Windows 8 RTM on track for August

Windows 8 logoMicrosoft have announced at the annual WPC Conference that Windows 8 RTM is on track for an August release date, this then would to me have the retail release coming on time for the holiday season in as a guess end September, early October.

“Today in Toronto, Canada, at Microsoft’s annual Worldwide Partner Conference, Windows Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Financial Officer Tami Reller spoke to thousands of partners from around the world. She shared some exciting new details regarding Windows that I wanted to pass along.

For the first time, we provided details on Windows 8 availability. Tami confirmed that Windows 8 is on track to Release to Manufacturing (RTM) the first week of August. For enterprise customers with Software Assurance benefits, they will have full access to Windows 8 bits as early as August. Additionally, she noted that RTM is when we’ll be turning on the commerce platform so that developers can start earning money for their apps – we’ll have more to share on the Windows Store for developers blog soon. Of course, right now with the Windows 8 Release Preview, all apps are still free for people to try.”

Read the full article at The Windows Team Blog 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.

image

“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

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

Bringing back the Start Menu in Windows 8

Windows 8 logoNow that Windows 8 Consumer Preview is with us, I have to say that in using for the past week Windows 8 on my Netbook and getting to grips with Metro UI in a work and play situation, I’m finding it easier to use on a PC opposed to just my Windows 7 Phone.

There are a few there are a few things I would like to see changed and improved upon, as in Email, Search, Shutdown, yes you can in Desktop area use Alt+F4 to bring up a Shutdown dialogue box, but this should be IMHO part of the option in Metro, but these are topics for another time.

However and love or hate the fact that the Start Menu Orb has gone in Win8, I like it in part but I know that corporate customers and a fair amount of home users will not, Startdock have created a really good option in Start8 which as you can see below adds not only a Start menu option but they make it blend in very well with the look of Windows 8.

 Start8

Basically what it looks like it is doing to to combine the All Apps option in Metro, which shows all the apps loaded in a sideways scrolling list and the Search option in one menu it seems to work ok.

A big issue in the above is that the so called Start Menu addition in Start8 is actually in Windows 8 already, if you hover with mouse over the right hand lower area that you get a menu in which search is available and its the same the same thing.

W8 Metro Start

Ok the Start8 menu is easier to get too but I would advise that you give the native Metro UI a go and in a short time of usage you will no doubt get used to it, I know i have.

I do hope that Microsoft give us a Metro Search Icon Tile as that would be perfect.

 

Download from HERE

Only works in Windows 8

Windows Compatibility Centre

Windows 7 boxThe Windows Compatibility Centre is a great first port of call if you wish to find out if one of your old software applications works with Windows 7 (the current Windows Operating System) be that 32bit or 64bit, the database of a vast array of software and hardware is listed.

WCC001

From the about on the Windows Compatibility Centre site.

“While you could sift through old installation CDs or hunt around on the web for the hardware drivers or software updates you need, we aim to make it easier. That’s why we offer a central place where you can get the drivers and updates you need to get up and running quickly.

Each product has a details page which shows its compatibility status with Windows 7. Links under the compatibility status will take you directly to a download page for the device driver or software upgrade you need. Additional links on the left side of the page go to the manufacturer’s or publisher’s homepage, support site, and contact page. For compatibility information on 32-bit versions of Windows 7, click the 32-bit tab at the top of the page”

Personally I do find it very helpful as I get asked a lot “does this software work with Windows 7” well while I’m very good and have a great memory, I cannot know everything that is compatible or not, so this site is a great one to link to, for case in point, security software is good starting point and you can just click the Security icon on the home page and you get a list of what has been tested and what is compatible or not.

WCC002

You will find a vast array of topics from Communications to Developer Tools to Hardware. So if you ever need to check if hardware or software is compatible with Windows 7, then do check this great resource out first as well as the manufacturers site.

Windows Compatibility Centre

Windows Defender Offline Beta

virus_alertsWindows Defender Offline Beta, is an application you can add to USB, CD, DVD to allow you to boot to the USB, Disk and see if the application can remove any malware that is causing your PC not to start. While this is a beta and beta’s are programs in development its a great option to the fight against malware for any PC tech.

“Sometimes, malicious and other potentially unwanted software, including rootkits, try to install themselves on your PC. This can happen when you connect to the Internet or install some programs from a CD, DVD, or other media. Once on your PC, this software might run immediately, or it might run at unexpected times.Windows Defender Offline Beta can help remove such hard to find malicious and potentially unwanted programs using definitions that recognize threats”

Download from HERE (both 32bit and 64bit versions available) and FAQ HERE

Microsoft issue court papers to UK Retailer Comet over fake Windows CDs

With Comet being a struggling electrical retailer in the UK, its a bit of a surprise to me today to read that they had ordered around 94+ copies of a Windows CD to help restore customers PCs in the event of a bad crash or issue. It was more surprising as most of these if not all of these original manufacturer PCs (as in HP, DELL, ACER, TOSHIBA etc) all come with a restore CD/DVD, a Restore Partition or the option to build your own Restore CD/DVD anyways.

“Microsoft is suing struggling retailer Comet over claims its shops sold “fake” Windows CDs to customers.

The electronics chain allegedly pirated 94,000 copies of Vista and XP recovery discs in a factory in Hampshire.

It is then said to have sold the media to people purchasing Windows-loaded PCs and laptops from its retail outlets across the UK.

Microsoft’s worldwide anti-piracy and anti-counterfeiting associate general counsel David Finn said: “As detailed in the complaint filed, Comet produced and sold thousands of counterfeit Windows CDs to unsuspecting customers in the United Kingdom.

“Comet’s actions were unfair to customers. We expect better from retailers of Microsoft products – and our customers deserve better, too.”

In a statement, Comet said it had received legal advice but held the view that the production of recovery discs did not infringe Microsoft’s intellectual property.”

So this was in effect a money making scheme as I mentioned earlier the option is there from the original maker who is licenced to allow you to create these restore disks.

I just think someone high up in Comet was trying to make money for the struggling company and thought this was a good quick scheme to have the sales people push a restore disk to new buyers, without thinking it through too well.

It will be interesting to see how the court case goes, as if it goes to court Microsoft do have deep pockets to protect Intellectual Property and if Comet wish to settle out of court it will still cost them a fair few pounds, and for a company that does not have the capital.

Read full story and watch video HERE at Sky News

Microsoft to start Automatic Updates for IE in Windows XP, Vista and 7

ie_logoIn January of 2012 Microsoft will start pushing out updates for the aforementioned Windows Operating System versions, who’s users may have an older version of Internet Explorer (IE), this update will move you to the latest for your Windows version as XP cannot run IE9, so likely if you are running IE6 you will update to IE8.

Those users or corporate customers who have run the tool to deny any update in IE will have this option respected and you should not be updated to the latest version.

Today we are sharing our plan to automatically upgrade Windows customers to the latest version of Internet Explorer available for their PC. This is an important step in helping to move the Web forward. We will start in January for customers in Australia and Brazil who have turned on automatic updating via Windows Update. Similar to our release of IE9 earlier this year, we will take a measured approach, scaling up over time.

As always, when upgrading from one version of Internet Explorer to the next through Windows Update, the user’s home page, search provider, and default browser remains unchanged.

Good for Consumers, Developers and Enterprises

The Web overall is better – and safer – when more people run the most up-to-date browser. Our goal is to make sure that Windows customers have the most up-to-date and safest browsing experience possible, with the best protections against malicious software such as malware.

For consumers, the safety benefits are one of the key reasons that the industry has been moving towards automatic updates as the norm. This is increasingly important since the biggest online threat these days is socially engineered malware, which typically targets outdated software like Web browsers. The latest Microsoft Security Intelligence Report, which is based on data from over 600 million systems in over 100 countries, is good reading to give you a sense of risks that stem from outdated software.

We want to make updating to the best protection possible as fast and simple as we can for Windows customers. IE is how millions of Windows customers connect to the Web, so keeping that part of Windows updated at all times is critical to keeping them safe online. With automatic updates enabled through Windows Update, customers can receive IE9 and future versions of Internet Explorer seamlessly without any “update fatigue” issues.

I have to agree with many of the points raised in the post and the quotes from other sources in that keep your browser or even PC and all its software up to date is the best security option you can use, anything out of date is a risk.

Full information HERE from Ryan Gavin, General Manager, Internet Explorer Business and Marketing and Microsoft.

Stop your PC going to sleep with Insomnia

Insomnia is a great little free application written by David Anson from Microsoft that when run stops your PC going into sleep and while I know that you can set the Power Options in Windows to stop your PC going into sleep, there are times when that is just a hassle to always do.

insomnia

Most applications like media players, CD/DVD Burners etc. do stop the PC from going into sleep, but there are many applications that don’t, so with Insomnia you just run it when you need too and it stops any application form putting Windows into sleep.

Download from HERE                                                                                                                     works with Windows XP, Vista & 7 both 32bit and 64bit versions

Digital Janitor

SoftwareI like really neat small applications like this that just make your PC life that little bit easier, and Digital Janitor is one such application. Do bare in mind that this is a beta so not the final release of the application but as a starting point I think its well worth an install and test.

“Digital Janitor is an application specialized in sorting files. To use it, you have to insert the rules on which the sort will be performed and press a button. Within seconds the folder that you wanted to sort is clean, and all the files are in the right place.

Example:You have the following files in a folder: “Text File.txt”, “Another Text File.txt”, “Word Document.doc”, “Another Document.otd”, “Image.jpg”.
You set the following rules:

  • All text files (*.txt) go to C:Text Files
  • All files that contain “Document” in their description go to C:Documents
  • All images (*jpg) go to C:Images

After selecting the folder that you want to sort, press the “Sort” button and the files will be automatically moved to their place!”

I thought Digital Janitor would come in handy for me as a way to in one scenario to move files that I save that are updates or new applications to install on all my PCs as I have a network shared folder setup, so this would be a way to automatically copy these new apps or updates to the shared folder. Well it works very well in this instance, so I see no problems in setting up many sort options.

DigitalJanitor 001 DigitalJanitor 004

The option to sort music may interest many who have large collections of music.

DigitalJanitor 002

Download from HERE                                                                                                                   works in XP/Vista/7 and needs at least .NET Framework 2.0 and Windows Installer 3.1