We have been looking at Windows Vista (TM Microsoft) for a few weeks, seeing how it will affect Sagebrush products. View the first part here.
Sound Recorder is diminished. The Sound Recorder accessory in WinXP could be used to transfer from one Wave format to another, or record in several different Wave formats. It could also do some other tricks, like cut, copy, paste, and do simple effects like echo, change speed, or change volume. The new Sound Recorder only records in WMA format (with the exception of a special version of Vista), at a reduced bit rate, and that’s about it. Ouch.
The list of installed ACM codecs has moved (to a strange non-obvious place). Click on Windows Media Player-> Help-> About-> Technical Support Information and look under “Audio Codecs“. Here is what I see:
No MP3 ACM codec is included, or is limited to decode-only! The files L3CODECA.ACM and L3CODECP.ACM are included in the Windows System32 directory, but don’t seem to work for encoding. Double-ouch! This will have a big effect on three or more Sagebrush products. The good news is that the LAME ACM codec appears to work on Vista; the bad news is that the MP3 patent has not run out, thus we cannot distribute this codec.
“Stereo Mix” appears missing as a recording input, but is really there. We explore this thoroughly in a tutorial. Microsoft had a chance to re-work the sound mixer and record mixer to fix some user-interface problems, but it seems they introduced new ones. The old mixer programs under WinXP had problems where some inputs were hidden, unless you looked in menu Options-> Properties-> “Show the following controls”, which has resulted in several support calls for us. Now Microsoft is hiding controls in a new way.
In the next part of this series, we plan a closer look at User Account Control under Vista.