Microsoft dither over IE in European Windows 7, but happily rip us off as usual.

Windows 7Yesterday, I commented on the shoddy business practices of Apple. Luckily for me, before people have had the chance to accuse me of anti-Apple bias, dear old Microsoft come to my rescue with a piss-take of their own.

Not long ago, it was widely reported that Microsoft were planning on shipping Windows 7E in Europe, which would be a version of Windows 7 with no browser installed. This was to get around and EC ruling regarding Microsoft’s near-monopoly of the browser market. Yesterday though they did an about turn and dropped the plan. Laughably, this decision appears to have been taken in isolation by Redmond, with Microsoft UK finding out about it no sooner than the public.

Of course all this “will they/ won’t they?” debacle over  the “E” addition of Windows 7 could simply be a distraction away from plans to charge us more than twice as much as US folk for some Windows 7 upgrades.  And let’s not forget that Apple are offering an equally major upgrade to OS X for just $29/ £19, making the Windows 7 upgrades a rip off for just about everyone.

Pinning the recycle bin to the taskbar in Windows 7

Windows 7I really like Windows 7 release candidate: it is everything that Vista should have been and more. It runs on low spec hardware, it is slick, looks good and it Just WorksTM in so many ways. I have it installed on an old 1.6GHz single core laptop and yet, even with Aero Glass enabled, it feels faster than my dual-core 2.5GHz main machine. Being a fan of the Dock on OS X machines, I really like the new taskbar too. I have one major gripe with it though: you cannot pin the recycle bin to it. If you try to, it gets hidden away by the Windows Explorer icon that is already there and is accessible only through right-clicking on that icon.

Help is at hand though with this one failing of Windows 7. It is possible to add the recycle bin to the taskbar (and have it support drag and drop). In short, the solutiuon is to create a new toolbar that contains a shortcut to the recycle bin. Full details can be found on sevenforums. See below for the results:

win7-pinned-bin1

UAC goes from crap to worse with Windows 7

Windows 7In my view, UAC on Vista is a useless waste of space. It is annoying, can be compromised and the only sensible option for a developer using it, is to turn it off.

Enter Windows 7, with its promise of an improved UAC. From my perspective, it is still as broken as ever. I created a folder in Program Files and suffered a barrage of UAC dialogues as it created and renamed the folder. So I promptly turned it off again. However it has left me wondering whether I was hasty. How were others faring with it? If Peter Bright’s analysis is anything to go by, it looks like the claims of improvements are less than honest.

Microsoft made a huge mistake with UAC. It was the wrong solution to a very real problem. They should just have admitted they got it wrong, scrapped it and tried a new a approach with Windows 7. Instead, they seem to feel that they can turn a pig’s ear into a silk purse by sowing an ass’ ear to the side of it. UAC seems to stand for Unwanted Assinine Cludge these days. It’s a great shame, as they seem to have addressed most of the other annoyances of Vista with WIndows 7. So why couldn’t they have fixed UAC properly too?

Internet Explorer will be an optional component in Windows 7

Windows 7It is being reported by those with build 7048 of Windows 7 that IE8 appears in the “Turn Windows features on or off” control panel dialogue. Disabling it – and rebooting twice apparently – then removes explore.exe from the system. It appears that programs that embed the IE activeX within themselves will still work (which is a good thing).

IE8 appears in "add/ remove windows components" in Windows 7. Image copied from <a href=
IE8 appears in "add/ remove windows components" in Windows 7. Image copied from Neowin.net

The big question is: what happens to all those crappy programs that ignore the user’s default browser settings and just launch IE when handling a link? Will they crash? Fail to do anything? Or will Windows 8 intelligently re-route such calls to the default browser? Hopefully it will be the last option, but I guess time will tell.

Running Windows 7 beta on Sun xVM VirtualBox

Windows 7I have recently installed the Windows 7 beta on a VM on my Vista box using Sun’s xVM VirtualBox. I had just two issues: no network driver and the Guest Additions reported they weren’t compatible with Windows 7. The solution to both was:

  1. Mount the Guest Additions CD
  2. Choose the “Open folder to view files” option when it auto-starts
  3. Right click on VBoxWindowsAdditions and VBoxWindowsAdditions-x86. Select properties and enable XP SP2 compatibility (Vista compatibility might work, I just didn’t test it).
  4. Run VBoxWindowsAdditions.
  5. Now right click on Computer in the start menu and select properties, then device manager.
  6. Select the Ethernet controller under Other Devices, right click and select Update Driver Software.
  7. Choose the Browse my Computer option and search in D:\. Install the driver.

After restarting Windows 7, automatic mouse capture and release worked correctly and the network sprang into life.

Is Windows 7 beta about to go public?

An intriguing link has appeared on the Windows 7 home page entitled “Download the Windows 7 Beta”. Currently it gives a 404 HTTP error. Is it due to start serving up the public beta of Windows 7 soon though, or has April 1st come early for Microsoft?

Windows 7 beta link

UPDATE: Having checked back at 23:00 GMT, the link has gone. So was it a wind-up, or did someone at Microsoft leak the link? Guess time will tell…

UPDATE 2: Apparently the official line is that it was a CMS publishing error and the beta will be unveiled on the 7th January. See here and here. The second link ist auf Deutsch.

UPDATE 3: As of 8/1/2009. Windows 7 beta, build 7000 is of course available on various torrent feeds, but it is also alleged to be available on MSDN, Connect and TechNet. With the boss on a course, I’ve not been able to check MSDN for myself. I did check on Connect though and it’s not available to me, so presumably one must already have been invited to join the beta programme to be able to access it there. However, it is due to be available to the first 2.5 million subscribers from the Windows 7  website as of tomorrow (9/1/2009).

Windows 7: Apart from the stupid name, it’s looking very good

windows7 logoWith a demo of forthcoming features and the release of a pre-beta build of Windows 7 to folk lucky enough to attend this year’s Professional Developer Conference (PDC), the internet is awash with reviews. One point of interest is that the internal Windows version number for Windows 7 is still version 6.1 (yes, you did read that right, they really have called v6.1 of Windows, Windows 7. You can read a great article on just how insane the Windows 7 name choice is here).

The version number aside, Windows 7 looks good, and the reviews seem positive. Aspects of Vista that improved upon XP (such as Areo) appear to have been enhanced further. In addition, many of the things that Microsoft got wrong with Vista (such as the truly crap UAC) have been reworked and should be a whole lot better with Windows 7.

Here are some reviews worth reading (IMO of course; feel free to disagree 😉 )

Hands-On with a Windows 7 Notebook

Neowin: Introducing Windows 7

ActiveWin: Windows 7 pre-beta review

Gizmodo: Windows 7 Walkthrough, Boot Video and Impressions