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Windows 7 Media Center screenshots

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 21-Jan-2009 10:05

I first came in contact with Windows 7 when Microsoft released the M3 build to a select group of private testers on Connect, back in December.

Windows 7 M3 made its way to my HP tablet PC and it is running on it - solid and fast for a few weeks now. It will be replaced this weekend with the new Windows 7 Build 7000 though.

But Windows 7 Build 7000 is already installed on my Windows Media Center in the lounge. I run an Apple Mac mini as a Media Center PC, booting into Windows via Bootcamp. It's a machine small and silent enough to be in the lounge.

Until now I had been using dvbviewer to watch Freeview (DVB-T) with good results. The receiver is a Hauppagge HVR-900, and while the whole setup struggles a bit with very high definitions channels (such as TV3) it does well on the other HD channels.

My main objective on upgrading this setup to Windows 7 Build 7000 was to test the built-in H.264 support, that would allow us in New Zealand to have Freeview HD terrestrial programs directly on the Media Center experience, without having to use a third party program.

And did Windows 7 deliver! The upgrade over the existing Windows Vista installation was smooth and quick. The Apple Bootcamp drivers all worked ok, and even the drivers for the USB DVB-T receiver worked fine.

Tunning worked well - but there are still problems with the EPG (Electronic Programming Guide).

Another thing I feel it misses is the - long lasting - lack of support for ISO files. The Media Center won't play a DVD backup in ISO format without third party software.

Other than these two points, it's a very interesting release so far. The PC itself boots much faster than before, channel switching is smooth and the picture is almost perfect.

Here are some screenshots for your pleasure:



















Microsoft Certification Exam discounts (New Zealand only)

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Jan-2009 14:47

Are you on the Microsoft Certification path? I will help you get some discounts then. You need only to visit the Microsoft Learning special site and request a voucher by entering a special MVP Certification code NZADDEB4.

This code will give you a 10% discount voucher and free retake if needed to.

Note this is valid for exams taken in New Zealand only by 31st May 2009, and valid for Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS), Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) and Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD) exams.

What are you waiting for?

Thanks to the Microsoft MVP Program for arranging this so I could distribue to you folks...




Update your Windows (client, server) machines *NOW*

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-Dec-2008 08:24

Just a reminder that Microsoft has released an update for Internet Explorer.

This update is coming out of the band (meaning it's not part of the second Tuesday of the month cycle of update) because it's an important update - there are reports of malicious activities already using the vulnerability covered by this update.

In my experience Windows Server 2008 64 bit do not require a restart. All other versions will require a reboot.

Just visit http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com to do it. You'll find more information here.



Is Hyper-V on Windows Vista coming?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Oct-2008 08:21

This is an interesting bit of information I found on a Microsoft Knowledge Base article "Error message when you try to start a Hyper-V virtual machine on a Windows Server 2008-based or Windows Vista-based computer that uses the NUMA architecture: "An error occurred while attempting to change the state of virtual machine VMNAME""


To apply this hotfix, the computer must run one of the following operating systems:
Windows Vista SP1
Windows Server 2008


Wait there. I thought Hyper-V was only available for Windows Server 2008? You can say "Yes, but you can run Hyper-V remote administration on Windows Vista" - but why a remote administration tool would require a kernel update and none of the remote admin tool file being updated?

Is Microsoft going to replace Virtual PC 2007 with Hyper-V on consumer PCs?

I have asked around but haven't heard from some Microsoft people about this yet... Do you know anything else?



Windows Vista Sevice Pack 2 beta test announced

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Oct-2008 08:09

Last week I received an invitation to the Windows Vista SP2 and Windows Server 2008 SP2 beta program. This came as a surprise since I had heard nothing about it.

The confirmation came later in the week, when the Windows Vista Blog posted the official announcement of Windows Vista SP2.

This is a list of things coming out in this new release:


  • Windows Vista SP2 adds Windows Search 4.0 for faster and improved relevancy in searches.
  • Windows Vista SP2 contains the 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.
  • Adds Windows Connect Now (WCN) to simplify Wi-Fi Configuration.
  • Windows Vista SP2 enables the exFAT file system to support UTC timestamps, which allows correct file synchronization across time zones. 


The Bluetooth 2.1 Feature Pack is interesting because it is actually part of a bigger update, the Windows Vista Feature Pack for Wireless, which is only released to OEM so far.

Another important piece of information is that this service pack will also be available to Windows Server 2008.

Testing doesn't start until next week, so I don't expect to see this officialy released until the end of the year or earlier next year. Of course all depends on how the testing go.



Microsoft looking for developer feedback

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 23-Oct-2008 13:58

I got a message today from a friend at Microsoft pointing out an initiative to collect feedback from the vast developer community we have here in New Zealand.

The idea is to have about 60 developers across the country spread through six focus group meetings. These meetings will be happening in Christchurch (11th November), Wellington (13th November) and Auckland (19th November).

Scott Wylie, the Director of the Developer and Platform Strategy Team for Microsoft NZ, will be facilitating these sessions. Scott’s role is to listen and understand your feedback which will enable his team to provide better support and resources for NZ developers.

You can find a lot more details on Scott's blog. And if you would like to participate, please email your interest to nzeditor@microsoft.com with your contact details and preferred focus group (by session number as listed in his blog) you would like to attend.




Microsoft Windows Mojave

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 25-Jul-2008 09:06

So you complain about Windows Vista but actually never used it? Maybe what you need is Microsoft Windows Mojave.

In summary, a set of people were asked what they think is bad on Windows Vista. Their answers were recorded.  They were then shown "Microsoft Windows Mojave".

One of the subjects in the study even said "Wow", the word Microsoft used in the "The wow starts now" campaign for Windows Vista.

Microsoft then revealed "Windows Mojave" and "Windows Vista" are the same one.

I know a lot of Linux and Mac OS X users who bash Windows Vista without ever having touch a computer running the OS. How can they "know" so much? Or perhaps they don't.

Isn't this a big perception problem?

All the details here.

UPDATE: The Mojave Experiment results are coming on-line!



Live Mesh...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 18-Jul-2008 12:55

Arghhh. I have installed Live Mesh to see if it would keep both my notebooks in sync. I decided I would give it a try because I can believe this is something that doesn't work out of the box (oh, wait this is a feature I want in "Consumer OS").

Anyway, since the update Live Mesh allows me to install the software on Windows Vista SP1 with no UAC requirements and allows me to sync folders directly between peers, I decided it would be worth trying it.

Hello, developers! Here's what's not working:

I have three folders I want to sync: My Documents, Pictures, Temp. Total is about 20 GB. So I made an exact copy of these folders on my second notebook and just for testing I enabled Live Mesh sync on Temp.

What was I expecting? That Live Mesh would be smart enough to look at the files, create a hash code and decide both folders are already in sync.

What it really happened? Live Mesh asked if I wanted both existing folders to be in sync, which I confirmed. And it started downloading 2 GB from Temp on my master notebook.

I am glad I did not enable this on Pictures or My Documents.

The folders are already in sync. Just accept it and go on with life, for goodness sake. We don't have unlimited bandwidth for initial synchronisation - and we don't need initial synchronisation if the folders are already the same.

I have submited this is a fault through the beta feedback form, but in the meantime I am back to Goodsync and the manual process.




We need a new OS. Let's call it Consumer OS...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-Jul-2008 09:34

This is something I have been thinking about for some time now.

For starters, let's be clear, Microsoft Windows Vista works. I am not saying it works well, but it works.

There are the odd faults of course. Some have been fixed with a much expected Windows Vista Service Pack 1. Most are still related to device drivers (and almost 30% alone caused by NVIDIA software).

And of course the inevitable comparison with Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 - itself fast and quite solid.

But for consumers Windows Vista is just not there yet.

There are lots of things I don't like in the software. I won't list here everything - the fact it takes so long to start, why sleep won't simply work (device drivers again), or why does it need to keep the HDD activity constant even with the "search indexer" off (because really the search is not as good as promised and who but a geek goes to Microsoft's website looking for another indexer and search solution?).

There are three things that I think need quickly to be fixed: enterprise focus, device driver conflicts and multiple versions of the same OS.

Will Windows 7 fix these problems? From reading Paul Thurrottt's Windows 7 FAQ I doubt it:


Microsoft has publicly committed to only one feature for Windows 7--pervasive multi-touch and the company is currently still deciding what this next Windows release will look like. We do know a few other things about Windows 7, however: It will include a new version of Windows Explorer that is being built by the same team that designed the Ribbon user interface in Office 2007. It will likely include some form of the "Hypervisor" (Windows Virtualization) technologies that will ship shortly after Windows Server 2008. It will also likely include the WinFS (Windows Future Storage) technologies, though they won't be packaged or branded as WinFS. Microsoft says it might also make a subscription-based version of the OS available to consumers, but that's still in flux.


Multi-touch? Is that it? Seriously, after the Apple iPhone, everything must have multi-touch? Nothing better to do? Nothing actually original?

Microsoft Windows Vista must to go the way of the enterprise. Leave it for the corporate bodies.

Microsoft needs to work on a consumer operating system. One that doesn't join a domain. One that doesn't have IIS code in it. One that will actually do what consumers want.

"You can always use Windows Vista Home Basic" I hear you saying...

But I am looking for an operating system that is friendly and fool proof. Easy to use and feature rich. Not feature rich as in "this will let you run a FTP server" but as in "this is secure without having to run memory hungry slow third party security software".

Let's call it "Consumer OS".

"Consumer OS" should let users do what they want. Not what associations want. If you want to record a TV program to watch it later, so be it. If you want to share a user-generated file so be it. It should have solid synchronisation capabilities built-in. Something such as Live Mesh, but that works out of the box.

The "Consumer OS" is not the copyright police. It frees up people to use their content. Content want to be available. Make those codecs available - I am sick of waiting for Windows Vista Media Center to support the H.264 DVB-T broadcast (and the rumours are now that it won't, even though early betas seem to have it kind of working).

"Consumer OS" would run only on certain basic hardware - listed on a website. The basic hardware would be motherboard, video and networking devices. "Consumer OS" would have to make sure requests and responses to these devices would always be reliable, not cause exceptions - if any exception is caught them make sure things get into a defined range and a specific application stops, but never show a blue screen and crashes the entire system.

"Consumer OS" won't be a geeks paradise. It will be a family's paradise.

Is this too much to ask for?



Windows Home Server PP1 Beta open now

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Jun-2008 17:01

I have been part of the Windows Home Server Power Pack 1 private beta for a while, and I have to say it is solid. My Windows Home Server runs 24/7 for months without a reboot and it keeps our 2.5 TB of data safe.

Yes, it's a lot of data, but we have a few laptops and desktops around here, gigabytes of pictures and home videos and all duplicated for enhanced safety.

Power Pack 1 introduces a few new features and fixes, but most importantly it introduces a fix for a data corruption bug that could create problems if users were modifying files directly on the server shares.

The best new features? Support for PCs running Windows Vista x64, and backup of your Windows Hme Server shared folders.


Check the official Windows Home Server team blog for more information and how to get it.



freitasm's profile

Mauricio Freitas
Wellington
New Zealand


I live in New Zealand and my interests include mobile devices, good books, movies and food of course! 

I'm the Geekzone admin. On Geekzone we publish news, reviews and articles on technology topics. The site also has some busy forums. Also worth visiting is TravelTalk NZ, a community for travelers!

Subscribe now to my blog RSS feed or the Geekzone RSS feed.

If you want to contact me, please use this page or email me freitasm@geekzone.co.nz. Note this email is not for technical support. I don't give technical support. You can use our Geekzone Forums for community discussions on technical issues.

Here's is my full disclosure post.

A couple of blog posts you should read:

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