XP Mode in Windows 7 saved me money

I’ve been running Windows 7 at home for a while now, and have been very pleased with it – on a decent spec machine (Quad core, 4Gb RAM, lots of SATA-II disk etc), it absolutely flies. As did Vista before it, if truth be told.

When I got this machine, I had it set up to dual boot between Windows Vista x64 and XP Media Center, partly because I had some software that didn’t like Vista. imageOne of the problem software/hardware combos was an oldish Canon 5000F scanner that gets used once every few months or so, but didn’t have 64-bit drivers available. It wasn’t enough hassle to make me want to go & buy a new scanner.

On moving to Windows 7, I’ve just used the Virtual Windows XP, or “XP Mode” (which has now RTMed – available soon), function, which lets me run an XP virtual machine that has access to local resources like hard disks etc.

imageAfter firing up the Virtual XP instance, the scanner is listed under USB devices – the software was easy to install since the hard disks of the host machine are visible to the VM, and it was a snap to configure the Canon scanner software to save its output back into the Documents library of the host.

So all in all, a bit more trouble than if it just worked natively – but the XP Mode offers a solution to the gnarly problem of old hardware that isn’t being supported any more by its manufacturer. It certainly saved me the £50 or whatever it would take to buy a new scanner!

Outlook 2010 beta and E.164 number format updater

Well hello again; it’s been a while.
Normal service should now infrequently resume.

I thought I’d update the instructions of a previous post, after I was showing someone how to use my old “Contacts updater” application to make all their Outlook contact phone numbers be E.164 compliant.

(see blogs passim. eg here, here, or here.)

Now the little app I reference is an Outlook custom form, meaning it gets installed into the Exchange mailbox folder, rather than some client-side Add-in to Outlook. Custom Forms have been available since the days of the Exchange 4.0 client and later Outlook, as the installed forms show up an item on the “Action” menu within the view of the folder.


Now that Outlook 2010 has adopted the Fluent UI (aka the “Ribbon”), things have moved somewhat…

Just like the early days of Office 2007, the initial response from some users might be to get annoyed that things are in a different place, but in most cases, it’s a great improvement.

Since custom forms in Outlook have largely faded into the sunset, this particular one gets a bit more obscure… it’s a question of going to “New Items” within the folder, then selecting the “Custom Forms” pop-out (only available when you actually have some custom forms installed in that folder), and any forms installed will be presented there.

The instructions for the install of the custom form above are pretty much the same on Outlook 2010, except that instead of going to Tools | Options | Other | Advanced to get to the custom forms management, go to “Office button” | Options | Advanced.