Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Vista Tip: Burn CDs and DVDs for Universal Acceptance

Any time a new product is released, there are great things to be discovered: New ways of working that speed production; New ways of interacting that change the way we communicate; And new things that are just plain ol' fun. On the way to those discoveries, you'll also find some bumps, burps and things that just don't do what you thought they would do.

With Windows Vista, Microsoft has introduced a new way of burning CDs and DVDs called the Live File System. This new format is significantly different than what Windows users have been used to. Instead of collecting all of your files and burning them to CD or DVD all at once (how 2006 is that?) you can now copy files to the disc as often as you like, and you can add or erase the files again and again until you finalize the disc. Microsoft describes the Live File System as treating the disc "as if it were a floppy disk or USB flash drive."

So, where's the bump? The burp? The thing that doesn't do what you thought it would do? To say that the Live File System was limited in its compatibility would be an understatement. It is unlikely to be compatible with Macs like we use here at WCI, and even creates challenges for PC users who aren't running Vista or XP. There are four different versions of the Live File System, and each one has coordinating operating systems that it will or won't work well with. Without this foreknowledge, you end up in a frustrating circle of thought that starts out with, "Okay, I'm burning these files…" and ends with you saying, "I know I burned those files, but where are they?!?!"

So what do you do if you need to send a disc to someone but don't know what OS they are using? If you plan to send discs to WCI, or anyone not running Vista, your best bet is to use the Mastered format. It's not quite as exciting, and it's a little more complicated, but it's reliable. To read more about this, see Windows Vista Help.