Well, it's about time for me to blog again. My privileges were suspended following that last posting here caused a small ruckus. You may have seen my name/posting referenced on ZDnet, Engadget, Cnet, Fake Steve Jobs, Seattle PI, among others.
This posting is my announcement that I am leaving Microsoft for the great unknown. Not unknown as in a new job. I mean unknown as in unemployment, recharging the ol' batteries, bumming around, "Ohmygod What have I done?" and "What am I going to do next?"
I wanted to take the time to thank every one of the Tablet fans that I've met, from Lora Heiny and her fine family, Terri Stratton, Linda Epstein, Rob Bushway, Dennis Rice, Chris Hassler, Nancy Lush at Lush Group, the two funny guys from England who attended TechEd05 in Orlando FL and actually bought Tablets because of me, and the hundreds of others that I've met online, over the phone, and in person. And all the fine people I've worked with on the the Tablet projects over the years.
Thanks also go out to everybody who took an interest in my career at Microsoft. I came in as a temp working on Windows 95 applications compatibility and I go out working on the coolest consumer input technology, touch input. I made it to the ten year mark!
This decision is not directly due to the furor generated by my little December blog post, but that certainly didn't help my standing in my working life. It's been a couple of years in the making, but even after a couple of years knowing this day would come, it's shocking to know that it's finally here.
I am happy to have moved the needle, no matter how little, on the openness of Tablet development at Microsoft and hopefully I have advanced the public's understanding of Tablet technology.
Unfortunately, not yet available for order that I can tell.
Also, I want to apologize to the Tablet fans out there for not posting for so long. Reorgs, moving buildings, and Windows 7 work have all conspired against blogging here.
I will say that if you are impressed by the "touch features" in the iPhone, you'll be blown away by what's coming in Windows 7. Now if only we could convince more OEMs that Windows Touch Technology is going to drive their sales.
I had to have my battery replaced after a mere 30-something cycles. While I was whining about it to my Lenovo rep, my office-neighbor called out that she too, had suffered from a battery issue exactly like mine.
After getting our batteries replaced, I haven't had any issues with the replacement. However, I've seen quite a few calls for batteries go by on the grapevine.
Now, I find this post from the Lenovo blog "Inside the Box". Lenovo is extending the warranty and replacing batteries that fail testing.
"The Battery Verification Tool will tell you if your battery failed due to this issue, and if so, will direct you to the site where you can request a replacement.
Note: This issue is not related to previous safety recalls and does not pose a safety hazard."
P.S. I'm deep into planning/early milestones for Windows 7. I apologize for the lack of posts. Sucky code name huh?
Windows Experience is hosting their regular monthly MVP chat Thursday, June 21, 2007 at 10am Pacific.
"The audience for this chat will be mostly our worldwide Windows Shell MVPs, but a few others such as Tablet, Printing and IE may show up as well. "
I am planning on being on the chat, so if you have issues you'd like to have answered, either a) contact me directly through the Email link above, or b) pass your question on to an MVP like Rob Bushway, Dennis Rice, any of the Heiny family, and they'll be sure to get on the chat, right y'all??
I *think* this is the page the chat will appear on, but I'm not 100% sure.
Could it be? The last major OEM still not producing a Tablet PC might be ready to join the fold.
Doesn't sound too interesting, from what little detail is in the article.
"We wanted to wait for Vista and the Santa Rosa [Centrino Pro] ultra-low voltage platform,"
I had a great time meeting you and talking with you about UMPCs, Tablet PCs and Windows Vista.
I have received valuable feedback from you regarding form factors, "must-have" components and usability, which I will be passing back up to our Business Development team.
I hope you had as good and productive a show as I did.
BTW, if you haven't already, please check out the Silverlight + Ink hands-on lab which can be found here.
For a while now, I have wondered how to turn off the WWAN and Bluetooth radios in my x60.
Thanks to a program manager who finally asked the question, and to the Lenovo System Engineer who answered, I now know the secret. And I'm sharing with you.
If your system is up-to-date with System Update, you can press Fn-F5 to bring up the "Radio Dashboard" and control the status of all 3 radios in an x60T.
I wonder if turning off WWAN and Bluetooth will significantly impact my battery life, which currently hovers around 3 hours (full brightness, WLAN on).
I am assuming battery life will improve, perhaps by an hour, given the presumed power consumption of two radio transmitters.
I'm looking forward to seeing you, perhaps for the last time in-person.
You see, after Windows Vista shipped, reorganizations happened that effectively cut Tablet's participation in conferences to zero. In fact, there is no separate "Mobile and Tailored PC" group anymore, we're all just Windows!
I just bought a system with 4GB of physical RAM in it. The BIOS posts 4GB, but Windows tells me that I have anywhere from 2.75 - 3.5GB of RAM. Where is the rest of my RAM?
If you are running 32-bit Windows, you must live with it. You will not ever see all 4GB of RAM you've paid for.
If you are running 64-bit Windows, you may have to live with it. Depending on your motherboard's chipset, your system may support memory remapping. If so, you will be able to use all 4GB of RAM.
Due to an architectural decision made long ago, if you have 4GB of physical RAM installed, Windows is only able to report a portion of the physical 4GB of RAM (ranges from ~2.75GB to 3.5GB depending on the devices installed, motherboard's chipset & BIOS).
This behavior is due to "memory mapped IO reservations". Those reservations overlay the physical address space and mask out those physical addresses so that they cannot be used for working memory. This is independent of the OS running on the machine.
Significant chunks of address space below 4GB (the highest address accessible via 32-bit) get reserved for use by system hardware:
• BIOS – including ACPI and legacy video support
• PCI bus including bridges etc.
• PCI Express support will reserve at least 256MB, up to 768MB depending on graphics card installed memory
What this means is a typical system may see between ~256MB and 1GB of address space below 4GB reserved for hardware use that the OS cannot access. Intel chipset specs are pretty good at explaining what address ranges gets reserved by default and in some cases call out that 1.5GB is always reserved and thus inaccessible to Windows.
When looking at memory in systems (be it desktop or notebook) there are three questions to ask that will tell you the maximum amount of memory your O/S will be able to use:
1. What O/S Edition have you installed?
a. 32-bit Windows is limited to a maximum of 4GB and cannot see any pages above 4GB.
b. 64-bit Windows can use between 8GB and 128GB depending on SKU.
2. What address range can your processor actually access?
a. Typically that’ll be 40-bit addressing today for x64 (Intel EM64T/AMD64), but older processors may be limited to 36-bit or even 32-bit
3. Can your system’s chipset map memory above 4GB?
a. Mobile chipsets on sale today cannot (but that may change with time)
b. Newer workstations (which use chipsets developed for single or multi-proc servers) usually can.
Windows can remap memory from below 4GB to above 4GB and use it there, however, that relies on the three points above:
1. Can Windows access memory above 4GB?
a. 32-bit – NO
b. 64-bit – Maybe (due to chipset limitations)
2. Can your processor access memory above 4GB?
a. If it’s recent then it might, and if it’s either AMD64 or EM64T it’s almost certain
3. Does your chipset allow pages to be remapped above 4GB?
a. Probably not – and that’s what’s catching people who install 64-bit Vista to work around point 1 – they find they still cannot see above 4GB
In some cases, OEMs may be able to tweak their BIOS to reserve less memory for platform use, but we’re not talking a huge difference (ie, 100’s of MBs).
In the end a 32-bit OS and/or application can only, ever, handle 4GB of memory at a time, the AWE stuff just swaps chunks of memory in and out of that 4GB space, thus fooling the application and OS into using more space than it can “see”.
Physical Address Extension (PAE), extends the physical address space to 36-bits if your HW supports this. For most operations, the processor execution units will only see 32-bit addresses, the MMU will take care of the translation to 36bit addresses. No swapping here, only page translations (which are used regardless of PAE being on or not), this is a fundamental feature of any virtual memory operating system.
The OS and apps only see 32-bit addresses because the registers are limited to 32-bits (hence the “32-bit” architecture nomenclature). These are linear addresses which are extended to 36-bits in the translation to physical addresses, but they never show up in registers since there’s no room. It’s all internal until the address lines coming out of the chip are toggled. Thus my comment above about “if your H/W supports this (PAE)". I’m not going into how that works…
So, the OS can happily handle up to 64 GB of memory for 32-bit PAE-able systems.
Hope this helps explain the whole, ‘Why can’t I see 4 Gig of RAM in my system?” thing…
BTW – This does not change for Vista either…
HWJunkie DL (MSFT internal)
Bob Heath (original author of this summary material)
I've been using my Lenovo x60 Tablet for about a month now, and when I'm at home, I've not had any wireless connectivity. This wasn't such a big deal, as I can just plug in. But it's darn inconvenient!
Last week, I was in class (Debugging .NET Applications, by John Robbins) and got a little annoyed at my Tablet not having any wireless connectivity. I mean, it connected in the office, why not here?
Poking around some, I found out why I wasn't getting any connectivity outside of my office. If you go to:
Control Panel >> Network & Sharing >> Manage Network Connections >> *wireless connection* >> Properties >> Configure button >> Advanced tab >> Wireless Mode property
You'll find a list of values. In my case, the value was set to 1) 802.11a. I changed it to 6) 802.11 a/b/g and voila! I had wireless connectivity again. The property must have been set this way because I clean-installed Windows Vista instead of upgrading the Windows XPSP2 that came with it.
And why did I have wireless in my office? My building has been upgraded and there must be 802.11a spoken in my building, but not others yet.
After being sick the last couple of days, I got back in to work today and decided to finish my impressions piece for the x60.
Last week, I allowed my 3-year-old to use the x60's touch input feature. I immediately noticed that the screen shows skin oils very well. Cleaning the screen will have to be re-trained in me because I'm used to being able to rub the screen with a cleaning cloth while it's running. But the x60's digitizer is resistive, so the first couple of times I tried to wipe away my 3-year-old's fingerprints, I ended up with extra strokes on my Journal notes.
I can also understand now why BusinessWeek's Stephen Wildstrom didn't have good things to say about touch input. He hasn't had the pleasure of working with capacitive digitizers yet. The touch input features are not optimal on resistive digitizers, but it's certainly better than not having touch at all.
In my first impressions article, I bemoaned how the biometric processor didn't have drivers yet - voila! Lenovo has them now. Just ran the System Update utility and snagged another 716MB of updates for system drivers/utilities alone. Now I'll get to use the biometric logon at least for my non-corporate work. Microsoft policy prohibits use of biometric scanning as the sole authentication to the corporate network.
The battery life has been excellent. My system has the 8-cell extended battery and my experience so far has been that I can easily get 6 hours of life with the wireless on and connected.
My stated goal for this x60 is to replace my work desktop machine. That won't be too hard, since it is a P4 2.4Ghz, 1GB, 120GB HDD. I do have 2@ LCDs connected to the desktop, which I will kind of miss because no matter how you look at it, the x60's 12.1" display next to a 20" LCD in portrait mode is not the same as two 20" LCDs next to each other in portrait mode.
We're working on another issue of CoDe Focus Magazine! I've been helping to review articles and I have even contributed one of my own this time, Introduction to Touch Technology in Windows Vista.
Please take a look at the magazine when it comes out and let me know what you think!
Well, it's been about 10 days since I received my new desktop replacement, the Lenovo x60 Tablet.
The configuration I got is top-notch, something that I wouldn't be able to afford if I were buying this for strictly personal use. Of course, the first thing I did after unpacking the system was to network-boot to Microsoft's RIS server and clean-install Windows Vista (enterprise) and Office 2007 (enterprise).
Straight out of the box, the x60 impresses. Aero is on, and the performance metrics are decently high. This system rates a 3.1 overall score. The HDD is sprightly, which is especially noticeable when contrasted against the 4200 rpm unit in the x41 I was using. Biometric sensor is not working yet, but that's expected. And the touch digitizer is not working, which is not a surprise, since I know OEMs have to ship their devices with drivers in order for them to work. This situation is unfortunate, but necessary due to circumstances beyond our control.
After installation, the parade of system updates began. At first, I didn't realize that Lenovo makes updating easy by just downloading and running a single System Update utility from their support site. I was manually downloading each update separately. Once I got my head on straight, I ran System Update and just about spit up my drink when I was informed that there were 1.28 *gigabytes* of updates to install. Even if you uncheck the rescue/restore utility that weighed in at 400+MB, that's a hefty amount of updating to do for a clean install.
It's not running Vista (yet), but it's available on Costco.com.
Today in my RSS reader, I found a review from PC Magazine dated 1/7/07 on the new HP Pavilion TX1000 Tablet PC.
In the review, Cisco Cheng writes "But the OS did not recognize many of my pen strokes. One of the big reasons is that HP elected to go with a touch screen instead of a digitized screen from Wacom. Users often have a tendency to lay the palm of their hand against the screen when they write, thereby causing touch-screen functions to interfere with their pen strokes. This is a major problem: During testing, the system often didn't recognize the last stroke of my letters. The glass on the screen seems a little thicker, too, so you don't get that pen-on-paper feel when you write. Overall, the writing experience did not meet my expectations. By contrast, the Wacom-enabled X60 tablet and the Fujitsu LifeBook T4210, both of which I upgraded to Vista Build 6000, offer impressive accuracy in handwriting recognition. "
This is one of the challenges we have tackled while adding touch input to Windows Vista. How do you determine what is a benign touch that can be ignored, and what is a "real" touch, where the user intends for input to occur?
In general, the digitizer's driver measures the size of the touch contact (2d area) and passes the area information along with a calculated confidence value, to Vista's Tablet components. Vista then determines whether or not to ignore the touch contact, or give it control of the cursor.
You also need to be aware of two different types of digitizers, capacitive/combination ("digitized screen") and resistive ("touch screen").
Specifically addressing Mr Cheng's issue, when a combination digitizer detects that pen and touch are both in range/use, Vista prefers the pen and suspends touch for as long as the pen is in range. This is a simple way to remove contention between pen and touch. It gives a great user experience because it is very much like using a writing instrument on real paper. But because the HP is using a resistive digitizer, it simply sees multiple touches, and cannot tell which is the pen and which is touch.
Vista does not currently have a method to pick one valid touch out of multiple valid touches. How would we determine which one was "most valid"? If you put two (or more) fingers on a Tablet with a touch input screen at the same time, either you get total rejection (no touch input), or the cursor gets trapped between the valid touches. The cursor is released when the touches are released, but it's still not an optimal solution.
So what Mr Cheng is probably seeing is, that a) the driver that HP used on his review machine probably didn't implement area/confidence; and b) resistive digitizers ("does not have electronics") do not behave the same way as active ones do when both pen and touch are in use simultaneously.
I hope you all had nice holiday seasons. I will be posting more Vista Tablet features soon.
MSDN reference: http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms698092.aspx
There are several differences between using a pen for input and using your fingertip for input.
First of all, your finger probably doesn't taper down to a pointy-shaped millimeter-wide piece of plastic. In other words, your finger is a relatively large, relatively blunt pointer that isn't well-suited for the fine tasks that are done so well with a mouse.
Secondly, you likely don't have the electronics embedded in your finger for hovering over the digitizer. Every time you touch the digitizer is a tap/left-click. This is bad if you're simply trying to move the cursor around without lasso-selecting anything.
Also, if you're a normal, human user, you probably don't have a 'barrel button' on your finger for right-clicking.
Thus we introduce the touch pointer. It's large enough to see on-screen at all times. It fades away so that it doesn't become a distraction when you're not interacting with the screen. It has the familiar shape of the two-button mouse, which virtually all Windows OS users are acquainted with. You can touch the 'body' of the mouse and drag it around without tapping or selecting things.
When you get tired of it, you can touch the touch pointer taskbar icon and turn it off.
Simple design. Easy to understand. Useful.
Hey all, Rob Bushway of GottaBeMobile did a short InkShow of me demonstrating the new touch input capability of Windows Vista.
The show ended yesterday after 3.5 VERY busy days of meeting and greeting the gathered developer community. Each day, I must have been standing and demoing for 4-5 hours straight, which is unusual, because normally, there are ebbs and flows in the attendees due to sessions. But our booth location and the confluence of unrelated tradeshows (Spa and Pool industry, racing track owners, Pepsi media/advertising execs) helped fill in the ebb times. I must say, there were a large number of Spa and Pool industry people who are quite savvy in their computing! Maybe, when I am able to convince my wife to allow me to get a spa, it'll have a waterproof, touch-enabled Tablet built-in for controlling the various features.
The sessions we had were well-attended. I personally only caught one, Todd Landstad's Developing for the Ultra Mobile PC, and there were close to 40 people in the room. When you consider Mobile Connections attendees overall numbered in the low hundreds, that's a pretty decent turnout.
As always, I thoroughly enjoyed meeting and talking with each and every one of you who came to the Mobile PC booth. It was a thrill to finally be able to talk about my feature, touch input, with virtually no restrictions. You will see the results for yourselves when you are able to purchase dual-mode (EM pen and capacitive touch) and touch-enabled (resistive touch) devices as part of the Windows Vista "wave".
As mostly experienced users, you probably know about the various Win+ hotkeys that do things on the desktop. Things like Win+E opens an Explorer window, Win+L locks your system.
Now, get ready for Win+X, which opens the Windows Mobility Center. WMC is your all-in-one interface for tweaking common Mobile PC features.
This is one of the more hidden, yet probably more useful features for Touch. When the large touch pointer fades out, you're left with the dot cursor. Who can find a tiny little dot cursor on a 1400x1050 resolution screen?
Solution? Tap the touch pointer taskbar icon and the touch pointer will appear again.
It's a handy little cursor-beacon for touch input.
The touch pointer taskbar icon is not on by default. To turn it on, you have to:
- right-click on the Taskbar
- click Toolbars
- click Touch Pointer
The icon is only actionable by touch input. You cannot tap on it with your pen- or mouse-controlled cursor.