No rest for the weary, especially Windows users. Following the Conficker.c scare that, up to this point, hasn't lived up to the hype, a Microsoft Security Advisory (969136) warns of a newly discovered vulnerability in PowerPoint.
"Microsoft is investigating new reports of a vulnerability in Microsoft Office PowerPoint that could allow remote code execution if user opens a specially crafted PowerPoint file," said the advisory. "At this time, we are aware only of limited and targeted attacks that attempt to use this vulnerability."
Microsoft said the vulnerability is caused when PowerPoint accesses an invalid object in memory when parsing a specially crafted PowerPoint file. The security hole makes it possible for attackers to gain the same user rights as the local user.
No fix is currently in place, however Microsoft indicated it may release a patch before the next monthly security update. In the meantime, PowerPoint users are advised not to open or save Office files from un-trusted sources (thanks for that gem, MS!).
It's been about six weeks since Redmond rolled out the Release Candidate for Vista SP2, and now the RTM Escrow build is available to Microsoft Connect beta testers, DailyTechreports. To make sure everything's working, the RTM Escrow build includes both slipstream and standalone installers.
If you find an unofficial source for something claiming to be the RTM Escrow build, the build string is 6002.17043.090312-1835. Typically, the RTM Escrow build is the last step before a public release, probably in April.
Check out our complete Vista SP2 coverage here. Have you tried this new build? Join us after the jump and give us your thoughts.
Microsoft this week has confirmed that it plans to jettison out of the encyclopedia business and discontinue nearly all of its online Encarta products by October. The sole exception is Encarta Japan, which will run through the end of the year before being retired. In addition, the software giant will also stop selling Student and Encarta Premium software, both of which included the online encyclopedia.
"Encarta has been a popular product around the world for many years," Microsoft wrote in a notice on its Encarta website. "However, the category of traditional encyclopedias and reference material has changed. People today seek and consume information in considerably different ways than in years past. As part of Microsoft's goal to deliver the most effective and engaging resources for today's consumer, it has made the decision to exit the Encarta business."
Encarta has been around for over a decade with the latest version having been released in August, 2008. It included over 62,000 articles in the Premium edition and is available in a number of forms and languages, according to Wikipedia. Speaking of which, we imagine there must be quite a bit of celebrating going on among Wikipedia's ranks.
Microsoft's fourth attempt at an ad campaign may finally deliver a worthwhile message to consumers. The latest has nothing to do with Jerry Seinfeld and chewy computers (attempt one) or unattended 8-year-olds hooking up digital cameras to a notebook and declaring "I'm a PC" (attempt two), and then there's the Mojave Experiment (attempt three). Instead, Microsoft's newest ad takes aim at Apple by pointing out the gross pricing disparity between a Mac and a Windows-based PC.
In the ad, a young woman named Lauren says she's looking for a laptop with "speed, a comfortable keyboard, and a 17-inch screen" for under $1,000. Microsoft tells her if she can find it, she can keep it. Lauren's first stop? An Apple Store:
"For $1,000 they only have one computer available and that's a 13-inch screen," Lauren says. "I would have to double my budget, which isn't feasible. I'm just not cool enough to be a Mac person."
After later finding an HP Pavilion that "has all of my qualifications" for $700, the ad flashes "Congrats, Lauren. It's a PC."
Well played, Microsoft. And also well timed.
View the video here then hit the jump and tell us if you like Microsoft's new ad campaign.
Pirates of all ilks are locked in a game of cat and mouse with regulators and content proprietors. Throughout their endless war, both have tightly clung to Newton’s third law: every regulation (action) has an equal and opposite ruse (action). Microsoft has come up with a fresh way to stymie videogame piracy. Its newfangled anti-piracy measure will prevent gamers from enjoying illicit copies of games before the street date.
"We have zero-day piracy protection—this helps reduce the leakage of IP before release. The bits are encrypted, and there is a one-time activation that checks to see if the game has been released or not, and we'll send out a decrypt code so the game can be played." Drew Johnston, the product unit manager for the Windows Gaming Platform, told Ars Technica. How will pirates respond?
Microsoft's latest browser, Internet Explorer 8, has gotten mixed reviews from MaximumPC.com readers (see comments here and here), but one question that's hard for any individual user to answer about any browser is "how secure is it?"
To find out, Microsoft asked NSS Labs to pit IE8 RC1 against its predecessor, IE7, as well as the following third-party browsers: Firefox 3.0.7, Safari 3.2, Chrome 1.0.154, and Opera 9.64. The objective: find out which browser did the best job at handling so-called social-engineering malware sites - the ones that try to con you into downloading malware disguised as something else ("Adobe Flash update," anyone?).
ComputerWorldreports that IE8 did the best job of fending off attacks from 492 malware-distributing websites, blocking 69% of attacks (details here [PDF link]). If you're not using IE8, join us after the jump to learn how your favorite browser fared.
Vista might not have lived up to the pre-release hype on the day of its release, but at least as time went on, the initial bugs and hiccups have been mostly ironed out. What started off as a problematic OS has evolved into a respectable replacement for XP, no matter what the haters might tell you. If only the same could be said for former Microsoft Windows executive Jim Allchin's first foray into the solo music scene.
Allchin, who left Microsoft in 2007, recently released a solo guitar-and-vocals album titled "Enigma" (we would have gone with "Enema"), which made its way onto iTunes earlier this week. But unlike Vista, which got off to a rocky start but held promise, "Enigma" might have more in common with Windows ME, another utterly forgettable release.
"This is literally one of the, if not THE, worst albums I've heard," a listener wrote. "I'd say it's the 'Istar' of music, but that would be doing a grave disservice to 'Istar.' I cringe when I hear this ,and I'm at a loss for words to describe why it's so bad."
So are we, but maybe you'll have better luck than us. Give it a listen here, then hit the jump and offer up your critique.
While Google continues to pull ahead with a healthy share of planetary images, Microsoft announced this week that they signed a deal that gives them access to 100TB worth of NASA’s images, that will ultimately find their way onto the WorldWide Telescope website.
Microsoft has announced that they plan on working with NASA in order to develop “the technology and infrastructure necessary to make the most interesting NASA content.” The content, which will be available on Microsoft’s virtual telescope for exploring the universe, WorldWide Telescope, should be available later this year.
And, for those keeping tabs on just how big 100TB of data is, that’s enough to fill 20,000 DVDs.
Microsoft's recently released Internet Explorer 8 runs faster than previous versions, boasts better standards compliance, and serves up some nifty features like Tab Grouping, Web Accelerators, and Web Slices. And without any major UI changes to pull end-users out of their comfort zone, Microsoft likely expected a mad rush to upgrade. As it turns out, those who are upgrading appear to be running back to IE7, according to data by Net Applications.
After being released on Thursday of last week, IE8's market share ramped up to 2.59 percent on Sunday. By Monday, that number dropped to 1.86 percent and today sits at 1.17 percent. Going by Net Applications' numbers alone, this would seem to indicate early adopters aren't all that impressed with IE8.
Because of the improvements made to web standards compliance, Microsoft had to implement a Compatibility Mode to prevent itself from essentially 'breaking the web.' Major sites known to render improperly in IE8 automatically run in compatibility mode, while others require end-users to manually switch modes. Complaints have surfaced from not being able to print from greeting card sites to missing images on pages built with Microsoft Publisher.
Are you having issues with IE8? Hit the jump and sound off.
By now you've probably had a chance to either play with the Windows 7 beta, or have at least read up on Microsoft's upcoming operating system and have had your share of screenshots. But what you might not know is that the Windows 7 interface was close to being decidedly different than what it is.
Steven Sinofsky, senior VP for the Windows and Windows Live Engineering Group, said that kept a gallery of designs for the Office Assistant on his office wall to help inspire the Windows 7 team. His gallery contained over 400 sketches of the desktop UI, including a taskbar with thumbnails of open windows instead of icons.
Other interface considerations include a Bat Signal, so that when you hovered your mouse over an icon, a window pop-up would appear highlighted by beams of light. This would later evolve into Aero Peek in Windows 7. Aero Shake, on the other hand, came from an experiment called Aladdin. So long as a user kept 'rubbing' a window in the background, it would stay on top.
Check out what other wacky ideas the Windows 7 team considered and view more sketches here.