Windows Vista SP1

I just downloaded and installed Windows Vista SP1 beta, at just over 600mb it’s not a small download. I kicked the install off and about 40 minutes later my test box rebooted for the first time. It processed the update for about another 10 minutes, then shut down and rebooted. When it resumed Vista told me not to turn off sp1the machine as it was installing a Service Pack, so iI waited another 10 minutes and it rebooted. Once it came backup it played the Windows Vista sound and told me to wait while it installs a Service, hmm not good I thought. So I waited (again) 10 more minutes and it rebooted and guess what, it told me to wait while a Service Pack installs, I was about to panic as I thought it was stuck in some kind of loop but it looked different this time as the screen was running in a higher resolution, so I left it and it rebooted.

So that is three reboots, then another reboot and one more then finally Vista came on, so that is six reboots which must be a record for a Service Pack. Once I had logged in everything looked fine. I can’t see any differences yet, this was on a Dell desktop PC so I don’t use Sleep mode like I do on my UMPC and laptop so I can’t comment on whether its any faster.  In use Windows does seem a little faster to respond, but that could be in my mind!

I would love to try it on my laptop to see if it speeds up Sleep mode and fixes my problem where Windows adds the external display to the right hand side on my laptop screen when it sits on the left hand side and I have to manually change the setting after it sleeps or hibernates, but I am not going to put it on just yet, while I have faith in Microsoft to get it right it is still only a Beta!

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Windows Vista SP1 and XP SP3 Coming soon

Finally confirmation from Microsoft that there is a service pack for Vista coming and that there is a Service Pack 3 coming for XP

From reading the information from Microsoft the XP Service Pack looks like a roll-up of al the fixes since SP2 and doesn’t contain any features, but that is to be expected. What is more interesting is that Microsoft seem to be playing down the significance of the Vista Service Pack.

In addition to updates we’ve previously released, SP1 will contain changes focused on addressing specific reliability and performance issues we’ve identified via customer feedback, supporting new types of hardware, and adding support for several emerging standards.  SP1 also makes additional improvements to the IT administration experience.  We didn’t design SP1 as a vehicle for releasing new features; however, some existing components do gain enhanced functionality in SP1

So I don’t expect to see any major updates to Windows Media Center in the Service Pack, well nothing like the changes in XP2. I am sure it will have all the Media Center fixes and updates that have shipped since Vista was launched.

There is more information on the Windows Vista Blog and there is a detailed white paper.

Testing a new device – Sony UX1

Just received a new unit to review. The Sony UX1XN is a neat UMPC, much smaller than I expected with a very clear 4.5" display it makes my Samsung Q1 look like a monster. In terms of performance the unit feels quick, I think its going to take some time to get used to the small screen but I am going to give it a go.

The only downside I can see at the moment is that pre-installed is Windows Vista Business Edition, so no Media Center

I am going to play with it over the weekend and do a proper review in the mean time checkout Sony’s site for more details

 

Not sure I will be wearing it on my belt like this guy

 

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Vista Update Packs

Microsoft have released two update packs for Windows Vista.The Performance and Reliability Pack the Compatibility and Reliability Pack

This two update packs were released to beta testers a couple of weeks ago and I have been running with them since last week and can say I have not noticed any changes at all.

Have a look at Microsoft’s site for more details on the update. I can’t see any specific issues for Media Center but some things like faster resume from Hibernate will be nice to have (having said that I can’t see any change in resume time on my machine)

 

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Windows Vista SP1 Beta due next week?

Could there be a surprise beta of Windows vista SP1 out next week? According this post Microsoft could be preparing the beta for sometime next week with a RTM of November. It will be interesting to see if there is a Windows Media Center update included, if it does then that would fit with the eHome teams yearly release cycle but nothing has been announced, and I haven’t heard any rumors of a Media Center update for then either.

Get Windows Movie Maker running on a Vista UMPC

One thing I noticed doesn’t work on my Sanmsung Q1 UMPC running Vista is Windows Movie Maker. While I don’t expect to be doing major movie edits on the UMPC it is handy to be able to do a quick edit on a video podcast. When you try to launch it you get a message: "Windows Movie Maker cannot start because your video card does not support the required level of hardware acceleration or hardware acceleration is not available"

Now Microsoft have released Windows Movie Maker 2.6 for machines that don’t support the Vista edition 

Overview

Movie Maker 2.6 is for Windows Vista users whose computer cannot run the Vista version of Movie Maker.
To test if your computer can run the Vista version of Movie Maker:
1. From the Start menu, click All Programs.
2. Click Windows Movie Maker.
If Movie Maker launches, you should not download version 2.6.
If you get an error message that says, "Windows Movie Maker cannot start because your video card does not support the required level of hardware acceleration or hardware acceleration is not available", download and install Movie Maker 2.6.

Link to Download details: Windows Movie Maker 2.6

 

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New Vista Blog on TheDigitalLifestyle.com

I want to welcome Tony Campbell to TheDigitalLifestyle.com, Tony will be manning the Windows Vista Blog, a new blog that is looking at all aspects of Vista not just Windows Media Center.

Tony is an author, author, journalist and consultant and also is co-author of our new book Using Windows Vista Media Center (and also author of Windows Vista: Beyond the Manual)

His first post is about Movie Making in Vista

Tony is asking for feedback, so checkout his blog and let him know what you want him look at in the blog

 

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Reports of problems with new HP Pavilion Vista PC’s and Windows Media Center Extenders

A user on the forums on TheDigitalLifestyle.com reported a problem with a brand new HP Pavilion M7775 running Windows Vista Home Premium and Media Center Extender appearing to not listen to input. The user did all the usual stuff, checked network connections, firewall and AV software but it didn’t respond.

It turns out that the problem could be caused by some pre-installed software. The Picasso add-in steals the focus from Media Center when the Extender session is launched and so instead of the remote controlling Media Center it tries to control Picasso (which is not visible). So pressing the green button should bring Media Center back to the foreground and get round the problem.

A more permanent solution is to remove Picasso ->General->Program Library Options->Edit Program Library and uncheck Picasso and the Front Panel add-in. Then restart the extender session. I haven’t verified this myself but I am told it does fix the problem.

This raises two issues. What is the quality control like a HP and how much "crapware" gets pre-installed on new machines.  So my advice is when you get a new machine remove crapware before you start using it!

 

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Going from XP Media Center to Windows Vista Ultimate Edition

As I mentioned on the blog before I have decided to install Windows Vista on my main Media Center PC. Unlike any other installations I have this is THE main box in the house that does all the TV recording and Media serving and having something not working on this box is not good for the WAF (wife acceptance factor)

The spec of the box is:

  • Intel P4 3.2 HT
  • 2gb RAM
  • 300gb of storage
  • 2 x Blackgold DVB-T TV tuner card

Before installing Vista I did some research and found that 2 PCI Blackgold TV tuner cards are not supported under Vista and since I did not want to go back to a single tuner I decided I would go for a new tuner card. Thanks to the list of tuner cards that is building up on The Media Center Show forums I picked on a Hauppage WinTV-NOVA-T-500 which is a single PCI card dual DVB-T tuner as I had some good reports in the forums on using this card with Vista. I also used Windows Vista upgrade adviser to make sure they would be no surprises when installing and this also picked out a problem with the Blackgold cards

I decided to do a clean install of Vista as my XP build had filled up with the usual rubbish that gets installed over time. The installation went very smoothly, I have installed Vista lots of times now and I am impresses by how little interaction is needed. I downloaded the Nova drivers for Vista from Hauppage’s FTP site, unfortunately the drivers are part of a full install CD that you have to download, why do they do this? Just give me the drivers!

Once I had installed the drivers for the TV card and my LCD display everything was working. No need to find drivers for my FireWire card or chipset drivers which was nice!

When I ran Media Center for the first time I picked the Express Setup which allows you to use Media Center straight away and skips the TV setup. Once I made sure Media Center was working I ran the TV setup, which asks for your region (which defaults to Windows’s installed region), and post code, then it downloads the guide data and scans for TV channels. The whole process seemed a lot quicker that it was under XP.

Next step was setting the XBox 360 up as an Extender. Again this is much simpler on Vista. Just turn on the Xbox and Media Center on the my pc prompted me for a setup code which I got from the Xbox. The Xbox then connected and ran Media Center.

The next job was to get the recorded TV content back in to Media Center. This was easy as I use a separate drive for Recorded TV and it was just a case of pointing Media Center to the folder on the other disk.

The other task I had was to restore my series record settings. Over time on XP I had built up a nice set of programs I like recorded and didn’t want to re-enter them all. So I used my tool designed for this called mceBackup 2.0. I used mceBackup to backup my Media Center setting everyday on XP so all I needed to do was to install mceBackup on Vista and restore the backup and the job was done.

So Windows Media Center and the Extenders were all setup and all that was left was to install the reset of my usual applications, but I am making an effort to not fill this install with crap!

In all including swapping the cards the whole process took about 3 hours but most of the time was spent waiting and I am glad I made sure my TV card was sorted before installing

So if you thinking about upgrading and your hardware supports it, go for it!

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