Now Available: Windows Vista Resource Kit

Windows Vista Resource KitThe Windows Vista Resource Kit is now available for order from Amazon.com or your local bookstore. It’s the definitive guide on Vista, and there can’t possibly be another book like it–nobody else had direct access to internal Microsoft product managers and developers like we (the Vista Resource Kit authors) did. Not only did we lean on those internal resources heavily for the details of how everything in Vista works, but those guys contributed many “Direct from the source” sidebars describing the inner workings of different Vista features.

Many thanks to Mitch and Jerry (the other authors), Martin DelRe, Linda Engelman, and the dozens of other Microsofties who helped make it possible!

Hope you like it!

Live Messenger for Vista Available

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Live Messenger 8.1 is finally out of beta. Hopefully, it won’t crash as often. Don’t forget to close Messenger and Outlook first (it’ll warn you if you don’t), and disable all those unnecessary components!

Interestingly, setup didn’t require a UAC prompt until half-way through setup…

Tip of the hat to Steve Clayton for cluing me in–not sure why Messenger didn’t notify me of the update automatically.

Vista Performance Test by PC World–Not Good

If you’re a subscriber, check out the Vista: Not Slow article in the News & Trends section of the latest issue of PC World.

In summary, the article concludes:

  • Overall, Vista is 5-25% slower. It’s especially bad with integrated graphics, so get yourself a separate graphics card.
  • Having a dual-core processor helps Vista catch up or even pass Windows XP for multitasked programs, because Vista is optimized for multitasking.
  • Aero doesn’t slow things down. Yey.
  • You should have at least 1GB of RAM. True, though Vista does fine with less memory, in my experience. Upgrading to 2GB improved Photoshop performance 5-20% but didn’t help with most tasks. In my experience, for desktop use when running many applications (like I do), 2GB is a MUST.
  • Everything is slower on 64-bit Vista than 32-bit Vista. Their tests showed 64-bit as 0-25% slower, probably averaging around 10% slower. Should I say I told you so?
  • ReadyBoost slightly hurt performance. They admit that the test scenarios might not be well suited to it. My tests showed ReadyBoost can help A LOT, or not at all, depending on your hardware.

My summary:

  • If you have a single-core processor with integrated graphics and less than 1GB of RAM, Vista will be a little more sluggish than Windows XP, at least with current drivers.
  • If you have a dual-core processor and a separate graphics card, you probably won’t notice any performance difference.
  • Wait six months and test Vista performance again. I bet Vista will win once driver developers optimize their code a little better.

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Defense-in-depth Protects Vista from Vulnerability

Michael Howard has the type of post only an insider could make, describing why Windows Vista isn’t effected by the MS007-04 bulletin. Basically, Microsoft’s new development tools were created with security in mind, and libraries automatically check for overflows (where an attacker tries to insert a number that’s bigger than the program is expecting). Windows XP was compiled with an earlier version of the libraries that required developers to manually check the size and range of input values… and many developers forget to check their inputs.
Applications created for the .NET Framework have always benefited from this type of protection; I’m glad to see it getting built into C++, and thus into the Windows Vista libraries.

How to get Windows Vista Ultimate with Software Assurance

Businesses often use Software Assurance, a licensing plan from Microsoft, to manage their Microsoft licensing. Unfortunately, Windows Vista Ultimate isn’t available through Software Assurance. Ultimate really isn’t intended for businesses, because it has many features that you can’t manage by using Group Policy (like Media Center). But, Microsoft knows that IT guys don’t want to be told they have to use a limited feature set, so they’re giving Software Assurance customers a way to get Vista Ultimate.

Basically, have your Microsoft Volume Licensing administrator head over to your volume licensing site and order the Vista Ultimate media (you can’t download it).

Detailed instructions are available from Eric Ligman here and here. Eric also provides instructions for downloading Vista Enterprise (if you’re a Software Assurance customer)–the version of Vista that really is intended for business use.

Monster announces first Media Center Extender for Vista

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Fellow MVP Chris Lanier points out that Monster is the first to announce a Media Center Extender for Vista (well, besides the XBox 360).

I’m disappointed, because I currently have three Windows XP Media Center Extenders spread throughout my house, and I love them. They won’t work with Vista, though, and I don’t want to put an XBox 360 in every room with a TV. Everything from Monster is high-end and thus very expensive, and from the looks of the device, this won’t be any different. I was hoping that another vendor would announce something at CES… They haven’t, which means we won’t be seeing any extenders for quite a while.

Here are more details from CEPro.