Gradually fixing things broken during migration from Win 8.1 to Win 10. I’m using Start10 by StarDock $5 (Windows Start Menu replacement) so finally starting to look a bit more like what was promised. Start10 is a really nice product. It allows you to choose from several different Start Menu styles (including the default Windows 10 Metro Start Menu) AND you can do things like make the Taskbar colored / lighter / transparent etc rather than the current heavy opaque Win10 look . https://www.stardock.com/products/start10/
Start10 is a great product. If Microsoft had only purchased this product they would make many customers very happy. As it is, the Win10 out-of-box experience is extremely disappointing and has angered long term loyal customers around the globe who just want to see stability in Windows OS features. I can see why people are angry. The new Win 10 start menu is the same Metro boxie mess we had in Windows 8.x but now in a popup window.
What has surprised me is how many younger users (teens and twenties) are really angry, posting on YouTube in near tears. Seems that for those who spend hours on the web each day (for either work or addiction) are finding the stress of coping with all the Windows 10 changes just too much to deal with.
Many today are living with very high stress levels and part of that is our addiction to screens. As we all try to rediscover the “slow path” where life is richer and happier, Microsoft in their arrogance and love for change for change sake are counter this whole movement. For many now it’s a choice of stressful Windows 10 or a simple Google mail reader on the phone.
In an age where most corporate software is now in the cloud, I think Microsoft have blown it. This was their last chance to make things right after blowing it with Windows 8. After upgrading, several key 3rd party systems are broken and need to be reinstalled. Some have lost wireless connectivity. Giving us a Start Menu but then finding its just Win 8 Metro in a Window. The much anticipated Cortana doesn’t work in Australia and won’t work unless you login using your Microsoft Social media login (which many companies like mine won’t do). Microsoft Hello will only work with new PCs.
A newer generation of users will cope fine. And if you can put aside these frustrations and find a replacement Start Menu, the experience is actually better than Windows 7 or 8.x. Honestly I can’t believe MS have blown it so badly. Clearly the concept of really listening to customers is too difficult. When the customer says “Bring back the start menu” they don’t mean put Metro, which I hate, into a corner popup window.
(Above: Start10 Win7 style start menu.
Below: Windows 10 default Metro style start menu)
Disappointing. Windows 10 may not be the turnaround in attitude we were hoping for.
There is a US industry mantra of “We will be number one…. Or get out”. But only one company can ever be number one and have the largest market share. Companies talk about being “customer centered” but the two things don’t mix. Unfortunately Microsoft seem to only pay lip service to consumers.
So back in the real world: Yes it costs money to pay people to maintain products. Yes to ensure that every game & technology I buy works beyond 5-10 years is difficult. But as a consumer and developer that’s what I want. And if other platforms & companies do a better job at serving minorities then they’ll get my money.
In the long run Microsoft are shooting themselves in the foot. It’s like when you go into a store regularly for some piddly thing, but once a year make a large purchase. The store discontinues all piddle items that don’t sell much. So now people no longer have a reason to enter the store, and sales in general fall (even though only the piddly items were removed).
Personally, these kind of piddly decisions just push me further towards Apple and Google. No matter how justified they may be.
So as before the mshcMigrate tool helps you migrate HTML Help (.chm) and MS Help 2 (.HxS) over to VS 2010+ (Help Viewer 1 & 2) format.
This 2.0 release is more friendly towards VS 2013 / 2014 help.
The help format for VS 2013+ help has not changed in any significant way
but the MS Help API has and this meant some updates required for mshcMigrate.
This free utility has been updated to support Windows 64 environment. Web site.
As before it validates the DLLs for HTML Help and HH Workshop.
Necessary as there are still 3rd party tools out there that actually ship & register old versions of Microsoft help DLLs but this causes instability and crashes with HH Compiler and even when just opening a .CHM or going to the .CHM search tab.
Today I wanted to plug the product VMWare Player Plus 6. This is the same product as VMWare Player but the product key allows you to also create version 10 VMs. It supports Windows 8.1 and has mostly the same backend and settings as VM Workstation 10.
I’ve been a fan of VMWare Workstation for many years. Microsoft VMs would ALWAYS break as new VM engines were released. Very frustrating and costly.
I’d been using VM Workstation ($250) which has advanced features such as Unity; Snapshots; Cloning; Remote connections to vSphere; etc. But I didn’t use these advanced settings. I’d taken my own snapshots by regularly saving copies of my VMs to my server. To clone a VM I just copy it to a new location and change the mac address; etc.
At only $100 VMWare Player Plus does everything I need. It starts quickly and feels a lot lighter.
VMWare Player & Player Plus work on Windows and Linux. While VM Fusion, also well priced, play VMs on Windows and Mac. Great to see better pricing coming through.
For myself it all started with an interest in WinHelp (Win 3.0), then HTML Help (Win95), then a host of VS & Windows help systems. Building information systems and taming large amounts of documentation using TOC/Index/Search navigation aids. Online and Offline help. Empowering users with organized information.
It has been a privilege to serve as a Help MVP. Loved every minute of it. The developers at Microsoft as well as the other MVPs are top people and my life is better from having known them.
Now a small rant…
Today Microsoft are investing heavily in the mobile & tablet markets as PC sales flatten out and mobile sales increase exponentially. But there are still over a billion existing desktop users out there. So why are Microsoft so over eager to retire existing desktop technologies and force desktop users into non-desktop paradigms (eg. Windows 8)? Granted they need to invest in new markets but let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater. As a happy desktop user I don’t want to be forced somewhere else. I just want stability. Keep improving what I have! Like other companies do.
Microsoft invent wonderful technology platforms but they don’t last. Customers invest heavily in them only to find later MS leaping off at a tangent. It’s too costly. Microsoft execs says it’s the constant state of change in the world. I just don’t buy that. Abuse customers too much and they will leave you. Case-in-point I’m doing more Apple developement now. Not that OSX/iOS is better than Windows OS, but I feel they are more dependable and stable long term. Applications you build today should run in 5 years time. With Microsoft I can’t say that.
Despite what we hear about Apple catching up the figures tell us that Microsoft still dominate the desktop market. So why so eager to dump the desktop experience? We are talking a huge existing market of over a billion active desktops. But in the help area alone we have seen all MS help forums discontinued and the Help MVPs given notice (forced retirement for all in 2014). I know everything has its time, and all good things must end, but is Microsoft being too hasty in retiring these desktop technologies given the enormous numbers still dependant on them?
I hope they don’t shoot themselves in the foot. Windows 8 is a prime example. Technically a brilliant product, but obviously trying to force users to fit the MS vision rather than simply provide what most customer needs – An improved desktop experience. I’ve had Microsoft PMs tell me about all the careful studies and research they did in making Windows 8. But talk to end-users and 90% will tell you that they got Windows 8 wrong. I have to agree. Maybe Windows 8.1 will be better. I love Windows 8 but the desktop orientation is broken. Stop breaking my desktop experience. Just make it better. And stop retiring help system support while we are still actively use them.
This is very cool. Microsoft have released the Visual Studio image library of over 5,000 icons & images so that developers can create apps that are visually consistent with Visual Studio 2012 and older.
We are now up to PackageThis! 1.3.10 and getting better all the time. Now with a more intuitive interface and scheduler. You can stop the download and restart at the same place.
For those who don’t know, PackageThis allows you to download MSDN & TechNet Library content, and package it into Visual Studio offline help or HTML Help.
In Australia I can download around 200 topics (and associated images) a minute. So it can take me an hour or so to download 10,000 topics (the recommended max help file size).
Amazingly Malcolm (from the Microsoft MSDN team) took just 2 mins to download the entire first branch (Design Tools) of the MSDN Library (20,000 topics?) using the Microsoft internal network in Redmond Seattle.
I was please to find that Antivirus is built-in to Windows 8. It’s lightweight and runs quietly in the background until a threat is detected. This is nice having professional virus protection enabled out of the box.
Formally a Microsoft download called MSE (Microsoft Security Essentials for XP, Vista, Windows 7) it has now reverted to it’s old name of Windows Defender. It’s a standard Windows application skinned in the Windows 8 metro style.
All Virus protection programs contain holes. When I find a problem that is not addressed by my current antivirus I usually download the free version of Malwarebytes (I find it usually picks up everything else).
Recently while bench-marking my new OCZ Vertex 4 SSD, my PC builder suggested I may get better results by using Intel’s AHCI interface (for SATA disks). Turns out my new Windows 8 PC was already enabled for AHCI. Philip Elder (SBS MVP) informed me that 99% of PCs they see are already enabled.
For Windows 8 here’s how to enable AHCI. Since Windows Vista you can change over to AHCI without losing disk data.
Set a restore point.
Change registry value of “Start”to zero (0) in key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\Storahci In Windows 7 this key was called HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\msahci
Go into Bios and make sure disk access is set to AHCI not SATA.
After restarting the PC, the AHCI drivers should be installed and Device Manager will show AHCI drivers for the disks.
Today more Windows 7 USB device connection problems forced me to move early to Windows 8 RTM Pro. A clean install (not an upgrade). I expecting the worst (maybe $1000+ in upgrade costs) but was pleasant surprised to spend only AU$200 upgrading software.
For many users Win 8 is a poor desktop experience. The Start menu, which has been a major feature since Windows 95, is gone and a new Metro interface is now in its place. I’ve been used Win 8 for some time now and don’t like using the new headless desktop.
But now something has happened to change my mind. Several vendors have released Start Menu replacements for Windows 8. Most are just average but Start8 by Stardock is brilliant. Now I’m enjoying Windows 8 and all the many new Win8 features. Thanks Stardock! See http://www.stardock.com/products/start8/
Graeme has been an official Embarcadero trainer/partner for many years. Delphi cross platform development is very new and this book clearly explains all the ins and outs of developing on the Apple platforms.
Thanks Graeme! I’m about 25% through the book and have learnt heaps.