Tag: xp

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.

Governments warn against Internet Exploder

The US and UK governments advised computer users to consider using alternatives to Microsoft’s Internet Exploder browser until the company fixes a security flaw that hackers used to launch attacks.

The Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team said in an advisory that the vulnerability in versions 6 to 11 of Internet Explorer could lead to “the complete compromise” of an affected system.

The UK National Computer Emergency Response Team told British computer users, that in addition to considering alternative browsers, they should make sure their antivirus software is current and regularly updated.

Versions 6 to 11 of Internet Explorer dominate desktop browsing, accounting for 55 percent of global market share, according to research firm NetMarketShare so there are lot of people who are going to have to download a different browser.

High on the list are Google’s Chrome or Mozilla’s Firefox. The last time that there was a panic like this, Mozilla cleaned up, particularly in the EU.

Cybersecurity software maker FireEye warned that a sophisticated group of hackers have been exploiting the bug in a campaign dubbed “Operation Clandestine Fox”.

There is an additional concern that even after Microsoft fixes the bug; it will not be available to those who use Windows XP. Microsoft has stopped upgrading XP except for selected customers who pay for it. There has been a reluctance for some businesses and uses to go off the aging operating system despite government warnings that use of the software might endanger your business’ health. 

Microsoft is nuts for pulling plug on XP

AV software maker, Avast has waded into Microsoft for pulling the plug on Windows XP.

Writing in his bog, Avast COO Ondrej Vlcek said that abandoning Windows XP was a big mistake, particularly as Microsoft has been rubbish at getting people to upgrade.

He said that security products can only do so much to keep Windows XP users safe once Microsoft stops patching the operating system’s future vulnerabilities.

Abandoning XP will not only affect Windows XP users, but will create a big security problem for the whole ecosystem, says Vlcek.

“Tens of millions of PCs running XP connected to the Internet, unpatched and without security updates, are just waiting to be exploited. The vulnerable OS will be an easy target for hackers and be seen as a gateway to infect other non-XP operating systems,” Vlcek said.

Plenty of essential devices, like ATMs, are running Windows XP, and will be left exposed, he warned.

However to be fair to Microsoft, it has given its users a jolly long time to quit their XP addiction. We would have thought that there would be a market for a security product which stays ahead of the hackers – if only Vlcek knew of an AV company which could do that. 

Microsoft goes all out to push upgrade

Software king of the world, Microsoft is going out of its way to convince the world+dog that it is much better to upgrade to Windows 8.1.

A statement which has crossed our desk implies that while users might not actually like Windows 8.1 they are better off upgrading to it because it has much better security.

Even those who do not like Windows 8 should consider it for its superior security as opposed to older Microsoft operating systems, if nothing else, the company tells us.

As you might expect the latest Microsoft Security Intelligence Report, seems to be targeted at Windows XP users which Vole is preparing to abandon.

Windows XP users are six times more likely to become infected than machines running Windows 8, the report says. The raw numbers are that 9.1 Windows XP machines need to be cleaned per 1000 versus 1.6 Windows 8 machines. In addition, Windows XP machines also encounter more malware than Windows 8 machines, with 16.3 percent of XP machines encountering it vs 12.4 percent of Windows 8 machines, the report says.

Windows XP machines also encounter more malware than Windows 8 machines, with 16.3 percent of XP machines encountering it vs 12.4 percent of Windows 8 machines, the report says.

However the report also attacks Windows 7 which is widely seen as a better alternative to XP and Windows 8.

Windows 7 computers have the highest encounter rate with malware with 19.1 percent and Windows 7 machines are more than three times more likely (5.5 per 1000) to become infected than Windows 8 machines.

It looks like Microsoft is attempting to convince the world that the main reason to upgrade to Windows 8.1 is security, part of which is supplied by Windows Defender anti-virus. What appears to be the problem is that many users of older operating systems do not use Defender or any third-party AV software. 

Microsoft offers limited discount for XP users

Windows XP is being retired from Microsoft’s support roster this time next year and now Redmond is offering discounts to XP users who choose to upgrade.

Since it did such a wonderful job with Vista, Win 7 and Win 8, Microsoft is practically paying people to upgrade, and it does not seem to be finding many takers. SMBs still stuck on XP and Office 2003 can get a 15 percent discount for Windows 8 Pro and Office 2013 purchases, reports Computerworld

Since Microsoft’s Open License website lists Windows 8 Pro and Office 2013 for a total of $561, the 15 percent discount translates to about $84. It might not sound like much, but it helps, especially if SMBs are in the market for multiple licences.

However, the offer only stands for customers running XP Professional and consumers must buy the licences via Microsoft’s Open License programme. Furthermore, the discount is limited to 100 licences per client and it will last until 30 June.

Another problem is hardware and software compatibility. XP is 12 years old and it is used on antiquated boxes. Although many of them can be upgraded to cope with Windows 8, some bits of hardware can’t. The same goes for specialised software developed ten or more years ago.

Microsoft begs XP users to upgrade

Microsoft is kindly asking users of Windows XP to upgrade to something a bit less ancient, again. XP has been around for a decade and it is still used on 15 to 20 percent of PCs, depending on who you ask. 

Redmond plans to cut off support for the venerable operating system on 8 April 2014, which means users have a year to upgrade, or face more vulnerabilities and security risks. However, XP still remains surprisingly popular, especially among SMBs and some home users. They feel it gets the job done and see no point in upgrading to a new Windows 7 box, but then again Windows XP is older than iOS, Android, Facebook and YouTube.

It is also worth noting that Microsoft sold millions of XP licences for first generation nettops and netbooks, based on Atom processors, years after XP stopped shipping on regular desktops and lappies. Upgrading these systems to Windows 7 probably isn’t an option for most users. 

Microsoft insists the only way to stay safe is to upgrade to a new OS, and since the cutoff date is just a year from now, time is slowly running out. Then again, users of ancient XP PCs might very well choose to upgrade to something else, like Linux or in some cases even Chrome and Android.

With millions of XP boxes out there, it is more than likely that quite a few users won’t heed Redmond’s warnings. Microsoft’s decision to ditch XP could also create more opportunities for peddlers of alternative low cost systems based on free operating systems. 

Microsoft Office kills off links to antique operating systems

Microsoft is using its new flavour of Office to kill off old operating systems like XP and Vista.

Vole has been trying to get companies off using XP for years now but it seems that Office 2013 will be used as a tool to do it.

According to Parity, Microsoft has confirmed that Office 2013 won’t work on older operating systems like Windows XP and Vista.

It will work on Windows 7 and the not yet released Windows 8, Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows Server 2012.

It will also need a PC which has a 1GHz processor and should have 1GB of RAM for 32-bit systems or 2GB for 64-bit hardware. It will also need 3GB of storage space and a DirectX 10-compatible graphics card.

To be fair to Vole, the spec should be a walk in the park as there are few machines which can run Windows 7 which have less than 1GB of RAM. The DirectX 10-compatible graphics card is only needed if you want some sort of hardware acceleration.

But nearly half the world’s PCs are running Windows XP or Vista and a fair number of them will want to run Office.

Microsoft has indicated that all support for XP will end in 2014 which is within the life of the new version of Office.

It seems that it is hoping that businesses will see sense and dump the obviously out of date and therefore now useless operating systems – well, that’s what Microsoft hopes. 

Windows 8 upgrade to cost $40

Microsoft has announced a promotion that, later this year, will let users of Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 PCs upgrade to the new Windows 8 Pro for $39.99.

It means that the Vole is dead keen to get people to upgrade to its new software, particularly as it is asking them to sign up to some fairly radical style changes.

This version will take some getting used to, particularly with the Metro user interface .

The deal will kick off on the day Windows 8 comes out and offers the most advanced retail version of the new OS, Windows 8 Pro, as the upgrade.

Most analysts expect the company to debut its newest Windows in Autumn. The company should be getting around to making its release to manufacturing, or RTM, milestone later this month.

Four weeks ago  Microsoft said it would sell a $14.99 upgrade to Windows 8 Pro to buyers of new PCs equipped with Windows 7.

For $39.99 you will have a download of Windows 8 Pro. If you want the upgrade on a DVD in a nice box it will be on sale for $69.99.

This is $10 less than Microsoft charged for a Windows 7 upgrade three years ago. It is still more expensive than the Apple OS, but that is because Microsoft sells software, whereas Apple sells a hardware and software package.

Microsoft is in the position that it has to encourage people to buy new PCs so it can make more money, but if is too cheap the company will find itself out of pocket.

Microsoft blocks Motorola in trademark spat

Microsoft has prevented Motorola from enforcing a German injunction based on a couple of patents allegedly essential to the H.264 video codec standard.

The United States District Court for the Western District of Washington granted a Microsoft motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against Motorola Mobility.

Microsoft’s David Howard, Microsoft Deputy General Counsel, told the world and its dog that Motorola promised to make its patents available to Microsoft and other companies on fair and reasonable terms.

The court ruling means Motorola can’t prevent Microsoft from selling products until the court decides whether Motorola has lived up to its promise.

It is not surprising that Motorola opposed Microsoft’s motion as it effectively stuffs up Motorola’s attempt to get around the US litigation which has been less favourable.

Microsoft had complained to the court about Motorola’s alleged breach of FRAND licensing eight months before Motorola started to win in the German courts.

Germany is more likely to grant injunctive relief against implementers of industry standards. This has resulted in the Vole abandoning Germany and setting up shop in the Netherlands.

According to patent expert Florian Mueller, the German injunctions aren’t binding on a defendant until the prevailing plaintiff formally demands compliance with the injunction and meets other requirements.

Motorola does not have to withdraw any of its German lawsuits, and the Mannheim court is free to make whatever it deems the right decision under German law.

However, if it wins, Motorola can’t use the injunction it may win to disrupt Microsoft’s business in any way.

It might seem odd that a US court trumps a European one, and Motorola had argued that Microsoft should meet whatever requirements under German law to protect itself against sales bans. Vole managed to convince the US court that the Seattle action was to enforce Motorola’s FRAND licensing promises worldwide. Motorola could not then balkanise the whole process and undermine it.

The FRAND case before the Seattle court will be decided later this year. If it goes against Microsoft, which seems unlikely, then it will mean that Vole will have to cope with a banning of its products worldwide.

At least it will not have the next few months of sitting and watching its products sit on the shelves.

Motorola Mobility and its future owner Google have a few other problems to worry about. The court will have to take into account the two ongoing antitrust investigations of Motorola’s suspected abuse of standard-essential patents launched by the European Commission . 

Microsoft puts Windows XP on death row

Microsoft has warned that users on Windows XP have two years to change to something more sensible.

Microsoft’s website bluntly said that the OS is a dead man walking and if users have not started the migration to a modern PC, they are late.

Microsoft quoted data that claimed OS migration programs in businesses take between 18 and 32 months to complete.

The company announced what it called a “two-year countdown” to the death of Windows XP. Windows XP and the business productivity suite Office 2003 both exit all support on April 8, 2014.

Writing in the Microsoft bog, Redmond warned that on that date it would stop shipping security updates for XP and Office 2003.

XP went on sale in October 2001 while Office 2003 launched October 2003.

To be fair, 12 years is a long time to support anything, and XP has been on the shelf for two and a half years longer than Microsoft’s usual practice – and a year longer than the previous record holder, Windows NT, which was supported for 11 years and five months.