See - your feedback does work!
Over the last few weeks, it's been flying round the web that we were going to include a default sound that would play when you boot up Windows. Many of you out there wanted at least an ability to turn it off if you wanted to. Well, it's in there. As Nick says over on the Windows Vista Team Blog, "your collective voice truly made a difference in this matter, as we've incorporated a way for users to turn off the start-up sound when it's more appropriate to boot silently - be it when you're mobile, at home or in the office".
Have a glance at the screenshot below - I kid you not! :-)
Back in June, it was announced that Microsoft would no longer be including the ability to save to PDF from within the 2007 Microsoft Office System, which was a shame, because many users out there, as Steve Marsh mentions, would find it incredibly useful.
Well, it's time to rejoice, as it's back, as a free download, and it is available now. According to the download webpage, "This download allows you to export and save to the PDF and XPS formats in eight 2007 Microsoft Office programs. It also allows you to send as e-mail attachment in the PDF and XPS formats in a subset of these programs. Specific features vary by program"
It works with the following programs:
And for all those interested....here it is:
For more information on the 2007 Microsoft Office System, head on over and see Steve Marsh, or the Office Rocker!
Final Action: Download the 2007 Microsoft Office Add-in: Microsoft Save as PDF or XPS
Well, it's your lucky day - you can now download it, and you don't even have to be on MSDN, CPP, TAP or any of the other programs! It's yours! Take it!
Before you go zooming off to download this little beauty, it's important that you read the following:
"This build (5728) has a number of improvements and updates from RC1, but has not been put through the same internal testing process as RC1 and therefore may be unstable in certain installations. We are making this release available for a limited time only (and only by download) in order to get broad distribution and testing in a variety of PC configurations. Please note: This build may not have the same level of support or servicing via Windows Update, and you may not be able to upgrade to the final version of Windows Vista".
To be honest though, I have been using an even newer build, 5732, for a few days now, and it's sweet as a nut. No problems so far, and my machine is so packed with Beta software it's unreal, and it still manages fine. Everything runs smoothly, quickly, all the drivers are in there - I don't think you will have any problems.
"Installation notice: Users of Toshiba models M400, M4, and M5 should choose to do a clean install (not upgrade) of this build. Before upgrading from Beta 2, please install any Critical Updates from Windows Update for Beta 2. Go to Start, All Programs, Windows Update, and click the “Check for Updates” button"
A couple of new things you do get with the 5728 are some funky new wallpapers, and a new boot animation! If you are interested in how this release is on a different path to the RC1 release, head on over to Long Zheng's blog. Long writes some great stuff about Vista, so take a look. The image below is taken from Long's post, where he got the chance to chat with Paul Donnelly, the Microsoft Windows Vista beta program manager, to ask about the development process for Windows Vista and branching.
You can also go along to Long's blog and try to win a Vista Mousemat! Cool!
Get along to the download site to start downloading straight away! you can download it in two ways:
Bear in mind, that you can only download the 32-bit version for now, and it comes in ISO format, so your DVD-Burning skills will need to be up to scratch to take advantage of your huge download!
For those of you who would prefer to go with the supported 5600 RC1 build, you can still get your hands on it, here. Enjoy! :-)
With the release of Windows Vista RC1, Microsoft has also announced pricing for the various editions of Vista:
For the home user, the editions and prices are as follows:
And for the Businesses, the editions and prices are as follows:
So let's take a look at these editions in a little more detail.
Windows Vista Home Basic is the operating system for homes with basic computing needs. It is easy to set up, it helps you use your PC more securely and reliably, and like all of the editions of Windows Vista, it is compatible with the widest range of software, devices, and services that you use and trust. If you simply want to use your PC for tasks such as surfing the Internet, corresponding with friends and family using e-mail, or performing basic document creation and editing tasks, then Windows Vista Home Basic will deliver a safer, more reliable, and more productive computing environment. The features in Windows Vista Home Basic also form the foundation of all of the other editions of Windows Vista, including Windows Vista Home Premium and Windows Vista Ultimate.
Windows Vista Home Premium is the operating system for homes with advanced computer needs. It will help you use your laptop or desktop PC more effectively as well as enable you to enjoy new, exciting digital entertainment experiences - all with the benefit of added security and reliability. Whatever you choose to do with your home PC, Windows Vista Home Premium will deliver a more complete and satisfying computing experience.
Windows Vista Ultimate is the most comprehensive edition of Windows Vista. It is the first operating system that combines all of the advanced infrastructure features of a business-focused operating system, all of the management and efficiency features of a mobility-focused operating system, and all of the digital entertainment features of a consumer-focused operating system. For the person who wants one operating system that is great for working from home, working on the road, and for entertainment, Windows Vista Ultimate is the operating system that lets you have it all.
The Windows Vista Business operating system is designed to meet the needs of business organisations of all sizes. For small businesses, Windows Vista Business will help keep PCs running smoothly and more securely so you will be less reliant on dedicated IT support. For larger organisations, Windows Vista Business provides dramatic new infrastructure improvements, enabling your IT staff to spend less time focused on the day-to-day maintenance of PCs and more time adding strategic value to your organization. Windows Vista Business also offers powerful new ways to organise, find, and share information while staying better connected whether you are in the office or on the road. This helps your business to run more efficiently than ever before.
To better address the needs of large, global organisations and those with highly complex IT infrastructures, Microsoft will introduce a new version of Windows - Windows Vista Enterprise - designed to significantly lower IT costs and risk. In addition to all of the features available in Windows Vista Business, Windows Vista Enterprise is designed to provide higher levels of data protection using hardware-based encryption technology. It also includes tools to improve application compatibility and enables organisations to standardize by using a single worldwide deployment image. Windows Vista Enterprise will only be available to customers who have PCs covered by Microsoft Software Assurance or a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement.
This information, and more, can be found over at the Vista Editions page, on Microsoft.com.
In an update to a recent post, Microsoft has released more information about this sexy piece of kit. Feel free to have a play with the cool flash demo below, before reading on!
For those of you interested in an overview of the product, you can find that information here, whereas, for those of you interested in even more of the features, check out the list below, which I've taken directly from this page. On the overview page, you will find a number of different views of the keyboard, for those of you who want to see it from every angle!
To me, this looks really cool, and the different fuctions that the keyboard provides, yeah, they may not all be new, like buttons to open certain programs etc, but the way it will integrate with Vista will ensure an excellent user experience, and building on the button functionality, is the backlighting, intelligent power usage, USB ports, and bluetooth technology mean it really is an excellent keyboard, empowering the user to get more done, with less effort.
Features to expect? Well, how about the following:
Rechargeable Mouse and Keyboard - First ever rechargeable backlit keyboard and mouse solution. Microsoft’s exclusive charging hub allows you to recharge both the mouse and keyboard in one easy-to-use place.
4 USB Ports - Integrated USB ports in the charging station give you the flexibility to download images from your digital camera or plug in your thumb drive or other USB device - right from your desktop.
Wireless Freedom - Give yourself room to move - wireless mouse and keyboard products let you work without worrying about tangled wires.
Battery Status Indicator - You'll know when power is low when the batter status indicator senses battery life is running out.
2.4 GHz Bluetooth® Technology - Connect wirelessly right out of the box with First Connect Technology for up to 30 feet with virtually no interference.
4-Way Mouse Scrolling - Scroll four ways for greater efficiency and comfort with Tilt Wheel Technology.
High Definition Laser Technology - Microsoft® High Definition Laser Mouse products are more precise, more responsive, and deliver smoother tracking.
Instant Viewer - Too many open items on your desktop? Click the scroll wheel button to instantly display your open windows, then point and click to select.
Magnifier - Point and click to enlarge and edit detail using the Magnifier.
Brushed Aluminum - The sleek, symmetrical design features an authentic brushed aluminum that feels as good as it looks.
Windows® Start Button - Press to launch your Start menu and search your PC or the Web if you have Windows Vista installed.
Ultra-thin Comfort Curve Design - Place your hands naturally and work comfortably using the distinctive and ergonomist-approved Comfort Curve design with quiet touch keys.
Navigation Pad - Command your PC from your lap or the comfort of your sofa with the integrated cursor control.
Windows® Live Call Button - Just press this button to access your Windows Live Messenger buddy list; then select an Online Contact and start a video conversation.
Compact Industrial Design - This sleek design reduces clutter on your desk, fits on your lap and complements your flat screen monitor.
Windows Gadgets Button - One-touch access to gadgets such as weather information, news updates, traffic maps and slide shows of online photo albums.
Media Center Start Button - One touch access to Windows Media Center.
Ultra-thin Keyboard - Experience true comfort with the ultra-thin Comfort Curve keyboard plus quiet touch keys.
Intelligent Backlighting - Backlighting comes on automatically when you approach the keyboard and turns off when you’re away - and backlit keys only glow when the lights are low, saving valuable battery life.
Media Controls - Media Controls allow you to easily navigate to next track, previous track, play, pause and volume control.
"My Favorites" Hot Keys - Access the folders, files, and Web pages you use most with one-touch “My Favorites” Keys.
Intelligent Power System - Adjust battery life depending on performance needs.
Do you love User Interface design? Are you happy with Vista's UI? Or...Does it make you unhappy? Well, we now have a place for you to have a good ol' rant and rave on what's great, or what's not so great, until you are blue in the face! Imaginatively titled 'Windows Vista Rants & Raves' is a dedicated forum over on the Shell: Revealed blog, from the guys who build the actual Core Vista UI.
Microsoft has been asking for testers to provide feedback on the user interface's "fit & finish" as it pushes toward a final release of the operating system. According to Dave Vronay, a Research Manager here at Microsoft, "Fit & Finish is really getting a big push for Vista, with lots of people spending time tracking down the minor errors and glitches that haven't historically been "ship-stopping" but certainly contribute to a feeling that things are not polished"
According to the article over on TechWeb, "One of the heaviest-trafficked threads there revolved around the "Windows Classic" interface theme included with Release Candidate 1 (RC1). "The new 'Windows Classic' isn't very classic, it looks wrong, it looks like someone just pooped it out and slapped it on the DVD," wrote someone identified as "Simon Thulbourn.""
What do you think of the UI? Feel free to leave a comment, or better still, head over to the forum and get your opinions aired! It can be something as trivial as a button's colour is abit naff, or a title bar is too big. Everything counts and I know the team would be eager to hear your views - after all, your feedback helps us to improve!
Now this is cool. Off topic, but cool. Have you seen this keyboard? Now to be honest, my keyboard at home must have cost me about £5 (approx $9), so as you can imagine, I was purely interested in something that worked, however, seeing this beauty, my feelings towards just choosing 'something that worked' is about to change. Check this video out, below, courtesy of YouTube.
This keyboard, made me sit up and think, cool. One problem I always associate with having a wireless keyboard, is changing the battery. This keyboard is rechargeable. Another problem; going too far away from the wireless receiver. How does 30 feet fit with you? I wouldn't be able to see my monitor from 30 feet away! And we've all been in a situation where we need to see the keyboard in the dark...ok...maybe just me, but, this keyboard is not only backlit, but is ambiently (Not sure that is a word!) backlit, meaning it is smart enough to know the level of lighting in the room, and will adjust accordingly. It even knows when you have left the room! Coolio!
Icing on the cake? It comes in a sexy metal finish, and, as with all things cool, its designed to work with Windows Vista. You can't get much better than that. James has unwillingly agreed to buy me one for Christmas. Cheers James :)
Action - Watch the flash video, in all its full size glory!
Microsoft has just released the Beta 2 of Windows Media Player 11 which now allows users to share content with multiple devices around the home, and also includes additional music stores; eMusic, VidZone and Music Giants. The article goes on to say that previous beta's of Windows Media Player 11 have had favourable reviews, and from my personal experience, I'd say they are fully justified - Windows Media Player 11 is an excellent piece of software and makes finding and playing music effortless. The new beta also offers improved integration with URGE, MTV's music service.
But how does WMP11 for Windows XP, differ from that of WMP11 for Vista? Here are the answers you may be looking for.
You can download the new Windows Media Player 11 Beta 2 - here. Go-Do!
10 – Optimised for Mobile Hardware
In at Number 10, is a feature that won’t really apply to those desktop users out there, but for those notebook users among us, and more specifically, those with swanky Tablet PC’s, Vista is the OS to Enable a Mobile Workforce.
But why, you may ask? Well let me tell you about the cool ways that Vista enables me to work effectively and optimise the use of my Tablet PC. First up, the handwriting recognition is hot. Take a look at this screenshot.
You can see my Tablet PC Input Panel, (which floats around the screen, and docks, off-screen, on my command), and that I can write some pretty illegible text, using my stylus, and Vista picks it up and gives me the result in text. This is before I use the built in tool in Vista to train the system to my handwriting. Accurate recognition, right from the start. Pretty cool I think! If Vista doesn’t recognise the word, it provides you with its best effort, which, you can click on with stylus, and either select the correct word from a choice of close matches, or edit the word you entered to make sure it is correct. I mentioned earlier, that there is a tool in Vista, which is used to train the system to recognise your handwriting. Well, you don’t technically have to go through this training. After a certain time of using the Tablet PC Input Panel to write, Vista pops up a message asking if you would like it to learn-as-you-go, meaning that as you write, Vista will learn your style.
As you correct mistakes, it will learn your style. Sure, Tablet PC Input was in Windows XP, but there is no way it was as intuitive and accurate from the start. The other cool thing about the Tablet Input panel is that it is context sensitive, so, if I’m typing in a web page, like below, you can see that the Tablet PC Input Panel presents me with commonly used inputs for that situation, so things like http:// and .com.
The same applies in outlook, so, remember when you are typing an email address that you have previously used in the past? Well, when you begin to write in the email address boxes, using the Tablet PC Input Panel, above the panel appears the previous addresses, which change in real-time depending on the letters you are writing with the stylus.
Any box you can normally write text into - this applies to. You can see the little icon pop up, indicating that you can write with the stylus, into this box, and by clicking this icon, your Tablet PC Input Panel is there, ready to go.
Now the final cool thing that I love about the Tablet PC functionality in Vista, is the Pen Flicks, which make tasks like navigation, a doddle. I can use my pen to navigate websites, flicking up to move the page down, or flicking the pen down, to move the page up, or to the side, in order to go forward or back between web pages. The coolest thing about Pen Flicks, is that it is incredibly customisable. Check out the image below:
On that image, you can see, you can set the different directional flicks to different commands, so a diagonal down flick can result in a Save, Open, Delete or any one of the commands in the list! Once you get used to the settings you have created, tasks become a whole lot quicker.
It’s features like this that make using a Tablet PC so much easier and more efficient, and make me more productive on the move. This is just one of the key values of Vista; Enabling a Mobile Workforce, and Vista does this by the bucketload.
You can read more about the Tablet PC functionality in Windows Vista, by heading over to this Windows Vista Community Article.
Tune in soon, for my Number 9 (I’m a poet, but don’t know it.... ;-) )
(Click to Enlarge)
I found a great article over in the Business and Technology section of the Seattle Times which really highlights how Microsoft is helping to change lives with Windows Vista.
The article is about a girl, Logan Olsen, who at 16 years old, suffered a brain injury which made tasks such as tying her shoes a challenge.
"Olson is on the computer constantly, typing out ideas, researching seasonal fashions and corresponding with writers and advertisers to assemble the upcoming premiere issue of a lifestyle magazine for young women with disabilities. But the loss of fine-motor skills means her fingers can't keep pace with her mind"
However, with the release of Windows Vista, and in particular, the Speech Recognition software included within Vista, Microsoft have made great strides in assisting people with disabilities. The article goes on to say that, on a recent visit to Microsoft, the now 21 year old Logan, had the chance to test the Speech Recognition software, and after only a brief setup, the system was recognising her words despite her speech impairment. The Speech Recognition is just one of dozens of features in Vista to make it easier for people with disabilities.
"Some 57 percent of U.S. computer users between 18 and 64 were likely or very likely to benefit from the use of accessible technology, according to a 2003 Forrester Research study commissioned by Microsoft"
In Windows XP, "Accessibility Options" are found under a green wheelchair icon in the computer's Control Panel which kept many who don't consider themselves disabled from finding things that could make their system easier and more comfortable to use however in Vista, the images are found in an "Ease of Access" center (See image at top), which uses everyday terminology to make things easier for the users to configures their settings for their machine and the explicit wheelchair icon has been replaced with stylized arrows and dashes, still in the basic shape of a wheelchair.
You can find out more about the accessibility in Windows Vista, by visiting this Microsoft webpage, or you can read the full Seattle Times article.
***** Update *****
There is also a brilliant post by James, entitled "I want my desktop to look beautiful, even if I can't see it" in which James conducts an excellent interview with a colleague of our's here at Microsoft UK; Saqib Shaikh, a developer in Microsoft Consulting Services. One of his main passions is accessibility for computers, because he's blind. Recently he's been working on some Windows Workflow Foundation projects which sound pretty cool. Make sure you take a look at the post, I know you will find it interesting. Nice one James. :-)