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Fix For Windows Vista 64-Bit Internet Explorer 7 User String Bug

Aaron Stebner has posted about some particularly thorny issues with installing MSN Remote Record on 64-bit versions of Windows Vista. Turns out Vista x64 has two versions of Internet Explorer 7, one 32-bit and one 64-bit, and the two have different ways of announcing themselves to websites. To demonstrate, these are the user strings websites read when visited by the two browsers in Vista x64:

  • 32-bit: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows NT 6.0; WOW64; SLCC1; .NET CLR 2.0.50727; .NET CLR 3.0.04506)
  • 64-bit: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows NT 6.0; Win64; x64; .NET CLR 2.0.50727; SLCC1; Media Center PC 5.0)

As you can see, only the 64-bit version has Media Center listed. This means that webpages, downloads and web applications that use Media Center are going to think you are running a version of Windows that does not have Media Center, and if they require that, not let you through (also, the 64-bit does not mention .NET 3.0, even though it is installed).

If you are running Vista 64, download Robert McLaws’ Registry fix that balances the two user strings, making sure they both have accurate and full data. Seems like a pretty stupid mistake for Microsoft to make, and not even the only one facing Remote Record on x64, as Aaron explains in the rest of his post.

Some other stuff:

Here’s something some Diggers found funny:


Yeah, a page on that misspells “Microsoft”. Yeah, you’d think they’d know how that one goes.

Long Zheng has done a mockup of what Windows Vista would be named if the Windows Live team named it. It’s a bit complicated, but I think it comes out to:

Microsoft Windows Live XP 07 for Workgroup PCs Plus! Ultimate Extras “N” built on NT and XP technologies (32-bit and 64-bit edition) with advanced security & Internet Explorer [Tablet PC and Media Center enabled]

In other words: Microsoft’s shortest product name in years!

Funny stuff, but even worse is that Stefan Ventura has calculated that Windows Live Hotmail will have 59 letters in its name by 2018, making it the most sophistocated brand on the market.

You gotta love this Microsoft website, which asks you some questions and tells you which Microsoft Office product you are. I thought I was Powerpoint, but it turns out I’m Microsoft Word. Cool stuff. Guess it makes sense that if you write for a living, you should be Word.
(via Inside Office Online)

February 12th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Applications, Windows, Humor, Internet Explorer, Office, Hotmail, Vista, Live | no comments

Sinofsky’s On To Something: Codenames Must Die

Brandon LeBlanc had this to say about the brand change of Windows Live Mail to Windows Live Hotmail (emphasis mine):

While I’ve grown extremely tired of these ongoing brand changes within Windows Live that further adds to its branding confusion as a whole - I think this branding change for Windows Live Mail to Windows Live Hotmail is a smart move and I am glad Microsoft has chosen to do this.

Microsoft has a codename problem. Practically every software/hardware company on the planet uses codenames for products in development, but Microsoft codenames have become an obsession by themselves. Wikipedia has a 13-page article on Microsoft codenames. It does not have such an article on any other company. Mary Jo Foley did a popular month-long series on Microsoft codenames this past December.

Microsoft has a rich history of codenames, unique to it of any company in history. That legacy needs to end.

Occasionally, a company has a codename problem, with the codename causing brand confusion, especially when the codename is better than the product name. Nintendo faced this problem for half a year after it announced its codename: Revolution console would be named the Wii, a problem that only went away when the thing was a huge success.

Microsoft has this problem all the time. People are still referring to Windows codename: Longhorn today, even though the final name of Vista was announced 18 months ago, and that Vista is nearly a completely seperate project from Longhorn. Windows Mobile 6.0 is probably going to be called “Crossbow” for the next year or so. Many analysts and Microsoft employees have complained of products that have better codenames than final brand names. The next version of Windows is on its third codename, first BlackComb, then Vienna, now Windows 7.

And therein lies the beginning of a solution. Windows 7 is the first version of Windows Microsoft will develop under a non-word codename. Steven Sinofsky took over as head of Windows development last week, and his first action was to kill off “Vienna”, bringing the same conventions used by the Office team (Office 2007 was Office 12) to Windows.

It was a smart move, one that will hopefully prevent the media from obsessing over a codename and confusing the customers in the long run. Microsofties probably love choosing codenames, with their rich history at the company, but I think it’s an idea whose time has gone. Microsoft products need boring codenames that put the focus back on the product, codenames that are forgotten as soon as the product is given a real name.

My suggestion: Borrow from the car industry. The car industry has been using many car names that mean absolutely nothing, especially the luxury car industry. Cars hit the market with names like RL, 530i, 325Ci, LS 430, GS 300, 9-2x, STS, CTS-V, RX, E320, and SLK. It is one of the most bone-headed decisions by the industry, but it could work extremely well for software codenames.

Windows 7 is a good start, but it doesn’t go far enough. The media will still latch on the “7″ name, and if the product name stinks (Windows Grass), the “7″ name will be even harder to forget, confusing customers. All Microsoft codenames should follow a serial number designation, with Windows 7 being WGC, for W=Windows family, G=7, and C=client operating system. From there, programs for Windows 7 would be appended onto the WGC designation, and future versions would be variations on the name. The same thing would work for Word 14, which could be called OLW (O=Office family, L=14, W=word processor).

Microsoft needs to take the emphasis off codename (which inspires product teams to come up with cool, memorable names), and not release brand names until the name is 100% the final one. Calling it Windows Live Mail, then Windows Live Hotmail, only shows indecision, and they need to find something and stick with it.

Customers, especially those testing out beta products, need to know from the beginning that the product has no name. This could have been simple, if Windows Live Mail had been codenamed Live/mail/0[beta], and only announced its name as “Microsoft LM0 - Windows Live email” throughout the beta process.

The codename, as well as any preliminary product names, should be designed to send a message to the user, the media, and the development community that “This is not the final product name”. Confusion is bad for business, and Microsoft has enough communication problems as it is. Make the change, simplify things, and get back to the business of making great software.

February 8th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, MSN, Windows, Hotmail, Corporate, Live, Mail | 6 comments

Windows Live Hotmail Announced

Microsoft is about to announce that Windows Live Mail is being renamed Windows Live Hotmail. The reason I’ve been given is that it is an effort to end the brand confusion, that customer feedback showed so much loyalty and familiarity with the Hotmail brand name that they had to keep it. Microsoft says they want to keep the focus on the great new UI and all the new features, not on a new name or anything like that.

I think it’s a great idea. Hotmail is a hugely famous brand, a part of the internet’s history, but that isn’t the only reason I like the idea of keeping it. There have been a lot of complaints lately about the Windows Live branding, and associating the famous Hotmail brand with the Windows Live name, will clear up confusion, not just about email, but will help associate the entire platform with the old MSN platform, helping users make the link in their heads.

Good choice by Microsoft.

UPDATE: Mail Call, the official Windows Live email blog, announces the change, at just about the same moment I posted this (you’d almost think I was waiting there, or something). Here’s what Richard Sim, senior product manager, had to say:

We also found that many users were extremely loyal to the Hotmail brand and perceived the beta as an upgrade to Hotmail. In fact, our most loyal users have been very happy with Hotmail for years and while they loved the improvements in the beta, some were a bit confused by name change.

As we prepare to launch the final version of our new web mail service, we recognize the importance of ensuring that our 260+ million existing customers come over to the new service smoothly and without confusion. By adopting the name “Windows Live Hotmail”, we believe we’re bringing together the best of both worlds – new and old. We’re able to offer the great new technology that Windows Live has to offer while also bringing the emotional connection many existing and loyal users have with Hotmail.

Brandon LeBlanc has some good thoughts about this, good enough that I feel inspired to write a seperate post about something that’s seems to be bugging more than just me.

February 8th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, MSN, Windows, Hotmail, Live, Mail | no comments

Windows Live Mail Milestone 9 Released

The Windows Live Mail team has dropped Milestone 9 (or M9), another step on the path to replacing Hotmail. Hopefully, Milestone 10 will be the last one before final release.

The most interesting change in this release is that Classic view is now the default view. The Classic view is the one designed for less compatible browsers, as well as easier to manage for users who are too used to the old Hotmail, and can’t stomach all the bells and whistles of Windows Live Mail. The Classic view will be the view shown to new users switching over to Hotmail so they don’t freak out at the new system, and have time before they decide to start using the advanced features.

I hate the idea of the new users losing out on the great features, but I’m guessing the user studies told them this was necessary.

Classic view has been enhanced, too, and is damn fast, faster in fact than Hotmail is. They’ve also added a bunch of interface changes, and full support for Firefox. Kandarp details all the features with screenshots, including the new Today page:

The new toolbar:

And some additional things you can do with contacts while composing email in classic view:

January 25th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, MSN, Windows, Hotmail, Live, Mail | 5 comments

Hotmail Increases Storage To 1 Gigabyte

Microsoft has increased the storage space in Hotmail to one gigabyte, bringing it in line with what Yahoo Mail offers. Gmail currently offers 2,785 gigabytes, a number that literally increases every day. This is the third time Microsoft has increased the storage for Hotmail recently, first to 25 megabytes, then 250 megabytes, then now.

One question: Why not wait for the wide release of Windows Live Mail to do a major storage increase? The obvious answer: Live Mail won’t be going wide for a while, and Microsoft got sick of waiting (and pressure from users). Live Mail, while a great webmail client with an amazing interface, is still not ready for prime time, a typical Microsoft project too ambitious for the real world. Just like with Longhorn, they decided to do something revolutionary, and are discovering that it takes a long time to do that sort of thing.

November 17th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, MSN, Windows, Hotmail, Live, Mail | no comments

Microsoft Has Some Top Products, Windows/Office/IE Completely Ignored

PC World has once again released its list of the top 100 products of the year, its always interesting and vaguely defined listing of “tech stuff that is good”. Google Earth is sixth on the list, with appearances by Google Search (#17), Blogger (#33), Google Desktop Search (#47). Oh, and Firefox, an open source project somewhat funded by Google and somewhat run by Google employees, is #12.

On the Microsoft front, the Xbox 360 shows all the way down at number 89. Ouch, and what? How is the hot and popular Xbox rated lower than the floundering and stagnant Blogger? Other Microsoft products: Windows Live Local (#39), and the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 Keyboard (#54).

Other products of note:

  • (#9) - Google Video competitor. Google did not make the list.
  • Apple Boot Camp (#10) - Yes, software to run Windows on a Mac is high on the list, while Windows is not on it at all.
  • Ubuntu Linux distribution (#27) - So, operating systems are allowed. Are you telling me Windows XP doesn’t beat anything on this list?
  • Yahoo Mail (#30) - Gmail and Hotmail didn’t make the list.
  • TiVo (#31) - Okay, how about Windows Media Center?
  • Opera 9 (#48)
  • Yahoo Maps (#56) - Again, no Google Maps
  • Yahoo Music Engine (#73)
  • Yahoo Flickr (#78)
  • Yahoo (#93)
  • Amazon A9 Toolbar (#96)

Oh, and on their top companies of the year list, Yahoo was named Web Company of the Year, Apple the Hardware Company of the Year, while Sony was the Worst Company of the Year.

Hat-tip: Frank at the Google Earth blog, who writes about the list here.

Interestingly, Windows Live Local is listed number 39, Yahoo Maps is listed number 56. But, Google Maps doesn’t even make it on the list - which just doesn’t seem right.


June 6th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Applications, MSN, Windows, Linux, Google, Spaces, Yahoo, Internet Explorer, Xbox, Office, Hotmail, Xbox 360, Apple, Firefox, XP, Live, Local | no comments

Download Windows Live Mail Desktop

A moderator at MSGShit has put up a download of Windows Live Mail Desktop, the closed beta desktop client for accessing Hotmail accounts. I can tell you that there’s a fairly decent chance it won’t work for you, since you might have to disable your firewall entirely.

Windows Live Mail Desktop should not be confused with Windows Live Mail, the online client, and Windows Mail, the Vista replacement for Outlook Express. It appears that Live Mail Desktop performs three primary functions:

  • Allows accessing of Hotmail/Live Mail accounts outside of a web browser.
  • Enables accessing of multiple email accounts.
  • Upgrades from Outlook Express for non-Vista users.
  • Allows XP users to read RSS feeds from the common feed list.

Logon Screen

Before signing in to WLMDesktop, you get a screen similar to the Windows XP logon screen, or the new Windows Live ID service. You can set up multiple accounts here, so everyone in your home can use the program, while protecting their individual email accounts with a password.

Account Types

WLMD can read email from multiple accounts, access Newsgroups and Active Directories, and read RSS syndication feeds. RSS feeds come from the common feed list, so you can subscribe in Internet Explorer 7, and they will show up in Live Mail Desktop.

Inbox lower preview pane

Viewing mail in WLMD is similar to Outlook. You get the folder view on the left, and the rest of the screen contains a list of mail messages and a preview of them. Unlike Outlook Express, you can position the preview to the right of the mail list, a very popular Outlook view. Another Outlook feature is that you can flag messages.

Inbox right preview pane

Hitting the Contacts link in the lower left-hand corner launches Windows Live Messenger. WLMD shares security zones and connection preferences with Internet Explorer, although it defaults to the more secure Restricted Sites Zone. It contains a spell checker, and is ad-supported.

Anything you are reading, you can click Actions > Blog It to post about it in your MSN Space. There are also inactive options to make voice and video calls.

This isn’t a review. WLMD hasn’t been released, and this leak likely will just piss off the development team. From what I’ve been told, the interface looks a lot prettier (and similar to that in Windows Live Messenger) in the more recent builds given to beta testers.

Still, based on what little I’ve seen here, a lot of people are going to download this program. Basically, anyone who still uses Outlook Express is going to want to upgrade, even with the advertising.
(via Digg)

May 4th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, MSN, Windows, Hotmail, Live, Mail | 7 comments

Windows Live Mail To Have 120-Day Expiration

One short-sighted limitation in Hotmail is that accounts expire after 30 days. If you go away for just over four weeks on vacation, you could return to find your entire inbox emptied out, and frankly, it stinks. I’m grateful for having Premium service, but you shouldn’t have to pay for this.

Thankfully, Windows Live Mail will give users a 120-day expiration. While this means a good four months before you lose all your email, Gmail gives you nine month. I think that, with most people never reaching the full limits of 2 gigabyte email accounts, and storage getting cheaper, there’s no reason Microsoft can’t meet Google’s policy.

Premium Windows Live Mail accounts will not have to worry about expiration, and will not see ads, either. Premium Hotmail accounts still cannot switch to Windows Live Mail, which drives me nuts, especially since Raquel has it and I don’t.

April 24th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, MSN, Windows, Hotmail, Live, Mail | no comments