For those last minute Xmas gifts, why not use Microsoft gift guide 2007

For such beauties as “Plan and track weight loss $19” to “Give a gift of peace of mind, SimplyFile an overflowing inbox. 50% off” then why not visit the Microsoft gift store for 2007 where these and lots of other wonderful add-ons can be picked up.

“Professional backgrounds for PowerPoint for only $199” – Surely they should have thought of those when developing PowerPoint in the first place … and does this mean that the backgrounds which were included with the software are NOT “Professional”

Note to self – find FreeWare alternatives to those add-ons listed and post  🙂

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Microsoft LISTAS

Listas is a tool for the creation, management and sharing of lists, notes, favorites, and more. It allows you to quickly and easily edit lists, share them with others for reading or wiki-style editing, and discover the public lists of other users.  We encourage you to try using it for meeting notes, bookmarks, shopping lists, to plan a night out, or whatever other creative ways you can think of.

Windows Live ID or Passport account needed.

XP Powertoys (MSVDM) and Office 2007

I am a fan of the XP PowerToys and find the Virtual Desktop Manager (MSVDM) a very useful addon.  MSVDM allows you to have 4 separate desktops; including individual wallpaper and start bars, allowing the user to organise their busy desktops.  The whole thing is controlled via shortcut keys or menus and includes an over view shot to help find windows you may have misplaced.  May not be a eye popping as Beryl on Linux, but its still a good tool on XP.

However, I have found an interesting (annoying bug) when you use this with Access 2007 or Excel 2007 in that when the desktop with either application looses focus the ribbon bar disappears when you switch back to that desktop.  I have tested this with other Office 2007 applications but Access and Excel seem to be the only ones with the issue, which in itself is very strange.  The application and any work is still loaded but not very useful without any menus or icons !!

Has anyone else noticed this?

Still testing so will post more if anything else comes to light.

I agree that it is not a particularly common set up, (XP + Office 2007 + MSVDM) but it is starting to get annoying and I would rather not have to sacrifice MSVDM.

Microsoft dashboard for LIVE services

Microsoft have started to test a new dashboard interface for their Live services (link is where a Windows Live user can get an overview of their personal Live account, i.e. emails – MSN contacts – blog postings and try out other online Microsoft services.

I have just logged in and given this a spin, and well, like any dashboard it was actually good to be able to see a top level view of my services but I was disapointed at the experiences in that when you click to view a service there is no way “back” to the dashboard, other than pressing the browser back button.  Well, that works so whats the problem ??? and isn’t that just a niggle rather than a complaint ???… well to me it does not project an intergrated all-in-one experience which is kind of what I would expect.  Plus if you try and edit your settings then pressing the back button does not return you to the dashboard…. I actually had to go through the history and select the “sign in” page (interestingly I never had to sign in again but at least I got to the dashboard).

What I did like was the fact Windows Live services are linked on the back end by a common contacts database.  So I can post a picture on Windows Live Spaces, its blog – and picture sharing site, and send a notice to anyone on my instant messaging contact list.  Plus it is actually very neat to have a portal view … not a new idea by any stretch of the imagination but as Windows Live has about 300 million users who frequently log in to IM or EMail then this can only be a very good move.

If only it tied into non-Microsoft services like GMail, Facebook, Twitter, etc etc etc  😀

Official Vista “performance” and “compatibility” packs released

Microsoft still isn’t commenting on when a beta of Service Pack 1 for Vista will be officially released, but the company has posted two updates that are expected to be part of that final package: the “performance and reliability” update and the “compatibility and reliability” update. These are official releases.

Among other things the Explorer file transfer slowness has been fixed as has hibernate/sleep (well, for some laptops), and a load of video card support issues have been sorted (I will try these on my Dell D810 and let you know).

See KB 938979 (memory performance) and KB 938194 (the one which *finally* lets you play games  😉 )

While this isn’t beta software, you would be advised to read both KB entries and hitting the discussion thread before installing the updates just to see what to expect and what your fellow Vista users are experiencing… and I will install both and let you know ASP.

Live ID and Microsoft Passport rant

Ok, so I don’t use Messenger that much, but I just tried to log on and it refused my details.  I noticed that the new messenger password box only allows a limit of 16 characters and my details were longer.  I use Technet quite a bit so tried logging in there with the details and same thing, limited to 16 characters !!!!!   I had to go through the process of changing my password to get in.  16 characters may seem a lot but for those of us who are now in the habit of using pass phrases rather than passwords it really limits what you can use.

Ok, so this isn’t really a rant but it annoys me that some WEB sites limit the range and/or length of characters you can use for logging in and I never expected this from Microsoft.


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Vista DreamScene

Windows Dreamscene is an animated wallpaper and video technology for Microsoft Vista Ultimate, (note: It is ONLY for Ultimate). It is part of the Ultimate Extras package and runs on top of Aero Glass and apparently does not take up a lot of CPU usage. I have not tried it yet but the idea is very simply that you can use video as desktop backgrounds, be that some of the free samples that come with the package or use your own.
I intend to try it out soon, so will post some thoughts and findings then