Category Archives: Windows

Windows 8 Revealed


Today Microsoft has revealed for the first time information around its upcoming windows released codenamed “Windows 8”. Whether or not this will be the actual release name I don’t know, but Microsoft has been pretty quiet over the last couple of years surrounding what the successor to Windows 7 would look like, what direction it’s likely to head in and whether it will give in to the flood of “apps” in various other platforms (iOS, android, etc).

Some of the areas around the new UI covered in the video above are:

  • Fast launching of apps from a tile-based Start screen, which replaces the Windows Start menu with a customizable, scalable full-screen view of apps.
  • Live tiles with notifications, showing always up-to-date information from your apps.
  • Fluid, natural switching between running apps.
  • Convenient ability to snap and resize an app to the side of the screen, so you can really multitask using the capabilities of Windows.
  • Web-connected and Web-powered apps built using HTML5 and JavaScript that have access to the full power of the PC.
  • Fully touch-optimized browsing, with all the power of hardware-accelerated Internet Explorer 10.
As usual, Paul Thurrott @ the Supersite for Windows blog does a great job outlining all the new stuff shown off. Paul used to work for Microsoft about 10 years ago, since then he’s created the Supersite and is very active in many other endeavors. If you’ve never heard of him and are interested in Microsoft and technology you should check it out.

You can learn more about Windows 8 over at Microsoft.com Previewing Windows 8.

Chris Pirillo – There’s Nothing Wrong With Windows Vista


pirillo-vista 
For those of you who don’t know him, Chris Pirillo is the man behind the internet show lockernome which is a great technology oriented show primarily on YouTube. I was watching some old stuff of his show and came across a Windows Vista rant that I just had to share with you all.

From a software engineer’s point of view, I can empathise with him and Microsoft on this one. Check out the video.

Microsoft To Release Windows 7 In September?


According to the gadget and technology blog electronista, Microsoft may release windows 7 to the public late September or early October 2009.

Microsoft could have Windows 7 on shipping PCs by September, Compal president Ray Chen said today at an investor’s conference. The PC contractor executive understands from plans that the software should be available in either late September or early October. The news would corroborate word of an April release candidate that would let Microsoft finish, manufacture and deliver Windows 7 well ahead of the holidays.

This is something Microsoft really need to do. They totally lost out on their windows vista product unable to penetrate the business market which is where Microsoft make most of their profits on their Windows products.

So far Windows 7 has proven itself amongst IT professionals and beta testers with their windows 7 beta 1 proving a great success. Windows starts up almost 50% faster, runs on significantly lower spec hardware (some have even loaded it on netbook PC’s) and in general is much more responsive. This is quite amazing for an operating system that can run on a lower spec machine than what you’re currently using on your windows vista PC.

I hope Microsoft learn from their mistakes made on the Vista project. For starters they need to get rid of their 6 different product lines from their vista OS and make it right with Windows 7. All they need is a (good) home version, kinda like home premium, then a business version and lastly an ‘ultimate’ type version for windows 7.

I’m looking forward to the release of windows 7. I personally cannot wait to change my OS from vista to something a little more responsive. At one stage I was dual-booting my machine with Ubuntu 8.10 but gave up on that (I do most of my work on the windows OS…I’m a windows software developer after all!).

C’mon Microsoft, give us current vista users a free upgrade (or at least a cheaper purchase) of windows 7 in September!

How To Find Your Logon Server In A Domain Environment


logonserverAre you an IT administrator and want to make sure your users are authenticating against a local domain controller? Do you want to make sure they’re running their logon scripts locally and not from a server 20,000 kilometres away?

To check and make sure, its easy. Just open a command prompt on a computer on your domain and type:

echo %logonserver%

This will print the value of the environment variable LOGONSERVER giving you the machine name of the domain controller used.

Its widely known knowledge, but sometimes you just never know. I hope this helps somebody out.

Improve Game Performance In Windows Vista – Disable Vista Aero Interface


Have you noticed that if you play a game in Windows Vista it seems to underperform compared to running the same game in Windows XP? You’re not the only one.

Windows Vista has a much steeper dependency on the graphics subsystem than Windows XP does mainly due to the behemoth that is the Vista Aero interface. Basically if you’re unsure what this is, its basically an improved version of the basic windows interface enabling graphics effects such as the transparent window borders (glass) and flip 3D (Win+Tab) among other things.

When you want to play a game, you don’t need to use these things and you really want your graphics card to be focused primarily on the game at hand, instead of having to juggle the two.

To improve the performance of your games in windows vista, just turn off the Aero interface when you play a game.

How?

1). Right click your game icon and click properties:

disableaeroforgames

2). Click the ‘Compatibility’ Tab and check the “Disable desktop composition” setting.

Click Apply to save your changes.

The next time you run your game, the windows aero interface will be disabled while you play your game.

I originally didn’t think this would really make much difference when playing games (and it won’t for older games) but I’ve seen an increase of maybe 10-15% on frame rates in many newer games on my computer so its a small tip, but definitely a worthy one.

Keep Getting Blue Screen Errors? Use Windows Debug Tools For Crash Analysis


minidumpDo you use windows XP/Vista and keep getting blue screen error messages and don’t know why? With a little super sleuthing of your own you can find the cause of most windows crashes yourself.

It’s not that hard but if you have any software experience (engineering, programmer, etc) it will definitely help if you’ve never seen the output of a memory dump before.

If you have your windows error reporting settings set at their defaults in either Windows XP or Windows Vista, when the OS halts and you receive a blue screen of death it will produce a minidump file (ie. Mini012509-03.dmp) we can use for later analysis of what was in memory at the time of the crash and will give us a good idea on how to solve them for good.

To find out if the cause of your crash is driver related or a hardware fault of some kind for example you’ll need something that can analyse your crash dump files.

The best tool to use is Microsoft’s own debug tools for windows which can be downloaded for free.

How do you use this software to analyse crash reports? Here’s how:

1). Once you have downloaded Microsoft Debug Tools for Windows run the application WinDBG which can be found in the start menu under ‘Debugging tools for Windows’.

2). Next you’ll need to set the symbol file path by clicking File—>symbol file path.

To make it easier you can use the symbol files directly from the microsoft site:

srv*c:symbols*http://msdl.microsoft.com/download/symbols

Once you have the symbol file path set in the debugger its time to load the minidump file created during the crash. Windows stores crash dump files here:

C:WindowsMinidump

3). Click File –>Open Crash Dump and browse to the above directory and choose your dump file. They will be labelled with the date they were created.

Once its done you will need to analyze the file to generate the full crash report which will tell you everything you need to know:

type: !analyze –v

The debugger will start loading the crash dump file and start interpreting it for you. Have a look through the report. The first few lines should give you a good idea what the problem was whether it was a driver, piece of hardware which faulted, software crash, etc.

If you’re still stuck and not really sure what you should be looking for or just want a little more information regarding how this tool is used take a look at the Microsoft KB article on this procedure here.

Windows 7 New Features Revealed


windows7

For those of you who don’t know, Microsoft will release a new version of their flagship OS in the coming year: Windows 7. There have been a number of new features released to the public over the last few months, and personally I’m kind of looking forward to what Microsoft come up with (after all, Vista wasn’t exactly the best OS they’ve produced). So, I thought I’d share with you some of the more interesting new features of Windows 7 that wil hopefully improve upon Windows Vista’s (many) shortcomings:

Pin Items To The Taskbar:

Windows 7 will give you the ability to ‘pin’ shortcuts to your taskbar kind of like how the dock works in MacOS X. In windows operating systems, you’ve always been able to do something similar with the use of the ‘quick launch’ toolbar which can be appended to the taskbar to give a similar affect, however with this new function the quick launch toolbar must be disabled to be able to pin items to the taskbar itself.

User Account Control (UAC) Makeover:

Thank God! UAC has had an overhaul in Windows 7. Users of Windows Vista will no doubt be very familiar with message popups asking your permission to carry out certain tasks (“Are you sure you’re sure?)…You will now have the ability to adjust which notifications and prompts you recieve for specific actions while not reducing the overall security of the OS. Interesting!

Faster Startup Times:

One of the major benefits of Windows 7 will be faster startup times. Microsoft have put alot of work into improving the startup times of their OS, partly due to competing products leading the way in this area. It has been noted that the startup times of Windows 7 will be faster than that of Windows Vista and XP.

As a developer who works primarily in windows application development, I’m looking forward to a new OS from Microsoft that has the stability, reliability and performance of XP, with added security that Vista provided, in a neater package. I’m hoping Windows 7 will be a more rounded and overall better product than Vista, so I’m really looking forward to what they come up with.

Based on poor vista sales and Microsoft’s previous release strategies with underperforming OS’s (and Microsoft themselves saying it would take 3 years to develop W7) I’d be expecting to see an almost finished build sometime this year, with a possible retail release date end of 2009.

Windows developer dumps “pile of crap” for MacOSX


Pete Wright who is was a programmer for Microsoft Windows one day dreamed of joining Microsoft to contribute to the computer industry and really change the way people use computers.

I dreamed of working at Microsoft. When Microsoft joined up with Accenture to form Avanade the word ‘consultant’ sounded so wonderfully romantic to me and I wondered if ever I’d make it there as one of the elite band of Avanade consultants, spreading the Microsoft message all over the world. I dreamed of systems that would change lives, help people, and do cool new things never seen before”  – Pete Wright (MacDailyNews).

Now how things change so quickly. Everybody who knows anything about computers knows that Microsoft’s flagship product ‘Microsoft Windows’ is a spaghetti code situation at best, once with the idea that complexity in how an operating system is designed would better the overall product has eventually ended up with a product that is a nightmare to code for, and almost a bigger headache for an end-user to use.

So Pete has done what many programmers im sure have thought at Microsoft before, he has jumped ship to go work for Apple Computer to work on a project which prides it self on end-user simplicity, and a much more managable code-base…Apple MacOSX.

To read all about Pete’s experiences with working with Microsoft and his jump into MacOSX, be sure to check out his blog entry entitled “Goodbye Microsoft, Pete has left the building!”. It is really interesting and well worth a read if you are a programmer youself or student with the same dream of working with Microsoft has Pete once had.

Windows Vista system sounds


When Robert Fripp worked his magic on Windows Vista, everyone knew Vista is going to sound different and hopefully better. Now that Vista is literally peeking around the corner, not that it’s possible for a software to peek or even exist in the physical world, but if it were able to peek, what would it sound like?

This article is a great read and includes a really interesting video clip at some of the comparisons in the System Sounds between both Windows XP and Vista. I quite like Vista’s system sounds, a far greater improvement over Windows XP.