Tag Archive: Microsoft

Windows 7 overtakes XP globally, Vista found weeping in a corner

According to StatCounter, it’s taken roughly two years for Redmond’s latest to surpass XP and become the world’s most popular operating system. October 2011 marks the first time that Windows 7 has overtaken XP globally, with a 40 percent share of the market versus the latter’s 38. As for Vista, it’s been holding steady at around 11. Not that it’s much of a surprise, as in North America, Windows 7 took the crown back in April of this year. Rounding out the top five, are OS X (though it’s not clear whether that captures all of Cupertino’s beasts) and Linux, which come in at 7 and 0.82 percent respectively. But don’t take our word for it, hop on over to the source links and get your interactive chart on.

Source: Engadget

Samsung joins forces with Intel and Microsoft

Samsung has quickly become one of the largest smartphone makers globally, helped by its strong offering of devices using Google’s Android platform.

Analysts said Wednesday’s deals signaled Samsung’s aim to lower its exposure to Android following Google’s $12.5 billion August acquisition of Motorola Mobility.

“The Google Motorola deal certainly gives Samsung some motivation to lessen the dependence on Android,” said Matthew Thornton, analyst at Avian Securities.

Microsoft and Samsung signed on Wednesday a new deal for development and marketing of Windows phones, while also agreeing on a wide patent cross-licensing deal. Samsung has also used Microsoft’s software in the past.

Earlier on Wednesday two Linux software groups, one backed by Samsung, another by Intel, said they have joined forces to develop a new operating system for cellphones and other devices.

Under the deal, the LiMo Foundation and Linux Foundation are effectively merging their LiMo and Meego mobile operating systems and hope to gain wider industry and consumer support, but analysts said the new Tizen platform is likely to struggle.

It would have to attract wide support from developers and manufacturers to compete with the dozen or so other mobile operating systems available in a smartphone market currently dominated by Apple’s in-house software and Google’s Linux-based Android.

“The best hope for them is that big operators get worried by Android … and decide to consciously switch their allegiances to rival platforms to restrict Google’s huge influence over the mobile market,” said analyst Neil Mawston from Strategy Analytics.

Earlier this year Nokia, the biggest phone maker by volume, ditched its own Symbian operating system in favor of Microsoft’s Windows Phone software.

Currently Windows Phone has a smartphone market share of 2-3 percent, according to industry analysts, and LiMo and Meego have less than 1 percent apiece, while Android’s share is almost 50 percent and still growing.

“This (Tizen) is driven by necessity. Linux rivals to Android have failed to gain traction and Samsung needs to reduce its dependence on Google,” said Geoff Blaber, an analyst at London-based telecoms industry consultancy CCS Insight.

The world’s second-biggest cellphone maker behind Nokia, Samsung is the leading user of the Android platform, which has been one of the reasons for its escalating court-room fight over patents with Apple.

Microsoft said the definitive agreement with Samsung to cross-license the patent portfolios of both companies, provides

broad coverage for each company’s products, and it will get royalties for Samsung’s devices running the Android platform.

“It’s probably a win-win. Microsoft is leveraging its patents to get customers while Samsung is looking for ways to lessen its dependence on Android,” said Avian’s Matthew Thornton.


LiMo Foundation and the Linux Foundation said the new Tizen platform is an open-source, standards-based software platform that supports multiple devices including smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, netbooks and in-vehicle ‘infotainment’ systems.

A spokesman for Samsung said: “We’ve been a core Linux partner … and this is in line with our strategy of supporting many platforms.”

The initial release is planned for the first quarter of 2012, enabling the first devices using Tizen to come to market in mid-2012, the two groups said.

The world’s largest semiconductor firm Intel and Samsung Electronics, the second biggest maker of cell phones and one of the key contributors to LiMo, will head the technical steering committee developing Tizen.

Earlier this month Intel and Google launched a development partnership to adapt Android for Intel’s Atom processor chips, with a view to having the first Anroid phones featuring Intel chips in the first half of next year.

Linux is the most popular type of free, or open-source, computer operating system which allows the public to use, revise and share. Linux suppliers earn money selling improvements and technical services.

Source: Reuters

Will Windows 8 block users from dual-booting Linux? Microsoft won’t say

There’s a report circulating — originating with a Red Hat employee — that says Microsoft’s new secure-boot functionality in Windows 8 could preclude users from running both Windows and Linux on their PCs.

True or false? Well-grounded or unfounded? Microsoft execs will not comment — which is leading many to assume it’s true.

Matthew Garrett, a power management and mobile Linux developer at Red Hat, blogged about the possible lock-out scenario on September 20. He explained how the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) technology and Microsoft’s  secure-boot plans — outlined in a new blog post on the “Building Windows 8″ blog this week — potentially could thwart those who want to dual boot Linux and Windows 8 on their Windows 8 machines.

Garrett’s conclusion: “It’s probably not worth panicking yet. But it is worth being concerned.”

Microsoft officials have said — via a UEFI session at the company’s recent Build conference, along with the aforementioned blog post — all that they are going to say on the topic.

Here’s what Microsoft has said, re: its secure boot plans for Windows 8. These tidbits are from the previously mentioned Build session on UEFI:

  • All firmware and software in the boot process must be signed by a trusted Certificate Authority (CA)
  • Required for Windows 8 client
  • Does not require a Trusted Platform Module (TPM)
  • Reduces the likelihood of bootkits, rootkits and ransomware

Update: Microsoft officials have posted more on UEFI and secure boot. After reading it, I still don’t know whether anything about Windows 8’s implementation of secure boot will block Linux. Anyone out there able to tell more from the September 22 post on the Building Windows 8 blog?

Source: ZDNet

Windows 8 will feature ‘Fast Startup Mode’

I like the idea of booting a computer in a very short time, even though I do not think that it will make such a big impact on desktop PCs. I boot my desktop PC once in the morning, and shut it down in the night. During boot I go make coffee and something to eat, and when I come back everything is fully loaded and ready for use.

For mobile devices like laptops though, and situations where the computer is shut down and restarted again multiple times throughout the day, the new Windows 8 Hybrid Boot technology could have a huge impact.

Microsoft is very thorough when it comes to improving the operating system. The company always starts with data of the current use. When it comes to Windows 7, Microsoft noticed that 45% of laptop users and 57% of desktop users where shutting down (and possibly restarting) the operating system. The reason for shutting down the PC, instead of putting it in sleep or hibernation, has several reasons. A core reason is that some users want their PCs completely off, while others want to preserve as much batter or energy as they can.

The core difference between the boot process in Windows 7 and Windows 8 is this. Microsoft uses hibernation to save the kernel session. Think of it as partial hibernation. The core gain is a speed increase of 30% to 70% on all systems, as “reading the hiberfile in and reinitializing drivers is much faster”. But that’s not the only reason why it is faster. Microsoft has added multi-phase resume capabilities to the operating system which uses all cpu cores in multi-core systems in parallel to split the work load.


Here is a video demonstrating the fast startup feature of the Windows 8 operating system.


Source: Ghacks.net

SkyDrive client app coming for Windows, iOS, Mac, and Android too?

A few days ago we just told you about a potential official SkyDrive app might be coming for Windows Phone, and today we’ve received tips pointing to possible SkyDrive client apps being developed for other platforms too. LiveSide reader Nikhil Jain left us a tip in the comments saying that a SkyDrive client for Windows, iOS, Mac, and Android is also in development, in addition to the Windows Phone app. While Nikhil didn’t mention any sources, after doing a bit of digging we found an interesting Microsoft job postingfor the Windows Live Devices & Roaming Experience (DRX) team which seems to confirm Nikhil’s claims. Here’s an excerpt from the job posting:

The Windows Live DRX team produces the SkyDrive client applications that fuel our customers thirst for stable, secure and available online storage. DRX is building experiences to deliver all of your content from the cloud and your devices to any of your devices anywhere anytime. Our team develops clients for Windows, Windows Phone, iPhone, Mac and Android. We are looking for developers that are looking for their next challenge to build the highly distributed platform and multi-platform clients for the SkyDrive suite of products delivered through Windows Live and Windows.

For those of you who doesn’t know what the Windows Live DRX team do, they’re best known (or so they say) for developing Windows Live Mesh for the Wave 4 release back in 2010. If the DRX team is now working on SkyDrive client applications (for both Windows and other platforms), does that mean these “SkyDrive client applications” are actually some form of Windows Live Mesh? If you recall, the cloud-based “synced storage” component for the current Windows Live Mesh has one major shortfall – it is not integrated with the actual Windows Live SkyDrive in any way. Would this news also mean the synced storage for Mesh will finally be integrated with the actual SkyDrive?

If we trace back to the history of Windows Live Mesh, you might remember that the origin of Windows Live Mesh – which happens to be called Live Mesh – had a vision of being able to run across a variety of platforms and devices, including mobile, Mac, Xbox and Zune. The following video (thanks Avatar X!) from the Microsoft keynote during the 2008 Web 2.0 Expo might give you a good reminder of what Live Mesh could’ve been like:



Source: Liveside.net

Microsoft ‘accidentally’ leaks secret new social project

Microsoft inadvertently published a splash page for a new social network called “Tulalip” on Thursday to the URL Socl.com, reports Fusible. The page has since been taken down. In its place, Microsoft has left a cheeky message for visitors.

“Thanks for stopping by. Socl.com is an internal design project from a team in Microsoft Research which was mistakenly published to the web. We didn’t mean to, honest,” the message reads.

As others have noted, it seems highly unlikely that Tulalip is simply an “internal design project.”

First of all, “internal design project” could simply mean that Microsoft is designing a new service, therefore; it’s an internal design project.

As far as actual evidence goes, the now-removed splash page says, “With Tulalip you can Find what you need and Share what you know easier than ever.” It also shows Facebook and Twitter buttons for signing in, as well as other standard social network caveats, like terms of service agreements, a “remember me on this computer” box to check, and a politically correct mix of “real” individuals looking coyly quirky. On top of all that, the layout of the images looks suspiciously similar the new “Tiles” design of Windows Phone 7.

Plus, the domain for the splash page, Socl.com, is the word “social,” or at least a hip shortened version.

Search Engine Land‘s Matt McGee discovered that Tulalip is, indeed, an app from Microsoft Research. McGee uncovered the Twitter authorization screen for the app, which says that users will be able to use Tulalip to do much of the same things they can do with Twitter, like “read Tweets from your timeline,” and “see who you follow, and follow new people.” If you ask us, that says basically nothing.

The gut reaction is to jump to the conclusion that Microsoft is preparing to launch a competitor to Google+. Which they may very well be. But we’re just going to have to sit back, and wait to see what happens when Tulalip isn’t “internal” anymore — or at least until they “accidentally” leak some more info.

Source: Fusible / Socl.com / Yahoo News!

Microsoft warns of critical security hole in Bluetooth stack

Microsoft today shipped four security bulletins with patches for 22 serious security flaw and called special attention to a vulnerability in the Windows Bluetooth stack that could allow hackers to remotely take control of an affected computer.

The vulnerability, fixed with MS11-053, headlines a batch of updates that include fixes for gaping holes in the Windows kernel and security problems in the Windows Client/Server Run-time Subsystem.

[ SEE: Patch Tuesday head-up: 22 vulnerabilities in Windows, Office ]


The Bluetooth stack vulnerability introduces remote code execution risks on Windows Vista and Windows 7, Microsoft warned.

From the bulletin:

A remote code execution vulnerability exists in the Windows Bluetooth 2.1 Stack due to the way an object in memory is accessed when it has not been correctly initialized or has been deleted. An attacker could exploit the vulnerability by constructing a series of specially crafted Bluetooth packets and sending them to the target machine. An attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights.

Microsoft’s Jonathan Ness expects to see exploit code that simply causes denial-of-service attacks. However, Microsoft is recommending that users close off the attack surface by preventing any Bluetooth device from connecting to your computer.

The graphic to the right shows the Windows 7 Bluetooth Settings option for doing so. Side effect: Your Bluetooth mouse or headset will stop working until you re-allow Bluetooth devices to connect to your computer.

Separately, Microsoft is urging Windows users to pay attention to MS11-055, which covers a publicly disclosed vulnerability in the way that Microsoft Visio handles the loading of DLL files. .An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could take complete control of an affected system.

This issue only affects Visio 2003 SP3 and it is rated “important.” Newer versions like Visio 2007 and 2010 are not affected.

According to Amol Sarwate, vulnerability research lab manager at Qualys, this current strain of DLL pre-loading vulnerabilities was first identified in August of 2010 and plagues a large number of software packages, some from Microsoft and many from third party vendors.

“Addressing all of the vulnerabilities is a daunting task and will not be completed any time soon, so we recommend implementing the guidelines laid out in KB2269637 that provide an additional safety-net on the operating systems for all Windows applications,” Sarwate said.

The other two bulletins MS11-054 and MS11-056 affect Windows Kernel-Mode Drivers (win32k.sys) and Windows Client/Server Runtime Subsystem (CSRSS) respectively. Both are rated as “important” and attackers who already have access to the target machine can use these vulnerabilities to get system level privileges.

Source: ZDNet

MS Patch Tuesday: 22 vulnerabilities in Windows, Office

Microsoft today announced plans to patch 22 serious security vulnerabilities in its Windows operating system and Office productivity suite on July 12th.

As part of the July Patch Tuesday releases, Microsoft will ship four bulletins.  One of the bulletins will carry a “critical” rating because of a high risk of remote code execution attacks.

Three of the four bulletins will address security holes in Windows, the company’s flagship operating system. Affected Windows versions include Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

The Microsoft Office update will ship patches for security problems in Microsoft Visio 2003 Service Pack 3.

Source: Microsoft / ZDNet

Rumor: Facebook to launch Skype video chat this Wednesday

First, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg told reporters that the company was planning to “launch something awesome” next week. Next, Facebook e-mailed journalists (including myself) with an invitation to a Facebook Event at 10:00 AM PDT on Wednesday July 6, 2011.

Now, the rumors and speculation are starting to pour in. The most likely one so far is the announcement of Skype video integration on Facebook (one of my many guesses when Zuckerberg first declared that something awesome was coming next week).

Facebook will launch an in-browser video chat product powered by Skype, according to a source with knowledge of the partnership cited by TechCrunch. The product will include a desktop component, but it’s not clear if you will need the Skype desktop client or additional software even if you already have Skype. Either way, it will reportedly be an in-browser experience.

Facebook and Skype first talked about a potential partnership in September 2010, but they could not reach an agreement. When Skype 5.0 was released in October 2010, the new version offered voice calling between Facebook friends, but it did not include a video chatting feature. The integration was a one-way road: only Skype added some Facebook features to its client.

Following rumors that Google, Facebook, and Microsoft were all interested in the Skype, the software giant swooped in. Two months ago, Microsoft announced that it was acquiring Skype for $8.5 billion in cash. The deal was approved by the boards of directors of both companies, and is Microsoft’s largest acquisition to date.

While Facebook failed to buy Skype, the company was still likely very pleased that Microsoft got the Luxembourg-based company rather than Google. Microsoft and Facebook have been partners for a very long time. One of the biggest reasons for this is simple: the software giant and the social giant realize they need to work together to compete with the search giant.

It all started in October 2007, when Microsoft invested $240 million in Facebook. Then in October 2009, Microsoft announced a global partnership with Facebook to add status updates to Bing search results. In June 2010, Microsoft added Facebook integration to bing.com/social. In October 2010, Bing began showing what your friends have Liked and started to offer Facebook-powered people search results. Finally, in May 2011, Bing added even more Facebook features to its social search.

Even though Facebook began talking to Skype long before Microsoft was ever in the picture, something tells me the software giant’s pending acquisition didn’t hurt discussions between the two web companies. Once the deal goes through, and assuming this rumor ends up being correct, Facebook will finally be integrating something that Microsoft owns to its website. Previously, the partnership between the two has only seen Microsoft integrating Facebook into Bing.

Facebook reportedly has 750 million users, and since Skype only has 170 million users, it’s understandable what Skype gains from this integration. On the other hand, data has shown that Facebook users want voice (and video) chat, so it’s clear that the social network will benefit as well.

Source: ZDNet

Microsoft latest security risk: “Cookiejacking”

A computer security researcher has found a flaw in Microsoft Corp’s widely used Internet Explorer browser that he said could let hackers steal credentials to access FaceBook, Twitter and other websites.

He calls the technique “cookiejacking.”

“Any website. Any cookie. Limit is just your imagination,” said Rosario Valotta, an independent Internet security researcher based in Italy.

Hackers can exploit the flaw to access a data file stored inside the browser known as a “cookie,” which holds the login name and password to a web account, Valotta said via email

Once a hacker has that cookie, he or she can use it to access the same site, said Valotta, who calls the technique “cookiejacking.”

The vulnerability affects all versions of Internet Explorer, including IE 9, on every version of the Windows operating system.

To exploit the flaw, the hacker must persuade the victim to drag and drop an object across the PC’s screen before the cookie can be hijacked.

That sounds like a difficult task, but Valotta said he was able to do it fairly easily. He built a puzzle that he put up on Facebook in which users are challenged to “undress” a photo of an attractive woman.

“I published this game online on FaceBook and in less than three days, more than 80 cookies were sent to my server,” he said. “And I’ve only got 150 friends.”

Microsoft said there is little risk a hacker could succeed in a real-world cookiejacking scam.

“Given the level of required user interaction, this issue is not one we consider high risk,” said Microsoft spokesman Jerry Bryant.

“In order to possibly be impacted a user must visit a malicious website, be convinced to click and drag items around the page and the attacker would need to target a cookie from the website that the user was already logged into,” Bryant said.

Source: Reuters

Microsoft customer satisfaction hits new high as Windows 7 takes hold

Have we finally witnessed the death of the Blue Screen of Death?

OK, so that’s still a bit of a reach, but new numbers this morning from the American Customer Satisfaction Index show satisfaction with Microsoft software reaching a new peak of 78 on the 100-point ASCI index. That’s up from a trough of 69 in 2008.

It’s the third straight year of gains for Microsoft in the index and a sign that the company is continuing to recover from the poorly received Windows Vista as computer users make the upgrade to Windows 7. Vista debuted in January 2007 and was succeeded by Windows 7 in October 2009.

However, satisfaction among existing customers does not necessarily translate into booming sales. Microsoft Office revenue is up, but sales in Microsoft’s Windows division fell 4 percent last quarter, as Windows PC sales fell victim to the rise of the iPad, a trend particularly evident among netbooks and other low-priced portable machines.

“Customers are more satisfied with Microsoft software, but, for now, the company is selling less of it,” say ASCI researchers in a commentary accompanying the data.

Apple is categorized in the index as a personal computer maker (not as a software company) and it traditionally sits atop those rankings — last year reaching a new peak of 86 in the ASCI index. (The PC numbers have not yet been updated this year in the public ASCI scores.

Other notable trends in the latest ASCI numbers:

  • Wireless customer satisfaction with AT&T and the company it’s proposing to buy, T-Mobile USA, declined noticeably in the data. ASCI researchers described that as unusual, saying it’s more common for satisfaction to decline after a merger is actually completed. T-Mobile fell 4 percent to a score of 70, while AT&T fell by a similar rate, to 66.
  • Satisfaction with subscription TV services leveled off at an ASCI score of 66, after surging last year. The researchers cited the effects of limited-time bundling promotions, which can make people sour once special pricing expires.
  • In the realm of media, newspaper industry remained steady with a customer satisfaction score of 65, but the researchers described that as “very weak” and the lowest of all ASCI industry categories. Network and cable TV news programs rose 4 percent in the index to 77 percent.

The ASCI index was started by the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. More available data here.

Source: GeekWire