Monday, January 14, 2008

Windows Live Writer

Tonight I thought that I would try out Windows Live Writer. This is part of the new Windows Live suite available from Microsoft, as a free download for either Windows Vista or Windows XP. The suite includes several very nice applications. I've  already tried Windows Live Photo Gallery, Windows Live Mail, and Windows Live Spaces. I've found the photo gallery and the mail application to be excellent. The photo gallery is similar to the Windows Photo Gallery that ships with Windows Vista. It allows basic editing functions and the ability to add tags and or captions. It also allows you to upload to your photos to your Windows Live Spaces account. The Windows Live Mail application is meant to enhance the standard Windows Mail in Vista or Outlook Express in Windows XP. You can add multiple email accounts from either web mail accounts or specific domain based email. The Windows Live Mail supports IMAP or POP mail.

Another interesting component to the new Live Suite is Skydrive. Skydrive gives you 1 Gigabyte of online storage, similar to how you might use a portable USB drive. You can password protect the files or encrypt them for security, and then retrieve them later when needed. You could store a Power Point presentation or a spreadsheet online in Skydrive then retrieve them any where at an remote location with an Internet connection.

Overall Windows Live improves the standard computing experience with Windows XP or Vista. The new mail application allows you to increase you Hotmail account to 5 gigabytes, and you can convert your old Hotmail address to a if you prefer. The mail application is an improvement over the standard mail applications Vista and XP ship with, without having to go to Outlook, which is just to much for some of us, who aren't tied to it at work. Download it for free and give it a try at

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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Vista is a disaster?

I was reading an article in the latest issue of Cpu. Magazine. The authors point was basically that Vista has been a disaster. No one wants it or needs it. Okay it seems that many people with-older hardware, peripherals, or older software applications have had problems with Vista. He also points out Vista is an resource hog.
So the question is, is it worth it?
I run Vista on several machines, all run dual core processors, and each has at least 2 gigs of ram. The new dual and quad core processors available today easily run Vista with a great user experience. DDR2 ram is very inexpensive now, running 2 gigs or more of ram is very cheap. A home built system with the lower end core 2 Intel processor with 2 gigs of ram and a reasonably priced video card can be put together for under $600. Unless you need a computer for extremely high end graphics rendering or high end gaming, a modest computer will give the end user a very nice computing experience with Vista.
One thing can't be argued, Vista is far more secure than XP ever was. Drivers and other software are no longer written to the kernel, this fundamental change makes crashes much less unlikely. The User Account Control or UAC has taken a large amount of the criticism. Having used Mac OSX and several Linux distros, Vista didn't seem to be much more intrusive than these Unix based systems which asks you for a administrative password whenever you install a new program or modify the system in a major way.
One of the major complaints heard about Vista is the lack of compatibility with older hardware. My 3 year old printer works great 1st time, every time, as do all my peripherals.
Unlike XP you can and should operate as a limited user with Vista. Programs can be run or installed with administrative rights safely without having to log out of the regular users account, unlike XP.
Seems some of the high tech mavens have forgotten the nightmare pre-service pack 2 XP was. The firewall was off by default, and difficult to find. You had to buy a 3rd party firewall at the store and install it before you could safely go online. Without the firewall you had the blaster worm before there was time to download the patch. Not to mention many of the gamers were complaining about what an resource hog XP was compared to 98, many didn't switch to XP for a year or two.
So, in short, for me Vista has been stable, and reliable. The new photo gallery and media center work great. I use the sidebar to track my stocks and keep a short term to-do list where I can see it.
Vista certainly has some warts though. Having 5 different versions, not counting all the different combinations of OEM or upgrade licenses is absurd. Just give us 1 version, or maybe a home (Ultimate) and Enterprise for businesses and be done with it. Paying $200.00 for the full Ultimate version would be fine, but $399.00 is ridiculous. And just get rid of Windows Genuine Advantage. Apple has it right with their OS upgrades, $129.00 is reasonable and well worth the price for most versions they deliver. If the price was reasonable less people would pirate and you wouldn't put your users through the activation nonsense.