Archive for the ‘Microsoft’ Category

Forget Windows: Midori is coming

Windows is a name that has ruled the whole computer world since its first launch in November 1985. Since then it is like a trademark of Microsoft Corporation.

With many advanced versions of Windows available today such as Windows XP, Windows Vista, it is the most used operating system in the world. In 2010, Microsoft is going to launch WINDOWS 2007, but now here is time to experience a yet another technology of operating systems.

Yes, microsoft is working on a new generation of operating systems called Cloud-Based Operating System and rumors are there that midori will be their first such operating system, which will replace Windows fully from computer map.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE

midori is an offshoot of Microsoft Research’s Singularity operating system. In this the tools and libraries are completely managed code. midori is designed to run directly on native hardware (x86, x64 and ARM), will be hosted on the Windows Hyper-V hypervisor, or even be hosted by a Windows process.

midori can be also seen as microsoft’s answer those competitors who are applying “Virtualization” as a mean to solving issues within contemporary computing.

The main idea behind midori is to develop a lightweight portable OS which can be mated easily to lots of various applications.

IMPORTANCE OF MIDORI

For knowing the importance of midori you have to think about, how an operating system is loaded on a computer.

Actually operating system is loaded onto a hard disk physically located on that machine.

In this way, the operating system is tied very tightly to that hardware.

As Windows is dependent on hardware, it might face opposition from contemporary ways of working because people are extremely mobile in using different devices in order get diverse information.

Due to this trend installing different applications on a single computer may led to different compatibility issues whenever the machine require updating.

The new operating system will solve these problems by the concept of Virtualizing. This will solve problems such as widespread security vulnerabilities, unexpected interactions among different applications, failures caused by errant extensions, plug-ins, and drivers and many more.

ERIC RUDDER, Senior Vice President, Technical Strategy

The importance of this project for MICROSOFT can be understood by the fact that company choose Eric Rudder , former head of Microsoft’s server and tools business and a key member of Chairman Bill Gates’ faction of the company, to handle it.

WHEN WILL IT BE LAUNCHED

Just Wait and See.

Microsoft has not declared any such date about launching of midori, but there are rumors that this project is in incubation phase.


Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo Team Up to Advance Semantic Web

A push to add meaning to Web pages to aid search could also enable other kinds of intelligent web apps.

Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo have teamed up to encourage Web page operators to make the meaning of their pages understandable to search engines.

The move may finally encourage widespread use of technology that makes online information as comprehensible to computers as it is to humans.

If the effort works, the result will be not only better search results, but also a wave of other intelligent apps and services able to understand online information almost as well as we do.

The three big Web companies launched the initiative, known as Schema.org, last week.

It defines an interconnected vocabulary of terms that can be added to the HTML markup of a Web page to communicate the meaning of concepts on the page.

A location referred to in text could be defined as a courthouse, which Schema.org understands as being a specific type of government building.

People and events can also be defined, as can attributes like distance, mass, or duration.

This data will allow search engines to better understand how useful a page may be for a given search query—for example, by making it clear that a page is about the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense, not five-sided regular shapes.

The move represents a major advance in a campaign initiated in 2001 by Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the Web, to enable software to access the meaning of online content—a vision known as the “semantic Web.”

Although the technology to do so exists, progress has been slow because there have been few reasons for Web page operators to add the extra markup.

Schema.org  may change that, says Dennis McCleod, who works on semantic Web technology at the University of Southern California.

By tagging information, Web page owners could improve the position of their site in search results—an  important source of traffic.

“This will motivate people to actually add semantic data to their pages,” says McCleod.

“It’s always hard to predict what will be adopted, but generally, unless there’s something in it for people, they won’t do it.

Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo have given people a strong reason.”

The Schema.org approach is modeled on one of the more straightforward methods of describing the meaning of a Web page’s contents.

“The trouble with many of these techniques is, they are really hard to use,” says McCleod.

“One of the encouraging things about Schema.org is that they are pursuing this at a level that is quite usable, so it is much easier to mark up your website.”


Microsoft plans quick fix for IE

Microsoft is to due to issue a patch to fix a security flaw believed to have affected as many as 10,000 websites.

The emergency patch should be available from 1800 GMT on 17 December, Microsoft has said.

The flaw in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser could allow criminals to take control of people’s computers and steal passwords.

Internet Explorer is used by the vast majority of computer users and the flaw could affect all versions of it.

So far the vulnerability has affected only machines running Internet Explorer 7.

According to Rick Ferguson, a senior security adviser at security firm Trend Micro, the flaw has so far been used to steal gaming passwords but more sensitive data could be at risk until the security update is installed.

MICROSOFT SECURITY ADVICE

Change IE security settings to high (Look under Tools/Internet Options)
Switch to a Windows user account with limited rights to change a PC’s settings
With IE7 or 8 on Vista turn on Protected Mode
Ensure your PC is updated
Keep anti-virus and anti-spyware software up to date

“It is inevitable that it will be adapted by criminals. It’s just a question of modifying the payload the trojan installs,” he said.

It is relatively unusual for Microsoft to issue what it calls an “out-of-band” security bulletin and experts are reading the decision to rush out a patch as evidence of the potential danger of the flaw.

Some experts have suggested that users switch browsers until the flaw is fixed.

Firefox, Opera, Chrome and Apple’s Safari system are not vulnerable to this current flaw.

But Graham Cluley, senior consultant with security firm Sophos, said no browser is exempt from problems.

“Firefox has issued patches and Apple has too. Whichever browser you are using you have to keep it up to date,” he said.

“People have to be prepared and willing to install security updates. That nagging screen asking if you want to update should not be ignored,” he said.


Microsoft Office to debut online

The web versions of Microsoft software are due to debut in 2009

Microsoft is preparing web versions of some of its most popular programs.

In 2009 web versions of Word, Excel and other programs in the Microsoft Office suite plus Exchange and Sharepoint will go online.

Users will be able to get at the programs via a web browser rather than install them on a PC.

Some versions of the programs are expected to be free to use provided users are happy to view adverts alongside the software.

“We expect fully that the full range of Office utilities, from the most advanced to simpler lightweight versions, will be available with a range of options: ad-funded, subscriptions-based, traditional licensing fees, and so forth,” Stephen Elop, head of Microsoft’s business division told the Reuters newswire.

The decision by Microsoft marks a significant change by the software giant which, before now, has only dabbled in web-based versions of its programs.

It has offered an ad-supported version of its Works suite that is available pre-loaded on some new PCs.

By contrast many others, such as Google and Adobe, have been pushing web-based versions of word processors and other programs for some time.

The move to web-based versions is also seen as a belated move by Microsoft to bolster its credentials in the move to so-called “cloud computing” in which applications only live online.

Microsoft pledged that the web-based versions would also work with rival browsers, such as Firefox, and would not require users to install its Silverlight software.

So far no date has been given for when the web-based versions will be available – though they are expected to be put online in 2009.

Mr Elop said Microsoft had seen strong interest from many existing customers in the web versions. Using such software would free many from maintaining their own hardware and software to support locally-installed versions.

The economic downturn and need to cut costs could boost the attractiveness of web-based software, said Mr Elop.

“What we think is in five years, 50% of the use of Exchange and Sharepoint could be serviced from the cloud,” he said.

Source: BBC News


The end of an era – Windows 3.x

Windows 3.x has come to the closing moments of its long life.

On 1 November Microsoft stopped issuing licences for the software that made its debut in May 1990 in the US.

The various versions of Windows 3.x (including 3.11) released in the early 1990s, were the first of Microsoft’s graphical user interfaces to win huge worldwide success.

They helped Microsoft establish itself and set the trend for how it makes its revenues, and what drives the company until the present day.

For many computer users 3.x was the first Windows-based operating system they used, and the software established the iconography of Microsoft’s flagship product.

As it was updated the software started to make PCs a serious rival to Apple machines, as it could take advantage of much improved graphics, had a broader colour palette, and could use multimedia extras such as sound cards and CD Rom drives.

Microsoft maintained support for Windows 3.x until the end of 2001, and it has lived on as an embedded operating system until 1 November 2008.

Windows 3.x has found a role onboard some long-haul jet aircraft.

As an embedded system, it was used to power such things as cash tills in large stores and ticketing systems.

One of its more glamorous uses as an embedded operating system is to power the in-flight entertainment systems on some Virgin and Qantas long-haul jets.

Stefan Berka, who runs the GUI Documentation Project, said the important technical innovations in the software were its extended memory that could address more than 640KB and the improvements to hardware support.

The fact that it was 100% compatible with older MSDOS applications helped too.

Windows 3.x required an 8086/8088 processor or better that had a clock speed of up to 10MHz. It needed at least 640KB of RAM, seven megabytes of hard drive space, and a graphics card that supported CGA, EGA and VGA graphics.

By comparison, the Home Basic version of Windows Vista requires a 32-bit 1GHz processor, 512MB of RAM, 20GB of hard drive space, and a graphics card with at least 32MB of memory.

“I haven’t received an e-mail about Windows 3.11 for a long time,” said Andy Rathbone, author of a Dummies guide to the software. “But I wouldn’t be surprised if some people still use it.”

Sales of the software still pop up on eBay, he said, but not at a price that would tempt him to part with his unopened copy of Windows 3.1.

Agent Quang from home IT support firm The Geek Squad, said he regularly encountered venerable operating systems in customer’s homes but it had been a long time since he saw Windows 3.x.

“The majority of machines we run see are running XP,” he said, “Vista is still a bit flaky here and there and people are not comfortable with it.”

But, he said, Windows 95 and 98 were still popular with some customers.

“We see them on laptops and people are unwilling to let them go,” he said. “It’s perhaps because in the early days laptops cost a lot more money they do now, and there’s much more perceived value there.”

Agent Quang’s personal favourite operating system was Windows 98 because, by the end of its life, the software was so solid.

He said anyone running an ageing operating system might face problems as they try to find a web browser that could run on it and display the latest online innovations.

“We had a case a while ago a customer with a Windows 98 machine trying to view her website and the pictures were just not coming up,” he said. “Eventually we had to install Netscape Navigator to get it working.”

Stefan Berka said he had recently re-installed Windows 3.11 on a computer and was surprised at the results.

“Personally, I had fun at my last Windows 3.11 test installation to make it a useful desktop operating system again,” he said.

“With patched SVGA driver for 1024×768 resolution, Internet Explorer 5, WinZIP, VfW and Video Player, it was still useful,” he said. “The desktop was ready after a few seconds loading time.”

Said Mr Rathbone: “Windows 3.11 would still work reasonably well today, provided it only ran software released around the same time.”

He cautioned against anyone considering returning to the olden days and using it as their mainstay operating system.

He said: “I wouldn’t connect it to the internet, though, as it’s not sophisticated enough to ward off attackers.”


HP issues XP SP3 warning

Hewlett-Packard has admitted that some users of its AMD-based desktops have experienced problems after installing the latest Service Pack for XP, and has asked users to hold off installing it until the problem is resolved.

The confirmation follows a week of recriminations, after it was discovered that Microsoft’s latest Service Pack for XP was sending some machines into an endless reboot cycle.

Both AMD and HP swiftly found themselves in the spotlight, before Microsoft pointed the finger at OEMs for “placing a Windows XP image created for an Intel-based computer onto machines with non-Intel chipsets.”

However, in its response HP denied this: “The affected HP systems do not have an Intel driver loaded onto them, but there is a services registry entry that SP3 appears to be recognising as an instruction to load the Intel driver, subsequently causing the failure,” says HP in a statement.

“HP is working diligently with Microsoft on a software update and will be proactively distributing a patch this week through HP Update that will prevent this error from occurring,” the statement continues.

“HP recommends consumers with AMD-based desktops wait until after HP’s or Microsoft’s updates have been deployed on their systems to install Service Pack 3.”

HP says the patch will be available within the next week, with Microsoft also confirming that it’s working on a hotfix for affected customers.

Source: PC Pro


Windows XP SP3

Verdict: A solid enough round-up of the last few years’ updates, but there’s little to excite unless you’re an IT manager with a Server 2008 setup.

Amazingly, it’s been almost four years since the last Windows XP service pack. The near-legendary XP SP2 appeared with huge fanfare in late 2004: it was a big change and shored up an OS looking increasingly insecure in a world moving towards always-on internet connections.

The arrival of SP3 is much quieter. After one false start, systems running Windows XP should automatically be offered it via Windows Update as of a few days ago. It’s also available as a standalone executable, coming in at 314MB in total.

The standalone installer is cumulative, so if you have an ancient pre-SP1 copy of XP you can still reinstall your OS from that, and then simply apply SP3 to update everything in one go. It works with any variation of XP too, including XP Home and Media Center editions.

The installation process itself is standard Windows Update fare. On a well-used and fairly fragmented Core 2-based PC in the PC Pro office, the process took 18 mins 30 secs. After restart there’s none of the fanfare of SP2 that brought with it the new shield icon and the full-screen reminder about turning on automatic updates. The system simply reboots as normal and you’ll be hard-pressed to see any difference.

As with Vista SP1, which adds very little in the way of new features, XP SP3 is a return to the old days when service packs were just that. Windows XP SP2, with its raft of new extras, was an anomaly on the service-pack landscape. If you’re expecting features from Vista to have trickled down you’ll be disappointed too: unsurprisingly, Microsoft’s stance is that it’s “not adding significant functionality from newer versions of Windows”.

With SP3, the primary focus is rolling up the hundreds of hotfixes and security patches that have been released in the years since SP2, giving a more secure baseline installation.

In fact, SP3 is so determined not to give you anything new it won’t even install the latest version of Internet Explorer. If you have IE6, that’s what you’ll still have after the update, albeit fully patched. If you’ve installed IE7 manually, that will be updated too.

There’s a further change you won’t see if you’re updating an existing installation; it’ll only be apparent when you install XP from a CD with SP3 already integrated. You should find you no longer need to enter a product key. As with Vista, you can now install the OS without one and you’ll be prompted to provide it later.

Microsoft is keen to point out that this isn’t a move to the same activation system used in Vista, whereby keys expire if they’re re-used. The official Microsoft line is that, “This update affects the installation media only and is not a change to how activation works in Windows XP”.

A primary focus of Vista SP1 was improving the laggardly performance of Vista. There are no claims about improved speed with XP SP3, and our tests bear this out. Running our application benchmarks on a clean installation of XP SP2 and then updating to SP3, the performance results are near enough identical.

Remember though that XP remains faster than Vista in almost every area: our test PC scored 1.46 overall in Vista against 1.58 running XP SP3. We installed the service pack on several machine and experienced no nasty problems with corrupt installations or unbootable PCs.

New features can be counted on the fingers of one hand, and you’ll still have a couple left over. The headline is the Network Access Protection (NAP) client. NAP is a system introduced with Windows Server 2008 that blocks or restricts network access to client machines that aren’t recognised or don’t pass a minimum configuration level.

The configuration criteria can include up-to-date virus definition files and an OS with the latest patches installed, allowing the server to be reasonably sure that a new client isn’t going to contaminate the network before it grants access.

The NAP client is only being released via SP3, so sys admins wanting to take advantage of NAP without having to move all their client machines to Vista will have to install the new service pack. On a more esoteric front, SP3 includes the CredSSP security provider.

Introduced with Vista – which contradicts Microsoft’s claim that it’s not bringing any features from the new OS – it’s mainly used with Terminal Services to provide authentication of remote sessions. The final small enhancement is black-hole router detection, allowing the OS to detect rogue routers ignoring packets. SP3 turns it on by default.

So, XP SP3 doesn’t really change much, but then it doesn’t really need to. Few would disagree that XP is a stable, effective operating system, and after seven years there was never much chance of any radical changes. It’s still XP, and the legions of people who still aren’t convinced by Vista won’t get any nasty surprises with SP3.

Source – PC Pro


Vista not ready says MS CEO

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has admitted that Windows Vista is an incomplete product, even though the operating system has been on the market for more than a year.

Speaking at the firm’s annual Most Valuable Professionals event in Seattle yesterday, Big Steve told the gathered crowd that the unloved OS was “a work in progress”. According to reports, he also promised that Microsoft would learn from the mistakes it has made with Vista.

“It’s a very important piece of work. We did a lot of things right and have a lot of things we need to learn from,” said Ballmer. “Certainly, you never want to let five years go between releases.”

He acknowledged that “Vista is bigger than XP”, but he wasn’t referring to the popularity of the product. Instead, he was pinpointing one of the major issues many customers saddled with the product have complained about: performance.

“We have to make sure it doesn’t get bigger still and that the performance and the battery and the compatibility we’re driving on the things that we need to drive hard to improve.”

Yesterday’s admission will be seen by many as poorly timed, coming just weeks after service pack one (SP1) for Vista arrived – well, at least for some customers – in a manual form.

In mid-March Microsoft issued a staggering number of reasons as to why plenty of people would not be able to get their mitts on the service pack. Issues included a number of security products that won’t start up or run on updated desktops thanks to “compatibility problems”.

Earlier this week Microsoft spat out Vista SP1 in the remaining 31 languages. Those versions arrived a full month after the service pack first landed for a select few across the globe.

Meanwhile, the automatic version of the download remains missing in action. Redmond had chalked mid-April as the date when SP1 would start downloading onto computers across the world. But it’s reluctantly stepped away from that deadline because it “wants to ensure customers have the best possible experience”.

Ballmer also accepted yesterday that customers are incredibly reluctant to shake off XP in favour of adopting its unruly little brother, Vista.

“We have a lot of customers that are choosing to stay with Windows XP, and as long as those are both important options, we will be sensitive, and we will listen, and we will hear that.

“I got a piece of mail from a customer the other day that talked about not being able to get XP anymore, and we responded: XP is still available. And I know we’re going to continue to get feedback from people on how long XP should be available. We’ve got some opinions on that.”

Windows XP was given something of a reprieve earlier this month for bargain basement PCs not equipped to run the memory-chugging Vista OS. ®


Vista who?

Windows 7 could be arriving much sooner than anticipated, according to none other than Bill Gates.

When asked about the progress of Windows Vista during a speech at the Inter-American Development Bank, Gates told the audience: “Sometime in the next year or so we will have a new version,” according to a report on CNet.com.

It’s not clear whether Gates was referring to the full commercial launch of the new operating system or merely a beta version, but either way it seems the development of Windows 7 is progressing rapidly. Last month it was revealed that Microsoft had sent a test version of Windows 7 to the US government, indicating that the operating system is already in a working state.Microsoft has previously stated that Windows 7 would launch three years after the 2007 release of Vista.

And Gates gave further encouragement to those who are hoping for an upturn in fortunes, after the muted response to Windows Vista. “I’m super-enthused about what it will do in lots of ways,” he said of Windows 7.

Microsoft has remained tight-lipped on what features can be expected from the next version of Windows, leading some to speculate that the company is attempting to follow Apple’s practice of divulging little about new operating systems until launch.

A Wishlist of potential Windows 7 features was leaked last November, although Microsoft refused to confirm or deny that any of the 61 features would make it into the final code.

Source – PC Pro


Vista SP1 horror

Vista SP1 horror stories start to appear 11:54AM, Wednesday 19th March 2008
The first Service Pack for Windows Vista appears to be creating more problems than it solves for a number of users.

PC Pro reader Douglas Tresias emailed us this morning, claiming the Service Pack had rendered his PC inoperable. “Started installing at 7.15am this morning on a HP with Vista Home Basic less than six months old,” he wrote. “SP1 failed to install. Machine started to reset back to previous state. Computer still not usable three hours later.”

The Official Windows Vista blog also contains several tales of woe among the many congratulating Microsoft for a fine job.

“I have installed Vista SP1 today, now I have no sound and my DVD drive doesn’t work,” reports one user.

“I installed Vista SP1 after seeing it on Windows Update last night. In retrospect, not my finest decision,” writes another unhappy customer. “What a disaster! It exiled all of my Nvidia drivers to the Bermuda Triangle… they’re simply all gone. OK, no big deal, go to the Nvidia site, download the latest drivers, install and nada. Zip, zilch, nothing changes… the install fails… every time.”

Others claim that SP1 – which is meant to improve system performance – is actually having the reverse effect. “Isn’t a Service Pack suppose to fix issues?” another user comments on the Windows blog. “[I] went from using 650MB of RAM idle to 1 gig… I’ll be be switching back.”

Microsoft was unable to comment on any potential problems with SP1 at the time of writing.

The Windows blog also carries several complaints from users who have been blocked from downloading the Service Pack because of known driver issues. Microsoft said last month that “As updates for these drivers become available, they will be installed automatically by Windows Update, which will unblock these systems from getting Service Pack 1.

“The result is that more and more systems will automatically get SP1, but only when we are confident they will have a good experience.”

Source PC Pro