Procrastinators take note, your window of opportunity to beta test Microsoft's next operating system is closing fast. You have until 11:59 PM PST today to begin downloading Windows 7 (from Microsoft, anyway), and will have until 9 AM PST Thursday to finish the download, Microsoft said. It's the general public who are being cut off by tonight's deadline; MSDN and TechNet subscribers will still have access.
If you miss the deadline, you'll have another opportunity when Microsoft releases its next test version of Windows 7, which the software maker says will closely resemble the final release. When that version of Windows 7 will arrive has not yet been announced.
This is also a good time to remind users that Windows Vista beta testers who submitted a legitimate bug report ended up being eligible to receive a free copy of Vista Business or Ultimate. Microsoft has made no mention of doing anything similar for Windows 7 beta testers, so you'll have to decide for yourself how motivated you are to spend some hands-on time with Vista's successor.
It is finally happening! Microsoft is now changing over to a 64-bit operating system by default instead of 32 bit. Windows Server 2008 R2 will be the first operating system to feature 32 bit optional. This means that all the applications included with Windows Server 2008 R2 will be native 64 bit. It appears Microsoft is now ready to embrace the 21st century and begin shipping their new server operating systems as 64 bit only.
For the system administrators that still want to run 32-bit applications inside of Windows Server 2008 R2 they will have to install WoW64. This application support layer is not included by default with the operating system.
Hit the jump for more information and what this means to regular home users.
Although Microsoft is concerned about the likelihood of EU requiring it to bundle other browsers with Windows, Firefox architect Mike Connor isn’t exulting. He, personally, despises the idea of other browsers, including Mozilla Firefox, being packaged with Windows. Connor told PC Pro in an interview,” The choice [when installing Windows] would be weird. There's no good UI [user interface] for that.” Connor’s views on this particular issue are his alone and should not be construed as Mozilla’s official line.
He then proceeded to take Opera to task for having complained to the EU about Microsoft’s bundling of IE with Windows. Connor thinks that the quality of the product is paramount and bundling doesn’t necessarily lead to market share. He labeled Opera – based on other people’s feedback – a “geeky browser” that is difficult to use.
Microsoft’s Windows Vista Ultimate was supposed to be a fun-filled version packed full of extras, but as anyone with the OS knows, this is a promise that Microsoft didn’t exactly make good on. So, on that note, Microsoft has decided to announce that Windows 7 Ultimate will feature absolutely no extras whatsoever.
“Our new approach to planning and building Windows doesn't have the capacity to continue to deliver features outside the regular release cycle. While our core development team is focused on building the next release, our sustained engineering team is focused on updates to existing features. As a result we don't plan to create Ultimate Extras,” Microsoft stated in a recent bit of Windows 7 SKU news.
Windows 7 Ultimate won’t be available on a retail level, but instead will be offered during promotional periods. It has been speculated that it will be $80 cheaper than Vista’s Ultimate, making it $320.
We have all had those stubborn problems that refuse to go away no matter how long you try to fix it. As a power user, you know that Microsoft has a gigantic library of fixes. The hard part is finding the particular fix for the problem you are having. Once you get to the KB article, you are given a list of steps to perform. Most likely the steps are easy to perform and do not take much time. However, what if you manage a huge network of computers and each one of them has the particular problem? Microsoft has announced they are going to start being proactive and help people fix their computers.
Hit the jump for more information on this feature.
Whether you're using Windows and IE, managing Microsoft Exchange or SQL Server at work, or using Microsoft Office, this month's Patch Tuesday has a security update for you. All four security bulletins address Remote Code Execution vulnerabilities in recent and current service packs for each product listed:
IE 7: Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003
Microsoft Office: Visio 2002, 2003, 2007
SQL: SQL Server 2000 Desktop Engine on Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003; Windows Internal Database (WYukon) on Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008; SQL Server 2000 and SQL Server 2005
Exchange Server: Exchange 2000 Server, Exchange Server 2003, Exchange Server 2007
But Wait, There's More!
Other updates to be released tomorrow include:
Cumulative Update for Windows Vista Media Center (KB960544)
Cumulative Update for Windows Vista Media Center TVPack (KB958653)
Upgrade Rollup for ActiveX Killbits for Windows (KB960715)
February 2009 updates for Windows Mail Junk Email Filter (KB905866) and Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool (KB890830)
In case you missed the earlier stories, MaximumPC readers and many others have been concerned about how easy it was for malware to change UAC levels and subvert the new and allegedly improved User Account Control in Windows 7.
To find out what's changing - and who deserves the credit - join us after the jump.
The Registerreports that there's good news and bad news for the many Windows XP users who took a pass on Windows Vista and decided to wait for Windows 7.
The good news? Windows XP users will be eligible for Windows 7 upgrade pricing.
The bad news? Windows XP users will need to do a clean install of Windows 7.
El Reg quotes a Microsoft rep thus:
I can confirm that customers will be able to purchase upgrade media and an upgrade license to move from Windows XP to Windows 7 - however, they will need to do a clean installation of Windows 7.
This requires the user to back up their data, install Windows 7, re-install the programs and restore their data. For PCs running Windows Vista customers have the option of an in-place upgrade of Windows 7 keeping their data and programs intact or to perform a clean install of Windows 7.
For those of you in the XP to Windows 7 camp, does the need to do a clean install bother you, or were you planning a clean install anyway? Join us after the jump for your chance to be heard.
Despite ongoing rumors to the contrary, Microsoft has continually denied it has plans to release a smartphone. But that's not true, according to analysts Rob Sanderson and Mark McKechnie at Broadpoint AmTech.
"MSFT Smart-Phone Launch? Multiple industry sources are telling us that MSFT is planning to launch a smartphone," AmTech wrote in a memo. "We are told it will be a 2H launch."
AmTech goes on to describe Microsoft's strategy as "a bit puzzling," pointing out that a Microsoft-branded smartphone may alienate existing Windows Mobile customers who would be forced to compete with the software giant in hardware. Nevertheless, AmTech claims an official announcement could be forthcoming at 3GSM in Barcelona on February 16th, or at another analyst event in New York on February 24th.
So what's our take? We'll see a Microsoft smartphone about the same time as the company releases a Blu-ray capable Xbox 360 console.
The time has come for businesses to abandon Windows XP and start using Vista, so says Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Failure to do so might result in a discontent work force.
"If you deploy a four or five-year old operating sytem today, most people will ask their boss why the heck they don't have the stuff they have at home," Ballmer said during an interview at a New York City Event.
Whether or not "the stuff they have at home" is Vista or XP, Ballmer has good reason to push the former to business owners. According to the most recent survey results collected by Forrester, Vista is powering slightly less than 10 percent of all PCs within enterprises in North America and Europe.
On the bright side (for Microsoft), Ballmer may not have to do much convincing. Forrester also says that 31 percent of enterprises have begun deploying Vista, even with Windows 7 now on the horizon.