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.
It may only be a side note here in North America, but over in the U.K HP is shaking up its netbook lineup. Normally this isn’t something that would make headline news, but it underscores an interesting new trend. HP is dropping the Mini 2133, the only Linux netbook still in its fleet. Customers will still be able to purchase Microsoft versions of the Mini 1000’s and install Linux on their own, but will now be forced to pay the Microsoft tax.
Tech journalists and enthusiasts alike have been fascinated by Linux’s rise in popularity thanks to low cost PCs, but clearly the mainstream consumer still favors the familiar blue and green of Windows XP. Another unknown is what impact Windows 7 will have on Linux netbooks sales in the future. If the price of the starter edition is the same, or less than XP, we can’t help but wonder if the free OS will have what it takes to compete. Clearly Microsoft is taking the netbook threat seriously, but only time will tell who will win the war.
Will Linux survive in the netbook and low cost PC market? Hit the jump and let us know what you think.
When it’s not preaching on the evils of DRM, or helping to forward the cause of PC gaming, Stardock is a company that is always on the move. This Plymouth Michigan based developer has a long standing history of helpful and light weight utilities that enable even non power users to get the most out of Windows. The newest addition to its lineup is free, and allows users to solve an age old problem, the messy desktop.
Fences allows users to draw visible (or invisible) containers on the desktop to house shortcuts, folders, or even files in an organized and spiffy layout. These “fences” can then be labeled, resized, and moved to help organize your desktop. For those who prefer to make the clutter disappear all together, you will appreciate the quick-hide feature which allows you to double click your desktop to hide, or reveal all your fences.
The software is officially still in beta, but as of right now appears to be extremely stable. The release is compatible with Windows XP, Vista, and even 7.It has also been tested and verified on both 32 & 64 bit systems. Click here to see it in action and feel free to head on over to Stardock to download a copy and give it a try for yourself.
After you’ve given it a spin, let us know what you think!
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.
So, what is it about Windows 7's UAC that makes it vulnerable? As Zhen puts it:
Windows is a platform that welcomes third-party code with open arms. A handful of these Microsoft-signed applications can also execute third-party code for various legitimate purposes. Since there is an inherent trust on everything Microsoft-signed, by design, the chain of trust inadvertently flows onto other third-party code as well. A phenomenon I’ve started calling “piggybacking”.
To demonstrate, one of the many Microsoft-signed applications that can be taken advantage of is “RUNDLL32.exe”. With a simple “proxy” executable that does nothing more than launch an elevated instance of "RUNDLL32 pointing to a malicious payload DLL, the code inside that DLL now inherits the administrative privileges from its parent process "RUNDLL32" without ever prompting for UAC or turning it off.
It sounds serious, but before you jump to conclusions, join us after the jump for Microsoft's response and a workaround.
For the many MaximumPC.com readers who wrote that two or three Windows 7 SKUs was all that Microsoft needs to offer, the news that Windows 7 will be available in six flavors (Starter, Home Basic, Enterprise, Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate) may seem like throwing gasoline on an already-raging fire. However, before you start reformatting your Windows 7 partitions, take a look at Windows GM Mike Ybarra's reasoning. Here's a bit of it:
The first change in Windows 7 was to make sure that editions of Windows 7 are a superset of one another. That is to say, as customers upgrade from one version to the next, they keep all features and functionality from the previous edition...The second change is that we have designed Windows 7 so different editions of Windows 7 can run on a very broad set of hardware, from small-notebook PCs (sometimes referred to as netbooks) to full gaming desktops...
Although Windows 7 will be available in six SKUs, most of the emphasis will be on just two. To find out which SKUs are expected to do the heavy sales lifting and how the editions differ, join us after the break.
If you answered Yes to the above question then you are in luck, but even if you hate Microsoft, you can bury it in the ground along with all of your other Microsoft related apparel. These shirts are primarily for people in technology development, but they will probably give a shirt to anyone that completes the survey. The survey is nine questions and lasts less than 5 minutes. The shirt is available in small, medium, large and extra large. According to the website, it will take 6-8 weeks for your shirt to arrive. They will probably be in short supply, so if you are interested in showing off your love for Microsoft and their operating system, hit the jump for more details and a list of the questions asked.
Hard drive encryption sounds like an intimating concept, mostly because it is. The thought of taking your precious files, then using a mathematical formula to convert them into random noise before scattering them back across your disk is a hard sell. The harsh reality is, mobile computing is on the rise, and so is laptop theft. Depending on who you ask, anywhere from 500,000 to over 1,000,000 laptops are lost or stolen in the US each year. In some cases, the data on the hard drive is often more valuable than the machine itself.
To determine if disk encryption is something you should be considering, simply ask yourself if your PC contains anything you wouldn’t want posted publically on the internet. If the answer to this is yes (and I assume for most of us it is) then encryption is worth considering.
The good news is, you no longer need to be a member of the CIA to lock down your machine with government level encryption.In fact, one of the most highly regarded and powerful encryption tools available is both free, and open source (our favorite combination!) True Crypt allows you to protect either all your data, or only what you choose. You can mask your boot drive and sensitive documents, while leaving your games or other non generic data in the clear. While no encryption process is without risk, True Crypt is designed to put your mind at ease, and takes no chances with your data. The process can be reversed at any time even without being able to boot into windows.
So if your ready to get started click the jump to learn step by step how to protect your data.
It seems like just yesterday that Microsoft reluctantly introduced us to the world of User Account Control (UAC). Many disgruntled reviewers claimed that the UAC present in Windows Vista was too intrusive. It caused a lot of frustration when trying to install programs that needed administrator credentials. Apple even made a commercial that illustrated how people felt about the constant nagging of UAC in Windows Vista.
Fast forward to Windows 7 Beta 1, Microsoft now gives full control over the number of prompts you receive. The problem is any malware can defeat UAC by sending a few Visual Basic scripts to activate the slider and turn off UAC. Once UAC is off, the computer can be restarted and the malware can be launched with full administrator credentials and expose the computer to more malware and exploits.
The Windows 7 beta fish surfaced to face the public for the first time on January 10th 2009. Since its release we have been both excited and terrified with what Microsoft has in store for us. A few naysayers aside, few will argue that the beta is very stable, and is an impressive offering. But is it ready for release?
Well as of February 1st 2009, 2,108 of you thought so! A fan of the Leo Laporte podcasting network took a cue from the host and decided to launch an online petition to try and convince Microsoft that Windows 7 is ready. In a recent podcast both the host Leo Laporte, and co-host Paul Thurrott commented on the petition to which their names were used as advocates, and they nervously took a step back. They both claimed to be enthusiastic about the future of Windows, but admitted that nobody wants Windows 7 to ship before its ready.
A quick scan of the comments from previous Windows 7 discussions would seem to suggest that this is likely to be a heavily debated petition. The vast majority of readers seem to be leaving positive feedback on the beta, but some incompatibilities clearly still remain.
Do you think the Windows 7 beta is good enough to launch? Hit the jump and let us know what you think.