Saturday, March 14, 2009

Windows 7 Beta - annoying bugs

The beta of Windows 7 seems to be doing pretty fine so far, and the upcoming RC fixes a lot of bugs.
However, from what I've seen of the interim pre-RC builds, two bugs that annoy me the most don't seem to be fixed.
I've sent feedback reports earlier, but since they've not been fixed so far, bringing them out for public view and discussion just might help to fix it before public release (which is a good thing, negative buzz is better BEFORE release, than after, by when positive buzz really must overtake the negative).

The below reports are copy-pasted text:

In brief:
Browsing network shares is problematic, when these shares reside on a Linux-based SMB server.

How to reproduce:
Open the 'Run' dialog box, or MyComputer, and enter network path (eg: \\SMBSRV ).
Enter login and password, of a user that has rights to access the SMB server.
Now you can see all visible shares.
Click on any share - this will now make you wait for almost 45 seconds, while a green progress bar proceeds slowly ahead in the address bar.
Eventually the contents of the share appear, and you can use the files and folders as usual.

User Experience:
The long wait for viewing contents, happens frequently, almost every few minutes, and happens multiple times in a row. This happens when using Windows Explorer, or 3rd party file management tools, or during file operations by apps (Word, WMP, WinZIP,etc.). The only thing to do during such times seems to be to stop whatever I was doing for a few minutes and then continue.

Further Details:
The SMB server is running a fully updated CentOS (Linux).
I'd assume the shares are configured well, because I can access and use the same SMB shares perfectly well on Windows Vista and Windows XP, on the same PC.
Some others at my workplace don't seem to have the issue I mention on their installations of Windows 7 Beta, possibly because of different hardware.
The hardware used in this case is an Intel C2D processor, nVidia nForce 630i/7100 Motherboard, 2 GB DDR2 800MHz RAM. The NIC is detected as a generic Marvell Yukon 88E8056-based Gigabit Ethernet controller.
Drivers are usually updated quite frequently.
Network sharing seems to work fine in general with the same PC in question, while using using SMB shares residing on other Windows-based computers.


In brief:
IE's 'Save As' file dialog box stops responding when trying to save.

How to reproduce:
Open Internet Explorer - open atleast 5 webpages in tabs - then open another tab with a webpage that has a lot of images or thumbnails.
Now, right-click on any image and click 'Save Picture As'. (or try to save the entire page)
In the 'Save As' dialog box that appears, navigate to any location (or Desktop folder).
Create a new folder, rename it, F5 to refresh view, then double-click on the newly created folder.
The logical next step is to click the 'Save' button and be done with it...
but the Save button is 'passive' and unclickable!

User Experience:
While the save button is unclickable, the Cancel button looks clickable, but clicking on it does nothing. Such cases usually bring up a "Not Responding" suffix on the title bar, but in this case nothing like that happens. The result is that I need to forcibly 'End Task' the IE window from task manager. Starting IE again, I am offered a choice of restoring open tabs, which brings back the pages I was visiting earlier, but the above bug will get replayed again if I try to save anything.

Further Details:
This seems to happen regardless of whether the Adobe Flash plugin is installed or not.
This happens to me on all the computers on which I have Windows 7 Beta1 installed.
This happens in the first few days, even before I start installing any 3rd party apps.
Beyond the first 2 weeks (i.e., after I start installing 3rd party apps, all new and compatible), the above problem loses its regularity, and happens off and on, not always. My attempts at trying to find which installed app seemingly fixes the issue, have been inconclusive so far.

Strange behaviour:
The above problem loses its severity when using 3rd party browsers - here's what happens on Opera, Firefox, K-Meleon, and Chrome:
- try saving page/image, it works 99% of the time
- once in a while the 'Save As' dialog box still freezes up
- the 'Cancel' button remains usable
- click the Cancel button once
- Voila! The 'Save As' dialog box comes back to life!
- now I can save files just fine, like always.
- but this kind of (strangely) mitigating solution does not work with IE, IE is still effectively crashed, if you call up a 'Save As' dialog box when a number of tabs are open.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Not your momma's beta test!

So the entire world and the wild dogs of Madagascar have been "beta testing" Windows 7 these few months just prior to its release. And some were excited since the 6519 days... While it is indeed giving the kind of positive feeling that has not been seen since the Windows 2000 days, some concerns remain (I didn't take the name of WinXP because it was NOT received so well and if your memory tells you otherwise, it is either fickle or to be blunt, you simply weren't as involved back then).

One of my concerns now are those small bugs which considerably derail the "Windows 7 user experience" and haven't been covered in the Release Candidate build - I shall explain about these in another post. The other concern is that "Send Feedback" link you see on every window's title bar in the beta currently. Clearly the purpose of "beta testing" is not just so you can gloat on online forums? What happened to actually giving input? Input which lets the teams in charge of the product know where you are having issues? Come on people, just posting online that this or that behaviour in the beta annoys you isn't enough, you need to let the right people know! Don't apply patches that take away the "Send Feedback" link, because it exists to serve you in the end. Don't disable the CEIP either, if you can help it. MS does seem to listen, proven by the Office 2007 release (which broke a lot of conventional thinking with its innovations - facilitated by user research and input provided by people since the Office 2003 days, about which toolbars are used the most and in what way, which buttons need changing, how simplification was needed, etc.). If you don't give input now, don't complain later about the OS. Don't worry about whether your feedback will only be a seconding of a known bug. How many reports have you sent thus far?

And errr....   this is getting to be a bit repetitive, but yes I'm back... again!