The speech team finally signed off on Vista, which means after exhaustive testing we don't know of any issues that stand in the way of our users productively using speech. Of course, we're one of many teams, so this doesn't mean Vista is ready to ship (yet) but we're extremely close. I'm running the latest bits on my Toshiba Tablet M200 and it sings: it's amazing what kind of things you can still do even on a relatively old (2 1/2 yr old) laptop. Besides speech recognition (of course) I have the new graphic drivers and the wonderful aero interface.
So this is good news. First that a piece is done. Second that even old hardware is supporting Windows Vista - well not so news after all. I too have a Toshiba M200 here and had Windows Vista running with Aero Glass UI. This is good to show to people thinking that Windows Vista will always require new hardware.
The only question really is, will manufacturers release new drivers for the old hardware we have around?
Yes, I know about Good Sync, but I want something that works over the Internet.
I have 10 invitations for the MSN Soapbox beta program. If you want to join the fun, leave a comment here. Make sure to use a valid Live ID (Passport account) as your e-mail when posting the comment. No need to post the e-mail, just use it in the appropriate field in the comment section below.
I can say that the majority of bad moments came courtesy of developers, who are not working to have their software updated to run under the new Windows Vista model.
Before I continue, I will go straight to self-proclaimed "pundits" and "zealots": yes, there are changes in the way the software is supposed to work under Windows Vista. No, don't blame Microsoft. Remember, Apple does it all the time. Mac OS 9 versus Mac OS X. Even Mac OS 10.2 versus Mac OS 10.4. Or PowerPC versus Intel.
Now that we have this clear, let's go back to the topic. Windows Vista Beta has been around for a while now. It's almost being launched. Some say it will be announced in Canada no later than 23 November. Still some companies rather cry than fix their products.
One company I contact via e-mail replied with "We haven't installed Windows Vista to test our product yet". Another company told me when asked about their software conflicting with UAC "It should be something we can work out when Microsoft signs off on the OS and ships it to the public in a non-beta format".
As for Windows Vista faults, I have been doing my part as a beta tester, and reported whatever I find. And I do get feedback on my posts. And I've seen fixes and changes due to user input and requests.
The OS is almost here. Are you ready?
Today I plugged in my Nikon D50 digital SLR camera to my desktop running Windows Vista, and it showed the dialog to select what action to take. As usual the options to see images, open folder were there, but the last "General option" was a surprise:
Yes, Windows Vista recognised the (also high speed) SD card in use with this camera and offered to use it as a ReadyBoost device. Neat.
If you visit Geekzone a lot you probably read about our Geekzone RSS feeds before. If not, go on, read the article. I also recommend you read How to explain RSS the Oprah way, a very easy-to-read article explaining RSS feeds.
Back to Internet Explorer 7, then... One of the new features on this browser is the built-in RSS feed client. It's very easy to use, and you can start using RSS feeds without a specific program (the so called feed readers). Internet Explorer 7 will do everything for you. Here's is how...
Most websites these days have a feature called feed discovery. It means that a web browser will automatically identify what RSS feeds are associated with that specific website. On Internet Explorer this is done through an orange icon in the toolbar. When a RSS feed is identified you will see a start on the top right corner of the icon, like this one:
Click the arrow next to this icon and you will see a list of feeds on that website:
Things to mention here:
- enter a text in the box on the top right side and a filter will apply to that RSS feed, showing only the feeds with that word or text;
- change the order the feed entries are shown, by selecting Date or Title;
- filter the RSS feed entries by category, by clicking on any of the categories present on the list.
If you like the content of the feed, you can Subscribe to it by clicking Subscribe to this feed. This will give you a dialog to add this RSS feed to a list that will be quickly accessible through Internet Explorer 7:
Once you have added one or more feeds to your watching list, you can keep an eye on new and update stories by looking at the Favorites Center, in the Feeds list. You access the Favorites Center by clicking the big yellow star on the left of the tabs on Internet Explorer 7:
Because some feeds are not frequently updated you can right-click each one and change their properties, fine-tuning the system, saving your bandwidth and getting the right mix of information:
Easy? Now that you have a collection of RSS feeds, you just need to keep an eye on their content, and when you see something interesting just click on the headline and your browser will open the page corresponding to that content.
What's more interesting here though is that Internet Explorer 7 uses the same RSS repository used by new programs coming out soon, such as Microsoft Outlook 2007 and Windows Live Mail Desktop. This means that RSS feeds you subscribe through Internet Explorer 7 are automatically available through those other programs. Neat, right?
Now go on, subscribe to some RSS feeds and be more efficient when collecting your daily dosis of information. Just that you know, I currently have about 300 feeds in my collection.
Next, visit the Spyware Sucks blog and read the post IE7 Gold has gone live. You will find a very good list of things to do before, during and after the install of this update.
Remember, you don't have to install it now, but it will be pushed to all Windows PCs through Windows Update sometime soon. Companies will be able to disable the automatic update, check with your IT departments.
Anyway, talking to Craig Pringle today during my weekly geek coffee meeting at Astoria, he asked if I was interested on a 2GB SD card for use with ReadyBoost. I was surprised, because I thought this new Windows Vista feature only worked with USB memory key devices. But nope, from RC1 ReadyBoost is also available for some SD cards providing you have an internal memory card reader (sorry, no external card reader option).
Seeing that it just happens that my desktop does have an internal card reader I decided to go for it, and order a 2GB SD card.
Of course I had to try it as soon as possible, even before the new SD card arrived. So I just got home after the meetings and inserted a 1GB SD card (133x) into the drive - and it automatically detected the card and offered the option to turn on ReadyBoost. Nice!
I will be using this 1GB SD card until the other big one arrives.
You can read all about this feature in the ReadyBoost FAQ.
When I visited the Adobe site to install Flash, I came across their ADOBE SOFTWARE END USER LICENSE AGREEMENT [sic]:
1. "Authorized Operating Systems" means the desktop and standard-laptop versions of the following operating systems:
1. Microsoft Windows operating systems (including desktop and standard-laptop PC versions of Windows 95, 98, 2000, NT, ME, XP Home, XP Professional, and XP Tablet PC Edition, but specifically excluding Windows XP Embedded, Windows XP Media Center Edition, and successors);
2. Macintosh operating systems;
3. Linux operating systems, but specifically excluding any embedded version of Linux; and
4. Solaris operating systems.
2. "Adobe" means Adobe Systems Incorporated and its licensors, if any.
3. "Software" means only the Macromedia® Flash® Player, Macromedia® Shockwave® Player, or Macromedia® Authorware® Player and third party software programs, in each case, supplied by Adobe therewith, and corresponding documentation, associated media, printed materials, and online or electronic documentation, and all updates or upgrades of the above that are provided to you.
For the avoidance of doubt, no embedded or device versions of the above operating systems, or any other operating systems, are included as Authorized Operating Systems.
How interesting. Windows XP Media Center is not allowed to run Flash? Is everyone breaking the EULA? Or is there another version for this specific OS?
What about Windows Vista? I am running Windows Vista Ultimate, which incorporates Windows XP Media Center Edition functionality. I am in breach of this EULA?
The only thing holding me back on going 100% Windows Vista on my desktop was the compatibility with some devices I have here. For example the Bluetake Bluetooth USB adapter, Microsoft Fingerprint Reader, the Microsoft VX-6000 Webcam, the Disc Stakka. All those either work with the current software or I am now able to download drivers and use on Windows Vista, so why not go for it?
I was also talking my time to test some other software I deem "essential" for my work: LogMeIn, GoToMyPC, WebDrive, and Hamachi. I have now tested all these and they work flawlessly on Windows Vista RC1.
I also tested the Windows Mobile Device Center Beta 3 (screenshot below) and managed to connect my Pocket PCs, again without problems.
Since I still have another machine running Windows XP 2 Service Pack (I can't update that machine just yet), I am going to rebuild my desktop with Windows Vista RC2. If anything needs Windows XP explicitly I can always use the other machine as a backup for the odd application.
I am also doing this because now is the time that more and more peripherals are coming with Windows Vista drivers. I have already received some that will need testing and there is no sense in testing these on Windows XP. So this is the right time to do this migration.
This coming week I am taking a day off just to install the new OS and the essential applications.