ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley once again lives up to her blog's "All About Microsoft" title, delivering the news that attendees at this week's Professional Developers' Conference (PDC) will also take home a pre-beta of Windows 7's server counterpart, Windows Server 2008 R2. Here's what's new in what's being characterized as a "minor" update:
Windows Server 2008 R2 represents the end of 32-bit support in the Windows Server family; it's 64-bit only
Windows Server 2008 R2 features version 2 of Hyper-V "bare metal" virtualization, which will include a new Live Migration feature for fault-tolerant failover
PowerShell Version 2.0, which includes a more graphical interface than its predecessor
Is Windows Server 2008 R2 in your company's future? Microsoft hopes so. According to Foley, Microsoft is calling the pairing of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 "Better Together," with features such as BitLocker support for removable drives, BranchCache (hosted server caching) and others working better when both operating systems are in use.
Join us after the jump for your thoughts on "Windows 7 Server."
Yesterday we got a first look at some of Windows 7’s new features, care of a pre-beta sneak peek. Today, based on the privacy statement released with that same pre-beta, istartedsomething.com has puzzled out a new batch of upcoming Windows features.
• BitLocker Drive Encryption – encrypts your data, preventing an offline software attacks if your computer is stolen. • Driver Protection – Prevents the OS from starting drivers with known stability problems. • Dynamic Update – Allows the OS to automatically download the latest updates during installation. • Gadgets – Programs that run on the desktop, likely similar to the likes of Rainlender • Games Folder – Adds a right-click option for certain game icons which allows you automatically search for and download updates for the game. • Homegroup – “Allows you to easily link Windows 7 computers on your home network so that you can share pictures, music, videos, documents and devices. It also makes them ready to stream media to devices on your home network such as a media extender.”
So what do you think of the new features? Tell 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.
Officially, Microsoft pulls the drapes off the Windows 7 pre-beta tomorrow (October 28) at the Professional Developer's Conference. So, what's new and different? ZDNet blogger Mary Jo Foley's received the inside scoop on what's coming tomorrow. Look for:
A new peripheral management interface called Device Stage (more info about this is coming in the Windows 7 Partner Showcase at November's WinHEC 2008 conference)
A new self-diagnosis feature called Action Center
A new A/V control method called StreamOn
A new animation framework
New task bar and shell integration features
Multi-touch and gesture recognition
Improved Bluetooth support
Ribbon UI akin to Office 2007 for Windows 7's applets
The version PDC attendees will be seeing appears to be build 6801 M3 (Milestone 3), which was finalized on October 20. You can find screen shots of an earlier version of this build at the WinFuture.de website (the site's in German, but the screen shots are in English).
Stay tuned to Maximum PC for more Windows 7 coverage.
The race is still on to see which will come out first - Vista's second Service Pack, or Windows 7 - but when it comes to beta releases, you needn't wait long. In a blog post, Microsoft said Vista's SP2 will begin beta testing this week.
"Following the success of Windows Vista Service Pack 1 last spring, we have been working hard on Windows Vista Service Pack 2," writes Mike Nash, corporate VP for Microsoft's Windows Product Management. "As part of the development and testing process, we're going to start by providing a small group of Technology Adoption Program customers with Windows Vista SP2 Beta for evaluation next Wednesday, October 29."
Nash goes on to say that SP2 will incorporate both previously released fixes and unreleased updates into a single serviceability model covering both Windows Vista (client) and Windows Server 2008 (server) versions. A big focus on SP2 will be on improving hardware support as well as "adding support for several emerging standards." Some of the changes include:
Adding Windows Search 4.0
Bluetooth 2.1 Feature Pack
Record data on Blu-ray media natively
Adds Windows Connect Now (WCN) for easier WiFi configs
That Bill Gates sure is one busy guy! Between working on the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and putting in a day a week on Microsoft, he’s starting up a brand new venture named bgC3.
bgC3 has been labeled a “think tank” by public documents, and is not planned to be Gates’ next big business. Rather, it’s going to be a means of coordinating his work on his business and philanthropic endeavors. According to federal trademark filings they fall under generic classifications of “scientific and technological services,” “industrial analysis and research,” and “design and development of computer hardware and software.”
The offices (located in Kirkland, WA) are packed to the brim with all the latest goodies that Microsoft offers, according to visitors. Including a Surface tabletop computer and a virtual guestbook application.
The name, as I’m sure some of you might be curious about, has a fun meaning. The “bg” stands for (obviously) Bill Gates, and the “C” stands for “catalyst.” The 3? Well, that’s where things get a bit creative. The number 3 in the name reflects the notion of it being in a third place, separate from Microsoft and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. Clever, right?
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.
Never ones to shy away from an uphill battle, Microsoft has recently been taking new steps to combat software piracy in China. They’ve launched a program, euphemistically called “Windows Genuine Advantage,” which blacks out users' screens if it discovers that they’re running pirated Microsoft software.
In China, a country where a large majority of computers are running pirated software, this move has, predictably, caused quite an uproar.
The China Daily quoted Dong Zhengwei, a lawyer, as saying “[Microsoft is] the biggest hacker in China with its intrusion into users’ computer systems without their agreement or any judicial authority … I respect the right of Microsoft to protect its intellectual property, but … They should target producers and sellers of fake software, not users.”
The quote references the fact that in China, a lot of the software sold commercially is actually pirated, meaning that users might be at risk of a blackout without even knowing it.
Is Microsoft just protecting their IP, or have they gone too far? Let us know after the jump.
Today seems to be a pretty big day in the (previously small) world of touch-screen devices that you don’t actually touch. Microsoft has released a demo showcasing a technology called Touchless which allows an everyday webcam to emulate the functionality of an expensive multi-touch screen. They’ve also released an SDK for Touchless, allowing developers to start creating their own sorta-multi-touch apps.
Mike Wasserman, the creator of the Touchless, has released a video demonstrating the technology in action. The technique involves using the webcam to track the position of “markers” manipulated in the air or on the surface. In the video, Mike uses all sorts of things as markers, including stuffed toys and a lollipop, which makes it seem like anything sufficiently colorful can be used. The video shows off how Touchless can be used to manipulate photos, draw, and play some rudimentary multi-touch games like Pong.
So far, Touchless is just a neat demonstration of an idea. With the SDK released, though, we might see some very cool things built on the technology in the future.
Check out the video or try the demo for yourself and let us know what you think.