Performance analysis of multi-core systems

One of our main roles in DevDiv Performance Engineering is to help other teams with performance investigations – that is, to help them understand why their code isn’t running fast enough. Recently we ran a little side project that was unusual in two respects: first, we were analyzing performance just for our own curiosity, and second, the investigation was triggered because Visual Studio benchmarks seemed to be running faster than expected on our new multi-core hardware. You might think that in this case we could just leave well enough alone – hey, if the benchmarks are meeting their performance goals then there’s no need to worry, right? – but good performance engineering doesn’t work that way. It’s a constant process of learning, and if you find something out of the ordinary that you didn’t expect, whether positive or negative, then it’s time to roll up your sleeves and figure out why. The whole process turned into a nice detective story, with twists and turns along the way. You can read the whole thing over at “Lessons from the test lab: investigating a pleasant surprise”, but here’s the one-sentence summary: these aren’t your father’s processor cores anymore…

Posted by on 19 June 2008 | 6:30 pm

Other Resources for Problems with Offline Files

Of all my blog posts, the one that generates the most reliable stream of comments is “User comments about offline files”. All my other blog topics get mild interest, but what people really, REALLY want to know is how to get offline files working again when it stops. I just can’t argue with the numbers involved. So I’m really happy that a couple of other blogs have taken up the slack and have been posting about offline files. Apologies to both for only just noticing :) First, the Windows Core File Services team have a blog called File Cabinet, with a category for offline files (aka client-side caching). This stuff is straight from the horse’s mouth, so it’s a little worrying that they’re getting so few comments… I’m guessing most search engines just aren’t putting results from this blog on page 1 yet. Second, the eponymous http://offlinefiles.blogspot.com/, who tackles a new topic with every post. If you’re looking for the answer to a “how to” question, chances are they have a post just for you.

Posted by on 14 June 2008 | 7:52 pm

Moving on - to Developer Division Performance Engineering

With the release of SCCP 2007 I've now been through two complete product cycles of what started out as a little research project called "Indy" -- and that seems like more than enough! So I've moved over to the Performance Engineering team in Microsoft's Developer Division. The division's flagship product is Visual Studio, and our blogger-in-chief is Somasegar. Within the division, the Performance Engineering team makes sure that when we ship a new release of Visual Studio, it will perform well in the hands of our customers. We've also started a performance engineering blog: now you know where to send the complaints :)

Posted by on 5 June 2008 | 11:15 pm

Now available: System Center Capacity Planner 2007

Ironically I'm almost the last to blog it, but the SCCP team is really happy to announce the release of System Center Capacity Planner 2007. You can get it now, it's totally free, and it'll help you size deployments for Exchange Server 2007. But wait! There's more. The fabulous Solutions Accelerator team have released plug-in models for SCCP 2007 that let you do capacity-planning for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 as well. And in the near future we'll be releasing a model for System Center Operations Manager 2007. Did I mention that these are all free?? A big thankyou to everyone involved who made this release possible. I'd especially like to thank everyone involved with the Exchange model - the free publicity doesn't hurt either :) As always, your first port of call for feedback and questions about SCCP 2007 - after the FAQ, of course - is our web forum.

Posted by on 6 February 2008 | 2:48 am

Using funny characters in Outlook 2007 folder and category names - what's the sort order?

It's common to use "funny characters" (i.e., non-alphabetic symbols) in Outlook folder names, so that the folders sort in a specific order: !!Super Important!ImportantAll A'sBasically B's... Of course, the same principle can be applied to category names: !Important@Home@WorkProject AProject B... But how can you be sure that "!Important" will come before "@Home"? In other words, what's the sort order? This bugged me enough to sit down and work it out. So here's the sort order in Outlook 2007 (American English) for the symbols from an American standard keyboard layout:   ! " # $ % & ( * , . / : ; @ [ ] ^ _ { | } ~ + < = > then all the numbersthen all the letters The hyphen and single quote are (almost) ignored, in that -A sorts after A but before B, and 'B sorts after B but before C. And yes, that's a space character before the ! character, so putting a space at the front of a folder name will make it sort to the very top. Sadly, there seems to be no special character that forces a folder to sort to the bottom of the list. I'm sure there is an official name and explanation for this sort order, but my search engine fu has failed me. Help me, oh lazyweb!

Posted by on 24 October 2007 | 1:53 am

Announcing the beta release of System Center Capacity Planner 2007

We're pleased to announce the beta release of System Center Capacity Planner 2007! SCCP 2007 provides sizing, architectural guidance and best practices for customers to plan their deployments of Operations Manager 2007 and Exchange 2007. Essentially, it can predict how much hardware you'll need for a deployment, and how that hardware will behave once one of those two applications is installed. This is a follow-on release to SCCP 2006, which provided similar guidance for MOM 2005 and Exchange 2003. Note that the performance models of Operations Manager and Exchange in the Beta are not final, so this version should not be used for planning production deployments. What we're looking for is feedback on whether the new models and features will meet your needs for planning and modifying deployments of Operations Manager and Exchange. The beta is available now for download from Microsoft Connect -- once you've logged in, look for it on the available connections page, or just go directly to the program details. Please get it, try it, and send us your feedback via the beta newsgroups. And if you're at the Microsoft Management Summit this week, we will be presenting two sessions on SCCP 2007 and multiple hands-on labs -- please stop by if you're around!

Posted by on 26 March 2007 | 1:17 am

Visible Recycle Bin Considered Harmful

Lazy-blogging (verb): The act of letting a thought sit unblogged for long enough that someone else blogs about it instead, thereby saving you the effort. cf lazyweb. Case-in-point: Many of us OCD types find it impossible to sit with a non-empty recycle bin on our desktop. We just can't do it. It nags at our souls. (We're also the ones who defrag religiously and run Disk Cleanup at the drop of a hat). We just... must... empty... that... bin. What does this have to do with lazy-blogging? Well, I've had a note to blog about the solution (set a maximum size for the bin, then use TweakUI to remove the temptation from your sight, and let it empty itself behind the scenes) for literally years. Plural. Thankfully Mike Torres beat me to it, and then Omar Shahine followed up with the important "set a maximum size" hint (otherwise your OCD will be going nuts worrying that you'll fill up your disk). But what really stopped me was that I still haven't found the original inspiration for the idea. Somewhere there's a web page about how the original Apple Macintosh (or maybe Lisa?) designers now consider the "fat trash can" icon to be a terrible usability mistake, because a significant proportion of the population just can't let stuff sit in there. The problem is, I can't for the life of me find that web page. Ergo, I couldn't blog about it. Help me, oh lazyweb... Edit: The lazyweb came through! Shane S. pointed me to bug #2 on AskTog's Bug Hall Of Fame. Quoting: The engineers just though they were providing users with a "neato" way to tell an empty can from a full one, but to many users, the new appearance suggested a painfully distended belly. Millions of people developed the unnecessary and undesirable habit of immediately emptying the trash as soon as the swelling showed. Drop something in; empty the Trash. Drop something in; empty the Trash. It became unconscious habit. Remember the fellow who dropped the document in the trash by accident? Now, when he saw the trash instantly swell up, he was likely to erase it forever—drop something in; empty the trash—relieving the trash of it's apparent distress, even as another portion of his brain, in very real distress, was yelling, "No! No! No!"

Posted by on 15 January 2007 | 1:23 am

Comment spam has got the better of me

My apologies if you're seeing any of my old posts reappear as if freshly published. Comment spam has gotten so bad on some posts that I'm resorting to disabling comments completely. I think this triggers a republish by Community Server (at least, I have to click the "Publish" button), which some blog readers will then interpret as a new post. If I was sufficiently interested I'd see if there's a direct correlation between the spam-attractiveness of a blog post and its Google PageRank...

Posted by on 3 January 2007 | 2:20 am

Startup processes on a Toshiba M400

Or, "What is all this stuff doing on my computer", part II. I've just finished switching my portable life over to a new Toshiba M400 Tablet PC. Gig of memory, Centrino Core Duo, life is good. At least, it was good until I looked at the process list in task manager. Then it was that same feeling of horror all over again. The situation was bad on my old Toshiba Portege 3500. But this is worse. Here are all the I'm-pretty-sure-these-aren't-vanilla-Windows processes that are still running after it's finished startup. I give descriptions where I think I know what a particular startup process does, otherwise I just quote the description field. 00THotkey.exe - Enables use of function keys to control laptop functions APntEx.exe - Touchpad driver (from Alps) APoint.exe - And another touchpad driver (from Alps) CrossMenu.exe - "CrossMenu Main" hkcmd.exe - "hkcmd Module" (from Intel) igfxpers.exe - "persistence Module" (from Intel) TAcelMgr.exe - Acceleration manager (what does that mean?) ThpSrv.exe - Parks your hard disk if you knock the laptop TMESRV31.exe - "Toshiba MobileExtension Service" TMETEMnu.exe - "Toshiba MobileExtension", spawned by TMESRV31 TSkrMain.exe - Acceleration "shaker" utility (what does that mean?) TFNF5.exe - Switch laptop video output using Fn-F5 TRot.exe - Match screen orientation to rotation of tablet screen TouchEd.exe - Turns touchpad on and off TFncKy.exe - "TFncKy" TPSMain.exe - Toshiba power saver applet TPSBattM.exe - Spawned by TPSMain, probably battery-specific TMERzCtl.exe - "TMERzCtrl" In my original post, I counted 11 extra startup processes from Toshiba on a Portege 3500. In just two hardware generations, they've out-done themselves with 18 startup processes. Pretty soon there'll be more random systray applets than there are regular Windows processes. As it is, they're already sucking down 70 MB of working set. Good thing I've got a gig... Can anyone provide more details of what each of these processes does? And (perhaps more usefully!) has anyone experimented with msconfig or autoruns to see the effects of disabling each of them?

Posted by on 12 September 2006 | 3:58 am

Flash demo of System Center Capacity Planner

We’ve had these bits bouncing around for way too long, but now they’re finally linked to from the SCCP home page. So revel in the glossiness of An Introduction to Microsoft System Center Capacity Planner 2006 :)

Posted by on 1 August 2006 | 11:30 pm

More ways to learn about System Center Capacity Planner

The great thing about Microsoft webcasts is that they’re archived. So even if you miss the upcoming live webcast on “Implementing SCCP 2006”, you can still watch it at your leisure (well, as long as your leisure includes a broadband connection). This also means that you can also watch all the previous webcasts about SCCP. So it seems like a good idea to have a list of them somewhere. Here’s that list: Introducing System Center Capacity Planner 2006 (10 Nov 2005), presented by Manish Kalra. If I remember rightly I answered audience questions on this one. System Center Capacity Planner 2006 Overview (19 Dec 2005), presented by Chris Avis. System Center Capacity Planner 2006 Overview (8 Mar 2006), presented by Chris Henley. Implementing System Center Capacity Planner 2006 (26 Jun 2006), presented by Chris Henley.

Posted by on 16 June 2006 | 2:57 am

Upcoming webcast about System Center Capacity Planner

Just a quick note that in 3 weeks, Chris Henley will be hosting a public webcast about SCCP 2006. Click on the link to register - it’s free! Implementing System Center Capacity Planner 2006Monday, June 26, 2006 11:30 A.M.–1:00 P.M. Pacific TimeJoin us and get the information and guidance you need to plan and complete a successful implementation of System Center Capacity Planner 2006. http://msevents.microsoft.com/cui/WebCastEventDetails.aspx?EventID=1032299011&EventCategory=4&culture=en-US&CountryCode=US

Posted by on 6 June 2006 | 3:40 am

Getting back into the saddle

I’m easing back into blogging after taking 6 months off – the good news is this means I’ve got a big backlog of topics… I’d like to start off by thanking Neil Hobson for writing a great two-part overview of System Center Capacity Planner on MSExchange.org. He gives the reader a walkthrough of our various modules, and includes a ton of screenshots, including one of our ability to export nicely-formatted data into Excel. This feature is so little-known that I don’t think even we have a screenshot of it :-) So I’ll shamelessly crib it here: You can see down at the bottom that we don’t just give you a simple summary view of the information – we have tabs marching all the way to the right, containing (we hope) more information than you’ll ever need as you drill down into capacity planning for Exchange. One of those cool features that just doesn’t get much play. Thanks Neil!

Posted by on 4 May 2006 | 11:26 pm

User comments about offline files

This is a catch-all post for user comments and questions about offline files, aka client-side caching. I’m turning off comments on all my previous posts in the Offline Files category, and redirecting readers here instead. Hopefully this will cut down on all the duplicate answers :) As I’ve said before, don’t email me your questions – post them here instead. Wait, no, don’t post right away – first read through the comments in the previous posts! Your question has probably been answered before…

Posted by on 1 March 2006 | 7:46 pm

Where can I get System Center Capacity Planner?

Short answer: System Center Capacity Planner is on TechNet disc 0422, which went out this month. We’re actually “featured content” — I think this is what we get in return for exclusivity! System Center Capacity Planner (SCCP) ships this month and is only available to TechNet Subscribers. SCCP employs state of the art modeling technology to bring unprecedented functionality and flexibility to the process of performance analysis and planning of Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 and Microsoft Operations Manager 2005 deployments. With SCCP the IT Professional will get the guidance required to plan a deployment in the most efficient manner, while also allowing for “what-if” analysis for future planning. Find it on TechNet disc 0422. If you want to take a look at SCCP 2006 before paying for that all-important TechNet subscription, Chris Avis has done a couple of webcasts. He’s even posted demo sessions that didn’t fit into the webcasts as WMV files on his blog. Awesome stuff. If you want to try-before-you-buy, and you happen to be in the Irvine area, then Kurt Shintaku is running another series of hands-on management labs right now. He’s covering a lot in three days, but hopefully he hasn’t reached SCCP yet :) And big thanks to Microsofties Jeff Alexander, Dave Northey, and Tony Soper for driving traffic our way. I really like Tony’s analysis of “people who downloaded the SCCP 2006 beta also downloaded”, because it shows that our customer know exactly what they want. The top three hits are the existing MOM and SMS sizers and the WSSRA reference architecture (which includes capacity planning information).

Posted by on 25 January 2006 | 2:47 am

Aaaaand, we're back

I’ll be making lots of updates to the nonadmin wiki this week. Yesterday it was three months’ worth of press articles about running as a non-administrator, and today it’s two webcasts and two whitepapers for the other resources page*. This is also a way of tricking myself into breaking a month-long backlog of blog topics. When you’ve got so much to choose from that all your energy goes into deciding why you shouldn’t blog a particular topic first… it’s probably easier just to do it. *The update includes a new authoritative white paper about how to start using least-privilege user accounts – so if you’re only going to read one document about LUA, download this.

Posted by on 24 January 2006 | 4:21 am

System Center Capacity Planner 2006: SHIPPED

The Indy team just handed over our final bits for System Center Capacity Planner 2006. Barring any last-minute mishaps or recall-class bugs – memorably defined by our test manager as “causing the death or permanent disfigurement of small furry animals” – there’ll be an official RTM email later this week, and then all you lucky TechNet subscribers will receive it in January. In the meantime we’re all walking around looking a little dazed and happy, because it’s been a heck of a ride. One of our devs worked out that we’ve done eight date-driven releases in eight months, which might be expected for a Web 2.0 startup but is kind of unusual in a server division… What I think is really amazing and worthy of pride is the fact that we took a couple of crazy guys from Microsoft Research, built a v1.0 product team from scratch, created a never-been-done-before application – and only slipped by 6 weeks from our original plan 18 months ago. So a big and heartfelt personal thankyou to everyone who made this product possible. You know who you are. Thanks guys :) I’ve got lots of other blogging topics to catch up on over the next few weeks, but I’ll try to throw in some SCCP news as well. Next up in that category will be some walkthroughs of the tool showing what you can do with it.

Posted by on 13 December 2005 | 6:19 pm

System Center Capacity Planner at Exchange Connections

I’m helping out on the SCCP booth at Exchange Connections in San Diego this week, and we’re handing out hundreds of CDs with our beta refresh bits. To give feedback after trying it out, you should be able to pull down the help menu and see a little “Community Forum” link, that would take you straight here. Only, uhhh, the link isn’t there. Somewhere ’twixt vision and spec our all-singing all-dancing set of community features got dropped, and we decided to “just link to the forum”. Unfortunately, we then forgot to spec the link to the forum. Major oops. This is really painful for us, since it makes it much harder to users to discover how to give feedback. For future conferences we’ll be slapping a big ol’ sticker on the CD sleeve with the URL on it, but for everyone at Exchange Connections I can only offer my apologies. Hopefully this blog post will show up pretty near the top of search results for “SCCP Exchange Connections”, and we’ll help at least a couple more people find this URL: http://forums.microsoft.com/msdn/ShowForum.aspx?ForumID=128

Posted by on 1 November 2005 | 7:21 pm

Why we've posted a beta refresh of System Center Capacity Planner

A week ago we updated the public beta of System Center Capacity Planner. This “beta refresh” of SCCP is now dependent on the release candidate of .NET Framework 2.0, instead of being dependent on their beta 2 release. Shipping this refresh took a lot of effort from the SCCP team, and causes extra confusion for our users. So why did we do it? The answer is that it’s the price of taking a dependence on .NET 2.0 when they were in the middle of their development cycle. Although their beta 2 had a “go live” license (i.e., they considered it good enough for production purposes), the .NET team still wanted to move their customers onto RC and RTM as soon as possible after they were released. So we agreed to replace our original SCCP beta – which requires NET beta 2 – once they had RC bits to give us. That’s the downside, and it’s pretty much an inevitable one as soon as you take a dependency on any other team or feature: rule #1 for shipping software is to minimize the number of dependencies you take. The upside is that, by taking advantage of the new features in .NET 2.0, we’ve been able to ship better code, and do so more quickly. Overall, we think this is a net win. And we still love managed code :) Oh, and even though it was “just” a refresh, we managed to sneak in a few new features: Improved support for modeling VPN connected users More granular control of Exchange transaction rates Optional exclusion of a redundant WAN link from load balancing Improved support for users in branch office Improvements to reporting Improvements to the Hardware Editor Improved online help Modifications to the user interface text If you have any questions, please post them here, or on the community forums, and we’ll do our best to answer them!

Posted by on 30 October 2005 | 1:36 pm

Feedback about the System Center Capacity Planner beta

Thanks to everyone who's blogged about our beta! Special kudos to Eileen Brown, Graham Chastney, Ian Blyth, and Marcus Oh for various combinations of "totally getting it", "kicking the tires", and "bugging us to do more", but I also want to thank Anderson Patricio, Bernd Kruczek, Blake Handler, Duncan McAlynn, Guilherme Carnevale, Jeff Alexander, John Westworth, Josh Jacob, Michael Korp, the MS Exchange Blog, Rod Trent, Stefan Stranger, Stéphane Papp, Steve Carbone, and Tim Mintner. Phew. I'm challenging our marketing team to learn French, German, and Portugese to get all the translations right :) Want to find out more? Download the bits – which will install .NET Framework Beta 2 if you don't already have it – then talk to us in the community forum. Or tune in for our first webcast, Introducing System Center Capacity Planner, on November 10th. Oh, and we've had our first appearance on a spam blog for careers in the modeling industry. That would be the other modeling industry…

Posted by on 20 October 2005 | 12:22 am

New name, half the fat

The eagle-eyed will have noticed that the name of our product has changed from System Center Capacity Manager 2006 Express Edition — which is a classic example of a Type 2 Microsoft product name — to System Center Capacity Planner 2006 — which is still a type 2 name, but thankfully easier to say in one breath. SCCP is actually the name that the development team wanted from the start, so I'm happy. In my opinion, marketing had a strong argument for beginning the name with "System Center" (we're part of that brand), but weak arguments for calling it a capacity manager (focus groups may indeed prefer managing to planning, but our v1 is all about planning), and for tacking on "Express Edition" (since we hadn't announced a "standard edition"). Anyway, the dev team has now changed all our code, documentation, web sites, distribution lists, and bitmaps, but I'm going to leave it to marketing to explain to the field why they have to use the new name. "You break it, you fix it" :) Oh, and remember how I tried to spread the "just remember CapMan" meme? Uh, yeah, sorry about that...

Posted by on 9 October 2005 | 8:16 pm

Announcing the public beta of System Center Capacity Planner

Marketing fluff follows. This is my baby. Grab the bits and kick the tires. Then tell us what to change :) System Center Capacity Planner 2006 Beta release is now available We are proud to announce public availably of the latest addition to the Microsoft System Center family of management products. System Center Capacity Planner 2006 (Beta) delivers state of the art easy-to-use modeling technology to bring unprecedented functionality and flexibility to the process of performance analysis and planning of system deployments of Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 and Operations Manager 2005 by providing the IT professional with the tools and guidance required to architect a deployment in the most efficient manner, while facilitating future planning by allowing for "what-if" analysis. Customers and System Integrators can create green-field deployment plans for Exchange Server 2003 and Microsoft Operations Manager 2005. Capacity Planner prescribes a System Architecture Model based on best practices, and explains the model in terms of topology, hardware configuration and software configuration. Simulation is run on the System Architecture Model to provide rich reports on utilization and end-to-end latency. A graphical editing surface allows customization of the model and experimentation with what-if scenarios to alleviate performance bottlenecks and improve end-user experience. A hardware editor allows creation and customization of computer systems at the level of processor and storage devices. This Beta is for evaluation use only and is shared to enable our customers and partners to become more familiar with the product and provide valuable feedback to ensure we deliver a winning product to the market. We look forward to receive valuable feedback on this new product. Please encourage your Customers/Partners to download the product, work with it, and openly share their thoughts with us The Beta is available for download at: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=B68C06A5-8949-4A3F-9685-21228DBE8A0E&displaylang=en Please provide feedback at: http://forums.microsoft.com/msdn/ShowForum.aspx?ForumID=128 To learn more about System Center Capacity Planner 2006 you can visit: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserversystem/systemcenter/evaluation/capacity/default.mspx Sincerely, The System Center Capacity Planner Product Team

Posted by on 7 October 2005 | 10:02 pm

On spotting the difference between MVPs and Microsoft employees...

Raymond Chen complains about the pass colors for this year’s MVP summit. Specifically, since they were color-coded for products, it’s hard to tell MVPs from Microsoft employees. Luckily, I know the sekrit code — Raymond, look for the letters “MVP” at the bottom of the badge :) I only know this because I helped hand out the free high-end Vista-ready video cards on Thursday evening (What, you didn’t hear about that swag? The life of a Windows Server System MVP is a nice one!) Anyway, I was under strict instructions to “check they have MVP on their badges” before handing over the video card. Of course, this system kind of breaks down when 200 hardware-crazed MVPs charge the stage. So a big thankyou to the two guys who saw the bottleneck and came up to help. I’m pretty sure one was an MVP and the other was a Microsoft employee, but I never actually checked their badges — they both saw there was a problem, and they both stepped in to help solve it. Hmmm, maybe there’s not such a big difference after all…

Posted by on 1 October 2005 | 3:07 pm

Being in two places at once at the MVP Summit

Just a quick note to say that, like many other product teams, we'll be at the MVP Summit here in Redmond this week. Specifically, we’ll be showing off the latest builds of System Center Capacity Manager to the Windows Server System MVPs at the RedWest cafeteria tomorrow night. This is all official with booths and speaker slots and presentation slides — the whole 9 yards. Oh, and we’ll have goodies to give out! Come find us :) There was a slight panic when I spotted the subtle flaw in this plan — specifically, that we also wanted to show off to the Exchange MVPs, who’ll be in the building 25 cafeteria at that time. Ooops. So a big thankyou to Jeff Mealiffe from the Exchange team, who’s offered to show our stuff in his presentation on Friday afternoon. Unofficially. So if you see me there, don’t tell the organizers, ok? Shhhhh…

Posted by on 28 September 2005 | 9:09 pm

Windows Vista Sidebar - like MSR Sideshow, only better

Four years ago a wonderful application called Sideshow came out of Microsoft Research. It was the standard docking-bar-full-of-applets-on-the-side-of-your-screen (way before Apple Widgets and Konfabulator), but the part they really nailed was how natural it was to use. Not surprising, since it was created by user interface researchers! MSR Sideshow applets (or “tickets”) used the concept of “peripheral awareness”, keeping just the highlights of information in the periphery of your vision – how many emails in your inbox, whether the roads home were still congested, your current bug count, that kind of stuff. Then, if you moved your mouse over one of the Sideshow applets, it would slide out a little window with just a bit more information – for example, the subject lines of all unread emails. Move the mouse away, and the window disappeared again, and you could get back to work. But click on it, and even more information appeared – for example, clicking on an email subject line would open the email itself. Once you’d used Sideshow, it was very difficult to live without it. Sadly some bozo leaked the bits, at which point a VP put his foot down and had yanked it from the internal servers. I had a private install that I kept going for a year or two before losing the bits in a machine swap, and a cut-down version shipped in the MSN 8 Dashboard, but with no way to write your own applets it was a crippled shadow of its former self. Then the Longhorn team started teasing us with the new Sidebar – would it ship, wouldn’t it ship? So it was great to see that not only is Windows Vista Sidebar going to ship, its applets will be able to work in three different contexts – on your desktop, on custom web pages, and on peripheral devices! Granted, the usual marketing naming makeover means that applets are now called “gadgets”, and they hijacked the Sideshow name to mean just the display on peripheral devices, but the core of it remains the same. Our computing lives are going to get easier! :) To learn more: http://microsoftgadgets.com/ is the best single source of information, and has a Gadgets blog feed Sean Alexander from the Windows Sidebar team has a Sidebar category on his personal blog The original MSR paper: “Sideshow: Providing Peripheral Awareness of Important Information” Update: Channel 9 has a great video of the Sidebar team showing off their baby

Posted by on 19 September 2005 | 3:45 am