Everyone has been expecting this could happen at any moment, but late on Monday Google finally began a full scale rollout of Android 2.2 (Froyo) to Nexus One users. Previously, a small number of users got updates, but these were of an earlier non-final build. The update will arrive in the form of an over-the-air update automatically downloaded to the phone. Both AT&T and T-Mobile flavors of Google's superphone have been receiving the update.
It has been over a month since Google showed off Froyo at Google I/O, and some users were beginning to become anxious for the update. Android 2.2 brings such improvements as Adobe Flash support in the browser, Wi-Fi hotspot functionality, and automatic app updates. Google said in a statement that all Nexus handsets should be updated by late this week.
The new version of the mobile OS will still need to be modified by various carriers to be released on other handsets. Phones running skins like HTC Sense and MotoBLUR are in for longer waits. Any Nexus users out there still waiting for the update? Those unwilling to wait, should be able to manually install the update, but proceed with caution.
Android is often criticized for its relative lack of cohesion when compared to the iPhone platform. But if Google's Android chief Andy Rubin is to be believed, Google expects to reduce the fragmentation problems by slowing the release schedule. The statements were made in an interview with the Silicon Valley Mercury News. This would give manufacturers more time to ready software updates and new hardware based on the new version of Android.
Android has been moving at a breakneck pace since it was debuted in fall of 2008. In the last year, we've seen no fewer than 5 updates to the platform: 1.5, 1.6, 2.0, 2.1, and in the coming weeks 2.2. This has made it nearly impossible for manufacturers to update existing hardware, and new devices often launch with older version of the software.
Rubin explained that there was a lot of work to be done on Android. He said that 1.0 felt more like a 0.8 release. Even now the cycle has slowed down from where it was just recently. "Our product cycle is now, basically twice a year, and it will probably end up being once a year when things start settling down, because a platform that’s moving — it’s hard for developers to keep up," said Rubin. We like software updates as much as the next gaggle of nerds, but this seems like a good thing for the platform overall.
Amazon is preparing to rollout the 2.5 update for their successful Kindle ereader. Some of the new features seem like nice feature additions. The update has added the ability to password protect the devices lock screen. There is also enhanced support for PDF viewing that includes the ability to pan and zoom on the documents. Amazon is including the ability to organize the Kindle Library in "Collections" as well. That should definitely help cut down on the clutter. User's will also have the option of two new larger fonts.
Those are just the useful additions. Amazon is adding a new feature called "Popular Highlights" with a social slant. The service will let you share passages of a book on Twitter or Facebook. The idea is that you'd be able to see what bits of a book others find interesting as you're reading it. Seems like an interesting, if possibly distracting idea. Just be responsible people, and don't share the ending.
The update is set to come out via an over the air update later in May. Some lucky Kindle owners have gotten it early, however. Any Kindle users out there that are looking forward to this update?
It hasn’t been a good week for Microsoft’s updates to Office. Today, Microsoft came clean on some problems with a recently released seven-patch update for Excel. Apparently, users are seeing Chinese where they’d normally expect to see English. This comes on top of an early faux pas in an update for Office 2007 that caused it to crash under certain circumstances.
Says Microsoft about the most recent snafu: “We have received reports from some of our Excel 2003 and Excel 2002 customers that after installing update KB978471 or KB978474, they are seeing non-English text in the 'Add or Remove Programs' tool (Win[dows] XP) or the 'Programs and Features' --> 'Installed Updates' view (Vista, Win[dows] 7).” Continuing on, Microsoft says if you really need English text uninstall Tuesday’s Excel update, then download and install a corrected version of the patch.
The earlier problem, acknowledged by Microsoft yesterday, involved a non-security hotfix that added support for .Net 4.0 to Office 2007. This caused versions of Office 2007 running on Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows Server 2008 with Terminal Services to crash. Some users also claimed the update would cause Internet Explorer 8 to crash, when being used with SharePoint 2007. Microsoft has already replaced the offending update with a corrected version.
If you’re the type that obsessively updates your video drivers, you might also be the type that likes to overclock your video card. Those predilections certainly didn’t you well this week if you run Nvidia cards. The GeForce 196.21 drivers released this week caused overclocking software to stop working.
The glitch affected multiple tweaking apps like RivaTuner, EVGA Precision, and Galaxy MagicPanel HD. In some cases only the shader clock could not be set. In the more severe cases, shader, memory, and core clocks were all locked. At first, there was fear that this was an intentional move by Nvidia to limit user tweaks. Nvidia quickly cleared the whole matter up though. The problem is just a software bug and there will be an updated driver available soon.
Have you updated to the 196.21 drivers? Any problems?
If you’re a Windows user and you haven’t done your updates for this patch Tuesday, put it on your to-do list. The Redmond software giant has pushed out updates that patch several major security holes in Internet Explorer, one of which already has a code exploit in the wild. The fixes address problems that could allow remote attackers to gain control of a system running previously installed malware found on the internet.
Security firm Tipping Point disclosed three of the IE vulnerabilities this past summer through their Zero Day Initiative. "Vulnerabilities in IE are generally pretty serious because all you have to do is go to a web page or get referred to one that has malicious code on it,” said Tipping Point’s Jason Avery. Patches today also covered several holes in Office and Integrated Windows Authentication and Indeo Codec in XP and Server 2003. So get updating everyone.
Facebook was born upon the idea of people networking. Initial Facebook networks were obvious ones: your school, your community, your country. A bit crude, but easily established and, initially, allowing a modicum of privacy. But, as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg notes in an open letter to Facebook users, networks have gotten way out of hand. The solution, according to Zuckerberg--get rid of them.
Regional networks are Zuckerberg’s target, and legitimately so. Regional networks have grown to include millions of members. So much for the intimacy initially offered by Facebook. Instead of automatically sharing with a couple hundred people in a network, you share with a couple million.
Zuckerberg says that Facebook will replace networks with greater individual control over who sees your Facebook content. These new privacy controls will allow greater ability to define who family and friends are. They’ll also allow users to control access to bits-and-pieces of their Facebook entries. This will let Facebook users revive the intimacy of their connections, making the social networks they create more meaningful to them.
As the new privacy settings are implemented, Zuckerberg says, users will be notified and asked to review their privacy settings. The changes are scheduled to take place over the next few weeks.
As we close up yet another month of freeware goodies, it's important to look back and reflect on some of the awesome programs that received a version bump in the past 30 days. It was tough to nail down five free applications that not only upgraded themselves to a new iteration, but ones that successfully packed new and interesting features into their latest builds. There's no overarching theme this week save for that. It's a grab-bag of awesome new software to install; if the lack of a unifying concept horrifies you, don't worry. I'll list out all of this month's freeware roundups in the article below, which you can use as a guide of-sorts to travel back to safer downloading waters.
Click the upgrade button (okay, the jump) and check out the best of this month's updated freeware!
Microsoft has ended support for Office 2000, which was launched a decade ago. The productivity suite had been in its extended support period since July 1, 2004, which elapsed on Tuesday. If your heart still beats for Office 2000 for some reason, you can find all the patches that were released for Office 2000, during its 10-year support lifecycle, on the Download Center.
Microsoft is gearing up to enter a new era with its upcoming Office 2010 productivity suite. The company launched a limited-by-invitation technical preview of Office 2010 on Monday. It has also announced it plans to offer a web-based version of the application suite called Office Online.
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)