Can you beat this? An index score of 4.2 on a laptop!!! Do you to know which laptop I used to achieve this score? Well, here you are...
Say hello to the Alienware Aurora m9700 - quoted as being the Ultimate Gaming Notebook, with 1gb of graphics, and it is the first SLI notebook, and to top it off, it has a 17" screen! A beauty right? Well, I firstly have to thank the guys from Alienware for providing me with this amazing piece of technology, yet I also have to thank James, my partner in crime and fellow VistaBoy, who managed to get his hands on these sexy pieces of kit! Nice one James!
So, what does this all mean? Why does Windows Vista give you this Experience Index?
Well, in a nutshell, the Windows Experience Index measures the capability of your computer's hardware and software configuration and expresses this measurement as a number called a base score. A higher base score generally means that your computer will perform better and faster than a computer with a lower base score, especially when performing more advanced and resource-intensive tasks.
Each hardware component receives an individual subscore. Your computer's base score is determined by the lowest subscore. For example, if the lowest subscore of an individual hardware component is 2.6, then the base score is 2.6. The base score is not an average of the combined subscores.
You can use the base score to confidently buy programs and other software that are matched to your computer's base score. For example, if your computer has a base score of 3.3, then you can confidently purchase any software designed for this version of Windows that requires a computer with a base score of 3 or lower.
Basically, the better your machine is graphically, the more memory it has, the faster the memory, the faster the hard disk, the greater the size of the hard disk, and the faster the processor speed, means the greater the base score! Simple!
What's your score? Bring on the challenge - desktop's need not apply!
Say you've got a nice new machine, with a 100gb hard disk, efficiently running Windows XP, but what if, for one reason or another, you want to split that hard disk into multiple partitions. What are some of the reasons you would want to create multiple partitions? Well, how about a separate drive for your paging file, to aid system performance, a separate drive for all your media / photo's / movies, or, a separate drive, to run another operating system, in a dual boot environment. Sound good? How can you do it in XP? Well, it's not the easiest thing to do...
Well, looking at the first one - it's abit of a hassle, and what if you already have alot of work on there? You will need to back it all up etc, taking valuable time and effort. This is obviously assuming that you have the DVD of XP. The second method would provide you with a feature-rich application, but, it's not free, and if you are only to use it once or twice, maybe the cost isn't quite justified.
So, how does this all change with Vista?
Well, although not as full featured as some third party partition management applications, in the Disk-Management snap-in, pictured below, users can shrink, extend, create, and format partitions. The new resizing features will allow users to shrink a single partition with unused space, and then create a new partition in the resulting free space, as well as extending a current partition if there is available free space after it.
Compare this with the options you have in XP:
And you can see the number of features has increased a great deal.
So, you've installed Vista, on your single-partition, but you've decided that you'd like to create another couple of partitions, one for your media, and one for your other data, keeping just your system files on the current partition. All you have to do is click Shrink Volume, enter the details...
and your unallocated space is created, where you can subsequently create your new volume with the New Volume Wizard, allocating size and choosing drive letter, or, you can extend an already existing volume. You can split this space again, and again, to create your required partitions.
I think you'll agree, with the new enhancements to Windows Vista Disk Management, the wizard-driven shrinking and extending partitions is now easily accomplished. As always, when making changing to the partition structure, users should ensure that all important files and data are backed up.
Here at Microsoft, there are regular questions flying around about the settings needed to run Virtual Server on Vista. Many people think they have set it up correctly, only to be presented with problems such as not being able to load the admin page etc. Well, here is the definitive guide, and it comes in the form of an image, and textual information. A huge thanks to Jeff Woolsey for producing this information.
So, if you’re trying to run Virtual Server on Vista, you need to do two things.
Step 1 - Enable IIS and the correct settings. To do this, go to Control Panel and under the Programs category click on Windows Features to Turn Windows features on and off. Here you will see a long list of features that can be enabled/disabled in Vista. For this discussion were specifically interested in enabling features under Internet Information Services (IIS). I’ve typed out what needs to be enabled below and included a screenshot which you can maximise by clicking the image.
Step 2 - Run IE using elevated privileges. To do this, right click on IE and select Run as Administrator.
You must do both.
For those of you who don't want to look at the screenshot, here are the details:
IIS Features that need to be enabled for Virtual Server to function properly
1. Under Web Management Tools enable IIS Management Console.2. Under IIS 6 Management Compatibility enable IIS Metabase and IIS6 configuration compatibility.3. Under Application Development Features enable CGI.4. Under Common Http Features enable Default Document, Directory Browsing, HTTP Errors, Static Content5. Under Health and Diagnostics enable HTTP Logging, Request Monitor6. Under Performance Features enable Static Content Compression7. Under Security enable Windows Authentication
*** Update 11/10/2006 *** - Unfortunately, Vista 5744 downloads for the Customer Preview Program (CPP) have now closed and the links are no longer active. We were bowled over by your response to RC2 -- in fact, we hit our download target (200K+) within 72 hours of propping the files! This is an incredible response..so thank you, and I am sorry for those of you who didn't manage to download in time. Rest assured, the RC1 release is still available for download, so feel free to download it here.
You can read more information over at the Windows Vista Team Blog.
That's right, it's here! For those of you who have tested Beta 2, CTP, RC1 or any of the other builds that we have released, it's time to get downloading again, with the release of RC2.
We have released this build to Technical Beta Testers, TAP Testers, and MSDN/TechNet subscribers and finally, the Customer Preview Program. However, the difference with the Customer Preview Program, or CPP, is that this download page will only be available for a limited time, so be quick!
So, what can you expect from RC2? Well, as it states over at the Windows Vista Team Blog, there has been a huge amount of feedback from RC1, and "This new build of Windows Vista offers users a higher level of performance and stability – improving what was established in Windows Vista RC1. We were able to also fix many of your bugs reported from RC1 and implement them for RC2" - good news I think!
Again, taken from the Windows Vista Team Blog, is an announcement from Jim Allchin;
"People asked for it, and here it is, Windows Vista RC2! We wanted you to be the first to get these bits; next week they’ll be available to a broader set of customers via MSDN and TechNet.
All your great feedback has helped us focus on nothing but bug fixes over the past month since RC1 - each and every day. There are thousands of quality improvements since Windows Vista RC1. You’ll probably notice improvements in performance, application compatibility, as well as fit and finish work. We will continue improving quality until RTM. If you are an ISV, please use this build (certainly at least RC1 or later) to get certified. Visit www.innovateonvista.com for more information on logo certification.
You are integral to this creation and refinement process. We are just around the corner from RTM and shipping this great product to the world. This will be the last build made available prior to RTM, so please keep the feedback coming so we can hit the finish line. Thanks for your help in finishing the job!"
Go-Do: Get along to the download site to start downloading straight away! you can download it in two ways, using Akamai Download Manager or using the browser in the normal way and they also come in 3, yes 3, languages. The versions available are:
Bear in mind, that all these downloads come in ISO format, so your DVD-Burning skills will need to be up to scratch to take advantage of your huge download!
Please note: This build may not have the same level of support or servicing via Windows Update as RC1, and you may not be able to upgrade from this build to the final version of Windows Vista. To continue, please use the links below to start the 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! :-)
It's been coming for a while, and for those of you using Vista, you've had the pleasure of it for a long time now, but Windows Media Player 11 is finally here, and, in my opinion, its a huge step up from WMP10.
I posted a while back, when the Beta 2 was released, but now that it's here, I thought I would take the chance to share what I like about Media Player 11.
Firstly, the design. I find it now so simple to use, to find my music, to create and edit playlists, to sync devices, using back / forward buttons to navigate it a godsend for me, and the album art is such a good way to display your music, and looks cool when you are sat next to someone on the train! (Depending on your music collection of course!) You can, of course, go back to the old style menu's if you like!
Secondly, and I know I mentioned this in the 'Firstly' section, and it is something I bang on about a lot when talking about Vista, but Search, for me, is the quality improvement in WMP11. I love being able to find the exact music I want, really quickly, and I mean, really quickly. The search is also context sensitive, depending on your current view in the library. For example, if I am in the 'Artist' section of the library, all my albums are organised by 'Artist', with multiple albums from the same artist stacked in a cool way, but if I then use search, it returns just those albums by that artist:
I can then double click and drill down further, and I am presented with all the tracks for that artists, separated by album. From this view, I could play all the tracks from all the albums in order, or shuffle them etc. It's just a really cool way of accessing your tracks.
I also think the way that WMP11 accesses the meta services site, to automatically update your track information online, in the background, is really cool, and is even cooler when you pull those tracks into Media Center. It really makes a difference to the user experience, being able to visualise those album covers, just as if you were looking through your CD collection in a rack at home.
Seeing as I don't actually own a portable music player yet (I'm waiting for the Zune!), I haven't really embraced downloading music from stores such as URGE just yet, but the way they integrate with WMP11, providing a consistent interface, can only be good for users. Instead of using music download sites so far, I've stuck with ripping CD's, and WMP11 has many different ripping formats that you can use.
One of the final things for me, and it relates to the organising and searching, is the ability to jump between libraries of recorded TV, video and pictures as well as music. This is something I personally find very useful. Again, the search is all context sensitive, so you could search by actor in the video library, or tags in the pictures library.
Now you may have heard that today, there has been an update to the Xbox Live Dashboard and one of the new features is the ability to stream WMV video from a Windows PC running Windows Media Player 11, Zune software, or Windows Media Connect. This is great! We all know, as Chris Benard states on his blog, that Windows Media Connect is a CPU and Memory hogger, so streaming directly between WMP11's and Extenders is so much better! Chris gives a pretty good guide on how to set all this up on his blog too.
You can also read more about this over at Digital Home.
Following up on my post the other day, about partitioning and disk management in Vista, so I thought I'd build on that by revealing a little tool that a colleague has found, that you may find useful. Now, before you fly off the handle, judging by the title, and say "you aren't revealing the Disk Defragmenter! It's been around for years!" - hold on! I know that! What I want to talk about is...another disk defragmenting tool, which does the same job, but in a way that may be more useful to some.
So, in Vista, we have the Disk Defragmenter, and, all in all, it does exactly what it says on the tin, defragments your hard disk and looks like this...
Nice and simple right? Right. Only problem for me, and a few others have found this too, is that, although you can easily modify your schedule, and have it run in the background, every day if you want, if you want to do a manual defragmentation (I don't mean go and find and move each file yourself! Just press the 'Defragment now' button!), you never know how long it will take, how much is done, and you can't see a report afterwards, like you could with XP. You can't even pause it! Why was XP so feature-rich in this area in comparison?
So I guess some of the more 'advanced' features have been sacrificed for simplicity. Fear not, I have an answer, and it comes in the form of Auslogics Disk Defragmenter. Not only does this little beauty run fine in XP and on the current Windows Server offerings, but it also runs fine on Vista, and Longhorn Server! Some of the other benefits are:
So what does it look like? Click the screenshots to enlarge them! This is running on Vista by the way!
Overall, its a pretty good program, and for free, even better! It works well, its fast, its pretty clear to see how long it will take to complete, you can pause, stop and view reports (which are very comprehensive) - what more could you want? It's also getting good reviews over on Download.com.
It's a shame there is no scheduling - I guess you could use Task Scheduler to automate the process a little more, but unfortunately, unlike Vista's Defragmenter, it can't run in the background - for example, my Vista defrag ran today, while I was at lunch. Did I know? Nope. I guess it's swings and roundabouts. You either want automation and simplicity, or manual and more advanced controls. Until a product comes out with both - I guess it's one or the other! You decide! :-)
Now, you may (or may not!) have heard about a certain $1.65billion deal uniting a certain search company (OK, among other things...) and a certain video site, but, that isn't the only video related deal that has taken place over the last few days.
"On Monday, Blinkx will announce potentially one of its biggest deals to date, with Microsoft Corp., which has agreed to use Blinkx technology to power the video search on some parts of its MSN Internet sites and Live.com.
"We will be the single biggest video search engine on the Web ," Suranga Chandratillake, Blinkx co-founder and chief technology officer, said in an interview."
You may not have heard of blinkx before, but essentially, rather than looking for a video to make you laugh, blinkx allows you to do something useful - find a movie that you actually want to find! OK OK, I'm not having a pop at YouTube, because to be fair, it's grown incredibly in popularity, and there is some great content on there, if you are prepared to search for it. Searching for it is the key here, and that is what blinkx does really well.
I mean, for instance, check this feature out. Go to the homepage, http://www.blinkx.tv and enter some search text in the box, and click "Wall it". That presents me with a video wall of movies relating to that search keyword, and it also gives me a link to embed in my webpage, the result of which is, by using Bill Gates as the keyword....
Pretty cool hey! I can mouse over each little window (the number of which is defined by me when I embed the link) and it gives me more information, and I can click on the mini-window and watch the video! Cool!
So, what else is different about blinkx when compared to YouTube? Well, blinkx already powers video search on sites ranging from AOL to ITN, Lycos and Times Online. It also indexes video from the likes of BCC, Fox, MTV, Sky News, Reuters and YouTube and makes and makes videos on those sites searchable on blinkx or partner sites. The really cool way that blinkx differs is by the fact that searching for video content is no longer limited to search for the title of the video, or any tags that have been defined. blinkx pushes the boundaries to allow audio and image search tools.
According to this article, over at eWeek, "The San Francisco-based company uses voice recognition, image and contextual analysis, which helps computers calculate whether an image may be a human face, a nature setting or some other scene. "When a computer looks at a piece of video , for the most part, it has no idea what is going on," Forrester Research analyst Josh Bernoff said. Using Blinkx, a consumer can search for videos based on keywords or phrases. The results reflect not just a search of titles or text information attached to the video but also uses speech recognition to find matching words in audio tracks"
Hmm - this could be pretty cool as a Vista sidebar gadget, do you think? A gadget that showed a couple of the day's news videos, that is always up to date...Could be very useful!
If anyone is up for the challenge, I'd love to hear from you!
Apologies for the shameless plug of a Jamiroquai hit of yesteryear, but I thought it was an ideal way to talk about the fact that Virtual PC 2007 Beta is here, and it's available for you to download! What are you waiting for??
Without further adoo, here is the link to the download site! The download is part of the Microsoft Connect program, so you will have to apply for participation, but it's pretty straightforward - you'll have it in no time!
So, what are the benefits? Well, here is one straight off!
Vista in a VPC - awesome! I nabbed that image from this post over on the Windows Vista Team Blog where they also talk about the install process, and also some queries around licensing. Virtual PC 2007 Beta is a great way for you to have a play around with Vista, (which you can still download here) and really see for yourself how much has improved over XP.
The final pearl of wisdom that I can bring you in this post...? How about a whitepaper that covers Virtual PC and Application Compatibility - a must read for many organisations out there, large or small. To whet your appetite, the abstract reads:
"Virtual PC 2007 lets you run additional operating systems on Windows Vista, without using multiple computers. This allows you to proceed with your Windows Vista deployment, rather than delay because of application incompatibility. Your organization can take full advantage of the new features and capabilities in Windows Vista and still provide end users access to run their legacy mission-critical applications, allowing you to realize your return on investment faster than other short-term solutions."
Download the whitepaper here!Get on the Connect Program and Download Virtual PC 207 Beta here!Download Vista RC1 and install!, either on your physical, or virtual machine here!
That's right, Internet Explorer 7 was coming quicker than I thought! It's available now for download!
Unfortunately at present, the download is only available in English, but other languages will be available soon. As I mentioned a few days ago, we will begin distributing Internet Explorer 7 as a high-priority update via Automatic Updates in November. In addition, Internet Explorer 7 (with protected mode capability) will ship in Windows Vista in 35 languages. Cool!
I'm sure you are aware, IE7 incorporates major advances like a streamlined interface, tabbed browsing, printing enhancements, RSS feeds, instant search capabilities, improved security, and much more. We will also offer free customer support for consumers.
What are you waiting for?
If you need even more reason to download, listen to the experts....
“IE7 is a monumental improvement over IE6 in both security and functionality. [It] is a solid, feature-packed browser that all IE users should flock to immediately.” - Paul Thurrott, Windows IT Pro
“I’ve spent the past few days looking at this build of IE7 and can recommend it enthusiastically.” - Ed Bott, ZDNet.com
You can also read a full review, by David Pogue of the NY Times, over here. You will need to register, but this is something I would recommend anyway! You could also download the awesome NY Times Reader, for XP and Vista.
Action: Download Internet Explorer 7
Now, if you're anything like me, from time to time you may find it a little difficult to figure out what is going on with all these 'Live' products, how they differ from the non-Live products, a-la Office 2003 / 2007 and how also, they differ from what kind of apps that other 'Search Engine' company are bringing out.
Well, after reading this article over on infoworld, things are starting to become clear :-)
Essentially, as Chris Capossela (Corporate VP of Microsoft's Information Worker Product Management Group) states, "Office 2007, unlike its predecessor Office 2003, is not just about personal productivity tools, but is focused on collaboration...However, collaboration features available in the Enterprise edition and some other versions of Office 2007 will not be offered in the Small Business version of Office 2007". He goes on to say "Small businesses want the collaboration features that are available in the enterprise edition of Office 2007, but they don't want to have to install and run the servers for it. Instead Microsoft is developing Office Live services that complement the Office desktop for small business users".
So, does that mean Office Live is aimed just at Small Businesses? Well, primarily yes, however, over time, services will be added to Office Live that will be of use to Home users and also Student users. Small Business users of Office 2007 also get a few nifty features that are not included in Enterprise or Home versions of Office 2007:
"The small business version of the product has a contact management system that is not available on the enterprise or home versions. Small businesses are not likely to buy a separate, stand-alone CRM (customer relationship management) system, but they want contact management capabilities, Capossela said. "The contacts module in Outlook has been beefed up, and it is almost like a CRM lite," he added."
So, what does Office Live give you? How about...
Reach new customers with search engine advertising
Track all of your contacts and leads in one place
Ready to sell on eBay?
More Space. More E-mail Accounts.
Sounds good right? Well why don't you head on over and sign-up right now?
The process is simple and fast, so you can be up and running in no time :-)
If I haven't persuaded you enough already, you have to see the flash demo or, alternatively, view some of the successful customer stories.