Serendipity is at it again.
KC also liked the Crash-test dummy motif at Beta Experience. We had a meeting with some of our community leaders today (while I was rounding it off with at a great dinner with them Eileen was blogging about it... there’s teamwork.). We had T-shirts with the dummies eye chart on for them. I like the pun on “testing dummies” in this picture. I wouldn’t call myself a fan of Rush, but I like the cover of their “Moving Pictures” Album for this reason
Still, speaking as a beta tester myself, I’m not sure the crash test dummy is what I want to be compared with.
Three small things have led up to this post
So, time to do a little digging ....Firstly Vista backup uses two formats, neither of which are BKF. When I was told that a user couldn't restore from BKF, my first thought was "user error" followed by "Surely we wouldn't ...". There will be a downloadable tool to READ but not write backups made from older operating systems. This leaves the question "will the new backup be back ported to XP and Windows 2003" nothing I've seen suggests that it will.
Now, the two formats. Windows Vista can do a "CompletePC" backup. This makes a VHD file. VHD is the disk image file used in Virtual PC and Virtual server (and which will be carried forward in Longhorn's Windows Server Virtualization). There are two key things about this
It will be interesting to see what additional tools appear to work with VHD format files - in doing a search for existing tools I found a post of John Howard’s that links to Gilles Vollant’s Winimage , but I’d like to mount VHD’s as drives (there is an internal Microsoft tool for this), and I’d also like a utility on a boot disk which creates VHDs - again for physical to virtual migration. Automated Deployment Services (ADS) which we use in the Virtual server migration tool kit (VSMT) has another kind of imaging technology - I wonder if that too will change to VHD, because I think it might be one imaging format too many.
So much for CompletePC Backup. The other backup uses volume shadow copy and is intended to be run regularly. Backup has been re-worked, out goes support for tape drives, in comes support for optical disks. The aim is to get more people to do more backups, more often and the side effect is more disk space is going to get used. Because the backup is shadow copy based it is quite simple to give "point in time restores" - without the user having to track full and incremental back-ups. Vista keeps a copy of the back-up catalog locally and this is what enables point of time restores.
There is a great "Backup And Restore In Windows Vista And Windows Server Longhorn." slide deck from Winhec which explains how it all works.
On “Top Gear” – the BBC’s motoring show. They have a cool wall where they classify cars as “sub-Zero”, “Cool”, “Uncool” or “Seriously uncool”. My car rates as uncool, but being bothered by Top Gear would put me in the seriously uncool category.
I posted recently about looking at benefits rather than Total cost of ownership and picked a out some features that I thought were cool. Of course one should also look at the disbenefits – not so much bugs as things that aren’t well done either in the concept or the execution. Since giving me to the link to Geek News Central story about Windows media player and Podcasting support (or the lack thereof), Robert Scoble has suggested people post bug reports to his blog (brave man). Since I keep using the word "Cool" at the moment - rather uncool for a man of my advanced years, I thought I should list the cool and uncool, so here is my starter list for the vista cool wall. Additions to the this list can be posted here, but Bugs to Scoble please.
I'll add to this list - but comments are on. Feel free to add your own.
Update. Thanks to John for pointing out that PDF documents can a document preview which shows in the preview pane. However you can’t read a PDF in the pane, and there is no search support. Verdict, STILL UNCOOL. I’ve got to give some credit to Adobe for putting up a dialog box explaining how to download an update (since vista’s permissions block this). Sadly their Start Menu Icon is set up so it doesn’t offer run as administrator.
Update 2 Thanks to Maarten for pointing out that actually those bits aren’t new to vista.
At the community leaders day I was telling one of the attendees that my sister was a Professor of computer science so I wasn’t even the top Geek in my own family. I know how Ralf Schumacher feels. It was a good day. The open source guy who spoke at the end was really worth hearing, and came out with the memorable quote “Scoble has done more for Microsoft’s image than Bill Gates ever will”. Who says this blogging business is a waste of time ?
When I got home there was a post from Scoble and mail from my sister on the same subject. My the serendipity fairy has been busy today. My sister who’s no Microsoft fan, is quite happy to build PDF processing tools for the Mac was pretty scathing about Adobe. Mary-Jo Folly has the full story (which stems from a New York Times subscriber only story) This is what the fuss is about.
Now: Office 2003 introduced print to MDI (Microsoft Document Image) format - think TIF with OCR, so it cracks PDF files which prevent copy - e.g the schedule sent my Microsoft UK's travel agent.Windows Vista has print to XPS (XML paper spec. ) - think open, XML alternative to PDF. Office 2007 has Save or Publish to PDF. It’s the first time Microsoft have supported PDF, though it has been a top customer request for years. We could – I guess – have supplied a print to PDF driver which would have allowed ANY application to create PDF.
Adobe have a dominant position in the supply of PDF creation tools for the PC , Adobe have been quite happy for other software companies – including Microsoft competitors like Word Perfect and Open Office – to have PDF output. The key attraction of the format is that it is open, so I find it’s interesting to see reports say they’re playing the “We can’t compete” card that is Anti-trust, to prevent a new entrant supplying competing tools to consumers. Supposedly they tried to negotiate with Microsoft for PDF support to be a chargeable upgrade, but our reluctance to let others tell us what we can or can’t put it software suggests that can’t have been a realistic starting point. Brian Jones suggests that it will be free download as a compromise, but as he says Adobe seems to be saying that PDF is actually not open (or that it is open for some, but not for others). This is a huge problem
Over in the world of digital photography (where Adobe photoshop is dominant) Adobe are promoting a “digital negative” format – DNG for the storage of raw images – that is data from the camera’s sensor which hasn’t been turned into a TIF or JPG. Current raw files don’t just vary between camera makers – they change with each model and standards would be great, but who’s going to adopt a standard which is “Open until adopted by someone who we find threatening” ?
If this does cause enmity between Microsoft and Adobe then web users might benefit. How so ? On that page of Mary-Jo’s there is a great steaming flash turd. It's what Jacob Nielsen terms bad Flash with no purpose beyond annoying people: read his most hated techniques in Web Advertising and you’ll see that flash is the implementation vehicle of choice for most of them. Flash is now an Adobe technology. And whose products were being advertised with a really annoying bit of flash on Mary-Jo’s page. Take a wild guess .... Microsoft’s. If this means a blanket ban on flash on any Microsoft site, or ad I’d be delighted.
So, as you must have read by now, last week we released a trinity of beta 2 products. Windows Server "Longhorn", Windows Vista (formerly Longhorn client) and Office 2007.
I expected build 5381 of Vista to be the Beta 2 release, and after a couple of weeks on it, found it good enough for me but not ready for the world in general - much as you'd expect about 5 months from release. The actual beta 2 build is 5384 and, as Steve explained, you can't upgrade to 5384 from earlier builds. I figured this was the time to try out the Windows easy transfer wizard,
Installing Vista needs less input from the user than previous versions of Windows and installing from the network took an hour or so. And was trouble free, with one exception... Only one part of my experience with Vista and this Toshiba Tecra M3 has been nasty and that’s the area of the display adapter and its drivers. I'll make another post about that soon. When I completed the installation, Vista said it was running on Standard VGA (if you can call 1400x1050 resolution and 16 bit colour "standard") That means no "Glass", not the end of the world, but a Vista demo isn't the same without it.
I used Windows Update to get a new nVidia driver and all seemed well. Still no glass. I've pointed out the performance feature of Vista in most of my demos - as Dirty Harry might have put it "A system’s got to know its limitations" - and if Vista thinks the hardware can’t run glass, it’s turned off with no way to turn it on. As Steve also explained you need to re-run the performance test, which I did. Still no glass. The more I thought about it the more the driver seemed wrong. I looked a bit harder - dated 2005 and no "WDDM" in the name. Thanks Windows Update for giving me the XP driver for the nVidia card! Eventually I got the right nVidia driver to install (supplied with Vista and named "NVIDIA GeForce Go 6200 TE 64M / 6600 TE 128M (Microsoft Corporation - WDDM)"), and after running the performance test again and - full glass ! Moral of the story CHECK THE DRIVERS WINDOWS UPDATE SERVES UP
Vista behaves strangely with my PCMCIA SmartCard reader - it doesn't recognise it when it does a scan for hardware, but it is OK when the card plug in on its own. So I reported that.
5384 recognises the machines built in SD memory slot, which needed a Toshiba component to be installed in 5381, but I still needed Toshiba's drivers for the TPM module and Infra Red to complete the hardware set-up for the basic machine.
Windows update served up (XP)drivers for my USB webcam (again 5381 couldn't do that), and for my USB to RS232 adapter (I need a serial connection windows detects the circuitry, but the Toshiba has no socket). My Smartphone was detected OK and drivers installed (although the sync components for Vista are still unfinished: Vista detects the phone as an Infra-Red modem too). It was the same story when I plugged in my C-Media USB headphones The drivers for my Digital TV stick installed off the CD and work with Media Centre so I did a quick check that I could get TV in Vista Media Centre (I could). Last to go on were the drivers for my older digital camera (which I now use in a diving housing). My presentation clicker installed as a standard Human Interface Device, and all the standard USB storage drives I tried were trouble free.
So that was 100% of my hardware working, 2 major quirks (graphics and smart card), 3 XP drivers auto Installed sound card, USB-Serial and Web Cam, plus 4 Manual (XP) driver installations (InfraRed, TV, diving camera, and TPM module)
Time turn to my attention to the software. We use VPN quarantine services, so I had to configure that, though at the time of writing I haven’t tested it. First to install was our internal package of Windows Messenger 5.1 and Office Communicator. Office 2007 shouldn't need Messenger but RTC integration appears to break without it.
After that Office 2007 goes on, which is pretty trouble free. I've found that the Groove Add-in for Internet Explorer triggers a warning from IE whenever it starts, so I've disabled that. One of the Office web sites has Shockwave Flash on it so I let that install. My experience bears out the statement of Web Usability Guru Jakob Nielsen that most flash users meet is BAD FLASH , installing and disabling it means I don't get prompted to install it again and again. Every now and then I find something worth having it for, like conference calls in Microsoft which I found at Jason Langridge's blog
Office goes on as multiple parts "Professional", then One-Note, Visio and Groove. And Map Point (2004) which I'm (literally) lost without. Virtual Server has some problems with the version of IIS in Vista, and rather than try to implement the workaround, I put Virtual PC on instead
After that I added MindGenius and the software for my Suunto Dive computer - which was the reason I needed a serial port. I prefer the version 1.6 software to the newer 2.x but the old software works just fine. On build 5381 it failed during installation but it was fine on 5384. Despite the small increment in the build number quite a lot seems to have been tweaked. There are a couple of common file types which I want to be able to read, one is Apple MOV for videos. The standalone QuickTime installation point seems to be hard to find, as if Apple want everyone to get itunes. The other was PDF which, Jakob Nielsen doesn't like any more than he likes flash, but it's hard to do without, so it's off to Adobe's web site for Reader 7 for XP. Between doing the installation and writing up, Adobe made some changes ...
At this point I felt ready to bring my data back - a minor mistake was I forgot to remove the version of Windows that the 5384 installation had backed up, so the Windows easy transfer wizard, ran out of disk space. A second attempt worked well – although it lost my Outlook 2007 cache files and signatures.
With all the business software on I moved on to Capture one - which processes RAW files from my digital SLR Camera. Capture one ‘s installation fails because Vista reports that it is Windows version 6: Vista captures this, and runs setup in a compatibility mode which works beautifully. This will help a lot of applications. Capture one tries to create a thumb nail cache by writing to its own Program files folder, which falls foul of Vista's User Account Control, but it is the work of a moment to move it.
Next was Microsoft Digital Image suite which has a some features I like, and Paint Shop Pro (the ancient 5.03 which I still prefer for retouching), plus Advanced batch converter which I use to insert copyright text, bulk re-size and add borders to make all my web images square (a cheat but it makes page layouts SO much easier). I got it initially because it's the only tool I've found which will do bulk cropping which I use for some photo stitching jobs. Last of the photo tools for now is the Exifutils suite which lets me the data embedded in the images. The last thing I tried was the Panorama software I have been using for years: it's a bit of a lash up but I like it. Sadly, it really didn't want anything to do with Windows Vista, it's copy protection software actually triggers a message from the OS saying it has known problems, it also installs something called "metamail" which includes an Add-in which crashes IE. The name of the software, ironically is PhotoVista. Looks like I’ll be doing easy Panos in Digital Image suite, and difficult ones in PTGUI
With everything complete it was time to run a de-frag and Install Microsoft’s standard Anti-virus software and do a full scan.
So the Complete list is
Web Content access
Most Microsoft people get asked “Do you know Bill Gates” when we tell people where we work. We don’t all know Bill. Back in 2002, I spent a month “on attachment” in the building where he and Steve Ballmer had their offices. We were told “Don’t freak out if someone really important gets in the elevator with you, they find it a bit upsetting”. Bill's third child had just been born, and we never saw him. Two of us walked past Steve Ballmer on the way to our car one evening, and without turning our heads or even moving our lips managed to say “Was that ... ?” “Yes.. Keep walking ... just keep walking”
In my new job as an Evangelist, I think about the issues of scale: engaging with all the people who want to have different conversations with us isn’t easy. Here in Britain, more people use Windows each week than use the National Health Service, but we have only two thousand people and they have over two HUNDRED thousand - and for one IT project they're spending between £34,000 and £100,000 per employee (that's $63-185,000 US). Stop the average Briton in the street and ask who is in charge of the NHS and 5 top brand name companies - say Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Nokia, McDonalds and Toyota, and you’ll only get Bill’s name. I once asked a self employed consultant, who spoke at a "Customer focus day", why he said he expected a personal relationship with Microsoft but not (for example) BMW. He couldn’t really isolate a reason, “But I know your Chairman. I’ve no idea who runs BMW”. Maybe Coca-Cola makes people think of the contour bottle, McDonalds the golden arches logo, and Nokia that ring tone. "Do you know Bill Gates?" is a sign that Microsoft's is personified as its chairman You'd be hard put to find anyone here wouldn't like that to change. As Bill himself said on Thursday . "The world has had a tendency to focus a disproportionate amount of attention on me. In reality, Microsoft has always had an unbelievable strong depth and breadth of technical talent"
We all knew there would be a Microsoft without Bill one day. He turned 50 last year and the most popular guess was he'd turn to the foundation full time at 55, so the date we have to get along without our founder has been set, and set sooner than we planned. There will be a Microsoft after Steve Ballmer too. He turned 50 earlier this year, and he and Bill can't both be handing over at the same time. If Steve wants to announce 2 years ahead that he will retire on his 55 birthday (he hasn’t shared his retirement plans with me ... but if he did) that would be in the Spring of 2009, and Bill's transition to part time chairman is from summer 2008. If you want to believe in conspiracy (and personally I prefer to believe in cock-up), this piece of Thursday's press conference shows that Ballmer's wishes were considered in Gates' plans. "For the last couple years, I started a discussion with Steve about how to shift my priorities and yet maintain strong ties to Microsoft. After careful consideration, Steve and I decided to announce ....
The succession was well planned, and Bill's talks with Steve go back before we bought Groove, and got Ray Ozzie - who has assumed the title of Chief Software Architect. Did they have this in mind at the time of the take over? Few know for sure, and I'm not one of them, but what are the chances it didn't cross anyone's mind ? There will be life after Ray, as well. By a staggering co-incidence he was born a few weeks after Bill and 4 months before Steve. My guess is when the time comes his replacement will be one of the guys Bill name-checked on Thursday
Robert Scoble is also leaving Microsoft. Some people are making a big deal of losing Gates and Scoble together. Hugh McLeod wrote that Robert was the canary in the coal mine. And Microsoft's just lost their canary. Very few parts of Microsoft stand comparison with a coal mine (even I wouldn't describe my old job as a grim, dark hole which tries to kill you). Nor was Robert ever a caged bird. Bill's words about disproportionate attention could have come from Robert. Actually, what Robert said was "I'm not the only blogger at Microsoft. There are about 3,000 of them here. They are not having the plug pulled on them. They changed the world. I just was the cheerleader"
Robert links to Michael Gartenberg at Jupiter Research, who says "Robert's a good guy and has done a lot of good for Microsoft but this isn't that big a deal. Robert doesn't write code, ship product, create marketing campaigns or sell software. That's why this doesn't mean a lot nor will it likely have any impact. As my grandfather was fond of saying, "the cemeteries are full of people who couldn't be replaced". Michael's grandfather's quote (which he liked enough to use in his post about Bill leaving) was made famous by General De Gaulle who said "The graveyards are full of indispensible men" - my Dad likes that quote too. No one is indispensible, not Bill, nor Robert nor Steve, nor Ray. And they get that, even if others (like Hugh) don't. There are thousands of people besides Scoble who realise that (borrowing from De Gaulle) "PR is too important to be left to the PR people."
One of the subtexts of "Do you know Bill" is the assumption he runs everything. This view seems widespread among Microsoft critics: one moment they will criticize Vista for being late and complicated (observing it is complexity that causes projects - like that NHS one - to take longer and cost more than they should). The next moment , they will talk about this or that change that Bill commanded, as if he micro-manages Vista, and Office too, plus X-box and IP-TV in the home, Windows Live and Office Live on the internet, Windows Mobile ... everywhere, and Exchange, SQL, Biztalk, SMS, MOM and so on in businesses. De Gaulle famously said "One Cannot simply bring together a country that has 265 kinds of cheese", nor can one simply bring together a single detailed view of 265 kinds of software (I suspect we have more than that)
There is only thing to do when you realise you have quoted De Gaulle 3 times, and that is to end quickly with a quote from Churchill: Bill and Robert should follow their passions and I wish will them well. Hugh McLeod wrote "What does this really say about Microsoft? To me it says, "Party Over", no Hugh
"This is not the end. This is not even the beginning of end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning"
In a previous post I admitted a small heresy for a Microsoft person. I quite liked firefox; past tense because IE7 gives me all that I liked about Firefox, and more besides.
Last week I learnt of a survey by bit9 which details their top 15 most vulnerable applications. And top of the list is Firefox, version 1.07. Firefox have updates, patches, indeed a whole new version, but if anyone still believes the “lots of eyeballs implies few vulnerabilities” myth of Open Source, they should be able to see it is a fairy story. There is an equal and opposite myth which is that software is only secure if you keep the source secret. The fact that Microsoft have a “Shared source” programme – open source with a small O, gives the lie to this too. Only in Digital Rights Management do you need to keep the code secret.
Talking of digital right management number 2 in the list was Apples iTunes. 6.02 and quick time 7.03 (which, like firefox is patchable, or can be replaced with a new version). At 3 comes Skype 1.4 (patchable) , #4 is Adobe Acrobat Reader 7.02, and 6.03 (superseded and patchable), and #5 is Sun’s Java Runtime Environment (also patchable), #6 is Macromedia Flash Player 7 (patchable again), at #7 is Winzip 8.1 (upgradeable) , keeping Skype company, at #8 is AOL instant messenger 5.5, #9 is MSN messenger 5.0, and #10 is Yahoo instant messenger 6.0, and #15 is the ICQ chat client 2003a. AOL and MSN can be patched or upgraded, Yahoo and ICQ – according to Bit 9 - cannot. You can get the full list of vulnerable apps from bit9.
Inside Microsoft, we’ve talked about what this report means. First, it means Vulnerabilities aren’t confined to Microsoft. Any developer that points a finger at someone else for having a vulnerability is setting themselves up for a fall. We might allow ourselves a small laugh at the expense of those Firefox fans who claim it is totally watertight. But only a small laugh – because they set themselves up for the fall. Too much laughter and we’ll be setting ourselves up for one.
Secondly, 9 of the top 10 have patches and or upgrades. No-one should see any impact from these vulnerabilities. It’s easy to make sure Microsoft software is patched, but how good are people’s practices for the others ?
I promised Arthur that I would tell people about the Microsoft Unified Communications and RTC user group, UK, which goes by the Snappy name of MucUgUK , it's early days for the user group, but if you're interested in RTC or Unified Communications that's the place to go.
Arthur also sent me a collection of tips that he has collected for Windows Vista: again the serendipity fairy has been waving her wand because earlier on I was reading some user comments which were about the same area.
First off the most frequently asked question in Vista, is Where did the Run menu go. You'll find if you press [Window key] & [r] the run dialog appears. But You don't need the run menu, type in the Search menu as if it is the run menu and see. If you start to type a path in the search box Vista will help you fill it in (just use the arrow keys when the bits appear in the menu area and \ to navigate to the next level). If you really feel lost without run, then right click the start button, choose properties, and on the start menu tab click customize, and one of the many options is to turn on Run.
Secondly, and perhaps we should have foreseen this, power users testing Vista get a bit annoyed by the number of User Account control dialogs. You should have heard the Mantra
Hopefully you agree with it as a principle, even if you if you want to exempt yourself from the practice, by changing the default. Arthur's tip sheet refers to a useful tool called MSConfig (just type it on the search box !). You can control a lot of what goes on at start-up with this program, and on its tools menu there's a useful collection of shortcuts. Enable and Disable UAP (which is now called UAC - user access protection vs user access control) toggles the right value in the registry (under HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System ), but this isn't the tool I'd use ...
Also in Arthur's list was the registry hack for the Application consent, this too is found in HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System but again I'd use a different tool.
Which tool ? Group Policy. If you Start MMC and click file, add/remove snap-in, and choose Group Policy Object Editor,and tell it you want to manage the local machine. Now Navigate to the Computer Configuration, Windows Settings, Security Settings, Local Polices, Security options. You can see the range of settings we have grouped together under User Access control. You can turn off "Detect Application Installations and prompt for elevation", or make administrators put in the credentials for elevation (or have elevation silently approved). And 101 other things. Incidentally, one page I saw of 20 minor irritations with vista listed "You can't turn on the Admin account". What's at the very top of security option ? Accounts: Administrator Account Status. By default this is enabled in XP and disabled in Vista.
People who are OK with their systems unsecured are the people who can change the defaults. The reverse is not true. Hence Secure by default .
P.s, You can read more about the elevation messages and why they are the way they are on the UAC Blog
Before IE7 and Office 2007 Beta 2 I used Attensa to bring RSS Feeds into Outlook, I liked the product and I'm still on their mailing list, they just sent me a link to their white paper "Enterprise RSS: the center of attention" and it's useful reading for anyone asking what RSS means for internal information, and the management of information overload.
Their blog links to a report on RSS by Jupiter Research which says
With support in IE7 for RSS feed discovery and retrieval, Outlook 2007's ability to be a great reader for those feeds, and Sharepoint 2007's ability to make any list an RSS feed, implementing RSS solutions is going to be both cheap and easy for a lot of customers. I predict now that as RSS becomes more widely available users will begin making demands for RSS couched in terms like:
All solved by RSS.
Recently someone in Redmond caused a bit of a stir with a blog piece about causes for the delay in Vista. We’re not going to ship Vista until it is ready, and we thought it would be ready by one date, and we were wrong. Why ? People, like me, who work outside development simply don’t know and people who do work in development are too close to be completely objective. However I came across this tonight in Jason Kolb’s blog. It gives some indication why forecasts go wrong.
people who have never written software themselves think of the development process as something like building a house.... [it] is more akin to solving a Rubiks cube: you know what needs to be done and how to do it, and you have a very rough idea of how long it will take you. Sometimes, in fact, it'll only take you a couple of minutes because you get lucky and try the right combination within the first few minutes. Most of the time, however, it's a process of trial and error, and you really don't know how long it's going to take. You could ship it early, but it's probably not going to have solid colors on all sides.
I almost missed the release Compute Cluster Server (CCS) happened at the start of June; I wasn't expecting much to happen on the server side. I'll confess that missed the point of CCS. I've seen the list on Top500.org topped by an IBM system with 128K processors and a speed rating of 280 Terraflops. Were we really getting into to the market for systems costing millions or tens of millions of dollars ?
I seem to be turning into Hugh McLeod's bloggleganger. I responded to something he wrote about Microsoft needing a new big idea I said there was still plenty of mileage in the big ideas we had already:
So back to supercomputers. Only 10 of the top 500 have 256 processors or fewer - these are exotic beasts: not mainstream but low volume, difficult and impersonal, remote beasts. Otherwise they'd be ordinary computers.
I started to "get" CCS when I read a post on John Powers blog. Powers is CEO of Digipede, a Microsoft Gold Partner who produce distributed computing solutions, so he should get this stuff. Powers was responding to a member of the Linux community who had said that he "wouldn’t be surprised if by 2007 Windows holds 2, maybe 3, whole spots on the top500 list."Here's Powers' response:"the Top500 list, by definition, rounds to approximately zero percent of the market for high performance computing. Also, it represents the zero percent that Microsoft specifically identified as outside its target market... Microsoft is going after not the Top500, but the next 500,000.... Microsoft has been very open about this, saying they would bring HPC into the mainstream"
Ah ! High Performance Computing is broader than those exotic supercomputers which have power measured in Terraflops - thousands of times the power of a desktop PC, at a cost of millions of dollars. Is there demand for HPC solutions which are tens of times the power for thousands of dollars? That's what we're aiming for ... Volume.
Then I found the WinHEC presentation "Windows Server Compute Cluster Server and Desk-side Clusters" from the CCS home page and I can recommend it to anyone who wants an introduction to this area. Desk side clusters are the Local dimension The home page had a link to the inquirer - not normally a pro-Microsoft site. Their article "Microsoft sees HPC for non-geeks" makes my point about making it easy for people to "use your product in their solution" Microsoft has a lot going for it. Rock-solid relationships with the IHV community mean that IBM, HP and Dell will be ready in August with pre-configured boxes and its undoubted nous at recruiting ISVs is also likely to pay dividends.
Sometime in the course of yesterday afternoon (UK time) Adobe changed something on their web site. When I connected to install reader the site couldn’t understand that Windows NT 6 in a browser string meant Windows Vista and it offered me Reader 7.0.7 for NT 4.0. Later on it recognised Windows Vista Beta, and offered me version 7.0.8. If anyone is expecting this minor increment to include an iFilter for Vista’s search, or support for the Reading Pane or [property] preview Pane then I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed, but hey, one step at a time.
I came upon an example of how Flash can be used well at www.seewindowsvista.com. In response to my post about adobe "Mike" said that Flash is a great technology if it is used appropriately - which it is. But I quoted Jakob Nielsen: "Most of the Flash that Web users encounter each day is bad Flash with no purpose beyond annoying people". That’s 'Most' - not 'all': as www.seewindowsvista.com proves, good flash exists.
Bad flash falls into two categories. Advertisers who will resort to aggressive animation to catch your attention (92% of people dislike moving adds, according to Neilsen's survey of most hated advertising techniques - a must read for anyone with anything to do with web advertising).The other category are the "Got nothing to say - say it with flash" sites, created for site owners who have never asked "who do I want to come to my site, and what do they want when they get here".
Marshal McLuhan's phrase "the medium is the message" ,has a lot to answer for The medium is NOT the message, the message is the message. Supposedly McLuhan meant that "Each medium, independent of the content it mediates, has its own intrinsic effects which are its unique message." His message has become twisted into a call for style over substance, and all too often that is where Flash is applied..
The following information has appeared on Presspass about the Unified Communications road map which is being unveiled later today. I’ve edited the press-release down to the key things as follows, please read the full Presspass article rather than relying on this.
Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 is scheduled to be released in late 2006 or early 2007. Microsoft Speech Server 2007 will be available in late 2006. Communications Server 2007, Communicator 2007, Communicator phone experience, Live Meeting, RoundTable and the IP-enabled business desktop phones... ...are scheduled to be available in the second quarter of 2007.
Thanks to RSS, I read Jason Langridge’s blog, I’m a bit nervous about posting two back to back articles about things he’s said for fear of looking like I’ve become his “Bloggleganger” or “blog stalker” or whatever you care to call it...
There are quite a few interesting rumours about new devices, Jason mentioned recently that HTC have two new devices about to hit the market. HTC have made devices for other people and also put the some out under the QTek brand. HTC-Europe now have a web site, with details of the new “MTeoR” (formerly code-named ‘Breeze’) and “TyTN” (‘Hermes’), as well as the Razr-like device code named (“Star-Trek” – a really bad choice as that name belongs to someone) which is being called the QTEK 8500. Every mobile device site seems to have some rumour or unconfirmed information about carriers who will carry one or other of these, when, and how they will name them. 5 Minutes with a search engine will let you know all the rumours that I know, and you can judge which are credible and which aren’t :-)
Like the Q, the MTeoR is a slim smartphone, but with a 320x240 display (pocket PC resolution, but phone sized) and jog dial for scrolling through mail. It has a phone keypad where the Q has a QWERTY one. But the MTeoR is a 3G phone. Interestingly after things I’ve said about Adobe recently, it has a PDF support as well.
I think all Q and all 3 HTC devices will sell by the truckload. Which is more than I can say for HTC’s bluetooth stereo headphones. Chaps, the thing about Bluetooth is it is a Wireless technology. Wireless, without wires, sans fil – HTCs seem to be preparing a blue tooth receiver into which you can plug WIRED headphones. The receiver is about the size of an MP3 player ... They need to see how HP have done it
Talking of HP, I mentioned their Mobile Messenger devices yesterday. When I was out in Oxford this morning I noticed some of TomTom’s sat nav units were on display with a price tag of £399 (including Value added Tax) – compared with a list price HP’s IPAQ HW6515 of £370 (including VAT) – there are cheaper sat nav devices than these, but the HP device is fantastic value for money.
Who wants to carry a blackberry, a camera-phone, a sat nav device – they’re hugely popular with thieves right now so you can’t leave it in the car – and an iPod as well ? The HP device gives you all these, and the ability to work with Word, Excel and Powerpoint files. For a slightly higher price you can add WLAN access, and you can save a few pounds by dispensing with the camera. These aren’t 3G devices – which the TyTN is: but different people will want different things and HP will sell tons of these too.