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Sunday, December 27, 2009

2009: Year of the Social Network

The year saw major changes at sites like Facebook and Twitter as millions of non-technical users became regular users of social networks. The user base of social networks this year expanded greatly from the traditional teenage and college student set. It now includes many of their parents and even grandparents who now use the technology as a primary mode of communication.

Perhaps most significant is that companies in various industries startedfacebook to see how social networks can help boost business even in a recession. While many CEOs may still be a bit disconnected from the social networking phenomenon, many companies, like and Dell Inc., have found ways to draw in new customers using Web 2.0 methods.

All this growth did have to come at someone's expense, and that burden seems to have fallen on MySpace. A pioneer in the social networking scene and an early market leader, MySpace's share fell behind Facebook globally and in the U.S. this year for the first time. Facebook's share of the U.S. market reached 30.26% in September while MySpace's September share plunged 55% to 30.26% from a market leading 66.84% share a year earlier, according to Experian Hitwise.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Microsoft Word Sales Face U.S. Ban

Appeals court says software maker must halt distribution of popular program unless patent-friendly changes are made. An appeals court ordered Microsoft to stop selling Microsoft Word 2007 and other Office 2007 products by Jan. 11 because the software infringes on a patent held by a Canadian company. The judge also hit Microsoft with a $290 million fine.

I4i originally sued Microsoft in 2007, claiming that an XML editor built into Word steps on its patent. In August, the U.S. District Court for Eastern Texas found in favor of i4i, prompting Microsoft's appeal. The ruling means Microsoft can't sell versions of Word that can open documents saved in the .XML, .DOCX, or .DOCM formats that contain custom XML.

Those formats were at the heart of the patent dispute. DOCX is the default format for the most current version of Word, which is included in Microsoft Office 2007. Custom XML is used by businesses to link their corporate data to Word documents.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cybercrooks Target File Sharing Networks

Cybercriminals have changed their strategy and in 2010 they will no longer attack via websites and applications. They are now more focused on attacking computers through file sharing networks. This concept is not entirely new according to Kaspersky Lab, which points out that this year saw a series of mass malware epidemics supported by malicious files that were spread via torrent portals.

Partner programs will be popular in the future as botnet owners will try to make profits from activities such as sending spam, performing denial-of-service (DoS) attacks or distributing malware without committing an explicit crime.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Adobe Reader Zero-Day Exploit

Reports that a zero-day vulnerability in Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader is being exploited in the wild have been confirmed by Adobe in a blog post. Adobe is exploring the issue to determine how to patch it.

The issue reportedly impacts Adobe Reader, and Adobe Acrobat--versions 9.2 and earlier. The good news is that attacks thus far are narrowly-focused, targeted attacks rather than widespread efforts.

The Trojan horse exploits a flaw in the Adobe software to allow it to install additional malware components and further compromise the vulnerable computer. The additional malware could potentially be anything, but Symantec reports that the most prevalent malware associated with this threat right now is some type of information-stealing software.

The actual exploit relies on JavaScript. The Shadowserver Foundation and SANS Institute both recommend that you simply disable the execution of JavaScript within the Adobe software. In your Adobe product, go to Edit--Preferences--JavaScript, and uncheck the box next to Enable Adobe JavaScript.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

WiGig Fast Wireless Group Finishes Standard

The Wireless Gigabit Alliance has completed its specification for a technology to deliver as much as 7G bps (bits per second) over a very high unlicensed frequency band.

WiGig was designed for very high speeds over a relatively small area, using the 60GHz band. It will have the capacity to deliver high-definition video streams or let users connect laptops to desktop docks and displays.The WiGig Alliance had said in May the specification would be available to members in the fourth quarter.

The group originally had said WiGig would have a top speed of about 6G bps but has raised that estimate. At that speed, WiGig will have about 10 times the capacity of the fastest Wi-Fi technology today, a form of IEEE 802.11n that offers 600M bps.

Along with the completion of the specification, the WiGig Alliance said it has included a "beam-forming" feature that should allow WiGig networks to work over distances greater than 10 meters.

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Sunday, December 06, 2009

Office 2010 confirmed for June 2010 release

A beta tester pointed out that Microsoft was planning to release its Office 2010 suite in June 2010, according to Fudzilla. Previously Redmond had only been quoted as saying "the first half of 2010" but more recently the company apparently posted the following message on one of the Office 2010 beta webpages: "The final version will be available to the public for purchase in June 2010." a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed "We expect Office 2010 and related products to be generally available in June 2010".

The most ambitious goal Microsoft is striving for with Office 2010 is making it available via a familiar experience across the PC, phone, and browser. Office 2010 is the first release of the productivity suite that will come in 32-bit and 64-bit flavors and on one DVD no less. In addition to the five editions of Office 2010 announced in July 2009, and the ad-supported one announced in October 2009, Microsoft is also working on the Office Web Apps, first demonstrated in October 2008: Web versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Bing Maps Adds Street Level View

Microsoft has enhanced its Bing search engine with several new capabilities, including a street level view that takes users inside public buildings, like the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The new "Streetside" view is an addition to aerial and angled "Bird's Eye" views on Bing Maps. As you navigate, an Automatic option switches to the optimal view for your current position, using Microsoft's Silverlight plugin to deliver dynamic visual Web content. Streetside is similar to Google's Street View, but Microsoft has not photographed quite as many streets as Google.

By comparison, Google offers checkboxes to show photos, webcams, Wikipedia entries, and real estate listings. But in Bing the apps are a more full-fledged feature, and it's a surprising instance of Microsoft offering a more open platform than Google, in which third-party developers can add their own apps to the map platform.

Microsoft has also updated its mobile search site and is announcing new apps for Windows Mobile and BlackBerry. The company is also working on a Bing iPhone app, but that is not yet available.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Windows 7 Sales Beat Mac OS X Market Share

Windows 7 passed the 5% market share milestone last weekend, which put it above the total market share of all versions of Apple's Mac OS X, a Web measurement firm has said. "It's safe to say that Windows 7's daily share did peak above Mac's weekly share," said Vince Vizzaccaro, executive vice president at Net Applications.

In fact, Windows overall market share of 92.64% for the week of Nov. 15-21 was slightly higher than the OS's October share of 92.52%. The last time that Windows showed any appreciable increase in share was June 2009, when it gained 0.21%. Windows biggest increase in the last two years was in March 2008, when it jumped 0.28%. CEO Steve Ballmer told shareholders that Windows 7 had sold twice the number of copies as any other Microsoft operating system in the same time span.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Google Widens the Road for Android Nav App

Google has rolled out a new version of its free Google Maps Navigation application that's compatible with smartphones running the Android 1.6 operating system, such as T-Mobile's myTouch 3G and its G1. When the app was introduced last month in beta, it could only be used by smartphones running Android 2.0, the latest version of the OS, such as Verizon's Droid.

Google Maps Navigation is an Internet-connected GPS system with voice guidance and automatic rerouting. Users enter a destination, and the app then delivers a map, business info, traffic data, and satellite and street view imagery along the route. Its key feature, however, is the ability to provide turn-by-turn voice directions similar to navigation systems such as TomTom that must be purchased.

Google Maps Navigation is viewed as a threat to GSP-guided voice navigation systems that have a price tag attached.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Ballmer Touts Windows 7 Sales

Microsoft Corp. has sold twice as many copies of Windows 7 in its first few weeks than any previous version of the operating system, Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer said. A company spokeswoman said Mr. Ballmer was referring to both boxed copies of Windows 7 and copies it sells to PC makers for inclusion on their machines.

The new software, which has received favorable reviews, also could give Microsoft a badly needed image boost in the wake of Windows Vista, which suffered from technical snafus when it was launched in 2007.

Mr. Ballmer said Microsoft does "quite well" among students but said the company can improve its standing in that market. "Windows 7 gives us a real opportunity to come back again at audiences that have been tougher for us". Apple's share of new PC shipments in the U.S. was 9.2% in the third quarter, up from 4.8% in the same period four years ago.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Microsoft Warns On Windows 7 Zero Day

Microsoft has released an advisory for a zero day bug that cropped up in Windows 7 the day after last week's November Patch Tuesday release. The vulnerability lies in the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol, which is used for file and printer sharing, and can reportedly be used by attackers to remotely crash any Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 system.

Microsoft is "actively monitoring" the vulnerability with the help of partners in its Microsoft Active Protections Program (MAPP), and may decide to fix the issue in next month's Patch Tuesday update or through a rare out-of-band patch, the company said in the advisory.

In the advisory, Microsoft also chides unnamed parties for not following the principles of responsible disclosure. Last week, security researcher Laurent Gaffie published a proof of concept for the flaw on the Full Disclosure mailing list.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

DNS Problem Linked to DDoS Attacks Gets Worse

ISPs are distributing consumer modems that could be used in DDoS attacks, researchers say. Internet security experts say that misconfigured DSL and cable modems are worsening a well-known problem with the Internet's DNS (domain name system), making it easier for hackers to launch distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against their victims.

According to research set to be released in the next few days, part of the problem is blamed on the growing number of consumer devices on the Internet that are configured to accept DNS queries from anywhere, what networking experts call an "open recursive" or "open resolver" system.

Because modems configured as open recursive servers will answer DNS queries from anyone on the Internet, they can be used in what's known as a DNS amplification attack.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Windows 7 use continues to climb

Adoption of Windows 7 continues to grow, with the weeks-old operating system accounting for 4 percent of PCs accessing the Web over the past weekend. By contrast, it took Windows Vista seven months to reach that level.

The new operating system tends to do better on weekends, the time when consumer use accounts for more of the market and then share dips back somewhat as the work week starts. Market researcher NPD said last week that boxed copy sales of Windows 7 were also outpacing those of Windows Vista in its initial days on the market.

Microsoft has also said it is seeing strong interest from businesses, although typically corporations take many months to test a new operating system before deploying it widely.

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Microsoft cuts 800 more jobs

Microsoft said that it is notifying approximately 800 workers that their jobs are being eliminated as the software giant completes the layoffs it announced earlier this year. Once these cuts are made, it will have eliminated approximately 5,800 jobs.

The job cuts were spread across multiple businesses and around the globe. Microsoft didn't announce any specific products that are getting the axe as a a result of Wednesday's cuts, although it has cut a variety of products in recent months, including Microsoft Money, Windows Live OneCare and, just this past week, its small business accounting product line.

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Web addresses to exend to non English languages

Since the very start of web addresses being introduced, only Latin-script (English) based web addresses would work. With the ever increasing number of web addresses in use, the regulatory body assigning domain name details has approved the use of non-English addresses.

ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, have approved a number of internationalised domain names which could be rolled out as soon as next year.

At the moment, only the standard 26 letter English alphabet from A-Z and including 0-9 can be used. This new process will allow in theory any language using any symbol to enter web addresses.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Windows 7 Draws Praise, Putdowns

Most early adopters appear pleased with Microsoft's new OS, but some are griping about installation bugs. Numerous would be Windows 7 users are having difficulty installing or upgrading to Microsoft's newest operating system. Other users however, showed that they are happy with the software.

Several users indicated that attempts to upgrade from Windows Vista caused their computers to enter what they described as an endless cycle of reboots. Judging from customer reports on Amazon and other online retail sites, most Windows 7 users have installed the software without a hitch and are pleased with its performance.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Google to Launch Music Service and Phone

Google is reportedly set to unveil its own music service and is also working with a smartphone manufacturer on an own-brand Android phone.

Two separate reports from TechCrunch and The Street say that the search giant is developing a music service, dubbed as Google Audio, and a smartphone that will not be sold through traditional wireless carriers. Google Audio would be available for U.S. users, but it is unclear whether it will be a download or streaming service.

Google is also working to develop its own Google-branded smartphone, which will be sold through retailers and not through wireless carriers by the end of this year.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

LG Portable Mobile DTV Due Early 2010

After three years of waiting, Mobile Digital Television -offering free, live streaming digital TV to portables came closer to reaching the market. LG Electronics assigned an early 2010 release date for one of the first products to use the standard, a portable DVD player/personal digital TV combo.

Mobile DTV uses the same digital spectrum as local TV stations for HD programming and allows the broadcast of the same programs to portable devices. Broadcasters are already testing or airing the service in 29 markets, expected to grow to 70 by the end of the year.

The ATSC Mobile DTV standard allows broadcasters to use a portion of the existing 19.3Mbps DTV channel capacity to transmit data with very robust characteristics suitable for mobile, pedestrian and handheld products, said LG.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Microsoft Fixes 34 Bugs In Record 13-Patch Update

Microsoft released a record patch for its Patch Tuesday release, fixing 34 vulnerabilities in 13 updates, including two zero-day flaws which open the door for hackers to launch malicious attacks on users' PCs.

Altogether, 8 of the 13 patches repaired critical errors in every version of Windows and Internet Explorer, including critical bugs which allow hackers to attack vulnerable systems remotely with malicious code, typically to steal information.

The patches address a total of 34 vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows, Internet Explorer, Office, SQL Server, Microsoft Forefront, Silverlight and Microsoft Developer Tools, as well as third-party ActiveX components, among others.

Security experts said that one of Microsoft's most far-reaching and serious patches is a cumulative fix for IE, plugging four security holes that could pave the way for hackers to launch attacks by luring victims to a maliciously crafted Web site, typically through some kind of social engineering scheme delivered via e-mail or social networking site.

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Thursday, October 08, 2009

Hotmail and Gmail Nailed by Phishing Attacks

Over this past weekend the credentials for several thousand Microsoft Hotmail accounts were posted online. Microsoft has confirmed the list was authentic, worked to get it taken down and deactivated the accounts. If your account was affected you can fill out this form to reclaim account access.

Then today Google told the BBC that Gmail had been similarly targeted. The BBC reported that they had seen a list with more than 30,000 names and passwords.

Microsoft says that the Hotmail accounts appear to have been compromised through "a likely phishing scheme," not through any problem in Hotmail. Google's response was similar: "We recently became aware of an industry-wide phishing scheme through which hackers gained user credentials for web-based mail accounts including GMail accounts...As soon as we learned of the attack, we forced password resets on the affected accounts. We will continue to force password resets on additional accounts when we become aware of them."

Users need to be able to recognize illicit attempts to elicit their account information. The Microsoft blog linked to above has some good, general advice on recognizing phishing scams.

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Monday, October 05, 2009

Free Windows 7 Upgrades Are Not Free

The free Windows 7 upgrades that Microsoft has promised buyers of new PCs powered by Vista are not always free, a consumer watchdog Web site says.

"To me, whether it's $12.99 or $17.03, the charges are all outrageous," said Edgar Dworsky, the editor of and "It's just a single disc they're sending, and with media mail rates, it costs just over a dollar to mail."

Microsoft kicked off a marketing campaign dubbed "Windows 7 Upgrade Option Program" which gives people who buy a PC equipped with Windows Vista Home Premium, Business or Ultimate a free or nearly free upgrade to Windows 7. While some computer makers are giving away Windows 7 upgrades, others are charging fees as high as $17 for what's characterized as "shipping, handling, and fulfillment fees."

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Microsoft Releases New Free Antivirus Program

Microsoft released its Microsoft Security Essentials, the free successor to its OneCare security program.

MSE uses the same antivirus engine as the phased out OneCare, but the new free program focuses only on malware blocking. It doesn't include a firewall, system optimizer or other security suite type features.

With a 97.8 percent overall block rate as tested by It did shine in proactive tests that simulate how well an antivirus program can detect new malware that doesn't yet have a signature, and its performance there was topped only by Avira's AntiVir Personal.

Today's MSE, now available for download, doesn't add any new features or look any different from the beta version I reviewed, according to a Microsoft spokesman. The final version only includes some "code quality improvements, bug fixes, etc." when compared with that beta.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Office 2007 SP2 Supports OpenDocument Format

Office 2007 SP2 includes support for the OpenDocument Format, an open standard backed by many companies including IBM and Sun Microsystems but initially resisted by Microsoft.

Customers who download the service pack will be able to save documents in ODF and Adobe Systems' PDF, just like they would any current supported file format in Office. They can also set ODF as the default file format.

Office 2007 SP2 will also natively support PDF. Adobe initially opposed Microsoft's decision to add PDF to Office, but has since made PDF an open standard.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Lenovo Debuts Atom Based All in One PC

Lenovo has announced the availability of a new, Atom based, widescreen all in one nettop PC with an 18.5 inch screen.

The Lenovo C100 series starts at $399, and can be equipped with a single core Intel Atom 230 or dual-core Atom 330 processor, integrated graphics, DVD burner, a hard drive up to 320 Gbytes in size, and up to 2 GB of memory.

The C100 - 78691AU model is available now on Lenovo's Web site for $499, with an Intel Atom 230, 1GB of memory, 160GB hard drive, DVD burner, and runs Windows XP Home Edition. The C100 is the "little brother" to the C300 series released earlier this year.

The C100 series nettops come with the same trial antivirus and OneKey rescue and recovery utilities found on other Lenovo Desktops like the IdeaCentre series.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Read news fast with Google Fast Flip

Fast Flip is a new reading experience that combines the best elements of print and online articles. Like a print magazine, Fast Flip lets you browse sequentially through bundles of recent news, headlines and popular topics, as well as feeds from individual top publishers. As the name suggests, flipping through content is very fast, so you can quickly look through a lot of pages until you find something interesting. At the same time, it provides aggregation and search over many top newspapers and magazines, and the ability to share content with your friends and community.

Fast Flip also personalizes the experience for you, by taking cues from selections you make to show you more content from sources, topics and journalists that you seem to like.

Google partnered with three dozen top publishers, including the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Washington Post, Salon, Fast Company, ProPublica and Newsweek. These partners will share the revenue earned from contextually relevant ads. This gives publishers an opportunity to introduce new readers to their content. It also tests our theory that being able to read articles faster means people will read more of them, driving more ad revenue to publishers.

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Critical bug infests newer versions of Microsoft Windows

Microsoft has promised to patch a serious flaw in newer versions of its Windows operating system after hackers released exploit code that allows them to take complete control of the underlying machines.

The flaw, which affects various versions of Windows Vista, 2008, and the release candidate version of Windows 7. The bug, which fails to adequately parse network negotiation requests, was previously believed only to generate a debilitating blue screen of death.

The advisory means that at present there are at least two zero-day vulnerabilities in Microsoft products that are relied on by large business customers.

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Intel Speeds Up the Data Center With Affordable Lynnfield Chips

Intel has officially unveiled its new line of Lynnfield processors which were unofficially unveiled a few weeks ago thanks to a leak somewhere. The Lynnfield processors have a lot of the characteristics of the more robust Nehalem processors from Intel.

For both consumers and businesses, the Lynnfield processors deliver an equivalent experience to the Nehalem processors at a lower cost. The combination of the single-chip P55 chipset and the dual-channel memory controller reduce overall system costs.

Of course, the Lynnfield processors are only quad-core and use more power than the 40-watt, 6-core Istanbul processors from AMD. The cost of the system itself may be less, but looking at the total cost of ownership- including power consumption, cooling costs, and processing power per square inch of server room rack real estate, the Lynnfield may not be the better value.

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Friday, September 04, 2009

Microsoft to Add 'Ping' to Bing to Share Search Results

Microsoft is testing a new feature called "Bing & Ping" for its Bing search engine that allows people to share search results on social networks Facebook and Twitter.

By clicking on one of the links, the information will post on a person's Facebook site or Twitter, or into an e-mail message.

Microsoft introduced Bing as a rebranding and update of its Live Search engine in June, and so far the engine has gotten positive reviews and has helped Microsoft increase its share against Google in number of search-engine queries.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Microsoft Offers Free Windows 7 Trial

Microsoft is offering a free 90-day trial version of Windows 7 Enterprise, the Windows Vista successor due Oct. 22. But there's a catch.

Once the 90-day trial ends, users who want to continue using the OS will have to purchase a copy and perform a clean install, including drivers and applications.

Microsoft says testers can continue to use the trial after program ends, but warned that the OS will shutdown once-an-hour after the expiration date.

Potential trial users, should also be aware that members of the following MS programs already have access to the new OS: Partner Program, MSDN Subscribers (developers). TechNet Plus subcribers, and Volume License/Software Assurance customers. If you work for a large company, ask around before downloading.

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Monday, August 31, 2009

AMD Releases Six Core Chip

AMD released the extremely energy efficient version of its six core Opteron server processor as part of AMD's ongoing ramp of Istanbul class products, continuing its recent pattern of following on new mainstream server chips with low power specialty parts. At 40 watts, the new release draws the lowest power within AMD's next generation family of six core processors code named Istanbul.

The 2419 EE delivers 30 percent better performance per watt than AMD's quad-core Opteron 2384, a 2.7GHz, 75-watt processor released as part of the chip maker's previous generation of server chips code-named Shanghai.

Key specs for the six core 2419 EE include a combined 128 KB of L1 cache per core, 512 KB of L2 cache per core and a total of 6 MB of L3 cache. The new six core processor is designed for dual socket servers and workstations, slotting into AMD's socket F.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wikipedia to amend editing rules

Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that has increasingly drawn some juvenile pranks, is looking to impose more discipline with new restrictions on the editing of articles.

The latest changes come as Wikipedia continues to try to balance credibility and a desire for openness.

While anyone can still edit entries, the site is testing pages that require changes to be approved by an experienced Wikipedia editor before they show up.

The idea is to block the kind of high-profile vandalism that has marred some pages. In one of the most recent embarrassments, Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd was declared dead by rogue editors.

Still, Wikipedia risks discouraging legitimate editing if restrictions on changes or additions become too burdensome. That may be especially true on more obscure pages with fewer active volunteers to approve edits in a timely way.

Aware of the risks, Wikipedia has set the criteria for "experienced editor" status relatively low. Users who are registered for a few days can give changes the OK, said Jay Walsh, a spokesman for the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation, which runs the site.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Microsoft, Yahoo Join Google Books Opposition

Microsoft and Yahoo are joining a group of opponents to a class action settlement that gives Google Inc the right to digitize millions of books.

The companies are becoming part of the Open Book Alliance, made up of nonprofits and libraries that have raised a red flag against Google's plan to digitize books and put them on the Internet.

Critics say the deal gives Google the unimpeded ability to set prices for libraries, once they scan books and put them on the Internet. If the service becomes a necessity for libraries they would face monopoly pricing, Google's opponents say.

Google has agreed to pay $125 million to create a Book Rights Registry, where authors and publishers can register works and receive compensation from institutional subscriptions or book sales. A hearing on approval of the settlement is set for October 7 in U.S. District Court in New York.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Computer Chips Based on DNA

In order to meet the demand for ever smaller and faster computer chips, IBM and the California Institute of Technology have been researching the use of DNA molecules in microprocessors. It turns out that the building blocks of life may help keep alive Moore’s Law that computer performance doubles every two years.

IBM researchers and Caltech scientists have found that “the tiny components that run along a chip’s silicone surface will self-adhere to previously laid down DNA patterns,”. This means that microchip designers can use DNA as a complex framework to which microscopic materials can be added to form a computer chip.

Such incredibly small-scale chip construction would be one way for computer processing speed to continue its current pace in accordance with Moore’s Law. Intel co-founder Gordon Moore predicted back in 1965 that the number of transistors on a computer chip would double about every two years.

No mention was made as to the source of the DNA molecules or whether they would in any way be subject to mutation as can happen in a living organism. InformationWeek said IBM plans to publish its research in the September issue of Nature Nanotechnology.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Google Search Site Box

This is Google's corporate search engine SaaS offering. Companies can embed a Google search box on their Web sites and pay Google to do the searching and return the results. (Google also offers on-premises search appliances.)

The mini-search box is a feature that occurs during specific searches, when the Google algorithm detects "a high probability" that a user wants more refined search results within a specific site. According to Google: "Like the rest of our snippets, the sites that display the site search box are chosen algorithmically based on metrics that measure how useful the search box is to users."

Search Site is a feature that has always been available via the Google Toolbar. It is one of the reasons Google became so popular in the first place.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Google Caffeinates Its Search Engine

Over the past few months, Google has been working on optimizing its search engine architecture for better, faster results. The secret project is named Caffeine -- a wink at its speed increase -- and is designed to "push the envelope on size, indexing speed, accuracy, comprehensiveness, and other dimensions."

But don't expect a mind-blowing spectacle of change: Caffeine's tweaks are all under the hood."Most users won't notice a difference in search results. But web developers and power searchers might notice a few differences, so we're opening up a web developer preview to collect feedback," Google wrote in a blog post.

The test of Caffeine's success rests on whether or not people will care and understand, and if the changes prove more substantial than a few additional pages of faster results.

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Friday, August 07, 2009

Web attack aimed at one blogger

A "massively co-ordinated" attack on websites including Google, Facebook and Twitter was directed at one individual, it has been confirmed.

Facebook told BBC News that the strike was aimed at a pro-Georgian blogger known as Cyxymu.

The attack caused a blackout of Twitter for around two hours, while Facebook said its service had been degraded.

Google said it had defended its sites and was now working with the other companies to investigate the attack.

"The attack appears to be directed at an individual who has a presence on a number of sites, rather than the sites themselves," a Facebook spokesman told BBC News.

"Specifically, the person is an activist blogger and a botnet was directed to request his pages at such a rate that it impacted service for other users."

Botnets are networks of computers under the control of hackers.

It is still not known who perpetrated the attack or why they may have targeted Cyxymu and his accounts.

However, in an interview with the UK's Guardian newspaper, the blogger blamed Russia.

The blogger has previously criticised Russia over its conduct in the war over the disputed South Ossetia region, which began one year ago.

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Monday, August 03, 2009

Mozilla tops 1 Billion but still behind Internet Explorer

Five years after being introduced to the Internet, Mozilla's popular open source Web browser Firefox has reached 1 billion downloads. But even though Firefox has added another digit to its tally, the open source browser is still facing an uphill battle against Microsoft's stalwart Internet Explorer.

Stat Counter reports that from July 1, 2008, to Aug. 1, 2009, Internet Explorer remained on top of the Web browser market share heap with 63.5 percent. Mozilla's Firefox is the closest to challenging Redmond's crown with 28.29 percent of the market.

Rounding out the top five Web browsers are Opera at 2.93 percent, Safari at 2.75 percent and Chrome at 1.89 percent.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hackers can take over your iPhone with a text message

Security researchers have figured out how to disable or take over the iPhone and other smart phones using simple text messages.

Charlie Miller made his name hacking cool stuff like the first Apple iPhone. He’s at it again, having figured out how to take over your iPhone with this new trick. He and partner Collin Mulliner, a German security researcher getting his doctorate at the Technical University in Berlin, did so by constructing the message with data and programming that causes your iPhone to crash. They then take it over and can run any code they want on it. If they wanted, they could spread the message by sending it to friends in your address book.

Once the text message causes the phone to crash, Miller said, he can take over the phone because it’s functioning like a computer. He can pollute the phone’s memory and then run his own program on the phone.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Almost all Windows users vulnerable to Flash zero-day attacks

More than 9 out of every 10 Windows users are vulnerable to the Flash zero day vulnerability that Adobe won't patch until Thursday, a Danish security company said today.

The most current versions of Flash Player, and are vulnerable to hackers conducting drive-by attacks hosted on malicious and legitimate but compromised sites. Antivirus vendors have reported hundreds, in some cases thousands, of sites launching drive-bys against Flash.

Adobe has acknowledged that Flash, Reader and Acrobat contain a critical bug. Last Wednesday, it kicked its security process into high gear, promising it would deliver patches for Flash by July 30, and fixes for Reader and Acrobat by July 31.

PSI scans Windows systems for installed applications, then compares their version numbers to the most up-to-date editions; if they're different, it makes note, then provides a link to the patch update. "[A] PC user with vulnerabilities in his installed software, is like a house owner with open or unlocked doors," said Mikkel Winther, the manager of Secunia's PSI partner program, in an e-mail. "Maybe nobody will rob his house or compromise his system, but it is indeed possible and he hasn't secured himself against it."

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Microsoft To Kill Soapbox, Its YouTube Competitor

Microsoft has announced plans to shut down Soapbox, its online-video competitor to YouTube, by the end of August. Despite Soapbox’s presence, Microsoft had only 2 percent of the online video market, placing it fifth behind Yahoo, Hulu, Fox Interactive Media and Google.

According to a Microsoft statement, users will be forbidden from uploading new videos to Soapbox on July 29. Microsoft is encouraging anyone who wants to keep their videos to download them from Soapbox by August 31, when the site will shut down for good.

The combination of severe global recession and Microsoft’s own readjustment of its corporate goals have meant death for several of its legacy programs, even as the company gears up to release the next generation of its flagship products, such as Windows 7 and Office 2010.

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Microsoft Seen Posting Sharp Profit Decline For Fiscal 4th Quarter

Microsoft is expected to post declines in profit and sales for its fiscal 4th quarter as the software giant contends with flagging sales of personal computers bundled with its technology.

Wall Street analysts on average estimate that Microsoft will post earnings of 36 cents a share for the period ending in June, on $14.38 billion in revenue, according to data from Thomson Reuters.

That compares with earnings of 46 cents a share and $15.84 billion in revenue in the same period a year earlier.

Research firm Gartner Inc. released data showing that PC shipments fell 5% in the second quarter of the calendar year, to 68.1 million units. That was a better than expected result, Gartner noted, but still an indication that the market is in decline.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Microsoft Reveals Office 2010 Timing, Technical Preview

Microsoft revealed a test version of the next round of its Office suite of products, which will be available in the first half of 2010.

Office remains the de facto standard for office productivity among both businesses and consumers. However, companies like Google and others are trying to challenge Microsoft with free Web-based versions of applications similar to Word, PowerPoint and Excel, which make up the core of Office.

What Microsoft didn't release at the show, and what many expected, was a test preview of Microsoft's answer to these challenges, Office Web apps, a free, Web based version of Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote.

Customers will be able to get Office Web apps in a number of ways. It will be free for anyone who wants to use the basic version, and business customers can get a paid version that they can either run on premise on their own SharePoint Server back-end or as a hosted service from Microsoft.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Bing Leapfrogs Yahoo Search

New stats from monitoring service StatCounter suggest that for the second time since its launch, Microsoft's Bing has surpassed Yahoo Search as the second most used search engine in the United States. Shortly after publicly debuting the new service, Bing already jumped over Yahoo Search - if only for one day - which many attributed to the launch momentum. But Bing has proven to be a very solid product that many seem keen to try out even after a month.

In any event, while Google shouldn't be particularly worried about losing its dominance on the search market yet, the other players in the field better be watching Bing's progress very closely. Microsoft is doing it right, and users are noticing, too.

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Monday, July 06, 2009

Microsoft warns of hole in Video ActiveX control

Microsoft on Monday warned of a vulnerability in its Video ActiveX Control that could allow an attacker to take control of a PC if the user visits a malicious Web site.

There have been limited attacks exploiting the hole, which affects Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, Microsoft said on its Security Response Center blog.

This is the second DirectShow security hole Microsoft has announced in the past few months. The company has yet to provide a security update for a vulnerability announced in May that involves the way DirectX handles QuickTime files.

Microsoft is working on a security update and will release it when the quality is at the appropriate level for broad distribution, the company said.

The Microsoft Video Control object is an ActiveX control that connects Microsoft DirectShow filters for use in capturing, recording, and playing video. The control is the main component used in Windows Media Center for building filter graphs for recording and playing television video.

Antivirus vendor Symantec said it was seeing the flaw being exploited in China and other parts of Asia and cited reports that indicate thousands of Web sites are hosting the exploit.

Internet Explorer versions 6 and 7 are at risk, but people running IE 8 are not vulnerable, Symantec said.

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

As industry recovers, Mac growth beating PCs

Morgan Stanley analyst Kathryn Huberty says Apple is outperforming the PC market in sales growth, and this was before Apple released its new MacBook Pros in June, according to a report on Fortune's Apple 2.0. Of course, releasing a new notebook would only spur sales for the months after its release.

Huberty said that in May, Apple shipments were up 25 percent over April. In comparison, PC shipments for the same period were up only 1 percent, according to Fortune. As a result, she is raising her forecast for the this quarter to 2.5 million Macs.

In its fiscal second quarter 2009, Apple sold 2.2 million Macs, a 3 percent decline for the company over the year-ago quarter. While down, this isn't a significant decrease considering the economy.

However, if Huberty's predictions are true and Apple does sell 2.5 million Macs in the third-quarter, the company will see a nominal increase from the 2.496 million sold during last year's third-quarter.

Consumer interest in its products led Apple to the top of Nielsen's report released on Tuesday, documenting the most trafficked hardware Web sites. Apple more than doubled the traffic of its nearest competitor Hewlett-Packard.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Windows 7: Free Upgrades End With SP1

Microsoft will discontinue a program under which businesses can upgrade XP-based PCs purchased after October to Windows 7 for free once the first Windows 7 service pack becomes available.

After Windows 7 ships, organizations needing to buy a PC deployed with Windows XP will be allowed a free upgrade to Windows 7 only until SP1 becomes available (or 18 months, whichever is earlier).

Microsoft plans to release Windows 7 on Oct. 22nd. The company has not stated when the first service pack might become available but it would likely not arrive until late 2010 at the earliest.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Microsoft unveiled details of the Windows 7 upgrade program it kicks off for buyers of new PCs

Called "Windows 7 Upgrade Option Program," the deal provides free or nearly free upgrades to Windows 7 for people who purchase a new Vista PC between June 26, 2009 and Jan. 31, 2010.

Because the retailers and OEMs are doing the scut work of the upgrade program, customers will see a variety of deals and delivery dates. The soonest someone would receive an upgrade DVD is Oct. 22, the retail availability date for Windows 7. It may be weeks later, however, before buyers see those discs.

Retail Vista packages may also qualify for an upgrade to the equivalent Windows 7 product, Microsoft confirmed in an FAQ it published on its site. It's unclear, however, whether those upgrades to Windows 7 will be available to buyers of Vista upgrade editions or only the more-expensive "full" versions. Microsoft also confirmed today that it will offer a Windows 7 upgrade to people who buy PCs during the program's run that have been factory-downgraded to Windows XP Professional.

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Google Grabs 1 Million Phone Numbers for Google Voice

Google last month reserved 1 million phone numbers with Level 3, signaling that it may finally be ready to roll out its long anticipated Google Voice service. The free service lets users unify their phone numbers, allowing them to have a single number through Google Voice that rings a call through to all their phones.

Google Voice has a number of unique features including call transfer between a user's devices, multi-party conferencing, conversion of voice calls to text messages, cut-rate international calling, and call transcription. But the gem is the fact that a user can have one phone number people can dial to reach them regardless of where they are located, either home or mobile. Google Voice uses VoIP to link collections of phone numbers.

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Google Grabs 1 Million Phone Numbers for Google Voice

Google last month reserved 1 million phone numbers with Level 3, signaling that it may finally be ready to roll out its long anticipated Google Voice service. The free service lets users unify their phone numbers, allowing them to have a single number through Google Voice that rings a call through to all their phones.

Google Voice has a number of unique features including call transfer between a user's devices, multi-party conferencing, conversion of voice calls to text messages, cut-rate international calling, and call transcription. But the gem is the fact that a user can have one phone number people can dial to reach them regardless of where they are located, either home or mobile. Google Voice uses VoIP to link collections of phone numbers.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bing Makes Gains, But Is Google Actually Suffering?

Microsoft is gaining new ground with its freshly rebranded Bing search engine, some recently released data suggests. Bing, the research finds, grew 0.8 percent during its second week online, adding onto a 2.2 percent jump it saw during its debut week. One question that has yet to be answered, though, is how that growth is affecting other search engines -- namely Google.

The answer, in short, is that Bing may not be harming Google at all; in fact, it may actually be helping. Research actually shows the number of users visiting Google also growing from the week before Bing's launch to this past weekend. It is thought that people are simply trying out Bing and that is causing the increase in usage.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Microsoft To Launch Morro Antivirus "Soon"

Microsoft confirmed plans to end its Windows Live OneCare subscription security service in favor of a free offering that will feature a core of essential anti malware tools while excluding peripheral services, such as PC tune-up programs, found in OneCare.

A spokesman said that Microsoft will launch the free product, code-named Morro, "soon" but did not provide further details. Microsoft announced in November that it will launch Morro in this month, at which time it will discontinue the $49.95-per-year OneCare service.

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Monday, June 08, 2009

China To Require Filtering Software On PCs

Starting July 1, PC makers will have to install pornography-blocking app Green Dam Youth Escort on all computers sold in China. China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has ordered that all personal computers, whether made in China or imported from abroad, must include specific software to filter inappropriate information.

The Green Dam Youth Escort software Web site characterizes the program as a tool to protect children. Noting that the impact of the Internet on children is increasing, the site states that the spread of unhealthy information online has seriously harmed the physical and mental health of children.

Some companies have been tailoring their products to accommodate content requirements in China. Microsoft, for example, chose to limit the availability of sexual content in its new Bing search engine for many Muslim countries and for China.

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Google Squared Search Tool Goes Live

Google Squared, a new search tool from Google is now live. Google Squared pulls information about members of a category from all over the Web and presents it in a table with rows and columns, instead of the series of page links typically returned by search engines.

A typical search on Google will return a list of relevant web sites, but users still have to visit ten to twenty Web sites to find information on complex questions. Google Squared, on the other hand, collects information from different Web sites and presents it as an organized collection.

The information on the grids on the table links to Web sites containing more detailed information on that particular aspect of the topic.

Users can also save the table using a Google account, and move on to the usual search on Google from within the same page.

Monday, June 01, 2009

AMD Launches 6 Core Processor

AMD launched its six core server processor code named Istanbul, saying computer makers this month would be selling high powered products incorporating the chip.

The release of AMD's latest Opteron chip followed less than a week after Intel announced that it would begin production of an eight core Nehalem-EX processor, officially called the Xeon 7400 line, this year. Systems are expected in 2010.

Istanbul is available in 2, 4 and 8 socket systems, and is "drop-in" compatible with sockets in systems running current generation Opteron processors.

A new feature in Istanbul is called HyperTransport Assist, a technology that increases memory and input/output performance.

Replacing one of AMD's previous-generation quad-core processors with Istanbul will provide up to 34% more performance, according to AMD.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Microsoft kills Windows 7 Starter Editions 3 application limit

Microsoft has dropped a limitation from Windows 7 Starter, the edition expected to ship on most netbooks, that would have blocked users from running more than three applications at the same time.

Earlier editions of Windows XP Starter and Windows Vista Starter, both of which were sold only in a small number of markets outside the U.S., came with the three-app restriction.

But even as Microsoft dropped the application limitation from Windows 7 Starter, it confirmed that the version would lack a host of features that higher-priced editions will include.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

AT&T plans to double wireless broadband speeds by 2011

AT&T announced Wednesday plans to double the speed of its wireless broadband network by 2011. The move to HSPA technology, and eventually LTE networks, will begin later this year.

HSPA, which stand for High Speed Packet Access, is the next evolution in the carrier's 3G wireless broadband network. Though it promises peak data speeds of 7.2Mbps, slower speeds will be more likely in real-world use. AT&T's current UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) network tops out at 3.6Mpbs. The carrier also plans to expand coverage of the GSM 850 band, deploy 2,100 new cell sites across the country, and add 20 new 3G markets for a total of 370.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

US Army to adopt Vista and Office 2007 by end of 2009

Even with Windows 7 and Office 2010 on the horizon, most companies have yet to make the change to the latest Microsoft software. The United States Army this week announced it will be moving all of its Windows-based computers to the Vista operating system and will also be ditching Office 2003 for Office 2007.

As it currently stands now, estimates are that half of the army's computers are currently using Office 2007 and 13 percent are powered by Vista.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

UC Davis seeing more students and faculty choosing Macs

The IT staff at the UC Davis campus has seen significant increases in Mac use among students and faculty. Usage seems to spike around new Apple product introductions, like new iPods and the iPhone 3G. This was revealed as part of the results of an annual survey by US Davis's Computer Lab Management.

Mac use dropped considerably in the late '90s and early '00s, dropping to only 2.3% in 2002. Since then, Mac use among students has slowly increased over the last seven years, back up to 23.4% and trending upward. In the same period, laptop use increased from 12% to 87%. These findings are in line with laptops being a far larger part of Apple's computer sales than desktops, especially among consumers.

Two of the main reasons for the increase of Mac use on campus is theincreased brand awareness and "coolness factor" of Apple and Macs and also its relative dearth of malware and general tendency to be free of crashes or bugs.

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Friday, May 15, 2009

HP Recalls 70,000 Fire-Hazardous Batteries

Hewlett-Packard has recalled 70,000 laptop batteries that pose a fire and burn hazard to users. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the recall saying there have been two reports of batteries overheating and bursting into flames. The fires caused minor property damage, but no injuries.

The faulty lithium-ion batteries are used in laptops sold under a variety of brands, including HP Pavilion, Compaq Presario, HP, and HP Compaq.

The systems were sold through computer and electronics stores nationwide and HP's Web site from August 2007 through March 2008. The laptops cost between $500 and $3,000. The batteries also were available separately for between $100 and $160. The battery manufacturer was not named, but the product was built in China

HP is offering replacement batteries at no charge and has a Web site that provides additional details. Customers also can call 800-889-2031 to get support.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Xerox Goes for the Green With Crayon-Like Printer Ink

New advances in solid ink technology have paved the way for Xerox's new ColorCube 9200 office printer, a device that uses solid, crayon-like chunks of ink rather than liquid or toner to put color onto the page. The system, Xerox says, can save users money and is less punishing for the environment.

The new ColorQube 9200 could be a significant development in the industry. Its solid ink printer technology can cut the cost of color printing by 62 percent, Xerox claims, and it's also easier on the environment, thanks to less packaging and materials used.

The ColorQube technology represents an advance in solid ink technology that's been used in Xerox's desktop printers for about 10 years. It uses blocky, crayon-like sticks of solid ink that are placed in the printer and then heated. The molten ink flows onto the paper at faster speeds, says Xerox -- speeds approaching 150 million drops per second, or 85 pages per minute. The ink sticks don't need as much packaging, saving landfills and recycling facilities, and the company claims that using solid ink instead of laser printing cuts down on greenhouse gases used by 10 percent.

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Windows 7's "XP Mode" Won't Run on Some CPUs

Many Intel powered notebooks including Asus, Dell Studio, HP Pavilion, Sony Vaio, and Toshiba Satellite models may not have what it takes to run Windows 7's XP mode. Featured in the recent Windows 7 release candidate, Microsoft included XP mode to entice business customers to upgrade to Windows 7 even if they're using custom made programs that run only on XP.

To run XP Mode, your Intel powered computer must support Intel Virtualization Technology. Problem is, many Intel laptops found on retail shelves aren't packing Intel VT. MD-powered computers may also find difficulties running XP mode since Sempron processors and some Athlon 64 chips don't support virtualization. For the everyday user this may not be as big an issue since XP Mode is targeted at a small segment of the market. And gamers should take note that XP mode was not built to support video games.

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Saturday, May 02, 2009

Windows 7 could launch as early as August

Although Microsoft refuses to name a delivery date for Windows 7, it could launch the new operating system as early as August. A senior Microsoft executive said that a release in time to make 2009's crucial holiday selling season was "accomplishable," a departure from policy that has only promised to deliver Windows 7 within three years of Vista's appearance.

Microsoft declined to comment on a Windows 7 ship date. A company spokeswoman stuck to the official, and well-practiced line. "We are currently in the development stages for Windows 7 and expect it will take approximately three 3 years from Windows Vista Consumer [general availability] to develop".

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

GE Demos 500GB DVD Size Disk

GE announced they had discovered a way to fit 500GB on a single DVD sized disc.

The technology works by imprinting chemical changes in the form of patterns (or holograms) within the disc. Those holograms are then read by lasers, similar to the ones in Blu-ray players.

The holographic disc uses the entire volume of the disc rather than just the metal layer that a traditional CD or DVD uses, said Brian Lawrence. The goal is to develop a disc that holds 1TB of more information. GE said it will initially focus on the commercial archival industry followed by the consumer market for its micro-holographic storage technology.

A GE spokesman said the following regarding pricing and retail availability: “We are targeting 2012 to introduce our micro-holographic discs and drives to market. It will be introduced to the commercial archival industry first, followed by the consumer market at the retail level. In terms of pricing, we plan to introduce this technology to market at less than 10 cents per gigabyte. We expect that price to drop gradually as media sales volumes increase.”

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Windows Sales Off 16% As Microsoft's Reports Sharp Profit Decline

Faced with a slumping economy, new sources of competition, and a staple product that turned out to be a dud, Microsoft reported one of the worst financial quarters in its history.

The company said total revenue for its third fiscal quarter fell 6% year-over-year, to $13.6 billion, while net income, including $710 million in restructuring and investment charges, sank 32% to $3 billion. Earnings per share came in at 33 cents, compared to 47 cents in the year prior.

Microsoft earlier this year said it would cut 5,000 jobs to reduce costs. But it's more than market conditions plaguing the software maker's balance sheet.

Vista, the current edition of the company's core Windows operating system, has been met with jeers by corporate and home computer users alike. Surveys show that only a handful of large enterprises have upgraded their PCs from the older Windows XP OS to Vista.

Microsoft also didn't fare well in other areas during its third quarter. Revenue from Internet services fell 14%, to $721 million—a sign that the company is losing more ground to Google in the race for eyeballs on the Web and associated sales.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Adobe Flash to move into living rooms

Adobe has said that its online Flash technology would be integrated into devices for television sets. Putting Flash into living room entertainment systems will allow customers to view videos associated with computers on television sets that are linked to the Internet.

Adobe said viewers would be able to watch high definition Web videos on their televisions without the need for a Web browser.

"Adobe Flash Platform for the Digital Home will dramatically change the way we view content on televisions," said David Wadhwani, general manager and vice president of Adobe's Platform Business Unit.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Twitter worm writer gets a job

A Web application developer confirmed he has hired the teenager who admitted attacking Twitter with several different worms.

Travis Rowland, of Hammond Or. said that he had offered a job to Michael Mooney, a 17 year old who said he had written at least two of the worms that struck Twitter starting on April 11.

Mooney came to his attention because of the Twitter worms, Rowland acknowledged. "I contacted him and saw his Web site, and thought it was interesting," said Rowland. "Then I talked to him and found out he did it all by hand, so I asked him if he wanted to work as a programmer." Rowland said that Mooney would also be involved doing "security analysis for us, to make sure our applications are as secure as they can be."

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said Monday that Twitter had had to scrub about 200 infected accounts and delete 10,000 tweets carrying links to JavaScript attack code.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Twitter Visited By Worms

Over the weekend, a computer worm attacked the Twitter messaging service in three distinct attacks, generating almost 10,000 spam tweets -- as online posts are called in Twitter's twee terminology -- and compromising at least 190 accounts.

The infection appears to have started when the worm's creator opened four new Twitter accounts containing the infectious code. The worm spread when Twitter users viewed the user profiles of the infected accounts.

The worm can be blocked by disabling JavaScript in your Web browser or by using the NoScript plug-in for Firefox.

According to online news site, a 17-year-old from Brooklyn, N.Y., identified as Mikeyy Mooney, claimed responsibility for creating the Twitter worm to drive traffic to his Web site,

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Monday, April 06, 2009

Is Conficker Finally History?

Conficker gained so much attention in part because of the sheer number of computers it was able to infect. But nobody knows for sure what Conficker can accomplish. However, at the time of this writing no Conficker-related catastrophes have surfaced and some think the threat never will.

The general consensus seems to be that approximately 3 million computers are infected on any given day. The number 15 million gets thrown around a lot as well, but that number includes computers that were infected and then scrubbed clean of the malware.

The world's biggest problem areas for Conficker infections are in Asia, Eastern Europe and South America, although there seems to be some disagreement on which countries are the hardest hit.

Microsoft allows both pirate and genuine Windows users to download critical security updates. However, most pirate users have Windows' automatic updates turned off to avoid Microsoft's piracy detection tool. Pirate users could get the software from Microsoft's download center, but it's unknown how many users are actually doing that.

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Is Android On Netbooks Microsoft's Worst Nightmare?

Now that Hewlett-Packard has confirmed that it's considering using Google's Android operating system in its netbooks, the 10% share of the netbook market that Linux currently enjoys looks poised to grow.

Although many early netbooks shipped with Linux, Microsoft has since slashed the price of Windows XP Home -- the version that most commonly ships with netbooks -- and taken a commanding share of the netbook OS market. The fact that many netbook buyers are unfamiliar with the various Linux distributions that ship with netbooks also has hampered adoption.

"Android-based netbooks would start tapping into the Google 'cool factor,' and more people would be exposed to a brand name in which they've already developed trust," said Bernard Golden, CEO of Hyperstratus, a San Carlos, Calif.-based solution provider.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Verizon confirms plans to sell Netbooks

Verizon Wireless has confirmed earlier reports that it's ready to enter the Netbook market. Spokeswoman Brenda Raney, who was quoted to a similar effect in an story Friday, said Saturday that the plan is for the company to start selling 3G-enabled Netbooks by the end of the second quarter, or by June.

Unfortunately, Raney could offer little else in the way of details regarding pricing or potential PC partners. Crave's Erica Ogg suggested Dell would be an obvious partnering candidate. Dell already has a relationship with Verizon parent company Vodafone, which has sold Dell Netbooks in Europe since September 2008. However, a similar rumor floated around the Web last week regarding HP hooking up with Verizon.

Verizon's chief rival, AT&T, already sells Acer Netbooks for $99 with service through RadioShack, and also sells Dell Mini Inspirons through the wireless provider's Web site.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Internet Explorer 8's Poor Reception Not a Good Sign For Microsoft

Just days after the browser's big debut, IE 8's market share has fallen a full 28 percent from its peak. Alternative browsers, meanwhile, have held steady ground, losing no significant number of users to Microsoft's new offering.

IE 8 managed to break the 2% mark within a day of its release last Thursday, according to tracking data by analytics firm Net Applications. It grew slowly over the weekend, topping out at 2.59% of the overall browser market at 3 a.m. Sunday. From there, things started heading downhill. With a steady decline, Internet Explorer 8 dropped down to 1.86 percent of the market by Monday morning.

The results shouldn't necessarily come as a surprise. Internet Explorer has been losing market share consistently for months now. In February, Microsoft's overall slice of the pie slipped to 67.44 percent, down .11 percent from the previous month.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Internet Explorer 8 Ignores One Third Of The Market

With today's release of Internet Explorer 8, everyone who use Microsoft's browser will be getting some much-needed improvements but it may not be as fast as its competitors, according to early reports.

But speed is really everything. Without speed, all the other features fall by the wayside. If you look at Internet Explorer's market share, it has steadily been eroded over the past few years by its faster rivals Firefox, Safari, Chrome, and Opera.

Microsoft is doing what it always does: focusing on its massive installed base of users and ignoring the rest. If you've already left IE for a speedier browser, IE8 is not going to bring you back, and Microsoft knows it. IE may still hold 67% of the browser market, according to Net Apps, but that share is declining. Firefox claims 22%, Safari has 8%, and Chrome has captured 1%.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Number of People Using Mobile Devices Doubles

ComScore reports that the number of people using their mobile devices on a daily basis to access news and other information more than doubled between January 2008 and January 2009, to 22.4 million.

The number of people using their mobile devices to access online news and other information on a daily basis is rising sharply.

Between January 2008 and January 2009, the number of people who used their devices every day more than doubled, from 10.8 million to 22.4 million.

Some 8.2 million users downloaded maps, making that the most popular downloadable application; about 14.1 million users utilized their SMS-based news and information access for search, making that the most-favored use.

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Friday, March 06, 2009

Windows 7 Will Have IE 8 On-Off Switch

Microsoft said the upcoming public release candidate of Windows 7 will include the ability turn off Internet Explorer 8, which is the target of antitrust charges.

The option will be available through a control panel called "Windows Features," which will allow IE 8 to be turned off. The feature does not uninstall the browser. Instead, it deletes the IE 8 executable file "iexplore.exe." All other components remain, and the browser can be turned back on through the same panel.

The governing body could require Microsoft to distribute Windows in the European Union without IE, or offer an installation screen that gives consumers a choice of which browser to install. It's too soon to say whether Microsoft's latest move will satisfy the EC.

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Monday, March 02, 2009

Windows Market Share Rises Slightly; Mac Drops

The market share of Microsoft's Windows OS crept up every so slightly in February to 88.42 percent as Apple's Mac took a dip, according to data released by Net Applications.

Microsoft Windows inched up about 0.20 percentage points, from 88.2 percent in January to 88.42 percent last month. Apple's Mac, meanwhile, dropped from 9.93 percent to 9.61 percent over the last two months.

Compared to the same time last year, Windows has decreased slightly while Mac has had some gains. In February 2008, Windows had 90.67 percent market share, while Mac had 8.03 percent, and Linux had 0.76 percent.

Most Windows users, or about 64 percent, are still using XP while about 23 percent have upgraded to Vista. On the Mac front, about 6 percent are using the Mac OS X 10.5 and nearly 3 percent are on 10.4. A small amount - 1.35 percent - are still plugging away with Windows 2000.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Microsoft's List of Improvements to Windows 7

Microsoft has released a lengthy list of 36 improvements it plans to make to the release candidate for Windows 7, though they didn't provide any details on when that RC might actually be available.

The Windows team separated the updates into nine categories, including the desktop experience, touch, and Windows Media Player. Desktop tweaks received the most attention, with 10 expected changes.

Microsoft has incorporated its "Aero Peek" window transparency tool to the ALT+TAB function to give you a better idea of the items you have open on your desktop.

The RC will also make it easier to open files with a specific program, now allows for 24-39 percent more icons to be displayed before the taskbar scrolls, and makes it easier to see what files are open when items do scroll, among other changes.

The release candidate will also include Internet radio playback that is "more reliable and resilient". Microsoft will also no longer interrupt content playing via Media Player if the user inserts a USB drive.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Microsoft unveils new online employment resource

Microsoft announced the creation of a website, Elevate America, aimed at improving access to job training tools.

The site provides resources to help individuals gain the technical skills needed for acquiring jobs, the world's largest software company said.

The economy has shed 3.6 million jobs since the recession began in December 2007 with about half of the decline occurring in the past three months, recent Labor Department data showed.

The website provides access to several Microsoft online training programs, including how to use the Internet, send e-mail and create a resume, as well as more advanced programs on using specific Microsoft applications.

"We are also providing a full range of work force development resources for state and local governments so they can offer specialized training for their workers," said Pamela Passman, corporate vice president of Microsoft Global Corporate Affairs.

Microsoft tapped Washington state as the first state to provide Elevate America to its residents.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Testers get almost final Vista SP2

Microsoft is getting closer to releasing the next update for Windows Vista.

On Wednesday, Microsoft offered some technical testers a near-final "release candidate" version of the Windows Vista Service Pack 2 and Windows Server 2008 SP2. The company did not say when that version might be made publicly available.

"We continuously engage with our partners and testers on the development of service packs and we will track customer and partner feedback from the beta program before setting a final date for distribution," Microsoft said in a statement. "We will have more to share on Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 SP2 soon and are targeting final delivery in (the second quarter of) 2009."

The release of the updated SP2 test version was noted earlier on Thursday by Ars Technica. Microsoft has been working toward the release candidate version for some time now, after issuing a public beta of the update in December.

Meanwhile, Windows 7 is also moving toward the release candidate stage, with some sites noting that recent builds also contain the release candidate nomenclature, although Microsoft often labels its builds based on the version it is working toward.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Cyber Security Community Joins Forces to Defeat Conficker Worm

The quarter-million dollar award Microsoft is offering for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsibile for unleashing the "Conficker" worm may represent the culmination of what security experts say has been an unprecedented and collaborative response from industry, academia and Internet policy groups aimed at not just containing the spread of this worm, but also in creating a playbook for dealing with future digital pandemics.

Estimates of how many systems infected by Conficker, a contagion that has exploited Microsoft Windows PCs over the past few months, vary widely, from 2 million to more than 10 million machines. Microsoft estimates that at least 3 million PCs worldwide remain infected.

Rather, security experts say the worm may be the first stage of a larger attack. By using a mathematical algorithm, Conficker can tell infected systems to regularly contact a list of 250 different domain names each day.

Phillip Porras, director of the computer security lab at SRI International, also began tracking Conficker domains in late November. Porras and his team learned they could determine sets of domains sought by Conficker host systems in the past or the future, merely by rolling back or forward the system date setting on Microsoft Windows systems that they had purposely infected in their test lab.

But it's too soon for the community to declare victory, Wesson said. The next domain-based worm could significantly ratchet up the number of domains, and thereby sideline a large number of Web site names that might otherwise be commercially viable and sought after by legitimate Internet users.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Google tool helps consumers reduce energy usage

Google said it would use its software skills to help consumers track their home energy usage and thereby lower demand and the global warming emissions that come from producing electricity. The move is part of Google's effort to pump hundreds of millions of dollars into renewable energy, electricity-grid upgrades and other measures that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The company has already invested in several fledgling solar, wind and geothermal companies, as well as two "smart grid" companies. Smart grid describes a more efficient, less costly method of moving electricity along long-distance transmission lines to local power lines and end-users in homes and businesses. On its official company blog, Google said it is developing a smart grid tool called Google PowerMeter that will show home energy consumption almost in real time on a user's computer.

Google PowerMeter is currently being tested by employees and is not yet available to the public.

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Google Gmail Within Striking Distance Of Hotmail

The growth of Google (NSDQ: GOOG)'s Gmail service is accelerating and, if current trends continue, it could surpass Windows Live Hotmail by the end of this year.

Between December 2007 and December 2008, Gmail's number of unique monthly visitors in the United States grew 43%, from 20.8 million to 29.6 million, according to ComScore. Windows Live Hotmail lost 5% of its unique monthly visitors during this period, falling from 45.7 million to 43.5 million.

If Google's Gmail growth rate rises to, say, 46% over 2009, it could reach approximately 43 million unique U.S. visitors by the end of the year. And if Windows Live Hotmail continues to bleed visitors at a rate of, say, 3%, it will finish the year with around 42 million unique visitors per month.

Part of Gmail's success may be because of Google's policy of rapid-fire innovation, a practice formalized last June with the opening of Gmail Labs, a showcase and playground for Gmail engineers. Gmail Labs takes the form of a tab in the Gmail Settings menu that allows users to try out a variety of new features, some of which are useful and some of which are just fun.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

MySpace Identifies 90,000 Sex Offender Profiles

"This shocking revelation...provides compelling proof that social networking sites remain rife with sexual predators," Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said in a statement.

Blumenthal's office recently subpoenaed MySpace for information about the number of registered sex offenders on its site. They revealed that it has about 90,000 members who are registered sex offenders. Blumenthal's office has also subpoenaed Facebook and is awaiting the site's response.

Blumenthal accused MySpace of having "monstrously inadequate counter-measures" to prevent sex offenders from creating MySpace profiles. He pledged to identify all Connecticut-based sex offenders with MySpace profiles and determine whether they are violating their parole by frequenting the social networking site.

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Google Search Service Suffers Glitch

A glitch in Google Inc.'s Internet search service caused the search giant to falsely warn users that every site they searched for could harm their computers for about an hour on Saturday.

In a blog post, Marissa Mayer, Google's vice president of search products and user experience, attributed the error to a human mistake made while Google was updating a list of sites known to install malicious software.

Like other search engines, Google, Mountain View, Calif., uses that list to flag search results that could harm a user's computers with a warning: "This site may harm your computer." Due to an error in updating that list, that warning appeared across all results. In the blog post, Ms. Mayer said Google will "carefully investigate this incident and put more robust file checks in place to prevent it from happening again."

The hiccup underscores how even Google's largely automated systems can trip up, sending ripples throughout its worldwide user base.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Microsoft's Windows Vista "Capable" bill could hit $8.5 billion

A Microsoft marketing scheme persuading consumers to buy PCs "capable" of running Windows Vista could cost more money than Microsoft made from the program. Microsoft is calculated to have earned just $1.5 billion in Windows licensing from the program, which ran between August 2006 and July 2007.

Upgrade costs are based on the fact that consumers who'd bought a Windows XP machine designated as "capable" of running Windows Vista would need to buy additional RAM and a video card and the fact some notebooks couldn't run Windows Vista. Consumers by spring 2006 knew Windows Vista was coming and were likely to have held off buying PCs until Windows Vista shipped. That would have damaged sales of PCs and revenue from Windows licensing.

Microsoft refused to comment on the document, beyond what it had said in its own filings in the case.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Microsoft issued faulty fix for Downadup virus

The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) issued a warning on regarding the Downadup worm that has infected over 10 million computers so far. They said Microsoft's original proposed fix does not address all versions of the Windows operating system.

The Downadup worm creates an "autorun.inf" file on every USB drive it finds on a Windows system. The AutoRun feature in Windows will automatically execute the instructions contained within, allowing CDs, USB and other removable media forms the ability to spontaneously start install programs, or programs specific to the media form.

Microsoft originally advised a registry fix which would disable the AutoRun feature. However, US-CERT said that fix does not work on Windows 2000, XP and 2003 Server. The subsequent KB953252 support document describes how to manually install the fix for 2000, XP and Server 2003 users.

US-CERT warned that since Microsoft's solution only works on those systems which have the KB953252 patch applied, then only those systems which would have automatically received it would be rendered immune to this form of Downadup's attack.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Google courting resellers to push Google Apps to corporations

Google is building a reseller program for its online suite of enterprise applications as it seeks to push its productivity tools and software as a service model deeper into corporate computing.

They said it has 50 resellers in a pilot program that will allow them to sell and support Google Apps Premier Edition (GAPE) with a host of corporate features such as directory synchronization and end-user provisioning. The Google Apps Authorized Reseller Program will formally open in March. GAPE is the Google's $50 per user productivity suite targeted at businesses.

Google is battling with Microsoft and others to provide productivity applications and collaboration as an online service.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Will Windows 7 stymie Mac OS X's growth?

As of December, Apple's Mac OS X commanded 9.63% of the OS market, according to Net Applications, while Microsoft still led the way, accounting for more than 88% of the operating system market. There are numerous reasons why Mac OS X has become so popular over the past few years. Part of it can be attributed to Apple's success and its status in the industry as the most renowned and respected company to consumers. And most assuredly, part of the reason for Mac OS X's success is Windows Vista.

Even though it's only in beta testing, Windows 7 is easily one of the best operating systems MS has made. Driver support is outstanding, and performing basic tasks is very fast. But there's another key factor to consider: Windows 7 is optimized for netbooks. And although the market is currently still in its infancy, the netbook space is one of the fastest-growing in the industry, and most analysts believe that the mini devices are the future.

Besides the world of netbooks, Windows 7 is still an extremely compelling offering for the enterprise and consumers alike. But the real success for Windows 7 will come from vendors and the enterprise. Hewlett-Packard and Dell will be happy with Windows 7 because their customers will be happy. And the enterprise will be absolutely delighted with Windows 7 because it's not the resource hog Vista is, and believe it or not, it does more in fewer steps, creating an extremely simplified experience--something I've been enjoying on Mac OS X for years now.

In the process, Mac converts who moved to Mac OS X out of sheer hatred for Vista might start making their way back to the Windows world, after they hear great things about Microsoft's latest operating system.

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Nonprofit laptop maker forced to cut staff

In another sign of the growing financial strain on nonprofit groups, the One Laptop Per Child program is cutting its work force in half.

The project, a spinoff from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that sells durable, green-and-white laptops to developing countries for use in grade schools, will be left with just 32 employees at reduced salaries.

"Like many other nonprofits that are facing tough economic times, One Laptop Per Child must downsize in order to keep costs in line with fewer financial resources," Nicholas Negroponte, the group's founder, wrote in a blog post Wednesday.

The group sells its XO laptops to governments of developing countries for $199 but would like to get the cost down to $99. The computers run on open-source software and use less power than ordinary PCs.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Illegal copy of Windows 7 leaked

The first beta of Windows 7 is out illegally on BitTorrent. You can get a copy and run it before you're supposed to but that might be a mistake, especially if you're not careful. Turns out that it's impossible to apply security updates to the bootleg version, including the recent "out of band" update for a seriously critical vulnerability in Internet Explorer.

The torrented build was a daily build for the beta, and anyone who was supposed to have access to it has access to more recent builds which probably incorporate the fix. Microsoft has no good reason to release a patch for this version.