Windows 7 Editions Feature Comparison


There are 6 diffferent editions of Windows 7, starting with the Limited distribution Starter edition through to Windows 7 Enterprise. Each edition builds on the feature set of the one before as the following image shows:

windows-7-editions

Note that Windows 7 Ultimate includes all Windows 7 Enterprise, including multiple-language packs.

Billy Idol White Wedding-Literal Video


It’s been a while but Dustin has finally given the world a new Literal Video, this time Billy Idol’s “White Wedding”.

Doesn’t seem to be onYouTube so I can’t embed it but you can peep it over at Funny or Die.

It’s pretty funny and has some excellent moments but I don’t think it’s the best one…I think that is the Tears for Fears video…

Changes to Windows 7 in Release Candidate


This MS blog contains a great look at the numerous improvements that Microsoft have made to Windows 7, all based on beta testers feedback. Some of these changes include:

1. Windows Flip (ALT + TAB) with Aero Peek

8. Jump List length

21. Improved playback support for video content from digital camcorders and cameras

Steven Sinofsky says that they have fixes for nearly 2000 reported bugs/glitches in the pipeline. He also gives his definition of a bug which is “any time the software does something that someone one wasn’t expecting it to do” and “a cosmetic issue, a consistency issue, a crash, a hang, a failure to succeed, a confusing user experience, a compatibility issue, a missing feature, or any one of dozens of different ways that the software can behave in a way that isn’t expected”.

Steven’s whole post can be found here.

These are all improvements that help make it an even more enjoyable experience to use Windows 7-well done team!

Go and check out the list and see how what might well be MS’s best OS has got even better :-)

Microsoft MyPhone-Hands On


After a not too long wait, I’ve gained entry to the Microsoft MyPhone beta and am just getting started now.

The initial setup process was nice and easy. I just visited 1 site on my phone, downloaded a small 58kish .cab file and installed that on my mobile device. A couple of “I agree”s later and it’s installed-ready for the initial sync. Here it gives you a choice of what you would like to sync-such as calendar, contacts, music, photos, texts etc (corporate users with push mail won’t get calendar & contacts) and while your initial reaction might be “all of it”; you have to remember it’s got a 200MB storage limit. While that is pretty limiting, I imagine once the service is out of beta we will see a dramatic increase in available storage a la SkyDrive (25GB). However for now I chose to sync just texts, documents and photos-hopefully that will be less than 200MB :-)

I have to say that this initial sync is taking it’s time-particularly the photos; I’ve been at it for about 30 minutes and am currently on 48% (Update-completed in 75 minutes). I know that the first big backup is always the slowest but I think I started this too late for it to be taking over 1 hour! Luckily it’s happy to sync over Wi-Fi…

Once the sync has been completed, all the data can be accessed via your MyPhone homepage:

myphone-home1

One cool thing you can do with your contacts is “Archive to Web” so you can delete them from your phone but still retain a record of the numbers just in case. This is really handy for me as I’ve got a lot of random (might need them one day” numbers clogging up my contacts list. Only issue is you can only select one contact to be archived at a time (despite appearances)-would be could to do a mass archive…but hey-it’s still a beta :-)

With Contacts, photos, text messages etc you can also delete them from the MyPhone site and this will delete them from your phone too at the next sync. Once thing that has just caught me out and is quite annoying is that just selecting the tick box of an object doesn’t change focus to it, you have to click on the actual image. Because of this, I’ve just deleted the wrong picture! For instance, in the below example:

delete

hitting “delete” will get rid of Vanessa Ferlito, rather than the artwork on the right. Maybe it’s just me who feels this way but I think the tick box should be the deciding factor when it comes to selections. Also, this means you can’t perform the same action to multiple items (as with archiving above).

I was hoping to use MyPhone to improve my management of text messages as, let’s be honest, it isn’t a great experience doing on the device, but the inability to select multiple items makes it even more of a chore!

To sum up, I think MyPhone is a great new service and one that will continue to get better-such as using SkyDrive to store things, giving us 25GB storage and me a place to backup the music and videos on my phone too. It’s only a beta so there’s plenty of time for things like the storage, the basic appearance of the website, it’s integration into other services and the inability to select multiple items (this is a real sticking point for me!) to be fixed :-)

I’m glad that MS have delivered this service, both form a user/consumer point of view but also looking at it as a partner and a fan of Microsoft, as it signals that they’re starting to take the mobile arena more seriously than perhaps ever before.

Direct Access in Windows 7


Direct Access is a new feature in Windows 7, a new feature that allows users to securely access corporate servers from outside the network…without a VPN. This was perhaps the most eye-catching feature for me and could well change the way that people work all over the world but it is something of a big claim. Pretty much any system admin that I’ve mentioned this to has said “Oh yeah-I’d like to see that? How does it work?” with a heavy dose of cynicism but now I can tell them…well show them a white paper at least!

VPN’s or Virtual Private Networks are used by almost everyone who need to access corporate servers, info etc from outside the network so at home, on the road, from the hotel, wherever…and they’re not the easiest things in the world-for both users and admins. The backend needed to set them up and maintain them can be costly and tricky to manage and I’m sure that VPN problems must be in the Top 5 HelpDesk calls at most companies. We’re constantly visited by account managers and reps from a huge array of manufacturers and nearly every single has to call HQ to get access to emails etc via their VPN…but with the advent of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2-that could all be over. 

DirectAccess establishes bi-directional connectivity with the user’s enterprise network every time the user’s DirectAccess-enabled portable computer is connected to the Internet, even before the user logs on”

 

“Clients establish an IPsec tunnel for the IPv6 traffic to the DirectAccess server, which acts as a gateway to the intranet. Clients can connect even if they are behind a firewall.”

System Requirements:

DirectAccess requires the following:

·         One or more DirectAccess servers running Windows Server 2008 R2 with two network adapters: one that is connected directly to the Internet, and a second that is connected to the intranet.

·         On the DirectAccess server, at least two consecutive, public IPv4 addresses assigned to the network adapter that is connected to the Internet.

·         DirectAccess clients running Windows 7.

·         At least one domain controller and Domain Name System (DNS) server running Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2. When smart card-based authentication is required for end-to-end protection, you must use Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) in Windows Server 2008 R2.

·         A public key infrastructure (PKI) to issue computer certificates, smart card certificates, and, for NAP, health certificates. For more information, see http://www.microsoft.com/pki.

·         IPsec policies to specify protection for traffic. For more information, see http://www.microsoft.com/ipsec.

·         IPv6 transition technologies available for use on the DirectAccess server: ISATAP, Teredo, and 6to4.

Optionally, a third-party NAT-PT device to provide access to IPv4-only resources for DirectAccess clients.

It’s proving quite difficult to truly get the message across in this post without it becoming boringly long (!) so instead go and download the Technical WhitePaper from Microsoft here.

 

 

No Office 14 until 2010


Steve Ballmer has said that the next release of the Office family “Wave 14, won’t hit us until 2010-not the late 2009 that I and many others were expecting.

Office 14 will bring the new versions of Word, Excel, Powerpoint, OneNote etc as well as Office for Sales, Sharepoint and OCS as well as other products too-so it’s a big ol’ release and one that I’m definitely looking forward to…

OCS Licensing changes coming with next version


It appears that there will be an extra CAL (Client Access Licence) for users to choose from when Microsoft OCS Server 14  is released in 2010.

On top of the current Standard and Enterprise CALs, there will also be a Voice CAL which will offer telephony & VOIP services. These features will be removed from the Enterprise CAL and thus the Enterprise CAL will drop in price by around 23%. Also, MS are allowing current OCS customers with SA (Software Assurance) to “grandfather” in the new Voice CAL-if they agree to buy it before July 2009.

Hat Tip to Mary Jo Foley

Compare SQL Editions


SQL has perhaps more separate flavours than any other Microsoft product (save Office) and this certainly has the potential to confuse people, both end users and sales people. To help with this, I thought I’d do a quick post highlighting the different editions and the differences between them. To be honest, this isn’t much more than reposting what’s on the Microsoft site but often it’s finding the info on their site that’s the hard part :-)

The main differences between the different version are the number of CPU’s they can work with and how much RAM they can address, this ranges from 1 to 256 and 1GB to 2TB. There are of course other differences and more in-depth info can be found via the links below.

sql-comparison 

The different editions are:

SQL Standard: SQL Server 2008 Standard is a data management and business intelligence platform that provides best-in-class ease of use and manageability for running departmental applications. More info.

SQL Enterprise: SQL Server 2008 Enterprise is a comprehensive data platform that meets the high demands of enterprise online transaction processing and data warehousing applications. More info.

SQL Workgroup: Run branch locations on this reliable data management and reporting platform that provides secure remote synchronization and management capabilities. More info.

SQL Web: Offer low-cost, large scale highly available web applications or data hosting solutions with a highly available Internet facing web serving environments. More Info.

SQL Developer: A low cost edition of SQL Server 2008 Enterprise licensed per developer for development, testing, and demonstration purposes only. Not for production use. More info.

Most people in corporate situations find themselves having to choose between SQL Std and SQL Enterprise so here is a detailed comparison pdf.SQL2008_Std_vs_Ent

Trials and more for the above editions can be found here.

There are also two free versions of SQL available:

SQL Express: Available as a free download, SQL Server 2008 Express is ideal for learning and building desktop and small server applications and for re-distribution by ISVs. Download here. More info.

SQL Compact Edition 3.5: Available as a free download, SQL Server Compact enables developers to embed SQL Server directly into their applications, enabling occasionally connected and stand-alone applications for mobile devices, desktops, and Web clients across all Microsoft Windows platforms. Download here. More info.

Defending Windows 7 against rumours


Today I saw an article on Ars Technica that I think highlights the shift in attitude from Vista to Windows 7, but first some background :-)

Yesterday (Weds 18/02/09) Slashdot had a post about “the terrible DRM situation in Windows 7“; the gist of it was that Windows 7 contained new levels of crippling DRM that prevented users from operating their machines properly.

One particular quote that caught my eye:

“A legitimate copy of Photoshop CS4 stopped functioning after we clobbered a nagging registration screen by replacing a DLL with a hacked version” (italics mine)

Here is some who has hacked a 3rd party (non-Microsoft) application and is blaming MS and Windows 7 when it stops working! Clearly ridiculous and this is where we see something great-people were quick to point out the flaws in this post, both in the comments on Slashdot and also a great article over at Ars Technica.

I believe that if this had been Vista, people would have been happy to let the myths perpetuate around the Internet and I doubt anyone would have written an article purely to rebuff the points made on Slashdot. This is the biggest difference between the two Operating Systems-people like and care about Windows 7.

Microsoft Surface: Really Cool Demo


I think we can all agree that the Microsoft Surface is really freaking cool so I don’t need to say too much really.

The video below is an excellent example of how realistic the physics are on the device and shows just how cool, and useful, it is/can be:

Hat tip to Steve Clayton & Marc Holmes for this.