Monthly Archives: August 2006

-4xxx: Before Longhorn reset

4051: PDC 03 build
4074: WinHEC 2004 build


5xxx-: After Longhorn reset

5112: Beta 1 build

52xx-53xx: Beta 2 build numbers

5219: September 05 CTP build (PDC05)
5270: December 05 CTP build
5308: February 06 CTP build
5384: Beta 2 build

54xx-56xx: RC1 build numbers

5472: July 06 CTP build
5536: Pre-RC1 build
5600: RC1 build

57xx-: The RTM build numbers

So what's up with these build numbers and with big jumps in between? Through Mary Jo Foley I found an blog post explaining the build number strategy on the Windows Vista Team Blog. I am subscribed to roughly 150 RSS feeds, but that blog wasn't on my list yet. Subscribed.

This Wikipedia article has a great write-up of the development history of Windows Vista and gives a lot of details about build numbers.

Note that build numbers are not chronological. There can be parallel development on different branches: like RC1 and RTM. This means that the 5700 build from the RTM branch is older that the 5536 build from the RC1 branch.

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Today Matthijs installed the pre-RC1 build (5536) of Windows Vista on our second Shuttle PC. Previously that machine had the July CTP build (5472) of Windows Vista on it.

I remembered that the Remote Desktop Connection has some very cool new capabilities when connecting from a Vista machine to another Vista machine. It can remote the Aero interface very efficiently . The client PC has to have enough horsepower to run Aero, but the server PC doesn't have to be able to run Aero itself!

Unfortunately different builds of Vista cannot connect to each other, even though Windows XP machines can connect to either builds and both builds of Vista can connect to Windows XP. Quite clearly an example of a non-transitive relationship 😉

So we had to make sure both Shuttle PCs were running 5536.

The first remote desktop connection from Vista to Vista was a disappointment. No AERO ;( Lennard suggested that we change the connection settings before connecting. Changing the connection speed from 56k6 to LAN-speed made all the difference. It's almost unnoticable you are working remote. For example, the transparent glass effect works and Flip 3D also works just fine across a remote desktop connection.

After that, I couldn't resist doing a double Flip 3D. Meaning a simultaneous Flip 3D on both the client and the server. Check out the result below:

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I just burst out in laughter when I checked the referrer logs for some of my blog entries. I noticed the link Repeating the Google query by clicking the link shows that my blog entry titled ".NET Version Confusion?!" is the #1 item for "confusion in a relationship"!

I may know something about confusion in a relationship, but not enough to warrant this!

Yesterday I was one of the happy few who was in time to download the pre-RC1 build 5536 of Windows Vista. Microsoft limited the number of downloads to 100,000.

I installed the build on two different computers: on my desktop PC at home and on a machine at work that we use to test our application on Windows Media Center. To my surprise, my almost three year old PC at home gets a higher Windows Vista performance rating than the brand new Shuttle PC at work with a high-end ATI Radeon video card. This was due to the poor hard disk performance of the Shuttle PC.

The installation experience with Windows Vista was the smoothest I had so far. In the past I installed over five different builds, starting with the alpha version of Longhorn distributed at PDC03.

This time I installed Windows Vista from a DVD on a freshly formatted partition in just over half an hour. Most hardware was autodetected. Unfortunately Windows Vista did not automically locate drivers for my SoundBlaster Audigy 2 sound card. But Creative released a beta version of their drivers on their website that work in build 5536.

Vista looks to be shaping up quite nicely. At least judging by the number of bugs I encountered. The UI still confuses me from time to time, but I better get used to it because Microsoft has run out of time to fix that. For instance, I seem to forget the place where I can add and remove Windows components, like IIS 7.0. And I forget how to show the dialog box in the Explorer to enable/disable the showing of registered file extensions. You have to press the Alt key to show the otherwise hidden menu bar with File Edit View Options etc. in Windows Explorer.

Windows Media Center is improving compared to previous builds, but it still has its problems.

I have used it with a dual monitor setup and both screens flash on and off up to three times when opening and closing the Windows Media Center shell. Even if all the Media Center action takes place in only one screen. Minimizing and maximizing playing videos inside the WMC shell is not as smooth as it should be. You often briefly encounter ghost images from the previous moment in time that you changed the viewing mode.

I dislike the fact it is hard to see which display element has the focus in the Vista Media Center. Elements with the focus hardly stand out on the background. In our Media Center application it is especially hard to see if the custom or shared viewport has the focus because we have a dark blue background. It only gets a very subtle white glow effect. This is much better in the XP Media Center Edition: it uses a green border on the viewports. BTW: you can control the focus color for your own display elements (we use orange) in a hosted HTML application, but unfortunately you still cannot control this for the viewports in Windows Vista.

The weirdest bug I encountered was when the WMC shell was running full screen on one monitor while the other was showing the regular Windows Vista desktop. The mouse cursor was only visible in the WMC shell and not at all on the monitor showing the desktop. I had to close the WMC shell to be able to use the mouse again on that monitor.

Roughly a year ago I wrote a post titled "Microsoft Office and the CLR don't get along?". But parts of the Office team do use the Common Language Runtime (i.e., .NET technology). They even use Windows Presentation Foundation!

Through Tim Sneath's blog I found a preview of a tool called the Calendar Printing Assistant for Outlook 2007. It works with Outlook 2007 Beta 2 and it requires Beta 2 of the WinFX Runtime Components (now known as .NET Framework 3.0). Fortunately I still have Beta 2 of WinFX on my home machine so I could check out this tool. Installing it takes some time since the installer NGENs the assemblies. After that the application runs quite smoothly.

The application is one of the few applications released so far by Microsoft that uses the Windows Presentation Foundation. Check out Tim's blog entry for a screenshot.

The application has a "Publish as XPS" menu item. I wonder if Adobe will force Microsoft to remove this feature here as well. That would be shame, since XPS fits WPF like a glove: XPS is a subset of XAML for WPF.

Unlike Microsoft Expression Interactive Designer, the Calender Printing Assistant uses HWND interop quite heavily. So its user interface uses Win32 in combination with WPF. You can see this if you dig in using the Microsoft Spy++ tool, which can be found in the "Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 | Visual Studio Tools" folder in the Start menu.

You can see the WPF parts of the window as HwndWrapper[CPAO.EXE;;GUID] window classes.

I have attached a sample (zipped) XPS file for my agenda on August 17, 2006 to this post. You can view it if you have the .NET Framework 3.0 installed.

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[Update 2006-08-17: Lance Olson from Microsoft has let me know that the EULA will be updated and that blogging about the ADO.NET vNext CTP is encouraged by Microsoft. I have left my blog post from yesterday unchanged below.]

Is blogging about the ADO.NET vNext CTP illegal?

I am known among colleagues to read the fine print in license agreements and such. Maybe I have become even more suspicious of such agreements after reading through numerous fine printed terms and conditions for mortgages (I recently bought an apartment).

Today I installed the ADO.NET vNext CTP that was released yesterday by Microsoft. Before installing I had to agree to the license agreement. To my surprise this license agreement contained the following:

5. CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION. The software, including its user interface, features and documentation, is confidential and proprietary to Microsoft and its suppliers.

a. Use. For five years after installation of the software or its commercial release, whichever is first, you may not disclose confidential information to third parties. You may disclose confidential information only to your employees and consultants who need to know the information. You must have written agreements with them that protect the confidential information at least as much as this agreement.

b. Survival. Your duty to protect confidential information survives this agreement.

I guess blogging on a web site that is publicly accessible amounts to disclosing information to third parties. So blogging about the ADO.NET vNext CTP would violate this license agreement.

Clearly this is absurd, given that Microsoft has released the CTP for anyone to download and has published a set of whitepapers about ADO.NET vNext. P.J. van de Sande has a list of links to ADO.NET vNext resources on his blog. The introductory text on his post is in Dutch, but the list is in English.

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Microsoft has released a beta version of a new blog authoring tool called Windows Live Writer.

I've heard good things about it in the blogosphere, so I had to try it myself. This is my first post using this new tool.

It has some really great features. I am amazed by the "Web Preview" mode, that allows you to preview how a blog post will look in the styling of your blog without even having to publish a draft version of that post.

When writing this entry, it felt easier than using Word 2007 Beta 2 as a blog authoring tool. But it still lacks the text formatting and proofing features of Word. For example, there is no dropdown to select a font or style or a simple way to remove formatting from a piece of text. The spelling check has to be manually activated and feels like being thrown back to the stone age. There is no spelling and grammar check as you type, i.e., no red and green squiggly lines. Imagine how much effort it took me to get the spelling of "squiggly" correct 😉

I am happy to see that Windows Live Writer is built on Microsoft .NET technology, albeit the 1.1 version of the .NET Framework.

BTW, if you peek inside WindowsLiveWriter.exe with .NET Reflector, you can see why Microsoft cautions you about using the AssemblyKeyFile attribute: it divulges path information from the build machine. In the case of Windows Live Writer, it shows:

[assembly: AssemblyKeyFile(@"E:bt170627privatewritersrc35MSSharedLib1024.snk")]

In .NET 2.0 the AssemblyKeyFileAttribute is deprecated.