Install Windows XP/Vista/7 from USB memory stick

Today I got myself a new desktop PC. Since I had a lot of hard drives and a few CD/DVD roms, I ordered a PC setup with smallest HDD available and skipped DVD/RW drive. Once I got the PC I found out the Gigabyte motherboard had no IDE ports. So I searched for alternate installation methods of Windows. I had tried installing from uSB flash drive before but didn’t succeed, the methods were too complicated and with lots of issues. Today I found a nice utility – Novicorp WinToFlash – and it works like a charm!
Dowload here: http://wintoflash.com/
Install WinToFlash, select folder or CD drive where your windows installation files are and create thumb drive with a few clicks. Plug your USB drive in the destination PC, choose “Text mode” on first attempt, install, then choose “GUI mode / continue setup / 1st start” on two next boots. Done!

UPDATE: It’s been a few years and I’ve found even easier tool – Rufus. It comes in portable package as well (just download and run) and while i had no success with another software to install live cd on micro-sd card (inside usb sd adapter), Rufus installed linux (Mint and kubuntu) fast and easy!

Anti-virus update

I just wrote a post at information security awareness blog about anti-virus comparison test at virus.gr. It had some suspicious results that were extremely positive for Kaspersky competition (Norton at #22). On 2nd place was Active Virus Shield by AOL which is the same engine of Kaspersky`s, but uses AOL brand and is completely frēe! Might be a good thing to those that have difficulties choosing among freeware anti-virus software. I`ll give it a try tomorrow and if it will get one nasty virus out of my laptop (DrWeb doesnt detect it, AntiVir! detects it but doesnt cure), I`ll post it..

Microsoft Soapbox video service

Microsoft has started a new service – Soapbox. It`s a YouTube future follower, as Soapbox is still in beta and available to limited invitations (you can go to the site and request an invitation). Funny, that once again Microsoft announces a product way before it`s ready, and once again only a product that follows some other market leader. For example, previous it was (maybe still they hope) for Adobe Flash, which Microsoft tries to compete with its Avalon products. Check out – on soapbox.msn.com the video player is in Flash! I have no idea why is Microsoft spending so much money on probably worthless products, though they still keep a big part of internet users on MSN.
Just my 2c.

Windows Vista beta 2 and Microsoft Office 2007 screenshots, review

Today I atteded a presentation in Tallin about Microsoft Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007. Both were beta previews. Of course, the presentation went a bit off the road of presenting the Windows features and more on advertising Avalon – Microsofts web and application development suites. I got Windows Vista beta2 and MS Office 2007 installations with product numbers (i`m sure they will not work for final version). Everything seems to based on XML or XAML and base everything on something called Windows Presentation Foundation:

Windows vista

It feels like they are trying to compete in every aspect with Adobe Flash, Flex and also PDF format. Still I`m a trustful user of Flash and I love everything Adobe (and Macromedia staff) has done.A little overview:

Microsoft Windows Vista. There were good points in the new windows, but bad points were more. They are crazy about this visualization stuff – transparency, 3d, do this do that. Gadgets are good, but I prefer Yahoo gadgets or Konfabulator. Windows gadgets are put in a sidebar that sits on our desktop. Using low resolution like in the screenshot, the sidebar takes up a lot of screen space: Windows vista beta screenshot There are many features inside folder view, but some are visualization stuff like showing contents of the folder inside the folders`s icon. Windows vista beta screenshot Also showing application mini-capture images in everywhere – taskbar mouseover, start menu mouseover and ALT+TAB where you can see application captures in 3D. The operating system eats resources like a 2 week unfed dog got to his Pedigree! There is also some User Security Control or something like that which warns you before any action that would hurt(really?) your system. this gets annoying and can be switched off – back to the old XP system. There is a new tool called Collaboration that allows to connect many Vista users to one session and view all your actions. Windows vista beta screenshot

Microsoft Office. Packed with visualization stuff. So much possibilities to add some graphic to every element! At first I didn`t like the new toolbar stuff in MS Word 2007, but it`s actually usable. It is completely different from everything you have seen before. Word uses now extension – docx and docm (m stands for “macro enabled”). The filetypes basically implement XML and ZIP technologies – you can rename document.docx to document.zip and explore it – its full of directories, xml files, media files etc. They have improved error correcting, so if you change bits of docx document with HEX editor, Word can easily recover the document (not in case if you delete like the first 10-20 bits). Microsoft Excel has also much visualization possibilities, 500 formulas and good improvements. MS Outlook can show stuff in your Word documents without opening the document. Don`t forget this adds to your resources! One thing that annoys you can best see it in Powerpoint – the presentation, toolbars and stuff – everything`s in blue color, blue gradients, blue graphics underneath everything so that it actualy becomes visually distracting and you beg to get back to Office 95 where there were only gray buttons surrounded by simple black borders. I hope there is a way to change these layout themes of Office software.

There is a lot to cover about new Microsoft products, but the guys from Microsoft User group that made the presentation showed less than most of us expected. Partly because of bugs in beta versions, they got bunch of problems while they were presenting the software. I also got a big box with Visual Studio 2005, SQL Server 2005 and Biztalk server 2005 software packages. I`m almost completely sure I won`t use them anyway. As always, Microsoft claims Windows to be faster, better, more secure and compatible. Tests always end in the other way, but who knows, we use the products :)

We will have a presentation in deeper details about .NET software development, but I`m not into it, so I guess I won`t review it for now.