James O'Neill's Blog

March 30, 2007

The Numpty paradox: trying not to insult customers

Filed under: General musings,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 6:23 pm

A long time ago, in a company far far away, I ran a Novell network (2.15 !).  The other administrator and I checked had Supervisor powers on this network and we found that it was nearly everybody. So we removed all of them. Our director threw a fit – so I told him I’d log his machine in as supervisor and he could give his account rights again. If he couldn’t do it in 5 minutes, he probably shouldn’t be one…  

On the roadshow we’ve been doing I’ve started saying something similar about User Account Control in Windows Vista. Although I think I first used the word Numpty when talking to a meeting of the BCS in Aberdeen. Fitting as the definition in Urban dictionary says its a Scots term  for someone who “demonstrates a lack of knowledge or misconception of a particular subject or situation”. What I said in Aberdeen went something like this

Most people who dislike UAC prompts, have a reaction of “I’m a power user, not a numpty, you don’t need to tell me”. 
but the “numpties” who need to be protected are also the people who wouldn’t be able to turn off the warnings…    

Now saying “Numpty implies can’t turn off UAC” isn’t the same as saying “Can’t turn off UAC implies Numpty”. But I think a few people thought that’s what I was saying (hey, if the cap fits …) but I think there’s also a fallacy in saying “I don’t want a warning”. Do the same people argue they’re such good drivers they don’t need to wear seatbelts ? A racing driver would use a more complicated seat belt than you find in most cars.  But where there’s a legal requirement to wear a seat belt, UAC can be turned off. Type “User Account Control” into Windows help and it offers you information about how to do it in control panel (you can do it group policy too, or re-enable the account named “administrator” and use that to set the machine up and not get the prompt). But most complainers haven’t even checked the help, and what would you call someone who can’t even use help ? Perhaps A “right Numpty”

I’m not sure how else to get this point over, but security people like Steve, and OS people like me see UAC as a Good Thing. (Wonder why I capitalize Good Thing and Bad Thing ?). I know when programs I run should be doing something potentially dangerous. What I want to know is that one time in thousands where it was something I didn’t know I was running. Security is a nuisance, but turning off the warnings is like saying it’s too much bother to lock and unlock my front door a couple of times per day.


I’m on the verge of insulting a lot of IT departments too. There was a lot of fuss in our blogger’s group when Information week carried a story that part of the US Government had banned Windows Vista. Now you don’t have to ban anything that people don’t want, so my take on this was that some of their users wanted to deploy Vista (even if only by bringing in new PCs which had it pre-installed) and they weren’t ready. Now I said in a previous post.

In 6 years in Microsoft Consulting I met IT departments whose agility was a business enabler or a strategic asset. And I met others so risk averse they would do nothing before their competitors. The latter think they are prudent and their departments are well run; what I saw was often people too busy fire fighting to understand what was coming next. When I first came across our Infrastructure optimization model , this struck a chord. Those who are at the “dynamic” end of the spectrum don’t always deploy new technology, but they can, they’re the ones who tell me that forthcoming feature X will make the product compelling for their business. Those at the “Basic” end of the spectrum find all changes harder, they’re the ones who just wait for SP1 without knowing what’s in it.

There’s a tough message in that. It boils down to If you’re in a position where you can’t deploy new technologies, even if you wanted to, and your not sufficiently abreast of them that you don’t know why you’d want to (or not) then your IT department isn’t up to the job. (c.f. If you can’t turn UAC off, and don’t know why you’d want it on, then you’re a Numpty). Again you can’t automatically blame the people who work in it. A department, might have enough good people (or not) it might have the right funding (or not), it might have good leadership (or not), but it certainly hasn’t got all 3.

Talking to a colleague recently we were on the subject of what people learn about computing in universities. Computing is tied into technology – but universities don’t like to follow the latest technology fashions. I think there 3 themes which people need to learn. Technology and change are tied together – Cheap computing at the desktop changed how offices worked. E-mail has changed how we communicate. The internet has changed how we do business. So theme 1 is how to you spot the opportunities and threats in technological change. The next is that making sense of the information we have is a constant challenge. When I had my first job in School holidays I was keying information from mainframe reports into a visicalc spreadsheet to allow an Actuary to make sense of the information we had. Today I used the data-bars feature of Excel 2007 so I could see and make sense of the scores from our roadshow: some of the biggest advances in Vista and Office 2007 are around “finding stuff”, bringing it to us and helping it to make sense. That theme hasn’t changed in over 20 years. And the final theme is managing complexity. Managing an estate of thousands of PCs or managing a large datacenter aren’t trivial tasks. One Mechanism for coping is to freeze everything; say no to everything either on security grounds or support grounds, in the guise of a complex set of “Policies”

The only people who read policy manuals are goldbricks and martinets. The goldbricks memorize them so they can say: (1 ) “That’s not in this department,” or (2) “It’s against company policy.” The martinets use policy manuals to confine, frustrate, punish, and eventually drive out of the organization every imaginative, creative, adventuresome woman and man.
(Robert Townsend, again)

I was hearing today that people think that increasing numbers people are quitting IT, the evidence isn’t conclusive.  To me there is a connection, Companies whose IT departments which can’t manage complexity, don’t get the tools to make senses of information, they lack the agility to respond to opportunities and threats. If their IT people came into the industry with ideals about delivering technologies to help people do more, now they are disillusioned that they confine and frustrate the imaginative, creative people in their enterprise, and weary from constant firefighting.

It’s not something where Microsoft can just produce a product and put everything right; there isn’t any “magic bullet”. There are plenty of bright spots in the industry but if we want  a generally healthy IT sector in the future it is something we’re going to have to do something about.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

Things that suck / Things that rock

Filed under: General musings — jamesone111 @ 2:49 pm

I think everyone knows the saying an optimist says the glass is half full, and a pessimist says it is half empty.

  • A cynic says it doesn’t matter what you call it, it still contains the same amount.

  • A PR person will tell you it matters a lot whether people think is it half full or half empty.

  • An Engineer will tell you the glass is twice as big as it needs to be

  • A Sales person will try to persuade you to re-fill the glass

  • A Consultant will tell you how much you have in your glass.

  • An Evangelist will tell you if you looked from a different…

I’ve been doing the evangelist job for a year now. I spent 6 years working in Microsoft Consulting Services. For most of 1990s I wanted to be in consulting and I’d have loved to work for Microsoft, so it should have been my dream job. Eventually I had to admit that I was a Microsoft person but not an MCS person. There’s nothing wrong with MCS, and there’s nothing wrong with me, we just don’t go together well. The culture is different working in evangelism, and it suits me very well – though my old friends who are MCS people wouldn’t like it.

This week I’ve been doing some telephone interviews for people wanting to join the team and that’s had me thinking about the good and bad of working here. I’ve mentioned this list before and I’ll share it now for the benefit of anyone who is thinking of going to http://www.microsoft.com/uk/careers/ – life at Microsoft isn’t perfect, but we have more than half a glass.

Things that rock

Things that suck

The people. Yes, I know it’s a cliché. We really do get more than our fair share of the best people. So much so it often spooks new starters. One of our directors has a nice sound bite. “We have a very low a**hole quotient”

Everyone outside asking if you know Bill Gates personally. For the record, no I haven’t met him.

The benefits package.( Salary is just a part). On top of all the usual benefits, one can buy and sell holiday, tune your health care and insurance benefits. Want a bike ? Gym membership ? Days at a health spa ? Childcare vouchers ? – it’s all available. Not forgetting staff-purchase software and company funded social clubs

Everyone outside Microsoft thinking our base pay is two or three times what we’re actually paid. I visited a customer on the same day that another visitor arrived in a Lambourgini – which the people I was seeing assumed belong to me.

Working environment. I can choose to work from home, and adjust my hours to fit my lifestyle. When I come into Microsoft Campus, it’s a great place to go and do your work.

Hot desking. It’s environmentally friendly and cost efficient. It even helps you meet a wider set of people. But I’d like a desk space to call my own.

Being at the heart of stuff. What we do affects so many people in so many ways. If everything Google has ever done were to vanish tomorrow people would just use another search engine. With Apple a lot of people would get a new music player and a few would get new computers. With Microsoft…

The constant drip of media criticism. A bug in Windows impacts more people than a bug in Linux, so we get held to a higher standard.

The resources of a big company. Other companies I’ve worked for just didn’t have the resources to pull off some of the things Microsoft do.

Big company processes. Too much of what is outsourced goes to companies who aren’t up to our internal standards. (Travel, IT telephone “help”)

Bonus Link

You might have picked up from the last point and a post I made earlier this week that I’m not a big fan of “process”. When I meet some which is ridiculous I want to make seem all the more so. Last night in on the drive home I heard Mark Thomas on the Radio. Mark decided to poke fun at the “Serious Organised Crime and Police Act” – or strictly it’s definition of what needed to go through the process of getting a permit to hold a demonstration. Rather than break the law Mark decided to apply for authorization for a lot of demonstrations. On being presented with 20 applications the Police officer who handles permit applications complained about the work he had to do “I share your pain” said Thomas “look at the first cause I’m demonstrating for.” The office turned to the application “Cut police Paperwork”.
One of several places in the story I nearly drove off the road. If you have Real Player installed you can play the whole programme from the BBC website.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

March 29, 2007

Jon Honeyball got it wrong.

Filed under: Beta Products,Virtualization,Windows Server 2008 — jamesone111 @ 6:34 pm

GAG HALFRUNT:   Zis iz most regrettable.
VOGON CAPTAIN:  A personal friend?
GAG HALFRUNT:   Ah no, in my profession ve never make personal friends.
VOGON CAPTAIN: Ah, ‘professional detachment’!
GAG HALFRUNT:  No, ve just don’t ‘ave ze knack.

The Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy 

Jon Honeyball, if not actually a friend, is someone we think highly of as I’ve said before – and he did the keynote for the community EVO launch. All-round top chap. So when I got a mail saying Jon Honeyball, a journalist with ITPro (UK), inaccurately reported a date slip of Windows Server virtualization, codenamed Viridian, and implied a delay to Windows Server “Longhorn”. Both of these statements are wrong. ” I sit up and take notice. I’m not going to provide the link to the article, because it seems Jon has a corrected version in the works.

So what is the true position ?

Q. Longhorn server is going to ship as 32 and 64 bit versions, and virtualization is 64 bit only. SO will the 64bit and 32 bit versions be functionally different, or virtualization be an add on ?
A. The plan is the later. At WinHEC in May 2006 we said that we planned the RTM Windows Server Virtualization “within 180 days” of Longhorn 

Q. When will longhorn and Windows server Virtualization ship. 
A. When they’re ready

Q. That’s what you always say. But can you give a date for Longhorn?
A. If I knew I wouldn’t say (it’s someone else’s baby; it’s for them to announce the due date etc). As it happens I don’t know, and it doesn’t help anyone to have Microsoft people publishing guesses.  But it bears repeating that we’ve said we’re on track to release beta 3 before the middle of the year, and the goal is to ship longhorn server before the end of the year.

Q. And Virtualization ?
A. It’s expected after the server. We’re don’t know when either will be released, if progress on one is quick and the other is slow the gap gets bigger or smaller.  We haven’t changed the view since May ’06 – we plan to do it within 180 days. It might be less….

Q. You talk the “before the end of the year”, not ” ‘3rd quarter’, or ‘October’ ” can I infer from that ….
A. The inference I’d draw is that we’re being vague. There is still work to do (obviously), the more complex the work, the easier it is to under-estimate how long it will take.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

March 27, 2007

The "people ready" journey

Filed under: Events,General musings — jamesone111 @ 7:08 pm

I’m off to Belgium tomorrow and, fortunately, I’ve just printed my boarding pass. Despite plans to the contrary I’ve ended up on British Airways. And I’ve had to do work with the our new travel tool. Although it is a external web site, you can only authenticate to use from the corporate network. Fortunately I don’t travel enough to need to book a trip while on a trip. The best thing about this site is no longer having to go through a bunch of intermediaries. When I worked in Microsoft Consulting Services the process worked liked this.

  1. Go to expedia, or the airline’s web site and find the flight

  2. Phone or email the departments administrator and tell her the flight details

  3. Wait while admin contacts the travel agent, travel agent reserves wrong flight / hotel / price and forwards it to me

  4. Go back to admin with a description of what is, or appears to be, wrong

  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4. Sometimes more than once.

  6. When travel agent gets down to the price on Expedia, Attempt to confirm flights.

  7. If policy entitles you to fly business spend a further 2 days getting the secretary of the director who has to sign it off to read the policy.

  8. Go on-line to enter frequent flyer number

  9. Travel.

  10. If flying with British Airways complain about their handling of executive club tier points.

In that job, I was billed out at MCS’s hourly rate; so the time involved making the booking was worth more than the flight. In this job (where my time isn’t charged) I could go straight to the travel agent’s call centre. Reading Mark Wilson’s blog I know I’m not the only person who feels a crushing sense of gloom on calling these places, and travel isn’t the worst one I deal with. I’d never use them again after they sent me to a rough part of Madrid with a note on their computer saying the hotel was full and the confirmation code on my itinerary was bogus. But we have a purchasing agreement with them. Now, I’ve quoted Robert Townsend before, here’s what he said about such things.

Fire the whole purchasing department.
They cost ten dollars in zeal for every dollar they save through purchasing acumen.
And that doesn’t count the massive unrecorded disasters they cause. Let’s say somebody has persuaded a young Edison or Steinmetz to go to work for General Conglobulation, Inc. By the time he’s found out that there’s no way to get that $900 desk calculator through the purchasing department he’s lost all respect for General Conglobulation (“They’d hire Einstein and then turn down his requisition for a blackboard.”).
So let’s be sensible. Fire the whole purchasing department. The company will benefit from having each department dealing in the free market outside instead of being victimized by internal socialism.* And don’t underestimate the morale value of letting your people “waste” some money. If you must, have a one-man “buying department”   for those who want help in the purchasing area and ask for it.

* I’m told that the federal government, with all their joint-use purchasing economies, really pays 20 per cent more for a pencil than you do

You get an idea of his thinking when he talks about delegation of authority, he gives the example of renewing an important contract, too many managers see too much risk in letting people below them do it. He says they should, starting:

Find the man in your organization to whom a good contract will mean the most.
and He concludes
Is it a risk? John is closer to the point of use. He will be most affected by a bad contract. He knows how much the company gains or loses by a concession in each area (and {the supplier knows} he does). And he’ll spend full time on it for the next thirty days. Would you? I maintain the company will get a more favorable contract every time.

Steve and I have some thoughts about what this means in the IT world, which we’ll share another time. Townsend was describing aspects of a people ready business about 35 years before we picked up on the term, and few businesses have got there yet. So I’m left with new on-line travel tool, and let’s be honest: Microsoft can’t be such a bad place to work if this is one of the suckiest things about working here. Steve has summarized nicely what it’s like to use, to put it simply this tool is to Web Usability what Scrapheap Challenge (or Junkyard wars in the US) is to automotive styling. And Steve also points out we have to give the travel agent a ton of personal data and agree to their sharing it with their credit card company, their insurance company, and anyone else they please OR not travel. 

Still I can avoid the Call centre and unlike Steve I think it saves time. It passes my frequent flyer details through so I can check in more easily – the call centre never did and they mailed trip details as a protected PDF – which I couldn’t copy into my calendar. The new tool e-mails me text but it neglected to tell me I need Terminal 4 for Brussels flights. Most BA short haul flights go from Terminal 1 -when you’re leaving the house at 5.00AM the last thing you want is an unexpected 30 minute trip across the airport. I found out because I went to the BA site and printed my boarding pass. Why couldn’t I do the whole thing on their site ? It seems we’re not that people ready yet. But at least we have started the journey.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

When communication about Unified Communications doesn’t communicate anything.

Filed under: Beta Products,General musings,Real Time Collaboration — jamesone111 @ 3:31 pm

A year ago tomorrow, I posted something entitled “Civilisation will come to an end because no one will understand what anybody else is saying”

It seems I manage to post that the Beta of Office Communicator is live, before the product team did. And more tersely too.

How’s this for saying “Surely in the 21st century technology can help us call the person we want, instead of all that mucking about with phone numbers. “.

Interaction Impedance Mismatch: Users were frustrated because the experiences offered to them by the current communications systems didn’t match their mental model. A prime example of this is the initiation of communications. Users wished to communicate with other users. However, they found themselves communicating with other users’ devices. Because the systems didn’t offer the right abstractions so that users could have interactions that matched their mental model, there were instead exposed to the details having to make a choice whether to call a person’s office phone number, or their mobile phone number, or disturb them and call them at home

Eileen’s managed to negotiate with the folks in Redmond to bring forward their plans to get us the devices so we can show you the new bits of this technology and not just the videos for it (which are on the download site as well).I’m so looking forward to that.

Technorati tags: Microsoft, office Communications Server, live Meeting, Live communications Server, communicator, betas

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

Whither (or wither) Virtual PC Express.

Filed under: Virtualization,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 2:38 pm

I was a bit surprised to find someone still blogging about VPC Express – especially as they linked to a post of mine which said it was dead. If you go back to Vista documents of last summer we talked about this product, which essentially was going to a cut down version of Virtual PC which could only run a single VM. The idea being that if something wouldn’t run under vista you’d be able to run it under the old OS in a VM.  I never saw a screen shot, much less a demo of “express” and I think it was always intended to be Virtual PC 2007 coded for a 1 VM limit.

When we made all Virtualization free of charge last year the need for VPC Express went away, and all talk of it ceased. Did we update documents accordingly ? If we had no one would still blog about it.


This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

March 26, 2007

Office Communications server 2007 Beta available for public download.

Filed under: Beta Products,Office,Real Time Collaboration — jamesone111 @ 6:44 pm

Little more to say. It’s here 

Documents are available separately.

So is speech server 

Given our propensity to move these download URLs, Just be aware that if you search for it putting 2007 in the search terms narrows the hits down.


This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

March 18, 2007

On Time-zones…

Filed under: How to,Windows 2003 Server,Windows Vista,Windows XP — jamesone111 @ 10:26 pm

Spring is here, Spring is here … I think the loveliest time of the year is the spring, yes I do, don’t you ? course you do.

Actually when I look at the weather it’s doesn’t look like spring. But unlike Tom Lehrer, the one thing that makes spring complete for me is the changing of the clocks. All of Europe changes it’s clocks on the last Sunday of March and October. The UK keeps pondering if we should move onto the same time as most of Europe who are an hour ahead of us – the argument for being that the 30 million people who live in the Southern half of England would save Energy and reduce their risk of accidents. The argument against being 5 million Scots would have to go to work in the dark.

I got thrown a question which I didn’t know the answer to –  At what time does Windows  change its time forward an hour on the 25th March 2007 in the UK.

“2AM” I thought… but then does that mean jumping from 1 to 2 or from 2 to 3 ? And going back does it jump from  2 to 1 or from 3 to 2 ? Rather than give the direct answer (the former in both cases) here’s how you check.

The Time Zone information is stored in the registry under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Time Zones (which you can export and re-import if needed) . However the critical bits are stored as block of Hex, and it’s not immediately clear how to decode it, instead there is a downloadable tool called TzEdit which lets you view the settings and check for yourself.



Technorati tags: , ,

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

Windows Vista Deployment slides

Filed under: Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 8:06 pm

I was presenting “Everything you want to know about Vista imaging but were afraid to ask” again this week. The Slides are here, but the session overlaps with the Vista deployment session we’ve had at the roadshow, and I said I’d post a link to those slides as well.


Technorati tags: , , ,

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

Vista Squad – our newest UK user group.

Filed under: Events,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 11:29 am

This user group is going to try to concentrate on those things which are Vista specific – rather than be a general Windows user group, and they have their first meeting on the evening of March 28th. It will be at Microsoft’s UK headquarters in Reading. I’m dashing back from Belgium to be there and a few other Microsoft UK people will be along too.

I love the bit of art at the top of their page – makes it worth a visit on its own.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

ePHOTOzine article on Windows Vista

Filed under: Powershell,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 11:21 am

I was asked a little while ago if I would answer some questions form the UK’s leading online photo magazine – ePHOTOzine. Readers provided quite a lot of questions, most of which had a photography angle, and the final article has now appeared

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

March 17, 2007

Windows Server Virtualization and memory

Filed under: Virtualization,Windows Server 2008 — jamesone111 @ 10:35 pm

Mark Wilson asked an interesting question about virtualization. Would Windows Server Virtualization provide the ability to overcommit resources, therefore increasing consolidation ratios.

A few new bits of information have come out since my last Virtualization round-up and two of them were about memory.

Page Sharing. : a feature which identifies identical pages in memory and shares them among multiple virtual machines, regardless of the guest OS. If 10 VMs are running different OSes they will not have many pages in common. 10 copies of the same OS will have a lot more overlap.

Memory Reserves. think of it as a minimal memory guarantee for a virtual machine. Configuring memory for a virtual machine you (a) Allocate memory (b) Assign a (percentage) reserve 
Virtual Server always reserves 100%. Windows Server Virtualization defaults to 100% – which ensures the best performance out of the box. But if you reserved only 75% of an allocation of  2 GB might be paged to disk.

There’s no free lunch here. You need to be very careful about using reserves under 100% – you can pack more VMs into one box, but the performance hit when the host OS needs to page could be severe. My hunch is for most workloads, telling a VM it has 2GB and letting it manage it’s own paging will be better than telling it has 4GB and having the host OS manage which 2GB of that is RAM at any moment.


Technorati tags: Microsoft, Longhorn, Virtualization

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

64 bit – and the end of the line for some things.

Filed under: Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 9:44 pm

I like 64 bit vista. It’s proved be excellent at performance, reliability and application compatibility but I’ve already acknowledged that driver support is its weak spot. HPs drivers for my scanner don’t support don’t support the film scanning functions. And it’s forced me to look hard at memory cards I use.

The Toshiba I had before the Dell went for repair and the Lexar 32 bit cardbus CF adapter which lived it got lost. Toshiba were very apologetic, did the right thing and ordered me a replacement Lexar card which arrived on Friday. In the meantime I’ve gone 64 bit but there are no 64 bit drivers. I mailed Lexar. Here’s their response

We would like to inform you that, 32Bit CF card reader was an discontinued product, we have not tested the 32Bit card reader in windows Vista operating system. So the 32bit CF card reader was not compatible with the Vista operating system.

I know their 32 bit driver works with Vista and even Windows PE, so I can take my bootable USB key, and use DRVLOAD to get it to work if I really need to. But frankly that’s too much hassle. I compared the INF file for Delkin’s CardBus adapter (also still on sale) and found that both cards have the same ID. But no sign of a 64 bit driver there either.

But this is stupid; I can do without a CF reader now. I’ve explained that I jury rigged 64 bit support for the camera I take diving, because I don’t want to remove its CF card. Everything else I have is SD based. My CF type II holder for SD cards is redundant, and it’s time to stop handling CF cards – taping the last one into the dive camera. End of an era. It’s only 5 or 6 years since I got my first CF format card (a Microdrive) which had a PCMCIA adapter to go in the jacket I had for my iPaq: if I needed WiFi I had to swap cards. A later Jacket combined Bluetooth and CF support. WiFi is common on PDAs, even smartphones these days. Bluetooth is a given, but PCMCIA and even compact flash are things of the past for PDAs

That Toshiba Laptop had an SD slot (but no smartcard reader). The Dell is the other way around. Since the Dell supports it, I’ve ordered an Expresscard SD adapter, and it looks like the Lexar 32 bit cardbus CF adapter will get sold off. That’s also the end of a era: I’ve been using something in the PCMCIA slot for the last dozen years – one by one dial-up modem, wired network card, wireless network card and smartcard reader have been incorporated into the machine. The Lexar is the last device to go in that slot.

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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

March 15, 2007

Windows Vista "breaking" OWA

Filed under: Exchange,Internet Explorer,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 5:39 pm

One of the things that annoys any technical person is when you get asked a question and have to shrug and say “No, never seen that one”, even if you suspect there is a genuine problem. I’ve had a couple of people ask me about problems with Outlook web access under Vista. The symptoms are usually in the form that the user can read mail but not reply to it. I’ve known for a while that there is a patch for OWA but until recently I didn’t know what the cause was or where to go for the resolution. A post on the IE Team blog explains what the root cause is (removing the DHTML control), where to get even more information, and where to go for the patch.

So now I know (and so do you)

Technorati tags: , ,

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

March 11, 2007

The mobility dilemma.

Filed under: Mobility — jamesone111 @ 7:41 pm

I’m on my third Orange C500 phone. The first got lost on a flight home from the Channel Islands at Easter 2005. It’s replacement died last November. I’ve got the phone pretty much how I like it.

  • Look and feel: I learnt how to customize the screen layout (it’s an XML file), and have my own screen backgrounds and colour schemes, plus I have the Halo Monks as a ring tone.  
  • Keyboard – I’ve got the Bluetooth Freedom Keyboard for it; though I don’t use it as much as I expected to partly because ….
  • I got One-Note Mobile working again only quite recently. Orange require a different signing certificate for applications to the one the office team used for One-Note mobile. I had to use a different unlock process for the newer phone.
  • Sat Nav. I have co-pilot to find places in the UK, and also have Pocket streets which gives me maps (but not instructions) when I’m in the US.
  • Music and Podcasts. The phone is my MP3 player – I had to get the adapter to use it in the car or with headphones. With 300MB or so free on the memory card after installing everything else there’s plenty of room.

However the design is 3 years out of date. New phones have better screens, support push e-mail, have Wifi. I expect to see a lot of Microsoft people toting the newly announced Orange E600 before long. My dilemma is do I get one too ? Why ? Because there might be something better around the corner.  As a major customer Orange give us some hints about what they’re thinking, but often that is “We haven’t ruled it in or out”. Lots of different form factors are coming out of HTC, but unless and until it goes in the right bit of Orange’s catalogue nothing is certain. And it’s what you can do with different form factors which has interested me since 2000 when I got one of the first iPaq devices in the country. I think about this as six axes.

  • Display. Sort of goes without saying but you can do more with a bigger display. The latest phones have the same resolution as my first ipaq.
  • Input. Stylus input PDAs, Vs Mini-QWERTY Keyboard PDA or phone, Vs Micro-QWERTY phones, Vs 4×3 keypad phones with T9 text input, Vs external keyboards. Without good input, documents are effectively read only.
  • Connectivity. If the display and input makes me want to download documents – then is GPRS enough or do I need 3G ? What new scenarios would Wifi on a phone enable ? Does WiFi reduce need for 3G or vice versa ? 
  • Storage  Quantity isn’t the issue it was: I can get Micro-SD cards up to 2GB today which means I can take as much music and as many documents as I need, but how easy is to get stuff on ?
  • Portability not just how small and light is the device but how long can it go before it needs to be re-charged.
  • Applications and OS. What can I do beyond making calls. Will my Sat Nav work ? How good is the mail client ? Is support for Office built in editors or a bolt-on viewer ? After reading Jason I’m pretty convinced by Windows Mobile 6.

Phones and PDAs have converged, and in the Mobile 6 there is precious little difference (a touch screen and Remote Desktop client according to this post of Jason’s). The only Windows Mobile devices that Orange have with 3G (today) are PDAs, but for me the greater portability of the phones is more important. Orange’s page for the E600 says it is “only” Windows mobile 5, they haven’t said anything about upgrades to 6 – otherwise I’d take it and that would be that. If I don’t, the HTC S710 (aka Vox), isn’t far away; a search for ‘Orange HTC Vox‘ showed HTC have already announced that Orange will introduce it as the “E650”. Would it’s slide out keyboard be better ? It’s too small to touch type and the E600’s thumb pad might be better besides, if that’s important, why not go for the PDA Option) . How long would I have to wait… by the time it’s available the 3G version will be imminent (the Wings or S730) with GPS receiver built in. This shower of questions shows that things are getting silly: I’m on point of saying I’ll wait for a device which might never be available, for the sake of 3G – which I said I could do without and integrating GPS which I’ve got already as a standalone device !

Choice is good, of course – but doing nothing offers the chance of better choices in the future, and always will. Too many choices can result in the inability to decide…

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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

March 10, 2007

Tech-ed EMEA 2007: save the dates

Filed under: Events — jamesone111 @ 10:06 am

Tech-Ed 2006 was a judged to be a great success and we’re keeping the timing ,format (Tech-ed Developers and Tech-Ed IT Forum running back to back) and location (the CCIB in Barcelona)

Dates are

Developers 5-9 Nov 2007

IT Forum 12-16 Nov 2007

At the time of writing all is fixed the name, date and venue. We plan that registrations will go live in Mid may. I’ll blog when that happens. You can watch http://www.microsoft.com/europe/teched-developers and http://www.microsoft.com/europe/teched-itforum but they haven’t been updated for this year.

People are still being pulled into the team (I expect that all the evangelists will be involved). If you think of all the products which are designated 2007 or 2008 there’s going to be a ton of stuff to cover – exactly what’s in and what’s out won’t be clear till much nearer the time. And the same goes for community events (I’m working on a couple of ideas there).



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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

March 9, 2007

Pentax manifesto.

Filed under: Uncategorized — jamesone111 @ 11:12 am

Regular readers (it seems I have some) may have picked up that (a) I use Pentax cameras and (b) I like the edgy cartoons which Hugh Macleod draws (like this rude one), and we’ve unofficially adopted his “Blue monster” inside Microsoft. One of the interesting themes he had was around manifestos. I’ve linked to at least one.

Pentax are exhibiting at the PMA show this week and one of the people who saw them posted their “manifesto” which I picked up via a post on the OK1000 blog.

“You’re a Pentaxian. A loyalist. A diehard. You once carried a K1000 around with you everywhere, only reluctantly setting it down to take the occasional shower. You tell your kids bedtime stories about those heady days when the camera simply known as “the Pentax” was the best-selling SLR made. You don’t spend countless hours pixel-peeping. You just take pictures. And while you may be tempted, on occasion, to turn to a stranger on an elevator and say, “the best auto-focus SLR lens ever amde is the Pentax 31mm F/1.8,” you’d really rather be using your equipment than talking about it. Pentax understands that cameras don’t take pictures, photographers do. Our new digital SLRs are the result of our listening to Pentaxians and delivering tools for true photography lovers. These cameras are already creating many more loyalists. So the question is: can these newcomers count themselves among the diehards? hey, we’re Pentaxians, not photography snobs. Welcome to our club.”

It’s getting a lot of attention and praise from Pentax owners. I’ve mentioned that their marketing VP keeps a blog, and engaging in conversations with customers and talking about the spirit of the company – and the beliefs they share with the customer is a good thing. They could have been reading Hugh

Update: Ned, Pentax’s marketing VP has published some of these materials.

I love this one – OCR’d from his photo by One-Note

We’re lousy at marketing. Never been much for self-promotion. Here’s the thing: we’re a bunch of photography nerds. We’d rather be using our cameras than blathering on about them. And we’re always working to make them better. What’s that marketing word everyone uses? Innovation? Yeah, that applies to us. Although we’d prefer a word that’s more, well, innovative. Of course, to us innovation means building DLSRS with in-camera shake reduction that’s compatible with 24 million existing Pentax lenses. No marketing-obsessed corporate bean counter is going to green light that program. But despite our lack of horn tooting, our cameras always seem to find their way to the people we make them for. The K1000 was the best-selling SLR ever (toot!). And people are already talking about the k100d and k1od. We hear that’s called “buzz.” Well, given that we’ve just talked about ourselves way more than we ever have in our lives, we’re going to get back to making cameras now. Happy shooting.

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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

Windows Server Virtualization round-up

Filed under: Virtualization,Windows Server 2008 — jamesone111 @ 10:38 am

A few days ago I blogged about a Longhorn Server Virtualization video featuring Jeff Woolsey. I said then that Jeff is great at being clear about what should be public and what shouldn’t, “Please forward this to friends/family/customers and children of all ages.

Jeff has sent mails today which also pretty clear. “You may provide this information to customers. However, the only request that I have is that you please do not copy and paste this onto a BLOG” 

So here’s a precis rather a cut and paste job: some sharp eye’d viewers noticed some things in the video. One question which sprang up from seeing multiple “cores” was “Does the guest OS see Multiple Processors or a single multi-core processor”, and the answer is “either”. You can present an 8 core CPU, 4 twin-core CPUs, or 8 single core CPU, and this may impact the licensing for the guest. Some things we have Virtual Server 2005 go away in Windows Server virtualization:

  • No support for Parallel ports and physical floppy disks-  though you can use the image of a floppy.
  • A change of remoting protocol from VMRC to RDP (so the client will be “remote desktop”). I always thought it was daft to have 2 protocols doing the same job, and customers hold the product team the same.
    It is not the guest OS but the Virtualization layer which provides support for RDP, so there’s no more problem getting to the machine’s BIOS or guest OSes that don’t support RDP than there is today with VMRC
  • The Web console interface has been replaced with an MMC interface.

Some basic questions keep being asked: so please forgive me for repeating that Windows Server Virtualization:

  • Will require 64 processors.
  • Won’t cost anything (like Virtual Server 2005, and Virtual PC)
  • Will support 64 bit guests
  • Won’t be back-ported to Server 2003 (even 64 bit)
  • Will support the same VHD images as you are using today


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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

Rolling your own support for 64 bit Vista.

Filed under: How to,Photography,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 9:58 am

A few days ago someone who had installed 64 bit Vista asked us “why Microsoft developed an operating system that MOST of the software manufacturers have told me will take at least 2 years for them to support”

Now if you develop a new OS it takes vendors a while to support; heck, Office won’t be 64bit until the next version, which you’d expect in about 2 years. How do we force every vendor to support 64 bit before there is a decent customer base running on it?  Nearly all 32 bit Applications run perfectly on 64 bit, those which don’t are few and far betweenI don’t expect much problem there.

Drivers for 64 bit are another matter. But I’ve been pretty lucky and got a great experience with my new Dell Latitude D820 – it has a TPM 1.2 security module, Wired and Wireless network, nVidia graphics mated with a 1920×1200 screen (just gorgeous), BlueTooth, a Smart Card reader, SATA hard disk and on-board Audio. I put installed Microsoft IT’s pre-built image of 64 bit Vista and needed to do precisely NOTHING to make them work. And a just a tip of the hat to the Microsoft IT folks here, this build has what I need – one minute’s work (half a dozen steps) and an hour of waiting and I have all I need on a brand new machine; all they need to do is stick an asset tag on the machine and give it to me. It hasn’t always been this way. My USB storage Devices and digital SLR camera works just plug and play. I plugged my USB headset in and it downloaded the driver. The only thing I had to get a driver for was my LifeCam NX6000 .

So far so good. I was gloomy about the prospects for my HP3970 scanner – the drivers were still the 1.0 version after 3 1/2 years. I checked on HP’s site recently and found they have released their 1.1 drivers, under enhancements they list 2 points “Adds Windows Vista support , Adds 64-bit support “.  I’ve promised the lovely people at Hamrick Software I’d review their VueScan software, but they needed a library from HP: Looks like I can do that now.  I haven’t tried my cheap and cheerful USB TV stick – since I’m running the corporate build of Vista Enterprise – no Media Center – there’s not much point, but I don’t expect it to work.

Which leaves just one… When I upgraded to a Digital SLR camera, my  Compact  became a diving camera (in a housing) . The memory card door is temperamental and after it popped open on a dive (turning the camera off)  I taped it shut and download via USB .  The problem is that it needs to install a driver and -there’s no support for 64 bit Vista. I knew that the 32 bit “driver” was actually just an INF file, it turns out the camera uses “private” USB device ID, but works with the standard USB storage driver. The INF file works with 32 bit Vista, so surely, I thought, I could write and INF for 64bit. After a few minutes with USBStore.inf and and the camera’s inf file, I learnt that some devices are tagged _CB and some _CBI … mine is tagged _CB. After that it was just a question of paring the file down to one _CB device, and replacing the names and USB ID with the ones for my camera. Put the usbStor.sys driver in the folder with the .INF and hey presto I have the camera working.  If you need the inf file drop me a line.


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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

March 7, 2007

Office Communications Server 2007 Beta announced

Filed under: Beta Products,Real Time Collaboration — jamesone111 @ 2:13 pm

I said last week that Jeff Raikes was going to make an announcement, he has. It starts:
Within three years, more than 100 million people will be able to make phone calls from Microsoft Outlook, SharePoint, and other Microsoft Office Systems applications; and customers will be able to gain this value with VoIP solutions that are half the cost of what they are today.”

100,000,000 in 3 years – we’re not messing about here !. When I was working full time on Live Communications Server I said that the take up of instant messaging compared with the take up of mail is like comparing the take up of DVD players with Video recorders. What we’re talking about is:

  • Office Live Communications Server 2005 is superceded by Office Communications Server 2007; “Live” is being used for hosted “Off-Premise” services. OCS will support on-premise Voice, Video and Data conferencing.
  • The current Live Meeting Console will superceded with one which supports on-premise conferences and the next generation of the Hosted Live Meeting from a single program. The new console will support the Round Table device.
  • A new version of Office Communicator will support richer presence and better transitions between modes of communication -e.g. Seamless switching from peer-to-peer 2 party conferences to multi-party conferences.
  • New voice Scenarios. Today communicator can act as a soft-phone and can also send commands to a PBX to control a “classic” desk phone. We’re expanding this with Communicator Phones. It looks like a phone, but it has communicator running on it. You call someone by name and see their presence before making the call – so less voice mail.

 This last one is the biggy  I’ve written before about the way desk phones have become an anachronism. Anywhere I see a name on my PC I want to see presence, where I see presence I want to be able to chose a communication method, and my PC should start a phone call as easily as an e-mail provided that numbers are written properly The network already holds my contacts, and provides the presence service. With Exchange 2007, taking and storing voice messages has become another network solution – and I’ve also written about why this is so much better than traditional Voice mail. Management of voice calls is just another service – but today’s VOIP solutions are expensive yet no more functional than the systems the replace. . OCS 2007 will address both points.  As Raikes puts it, “We get out today’s communications potholes, telephone tag, voicemail jail, or looking up and then dialing a colleague’s office number, cell number, home number, only to leave a message.”  Bring it on.

Watch Jeff Raikes Web cast

(.wmv file, 4 min., 22 sec)
Read the transcript

[UPDATE] While I was typing that Eileen blogged about it too. I hate it when that happens.And she points out (as I mentioned a few days ago) you Register an interest in BETA on Beta Central


This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

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