Here are my thoughts on Microsoft and Help as we say goodbye to 2013 and welcome in 2014
Windows 8.1 is a free update for Win 8 users. This time they are using the Windows Store instead of Windows Update to distribute.
Go to Windows Store. Or go to Windows “run” (Windows+R) or open Windows Explorer, the paste & execute the following URL to download:
There is a Win 8.1 disk but this requires a new license key.
Your current settings are preserved.
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.
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.
Windows 8.1 RTM install went well. I did a new install from disk; Upgrade from disk; and upgrade from Windows Store.
Windows 8 RTM – 6.2.9200
Windows 8.1 RTM – 6.3.9600
Things you need to know… Continue reading
How to make CSS3 display correctly in an embedded browser (eg. FAR.exe or HH.exe .chm help viewer).
By default the embedded IE browser control (used by applications) runs in compatibility mode and won’t display CSS3 like it does in IE 9/10/11 browser.
Here’s the fix: http://kb.helpwaregroup.com/far/css3
Life after being a Help MVP – by Rob Chandler
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.
Windows 8 Jump Start Videos: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/jj687764.aspx
Visual Studio 2012 Help DVD is now available for download
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.
We are please to announce the release of FAR HTML 5.4 (build 786).
It contains many bug fixes and most importantly Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8 compatibility.
This is a free update to all FAR HTML 5.x license holders.
XE3 World Tour Event video
Other XE3 & Mobile Studio info
Where’s the iOS Support?
Like others I rushed out and purchased RAD Studio XE3 because of its support for Windows 32-bit, Windows 64-bit, Apple OSX, Apple iOS (Apple mobile devices – iPhone and iPad) and HTML5 Builder.
However I found iOS support has been removed from XE3 (even though it exists in XE2).
FAR Beta 785 is now available. Now compatible with Windows 8. Will promote soon. I welcome any feed back before I release it.
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).
Windows 8 surprises me again
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
In Windows 7 this key was called
- 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.
8.1 is a good score for Disk data transfer rate [Windows Experience Index]
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.
1. Start8 by Stardock
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/
Great to see that my brother Graeme has release a big fat 300+ ebook for Delphi XE2 developers called
So MS couldn’t ignore the IPad and fast growth in the mobile market, and now they are betting on a new “reimagined” OS. The Build attendees got a nice new Samsung incentive to start building the future. Success will depend on cheap hardware becoming available and cool apps appearing.
People already spend their money on $700 IPhones & iPads, and on $2000+ all-singing all-dancing PCs (Gaming; Video editing; Development; Business; etc etc). Is there really money left over for consumers to buy yet another $800 device?
Corporations will want to switch OFF the Metro interface. Over many years Microsoft have trained Windows business users to be desktop-centric. To force existing users to be tablet orientated is a complete enigma to most. For those of us that use PCs for our day to day work, having Windows Desktop associations & Start menu throw you out of the desktop into full screen apps is really annoying. Especially when most of us are running multiple large 24″+ monitors.
Microsoft keep insisting there is method to their madness, but serious desktop users don’t see it. It’s like Vista all over again. Microsoft are stubbornly in denial that users hate having a schizophrenic operating system.
Most people seem to enjoy the Metro UI but find it gets in the way of their desktop work.
So many people will be put off and confused by metro and stay on Windows 7. Some users like Windows 8 straight out of the box. Many existing desktop users seem to be installing replacement Win 7 style Start Menus to reduce the rude Metro interruptions.
For myself, I love Windows 8 and wouldn’t go back. My turning point was when I install Start8 fake Start menu. Now I don’t keep getting thrown into Metro.
Steven Sinofsky mentioned many advantages to Windows 8…
- uses less memory/less Power; faster boot & shutdown;
- better performance; better security. better touch. better USB3 support.
- Hyper-V Client included (but requires CPU with SLAT for smoother video)
- Easier boot from VHD (VMs have access to hardware & performance)
- Win7 could boot from a 2 TB drive. Win8 can boot from a 256TB drive.
- Metro needs 1024×768; 1366×768 for full side-by-side experience.
- Supports -3 axis accellerometer / Magnetrometer / Gyro
- Support for NFC Antenna hardware
- Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI)+SSD for fastest startup/shutdown
- Copy – All copy jobs in one window. Ability to pause jobs & show performance.
- Explorer: A ribbon UI (can be rolled up and ignored like normal ribbons).
- Photo login (visual touch/mouse login type password)
- All Microsoft inhouse PC hardware tests can now be downloaded.
- Better dual monitor control – Which apps run where; etc
- New Task manager
- etc etc
Folks we have just released FAR HTML 5.3
This is a minor release so a free update to all 5.x licensed users. Just install over the old version.
Many great improvements including:
- FAR can now access extra memory — +1GB on Windows 32-bit, +2 GB on Windows 64-bit (thanks Pierre le Riche for FastMM which is compatible with the Windows extended memory compiler switch /LargeAddressAware).
- Win 7 SP1 compatibility.
- Search File Names (see below).
- Google Translated help.
Get the Update
- Release Notes:
- Download from MS Gallery:
- Download from Helpware.net
Search File Names
There are lots of little fixes and improvements but one of our favorites is “Commands > Search File Names” (also available via “Search” button in the tool bar).
This is really useful command given that Windows Search is so lame in Vista and Windows 7.
In the screen shot below I have scanned my entire C: Drive and found around 1/2 million files. The new search dialog is open (Ctrl+Shift+F), and as I type in the text “fastforward” the entire 1/2 million items quickly reduces to show the 9 final matches. We have also done work on optimizing .FAR file load time — We saved all these files to a .FAR list and they reloaded in under 2 seconds on the laptop.
Enjoy — Rob
A number of developers have been struggling to install the Win 8 Preview .ISO as a VM.
The trick seems to be to create a Windows 7 (32-bit or 64-bit) VM and select “I will install the operating system later.” Attach the Win 8 .ISO as an optical drive and restart the VM. The Win 8 bits should install OK. The VM Tools will now install OK as well. I’m using VMware Workstation 8.0. Not sure if VM 7.0 is suitable.
The trick for installing came from here. Thanks Ron!
Those checking out the new developer preview bits (Beta releases of both Visual Studio 11 & Windows 8) may notice some changes in help.
Jeff Braaten [MSFT] has all the detail for you here…
Paul O’Rear also posted these notes…
- Help Viewer 1.1 has been super seeded by Help Viewer 2.0 in VS 11.
- Windows 8 help is using the same help engine (HV 2.0) but their own UI.
- The Agent tray application is gone. There is now a COM interface to access the Help Viewer API.
- Content filtering is still in the pipe and we will see this in a later release.
- Help Library Manager app has been completely revamped and integrated into the Help Viewer.
- Can now move the data store.
- Can now connect to any download source (so a company could host their own MSDN download source).
- New downloader is smarter. Can recover and continue if interrupted.
H3Viewer – Our own Help Viewer replacement H3Viewer is currently not compatible with VS 11 and Win 8 help. This is because it still uses the HelpLibAgent.exe interface. In time we will update.
Congratulation to the help team on reaching this significant milestone.
== Screen shots ==
Remember this a preview and the some features will change.
Yesterday was very exciting for the developer community. Microsoft released details of Windows 8 at the Build 2011 (formally PDC) developer conference. The new features and improvements to Windows 8 are too numerous to list. But I took these notes as I listened to the 2.5hr keynote if you are interested: My notes from Build 2011 Keynote.
You can download a developer preview of Win8 here:
There is an Win8 ISO image that contains VS 2011 (contains the new Metro Style controls), or you can download the VS 11 preview separately:
Info on VS 11 preview:
All Metro style Forums (Thanks Lisa): http://forums.dev.windows.com
- UI Design for Metro style apps
- Tailoring your Metro style app for hardware and devices
- Building Metro style apps with HTML5
- Building Metro style apps with C++
- Building Metro style apps with C# or VB
- Building Metro style games with DirectX
- Tools for Metro style apps
- Windows Developer Preview: General OS questions