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.
Pay attention, mobile-makers; Microsoft is showing off a new technology called SideSight at the User Interface Software and Technology conference in Monterey. SideSight allows for a mobile, touch-screen device with a twist: you don’t have to touch the screen.
Instead, the phone is controlled by moving your fingers in the space on either side of the device—essentially expanding the interface real estate greatly over a traditional touch screen. By moving your hands around the outside of the prototype SideSight device, objects and images on the screen can be rotated and manipulated, and text and pages can be scrolled through.
SideSight detects motion with an array of ten infrared proximity sensors lined up along each side. The prototype also features a smaller, traditional touch screen, allowing a user to write on the screen with a stylus in one hand, while moving the “page” by moving the other hand beside the device, simulating the way people write with a pen and paper.
Is this technology just a gimmick, or are we seeing the future of mobile devices? Give us your thoughts after the jump.
Microsoft has released an updated technology preview of its cool Deep Zoom Composer tool for Silverlight 2. As we reported back in July, Deep Zoom Composer gives you the ability to display multiple high-resolution thumbnails, zoom in for a closeup, and pan back again. You can use Deep Zoom Composer to create mosaics (as in our original story), or to bring a new level of interactivity to online collections (as the Hard Rock Cafe has done).
If you want to give it a try, install the latest version of Silverlight 2 beta first, then install the Deep Zoom Composer technology preview 0.9.0005. Deep Zoom Composer runs on Windows XP SP2 or SP3 and Windows Vista, and requires a 2GHz Intel or AMD processor, at least 1GB of RAM, and a Microsoft DirectX 9-capable video card with at least 256MB of video memory.
See the Teaching Ideas and Resources blog at MSDN for more information about this and other imaging tools from Microsoft.
Join us after the jump for your comments, and don't forget to share links to your creations!
Everyone knows that technology is an important part of the world that we live in (well, just about everyone), and that includes the Democratic nominee for President, Barack Obama.
Should Obama be elected President of the United States (please, don’t let the comments turn into partisan bickering!), he lists in his plan for the country the appointment of a Chief Technology Officer. The CTO would primarily be responsible for getting broadband Internet access into more American homes (shockingly, only 23 out of every 100 homes have such access, putting us in 15th place among nations on that particular statistic). They’d also be responsible for advancing green tech, thanks to a $50 billion venture capital fund.
As mundane as the job might sound, there are some pretty big names being thrown around for the position. The likes of Vint Cerf (Google), Steve Ballmer (Microsoft), Jeff Bezos (Amazon) and Ed Felten (Princeton) are all potentials. But who cares what that one thinks, who would you want sitting in the biggest tech seat in America?
Piracy continues to be the bane of both software developers/publishers and consumers alike. Electronic Arts caused an uproar among gamers when it decided to use a modified version of SecuROM for Spore, which ultimately ended up punishing paying customers while pirates still got their hands on the game through torrent sites from the outset. Is there a solution?
Microsoft hopes to answer that question by taking the fight against software piracy global. In what Microsoft is calling Global Anti-Piracy Day (not to be confused with the International Talk Like a Pirate Day), the company will use a mishmash of education and enforcement tactics in 49 countries, which includes filing 20 lawsuits against software resellers in the U.S. allegedly selling pirated copies of Office 2007 Enterprise, Windows XP Pro, Office 2003 Pro, and Office 2007 Pro.
"One of the reasons we believe this announcement is important is it consolidates a lot of our activities in connection with our partnerships with governments, our customers and partners,” said Bonnie MacNaughton, Microsoft senior attorney.
Different tactics will be used in different countries. For instance, Microsoft is partnering with the American Chamber of Commerce to launch an anti-piracy educational blog in Brazil, whereas in Italy the company has begun an employee anti-piracy ambassador program. Regardless of specific strategy, it's all part of an effort to reduce the estimated $50 billion pirated software is costing the industry on a global scale.
Hit the jump and let us know if you think Microsoft's approach will work or not.
Most of the buzz surrounding Microsoft has to do with the company's next operating system, Windows 7, and what changes to expect over Vista. But a new OS isn't the only thing the software giant has been working on, as the next version of Office is receiving some attention as well.
At next week's Professional Developer Conference (PDC), Microsoft plans to talk about Office 14 (as the next version of Office has been code-named) with attendees, giving them a sneak peek at some of the features. Sure to be a highlight of the discussion is Office 14's ability to run in different modes, online or offline.
"We will rewrite Office to work in a browser," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in an interview with Britain's Computer Weekly.
But while attendees will get a first look at Office 14 - specifically, Office business applications and the software's Open XML file formats, according to the two listed sessions - it doesn't appear they'll be walking home with a copy, so don't fret if you won't be in attendance.
I know it, you know it, almost everybody that reads Maximum PC knows it - but that doesn't mean that your family, your co-workers, or your bosses know it. What's it? Simply this: Microsoft never - repeat never - sends out security updates via email.
The email, ironically enough, claims that "Since public distribution of this Update through the official website http://www.microsoft.com would have result in efficient creation of a malicious software, we made a decision to issue an experimental private version of an update for all Microsoft Windows OS users." And, it's signed "Steve Lipner, Directory of Security Assurance, Microsoft Corp."
Well, at least the bad guys got Steve's name right. However, he's actually senior director of security engineering strategy in Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing Group, according to a recent interview.
The message (minus the Trojan, of course), is available at the Microsoft Malware Protection Center blog, where you can see for yourself the classic hallmarks of a fake message: a shaky command of the English language, sentence construction that's so stiff it belongs on a Victorian-era calling card, and off-the-wall sentiments that show it was adapted from a different con job document: "We apologize for any inconvenience this back order may be causing you." Back order? Whaat? I didn't order any malware!
Already getting calls from frantic family, friends, or co-workers wondering why their PCs have slowed to a crawl or become infested by popups? Join us after the jump for solutions.