Windows 7 is *NOT* Windows Vista! (Or is it?)

Hear hear!  I was recently commenting Ballmer’s statement that Windows 7 would “be Vista, just a lot better.” Now it turns out Windows 7 will not be Vista but perhaps—hopefully—an entirely new direction for Windows. InfoWorld writes:

The reworked Windows: tighter, leaner
The operating system itself has gotten a considerable amount of reworking below the presentation layer. If M3 is any indication, that work has led to a tighter OS, and by “tighter” I mean that resource requirements are being lowered.

That’s the right direction! Microsoft should stop calling Windows 7 the “Vista 2.0!”

Update 29 October 2008: Or that would be the right direction. Randall Kennedy’s review of the first beta of Windows 7 doesn’t sound promising. Hopefully Microsoft has still a very long to-do list. They’d have the time, but do they have the focus? Otherwise Ubuntu, or perhaps PC-BSD look ever more enticing.

“Windows 7 is Vista.” Really?

I see Microsoft has already started to lay down the groundwork for the failure of Windows 7 (Ballmer: Windows 7 is Vista, just ‘a lot better’, InfoWorld). Saying something like that at this point in time should work about as well as if John McCain were to declare that “he is George W. Bush, just a lot better.” People don’t like Vista as there is very little apparent gain from it (as compared to XP), and if Windows 7 is Vista 2.0 it must mean that large number of Vista’s obnoxioius features will still present in Windows 7.

When Windows NT came out its benefits were obvious over Windows 98. Subsequently Windows 2000 took out the rough edges off of NT making the new environment very useable, and lightyears ahead of 98 in stability, features, etc. XP further refined that lineage. Vista, on the other hand, has no such apparent benefits over XP. Even though Microsoft has put significant amount of time into developing the kernel under the hood, to the users it looks more bloated, more resource-hungry, more glitsy, but with few features that leave the user wanting to switch over (DirectX 10 being perhaps one of the only ones.. and if you don’t play games, even it has little significance to you). Obviously Windows 7 continues the lineage, but just as John McCain is desperately trying to point out that he is not George W. Bush, Microsoft would be well advised to play down the likeness of Windows 7 to Vista.

Rather than advertising Windows 7’s already painfully obvious lineage, Microsoft could, for a change, attempt something revolutionary such as making the new version of the Windows actually less resource hungry so that it would run faster on the same hardware as its predecessor. With many UNIX distributions such as FreeBSD that is generally the case; new versions squeeze more torque out of the same hardware than did their predecessors.

Joining a WinXP workstation to a remote Win2003 domain

Once again I had to join a newly reinstalled laptop to a remote domain, and create a domain user’s account on the local laptop. I have to do this so randomly that I always forget what the steps are in between. This time I documented it. Here are the steps.

1. Login as Administrator on the workstation you want to join to a remote domain, and create a VPN-connection to the remote domain. Make sure you “Save this user anme and password.. for Anyone who uses this computer”. After the setup has finished, go to the Properties of this connection (double-click on the icon on the desktop if one was created, or go to My Network Places > View Network Connections and double-click on the VPN connection icon there, then click on Properties) and check “include Windows logon domain” in the “Options” tab. Click on OK, then…

2. Connect to the Domain Controller with that VPN-connection using the administrator’s credentials, then join the domain:

  • After the VPN connection has been established, right click My Computer, then select Properties > Computer Name > Change
  • Enter the computer’s name, and check “Domain” and fill in the name of the domain you’re joining (domain suffix is probably also needed; click on “More” and enter the domain’s primary DNS suffix which may be “.local”, or the [internet] domain name used by the [Windows] domain).
  • Enter the login name and password of an account that is allowed to join a user/workstation to the domain.
  • After a few moments you will get the “Welcome to domain” message and the remark that you will have to reboot the workstation; proceed with reboot.

3. Log in with the user name you want to login to the domain as (and likely to create a local workstation account for the domain user):

  • Fill in the name, password, and the domain name of the user at the login prompt. Select the domain name of the domain we just joined (from the drop-down menu).
  • Check “Log on using dial-up connection”; since this is likely the first time this connection is used, you’ll be asked for an area-code, etc. VPN RAS uses the same interface as the regular dial-up, so enter the requested information here though it has no relevance on the VPN connection.
  • When you OK the dial-up setup, the connection proceeds; you may be prompted for the login credintials of the domain admin user with privileges to join users to the domain.

    ** NOTE: SOMETIMES YOU’LL HAVE TO TRY THIS A FEW TIMES BEFORE IT WORKS. IF THE USER LOGIN FAILS ON THE FIRST ATTEMPT, TRY AGAIN (YOU’LL HAVE TO DISCONNECT THE VPN CONNECTION, THEN TRY AGAIN AS DESCRIBED ABOVE.) This is probably due to the same unknown cause that usually results in the first Remote Desktop connection to fail after a VPN tunnel has been established.

  • The local account is now created for the domain user. Logout.

4. Make the newly created local account for the domain user an Administrator. Log in as the local system administrator, go to Settings > Control Panel > User Accounts, then select “Add” and add the newly added domain user as the local Administrator by typing in the user name, the domain name, and selecting the user level as “Administrator”.

  • logout, then login as the newly created domain user (be sure to select the domain name rather than the local computer from the drop-down menu at the login prompt).


The above steps being for WIndows XP Pro, for Vista the steps differ some.  On msgoodies blog there’s a brief mention of the procedure on Vista:

In Vista there is no Logon using dial-up networking option (Or at least I haven’t found it 😉 ) instead the trick is to create a VPN connection, dial-up to your company, join the domain, reboot and then logon with the local user. Then dial-up to your VPN again and selest padlock icon, Switch User (While keeping you VPN connection open) and now logon to you domain account.

Widescreen multiple monitor desktops (or The End of 2:3@1600×1200 LCDs)

I just realized that most manufacturers have discontinued 2:3 (non-widescreen) 20″ (or any size, for that matter) LCD-monitors. Everything is widescreen. But how about many existing applications that call for 2:3 format display panels?

The following was revised/rewritten on 14 October 2008, after I got some feedback from Ergotron that substantially changed the facts on what I wrote yesterday:

I’ve been using Ergotron’s LX display stand for some time now, and have really become accustomed to the large, wrap-around desktop space the LX stand equipped with three 20″ 1600×1200 pixel displays have offered. That’s 4800×1200 (or 5,760,000) pixels. The most common replacement for 1600×1200 displays seems to be the 1680×1050 widescreen format even though the actual upgrade for the 1600×1200 displays is the 1920×1200 resolution. Display for display the 1680×1200 pixel monitors offer 156,000 pixels less desktop space than 1600×1200 models.

The Ergotron LX stand I’m currently using would fit just two of either the 1680×1050 or 1920×1200 displays as they’re “widescreen”. Dual-widescreen setup using the previous displays offers 3360×1050 (3,528,000) pixels, or 3840×1200 (4,608,000) pixels respectively. Either configuration provides still less desktop space than triple 1600×1200 display.

There are couple of alternatives for triple-monitor setup using the widescreen displays. Firstly, Ergotron LX stand supports one 1600×1200 2:3 monitor in the middle, and two 1920×1200 widescreen monitors on the sides. That will produce a large combined 5440×1200 (6,528,000) pixel display!  Yet a better option is  Ergotron DS100 which supports three1920x1200 displays resulting in an even larger 5760×1200 desktop. That’s probably the best economical option at this time, yet it’s a far cry from Al Gore’s triple-HD-setup, which offers a gigantic desktop of 7680×1600 (or over 12 million) pixels — almost twice as much desktop space as our econo choice.

To recap, for a multi-monitor setup I would at this point recommend Ergotron DS100 stand with three Samsung 2443BWX widescreen 1920×1200 pixel displays. Or, if money is not an object, triple “HD” displays (Apple or Samsung), or perhaps 9XMedia‘s insane fifteen monitor stand! 😀