Wh...what's this? A piece of open-source software from Microsoft that adds speed and portability to the standard Windows 7 installation process? It almost sounds too good to be true, but it's not! There really is such a utility, and it really has been delivered by the Windows 7 manufacturer itself, and it really is open-source!
I might sound a little too excited about this entire concept, but that's just because this tool--the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool--is actually a great replacement for what is otherwise a semi-complex (and hard to remember) series of console commands. If you think I'm exaggerating just for the sake of fashioning up a fun article to read, you're wrong. I couldn't tell you off-hand how to create a bootable USB drive with a preloaded Windows 7 disc. I usually just turn to this series of steps as a general walkthrough.
While the Microsoft tool isn't perfect, in that it won't automatically rip the contents of your Windows 7 CD and fashion a bootable USB key out of that, it's still an awesome way to automate this entire process using a friendly GUI. But don't think that you can just use this tool to make bootable USB keys of any ol' ISO file sitting around on your hard drive. In fact, you can't even rip the Windows 7 DVD and use the subsequent ISO file as the basis of your bootable USB key. Not without some tweaking, that is...
We wouldn’t normally test two products from the same lineup in two consecutive issues of the magazine. But when Western Digital’s My Book 3.0 showed up just days after the March issue went to print (it's on newsstands now!), we knew we had to review it. It doesn’t have an e-label or capacity meter, like the My Book Elite. Nor does it include WD’s SmartWare backup software or hardware encryption. But the My Book 3.0 has one feature that makes it awesome: USB 3.0.
Today, we’re starting to see the first motherboards with USB 3.0 support. That support exists in the form of a discrete controller chip, typically the NEC uPD720200; it will likely be late 2010 or sometime in 2011 before we see USB 3.0 integrated into motherboard chipsets. Still, USB 3.0 is a major leap beyond USB 2.0, so peripheral manufacturers are already announcing products to support the new standard.
First, let’s clarify some terminology. USB 1.0/1.1 was typically just called USB, and supported throughput up to 12Mb/s. When USB 2.0 arrived, with its 480Mb/s speed, the USB Working Group (www.usb.org) needed a distinguishing name, hence Hi-Speed USB. USB 3.0 will be called SuperSpeed USB. Got that?
It's a new year, a new decade, with bigger hard disks than ever and new technologies like SATA 6Gbps, USB 3.0, and bigger solid-state drives to choose from. So, what do you do with the drives you've replaced (or will replace this year)? From drive enclosures and media streamers to storage for home servers and salvage fodder, find out the best ways to decide which drives get promoted, which drives are out, and which drives deserve a second life.
Defense company Lockheed Martin usually focuses on building advanced aircraft, missiles, and bits of spacecraft. This makes their newest venture all the more baffling. Lockheed Martin is partnering with IronKey to deliver a line of super secure USB thumb drives. The so called “IronClad” USB keys will apparently come with a custom software package you won’t find anywhere else.
IronKey flash drives have been available for some time using 256-bit AES encryption along with an additional layer of 128-bit AES hardware encryption. Details on how the Lockheed Martin version will differ are a bit nebulous right now, but it will reportedly include IronKey encryption, built-in virus protection, at least 8GB of storage, and security oriented network applications. No pricing is available yet, but considering that a regular 8GB IronKey goes for around $150, we can probably assume this won’t be an impulse buy.
No matter how many companies try, we're not sure USB flash drives preloaded with music or movies will ever generate the kind of sales marketing gurus envision, but Kingston and Sony, along with the help of the late king of pop, are nevertheless going to try.
Timed to the DVD and Blu-ray release of Michael Jackson's "This Is It," Kingston plans to release a limited edition 2GB drive with the flick preloaded on the memory stick. According to Kingston, the film can be backed up on up to three PCs and works with Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7.
"Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is dedicated to exploring new distribution channels, and we are pleased to work together with Kingston on a program that introduces consumers to Flash memory as a vehicle for enjoying their favorite movies on devices like netbooks and PCs," said Sony Pictures Home Entertainment senior vice president digital distribution Joe Arancio.
The drive will be available on January 26 for $20.
LaCie is hitting CES hard right out of the gate announcing a new LaCinema device, network server, and Wuala USB drives. The new LaCinema Mini HD is a DLNA compliant media player capable of 1080p output via an HDMI port. The Mini HD has an internal hard drive that can be loaded up with content over the network or by way of the USB port. It will support 802.11n Wi-Fi and most codecs including DivX, MKV, and AVC.
Next up we have a network server that LaCie is just calling Network Server.It will support five drive bays, gigabit Ethernet, and runs Windows Home Server. Customers will also have access to LaCie’s Wuala backup technology, but no details were available at the time.
Finally we have the new line of CoolKey and WhizKey USB keys (that actually look like keys). They are only USB 2.0 instead of SuperSpeed USB like many devices we’re likely to see around the CES floor this week. LaCie did sate the drives would be capable of 30MB/s transfers and are waterproof. They will be available in sizes up to 32GB. They also come with 4GB of Wuala web storage for two years.
The DataTraveler BlackBox, DataTraveler Secure — Privacy Edition, and DataTraveler Elite — Privacy Edition are the only flash drives being recalled. Kingston has advised those affected to contact tech support before returning their flash drives. Its site contains a country-wise list of all its tech support phone numbers.
The launch of a new mobile broadband service at CES next month could spark a price war. The new prepaid mobile broadband service is called DataJack. Its 3G network will cover 130 U.S cities at launch, as per its website. It is promising unlimited mobile broadband – absolutely no download limits- for a flat fee of $39.99 a month. The icing on the cake happens to be the fact that the service is prepaid. The USB modem required to access the service costs only $99 and can be used for storing data using an inbuilt microSD slot (card not supplied). Similar offerings on the market are not only more expensive but also don't provide unlimited data usage. DataJack will be in a league of its own when it debuts unless other carriers try and outmaneuver it by slashing their own prices before that.
Last month Microsoft was forced to take down their Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool after it was discovered to contain open source code. The application allows users to create a bootable USB from an Windows 7 ISO to install the OS on a PC without an optical drive. Now the tool is finally available for download again and is covered by the GNU General Public License Version 2 (GPLv2). It can be found on Microsoft’s open source software repository, CodePlex.
The controversy began in early November when Rafael Rivera posted his findings on the Within Windows blog. "The source code was obviously lifted from the CodePlex-hosted (yikes) GPLv2-licensed ImageMaster project. (The author of the code was not contacted by Microsoft)," wrote Rivera. The software giant later confirmed that a contractor had indeed “borrowed” some GPL licensed code. Microsoft admitted they should have caught the error, but didn’t.
While Microsoft did get a bit of black eye on this one, at least they didn’t take their ball (of code) and go home. Microsoft’s new posting of the tool requires users to complete multiple application installs “for clarity” due to different parts of the code falling under different license terms, but at least it’s available. Get it here.