy insecure software and then charge the people who buy your software extra if they want to buy OneCare, which is supposed to protect them from the errors you created in the first place.

Anyone else see a conflict of interest here? Why fix the software, when fixing it, only gives people a reason not to buy OneCare!

Anyway, a trial version of OneCare came on the Vista laptop that Microsoft sent me. This morning I was sent an Activation key to upgrade from the trial version to a full version. Excellent, that will get rid of the nagware screens Microsoft have in the trial version and allow me to update the virus definitions.

Ah, the naivete, if only life (with Vista) were that simple.

Three hours and countless restarts later I was still battling unsuccessfully to Activate OneCare.

First off, if you want to go from the trial version to a full version you have to uninstall the trial version (requires a restart) and download and install the full version (requires a restart). Why? Why can’t you simply add an activation code to the trial version and it change automatically to the full version?

Anyway, after going through this process I was faced with the following unhelpful error message:

Windows Live OneCare's unhelpful error message

When you click the Get Help button, you are brought to a screen which asks you what the error is! I dunno. You tell me. You are the one with the bloody problem.

“OneCare has encountered a problem” doesn’t elicit any helpful responses unsurprisingly!

I decided to make sure I had done a full uninstall. So I uninstalled OneCare (and restarted) and then I ran the OneCareCleanup tool (has to be run as Administrator and requires a restart).

I then reinstalled OneCare and sure enough an Activation screen appeared – wohoo, I thought, success at last. Silly me.

Windows Live OneCare Activation screen

I clicked on the Activate button, the screen closed and nothing happened after that. I decided to try a restart as almost everything else in this process had required a restart! Still no joy.

I tried going further in the Windows Live OneCare Support pages. Could I contact someone to help out? Of course not. Why? Because Windows Live OneCare determined that I was still in the Free Trial Period so I was only entitled to email support (24 hour turnaround).

Windows Live OneCare lack of Tech Support

AAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I give up.

Google's Office 2.0 steps up a gear

Sam Schillace (didn’t he play for Italy in the 1990 world cup?) over at Google has just posted that Google are going to roll out the long predicted Google presentation software application this summer.

This is technology which they bought in via their purchase of Tonic Systems (a San Francisco-based company that provides Java presentation software).

This will be integrated into their Google Docs and Spreadsheets which will now (hopefully not) be renamed Google Docs, Spreadsheets and Presentations!

Google are still playing down the obvious Microsoft Office comparison and to a large extent they are correct, these applications are light on functionality yet. The operative word here, though is ‘yet’.

The massive advantage of applications delivered over the web is that they can be updated centrally on the server and everyone using them, automatically benefits from the new functionality. No missing driver issues, no installation woes, it just works.

To the guys at Microsoft. I have been telling you for a long time now that this was going to happen. You need to release a lightweight version of Microsoft Office on the web, for free, with an easy upgrade path to a downloadable paid-for full featured version.

Ignore this much longer and Google are going to start eating in to your Office market share.