Windows has evolved over the years with various tools to diagnose and repair issues. Everyone probably remembers the in-box tools to repair wireless connections in Windows XP. They started getting better in Windows Vista, then Windows 7 comes along with PowerShell in-box and an engine to diagnose, repair, and validate fixes automatically. If you open “Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Troubleshooting” on a Windows 7 machine, you will see all of the in-box Troubleshooters to diagnose and repair things like network connections, Aero desktop effects, and audio playback. What you may not know is that you can build your own Troubleshooters, so they look and feel just like the in-box items and troubleshoot issues specific to your environment. You might have been doing this for a while with custom scripts, but now you can convert those so they look like the ones natively in Windows-in this article, I will tell you how. More »

In the first half of April 2010, I was telling you that Microsoft was gearing up to tailor the software development kit for Windows 7 in accordance with the release of Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4. Well, version 7.1 of the Windows SDK for Windows 7 and .NET Framework 4 is now available for download. Via the Microsoft Download Center, the Redmond-based company is offering two versions of the SDK, in either ISO or Web Setup format. Developers can, of course, grab the release immediately, and start taking advantage of the enhancements introduced since the previous version, which was delivered along with Windows 7 in 2009.

According to the software giant, the latest release of the SDK will enable developers to install it and build applications for the following operating systems: Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows XPSP3, and Windows Server 2003 R2. But just because the release is labeled Windows SDK for Windows 7 and .NET Framework 4 7.1, it does not mean that devs are limited to .NET 4. More »

A new version of a developer tool designed to enable the creation of applications that support multiple users with individual mouse devices simultaneously is now available for download. The Windows MultiPoint Mouse Software Development Kit is now up to version 1.5.1, introducing a few enhancements since the previous release of the SDK. According to the Redmond company, the focus with version 1.5.1 of the Windows MultiPoint Mouse was on kicking up a notch the user experience in terms of performance, but also device support.

“New features in Windows Multipoint Mouse SDK 1.5.1 compared with version 1.5: Improved performance on low-end modern hardware, especially Atom-based netbooks. Improved device detection (PS/2, trackpad, and Bluetooth mouse devices are now supported),” Microsoft revealed.

The previous release of the development framework, namely version 1.5, was offered in mid-January 2010. As of the start of 2010, the evolution of the SDK has made it possible for developers to build Multipoint-enabled applications tailored to Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. More »

After more than half a year of work, Microsoft has reached an important stage with its plans to refresh the resources offered under the Windows Driver Kit umbrella to developers. Jim Travis, group content publishing manager Windows Hardware and Devices, explains that the end of March was synonymous with the republishing of all the Windows Driver Kit documentation on MSDN Library. The move is designed to align the source docs to the same XML-based content management and authoring system leveraged by the Windows SDK team. However, Travis underlined that the refreshed documentation was not only set up to kick up a notch the authoring and content management system for Microsoft, but to also benefit developers by offering them updated syntax and header information, enhanced abstracts for search results, and better content formatting.

“The kit documentation contains over 32,000 topics. The former system, which we called CAPE, used a hybrid of Microsoft Word and a very loose XML schema. Without a straightforward way to map between XML elements in the old and new schemas, transforming that much content introduced all sorts of issues. It took at least 30 people to get us to the point where we’re comfortable republishing this content, and much of what they had to do ended up being painstaking, manual, page-by-page repairs,” Travis stated. More »

In addition to the performance enhancements built into its latest iteration of the Windows client, Microsoft is offering additional tools for download for customers and partners that want to squeeze all the extra juice from the OS. Case in point, the Windows Performance Analysis Tools, also referred to as the Windows Performance Toolkit, was released ahead of Windows 7, and included as an integral part of the operating system’s software development kit. Microsoft underlines that while “the WPT Kit is useful to a broad audience,” the tools will serve better specific audiences including “system builders, hardware manufacturers, driver developers, and general application developers.”

End users are missing from the enumeration above, and for good reason. The Windows 7 RTM Performance Analysis Tools are, in fact, designed to ensure a high level of hardware and software performance before the finalized products and solutions make it into the hands of home users. In this sense, the Windows Performance Toolkit is set up to permit the analysis and measuring of both system and application performance not just on Windows 7, but also Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008. More »