Articles from Microsoft

Toshiba Announcement == More Zune Storage

By Michael Flanakin @ 5:01 AM :: 2320 Views :: Technology, Microsoft, Predictions, En Español :: Digg it!

Zune 80 -- will it be the Zune 120?

First off, I have to say this is completely off -the-cuff. I have no insight into the Zune team or its plans. This is one of those teams that keeps a lot to themselves. While I hate this because I'm just as curious as other consumers are, there's a time and place for any announcement, and it seems some teams are leaning towards less transparency than others to avoid over-promising and under-delivering. Anyway, Toshiba just announced the availability of 120 GB 1.8" hard drives. Seeing as tho Toshiba manufactures the Zune, I can only imagine this means we'll be seeing 120 GB Zunes this holiday season. Of course, there's always an option for those of us who are less patient. At first I was hoping this meant smaller Zunes, but it looks like they already use 1.8" drives.

Anuncio de Toshiba == Más Almacenaje de Zune

En Español

Antes de que proceda, tengo que decir que no tengo ninguna penetración en el equipo de Zune o sus planes. Éste es uno de esos equipos que guardan secretos. Mientras que odio esto porque soy apenas tan curioso como otros consumidores, hay una época y un lugar para cualquier anuncio, y parece que algunos equipos están anunciando menos a evitar prometiendo demasiado y la entrega de demasiado poco. Toshiba anunció los discos duros de 1,8 pulgadas con 120 GB de almacenaje. Desde entonces Toshiba crea el Zune, creo que Microsoft va a lanzar el Zune con 120 GB de almacenaje este año. Por supuesto, hay una opción para la gente impaciente. Inicialmente, esperaba para un Zune más pequeño, pero usan discos duros de 1,8 pulgadas ahora.


SkyDrive's Official Release

By Michael Flanakin @ 5:18 AM :: 2051 Views :: Microsoft, Tools/Utilities, En Español :: Digg it!

Windows Live SkyDrive

I looked at Windows Live SkyDrive a while ago and, while it has a nice UI, it wasn't quite enough. One of my complaints was the measly 500 MB of storage. Well, with the official release of the service, we now have 5 GB of storage, which seems to be standard nowadays. I was actually hoping for more integration between SkyDrive, Hotmail, and Spaces, but that hasn't panned out, yet. I was glad to see there's a bulk upload utility included. This was perhaps the main reason I hadn't uploaded the majority of my content. Now that it's there, I'm going to start uploading some graphic files I use for development. I don't think SkyDrive is ready to be central to my life, yet, but it's on its way. Integration with FolderShare is probably the next step, if you ask me. With that, I'd definitely start using it more. Of course, I've seen a preview of the next version of FolderShare and that doesn't seem to be an option. Of course, the update is very minimal, so I'm not sure how complete it is. The same team manages FolderShare and SkyDrive, so integration is going to happen without a doubt; it's just the time in which that's going to happen that's the real question. Speaking of questions, there's also a new service on the horizon (no pun intended, for those in the know). I don't have details, but it looks like a promising sync service with lofty, yet realistic goals. I can't wait to hear more.

Lanzamiento Oficial de SkyDrive

En Español

Repasé Windows Live SkyDrive hace un rato y, mientras que es bonito, no era absolutamente bastante. Una de mis quejas era el 500 MB de almacenaje. Con el lanzamiento oficial, tenemos 5 GB. Esperaba más integración entre SkyDrive, Hotmail, y Spaces, pero eso no ha sucedido. Me gusto la utilidad de carga masiva. Ésta es la razón principal que no carga mi contenido. Ahora, voy a iniciar la carga de gráficos. No creo que SkyDrive está acabado, todavía, pero está mejor. Integración con FolderShare es probablemente el paso siguiente. Comenzaría definitivamente a usarlo más con eso. Ha utilizado una versión preliminar de la siguiente versión de FolderShare y no tiene la integración. Parece la verión es muy mínimo, tan no creo que haya finalizado. El mismo equipo desarrollo ambos, tan integración va definitivamente a suceder; pero no conocemos cuando. Mientras que estoy en el tema, Microsoft está trabajando en un nuevo servicio de la sinc. No tengo detalles, pero parece agradable. No puedo esperar para oír más.


XNA Game Studio Announcements

By Michael Flanakin @ 4:57 AM :: 1558 Views :: .NET, Development, Technology, Microsoft :: Digg it!

Xbox Live Community Games

There are two significant gaming announcments that came out recently at the Game Developers' Conference (GDC) 2008. First, Xbox Live Community Games is the official release XNA Game Studio was intended for. Now, small-time game developers can play and share their games with others. This is pretty sweet for anyone interested in gaming, which is perhaps every developer at one point or another in their career. I know small-time gaming is what initially caught my interest.

Zune Games

The second announcement, made during the same keynote at GDC 2008, was that we'll be seeing games for the Zune in the future. What's nice is that the games will also be supported on first gen Zunes. Microsoft has been pretty good about supporting early adopters with respect to the Zune. I'm not sure how long that will last, but it's much appreciated... especially since I have 2 Zune 30s and don't feel like the second gen Zunes add enough to warrant an upgrade. I'll be looking at the third gen Zune for sure, tho. Microsoft stated that we'll see another release of XNA Game Studio to support the Zune in the spring. There haven't been many details about this admittedly early announcement, but I'm sure we'll hear more in the coming months.

One thing that gets me about this is the distribution model to be used for Zune. The fact that Microsoft has Windows Marketplace, Xbox Live Marketplace, and Zune Marketplace annoys the crap out of me. Microsoft needs to come out with a generic marketplace with "channels" specific to Windows, Xbox, and Zune. Sure, having something specific to your market is nice, but it just seems like overkill. The fact that each has its own purchasing model has to be even more frustrating to people who use more than one of these services. I guess I want something a little more integrated. That's not too much to ask for, is it? I'd like to see Zune games released or managed via Xbox Live Marketplace, but that probably won't happen, since they'll most likely be distributed via Zune Marketplace. Hopefully, this will drive the first integration between the two services.


Microsoft's Official Position on UML

By Michael Flanakin @ 3:44 AM :: 1997 Views :: Development, Architecture, Microsoft, Open Source/Standards :: Digg it!

I made a few comments about Microsoft's work around MDA and how I don't quite understand Microsoft's official position on UML. David Cutler pointed out that I should take some initiative and dig around for some reasoning behind that. Well I did, and I found out that things are changing. Visual Studio "Rosario" will have a number of UML designers built on the DSL Tools designer framework. I'm very glad to hear this because I've been looking for them for quite a while and remember scoffing Microsoft for not investing more than a class diagram in Visual Studio 2005. I had hoped Visual Studio 2008 would have included some new designers, but alas, it didn't. The November 2007 CTP includes two new designers in Team Edition for Architects (Team Arch) and obviously the all-up Team Suite. I haven't used the new sequence or logical class designer, yet, but I'm definitely intrigued by them. I doubt the sequence diagram will be auto-generating at first, but you never know. Either way, I'm glad to see Microsoft is embracing UML more.

Of course, this doesn't answer the question of what Microsoft's official position on UML is. That's a hard one to answer, considering we're a company of individuals who have individual thoughts and ideals, just like any other company. Most of the people I talked to were the vocal few, but it's clear that UML isn't the unanimous terror that Microsoft seems to have made it out to be. I'm glad I'm not the only one to believe that. While I'm not making any anouncements today, I can say that we will get a clearer message of where Microsoft is going with respect to UML. As I understand it, there will be more designers on the books for the next CTP in the March/April time frame, so I think I can finally say we're on the right track. Better late than never, right?


What to Expect with Open XML

By Michael Flanakin @ 3:29 AM :: 1652 Views :: Technology, Microsoft, Predictions, Open Source/Standards :: Digg it!

If you're not familiar with the story behind Open XML to date, Rob Weir Syndicated feed of IBM has a decent overview. I'd be remissed if I didn't say he was somewhat biased, tho. An example of this is a comment he made about how he believes Microsoft will drive change in Open XML with every release of Office. This, in itself, shows how little he understands about the Open XML format and why its proponents believe in it as a superior format to ODF. I have no doubt Microsoft will try to push modifications as more and more customers ask for new and innovative features, but that's exactly why Open XML is better -- it was built with extensibility in mind, unlike ODF.

Here we are, waiting for the last leg of the process to kick off at the end of this month and some skeptics say, "While you're waiting [for the ISO decision on standardization], don't save in OOXML format." Should you listen? Probably not. There are some seemingly logical arguments behind the comment, but the position is flawed. He states that you should use the legacy binary formats to ensure a truly "open" experience. To word that another way, you should use a proprietary binary format instead of one based on open standards, such as ZIP and XML. I'm sorry, but I'll stick with my Open XML file formats, which I have full control over and can get data out should I need it, unlike formats like the legacy DOC and PDF formats, which require binary interpreters. I can get my data out of Open XML files without any document reader. I simply need a tool to extract the content and read text files -- not that I expect everyone to feel this way. Also, with more and more format converters out there, I fail to see the importance of constantly saving to a format your tool of choice doesn't natively support without translation. You'll get a much better experience working in native formats and only converting to another when you need to publish or share your content externally.

We're not looking at all bad news, tho. With the 3522 comments made on the original specification, most overlapping on similar concerns, 662 responses have been made. I don't know if there was truly that much overlap that would support 662 answers to 3522 comments, but you can browse the comments and responses online. In another attempt to ease the community into the new formats, Microsoft has also published the legacy binary formats.

What's perhaps more interesting is the fact that, in a truly independent study, the Burton Group Syndicated feed found Open XML to be a superior format. You can get that report online, but I doubt most people will see it. Perhaps developers at traditional Open XML opposing companies like IBM and Google read it, tho, seeing as their products seem to support the new formats. Of course, I think this is a must-have. You can't have a tool that neglects the native file format for the de-facto standard when it comes to productivity applications.

What do I expect? I expect the format to be approved. I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a doubt in my mind, but the evidence is there that it's a superior format. The fact that these open source companies are so up-in-arms about Microsoft wanting to push its own formats thru the standardization process says something about their motives. Microsoft wants options and, with that, extensibility. If the format is judged on the merits, like all good arguments, the answer is clear. If you ask me, the worst thing about Open XML is Microsoft's name on it. If that weren't there, it'd already be a standard.


Mac vs. Windows: Vulnerabilities of 2007

By Michael Flanakin @ 5:01 AM :: 1342 Views :: Technology, Microsoft, Predictions, En Español :: Digg it!

Just wanted to share some vulnerability stats from 2007 for Mac and Windows. Mac had 12 times the number of vulnerabilities that Windows Vista had and 5.5 times the number of combined Vista and XP vulnerabilities. At first I was surprised, but then I thought back to rumblings of insecurity and talk about Windows Vista being more secure than Mac OS before that. It's been nice to see the Mac security myth begin to fade away and watch as Microsoft's credibility around security grows. I expect this trend to continue thru the year; especially as more and more users are exposed to Mac's. And, yes, I do see Mac use growing this year. While I'm making predictions, I think I feel pretty comfortable saying Vista won't see the widespread adoption people seem to expect. This is ironic, considering it's truly the best version of the OS to date. Nevertheless, the reason I say that is because I expect to hear more and more talk of Windows "7" this year. I'm guessing that people who've hesitated to upgrade might prefer to see what's next, since there's talk about it being released in 2009. Microsoft is good at learning from its mistakes, so I think we'll see a very big boom when Windows "7" hits the streets.

Windows XP, Vista, and Mac OS X vulnerability stats for 2007
  XP Vista XP + Vista Mac OS X
Total extremely critical 3 1 4 0
Total highly critical 19 12 23 234
Total moderately critical 2 1 3 2
Total less critical 3 1 4 7
Total flaws 34 20 44 243
Average flaws per month 2.83 1.67 3.67 20.25

Mac contra Windows: Vulnerabilidades de 2007

En Español

Quiero compartir algunos estadísticas de vulnerabilidades para Mac y Windows en 2007. Mac tuvo 12 veces el número de vulnerabilidades que Windows Vista tuvo y 5,5 veces Vista y XP combinados. Al principio, me sorprendió, pero pensé de discusiones de la inseguridad y sobre Window Vista que es más seguro que el Mac. Ha sido agradable ver el mito de seguridad de Mac comience a desaparezca y mira el credibilidad de Microsoft alrededor seguridad crece. Espero que esto continúe este año; especialmente como usuarios se exponen cada vez más a Mac. Sí, veo Mac utilizar el crecimiento de este año. Mientras que estoy haciendo predicciones, no pienso que Vista verá la adopción extensa este año. Esto es irónico, porque Vista es la mejor versión de la OS. Espero oír cada vez más la charla de Windows "7" este año. Pienso que gente que ha esperado para aumentar esperará ver lo que es nuevo, puesto que la gente ha hablado sobre la lanzaba en 2009. Microsoft es bueno en el aprendizaje de sus errores, así que pienso que veremos un auge muy grande cuando Windows “7” golpes las calles.

Estadísticas de Vulnerabilidades para Windows XP, Vista, y Mac OS X en 2007
  XP Vista XP + Vista Mac OS X
Total extremely critical 3 1 4 0
Total highly critical 19 12 23 234
Total moderately critical 2 1 3 2
Total less critical 3 1 4 7
Defectos totales 34 20 44 243
Defectos medios por mes 2.83 1.67 3.67 20.25


Searching for a Search Solution?

By Michael Flanakin @ 11:34 PM :: 1596 Views :: Technology, Microsoft, Open Source/Standards :: Digg it!

Microsoft’s search story has been a bad one. Not because the tools are lacking; it’s the marketing that has hurt the product. You’re probably asking, "What search story?" Windows Desktop Search has been out for desktop users for a while, but I have to say the WDS experience on XP sucks. I’m not sure why it changed so much for Vista, but it’s completely different. After experiencing Vista, I look for search everywhere; and, when it’s not there, it’s my first complaint. Vista sold me; search needs to be completely ubiquitous. If your app doesn’t incorporate search, you’re probably not doing your customers justice.

What is Microsoft doing for enterprise search? The answer over the past year has been SharePoint for Search. Now, you’re probably asking why you need SharePoint. This is exactly the problem. You don’t need SharePoint and, honestly, SharePoint doesn’t have anything to do with it, hence the marketing problem. Well, it seems like things are changing. Microsoft is now pushing Search Server (MSS) 2008. Perhaps one of the best things with this announcement is the lighter-weight companion, Search Server 2008 Express. I don’t know all the rules behind when you would want to use one or the other, but this is a great opportunity.

If you’re asking yourself why you’d want MSS when Google has such a strong search technology, I’d have to argue that perceptions aren’t always reality. I’m not saying Google doesn’t have a good product on their hands; I’m just saying MSS is better than you probably think. I live in search and have for the past 9 years. I picked up on Google fairly early and made it part of my life. When I switched to Windows Live, I thought I’d be missing something, but I wasn’t. I haven’t looked back. I’m not saying it’s been a better experience, but it hasn’t been worse. It’s equivalent. With respect to enterprise search, MSS is hands-down a better choice than Google. Why? Security. Google knows search in the public domain; that’s what it’s good at. Grabbing everything and making it discoverable to the masses. Tell me; do you want your company's contract details and competitive info made available to everyone who has access to the intranet or just those with the right need-to-know? Google can’t give you discoverability and security of sensitive material -- it’s all or nothing. Microsoft has been very good at only showing results to those who have access to them. For this reason, I think Microsoft has a stronger enterprise search story. What’s great is that you can now take advantage of this search and the security included in that within your applications.

You're probably wondering what’s new in MSS. Not much. I’ve seen some talk of a streamlined installation and admin experience, use of the OpenSearch standard, performance and indexing enhancements, and my favorite, no pre-set document limits. This last one surprised me a little. Most of these products, especially “express”-style product lines have limits. That’s right, you heard me correctly. MSS Express has no document limits. Well, at least that’s what I’ve read. I find this pretty astounding, honestly. There’s gotta be a catch somewhere, right? Well, there is one, but I think it’s one you can probably live with. MSS Express only supports single server installs. Most people looking for something like this will probably be perfectly fine with that. Others might be just as happy to know they can get MSS Express to create a prototype and then scale up from there, if necessary.

If you’re interested in search, keep an eye on the MSS team’s blog Syndicated feed. The official release won’t be out until March-ish 2008, but there is a release candidate available. The only other thing I should really mention is that MSS is intended to be a search-only solution. If you have your sights set on collaboration, SharePoint is still going to be the answer for you. Personally, I’m interested on what MSS can do for applications. It may not be the right fit, but it’s something I’d like to look into more.


Microsoft's MDA Foundations

By Michael Flanakin @ 11:16 PM :: 4311 Views :: .NET, Development, Architecture, Microsoft, Open Source/Standards :: Digg it!

I don't know if I'll ever understand Microsoft's official position with respect to UML. Sure, the concept behind domain specific languages (DSLs) is sound, but is it truly necessary? I haven't seen any proof of that. Well, to be more specific, I should say I don't see a need for DSLs when it comes to software analisys and design -- UML has just about everything I've needed and extending it seems to be the logical answer. On the other hand, DSLs are absolutely fantastic for applications that can visualize their data. Honestly, I think more apps should consider DSLs, but when most developers either don't know or don't use software modelling tools, I have to say I'm not surprised. I, for one, have been meaning to dig into Microsoft's DSL Tools, but haven't had the time. One of these days, perhaps. Either way, this is the foundation for Microsoft's MDA approach... well, the development environment, at least. There's an interesting story there, but I'll blog about that later.


More Versioning BS

By Michael Flanakin @ 5:26 PM :: 1662 Views :: .NET, Java, Development, Configuration Mgmt, Microsoft :: Digg it!

It's been a while since I've complained about version numbers, but Rocky Lhotka's Syndicated feed latest post about his versioning scheme for CSLA has sparked another bout. What Rocky is doing is retarded. He's dumbing down version numbers for those who fine versioning difficult. When .NET was first released, this is something I knew was coming. Look at Java, where developers deal with a dozen different frameworks and tools just to work on their project and guess what... they're all different version numbers! Hell, even the desktop and server frameworks are different. Ok, so the latter is a tad ridiculous, but the former makes complete sense. Every tool should have its own version number which accurately depicts its version. Major version numbers only change when there's a major change in the code -- typically a breaking change. Sure, this might include .NET 2.0 vs 3.0, but it doesn't have to. Don't blame Microsoft's stupid version numbers on yours. If your users don't understand proper versioning, why the hell are you listening to them!?

I still have to say .NET 3.0 isn't necessarily wrong. WPF was a major change that should've been introduced as a major upgrade. I'd say that all four parts of .NET 3.0 are major updates. The real problem I see with .NET 3.0 has nothing to do with the version number, but the lack of any other improvements, which would've further justified the version number. Honestly, I would've been fine with 2.1 or 3.0. The real butcher of a job Microsoft did on version numbers was 3.5. What the hell was that!? There were no, nor were there ever planned to be any intermediate versions. Again, I'd have been fine with 2.2 or 3.1, but 3.5 was just stupid. I had hoped this wouldn't turn out to be the next version, but no such luck.

On the lighter side of things, the big improvement for Silverlight will now be Silverlight 2.0. I imagine this had something to do with the .NET 3.x version issues. Either way, it's nice to see.


Mixed Bag of Transparency

By Michael Flanakin @ 9:35 AM :: 1854 Views :: Technology, Microsoft :: Digg it!

There's been a big change in Microsoft in the past five or so years. The biggest thing we've noticed is the increased transparency on key initiatives. The change isn't limited to Microsoft, tho. Weblogs have increased communication between vendors and consumers, which has been great, from a consumer standpoint. I love knowing about what's coming and feeling like I have some say in the future of my favorite apps -- albeit merely a perception and not reality in some cases. I look at the various Microsoft projects and think about how the level of transparency differs. It's kind of amazy how the Visual Studio team is so open, yet the IE team is so closed. I'm starting to think there's a pattern, tho. There seems to be a relationship between the amount of competition a product has and the level of transparency of its team.

Think about it, Visual Studio is unequalled. The closest competition is Eclipse, which is for a different platform. .NET is pretty much the same. Java's out there, but seems to be declining in popularity more and more. Sure, there are plenty other development platforms out there. .NET isn't even the most used; but I'd argue that it is the most popular and newsworthy. Anyway, the point is that, since there isn't a lot of active competition for .NET and Visual Studio, the product teams share a great deal. We have a lot info about what's coming in the next release of Visual Studio and have been seeing previews since before Visual Studio 2008 was released. How many other companies do this? Name one.

Then there's Windows. While Windows may be the most used operating system in the world, there is competition. Consumers are looking at the Mac and the corporate/government world has always kept an eye on Solaris and the various flavors of Linux. The thing I find funny is that it's never about features when discussing Solaris and Linux; at least that's the impression I get. There's obvious competition that's always on the heels of Windows, but the lead is undeniable. Given the comfortable lead, the team shares a good amount. Of course, with the issues Vista had, I expect we'll see slightly less transparency this go-round. We should see a list of features and plenty of CTPs, but not quite what the VS team does.

IE has a lot of competition. The browser market has almost always been a heated battle. IE's losing market share because of the stagnation of IE6, but finally made a comeback with IE7. The market has changed, tho, thanks to Firefox. Opera has always been out there, but never made too significant of an impression. That's too bad, because I think the Opera team does have something to show. The truth is, all browsers are lacking innovation. When's the last time we saw something new? Anyway, I think this heavy competition is why we haven't seen anything from the IE team. I think they have something up their sleeve -- something truly innovative. Maybe it's just wishful thinking, tho. I'm sure we'll see CTPs and/or betas, but not quite as much as with Windows. Zune is another product in this area; perhaps even more so than IE.

The relationship between competition and transparency makes a lot of sense, when you think about it; especially in the corporate world, where money's at stake. I just wish everyone would share insight into their goings-on.