The Malaysian website Tech ARP, which previously figured out the release schedule for Windows Vista SP1 and Windows XP SP3, has looked into its crystal ball again and predicts Vista SP2 will be released to manufacturing in April 2009. First, though, a release candidate (RC) will be released in February.
So, what will be the big attractions in Vista SP2?
Windows Search 4.0
Bluetooth 2.1 Feature Pack
Native Blu-Ray recording
Windows Connect Now support for easier Wi-Fi connections
UTC timestamp support in the exFAT file system to enable correct file synchronization across timezones
Keep in mind that Vista SP2 will only install on systems running Vista SP1.
Some users wonder if Vista SP2 is coming too quickly after the release of Vista SP1. To find out how the release schedule for Vista SP2 compares to other service pack releases for past Windows versions, and for your chance to comment, join us after the break.
A recent posting to the Engineering Windows 7 blog (one of our favorite sites for Windows 7 news, by the way) has some very useful information about the mysterious WinSxS directory in Windows 7 (and Vista), and how Microsoft is trying to curb Windows' appetite for disk space in Windows 7.
The C:\Windows\WinSxS folder (first introduced in Vista) looks as if it is a huge gobbler of disk space, (it uses 3.5GB of disk space on a new system, and can use 10GB or more as a system is used) but what does it do, and is that space really being "used up?"
As it turns out, both Windows Vista and Windows 7 use the WinSxS folder to point to files that are actually found elsewhere in Windows; in other words, the amount of space that the WinSxS properties sheet says is in use isn't accurate. So, what's the folder for?
By using the WinSxS folder to store what the blog calls the "installation and servicing state" of all system components, Microsoft makes it easier to roll out Vista installations with imaging technology and to patch the image offline (Windows XP and earlier versions aren't image-friendly, and require third-party tools and clunky workarounds to permit image-based deployment). Also, if you get rid of the WinSxS folder, you make it difficult to keep Windows running reliably. So, the word on the street is, "keep the WinSxS folder." To remove old files replaced by Windows Vista SP1, the blog entry provides a link to information about the command-line VSP1CLN.exe tool.
To find out how Microsoft is working to put Windows 7 on a disk-space diet, join us after the jump.
According to a filing released Thursday, the Vista Capable program originally included support for the Windows Driver Display Model (WDDM) as part of the requirement for support of core Windows features. Although OEMs such as Dell, Sony, and Fujitsu all asked for waivers from the WDDM requirement for various computer models that used Intel chipsets with integrated graphics that could not run WDDM drivers, Microsoft refused all three companies' request for waivers because of the improvements in stability and features resulting from WDDM drivers.
However, when Intel came calling on Microsoft , it was a different story. After a series of email exchanges between Intel and Microsoft, Microsoft dropped the WDDM driver requirement, enabling Intel and its OEM partners to market systems with Intel 915 integrated graphics as being "Vista Capable" - even though their integrated graphics would never support Aero Glass or be supported by a WDDM driver.
To find out why some OEM vendors were pleased with Microsoft's relaxing of the WDDM rules, and some weren't, join us after the jump.
InfoWorld's Randall C. Kennedy has put Windows 7's Milestone 3 pre-beta build 6801, a freebie from last month's Microsoft Professional Developer's Conference, through a variety of benchmark tests, and isn't all that impressed:
As I reported on my Enterprise Desktop blog, the more I dug into Windows 7, the more I saw an OS that looked and felt like a slightly tweaked version of Windows Vista.
Just as slow as Vista...Just as consumer-focused as Vista...Just as confusing as Vista...
Kennedy cites these similarities:
The number of execution threads in key subsystems is almost the same in Windows 7 as in Vista
Benchmarks of Windows 7 and Vista Ultimate SP1 using the DMS Clarity Studio tools suite show almost identical results
Similar amounts of RAM are used by Windows 7 and Windows Vista
From these facts and visual similarities between Windows 7 and Vista, Kennedy concludes:
Bottom line: So far, Windows 7 looks and behaves almost exactly like Windows Vista. It performs almost exactly like Vista. And it breaks all sorts of things that used to work just fine under Vista. In other words, Microsoft's follow-up to its most unpopular OS release since Windows Me threatens to deliver zero measurable performance benefits while introducing new and potentially crippling compatibility issues.
Is Kennedy right, or is he missing a big difference between Windows 7 and its predecessor? For my take, join me after the break.
This month's Patch Tuesday, unlike October's, is a quiet one, with just two security bulletins:
MS08-069 solves a remote code execution vulnerability in Microsoft's XML Core Service that is rated as Critical for version 3.0 and Important for later versions. All 32-bit and 64-bit desktop versions of Windows from Windows 2000 SP4 through Windows Vista SP1 are affected, as well as Microsoft Office 2003 and 2007. The Exploitability Index is 1 (Consistent Exploit Code Likely - the most serious ranking) or 2 (Inconsistent Exploit Code Likely), depending upon the version of XML Core Services installed. Windows Server 2003 and some installations of Windows Server 2008 are also affected.
MS08-068 patches a remote code execution vulnerability in the SMB protocol. MS08-068 is rated as Important for Windows 2000 SP4 and Windows XP, and Moderate for Windows Vista. Windows Server 2003 and all Windows Server 2008 installations are also affected. Despite Microsoft's rating this vulnerability as only Important rather than Critical, MS08-068's Exploitability Index is 1 because exploit code targeting Windows XP is already public.
That's it for Patch Tuesday security bulletins, both of which will be arriving soon via Windows Update (or can be downloaded manually if you prefer). What else has Microsoft served up?
The only non-security content this time is the usual monthly update for the Malicious Software Removal Tool (KB890830; not yet updated as this article was posted now updated) and the usual monthly update for the Windows Mail junk mail filter (KB905866), available in 32-bit and 64-bit versions.
One of the most frustrating experiences you can have as a PC user is when something just won’t work. Maybe it’s a game that blacks out after the title screen, or an app that refuses to launch when you tell it to, but in any case it doesn’t give you much of a clue what’s going wrong, and it’s enough to make you want to pull your hair out.
One possible cause of these mysterious crashes is interference with one of your computer’s background processes. Unfortunately, a whole host of them start with Windows, so it can be tricky to figure out if they’re causing a problem, and if so, which one.
In this article, we’ll show you how to use a clean boot to identify harmful program interactions. A clean boot is a boot where no unnecessary background processes launch at startup. Some functionality of the computer may be lost while performing a clean boot, but it’s easily reversible and a powerful diagnostic technique.
For most of the last decade, improving 3D performance has been the primary goal of operating system, application (read gaming) developers, and hardware developers. However, when you're at work, trying hard to make the money you need to buy a new HDTV and über-gaming PC, you're probably working in a 2D world that's being managed by the creaky GDI/GDI+ APIs which were first developed back to the 1990s.
This week, Microsoft introduced a replacement for GDI/GDI+ called Direct2D. Microsoft's Thomas Olsen, a Dev Lead in the Windows Desktop Graphics organization, uses his new blog to bring us up to speed on why we need the new Direct2D API and how it will make PCs work better.
To learn more about Direct2D, join us after the jump.
Among the reasons, Joe mentions the conspicuous lack of Vista sessions at the Professional Developer conference, and the recent lack of advertisements for the OS. He also talks about how reticent Microsoft has been recently regarding Vista license sales numbers and weak client income figures as indicative of diminishing Vista performance.
The post also references the growing popularity of Vista-deficient netbooks as a factor in Microsoft’s desire to give Vista a “quick death.”
Wilcox concludes that “Vista deserved better market reception than it got,” but that a number of small(ish) flaws, like its glacial startup times, have given it a bad image that it simply hasn’t been able to shake.
The article makes a pretty compelling case for Vista being headed for an early death. Check it out and let us know whether you agree after the jump.
Redmond usually releases security patches once a month, on Patch Tuesday, but Microsoft's security experts are worried enough about a newly reported vulnerability in the Server service to post an "out-of-band" security update, MS08-067, yesterday for all versions of Windows from Windows 2000 SP4 through Windows Server 2008 and Windows 7 pre-beta. Microsoft hasn't issued a security update between Patch Tuesday releases since April 2007, so this is a significant security issue.
Although all supported versions of Windows are vulnerable, Windows 2000 SP4, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003 versions are especially vulnerable to this flaw, which can permit remote code execution via a specially crafted RFC request.
To find out what makes this vulnerability so critical, and to learn how to get the update, join us after the jump.