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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Windows XP SP3 RC2 Refresh available

Microsoft has released yet another build of the next (and possibly last) service pack for its most popular operating system. The build, dubbed "Windows XP Service Pack 3 Release Candidate 2 Refresh" (not to be confused with SP3 RC2), does not contain many changes. According to Microsoft Technet, "Beyond fixes for common Windows Update issues and the inclusion of support for HD Audio, there are no substantial differences between this beta release (build 5508) and XP SP3 RC2 (build 3311)."

The preview release is available to the public in three standalone downloads: English (315.2MB), German (312.0MB), and Japanese (324.5MB). Although Microsoft has still not disclosed a date (other than "first half of 2008"), XP SP3 is probably coming in the second half of April.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Dell Plans $52 Billion in Chinese Purchases

Dell plans to buy $23 billion of components from China this year and $29 billion in 2009, helping it reduce costs while the company's main market, the United States, is facing recession.

The commoditization of computer hardware means competition is more a function of price and efficiency than quality and branding, making China a favorite place to source a broad range of goods, including electronic components.

"China is critical to Dell's global supply chain," founder and Chief Executive Michael Dell told reporters on Thursday.

The company lost top market-share spot to HP in 2006 as consumers favored buying notebook PCs in stores, leading it to abandon last year a long-standing direct-only sales model.

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Retail Vista SP1 and final XP SP3 expected this week

Microsoft officials have been saying for the past few weeks to expect Microsoft to release Vista SP1 through retail channels and via Windows Update in mid March. Even though Microsoft released Vista SP1 to manufacturing in early February and delivered the final SP1 bits to its TechNet and Microsoft Developer Network subscribers a couple of weeks after that — company officials said they were holding back on making the service pack more broadly available due to driver installation problems.

Microsoft officials have said to expect XP SP3 to ship by mid 2008. Web site PCInpact earlier this year said Microsoft planned to ship the final version of XP SP3 the week of March 23, a date Microsoft would neither confirm nor deny when I asked.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Infected Excel Files Exploit Known Hole

Security experts have warned that malicious Microsoft Excel documents are making the rounds via e-mail, exploiting an unpatched Excel vulnerability that has been known publicly since January.

"This Trojan is circulating through email messages that contain attached Excel files," US-CERT said in an advisory. "Known file names for these attachments are OLYMPIC.XLS and SCHEDULE.XLS. These files may also contain Windows binary executables that can compromise an affected system."

The bug affects Excel 2003 Service Pack 2, Excel Viewer 2003, Excel 2002, Excel 2000, and Excel 2004 for Mac, Microsoft said. Successful attacks give the attacker the same rights as the local user.

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Friday, March 07, 2008

U.S. Military Restricts Google Maps

The U.S. Department of Defense put Google on the defensive when it issued a communique to make it clear that the roving photographic vehicles Google uses to acquire Google Maps Street View images aren't allowed on U.S. military bases.

The DOD took action when Street View images of Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, appeared on Google Maps. Google introduced Google Maps Street View images for San Antonio in February. Google removed the pictures at the request of the military. Fort Sam Houston is not open to the public.

Google isn't unaware of the privacy issues surrounding its collection of images. "We've been pretty clear with people that if they're concerned with the imagery, we try to make it easier and easier to submit requests to get the imagery taken down," said spokesperson Larry Yu.

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Microsoft Office On The Web Available For Public Trial

Microsoft it has made available for worldwide public testing a hosted version of its widely used Microsoft Office productivity software.

As part of the trial, users can access an English-language beta version of Microsoft Office Live Workspace, as the offering is called, from the company's Web site at no charge.

Office Live Workspace lets users store and access Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other Office applications on the Web through any computer with an Internet connection even if the PC isn't running Office on its hard drive.

Office Live could also eliminate the insecure practice, often used by executives on the go of downloading files to a public computer. Office Live users can store more than 1,000 documents on the service and also grant access authorization to their files to business colleagues and other third parties.

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Saturday, March 01, 2008

Microsoft cuts Vista prices

Microsoft Corp. is cutting the retail price of its Windows Vista operating system by as much as 20% in the U.S., but will slash at least some versions' price tags by more than 46% in both the U.K. and the European Union.

Microsoft announced sweeping price cuts to boxed copies of Vista, saying then that the cuts would range from as low as 3% in developed countries to nearly 50% for some editions sold in poorer nations.

According to Microsoft, the price for the upgrade version of Vista Home Premium will drop 18.8% in the U.S., from $159.95 to $129.95. The full edition of Vista Ultimate, on the other hand, will be cut 20%, from $399.95 to $319.95.

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