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The blogged wandering of Robert W. Anderson

And it is Windows 8!

Reading the news on an unplanned overnight in Houston, I see that Microsoft is sticking with “Windows 8” as the name of the next Windows client.

I can only imagine there was some heated debate on whether to give it an evocative name or stick with a sequence of numbers. I’m glad the sequence won out, even if just for now.

I much prefer the “8” and then, I hope “9”, etc. I don’t really care that these are names and not version numbers, but I do care that there they make sense to customers and partners alike.

Plus all the evocative names start sounding like brands of cars.

I just came back from Costa Rica, and I swear I saw someone driving a Windows Azule. 😉

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Windows Virtual PC is slow!

I am extremely annoyed with Windows Virtual PC.

It is markedly slower than Virtual PC 2007. And startup times are six to ten times worse.  Same host, same VHD.  Painfully slow.

I have witnessed this on three different host machines.  I’ve seen other complaints of this online, but all of the suggestions of help completely miss the point.

There are some threads that suggest that it is caused by aggressive CPU throttling.  In a comment on a post, Virtual PC guy suggested that installing SETI@Home might solve the problem.  Seriously?

Virtual PC 2007 didn’t suffer from this problem, so I’m not going to bother with that.  It would be great if I could find confirmation that either:

  • Microsoft decided that Windows Virtual PC needn’t support laptops.
  • There is a new bug or major flaw in Windows Virtual PC that is going to be fixed.

I have rolled back to Virtual PC 2007.  I shouldn’t really care, except that I prefer the integration in Windows Virtual PC.  I suppose I should move onto VMWare, but I really don’t want to hassle with this anymore.  It works well enough for now.

Microsoft, are you acknowledging the problem?  Perhaps you can blame it on the laptop vendors, but the customer experience is just terrible.

BTW: I recorded a video of starting a Windows 7 guest using Windows Virtual PC, but a 3 minute video of a crawling progress bar seemed intolerable.

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Don’t Fail the HighVersionLie

This is a public service announcement to release engineers and developers out there.

Your installers — and core components for that matter — shouldn’t be performing checks that preclude new versions of Windows.

This is particularly relevant with a new version of Windows coming soon.  In fact, I’m writing this because recently someone told me that his team’s software wouldn’t install on Windows 7.  The release engineer fixed it by increasing the high version limit.

That is the wrong approach.

The right approach is to eliminate any upper bound on a version limit.  The premise is that developers shouldn’t assume that their software won’t work on future versions of Windows. 

Windows Logo requirements have required this for some time, and in fact there is a certification test called the HighVersionLie that tests for just this case.  The test sets the Windows version to an artificially high number to see if the tested software still installs and runs.

BTW: One reader from Microsoft told me a similar story at last year’s PDC – this posting was prompted by a different conversation altogether.

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Live Messenger Team: no connectivity popups!

I’ve been seeing lots of problems with Live Messenger connectivity lately.  I see this message a lot:


I don’t ever want Live Messenger to interrupt my work with that dialog.

If connectivity fails, use a notification balloon, or better yet, do nothing.  The red X on the tray icon already signifies trouble.  Let me drill down to find out more info.  This is a bad design decision.

If I dismiss the dialog, it will happen again.  And if I don’t dismiss it?  Well,

I left my machine from 9pm till 11am today and found my taskbar full:


Apparently Live Messenger thinks it is so important that I can’t connect that it needs to keep telling me.  Or at least telling the task bar.  This is a bug.

Live Messenger Team:  Please fix this.  I’m sure several of your myriad guidelines for Windows developers eschews any and all of this behavior. 

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Why ‘Azure’?

Mary Jo Foley asks, Why ‘Azure’?  She uses Anand Iyer’s answer (from his post):

Azure is a vibrant, dynamic and uplifting color. Azure is also linked to the image of the blue sky and, by extension, ‘the cloud.’

I think there is a more direct association between azure and the Windows cloud:

  1. Clouds are opaque. 
  2. If you put a window in a cloud, you can see through to the clear sky.
  3. The clear sky is azure.

So, Windows in the Cloud == Windows Azure

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Windows 7? Right on!

imageFirst of all let me say that I’m not that excited about the “Windows” part of Windows 7.  I’m sure that will change when I see it later this month at the PDC.

I have a long history as a Windows user.  In fact, I have Windows 1 sitting on my desk.  Actually, these are installation floppies for the Microsoft Windows Operating Environment. 

I have disliked the Windows product naming convention since Windows 95.  That should have been Windows 4.0 with some extra designation to distinguish it from NT.  Since then, the naming of Windows versions has been absurd.

I’m thrilled that the next one is called Windows 7.  I hope this is the end of the trend of seemingly arbitrary names interspersed by release years.  If the subsequent name isn’t 7.x or 8, however, this will actually just have been worse then calling it 2010.

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An SP1 by any other name would . . .

Mary Jo Foley writes there’s no Windows Server 2008 SP1 in the works.

Why?  Because the first RTM of Server 2008 is called Windows Server 2008 SP1.  This is due to Server 2008 and Vista sharing the same core code and components.


This makes only marginal sense, and then only if Microsoft commits to keeping the service packs synchronized across the Windows 6 product family.  I think this will be less confusing to customers.  We’ll see if this synchronization happens. 

Regardless of Microsoft’s plans, the SP1 designation on Server 2008 is misleading.  Most of the server components of Windows 6 will remain without a service pack until SP2.

Customers who like to wait for initial service packs still will — unless they are duped into thinking they’ve already got it.

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Vista SP1 available after all. Kind of.

According to Mary Jo Foley, Some won’t have to wait until March for Vista SP1.  Cool.  I’m installing it now.

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The Linux Religion . . .vs. Windows (yawn)

The Linux-guru crowd continues to discount the complexity of installation, maintenance, use, and actual cost of Linux-based OSes. 

It would be a full time job to debunk these arguments over and over again.  Occasionally, Dan takes the time to do just this:  see him dismantle another one of Joe Landman’s CCS attack pieces in Yet another poof piece.  And Dan doesn’t even mention the developer-productivity story . . .

Personally, I tend to ignore the “I hate Microsoft, Linux is the answer to everything” arguments.   You can build a feasible solution with either platform.  As Dan said in his post (specifically about HPC):

Look, I’m not deriding Linux as an OS, or as an HPC OS. It’s been very successful, and it will continue to have success.

The fact is: if you’re using UNIX or Linux, it probably doesn’t make sense to port to Windows.

But if you’re already using Windows, it certainly doesn’t make sense to port to Linux.

They are different toolboxes full of different (albeit similar and overlapping) tools.  Depending on all sorts of criteria, different organizations will do better with one platform than the other.

There is huge growth potential in the market for both platforms.  Can’t we just get past this? 

Or has this truly become a religion?

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More on the death of WinFx (Part 3)

Andrew Hilton recently commented on WinFx is Dead Part 2.  I am promoting it to a post so I can better comment on the comments.

Andrew says:

I’m of the opinion that it is not yet the official windows API because it simply wasn’t ready, and using .NET 2 with WinForms would have been too restrictive and no doubt would not have integrated with the subsystems of Vista (such as graphics). The .NET framework 3.0 was not released until almost the final release of Vista. The risk of developing the windows front end under the managed API and still ship on time would have been too great.

I think you are correct regarding the .NET 3.0 components of WinFx: there was an early plan that Vista and Office would take advantage of these technologies, but of course, everything was late.   Using .NET the .NET 2 WinForms really didn’t make sense either.

From what I’ve heard early versions of Vista and Office 2007 did use the managed API (or at least an early version of WPF). My feeling is that the dev teams simply couldn’t cope with a large framework like that shifting beneath their feet causing all manner of chaos. Hence the move by both Vista and Office 2007 back to COM, which also gave leeway to the WinFX teams to change stuff radically if they needed to. My assumption is that given the large technical leap of WPF, WCF etc there would have been many back steps as they were trying to go forward.

Yeah, but I’ll bet the delays of .NET 2 had a bigger impact on the likelihood of managed APIs in Vista than, let’s say, WPF or WCF.

I’ll be very suprised if the consumer version of Vista does not include some managed code WPF apps. All the indications are that WPF will do very well (for example see the recent video of the WPF version of Yahoo messenger), . . .

Yes, I think this is all true, but hold on.

My post wasn’t about .NET 3.0 (or what they were calling WinFx), but of the original idea for WinFx: a full (or fairly full) Windows API.

WPF and WCF have little to do with that, certainly WF has nothing to do with it, and Info Cards, not really either.  Of course, this last one is a part of Vista though as kind of an add on. 

All of this stuff is very cool, but WinFx was supposed to push managed APIs deeper down into the OS, not to be extra layers on top of it.  The internalization of these APIs were to supply a more robust and secure OS. 

And it is that WinFx that appears to be dead.

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