Sunday, July 31, 2005

Off-Point: Ferrari's Dismal Season

This has got to be the season from hell for Michael Schumacher's Ferrari Formula One team.

Coming off the past three years, this season must be viewed as a total disaster with fans, such as myself, asking what happened.

Complacency? Arrogance? Poor partner decision? What???

Complacency: Why wasn't the new car ready at the srart of the season? Did it suddenly dawn on someone that there was a 2005 F1 season?

Arrogance: Since the cars in previous seasons were unquestionably superior to the competition, shouldn't the competition give Ferrari token resistance and then go home? They, the other F1 teams, certainly were not expected to either improve their vehicles or challenge the Mighty Ferrari !

Poor partner decision: Compounding the above is the decision of the tires. 'Nuff said.

When you have the greatest driver in the world in Michael Schumacher, you have an obligation to surround him with the best support system there is. Not the crap of 2005.

Common!

Saturday, July 30, 2005

10th Planet found?

Astronomers have supposedly detected a 10th planet orbiting the sun.

Could this be the long-fabled Planet 'X', Nemesis?

Friday, July 29, 2005

HP to stop selling iPod clone

Why were they selling this product in the first place?

Really, why?

For this reason, and this reason alone, Fiorina deserved to have been fired!

A Microsoft Partner, manufacturer of Media Center PCs and Media Center Extender, manufacturer of IPAQ PocketPC devices.

Are you saying the they could not leverage that product into a fantastic PMC line and brand? Or course, they could.

If they needed to co-brand something, they should have co-branded an online music store.

They have enough face time with the users of their products to develop that amount of trust. And selling their own IPAQ device with an online store would have been a better use of company resources that this fiasco.

However at thet time Carleton was in so far over her head that she did not know what to do. Except maybe decide that she probably needed an exit strategy.

Thankfully, the board decided to grow some brass, and administered the coup de grĂ¢ce before she could bring the company further down.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

AOL tests ......(insert name here)....

If there is any company that has fallen into total irrelevancy faster, and deeper than AOL, please let me know.

There have been news reports of AOL releasing this....., beta testing that..., and somehow, no one seems to care.

Their current irrelecancy is well deserved, though.

Talk about hubris!

And they were everywhere, leaving artifacts on your system after uninstalls, and making it a nightmare for you to cancel their service.

None of that, however, is anything compared to the utter lack of foresight and strategy on the part of management with regards to broadband.

Funny thing was that they had the pioneering RoadRunner broadband service that was never bundled with the AOL service, and joined the NOISE coalition. (Novell, Oracle, IBM, Sun Microsystems, Everyone else)

What a shame!

I hope they take the 'America' out of their name.

L.

Losers!
Paul Thurrott has a FAQ on his website about Windows Vista.

In it, he reveals that Vista is built on the foundation of Server 2003 SP1.

That's new to me, but tells me that Vista is going to be a lot more secure than XP and what we expect of it.

Locate Me! (Off-point)

You've got to love this feature of MSN Virtual Earth.

With 'Locate Me', the system tries to make a determination of where you are using a combination of your MAC address and nearby WiFi access points to triagualte your location.

Cool.

NASA Grounds Entire Shuttle Fleet

After photographic analysis of the launch of the Shuttle Discovery revealed that pieces of foam had separated from the external tank, NASA grounded the entire fleet.

If you remember, a similar problem, with a suitcase-sized chunk breaking off, and striking the Columbia, caused the disaster a couple of years ago.

This is a real setback!

Motorola Moto Q smartphone



Will this be the device to finally put Windows Mobile over the top.

I definitely am torn between this and the V3x.

For our IT and technical support personnel however, there is no doubt that this, and devices in this format should be their allocated phones.

(Thanks to fyiguy for the photos)

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Microsoft Windows Vista beta 1 Preview Report

I was at the recently ended Longhorn Lab event at the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington.

The event was a revelation, affording me an unprecedented and very detailed look at the forthcoming next generation of the Microsoft Windows operating system.

Ladies and gentlemen, get ready for Microsoft Windows Vista, nee Longhorn.

At this event, Microsoft made privy to us unprecedented access to Windows Vista and the development process of the world’s leading operating system. This opening of the kimono also extended to Internet Explorer 7, the RSS capabilities of Windows Vista, and the Xbox 360.

This preview will delve into the non-NDA’d information that Logikworx feels you would need to possess in order to adequately prepare for the Borg-like inevitability of the release version of Longhorn, Microsoft Vista. (If you had attended the very informative legal briefing by the gorgeous Senior Veep from Microsoft Legal, you would understand NDA’s better.)

This report will use Vista as the name of the operating system. All references to Longhorn will be explicit.

Microsoft has three primary goals for Vista:

Connected – this OS is built for the networked and internet age, with most of the communications stacks totally rebuilt or beefed up. For example, the internetworking underpinnings of Vista are built to the new IPv6 specs, as opposed to IPv4 most everywhere else.

ClearVista will introduce new levels of usability and clarity to the user experience, a position Microsoft is not about to cede to anyone else.

Confident – Right now, Windows, in all its client iterations are blamed, mostly unfairly, for the myriad number of security failures. Vista will attempt to remedy this by being, right out of the box, the most secure operating system Microsoft has ever produced, by design. This also includes all server products.

Based on my preview of beta 1, Microsoft is well on its way to facilitating all of the stated primary goals.

This review will be broken into the following six parts: The UI, and how it was derived, beta 1/OS fundamentals, IE7, RSS & Windows Vista, my hands-on experience with beta 1, and my conclusion.

Windows Vista User Experience
When it was released, Windows XP boasted the advanced User Interface anywhere, bar none! OS X 10 only surpassed it in the past few, and that lead added to in the past year with the release of OS X ‘Tiger’.

All that is about to change. Vista will utilize Aero with the new Avalon graphics subsystem to create ‘Glass’, a UI that has to be seen to believe.

We were fortunate to be briefed by the director of the Windows Vista User Experience team who showed us the amazing amount of work done, over the years, that culminated in ‘Glass’. Suffice it to say, this product has the oomph factor to rev up your adrenaline. And rev it up fast.

In Aero, and the ‘Glass UI’, Microsoft selected effortless usability over features, and, from what I saw, reduced a trend normally associated with Microsoft products: feature bloat.

The sleek, new minimalist interface excites you immediately with its simplicity, with gobs of real estate for the inclusion of metadata in file information. ‘Glass’ also virtualizes the data store, allowing you to manipulate your data, regardless of the physical location of said data on your system.

Avalon, Aero, and Glass encompass several more improvements that I cannot share with you at this time – think of the admonishment of the Ms. Legal VP. Be rest assured, however, that as soon as I can, the information will be passed along.

Short version only. The Vista UI and UE subsystems have their origins in work started before Windows XP was released. Yes, as far back as then, incorporating lessons learned along the way.

Windows Vista beta 1 OS Fundamentals
In released Windows Vista literature, Microsoft identified three goals, previously mentioned above: connected, clear, and confident. A look into the OS will show how they have tried to accomplish these goals.

From the get-go, Windows Vista will be on patrol. It will incorporate anti-malware scanning for new installations, and upgrades from previous versions of Windows. It will also allow for a secure startup, employing full volume encryption of drive contents.

Windows Vista’s improved process threat modeling, employing intense code reviews and code scanning, will help in the isolation of the OS, and provide greater resiliency against malware attacks. Windows Vista will also include better hardware detection.

Windows services will be greatly hardened, with user-configurability of most services a la carte.

The built-in anti-malware capability will provide cleaning and block behavior exploits of the system.

Another welcome feature of the operating system is a restart manager. The Windows Vista team has a stated goal of 50% fewer restarts during/after security updates; the restart manager will tasked with this goal.

There has been a rewrite of the internal communications stack to the IPv6 specs, allowing for greater headroom and security.

For consumers. Secure startup is one of the features of Windows Vista apart from the above. Parental controls are extremely beefed up; with the parent/administrator of the system have a very granular control over the use of the computer system. Browser security lockdown is standard.

For the enterprise. In addition to the above, Windows Vista has improvements aplenty for the enterprise. Windows Vista includes a client base security scan agent, audit controls, and network access protection. Firewall/IPSEC integration, Smart cards deployment, and pluggable crypto are also added.

Administrative rights are greatly improved with user account protection and hardware-based secure startup fully integrated.

Deployment. As the primary business client worldwide, any improvement to Windows must include improvements in deployment, reducing budgetary costs. I am pleased to report to you that in this aspect, Windows Vista really shines!

A goal of the Windows Vista team was for faster and more reliable deployment. Windows vista will be able to meet this by employing an integrated suite of deployment tools, combining a comprehensive best-practices guide, better application compatibility, and a new tool to help reduce the number of deployment images requires over various configurations, greatly reducing costs.

This tool will use a new file-based format, WIM. This is a hardware-independent format, allowing for multiple images and is bootable. You can make a non-destructive upgrade of the operating system, and each media can contain either a single instance, or compressed multiple instances. Extensive modularization is built-in, with the OS to be deployed built out of interdependent modules; allowing for the addition or removal of drives, patches, and languages on the fly. This image customization will let an enterprise create a single, worldwide deployment image. The setup manager also uses offline image servicing.

Internet Explorer 7 (IE7)
An integral piece of Windows Vista is Internet Explorer 7, or IE7. IE7 will be built into Windows Vista and a beta 1 version for Windows XP (SP2 only), will be released coincident with the release of Windows Vista beta 1.

Most of the improvements to IE7 lie beneath the hood. However, the UI is improved with a basic implementation of tabbed browsing in beta 1.

IE7 will operate in protected mode, i.e., it is a low-rights program, disallowing errant and malicious programs the opportunity to crash the system. When IE7 crashes, it, and it alone will be terminated, protecting the underlying operating system.

Another new feature in IE7 is the phishing filter. When used in conjunction with a service Microsoft has developed, the filter will seek information about hyperlinks in web pages from the service and present the user with an option to either continue, or to go back. A much needed tool in these times.

More information will be forthcoming as more time is spent with IE7.

Windows Vista & RSS
In a briefing by the Lead Program Manager for RSS on the Windows Vista team, we saw how RSS and Atom feeds have become assimilated into Windows Vista.

Coupled with the †extensions Microsoft developed and virtually gave away, feed syndication will move away from the somewhat clunky implementation it is today, to a more closely-coupled part of a user’s day.

When new applications are developed to take advantage of this feed syndication integration, a richer level of relevant information will be presented to the uses, improving the user experience.

Microsoft developed some extensions to RSS and published them under the Creative Commons license, virtually placing them in the public domain.

Hands-on with Windows Vista beta 1

After the technical presentations, we got down-and-dirty, with Windows Vista beta 1.

The first thing that strikes you is the ‘Glass’ user interface. That baby is so cool, you will want to take it home! Moving to navigation, I was impressed at how fast, for a beta 1 product, the system snapped to it. The icons looked great and the control panel was populated by several new options, giving the system administrator greater control over more aspects of the system over Windows XP.

Windows Explorer has also been vastly improved, with data files using metadata to virtualize the physical location of the files. You can also associate files and manipulate the in an almost spreadsheet-like manner, taking the drudgery from file keeping.

Search is also enhanced, permeating virtually aspect of the OS. It better be, since the virtualization of data file location demands a capable search mechanism to locate items.

The stability of the OS build, the build# I would not reveal here, was also very striking. We were allowed to use the systems without chaperones, showing the confidence of the development team in their product. They had nothing to fear. In all, a very good showing.

Conclusion

This visit to Longhorn Lab went way deeper than PR fluff; it revealed details about the thought and development processes that have gone into, are going into, and will go into the Windows Vista product before it is RTM’d.

Windows Vista shows that Microsoft, as usual, has done what no other market-leading company has done before: adapt. Microsoft has learned a lot from the lambasting Windows, and its reputation, have been getting in the press. As a result, they have responded with a product that will be able to overcome the bad press, and move the users back to the confident place they were before all the issues with security, an outdated UI, and usability come to fore.

If Windows Vista’s development follows the targeted path faithfully, there isn’t any reason why the product will not be the greatest thing since, well, Windows 95.

For that, the only demons Microsoft has to slay would be the internal demons of software quality and a lack of clarity in product segmentation, branding, and marketing.

This was the final Longhorn Lab event. My assumption is that future events will be called Vista Lab events.

Windows Vista beta 1 release set for today






Microsoft will release Windows Vista beta 1 today.

Accordingly, we are releasing these low-res screen shots and will post the hi-res versions on our website.

Windows Vista beta 1 preview


I will be releasing a Windows Vista beta 1 preview coincident with the release of beta 1.

Please watch this space.

Logikworx customers will get a more detailed preview on their boards.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

WGA now required.

Microsoft's anti-piracy validation service, Windows Genuine Advantage or WGA, has gone from an opt-out service to a required service.

Microsoft has made this process a carrot-and-stick situation with tangible benefits for having a genuine copy of Windows.

After downloading the required ActiveX control, your version of Windows is validated for 90 days.

After 90 days, you would require revalidation as Microsoft may have received new product keys that are out there in the wild.

All in all, a pretty customer-friendly process.

We have liftoff!

At 7.39am PDT, the space shuttle Discovery lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a mission.

This is the first shuttle mission since the ill-fated Columbia launch two years ago.

Despite the fact that the fuel pump failure warning light issue has not been resolved, NASA decided to brave this mission.

The courage of astronauts (and cosmonauts) cannot be overstated! Major brass!

Rock on, guys!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Official Windows Vista webpage



The official Windows Vista webpage can be found here.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Names pondered on by Microsoft before going with Windows Vista


According to news reports, Microsoft had thought about re-naming Longhorn "Windows Ruby", "Windows Sapphire", "Windows 07", "Windows Seven", or "Windows VII" before going with Windows Vista.

Thank God.

Let's look at the breakdown:
  • Windows Ruby: Sounds like a ladies-only OS.
  • Windows Sapphire: Same as above!
  • Windows 07: Same-old, same-old!
  • Windows Seven: Fresh, Kind of Sienfeld-ish, but not an attention-grabber; also the blogosphere would have a field day talking about the skipped OS number.
  • Windows VII: Hate it!
Aren't you glad that Windows Vista was in the mix?

Friday, July 22, 2005

Xbox 360: A 1st Look

Dateline: Redmond, Washington


During my visit to Microsoft’s Redmond campus earlier today, I had the opportunity to be briefed by a manager of the eHome division on the Xbox 360 and Windows XP Media Center Edition (MCE).

The focus of the briefing was the fact that unlike the original Xbox, Xbox 360 has a full Media Center Extender client built-in, obviating the need for an external add-on, currently $79.99, to connect the Xbox to your Media Center PC. This new built-in functionality also allows you to use the visualization running on the MCE PC on you Xbox 360. Why you would want to do that is another matter.

We were also informed that Xbox 360 would ship out of the gate with customizations for 33 countries. 33! Now I understood why the guy had bags under his eyes. A ‘shorty’ remote, (his own words, not mine), suitable for most of the basic functions of the Xbox 360 including DVD playback, will be the boxed remote for most countries, with a longer remote control unit available at retail. The longer remote control allows for TV tuning and more granular control of the Xbox 360 unit and the MCE PC.

The presenter then connected to a Media Center PC and started showing off some of these capabilities. The wireless controller started the Xbox 360, we saw a few videos, and he demonstrated the new functionality as detailed above.

The only downside is the you would probably need to use the Ethernet interface as opposed to WiFi for streaming a high-def video source through Extender.

The look and feel of the Xbox 360 is as advertised. The system has a more game-y component look to it, a la iPod, and the pre-production model had a fit that was well done. The wireless controllers are comfortable, useful.

Then we got to the game demos!

Hello!!!

Ghost Recon 3, the primary demo shown, never looked any better, especially the shots tracking the trajectories of the missiles. Awesome. You cannot wait for the final version of the games. Believe me!

I got to try the Xbox controller and moved around while doing that. System was very responsive and the Xbox 360 seemed to have lots of horsepower left. Then again, we were only playing demos. But the demos, if indicative of the power of the system, which I believe it is, and remember, it is a tri-core CPU, give you the feeling that this system will be all that. And more.

If you couple the design of the Xbox 360, the power of the Xenon CPU, and Xenos GPU, the number of games to be offered at the launch, the beauty and intuitiveness of the User Interface, and the built-in Media Center Extender connectivity, this system is the to-get item for this year’s holiday period.

Windows Vista limited to client OS only

Dateline: Redmond, WA.

Windows Vista will be the given name of the Windows desktop operating system only.

In an apparent nod to IT professionals, Microsoft will, by all indications, utilize the current nomenclature, adapting it for the year in which the server product will be released, most likely 2007.

Windows Vista beta 1 release set for August 3, 2005

Dateline: Redmond, WA.

The official release date of the Windows Vista beta 1 has been set for August 3rd, sources said.

This release is targeted at ISVs, developers, and IT pros.

Updates to follow.

Windows Vista Name Announcement

This is a video of the Windows Vista name announcement.

Windows Vista

Microsoft Windows Vista!

Windows codename 'Longhorn' is now Windows Vista.

In an announcement released today at 6.00am PDT, Microsoft announced the official name of the next generation of windows.

I like it!

This blog is devoted to this new product, and will reveal public, non-NDA'd information.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Windows Longhorn to be renamed 'Windows Vista'

According to anonymous sources, Windows 'Longhorn' will be renamed Windows Vista.

With an online announcement quietly scheduled for 6.00am PDT tomorrow, I have been informed that Microsoft will change its current naming convention for the flagship Windows (client) product.

The new name?

Windows Vista.

Furthermore, there is a lot of chatter in the blogosphere about this new name.

I have created this blog in order to bring you the very latest in Longhorn/Vista information, hence the name, Vista View.

Off to Redmond.

I am going off to Redmond for a very exciting time, exploring new things, and when permitted to, will bring you a report on the goings on in the Longhorn space.