Vista done. What Next?

This is kind of a repost. If you read the Bill Gates Q and A article I posted yesterday, you must have read that Bill Gates mentioned what's next for Windows. For those who missed it here's the excerpt.

So can you give us an indication of what the next Windows will be like?
Well, it will be more user-centric.

What does that mean?
That means that right now when you move from one PC to another, you've got to install apps on each one, do upgrades on each one. Moving information between them is very painful. We can use Live Services [a way to connect to Microsoft via the Internet] to know what you're interested in. So even if you drop by a [public] kiosk or somebody else's PC, we can bring down your home page, your files, your fonts, your favorites and those things. So that's kind of the user-centric thing that Live Services can enable. [Also,] in Vista things got a lot better with [digital] ink and speech but by the next release there will be a much bigger bet. Students won't need textbooks, they can just use these tablet devices. Parallel computing is pretty important for the next release. We'll make it so that a lot of the high-level graphics will be just built into the operating system. So we've got a pretty good outline.

WOW! that would be awesome if I could go to a friends place and get my desktop on his / her machine. You would never miss your PC when you are away. Although, we don't know to what extent they will go. All of this sounds like Hardisk on the Internet, so all your information will stay on the Internet, but we don't know if that's going to be true for applications installed on my machine as well. All this would need very high bandwidth, but 2011 is still far away which could make some of this a reality.

Windows Home Server

Microsoft is entering the Home Server market this Fall, and boy is it going to be good. The new product named Windows Home Server (for now) is a machine like the personal computer without the connections for monitor, keyboard and mouse (such devices are called headless computers). So how do you control this device? First off you connect this device to your home network, it does not have to be infront of you, you can throw it in your basement if you want, and control it using one of the other computers in your house. The device has the following features:

  • Automatic backup of all devices connected to your home network. The algorithm used to backup is pretty optimized. If you have 10 PCs and all 10 have the same foo.jpg, it will only backup one file. If one of the files with the same name was slightly different in content, it will back it up separately. This backup strategy along with a new compression technology according to Microsoft studies with some users results in 15 TB data being reduced to 300GB. The fact that you don't have to worry about backups itself pays off for the device.
  • What if the HDD on this machine dies? Microsoft expects you to have multiple HDDs on this device and has created a variant of the RAID system which would mirror data, such that even if one HDD fails you can still recover your data. The more number of smaller HDDs the better. The reason why they wrote their own variant of RAID is because RAID needs drive letters to work with, whereas Windows Home Server treats all HDDs as one big drive pool. It does not have any drive letter. In fact if you could just plug in more internal or external HDDs and Home Server will automatically add that device to the drive pool.
  • In addition since we have so much HDD space it is best suited as a File Server. You can store all your media and non media related content on this device and use it to stream media to any other device like XBox 360 or Media Center PC on your network. How cool is that.
  • The device also constantly monitors the health of all the machines on your network and indicates it to you when one of the machines has a problem. At this point it only monitors health, but I see this feature extended to where you can apply patches and anti-virus u pdates to all machines from this one device.   
  • As I mentioned about the management of this device can be done by any PC on your network. You need to install a small software (not sure if you need to install it on each and every device) and use an application that has just 4 tabs to configure the box. For the geeks out there, they can remote in to the box and get the familiar start menu and work around the OS. For everyone else Microsoft has tried to keep it very very simple.
  • Finally the codebase for this new OS is based on Windows Server 2003, so it includes a webserver for anyone wanting to host their own website. You can also connect to any machine on your network using the Home Server.


How much is it going to cost? Microsoft isn't saying much except for a device that was previewed at CES by HP which had 300GB HDD was priced at $500 - $600. Microsoft will also be selling the OS by itself so you can install it on that old (so far) good for nothing box of yours after adding a couple of big HDDs.

Credits: Paul Thurrott, Channel 10

Windows Presentation Foundation / Everywhere

Microsoft is coming out with what many call the flash killer. The code name for the new software is WPF/e. WPF/e is a stripped down version of WPF which does not include any 3D support. The initial goal of Microsoft is to keep the download down to 1-1.5MB. You can listen to some recent podcasts/videos on this new technology here and here. Check out this cool Flash and WPF/e interaction using JavaScript.

When can life be perfect?

Author: Lilly Wang

All the past week including today, I have been working on the configuration of Windows Sharepoint Service (WSS).  I got it work last year.  But after one year of being idle, it does not work anymore (due to the server sp installation, the anti-virus upgrades, the change of IP address, etc etc).  So I thought it is not big deal to re-configure it since I have kept good documentation.  And here I am – a week of hard work, and still haven’t got it work fully as it is supposed to, sigh… 

So is it worth the efforts to set it up? You bet.  Just name some of the features: fine-tuned access control, freedom of creating folders and lists, online survey, full text search on word, excel, and pdf, and many many more.  It provides a generic solution to people’s document needs.

As much as we enjoy the fruits of the product, we have to put up with the great pain of  the installation and configuration.  This reminds me of the philosophy of life: no pain no gain.


So when you think of generalization, trying to provide a single answer for many problems, you better think carefully.  Just keep in mind, there is no perfect world…    

WMP 11 vs iTunes

A lot of websites are calling WMP11 + URGE the iTunes killer. You can read the news here and here.Well, time will tell. One feature that really caught my eye was the fast search. If you have around 40,000 songs and you started to type in the search box, your songs would appear as you type. In fact MS claims that you would get good speed even with millions of songs. That is simply awesome and I would like to know the code behind the feature. Obviously they are running some kind of an indexing scheme for the instant search but I am sure the algorithm must be really tricky.

Microsoft vs Linux vs Mac OS X

Author: Girish Bajaj

So which os do you think is better? Linux or Microsoft or Mac OS?
I know MS has better UI, and Linux does not, but Mac is becoming very popular and linux is very good at multi tasking.

I dont like working on MS because it hangs so often. So is linux good? Is Mac OS the ultimate OS since its got an awesome UI and based on linux?

Im going to install Linux at home now and check it out...

Hate is such a strong word.

Author: Girish Bajaj

Theres a place in my heart, and I know that it is HATE.

For the past week, Ive been struggling with a error in ALL my applications. I dont remember the error, but the result is that my asp worker process quits preemtively. So i debug this problem for days and find out that an IE security patch is the cause of the problem. Microsoft in their infinite brilliant glory didnt think that a IE patch would cause a server side development box to crash all the time.

Well, Ive gone thru hell and back. There are tons of ppl out there whose apps are failing because Microsoft decided to replace a shared DLL which was being used by ASP.NET and IE and never thought of testing it.

If you go on the net, there are 20 different ways to solve this problem... which includes reinstalling IIS, .NET framework and VS.NET 2003. Suffice to say that it took me 3 days to go thru all the 20 different ways of fixing the error. NONE of them worked. Surprised? Please dont be.

Finally I decided to call up MS support. Guess what - did it HELP? NO. You know, MS support is just a whole load of shit. I called one person and at the end of 5 hrs... YES 5 freaking HOURS... i had 3 micorosft experts on the phone with me trying to debug the problem. Once what was a functional computer (Except for turned into a useless BOX which would not load any application and gave me 10 different errors on boot. They screwed up my computer even more than it already was!!

At the end of the 8th hour - one of the guys says. Girish I have some bad news. I knew it was coming. I told him bye and shut the phone.

For the past 2 days, Ive been reinstalling my computer and getting everything back to where it was.

IM NOT HAPPY with MS right now.

But i know it will pass... and eventually I'll become the same old puppy dog running around its giant master.

Microsoft, what have you done to me?! I hate you. But I still cant live without you.