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Niner since 2004

  • New Vista GUI Stuff For Devs

    Hmmm... I'll stop blaming my graphics card drivers, then! Wink  Here I thought maybe I was the only one.  But I do have a pretty fast machine overall, and even still, I agree--WMP looks quite bad when resizing.  I've been telling people that Aero would get rid of window-tearing... guess not!  Maybe it is a problem with WMP itself, but I don't think anyone cares about whose "fault" it is--they just want to see the graphics drawn properly.  The resizing in WMP is definitely not a good experience.

    As for WPF apps in Vista, I thought Photo Gallery is one, but I'm not sure.  I agree about Yahoo's new Vista-specific Messenger, though--that looks slick!  And not just in an eye-candy sense--it really does add to the experience.  It's a perfect WPF showcase app... and it's rather sad that it didn't come from Microsoft.  In fact, I think Nitz Walsh and I had this discussion about a year ago on Channel9--that Microsoft really needs to be the one driving the graphics ability present in the system, partly to set the standard for others, partly to show faith in their own new technology, and partly to show what the system can do.  Not to slag against Microsoft, but it is a bit disappointing to watch, in this example, Yahoo do what the Windows Live Messenger team should have done first.

  • PhotoSynth: What. How. Why.

    How dare they show this to us and not offer a beta?! Mad  This is totally amazing!!
  • Charlie Owen - Your first Media Center/Vista application (and a look at their secret room)

    Thanks for the response, Charlie!  A couple thoughts (below):

    There have been some things misquoted the past couple of days with regards to 'SoftSled', so don't believe everything you read on the web. This approach is just one of the possible directions you might see things take in the future -- there are no specific announcements at this time. Having said that, I will say this: Windows Vista Home Premium and Windows Vista Ultimate will ship with OEM systems and in the retail (standalone) channel -- you don't need something like SoftSled if you have Windows Media Center 'built-in' already. Smiley

    I hadn't seen any recent quotes; I think the last time I heard about "SoftSled" was from a Paul Thurrott article quite awhile back.  If I may, I would like to suggest that having Media Center built-in is not the same as having an Extender client.  It's analogous to how having several PCs with hard disk storage is not the same as having a network with a server. 

    For example, in my case, I have one PC with all my music loaded into it, as well as having videos and whatnot.  I could share those files across the network to my other PCs, but it would be rather high-maintenance compared to the simple remote client approach (which works so well on my Xbox!).  Furthermore, it's the only PC with a tuner and access to a cable connection.  If I want access to that, an Extender client is the only real approach. 

    I should say that the Extender is, IMO, one of the coolest things about Media Center.  It works slick over my 802.11n wireless network... I'd even say that it works better than having the Media Center PC hooked up directly to the TV!  The beauty of the Extender is that it works more like an appliance, whereas the Media Center app creates some conflicts with the PC (unless I just have this misconfigured; I have it set up as a monitor as a primary display and the TV as a secondary).  For example, if I'm on the computer browsing the web and my girlfriend is watching TV through the Media Center app, I have to click on the Media Center taskbar button in order for her to be able to change the channel.  If I need to start the Media Center app on the computer monitor, I need to turn off the secondary display in the video driver, and then turn it on and move the app back onto it (usually a blind process, since the TV is around the corner) afterwards.  Plus, just to use the app, someone has to be logged into the computer.  With the Extender, it makes all that happen transparently and behind-the-scenes, and you can use your computer normally.  Beautiful!

    As a good friend once said: 'Anything is possible -- it's *just* software'. There are many factors that go into this type of decision, not the least of which is consumer demand -- and there are *way* more features folks are demanding from Windows Media Center at the moment over 5+ MCX connections.

    I understand.  I think I'm not alone, though, in requesting a sort of "Media Center Server."  Today, the options (of which I'm aware) are setting up a Windows Media Server and configuring it with certain channels as streams, or installing an expensive A/V system
    + coax to each node + tuner cards + software.  Where I work, there is a legitimate business value in having something like a "SoftSled"-style client that can connect to a central Media Center PC from anywhere in the office.  I don't think we'd ever see a ton of people using it concurrently... maybe 5 is enough, really.  But it would also be critical that each client wouldn't go through something like the Xbox Extender setup; ideally, Active Directory authentication would be sufficient.

    Am I dreaming too big? Perplexed
  • Charlie Owen - Your first Media Center/Vista application (and a look at their secret room)

    ohgood wrote:
        Without having seen the video yet, and only basing this comment on the screenshot:

        1) Why does everything 'new!' and 'exciting!' look like Mac OS ? I initially thought the screenshot was a comparison of Mac's iDVD, but then noticed things didn't fit properly.



    For what it's worth, Media Center has been around for several years now, and Apple's Front Row--with a fraction of the capability--was released at the end of last year.  


    ohgood wrote:
     

        2) While I'm at it, why is 'securty!' such a buzzword at Microsoft now ? I mean, other folks have been doing it right for a long time. Security is not sexy, and definetly not going to sell PC's.



    Some--but very few--folks have been doing it "right."  Microsoft has taken (and is taking) its knocks for security and has gotten by far the most attention, but if you've followed the news lately, other rocks are being overturned, and the security focus is spreading to companies that were previously given a pass (Oracle, Apple, etc.).  It's not a "buzzword" for Microsoft only--it's one for the whole industry.  Keep in mind that these days in the malicious hacking world, it's all about $$$, and because of its vast market share, Windows is going to get the most lovin'. 

    If there weren't so many ISVs and other baggage to drag along kicking and screaming, they'd have made "restricted" user accounts the norm a long time ago, and these conversations would hardly exist (they'd be entirely different security conversations).
  • Charlie Owen - Your first Media Center/Vista application (and a look at their secret room)

    With regards to the Extender functionality, will Vista include an Extender "client" itself?  I heard there was talk of this going under the codename of "Softsled." 

    Please, please, please tell me Vista will have an Extender app built-in. Smiley 

    Also, is there any possibility in the future that the maximum number of extenders will be increased?

  • Karsten Januszewski: WPF

    sloppycode wrote:
    A question with an obvious answer perhaps, but does this technology mean that Windows Vista only runs with graphics cards with Direct X enabled? I tried the February CTP on a Virtual PC installation and got none of the translucent effects (or the 'rolex' alt-tab either ) so I'm wondering how it will work over virtual pc or remote desktop?


    Check out this article on Desktop Composition Remoting: http://blogs.msdn.com/mikekol/archive/2006/02/22/537325.aspx

    So, it sounds like you could run these in Remote Desktop--or in a virtual machine via Remote Desktop (but not in the virtual machine "directly").  I haven't had the chance to see what kind of performance you can expect out of such a setup, but I'm anxious to try it out!  My guess is that a text surface might be animated quickly through a combination of local caching and local composition, but you're always going to get stuttering video unless media remoting (something akin to the Media Center Extender technology) is also implemented.  Even, then, though, you're at the mercy of how much bandwidth you have available--you're not going to be able to watch high-quality video on a 56kbps line.
  • Vista Audio Stack and API

    I have two questions for Larry:

    The first is related to the business impact of audio and somewhat related to mixing: can you talk to Bill G. or Steve and have Microsoft buy this company? Smiley

    http://www.holosonics.com/

    If the processing equipment could be done either through a driver or through a sound card and if the price point could drop to the $100-200/node range, this would be awesome for businesses for things like conference calls (no feedback!), IP telephony, LiveMeeting/Webex, online training, etc.  I've seen issues with users that want to watch a training video online, but because of their open cubicle position, it is too disruptive to other users.  They can't use headphones, because they need to be able to hear their phone and respond to other users walking by, plus it looks somewhat "unprofessional." 

    One other question--as a hobby, I do some composing work, and sometimes I do this remotely via RDP.  Are there going to be changes in how audio is processed over RDP?  My current problem is that MIDI playback apparently doesn't transmit over RDP.  I use a program called Sibelius, and playback unfortunately does not work remotely.
  • Carolyn Napier and Tyler Robinson (MSI team) - Installing apps in Windows Vista

    jphillips59 wrote:
    Auto-updating over the internet is a bad idea and if you are currently doing something like that you should migrate away from it.

    The #1 mistake that software developers are making these days is assuming people will be administrators on their machines and assuming that people can update software.

    If Microsoft succeeds with its LUA/UAP goal for Windows Vista then most people will not be running as an administrators on their machine which means that all of these auto updates that apps are doing these days will fail.


    Furthermore, most administrators want to keep consistency and upgrade only after they have thoroughly tested updates.  Relying on end-users to update their own desktops is not an option--you end up with a hodge-podge of different patch levels for different applications from machine to machine.  Worse yet, as you add integrating apps into the mix--a couple plug-ins to Outlook, say--things can get really nasty.  Update plug-in A, plug-in B breaks; update plug-in B, plug-in A breaks; or better yet, update either, and take out Outlook altogether.  Giving the end user the ability to update at their whim--even if it's a security update--is something that must have a switch that administrators can turn off (perhaps through Group Policy).  There are usually work-arounds for security issues, and you can't let a security update totally stop the company.

    Edit--Nevermind, I see that they mention this in the video.  The administrators can turn this function off. (Yay!)
  • Kam Vedbrat - Looking at Windows Vista's user interface (AERO)

    I was just thinking about what Nitz said about the Office 12 team throwing the old GUI into the wind, and although I think we're talking apples and oranges relative to Vista, I think that is a good point.  Though I'm concerned about how Office 12 is going to handle some customized toolbars where I work, I think the overall change will be worth it.  Clearly, as they described the evolution of the product, it was necessary for the UI model to change.

    Applying this to Vista, I'll just throw this out there as well.  I recognize the need for some semblance of familiarity for a variety of reasons--and I'm an IT admin, so things like consistency of Start Menu and Desktop shortcuts for scripting and whatnot make life easier... of course, we're already used to dealing with different file locations and UI metaphors in each Windows version, so why should this be any different?  But consider this--I get asked by our company's execs about things like OS X all the time.  These are pragmatic folks, so usually they aren't considering a switch at the office, but they DO consider it for home use (luckily it works well with our remote access solution!).  One of the biggest reasons is the interface--not only the surface appearance, but the consistency, the design aesthetics and metaphors, the font handling (though they may not realize exactly what it is), the simplicity, etc.  I'm not a big Mac fan personally, but there does seem to be quite a bit of consensus that the OS X GUI is superior (overall) to that of XP.  I guess I was really hoping for the surprise GUI introduction/innovation that would really challenge the notion that the Mac has a monopoly on great GUI design and aesthetics--and, judging by the people that sign the checks, they would be excited about this as well (they aren't as resistant to change as some might think... well, as long as it doesn't look like a circus!).  Personally, I think functionality-wise, the XP UI has the edge over the OS X UI, and with Vista, the framework is there for very powerful, very useful UI/UX innovations.  However, providing the framework alone is like preparing a huge buffet but not inviting yourself to eat, leaving the food untouched and sending guests pictures of what a great buffet could look like.  I think Microsoft has a huge opportunity here--perhaps even an obligation--to set the bar high from the outset, driving innovation in UI/UX, rather than simply housing the party and asking others to come in, dance, and make it a memorable event.

    I don't mean for this to become a "my OS can beat up your OS" debate, but that is inevitably going to happen after (and before and during) Vista's release.  For better or worse, the tech media will go on at length in comparing the two, and this coverage generates interest--usually at the expense of Windows--even amongst exec types.  What I'm trying to say is... the concern to look similar to old Windows versions is probably not as important as one might think.  If the people that sign the checks would consider switching primarily because of the interface, I think there is almost an expectation that Microsoft will come back at some point with both guns blazing, taking interface design to the next level.  And, for the companies that are very resistant to change (they probably won't be moving up to Vista anyhow... not until their storage room supply of dumb terminals runs out... Wink ), they can always put up a lower-tier experience (or perhaps there could be "Business" and "Consumer" themes?). 

    (This all said... I hope this doesn't come across as a rant against the Aero team, who have obviously put in a great deal of nice work (Yes, Flip3D looks very cool, and is truly useful!  Nice job!!).  I'm just hoping that they won't use that all of that awesome fire--the INFERNO, in fact--in Vista simply to warm themselves.... Smiley )

  • Kam Vedbrat - Looking at Windows Vista's user interface (AERO)

    A couple questions--how does this affect screenshot-grabbing?  One thing I would really love to see, also, is the built-in ability to grab screenshots for entire windows (the entire contents when the window scrolls).  It seems like the way the interface is drawn that this would become easily possible.

    Overall... I guess I kept thinking that "we haven't seen the full-blown Aero Glass yet," but from this, it seems that we more or less have.  I can understand many reasons not to depart radically from the Windows UI... but I guess I was hoping for something more striking (but hopefully in a truly functional way!).  A couple thoughts on it:

    - Transparencies--neat looking, but I'm very concerned about the title bars being translucent.  When you layer several over the top of each other, it looks cluttered, not clear.  The title bar shows useful information, so for clarity, I would think this should be clear information.  Perhaps make the text non-translucent?

    - I echo "Nitz Walsh" above regarding font rendering.  Particularly in the zooming features I've seen so far, it seems like text doesn't necessarily scale smoothly--the character spacing isn't always consistent. 

    - Perhaps for more graphic appeal, consider the "Nitz Walsh" above regarding reflections and shadows.  There are tons of effects available via DirectX, not just transparency.  The Apple folks will be making fun of Aero as a warmed-over XP interface, not fire (not that the goal should be to please them... but it's not necessarily a bad goal, either!).