Category Archives: Microsoft

Microsoft Calculator Plus

In traipsing around Microsoft.com, I stumbled across what I believed was the Calculator PowerToy – a nice upgrade to the calculator that ships with Windows. Turns out, Microsoft Calculator Plus is an entirely new calculator (which sadly looks better in “Classic View” than in the default skin). Give Calculator Plus a try and you’ll wonder why they’re not shipping this version with Vista. At least, Calculator Plus not in Windows Vista Beta 2. This makes absolutely no sense to me. Microsoft (itself) already has an infinitely better version of a calculator available for free download on their site, yet they’re not including it (yet?) in Windows Vista. Why!? Are they afraid the DOJ is going to come after them for cornering the desktop calculator market? “Calculator Plus offers conversions between different measurement units for area, temperature, volume and more. It also includes all the mathematical functions offered in Microsoft Calculator.” Finally!

65 Reasons Why Outlook 2007 Will Suck

It started with a small list of Outlook look-outs. But the closer I look at Outlook 2007’s second beta, the more I’m starting to worry. It’s worse than I thought. I know many people disagreed with my assessment of Outlook 2003 (what, with it sucking – though not sucking as much as Outlook XP). However, I’ve been partially vindicated.

The major shortcoming of Outlook XP/2003 was in combining the Exchange and Internet code into a single experience. The good news is: the team has rectified the situation in Outlook 2007 by enabling separate Exchange / Internet environments. Still, they’re not even close to being out of the “Approved by Pirillo” forest. Many of the items on the following list may seem superficial, but it’s obvious that nobody is paying attention to these details that (when added up) make for a disappointing ride that isn’t as good as one would come to expect from the second-most profitable area of Microsoft. I hold the entire Outlook team responsible for these usability nightmares and interface inconsistencies.

Remember, this list is an extended addendum to my original assessment of Outlook 2007 (and initial bug reports). I stopped at 65 this time because that’s how old I turned after compiling this list.
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Vista ReadyBoost

So, one of the nifty new features of Windows Vista is – a feature that enables you to plug in a USB 2.0 Thumb Drive and have it show up as physical memory in your system. I wanted to give this a shot, so I rushed out and picked up the highest capacity USB 2.0 drive that I could find: A PNY Attache 4.0GB USB stick. I plugged ‘er in, selected the “Speed up my System” AutoPlay option, and waited for the magic to happen. Turns out, it’s not fast enough!? Okay, so back to the store I’ll go – looking for a high-capacity, high-speed USB 2.0 thumb drive to ReadyBoost my Vista laptop. Since Microsoft isn’t making any recommendations, I need to start compiling a list of which sticks work and which ones won’t. Gotta find a Wiki plugin for WordPress!

Outlook 2007 Might Not Suck!

I can’t believe this. I’m giving Microsoft Office Beta 2 a shot, after receiving the DVD set at WinHEC yesterday. It’s running on my Vista Beta 2 laptop right now. The first thing I did? Fire up Outlook to see if they had addressed a few of the larger bugs I’ve been submitting to them since before Outlook XP was unleashed onto an unsuspecting public. It’s not perfect, but it’s showing a bit of promise. They have a lot of UI work to clean up before I could give this my stamp of approval. Here’s my first round of feedback…
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Gnomedex Diamond Sponsorship

Microsoft is this year’s Gnomedex Diamond Sponsor. We’re involving various departments, and Ponzi has a handle on all of that. I’m not sure if they’re going to be announcing anything this year or not, though. We certainly couldn’t be doing Gnomedex without the support of them and other top-level sponsors (like Yahoo!, who’s come in at the Gold level). More top-level sponsors will be announced soon… as well as a few other surprises. If you haven’t yet reserved your ticket, I wouldn’t wait too much longer.

The Media Center Sandbox

Found this while trying a link in Windows Vista last night – through Charlie comes The Media Center Sandbox. There’s not much going on there right now, but he did admit to this being a soft launch. Not sure how much softer it could be, but certainly a place that I’ll be keeping my eye on. Communities like these are the ones that produce fantastic tools that most people never discover. If you have a Media Center (MCE), you might want to play in the sandbox, too. I’ve got my Media Center sitting next to me at my desk – but I completely forgot to reconnect the cable to the splitter after I was finished troubleshooting a Comcast problem the other day. Argh! Well, it certainly makes for a great radio tuner (although you can’t really record radio programming through MCE right now). Good luck with the Media Center sandbox, Charlie!

Microsoft Slows Microsoft Down

Microsoft Slows Microsoft Down.PNG

The screen shot from Windows Vista proves it. Any comment, Brandon? Of course, I’d expect a lot of these kinds of bugs in beta builds – especially when one beta is combined with another beta. The search “engine” is light years better than it was in previous verisons of Windows, or so the Search team tells me. I haven’t yet tried to copy my PST over into Outlook. I’ll be using Vista more and more on the road, as it’s now my laptop OS.

Windows Vista Feedback

I spent a few hours with Windows Vista last night, per Jim Allchin’s request to send him feedback about what I discovered in terms of discrepancies and oversights. I took that task seriously, and stayed up late to compile this far-from-comprehensive list. I sent it to him at 1am, and I hope he doesn’t have a filter that keeps him from seeing it. I realize this list is lengthy, but… these reasons are exactly why I’m afraid Vista won’t be as polished as originally anticipated. I warn you, this list is long – and it’s only going to get longer, the deeper I dive into Vista Beta 2. This list is longer than the interview! If you think this list is long, check out my follow-up list of 65 More Windows Vista Mistakes.
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