Well, this weekend was a busy one. I just finished a marathon run (that took a few hours longer than expected), moving Interscape's hosting environment off of a Windows Server 2003/Virtual Server-based setup, and onto our own private rack with new AMD servers and the Windows Server 2008 November CTP. The website is still being hosted off of WS2003 for the next few days, while I get the IIS7 web servers ready, but my entire network is now fully virtualized on Microsoft's new Hyper-V technology. I've had some interesting experiences getting that going, and I hope to be able to blog about it in the next few days.
You should see speed improve over the next couple days as I get all the kinks ironed out, but if you run into any hiccups, please let me know. Thanks!
You will now find that Microsoft has released Visual Studio 2008 on MSDN for certain subscribers. It will be there soon for everyone, but if you are a Volume User on MSDN, then you might not find it there yet (as of yesterday).
I was pretty excited for this release. Once installed, I had to also install JetBrain's ReSharper and it requires you to do a command line install. Once the .msi for ReSharper is on your machine, you will have to use the following command to install it for VS2008.
msiexec /i ReSharperSetup.3.0.2.VS80.Full.msi VSVERSION=9.0
Once you do this, you will be fine. Beside that, I would recommend this upgrade and there are some exciting features in this release. One being that you can now target and build for the .NET Framework 2.0/3.0/3.5. Though, if you work on a large team with a lot of projects, you also need to be aware that although you can go back and target .NET Framework 2.0 applications, when you open up a 2.0 application within VS2008, you will be prompted to upgrade the application (upgrade to VS2008 - not upgrade to .NET 3.5). You cannot share the same solution file amongst versions of VS2005 and VS2008.
Don't have a TV tuner installed in your computer but still enjoy using Windows Media Center?
If so, there is a simple registry modification that you can make to disable the "TV + Movies" item in Media Center.
- Click on Start, and in the "Start Search" field type "REGEDIT", then press Enter.
- If User Account Control prompts you for consent, provide the appropriate credentials or provide consent.
- In the navigation pane, locate HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center\Start Menu.
- In the right hand pane, you will see a "REG_DWORD" value with a name of "HideTV", which has a default value of 0. Double click the "HideTV" DWORD and change its value to 1.
- Close the Windows Registry Editor.
Now launch Windows Media Center, you should no longer see the "TV + Movies" option listed.
NOTE: This does remove the "Play DVD" option as it is listed under "TV + Movies", but fear not -- when you put a DVD into the system while Media Center is running, by default it will automatically begin playing.
Lots of people are talking about a list that Neowin.net leaked over the weekend about beta tester feature requests for future version of Windows. Some people have attributed this list to a bunch of different things, so let me take a minute and clear the air.
The list is from a Microsoft Connect program called the Windows Early Feedback program. It is set up for existing Windows Beta Testers to make feature requests for consideration in future versions of Windows (and not necessarily just "Seven"). While reports are correct that Microsoft is "not obligated to include them in future releases," that does not under any circumstances mean that the list is not watched or items are not considered. All it means is that the Windows Beta team cannot promise that the features will be included anywhere (especially since some, like backing up Xbox 360 games to a PC, don't have a prayer of ever happening), but I have it on good authority that the list does get seen by the various Windows teams.
So when an anonymous Microsoft source says the list "bear(s) no relationship to the actual feature set Microsoft is currently writing for Windows 7," I think what they means was something more along the lines of "you should not consider this to be a list of features in Windows 7. The WEF list is simply a customer guideline, and is not representative of the state of our internal planning documents." I don't think it should be interpreted as though the team doesn't care what customers think or that the list won't be considered by the various decision makers.
Windows Vista was the most customer-driven Windows release ever. It's is pretty safe to say that the Windows Division is more in-tune with their customers than ever before. The fact that they even asked for feedback this early in the planning stages is a HUGE step forward for Microsoft. In previous betas, they did their planning based on their own priorities, and didn't care much what the customers thought. At least now they're listening, and they shouldn't be knocked for it.
As I posted earlier, the holiday season is in full force for Microsoft. I'm not sure when they put this up, but there's now new information about the V2 Media Center Extenders online.
Microsoft is gearing up for the holiday season with a whole new Windows Vista marketing push.
I'm not sure when this new home page went live, but it's a bit more interactive than it used to be. IMO it could still be a lot more interactive, and should be using Silverlight. And it should be doing a better job connecting with the consumer on an emotional level when they explain why it it better. But hey, it's an improvement.
Last year, Microsoft was forced to add one of the worst features ever to IE because of the Eolas patent dispute. Well, now that Microsoft has settled that dispute, they're taking the feature completely out of the product, according to a post from the IE blog.
I really glad that cooler heads prevailed on this one. That feature made web pages far less usable, and was just an all around PITA. Come Vista SP1 or the April 2008 Cumulative Update, we can finally begin conserving mouse clicks, one of our most important natural resources.
[via All about Microsoft]
For the last couple weeks, Buy.com has had an absolutely smokin' deal on the Xbox 360 HD-DVD Drive. IMO, it's a better deal than the $100 players from Best Buy. For $170, you get the drive (which comes with King Kong in the box), plus Heroes Season 1 on HD-DVD (which retails by itself for $70). On top of all of that, Microsoft and Toshiba have switched up their 5 Free HD-DVD collection with a much better selection of movies. So you get a drive plus 12 HD-DVD discs for the same price as the drive itself used to be. It was a deal that I just couldn't pass up. The package came on Tuesday, and I've been having a great time getting my home theatre set up the way I want, and enjoying my new HD-DVDs.
So then I found out that, while Blockbuster has been a huge Blu-Ray supporter, they still have a pretty serious collection of HD-DVDs in their "Total Access" program. Unfortunately, you'd never know it, because the site hardly says anything about it, and it's buried under the "Collections" menu item. But I cleared out my queue and loaded it up with a bunch of movies that I already love that I can't wait to see in hi-def.
Then yesterday I came across this website explaining what HD-DVD is to the consumer. Microsoft built and owns the site, which I found to be very interesting. They have a huge stake in the HD-DVD war for reasons other than the Xbox 360. For example, I found out here that Microsoft is building a reference player that uses Windows CE6 to enable a simpler platform. Microsoft also designed the HDi standard, and this page explains how it works, and links to sample code. There is some interesting content on the site, but I definitely have some issues with it.
So I think that Microsoft's attempt to engage the consumer this way is a good thing overrall, but this site needs a LOT of work. For starters, why isn't the whole thing done in Silverlight? You're talking about high-definition and high-interactivity, but the site is about as interactive as a post. They should be using tons of eye-candy to blow people out of the water on how cool HD-DVD is. And Microsoft has a whitepaper on the home page that talks about why they support HD-DVD.... it's one of the most boring whitepapers I've ever seen... and I've read a lot of whitepapers. If they expect a consumer to read that document, they're totally nuts.
If this site is targeted at consumers, Microsoft needs to step it up a notch. If it's targeted at content providers, they could still do a much better job explaining the business case for why the HD-DVD experience is just better.
However, having said that, I think that HD-DVD has hit the sweet spot when it comes to price point, and that the holidays will be a turning point for the format. So far, my experience with it has been nothing short of fantastic, and I can't wait to build out my collection. Hopefully all of the other 90,000 people that bought HD-DVD drives last week will go out and buy a bunch of movies on the format, so that the studios will capitulate and put movies like Spiderman 3 on HD-DVD too.
BTW, I think it's funny that in the face of HD-DVD's overwhelming week, that Sony CEO Howard Stringer just today called the format war a "stalemate", and "a difficult fight." I wonder how long they'll hold out before they're forced to concede defeat. And I wonder what a Blu-Ray defeat will do to the PS3. We'll see come February, after everyone has cashed in their holiday gift cards. Maybe soon the studios will start supporting both formats... then the consumer will truly "win".
Why I Think HD-DVD Will Win:
- Better player price point
- Better product bundles
- Better title pricing
- Better format protection (HD-DVD/DVD combo discs, like ST:TOS Season 1)
- Better overall experience
Whatever your feelings about the war, Islamic extremism, etc, the global climate of conflict affects us all. I was reading an article on MSNBC questioning whether or not the most recent Bin Laden tape was real or fake, and I cane across a very interesting quote on the second page:
(Evan Kohlmann, the NBC News counter terrorism analyst, says most of the software is probably pirated, that every major jihadi site has a download section filled with software from companies as big as Microsoft or Adobe.)
So you see, when you buy legitimate software (and use Windows Genuine Advantage), you're not just keeping Microsoft financially solvent. You're helping to fight religious extremism. And isn't that good for everyone?
Over the course of my Windows Server 2008 testing, I've had to do a fair amount of work with WIM files. The problem is, that works comes in fits and starts, and I really hate having to keep looking up the syntax for mounting WIM images using ImageX.
This morning, I was preparing to move my web hosting environment yet again, which means I have to build new ISOs with my unattended settings files yet again. So I decided to make life a little bit easier. I'll let the picture explain what it does, then I'll explain what you need to do.
The solution is a pair of registry files, one for x86 and one for x64, that create an File Association for WIM files, and adds Context Menu options to replace the process of using ImageX at the command line, and having to remember what order to specify which arguments to pass.
- The first image in the WIM file is always used. If you have more than one image per WIM file, you'll still have to use the command-line.
- The mount path is hard-coded as C:\mounted_wim. You must create a folder there to mount your WIM images. The alternative is to modify the registry files to point to your own custom location.
- You may need to restart your computer before the icon for the WIM file shows up.
That's about it. I've tested it on both platforms, and everything seems to work alright. If you have any problems, post them here.
Rakki Muthukumar is a Microsoft Developer Support Engineer for ASP.NET and IIS7. If you haven't seen his blog, he has a bunch of really great tips about IIS7. This one in particular explain how to run 32-bit and 64-bit applications on the same IIS7 box, but in different worker processes. This was not possible in IIS6, so it's a welcome change for developers looking to run legacy 32-bit apps while upgrading their projects to 64-bit.
For those of you looking to try out Windows Home Server, but have been left out in the cold by it's exclusion from MSDN, now have an answer. The Windows Home Server 120-Day Evaluation is now live and ready to be ordered. Costs $5.99 for delivery in the US, and your order will be filled in 1-3 weeks.
It can also be ordered from these countries: (with direct order links)
I've been running the RTM version for about a week now, and I'll blog about my experiences shortly.
I love watching geek group-think. There is little doubt at this point that we are firmly ensconsed in the Web 2.0 bubble, which means that another tech-related stock fallout is on the horizon. In the meantime, the web is abuzz today about Google's OpenSocial platform, and how it's supposed to be One API To Bind All Social Networking Platforms (Besides Facebook)™.
Google has had a whole lot of success in the past with grandiose open APIs (ATOM, anyone?), but lest we forget the deal that Facebook and Microsoft struck less than a week ago. I HIGHLY doubt that Facebook didn't see this coming, and that their relationship with Microsoft also holds more than meets they eye. If you're a big company, and you want to cozy up to developers, let's just say that Google probably isn't going to be your first choice.
I'm just sayin.
BSODs (oops, sorry "kernel panics"), application compatibility problems, new security dialogs, pundits warning users to postpone upgrades, users canning the OS entirely... is it time for Vista SP1? Nope, seems like Vista isn't the only operating system that had a lot of issues right out of the gate. OS X "Leopard" has finally launched, and all those Mac fanboys who laughed haughtily at Vista users have been choking on crow feathers for a few days now.
Apple's newest operating system is at best an evolution from predecessor Tiger. Some of the criticisms leveled at Windows Vista apply to Leopard. Seriously.
By comparison, Vista's shakedown is largely over. I have little to complain about and lots more to like about Vista than I did in February.
Before I get flamed for posting about it, Joe also posted a list of reasons it is better than Vista, but as he said himself, they had little to do with Leopard itself and more with the ecosystem. (His post about the Microsoft/Apple Double-Standard is also a good read).
Switchers aren't the only ones pissed. Even Apple co-founder Steve Wozinak doesn't have very good things to say about the company right now.
Of course Apple will post fixes for all this stuff, and life will go on. But between this, the iPhone unlocking debacle, using credit cards to track who purchased what iPhone (and limiting the number you can buy) to fight unlockers, screwing their early iPhone adopters, Apple may very well be architecting the worst PR turnaround in history.
In the meantime, Brad Wardell, one of the most well-versed people on the technical details of the Windows platform (and therefore one of it's more vocal critics) just posted a list of the "Ten Cool Things about Vista you may not have heard of", otherwise known as "10 of the 30,000 new features in Vista you're guaranteed to take for granted."
Now Microsoft should come out with commercials making fun of Leopard, like Apple did with Vista. But I don't think Microsoft would do that... they have more class than that.
Apple users: Enjoy your new OS, and us Windows fanboys will try to refrain from laughing at you... too hard.
Engadget has put together a side-by-side comparison of Vista vs. Leopard. It shouldn't be surprising to anyone that Engadget thinks Apple is better (the same as it shouldn't be a surprise that, I'd probably dispute that, if I had a copy of Leopard to try out), but it was a lot closer than I expected.
Vista beat out the Mac in media features (well, duh), but iLife still edges out the integrated Vista counterparts. Hopefully the Windows Live takeover of most of those apps will lead to greater improvements over a shorter timeframe.
If I were on the Windows team, I would be actively engaging with these people to find out what they can do to beat out Apple in the usability department (at least something a little more intelligent then "cuz Apple rulezors", anyways)