Archives for: "February 2007"

Hamad Darwish's Windows Vista wallpapers released

Hamad Darwish has released the remaining images from his Windows Vista set. For those that don't know this is the guy who took the photos that made up two of the best wallpapers in Windows Vista.

Hamad Darwish's Windows Vista wallpaper

You can download the full size images (1900x1200) from his website. They compliment the existing wallpapers very nicely and I hope to see more of his photos in future versions of Windows.

Landscapes > gradients.

Enabling sound in DreamScene

For those who have had a play around with the preview of DreamScene, an Ultimate Extra you may be wondering how to enable sound.

Enabling sound in DreamScene

You can do this by using the Sound Mixer, an often overlooked feature, just unmute DreamScene.

Cnet's five reasons not to buy Windows Vista

Time for another BS check, I spotted this over on Barb Bowman's blog (who nicely covers why not to trust Cnet's reviews). Tom Merritt, executive editor at Cnet went over five reasons not to buy Windows Vista, so let's see what he managed to say.

5: Search is buried.

Search is everywhere, every explorer window, its right in the Start menu. It takes one key press or one mouse click no matter where you are to get to search.

Having a huge search bar right in the middle of the desktop would still take one click to bring it into focus.

4: Closed Microsoft eco-system - same old monopoly stuff.

He mentions the Welcome Center being full of Microsoft stuff, and the RSS gadget only working with Internet Explorer.

What a lot of rubbish. Computer manufacturers can customise the Welcome Center, with their own logos, own links, own products, anti-virus search absolutely anything they want.

Maybe if you go and buy a computer with Windows Vista on it, you'd actually see that instead of relying on review copies you got directly from Microsoft.

The RSS gadget plugs into the RSS platform, the only thing in common with IE is that IE uses the RSS platform. It's not tied to Internet Explorer. If Firefox, or application X used the RSS platform you'd have the same feeds there too.

That was the point of having a central RSS platform, you don't have to import and export your feeds every time you change applications, they're all centralised in a single store and automatically updated.

From the RSS team's blog:

The Windows RSS Platform is available to any application. The idea is that applications can utilize the Windows RSS Platform to become RSS enabled without having to re-implement basic RSS building blocks. This can significantly reduce the time and effort application developers have to invest in order to integrate RSS into their programs.

Like many of you, I've been running several RSS applications (aggregators, pod casters, etc…) for some time and am subscribed to close to 100 feeds. Each time I start using another RSS application I play the "game" of OPML export and import. This quickly becomes a hassle, especially when I lose track of feeds because I subscribed to or deleted feeds in different applications and hence my feed lists are no longer in sync.

This is where the Common Feed List of the Windows RSS Platform can help. Multiple applications can read, add, or delete from the Common Feed List and hence are "sharing" the user’s list of subscribed feeds.

Check your facts first Tom.

3: Lack of applications, because of Vista delays 3rd parties are scrabbling to make their products work.

Honestly what the hell is this guy thinking? Windows Vista has been available to developers for well over two years. Delaying Windows Vista gives them more time to get their act together, not the opposite.

2: Price.

This keeps cropping up so I think its time to kill this once and for all. Windows Vista *is* cheaper than Windows XP and 2000. Prices from Overclockers:

Windows Vista Ultimate: £123.36 (today).
Windows XP Professional: £123.73 (9th November 2002 - over a year after launch).
Windows 2000 Professional: £124.55 (9th November 2002 - over two years after launch).

And Windows XP Professional didn't include things like Media Center and Tablet, those were separate editions, so you couldn't have everything in one package.

1: Disappointing.

That's your opinion Tom, which judging on how wrong you are on everything else, probably isn't worth a lot.

Windows Vista BS check

There's a lot of BS out in the world about Windows Vista, an article titled Dim Vista on Forbes caught my eye.

Now this is more an opinionated almost fanboyish rant than a factual article but the author does seem to have more than a few things wrong, plain and simple.

new features, many filched shamelessly from Apple's Macintosh.

I've covered this at length so many times before, its simply false. I suggest you don't go around listening to Steve Jobs, and go view some PDC videos from say 2003, or even go and look at Windows XP and check out the "indexing service".

Windows Firewall will not stop it from making outbound Internet connections to do its evil deeds.

Wrong. The Windows Firewall in Windows Vista can indeed block outbound connections:

Windows Vista Firewall

Control Panel options have been totally rejiggered yet again for no apparent reason. You can still use the Classic panel view

Category view in Windows XP was extremely poor and nobody I know used it. Windows Vista's is usable now in both views, and in my opinion its the best Control Panel in any OS to date.

The new desktop search features are a mess, thanks in part to inscrutable indexing defaults and options. A "quick search" panel at the bottom of the Start menu lets you find results whether in a file's name or its contents. But on one machine--oddly

Indexing defaults are great, they'll search your stuff in your user folders.

I also recommend you *think* before you start spouting this sort of stuff. Say you're on a network with one hundred computers, no make that ten thousand computers. One person hits Start and presses a letter on their keyboard, what happens? The machine goes out to every computer on the network with that search request. Nice one that's a sure way to hammer the network.

You talk up the Mac so much and fail to mention the Mac can't do this, it can't do fast network searches at all. But guess what Windows Vista can do this, in a sensible fashion, it'll search network locations if you tell it to search network locations.

Windows Vista network search

You can also save your search so you can easily, with only two clicks search on the network, on the machine you want, on the share and even the folder. Do all that with two mouse clicks.

The bare-bones word processor WordPad used to be able to open Microsoft Word files. No more. What possible rationale could there be for "fixing" that, except to force users to shell out for the real thing?

Partly true, but WordPad does still open Word's .doc files. You can also download the Word Viewer for free from Microsoft's website. So even if you were right, you're still wrong. But yes you can't edit Word files directly in Wordpad.

Many touted improvements, like the Web browser and media player, have been available for XP for months.

Yeah Microsoft should of kept those things for Windows Vista only, then you'd be saying Microsoft screw people over by forcing them to upgrade to Windows Vista.

One minor winner is Vista-only: file lists that update their contents automatically. You no longer have to hit View and Refresh to see files added since you last opened the list window. Macs, of course, have done this for years.

So has Windows, since what Windows 95?

The new Mac-like ability to show thumbnails

Even Windows XP's thumbnail view blows the Macintosh away. One of the biggest things that hits Windows users switching to the Mac is the sudden loss of thumbnails for all their media, especially when its in folders.

Should you upgrade your current machine? Are you nuts? Upgrading is almost always a royal pain. Many older boxes are too wimpy for Vista

That's flat out wrong. I've been running Vista on two machines that are three years old and a low-end mobile machine which is two years old, they run better than Windows XP. Catherine runs Windows Vista on her machine which is three years old technology wise, again with no performance issues.

*Sigh* what do you have to do to get some balanced reporting these days?

DreamScene Preview now on Ultimate Extras

Microsoft have posted up a pre-release version of Windows DreamScene, check for new updates for it to show up in Windows Update if you need to.

Windows Vista Ultimate Extras - DreamScene

It ships with one video the aurora style one, based off the default wallpaper.

Windows Vista Ultimate Extras - DreamScene Preview included video

Apple's website needs some consistency

Likewise, it isn't plagued by never-ending security dialogue boxes like those in Vista.

They're refering to the UAC prompts.

On a Windows PC, software (both good and evil) can change the system without your even knowing about it.

Not with Windows Vista, nor with an NT system (XP or 2000) properly configured.

In order for software to significantly modify Mac OS X, you have to type in your password. You're the decider. You approve changes to your system.

Right they blast Windows Vista for requiring users to allow or deny actions which can make system-wide changes.

Then they go on to say Mac OS is superior because it requires you to enter your password to allow or deny system-wide changes. Nice.

That sounds to me like Windows Vista is superior because if you're an administrator it doesn't need you to keep typing your password in, you already did it to login to the system.

I think the key lesson here is that Apple need to focus more on reality and consistency instead of saying anything just to make a swipe at their competition.

Thinking about upgrading to Vista? Even more reasons to get a Mac [...] Macs run Microsoft Office.

Yeah because of course PCs can't run Microsoft Office.

Supreme Commander demo released

All real time stratagy fans should check out the Supreme Commander demo out. Here's the link to Gamespot's download (you need to be registered). Although I got better speeds from a torrent.

Supreme Commander

It weighs in at just over 1GB, and features some of the single player campaign and skirmish (one map).

I suppose the main attraction of this game is the scale of it. Some of the maps are 80km x 80km in size. You can also zoom all the way out to see the entire battlefield. Makes a change from Battle for Middle-Earth and the late Command and Conquer games which just felt too zoomed in.

Highly recommended. We'll be reviewing the final game on Gamercast when we get our hands on a final copy (probably for the episode on the 18th).

Go beyond Mac OS

I saw over on Channel 9 a new ad Apple have been apparently e-mailing spamming people with. Here it is in all its glory:

Go beyond Vista

Well I couldn't help myself. I mean its just too easy isn't it?

Go beyond Mac OS

On a more serious not however, Apple need to grow up a bit more with their whole advertising campaign, putting down your competitors is extremely unprofessional and seriously puts me and I'm sure many other people off having anything to do with them. You don't see Microsoft spending half their marketing budget on telling people why everything else sucks.

Windows Mobile Device Center released

Windows Mobile Device Center for Windows Vista has made an appearence on Windows Update.

Windows Mobile Device Center for Windows Vista released

This is the application that provides the same functionality as ActiveSync did in the past.

Apple lacks Microsoft's security investment

Bill Gates has been taking some flak lately in the Apple circles for some comments he made on the state of security in Mac OS. He was being interviewed for Newsweek:

In many of the Vista reviews, even the positive ones, people note that some Vista features are already in the Mac operating system.

Bill Gates: You can go through and look at who showed any of these things first, if you care about the facts. If you just want to say, "Steve Jobs invented the world, and then the rest of us came along," that's fine. If you're interested, [Vista development chief] Jim Allchin will be glad to educate you feature by feature what the truth is. I mean, it's fascinating, maybe we shouldn't have showed so publicly the stuff we were doing, because we knew how long the new security base was going to take us to get done. Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine. So, yes, it took us longer, and they had what we were doing, user interface-wise. Let's be realistic, who came up with [the] file, edit, view, help [menu bar]? Do you want to go back to the original Mac and think about where those interface concepts came from?

OK so Bill Gates is basically saying because Microsoft invested so much in security for Windows Vista, Apple was able to copy interface features that Microsoft already developed and release them first, and as a result of that more vulnerabilities are being discovered on Mac OS than Windows.

At first I didn't buy the every single day thing and assumed he was exaggerating by quite a large degree. But after doing a bit of research I stumbled into this. They list a new vulnerability discovered on Mac OS every day, in many cases with code ready to exploit it. So Bill Gates wasn't far off the mark at all in his comments. Let's just quote a few examples:

1st of January:

A vulnerability in the handling of the rtsp:// URL handler allows remote arbitrary code execution.

3rd of January:

A vulnerability in the handling of the HREFTrack field allows to perform cross-zone scripting, leading to potential remote arbitrary code execution.

5th of January:

A vulnerability in the handling of BOM files by DiskManagement/diskutil allows to set rogue permissions on the filesystem. This can be used to execute arbitrary code and escalate privileges.

The list just goes on and on, a new one for every day of the month. Microsoft has made the investment in security, and it shows with fewer and fewer exploits being discovered. The media which you can imagine would love to throw out something about security on the Vista launch had to resort to using speech recognition, apparently the fact it responds to voice commands is a "hole" because it can be used to delete documents by issuing a delete command. Right, that's the best you've got?

I'm confident in saying that Windows Vista in its first year will have fewer security vulnerabilities than any other client release of Windows of the past and doing even better than their best server release, Windows Server 2003 wouldn't surprise me at all.

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