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Vista Failing "Blackboard" College Courses

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the stay-awake-in-the-back-there dept.

Education 207

writertype writes "Although Blackboard is used to communicate between students and professors at virtually all of PC Magazine/Princeton Review's top 20 wired colleges, when run under a Vista environment users can see glitches. Moreover, IT departments told PC Mag that if Blackboard is used with Vista plus IE7, students can't communicate via the software. When asked why, Microsoft ... waffled. Blackboard says they'll have a fix in place by summer. Meanwhile, are there any other common college apps that Vista fails to work with?"

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207 comments

It was really late for me.. (1, Funny)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 7 years ago | (#18553999)

Many academic IT departments are suggesting that students and teachers either use an alternative browser such as FireFox or Opera, or disable the feature altogether.
but I'm somehow not shedding many tears over this issue.

Re:It was really late for me.. (4, Interesting)

paeanblack (191171) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554083)

but I'm somehow not shedding many tears over this issue.

It's really a mess in educational software land. About 2/3rds of the web based edu apps we support on campus work in one browser, and one browser only. Sometimes it's Firefox, sometimes it's IE. Some apps are even pegged to a specific version for no apparent reason. We have to fake different UA strings in different labs just to get this stuff to run.

Don't get me started with the Adobe DRM crap that every edu app has fallen in love with. It's really easy on the users when they need to use two different browsers to get to different parts of the same frickin' website. Ugh.

Re:It was really late for me.. (4, Informative)

jimicus (737525) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554223)

We have to fake different UA strings in different labs just to get this stuff to run.

Wouldn't it be easier just to have a web proxy rewrite the UA string? I'm 95% sure squid can do that.

Back on the topic of educational software though... ughh. I worked in a school for just one year and it was enough to convince me that the way to sell software to schools is to send every school in the country a flyer proclaiming yourself to be "specialists in the education market" - that way you could make a bunch of sales without having to actually produce a half-decent product.

I was later told that there's a reason for this. Educational software - certainly in the UK - is generally split into two camps.

On the one hand, you've got stuff written by computer people. It's generally reasonably easy to manage, can be rolled out across a network and is not too much hassle. But it's also generally lousy at getting a point across, so it's not very popular with teachers. Bit of a problem when ultimately it's the teachers who are going to work with it.

On the other hand, you've got programs written by teachers who happen to have an interest in computing. It's generally quite good at getting a point across (and is thus popular with teachers) but it was usually written by someone who's never had to think beyond the PC on their desk. So the installation instructions say "Go to every PC, insert the CD and type D:\setup". In extreme cases, you find all sorts of annoyances: like parts of the setup program have been hardcoded to assume it's being installed from CD and the CD-ROM drive is drive D. Calling the software manufacturer and pointing out that this isn't terribly practical when the software is to be installed on a few hundred workstations generally results in an answer of "Oh. Never thought of that. Never mind, it only takes 5 minutes to install."

Multiplying that 5 minutes by the number of PCs which need the software installed is left as an exercise for the reader.

In the interests of fairness, I should point out that this was a few years ago - before XP was released and MSIs became as common as they are today. But I would be astonished if you were to tell me that things have changed that drastically.

Re:It was really late for me.. (4, Interesting)

leenks (906881) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554533)

My mother is a senior teacher at a British primary school, and my father is now a lab technician in a comprehensive secondary school (after a long career in electronics). Both of them experience the same things you describe, even now. However, rather than teachers battling with these things, many bigger schools have their own IT technicians and smaller schools buy in support - not cheap, but it is cheaper than the teachers time usually.

Many schools still rely on Windows 98 machines for some programs, especially primary schools, as the software will only run on old versions of Windows. Some schools still make use of Acorn Archimedes computers because the software was that good. New computers are expensive, and schools in the UK simply do not have the budget to spend on luxuries such as Vista or XP. Schools, certainly in my county, do not get the advantages of Microsoft discounts because the educational authority appears to be sleeping with computer giants such as RM Nimbus or Viglen. The school is only allowed to buy its computers through these suppliers, and do not get a very good deal. The same companies also provide (well, resell I guess) broadband internet access - at an extortionate rate.

There is a third case with software - some software is written by ex-teachers that are very good programmers. Sherston software (http://www.sherston.com/) is one example of quality educational software that does things this way.

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Re:It was really late for me.. (1)

azrider (918631) | more than 7 years ago | (#18555157)

FTFA:

Wascha said that collaborative work takes care of the vast majority of compatibility issues with devices and applications, which, according to Microsoft, were resolved before Windows Vista shipped.

(emphasis mine)
Is it just me, or are graphics and wireless cards
  • devices
?

What's Microsoft got to do with it? (5, Insightful)

davmoo (63521) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554005)

When asked why, Microsoft ... waffled.

They shouldn't have waffled. They should have given the answer this deserves...how the hell is this Microsoft's problem to correct?

Vista was in beta forever and a day. Beta 3 was out and the API was locked down for at least several months before RTM. In cases where any third party software does not now work under Vista, it is *entirely* the fault of that software company. Holding Microsoft responsible to any degree here is just plain stupid.

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (2, Insightful)

Detritus (11846) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554037)

It is Microsoft's fault if Vista broke existing applications without a very good reason for doing so. The rest of the world isn't obligated to follow Microsoft around like a circus dog, jumping through all their hoops.

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18554079)

Oh really, is OS X held to the same standard? Do you have any idea the completely absurd lengths Microsoft goes to to insure compatability? There are people running software 20 years old on modern version of windows. And everything in between. Much of it obscure, and badly written. If Blackboard had properly constructed their applications in the first place, as opposed to using a sledge and a prybar to force their code to barely get by, odds are they wouldn't even have a problem at all. You want OS's that fail to deliver not on promises, but even improvement, hold makers to this standard.

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554137)

Did you even bother reading my post?

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18554211)

Apparently you didn't read what you wrote. It's not Microsoft's job to make sure everyone's badly written software works as intended on a new platform (yet they generally do). That you don't have the same expectation for presumably any other OS, and certainly not Apple, is telling. You think ANY of my Apple II GS software runs in Mac OS X? Bandit Kings of Ancient China 1989 Koei runs on Vista Ultimate.

You're an asshat, and an idiot.

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (4, Insightful)

batkiwi (137781) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554091)

So whose fault is it that the nvidia headers for binary drivers have to be recompiled every kernel release due to incompatabilities for no good reason?

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (3, Insightful)

Detritus (11846) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554119)

Sounds like a driver interface design problem.

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (1)

AdamKG (1004604) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554311)

Nvidia's, and also the people who choose to use their binary-only drivers.

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (2, Funny)

stebbo (757730) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554481)

Uhh... Microsoft?? ;-)

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (3, Insightful)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554811)

So whose fault is it that the nvidia headers for binary drivers have to be recompiled every kernel release due to incompatabilities for no good reason?

How do you know it's for no good reason? If you've seen the source code, then perhaps you might enlighten us.

In any case, who cares? nVidia does it, and does it very promptly when required. Which is more than we can say for the majority of hardware producers, who as a rule are content to leave Linux/Solaris/FreeBSD users completely unsupported.

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (2, Informative)

dhasenan (758719) | more than 7 years ago | (#18555421)

There hasn't been a good reason so far to provide a consistent ABI for Linux kernel drivers. But the nVidia installer automatically recompiles the shim when necessary, so it doesn't make a real difference.

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (3, Insightful)

hdparm (575302) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554237)

You are absolutely right although there might be a bit of guilt on the other side, if MS didn't break functionality between last beta and vista release.

I mostly blame schools though. They are the ones who let the vista in without going through enough testing, Like they haven't experienced exactly the same with previous windows releases.

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554721)

I'd just like to point out that blackboard is an online web application (at least here), so the guys making it probably tested it on XP with IE 7.0 and assumed it would work under Vista if it worked under XP.

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (1, Insightful)

aaronmarks (873211) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554297)

I have been amazed by the IT community's/press' reaction to Vista and Internet Explorer 7. This case with Blackboard is the perfect example of the complaint I have been hearing all to often recently, "Why doesn't website/program X work with IE7/Vista?", which is generally followed by, "I can't believe Microsoft did this, they must have a huge problem on their hands!".

The thing is though, this isn't Microsoft's problem. Vista was in beta for a very very long time. As a result, all of these businesses that develop website/program X should have started testing about a year ago (maybe even more) for compatibility issues. Vista was pre-released to IT professionals and Developers like all Microsoft beta products. I think that Microsoft's openess to developers and IT pros is one of their best qualities; it is definitely a compelling reason for why their latest software been so stable and feature packed (Exchange 2007, Office 2007, Windows Vista, etc.)

On the other hand, I do find it completely irresponsible that developers have not fix their webites to work with Vista. If you run a major software application like Blackboard, one can assume that it is going to be running on unmanaged PC's. Whenever a softare application is developed for an unamanged environment, all majority platforms need to be accounted for. Vista is more than just another platform, it now comes on every manufacturers shipping Home & Home Office PCs and in 2 years it will become the primary OS in nearly all environments.

For a business like Blackboard to make the statement; "If your PC breaks tomorrow and you need to go buy a new one, TOO BAD! We don't care enough about Vista so we aren't going to modify our software to work with it." That is just poor judgement on their part because the way I see it, many companies like Blackboard are just being lazy. They figure that because they are the standard of their industry/field, they can get by without supporting major new platforms. In reality they are just trying to save on developement costs at the consumer/end-users expense.

Vista is a great stable operating system and their should be absolutely no reason for any major softare or website to not work with it.

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18554445)

Your forgetting something

The thing is though, this isn't Microsoft's problem. Vista was in beta for a very very long time.

there was a long sabbatical between last VISTA Beta Release and VISTA Final Retail. and there were numerous changes in this time. including even tighter security measures in IE7.

1 example i have is many companies sell wireless and wired internet to travellers.
This system involves a computer connecting via DHCP
any Internet requests are forwarded/redirected through to a transparent proxy and requiring authentication. (confirm pre payment)

IE7+Vista blocks this redirect and give absolutely no warning rsulting in a page can not be displayed
and what appears to be a non functioning connection.

Firefox does Not suffer this issue on VISTA. current solution is to use Firefox to authenticate and optionally use IE7 later.b

Disabling Phishing filter
Reset Security to low
do no fix it either.

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18554315)

What is Blackboard?

        * Learning Management System (LMS) software partially owned by Microsoft

http://www.humboldt.edu/~jdv1/moodle/all.htm [humboldt.edu]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_assets_owned_ by_Microsoft_Corporation [wikipedia.org]

History lesson: (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554871)

What is Blackboard?

I had to look this up too, since my own recollection (from the early fourteenth century) of blackboards is of large, black-painted surfaces at the end of what was known as a classroom. Peripherals consisted of wooden-backed dusters and slender sticks of calcium carbonate. Both doubled as ammunition for pedagogues to apply, with varying degrees of accuracy, to unruly or inattentive pupils.

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (1)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554421)

If the rest of the world commits to supporting Microsoft software and forcing users by extension to HAVE Microsoft software, it is no longer MS's fault. They chose to put their customers/users in Microsoft hell, so they damn well better keep up.

Law school exam software is a prime example. George Washington refuses to release the OS X version of the software (even though it exists), because their IT department has chosen to go all-Microsoft. All students are required to have a Windows notebook, and the IT department WILL NOT provide any support for Macs, even Intel Macs.

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (1)

Reznor7 (1082275) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554493)

No, but you did just describe Apple and Apple fanboys perfectly.

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (2, Insightful)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554791)

It is Microsoft's fault if Vista broke existing applications without a very good reason for doing so.

No, it's Microsoft's fault if the application was written to documented APIs and following their recommended practices.

Given that 99% of software problems in Windows are caused by applications that *don't* do this (Exhibit A: any application released in the last ~8 years or so that needlessly requires Administrator privileges), this is probably something Microsoft deserve the benefit of the doubt on.

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (1)

spikedvodka (188722) | more than 7 years ago | (#18555035)

Oh, You mean like Office 2k3?
here's the scenario:
1) Fresh install of Windows XP Pro SP2
2) All 75 Critical updates, plus the 3 required updates to get the latest version of windowsupdate to run (Watch Star Wars)
3) install MS Office 2k3 Enterprise edition
4) Install Office SP2 & all critical updates (Read War and Peace)
5) Create users, including 1 Limited user
6) Fire up MS Word
6.5) "Preparing to install Microsoft office"
7) Put in my name & Initials, Word is now ready to use
6) log in as said limited user
7) fire of MS Word
7.5) "Preparing to install Microsoft Office"
8) spit and cuss because it failed becuase it couldn't edit the registry to "Set user settings"
9) put in name & initials

now until I've gone back changed the account to an administrator account, fired up word in said account, and then set the account back to limited, repeat steps 6-9 every time you want to use MS Word/Excell/Powerpoint/etc...

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (1)

Cameroon (16395) | more than 7 years ago | (#18555147)

Are you kidding? We use XP Pro SP2 and Office 2k3 at work and have no such problems deploying at all. You might want to try creating an administration installation point. We do our computer deployment with ghost and sysprep, so we don't install Office each time, but we never run into a problem launching any Office app as a limited user (unless Office breaks in really strange ways, like thinking it hasn't been installed).

1% of our users are Admins (mostly in IT), everyone else is a limited user account. Mostly only older software (*shudder* HomeSite) causes problems with the lack of Admin rights and those mostly just want write permission to the application's directory. Not great, but better than making the user's admins

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (2, Insightful)

Vexorian (959249) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554987)

I kind of not agree, I think this is the colleges' fault for jumping into vista without actually testing their main applications.

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (1)

Helios1182 (629010) | more than 7 years ago | (#18555241)

This is a web app, so anyone using it from their personal computer at home (the purpose of the web app) can't use Vista. I doubt the universities have upgraded yet.

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18555347)

I guess you are right in a sense. The rest of the world doesn't have to do anything. But they do if they want to sell their crappy software. Hmm... Put food on the table or don't follow Microsoft around. Tough one there. These guys just screwed up - like the OP said - Vista had been in Beta forever and MS had a HUGE ISV outreach program. To have not been aware of it says they had their heads up their proverbial asses.

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18554045)

Exactly. New OS out, minor problems with some apps that haven't been tested on it before -- news at 11.

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554065)

I don't think we can tell from this article whose fault this is. If Microsoft really did lock down their changes several months ago and documented them properly, it is Blackboard's fault not to have adapted. On the other hand, if Microsoft has kept changing things, has failed to document the API properly, or has failed to see to it that their code actually conforms to the documentation, it is Microsoft's fault.

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554367)

if Microsoft has kept changing things, has failed to document the API properly, or has failed to see to it that their code actually conforms to the documentation

      Oh, shudder, you evil person you. How dare you suggest that Microsoft would do something like THAT? /sarcasm

      It wouldn't be the first time.

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18554067)

Microsoft has a long history of new versions breaking competitors products. Anyone know if Microsoft has a competing product for this or is working on one? Some of the most glaring examples were with Netscape, Word Perfect and Norton.

Not so simple (4, Informative)

robinjo (15698) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554069)

I've been in the business since before the first Windows versions. Usually I make sure to do software so it works with any Windows version. That should be pretty easy as long as you use standard API.

Over the years I've noticed a trend: If you use Microsoft development tools, you end up having problems with backwards compatibility. Either their compilers so a lot of weird things or MS makes sure to break them so even the programmers have to upgrade.

Re:Not so simple (1)

PhoenixAtlantios (991132) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554193)

I don't suppose you have any code or evidence to prove that Microsoft's tools generate inferior code to the alternatives, I thought the Microsoft's tools were some of the best around? I'd wager a guess that a large portion of the applications available today were created using Visual Studio and they don't all randomly break when a new OS comes out.

I'm genuinely curious to know of any examples of Microsoft's tools sabotaging their users where others would not. It stands to reason that Microsoft, with infinite access to the source code of their operating system, would be able to create better tools.

Re:Not so simple (2, Insightful)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554299)

"Microsoft, with infinite access to the source code of their operating system, would be able to create better tools."

But this would undermine the planned-obsolescence/forced-upgrade strategy, which -- if you hadn't noticed -- is a more important piece of their business than "create better tools".

Re:Not so simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18554773)

That's right, keep dreaming you whiney mac fanboy faggot. Everything is Microsofts fault! EVERYTHING!

Re:Not so simple (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554295)

Either their compilers so a lot of weird things or MS makes sure to break them so even the programmers have to upgrade.

I wish I could understand what you're saying; I bet it's insightful.
You for no work for Microsoft yes?

Re:Not so simple (4, Interesting)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554351)

Over the years I've noticed a trend: If you use Microsoft development tools, you end up having problems with backwards compatibility.

I recently came across an old CDR with a bunch of games. Most of them seemed to work, whether coded for DOS, Win 3.1 or 95. Except the old Microsoft games. They crashed hard when I tried to run them in current versions of Windows. I assume becasue MS used undocumented hooks to optimise for the then current Windows.

Re:Not so simple (1)

ticklish2day (575989) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554599)

Do you have any documented proof for that claim? Or, are you one of those folks that runs gcc on Windows and calls it a Microsoft compiler?

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (1)

Venim (846130) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554127)

completely agreed even though i'm normally a m$ basher :)

this isn't even remotely microsoft's responsibility to make sure that every program ever made works for their operating system

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (1, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554355)

this isn't even remotely microsoft's responsibility to make sure that every program ever made works for their operating system

      Especially not when they SELL access to the information so that you can keep your software current, in the form of MSDN subscriptions (which are not cheap, btw).

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (2, Informative)

ticklish2day (575989) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554591)

The APIs are documented on MSDN. http://msdn2.microsoft.com/ [microsoft.com] is free. Have you heard of a little something called the internet?

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (2, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#18555219)

The APIs are documented on MSDN. http://msdn2.microsoft.com/ [microsoft.com] is free. Have you heard of a little something called the internet?

      Sure. You can get free versions of the SDK. Usually a few months AFTER the OS/Program or whatever is released. If you pay, however, you get in early. My point stands.

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (1)

Helios1182 (629010) | more than 7 years ago | (#18555225)

Blackboard is a Web App -- it doesn't rely on the OS. MS screwed around with IE7 so much that it broke. It still works fine in Firefox.

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (1)

swilly (24960) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554177)

Vista was in beta forever and a day. Beta 3 was out and the API was locked down for at least several months before RTM. In cases where any third party software does not now work under Vista, it is *entirely* the fault of that software company. Holding Microsoft responsible to any degree here is just plain stupid.

There is a lot of software that worked with the release candidates but don't work with RTM. I have some video software like that. What would be nice to know is if Blackboard worked with the release candidates or not. If it did, then the problem lies with Microsoft. If not, then the problem lies with the makers of Blackboard for not being ready with an update.

Webapps? (1)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554199)

The problem is, both the summary and TFA mention separate issues with both "Vista" and "Vista & IE7". It isn't clear exactly what that means. Does IE7 work on XP with these apps? TFA seems to indicate these are webapps, so shouldn't the browser be the most important component? Flipping things, do other browsers (IE6, Firefox) work on Vista? How about Firefox on any platform?

Without really knowing the answers to all of these, I don't have an opinion on whether this is Microsoft's fault or the app-builder's fault. Yet, if this is a true webapp, ensuring that it works on Firefox should be enough for virtually all cross-platform compatibility issues, shouldn't it? If it doesn't run on Vista/IE7, just tell them to use Firefox for that app. It doesn't cost money; this isn't lock-in.

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (5, Interesting)

Aqua OS X (458522) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554373)

It should be noted that, with or without Vista and IE 7, Blackboard is absolute GARBAGE.

I'm sorry, but after experiencing Blackboard in grad school, I would tend shift my suspicion to the incompetent developers and designers behind Blackboard, not the incompetent developers and designers behind Windows.

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (1, Insightful)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554389)

Works in every browser (including IE 6) but not IE 7. Microsoft fucked up.

Everyone else shouldn't be doing Microsoft's job for them - making it work.

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (1)

Raven42rac (448205) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554889)

Upgrading for its own sake isn't a good idea, especially if you don't know if you'll be able to complete coursework. If Microsoft had not changed certain things, everyone would jump their shit, they change certain things, everyone jumps their shit. Make up your mind.

Re:What's Microsoft got to do with it? (1)

tsajeff (925056) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554907)

I agree. How is Blackboard the standard for apps that work all the time anyway? I have used it at two different universities and it is still buggy in XP. Specifically, assignments turned in through the Assignments tab (forced because Dropbox is no longer supported) do not always show up as read or completed when they are.

If they can't make Bb work in an environment that has existed for years, why would we expect them to jump on Vista development?

Well... (1)

Barkmullz (594479) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554033)


It sounds like Blackboard needs to fix their application, yes?

not a MS problem...IEEE isn't new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18554043)

HTML is not rocket science. You can do whatever you want behind the scenes, but at the end of the day HTML is what you send and it's not that hard. Blackboard dropped the ball...

Re:not a MS problem...IEEE isn't new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18554089)

If you consider the amount of money it takes to support Blackboard vs some other online platforms, why would you pay for an app that breaks when a new browser comes out? Wackboard is the new SCO. They made a bad purchase (WebCT), the market noticed, they're screwed, and their magic plan is to sue their way out of it. Good luck! SCO is doing rather well...

It's a feature. (5, Funny)

Jacques Chester (151652) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554047)

Blackboard is awful, terrible software. Microsoft have simply filtered it out as part of their quality assurance program.

MySpace is next.

It's lack of responsibility... (2, Insightful)

Marnhinn (310256) | more than 7 years ago | (#18555071)

Even though the parent is ranked funny, there is lots of truth to it.

I've worked with and had to support Blackboard before. There are few applications that I think are worse. (I recall a bug that we experienced, where if two people submitted an assessment at the same time, or very close to the same time, the software would lose one of them.)

Also, as crappy as Vista is, it was in beta and development for a long time. At the very least, Blackboard should have issued an advisory stating that under certain conditions their software breaks. (And no sensible IT department at any major educational facility should have upgraded already anyways.)

I guess I would say the root of the problem is the lack of responsibility in the software world. Unlike some professions (for example: Civil Engineering), there is no real regulation or prevailent society to make sure that people develop by a set of standards. Having something like that, would go a long ways toward fixing problems like this.

Re:It's a feature. (1)

Zonekeeper (458060) | more than 7 years ago | (#18555261)

MySpace is next.


Now THAT is something that would really turn my negative attitude against Microsoft around! If only.......

*shrug* (5, Insightful)

fabs64 (657132) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554081)

Hopefully this encourages universities to move away from Blackboard if anything.. it's a steaming pile of crap, really.
Doesn't affect me anyway, as any school of comp sci should be, all our labs are thin x-servers.
The rest of the uni can suffer in Novell hell for all I care, stupid ITS.

Re:*shrug* (1)

miro f (944325) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554241)

you must be an RMIT student...

Re:*shrug* (1)

fabs64 (657132) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554257)

:-D Sure am, and I do believe I've heard or seen the name "Miro" around the traps.
My username was/is bfabry, or "FABRY,BEAUJONATHAN" as blackboard likes to call me for some reason.

Re:*shrug* (2, Informative)

MaelstromX (739241) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554503)

All the cool universities are switching to Sakai [sakaiproject.org] , an open source system. We're getting it next school year at Georgia Tech, but tons of other schools [sakaiproject.org] have already begun using it.

Re:*shrug* (2, Informative)

hedrick (701605) | more than 7 years ago | (#18555369)

Unfortunately Sakai also has a problem with Vista. The WebDAV interface doesn't work. I've looked in detail at the network exchanges and tried tweaking Sakai. As far as I can tell WebDAV just doesn't work reliably in Vista. There are two known protocol issues with the Windows redirector, but even after working around them on the server and making the registry change on the client that is needed to talk to non-MS servers, in many cases Vista never talks to the server. I don't see anything I can do on the server side to fix that.

The same problem existed in XP. However XP had a second implementation of WebDAV, that was part of "network places." It worked, mostly. That implementation has been removed in Vista. I tried to follow up on this with MS at around the time of the release. However they stopped responding. For the moment we're recommending that people running Vista use a shareware WebDAV client.

There may well be issues that need to be fixed by MS, not the application maintainers.

Re:*shrug* (1)

GAATTC (870216) | more than 7 years ago | (#18555237)

I have to agree. My university uses Blackboard and some parts of it work with one browser but not others, other parts have different buggy behavior but with slightly different details. I cannot use many important functions using Safari in OSX, others don't work using Firefox in either OSX or Windows. I mainly use IE7 and Windows XP and everything 'works'. By 'works' I mean that this is a crap application that can be made to do what you want in a totally non-intuitive, slow, painful way. There is nothing even close to standards compliant about Blackboard. They have continually kludged a horrible interface onto an application that feels like it was originally developed long before people used web browsers.

This is not a IE7/Vista issue - It is yet another Blackboard issue. They need to rewrite their software from scratch.

Some apps are broken by design (1)

NewToNix (668737) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554107)

"are there any other common college apps that Vista fails to work with?"

Yes, I suspect there are quite a number of common collage apps, mostly things that involve DRM, that collage students will find Vista was intended to fail to work with.

It's good to befriend a penguin.

It's Blackboard's problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18554109)

And Blackboard are fucking useless. Awful, awful, awful application, and I've heard all-sorts from people having all sorts of problems with it.

This one isn't Microsoft's fault.

Re:It's Blackboard's problem (1)

setagllib (753300) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554147)

How isn't it Microsoft's fault? They've created and continue to fuel a world of poor proprietary software, setting the foundations by not fixing DOS before its release (and consequent requirements for bug-for-bug compatibility, like C:\foo\bar file paths), and continuing to abuse and ignore standards to ensure maximum vendor lockin. Really bad software just doesn't survive in the open source world - either it's changed until it's good, or it's dropped altogether. Moderately bad software like the Mozilla family tree and MySQL become extremely popular and eventually creep towards being acceptable. Proprietary rubbish survives because of vendor lockin, and that's the kind of world Microsoft wants, because it's in the business of selling new lockin.

Re:It's Blackboard's problem (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18554203)

Proprietary rubbish survives because of vendor lockin, and that's the kind of world Microsoft wants, because it's in the business of selling new lockin.


Don't forget Apple, Microsoft are rank amateurs when it comes to vendor lock-in compared to Apple. Apple are the masters of vendor lock-in and have defined the art.

Re:It's Blackboard's problem (0, Offtopic)

Goffee71 (628501) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554393)

I'm vaguely surprised Microsoft didn't add their own version to the software. Then again, they hardly added any proper new features, imagine what Microsoft could have added to Vista to inspire people to use it....

Anything like this would have been welcome

Free flow - A multi-layer desktop. Featuring your personal choice of web, or your company's choice of essential intranet information, flowing in the background. We've got Glass - let's use for more than just fluff.

Cut, paste and flip - When you paste one selection of text over another, the removed text is copied back into the clipboard, ready to be dropped elsewhere. Assign it to Ctrl+Alt+C for ease and employ as a full part of the OS, not just a feature in one program.

PIMP - Passenger Information Mobile Protocol - One for the commuter/jet-set laptop and Smartphone crowd. When you are on plane, train or at the airport, terminal, anywhere in the civilised world - your PC can link FOR FREE into a PIMP (Just branded Wi-fi really) spot and you can grab the latest travel information, offers for hotels, places to eat.

And a few others... http://www.goffee-freelance.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

Re:It's Blackboard's problem (1)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554995)

At Copenhagen University they evaluated Blackboard and found it inadequate. Instead they replaced it with the result of a 3 week student assignment at the Computer Science department DIKU. The result is much more stable and useable (Allthough the basic purpose and idea of this type of software still makes it useless.)

The icing on the cake... (5, Funny)

zumbojo (615389) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554115)

...is that a few months ago in anticipation for the new version of Windows, Blackboard named a new piece of software in its honor: "WebCT Vista." Fast forward a few months, and I get the funniest e-mail from the dept. that handles Blackboard:

"WebCT Vista is not supported on the Windows Vista platform."

*facepalm*

Internet Explorer 7 (5, Informative)

YutakaFrog (1074731) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554139)

My University uses WebCT a bunch. I was saddened when FireFox 2.0 came out, and it would pop up a window every time I logged in that said the browser was unsupported. Now, they've updated their software and FF2 is good to go. However, the homepage now has the following notice:

The latest version of Internet Explorer does not work well with WebCT. We encourage you to use vesion 6 or download Firefox and use that. We will post a list of knwon issues with this browser once we have them. This will only be temporary until WebCT can resolve the browser issues. Thank you, WebCT Staff
And that has been there a LOT longer than the FireFox alert was. :) Thank you, MicroSoft, for helping spread FireFox.

Re:Internet Explorer 7 (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554959)

...and it would pop up a window every time I logged in that said the browser was unsupported.

Strange. I've had a lot of contact with WebCT at my university since 2001, and I've never seen that message (or any other, for that matter) about Firefox come up. Maybe the IT guys at my campus configured it out...

Ahh.. those students... (4, Funny)

DigitAl56K (805623) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554167)

Meanwhile, are there any other common college apps that Vista fails to work with?

Yes, there are some problems with uTorrent [nivmedia.com] ;)

University of Arizona's Wireless APs (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18554207)

Here at the University of Arizona, Vista doesn't work with our encrypted Wireless APs because Vista's PEAP authentication... doesn't.

http://forum.oscr.arizona.edu/showthread.php?t=292 5&page=2 [arizona.edu] - one of a few threads in the Office of Student Computing Resources forums following broken wifi and vista

As of right now, Vista users wanting to surf encrypted have to google and find a copy of the Vista-compatible Cisco VPN Client 5.0 beta (the UA's sitelicense website still only has VPN Client 4.9, which is not Vista compatible) and connect to the UA's VPN over our unencrypted public wireless network.

Re:University of Arizona's Wireless APs (1)

agentker (919647) | more than 7 years ago | (#18555499)

We have the same problem at my college. I work in the IT dept and I almost feel bad for the people who bring their laptops in about it, but then I remember they bought Vista and suddenly feel like they got what they deserved. Oh, Vista [ctrlaltdel-online.com] .

fud (1)

wwmedia (950346) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554249)

blackboard is one big monstrocity of a web app, you wonder how it works at all btw i have no problems using it with IE7?!

oh please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18554291)

Meanwhile, are there any other common college apps that Linux/OSX fails to work with?

Other Apps (1)

RabidJackal (893308) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554303)

Meanwhile, are there any other common college apps that Vista fails to work with?

BlueJ [bluej.org] has some problems with elements of the UI when run on Vista under Java 5. Java 6 seems to fix this problem. (Works for me..)

More info here: http://bluej.org/help/faq.html#winvista [bluej.org]

So much for Data Analysis (5, Informative)

j_f_chamblee (253315) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554455)

It looks like many quantitative applications are currently not going to work on Vista, at least for now. Major statistical analysis, data mining and Geographic Information Systems tools that don't run on Vista include:

SPSS [e-academy.com] , SAS [sas.com] , MATLAB and SAP [mit.edu] and ESRI ArcGIS [esri.com]

Eh, this is no big deal, right? I mean, who really wants to know about facts and numbers? Especially when you are using a *computer*.

Re:So much for Data Analysis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18555447)

Actually I have no problems running my masters thesis data analysis on Matlab 7.1 running on Home Premium edition.

Blackboard doesn't work on Vista? (2, Funny)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554499)

How is this different from Blackboard on any other OS?

sloppy coding? (4, Insightful)

briancnorton (586947) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554629)

Writing a Win32/64 app that only works in one OS/browser/java version/etc seems to me to be sloppy coding. Blackboard is a *WEB* app, is it not? Why does the client matter? Usually the answer is because the Devs were lazy and took shortcuts by using the client to do something that the server could just as easily do. (Not necessarily the case here)

rephrase the question correctly... (1)

ThePretender (180143) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554655)

shouldn't it be "Are there any other common college apps that fail to work with Vista?"

Vista = no wireless at Dalhousie (1)

matrix mechanic (893601) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554717)

To use the campus wireless at Dalhousie university in Halifax you have to run their special cisco VPN client for which there's no version for Vista. So Vista = no wireless at Dal. Does the internet count as a common college app?

Re:Vista = no wireless at Dalhousie (1)

pathological liar (659969) | more than 7 years ago | (#18555131)

That's not correct.

I work at the helpdesk at Dal, and while it's not mentioned on the website, there IS a beta version of the 5.x Cisco VPN client available. If you stop by, they will install it for you. It's not perfect, but it's functional... mostly.

Vista == WinME (2, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554727)

I predicted it before and it seems to be coming true. We get stories about how people, organizations and governments don't want to switch. We get stories about exceptionally poor performance. We get stories about compatibility problems. We get the occasional "DRM" interferes with normal/legal use stories too.

The big question is when Vista will be declared a flop?

Re:Vista == WinME (2, Insightful)

Slyswede (945801) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554953)

If you actually take the time to analyze these "stories" you'll realize that almost all of the problems people blaim Vista for is actually not anything that has to do with the operating system, but the applications that run on it.

Just take the complaints about no wireless access in the above posts for example. Vista has nothing to do with the fact that these universities force people to run a Cisco VPN client to get access. Considering how long Vista has been availible to developers, this shouldn't even be an issue, but apparently Cisco has more important things to do than update their software to work on the new OS. Same thing goes for a lot of other high profile vendors who seem very reluctant to adapt to a Vista compatible world.

The pressure on these vendors to adapt will continue to increase as Vista will slowly but surely replace XP as the Microsoft desktop platform of choice.

Re:Vista == WinME (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#18555371)

Are you counting all the people who got a new PC with Vista and then went back to WinXP?

Re:Vista == WinME (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18555009)

If by flop you mean an OS that will be running on ~90% of PC's within the next couple of years, then yes, you could probably call it a flop.

Thanks for the geek tough-talk though, thats one thing I love about Slashdot. Do you also talk like this when you're not expressing an opinion that panders to your peer group? No, thought not.

Heh (1)

fuali (546548) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554755)

How come when applictions don't work with the latest release of windows, or windows service pack it's always: LOOK MS SUCKS!!!!

And when applications don't work with the latest linux distro, it's like: hey give the application dev some time.

If anything since the number of applications for windows probably exceeds the number of linux apps it should be the other way around. That, plus the fact that linux and any OSS has a theoretical pool of dev's to tap where MS only has their handfull of hired guns.

I wouldn't know (1)

invader_allan (583758) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554825)

I have no idea what other sorts of issues there might be. I switched over to an iMac and gave up building PC's partly to avoid dealing with Vista. OS X has it's own personality quirks, but none of the problems I have had with windows. I got an intel mac as soon as boot camp was released and I could run windows if there was an app I really, really needed that wasn't available for OS X. I boot into windows to update it once a month, and hardly use it any more. I used to for the occasional game, but now I play mostly console games when I have time (graduate studies leave little time for games, even when they are a part of my "research" for technology and culture, which is the subject of my interdisciplinary masters). I haven't worked in windows since I got this thing last May.

Vista / Blackboard (1)

jschmitz (607083) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554833)

I thought people smart enough to be in college used macs? = )

WebCT 4 (1)

midian_va (839022) | more than 7 years ago | (#18554853)

At USD we use WebCT 4 and i can confirm that it runs like utter garbage on vista/ie7.

Turn that question around, please. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18554893)

Wouldn't that better be "Meanwile, are there any other common college apps so poorly written that they only work in environments they were tested on?"

My must have college app (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18554913)

World of Warcraft

Blackboard and Webct the same thing nowadays? (1)

pizzach (1011925) | more than 7 years ago | (#18555399)

If Blackboard is half as horrible as Webct is ...agh. I could deal with webct until it was upgraded to webct Vista. When the program learned about the concepts of popups and browser sniffing, it crossed the line of being more annoying than useful. Do educational institutions even try out the computer software they are buying?

My webct sessions usually go something like this: Dammit! I just want to press the back button. Why can't I press the back button!?

Big App That Doesn't Work (1)

iMouse (963104) | more than 7 years ago | (#18555479)

Cisco's Clean Access system does not work properly with Windows Vista. Clean Access is used in a lot of college environments in order to help keep student, staff, and faculty machines from being compromised. Clean Access acts as a point of authentication to allow a user access to the network, but that is not its main focus. In conjunction with the Clean Access Agent for Windows, it can also check if Windows Updates, Antispyware and Antivirus packages are installed and up to date. These packages can be set to either be optional or mandatory by the Clean Access administrator.

Clean Access (at this time) detects Vista as an unsupported operating system. However, there are workarounds that allow the agent to be installed and launch on Vista. The workaround does not perform any of the checks to make sure Vista has all of its patches installed or if it has antivirus loaded. So, in a nutshell, it is just acting as a point of authentication to the network at this time.

It seems to amaze me that Microsoft and a huge company like Cisco couldn't get this software Vista ready for when Vista was available. Cisco has been promising an upgrade to Vista compatibility for sometime in April. A little late especially when Vista boxes already are targets of attack from exploits such as animated cursor crap...
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