Category: Vista

Unseemly haste in Vista SP1 a sign of desperation?

I came across two Vista related stories on Techmeme this morning.

The first from Ken Fisher on Ars Technica, talks about how Microsoft’s OEM partners are struggling with the number of customers who want to downgrade their computers from Vista to XP. Ken goes on to state

the “must wait for Service Pack 1” meme is also so firmly established that Vista uptake will continue to be soft among businesses for quite some time, certainly into early 2008 when we expect to see Vista’s first service pack

Then I read Mary Jo Foley’s story about how Vista’s first service pack (SP1) will be released in Beta next week and released to the public in November after an unusually short testing time of four months (previous service packs have taken up to a year in Beta before being released).

According to Mary Jo,

here’s a list of other fixes likely to make it in:

* Performance tweaks lessening the amount of time it takes to copy files and shut down Vista machines (Yeah, I know Microsoft said Viista shutdown speed wasn’t an issue. Guess users weren’t so crazy, after all.)
* Improved transfer performance and decreased CPU utilization via support for SD Advanced Direct Memory Access (DMA)
* Support for ExFat, the Windows file format for flash memory storage and other consumer devices
* Improvements to BitLocker Drive Encryption to allow not just encryption of the whole Vista volume, but also locally created data volumes
* The ability to boot Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) on an x64 machine
* Improved success rate for firewalled MeetingSpace and Remote Assistance connections

Two things occur to me
1. The haste to get SP1 out the door seems to speak to nervousness on Microsoft’s part about Vista sales. No surprise there. Vista is still quite buggy and
2. If SP1 is rushed out the door, there is the possibility that bugs will be introduced by SP1 which will further erode confidence in Vista!

Microsoft need to tread quite carefully on this one.

Safari 3 for Windows. New OS, same missing features!

I saw from Engadget that Apple have released a new beta version of their browser, Safari, which will run on Windows. There are versions for Windows XP and Windows Vista.

I downloaded it and installed on an XP machine and it does appear to run quite quickly.

However, Apple still haven’t addressed Safari’s biggest bug – it is far too easy to close a window in accidentally Safari closing all its tabs. Both Firefox and Internet Explorer give you a warning if you try to close a window with multiple tabs open. How hard would it be for Safari to implement this feature?

Safari 3 running on Windows

Having said that, if you load the Acid2 test on IE7, Firefox and Safari for Windows, only Safari displays it correctly.

Opera also passes the Acid2 test (not displayed). However, Opera also allows you to close multi-tab windows without warning!

So as well as being fast, Safari for Windows is, along with Opera, the most standards compliant browser available. Just don’t close any multi-tab windows accidentally!

Safari passes Acid2 test

You can download the beta from the Safari download page.

Update 1: Apple’s official announcement is now up

Update 2:  As Conall notes in the comments of this post, the multi-tab warning is working in the new Mac version of Safari.

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?

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.

My move from OS X to Vista – Day 5

I love having lots of screen space. My MacBook Pro has a maximum screen resolution of 1440×900, which, while not great, is better than the 1280×800 maximum on the Vaio which Microsoft sent me.

To get the most out of these screen resolutions on the Mac, I position the Dock on the right hand side and turn Hiding on. I put the Dock on the right (as opposed to the default option of the bottom) because the laptop display is widescreen. As a result, I have more horizontal than vertical space on the screen and most websites require more vertical than horizontal scrolling!

It is possible to mirror this on Vista by sending the Taskbar to the right and turning on hiding, however when you do that, you immediately miss the clock! I don’t wear a watch and therefore always check the time on whatever computer I am on (and I make sure my computer synchs with a timeserver so the time is accurate!).

In fact, in OS X I have the current time and lots of other information in the menubar at the top of the screen (see image below):
My menubar

I miss not having all that information available at a glance, at all times, in Vista.

My move from OS X to Vista – Day 4

I know, I know, I didn’t post anything yesterday so this should be Day 5 but I wasn’t using the Vista machine yesterday, I was using the Mac for a Keynote presentation I was giving. Powerpoint has nothing on Keynote.

Today I wanted to run Second Life on the Vista machine but ran into the following error:
second life error

I’m fairly certain that this is a machine specific error and not a general Second Life not running on Vista error however, as I can’t access the Vaio Update page because of the following error:

vaio update error

I can’t update the drivers. 😦

Vista sales numbers don't add up (to much!)

Microsoft are boasting that Vista is selling twice as fast as XP did when it shipped originally.

From the Microsoft release:

Initial sales figures from Microsoft show its new operating system Windows Vista made a splash in its debut. In the first month of Windows Vista’s general availability, sales exceeded 20 million licenses, more than doubling the initial pace of sales for its predecessor, Windows XP. These initial figures reflect the broad interest in the security and usability enhancements in Windows Vista…. Windows Vista license sales after one month of availability have already exceeded the total of Windows XP license sales in the earlier product’s first two months of availability. In January 2002, the company announced sales of Windows XP licenses had exceeded 17 million after two months on the market.

The more than 20 million copies shipped represent Windows Vista licenses sold to PC manufacturers, copies of upgrades and the full packaged product sold to retailers and upgrades ordered through the Windows Vista Express Upgrade program from January 30 to February 28.

It all sounds very impressive until you analyse the numbers as Paul Kedrosky has done – from Paul’s more realistic take on it:

Back in 2002 PCs were shipping at the rate of 10.8m a month into a worldwide installed base of 680m. Today, in early 2007, Vista is shipping into a market where PCs are selling at 21.4m a month, and into a worldwide installed base of more than 1-billion PCs. (All figures from IDC.)

So with more than twice as many PCs selling worldwide now, the Vista sales numbers are struggling to be on a par with XP, as opposed to being twice as good. I’d love to see numbers for how many of these 20m Vista sales were to people who went into stores saying “Can I have a copy of Vista, please?” as opposed to the number who got it because it was the default option on the new Dell they bought online!

My move from OS X to Vista – Day 3

I know it is a cliche that you don’t really realise just how much you love something until it is gone but I am proving that true with this move to Vista from OS X!

What is it that I miss so much? Exposé!

Exposé is a fabulous, much underrated feature of OS X whereby you can, at the click of a key or the flick of a mouse, expose all the windows you have open (or expose all the windows you have open for a particular app, or you can call up the desktop, or the screensaver).

This is an incredible timesaving feature. I regularly have multiple emails open. The ability to hit F10 (or flick into the top left corner) to move between windows of just the Mail app, is fantastic. Similarly for browser windows, or any other app where you are likely to have multiple windows open and need to move between them.

Expose in action

There are a couple of Exposé clones out there for Vista but I have yet to find one which will emulate the app window tiling.

I now find myself constantly let down when I flick the mouse up to the top left corner in Vista and nothing happens 😦

My move from OS X to Vista – Day 2

It is taking me a while to get into this Vista machine.

On the Mac, I live in browsers (I generally have 4 running) and email. The browsers on Vista are pretty much the same as they are on the Mac but the email experience is very different.

The main choices I have for email client software are Thunderbird and Outlook 2007. I am using both for different email accounts and, frankly, I don’t like either!

Thunderbird has already crashed on me so it is not that stable and Outlook hangs from time to time, seemingly contemplating the task I have just asked it to do, before finally snapping to attention and displaying my mail.

Outlook also has an incredibly cluttered interface (seven panes) in comparison to the clean crisp interface of Apple’s Mail app. This can be very off-putting if you are not familiar with the program.

Outlook 2007

I also hate the way Outlook deals with IMAP. I like it as a protocol but it is unusable in Outlook (if I delete an email, I want it to disappear, not stay in my inbox with a line through it). I originally set up my mail account in Outlook 2007 as IMAP but when I realised Outlook still deals poorly with IMAP I decided to switch to POP.

This is where I hit another UI bug.
outlook account remove stupidity

When I asked Outlook to remove the account it gave me the above error message which basicly says, “I know what you were trying to do but because you haven’t done it the exact way I mandate, I’m going to display this error message scolding you and make you do it again until you do it properly!”

Listen Microsoft, if the app is clever enough to know what I was trying to do, why not just do it, instead of forcing me to start all over again, the way Outlook wants me to do it?