Vista Service Pack 2 Now Public

It’s December 5, 2008 and – as promised – Microsoft has made the Vista SP2 beta publicly available. Early adopters can install it now and take advantage of improvements like 10% better power saving, reduced resource consumption in sidebar gadgets, Windows Search 4, and a long list of security and bug fixes.

According to Wired’s post, you should be aware that you’ll have to uninstall the beta in order to install SP2 final once it’s released. Currently Microsoft is anticipating doing that some time in April 2009.

If you’re looking for more details before grabbing the file, check out PC World’s article Vista SP2: Six Things You Need to Know. Downloads for both 32 and 64-bit users are available at the Microsoft Download Center. Instructions are also available here for users wanting to install SP2 through Windows Update.

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Vista Ultimate RED to Support AIDS Charity

from Download Squad

Microsoft is set to release the (PRODUCT) RED version of Windows Vista Ultimate on December 15th. Dell has been selling computers preloaded with this special version of the OS for a few months now, but starting next week you’ll be able to to buy a standalone copy.

So what makes Windows Vista Ultimate (PRODUCT) RED different from plain old Windows Vista Ultimate Edition? First, it comes in a red box and includes a few extra wallpapers, screensavers, sidebar gadgets, and a Dreamscene moving background. Second, a portion
of the proceeds from sales will help buy and distribute AIDS medications to patients in Africa.

Amazon appears to be selling it for about $70 more than the price of the vanilla edition of Windows Vista Ultimate, which means either that those wallpapers (which you can probably find online for free) are really awesome, or Microsoft or Amazon are jacking up the price a bit in order to support the charity.

Microsoft Headlines

News from the Microsoft world.

As no surprise, Microsoft is planning to release a Service Pack 2 (SP2) for Windows Vista at some point in the future, though no specific details are known as yet, according to an official knowledge base article. No further details are revealed at this time.

Microsoft has released the final Version 2.0 of Silverlight, a cross-platform plugin similar to Flash which allows you to view Silverlight web-based rich media in your browser.

Microsoft has confirmed that the next version of Windows will be officially called ‘Windows 7‘. Initially this was only the codename given to it, however it is now also the final name for it. Microsoft cites simplicity as the major reason for this decision.

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Windows Live Wave Released

Joining the Microsoft family of user friendly applications comes Windows Live Wave beta 3. Aside from the applications that come bundled in Vista (Sidebar, Calendar, Photo Gallery, etc), I am very impressed with Microsoft’s initiative to release free user applications that do so well for free. The Windows Live suite is especially great for those still using Windows XP, that do not have the liberty to download or utilize the new applications included with Vista.

Windows Live Wave is an upgrade to the Windows Live Suite. WLW features Writer for Blogging, Mail with Calendar, Messenger, Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, Toolbar, and Family Safety. Of course, the installer grants you the ability to install only the applications you want.

Live Photo Gallery advantages over previous versions include:

  • the Vista-feel has been abandoned by reducing the bottom rotating/zooming/viewing functions to the bottom-right hand corner
  • the ability to tag your Messenger contacts or any person using “People tags” similar to MySpace (aka tagging)
  • Messenger Photo sharing imports shared images from Messenger in to Photo Gallery
  • Photo Gallery will join Windows Live Dev, allowing developers to develop plug-ins for the application
  • includes a new Publishing API that enables the community to build plug-ins for virtually any sharing service
  • In addition to stitching a panoramic photo, Photo Gallery now also integrates with the latest Photosynth technology

Live Movie Maker advantages and disadvantages over previous versions include:

  • lacks in basic features to make it actually useful
  • additional service integration and plug-in architecture for the future
  • ribbon UI similar to Office 2007 and to be coming in Windows 7 and the Paint beta
  • cross fade, black & white, and Sepia tone effects
  • Removed items (?): timeline editor, cropping, text overlays, audio mixing
  • Obviously Movie Maker is far from complete but already offers better output quality and an open API for future extendability

Windows Live Messenger advantages over previous versions include:

  • ability to store shared images to Windows Photo Gallery
  • new look, as well as many customizable UI features (change contact layout, etc)
  • Shared Folders has been replaced by Online Files
  • “What’s New?” RSS feed integrated
  • “Favorites” group to sort contacts to

This article was constructed with the new Windows Live Writer, along with several free plug-ins available at http://gallery.microsoft.com

Vista: the Mojave Experiment

Say what you will about Windows Vista. Forget what you have heard. Forget what you have read. Have you seen it for itself? Have you even seen the differences since the release of Service Pack 1?

Every since the release of Vista, I have had clients purchase new OEM systems that came with a variation of Vista. Many of them have asked if I could revert the system back to Windows XP…. Sometimes it is possible, sometimes it is not; it all depends on the hardware and driver availability. Now my simple answer is: Why would you WANT to go back to XP when your machine was built to handle Vista?

I do admit: I had no use for Vista or the problems associated with it until September of 2007, which brought many performance and hardware related fixes. Even then I did feel there was more improvement needed, so I only ran it as a secondary operating system. I am proud to announce that I have been freed of Windows XP every since the release of Vista Service Pack 1…. meaning Vista is the ONLY operating system I use on my primary machine and I strongly recommend it.

We have heard the many cry and ramble about how much they hate Vista and do not use it every since the release…. But have they even given Vista another shot since Service Pack 1 was released, bringing many performance, security, and stability tweaks? Most likely not….

But Microsoft have.

Microsoft has been conducting consumer surveys asking why people do not like Vista. The consumer is then invited to test drive the unreleased beta and give their thoughts on it, for quality assurance. So far, all of the consumers seem more happy with the new beta as oppose to Windows Vista.

The catch: they are test driving Vista the whole time.

Check it out for yourself at http://www.mojaveexperiment.com

Direct X 11 Details

My thoughts: Less and less do I find myself paying any care (or money) to developers latest projects…. as I feel I have wasted enough interests and money already on poor technologies…. but this from Tweak Guides:

Microsoft has officially announced details of DirectX 11.0, the successor to the current DirectX 10 API. DirectX 11.0 will be backwards compatible with DX 10/10.1 hardware, will be Vista-only, and will allow for a range of additional features including support for tessellation, multi-threaded resource handling improvements and use of the GPU as a parallel processor. A release date is not yet provided.

My Smartphone Woes

While my Moto Q with Windows Mobile 5 seems to be the snazziest and most pda resourceful phone I have ever had, there has also been woes come along with it.

 

Windows mobile DOES NOT support the following, contrary to popular belief

  • JAVA
  • Flash
  • Office Mobile (Word, Excel, Powerpoint)
  • GPS

What is included are Office Mobile viewers. These enable you to open and view documents, spreadsheets, and presentations without the option to edit or create new files. There are alternatives in minor form such as Documents to Go, SharpXT, and Mobile Wordpad.

JAVA is possible via a JAVA emulator. While this does not function for gaming (even games with the correct 320×240 landscape resolution), this does enable us to run Opera Mini 4 nicely, and other applications that may suffer other issues.

There is a Flash hack…. I would not recommend it at all.

While developer codes allow you to enable GPS settings, there is no true GPS support (even in Google Maps). The GPS function is solely programmed for 911 communication only.

 

Hardware wise, I have experienced other issues

  • My battery dies within 8 hours of no use, even after the official Motorola update that supposedly fixes battery and power issues
  • Pressing “Down” on my direction pad several times results in my model trying to dial the digit 8
  • Many other users have had many other issues. So far the best fix is to submit your Moto Q for repair, resulting most likely in a replacement.

 

All of this started shortly (one month) before Sprint announced the discontinuation of the Moto Q and Q9c models, shortly followed by Verizon Wireless. My warranty is extended, and I am unable to get a discount on a phone for another year.

It seems to be that my only hope could be that my phone does malfunction fully and there are no more Moto Q’s available for replacement, where as I may get the option to switch to a Palm based phone as an alternative.

Carpe diem: let the buyer beware. I DO NOT recommend this model for both hardware and software issues.