Tag: windows 7

Windows 8 bug hacked already

Microsoft’s claim that Windows 8 is super secure has been rubbished by a French insecurity outfit which turned the operating system into a mild Camembert.

According to The Next Web, French security firm VUPEN says it has broken Windows 8 and developed a zero-day exploit for Windows 8 and IE10, by linking multiple undisclosed flaws together.

VUPEN is famous for finding exploits in popular software and sells them to governments or companies around the world so that they can either protect themselves or hack rivals.

It looks like the company could move so fast was thanks to multiple already-existing 0-days that VUPEN found and did not disclose publicly.

Fortunately for Microsoft, typical hackers would take a fair bit of time to work out this vulnerability and VUPEN would have been playing around with the OS long before it was released publicly.

Microsoft said that as further details have not been shared with it, there was not a lot it could do. 

Microsoft claims Windows 8 doing better than Windows 7

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer claimed that demand for the company’s new Windows 8 operating system is higher than Windows 7.

According to Reuters, the shy and retiring Microsoft CEO said that he was seeing preliminary demand well above where the company was with Windows 7, which was gratifying, however unlikely it may seem on the face of it.

Windows 7 is the best selling version of Windows. Microsoft has sold more than 670 million licences in three years since its release in 2009.

He was also pleased at the early response to the Microsoft Surface which is Vole’s first own-brand tablet, designed to challenge Apple iPad.

As you might expect, Ballmer did not actually give anyone any sales figures to look at. But commentators noticed that there were moderate lines at Microsoft’s 60 or so stores across the United States for the Surface.

This was unexpected as most thought the tablet launch would be low key rather than an Apple style religious frenzy. We’re not sure how many of them, if any, were Microsoft employees.

Ballmer was trying to push stage two of his cunning plan which is to put Windows 8 into smartphones.

Redmond holds 3.5 percent of the worldwide smartphone market, compared to 68 percent for Google’s Android and 17 percent for Apple’s iPhone.

Ballmer was showing off how the new phones make use of Microsoft’s SkyDrive cloud service, enabling users to sync and transfer music, documents and photos between PCs, tablets and the Xbox console.

Microsoft claims that it has 120,000 apps in its online store for phones. Ballmer and other Microsoft executives showed off slim and colourful phones from Nokia, Samsung and HTC. 

AMD confirms layoffs

AMD has announced that it is trimming more staff, but the numbers joining the dole queue were much lower than expected.

AMD said that it will axe its workforce by 15 percent in a second round of layoffs in less than a year. However word on the street suggested the company was going to trim its workforce by a third as the chipmaker forecast a drop in fourth-quarter revenue that is worse than Wall Street expected.

Chief Executive Rory Read said he does not expect the PC industry to improve for “several” quarters.

In a statement AMD said that it expects its restructuring actions, which will also include site consolidations, to result in operational savings of $190 million next year. It expects to record a restructuring expense in the fourth quarter of about $80 million.

But its problem is that the PC market is in a slump and anyone with cash is buying a nice new portable machine, which AMD does not make much of.

AMD has set a target for a quarterly $1.3 billion revenue break-even point.

Shares of AMD have fallen 43 percent over the past year to levels last seen in 2009.

The company posted third-quarter revenue of $1.27 billion, down from $1.69 billion a year ago, and a net loss of $157 million compared with a year ago profit of $97 million,. 

Microsoft opens Windows 8 for pre-orders

Software giant Microsoft opened its Windows 8 operating system for pre-orders and set the price for an upgrade to the full version of the software at $70 for a DVD pack.

If you do not want a hard copy of the OS it will be possible to download the OS for $40 in October 26. That particular offer price will expire at the end of January and is designed to encourage early adopters.

The cheaper upgrade price applies to machines running Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7.

Microsoft said that the software can be bought at Microsoft’s own stores, Amazon.com, Best Buy, Staples and elsewhere. So far though there is no news about how much it will cost to upgrade the full software to install from scratch. Nor does Microsoft say where you can buy it from. If you tried to do that with Windows 7 it could set you back $200.

If you bought a Windows 7 PC between June 2 and the end of January 2013 will be able to get an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $15.

Vole announced that PC makers such as Acer, Asustek, Dell, HP, Samsung and Sony were also now taking pre-orders for machines with Windows 8 pre-installed.

However there was no mention of Microsoft’s Surface tablet PC, which is expected on the market at the same time as Windows 8. 

Windows 7 malware infection rate climbs

Microsoft has indicated that Windows 7’s malware infection rate climbed by as much as 182 percent this year.

While that figure is staggering, it is still three times better than Windows XP, which is about as secure as letting Anonymous look after a Greek government website dedicated to the visit of Angela Merkel.

Microsoft’s latest six monthly security report showed that in the second quarter of 2012, Windows 7 was between 33 percent and 182 percent more likely to be infected by malware than in the second Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1), which shipped in February last year, saw infection increases: 172 percent for x86, 182 percent for x64.

Vole claims that the the reason for the increase is a boost in successful malware attacks and the fact that users are becoming less savvy.

When a new version of software appears on the market it is usually technology enthusiasts who buy it. Then, later on, you get those consumers who actually click on links promising pictures of Kate Middleton’s chest.

Computerworld points out that it is more likely that Windows 7 is simply popular. The software is the first to be adopted by both enterprises and consumers and its usage share grew 45 percent. 

Microsoft to face EC antitrust charges

Microsoft is set to feel the wrath of the European Commission over its failure to provide browser choice in Windows.

European competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia has indicated that Microsoft will be subject to formal charges after the company appeared to breach a 2009 antitrust agreement with the EC.

In a statement, Almunia claimed that Microsoft had “failed to keep its promise” by allowing a number of products to be shipped without a browser choice screen for customers.

“To meet one of our concerns, the company pledged to let consumers choose which web browser they would use with its Windows operating system,” he said. “By its own admission, Microsoft has failed to keep its promise. I take compliance very seriously and we are now considering the next steps.”

Almunia confirmed that the “next step is to open a formal proceeding” against the company, Reuters reported.

Microsoft has claimed that shipping software without a browser choice was due to a computer glitch.  It is likely that the EC will argue that at the very least, the company should have taken more care to ensure that Microsoft upheld its end of the bargain, struck in 2009.

The EC recently indicated that Microsoft had agreed to comply with antitrust rulings. Competition chief Almunia confirmed he had met with CEO Steve Ballmer, who made assurances that Microsoft would immediately address any concerns.

However, with formal proceedings beginning, the EC could now take stronger action, as Microsoft’s previous offer to extend its antitrust agreement by 15 months is unlikely to carry much weight.   

One legal expert claimed that Microsoft’s negligence could lead to “significant fines” running into the hundreds of millions of euros.

Windows 7 overtakes XP in popularity

Net Applications have released their chart showing the most popular operating systems and for the first time Windows 7 has overtaken ancient Windows XP as the world’s most popular desktop operating software.

According to CNET, it is the end of an era. XP has ruled the PC world since the beginning of time and its first users were primitive pond life who were just getting the hang of backbones.

At the end of August, Windows 7’s market share stands at 42.76 percent compared with Windows XP’s 42.5 percent, according to Net Applications.

Microsoft has seen Windows 7’s share rise by roughly one percentage point month-on-month for around the past year. It has been taking users at the same level from Windows XP.

Meanwhile Vista’s share has remained static at around 6.1 percent over the past quarter.

Despite claims from the tame Apple press that Cupertino is giving Windows a good kicking, its OSX is just a little more popular than the completely unpopular Vista. The only way you can make any of the Apple operating systems statistically significant is if you add them all together. Apple’s combined share of the desktop market Apple is 7.11 percent share. Linux hardly got a look in and appears to have been unchanged. It seems that proprietary software holds 99.2 per cent of the PC market which means that Linux use has fallen. 

People don't want Microsoft Windows phones

Bernstein Research analyst Pierre Ferragu, has been consulting his Tarot cards and become convinced that Nokia’s second big Windows Phone push is doomed.

In a warning to shareholders, he said that Nokia’s stock had almost doubled since 2Q results, but nothing at the company was particularly good.

Ferragu said that it was the right time to have a short position in Nokia, with Nokia World next week and a risk of a warning in September.

He said that the big problem is that people do not want Windows 8 phones.

Ferragu said that research shows that for many years, poor sales of Windows-based phones stem from a deep and stable lack of consumer interest for the product.

He said that despite numerous and repeated efforts of manufacturers Nokia, Samsung and HTC to establish an alternative to Android and Apple based on Windows, they had not worked.

This was not the fault of the technology or the software. In fact Ferragu said the phones had strong features, good reviews and marketing support. But they only managed to corner to less than five percent market share.

Ferragu claimed that the lack of interest for Windows-based phones has been consistent in marketing surveys we have carried out across the globe over the last several years.

He believes that the situation of Windows in mobile phones is now very unlikely to recover.

Despite new developer opportunities presented by the coming Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 platforms, Microsoft’s mobile “egosystem” will never catch up with iOS or Android.

This will be bad news for Nokia, which bet the farm on Microsoft’s Windows 8. 

Microsoft Windows 8 is less user friendly

While Windows 8 appears to be  great touch-friendly tablet software, it is starting to look like it is as user-friendly as a Great White Shark to ordinary PC users.

Former Xerox PARC researcher Usability expert Raluca Budiu of the Nielsen Norman Group told Laptop magazine that the new OS is less user friendly than its predecessors.

She said that the design Vole used does not make sense for PCs and has the potential to confuse desktop users and slow them down.

While there are things that you can do more easily in Windows 8, such as share a news story through email or with friends on Facebook, these are not the sort of things people do most often on a PC.

It is looking like Windows 8 is optimised for content consumption rather than content production and multitasking. But content consumption is better done on tablets and phones while production and multitasking are still best suited for PCs.

Microsoft appears to have ignored that fact and gone entirely for consumer use.

She said that the learning curve for Windows 8 going to be steep, particularly after Windows 7. The duality of Desktop-Metro is likely to confuse at least some of the users.

The concept of giving priority to content is not suited for the larger non-touch screen of most PCs or laptops. Many apps waste a lot of space for huge images and give little space to text.

Hiding controls to give priority to content may make sense on mobile, where screen space is so limited, but is nuts on a large screen, especially if users have to work harder to access hidden features.

For example if you are in Windows 8′s desktop environment and want to launch a new desktop application, you must return to the tile-based Start screen to click a shortcut.

So getting rid of the start menu is probably the daftest thing as it means that you have to go through all sorts of rubbish to get your software running. 

Microsoft likely to face 'significant' fine in EC antitrust clampdown

Microsoft is likely to face “significant” antitrust fines as the European Commission looks to clamp down on monopoly in the tech industry.

Microsoft recently admitted that it had breached the terms of its antitrust commitment signed in 2009 which saw all Windows operating systems get an alternative to Internet Explorer. The agreement was made after lengthy investigations by the EC dating back to the late 90s.

Microsoft cited a technical glitch for allowing millions of Windows 7 systems to reach customers without the browser choice screen (BCS) that gave options for the likes of Google’s Chrome and Firefox, in addition to Microsoft’s own Internet Explorer.

Alan Davis, senior competition partner at Pinsent Masons, said that the EC is likely to come down strongly on Microsoft regardless of whether the technical glitch is at fault or not, with the Redmond firm facing some difficult questions.

Davis believes that the European Commission will be unsympathetic because they will wonder why such an enormous company – with almost infinite resources – was not monitoring the data more carefully.

They will ask why Microsoft wasn’t making sure  there weren’t any technical glitches, why they leave them so late, and why it takes people to complain to the Commission before the company could acknowledge an error.

The Commission, according to Davis, will be “inherently suspicious of whether or not Microsoft is telling the truth” and will be putting officials under a lot of pressure to explain exactly what they have done in terms of monitoring the situation.  

As the EC has been hot on the heels of Microsoft for over a decade, presenting a convincing argument could be an uphill struggle for the company – particularly as it made commitments to Europe three years ago that got it out of having to face any financial punishments.

Davis thinks that the investigations could even go as far as checking internal communications – to make sure shipping Windows without BCS wasn’t a deliberate move – though he says this “probably unlikely”.  

What is more likely is that Microsoft will be hit by a fine, with the Commission able to hit firms for up to 10 percent of their turnover, a sizeable fee for Microsoft.  Though the EC has never implemented such a punishment to the full effect of its powers, Davis thinks that given the seriousness of the case, and Microsoft’s past misdemeanours, the amount could still be a blow.

“It still could be a very very large amount of money,” he said. “Microsoft has been fined in the past for hundreds of millions of euros, so it is possible that the fines could be very significant.”

Microsoft itself has offered to extend the conditions of its commitment by 15 months  to placate the EC, but Davis says that with the commitment framework being relatively new, the Commission will be seeking to send out a strong message that it means business.

“What they will want to do is to send out a very strong message to other companies who have agreed similar types of cases,” he said, “and to those entering into these commitment decisions in the future, that ‘if you do what Microsoft did then we will come down on you like a tonne of bricks’.”

Although Davis points out that the EC antitrust investigations Google is currently undergoing are of a slightly different nature, the EC will be showing that it will not stand for any foul play.

“It is inevitable, subject to the facts stacking up,” Davis said, “that the commission will want to try and impose a significant fine for the purposes of ensuring that there is that declarence message being put out.”

The Commission has repeatedly said that it is very interested in the tech sector and that they are going to be “scrutinising dominance issues”.

They are “gunning for Google” at the moment, and while the cases are different they are both about the “super dominance” of companies in the tech sector.