Archive for the ‘microsoft’ Category

Xbox Live Rewards failure

Saturday, March 8th, 2014

So far, it looks like Xbox Live Rewards is a poorly implemented act of desperation.  The first sign that you are about to associate with a complete loser of a program, it takes *2* days for your registration to be processed.  Seriously?  Microsoft can’t figure out how to build a real-time registration system?  It does not bode well for the level of integration between systems.  And you can see that in the forums, with tons of people posting about missing points.  Right now, they have a promotion for the Season Pass add-on’s.  By the letter of the offer, it’s a total scam, since you only qualify if you spend $50.00, and Season Passes are sold for $49.99.  But it gets more comically inept, because from the page where you learn about the promo, there’s a link to “Grab a Season Pass”, which takes you to the store, where….there are no Season Passes for sale.

The Season Passes for Forza 5 seem like a waste of money so far, anyways.  I didn’t want to buy one anyways. grumble grumble.

Xbox One – the disaster continues

Monday, September 9th, 2013

Today, I started seeing tech press coverage of the new Xbox One music service. At least as it is being presented now, it seems like a terrible idea, with even worse marketing. It’s the kind of product announcement that makes you wonder if the manager in charge of the project is short-selling his own stock, being so consumer-unfriendly and counter to the very idea of a home media center, you feel like you must be missing something obvious, that would make up for the overwhelming negatives.

As I understand it, Microsoft has decided to eliminate the ability to share music between machines in the same household, in the ludicrous hope that you will pay $10/month to access a limited sub-set of your music, that is available on their service. Given the Zune service’s terrible history of failing to get rights to even the most common music, it’s hard to believe you’d actually find enough music in their catalog to justify paying $5/month, what their competitors are charging, much less twice that.

Overall, it really seems like the Xbox One is the product where MS basically stood up for all the world to see, and took a crap in their pants, and was proud of it. I can’t think of a single thing they’ve done right with this product so far. I already knew it wasn’t the product for me after the first announcement; it seems with each new announcement, they are trying (and succeeding) in driving even more people away.

It’s not the machine for people who care about games.
It’s not the machine for people who care about music.
It’s not the machine for people who care.
It seems to be intended as a machine for people who are very rich and very depressed, and won’t mind paying a bunch for a useless paperweight.

Windows 8 Store “report app” broken

Monday, July 8th, 2013

It appears the facility for reporting fraudulent apps to Microsoft is broken, and the scammers are jumping all over it.  Currently the New Releases section is dominated by five-buck apps that act as wrappers for well known free software, like iTunes.  But you can’t report them, because the “Report app” feature is broken, and just says “There’s a problem completing your request.  Please try again later.”

Given the small number of apps in the store, that the majority are obviously frauds and scams says terrible things about the review process in place at Microsoft.  I certainly wouldn’t trust any app from their ‘store’ on a  device that carried personal information.  It seems obvious that the persons in charge of reviewing items for the Windows 8 store only care about quantity of apps in the store, and nothing for safety, security, or value.

A Windows Update with restore window functionality?

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

OK, that was strange.

When I came into work this morning, my desktop machine was funked up.  No power to USB devices, but flickering network lights, without response to ping or RDP.  Hard-reboot, and see the familiar, windows is configuring updates message, and eventually login.  As the post login process is doing it’s thing, in addition to the expected start-on-login messaging applications, I get a non-maximized about:blank IE window, and Outlook opens.


Scroogled WTF

Friday, March 29th, 2013

Why would you spend millions on a national ad campaign, encouraging people to switch from gmail to outlook, but not provide any links to resources on how to manage the switch over?  It’s not like MS doesn’t have a specific site setup for helping you do the move process, they just deliberately decided against linking to any useful resources.

Seriously, WTF?


Facebook privacy quirks

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

I picked up a Windows 8 machine, and have been slowly setting it up, and trying to give Microsoft’s vision the benefit of the doubt, and a fair attempt.  I finally set up the People app with a connection to my facebook account, and was exploring that integration this morning.  For 99% of the people I tried, everything that would be visible to me from, was visible in the app.  But then I got to one of my friends, who used to work at MS, and he has privacy settings such that, the app can’t give me anything, and says he specifically disallows the People app access (probably just disallows external apps).  But facebook is quite happy to email me every post he makes, so if they really wanted to, MS could have figured out how to scrap my email for facebook updates from people who disallow the app, and silently just ‘work’.

The flickr integration continues to choke on my super-sized library (130,000 pics and growing).  It hasn’t been able to update since the first attempt.  Oh well.

Best Buy Win’doh 8

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Supposedly, Best Buy has spent a bunch of money on training for staff, and some online videos, to help with the transition to Windows 8. The videos I’ve seen so far are worse that stupid, and take an inordinate amount of time to share very little actual useful information, and really only raised questions. One of the written parts of their Win 8 push, they goofed, and copy-pasted the same text for two paragraphs.

Windows 8 Ribbon menus
The Ribbon menus popularized in Microsoft Office 2007


Windows 8 settings
The Ribbon menus popularized in Microsoft Office 2007

The tester in me noticed.

Strange Outlook background

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

I’m glancing over at the machine with Outlook up, and notice something odd about the current message displayed, a gridlike pattern of boxes, barely visible, that seems to have a fading gradient as you approach the edge of the preview-pane.

At first, I thought it was just that particular manager using a stationery-effect of some sort, but looking at other messages by the same guy, they don’t show this pattern.


Metro IS the start menu

Monday, August 27th, 2012

As I’m slowly doing some work with Windows 8, it helps me to think of the metro screen as a full-screen start menu. The knowledge that you can just start typing, once it is displayed, without having to open a charm first, was my first hope that the OS might actually be usable. Still annoying, ugly, unintuitive and anti-productive, but usable.

Of course I still can’t figure out how our X-server’s installer is creating a file that STAF can’t delete, but the user that STAF runs as can, or more importantly, how to work around the problem.

Windows 8 vs STAF

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Running into unexpected issues, using STAF to automate our test environment, under Windows 8. Seems there are some fundamental security model changes that can prevent non-administrator command prompts from connecting to local network services. I can connect to the running STAF process from a local Administrator Command prompt window, and from a remote machine, but a regular command prompt window gives the dreaded RC 21 error.

Of course, when I try to reproduce the issue on my own VM, things work just fine, which leads me to wonder what my fellow cow-orkers did when setting up their Win8 machine, that is different from mine…And it turns out the difference is that, for whatever reason, he set the “run as administrator for all users” flag on his STAFProc.exe, and sure enough, if I enable that, suddenly a regular command prompt can’t reach STAF, on an administrator console. Now to see if I can fix his machine….

So, I can get STAF into a state on his machine where a regular command prompt window can reach it, but the testing process fails when it tries to delete a leftover directory, part of a safe-than-sorry-clean-up, and is getting a permission denied error (RC 10 OS 5) for an XML file generated during the previous install. I can delete the file by hand just fine, and can’t recreate the behavior by creating my own file with the exact same list of permissions. How very strange. Time to inspect our installer manifest, see what it does to create the file in the first place…