Saturday, February 28, 2009

Windows Phones

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer during a press conference during a Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Photo: MicrosoftSo it’s official, later this year you’ll be able to buy a Windows Phone. Steve Ballmer released details at the Mobile World Congress earlier this month. HTC and LG are both making phones that run Windows Mobile 6.5, which has a more touch friendly interface and includes a vastly improved web browser.

There will also be an online phone app store and phone services that allow you to securely manage your phone content on the web. The phone service is a major step forwards and means that when you get a new phone, you don’t have to mess around with migrating your contacts. It also opens the possibility that Live ID contacts (or even Facebook friends) can automatically update their contact and presence information.

My only question is, will HTC release a Windows Mobile 6.5 ROM Upgrade for the HYTNII? If not, I’ll be up for a new phone.

Visual Studio Gallery

The MSDN team recently launched a new web site called the Visual Studio Gallery, which is basically a portal to help you find products and extensions related to Visual Studio. Most of the posted products are commercial third party but others have been developed on CodePlex and similar open source portals. I did a quick search and found information of NDepend, Resharper and GhostDoc. However, .NET Reflector was surprisingly absent so perhaps the folks at Red Gate Software are a little slow off the mark. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that Mindscape has published their cool WPF Property Grid on the gallery.

It’s also interesting to observe that Lutz Roeder is no longer working on Reflector and has sold the rights to the source. Perhaps he no longer has bandwidth within the Expression Blend team to work on this must-have .NET tool. However, it’s more likely that Red Gate made an offer he couldn’t refuse. Reflector appears to still be available as a free download but this may change some time in the future.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Burn Disc Image Files in Windows 7

I noticed the other day that Windows 7 Beta includes a utility called IsoBurn.exe that allows you to write disk image files to CD and DVD. However, there doesn’t seem to be utility for mounting ISOs, which I think is far more useful. These tools really should have been included in the client OS back in XP, but I guess you could always get a copy of DvdBurn.exe by installing the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit.

BurnDiskImage

On a more interesting note, Windows 7 also allows you to create and attach virtual hard disk files using the Disk Management utility. You can even configure the BCD so you can boot from a virtual hard disk. Aviraj Ajgekar has published a couple of thorough blog articles that walk you through the necessary steps.

CreateVirtualDisk

Monday, February 2, 2009

Where next for Windows 7?

So you may have downloaded and installed the Windows 7 Beta in recent weeks and if you have, you’ll no doubt be thinking about the RTM and wondering when it will become available. You can read the latest from Steven Sinofsky over on the e7blog. In his own words… “The answer is forthcoming”.

Basically, the Windows 7 team is currently improving build quality based on feedback from Beta testing. With the RC milestone just around the corner, much of the focus will move towards ecosystem readiness in preparation for the RTM and General Availability. So there’s still a bit of work required to round out the release. However, if you’ve been using the Beta, you’ve probably noticed that Windows 7 is already feature complete.

On a related topic, Internet Explorer 8 is now at RC1 and available for download. If you have one of the Beta builds, I recommend installing RC1 because you’ll experience far fewer page compatibility issues. Page load time is also significantly improved for many sites.

If you haven’t tried Internet Explorer 8, now is a good time to start. Take a look at some of these videos to preview the new features.