Windows Phone Apps removed from Zune

Windows PhoneThis was something that I noticed at the weekend just gone, in I wanted to download an album off Zune, and was presented with the popup message that “features have changed” and the feature that has changed is the ability of downloading Windows Phone 7 apps from the Zune software.

I first thought oh great another feature removed, but then actually stepped back and asked myself, “did I ever download a WP7 app from inside Zune”, the answer was a resounding NO, never in the past year of having my WP7 had I downloaded an app from Zune, so its not a feature I will miss.

Do read the below quote from Mazhar Mohammed and visit the full blog article linked below.

“Hi everyone. Today I want to tell you about two changes we’re making to Marketplace to help pave the way for new store features and new apps in the months ahead.

First, we’re removing the option to shop for Windows Phone apps from the Zune PC software. Second, as part of a larger Marketplace improvement effort, you’ll soon need Windows Phone 7.5 installed on your phone to buy and download new apps, or update existing ones.

As you’ll see in a moment, most of you likely won’t even notice these changes. Let me elaborate.

Focusing on phone and web

Until today you could shop for Windows Phone apps and games in three places: on your phone, on the web, and via the Zune software on your PC.

But we know—probably not a huge surprise here—that most Windows Phone owners browse and buy apps on their phones. The web Marketplace, which debuted last September on the Windows Phone website, has also become a popular place to shop, since it’s available from any Internet-connected PC or Mac.”

One thing I would say is that some of the games can be large to download via your mobile  connection and especially if you have a data cap, so either you have to connect via WiFi or as in this Q&A HERE you can still use Zune for large apps (those over 20mb).

Read the full blog post at the Windows Team Blog HERE

SkyDrive vs XXX a Comparison Chart

SkyDriveThis is a nice and interesting comparison chart, albeit produced by Microsoft so will be geared towards their product SkyDrive, but they do have to be accurate so its a good gauge of what you are getting with the various “cloud” storage services around.

SkyDrive Comparison

View Full Comparison Chart HERE 

Note: data is subject to change by the various developers

Microsoft rushes out a password bugfix for Hotmail

HotmailMicrosoft today have fixed a password bug in their Hotmail email service, in which a hacker could gain access to an account and change the users password, thus not only locking the user out of their account, but potentially stealing sensitive data.

“Microsoft says it has fixed a serious vulnerability in Hotmail, that was allowing hackers to reset account passwords, locking out the account’s real owner and giving attackers access to users’ inboxes.

News of the critical bug spread rapidly across underground hacking forums, and Whitec0de reported earlier this week that hackers were offering to break into any Hotmail account for as little as $20.

It appears that the vulnerability existed in Hotmail’s password reset feature. Hackers were able to use a Firefox add-on called Tamper Data to bypass the normal protections put in place to protect Hotmail accounts.”

Read the full article at NakedSecurity blog from Sophos HERE

Microsoft Security Report highlights Conficker Worm alive and well

The Conficker worm malware infection has been a real pest for a while now and Microsoft have released their latest security report (July – December 2011) highlighting how many times this malware variant was detected worldwide.

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“Microsoft Corp. today released the Microsoft Security Intelligence Report volume 12 (.pdf file), which found that the Conficker worm was detected approximately 220 million times worldwide in the past two and a half years, making it one of the biggest ongoing threats to enterprises. The study also revealed the worm continues to spread because of weak or stolen passwords and vulnerabilities for which a security update exists.

According to the SIRv12, quarterly detections of the Conficker worm have increased by more than 225 percent since the beginning of 2009. In the fourth quarter of 2011 alone, Conficker was detected on 1.7 million systems worldwide. In examining the reasons behind Conficker’s prevalence in organizations, research showed that 92 percent of Conficker infections were a result of weak or stolen passwords, and 8 percent of infections exploited vulnerabilities for which a security update exists.

“Conficker is one of the biggest security problems we face, yet it is well within our power to defend against,” said Tim Rains, director of Microsoft Trustworthy Computing. “It is critically important that organizations focus on the security fundamentals to help protect against the most common threats.”

As I will always stat is that you need to use an Antivirus application, it can be any of the major brands free solutions, but do use one (Microsoft have released the updated Security Essentials 4.0 this week, and you can download it HERE) and keep it updated. Keep your Windows OS fully up to date and be weary on what sites you are viewing and downloading from, if in doubt, check a sites reputation with the likes of WOT.

 

Read the full article at Microsoft News Centre HERE

Reset Microsoft Internet Explorer

IE9 logoThere are times when internet browsers start to run sluggish and do not perform as they should do, it could be due to Malware, a rogue or incompatible browser add-on or that it is just slow. So the below FixIt tool can allow you to automatically try and fix IE or also on the page are the manual instructions, personally I would always start with the automatic option.

“Is browsing always slow in Internet Explorer? Does it frequently stop responding (hang), or stop working (crash)? Do you receive error messages that indicate that Internet Explorer has “encountered a problem and needs to close”? Or that a Visual C++ “runtime error” has occurred in Iexplore.exe?

If so, then you might want to try resetting Internet Explorer. When you reset Internet Explorer settings, all add-ons and customizations are deleted, and you basically start with a fresh version of Internet Explorer. This article helps you reset Internet Explorer.”

 Run the FixIt tool from HERE

Microsoft SkyDrive

SkyDriveMicrosoft have updated SkyDrive not only now adding a Desktop SkyDrive local application for Windows (which I will cover a little later with a quick install and features guide) and MAC OSX but also they have updated the Windows 7 Phone and iPhone apps for SkyDrive, which is really very welcome as these updated “apps” for mobile devices add well needed options as in allowing you to delete files.

Download the Desktop and Mobile versions of SkyDrive  HERE 

SkyDrive Desktop (local) application adds the following features, which when I first read and watched a video about this desktop application from the SkyDrive team involved I thought wow, why have we not had this before as its perfect for my data needs and likely prefect for many home and business users also.

Features
  • Access your SkyDrive directly from Windows Explorer – photos, documents and all your other important files.
  • Quickly add new files to SkyDrive by dragging them to the SkyDrive folder.
  • Easily organise your files and folders in SkyDrive, just like any other folder.
  • Connect back to your PC if you forget to put something in SkyDrive.

To install the Windows Desktop version download from the earlier link, then once downloaded, double click the setup file to start the install procedure.

Skydrive01

Next we are not quite there yet, once you see the “Welcome to SkyDrive” screen (below) click Get Started and you will be presented with the SkyDrive Sign In page, here just add the Windows Live ID account you wish to use (your email and password) and click Sign In.

Skydrive02 Skydrive03

Once signed in you are given the choice to change the default location of the local SkyDrive folder (this is the one where files added to SkyDrive are saved locally to your PC), once you have chosen a new folder of your choice or kept the default suggested folder click Next. You can also make files on your local PC also available on other devices, such as Mobile devices, so tick the box if you wish this option then click Done.

Skydrive04 Skydrive05

Then the app will start to sync your SkyDrive files to the local folder, which as you can see below on my Windows 8 preview PC, is also integrated into Explorer, so easily accessible like any folder.

Skydrive06

Do not worry if your files do not appear straight away, as the syncing between SkyDrive and your PC may take a while as it depends on how many files you have stored on SkyDrive or how quick your internet download speed is, but just hover over the System Tray SkyDrive icon and you can see how many files are left to download/sync.

Skydrive07

So all you need to do now is either create new folders to save files to or just drag and drop (copy or cut and paste) a file/s to a SkyDrive folder to sync it to the “cloud”.

Mobile SkyDrive has changed a little and for the better I feel, the below are some screenshots from my Apple iPhone/iPod version, I do have a Windows 7 Phone (not as easy to do screenshots as the iPhone/iPod) but its options are the same.

2012-04-24T17-48-47 2012-04-24T17-49-34 2012-04-24T17-49-45

Clicking the top right arrow icon in the 1st screenshot gives you the options in the 2nd pic, which allows you to add/edit etc. and in the 3rd pic if you click a file/picture now you can as you see on the bottom menu bar, the options to Send in email, Delete, Move and Rename or Download to your Mobile device.

Do read the System Requirements for SkyDrive HERE

I will be doing at some point soon a write up of SkyDrive built into Windows 8 and its options, but likely more around the time the Release Preview of Windows 8 is released for testing in June.

Windows 8 “Release Preview” due June

Windows 8 logoMicrosoft are to release the “Release Preview” version of Windows 8, their next Operating System in June, so Steven Sinofsky has told a developer conference in Japan. This will likely be the last version, barring some internal builds before final “Release To Manufacturing” (RTM), sometime in October, just in-time for the Christmas period.

So far I find Windows 8 “Customer Preview” very good, and I’m using it on my netbook right this moment to type up this blog post, so I cannot wait to see what updates and tweaks are added in the “Release Preview”.

“Microsoft has announced that a second preview version of its new operating system will be available in June.

Windows 8 represents a radical overhaul for the company as it attempts to capture the tablet market as well as feed its traditional PC cash-cow.

Windows president Steven Sinofsky said that the “release preview” would be the closest yet to the final version.

Microsoft has not said when that will be available, but most commentators point to an October release.”

Read full article at BBC Technology News HERE

Microsoft quarter results beat expectations

Microsoft logoMicrosoft have released their latest quarterly results and from what I’m reading in the business press, is that the results are above the expectations of many analysts, who predicted a –4% drop but the +4% increase is a good result for Microsoft.

“Microsoft Corp. today announced quarterly revenue of $17.41 billion for the quarter ended Mar. 31, 2012, a 6% increase from the prior year period. Operating income was $6.37 billion, up 12% from the prior year period.

Net income and diluted earnings per share for the quarter were $5.11 billion and $0.60 per share, compared with $5.23 billion and $0.61 per share, respectively, in the prior year period. Prior year net income and diluted earnings per share included a $461 million or $0.05 per share tax benefit primarily related to a tax settlement with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.”

The divisions within Microsoft that made a profit or loss are:

      • Server and Tools +14%
      • Business (Office 2010 likely helped here) +9% 
      • Windows and Live +4% (strong showing for Windows 7)
      • Online Services +6%
      • Entertainment & Devices (Xbox360, Windows Mobile) –16%

Read the full press release HERE at Microsoft News Centre

How to keep spam and junk from your Hotmail email account

HotmailEmail spam is a sad fact these days of the internet and those wishing to try and either infect you with malware to try and steal your hard earned cash from your bank, to conning you in to sending cash to some random Nigerian prince who has left you $1m in a will.

So how can you protect yourself, well if you have Microsoft’s Hotmail email (other email services such as Gmail, Yahoo etc can do similar) then you can use the hints and tips from the link below to read how to, “sweep it away”, “Manage Folders” to “Find and Filter email”.

Hotmail wantedunwanted

“Whether you’re a filer who keeps things tidy, or a piler with a bursting inbox, Hotmail has tools to help you get more done, so you can focus on the things that matter.

Sweep your way to a clean inbox

Do you dread opening your inbox after a long vacation? Luckily, Hotmail comes with Sweep, so you can automatically clean out your inbox whenever it needs it.

Imagine a world with no spammers

It’s hard to find important messages when your inbox is full of junk. That’s why Hotmail has taken a hammer to spam. With Microsoft SmartScreen—that’s the technology that governments and businesses use to fight spam—Hotmail now blocks 98 percent of all spam that tries to enter your inbox.

Follow up on important messages

Each day, new messages arrive and push down older ones in your inbox. When you flag a message, it stays at the top of your inbox until you decide what to do with it. That keeps you on track and on top of your busy life.”

Read the full guide and tips HERE

Heads-Up on end of support for Windows XP and Office 2003

WinXPOFfice2003Well with the great run that Windows XP has had in being if I’m not mistaken the longest supported Windows Operating System. Windows XP has been a superb version of Microsoft’s Windows franchise, however even thought its still loved by many end users and corporate users, its now a bit long in the cyber-tooth! and support is to end on April 8th 2014.

“It means you should take action. After April 8, 2014, there will be no new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options or online technical content updates.

Running Windows XP SP3 and Office 2003 in your environment after their end of support date may expose your company to potential risks, such as:

  • Security & Compliance Risks — Unsupported and unpatched environments are vulnerable to security risks. This may result in an officially recognized control failure by an internal or external audit body, leading to suspension of certifications, and/or public notification of the organization’s inability to maintain its systems and customer information”

Microsoft has not been quiet about the end of life (EoL) time-line for Windows XP and Office 2003 as the EoL has already been extended a few years back, so that companies could start their migration to a newer version of Windows or Office so that they could still feel confident in Microsoft still supporting these two with security updates.

So what can you do to get ready for the end of support for these two products, while this information is predominantly aimed at business users, it serves well for home end users also. Below are some links that should help you plan for this date.

End of Support Information also has a link to the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit, which can help companies plan a migration.

Windows 7 Application Compatibility List for IT Professionals