Stuff I Wrote logo

Archive for the ‘annoyance’ tag

Windows 7 Party Pack Unboxed!

with 83 comments

Scratch what I said before, today I just received Windows 7 Ultimate Edition (for FREE!).

This post could be interpreted as an ode to the fantastic customer service you can receive from Microsoft. Actually scratch that, this post IS an ode to the fantastic customer service you can receive from Microsoft.

You can stop rubbing your eyes, it’s true.

About two weeks ago I happened upon a news item stating Microsoft were to celebrate the launch of Windows 7 worldwide by offering potential customers the opportunity to host their own Windows 7 launch parties. For your troubles (and assuming you were successful in being selected to host a launch party) you would receive a whole host of goodies in your ‘party pack’.

The official line was a mixed bag but was satisfactory although ultimately disappointing. I was not expecting to be graciously offered a USA Party Pack for gratis though!

Thinking this to be a great idea, and a great chance to grab a copy of Windows 7, I hastily made my way to the application website eager to submit my details in the hopes of making the cut to host a party. Unfortunately, living on an island the size of a pea doesn’t fall under the radar of countries eligible to participate in the promotion.

I was livid, every other region of the world was being represented here except for the Caribbean. Finding this to be a touch xenophobic I made a concerted effort to contact various folk at Microsoft (thanks The Consumerist!) to express my opinion and frustration. What happened next I could never have expected.

I received a reply via email the very next day.

A very courteous email arrived explaining reasons why the Caribbean region was not covered in the promotion. The official line was a mixed bag but was satisfactory although ultimately disappointing. I was not expecting to be graciously offered a USA Party Pack for gratis though! I submitted my delivery details as requested and sure enough today I received a giant box from Microsoft the contents of which you can see in my unboxing pictures below.

The goodies are actually very nice, especially the Windows 7 tote bags, perfect for the Cayman Islands for the beach! Also included were Windows 7 branded napkins, a puzzle pack; the pieces come together to form a wallpaper image from Windows 7. There was also a pack of Windows 7 playing cards, a colour poster and of course the piece de resistance, a FULL copy of Windows 7 Ultimate Edition (Steve Ballmer Signature Edition). What I was not expecting though was the Anytime Upgrade to Ultimate Signature 64 bit edition. A nice bonus!

I feel very fortunate to have been offered the free party pack, but I hope also that the words I sent to Microsoft may make them reconsider their promotional strategy next time round. People do live in the Caribbean too you know!

VN:F [1.7.2_963]
Rating: +22 (from 26 votes)

Written by The Editor

September 29th, 2009 at 7:35 pm

Windows 7. Confusion central or, Why so many versions (again)?

with 2 comments

Microsoft Wndows 7

You’d have thought Microsoft would have learned something from the fiasco that was Windows Millennium Windows Vista. Microsoft Windows Vista started life as a disaster even Irwin Allen would have been proud of. Yet with Windows 7 now at the RTM stage (for the non-tech heads amongst us that means it is past the testing stage now and has been released to manufacture) I can’t help but feel like my head requires further scratching at the decision taken by Microsoft to have so many versions of their operating system. It was a failure when Vista was released and it will remain a failure when Windows 7 hits the shelves.

It’s like Ferrari offering you a choice of a Ferrari 458 Italia, the luxurious new ride from Italy’s finest and a Ferrari 458 Italia Basic Edition, only available in ‘certain countries’, that has a brown interior and the engine from an Austin Maxi.

I’m currently using the Release Candidate version of Windows 7 and must admit, from my use of this new operating system I feel it is far better than Windows Vista and would go so far as to say it is finally time to cast Windows XP aside and go ahead with Windows 7. The problem I have however is deciding which version I will want to buy.

There are many websites offering detailed opinion and comparisons of the different versions of Windows 7 that will be available, including Microsoft’s own ridiculous looking comparison and upgrade charts. I found a great list of the features available and missing from each version at Paul Thurrott’s Super Site. At first glance I actually cannot fathom why the extra features available in the Ultimate/Enterprise versions (both are the same, they only differ in the way they are handled on the licensing side) when they could have consolidated Ultimate/Enterprise extra features in to the Professional edition. It just makes no sense to have to pay a stack more money in order to access features that are only of any real use in a business environment which would be better suited loaded in to Windows 7 Professional.

Streamlining and Xenophobia

By discontinuing the Enterprise/Ultimate editions, consumer version confusion could be significantly reduced by following the simpler version track as utilized by Windows XP. That being a choice of two versions Home and Professional. Nice and simple, you choose one or the other. Done.

Of course in retrospect, the Professional version of Windows XP was initially available as an Enterprise version (until rampant piracy stomped all over it) and maybe it could have been made applicable to Windows 7 Professional (see what I done there?).

As for the various Basic and Starter versions, again this is a non-starter in my mind. If these versions were designed with ‘certain countries’ in mind not only is that xenophobic but it’s also borderline ridiculous to assume that these ‘certain countries’ are reduced to using a stripped down version of Windows 7.

What’s the point of giving them a ‘nearly-OS’? If it is based on the assumption that these nations do not have cutting edge technology in abundance then why give them the option to upgrade to a ‘nearly-OS’?. It clearly will not offer the same experience as that to be used by other nations. It’s like Ferrari offering you a choice of a Ferrari 458 Italia, the luxurious new ride from Italy’s finest and a Ferrari 458 Italia Basic Edition, only available in ‘certain countries’, that has a brown interior and the engine from an Austin Maxi.

A case of new clothes for an emperor

So what is missing from Windows 7 Professional that is exclusive to Windows 7 Enterprise/Ultimate? According to the version comparisons listed at Paul Thurrott’s SuperSite Windows 7 Enterprise/Ultimate features BitLocker, BitLocker To Go, AppLocker, Direct Access, Branch Cache, MUI language packs and boot from VHD.

I took a look at these extra features and cannot fathom why these extras should slap an additional $20 on to the price tag. Seriously, twenty whole little dollars separates Windows Enterprise/Ultimate from the mainstream retail versions.

Twenty whole little dollars will buy you a bunch of features that really offer nothing very new or exciting and would actually be better off featured in the mainstream retail editions. The biggest con of all I feel is the ‘boot from VHD’ feature. The ability to boot an OS from a virtual disk image is already possible and for FREE by way of utilizing Virtualbox from Sun Microsystems Inc. The same applies for BitLocker, there are plenty of FREE open source applications available capable of encrypting entire volumes. Microsoft have a nerve to charge an additional cost for features that are available for free elsewhere.

It’s still great though

Version stupidity aside though, I must confess that I am very impressed (so far) with Windows 7. I love how it runs on even the slowest of systems (again, no need for the Starter/Basic editions really is there?) and installs literally in minutes (at least via a USB stick anyway).

I’ll most likely plump for Windows 7 Professional edition when it hits stores, I can see absolutely no justification at all to warrant getting the Enterprise/Ultimate version and I think Microsoft kind of see it that way too by only offering Ultimate on the retail side of things in limited numbers. I imagine eventually we will see this version dropped and the extra features found in that version made available via Windows Update.

At least Microsoft done something right and dumped the ‘E’ from the European versions. How about going a step further?

VN:F [1.7.2_963]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Written by The Editor

August 7th, 2009 at 1:10 pm

Late night hack attack!

without comments

Hackers

In case you actually visited this site at some point within the last 24hrs, this quick test post is just to let you know the site is slowly making it’s way back online after a hack attack.

I cannot pinpoint the exact cause of the problem but after a extensive research I found I was not alone in my suffering. Other Wordpress users had suffered the exact same fate. Some nasty so-and-so has been exploiting a Wordpress, or possibly Filezilla bug and posting IFRAME code across random pages of blogs.

Needless to say I took stock of the situation and ran, taking the decision to start fresh seeing as I had backups of my data. With the site still in it’s infancy I have the luxury of starting fresh. Some may not be so lucky, I feel for you.

I’ve taken appropriate action on the security side of things too so hopefully this will not happen again. Hopefully the exploit will be covered up soon enough (whatever it is that is found to be the problem).

For now, please bare with me as I get the site back up and running.

VN:F [1.7.2_963]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Written by The Editor

June 30th, 2009 at 3:35 pm