In the last few years it has become increasingly common when dealing with users for them to refer to the most fundamental software products on their machine by the wrong names. In particular, an awful lot of users seem complete incapable of telling the difference between Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office – and it is doing my head in.
Despite what a distressingly large number of plebeians may believe, the following products DO NOT EXIST:
- “Office Vista”
- “Windows 2007”
If I had a tenner for every time I heard the first of those in particular, I wouldn’t feel the need to play the lottery; I’d just volunteer to deliver Office 2007 training in every school in the country, and I could retire after a year. This is partly Microsoft’s fault for having both a Windows 2000 and Office 2000, followed by a Windows XP and Office XP. However, the fact that 8 years later people still seem to believe this pattern is being followed is solely down to their own inattentiveness.
It’s only a matter of time now until someone asks me about “that Office 7”. Little do they know that I have a copy of Office 7.0 ready to install on their machine the moment they ask about it.
I am tired of hearing people say they don’t want to deploy Windows 7 because they can’t manage it properly on their Windows 2003 domain.
This is utter rubbish.
I heard this all before with Vista, and it wasn’t true then either. Here’s a summary some of the idiocy I’ve seen:
- “You have to have Windows Server 2008 R2 to join Windows 7 to the domain” – UTTERLY WRONG.
- “We can’t use any of the new Group Policy settings because we don’t have Windows Server 2008/2008 R2” – PLAIN WRONG.
- “We’d have to upgrade our domain schema to support the new Group Policy settings” – UNTRUE.
and along with them, the slightly different but equally ill-informed:
- “We can’t use Group Policy Preferences because we don’t have Windows Server 2008/2008 R2” – ALSO WRONG.
OK, listen in, morons. I will now explain how you (yes YOU), can manage Windows 7 using Group Policy and Group Policy Preferences with only Windows Server 2003 servers on your domain. This is a technical article, so try to keep up.
IT is a strange field in which many of its experts have surprisingly little formal training or academic experience. Most do not have a degree in the subject (unlike yours truly). However, with the right sort of mind, a specialism in IT is something that can be largely self-taught through tinkering, research, and above all, experience.
What this unfortunately means is that there are a lot of people who seem to know a lot about the subject, but may in fact have key gaps in their knowledge. The presence of these gaps is difficult for a layman to discern, which can prove fatal when soliciting advice or assistance from someone who professes to be able to solve all your IT problems.
For the last 2 years, however, I have had a foolproof method of determining whether someone really knows what they are talking about when it comes to IT support. I ask them what they think of Vista.
The XPS document format is one of the most half-baked attempts to destroy a competitor that Microsoft have ever made.
Designed to counter Adobe PDF‘s dominance of the portable document market, it was introduced with Vista and has never caught on, despite the XPS Document Writer setting itself as the default printer on any new install of Windows. This is partly because the reader software for XPS is (for no good reason) a plugin for Internet Explorer, which means that when you open an XPS document, it opens your web browser. If you are one of the 34% of people in the world not using Internet Explorer as your web browser, then the plugin never runs and you can’t open the document. This has been changed in Windows 7, but it’s too little, too late.
All of this is a shame, because Adobe Acrobat is a bug-ridden and overpriced piece of junk that is more bloated than a lactose-intolerant hippopotamus after eating a metric tonne of Stilton. Microsoft Office and Windows Vista are often accused of this; Acrobat is worse than both of them. Combined. I’d be quite happy for Microsoft to crush Adobe PDF utterly, but if XPS is their answer, they are going to fail miserably.
But, I digress. Today I discovered that the XPS system in Windows not only hates anyone not using Internet Explorer, it also hates anyone not in the United States. Regardless of the locale Windows is installed using, it will always set itself to create documents using US Letter sized paper by default. Very few printer drivers have this problem, even ones made by HP. It’s a schoolboy error, and an extremely irritating one at that. Almost any printer driver made in the last 5 years will have the common decency to recognise when the user has set a locale other than United States, and set the default paper size accordingly (to A4, if you are in Europe).
You might think this would only affect you if you were stupid enough to actually create an XPS document. You would be wrong. Because it sets itself as the default printer, it affects the default page setup of a multitude of programs. In the case of Microsoft Office 2007, the problem goes deeper still. Even if your Office document is set to a different paper size, when you try to save a PDF (yes, a PDF, not an XPS document), it will end up sized as Letter paper, because the paper size is being read from the default printer. Incredibly, this even happens if you use the Adobe Acrobat PDF writer plugin, and not just the Microsoft one that comes with Office 2007.
I wasted a good 45 minutes today trying to work out why all my PDFs were coming out on Letter paper. There was much swearing and gnashing of teeth. When I discovered the cause, let us just say that I was… displeased.