Monthly Archives: September 2006

McDonalds wants you to make up your own mind

McDonalds Australia has just launched a new marketing campaign called “Make up your own mind” on TV. Apparently, McDonalds wants to make up your own mind about the quality of their food products and employment values without the influence from friends, advocacy groups or even corporations. Ironic.

Also, how beneficial is it to take up a few cynical gossips so seriously? I didn’t consider less than half of those ‘rumours’ seriously, but if McDonalds is willing to spend a few hundred thousand dollars on a marketing campaign to combat it, then it becomes something else.

Windows Ultimate Extra Secrets

Windows Ultimate Extra Secrets

Microsoft has confessed time and time again, everything we see now in Beta 2 and RC1 is what Windows Vista will be when it is released to manufacturing. This disappoints many Vista enthusiasts like myself who have been fantasizing about unique eye-candy features such as Desktop Aurora. Microsoft has invested a lot of time and effort into such features during the early betas, where did it go? Have they been canceled, or are they still coming?

Microsoft has one last trick up its sleeves, that is, Windows Ultimate Extras. Ever since Beta 2, Windows Ultimate Extras has been said to offer unique softwares, services and tips to owners of the most advanced and expensive version of Windows ever produced, costing more than $100 than the next best consumer version of Vista.

So what does Ultimate Extras mean?

  • Microsoft is obviously targeting the super-enthusiast with state-of-the-art hardware. For Microsoft, this is a great chance to deliver some resource-intensive applications without affecting the whole market.
  • No one at Microsoft dares to speak about Ultimate Extras. Many internal staff has told me exactly the same thing, “expect cool stuff coming”.
  • Ultimate Extras are delivered through the internet. The extras don’t have to be part of the Vista codebase by RTM.
  • Windows Ultimate is slated for release in January 2007. Giving Microsoft an extra 2 months after shipping Vista to manufacturers.

Ultimate Extras has all the right factors for Microsoft to develop features such as Desktop Aurora in secrecy and deliver it to consumers without affecting their release schedules. It’ll certainly be exciting to see exactly what is coming.

Atomic Live: Forum – Computing + Tech in 2010

Atomic Live ForumPredicting computing 4 years into the future in under 10 minutes (and try to get as many product plugs as possible). That was the challenge today at the Atomic Live Forum held in Melbourne. The panel of speakers included Microsoft’s Norbert Haehnel, ASUS’ Emmanuele Silanesu & Albert Liang, AMD’s Michael Apthorpe and Samsung’s Simon King.

Nothing could have gone more wrong for me. I missed the opportunity to chat with Peter Barlow, who is directing the eGames expo coming up. And my voice recorder stopped recording mid-way through the event because someone *unhealthy stare at Simon King* touched the device. So I have nothing more to show than photos, which is definitely a shame.

Pre-show enthusiasm was unmeasurably high.

Continue reading

Can Microsoft be more open during the planning process?

Today, Microsoft program manager Vinny Pasceri has published (first time in history) the original Aero Wizard UI feature specifications document for public scrutiny. Vinny wanted to share with the world his love of specification documents, giving anyone and everyone the opportunity to gain an insight on how Microsoft designs features.

The document itself is extremely interesting to any enthusiast or graphics designer, but it raises one important issue. Can Microsoft ever take feedback beyond the beta cycles?

The beauty of open-source software is that anyone and everyone is invited to contribute at any time during the development cycle, even planning. What if, Microsoft took public feedback beyond its beta cycle, which users can only provide feedback at a stage where applications have already been designed and developed? Would public feedback on the original Longhorn plans back in 2003/2004 have saved Microsoft from scrapping all of their progress and starting blank?

Vinny writes, “During this process it’s extremely important to involve the feature team to get constant feedback on the spec. I want to nail as many of the details as possible before it goes off to a review. I find I get the best feedback from my tester.” With all due respect to his testers and feature team, but such a small and internal group of people could not possibly reflect all the positive and negative reactions. What happens if they miss something?

Currently, by the time most people can submit feedback, the response is “feature by design”. Most of the time, the design is right. But the chances getting the design wrong is still greater than zero, so the more feedback it receives from a larger demographic, the less incompatible it will become.

I know it is not industry practice to allow public oversight of such internal processes, but when passionate people like Chris Pirillo who genuinely want to provide constructive criticism, what is there to lose?

For example, Vinny discusses why the “Back” button is in the top left corner, and why not beside the “Next” button. Whilst he has fairly solid evidence and arguments for this change, I (with many) find it less usable. Currently anyone who submits feedback concerning that issue, the response is “by design”. But as many people would argue, the design is flawed. If the public were able to provide feedback on the original design, the design might have changed. But now, some people are upset with this user experience and can’t do anything about it.

I’m just throwing an idea out there.

P.S. Microsoft Word bug?

Document properties for Vinny Aero Wizard UI Specifications
Interesting enough, according to Microsoft Word, Vinny spent 3709 minutes editing this document which is about 62 hours. I presume the actual time is much longer, since this does not reflect file versions. But even more interesting is the fact that this document was printed before it was created. Go figure how that works.

Microsoft trades trees for security

When Microsoft slacks off, it’s security holes galore. But when Microsoft is serious about security, it’s serious. In fact, so serious that even a security guide is a beta product with beta testers et al. The “Windows Vista Security Guide” is a forest-threatening document that covers everything inside out about security in Windows Vista. I missed their warning “The guide is not intended for home users” first time round. I’ve been scarred for life.

The Windows Vista Security Guide is primarily for consultants, security specialists, systems architects, and IT professionals who plan application or infrastructure development and deployments of Windows Vista in both desktop and laptop client computers in an enterprise environment.

They say actions speak louder than words. But I beg to differ.

Windows Vista Security GuideSnippet of the Vista Security Guide

I give you, the 186 page monster. I’d hate to be the system administrator intern reading through this when Windows Vista launches.