Tag: windows 7

Office props up Microsoft

Microsoft has announced what it claims a record for first-quarter fiscal year revenue, ending 30 September, up seven percent from the same time last year. Total revenue was $17.37 billion. 

Key to propping up its profit was Office, which as part of the business division saw overall first quarter revenues of $5.62 billion. That is eight percent up from te same time last year when Office 2010 was launched. Similarly, its software for the server like SharePoint and Exchange swelled 17 percent in the quarter.

Microsoft’s success in Office was twinned with a ten percent boost for the Server and Tools division, which posted results of $4.25 billion for the quarter. 

Its Windows business was not so lucky. Although, in a statement, the stagnant division is described as “in line” with the PC market,  it grew just two percent. Microsoft is pinning its hopes on Windows 8. 

Meanwhile, its Entertainment and Devices division performed well, as the Xbox remained the console of choice for its home turf in the US.

The quarter’s earnings see a generally stable MSFT, but perhaps in a transitional phase. Following the Skype buy, the VOIP service will have its results integrated into Microsoft’s for the second quarter. 

COO Kevin Turner says the quarter was strong for Office, SharePoint, Exchange and Lync, as well as increased interest in cloud services like Office 365 and Azure. He says he and Microsoft are “excited about the holiday buying season,” but you’d be barmy to buy a Windows 7 PC or Windows Phone 7.5 with 8 around the corner. 

WebGL undermines security

Insecurity experts from Context claim that the WebGL standard is a security hole waiting to be exploited.

According to the outfit’s site, WebGL goes against many of the security structures set up by current operating systems and creates new attack possibilities.

For example, to enable rendering of demanding 3D animations, WebGL allows web sites to execute shader code directly on a system’s graphics card.

If a hacker wanted, it could be exploited to take a system out completely. A hacker could get the GPU to render especially complex 3D models or run very processor-intensive shader programs.

This is not the first warning about WebGL which has been issued. Khronos, which is responsible for WebGL, has warned of this problem in the WebGL specification before.

Context claims they have got a machine to blue screen of death (BSOD) by using targeted overloading of the graphics cards.

This could allow an attacker to exploit any security vulnerabilities in the graphics card driver to, for example, inject malicious code onto the system.

Windows 7 and Vista have a mechanism for resetting an overloaded graphics card after about two seconds, the researchers found that this can create a blue screen of death after a certain number of resets.

If a GPU driver contains vulnerabilities, WebGL could allow injection of malicious code onto a system.

Context used WebGL to get around the same-origin policy. WebGL uses HTML5’s canvas to draw objects in the browser.

Context warned that WebGL is simply not yet ready for primetime. They advise users and IT administrators to think seriously about deactivating WebGL support in their browsers. The latest versions of Firefox, Chrome and Safari all support WebGL. Opera has released an Opera 11 preview with WebGL support. 

Windows XP is still king of the operating systems

After more than 18 months, it seems that Microsoft can’t kill Windows XP with Windows 7.

Vole has announced that it has flogged more than 350 million Windows 7 licences, which normally would be a cause for celebration.

According to the “Windows Team Blog” the Windows 7 operating system is the fastest selling operating system of all time.

Brandon LeBlanc wrote, “The momentum we’ve seen and continue to see with Windows 7 is incredible.”

However, other figures will be annoying the Vole. While Windows 7’s market share has increased every month to 24.17 percent, its ancient OS, XP is still the King of operating systems. XP has more than half the market share at 54.39 percent.

LeBlanc insists that this is changing, with analyst firms like IDC estimating that more than 90 percent of businesses are “currently in progress with their Windows 7 migrations.”

Vista has fallen to 10.56 percent of the market and sliding. Which is a relief.

Oh, and that Mac operating system still cannot manage more than 3.5 percent share of the market. This is even less than Linux and Unix which have a combined share of 6.08 percent and are widely seen as a failure on the desktop. 

Microsoft starts distributing Windows 8 builds

Software Imperium Microsoft has begun to distribute early copies of Windows 8 to key OEM chums to give them a chance to play with it.

According to software gossip rag WinRumours the software giant is distributing build 7971.0.110324-1900 via the company’s Connect external testing system.

On the guest list are OEMs like the maker of expensive printer ink HP which is accessing the Milestone 3 build from Connect. Dubbed the Windows 8 and Server vNext Pre-Release Programme. It requires a special invite code so the great unwashed can’t see it.

This would explain how some aspects of new software has managed to find its way into the tech press. There have been leaks of a system reset function in Windows 8 already.

Vole is expected to release a Windows 8 beta in September and its primary Windows 8 interface is believed to be fully 3D.

Apparently the interface will be “fully dynamic” and able to adapt to user habits with icons and shortcuts will adapt to different usage scenarios to speed up daily tasks.

It is also supposed to have a new fast hibernation system which will allow you to shove the system into hibernate in three to six seconds and save all open documents and running tasks.

Another rumour is that Microsoft will create a dual user interface for Windows 8 so that it will get a tile-based system called “Mosh”.

What is surprising is that Vole is not talking very loudly about Windows 8. So far we have only had bits, such as it will have ARM support. Given that the beta is slated for September we would expect a little more hysteria.

It is possible that ze Vole wants people to adopt Windows 7 and fears that too much expectation for Windows 8 will kill it off.

Ballmer says Windows will evolve into something different

Shy and retiring Microsoft CEO, Steve “Sound of Silence” Ballmer is telling the world that Windows is about to evolve into something completely different.

Speaking today at a Houston Technology Center bash, Ballmer said that changes on the PC were being driven by “innovations” with sophisticated smartphones and tablet devices.

According to Seattle Pi, which showed up for the nibbles and free booze, Ballmer claimed that Windows will “look a lot different and will run different applications” than it does in 2011.

It is difficult to see where Steve was going on this point. The whole point of Windows is that it can turn PCs into an office tool. Most of that software is crafted seperately for a particular purpose. If it is running different software it becomes something else and Steve did not describe his vision.

Ballmer admitted that Microsoft had stumbled a bit lately. He moaned that the industry moves quickly and his company isn’t always able to move as fast as competitors.

He said that Apple is proof that a company can come back to upend the market. He pointed out that when he started at Microsoft, Apple was bigger, but by 1997, Apple was almost bankrupt.

Now, Apple has turned itself around quite nicely. You see, you can come, go, come and go, and come again, Ballmer said.

But as any observer would have pointed out, when Apple came back it had an idea.

That idea was that you could set up a closed shop of gadgets and drive users in with nice design. You could keep making money out of them by bringing in more gadgets with more updated designs. It did not matter how good the gadgets were, so long as they looked nice.

Ballmer does not seem to have an idea that he is talking about to anyone. If he wants Windows to evolve into something more interesting he really needs to tell people exactly what.

Norton update caused Internet Explorer crash

An update to Norton software between 10PM and midnight yesterday caused Internet Explorer 8 running on Windows 7 to crash and burn.

According to reliable sources, the browser looped the loop as it tried in vain to recover from the SNAFU.  Symantec fixed the bug about three hours later.

A source said the problem happened when all three bits of software copulated together.

We have asked Symantec to comment on the error and it has said it will get back to us. When it does, we’ll add its comments. Wonder what that pink-shirted tie wearing Peter Norton is doing these days. He sold his business to Symantec in the early 1990s.

* Update: “Symantec rolled out Intrusion Prevention Signature definitions on the evening of 1st March. It was immediately reported that this patch was causing an issue with Windows 7 users who try to launch Internet Explorer 8. Specifically after receiving the patch, users who tried to launch the IE8 browser experienced a crash. Immediately upon being reported, Symantec rolled back the patch and now when any affected customer runs LiveUpdate, the issue will be remedied.”

Plextor launches speedy SSD at CeBIT

Plextor showed TechEye its newest generation SSD today, the SSD M2S.

It supports the new SATA 6 GB/s interface thanks to its server grade Marvell 88SS9174 control chip alongside NCQ. The SSD M2S also features a 128 MB DDR cache buffer and, so claims Plextor, has a one-of-a-kind algorithm to manage memory blocks and keep reading errors reduced.

Next to its bad block algorithm, it also makes sure data is written into memory blocks uniformly.

This is supposed to increase the SSD’s life span, while keeping it from slowing down after its been in service for a longer period. The amount of memory wipe-outs is also apparently decreased. Needless to say, it also supports Windows 7 TRIM command.

Continental punters will be happy to know the SSD M2S will be launched in the next couple of days in Germany and Austria and will be available from Alternate.de.

It comes with capacities of 64 GB (€169.90), 128 GB (€299.90) and 256 GB (€589). Sequential read speed varies from up to 370 MB/s to 480 MB/s, depending on size. Plextor says it offers a three year warranty in the EU, Switzerland and Norway, defect SSDs will be replaced within five days.

Open XML in Microsoft Word ruins essays

There’s a bug in Microsoft’s Open XML, the format it fights so hard to defend, that decides to slice spaces at random from text.

For example, a university student banged out an essay on a Windows 7, 64-bit, Office 2010 32-bit machine and sent it along to a Windows XP computer running Office 2007. In a last minute rush, the document was printed and turned in, after having triple checked the essay for spelling and formatting errors.

When the essay came back, the student had 20 percent of the overall grade slashed because of frequent spacing errors between words. Double checking the original copy – there were no spacing errors. On a class computer there were plenty.

There has been no word from Microsoft yet. 

The bug affects users porting documents from Word 2010 with the .docx extension to Word 2007. If Word 2007 has a different printer driver, spaces are dropped at random when it’s opened, and if you save in Word 2007, they stay there when you head back to 2010, Tim Anderson says from his bog

Anderson speculates. It reflects, he says, the fact that Word is a word processor and not a professional text layout tool. “Word processor documents may change formatting slightly according to the printer driver installed; and I’d guess that the missing spaces occur when the line breaks are altered by a different printer driver.

“This is why a workaround is for both users to set Adobe PDF as the default printer driver, making them consistent. Another workaround is to revert to the old binary .doc format.”

Lenovo's got six ThinkPads on the way

Lenovo has announced six laptops aimed at offering greater mobility to business professionals.

The T420s,T420, T5230, L420, L520 and W520 will combine stuff like extended all-day battery life, video and voice calling and smart PC features for power management.

“We used customer feedback to help us create our latest ThinkPad laptops that provide strong improvements in key areas such as battery life, video and conferencing communications and performance,” Lenovo said in a statement.

“We’ve even made the ThinkPad laptops smarter by engineering self-aware technologies for unprecedented performance and power management capabilities.”

The ultra-thin T420s will offer a boot time reduced by 30 percent with Lenovo Enhanced Expericience 2.0, while the T420 reaches a mightily impressive 30 hours of extended battery life by combining a standard nine-cell battery and optional nine-cell slice battery. 

The laptops incorporate technology that is able to sense where power is needed most to ensure that priority components receive power at relevant times, says Lenovo, for improved overall performance and battery life.

The range also utilises Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0, which increases processor speed during performance intensive tasks such as video editing, data analysis and 3D applications, and enables the laptops to stay in Turbo Boost even longer by keeping processor temperatures below required thermal limits.

Lenovo boldly claims that these are the first “business” class laptops to feature Nvidia Optimus automatic graphic switching technology, with the T Series and W Series laptops providing 33 percent better battery performance over previous discrete graphics models.

The range focuses on video and voice conferencing, with features such as noise cancellation included to focus on a single user during a call, as well as 360 degree audio capture allowing for multiple user interaction. They ship with keyboard noise suppression that will silence the ham-fisted among us.

Lenovo Enhanced Experience 2.0 for Windows 7  will mean that the laptops will allow users to boot up on average 20 seconds faster than a typical Windows 7 user… allegedly.

Open source groups attack Nokia's divorce of MeeGo

Nokia has left Intel and Meego out in the cold as it divorces them to begin its new affair with Microsoft.

The Linux Foundation, which according to Intel is the primary product leader of MeeGo, has called Nokia’s stab in the back “disappointing”, while other open source groups have said Stephen Elop has “jumped his company off the burning platform” and “straight into the fire.”

Nokia announced its new partnership with Microsoft officially on Friday – just in time to break Valentine Day hearts – when both companies claimed they would use the partnership to form a “new global mobile ecosystem” and “jointly create market-leading mobile products and services designed to offer consumers, operators and developers unrivalled choice and opportunity.”  

Nokia also said it would adopt Microsoft’s smartphone strategy and add its expertise in topics such as imaging, hardware design and language support.

However, this means that Nokia no longer wants anything to do with MeeGo, a partnership it only announced this time last year. 

Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation, told TechEye that he wasn’t happy with the decision.

“The Linux Foundation is disappointed in Nokia’s decision to choose Microsoft as the primary platform for its mobile phones. Tough times give birth to difficult decisions that we don’t always agree with, but open source is — at its core — about choice,” he said.

“We believe that open source software is more than a sum of its parts, and the market is currently bearing that out. The Linux Foundation is here to enable collaboration among its members and the Linux community, and we invite participation in MeeGo and any of our other many projects and programs. In its 20th anniversary year, Linux is a significant underpinning in every computing segment. Full steam ahead.”

Eric Raymond, president at the Open Source organisation also had a few choice words claiming that Stephen Elop had “failed to resolve Nokia’s drift and lack of a strategic focus.”

He wrote in a blog post: “Instead of addressing this problem, Elop plans to institutionalise it by splitting the company into two business units that will pursue different – and, in fact, mutually opposing – strategies.

“The plan Elop has pulled out from under wraps effectively splits Nokia in two. The “Smart Devices” piece own MeeGo and Symbian Smartphones, and is expected to work with Microsoft on developing a portfolio of WP7 phones.

“The “Mobile Phones” part is expected to “leverage its innovation and strength in growth markets to connect the next billion people and bring them affordable access to the Internet and applications.” The vagueness of this remit is telling. Clearly “Mobile Phones” is expected to milk the Third-World market for Symbian dumb-phones as long as it can, but “affordable access to the Internet and applications” implies low-cost smartphones as well.”

Intel also had a few things to say about its philandering other half, however it vowed to stay with MeeGo.

A spokesman told TechEye: “Although Intel and Nokia are prominent supporters  – Meego is the product of the Linux Foundation and as such enjoys wider support and resources as an Open Source initiative.”

The company said it would stick by MeeGo, claiming: “We remain committed to innovating this open source platform and on collaborating with Nokia and other industry players on its development – which should benefit users of mobile devices beyond smartphones.”

The cracks in the Nokia/Meego relationship began last year when Nokia’s MeeGo Devices VP, Ari Jaaksi, resigned.

The uncertainty carried on through to November when we heard that developers were none too trusting of the OS. Reasons for this included that it was late to market, it showed no signs of a solid app framework and didn’t have enough to differentiate it from other popular choices.

And following this it seems Nokia listened closely to its marriage counsellors, or analysts, who last week wrote an open letter to the company advising it to drop MeeGo and go with Microsoft.

It’s not going to be a happy Valentine’s Day for some.