Here at Microsoft, we have a central fax number and a fax "secretary" which routes the fixes as TIF files as email to the appropriate recipient. The TIF format allows for multiple pages embedded in one file so each faxed page is a different embedded page in the image. This works really well, you don't have to go and wait for a transmission nor know to go pick one up. The files can be saved elsewhere, saving trees, and viewed later, etc etc. The problem is that for the life of me, I could not figure out how to view anything other than the first page of the file! On Windows XP it was easy, the fax viewer was the default associated handler and it worked great.

I just received my first fax running Vista and found out that the XP fax viewer was gone. In fact, TIF files did not have any default associations and I was prompted to choose an application. My choices were MS Paint and Microsoft Office Picture Manager. I tried Paint, not luck. I then tried the Office Picture Manager. It was promising, it has left and right arrows at the bottom of the window…but no luck, those navigated to other picture files in the same directory. I was stumped. I figured I would be a good citizen and go through help desk. One hour later after an IM chant and a remote help session, no luck (the help desk guy was quite helpful, but he was also stumped).

Back to square one.

I was now seriously considering putting Windows XP on one of my machines (they all run Vista now), but that was a very hammer to wield. Alternatively, I could have fired up Windows XP in a VM, but I didn't have a VM handy either. I dug through the MS Fax service FAQ, no help here either. But what there was a clue that would eventually lead to the answer. There was a picture of the XP image previewer and it understood multiple pages in the image. So, I tried the image previewer on Vista by right clicking on the document and choosing preview. Up can Windows Photo Gallery and low and behold, I could navigate the pages in the doc. Finally. It even had a decent printing wizard to boot.

So after 3 hours (2 this morning, one last night), I finally could view my fax in all of its glory. What was a simple task in XP became something else in Vista. Personally, I don't understand why the XP fax viewer went away, or at least why a decent and more obvious substitute was not the default application for TIFs, but hopefully my pain is your gain.