Windows Vista’s built-in Update Service

20 02 2007

Windows Vista, amongst other self-diagnosing and self-healing tools, has Update Service built into the operating system- this feature is an absolute boon, especially for mobile users.

It is so easy to check for updates and download updates- you can even set options to download the latest updates automatically (in the background that is). I read that Microsoft released a few Extras (DreamScene Preview, Hold em Poker Game, etc…finally!) for Vista Ultimate Edition users, and I wanted to download those “extras” tonight. If you are not familiar with Windows Vista Update, follow these simple steps-

  1. Click on Vista Start button or press the Windows key, on your keyboard, and type “Update”- you should see “Windows Update” in the Start menu search results- click that; if Windows Update is already selected just hit enter. As you notice, I just typed “Upda” and Vista brought back “Windows Update”, and selected it (as it was first in the list)- so, I just had to hit the ENTER key- too few keys, without use of mouse, to get job done is a good thing!

  2. You are now in Control Panel | Windows Update- before you click on “Install Updates” button, go ahead and View available updates for both Vista and the Extras. The point is that Windows Vista Update is very customizable- choose what you want to install. Of course, you want/have to install the required core OS updates. But, it is nice to have the capability to install the optional items when you want- very much like a shopping cart metaphor, only made easy.

  3. Always make sure that you install the “Recommended” updates (especially) for Windows Vista; in my example, I did not select the recommended update for “Visual Studio 2005 Service Pack 1”, because I already have a disk for this update. So, I selected Update for Windows Vista and couple of extras, which are available only for Vista Ultimate Edition.

  4. Click “Install”- that’s it. As you notice, the install button has a shield symbol- what this means is that in order to proceed, with the install action, you have to provide Admin credentials or consent. Please note that updates may require a reboot, as in my case tonight; but, for the most part Vista has gone to great lengths to reduce the number of reboots on updates and software installations.

    Next time you see a shield icon, next to a button or a control, you should understand that you need Admin credentials/consent to proceed with that task- this is for your protection- this is User Account Control (UAC) in action. I hope to write a detailed blog about UAC in the very near future, but meanwhile simply just search for “user account control uac”- there is tons of information out there.

Updating your Vista with the latest updates keeps your PC secure- so, update your system often with Vista and recommended updates. Here’s more information about the Extras:

DreamScene (Preview) is a new “extra” for Windows Vista Ultimate edition- you can select a video for your desktop background the same way you select a stationary picture. It also adds new positioning options for backgrounds, including stationary pictures. More details about DreamScene here: http://windowsultimate.com/blogs/extras/archive/2007/02/02/windows-dreamscene.aspx

Check other upcoming extras for your Vista Ultimate edition here: http://windowsultimate.com/Blogs/Extras/Default.aspx

ciao

mags





Create & Modify Blogs using Word 2007

17 02 2007

I was just amazed to find out how easy it is publish to your favorite Blog site using Microsoft’s Word 2007! Using Word, you can literally save tons of time to post a new blog entry or modify an existing blog entry. I am surprised that this cool publishing feature, in Word, is not talked about much- the easier it is to blog, more encouraging it is to blog- isn’t it!? So, “I’m lazy to blog” excuse is no longer an excuse.

Important Note: One issue that I found especially when modifying a blog is that all your pictures are recopied! So, make sure that you go back to your blog site and delete duplicate pictures- I know, it is painful, but a little planning can reduce the number of times you modify your blog. The other option is to make your (minor) changes directly in your blog site. But, the advantage of using Word 2007, to publish your blogs, out beats the pain caused by this issue.

It is extremely easy to blog straight out of Word 2007, here are the detailed instructions:

  1. From Word 2007, when you create a new document, choose the “New blog post” option:
    Choose new blog
  2. Word will prompt you to register a blog account at this time; click the “Register Now” button to continue
  3. Next, choose your blog provider; you can add multiple blog providers- I will show you how to do this later in this blog. For now, just select your favorite provider to continue with the registration process
    Choose Blog Provider
  4. Next provide your blog’s account information- your blog site address, user name and password- suggest checking the “Remember Password” option; typically, the URL will be your blog address followed by the “/xmlrpc.php”
  5. Next you will provided with options to store any uploaded pictures; select the appropriate option
  6. Next Word prompts with a warning about sending your login/account information to the service provider and that it is possible for others to see that information. Click yes if you comply and if you want to continue; you are done with the registration!
  7. You are now ready to create a blog, just like you create any Word document. Once you are done creating a blog all you have to do is Publish your blog or Publish your blog as a draft just click by a click of a button

    While your blog is being published you will see the following prompt (a few times)
  8. That’s it! Additionally, you can add a category for your blog by clicking the “Category” button as shown

    You can also modify your existing Blog Provider information or add additional providers by clicking on the Manage Accounts button
  9. Apart from creating new blog entries, you can also open & modify existing blog entries; simply click on the “Open Existing” button- you will then be allowed to select any of the existing blog entries as shown

Hope this was helpful! Blogging is fun and creating and modifying your blog entries should be made easy- Word 2007 is an awesome tool to help you do just that. More blog power to you!

ciao

mags





Blog from Word- Office 2007

17 02 2007

This is my first blog using Microsoft’s Office 2007 Word. Please look for a blog about instructions on how to create/modify blogs from Word 2007.

Sample “Smart Art”:

Smart Art

 

This line was added using Windows Live Writer; checking to see if WLW duplicates the picture upon updating a post…and verified that WLW does not duplicate any picture(s) within the post!

ciao

mags





Vista Readiness Labs at Tech.Ed 2006, Boston

19 06 2006

Tech Ed 2006, Boston

The Windows Vista Readiness Labs at this year’s TechEd was a grand success! It was great to represent, my company, Fujitsu along with my colleague, to work with a talented group of individuals from Microsoft and Altiris. The Vista Readiness labs were designed, primarily for Developers, to provide attendees with hands-on-experience on mitigating common application compatibility issues on Windows Vista.

Vista Readiness Labs

For more information on developer readiness on Windows Vista, visit the official Vista Developer Readiness site. Also, be sure to download tools and documentation from this page.

Vista Readiness Labs

I was one among several proctors for the Vista labs, held in room 108, at the Boston Convention Center. The hands-on sessions were designed to take no more than 45 minutes to complete- attendees were rewarded with a Vista backpack and automatically enrolled in an XBox 360 give away!

And the XBox 360 Winner was…drum roll please…Paul Yu, Vancouver BC!

Vista Readiness Labs

Awesome Attendance
The Vista readiness labs took-off slowly, but soon gained lot of interest and momentum. The average daily attendance was expected to be around 200, but to everyone’s surprise, and albeit delight, the first day’s attendance topped off at 388! The attendance trend grew each day, topping off at 1350 by the end of the event.

Vista Readiness Labs

Feedback
The overall feedback from the attendees was just phenomenal- almost all of the attendees mentioned that they are more familiar and prepared with Vista application compatibility mitigation, after attending the labs, than before.

Vista Readiness Labs

Vista Readiness Team:
[Top row] Mark (Microsoft), Uday (Microsoft), Newsha (Fujitsu), Manmeet (Microsoft), Michael (Microsoft)
[Bottom row] Mahesh (Fujitsu), Rick (Microsoft), Vishal (Microsoft), Jim (Altiris)

Kudos
Special thanks to Robert Doi (Microsoft) for sponsoring the Vista Readiness labs- these labs were very timely and spot-on at TechEd. Thanks to Manmeet Bawa (Microsoft) for organizing and managing the labs, Kevin White (Ally Marketing) and Scott D. (Ally Marketing) for coordinating the event, Jay Lendl (my boss) for the opportunity to attend TechEd 2006. It was great to be part of the event and I hope that I get to do it again :)

Vista Readiness Labs
Vista Readiness Team:
[Top row] Uday (Microsoft), Chris (Microsoft), Manmeet (Microsoft), Michael (Microsoft), Jim (Altiris), Michael (Microsoft), Yu (Microsoft)
[Bottom row] Rick (Microsoft), Stacy (Altiris), Jim (Altiris), Vishal (Microsoft), Mahesh (Fujitsu)

Key Information and Stats
Thanks to Manmeet Bawa (Microsoft) for providing me with the following details, vital stats and pictures:

The main goal of the lab was to educate Developers and IT Pros on Windows Vista Application Compatibility.

Seven different application compatibility scenarios- including User Account Control (UAC), Version Checking, Mandatory Integrity Control (MIC), Session 0 (Isolation) and Windows Resource Protection (WRP)- were highlighted through a demo in the Hands-on-labs (HOL). Attendees were also invited to install their apps on Windows Vista and have our Lab Proctors help with blocking issues. We were informed that based on the size of the room, past history and the fact that our labs were late in building up a marketing momentum we should expect approximately 500 attendees at this lab. A special thanks to Yu Chen and Maarten Van De Bospoort for building such an instructive lab.

Here are the final stats from the event:
Lab Capacity: 40
Total Hours Lab was open- 40hrs
Final Lab Attendance- 1,350
Windows Vista Jumpstart Kit CDs distributed- 1,200 (stock finished halfway through the event)
Windows Vista Beta 2 distributed- 1,200
Average Lab Sat score- 4.95/5.0

Vista Readiness Labs
Manmeet (left) with attendee #1000. Behind Manmeet is Stacy (Altiris), Scott (Ally Marketing) and Kevin White (Ally Marketing)

Attendees included Developers, CEOs, CIOs, CTOs, IT Pros and Academia. The lab attendance does not factor in the hundreds of people who couldn’t get into the lab itself but were handed out copies of the JumpStart Kit instead. By any measure we far exceeded our goal of reach for this event. As a first-of-its-kind, this event has been a great step forward in our Breadth effort for Apps Compat, especially in terms of making our audience aware of Windows Vista Readiness and equipping them with the knowledge and tools (via the JumpStart Kit and content on www.DevReadiness.org) to support this platform.

Based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback from the attendees, especially the MCTs, the TechEd committee has expressed their interest in incorporating our HOL in their TLC track for future TechEds. This is a wonderful testament to the quality of the lab, which becomes all the more noteworthy considering the compressed time frame this event was organized in. The HOL and supporting document is now available for download at DevReadiness.org

Vista Readiness Labs
For more information, visit devreadiness.org

ciao,
mags





Tech.Ed 2006, Boston, June 11-16

6 06 2006

I will be at the TechEd this year, in Boston. I will be attending the event, primarily, to assist Microsoft in the Windows Vista Application Compatibility labs (more on this later in this blog). TechEd 2006 will be at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

Tech Ed 2006, Boston

TechEd?
TechEd is primarily for Developers and IT Professionals- it is a “premier all-in-one Microsoft event”. Get hands-on experience with current and upcoming products and services from Microsoft and their partners. You get to meet with top Microsoft and industry experts. For those who are not able to attend the event in person, more than 40 key presentations will be simulcast live from June 12-16. The presentations will be available as on-demand webcasts, during and after the event as well.

Boston Convention and Exhibition Center
Boston Convention and Exhibition Center

Windows Vista Application Compatibility Labs
As I mentioned earlier, the main reason why I am attending this event is because of Fujitsu’s participation in assisting Microsoft in the Vista Application Compatibility (AppCompat) labs. Given the large number of technical innovations and changes in the new Windows operating system, Microsoft saw a need to organize such Vista AppCompat labs.

AppCompat labs is where customers/partners can bring their applications to test for compatibility on the new Windows Vista operating system. I don’t recall Microsoft organizing such AppCompat labs in the past- so, you can imagine the urgency, for Microsoft, in educating Windows users in application compatibility! So, I’m very excited to represent Fujitsu in the Vista AppCompat labs.

Free Vista backpacks and a chance to win XBox 360!
At the Windows Vista Application Compatibility labs, Microsoft will be giving away Vista logo backpacks, holding a XBox360 raffle for the winner and also giving copies of the Windows Vista Jumpstart kit- all the application compatibility resources and material (tools, ppts, whitepapers, etc.) developers would need in a single DVD.

So, if you are attending TechEd, be sure to not miss out on this great chance to not only test your applications on Windows Vista, but also to win a XBox 360 (and not to mention all the free goodies)!

“More Input”?
Apart from participating in the AppCompat labs, I am planning to attend as many sessions as, humanly, possible. I look forward to learning more about the latest technological innovations- especially, RFID adoption with Microsoft Technology, WinFX, Longhorn Server and Collaboration technologies. TechEd provides abundant learning resources so I don’t foresee myself going- “Need more input!”

As always, I will be traveling with my Nikon N70 and Monfrotto tripod, so please stay tuned for pictures from this event!

ciao,
mags





Part 3 [Reliability & Deployment]: Why Windows Vista?

24 05 2006

Reliability

Improvements to reliability and performance in Windows Vista offer something for everyone. Users will love the fast start-up time and even faster return from Sleep state. The IT department will face fewer support issues, and will experience easier diagnosis and repair when problems do occur. And the company as a whole will benefit from less downtime, fewer IT hassles, and greater productivity.

Improvements to reliability and performance in Windows Vista include the following:

• Fast Boot and Resume: Users can become productive faster with Windows Vista. Because Windows Vista processes login scripts, startup applications, and services in the background, users are able to get to work more quickly. The new Sleep state in Windows Vista combines the speed of Standby mode with the data protection and low power consumption of Hibernate, so startup from Sleep state requires just seconds.

• Improved Responsiveness: In many cases, Windows Vista is more responsive than Windows XP on the same hardware. New technology in Windows Vista can detect deteriorating performance and tune the performance automatically. Detailed performance counters help administrators isolate and fix complex performance problems more quickly and easily, saving money and helping users stay productive.

• Built-in Diagnostics: Hardware diagnostics can detect error conditions and either repair the problem automatically or guide the user through a recovery process. For example, Windows Vista detects potential disk failures and guides users through backup to minimize downtime and data loss.

• Fewer Hangs and Crashes: Windows Vista is more reliable than Windows XP, reducing both the frequency and impact of user disruptions. Windows Vista includes fixes for known crashes and hangs, and new technology that will prevent many common causes of hangs and crashes.

• Automatic Recovery: For occasional unpreventable failures, Windows Vista provides fast, easy solutions. For example, one of the most challenging troubleshooting problems is corrupted system files that prevent the operating system from starting. Windows Vista automatically diagnoses and recovers an unbootable system to a usable state with the help of the Startup Repair Tool (SRT) — a step-by-step, diagnostics-based troubleshooter that provides users with a guided recovery experience for no-boot situations.

Windows Resource Protection (WRP)
Windows Resource Protection provides additional protection from potentially dangerous system configuration changes; WRP protects:
System registry settings from accidental changes by the user or from changes by unauthorized software
System files and settings from changes initiated by any process other than the Windows trusted installer
Applications such as Microsoft Internet Explorer from potentially unreliable or malicious third-party Component Object Model (COM) extensions.

System Restore
System Restore was introduced in Windows XP to allow people to restore their computers to a previous state without losing personal data files (for example, Microsoft Office Word documents, graphics files, and e-mail messages). You don’t have to worry about taking system snapshots with System Restore—it automatically creates easily identifiable restore points, which you can use to revert your system to the way it was at a previous time. Restore points are created both at the time of significant system events (such as when you install applications or drivers) and periodically (each day). You can also create and name restore points at any time.

System Restore in Windows XP is based on a file filter that watches file changes for a certain set of file extensions, and copies files before they are overwritten. If you encounter a problem, you can roll back the system files and the registry to those from a previous date when the system was known to have worked properly.

In Windows Vista, System Restore allows recovery from a greater range of changes than in Windows XP. The file filter system for system restore used in previous versions of Windows is replaced with a new approach: Now, when a restore point is requested, a shadow copy of a file or folder is created. A shadow copy is essentially a previous version of the file or folder at a specific point. Windows Vista can request restore points automatically, or do so when you ask. When the system needs to be restored, files and settings are copied from the shadow copy to the live volume used by Windows Vista. This improves integration with other aspects of backup and recovery and makes System Restore even more usable.

Deployment

A typical cause of high deployment complexity and costs is the number of images that you must manage. Adding new hardware, language packs, updates, and drivers usually requires creating a new disk image. Updating multiple images and testing each of them when a critical fix appears is costly and time-consuming. Therefore, one of Microsoft’s major goals in Windows Vista was to significantly reduce the number of images you must maintain and help you maintain those images more easily. To achieve this goal, Microsoft modularized Windows Vista to make customization and deployment easier, based the installation of Windows Vista on the file-based disk imaging format called Windows Imaging Format (WIM), and made significant other deployment enhancements to the core operating system.





Part 2 [User Experience]: Why Windows Vista?

24 05 2006

User Experience (UX)

Microsoft has given Windows Vista, the new Windows Operating System, a completely new face lift. Let us take a look at some of the key innovations and changes in Vista’s User Experience (UX). The visual changes in Windows Vista are very evident and I’m very certain that it would leave you with tons of ooohs-and-aaahs.

Aero Glass

Professional-looking, transparent glass design, with subtle effects like dynamic reflections and smooth animations. The glass windows create an open, energizing environment, and enable you to better focus on your content, rather than on the surrounding interface.

Search

Windows Vista searches filenames, metadata, and the full text of all files instantly, and displays the choices organized by the type of asset, such as applications, Internet files, application files and e-mail messages.

Speech Recognition

Speech Recognition is fully integrated into Windows Vista and is built on top of the latest Microsoft speech technologies. It has unparalleled voice recognition accuracy that improves with use as it adapts to your speaking style and vocabulary. Speech Recognition supports multiple languages and includes a new human-sounding speech synthesizer.

Windows Vista Explorer

Explorer includes- Instant Search which is always available and finds files instantly Navigation Pane which contains both the new Search Folders and traditional folders Command Bar which displays tasks appropriate for the files being displayed Live Icons which display a thumbnail of the actual contents of each file Preview Pane which provides rich information (metadata) about files Reading Pane which allows users to browse a preview of a file’s contents in applications that have enabled this feature Enhanced address bar, title bars and borders.

Live Taskbar Thumbnails

With Windows Vista Aero, live taskbar thumbnails show you the contents of the windows that are currently open or minimized to the taskbar. When you pause your mouse over a tile on the taskbar, you see the “live” contents of the corresponding window without having to bring that window to the foreground

Windows Flip (Alt + Tab) Windows Flip is an update to the feature known as Alt-Tab in previous versions of Windows. With Aero, using Windows Flip shows you live thumbnails of your open windows, instead of generic icons, making it easier to quickly identify the windows you’re looking for. One of the displayed windows in the Flip experience will always be on your desktop, giving you a fast and simple way to instantly minimize all the open windows on your desktop.

Windows Flip 3D (Windows + Tab)

Flip 3D gives you a new way to find the window you want. Flip 3D dynamically displays all the open windows on your desktop in a stacked format. While using the Windows (Start) + Tab keys, it also shows “live” processes like a playing video. With Flip 3D up you can use the Tab or arrow keys, or the scroll wheel on your mouse, to smoothly flip through the open windows and select the window you need.

Windows SideShow

SideShow is a new platform that supports secondary screens that Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and hardware manufacturers can include in their designs for portable computers, keyboards, mobile phones, remote control units, and other devices. The Windows SideShow platform utilizes a class of Independant Software Vendor (ISV) developed mini-applications called “gadgets” through which you can view important information that is on your PC. Gadgets can also enable you to control some PC functions, and in many cases, it doesn’t matter whether the laptop is turned on, turned off, or in Sleep mode. Windows SideShow dramatically expands the usefulness of your laptop and other connected devices. Windows Sidebar Windows Sidebar boosts your personal productivity by providing instant access to gadgets—a wide variety of engaging, easy-to-use, and customizable mini-applications that offer information at a glance and provide easy access to frequently used tools. Gadgets are mini-applications with a wide variety of possible uses. Gadgets can connect to web services to deliver weather information, news updates, traffic maps, Internet radio streams, and slide shows of online photo albums. Gadgets can also integrate with your applications to streamline your interaction with them.

Gadgets

Windows Sidebar is a pane on the side of the Windows Vista desktop that organizes gadgets and makes them easy to access. Windows Sidebar is the perfect complement to widescreen monitors and also works seamlessly on standard displays. You can easily customize Windows Sidebar to suit how you want to interact with it—whether you want it always on top or resting below maximized windows. You can also move gadgets off the Windows Sidebar and place them anywhere on your desktop. More Vista Screenshots…

Windows Media Player

Photo Gallery Viewer

Windows Media Center

ciao

mags