James O'Neill's Blog

May 12, 2006

Woof-woof: feed me that dog-food

Filed under: Beta Products,Office,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 1:43 pm

Unexpectedly a new-ish laptop came my way on Wednesday. Pre-installed on it were newer builds of Windows Vista and Office 2007 than I had been using. There was little else besides the standard Anti-virus product, and yesterday morning Windows defender reported that the anti-virus signatures were out of date. So I tried to download the new ones. AV is configured to try several internal servers, but not the internet, so I needed to add the vendors FTP site. This should take just a few clicks – except the downloader kept showing the original list: log off and on, no change, restart services no change, in desperation – reboot, no change. It was as if I was editing one file and the application was reading another… at which point a light came on. If a program isn’t told to run with Administrator privilege, Vista intercepts writes to the Program Files folder and redirects them to a user folder. The download service was reading from Program Files, and the UI was updating a Virtual copy. I wonder how many KB articles this security feature will spawn ?

I found that there was a later build of Vista available to me: a little time needs to pass yet before beta 2 emerges, but this is pretty close to it. Sadly this build wouldn’t upgrade the old one. So once it was installed I had to put Office 2007 back on. I can’t work without One note these days, and I experimented with Groove in the old job and decided I liked it so these two were added to the build, along with the corporate standard anti virus.

I got my mailbox and my RSS Feeds set-up. And an interesting side note here: because Outlook 2007 puts RSS feeds in your inbox, you can read them from any client, including Outlook Web Access. This also meant outlook took care of most the configuration of the feeds in IE – it found feeds my mailbox that weren’t on the common list so it put them there.

Next came adobe reader – which it’s hard to do without, and flash – which I could cheerfully do without, but it is easier to install it and then disable it in IE to get rid of all the adverts.

Then the last business productivity application is Mind Genius. In my early days at Microsoft I went on a course introduced Mind Mapping (and gave us Tony Buzan’s book) and it’s a technique I find enormously helpful. I’ve been using V1 of Gael’s Mind Genius for 4 or 5 years (I love Visio for diagrams, but it isn’t a mind mapping tool). The evaluation of V2 is looking very good on Vista.

I’ve licensed a handful of photography programs for my laptop, Advanced Batch Converter is great for stamping copyright notices on lots of photos, and creating web sized versions went on with no trouble at all. Next came Capture One LE – which is the best RAW image converter I’ve found, which put up a message to the effect “I only run on Windows 2000 or XP, this is windows 6.something” and refused to install. At this point Vista pulled a trick which I’d never seen, it put a dialog box which I wish I’d screen captured it said, roughly “Windows detected that your application didn’t install, would you like try again with Windows’ recommended settings.” Whoosh. Capture one seems to run nicely – though I haven’t used it in anger yet. I’ve no idea what Vista did, but this is surely going to take a lot of pain out of the process for a lot of people.

In Microsoft, we talk about running beta software as eating our own dog food, or sometimes simply “dog-fooding” and I’m just about ready to start dog-fooding Vista and office 2007 – I’ve got some jobs to do yet – files to transfer, more software to Install (Visio, Map Point, Digital Image Suite, and a couple of other odds and ends I use for photography), drivers to track down for my Web cam and so on – my smart card reader is working but I need to configure a VPN. Then I’ll be all set.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.


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