Microsoft Message Analyzer

Microsoft Message Analyzer (currently in Beta) has been released to the public. It is a smart successor to the Microsoft Network Monitor that hosts lots of cool new features, like parsing and validation of protocol messages and sequences, user-controlled on-the-fly grouping by message attributes, re-assembly of- and rendering of payloads, etc. It has also a separate blog at Technet.

Windows 8: First Experience

Yesterday, finally, I installed my new SSD drive, and this was a good opportunity to bring Windows 8 into the picture. So, just a few notes on what to expect:

  1. Installation was really simple. Regional settings, and serial number was all info requested. It was really fast too, although it is difficult to say whether it was much faster than Windows 7 to SSD.
  2. The thing is booting mega-fast. Both cold boot, and Windows 8’s strange-own-way-of-kinda-hibernating-without-calling-it-like-that are fast; to the extent that most of the cold-boot time is spent by BIOS. No idea how MS made it, but it is great!
  3. The new Start screen and desktop are not that horrible as people claim they are – at least I cannot see any large problems with them. Should I say “so far?” :) Of course, they require certain re-learning, but that should not be too big of a problem. If people handle phone calls on Android phones (and gosh, Android’s UI of phone call related functions is really horrible; but that is a totally different story anyway), then they must be able to master the new Windows UI. :)
  4. Installing Visual Studio 2012 took just a few minutes (again, is it because of SSD? who knows), and the thing starts in just a few seconds. Fantastic!

Of course, not to be called Microsoft-fanboy, or whatever we are called nowadays, I must mention some problems:

  1. Power management sucked badly out of the box on my computer. It was not able to wake the computer up from sleep (nothing was helping, not even THE power button on the PC itself); then, after some tweaking, I was able to wake it up, but the screen was black; then I was not able to put it to sleep; then… and so on and so on. Took me good few hours, but now it seems to be quite OK, although I am still not completely satisfied. What helped me, was turning hibernation off (powercfg -h off in admin mode, to those interested), and then tweaking power options (e.g. not allowing my mouse to wake up).
  2. Metro media players suck, IMHO. They do not support DLNA sources, at least as far as I can tell after a short inspection, and they are missing some vital function, like zooming. Wasted effort, IMHO.
  3. My poor old AMD Radeon HD 4850 PRO video card has the same issues as it had with Windows 7 – hardware accelerated video playback results in black screen, and there is no way to fix it other than reboot. The same PC worked fine with XP – problems started with 7, and now 8 is following 7th footsteps. I understand that the video card is nothing fancy (although it is still better than 90% of video cards in today’s notebooks), but then again one would expect such a basic stuff like DXVA/DXVA2 to work. On the other hand, AMD has always had problems with video playback (and those problems were coming and going in various patterns with each new driver), so nothing new, in a way. And yes, it seems to be almost impossible to sort out the issue; while I was able to use DXVA checker to somehow “fix” media player by disabling hardware acceleration, online videos e.g. at Store still crash.

All in all, Windows 8 looks rather great, and I am big fan of Metro style in UIs (i.e. clean data-centric approach) – it is sad that they did not replace all Windows UIs, e.g. Control Panel and Explorer, with it. Most of the problems I faced are very likely related to my old-not-really-supported hardware, e.g. AMD is not supporting my video card in new Catalyst, so if you have newer hardware, you will probably have much smoother experience.