More than two years ago, Microsoft purchased Apptimum, Inc., which had developed two system utilities for transferring programs and settings from one computer to another. Roughly six months later, around the time Windows Vista was released to corporate customers, Microsoft announced that it would release the software under a new name, Windows Easy Transfer Companion. Last month, the “extended public beta” ended suddenly, with no announcement and no plans for a replacement. What's going on?
The Ed Bott Report
Get outspoken insights and expert advice on the products and companies that define today's tech landscape, from a source who knows these technologies inside and out.
Ed Bott is an award-winning technology writer with more than two decades' experience writing for mainstream media outlets and online publications.
A few months ago, Steve Ballmer publicly noted that Windows Vista was “a work in progress.” That inspired a predictable outpouring of Vista-bashing. After all, look how many updates Windows Vista has had since it was first released. Obviously, it was a disaster, or there would have been no need for that many updates, right? Why couldn’t Microsoft get it right the first time? The reality? All modern operating systems used as mainstream business and consumer platforms are “works in progress” and require frequent updates to fix bugs and resolve security issues (and occasionally to add features). That point became abundantly clear to me over the weekend as I updated a pair of Linux-based virtual machines. Want to guess how many updates each one required after only 51 days?
On this week’s EIC-squared podcastLarry Dignan asked me what I would do to fix Vista’s tarnished brand if I were in charge of Microsoft’s marketing for a day. OK, I’ll take the job, but on two conditions: First, I want face time with Steve Ballmer and Steven Sinofsky. Second, I want some of those dollars Steve was going to fork over to buy Yahoo, because cleaning up the Vista mess is gonna cost some bucks. Oh, and someone's going to have to say, "We're sorry."
The recent buzz over Microsoft’s efforts to build a completely new OS from scratch has led to some wild speculation. As my colleague Mary Jo Foley has reported, Microsoft already has an all-star team that’s working on a next-generation operating system. It’s called Midori, and Mary Jo’s sources say it’s in “incubation,” which means it’s on a fast track to being turned into a product. But will Midori replace Windows in the near future? Not a chance. If Microsoft really does turn this project into a commercial product, I believe it will exist alongside Windows for several years, at a bare minimum. To learn why, let’s dust off the Windows history books.
For years, Microsoft has occasionally updated its Windows Update client software automatically on systems that are configured to check for updates. This has been true even when Windows Update is set to simply check for (and optionally, download) updates but not to install them.
Microsoft Equipt is a subscription-based combo of Office Home and Student 2007, Windows Live OneCare, and the cloud-based Office Live Workspace service. It worked great when I beta-tested it earlier this year, and at $70 a year for three PCs it's a good deal for most home users. So how come the only retail partner signed up is the struggling Circuit City?
Sometime in August, Microsoft plans to release Beta 2 of Internet Explorer 8. Yesterday, I spoke with Austin Wilson, Director of Windows Client Product Management at Microsoft, about some of the security-related changes due in this milestone, and got a preview of the changes announced today. Here are some details about what you can expect IE8 to do to block phishing attacks and minimize the risk from ActiveX controls, among other changes.
Intel’s decision to continue using Windows XP instead of migrating to Windows Vista is being spun as a stunning rebuke to Microsoft and a rejection of Windows Vista. Except that there’s nothing new here. The same thing happened in 2002, when Windows XP was shiny and new. Corporations like Intel are always slow to roll out new Windows versions. Add in a slowing economy and a new Windows version due to arrive next year and you have all the ingredients an IT department needs to skip a version. So why is this a surprise to anyone?
Back in April, I contrasted Good Microsoft, which released its Live Mesh service for public consumption, with Bad Microsoft, which decided to pull the plug on its MSN Music customers who had purchased DRM-protected music files from its store. It took a couple months, but it looks like Good Microsoft won that battle after a lengthy internal debate.
As I noted in the first installment of this series, some of my favorite productivity-enhancing techniques don’t involve custom code or registry edits. Instead, they involve learning how the basic building blocks of Windows work, and then rearranging those components to cut steps out of the tasks you perform most often. In today’s installment of this two-part series, I share some of my favorite tweaks for getting maximum mileage out of Windows Search. I also explain the inner workings of volume shadow copies and how you can make better use of these automatic backups with System Restore and the Previous Versions feature. I show how to get quick access to your local and network data files by combining shortcuts in a single, easy-to-reach location, and I explain why hybrid sleep should be the default on every desktop PC.