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This Thread Is About Vista, Please Comment About Your Likes And Dislikes And Problems About Vista

Discussion in 'Safety valve' started by ireland, Mar 6, 2007.

  1. ireland

    ireland Active member

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    This Thread Is About Vista, Please Comment About Your Likes And Dislikes And Problems About Vista


    Please read the below thread and make your comments here..
    There is a News thread about Vista here,which we all keep updated,and please post any news about vista in the below thread...


    http://forums.afterdawn.com/thread_view.cfm/308662

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2007
  2. rcrockett

    rcrockett Regular member

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    Vista sucks.
    That is all.

    Sorry I couldn't be more helpful. :-\
     
  3. janrocks

    janrocks Guest

    I think it's pretty plain that those of us who work with computers for a living aren't going to have anything to do with this turkey..
    A few of us are going to attack our local PC World on tuesday and see if we can get them to change the policy of seling all new pc's with vista.. It should be interesting.. around 20 of us are going to arrive within an hour or so looking to buy a new desktop system.. and then demand that it doesn't have vista installed, we want other things ranging from xp to redhat on it or we won't even consider buying.. Should make 'em squirm a bit.
    I heard it called another name in the shop today.. shi*ster.. nice one..
    Hey Zippy, a new one.. "Only sheeple use shi*ster"
    With wellies on...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 10, 2007
  4. rcrockett

    rcrockett Regular member

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    Linux should really take advantage of the Vista bomb. Maybe they can gain some ground in the desktop market share now.
     
  5. jazo132

    jazo132 Guest

    I just downloaded this program that changes the XP graphics on your computer to the Vista ones. So, it gives you the cool look of Vista with all the advantages of XP. It works great.

    (It's a free program so this isn't piracy)
    Here it is if you want it:
    http://www.softpedia.com/get/System/OS-E...tion-Pack.shtml
     
  6. ireland

    ireland Active member

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    HERE ONE COUNTRY THAT WILL NOT USE VISTA,I WONDER WHO'S NEXT!!!!!!


    France goes Ubuntu

    p2pnet.net news:- "ZUT ALORS!" - says The Inquirer. "In a bid to save cash, the French Parliament is planning to switch to flavour of the month Linux distro, Ubuntu."

    And indeed, says LaTribune, the National Assembly initiative could be interpreted as a political decision aimed at fostering the growth of an open source software industry in France.

    More than 400 French firms are already specializing in developing open source software and predictions are that the sector could create some 50,000 jobs in France between now and 2010, says the story.

    "Following this recommendation two companies, Linagora and Unilog, have been selected to provide the members of the Parliament as well as their assistants new computers containing free software," says Fridge. "This will amount to 1,154 new computers running Ubuntu prior to the start of the next session which occurs in June 2007."

    Ubuntu is a, "free, open source Linux-based operating system that starts with the breadth of Debian and adds regular releases (every six months), a clear focus on the user and usability (it should 'Just Work', TM) and a commitment to security updates with 18 months of support for every release (and with 6.06 LTS you get 3 years on the desktop and 5 on the server!)," says the official site.

    "Ubuntu ships with the latest GNOME release as well as a selection of server and desktop software that makes for a comfortable desktop experience off a single installation CD."
    http://p2pnet.net/story/11619
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2007
  7. ireland

    ireland Active member

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    Vista Ain't So Bad
    Written by special contributor Stephen Reilly on 2007-03-12 17:47:16 UTC
    I have been both a Windows and Linux user for a long time (I started with Windows 3.1 and RedHat 5.1 kernel 2.0.x if I recall correctly) and have stuck with both for various reasons. I'm writing this article not as a DIY lofty vantage platform by which I can bash MS nor as a 'Why you should switched' flame bate piece, but have tried to keep an open mind and reflect the actually experience that I have had with Vista so far, regardless of OS political propaganda. Please keep in mind this is still an opinion piece and most probably to be taken with a pinch of salt.

    Being a gamer, I often upgrade my PC but my AthlonXP 3200+, although really good, was swiftly falling behind the vanguard of computing and I wanted to make the leap to 64 bit (or so goes my reasoning for spending lots of money on some new kit). I decided to build a new PC with PCIe, SLi and hardware virtualisation, support so I bought a Core2 duo E6600 system with 2 GB of ram, an ASUS motherboard with nVidia nForce 590 chip set and two Geforce 7600 cards. Now that I had my new PC, It was time to look into operating systems.

    The Linux part was easily solved (PCLinuxOS does the job really well for the moment) but I really wanted a good Windows system. I had been beta testing Vista 32 bit on my old PC and was actually quite impressed with the system, so I decided to order the Ultimate 64 bit OEM version (€199). Three days later the DVD arrived and I was set.

    A quick side note: This is the first time I personally bought a version of Windows as I was always dead set against it. For years I either copied or cracked the version I was running and always for different reasons (can't afford it, don't pay the man, because I can...) but in resent years this has become more annoying, WGA anyone? I think another reason for buying is that the older I get, the less romantic the notion of rebel becomes.

    Vista's installation is a cinch and for the first time has a nice GUI from start to finish. Although it's a bit limited as far as installation options go, that was no big surprise as every other version prior to Vista has no option for any kind of boot manager configuration or installation on a non primary partition. What did strike me as strange was I could not find any optional component selection menu. I remember having the option to select which components I want during installation as far back as Win95 and although I don't remember any such option menu for Win3.1, I'm willing to bet there was one.

    Having finished the installation, I created a new user and quickly found out that UAC still applies to the Admin user, a good thing in my opinion. The only issue I have with UAC is not actually UAC itself but that most ISVs have been let off the hook in Windows, at least as far as security goes, and every installation or attempt to update trigger the UAC dialog. I promptly turned it off awaiting a more Vista compatible time.

    The driver situation for Vista was (and to a certain extent still is) a bit lacking as far as stable, fully functional drivers are concerned. I had a fare idea that SLi would not yet be supported buy nVidia and that I would need to wait a while to get the full benefit of my graphical hardware. Having run Linux for quite some time I am well used to driver issues and, as I like to tinker, I was not put off by this in the least. What did annoy me was the lack of drivers from Creative Labs. I have a Sound Blaster X-Fi platinum, again mostly for gaming purposes, and I swiftly found out that the only available 64 bit drivers for Vista where not only still beta but also gave me poor output. In the mean time, nVidia has released stable drivers without SLi as well as beta drivers with SLi support and both work exceptionally well. Apparently this lack of descent support by Creative is not just with Vista but also with the 64 bit version of XP. The amount of people complaining on Creative's own forum is truly amazing. I do understand that allot of this is due to a completely revamped audio framework but if nVidia can do it, so can Creative.

    In the mean time, Vista 64 bit support seems to be getting there with every other hardware vendor. My Logitech cordless mouse works great with the latest SetPoint download and my MS curvy keyboard is much better supported than when I first started beta testing Vista.

    As far as hard drive read, write and access time goes, I was really let down to begin with. Copying files from one partition to another, on the same disk, slowed my system right down to a crawl. After Googeling the problem, I found out it had more to do with my chip set than Vista, so I downloaded the latest drivers, which increased disk access, read and write times to what I was used to in XP.

    On the other hand, the new indexing system in Vista will trash to crap out of your hard drive for the first few days and as I was still using the original SATAI hard drive from my previous PC, this soon turned sour. The limited lifespan of hard dives has never become more apparent to me as when I started hearing heavy clunks coming from my new black box. I decided to go for two 300 GB SATAII hard drives in a RAID0 configuration, something I have wanted to do since I bought my new motherboard. All is well until, after reinstalling Vista, I needed to reactivate it. The automatic on line activation failed so I needed to call their telephone activation line and as I live in Luxembourg, the closest activation number to call is in France. I called, was asked to input 54 digits divided into nine times six digit groups by a pre-recorded voice message. After this had completed, I was asked if this was to first time I was reactivating Vista and how many machines this copy was installed on. I was then put through to a customer service representative who asked me the same questions again, asked me to wait until the clearance code came through and after about 2 minutes on hold, told me their system was down and I would have to call back in ten minutes. I promptly hung up without answering.

    Two hours later, having sufficiently calmed down, I called the number for Ireland (my home country) and after having input the same numbers and answered the same questions, I was put through to, for once, a really nice guy with a very heavy accent that I still can't place. After working out what we where trying to say to each other, we managed to get my system reactivated. After all that, I started wondering if it would not have been easer to just crack Vista and be done with it. I am sure other people have thought the same.

    I have been reading allot about Vista and DRM and although I have had not issues with DRM so far, I am not at all happy with the path that MS chose. Wasting money on trying to restrict what people can do with what they have purchased is a crime in my honest opinion. The only positive side to this is that no matter the kind of DRM, it has always been cracked. The day that the entertainment industry, MS, Apple and anyone else involved learns this, the better.

    The little things make a big difference when I compare Vista to XP. Superfetch does make the system allot more responsive. I find Aero to be more than just eye candy as it does leave the processor free for other tasks, again adding to a more responsive system. I'm sure people will think the 2 GB RAM helps but my last system had 2 GB and in no way did XP feel this snappy.

    As far as software compatibility goes, all my favorite application work fine and although the selection I use is not all that large, I am still very happy with this result. Most importantly, all my games run flawlessly now that I have descent SLi support.

    I wouldn't recommend a switch to Vista, especially for Linux or Mac users as you will definitely get nothing new here. For XP users wanting to go 64 bit I recommend waiting for another few months at least but for people like me who want to run one of the latest desktop operating systems you could do much worse than Vista.
    http://www.osnews.com/story.php?news_id=17472
     
  8. ireland

    ireland Active member

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    to tell ye the truth,vista is not that bad,it needs updated just like xp-poop..

    i been a beta tester for vista and got my free copy.after playing with vista all those months,i pulled the vista hard drive and i will reinstall the drive when microsuck brings out vista sp-1..

    xp-poop was crap when it first came out..right!!!!
    service pack 1,1a then sp-2 fixed most of the problems,right..
    cheers
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2007
  9. tranquash

    tranquash Regular member

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    !!!
    ???
    lol
     
  10. ireland

    ireland Active member

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    Microsoft confirms Vista OEM hack

    In response to widespread chatter on blogs and forums, Microsoft has acknowledged the presence of hacks that may allow pirates to bypass the product activation security feature in its Windows Vista operating system.

    According to a post by Microsoft Senior Product Manager Alex Kochis on the Windows Genuine Advantage developers' blog, Microsoft has identified two ways in which hackers have broken the product activation security feature on original equipment manufacturer PCs that come bundled with Vista. But the Redmond, Wash.-based tech giant does not yet have plans to snuff out this threat.

    "We focus on hacks that pose threats to our customers, partners and products," Kochis wrote. "Our goal isn't to stop every 'mad scientist' that's on a mission to hack Windows. Our first goal is to disrupt the business model of organized counterfeiters and protect users from becoming unknowing victims."

    Microsoft first introduced product activation as a security feature with its Windows XP operating system, which launched in 2001.


    Reports of a vulnerability in Vista's product activation began to surface last month with word of a crack called "Vista Loader 2.0," an enhanced version of the "Vista Loader 1.0" that was devised by Chinese hackers, according to a March 10 post on the My Digital Life blog. Vista Loader, the post explained, simulates an OEM motherboard's basic input-output system, software that is responsible for communication between the machine's hardware and the operating system. Consequently, with a BIOS simulator, the registration process that would normally lock out an unauthorized copy of Windows Vista could be bypassed.

    While Microsoft is not immediately taking action, Kochis did acknowledge on the Windows Genuine Advantage blog that this could be a problem. "Because Windows Vista can't be pirated as easily as Windows XP, it's possible that the increased pressure will result in more interest in efforts to attack the OEM Activation 2.0 implementation," Kochis wrote.

    Last month, it was believed that hackers had found a loophole in Vista's product registration, but Microsoft refuted the claim shortly afterward. Another alleged hack, this one involving a random product key generator, was also debunked in March.
    http://news.com.com/2100-1002_3-6175615.html?part=rss&tag=2547-1_3-0-20&subj=news
     
  11. ireland

    ireland Active member

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    Vista DRM could hide malware
    Posted by l33tdawg on Friday, April 13, 2007 - 02:06 AM (Reads: 7)
    Source: ZDNet (Asia)


    A security researcher has released a proof-of-concept program that hackers could use to exploit Windows Vista digital rights management processes to hide malware. Alex Ionescu claims to have developed the program--D-Pin Purr v1.0--that will arbitrarily enable and disable protected processes in Vista, Microsoft's latest operating system. Screenshots on Ionescu's blog suggest the program can be run successfully. Ionescu included stack information related to one of the processes that is by default protected on Vista. Try to retrieve that information using Process Explorer and you get an error message. In Ionescu's screenshot, taken after allegedly removing the protection, the information is visible. The binary for the program, which is available for download, is currently being tested by security experts. Fraser Howard, a principal virus researcher at security vendor Sophos, told ZDNet UK that the program looks feasible. At the time of writing Howard had managed to get it running, but had not managed to successfully protect and unprotect processes on his machine.



    Vista DRM could hide malware
    By Tom Espiner, ZDNet UK
    Friday , April 13 2007 07:43 AM

    A security researcher has released a proof-of-concept program that hackers could use to exploit Windows Vista digital rights management processes to hide malware.

    Alex Ionescu claims to have developed the program--D-Pin Purr v1.0--that will arbitrarily enable and disable protected processes in Vista, Microsoft's latest operating system.
    Advertisement

    Screenshots on Ionescu's blog suggest the program can be run successfully. Ionescu included stack information related to one of the processes that is by default protected on Vista. Try to retrieve that information using Process Explorer and you get an error message. In Ionescu's screenshot, taken after allegedly removing the protection, the information is visible.

    The binary for the program, which is available for download, is currently being tested by security experts. Fraser Howard, a principal virus researcher at security vendor Sophos, told ZDNet UK that the program looks feasible. At the time of writing Howard had managed to get it running, but had not managed to successfully protect and unprotect processes on his machine.

    "I have not confirmed it, but I have little doubt it will work as intended [to remove protection]," said Howard. "This should mean it is perfectly possible to add protection to processes as well."

    The source code for the program is not available. Should the source code of the program become available to hackers, this could mean that other processes would not be able to properly "inspect" the hacked protected process, according to Howard.

    "The fact that the DRM within Vista presents a mechanism through which code may attempt to restrict what other processes--including security applications--are able to do, is a problem in itself. The presence of that problem creates a hive of activity with people trying to hijack the mechanism, either as a proof of concept, or as a malicious attack," Howard said. "In this case, the source code has not been released, just a binary which can be used to demonstrate the issue. Had there been source code, I am sure we would see malware authors trying to add that functionality to malware. As it is, supposing the claims are valid, there will no doubt be authors looking to include such functionality themselves into their malware."

    With no release of any source code or details, Howard was unable to comment on how Ionescu had managed to develop D-Pin Purr v1.0. "The binary deliberately uses obfuscation to limit the number of people who could reverse engineer and misuse that knowledge," said Howard. "But it does use a driver--Microsoft states in its documentation that people should not use a driver to bypass the protection mechanism."

    Howard said that to run the binary to add and remove protection, users need to be running the code with elevated privileges.

    Microsoft could offer no comment at the time of writing.

    http://www.zdnetasia.com/news/security/0,39044215,62004683,00.htm
     
  12. ireland

    ireland Active member

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    Will Vista's *real* sales performance please stand up?

    By Joel Hruska | Published: April 12, 2007 - 11:50PM CT

    Measuring the sales performance and market impact of a product like Windows Vista is never easy, even under the best of circumstances. Microsoft serves a worldwide market of consumers across an array of market segments from basic consumers to high-end business IT, so any attempt to draw broad, soundbite-compressed conclusions on launch performance inevitably paints the specific and individual traits of emerging international markets with a very broad overall brush. This lost or obscured data could potentially explain why Microsoft Vista sales (and sale trends) are either excellent or disappointing, depending on whom you talk to. The problem doesn't seem to be confined to the press—even Steve Ballmer evidently isn't sure what to expect.

    Recently released earnings statements from Best Buy and Circuit City muddy the waters still further. Although both companies say that that demand for Vista impacted their PC segments, the direction of impact was different for each company. In Best Buy's case, the company reported a 10 percent overall increase in PC and computer service sales, while Circuit City reported a $12.2 million loss for the quarter, and stated that sales were less than expected. Unlike Best Buy, which aggressively pushed Vista sales, upgrades, and systems, Circuit City focused on keeping Vista PC inventory lean—and in the process, drove some business straight into the arms of their competitor. Yet it seems each day we hear stories about how no one actually wants Vista.

    So how's Vista really selling? 20+ million units don't lie: Vista is selling well, certainly well enough that it will eventually take its place as Microsoft's most "popular selling" OS. By comparison, Apple's most recent release, OS X Tiger, sold approximately 2 million copies in its first month. Calling Vista a "failure" would seem both short-sighted and a little silly at this early date.

    Still, demand isn't as great as some had hoped. Major PC manufacturers such as Acer are saying that Vista has a negligible impact on sales, certainly less than they were hoping for. Some of the confusion ultimately stems from the fact that PC market growth has moved into developing nations where piracy is rampant and low-margin systems (which are less likely to be Vista capable) are a significant driving force behind segment expansion.

    Current information indicates that Vista has had a significant impact on consumer-oriented system sales and a smaller-to-negligible impact in other markets. With corporate customers tending to adopt a wait-and-see approach, and Vista's existing sales numbers having been buoyed partly by the expansion of the PC market, existing data seems to indicate that rather than being good or bad, the trends we're seeing reflect "business as usual" in the PC industry.

    http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/pos...s-real-sales-performance-please-stand-up.html
     
  13. ireland

    ireland Active member

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    Last edited: Apr 13, 2007
  14. ireland

    ireland Active member

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    Dear Mr. Gates: save Vista, open-source it

    Apr. 13, 2007

    Although Microsoft may claim otherwise, Vista, from both from a technical and business point of view, is proving to be a failure. Why not turn it over to people who have shown time after time that they can deliver the goods?


    Let's look at the facts, shall we?

    Spread the word:
    digg this story
    Microsoft claimed that more than 20 million copies of Windows Vista were sold around the world in February 2007, its first full month of sales. I, and many others, don't believe those claims for a minute. What's a lot more important than what I think though is what Goldman Sachs, the international investment bank, thinks. And, Goldman Sachs thinks that Microsoft is no longer worthy of being on its must buy "conviction list."

    Why? Goldman analyst Sarah Friar in a research note wrote, "Product upgrade cycles should provide strong revenue and profit growth in the next 12-plus months. Normally, this would make us view the stock as a must-own. At the same time, these launches may also mark the end of an era, as changing technology and business models seek to diminish Microsoft's hold on the desktop, which in turn significantly depletes the cash cow."

    Besides, maybe Vista won't do that well anyway. "Investor nervousness remains high, particularly given uncertainty regarding spending plans in 2008 and recent negative management comments on Vista." Negative management comments? Why yes, Microsoft's own CEO Steve Ballmer warned analysts that "some of the Windows revenue forecasts I've seen are overly aggressive.''

    Looking ahead, Goldman also sees, "Changing technology and business models in areas such as software-as-a-service, virtualization and open source seek to diminish Microsoft's stranglehold on the desktop, which in turn significantly depletes the company's cash cow."

    Even sites that work to promote Microsoft's products, like Redmond Channel Partner senior editor Lee Pender have admitted that "For now, though, Vista has to be a disappointment. Given how long it took to release and how much of a financial boost Microsoft needs from it right now, Vista just isn't building the momentum or gaining the kind of market traction that Redmond would like to see. Maybe the main problem with Vista is that XP is actually too good -- or at least too mature and familiar. Those stringent Vista hardware requirements don't help, either. And despite the half-a-billion dollars Microsoft is spending to promote Vista, the new OS hasn't exactly captured the public's imagination."

    He won't get any argument from me. I've been dismissive of Vista's chances in the marketplace for some time now. It's more than just poor business execution, Vista has major technical problems. For example, as Microsoft blogger Mary Jo Foley points out, we all know now that Vista's Fast Boot feature is actually a bad joke.

    Other users have found that even some of Vista's "features" are actually annoyances. Even Windows fans, such as noted blogger and former TechTV host Chris Pirillo, have given up on Vista. What I find most troubling about Vista's future is that after all those promises of how much better Vista's security will be, now we're finding out that Vista security is just as lousy as the rest of the Windows family.

    I predicted that Vista would have serious security problems from the start, but I find this current crop of problems -- the ANI cursor mess and the three CSRSS (Client/Server Runtime Server Subsystem) bugs -- especially disturbing. That's because these are problems that are common to the entire Windows family. Vista was supposed to be all new and all better. Yeah. Right.

    CSRSS is an essential subsystem of Windows that manages most Windows graphical commands. It wasn't rewritten. ANI, on the other hand, is a trivial program that animates cursors. It wasn't rewritten either. So what are we to think? After years of work, after years of being told Microsoft was making security job one, Windows users are stuck with the same old, same old when it comes to security.

    I have a modest suggestion. Since Microsoft can't fix the buggy old code under Vista's pretty new Aero exterior, why not open-source it and let free software developers do the job for them. I'm serious.

    Open-source software has its bugs too, but generally speaking open-source developers fix their programs' security in hours to weeks. Microsoft? Please. Months can go by before security holes are fixed and, in the meantime, crackers create so-called zero-day attacks to exploit long-known security problems.

    Besides, as I've pointed out before, Windows is fundamentally flawed because even Vista is based on a single user PC operating system that's trying to work in a world where all computers are networked to all other computers.

    I first saw this kind of problem back in 1992 with Windows for Workgroups, and 15 years later security holes showing that basic flaw are still showing up. This gives an even stronger reason to sic the open-source developers on Windows. Look at Linux. Without the advantage of having any of Unix's source code, Linus Torvalds created an open operating system that also freed itself of many of the problems that came with the earlier Unix distributions.

    After all, if Linux wasn't better than SCO OpenServer and a host of other now long forgotten x86 based Unixes such as Consensys, Interactive, UHC, Microport and Univel, we'd still be talking about Unix instead of Linux as competition for Windows.

    Since Microsoft's developers themselves are unhappy with how Vista had been developed and with the years of delay, why not try something different? Why not turn it over to people who have shown time after time that they can deliver the goods?

    If Microsoft doesn't, I foresee Microsoft bowing to the inevitable and releasing Microsoft Linux in 2010. Hey, Oracle is giving its own house brand of Red Hat Linux a try. Why not Microsoft? After all, it's not like Microsoft can deliver a quality operating system.


    -- Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols
    http://www.linux-watch.com/news/NS2930812631.html
     
  15. ireland

    ireland Active member

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    MS Requiring More Expensive Vista if Running Mac
    Posted by Zonk on Saturday April 14, @05:36PM
    from the they've-got-to-make-money-somehow-right dept.
    Microsoft Apple
    ktwdallas writes "Mathew Ingram from Canada's Globe and Mail writes that Microsoft will require at least the $299 Business version of Vista or higher if installing on a Mac with virtualization. Running the cheaper Basic or Premium versions would be a violation of their user agreement. Accordinding to the article, Microsoft's reasoning is 'because of security issues with virtualization technology'. Sounds suspiciously like a 'Mac penalty' cost that Microsoft is trying to justify."


    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20070412.TQ5MACMAC/TPStory//
     
  16. ireland

    ireland Active member

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    http://www.theinquirer.net/default.aspx?article=38926
     
  17. jazo132

    jazo132 Guest

    Okay I have a copy of Vista now, but I'm a little hesitant in installing it. Can somebody just give me a simple likes and dislikes list without a novel? Just something quick to read through before I install. Thanks!
     
  18. ireland

    ireland Active member

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    Last edited: Apr 15, 2007
  19. pepsimaxx

    pepsimaxx Regular member

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    got a laptop yesterday, no more with XP on them, only Vista. man, i see so many similarities to Mac OS X.. good going Microsucks.
     
  20. ireland

    ireland Active member

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    Working Around Vista Apps' Incompatibilities


    Posted by kdawson on Sunday April 15, @01:02PM
    from the thousands-and-thousands dept.
    Windows
    An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft says there are over 1,000 applications you can run on Windows Vista with few, if any, issues. However, Windows apps number in the tens of thousands. Add to that the facts that x64 Vista versions don't support legacy 16-bit code, and that the Windows Resource Protection in Vista breaks some apps, and you've got a big issue. InformationWeek lists a host of workarounds in How To Manage Windows Vista Application Compatibility. Among the tips discussed are Vista's compatibility mode, its Program Compatibility Assistant wizard, and a little-known form of file and registry virtualization that's built into the OS. What problems have you encountered with incompatible apps, and are any issues you've encountered deal-breakers that could further roil the already muddied adoption picture for Vista?"



    How To Manage Windows Vista Application Compatibility

    Migrating to Vista means big changes in application support. Will your applications work in Vista? Here are some strategies and tools to mitigate the impact of moving to the new OS.

    By Danielle Ruest and Nelson Ruest, InformationWeek
    April 14, 2007
    URL: http://www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=198800462

    As of the end of March, 2007, 129 applications were certified or designed for Windows Vista, and 922 applications worked or were compatible with Windows Vista. Think that's a lot? Well, it does add up to over 1,000 applications you can run on Windows Vista with few, if any, issues. But, given that there are tens of thousands of applications designed for Windows, this first thousand is just a drop in the bucket.

    Making existing applications work for Vista is a big job. Microsoft is keeping track of each application that passes its bar and is providing weekly updates through its Knowledge Base. But this obviously doesn't suit everyone.

    Take, for example, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), part of the Department of Commerce, which has decided to ban Windows Vista -- for now -- from its internal computing networks. Or the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration, both of which have also decided to impose a temporary blackout on Windows Vista.

    Besides grabbing attention, such a ban puts a focus on Vista's support of current and legacy applications. Vista contains a series of changes in the way it supports applications (after all, Microsoft performed a rewrite of all the Windows code for Vista). In some cases, these changes are system-wide -- in others they affect specific areas of application operation. In both cases, they can break applications.

    Luckily, there are a number of solutions as well:

    Problem: The version number for Windows has changed -- Vista is number 6. While this occurs each time a new version of Windows is released, it will affect applications because some apps check version numbers at installation, others during operation, and yet others during both installation and operation.

    Solution: Installation logic is easy to modify if you have the right tools. Software packaging tools such as Altiris Wise Package Studio and Macrovision AdminStudio let you edit version numbers both in standalone installations and in installations which are integrated with the Windows Installer service. Changing the version numbers when an application is running is more difficult because you would normally need to modify the application's code, but you can also run the application in one of the many compatible modes Vista supports.

    Problem: The 64-bit or x64 versions of Windows Vista don't support 16-bit code. In fact, while x64 editions of Windows support 32-bit applications as well as native 64-bit applications, they no longer support any 16-bit code at all.

    Solution: Several 32-bit applications still rely on 16-bit installers; in these cases, x64 editions of Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, and Vista will automatically convert these installers to their 32-bit equivalents during installation.

    (If an application is designed as a true 32-bit application, it will work well on x64 Vista and in many cases, work even better than on x86 or 32-bit editions of Windows. That's because Vista x64 breaks the 4GB memory limitation x86 systems face and grants more resources in general to applications.)

    However, 16-bit applications will not install at all on x64 versions of Windows. Problem: The feature that will have the most impact on application compatibility is User Account Control (UAC).

    When UAC is turned on, each user runs with a standard user token no matter what their normal privileges are. Standard user tokens use the "least user access principle," which means that each operation is performed with no administrative access rights. When an operation requires administrative rights, a special prompt is displayed to provide it. If you are an administrator, you simply click Allow or Disallow, but when you are a standard user, you have to provide the name of an administrative account as well as its password to authorize the operation.

    This means that it is now much easier to run locked-down systems because everyone, even administrators, can work with a standard user account. When prompted, administrators can provide their high-privilege credentials -- whereas users will never see this prompt in the first place if you configure your settings properly. This helps keep systems secure at all times. But running without administrative rights will often break poorly-written applications, because they try to write in locations that are not available to users with standard access rights. This is the case for many legacy applications.

    Solution: Several solutions exist. Vista's virtualization of both the file and registry may help by redirecting application components to user-writable areas of the system. Applications can be rewritten to correct their behavior. Applications can also be virtualized through third-party tools such as Microsoft SoftGrid Application Virtualization, Altiris Software Virtualization Solution, or Thinstall Virtualization Suite. This lets the application run in a sandbox, isolating it and preventing it from making changes to the system. Or the application can be supported by a tool such as Altiris Application Control Solution or BeyondTrust Privilege Manager. Both tools provide elevated access rights on the fly when users run a legacy application that does not work with UAC.

    Incidentally, one great way to identify potential issues with UAC is to run the application through the LUA Buglight tool. LUA Buglight (LUA stands for "Limited User Access") is a free tool developed by Aaron Margosis, a senior consultant with Microsoft Consulting Services. Basically, LUA Buglight scans an application as it runs to identify any activities that require administrative rights. Once these activities are identified, you can correct the code, correct the application's configuration, or try running it in a compatibility mode. Aaron's blog also provides a lot of information on potential solutions for running applications in "non-admin" mode.

    If you find this all really frustrating, you can, of course, disable UAC through the Group Policy settings, but we would certainly not recommend that you do so. Everyone should be running as a standard user -- even in Windows XP. It isn't always easy, but it is possible and definitely more secure.

    Problem: Another change that will break some applications is Windows Resource Protection (WRP), which is Windows System File Protection on steroids. WRP protects both the file system and the registry from unauthorized changes to the system. When an application tries to write to protected areas of the system, it fails. Many legacy applications will do this because they were never written with system protection in mind.

    Solution: Try running the application in compatibility mode or correct the application if you have access to the source code.

    Problem: Session 0 is the core session the operating system kernel operates within. In previous versions of Windows, applications were allowed to operate in Session 0, but any application that would fail while operating at this level would cause the entire operating system to fail.

    In Vista, Session 0 is now reserved for operating system functions only. Services that operate at this level and try to display user interfaces will fail because Session 0 no longer supports any such interfaces.

    Solution: Vista will try to automatically redirect these interfaces to user sessions, but this may not work. The best way to correct these issues is to update the application to use global objects instead of local objects and display all interfaces in user mode.

    Solutions Within Vista
    Given all these issues, you would think most applications fail on Vista, but this is not quite the case. Vista includes several features that try to mitigate application issues.

    Like Windows XP, Vista includes compatibility modes which you can assign to different applications to have them run properly. In addition, Vista includes the Program Compatibility Assistant (PCA), which is a remake of the Program Compatibility wizard found in XP.

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    The PCA monitors applications for failures and will automatically apply compatibility modes when they are detected. If an installation fails, the PCA will suggest that it be rerun with settings changes. Basically, the PCA modifies the compatibility settings in the application's properties. In most cases, the installation works correctly after this change. This can be done manually as well.

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    Along with the PCA, Microsoft has introduced a form of file and registry virtualization. This means that when it detects an application that would normally write to protected areas of the system, Vista will try to use its virtualization settings to redirect the application's output to unprotected areas. Vista's file virtualization will automatically redirect offensive file writes to a folder structure called C:\Virtual Store\SID\Program Files\... where the SID is the security identifier of the user running the application. Similarly, Vista's registry virtualization will redirect system-wide registry keys -- keys that would normally be stored within the HKEY_Local_Machine\Software structure -- to HKEY_Classes_Root\VirtualStore\Machine\Software.

    This is nothing like true software virtualization, which provides complete protection from any application modifications for the operating system. Software virtualization systems such as those mentioned earlier provide the best ways to support application compatibility in Vista. These tools allow you to prepare an application on a previous version of Windows and then copy it to a Vista system where it will run in protected mode. You copy the application instead of installing it because the preparation process for software virtualization captures the running state of an application, not its installation process. This revolutionary process should take off as organizations realize the benefits of true software virtualization -- and as they migrate to Windows Vista.

    Get Into The ACT
    If you're not ready for full-blown software virtualization, then you should look to a separate tool offered by Microsoft: the Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT). ACT is designed to assist the identification and remediation of application compatibility issues. It does this in three ways:

    1. A collector package can be generated from the ACT interface to perform application inventory collections from client systems. This collector package requires administrative access rights for installation, so organizations wanting to use ACT will need to devise a method for deployment of this package if their systems are locked down.

    2. Once deployed, the package will run on client systems for a defined period of time. It will collect inventory information and report it back to the central ACT database. This information will include the name of the application, version number and manufacturer as well as some operational data such as whether it was used or not during the time interval you set the package to run for.

    3. After the information is collected, you can create shims (code snippets) to add to the application's installation logic to correct any known issues.

    ACT provides a lot of information as it gathers inventory from your network. Of most value is the audit data telling you whether the application was used or not during the time period of the analysis. Many organizations find themselves in a situation where they have applications installed on systems but these applications are not used by the principal user of that system (systems are more often assigned to one single principal user). This can be caused by a number of factors, the most common being that very few organizations uninstall applications when they are no longer required.

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    It's a common scenario: The system is built for user A who needs application X; user A moves to a new position and the PC is passed on to user B; User B needs application Y; IT deploys application Y but never takes the time to remove Application X. A Vista migration is the ideal time to reset the clock back to zero and perform a massive cleanup on all PCs. After all, why bother redeploying an application that is not used? ACT and other similar usage analysis or auditing tools can greatly help at this level.

    ACT also lets you share application data with the Microsoft Compatibility Exchange, a central repository of data generated by IT pros as well as commercial application vendors. In return, you get feedback from others on the applications in your network. Of course, you choose to opt in or not as you wish, but building a community of application data is a good idea.

    The problem lies with the validity of the data. Since it is shared mostly anonymously, this data can be questionable. In addition, you only get information on the applications you submit, so you can't delve into data on other applications. In addition, few organizations will choose to share data on their own internally-developed applications -- and these are often the cause of most compatibility issues.

    Final Thoughts
    In the end, though, you should seriously consider moving to software virtualization during your Vista migration. Software virtualization allows you to package applications once and only once to deploy them to your PCs. Virtualized applications do not touch the operating system so your systems stay pristine at all times.

    In addition, though they interact with the OS and with other applications, all virtualized applications are sandboxed, letting you run applications with known issues on the same system. For example, you can run Microsoft Access 97, 2000, 2003, and 2007 on the same system at the same time. Virtualization will also save you lots of money when it is time to perform your next migration.

    Moving applications to Vista is a lot of work. If you move applications traditionally, you'll find that the effort required to get each and every application to install and run properly on Vista will be significant. What's worse, it will be an effort you'll have to do all over again when it is time to move to another future version of Windows. If you virtualize applications, not only will your preparation efforts be significantly shorter, but the application package you prepare today should be compatible with any future version of Windows.

    Danielle Ruest and Nelson Ruest are IT professionals specializing in systems administration, migration planning, software management and architecture design. You can reach them at info@reso-net.com.

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