Updated: 2:40 p.m. with some clarifications from Microsoft.
Brett Zehr was surprised on Thursday when he saw that his Windows Vista PC had a new update ready: Service Pack 1.
The software wasn't supposed to be available until mid-March, however a glitch on Thursday meant that Zehr and some other general users were able to download the Vista update.
The update was not pushed out via Windows' Automatic Update feature, but was listed for owners running the 64-bit version of Vista who chose to "check for new updates" via Windows Update.
"A build of … Read more
Like many of you, my copies of Windows XP crash with the now-classic "blue screen of death" (BSOD). When this happened a couple times recently to a new ThinkCentre A61 tower, I called Lenovo tech support. As the title of this posting suggests, it did not go well.
When Windows XP crashes, the default behavior is to create a minidump, a small file (only 88K) with a summary of, hopefully, the most important information about the failure. I wrote about minidumps back in November (see Dealing with software crashes, Part 2). If your copy of Windows has crashed (… Read more
Microsoft's hard drive in the cloud is now a reality.
On Thursday, Microsoft removed the beta tag from the Windows Live SkyDrive service. More importantly, it upped the amount of free online storage to 5GB, giving users roughly the same amount of storage that comes on a new Eee PC. That's up from a recent cap of 1GB.
The service allows for personal folders as well as ones that are shared with a select group of friends, or the public at large. Microsoft is also expanding the service to 38 countries or regions including large swaths of Europe, … Read more
Welcome to the free world, Microsoft. Today Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, announced that Microsoft is making several bold strides to make its software and its company more open, transparent, and community-oriented.
As a Microsoft admirer, critic, and competitor, I can't help but applaud the depth and breadth of this move (though not everyone thinks there's much to celebrate here). It is a banner day in the software industry (and proof that back-room bargains are the wrong way to achieve interoperability).
Ray Ozzie declared:Customers need all their vendors, including and especially Microsoft, to deliver software and services that are flexible enough such that any developer can use their open interfaces and data to effectively integrate applications or to compose entirely new solutions. By increasing the openness of our products, we will provide developers additional opportunity to innovate and deliver value for customers.
Amen. But what does this mean? Four principal things:… Read more
If you rely solely on System Restore for your Windows backups, you're asking for trouble. Yes, the restore points created automatically by XP and Vista, and those I create myself, have saved my system from a failure on many occasions. But too often I've attempted to turn back the clock only to be informed that my computer could not be restored, or some similar error message.
A funny thing happened after I installed Windows Vista Service Pack 1 on my PC: Word 2007 started crashing whenever I closed it, and all but a handful of the application's settings became inaccessible.
I still haven't figured out how to keep Word from crashing on exit, but I regained access to the program's settings by disabling all add-ins. Unfortunately, it took me the better part of an afternoon to figure out this partial solution, and I'm no closer to finding the source of the crashes, though Vista SP1 is the prime suspect.
My first attempt … Read more
PALO ALTO, Calif.--I still don't know much about what Windows 7 will do or what it will look like, but I can tell you that you won't have to rely on a keyboard and mouse to use it.
After decades of investing in things like speech technology and handwriting recognition, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said that users appear ready for new ways of interacting with machines. And, he said, advances in those areas and in touch-based gestures will find their way into the next version of Windows, known as Windows 7.
"The version after Vista is … Read more
Surfing the Web on a cell phone screen can be the laggy, draggy pits, but companies like Zumobi want to make it a rush. The announcement of Zumobi's first full release (for Windows Mobile 5 and 6) brings the Microsoft-birthed, now Microsoft-partnered platform for delivering mobile content closer to the dream.
I've been following Zumobi's young career for some time and happily, its character is catching up to its glitz. Version 1.0 corrects many of the beta's more glaring errors, including major functionality potholes that are now mostly paved over.
For the uninitiated, Zumobi is a grid of 16 thumbnails that users access by zooming into a quadrant and then zooming in again to an often-customizable "tile," each of which is populated by the content partner and updated several times a day. For instance, Amazon's tile operates a portable-book store that also links to Amazon's mobile site. AP News, MTV, Epicurious, and Flickr are other well-known brands.… Read more
Who doesn't love to right-click, especially when browsing the Web? Whether saving images we like to our local drives, copying HTML links to send to friends, or scanning downloaded files for viruses, the right-click has become an essential part of most users' computing lives.
Yet how many times have you right-clicked on a file in Windows and then painfully scoured a long list to find the only option you need; sometimes it's the only one you ever use. Wouldn't life be much simpler to have only the items you want in your right-click menu? Well, for Windows … Read more