Tag Archives: Microsoft

VS2012 Express for Desktop

I’ve been waiting for this for a while so I was glad when they finally released this. Now for some initial feedback.

First off, the download was reasonable – size and speed wise. The installation was, lets just say ok – as I had to reboot since it had to update some libraries that were is ‘use’ at the time. Registration was also not too bad – since I have an old existing Hotmail/Live account where more of the details were already populated. Running it for the first time is where the shock comes in… it is as ugly as hell (reminds me death, all grey and boring). Unfortunately the same would apply to any of the other Express and even full versions of VS2012.

VS2012 Express For Desktop development

Functionality wise it provides just the very basics – not that you can expect anything more. Since I haven’t installed the ‘full’ express version I cannot comment on any other functionality that version might have. Anyway, The only templates worth mentioning is the Windows Forms, WPF and Console ones. Again, one cannot expect anything more of this release. Interestingly enough, when creating a new project the framework version cannot be changed on the ‘create project’ dialog screen. You can only change this ‘after’ the project has already been created.

One nice thing is that you can still create custom toolbars with ‘external’ commands – I use it to run a source backup tool I created some time ago. Another thing to remember is that this tool can be installed in Windows 7, unlike the full Express version that can ONLY be installed on Windows 8. The Web express version can also be installed on 7 (plus the TFS Express version).

If you excuse the way it looks (wearing shades to protect your eyes) then this tool is not that bad… Just wish they allowed old fashioned ‘themes’ to change the look and feel of the entire editor. Ah well, it is an ‘Express’ product… Fortunately you can import your VS 2010 color and font settings to get all your customizations back (even though it does moan about a whole bunch of settings that are not applicable to this edition which you can ignore)

In order to try it out you can follow this link.

If you like to change the overall theme and don’t like the built-in Light or Dark there are some more options if you look at this blog entry.

Microsoft announce tablet

I have to admit, the general feeling towards Windows 8 is still not a positive one – definitely if you look at it from a desktop/productivity perspective. BUT, seeing the pictures of the newly announced Microsoft tablets there may be some hope for Microsoft/Windows – as long as you are in the ‘tablet’ or consumer market. They are to be branded ‘Surface’ or Microsoft boutique multi-touch tablets. Looks awsum! (but then these are marketing pictures…)

Microsoft tablet

Microsoft tablet (shamelessly copied from techreport site ūüėČ )

One positive feature of both (yes that’s right two) models is the battery life. The ARM (NVidia) based one has something like a 31 watt-hour battery while the Intel one has 42 watt-hour. If that is true these little machines would really be nice for people that are always on the move. The Intel model features a full HD display while the ARM model has an expansion slot (Micro HD). Both models include an detachable ‘soft’ keyboard. Storage is not in the PC arena but still a useful 32 or 64GB on the ARM model and 64/128GB on the Intel one.

Keyboard choices

Keyboard choices

On a¬†slightly¬†negative side they only have USB 2.0 ports (not 100% sure about the Intel one) plus only the ARM model includes a copy of Office. The tablets will be sold in Microsoft ‘stores’ thus meaning it won’t be available in our beloved S of A. Our only option would be to try to buy it online or smuggle one in with a friend that was visiting the US of A.

Well, good luck Microsoft, perhaps there is some hope for ya.

Update: apparently the Intel based version does have USB 3.0. Nice.

Rumours of desktop development death greatly exaggerated

Ok, Microsoft has restored some faith from my side in them – after announcing that the new Visual Studio 11 (now called VS 2012) would NOT support any desktop development anymore.

They eventually changed their minds due to a lot of pressure and decided to release a desktop specific version as well – see this.

A quote from the article:

With this new Express edition, developers will be able to use C++, C#, or Visual Basic to create Windows desktop and console applications. Developers will also get access to new advances available across the Express family in Visual Studio 2012, such as the latest compilers and programming language tools, integrated unit testing, and the ability for small development teams to collaborate via Team Explorer and TFS Express.

Now, we just need to get MS to drop Metro and BioWare to fix Mass Effect 3’s ending… and the world could be a happy place again… hehe

Death to desktop development

Well, perhaps that is what Microsoft is trying to achieve with its latest move to remove all desktop development functionality from its Express versions of Visual Studio. Yes, you can still create desktop apps in the ‘pro’ version but at something like $500 it isn’t cheap for hobbyist op someone that is still learning. ¬†Lately they have been making all kind of wild and ridiculous decisions trying to push their new ‘Retro’, eh I mean ‘Metro’ interface down our¬†throats. I for one don’t like this new interface ‘on the desktop’ at all and I’m definitely not the only one!

Just looking at the comments in articles like these¬†you can get the impression that more and more people (developers) are really not liking this new direction that ‘they’ are taking. It is one thing to create something new and exciting but another to actively alienate/irritate your existing followers just to try and push them into a new direction (which might or might not¬†suit them). Is this rush to try and play ‘catch-up’ with ‘the fruit company’ so important that they actually are shooting themselves in the foot? Yes, that is right, they are actively playing the catch-up game but is loosing it with every move they are trying. Not a good move if you want to survive in the end. As big as they are (once) ‘they’ are now in the ‘failing’ game – as Adam Savage would say – Failure is always an option. Microsoft is now ‘living’ that lotto!

Was good knowing ya: RIP Microsoft 1975-2012

Not a good day to be a chair…

Ok this could be hilarious if it was even more funny… Forbes named the top ‘worse’ CEO’s of all companies and Microsoft is at the top (or is that bottom…). I’m sure some investors would not be impressed.

Lets hope the chairs at Redmond have all their life cover up to date. This could be the end….

Fun in the sandpit.. or not

Just a few comments (just my thoughts) about the whole ARM version of Windows 8 that won’t allow 3rd part browsers (desktop apps).

In ¬†a way this is not Microsoft’s fault as the underlying architecture (processor) is totally different meaning applications (the actual binaries) need to be written to support this – and that is up to the developers of the app. Then again, Microsoft is creating the operating system which ‘host’ the applications and provide the API’s that the applications should use. It all depends on ‘how’ the applications are written how tightly they are tied to the underlying infrastructure. In an ideal world the OS should provide ‘ALL’ the API’s that any applications might need so they never need to be even aware of the actual hardware they are running on. I’m not sure is that is the case for Firefox or Chrome (they might have their own optimized code to better make use of specific hardware… but I don’t know).

The other problem is that Microsoft is trying to move away from the whole Windows API (at least the i386/Win32 stuff) which is a problem for ‘real’ applications (a I would have called them). Microsoft has been busy for years to try and create a new ‘middleware’ layer they call ‘.Net framework’ that should ‘shield’ applications from hardware details. Unfortunately very few of the larger application providers has ever taken .Net seriously (including some MS departments themselves).

Perhaps a simpler¬†metaphor¬†could explain this ‘issue’ better. Say we see the ‘OS’ as a sandbox (like a real one kids play in…). The applications are the toys. The users are the children playing in/with the sand (and yes, kids sometimes through their toys out the… you know…). Now MS is trying to make a new sandbox with a different type of sand but the toys weren’t made to work with that kind of sand (ye ye its fictional). The guys making the ‘toys’ are now complaining that their ‘toys’ won’t work in that sandbox which mean the kids there won’t be able to play with them. Big deal! So what? Perhaps the toy makers must just make their own damn sandbox (which they already have/or are in the process of making). As things look now there won’t be too many kids in this new sandbox anyway (my opinion) and it will fail miserably (since that other fruit company already has a new BIG and exciting sandpit where all the new ‘cool’ and ‘hip’ kids hang out…

Seems to me there will be a whole lot of toys and sand being thrown around soon with a lot of kids ending up with sand in their faces/mouths so no one is gona be ending on a happy note. Perhaps its time someone clean out their own sandpit of all the ‘bad’ stuff in there already before they think of getting a new one… hehe Jus saying….

The future of the PC

First of, I’m coming from a background of mostly PC background (hardware, software, development, support and admin). I’ve been in ‘this’ business for more than 15 years (more actually) and have seen and lived through multiple waves of changes in the IT world – heck I still remember the days we were worried everything is going to stop working moving from DOS 6.22 to that ‘awful’ Windows 95 with the default graphical interface… hehe Anyway, I think we are the doorstep of such another major jump… well actually it is already busy, it’s just a matter of getting use to the new direction of the ‘flow’!

Second of, I don’t think the classic PC is going to¬†disappear¬†soon. No matter what the fruit company is telling everyone. But things are changing for the PC world and we can all (each one of us) choose whether we wanna go along for the ride or hang on to the side until the wave takes us in. Lately the trend is everything is going ‘mobile’ – or ‘without wires’ at least. It is ironic that Microsoft is one of those that actually had a finger in the pie starting all of this and each time something interesting started showing up they stayed behind. Now – no matter what they claim, they are playing catch-up. But it may not be a bad thing – then again it ¬†could be…

Windows 8 and Microsoft

Personally I’m not a fan of Metro – but only if I’m viewing it from the traditional ‘PC side’. As an OS for touch devices like tablets it is really good! The issue is just that it doesn’t play nice with older stuff – like older hardware, software, users…. Hardware will eventually be replaced with newer stuff, software as well even though it might take a bit longer (some application vendors might take longer to adjust if they still exist…) and then users… that is where the ‘something brown’ hits the fan…. People get upset with change. Everyone does, its part of life. The older you are the more full of ‘brown stuff’ you become ūüôā However, even ¬†users will adapt… eventually… hopefully. The question is how much will have changed in the interim until Microsoft can reclaim their old market share in terms of users, applications etc. Are they gona survive this transition? They might be big but even they can only survive ‘so long’ on ‘old cash’. Time will tell… They might end up with two sets of ‘user bases’, the old PC world and the new hip mobile world. They are big enough (now) to support it but like explained just above, things will change. All I can say is good luck and hold on tight!

Us developers

If you are in the world of application and system development then you should already know things have been changing (unless you are living on a tropical island isolated from the rest of the world – hey I’d like to be with ya!). The changes will require some rewriting of stuff, scrapping of others and creating some new ones as well. It could be interesting. Some old applications could be ported to the newer ‘world’. Others can’t be because they fundamentally work differently and require things that the mobile world can’t or not yet support. Take something like software development itself. It is kind of hard to do writing code on a tablet for several reasons – like screen size, multi tasking (running and debugging at the same time). Compiling code also takes up some real heavy resources – when dealing with ‘real’ systems being coded/developed. Mobiles just don’t have what it takes… yet.

Then, the current generation of touch devices mostly focus on touch (ok fruit company has a voice thing as well but it is really just a toy now). Perhaps with things like Kinect things will change if there are more ways to interact with devices. Again, only time will tell.

The future of the PC

To summarize the summary of a summary: The death of the PC has been greatly¬†exaggerated. The ol grrl still has som kick in er… Shis juss putten some new dress on…

And remember’, Panic IS an option’. Perhaps not the best one but…

A new year – 2012

A new year has come and perhaps some things might be different (if you believe all that Mayan calendar stuff etc.) but mostly it probably would be a case of ‘more of the same’ with few sporadic changes here and there. Sounds like a weather forecast…

On the personal front there is at least Mass effect 3 to look forward to and ‘moa’ hitting the big 4 later the year (like in 40).

On the technology front, hopefully this year would be the (start of) year of Microsoft entering the successful tablet market (lets not mention the previous attempts that went nowhere). I’m still not impressed with the Windows 8 metro interface – for traditional PC’s and the fact that they (Microsoft) is again abandoning their own supporters (.Net and specifically Windows applications). Seems it is the one thing you can count on from them – no matter how much they push something they eventually will drop it and the whole community that supports it.

Apple had a few good years but I suspect that will come to an end soon as there are now too many competitors and mr Jobs is not with us anymore. They have been loosing more and more court cases and their products are not that much more ‘better’ than the rest. However, expect them to hang around for a while as they have become so big that quick failure is not that easy anymore.

Google and the Android/Chrome crowd may reaching new heights and Firefox (and IE) will continue to loose market share. That is a bit of a sour point – ever since Firefox started to do things ‘Chrome’ style they have been chasing the ‘others’ in the market instead of leading by example. I’ll still use Firefox for a while though… IE will probably loose even more ground this year as no one takes it seriously anymore. The bad name that IE6 gave it (plus the anti-trust case remnants) will prevent any new market share growth soon.

If by chance the Mayans had it right then at least we don’t have to worry anymore about global warming, corrupt politicians, no good sci-fi, invasion from Mars or anything remotely as bad. But enough of the moaning and groaning…

Or maybe I must just admit I’m getting old…


Microsoft Access Database Engine for 64-bit

Wow I must have missed this one when it was released but it (has the potential to) solves some problems with accessing Access databases (*.mdb) from a 64-bit process. I haven’t tested it yet and the description mention that you can only use the 32-bit driver on Windows XP (sp3) but at least it should work for Windows 7 (and yes that other one…Vista as well).

Download link: Microsoft Access Database Engine 2010 Redistributable



Moving the SQL server databases of a BizTalk (2006) installation

This is hopefully not something you have to do often and even more so for a production environment!

Firstly if you don’t have any applications installed yet or don’t worry about re-installing everything then rather go ahead and do a fresh install. Secondly, if you can recreate the sql server with exactly the same name – that should be safest option because you don’t need to make any changes to the BizTalk front end servers. Lastly, you can try the ‘restore’ vb scripts that is located in the ‘C:\Program Files\Microsoft BizTalk Server 2006\Schema\Restore’ directory of the BizTalk server(s).

To use these scripts you have to perform the following steps (after making proper backups of the ‘whole’ environment)

1. Stop all host instances plus SSO services.

2. Edit the sample xml file and replace all the placeholder names ‘SourceServer’ and ‘DestinationServer’ plus uncomment the sections you need and save the file.

3. Run the 2 scripts ‘UpdateDatabase.vbs’ (once) and ‘UpdateRegistry.vbs’ (on each BizTalk server).

4. Start SSO service (master first)

5. Start BizTalk hosts

6. If it worked go buy yourself a drink… else start praying…