Tag: windows

Microsoft releases emergency patch

windows-10-start-menu-customised-live-tilesDire warnings about a vulnerability in all versions of Windows has led Microsoft to release an emergency patch.

The patch is related to a bug in the Windows Font Driver, which could lead to someone’s machine being hijacked remotely.

Microsoft said it hasn’t encountered attacks based on the bug, but has warned users of Windows to download it if they don’t have automatic updates switched on.

The list of affected systems is so long that you can assume you will need to install it, whether you’re using Windows RT, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 and even Windows Vista.

Microsoft acknowledged the help of third party security companies who participate in coordinated vulnerability checking. You can find more details of the bug at the Microsoft technical page, here.

Intel sees Windows as its blue eyed boy

IntelChip giant Intel is set to dump Android as its primary focus and instead hopes Windows tablets will make the grade in the future.

Intel has spent hundreds of millions of pounds aiming to be a player in the tablet and smartphone markets but so far has seen little for the money it’s spent.

Digitimes Research believes that Intel will more or less dump Android and drop its subsidy for tablets using the OS and incorporating its own microprocessors.

But that is a gamble that could well be based on over-inflated estimates for the success of Windows 10, which starts to ship at the end of this month.

In a separate report, the Digitimes wire said that Microsoft is unlikely to make headway in the smartphone market or the tablet market.

Instead, Windows 10 is likely to be the choice for people using traditional notebook designs.

However, as we reported elsewhere today, shipments of notebook PCs are in decline and it’s by no means certain that Windows 10 will boost sales by a significant amount. Commercial organisations, in any case, prefer not to go for a new iteration of a Windows operating system until all the bugs have been ironed out.

Samsung bloatware cripples Windows updates

fat-willy-wonka-chocolate-factory-blueberries-1360368319Samsung’s bloatware has sent out a file called “Disable_Windowsupdate.exe” which switches off all your Windows updates.

Samsung claims that this is to “help your windows configuration settings” and it was discovered by a researcher and Microsoft MVP .

It comes with SWUpdate, Samsung’s bloatware that comes with all their PCs.

Samsung’s says that by enabling Windows updates, you install the Default Drivers for all the hardware for a laptop which may or may not work. For example if there is USB 3.0 on laptop, the ports may not work with the installation of updates. So to prevent this, SW Update tool will prevent the Windows updates.

That may be true, but Windows Update is also responsible for critical security updates. And come Windows 10, it will also be responsible for new versions of the OS.

SWUpdate went unnoticed because it wasn’t permanently disabling the update process. People  could still start and stop it manually, though the automatic service would get disabled again with every reboot.



US Navy spends millions to stay low-tech

Brig_Niagara_full_sailWhile it is spending a fortune on new weaponry, the US Navy would rather pay millions in protection money to Microsoft to keep its ancient Windows XP machines running.

The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, which runs the Navy’s communications and information networks, signed a US$9.1 million contract earlier this month for continued access to security patches for Windows XP, Office 2003, Exchange 2003 and Windows Server 2003.

This will be worth $30.8 million to Microsoft and extend into 2017. All of those products have been deemed obsolete by Microsoft by July 14.

It is good for Microsoft as it will continue to offer security updates on a paid basis for customers like the Navy. It has to do the security updates anyway because it still has a fair number of Government customers who have also been slow to upgrade.

The Navy tried to sail away from XP in 2013, but it seemed to hit some headwind with the project as of May this year it still had approximately 100,000 workstations running XP or the other software.

Steven Davis, a spokesman for the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command in San Diego said that the Navy relies on a number of legacy applications and programs that are reliant on legacy Windows products.

“Until those applications and programs are modernised or phased out, this continuity of services is required to maintain operational effectiveness.”

Microsoft applications affect “critical command and control systems” on ships and land-based legacy systems. Affected systems are connected to NIPRnet, the US government’s IP network for non-classified information, and SIPRnet, the network for classified information.

Schools function on 30 years of Amiga Power

 A25001While many government institutions are panicking about the fact that they still have machines running Windows XP, there is one Luddite US school that has saved a bomb by being powered by a 1980s Amiga.

The 30-year-old computer has run day and night for decades and controls the heat and air conditioning at 19 Grand Rapids Public Schools.

It is proof that the Commodore Amiga really was a pretty cool computer.  It was bought in the early 1980s using cash from an energy bond.  At the time, the computer which is better known as a games machine was pretty bleeding edge technology and had replaced a computer which was the size of a fridge.

GRPS Maintenance Supervisor Tim Hopkins said the Amiga controls the life support for 19 school buildings.

“The system controls the start/stop of boilers, the start/stop of fans, pumps, [it] monitors space temperatures, and so on,” Hopkins told Wood TV .

A Kentwood High School student programmed it when it was installed in the 1980s. It has gone wrong a couple of times, but whenever they have a problem the original programmer still lives in the area.

Parts for the computer are difficult to find, Hopkins said. It is on its second mouse and third monitor.

It operates on a 1200-bit modem and has a radio frequency that sends a signal to school buildings, which reply within a matter of seconds with the status of each building. The computer operates on the same frequency as some of the walkie-talkies used by the maintenance department which can sometimes cause a few problems.

If the commuter stopped working tomorrow, a staff person would have to turn each building’s climate control systems on and off by hand and a new system would cost between $1.5 and 2 million. If voters pass a $175 million bond proposal in November, the computer is on the list of things to be replaced.

They just don’t make them like that anymore.



Microsoft lets EU peer under the bonnet

automobile-mechanicsIn a spirit of openness the software giant Microsoft has let the EU crack open the bonnet of its Windows software and have a look at the source code.

The big idea is to assure European governments that Microsoft products do not contain any backdoors which will allow US spooks to spy on their allies.

A transparency centre has been set up which will give governments the chance to review and assess the source code of Microsoft enterprise products and to access important security information about threats and vulnerabilities in a secure environment.

Writing in his blog, Matt Thomlinson, Vice President of Microsoft Security in a blog post said that Microsoft wanted to continue building trust with governments around the world.

“Today’s opening in Brussels will give governments in Europe, the Middle East and Africa a convenient location to experience our commitment to transparency and delivering products and services that are secure by principle and by design,” said Thomlinson.

National governments and international organizations that are part of the program can in principle inspect the source code of a list of 10 core products including Windows 8.1, 7 and Vista.

Thomlinson said that they can also get access to the source code of various versions of Windows Server and Office, as well as instant messaging client Lync, SharePoint 2010 and versions of Windows Embedded, according to Microsoft.

Currently there are 42 different agencies from 23 different national governments and international organizations who take part in GSP. In Europe, participants include the governments of the U.K., Austria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and Sweden as well as organisations including the European Commission, the spokeswoman said.

Microsoft plans to expand the range of products included in these programs and to open other centres in Europe, the Americas, and Asia.

Tablets haven’t had their day yet

Dell TabletDespite figures that show shipments of tablets and 2-in-1 devices will fall by 3.8 percent compared to 2014, there is still an opportunity for vendors selling the machines.

That’s according to a report from IDC, which said cellular tablets and 2-in-1 devices are showing strong growth in some regions.

Jean Philippe Bouchard, an IDC research director, said: “Cellular connected devices fill multiple needs for vendors and carries around they world. They offer a quick solution to price and margin erosion, and when compared to smartphones they offer a less expensive way for carriers to increase their subscriber base.”

Bouchard said that these type of devices currently only represent a small part of the whole market but will grow this year and beyond, compared to wi-fi only devices.

The rise of smartphones with larger screens – so called “phablets” – are having an impact on the market because people think that they won’t need a tablet because a phone with a bigger screen fits the bill.

IDC released a chart showing tablet and 2-in-1 share by operating system, which shows a decline in the Android operating system and a gain in the Windows operating system.

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 14.24.55

Race to win Chromebook share hots up

GoogleA report said that at least six 2-in-1 Chromebooks will launch this year and they’ll all be aimed at the non educational markets.

According to Digitimes Research, Lenovo, Asustek, Google, HP and Acer will take the market on in the second half of this year.

Google doesn’t mind competing with its customers.

The report said that it will introduce two Chromebooks – one for the entry level and one for the high level, with shipments starting in the third quarter of this year.

Digitimes Research said the high end machine will have a 12.85 inch display and be powered with a Tegra 6 microprocessor. The low end model will have a 10.1-inch display and use Rockhip.

The analysts believe that Google wants to compete with Apple’s 12-inch iPad.

No details are yet available of prices, but it’s obvious that Apple won’t be too worried about the arrival of the Chromebooks, while Microsoft is bound to be somewhat concerned.

Microsoft will not upgrade pirates

tv-myths-captain-pugwash-431x300Microsoft has denied that it will be allowing those who pirate its new Windows 10 OS to get free updates

The dark satanic rumour mill had manufactured a hell on earth rumour which claimed that Microsoft was going to give away free Windows updates to those who had pirated its Windows 10 OS.

It was all based on the fact that in January,   Microsoft announced it would offer free Windows 10 upgrades to those running Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows Phone 8.1.

Reports suggested the offer would extend to those who pirated their software although  Microsoft did point out that the Windows licences would stay non-genuine and would be unsupported.

Earlier this week, Microsoft revealed the Windows 10 editions and that the  free upgrades for genuine users were to Windows 10 Pro, Windows 10 Mobile, and Windows 10 Home.

Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s executive vice president of operating systems confirmed that for genuine users, the free upgrade to Windows 10 means receiving “ongoing Windows innovation and security updates for free, for the supported lifetime of that device.

When Microsoft can’t verify that Windows is properly installed, licensed, and not tampered with, it creates a desktop watermark to notify the user. If you ever encounter this watermark on a new machine, I encourage you to return the device immediately to the retailer from whom you purchased it and request a Genuine Windows device, he said,

While its free offer to upgrade to Windows 10 will not apply to Non-Genuine Windows devices, and as we’ve always done, it will continue to offer Windows 10 to customers running devices in a Non-Genuine state, he said.

Myerson says Microsoft is planning “very attractive Windows 10 upgrade offers” for older devices in a “non-genuine” state. These will be announced in conjunction with Microsoft’s OEM partners, but the company is leaving computer makers to share those specifics at a later date.


Ubuntu might beat Windows to phone convergence

ubuntu-wallpaper2It is starting to look like the Linux OS Ubuntu might beat Windows to true phone convergence.

One of the headline OS’s features for Windows 10 for PCs and Windows 10 for phones won’t be is true phone convergence. But it looks like Ubuntu might beat Vole to the punch.

Canonical’s Box Mark Shuttleworth said that the Unbuntu smart phone will fit in your pocket; which will be a phone; and which will give you a desktop experience.
“So, that pocket PC experience is real on Ubuntu. And, while I enjoy the race, I also like to win. And I bet you do too. And so it will be lovely for us to drive free software first into the convergence world,” he said.

Shuttleworth said that Ubuntu Phone’s application platform already allows for applications that can resize to fit various screen sizes, from smartphone-size to windows on your desktop. After focusing on Ubuntu Phone’s unique interface and design to get it out the door, Canonical is beginning to talk about convergence.

So just like Microsoft is doing with Windows 10, Ubuntu is aiming for convergence across all device types. But unlike Vole it is going to move a bit faster.

Word on the street is that while Windows 10 for PCs will ship this summer Windows 10 for phones will be much later.

The release date slip gives Ubuntu a chance to beat Microsoft to launching this feature. Both projects are scrambling to get the software done with a release date of sometime in 2015.

However there are also signs that Canonical might also have problems. The Unity 8 desktop interface and Mir are still in fairly rough.

Unity 8 and Mir were supposed to have been part of the default Ubuntu desktop image for several releases now, but this is clearly taking longer than expected. Unity 8 and Mir may be ready for Ubuntu 15.10, “Wily Werewolf,” in October.