The entire staff is back in the office this week, eager to grill Gordon about his thoughts on the new Star Trek movie. Was there enough intersteller diplomacy for him? Did he find its message heavy handed enough? Will caps the Star Trek chat to 5 minutes, after which we jump into recent tech news. Apparently, the US military is going to adopt Windows Vista, Intel announces a new anti-Ion netbook platform, and we uncover the real size of the internet. After numerous debates and tangents, we eventually tackle a few listener questions, and Gordon unleashes his rant of the week. All that and more on this week's Memorial Day weekend podcast!
Do you have a tech question? A comment? A tale of technological triumph? Just need to get something off your chest? A secret to share? Email us at email@example.com or call our 24-hour No BS Podcast hotline at 877.404.1337 x1337--operators are standing by.
AutoRun and AutoPlay, Microsoft's "dangerous duo" for launching programs from CD/DVD and other removable media types, have become among malware authors' favorite infection vectors - and Microsoft has finally said, "enough already!"
A research study by Forefront Client Securitycited by the Engineering Windows 7 blog determined that infections that can be started with AutoRun amounted to 17.7% of detected infections in the second half of 2008.
Although AutoRun was originally designed strictly for optical media, it can be used for other types of media. For example, you can create an autorun.inf file that adds the program on the media to the AutoPlay menu Windows displays, and change the default icon to make the malware program mimic a legitimate program. Conficker used this method to spread, as illustrated here.
Starting in Windows 7 RC, Microsoft has changed how both AutoRun and AutoPlay work:
AutoPlay no longer supports AutoRun on non-optical removable media. An autorun.inf file on a USB or other type of non-optical removable media will be disregarded. Only AutoPlay options that pertain to the types of files on the media will be listed.
When AutoPlay displays programs present on the media, the dialog now states that those programs will be run from the media.
To learn more about these changes, and to find out what other Microsoft operating systems will eventually get similar protection, join us after the jump.
At long last, Microsoft has confirmed that Service Pack 2 for Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 is complete, by releasing it to select manufacturers. It even hit torrents, hours before it was officially announced on the Windows Vista Team Blog.
As for an official download, it’s not clear when Service Pack 2 will be available. They’ve stated that they will push the final version to customers through Automatic Update over the next few months, but those that aren’t ready can still use Microsoft’s service-pack blocking tool.
Along with this, Microsoft has started pushing Vista SP1 to users that had previously blocked it, in order to prime them for SP2.
For those wondering, Service Pack 2 will bring Windows Search 4.0, the Bluetooth 2.1 Feature Pack, the ability to record data on Blu-ray natively through Windows, Windows Connect Now (a simpler WiFi tool), the addition of support for UTC timestamps in the exFAT file system, as well as various security and performance updates.
Most enterprises have resolved to skip Windows Vista altogether. With Vista on its way out, Microsoft would be hoping for enterprises to upgrade to Windows 7 at the first given opportunity. However, Microsoft will have to wait as that is exactly what most enterprises plan on doing. A large majority of enterprises have decided against upgrading next year, according to a survey conducted by market research firm Dimensional Research.
Dimensional Research took the opinion of 1,100 IT professionals. More than 83 percent of those surveyed have no plans of upgrading next year. The ongoing recession and doubts over software compatibility are the main reasons why most businesses want to play the wait-and-watch game.
Most users who have tried Windows 7 like it - a lot, but if you (or your company) are worried about what happens if old hardware or software you rely on won't play nice with the latest Windows version, stop worrying. According to Cnet's Ina Fried and ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley, Windows 7 users will have the option to downgrade from 7 to either Windows Vista or even "the operating system that will not die," Windows XP.
Volume-licensing (aka "Software Assurance") customers have been able to do this for some time, but Microsoft has confirmed that downgrades from 7 to either Vista or XP will be available for at least a while after Windows 7 ships.
If you're on the fence about Windows 7, does the availability of downgrade rights make a difference? Join us after the jump for your chance to sound off.
That's the message that Microsoft announced today on its Engineering Windows 7 blog, Cnet's Ina Fried reports.
While Microsoft says you can upgrade from Win7 Beta to RC when it becomes available, it prefers that you upgrade from Windows Vista to Windows 7 RC. Why? As the E7 blog entry points out:
The RC...is about getting breadth coverage to validate the product in real-world scenarios. As a result, we want to encourage you to revert to a Vista image and upgrade or to do a clean install, rather than upgrade the existing Beta. We know that means reinstalling, recustomizing, reconfiguring, and so on. That is a real pain. The reality is that upgrading from one pre-release build to another is not a scenario we want to focus on because it is not something real-world customers will experience.
This reasoning makes sense from Redmond's standpoint, but since the same blog post acknowledges that millions of users (including, I bet, a lot of Maximumpc.com fans) are using Windows 7 Beta as their "full time" operating system, Microsoft has outlined a way to bypass the usual installer checks. Join us after the jump for the details.
While Windows XP has proven itself to be the biggest contender to Microsoft’s (almost) flagship OS, Windows Vista, it could very well outlive it and perhaps come to compete with Windows 7.
According to recent reports, Microsoft recently granted HP and exclusive OEM license extension for XP all the way into the depths of 2010. This would line it up to go side by side with Windows 7 on netbooks, and provide healthy competition in that sector. With this number in mind, it will make Windows XP almost nine years old before it finally stops shipping.
It’s not expected that HP will ship PCs with Windows XP on them other than netooks. A massive 96 percent of the netbook market is running off of Windows, and an overwhelming majority of this is XP.
Still, netbooks aside, Windows XP is still the global majority leader with a market share of 62.85 percent. Windows Vista rolls in at second place with a 23.42 percent share.
It's been about six weeks since Redmond rolled out the Release Candidate for Vista SP2, and now the RTM Escrow build is available to Microsoft Connect beta testers, DailyTechreports. To make sure everything's working, the RTM Escrow build includes both slipstream and standalone installers.
If you find an unofficial source for something claiming to be the RTM Escrow build, the build string is 6002.17043.090312-1835. Typically, the RTM Escrow build is the last step before a public release, probably in April.
Check out our complete Vista SP2 coverage here. Have you tried this new build? Join us after the jump and give us your thoughts.
Today, Microsoft released a trio of security bulletins covering all currently-supported Windows versions. Users of Windows 2000 SP4 through Windows Vista SP1 (as well as Windows Server 2003 and 2008) need to install the update for the critical Windows kernel vulnerability noted in Security Bulletin MS-09-006. The other two bulletins (MS09-007 and MS09-008) solve important vulnerabilities in SChannel (007) and DNS/WINS Server (008); these bulletins apply to Windows 2000 SP4 through Windows XP and Server 2003 only.
Other updates to look for include the usual updates to the Malicious Software Removal Tool and the Windows Mail junk email filter. If you're on Automatic Updates, follow instructions to reboot if needed after installation. If you prefer to be in charge, don't forget to download and install these as soon as possible.
Microsoft released the release candidate for Windows Vista SP2 (Vista SP2 RC) to the public yesterday. You can now download it from the Microsoft TechNet website. However, before you install Vista SP2 RC, here are ten essential facts about the latest update to Windows Vista:
SP2 RC doesn't include a lot of visible razzle-dazzle, but....
.. it's designed to make your system work better with the latest hardware...
...and to clean up after itself.
It includes over 600 hotfixes to help your system work more reliably, but there are a few glitches to watch out for.
You're not ready for Vista SP2 RC if you don't have Vista SP1 installed.
vLite-streamlined Vista SP1 won't work with SP2 RC
Vista SP2 RC is available in a bunch of installation flavors, but if you want to get it via Windows Update right now, you have some extra work to do.
You can help Microsoft make the SP2 installation process better, but nobody's forcing you to do so.
Yeah, your desktop will remind you you're running a pre-release program