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 Free eBook on Security and Privacy for Office 2010 Users

imageThese days security is on almost everyone’s mind, especially if you work in industry or for a Government agency (I work in the UK Health Service “NHS”)or even a security conscious home user.

With all the sensitive documents you may have to create be they industrial ideas or research work, at times we overlook the security aspect of a Word or Excel file, it may contain very sensitive or secret data.

So to help secure our documents Microsoft Press have released for FREE yes FREE to download the fantastic book by Mitch Tullock (a well respected Microsoft MVP in Windows Administration) on Security and Privacy for Microsoft Office 2010 Users.

“Take control—and put the built-in security and privacy features in Microsoft Office to work! Whether downloading documents, publishing a presentation, or collaborating online—this guide offers concise, how-to guidance and best practices to help protect your documents and your ideas.

• Get practical, proactive guidance for using the security and privacy management features in Office 2010 and Office 365

• Walk through everyday scenarios, and discover everyday techniques that help you take charge

• Understand common risks and learn best practices you can apply right away”

The book covers many aspects of “Why should you care” to “Encrypting a Document”, the chapters are laid out clear and simple that anyone who uses Office 2010 should be able to follow.

image image

The book has great images (samples above) to go along with the steps for each topic, I’m a great fan of using images to help describe a step by step guide. I think this book is a well worth download for any user of Office 2010, be you a corporate or home user.

Read the rest of the article and download the free eBook at Microsoft Press 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

Windows 8 Editions announced

windows-8_thumb1The various editions of Windows 8 have been announced and for one I’m particularly happy that Microsoft have settled on only 3 editions (Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro and Windows RT) over the handful we have had in the past as it does become difficult to support various editions, when specific applications or access it different per edition.

“First, Windows 8 is the official product name for the next x86/64 editions of Windows.

For PCs and tablets powered by x86 processors (both 32 and 64 bit), we will have two editions: Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro. For many consumers, Windows 8 will be the right choice. It will include all the features above plus an updated Windows Explorer, Task Manager, better multi-monitor support and the ability to switch languages on the fly (more details on this feature can be found in this blog post),which was previously only available in Enterprise/Ultimate editions of Windows. For China and a small set of select emerging markets, we will offer a local language-only edition of Windows 8.

Windows 8 Pro is designed to help tech enthusiasts and business/technical professionals obtain a broader set of Windows 8 technologies. It includes all the features in Windows 8 plus features for encryption, virtualization, PC management and domain connectivity. Windows Media Center will be available as an economical “media pack” add-on to Windows 8 Pro. If you are an enthusiast or you want to use your PC in a business environment, you will want Windows 8 Pro.

Windows RT is the newest member of the Windows family – also known as Windows on ARM or WOA, as we’ve referred to it previously. This single edition will only be available pre-installed on PCs and tablets powered by ARM processors and will help enable new thin and lightweight form factors with impressive battery life. Windows RT will include touch-optimized desktop versions of the new Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. For new apps, the focus for Windows RT is development on the new Windows runtime, or WinRT, which we unveiled in September and forms the foundation of a new generation of cloud-enabled, touch-enabled, web-connected apps of all kinds.  For more details on WOA, we suggest reading this blog post which shares more detail on how we have been building Windows 8 to run on the ARM architecture.”

Read more and review the table of contents per version HERE