James O'Neill's Blog

March 6, 2007

Getting PDF Preview in Vista and Outlook. A "must have".

Filed under: How to,Outlook,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 12:43 pm

In place preview of files is a great feature of Vista’s shell and Outlook 2007.  The lack of support for PDF files really got an my nerves. It seems it got  Tim Heuer too. Except Tim did something about it. He worked with the folks at Foxit software – who do a lot of tools for PDF manipulation and and produced on. Currently it’s Vista only, but it works in the shell as well as in Outlook. The details, download link and screen shots are on Tim’s blog

I put “Must have” in quotes, because this is not a Microsoft endorsement. My evaluation so far has been brief and positive; you should do your own evaluation.

Thanks to Arthur of the Unified communications user group for passing this on


This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

March 4, 2007

Ooh ‘eck. Now I’m the blog Police ?

Filed under: Exchange,General musings,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 3:50 pm

No sense denying it, I like Mary Jo Foley linking to something I wrote. Although being cast as a member of the thought Blog Police seems odd. I doubt if many people think of me as someone who filters what he says inside Microsoft 🙂

I searched for an FBI saying I’d heard and found it with the same citation in lots of places: ‘J Edgar Hoover spent as much time polishing the image of the FBI as he did solving crimes, and the unofficial motto of the FBI remains, “Never embarrass the bureau” ‘. The reference to “Stupid posts” in the title of a post about Blogging Smart was a comment on people who never seem to wonder if they might “embarrass the bureau”. Mary Jo quoted my comment that it was right this should lead to “a certain amount of discomfort”. Robert Heinlein was tougher: Stupidity is the only universal capital crime; the sentence is death, there is no appeal, and execution is carried out automatically and without pity.

The post I “chastized” disclosed information about Exchange Server 2007 SP1. You can make your own guess about when it will be released. For background, Longhorn Server and Office Communications Server are both labelled “Coming soon” on beta central (you can register an interest there). Exchange 2007 SP1 is going into beta in April according to the Exchange team blog. It needs to work on Longhorn and with OCS’s voice features. So Mary Jo’s belief that the final version of Exchange SP1 “is slated to ship simultaneously with Longhorn Server, which is due out before the end of this year.” seems reasonable, although how it turns out is another matter. I hate doing “roadmaps” because changes make forecasts look stupid or open me up to accusations of selling vapourware, and both are embarrassing

Here’s an expansion of Blog Smart. In his book “Up the Organization” Robert Townsend told how, at Avis in the 1960’s they made people accessible to the press without going through a PR department. The people were given 3 rules.

  1. Be honest. If you don’t know, say so. If you know but won’t tell, say so.

  2. Pretend your ablest competitor is listening. If he already knows your latest marketing plan, you use the call to announce it; if not shut up. (This mind-set also prevents knocking the competition, which is always bad for everybody).

  3. Don’t forecast earnings. If asked why not, tell them we don’t do in public anything we can’t do consistently well (and believe me, nobody can forecast earnings consistently well).

I’d say “don’t forecast ANYTHING outside your direct control”

In a different post, Mary Jo asked “So what happened to the whole idea that Microsoft might do away with Service Packs all together, starting with Exchange 2007, and replace them with regular hotfix rollups?” I guess Exchange 2007-SP1 could be called “R2” instead.
I was asked about Vista Service packs recently. With fixes going out via Microsoft update there’s less need for service packs as vehicle for fixes. If you check our list of ‘what shipped when‘ you’ll see we Shipped NT4 on 29 July 1996, and SP4 on 25 October 1998 – 27 months later. XP Service pack has been out longer than that is still current. It would be stupid to claim any piece of software was perfect (or even unbreakable), but newer software is built with better tools and gets more testing than was the case in the 1990’s – I believe we had more beta testers for Vista than customers for NT 3.1, 3.5 and 3.51 combined; the result bugs were found and fixed in Vistas beta stages which would taken one or two service packs to fix in NT4.

Mary Jo took issue with Eileen’s contention that “before the end of the year” is “quite a while” she says “I know I sound like a broken record. But business users with whom I speak tell me that they want and need to know when service packs (especially SP1s) are slated to ship. Many still won’t deploy a new product until SP1 is available”. To me “wait for SP1” is a way of thinking that belongs to the 1990s. Sometimes it’s a way saying you are not a laggard , just prudent. 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 stuck 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. And Mary Jo is right, there are lots of them.

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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

March 3, 2007

Vista Reliability…

Filed under: Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 3:42 pm

Later this afternoon I’m going to reboot this Dell Latitude 820 for the second time since I finished building it with 64 bit Vista. I experimented stopping some services to give Virtual PC some extra memory, and I’ve stopped which ever one is responsible for elevating privilege. Since starting a service needs elevated privilege this wasn’t a very good thing to stop. Task manager says Vista has been up for 218 hours (which is net of time it’s been in sleep mode).

On Friday I went to a lunch which was addressed by someone from the Master of the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists  (one of the 107 livery companies of the City of London). I didn’t think it was a great address, not least because he re-delivered an ancient joke as a Bill Gates one. You’ve heard it I’m sure, someone from the computer industry said once that if cars had developed as much as computers, they’d all do 200MPH, get 500 miles to the gallon and cost £100 to buy. To which the car industry replied that would be fine if you were happy with a car which crashed every once in a while, where different models had different controls…

Laugh ? I thought I’d never start. And the minor controls do change from car to car. And my car has been out of action 3 times in the last 20,000 miles due to punctures (I hadn’t had a puncture in about 200,000 miles, then get 3). Just as well I don’t fuel-up at my local Tescos

When I got back into my car it reminded me it will shortly be due for a service. According to the trip computer I average about 48 MPH  – so roughly every 208 hours of use I have to be without a my car for a day while someone carries out preventive maintenance at the cost of a couple of hundred quid. Not the sort of availability we’d accept from a computer, is it.


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This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

See Longhorn server core and Virtualization

Filed under: Uncategorized — jamesone111 @ 12:22 pm

One of the things that people argue about whenever we discuss “blogging smart” is when it is fitting to publish a mail and when it isn’t. It’s always smart to flag confidential mail as such, but sometimes it’s hard to tell with unflagged mail. So I really like it when someone like Jeff Woolsey sends out mail which says.

Please forward this to friends/family/customers and children of all ages. Here’s a PUBLIC video of Windows Server “Longhorn” and two of its cool new features: Server Core and Windows Server virtualization.

Again, this is totally PUBLIC.

In this demo you will see:

  • Windows Server Virtualization running on a Server Core installation managed remotely from another Windows Server Longhorn box
  • 64-bit and 32-bit virtual machines running concurrently
  • SUSE Linux 10 running in a virtual machine
  • An 8-core virtual machine
  • System Center Virtual Machine Manager interface and Operations
  • System Center Operations Manager Monitoring the VMs on the Server Core box
  • Fire off a PowerShell script to hot-add another NIC to a SQL VHD Image

Worth watching ? I think so. Go watch it !

Bonus link: My colleagues in Canada have a chat with Jeff available as a Podcast

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

March 1, 2007

At Voice-con next week Jeff Raikes will announce…

Filed under: Real Time Collaboration — jamesone111 @ 4:59 pm

Er, no. After what I said about leaking a few days ago I’m not going ruin Jeff’s carefully prepared keynote. But on March 7th he’s doing a keynote. Our Press pass site will have information, and (I’m told) a video. This is the next installment of the stuff Jeff started to lift the curtain on last June. We’re 8 months nearer to shipping the hardware and software he showed then, so things will have firmed up. This is going to be something to watch out for if you want to know about where were going with Office Communications Server and the hardware that goes with it. I saw a working pre-production example of one of those bits of hardware this morning. Very, very interesting.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

Groove, Vista and "better together"

Filed under: How to,Office,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 4:48 pm

Groove is infectious. Everyone who has started using it in the office, loves it and sets up workspaces for other people. Sue, our roadshow producer is using the evaluation version and is already growing nervous of the day it runs out – she was really pleased to learn that she’ll be able to use it with every feature except creating new workspaces.

I need to build up my knowledge on Windows Server Longhorn, and earlier this week I got invited into a Groove workspace with a ton of useful learning documents. I can’t use all of it for blog posts, but there will be some nuggets which appear here over the coming months.

Groove isn’t perfectly integrated into the office family yet and one of the irritations I have, or rather had, was it would make noises which there seemed to be no way to turn off. I’m a great believer that, in open plan offices like ours, PCs should be more-or-less silent (use head phones if you must).

Then something else* made me remember a feature of Vista. Every application gets its own sound channel – and you can mix them independently. So, turn off the sound for Groove! Job done! Why didn’t I think of that before ?

Click for larger image

 * The something else was managing to start two instance of the live meeting console listening to the same broadcast. Both played about 1/4 sec apart. Only one would play with XP’s sound architecture.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

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