Mailbag: May 16, 2010

This week in the mailbag:

Windows XP Service Pack 3 Install Hangs at "Performing Cleanup"
Windows Weekly Question
An Error from Windows Weekly
WinRAR vs. Compressed Folders
Windows 8?
Windows Vista Service Pack 3?

Have a question? I can't guarantee an answer, but I'll try. Drop me a note! (And let me know if you'd prefer not to have your name published.)

Windows XP Service Pack 3 Install Hangs at "Performing Cleanup"

Roger C. asks

On about the last 4 or 5 WinXP machines I installed SP3 on the install went fine,but when it got to the "Performing Cleanup" stage it sat there for an hour until I just ended the process.I rebooted & everything seemed fine, but I'm not comfortable doing that. Any suggestions?

I've not actually seen this, but then I've not spent a lot of time installing Windows XP SP3 either. That said, it does appear to be a fairly common problem, with some people seeing it actually finally wrap-up after an hour or so. According to this Microsoft TechNet support forum entry about this issue, it's OK to stop the Setup process and reboot. So you're probably OK. So... Anyone know anything about this issue? I'm a bit removed from my XP days at this point.

Windows Weekly Question

thljcl asks:

Do you get paid to co-host Windows Weekly?

Yes, Leo and I split the ad revenues for each episode. This isn't a huge amount of money, but it certainly covers the time I spend preparing for, and recording, the podcast each week. If you're curious, I've been doing Windows Weekly for almost four years now: Leo first contacted me about doing the podcast in July 2006, and we started recording it in September 2006. After a sporadic start, we've settled into a pretty even schedule of weekly episodes, and as of this writing, we've recorded over 150 of them. Episodes generally run about 90 minutes, but we've been known to pull the occasional 2 hour episode when required.

I have a lot of fun doing Windows Weekly, but want to be clear about one thing: The reason it works, from my perspective, is Leo. If he wasn't recording with me, I wouldn't bother doing it, and it would be hard if not impossible to duplicate the rapporte that we have with someone else. And yes, Leo is a genuinely great guy and way more knowledgable about a wide, wide range of topics than he needs to be. It's truly impressive.


An Error from Windows Weekly

And speaking of Windows Weekly, David F. offers up a correction:

I was reading your latest blog post about Windows 7 shortcut keys when I noticed an error. You said that ALT+D activated the "Show Desktop" feature. Actually, it's WINKEY+D that activates it. I just thought you might like to know about that.

So this is kind of a pet peeve of mine.

When I offer up a Windows 7 tip of the week, or a Windows 7 feature of the week, in each case, a more complete--and more correct--version of that tip or feature is available here on the SuperSite for Windows. So in the episode in question, I discussed some taskbar-related keyboard shortcuts, and in the resulting article, you can see that I got the keyboard shortcut for Show Desktop--WINKEY + D--correct. (And not to be a jerk about it, but I think I actually corrected myself on the podcast as well, but I'm guessing he was looking at the show notes, which retain the original error.) The point here, though, is that the podcast versions of these tips and feature discussions are meant to be conversational, but the definitive explanations of each can be found, each week, right here on the web site. I've mentioned this many times on the podcast as well. And if there is a mistake, I'll correct it on the site.

WinRAR vs. Compressed Folders

Wade B. asks:

On your "What I Use" page, you noted that you use WinRAR for file archiving and said that the Windows Compressed Folders option is a joke. What are some of the limitations that the built it Compressed Folder and what it lacks in comparison to other tools such as WinRAR? I rarely use a file archiver, but for me, the built in Compressed Folders option works well for just unpacking zip files, and I use another program called 7zip for other archives.

This is a good example of my specific needs not necessarily mapping to the needs of others. Right now, I manually update the SuperSite web site using a combination of a local web server (IIS), Visual Studio, and a web-based file uploading tool. That latter tool, developed by Penton, accepts ZIP files that consist of files for a specific folder on the server. So if I write, say, a new Windows 7 article, that will create a new file in the /win7 folder on the server and requires me to update the default.asp file for that folder, as well as the site's home page. There will also be images that need to be uploaded to the server's /images folder structure. The reason I use WinRAR is that it is very easy to configure to create ZIP files of the updated and new web site files for upload. And I have paid for it.

This need will soon disappear. The next time you see a major SuperSite design refresh, it will mean that Penton has finally moved me to a more modern content management system, and I won't need to manually maintain an offline version of the site locally.

At that point, will I need WinRAR? Maybe not, though I'll likely keep using it because I'm familiar with it. But many people who write me seem to prefer 7Zip, and of course Compressed Folders gets the job done if your needs aren't particularly sophisticated.

Windows 8?

Alex T. mentions something that's on a lot of people's minds these days:

Do you have any details about the development of Windows 8? It?s quite strange that everything is so quiet when we're talking about a Microsoft product. J No leaked info, no screens, no nothing. So, if you can spare some fresh stuff about it, please do, we're all curious about it after the success of Windows 7.

As am I, as am I.

In case it's not obvious, things have changed pretty dramatically in Redmond. And while there are probably lots of opinions out there about the benefits and limitations of the company's new Apple-like secrecy policy, it is the current reality that we must simply learn to deal with. And in this new reality, leaks are rare, as are legitimate revelations, and Microsoft plans, as with Windows 7, to reveal what it's doing very late in the game. So right now, there's just not a lot to say about Windows 8, sorry. Rest assured that I'll be all over it when that's not the case.

Windows Vista Service Pack 3?

Matthew P. asks:

Is Microsoft planning to release a Vista SP3?

I think an SP3--or at the very least, an update rollup--is inevitable, but Microsoft has never commented on that publicly, to my knowledge.

More next week...