Newsletter #138 - Feb 17, 2007
Vista - Using Other Apps - Part 1


So far my writings about Vista have been about features included in the operating system such as Movie Maker, Photo Gallery and DVD Maker. Now, with the rest of the world having the final release version, I'm starting to install my usual apps and see if and how well they work.
From what I read... mostly posts on newsgroups and forums, one could easily conclude that the whole roll-out isn't going very well. But I know from years of looking at posts that the far majority are made by those with problems. The silent majority is too busy enjoying the software to be posting.... maybe!!! There's really no way for me to know.

One way to check it is to go to the community of users who aren't posting individually, but collectively in a Wiki...
When XP came out, wikis weren't around. Today it may be the best way to gauge what software works on Vista.
I like wikis. I just started reading the book 'Wikinomics', and am getting involved in more and more wiki-type things, TripAdvisor being one of them. Hopefully I'll have a wiki-like page or segment on my website someday.
Here's a snapshot to the top of a wiki page... the picture is also a link to the page itself. It's a long and growing list from the community of users, sorting software into...
42 of 48 video related apps with a positive note gives Vista a rating of 88%
Wiki Page
... here's the snapshot, and the link to the video section in it... the section that lists the 42 apps that work
Wiki - Video
From the comment after it, Pinnacle seems to be out of place.... and up high in an alphabetical list??? Wiki's aren't perfect.
I've tried about 42 apps of my own so far... with 69% of them working. The rest of the newsletter will be about them.
... pause for a few notes...

Stories with Animation...
I notched the stories with animation up a bit more... to the level of playing the animated segment at 10 pictures per second. Click the picture of the jellyfish to see the 2 minute story.
Compare what you see to the graph of the bitrate needed to play it smoothly. The average bitrate for the video stream is only 150 Kbps (attribute at lower left), but the bitrate for the jellyfish animation portion is up at the 4.4 Mbps level, the bitrate of a video DVD... the file is about 20 MB, pretty big for a Photo Story of 2 minutes. 
I'm glad the limit for pictures in a story is 300... this is pushing things to where it's more efficient to use a movie codec than it is to use a story one. But it makes for a great conversation piece when talking to anyone who understands what you're talking about.
Jellyfish Story Bitrate
Vista Corner... 
Vista has some new tools to help you assess things. Here's one that fits with this week's subject. Get to the Reliability Monitor by using Start > Right click on Computer > Manage > System Tools > Reliability and Performance > Monitoring Tools > Reliability Monitor.
I'd been creeping up to a reliability index of 9.45 (of a perfect 10) when I jogged things pretty hard this week by throwing a bunch of apps at Vista to see how they work. Here's the picture when I select my low point day of Feb 13th.
Reliability Monitor
It seems to bounce back pretty good from anything I throw at it.
.... back to the main topic...

the Software I Tried
To be totally unfair about this wave of testing, I went into my software library and used whatever version I had last downloaded. I didn't go to the websites to see if there was a newer version that works on Vista.
Most of the things that I tried from my software toolbox work as is. Here's my first rundown, 42 apps in alphabetical order. The 13 names in red didn't work
  • 3gpToRawAvi - convert phone 3gp files to .avi - works
  • Anim8or - v0.9 doesn't work
  • Audacity - works
  • AviSynth - works
  • Be Sweet - convert Dolby AC-3 files to WAV... I don't need the tool in Vista because Movie Maker handles Dolby AC-3 files without conversion.
  • BeSweet Wizard - fails to start because MSVBVM50.DLL isn't found... as I don't need Be Sweet, I don't need the wizard.
  • Check Codecs - works
  • Credit Maker - v1.0a doesn't work
  • Dazzle80 - driver installed successfully - it didn't show up in Movie Maker as a capture option, but an S-Video connection let me capture the video track using VirtualDub... but an attempt to capture both video and audio resulted in my second total Windows crash (both having to do with capturing audio).
  • DLL Explorer - v3.0 gave an error message when registering the DLL... resulting in the message 'class not registered'
  • Drum Roll - opens but don't see or hear it
  • DVPlayer - doesn't work... it's a utility to check that a computer can handle Pixel Shader 2.0... it also crashes when I open it on my XP system.
  • Find Text... a DOS based tool from the early days of Norton Utilities - works
  • Font Viewer - works
  • GSpot - v2.60 RC01 opens but doesn't interact with codecs... this one I use a lot, so I downloaded the latest version... same problem.
  • IconSaver - works
  • Illusionae - works
  • IfanView - works
  • LAME - audio MP3 encoder - works... tested with Audacity
  • LSMaker - works
  • Movie Maker 1 - doesn't work
  • MP4Cam2AVI - works
  • MPEG Streamclip - needs QuickTime installed first, not included in Vista.
  • Office Ultimate 2007 - works
  • Panasonic DV Codec - works
  • - works
  • Painter X - works
  • Personal database - works
  • Photo Story 3 - doesn't work
  • Process Explorer - works
  • RadVideoTools - works
  • Render Soft VRLM Editor - works
  • Salamander - works
  • TMPGEnc - works
  • Total Commander - works
  • Transition Maker 2 - doesn't work. Currently we (Patrick Leabo and I) don't have plans to make a Vista version
  • Tree Size - works in a very limited way, as access restrictions prevent it getting info from protected folders
  • TweakPS - doesn't work 
  • VDubMod - works but crashes at times... but it does the same on XP
  • Virtual Dub - works
  • WinDV - copy DV-AVI files from and to a DV camcorder via firewire - works
  • WMMUtil - 0.4.3 doesn't work
Some apps didn't seem to install or work the first time... but on a second attempt and forever afterwards they worked fine. I like it when they go in that direction.
I had a funny experience with RadVideo Tools. It installed, opened, and seemed to be working. But when I pressed the 'Convert' button of the first test, the mouse cursor froze and the conversion didn't start. I went as far as rebooting the computer... but the cursor was still frozen. It's a cordless mouse and it turned out the battery had died the instant I pressed the 'Convert' button.
In addition to some software not working, I've had compatibility issues with discs.... a DVD made with MyDVD in XP can't be read on my Vista system... in it's disc drive. But I reach across my network to the disc drive on my XP laptop with no problems playing or using the files.
My home networking with Vista has been working great... I use a Linksys router/switch with some computers hard-wired to it and others connected wireless. Moving files to and from Vista is easy.  

Conclusion and Closing... and What's Next?
This is just the beginning for Vista... too early for any conclusion... just reading posts and other info, and testing my own system.
One of things coming up is the MVP Summit at Microsoft in March. It'll be a good time to pickup on the buzz about Vista at Microsoft. After Seattle, we'll stop in Carmel, California on the way home for a little vacationing.
Have a great week!!