Tag Archives: Vista


I’ve kind of come around on Vista.  Although it was SO VERY painful to set up and get everything installed, that was long ago, most programs are now compatible, and I’ve come to appreciate some of the subtleties of the OS.  While there are some pieces that are just the pinnacle of stupidity (like the file open dialog), most pieces just make XP look so aged and cartoony in comparison.  As a result, I’m on Vista at work until I have 7 in hand.  But this week, I received an error that just makes me laugh.  What’s worse is that this problem can found all over Google, lots of people get it, and no one has a definitive fix.  I rarely use this meme, but this is an OS #FAIL.


click the picture for a larger version

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Vista: A Year Later

I’ve been running Windows Vista at work for about a year now.  I’ve blogged about Windows Vista before, and I’ve been mostly let down by it.   But I’m here to confess today that Vista has overtaken XP for me.  Yep, it’s true.  I kinda dig Vista.  

If you perouse the internet, you’ll see – pretty much everywhere – that Vista sucks. You’ll also see a super harsh, super successful Mac compaign aimied squarely at the PC and Vista, and you’ll see Microsoft abandoning the name “Vista” in their marketing initiatives in favor of their new “Windows, not Walls” slogan.  Lastly, you’ll see Steve Ballmer telling you that waiting for Windows 7 is okay by him.  So Vista, by pretty much all accounts, is a flop.

When I first began using Vista in February of this year, it was killing me.  Application after application wouldn’t install.  UAC prompts were bombarding me faster than I could “ok” them.  The system couldn’t copy across the network faster than I could retype my documents (it seemed, at least).   It was absolutely unusable.  

Almost a year later, I have to say, I’m really at home in Vista.  I’ve only ever seen 1 blue screen event, and, ironically, it was due to Apple’s iTunes 8 Vista USb driver fiasco.  Service Pack 1 fixed the network copying issues, pretty much every app has goten situated so that it works in Vista, the icon previews are nice, and there are only a few remaining annoyances; but XP has plenty of those too.  

I’m a Mac guy at heart, but truthfully, Vista is the prettiest Microsoft OS ever to come out of Redmond.  Whereas with XP I had to disable Luna just to not want to poke my eyes out, Aero is smooth and comforting.  The ribbon has grown on me, and the system doesn’t gradually become slower and slower, at least as fast as a naked XP box will.  

So there ya go – Vista is a decent product, albeit, after 2 years in the market.  I’d still recommend people wait for Windows 7 – no point in training users and getting them comfortable if Windows 7 will be a fraction of what the E7Blog is suggesting.  But the Vista/Windows 2008 combo is a good one.  I’m not suggesting it beats Leopard, but it’s certainly better than XP/2003.

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Vista SP1 First Impression

Vista SP1 was over 435 megabytes for me, making it larger than any Microsoft Service Pack ever, larger than any Mac point release, larger than many OSes themselves. Installation took well over an hour in three stages, which is suspicious, as again, I’ve installed OSes in less time. But it went smoothly and did it all on its own, which was nice.

Click the link for a larger picture

Booting up, there’s nothing immediately different. I tried copying a 28MB file over the network to check on time. It copied the first half in light-speed, but then stopped. I called the guy whose machine I copied from: “Hey, did you just shut down?” His response, “Negative, I lost connection all of a sudden.” Uh-oh, I thought.

But alas, after he rebooted, I copied the latest ISO of gOS, which weighs in at 535MB, and it told me 60 seconds, and by jiminy, it took about 60 seconds.

Thus far – after 30 minutes use – I’ve only noticed one new feature, it appears Vista SP1 has some new “modes” of desktop wallpaper display, and can finally “stretch” wallpaper. Thanks God, because my larger secondary monitor always had stripes with Vista RTM.

Click the link for a larger picture

So, first impression? So far, so good. My biggest pet peeve – the abysmal network transfer speed – appears to have been quelled (potentially, we’ll need more data for a final conclusion). I’ve long since gotten used to the graphics and learned to enjoy the subtle fade-in/fade-out of apps. I still am warning people to stay clear of Vista for some time, and still have no plans to roll it out at work in the enterprise, but I certainly think that Vista is coming along. I think there’s a better shot that when Windows 7/IE8 come of age, people will be willing to rethink things on a larger scale.

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Release Tuesday

This week has already seen a slew of releases: first came an updated Airport Express (I want one). Then today, Apple unleased Safari 3.1, which vastly extends support for bleeding edge web standards like CSS3, HTML5, and expands support of ECMAscript.

Finally, not to have all headlines stolen this St. Patrick’s Day, Microsoft loosed Vista SP1 to Windows Update.

I have installed Safari 3.1/Win and this evening I will upgrade at home on the Mac. I am currently downloading Vista SP1 for my work PC. Reviews to follow, for certain.

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The Pain of Vista

Yesterday, I began building my new work laptop. It’s a Dell XPS M1530, a nice 15″ widescreen screamer with a dual core Centrino, 2GB RAM, a 256MB video card, embedded Bluetooth, 802.11n, and, for the first time in my company, Windows Vista.

It’s typical for me to buy/install new software for testing on my own machine. I can generally test most software and evaluate it pretty tough, so it seemed with the XP consumer drop-dead date fast approaching, I ought to have better than cursory familiarity with Vista. It’s also a good time to ensure that all of our critical tools run on what will, unfortunately, likely be a platform our IT guys run shortly. So I embarked on the Vista adventure.

The verdict? Well, let’s start at the beginning? You know how every review of Vista… like ever… has complained about UAC? Well, imagine that level of annoying times 10 and you can begin to understand UAC. The most pointless utility ever not only bugs you for virtually everything – including deleting shortcuts from the desktop – but also moves all over the screen so it’s impossible to predict where it will show up next. Also, sometimes it sits in the taskbar, perplexingly pausing application installs until you notice the subtle orange blinking and “activate” it. Also, UAC doesn’t require a password or anything, just a click. And best of all, it’s stupid. If I delete something that requires admin access, and then repeat the action, it sometimes asks for the permission twice in 10 seconds. UAC is the worst thought out decision a team that brilliant has ever produced, and it took me about 5 hours of use to de-activate it entirely.

Most applications, surprisingly, installed just fine. Even older tools I prefer – some from 2004 – work without any problem. However, many recent tools, mostly those from Microsoft itself, don’t. You cannot install the Windows 2000/2003 admin pack – essential tools for Windows network admins – onto Vista without a stream of commands not publically advertised by Microsoft. I built myself a big batch file to run it, and I will share that file on this site later. Eventually, I did get it to run. Turns out that it’s a “security risk” because it involves certain DLLs running at elevated privileges… or something. I don’t know. But it should be embarrassing for Microsoft that Windows Vista users can’t administer Windows networks. Embarrassing… or pathetic.

Every single window in Vista fades in and out. It’s a neat effect to be certain, but it’s overused. Sometimes dizzying.

You can’t use Windows Update anymore – you have to use a app built into the control panel.

The Start Menu is a disaster. Drilling into subfolders takes a good 2-3 seconds. And they are impossible to view as a whole. While it’s pretty, it makes me long for XP’s Luna Start Menu, which is odd, since I found that to be such an abomination that I always de-activated it immediately. It’s a nightmare.

The Control Panel is much more logically organized, except I used to know where everything was, and now I have no clue where to find it without scanning the whole damned thing.

Same goes for many folder options, locations on the hard drive (it’s now C:\Users, and profiles are in C:\Users\%username%\AppData), and some other configurations, which have mysteriously moved.

I changed the path of C:\Users\%username%\Documents to re-map to my H: drive on the network – as it’s ALWAYS been – and the .NET framework wouldn’t install. I had to un-map the drives to get it to work.

But the cherry on top – by far – was my adventure to get the Citrix admin tools installed. I kept getting an IMMEDIATE error on launch; I tried many versions of Citrix, same error every time. Eventually, I traced it back to the Windows Installer service, which wouldn’t run. At all – it wouldn’t start. I kept getting the same error: Windows installer service cant start Error 193:0xc1. I googled it and looked at all the results – Google it yourself. Here, I’ll even give you the link: “Windows installer service error 193:0xc1”. You’ll notice a lot of feedback, but lots of unanswered questions. I dug and dug and eventually started poking into the DCOM service, thinking this was the problem, since the Installer service depends on DCOM. But DCOM ran just fine. So I dug further. I tried everything I could: I rebooted, I tried everything as the local administrator, I removed all of my temp files, I unregistered some files. Eventually, I found an article on Microsoft’s K-Base that discussed some problems, but you’ll notice it only covers the ancient “Windows Installer Service 1.0, 1.1, and 2.0.” XP runs version 3, Vista runs version 4. Could these be relevant?

When I got to the registry search, the key it mentioned wasn’t there, but having been through the registry several times today, I decided to do a search for “msiserver” – which is the Microsoft Installer Service. I found the new key, and one of the sub-keys is called “ImagePath.” This key is present in almost all services and gives the location of the files it launches. In the case, the file was “C:\Windows\system32\msiexec /I /v” (those switches might be wrong). So, on a whim, I wondered if many the permissions on that file were wrong. I poked into the system32 directory and found msiexec, but it was a 0 KB file. Blank. Weird, huh? Then I realized that there was ALSO a “msiexec.exe” file. In short, the path was referring to the exe without an extension, and somehow, there was a blank file without an extension by the same name! Wha??

Simply renaming msiexec to msiexec.old and trying to restart the service did it. So that’s one possible fix for Error 193 – make sure the ImagePath references the proper path.

Anyway, re-building and migrating a laptop ought to take about 3-5 hours, depending on the volume of data to transfer, and setting up Vista took me the better part of 2 days. Will I recommend it for other users in our company? No way. Will I recommend it to other IT professionals? No way. Will I recommend it to anyone at all? Sorry, Microsoft, but no way. Vista is everything you’ve read. Pretty, but dumb.

I have high hopes for Service Pack 1, but I should think it’s fair to say “too little too late.” Vista is a disaster, even moreso when compared to Leopard, whose bugs are much less serious, many of which really merely annoyances (such as stacks and menu bar complaints). But Vista is the real deal: a sympton of a company too big to make sane choices. I will definitely be posting a SP1 follow-up, to be sure. Here’s hoping for a retraction.

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The Flop That is Windows Vista

Thom posted an article on OSNews.com yesterday called Vista’s Mythical Cut Features. It got me thinking; I left a few comments on the article that really hit the heart of the matter, but Thom’s responses, and those of others, questioned whether or not the things I mentioned were cut features or not.

Longhorn, years ago, was presented as delivering on three pillars. The pillars were: WinFS, a metadata based, database-like file system; Avalon, a new .NET graphical subsystem; and Indigo, a new communications framework. WinFS is in beta now, but delivers in a far different way than originally posed. Avalon, renamed Windows Presentation Foundation or WPF was delivered with Windows Vista and is available on XP. Indigo, retitled Windows Communication Foundation, is available in Vista as well. Initially, this lends some credence to the editorial, which suggests that it’s virtually impossible to name individual “missing features” from Vista.

But upon further thought, it goes further than “which feature is missing?” Because there are loads of things that are “missing” in the sense that they ought to be included. Ultimately, where Vista fails on a large scale is delivering on the promise it made. Microsoft, not only via promo videos, but also via their insiders like Scoble, Mary Jo Foley, and Paul Thurott, started to lay the groundwork via conversations and ideas that promised a next generation operating system. A new OS, built almost entirely from scratch, almost entirely in managed code.

But they blew it. Big time.

In fact, they were so incapable of delivering that they infamously scrapped their work and rolled back to Windows 2003 SP1 in what would eventually be called the “Longhorn reset.”

Vista is an incremental change at best. This should come as little surprise, as Vista is pretty much, as described, XP enhanced twice over. Many of the changes that made it to the final version serve little purpose. The Aero interface is clunkier and less attractive than Apple’s. The Flip3D tool is cool, but ultimately, a toy. UAC is a disaster. WinFS isn’t there. Windows Mail received love under the hood, but is still second rate. The over-branding of every app and the un-customizable, dumbed-down UI is hatable. Pretty much everything about Vista is less appetizing than Windows XP, which is maturing really nicely.

Longhorn, on the other hand, was an idea. It was going to show us something new and exciting. It was going to be the best that incredibly talented engineers could come up with when they had unlimited budget, an amazing array of programmers, marketers, user interface experts, and powerful partners. But Microsoft collapsed under its own weight. They couldn’t commit to advancing things and making them work. Who could forget the Windows shudown crapfest article? This is likely a microcosm of the entire development of this OS: the lowest common denominator, the least offensive, the least problem causing thing won. And more often than not, it sucked.

This isn’t to say Redmond doesn’t count amongst its ranks, some of the best and brightest. It’s just that when you become that large, it’s hard to be nimble and stay on course. Microsoft’s newest utter failure is their foray into search — Microsoft has already lost search. I wonder if they will apply the same “we can do anything” attitude there.

The interesting thing is that Microsoft has pretty much admitted Windows Vista is a flop by feeding the press details about “Windows 7.” The very fact that they have already dumped Vista to focus on the next shining star is pretty telling.

Combine all of this with the dizzying number of “versions” of Vista, designed, as best as I can tell, to slowly extort money from you. There is no magic included with each version, you don’t get an extra disc, or more applications. You don’t get more at all, in fact, what you get is something simply less crippled. Microsoft intentionally sells versions of its own OS with features removed unless you pay more. This is the business behind the OS, and it is part and parcel of the problem – there is no respect for the client, either as a consumer or as a user. In short, they don’t deliver the best product they can, they deliver part of the product, and for more dollars, you can use some of what was there anyway. Since none of the version provide explicitly what I would want, I would need to buy the “ultimate” edition, which currently runs $329. That’s $200 more than Mac OS X Leopard.

So maybe I can’t name siginificant individual things left out of Vista besides WinFS. And perhaps the disappointment is not that the features are left out, but rather, that developers haven’t really leveraged them for fear that a Vista-only program is doomed before the first header file is included. But one thing is certain: Vista didn’t deliver on what most people expected, which was a new experience, a new OS, a new paradigm, a new adventure. Instead, they got a stinker that requires top-notch specs to perform half as well as XP. Microsoft may yet impress us with Windows 7. Perhaps their days ruling the roost of OSes have begun their long and painful wane. But one thing will remain forever clear when discussing Vista: what they “left out” was innovation and inspiration. And what we got is a flop.

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Vista: To Get or Not To Get

Thom posted a series of articles on OSNews about Windows Vista, first 10 Reasons Not to Get Vista, then a rebuttal on his own blog, then another and another and another. Seriously. But none mentions the main reason I don’t want Vista: because I’m just not interested in supporting Microsoft any longer. More within.
Continue reading

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Windows Vista Can Go &#@% Itself

After reading about the nonsense buried within the Windows End User License Agreement, and the crazy restrictions Vista is going to introduce, I’m happier than ever to be on a Mac.

Let me quote: So you can’t create a virtual image using Home Basic ($199) or Home Premium ($239). However, the EULA does allow you to use Vista Business ($299) or Vista Ultimate ($399). Hmmm… I wonder why? It couldn’t possibly be because those editions cost more, could it? Wanna bet? The fact that there aren’t any technical restrictions in place to prevent users from loading Home editions into VMWare, only legal and support barriers, sure lends credence to that supposition.

Let me ask – is the language in the EULA even legal? Can Microsoft actually prevent me from running software I purchased – and therefore, is properly licensed – in a virtual machine? What’s next – can they dictate that certain types of devices cannot be attached to my computer? Or certain BRANDS? What about certain files not being stored in NTFS? Can they tell me that I’m not allowed to visit certain websites with their browser? Or that I can’t install certain programs?

I use Microsoft products at work, almost exclusively, but I must say, I really wish there were an *easy transition* to an alternative, because Micrsoft licensing SUCKS with a capital “FRIGGIN SUCKS.” I’ve written about Windows licensing and how much it sucks before. But it’s getting worse. And what’s even worse is that people won’t read the EULA and will continue to sign away more and more freedoms. Sigh.

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Linky see, linky do.

More links assembled from the annals of the browser history of AS.

Goodbye Microsoft, Pete has now left the building
A fellow Floridian, an Microsoft insider, describes why he finally ditched Microsoft and Windows for Apple and Ruby-on-Rails. For the record, I still think Rails is a fad. It’s very cool, but the catch is, ya gotta learn Ruby to use it. A lot of these frameworks are very powerful and great RAD tools, but I’m sticking with PHP5 for now.

Do NOT watch this
*Suriously*. It’ll make you dizzy, and you’ll feel a hollowness in your stomach. I don’t usually get queezy, this is the worst video I’ve seen in ages. Yikes.

“We Have Not Forgotten, Mr. President.”
Keith Olberman tears President Bush a new arse.

Asshat flies out of truck
Truck + Dunes + Guy being douche-bag = ?

Why Vista will be the end of Microsoft
Of course, we all know it won’t be. On the contrary, it will be a success. But I agree, it will certainly be the first chipping of the wall. Start the timer. Microsoft’s dominance will be majorly altered in the next decade.

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More links I kinda dig:

Children’s drawings of Winnie the Pooh, redrawn by talented artists
This reminds me of The Monster Engine. Very cool.

Kinda old, but an interesting look at the development of OS X and Vista.

A funny picture

A fantastic optical illusion

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