Around the MS Office : 2009-08-10 20:51:32 - Grand Stream Dreams - Lavie and I must have used Microsoft Office 97 forever Years upon years It was the primary communication application we used at work Eventually we picked up a Home and Student version of Office 2003 a few years ago for our home systems Even Alvis used it in her Jr High technology learning class That was long-after Office 2007 was released Both our places of work still hadn t migrated to 2007 Why bother 2000 2003 was ubiquitous About a month ago, I finally got around to picking up another copy of Home and Student but this time it was the 2007 flavor Although we still are deploying 2003 SKUs at work, our newest leased systems are now tricking out with 2007 Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats to the rescue The church systems are running 2007 so we had to adapt, particularly as the presentations are built on PowerPoint and to ensure the smoothest compatibility when we do them at home, 2007 was the way to go Anyway, after a few weeks of bumbling around the Ribbon feature introduced in Office 2007, we pretty much had learned all the major navigational issues it caused and were back to doing what we do in Microsoft Office without much thought though it does still feel weird when I go back to work and shift back to Office 2003 Lavie remains less-than-impressed with the Ribbon feature I just added several of my common use icons up on the top bar by the Office Orb Surprisingly or not Microsoft didn t seem to offer a classic menu-bar option to revert back to the 2003 Office navigation Eventually and it took me a while I tracked down a utility that kinda does that trick There were others but this one seemed to be the cream that rose to the top pschmidnet - RibbonCustomizer RibbonCustomizer comes in both a free and a commercial version The free one just leaves out a lot of the customizing features and things power-users would find valuable However for most home users it more than fits the bill It doesn t change the entire Ribbon back to Office 2003 format What it does do very well is to simply add an additional tab to the Ribbon at the front Click on that one and most all of the Office 2003 icon-bar items are comfortingly displayed for your quick and fast access The Classic UI tab which is added can be placed at the front or end of the regular Ribbon tabs image The primary file v11 is dated May 15th, 2007, but I chose to download and install the very recent and alive Beta Program version which was last updated May 24th, 2009 Paul s blog is another good source of Office tool information It's very impressive and slick There are other products and tricks out there besides this one, but this has been the best one I ve seen yet Lavie was overjoyed when she started playing with it Granted, the Ribbon is a powerful tool to accomplish a lot of things once you get familiar with it On the other hand, we both have lost a lot of productivity in trying to figure out how to do some simple task that would have taken just a second in Office 2003 not that Office 2007 couldn t do it, just we couldn t find where the command-feature was located in the Ribbon I had no idea of the developmental culture and control programming behind the Ribbon The Story of the Ribbon Jensen Harris Office User Interface Blog Office Fluent User Interface MSDN Office Developer Center Microsoft Office 2010 Engineering Microsoft Office Product Development Team blog PowerPoint to Video It seems pretty stable but a look in the forum-spam laden forum indicates that a few users have had some issues with the beta If that concerns you, go with the older stable version but expect some slower performance as the trade-off Use Powerpoint Video Converter to Convert Powerpoint to Video MakeUseOf blog I hesitated to include this tool as I think it would be less than useful in most cases What with the PowerPoint Viewer available free for the world That said, I guess there could be a need to convert a PowerPoint presenation into a video format If so then MakeUseOf blog has found the freeware tool to do it Lots of Homes Students at the Office Office Home and Student accounts for 85pourcents of US Office retail share -Betanews Really fascinating story into the real cost of Office and how most folks get around it at the retail level by snagging Home and Student Considering it allows for installation on up to three qualifying home systems at prices between 150 - 80 range, it s easy to see why it is such a popular seller Only the government and large enterprise customers can afford the volume licenses and or regular seat prices for Office If it weren t for Home and Student version I doubt we would be able to legally install Microsoft office on our home systems Curiously, soon after getting that H S 2007 version, I was able to pick up a single license of Microsoft Office 2007 Enterprise for 999 though our Employee Purchasing Program special offer at work Examination of that EULA find tool to locate all MS product EULA s here allows me to install it at home on my desktop system as well as one qualifying portable device my home laptop under specific conditions That suite brings a slew of additional items to my home system that I really don t need, however it s a nice excuse to have it all available to play with anyway Finally, as we are only now just getting used to regular usage of Office 2007 features and capabilities it seems crazy to be thinking about Office 2010 But, it is around the corner For probably the best source of information on Office 2010 and all the new adjustments that will require I submit the following locations Microsoft Office and business productivity - Paul Thurrott s SuperSite for Windows And particularly the following in-depth coverage articles from Mr Thurrott s SuperSite Office 2010 Technical Preview A SuperSite Special Report Office 2010 Technical Preview Screenshots Microsoft Office 2010 FAQ Microsoft Office 14 Web Applications Preview OO Not Forgotten And yes for you freeware fans and Microsoft Office is one area I just can t compromise with there is the Excellent Open Source office productivity suite OpenOffice Also available in a handy OpenOffice PortableApps version as well And, alas, it looks like you OO fans will slowly be seeing a OO version of the Ribbon creeping its way into future versions Cheers --Claus V IMAGE Drop-Dead-Quick Blue Screen of Death Diagnosis : 2009-08-10 06:09:59 - Grand Stream Dreams - Almost anyone who has been around a Windows system has seen the dreaded BSOD It s a puzzling display of hex-code, and techno-babble that will often cause the sweetest tea-sipping granny to curse the Viking god of war and send him running for cover Even many geeks would rather just offer up a looks like you need to wipe it and reload the system with a shrug than to try to pick apart the Rosetta Stone of words and code offered Sure, with patience and some basic understanding, one can copy down or pull from a crash dump log the error, do some Google work, and often find a solution But come on, how many mere mortals would do that Brilliant freeware utility programmer Nir Sofer has just made this process much more delicate and refined How easy to get to the bottom of a BSOD you ask Well, so easy a caveman can oh well, you ve seen the commercials by now BlueScreenView - View blue screen of death STOP error information freeware utility NirSoft BlueScreenView requires no installation thus is portable between systems, and it works with Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista, and Windows 7, as long as Windows is configured to save minidump files during BSOD crashes Per Mr Sofer image Above Dump display of a particular crash on my Vista system BSOD XP Style display in lower pane image Above Dump display showing suspected driver causing crash in detail view in lower pane BlueScreenView features as described by Nir on the product page are Automatically scans your current minidump folder and displays the list of all crash dumps, including crash dump date time and crash details Allows you to view a blue screen which is very similar to the one that Windows displayed during the crash BlueScreenView enumerates the memory addresses inside the stack of the crash, and find all drivers modules that might be involved in the crash BlueScreenView also allows you to work with another instance of Windows, simply by choosing the right minidump folder In Advanced Options BlueScreenView automatically locate the drivers appeared in the crash dump, and extract their version resource information, including product name, file version, company, and file description That 4th one there is really cool I actually was running the tool on my VHD booted Win7 system x64 bit Unfortunately, the tool doesn t currently support x64 bit system dumps, but I simply pointed it to the minidump folder on my Vista system showing in the program s title bar as on the D drive really the C but as I m VHD booting, it becomes the D and it was able to pull up the records just fine That s very important if, say the system does a hard-crash, and you can t get it up Or maybe the system crashed and your significant-other customer didn t bother to leave any notes for you and just reset the system leaving you nothing but a scowl and smorgasbord of it BSOD, Fix it on the table before you Now you can maybe boot the system with a Win PE disk, with this app unpacked on a USB stick, point it at the minidump folder and retrieve the BSOD history, along with the details Save the results in a log file back to the attached USB stick and then do your research and plan your solution-attack Sweet While this information would be very useful to a system admin or desktop support tech, it could also be of use to an forensic examiner as it might provide some clues on the system history or patterns of operating system issues or remnants Armed with the information obtained from the BlueScreenView utility, just drop in any any one of these awesome BSOD decoding websites or Google and you are good to start the solutioning Troubleshooting Windows STOP Messages - James A Eshelman Understanding and Decoding BSOD blue screen of death Messages - Taranfx Technology Blog The ABC of Blue-Screen Dump Analysis - All Your Base Are Belong To Us Miscellany Not directly related but seemed better to post here then in the previous Microsoft Linkfest post Two Minute Drill Debugging lm, not just Alphabet Neighbors Ask the Performance Team blog Two Minute Drill Debugging and the k Commands Ask the Performance Team blog Converting Perfmon timestamps to a readable format in Excel - the back room tech Thank you Nir --Claus V IMAGE Windows Linkfest : 2009-08-10 00:40:47 - Grand Stream Dreams - CC photo credit mower by todbaker on flickr More Microsoft bits and pieces Upgrading to Windows 7 is as clear as, well What do you get with Windows 7 DelaneySoft s Blog really nice chart that lines up all the included features in each version of Windows 7 It took me a while to figure out how to see both pages of the chart In Firefox I had to enable NoScript to run all the scripts Then when I clicked on it it floated above the page and I could select the next page icon at the bottom right corner Nice chart just not an intuitive way of launching it No real surprises The only elements that I don t find present in Windows Home Premium that are in Windows Ultimate that I will miss are both XP Mode and Boot from VHD That last one surprises me However, as I was able to use the Windows 7 Ultimate RC bootloader with Vista just fine, I m hoping that I will be able to swap out the same ones, using the same technique, in Win7 Home Premium Deciphering Windows 7 Upgrades The Official Chart - Walt Mossberg s AllThingsD Bless Mr Mossberg s heart It was in the right place The MS chart-designers were just too enthusiastic for everyone s own good It was highly detailed and too confusing Just what was wrong with it Let s hop next to Betanew s take Windows 7 Upgrades Are they going to be too much trouble or just about right - Betanews Quoting from the post Out of 66 upgrade scenarios, only 14 allow for in-place upgrades The majority of scenarios require custom install, which means either installing Windows 7 to a new directory or onto a clean hard drive While data can be backed up and recovered, applications would need to be reinstalled In our enterprise, we don t in-place upgrade, we migrate That means we copy the user-data to a safe location server USB drive , wipe the system, then install a fresh, pre-configured image, and then put the user s data back in the profile locations At home, being a techie, I want a clean-install so I take a similar tack on our systems I just don t like the idea of trying to keep all the apps data in place and upgrading the whole OS over an existing installation However, considering the chart and the options, I m wondering if more than a few average home users are going to find the upgrade process frustrating or particularly daunting to handle Betanews s article seems to wonder that same thing Microsoft blunders with a confusing Windows 7 upgrade chart - Ed Bott s Microsoft Report Ed Bott redoes the chart into a much more simple to understand version Basically, if you are going from XP to Win7, you are facing a custom install If you are going from x32 of anything to x64 of any Win7 version you are facing a custom install If you are going from Vista to Win7 same bits you can pull off some form of in-place upgrade Windows 7 Easy Upgrade Path Truth Table Chart Scott Hanselman s Computer Zen takes a closer but easy-to-understand look at Ed s own migration table A major Windows 7 upgrade question gets an answer TechBlog And Dwight clears up one final question what about Win7 RC users The answer Basically you are facing a custom-install like XP users and those going from x32 to x64 bit versions What does a custom-install entail you ask Dwight succinctly sums it up thusly This is essentially a clean install, but your existing operating system, programs and data are squirreled away in a folder labeled WINDOWSOLD You end up with a fresh Windows 7 setup, but you can access that folder to get to any needed data Sorry, the programs in there won't work - you'll need to reinstall them So What Am I Facing as an XP User Let s take a look at what an typical XP user will confront when getting ready to upgrade their system to Windows 7 Step-By-Step How To Upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7 - Scott Hanselman s Computer Zen - Scott has a screen-shot rich walkthrough that covers all the gotcha s 1 With XP running, follow Scott s first section after reading this Microsoft Upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7 TechNet article The trick is to run the Windows Easy Transfer utility buried in the Win 7 setup disk Too bad it isn t included as an option directly off the Windows 7 setup process 2 Follow the steps, identify an off-system-disk location to back the files up to, then let it run it took Scott about an hour 3 When done you get a single MIG MIGration file that has all the stuff you are tucking away 4 Reboot the system with the Win7 disk and follow the setup steps to do a Win7 install 5 When done, log into the starting account you created and re-run the Windows Easy Transfer utility from the Win7 Start Menu Follow the steps and feed it the MIG file from earlier 6 When done you will be presented with a list reminding you of software applications you must manually install if not pre-included in the Win7 install So it really isn t an upgrade but a user-data migration The Complete Guide to Windows Easy Transfer - Channel 9 If you are a very visual-learner, you can check out this video from Microsoft s Channel 9 showing you exactly how it works Windows Easy Transfer is the consumer version of the User State Migration Tool USMT that Microsoft provides to enterprise users It s heavier duty and much more technically needy I actually have a ton of links about USMT that that are in a standby post I hope to get to very soon I think the important thing here is that while you are able to generally save all your data, documents, pictures, videos, etc in this manner assuming they are stored in the expected places you still aren t getting your applications transferred over this way Those must still be reinstalled Vista users will have it much easier and could in most cases install Win7 on top of Vista, preserving all their settings and applications in the process Though I d still do a clean-install anyway myself Windows 7 Support, Deployment, Resources Microsoft TechNet More technical links and helps for the migration process including the additional links Windows 7 Deployment FAQ Step by Step Windows 7 Migration Upgrade Step-by-Step Basic Windows Deployment for IT Professionals Step-by-Step Basic Windows Migration for IT Professionals Windows Automated Installation Kit for Windows 7 RC Windows 7 Desktop Deployment Overview For the Technically Impressed HOWTO Improve Startup Shutdown Performance on Windows Vista SP1 - Windows Live - Kurt Shintaku's Blog Probably not recommended but if you are a power-user and or just desperate to eek out every last millisecond of performance YMMV HOWTO Use ALL cores of your multi-core processor during Startup of Windows Vista - Windows Live - Kurt Shintaku's Blog Again, just because you can not because you need to Step-By-Step Turning a Windows 7 DVD or ISO into a Bootable VHD Virtual Machine Scott Hanselman s Computer Zen Use the WAIK 7 to take a Win7 install WIM and turn it into a sysprepped VHD file, ready for mounting and final-pass setup Why Because it s cool and if you are hard-core into booting from VHD in Windows 7, it will really allow faster turnover as you discard deploy fresh VHD systems for your testing purposes User Account Control Data Redirection - Windows 7 for Developers For software developers a great walkthrough and test scenarios of UAC information and workings also useful to sysadmins trying to better understand now UAC functions Download details Windows AIK for Windows 7 Now that Win7 is RTM, get the final WAIK 7 set for your PE 30 building needs Sweet boot-disk building awaits Bug Not so much First it was a potential Win 7 RTM blockbusting show-stopper, then it wasn t, now it s a yawn Testers claim discovery of serious CHKDSK bug in Windows 7 RTM build Security News - Betanews Testers claim discovery of serious CHKDSK bug in Windows 7 RTM build Security News - Betanews A killer Windows 7 bug Sorry, no Ed Bott s Microsoft Report ZDNetcom And then cdman83 points out this feature of Win7 I ve run into it as well and it is more of an annoyance than anything else Why does it have to be so hard to get the correct right-click context menu to appear under Win7 Windows 7 UI glitch Hype-free blog And while poking around on Channel 9, I found this neat video that provides background perspectives on the cool Windows 7 backgrounds A Look Behind the Backgrounds of Windows 7 - LarryLarsen Channel 9 So will that be x32 or x64 The last item for some consumers geeks who are upgrading existing systems to Windows 7 will be trying to decide if they will go with the x32 or x64 bit version I suppose if your hardware doesn t support x64-bit processing then the decision is easy But for others, it might need some due consideration Three of our systems all laptops support x64 bit OS After installing x64 bit Win7 RC on them all, I have been astonished at the stability and ease of use While all of them are pegged at a 2GB system RAM max due to the hardware limitation, in the future, having systems that support more will eventually allow us to run 4GB or greater RAM amounts and access all of it Performance is fast, but not really any more so than under x32 bit for now As more x64-bit optimized applications are released however, that will certainly change for the better So I will be going ahead and installing the x64 bits of Windows 7 when we go with the final versions Here are a few more posts from technical bloggers extolling the virtues of x64 Windows 7 installs More Windows 7 RTM impressions, 64-bit edition TechBlog Experiences with Windows Vista 64-bit 4sysops Blog Windows 7 64-bit or 32-bit Memory and performance 4sysops Blog Claus V IMAGE