*** 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*** - Unfortunately, Vista 5744 downloads for the Customer Preview Program (CPP) have now closed and the links are no longer active.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! :-)
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!
I've been meaning to mention this for a while now, so here it is! In a nutshell, the Microsoft UK Partner team has been hard at work on 2 incredibly useful tools, with one being aimed at UK Partners, and another being aimed at potential customers, who are looking for a solution.
The first of these tools is known as the Partner Solution Profiler, and is aimed at Microsoft UK Partners. Essentially, this tool allows UK Partners to log in, and enter their details, which are then stored in our directory.
The second tool, aimed at the potential customer, allows the customer, to search this Solution Profiler directory to connect with a partner that offers the software and services that they require.
Customers can search on over 1000 UK partner solutions by industry, location, technology, market segment and more! Solution Finder will be a call to action to People Ready Business and the customer campaigns, enabling partners to receive opportunities directly from Microsoft campaigns.
In addition, Solution Finder is advertised to customers on Windows Marketplace and the Experts page. Please encourage partners to profile their solutions so they benefit from connecting to customer opportunities.
So, 2 tools, aimed at 2 different sets of users:
Solution Profiler for Partners: http://www.microsoft.com/uk/partner/profiler/
Now you may or may not have just read a post I wrote about Window Server Virtualisation, which detailed what is on the horizon in the Virtualisation space from Microsoft, what this crazy term ‘Hypervisor' means, and what the benefits it can bring to your business. Well, say you are using it, or you are using Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1, and you have a load of Virtual Machines happily working away. How do you manage these VM's? That's where Carmine comes in - and no, its not the name of the new IT Administrator you will hire to look after your Virtual Infrastructure.
Carmine was, and is no longer, the codename for Microsoft's roll-off-the-tongue virtual infrastructure management tool; System Center Virtual Machine Manager, or, if acronym's float your boat, SCVMM.
So, what is it, and what are the benefits it can bring to your business?
Now the cool thing about SCVMM, is not only does it work with VS 2005 R2 (& SP1), but it being designed with Windows Server Virtualisation in mind, so essentially, by using it now, you are getting benefits now, and future proofing your organisation.
So, I hear you cry, when is it released? Well, like I said, its in Beta at the moment, and you can download and test it here and as it currently stands, Beta 2 is due in H1 of 2007 and, all being well, it should hit the market in H2 of 2007. The Beta 1, before you ask, will be the full del-monte, but we do intend adding more features for the Beta 2, such as:
Now some of you are probably wondering how this product, SCVMM, differs to MOM, Microsoft Operations Manager 2005, and the Management Packs that can be installed for the various products, i.e. Virtual Server. Well, first, Operations Manager is used to identify what we call consolidation candidates. To identify the appropriate workloads for virtualisation it is not as simple as listing all of the servers which are currently requiring low CPU. There are issues of "spiky" or high variance workloads and high I/O workloads which must be taken into consideration. The performance data stored in Operations Manager is used to create a consolidation candidates report that takes all of these issues under consideration. Second, placement of workloads onto physical servers in resource pools is at the crux of maximising physical resource utilisation. Operations Manager is integrated into the placement algorithm by incorporating historical performance data for the workload either from a physical or virtual environment as well as the current the performance data of the physical resource pools. Third, Operations Manager is the enterprise monitoring solution for both physical and virtual machine infrastructure. VMM doesn't create an additional, parallel monitoring system to be configured and supported.
So, there you have it, a quick rundown on SCVMM, so, if you think it fits your needs, both now and in the future, head over here and download the Beta and see what you think!
Do you want to learn more about System Center Virtual Machine manager? What about the Virtualisation roadmap? Or, are you just curious about Virtual Server? Well, you can find a wealth of information over at the Events webpage.
If you want to see System Center Virtual Machine Manager in action, stream the WinHEC demo.
Now, with Windows Server Virtualisation just around the corner, (Beta 1 is scheduled for the end of this year) a few of you may be wondering what the main differences are going to be between this, next generation virtualisation , and what is currently available in say, Virtual Server 2005 R2. Well, Windows Server Virtualisation, previously codenamed Viridian, is a hypervisor-based technology that is a part of Windows Server “Longhorn”. It provides a scalable, secure and highly available virtualisation platform and is part of Microsoft’s ongoing effort to provide our customers and partners with the best operating system platform for virtualisation. But what is this Hypervisor? It sounds like something someone from Star Trek would wear, but no, the Hypervisor is the key element in the future of Server Virtualisation. Essentially, the Hypervisor is a thin layer of software, between the actual physical hardware, and the operating system installed on that hardware. Now the Hypervisor provides some of the following features:
Now, before I said the Hypervisor is a thin layer of software, but how thin is thin? Well, my Toshiba Tecra M4 has a trackpad for moving the mouse point around, right? The driver for this trackpad is around 250Kb. The Windows Hypervisor will weigh in at, we believe, less than 100Kb.
But what benefits does Windows Server Virtualisation bring you? Well, apart from the usual 4 suspects; Production server consolidation, business continuity management, software test and development, and development of Dynamic Data Center, Windows Server Virtualisation provides key functionality which an ideal virtualisation platform should provide - scalability, high performance, reliability, security, flexibility and manageability. It provides scalability and high performance by supporting features like guest multi-processing support and 64-bit guest and host support; reliability and security through its hypervisor architecture; flexibility and manageability by supporting features like live migration of virtual machines from one physical host to another, dynamic addition of virtual resources and integration with System Center Virtual Machine Manager.
You want this right now, right? Well, like I said, the Beta 1 is due before the end of the year, and the final release will be within 180 days of Longhorn Server’s RTM, so, unfortunately is won’t ship with Lonhorn Server, and as of yet, it has been undecided how it will be shipped, i.e. will it be a download for example.
Now, one great thing about our current offering, Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 (Currently in Beta 2 – download here!) and our future offering, Windows Server Virtualisation, is centred around the use of our VHD (.vhd) file format, or Virtual Hard Disk, if we remove the acronym. Now, Customers who invest the .vhd file format – the format used by Virtual Server, as well as a multitude of vendor licensees - will have a clear path forward to Windows Server virtualisation. Customers can also work with Microsoft’s partners who provide solutions to conveniently migrate from VMware to Windows Server Virtualisation. No problems hey!
You may be thinking, well, what benefits will Windows Server Virtualization offer customers that they can’t already get now from VMware or Xen? Virtualisation is a key stepping stone for customers toward dynamic systems that are independent of physical resources. Customers need virtualisation solutions that are secure, interoperable, manageable, supported, as well as appropriate licensing policies. Microsoft’s strategy is to address all of these needs and Windows Server virtualisation is a key element of that strategy. Windows Server virtualisation is designed to provide integrated virtualisation capabilities to Windows customers. Windows Server virtualisation and the System Center product family will provide the most integrated, comprehensive and cost-effective virtualisation solution for customers. The result will be a highly efficient and secure virtualisation capability that will act as a building block for managing the next-generation datacenter. We believe the combination of virtualisation platform and management capabilities can deliver business agility, dynamic resource usage and higher levels of efficiency.
Do you want to learn more about the Hypervisor? What about the Virtualisation roadmap? Or, are you just curious about Virtual Server? Well, you can find a wealth of information over at the Events webpage.
If you want to see Windows Server Virtualisation in action, stream the WinHEC demo. Jump to the 15 minute mark to see the Hypervisor, and Windows Server Virtualisation in action.
Those guys over in the UK Partner team have been working away on this little beauty over the past few weeks. But what is it all about you may ask? Well, primarily aimed at the Microsoft UK Partners, the portal site is a new site, aimed at providing information on all things EVO. The site provides content in the form of video's, links to resources and blogs, white papers and more, all in a very cool, Aero-glass look and feel, a-la Vista. The content doesn't just cover the three products making up the EVO wave, but also covers the Partner Program, initiatives we will be driving over the next 12 months, People-ready Business and more. If you are a UK Partner, you really won't find a better resource for all your EVO needs.
One cool point to note, is that the content won't be static - it will be regularly updated with new features and content, so you will always be able to find the information you need, through this awesome portal!
Uk Partner: Check. Interested in Exchange, Vista or Office: Check.Go:Do - Visit the EVO Microsite!
Hot on the back of the 'Get the Facts' campaign that has been running for a while now, which examines the costs and risks of both Windows and Linux, Microsoft is refuelling the argument around whether enterprises spend less money managing Windows systems than Linux systems.
The Study, commissioned from independent analyst Mercer Management Consulting, made the case that companies that implement migration programs away from UNIX systems based on the need to adopt new applications -- what Mercer calls "transformational migrations" -- now tend to choose Windows over Linux.
The full paper, gives the reason for this choice, being down to IT managers now giving considerable thought to recent IDC numbers - which the Mercer paper cited - stating Windows has a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) for businesses than Linux.
Some of the other key findings from the paper:
But, on the other hand, fair's fair, there are 2 sides to every story and all that - IBM continues to cite an August 2005 study it commissioned from independent analyst Robert Frances Group, stating overall costs of Linux ownership tends to cost businesses 40% less than Windows over a three-year period. The cost of maintenance for Linux applications is still much higher, the Frances Group study contents, although that paper believes maintenance to be a lower percentage of overall TCO than hardware costs, but doesn't give a specific breakdown. The right hardware choice, the Frances paper implies, makes all the difference - and reminds readers that IBM commissioned the study.
To be honest, reading both documents, its easy to agree with the closing statement on the BetaNews site, "The fact that the IBM-commissioned study pointed to the low price of Linux-based hardware, and the Microsoft-commissioned study pointed to the advantages of being able to choose based on applications, should surprise very few"
Read the whole paper, in PDF format.
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!
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! :-)
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! :-)