Thoughts on the Windows 8 Developer Preview

When the Windows 8 Developer Preview was available for download I immediately jumped on it.  I downloaded it and installed it as a virtual machine.  The install process is very similar to installing Windows 7, but the initial Windows 8 set up is very new. You answer a few questions about your network connection and whether or not you’d like to log in with your Windows Live account or create a local account.

It’s the Start screen that’ll blow you away. Microsoft has made some bold changes. First off, they carried over the Windows Phone tiles over to their Windows OS.  This new interface is definitely tailored towards the tablet form factor. Since I was running it as a virtual machine on my laptop I wasn’t unable to test any of it’s touch features. But from the looks of it I’m sure it’s as smooth and responsive as its Windows Phone OS.  Applications are launched by the selecting the tiles on the screen. Some tiles can display live data such as Stock info and the current weather.  There is also a tile to launch the classic Windows desktop as we’ve all come to know.  Microsoft has not departed from the standard desktop GUI, It’s still there and it still looks the same as Windows 7.  Microsoft is moving away from it’s traditional OS layout to a more consumer friendly interface.  In essence, Windows 8 is Windows 7 with a heavy tablet overlay, and this is a big step into getting their OS onto more tablets.  But unlike other tablets, you’ll actually be getting a full functional desktop experience when you need it.

For me, a tablet computers aren’t useful unless it can do everything a typical desktop/laptop computer can do. Up until now, the Windows OS was not optimized for tablets. The user interface wasn’t made for touch screens, the OS was bloated with code to support legacy devices and software, and the hardware that required to run it were power hungry.  Now with Windows 8 many of those issues will be a thing of the past.  And so far with what I’ve seen with this Windows 8 preview I’m very excited to see how Windows 8 progress.

Check out a few of the screen shots below. If you want to check out Windows 8 Developer Preview for yourself you can download it HERE.

Does Microsoft have what it takes be the come-back kid in the mobile phone business?

Earlier this week Microsoft announced their new mobile platform, Windows Phone 7 . They are taking the same route similar to Google’s Android by having their platform be available for different manufacturers and on different mobile carriers (Except for Verizon). Saying Microsoft is late to the battle of mobile devices is the understatement of the year. A little more than 5 years ago Windows mobile was one of the dominating OSes in the mobile market. Now it represents a whimper of a market share compared to Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android, and RIM’s Blackberry phones. For the past several years Microsoft sat on their laurels only to watched their competitors past them by. But will the new release of Windows Phone 7 be enough to put themselves back in the mix with the rest of the big dogs?

Many analysts have already noted that Microsoft is a little too late to the game and the best they can do is vie for 3rd place. And some believe MS’s new platform is the new Palm. With the recent failure of the Kin Microsoft doesn’t look to be in any kind of position to play around with this new platform. They need it to be a huge success and anything less is a failure.

I think it’s a little too early to count Microsoft out yet. They got something that none of the other guys have; a popular and powerful office suite, the Xbox Live service, and a huge install base of Windows users. If they are able to meld their products into something an end user can use effectively and efficiently they can bite a huge chunk of their market share back. From the preview of the devices MS is looking to differentiate itself from the rest by implementing a unique user interface. With large icons and widget style views it makes sense where MS is going: to providing quick access to information and apps.

So far they are taking the right measures by getting their platform onto many devices and carriers as possible. Billions of dollars have been pumped into marketing and getting developers on board and only time will tell if Microsoft can claw it’s way back to the top. Will you be getting a Windows Phone 7?

Windows 7, a success!

Windows 7 is one of the most successful products coming from the Redmond, Washington (that’s where Microsoft’s HQ is located). The company had it’s problems with Vista and it was the thorn in its side that they couldn’t shake off.  As an IT guy I get a lot of questions about tech stuff ranging from laptops to servers, cell phones to USB coffee warmers and the whole gamut of gadgetry under the sun. As successful as Windows 7 already is many of my friends and co-workers ask about it.

Let’s tackle some of these questions and I’ll (briefly) explain why.

“Isn’t Windows 7 just an updated version of Vista?”
Yes it is, but it’s more than just an updated version. The core code of Windows 7 is essentially Vista, but with the fat trimmed off it as well as adding valued features such as increased security, better GUI, and  multimedia functionalities. Windows 7 is more efficient and less of a resource hog compared to its predecessor, so upgrading to Windows 7 for some may make it seem like their computer has gotten a speed boost (I’m not talking about raw FPS gaming, but day to day usage). Since the core code of Windows 7 is Vista’s many if not all of the drivers from your existing devices on Vista will work on Windows 7. Continue reading “Windows 7, a success!”

Tech Tip: PHP on IIS 7

The following post is for anyone running Windows Server 2008 and wants to host dynamic webpages using PHP scripting.

A couple of years ago I wrote a step by step process of installing PHP on IIS 6 on a Windows Server 2003. I wrote it because many of the steps they had online were sometimes incorrect, had gaps, missed steps that were crucial in setting up PHP. With the release of Windows Server 2008 Microsoft also updated it’s Internet Information Services to version 7. IIS7 has lots of new features and one of the in nicest addition is its ability to easily install PHP, compared to installing it on Windows Server 2003.

I wrote the following steps a year ago for documentation purposes. It should be the same process for Windows Server 2008 R2. I didn’t add screenshots because I’m assuming you’re familiar with Windows Server 2008’s GUI.

-Add the IIS Web Server role.  Be sure CGI feature is installed.

-Download the PHP binary for Windows at

-You will need to download and install Microsoft 2008 C++ Runtime (x86) if your OS is 64-bit

In this tuturial we’ll be using the zipped package rather than the installer.

-Unzip the contents to C:\php

-In C:\php directory rename one of the php.ini-xxxx to just php.ini

-In the php.ini file uncomment and set the vaule of the string to:
(To uncomment a line you just delete the semi-colon at the beginning of of line of code)

upload_tmp_dir = C:\Inetpub\wwwroot\uploads (you will need to manually create this ‘uploads’ folder)
date.timezone = america/tijuana     (be sure to select your correct time zone. You can look up your time zones here:

If you plan to use extensions you will need to uncomment the line corresponding to the extension you want to use.

-Open your IIS Manager

-Select your host and click on Handler Mappings

-Add module mapping

-Fill out the Module mapping info

Request path:   *.php
Module:   FastCGIModule
Executable:   C:\php\php-cgi.exe
Name:   php fastcgi

Make sure your php fastcgi is “enabled”

To test your php open up notepad and type in  <? php phpinfo(); ?>
Now save the file as info.php. Place the file in C:\inetpub\wwwroot\
Open up your browser and point it to your info.php file  (C:\inetpub\wwwroot\info.php
If all is successful you should see your PHP info and it’s configuration for your server.

Windows 7 comes out tomorrow


Windows 7 comes out tomorrow and with a lot of fan fare. For the past two years Vista has been a thorn in Microsoft’s side. With Vista’s initial release the lack of third party driver support and the bombardment of poor reviews left users running away from the OS.

With Windows 7 Microsoft have right many of the wrongs and by maintaining the core code from Vista many of the existing drivers will work right out of the box. I’ve been using Windows 7 since it’s beta release through its RC then to it’s RTM debut. Windows 7 is without a doubt the best Windows operating system.  It’s wide range of peripheral and hardware support makes installing it so easy. They days of hunting down drivers… Okay, it’s still there but much less of a hassle. Those who still plan to stick with Windows XP will be missing out on many of the new features. So if you’re looking to buy a new computer now is the time, well actually it’s tomorrow, but you can be sure that the latest OS will be pre-installed. For those who recently purchased a computer check with manufacturer to see if you’re eligible for a free upgrade.

I’m Certified Baby!



For the past six weeks I was studying for 3 Microsoft certifications; 70-640, 70-642, 70-646. Hence the lack of blogging. It’s not like I blog often anyways it was just less than usual. All the studying, practicing, and self-control paid off with a passing score. Whew!

I put off the majority of my running and workout for the last six weeks, so I’m in pretty bad shape. It also didn’t help eating fast food, junk snacks, and the remaining Halloween candy. It’s time to get back to business. Don’t worry, I’ll be posting new MMA stuff soon, and get my review of my Blackberry Bold done.

Vista x64 (part 2)

After fiddling around with the 64 bit version of Vista I found it to be very stable. Speed wise it’s just as fast as the 32 bit version. Fortunately the architecture of recent CPUs of Intel and AMD they’re able to process 32 and 64 bit code simultaneously. So having a 64 bit OS doesn’t mean you’re stuck using only 64 bit applications. After installing a 64 bit version of Vista you’ll see two ‘Program Files’ folder and one will be designated as ‘Program Files (x86)’. When installing your old 32 bit application they will be installed in the Program Files (x86) folder. This keeps your 32 and 64 bit application seperate.

Many of the usual programs worked fine. Office 2003 and 2007 worked without any problems along with Avg Anti-Virus Free, Winamp, WinRAR, PowerISO, VMware Workstation, and Pidgin. The only application I had any issues with are homebrew apps or compiled binary files (.exe). These applications would throw errors and would not execute. Some application can still work if you install a compatible framework in which the 32 bit application can run on. But for me it’s not a big problem because I run VMware Workstation. I can have a virtual 32 bit OS and run those application on that instead. Vista x64 comes with a host of native 64 bit application such as it’s games, Windows Media Player, and Internet Explorer. These native applications works right out of the box. At this time the 64 bit version of IE is limited because the lack of compatible plug-ins like Adobe Flash player aren’t available yet. So to get full internet browsing capabilities the 32 bit version of IE is still available.

Having Vista x64 on my work computer would be fine since most of my computing involve email, remote accessing, and running multiple VMs. But on my personal desktop I ran into some issues. My desktop system is also my media center. One of the big disappointments of the SP1 is that Vista’s Media Center remains unchanged since Vista’s initial release (more on this later). Vista x64’s Media Center is a native 64 bit application and its backbone runs on the 64 bit Windows Media Player. Many of my videos are encoded in different formats and it requires several different codecs to play. Unfortunately I can’t play any of my videos because 64 bit codecs aren’t available. The ones that are available are in beta stages and still doesn’t work.

When Vista was first released my number one reason to upgrade was to use the new Media Center. XP’s 2005 Media Center worked great, but there were many things it could have improved on, and I thought Vista was the answer. Too bad it was only wishful thinking. Vista’s Media Center’s interface is counter-intuitive compared to its predecessor. The media handling is done by Window Media Player. WMP is so limited that that the only type of videos it can play is mpg and wmv videos. It’s not much of a media player without third party codecs. So the 64 bit version of Vista media center is even more crippled than it’s 32 bit counterpart.

Overall there are more positive aspects of Vista x64 than there are negatives. If you have a recent CPU and chipset such as a Core 2 Duo and the Intel 965P the 64 bit OS is capable of addressing more than 4GB of RAM. This will benefit applications that require a large amount of memory. Video/Image editors and CAD users will greatly benefit from this. Overtime 64 bit applications will become more popular and in theory it should be more efficient and faster than their 32 bit versions. If you’re looking to jump into the 64 bit scene now is a good time to check it out. For some it can be used as their main OS on a daily basis. But before you switch make sure there are 64 bit drivers for all your hardware. Vista 64 bit OS requires signed drivers so if your hardware manufacturer does not have those drivers available your device(s) will not work.

Vista x64


Last year when Vista was release to the masses I had already been using the Vista RTM version for a few months. I even wrote a little review about my experience. In short, the new OS was visually appealing but had too many things wrong with it such as bugs, incompatible software and not enough drivers were available. I ended up uninstalling Vista and reinstalled Windows XP and have not used it since except for when I’m troubleshooting a Vista system at work.

It’s been a little over a year, about 14 months, since Vista’s release. I got my hands on a copy of a Vista RTM with SP1. SP1 was the answer to all the nay-sayers who didn’t want to use Vista. Many online publications have already done benchmarking tests and SP1 was no faster than the orginal RTM release. In fact some showed SP1 as being slightly slower. I wanted to see the results for myself so I set up Vista w/SP1 on a couple of virtual systems on VMware. Using Vista on VMware probably didn’t provide much of a guage to show the difference with the new SP1, So I decided to install Vista Ultimate 64 bit version on my primary desktop system. Before formatting and reinstalling a new OS I always backup all my files and I download all the drivers needed for the new OS. I was a bit worried because I’ve never installed or used a 64 bit OS. I expected many things to go wrong with the installation.

I booted off the Vista RTM /w SP1 DVD and installed it. Everything went as normal as the regular Vista sans SP1. It took about 25-30 minutes for the entire install. I finish the installation and logged on to Vista with my username and password. The first thing I always check after I install a fresh copy of Windows is check the Device Manager. One of the most daunting task for installing Windows is finding yellow exclaimations and unknown devices listed in the Device Manager. That’s where downloading the needed drivers before the OS change can save you time and headaches. In this case after the installation there was only one yellow exclamation in the device manager and it was for my USB XBOX HD DVD drive. Running the Windows update fixed it and my Device Manager window was all clean. I was amazed it had drivers for my motherboard devices as well as my dual Hauppauge tuners.

The year between my first Vista install til now there has been a ton of hotfixes and driver updates. This Vista installation couldn’t be any easier. My next test will be evaluating my 32-bit applications and see how it run on this 64 bit Vista.

[To be continued…]