Monthly Archives: August 2006

Office 2007 B2TR splash screen

Scott Savage has done it again! He has posted the Office 2007 Beta 2 Technical Refresh (B2TR) splash screens for Word 2007 and Groove 2007. They look exactly like the ones I saw and snapped a picture of at TechEd 2006. Which is a good sign that this is legitimate.

Word 2007 splash screenGroove 2007 splash screenIMG_2874
Obviously these won’t be the splash screens released to the public when Office hits the stores, since they’re pretty bland and carries no brand equity whatsoever.

Some German dude is posting a timeline of the Office 2007 development schedules, and says B2TR should be released on either the 14th or 15th of September 2006. Even if it is not legitimate, he can’t be far off. We’re long overdue for a new build.

Outlook 2007 icon: right under our noses

My other friend Aaron Parker (I have lots of friends, they don’t come cheap thou) has discovered that the new Outlook 2007 icon has been hiding in the Windows Vista betas for quite a long time.

Aaron found this in “MSSVP.DLL”, which is part of the Windows Search system files. It makes sense because the new Windows Search will not only find content in files, but also email, contacts, to-do lists, RSS feeds, calendar and notes, which of course is all part of the Office Outlook application.

It begs me to ask, how many more hidden gems can be found in the resource files of the Windows Vista betas? Start looking!

Zoom-Zoom: comparison of browser page zooming

Ever since the dawn of men, humans have asked the question, what is the best internet browser? To tell you the truth, I don’t know and I don’t care. I’ll use whichever one can offer me the best experience and features that I want, not based on someone else’s opinion. One feature in particular has been on my shopping list for quite a long time, and that is the “page zoom” feature.

“Page zoom” is a feature on just about any modern browser. The idea is simple, magnify the content of a web page to enhance visibility in situations where you can’t sit 1-inch infront of the screen. Simple in theory, complex in practice. I took a few screenshots comparing how each of the three most-preferred Windows browsers (Firefox, Internet Explorer 7, Opera) handled “page zoom”.

These first set of tests were taken from the homepage of my blog.

The second set of tests were taken from the Australian newspaper’s website, The Age.

Firefox 2.0 (Applies to 1.5 as well)

Firefox has probably the worst “zoom” feature out of the three browsers. It is nothing more than just “large text”, which is quite a shame really. The problem is when Firefox doesn’t scale the CSS styling and images when zooming causes text to easily overgrow the size of the constrained layout. There is a “PageZoom” extension which adds this missing functionality, as well as a request at BugZilla to implement this function in the future.

Internet Explorer 7

Internet Explorer 7 has implemented a “not-so-polished” zooming feature. I say this because whilst it does actually support true scaling of font, CSS styling and images, it exhibits some bugs that can destroy the layout. For example, in the first set of tests @ 150%, the second navigational tab text is misaligned, and also the competition promotion text missing a spacing between the sentences. In the second set of tests @ 150%, the website’s faux background does not scale in proportions, leaving some of the content on a gray background. But on the plus side, IE7 supports zooming centre-aligned pages. That is, it will automatically refocus the alignment of the page to the centre of your screen no matter how far you zoom. Which is definitely a handy feature on most news websites. Whereas without refocus, you would zoom in 200% and see nothing but the background.

Interesting to note also, Internet Explorer 7 actually scales the Flash content as well. So you can have all your “Press here to make a fart noise” banners in extra-large too!

Opera 9

Opera has the most polished zooming feature out of all three browsers. It comes to me a surprise because Opera has been stereotyped as the browser with the unconventional CSS rendering engine. It scales fonts, CSS and images perfectly, leaving everything proportionally aligned. It also supports zooming centre-aligned pages, however, has a different approach to how IE7 handles it. Instead of maintaining the focus in the centre of the page, it refocuses to the left most margin of the layout. This is quite a smart feature, which makes sense because most content is left-aligned. The only gripe I have against Opera’s zooming feature is the shortcut keys. Failing to follow the standard used by both Firefox and Internet Explorer, the keys are the plus and minus signs on your keypad instead of CTRL + Plus.

And the winner is…

Overall, Opera 9 has undoubtedly the best page zooming feature out of all three browsers. It scales everything like it should and even focuses on where you should start reading. Followed tightly behind with a few rendering bugs is Internet Explorer 7. And sadly the last of the pack is Firefox, looking unlikely to support page-zooming officially in the near future.

Office 2007 icons and SKUs

My friend Scott Savage has acquired himself a copy of the Office 2007 Beta 2 Technical Refresh, Build 4228. He has discovered all of the new Office icons I’ve talked about months ago has been implemented in this build. I was right in some areas identifying what each icons represented, but wrong in others. He also have some of the file-type icons for the appropriate documents.

Office 2007 icons
Click above image to see Scott’s full post with more icons of the file-types.

Apparently there is a problem with this build’s installation procedures on Windows XP. But since he doesn’t have Vista installed on any of his workstations, he is unable to test it out. But he did uncover some of the SKU’s of Office 2007 in an XML file.

  • Microsoft Office Ultimate 2007
  • Microsoft Office Mondo 2007
  • Microsoft Office Enterprise 2007
  • Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2007
  • Microsoft Office Professional Hybrid 2007
  • Microsoft Office Professional 2007
  • Microsoft Office Standard Enterprise 2007
  • Microsoft Office Basic 2007
  • Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007
  • Microsoft Office Personal 2007

The most interesting out of all would have to be Office Mondo, which has been believed to be the codename for Office 12, but as an SKU it doesn’t make any sense. Mondo by definition could be used to describe something “very large”. There is already an Office Ultimate, so what can it be?

Update: Mondo could also mean “a question to a student for which an immediate answer is demanded, the spontaneity of which is often illuminating.” Could this be a research tool?

Office Personal and Office Professional Hybrid sounds interesting too. Could Professional Hybrid be the combination of internal combusting word processing and battery-powered spreadsheet we’ve been all waiting for? We’ll just have to wait and see.

Windows Vista RC1 Branching

Important: The following information has been marked as inaccurate.
Please read the new post about the Windows Vista development process and branching.

Nick White from the Windows Vista Team blog writes about the process involved when building Windows Vista. He interviews the director of Windows Release Management to find out how all the branching and build numbers works. It’s all awfully complicated, so here is a diagram to help explain it.

Windows Vista is a series of tubes branches. Idea adapted from Tony Schreiner.

Windows Vista RC1 branching

Update: I want to clarify the above diagram a little. Some people has been lead to believe that because I have labeled “New Feature – Boot Screen” as something to be injected to the RC1 build, that a new boot-screen is definitely coming. I want to just state this is NOT my original intention. The diagram is purely for illustration purposes, and may/may not reflect what will actually be injected into the RC1 build. However having said that, I am confident a new boot-screen is coming in RC1 or post-RC1. I say this because to compliment the new startup sound, they need some visuals.

This would explain why 5700 (RTM branch) is ‘newer’ than 5536 (Pre-RC1), but built at an earlier date.

I think their reason to have a separate RC1/RTM branch as opposed to a single branch is because they are going to be adding new ‘features’ in to RTM that will not be shown in RC1. I know Microsoft said Beta 2 was “feature lock-down”, that no more features would be added post-Beta 2, but the definition of ‘features’ can be fairly broad. For example, the new system sounds are yet to be included in 5536, yet they are definitely a ‘feature’. If my assumptions are correct, then the slightly updated Aero Glass UI could even appear after RC1.

It’s all too exciting.

Important: This information has been marked as inaccurate.
Please read the new post about the Windows Vista development process and branching.