Windows Home Server Vail Streaming Done How it Should Be

I was just looking at this video on Channel 9 about Windows Home Server Vail, and I noticed something I didn’t discover in my play with the Public Beta. Scroll through to 6:35 onwards.

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What you’ll see, is that at 7:07 the guy hovers over one of the images in the flowing album cover background and selects an option for play.

Zune 4.1 and 4.2 along with Windows Media Center have the same style interface with the flowing covers, however neither of them can do this click to play thing, and I have to wonder why.

The first time I used by Zune player I kept trying to click and wondering why it didn’t work – It’s a natural reaction I think, so congratulations Windows Home Server team for getting it right. I look forward to the Zune team and Windows Media Center team looking at your work here and adopting it for themselves.

On the downside however, I would have liked to have seem some Zune integration in Home Server Vail, especially as Windows Phone 7 and Xbox are making good inroads.

Sky Player for Windows Media Center

It’s been visible for sometime, however today is the first day that the Sky Player functionality in Windows Media Center works. I’ve never used Sky Player online before so I had a bit of work getting my account setup and the rights to access our subscribed channels but after about 15-30mins I had it all working.

The UI is clean and mostly in-line with the style of Windows Media Center. Some elements such as the TV Guide I felt where not sympathetic to the Media Center UI and should be updated to give a better feel of integration.

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Offline Installation of Silverlight 3.0 Runtime

Whilst working on the DVD for our wedding to ship out to everyone (yes, I know it was a long time ago), I’ve been trying to work out how to build an offline installer for Silverlight onto the disc.

The reason being I am shipping this DVD out to people all over the place and some of which I can’t guarantee a stable or fast network connection to download Silverlight.

Whilst looking around on the blogosphere for information about offline installations for Silverlight, I have across this posting by Tim Heuer at http://timheuer.com/blog/archive/2008/09/29/install-silverlight-2-rc0-offline.aspx.

Whilst helpful, this article is targeted squarely at developers – Not me in this case, so I had to find my own solution, but Tim was of some help.

Step One is to download the Silverlight Development Runtime from Microsoft.

Once downloaded extract the contents of the runtime to a folder. I use WinRAR to do this, but that part is up to you.

You will now have a directory which contains the following files:

  • install.exe
  • install.res.dll
  • silverlight.7z
  • silverlight.msi
  • silverlightdev.msp

If you run the intall.exe file this will start the Silverlight 3 for Developers installer however do not be fooled.
If you check Programs and Features (Add or Remove Programs for XP lovers) after the install is done, nothing is actually mentioned about developers. This simply installs the Silverlight 3 Runtime.

If you are looking for something a bit more fancy then you could do a silent install using install.exe /q which also works.

For GPO installers out there the silverlight.msi is actually an empty container and will show Silverlight in the Programs and Features list but presents a 0 KB installation size and 0.0.0.0 version number. You need to chain the silverlight.msp file which is within the silverlight.7z file to the end of the install to actually install the Silverlight Runtime.

Mix ’08 and My Thoughts

Late last night, I watched some interesting content from the Mix ’08 show from Microsoft. I took the time to watch the two keynote presentations, firstly introducing Microsoft’s new web technologies and the second being an interview with Steve Ballmer.

Whilst I am not a developer, there are some things which do realy excite me when it comes down to web development and the new functionality which people are driving through sites like social networking and the demand for richer, faster and more integrated web experiences, and for me, a lot of the things that came up in the Mix ’08 keynotes did it for me.

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Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 Review

A few days ago I saw that Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 was being made publicly available so I thoguht I would give it a stab and see if Microsoft had done any good with this, because I personally feel that IE7 wasn’t released all that long ago and there wasn’t really much need for a new browser jsut yet.

After getting it installed which was a bit of a polava due to needing to install a patch for Windows XP which didn’t want to install straight up, I couldn’t see too much difference, except for the fact that half of the internet doesn’t work properly.

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