Microspeak: Light up

In Microspeak, a feature lights up if it becomes available in an application when run on an operating system that supports it.

The idea is that you write your application to run on, say, Windows versions N and N + 1. There is a new feature in Windows version N + 1, and new functionality in the application when the code detects that the underlying Windows feature is availble.

Here are a few citations:

I have had some requests lately for details on the path to Windows 7 compatibility and how to light up key features.

Top 7 Ways to light Up Your Apps on Windows Server 2008.

The idea is that the program takes advantage of new Windows features when running on new versions of Windows. if run on older versions of Windows without those features, nothing happens.

Inside the product group, discussion about "lighting up" often takes the form of deciding how much new hotness will be automatically applied to old applications and how much needs to be explicitly opted in. Applying new features to old applications makes the old applications and the new feature more valuable because the user sees the feature everywhere, as opposed to working only in new applications designed to take advantage of it. On the other hand, applying them automatically to old applications creates a compatibility risk, because the application may observe a behavior that hadn't occurred before, and it may begin behaving erratically as a result.

Comments (16)
  1. Joshua says:

    Been there. Dynically invoked the gradient paint function. Of it wasn't there, used FillRectangle.

  2. Me says:

    I wonder if there's ever a valid use of the verb "leverage" outside of marketing speak.

  3. Hans says:

    So Direct2D Graphics in WindowsXP shows all blank screen?

  4. Mike says:

    I believe that you can also use "leverage" when talking about blackmail (which, I suppose marketing might be a subset of).

  5. DWalker says:

    Much of the MSDN library has been "un-lighted up".  From msdn.microsoft.com/…/system.data.datatable(v=vs.110).aspx, the left-side links like "DataTable Methods" and "DataTable Properties" results in "Content Not Found".  And from msdn.microsoft.com/…/system.data.sqlclient.sqlcommand(v=vs.110).aspx, the left-side links like "SqlCommand Methods" five the same "Content Not Found".  I don't know who to report this to since I don't have a contract.

    Is this a valid use of "light up"?  Maybe the MSDN library has been "lighted on fire"!  :-)  Maybe all of .NET 4.5 has been torched.

  6. Beldantazar says:


    They seem to mostly work for me.  Perhaps it's a transient error?

  7. Kevin says:

    So, as @DWalker mentions, a feature sometimes "goes dark," though I imagine this is rare.  Removing features is changing the rules while the game is in progress.  But is "goes dark" the correct verb to describe this?

  8. DWalker says:

    @Beldantazar, Data Table Methods from that link still gives Content Not Found; Data Table Properties works.  SQL Command Methods still gives Content Not Found.  Maybe we are supposed to read and set Properties, but not use Methods!

    When MS moved Help content and class definitions from locally-installed to "on the Intertubes", it is a real productivity killer when the links are not "Lighted Up".  (Obligatory on-topic reference.)

  9. ErikF says:

    @DWalker: The documentation for those classes can be found for .NET Framework 4 and below (click on "Other versions": the URLs are msdn.microsoft.com/…/system.data.datatable_methods(v=vs.100).aspx and msdn.microsoft.com/…/system.data.sqlclient.sqlcommand_methods(v=vs.100).aspx respectively), so it was probably an oversight when they deployed the updated information. I doubt that these classes have changed that much since 4.0. It's a little annoying, I agree, but nothing show-stopping IMO.

  10. cheong00 says:

    @Kevin: I think I've seen someone saying "Somebody has nuked the feature", but not sure if it's common usage.

  11. Boris says:

    But couldn't such a feature also awaken, like the Force? I suggest using that term going forward and seeing what happens.

  12. Another John says:

    Product Manager waves hand in air: "this is not the feature you are after…"

  13. xpclient says:

    Many XP apps got lighted down on Vista but that's something we'll all pretend never happened and not even dare to talk about.

  14. Doug says:

    Funny to hear this and then shortly after see it in action directly:

    "This means that engines that support asm.js light up the new features, while …"


  15. Boris says:

    "This means that engines that support asm.js ___awaken___ the new features, while …" See? Use this and you'll be more in tune with the times.

  16. DWalker says:

    @ErikF:  Nothing show-stopping?  The links are working today, after not working for three days (maybe longer).  But missing documentation for .NET framework 4.5 really IS pretty serious.  I don't have prior knowledge, like you apparently do, that these classes have not changed much since 4.0.  (If there are no improvements in .NET, then why is there a new version???  Surely some classes have been enhanced, but without the documentation, *I can't tell which classes have changed and which ones are the same*.)

    Glad to see that the documentation is lighted up again.  :-)


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