A slight increase in site traffic today…

Posted in Microsoft, Technology by The Editor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ajay Bhatt

Don’t try to act so surprised, we all know before today the only person who read this blog was me!

Today I feel like Ajay Bhatt!

What a day it has been, it appears the previous post regarding the Windows 7 party pack unboxing has proven to be quite popular across the Internet. It has been covered by rather large and popular names such as Ars Technica (who were very pleasant and asked me a few questions about the party pack and my emails, you can read more plus the interview on their website). Also big names The Consumerist and Engadget covered this blog entry in their news stories. Not to mention lots of forums, folk on Twitter and various other social networking and tech websites.

It’s quite a lot to take in to see your daily visitors jump from 31 to approaching 20,000 and still counting (I’m getting hits every 3 to 4 seconds, incredible). I shall enjoy my 5 minutes of web fame before falling off the map in to obscurity!

Some answers to frequently asked questions about the party pack

  • Yes I received both 32bit and 64bit editions. The 64bit edition comes in the form of an Anytime Upgrade DVD which comes separately in the package. You can see it in the white disc sleeve on the photos. The other disc which is in the black Windows 7 card sleeve is the 32bit DVD.
  • I have installed the Signature Ultimate Edition tonight and can confirm it a) needs activating, which it did successfully so it is not a different kind of key and b) it is just Ultimate Edition with different packaging. I have yet to find anything different about it from a quick snoop around.
  • I’ll take some more snaps of the bags if you wish although my schedule is rather busy right now, if I said the weekend, many folk will likely have received their packages by then so images may appear for you sooner than you think!
  • No I am not a plant, nor do I work for Microsoft. I simply sent an email with no intention of receiving a reply but Microsoft graciously replied to my email and very kindly offered me the gift.
  • No my bedsheets are not from the 1940′s.
  • Has anyone else played Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days yet? I’m looking forward to getting stuck in to it this weekend!

Thank you for all your great comments both on this site and across the ones I have seen so far on the Internet. I hope maybe some (or hopefully all!) of you will return here some day to read more articles at Stuff I Wrote.

Thank you!

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Windows 7 Party Pack Unboxed!

Posted in Microsoft, Technology by The Editor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Steve Ballmer Win7 launch

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!

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

Posted in Microsoft, Technology by The Editor | Tags: , , , ,

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?

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