Vista SP2 is Released to Manufacturing
Windows Vista and Server 2008 SP2 has gone gold.
Key features include: Windows Search 4.0, Bluetooth 2.1 Feature Pack supporting the most recent specification for Bluetooth Technology, ability to record data on to Blu-Ray media natively in Windows Vista, Windows Connect Now (WCN) to simplify Wi-Fi Configuration, and SP2 enables the exFAT file system to support UTC timestamps, which allows correct file synchronization across time zones.
The update is the same for both Vista and Windows Server 2008
Windows 7 Confirmed for Netbooks
Microsoft today confirmed it was making a version of Windows 7 specifically for Netbooks or low-specification machines, in addition to the consumer & enterprise flavours.
This comes in response to recent news that Linux has been making inroads, in part because of the rise of popularity of low-powered devices such as the netbook.
iTunes 8 causing Vista BSODs & Lockups
Windows users installing iTunes 8 might get more than they bargained for with this lastest iTunes incarnation. With it now comes the normal Quicktime & Bonjour service, but also now MobileMe, a new USB driver, and crucially GEARAspiWDM.sys - a CD/DVD writing driver with a history of causing STOP errors. This new iTunes version has already cause stability complaints and there's no warning about any driver modifications in the update/install process.
Inside the FOSS Lab in Microsoft HQ
Port 25 on Technet have given a glimpse into the FOSS lab at Microsoft, with some photos to boot.
FTFA: "To some folks outside of Microsoft, the Open-Source Software Lab has been a sort of mysterious place. A place where we study Linux and open-source software, cursing our enemies while brewing our malevolent plans to combat those nasty FOSS developers."
SharePoint Becoming a Must-Have for Business
Microsoft's SharePoint Server is on a billion dollar juggernaut to potentially become the next must-have technology, offering companies tools for building everything from collaborative applications to Internet sites and potentially handing Microsoft its next cash cow.
First introduced in 2001 to less than lukewarm reviews as SharePoint Portal Server. In 2003, a stripped down version was offered for free as part of Windows Server 2003 R2, which made it easy for users to test drive the software and soon end-user created team worksites began popping up all over corporate networks.
Ballmer Interviewed by Former Apple Evangelist
The interview of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer by former Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki was one of the most raucous, jocular Microsoft events of the past few years -- with lots of back-and-forth on such topics and Windows Vista's problems, Apple's hardware design, and Microsoft's Yahoo bid.
And that was before Ballmer did the whole "Monkey Boy" thing.
Quake 3 Ported to .Net - Runs Faster
After the migration was complete, the timedemos showed a slight increase in game performance (see comments).
Visual Studio 2008 + .Net 3.5 Gone Gold
Key to the new releases are LINQ (a unified query language system for SQL, XML and other relational data sources), new templates for the Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) and Windows Communication Foundation (WCF), and a new feature in Visual Studio, .Net version targeting for development projects.
Microsoft No Longer a 'Laughingstock' of Security?
So, to the masses at large, do you agree or disagree?
Ms Client Platform
As it turns out, the client offerings from Microsoft aren't doing so bad after all.
To summarise, Office 2007 is doing the best with the new interface proving to be far less a learning curve than originally feared (in fact people find it much easier - shock/horror/etc)
Vista still isn't doing so well of course, I expect because of the incompatibilities that are still being ironed out.
Of course none of this is particularly news as such. Neither product was going to fail, being market leaders and so on. Maybe one day Linux will be a threat to Windows and OOffice a threat to MS Office (which I find far less likely), but not for now it would appear. Vista has been slow in the uptake, doubtless, but that's Microsoft's own fault for releasing it too early and expecting people to believe "it will just work". Better late than never.
One of the common misconceptions I've noticed with open-sorcerers is the validity and purpose of Vista. This is based not only from comments on /. but also conversations with friends based heavily in the open-source world. The comments of most open-source people can be divided into two categories; pure FUDers, and simple misunderstanding - often fed by FUDers. Well, here's my take on it...
The Vista 'upgrade' is, by most accounts a ground-up re-write of the most popular operating system on the planet that runs the biggest selection of software on the planet. As mentioned before in comments on this site, the changes are fundamental from a technical aspect - ranging from a completely new driver model to a re-written network stack. A fairly comprehensive list is available at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technical_features_new_to_Windows_Vista
The decision to do this is both a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing because the new changes are genuinely beneficial - improved kernel scheduling, better separation between driver & kernel code, improved engrained security and so on. However, currently, because of the relative freshness of the Vista code-base, it is also a curse because of the incompatibilities these changes raise in everything from driver binaries to utility apps that sit in your system-tray that can no longer "just write to the registry" without causing havoc, as you could in the shit old days when every man + dog was a local admin.
Now, for all the changes under the hood that Vista represents, does it present a reason to upgrade from XP? Well, the answer is 'no' of course - improved kernels alone don't arrant switching from a perfectly stable system. Nor does the flashy new Aero interface. In fact, I can't personally think of any reason why you'd want to convert a working OS into an unstable code-base that's been in use in production for less than 12 months.
The thing is, Vista is the OS for computers being built now and in the future. Microsoft is clearly only as big as they are now in part because of their dominance in the OEM channels; it is there they lay the groundwork for further Microsoft software to be sold.
It's a mutual relationship too of course - the OEM's want a platform that is going to run their odd boxes of magical hardware combinations with the least hassle and that will let their customers run the most software written by any Joe in his garage. Windows does that, and very well too. Proof in point is the game I'm playing right now - C a game over 10 years old, running just fine unmodified on Windows XP SP2. Could you run StarOffice from 10 years ago on Ubuntu Linux without manual modifying a single file? I think not.
But anyway, why Vista in particular? Why not XP if it works? Vista is, if nothing else, a multimedia upgrade from XP by a significant amount. It makes the bargain OEM machines look like they're not so crappy after all (Microsoft has invested billions into just how Vista looks and feels, and it shows). Not only that but you can (in theory) walk into a shop, but some 20euro game/utility for yourself and it'll probably work on Vista (probably less likely right now, but a situation that will improve). Vista/Windows is also just happens to be supported by a huge multi-billion dollar company too - OEMs have someone to sound off at when/if things go wrong.
And that is all OEM's care about - that their machines look impressive, their customers can put their own crapware on it, and that there's someone to whine about when it goes wrong. The OEM's are driving here, not Microsoft - no one buys an OS no matter how cool the backgrounds! It's the OEMs that Vista was made for in my opinion - no one cares about the new kernel enhancements in real life, they are simply evolutionary steps that possibly should've been there in the first place. Not that they go unappreciated of course, but that's another matter.
So why make kernel changes if no-one will notice in the first place? Well, some reasons include avoiding negative press - the limp security aspect of Windows previous for instance caused a right storm in the press over various holes in the OS. Second, every system has to grow in all directions. Look at Linux for instance...with almost every new build of the kernel comes newer and more efficient ways of crunching data & managing resource - the difference is changes in Linux are more of a trickle. Windows needs to keep up, but gets major overhauls rather than trickle increments which is one reason for compatibility issues as mentioned earlier.
Also, DRM. Vista supports more DRM encoded material than previous versions (which too support most DRM media). It does not convert your normal media (mp3s, jpg images, avi videos) into DRM encoded versions. It just doesn't. However, if you come by some DRM media, Vista will be able to play/view it assuming you have the rights to. It's no big deal.
The Vista upgrade in many ways reminds me of the Windows 98 > XP upgrade. That too was a huge step too, except that Windows 2000 had been out previously for business mainly that took most of the compatibility stings out of the process. Still, there was plenty of wailing & gnashing of teeth when users took this jump. It worked out fine in the end, and certainly for the better. The same will be true of Vista.
So, to conclude: Vista is an upgrade from XP visually & technically. In my opinion, it does not warrant purchasing if you have another OS running fine, but more importantly it is there to make the OEMs look good; which are the people that will really sell Vista anyway. The issues being experienced by the new changes are temporary; it will not always be this way - things will only get better with the advent of properly written software, mature drivers, and possibly a service-pack.
I can't wait for Vienna to come around so I can hear all about people protesting by saying "Sod Vienna, I'm sticking with trusty Vista!"