September 29, 2006

Macro Scheduler 9.0 Beta in Vista

Filed under: General,Vista — Marcus Tettmar @ 10:30 am

Here’s a sneaky peak at Macro Scheduler 9.0 running under Windows Vista:

Click on the image to view full size.

September 7, 2006

Vista RC1 Annoyances

Filed under: Vista — Marcus Tettmar @ 11:29 am

Well, after painstakingly working with the Vista UAC team at Microsoft to ensure Macro Scheduler would be Vista compatible, and lots of testing with the Vista betas I was happy to report a while back that Macro Scheduler ran well under Vista beta 2. Recently Vista RC1 was made available under our MSDN subscription so we installed it. Guess what? Well, unfortunately it seems things have changed again and there are now a few things that fail to work under the default restricted user account. I’m pretty sure we just need to make a few tweaks and everything will be hunky dory again in due course. But I’m somewhat annoyed that after our efforts to ensure the software worked with beta 2 it seems lots has changed in RC1.

I’m resisting the urge to turn UAC off. I’m only leaving the default settings intact so that I can be sure Macro Scheduler will install and run under the default configuration. But oh how annoying it is! Try just copying and overwriting a file in the program folder – something power users will do all the time. What a nightmare. Honestly – how many dialogs are really needed for a simple file copy!?

Sometimes I feel like Microsoft’s security philosophy with Vista is analogous to building a house with no doors and windows. Utterly secure and impenetrable but also completely unusable! OK, that’s a bit unfair, it’s more like a door with 15 locks. Very secure, and just about usable … but frustratingly unfriendly!

Update: Ok, I may have ranted too soon. Turns out the problem with Macro Scheduler under Vista RC1 was due to a change we’d inadvertently made, rather than a change in Vista. Looks like we have it sorted!

September 1, 2006

Do or Die for Windows Vista

Filed under: Vista — Marcus Tettmar @ 10:19 am

According to Sven Hallauer, Director of Windows Release Management, in a podcast interview yesterday, Microsoft has only a couple of weeks to ensure all critical bugs are fixed and in place to meet the Vista deadline. Any delay and the bugs either won’t get fixed, or the release date will slip.

Certainly Vista Release Candidate 1 is much more polished than Beta 2 and it does seem like Microsoft has stepped up a gear to try to meet their target release date.

Listen to the interview with Sven Hallaur in which he explains the build process behind Windows Vista.

August 1, 2006

Vista Delayed Again?

Filed under: Vista — Marcus Tettmar @ 9:24 am

Lots of people are saying Vista won’t make it for the current launch Schedule. Robert McLaws at Longhorn Blogs says Vista Needs More Time. Scoble agrees. I say get the product right, even if it means a delay and a short term hit on stock price. This is a major new operating system after all.

June 28, 2006

Don’t Disable Vista Security Features

Filed under: Vista — Marcus Tettmar @ 6:48 am

Great post by Jesper Johansson, Senior Security Strategist at Microsoft, on Vista security and why beta testers should not disable User Account Control just yet: Worth a read.

June 9, 2006

Vista too Chatty?

Filed under: Vista — Marcus Tettmar @ 1:10 pm

If you’ve been playing with the Vista betas recently you’ll have noticed how often it asks for your permission to perform admin level functions. By default Vista runs all users as ordinary level users (even if you’re logged in as an Admin) and asks for permission via “Elevation Prompts” every time an admin function is required. All fine and dandy – and much more secure – in theory, but many people have commented on how “chatty” this makes Vista. Early betas were worse and just copying a file can be really quite annoying.

Well, Steve Hiskey of the Windows Security Core Group over at Microsoft has written about how they intend to reduce elevation prompts and how they are working hard, both internally and with external ISVs, to make Vista a little less “noisy”. Well worth a read if you’re concerned about all those pesky elevation prompts, or if you’re writing applications for Vista and want to help improve things.

The UAC team have quite a challenging role – to make using Vista more secure without making it more cumbersome and more difficult to use than XP. They still have a few challenges ahead of them, but I can vouch for their commitment and support for independent software vendors as Steve and his team were extremely supportive in helping us ensure Macro Scheduler could record properly in Vista. So if you’re beta testing Windows Vista be sure to help them out via their blog.

Reducing Elevation Prompts in RC1

June 8, 2006

Vista Beta 2 Launched to the Public

Filed under: Vista — Marcus Tettmar @ 6:51 am

The Windows Vista Customer Preview Program was launched yesterday evening making Vista beta 2 available to everyone. Until now it has been confined to members of the Technical Beta Program and MSDN subscribers. Now anyone can download it or order a copy on DVD. So if you are wanting to try Vista out now is your chance.

May 25, 2006

Vista Beta 2 Released

Filed under: Vista — Marcus Tettmar @ 5:44 am

So Vista Beta 2 was made available to MSDN subscribers this week. We installed a copy yesterday and my first impressions are good. It installed quickly with the minimum of fuss and the performance is good – it seems pretty quick. Beta 1 was agonisingly slow so it’s good to note that beta 2 is faster. No doubt beta 1 had lots of debug/diagnostic code in it which was slowing things up, and they’ve probably worked on improving performance generally since beta 1. Macro Scheduler 8.0.3 runs nicely in beta 2, as I expected 🙂

Now that beta 2 is here things should start to settle down, documentation will hopefully improve, and more developers will start working on Vista-izing their software. So things should become clearer and we can hopefully get a better idea on what it will take to create a Vista version of AutoLogon. Watch this space.

May 11, 2006

Vista Application Compatibility

Filed under: Vista — Marcus Tettmar @ 12:29 pm

As you know we have been working hard on ensuring Macro Scheduler is compatible with Vista and our latest 8.0.2 maintenance release is built with support for Vista. But what about other applications?

Well, Microsoft’s “Application Experience Team” have started their own blog to provide resources for testing application compatibility and “To help make the Application Compatibility process manageable and successful for you, and help us learn about your experiences”. Their first post links to Microsoft Connect where you can sign up for the Application Compatibility Toolkit V5.0 Beta program to receive tools to test your existing applications for Vista compatibility.

Check out All Things AppCompat.

March 22, 2006

Vista Delayed

Filed under: Vista — Marcus Tettmar @ 9:06 am

Microsoft have just announced that Vista will be delayed and won’t be generally available until the beginning of 2007. Read the official announcement.

This doesn’t really surprise me. Since November 2005 we have been working with the Vista beta releases to ensure Macro Scheduler will be Vista ready. Finding the information we needed to achieve this has been difficult and it is clear that much of the SDK and documentation is still not complete. In the end I had to get in touch directly with the Vista UAC team at Microsoft in order to make any real progress. It is clear that there is still a lot of work to be done and I just couldn’t see Vista being ready by the end of the year. Vista makes a complete paradigm shift in security by restricting default user accounts to standard level privileges. The discussion in the developer newsgroups makes it painfully clear that this will have huge implications on many existing applications and the way Windows software has been written in the past.

Delaying the general availability of Vista until 2007 has got to be a good thing. It is better that Microsoft concentrate on quality and get things working properly than rush the release out. Developers also need time to assess the implications and work on compatibility changes and for many this delayed release will cause a sigh of relief.

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