Am I good to you? I think so too!
James has found a load of events that are taking place in the UK, including events on Vista, Exchange, SQL and Virtualisation, so I thought I'd take it one step further to not only provide you with the information now, but information for the future too, with RSS feeds that you can subscribe to!
09 November 2006, Bristol: Windows Vista System Integrity Technologies and Internet Explorer 7 Security Features
Windows Vista will ship with several new system integrity technologies, including code integrity, secure start-up, service hardening, mandatory integrity control and Internet Explorer protected mode. In this session, Steve Lamb explores how these technologies work to thwart malware's attempts to take over your computer.
21 November 2006, West Yorkshire: Virtualisation Unplugged
This interactive session will focus on how you can use Microsoft's virtualisation products to solve real-life problems. We will explore the capabilities and scenarios surrounding these products and demonstrate how they can work for you. Virtual machine technology enables multiple operating systems to run concurrently on a single host, and the new features in the latest release give you more opportunities than ever.
28 November, Edinburgh: Office 2007 Developer Features - Client
The Office 2007 Client applications provide a rich foundation for building critical business applications quickly and easily. See how the new technologies in Office 2007 give you, the developer, a huge head start in solving the business problems of your organisation. This session will show how the client applications of the Office System can be connected together and extended with a minimum of effort for maximum results. This session includes an overview of how to extend the Ribbon, Custom Task Panes, XML file formats, Outlook integration, and Client Tools (VSTO).
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.
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!
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
So, you've just heard that Internet Explorer 7 is available for a free download, right here, right now.
But then what? What else can you do with it, apart from the cool stuff that you get right out of the box? Well, check out this little goldmine, over at http://www.ieaddons.com/.
That's right, this site is dedicated to providing Add-Ons for Internet Explorer, and there are already a load to choose from...
The site really does make it easy to find Add-Ons that are relevant to what you want, and provides an excellent glossary for terms that people may not understand, such as Spoofing or Pharming. You can search for Add-Ons:
and the results that are presented are easily 'sortable' - blimey, you can even rate and read reviews of the Add-Ons!
Does it stop there? Oh no.
Are you a developer? Well, now you too can get in on the 'Add-On Act' and make and submit your own IE Add-Ons - We've also partnered with CNET and Download.com to collect, evaluate and host add-ons for this site. Take advantage of this opportunity. Submit your add-on for review today.
Right, final piece of information - you can subscribe the RSS feeds from the site, so you stay up to date with th Add-Ons!
That's all folks!
*** 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! :-)
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! :-)
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.
Well, kind of Woo Hoo - I don't have a 1080p TV, but still, it's a move in the right direction, right! Woo Hoo!
1080p support is just one of the new features in the latest Xbox Live Dashboard Update - the full list can be found here.
Some of the features that I personally think are great, apart from 1080p, are:
But can you get 1080p over component video? Well, over at avsforums, there is an interesting discussion on how 1080p will be delivered. I've taken this from a post by amirm, who's a 'Microsoft Insider' - does that mean he's a spy or something? Cool!:
"1080p is supported over VGA for DVD, HD DVD and gaming output. And yes, AACS does allow 1080p over VGA (classified under authorized "computer monitor outputs").
For component, you get gaming up to 1080p, and 1080i for HD DVD. DVD only works at 480p over this connection. The latter two are due to restrictions in DVD CCA and AACS rules for DVD and HD DVD playback respectively.
On gaming, the machine supports both scaling of 720p games to 1080p, and native games running at 1080p resolution. It is up to game developers to decide which way to go."
I hope that clears up any questions that you may have had.
You can make up your own mind on what's hot and what's not, in the full list. You can also read the Xbox.com Newsflash surrounding the update. Final link - read Elle's, technical writer for the Xbox team, view on the Big November Update.
Just to get the official blurb in there:
"This free update will be distributed via the Xbox Live® online gaming and entertainment network to all members (Xbox Live Silver and Xbox Live Gold) with no disc or hard drive required. Gamers without an Xbox Live account can easily sign up for free by connecting their console to a broadband Internet connection."
I read a couple of interesting announcements yesterday, both around the Xbox 360. The first, over on GameDaily Biz, talks about the fact that, as we know, Microsoft is already working away on the next version of the Xbox, but also that the chip that powers the next console, may in fact be made by Microsoft. So far, in the original Xbox we had a trusty old Intel chip. In the 360, we had the IBM PowerPC-based chip, whereas Sony on the other hand, had their custom CPU, rolling in at about 300mhz, and with its funky name 'The Emotion Engine', and now, they too have moved towards producing their own chip; the extremely powerful Cell Processor. They are however, not producing this on their own, they have Toshiba and IBM on board for this - would Microsoft consider going it alone? In my eyes - abit risky...
Well, so far, Microsoft has started the new project, tentatively called the Computer Architecture Group. Watch this space I guess!
This wasn't the only announcement, oh no. When Microsoft released the Xbox, they decided, just the same as Sony has now, to release the console in 2 flavours, Core and Premium. I don't know about you, but I didn't think twice about which one I would buy - Premium all the way - for a number of reasons, one of which being the 20gb hard disk. That will be useful I thought. Now, they have only gone and announced the release of a 100gb Hard Disk for the Xbox 360. Now, as a 20gb owner, if I get the 100gb version, what am i supposed to do with the 20gb version? I've no box for it, as it came attached to the console, and if there is a 100gb version, it's unlike many people will want it on eBay. No date has been set for the release, however, as the guys on BetaNews say, when it does release, "With 100GB of storage, Microsoft could more easily position the Xbox as a full-blown media center for the living room"
I'm not sure if I'd want a 100gb hard disk for my Xbox to be honest. I would like a Media Center, in fact, I recently specc'd up my own home-built version, Core2Duo included, but, the Xbox as a fully fledged Media Center? I'm not so sure. Don't get me wrong, the Xbox as a Media Center Extender - awesome, especially when Vista Media Center is being extended, but, that's the key, it's an extender, not a fully functional Media Center. What if you don't have a Media Center? What does your Xbox give you? Well, it gives you the Live interface, but in terms of looking at your pictures, listening to your music, watching your video's etc, the interface, well, it's abit basic, especially compared to the awesome Media Center. Don't get me wrong, Xbox Live is, in my opinion, the killer feature of the 360, and something that Sony really has to work hard against if they want to get anywhere close in online gaming arena. So, would I need a 100gb hard disk? At the moment, definitely not. Of the 20gb disk i currently have, 13gb is available, and I currently have, just 1 downloaded demo on there, so, I have about 11gb left. I don't store my music on there, nor do I store video's. When game downloads become the norm, then I can see the 100gb hard disk becoming useful, however, unless they make a dramatic update to Live, and make the 360 into a fully fledged Media Center, I'm not too sure I'd ever need to invest in the 100gb disk. For those of you who have a large collection of music, photo's, and (non-divX) movies, and you are only looking for a no-fuss interface to access your collection, than the disk may be an ideal upgrade, but if you are like me, until it becomes a fully fledged Media Center, like this:
or game downloads become the norm, I think I'll wait...