Posts tagged with windows - page 3

My windows 64-bit experiences

Windows XP 64-bit has been on the market for some time and both Intel and AMD’s current processors are 64-bit. Even cheap office Dell boxes are coming equipped with the 64-bit Core 2 Duo. (This is the x64/x86-64/EM64T/AMD64 architecture which comprises of 64-bit extensions on top of the existing x86 32-bit architecture and not to be confused with Intel’s IA64 Itanium stuff or DEC’s Alpha 64)

You can run 32-bit Windows XP on these processors but if you want to use more than 2-3GB of RAM then you’ll need to switch to Windows XP 64-bit edition (or Vista 64-bit if you’re really brave).

With all this in mind I was a little surprised at the state of 64-bit Windows software when I finally got my hands on my first x64 machine. Here’s what I found.

Microsoft SQL Server 2005

Installing Microsoft SQL Server 64-bit (any edition) complained about a missing or corrupt sqlclin_x64.msi file which could leave you running in circles.

This problem occurs if you have the 32-bit native client already installed. Unhelpfully Add or Remove Programs describes both versions as Microsoft SQL Server Native Client regardless of whether you have the 32-bit or 64-bit version installed. The SQL Installer fails to check for the 64-bit version and throws this cryptic error message at you instead.

Solution: Remove Microsoft SQL Server Native Client.

Internet Explorer only sites that use Flash

There are a number of IE only web-sites that use Flash – Microsoft’s Online Learning is one such example. The problem is that Adobe have not made a 64-bit version of the Flash player available.

Solution: Create a shortcut to C:\Program Files (x86)\Internet Explorer\IExplore.exe to run 32-bit Internet Explorer for now.

Mozilla Firefox

There is no official 64-bit Windows version of Firefox although the 32-bit version runs just fine.

Solution: Try one of the unofficial builds although they are a little dated and there is no patching policy.


There is no 64-bit version of TortoiseCVS and the 32-bit version will not run from the 64-bit Windows Explorer.

Solution: Install the 32-bit version and run from the 32-bit version of Windows Explorer (a pain).

A 64-bit version of TortoiseSVN is now available.

Note: If you like to be able to access TortoiseSVN from the File dialogs in Visual Studio 2005 you will also need to install the 32-bit version as VS 2005’s devenv.exe is a 32-bit application.

Microsoft Visual Studio 2005

Whilst the Profession and Team editions will let you write 64-bit applications Visual Studio 2005 itself is 32-bit only and has some additional performance and compatibility problems beyond those experienced on x86 32-bit Windows.

Service Pack 1 resolves some issues relating to debugging on 64-bit but leaves a whole host of other x64 issues unresolved including debugging SQL code.

Solution: None.

.NET Reflector

Fails to draw properly the debugging or lower left info pane. Curious considering it is a .NET application that shouldn’t care whether it is running on 32-bit or 64-bit architectures. So much for VM abstraction.

Solution: None.

This bug has been subsequently fixed.


Overall a very disappointing state of affairs.


Vista: no pretty picture for me

Windows Vista logoThe Microsoft blogosphere is full of posts announcing the release of Windows Longhorn Vista to manufacturing.

It’s done – the code is finalized and any bugs and fixes will have to wait for Microsoft Update to deliver.

What can we look forward to?

Ease of use: New start bar

I’m fine with the one I have – though there are a multitude of free alternatives.

Ease of use: Thumbnail’s of documents in Explorer

The only time thumbnails make sense is for pictures or occasionally videos and XP already does that. I really can’t tell which document is which from a 64×64 pixel tile of the front page.

Ease of use: Thumbnail’s of minimized windows in the task bar

Already have something very similar using the alt-tab switcher in the Power Toys kit for XP.

Ease of use: Task switching via a 3D show of Windows

Not needed, see above. I’d probably use it as much as I use Expose – ie. rarely.

Ease of use: Glass-like interface

I’m not sure how this semi-transparency actually helps. It doesn’t really on Mac OS X and that doesn’t use the blur shader Aero does. Also won’t work under virtual machines.

Security: Finer grain of user control & family safety settings

Probably of some use to parents and control freaks.

Windows Defender anti-spyware included

Plenty of free alternatives.

Search faster and save search ‘folders’

The message from MS is search don’t organize. Personally I only search when something is misplaced – I’d rather not adopt misplacement as a filing strategy. It’s difficult to ensure all your files are safely backed up if you don’t even know where they are. Free alternatives available.

Internet Explorer 7

Available for XP.

Sorry, I’m a full-screens task switching person and if I really want gadgets there’s Konfabulator for free right now.

Performance: Sleep mode

An interesting mode – standby but with a backup copy on disk. Could be useful on the very rare occasion my PC is asleep when a power-cut hits.

Performance: SuperFetch

Windows thinks it can pre-cache my apps based on a schedule? I’m not convinced it won’t be loading VS 2005 into memory just as I’m about to fire off a game of HL2.

Performance: ReadyBoost

Use USB storage instead of buying RAM because it’s confusing to know what RAM to buy. Probably not a big hit with the tech savvy.

Performance: ReadyDrive

Replacing the RAM cache on hard drives with Flash RAM. I don’t see why it needs an OS upgrade to achieve that. If you have a UPS or a rock solid electrical supply you could just turn on write back caching.

Windows backup: System restore

Apparently even better than that in XP. I can’t think of a scenario where it wasn’t already adequate.

Windows backup: Backup

Could be very useful for some people especially if it doesn’t mind the fact those users no longer know where their files are thanks to search.

Myself, I’m using Subversion as a distributed backup and synchronization platform.

Windows backup: Previous versions

Nice idea, could be useful to some. Again, Subversion here.

Networking: Lots of new features

I can’t remember the last time I had a problem with networking. Network map looks pretty.

Windows slideshow

Requires a laptop with necessary hardware.

Speech recognition

Somebody somewhere honestly believes we want to tell our computers what to do verbally. Quite how this would work in an office I have no idea – people talking all over each other and revealing company and personal secrets… Not to mention sore throats from talking all day and germ spreading.

And that’s the picture for *accurate* voice recognition. Next!

Help & feedback, Windows Update

You’ve got to be kidding me.

Windows Mail & Calendar

Sorry, long since switched to web & mobile phone respectively.


Windows Media Center

Interesting that it’s now included but my home server acts as my media portal. There’s no guarantee that Vista Server will include the media center when it finally arrives much later.

Windows Media Player 11

Available for XP.


Parental controls: no thanks. Easy access: I have desktop icons. 360 controller support: Available for XP.


Visual Studio 2003 isn’t supported on Vista and that’s the only version of Visual Studio that supports all those .NET 1.1 apps.

In summary

If you are an experienced user you probably already have everything you need without Vista.

Some of what’s new is already available for XP, other additions are playing catch-up to Apple oblivious to the fact that Mac users are slowly moving to web-based alternatives.

It seems the interesting new take on licensing has been revoked and Microsoft is keeping a bit quiet about the whole Trusted Computing plan that makes your PC do what Microsoft want and not what you want.

And all this can be yours from a much as £325 ($617 USD) for Windows Ultimate according to!

UK upgrade pricing has been announced but being that Windows Ultimate actually costs $399 in the USA it would seem they are using an unfavorable exchange rate of $1.22 instead of the $1.90 the real world is using.

Nothing like profiteering off the English I guess. By this estimation the US price of $159 for Home Premium Upgrade will work out at £130 ($247).

Yikes! This release has as much appeal as Windows ME. Still, the packaging looks pretty:

Windows Vista packaging

I guess they learned something from their own iPod packaging parody video after all.