Feedback-Driven Improvements to Windows Vista Since Beta 2

As we come into the home stretch in the Windows Vista development cycle, we’ve got a lot of stuff left to do to make this the best Windows release ever. As we do this, we wanted to take a moment to thank you for your feedback and give you an idea of the ways you’re helping.  We’ve gotten feedback from all types of people – general consumers, IT Professionals, enthusiasts – you name it – from all around the world.

Some of the development teams came to me and asked that we share a sampling of the changes that we’ve made based on your feedback.

While some of these changes may seem small, when you realize that they will affect hundreds of millions of people – and in some cases, those people will notice the benefit every time they use the operating system – well, in all it’s really pretty awesome. Here are just a few of the changes we’ve implemented as a direct result of your feedback from Beta 2. Many of these changes are in recent post-Beta 2 builds, and all will definitely be included in our RC-1 release.

From the shell team, changes to Explorer include:

  • Brought back List mode in our List views
  • The folder tree will now persist in all modes of the Explorer
  • Brought back property editing in Details Pane, and fixed truncation issues in the Details Pane
  • Implemented major performance gains when browsing slow volumes and network shares
  • Made it so .zip and .cab files are sorted along with files, not along with folders
  • Added more polish to Classic-themed Explorer
  • Fixed many heavily-reported drawing artifacts and fit-and-finish bugs

Next, while we continue to work on overall system search performance, we’ve made some pretty cool changes to it for this cycle:

  • Right-clicking on Start Orb and selecting “Search” now takes you directly to the Search Explorer where you can execute a wider search of the entirety of your PC
  • Updated Search Pane UI; now it’s on by default in the Search Explorer and optional in all the other Explorers. It’s also more easily read when using Glass
  • Simplified Advanced Search UI found under the advanced drop-down menu

Sharing and networking has changed for the better in the following ways:

  • Re-designed the Network and Sharing Center – we got a lot of feedback on this one, and hopefully the new design meets everyone’s expectations
    • Consolidated the sharing & networking control panels into a single control panel
    • Improved visual design and text simplification of Network & Sharing Center to make it more task-oriented
    • „Mini-map“ icons are clickable (e.g., Computer, Network, Internet browser)
    • Integrated sharing controls into the Network and Sharing center
      • Global control for enabling/disabling file sharing
      • Added a drop-down of user accounts to the sharing wizard. This will now link to your Active Directory listings or else show other accounts on the same PC
    • Improved dialog box that helps you determine what type of network (public/private) you are on
    • Text updates for links in left pane
    • Improved usability for „not connected“ state
  • When connecting to a network, you should see:
    • Improved detection of existing connection
    • No UAC elevation when connecting to a wireless connection
    • Access to Properties for networks with saved settings now available via the right-click menu
  • The Network Explorer has a number of changes that will help with device discovery. It also features default icons for a number of network device classes such as media players, Xbox, projectors, etc.
  • The Network System Tray is now easier to see and has been changed to give more “clickable area” around the icon itself
  • Finally, for those folks with multiple users on the same PC, we’ve added support for per-user MIME types

The Windows Media Center team has been hard at work too. They have:

  • Tuned overall Windows Media Center performance. You should see some fairly substantial gains in the post-Beta 2 builds
  • Reduced the number of reliability issues. Fewer crashes and great video playback – who wouldn’t want that? J
  • Tweaked a lot of little UI elements for better usability

One thing to check out: When using an Xbox 360 as a Media Center Extender, the remote experience is now full-fidelity. It looks and performs exactly like you’re using the PC.

Our security teams have also been listening to you. The System Integrity team has simplified the “out-of-the-box” Windows BitLocker user interface. Its new UI now makes it much, much easier for a Windows Vista Ultimate user to be able to setup BitLocker on TPM 1.2-enabled hardware. The administrator of an Enterprise edition system still has access to all of the features and functionality that BitLocker supports through scripting and command line tools.

Finally, we’ve gotten lots of great feedback on User Account Control. This is definitely a big feature for this release as far as security goes, and here’s how we’re making it better post-Beta 2:

  • Deleting a shortcut from the desktop will no longer require elevation for administrators
  • Task Manager launches right away and allows the user to elevate later
  • Copying or moving multiple files to protected folders should require only one prompt to gain access
  • The Find New Hardware experience has been changed to remove the UAC prompt until the user is ready to install the device
  • “Set Focus” work has been done so that UAC prompts from applications running in the background do not interrupt users’ workflow. The users will instead see a blinking item in the taskbar in these situations
  • The OS has been scrubbed for UAC prompts, the net benefit being that the number of UAC prompts is now reduced
  • A much-requested feature from our IT community: Elevated command prompts are distinguished by prefixing “Administrator:” to the title
  • We’ve added a new ActiveX Installer Service so that administrators can give Standard Users permissions to install controls from trusted sites
  • All UAC prompts have been scrubbed so as to be more consistent and informative, and also to provide users with improved context for deciding whether to permit/deny the prompt

Whew, that’s quite a list! Like I said, we’re all hard at work delivering the best version of Windows yet, so please don’t stop sending us feedback. Your suggestions could end up affecting hundreds of millions of people!

Windows Vista Team Blog : Feedback-Driven Improvements to Windows Vista Since Beta 2

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Convert your firefox favorites and feeds into IE7 with „Firefox To IE7“

Currently there is no way to import your firefox favorites and feeds into IE7, and from what I have heard there is no plan on adding this into IE7.  So with this in mind, I made this application so that developers or anyone who needs to use their firefox bookmarks in IE7 can do so easily. 

All you have to do is run the application and if you have firefox installed it will automatically find your bookmarks, or you can browse for your exported firefox “bookmarks.html” file.

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Microsoft makes MSDN Library freely available from now on

“For the first time, we’re making the MSDN Library freely available for download from Microsoft Downloads. Previously, the Library was only available for download to MSDN subscribers. The current download is the May 2006 Edition and future editions will also be available when we release them.”

MSDN Library provides access to essential programming information, including technical white papers, software development kits and code samples necessary to develop web services and applications. This is an updated version of the MSDN Library for Visual Studio® 2005.

Download details: MSDN Library May 2006 Edition
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Blame Your IP, RIAA Will Drop the Case

Interesting bit of news posted by pyehac in our Back Page News. Looks as though the RIAA has quietly dropped several lawsuit cases rather quickly because the defense started to ‘cry IP’:

Foryears, the RIAA has claimed that having the IP address of a computerthat has shared unauthorized files is the equivalent of having theevidence of who was actually sharing files. That, of course, is false.The IP address simply can help you know who paid for the internet access, but not who was using what computer on a network.In fact, this even had some people suggesting that, if you want to wina lawsuit from the RIAA, you’re best off opening up your WiFi networkto neighbors.

It seems like this strategy might actually beworking. Earlier this month the inability to prove who actually did thefile sharing caused the RIAA to drop a case in Oklahoma and now itlooks like the same defense has worked in a California case as well. Inboth cases, though, as soon as the RIAA realized the person was usingthis defense, they dropped the case, rather than lose it and set aprecedent showing they really don’t have the unequivocal evidence theyclaim they do.

View: Techdirt

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System Administrator Appreciation Day

If you can read this, thank your sysadmin

A sysadmin unpacked the server for this website from its box, installed an operating system, patched it for security, made sure the power and air conditioning was working in the server room, monitored it for stability, set up the software, and kept backups in case anything went wrong. All to serve this webpage.

System Administrator Appreciation Day

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Microsoft promises XenSource support in Longhorn

are to co-develop technology to provide interoperability between Xen-enabled
Linux and Windows hypervisor-based Windows Server virtualisation.

The software giant claimed that the resulting technology will offer a single
virtualisation technology that will operate across Windows, Linux and
Xen-enabled Linux distributions.

Peter Levine, president and chief executive at XenSource, said: „Xen-enabled
guests will now run seamlessly on XenEnterprise and, as a result of this
agreement, Xen-enabled Linux guests will also run on Windows Server

„XenSource will also deliver additional products based on the collaboratively
developed technology, further expanding the value of the relationship.“

Microsoft anticipates providing a beta release of Windows Server
virtualisation by the end of 2006, and plans to release the solution to
manufacturing within 180 days of Windows Server Longhorn, which is targeted for
the end of 2007.

XenSource has previously licensed the Microsoft Virtual Hard Disk format to
enable interoperability with Microsoft virtualisation technologies.

For customers with Premier-level support agreements, Microsoft said that it
will use „commercially reasonable efforts to address potential issues“ with
Microsoft software running in XenEnterprise.

Microsoft promises XenSource support in Longhorn –

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Microsoft Acquires Winternals Software

Company appoints operating systems kernel expert Mark Russinovich as technical fellow.

Microsoft Corp. today announced the acquisition of Winternals Software LP, a privately held company based in Austin, Texas, that provides Windows®-based enterprises with systems recovery and data protection solutions
in addition to offering a freeware tools Web site called Sysinternals.
The addition of Winternals is a significant advance in
Microsoft’s promise to lower customers’ total cost of
ownership of the Microsoft® Windows platform. Customers
will be able to continue building on Sysinternals’ advanced
utilities, technical information and source code for utilities related
to Windows. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

was established in 1996 by Mark Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell, who are
recognized industry leaders in the areas of operating system design and
architecture. Russinovich will join the Microsoft Platforms &
Services Division as a technical fellow, working with numerous
technology teams across Microsoft, and Cogswell will join the Windows
Component Platform Team in the role of software architect.

had my eye on Mark for some time,” said Jim Allchin, co-president
of the Platforms & Services Division at Microsoft. “The work
he and Bryce have completed in system recovery and data protection
illustrates the depth of thinking and skill they will bring to future
versions of Windows. The addition of their deep kernel-level expertise
to our existing strong talent will help provide us with the edge we
need to continue to raise the quality and functionality bar for Windows
on both the client and the server.”

“I witness
regularly the profound impact that even a few lines of code can have in
a world of globally connected systems,” said Russinovich.
“The technologies that sustain and enhance business, health,
commerce and entertainment are emerging from platforms that Microsoft
creates. I look forward to bringing my experience in designing
operating system technologies to Microsoft. I’m excited to
broaden the reach and impact on Windows and Microsoft customers.”

products support IT professionals in numerous ways, providing
intelligent enterprise recovery solutions, network defragmentation
solutions and powerful system tools, all focused on reducing the total
cost of ownership for Microsoft-based businesses. Sysinternals enjoys a
strong and active community of systems administrators and support
personnel, averaging about a million visitors per month.

is evaluating how the Winternals products and technologies can be
integrated within Microsoft offerings to maximize customer value.

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