Friday, December 12, 2008

Wrapup and retool

I'm back!

It's been 5 months since you've seen me cursing the mundane details of the OS called Vista. Although my focus hasn't been on Vista lately, I haven't gone far. I've been hard at work developing an automated installation process for Server 2008 using the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit.

I must say that I was quite impressed by Server 2008 - it's hard to believe it shares the same kernel with Vista. But I know the problems I found in Vista are present in Server 2008 as well - it's just that they aren't problems you are going to encounter in that OS because it is just used differently.

In the past 5 months I have still been using Vista and watching its evolution. There hasn't been much change that I can see. On the plus side, those articles I started writing over a year ago are still relevant. In fact, I suspect many of them will still be relevant for Windows 7 (I hope I'm wrong on this) since the underlying architecture should continue to present the same hurdles.

Looking back on my old articles I realized I didn't get around to delivering one piece of simple advice. Many of my later UAC articles (User Account Control (UAC) (16)) discussed the inability of Vista to elevate the Windows Explorer and all the problems that causes. But I never delivered the punchline...

It seems to me that Microsoft made a big engineering mistake by tying Windows Explorer processes to the main desktop process. Under UAC you want to elevate Explorer but the fact that it is already running in order to present the desktop makes that impossible. Well, you can fix this shortcoming! If you have had to drastically alter the way you work because of this limitation and wish you hadn't, here's how you go back. Use a different Windows Explorer. Don't use the product provided by Microsoft, but rather use a third party explorer - one that isn't tied to the desktop. There are many fine examples out there. Some have drastically expanded functionality that you may enjoy, but more importantly, they can all elevate! Xplorer2 is one fine example that you should play with. Their free trial will be enough to show you what I mean.

I'm now looking for my next computing adventure... Judging from some of the recent statistics, many frustrated Microsoft users are casting their gaze at Linux. I too am glancing in that direction. Those Linux users appear to be having a good time and aren't exhibiting the kind of frustration I have been of late. Join this Microsoft user on his Linux adventure!

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