Category Archives: Windows 8

Use Outlook Web App in full version with IE 11

If you upgraded to Windows 8.1 and tried to access Outlook Web App with the new Internet Explorer 11, you probably noticed that the “Use the light version of Outlook Web App” checkbox is checked and disabled on the login page:

owa-light

That means that IE11 is willing to render only the basic version of OWA which was originally designed to target legacy browsers. This is quite embarassing, because IE11 is a really modern browser even in the preview!

The solution is to force IE to render OWA in compatibility mode. You can add the site to the compatibility list in the Tools –> Compatibility View Settings dialog:

compatibility-view-settings

This didn’t solve my problem, because only top-level domains can be added to this list, but I could took the advantage of the fact that according to the first checkbox, intranet sites are by default rendered in compatibility view. So I added my OWA URL to the list of sites in the Intranet Zone in the Tools –> Internet Options –> Security –> Local intranet –> Sites –> Advanced dialog.

According to some forum posts, the same issue arises with Office 365 and some popular websites like GitHub as well.

 

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Windows 8.1 Assigned Access

There is a feature in Windows for a long time that allows system administrators to lock down the device and allow the user to access only a single application. This feature makes Windows a perfect choice for kiosk terminals. Windows 8.1 contains a more enhanced version of this feature originally called Kiosk Mode, now renamed to Assigned Access, that allows sysadmins to enable a single Windows Store application experience on the device. This is how this feature looked in the leaked builds before the preview:

windows81-assigned-access

Don’t look for this feature in the official preview, it will be available only in the final product.

 

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Internet Explorer 11 Developer Tools

The new, 8.1 version of Windows comes with the new, 11 version of Internet Explorer, which can be a good news (I personally find it much faster) or a bad news (must be added to your test matrix). Even if you are used to the developer tools in other browsers, I recommend you to try the new Developer Tools in IE11. Not only because it looks super cool:

ie11-devtools

But of course also because its features. The icons in the navigation bar:

  • DOM Explorer
  • Console
  • Debugger
  • Network
  • UI Responsiveness
  • Profiler
  • Memory
  • Emulation

The DevTools are rewritten from scratch, and it comes with new features on the existing tabs and with new tabs as well. I think the direction is obvious.

I will get back to this topic later.

 

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Search from the desktop in Windows 8.1

The most annoying change in Windows 8 is that the user has to constantly switch between two worlds. Even if you are in a desktop app, you have to switch to the Start screen if you want to start another application or to search for a document, because these features are available only from the Metro world. Although I’m trying to hypnotize myself, that the Start screen is nothing more than a huge Start menu or the desktop with giant icons, this change is confusing.

Windows 8.1 brings great improvements to this issue. Really. For example, if you press the Windows+S hotkey while in the desktop, it shows the Search charm in an overlay:

windows-81-desktop-search

No more switching and no more taskbar with tons of launcher icons.

 

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You can target only Windows 8.1 with VS 2013?

If you tried to create a new Windows Store project with the new preview of Visual Studio 2013 on Windows 8.1, you probably noticed the “(Windows 8.1)” remark in the Solution Explorer:

vs2013-solution-explorer

If you open the project properties window, you can find the Target Platform Version option, but unfortunately it is disabled:

vs2013-target-platform

The basic principle, that you need a Windows 8 host to develop a Windows Store app is still true, however you have to watch for the versions as well (at least for this preview).

In short:

  • You can open and edit an existing Windows 8 project with Visual Studio 2013 on Windows 8.1.
  • You cannot create a new Windows 8 project with Visual Studio 2013 on Windows 8.1.
  • If you want to create a new Windows 8 project on Windows 8.1, you should use Visual Studio 2012.

 

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Using any file type in the file save picker

In Windows 8 you can easily configure the File Open Picker to allow the user to select a file with any type – just use the well-known asterisk:

var openPicker = new Windows.Storage.Pickers.FileOpenPicker();
openPicker.fileTypeFilter.replaceAll(["*"]);

You can try the same with the File Save Picker as well:

var savePicker = new Windows.Storage.Pickers.FileSavePicker();
savePicker.fileTypeChoices.insert("Any", ["*"]);

However, this raises a runtime error:

0x80070057 – JavaScript runtime error: The parameter is incorrect.

WinRT information: This file picker does not allow the all files extension.

Fortunately there is a nice hack to force the File Save Picker to allow any file type:

savePicker.fileTypeChoices.insert("Any", ["."]);

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Windows Store apps need your disk space

One of the beauties of the Windows Store apps is that they can be updated quite seamlessly: almost automatically, without administrative privileges. Developers enjoy this comfort, and no week pass without new updates to some of the apps on my machine.

Of course this convenience comes with some drawback as well, with the need for disk space. Windows Store applications are installed into the C:\Program Files\WindowsApps hidden folder, which by default can be accessed only by the Trusted Installer service. If you grant yourself access to this folder, you can peek into its content and find out what consumes so much disk space (3GB on my box).

You will see something similar there:

metro-apps-versions

If you dive deeper into these folders, you will see the application files: the full source of HTML5+JavaScript apps, and the compiled DLLs for .NET apps.

You can notice that every version of every apps live in its own folder, so they are completely isolated from each other. With this separation you can easily measure how much disk space an application, or one version of an application requires. If you compare that with the numbers in the PC Settings –> General –> View app sizes list, you will see that it only displays the size of the last version of the apps installed only by the current user.

But why are there multiple versions?

One reason is to isolate the users of the computer from each other. As long as two users of the machine install the same version of the same app, the program files will be stored only in a single instance. But when one user updates the app in her own profile, then the OS will store two versions of the same app. With this not only applications, but also the users are completely isolated from each other.

Another reason is, that Windows preserves the versions that came with the OS, so when you create a new user, she will get the baked in versions.

Now, that you know the reasons, you can definitely ask, how can we get rid of the unused versions?

I have to admit, I’m not aware of any official solution for that. If you know any, please don’t hesitate to share that here in a comment. But, according to some sources, Windows cleans up this folder, “when needed”. Anybody knows what that exactly means?

 

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