Software en Valve Gives Developers Green Light to Sell Game Mods on Steam <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/skyrim_0.jpg" alt="Skyrim" title="Skyrim" width="228" height="152" style="float: right;" />Good or bad idea?</h3> <p>In what ranks as a truly game changing announcement (literally), <strong>Valve has cleared the way for developers to sell their mods in the Steam Workshop</strong>. That also includes game content such as items and maps, all of which can be made available for sale directly in the Steam Workshop for titles that enable feature. Kicking off the initiative is Bethesda Softworks' The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, which is free to play until April 26.</p> <p>"We think this is a great opportunity to help support the incredible creative work being done by mod makers in the Steam Workshop," <a href=";headlines=1" target="_blank">says Tom Bui at Valve</a>. "User generated content is an increasingly significant component of many games, and opening new avenues to help financially support those contributors via Steam Workshop will help drive the level of UGC to new heights."</p> <p>Developers aren't forced to charge for their mods and can continue to make their content available for free, though if they want to make at run at monetizing their efforts, they're in control of the price.</p> <p>Looking through the <a href=";browsesort=trend&amp;section=readytouseitems&amp;requiredflags%5B%5D=paiditems" target="_blank">available paid Skyrim mods</a>, some are as low as a quarter, others are several dollars. There are only 18 to choose from right now, though the interface is built to handle many more, allowing gamers to sort by category such as Alchemy, Animals, Factions, and so forth.</p> <p>Buyers have up to 24 hours to request a refund for a mod that they either don't like or is broken.</p> <p>Not everyone is stoked about Valve's initiative. Some take issue with the royalties -- creators only keep 25 percent of their sales, and potentially less if they've added contributors to their mods. The rest is split between Valve and the game's publisher.</p> <p>Others worry that paid mods will become the norm, not the exception, essentially killing off the free mod category. There's even a <a href="" target="_blank">petition on</a> going around to remove the paid content, which has amassed over 21,000 signatures.</p> <p>What's your opinion on this? Are you behind Valve in this venture, or are you more likely to sign the petition?</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> games mods Skyrim Software Steam Valve News Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:52:30 +0000 Paul Lilly 29782 at Microsoft Expands Bug Bounty Program to Include Project Spartan <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/microsoft_bugs.jpg" alt="Microsoft Bugs" title="Microsoft Bugs" width="228" height="152" style="float: right;" />Find bugs, get paid</h3> <p>If you're good at finding security flaws in software, you could add more than just a little jingle to your pockets. That's because <strong>Microsoft is significantly expanding its bug bounty program</strong>, part of which includes a new bounty for Project Spartan, the codename for Microsoft's new browser found in Windows 10. You could make up to $15,000 per security vulnerability, depending on what you uncover.</p> <p>"Microsoft’s new browser will be the onramp to the internet for millions of users when Windows 10 launches later this year. Securing this platform is a top priority for the browser team," Microsoft stated in a blog post today.</p> <p>The bounty includes Remote Code Execution and Sandbox Escapes, as well as design-level security bugs discovered between today and June 22, 2015. Microsoft says to be sure and use the latest version released in the Windows 10 Technical Preview. Bugs that pay range in reward from $500 to $15,000. For specifics of the program, <a href=";MSPPError=-2147217396" target="_blank">see here</a>.</p> <p>Microsoft will also line your pockets with cash for certain bugs you might discover in Azure, the company's cloud platform and the backbone of its cloud services. This applies to Azure virtual machines, Azure Cloud Services, Azure Storage, Azure Active Directory, and other Azure services. Like Project Spartan, the maximum payout per bug is $15,000.</p> <p>"Bug bounties are an increasingly important part of the vulnerability research and defense ecosystem and will continue to evolve over time. We will be regularly managing the Microsoft Bounty Programs to help us best protect our many users," Microsoft added.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> azure browser bug bounty microsoft project spartan Software News Wed, 22 Apr 2015 17:30:40 +0000 Paul Lilly 29768 at Fedora 22 Hits the Ground Running in Beta Form <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/fedora.jpg" alt="Fedora" title="Fedora" width="228" height="198" style="float: right;" />Looking beyond Windows</h3> <p>Much of what we cover on <em>Maximum PC</em> revolves around Microsoft's Windows operating system, though lest anyone forget, there's this alternative called Linux. And of course there are many varieties of Linux to choose from, including <strong>Fedora 22 beta, which is now available</strong>. According to the Fedora Project, desktop and workstation users may not notice huge changes, but will see better performance behind the scenes in managing updates.</p> <p>Furthermore, Fedora users who manage applications using the command line will note that the updated package manager for RPM-based Linux distributions called "DNF" is faster while still keeping CLI compatibility with Yum for most tasks.</p> <p>There are three distinct editions of Fedora 22, all in beta form. They include Fedora 22 Cloud, which includes a Vagrant image for Fedora 22 Atomic Host Beta along with the addition of the Atomic command to provide a single point for managing host updates and container; Fedora 22 Server, which adds the new Database Server role through Rolekit and updates to the Cockpit management application; and Fedora 22 Workstation, which offers a refined Fedora desktop experience with better GNOME alerts, expanded use of Wayland, and some other tweaks.</p> <p>You should always consider beta software carefully since it likely still contains bugs that need eradicated, though reports around the web is that Fedora 22 is pretty polished, as was the Alpha release.</p> <p>Download links:</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Fedora 22 Workstation</a><br /><a href="" target="_blank">Fedora 22 Server</a><br /><a href="" target="_blank">Fedora 22 Cloud</a><br /><a href="" target="_blank">Fedora 22 Spins</a></p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> Fedora 22 linux open source operating system red hat Software News Tue, 21 Apr 2015 19:53:34 +0000 Paul Lilly 29762 at AMD Boss Points to End of July for Windows 10 Release <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/windows_10_laptop_0.jpg" alt="Windows 10 Laptop" title="Windows 10 Laptop" width="228" height="149" style="float: right;" />Mark your calendars?</h3> <p>Microsoft's been fairly mum when it comes to offering a release date for Windows 10, though the company has said to expect it sometime "this summer." That's only semi-helpful if you're planning a new build around Windows 10 and don't want to bother with the free upgrade. In that case, how's end of July suit you? <strong>During an earnings call last week, AMD CEO Lisa Su let slip that Windows 10 will launch in just three months</strong>.</p> <p>"What we also are factoring in is, you know, with the Windows 10 launch at the end of July, we are watching sort of the impact of that on the back-to-school season, and expect that it might have a bit of a delay to the normal back-to-school season inventory build-up," Su said, <a href="" target="_blank">according to <em>VentureBeat</em></a>.</p> <p>So end of July it is, right? Well, we still don't know for sure. Microsoft could come out and deny that Su knows what she's talking about. Or if the end of July time frame is accurate, it's not known if that will be when OEMs get their paws on Windows 10 (RTM, or Release to Manufacturing) or if that's when consumers will be able to pick up a copy and/or upgrade.</p> <p>Either way, this is the most reliable source yet outside of Microsoft, which itself isn't ready to announce specific dates. If the end of July time frame Su referenced is indeed for RTM status, you can probably expect the general release to consumers in August.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> amd Lisa Su microsoft operating system OS Software windows 10 News Mon, 20 Apr 2015 16:27:59 +0000 Paul Lilly 29757 at Grand Theft Auto V Includes Features Found in AMD's Gaming Evolved Program <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/gtav_screen.jpg" alt="GTA V Screen" title="GTA V Screen" width="228" height="143" style="float: right;" />Say hello to Contact Hardening Shadows</h3> <p>So what's the verdict, was Grand Theft Auto V for the PC worth the wait? It's a question that can spark a debate, and if you're in the "Yes!" camp, one piece of evidence to support your claim is GTA V's inclusion of features included in AMD's Gaming Evolved program, such as <span style="text-decoration: line-through;">into AMD's Gaming Evolved program</span>. <span style="text-decoration: line-through;">As part of that, </span><strong><span style="text-decoration: line-through;">GTA V supports a feature that's called</span> Contact Hardening Shadows (CHS) for rendering more realistic soft shadows</strong>.</p> <p>You'll find the feature by heading into the Settings menu and selecting Graphics &gt; Soft Shadows. One of the options is "AMD CHS," and what it does is either harden or soften a shadow depending on the distance of the shadow from the light source. It also takes into consideration the object casting the shadow.</p> <p>"This means softer shadows that diffuse more realistically," AMD says.</p> <p>If you're rocking a GeForce graphics card, fear not, similar effects are provided by what Nvidia calls "Percentage Closer Soft Shadows" (PCSS).</p> <p>"PCSS, if you're unaware, introduces shadows that progressively and smoothly soften as the distance from the casting object increases, as in real life," Nvidia explains in a <a href=";;xs=1&amp;isjs=1&amp;;xguid=caefac69b80641f50471f76ca346bb68&amp;xuuid=87bba66542bd88fd1d128f6c30671db7&amp;xsessid=9f2017d1e68299774d84d875397a46e2&amp;xcreo=0&amp;xed=0&amp;;;xtz=240&amp;abp=1" target="_blank">blog post</a>. "For example, the shadow from the trunk of a tree will be sharp, and the shadows on the leaves seen some distance away will be soft."</p> <h3>Drivers</h3> <p>We already told you about Nvidia's Game Ready <a href="" target="_blank">350.12 WHQL driver</a> for GTA V. What about AMD? While the Omega 14.12 is still the most recent stable release (12/9/2014), AMD does have available a beta driver, version 15.4, that's been optimized for GTA V. It also includes Crossfire profiles for GTA V, Dying Light, Galactic Civilization III, Meta Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, Mortal Combat X, and Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition, along with updated Crossfire profiles for Battlefield Hardline, Far Cry 4, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, and Sniper Elite 3.</p> <p>You can read the <a href="" target="_blank">release notes here</a> and download the <a href="" target="_blank">beta driver here</a>.</p> <h3>Update</h3> <p>An AMD spokesperson got in touch with <em>Maximum PC</em> to let us know that the company erred in boasting that GTA V is an official Gaming Evolved title. It is not, though it does have Gaming Evolved features.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> amd Contact Hardening Shadows games gaming evolved Grand Theft Auto V gta v rockstar games Software News Wed, 15 Apr 2015 15:46:23 +0000 Paul Lilly 29739 at Windows 10 Build 10056 Sneaks Onto the Internet <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="" alt="Windows 10 Build 10056" title="Windows 10 Build 10056" width="228" height="142" style="float: right;" />There’s a new version of Microsoft Solitaire Collection in this one</h3> <p>It’s time for your weekly dose of Windows 10 builds. Over the past month or so alone, we’ve had as many as five new builds—both official releases and leaks—with the last one finding its way onto the Internet Friday. (A few more and we’ll soon have to do a “This Week in Windows 10 Builds” roundup.) <strong>Build 10056 includes a new version of Microsoft’s iconic Solitaire card game(s), a new dark OS theme, and a few more things</strong>.</p> <p>Windows 8, as many of you may know, doesn’t include Solitaire, although you can download the <a href="" target="_blank">Microsoft Solitaire Collection</a> from the Windows Store. But build 10056 is different in that it includes a new version of the Solitaire game collection by default. There are five games in all: Klondike , Spider, FreeCell, Pyramid, and TriPeaks. Sadly, it can’t save any user data at this stage.</p> <p>Moving onto some serious stuff now. The dark theme that we first caught a glimpse of in November is here. In fact, the task bar is dark by default. The Start Menu UI has changed considerably as well: the Power button has been relegated to the bottom (just above the “All apps” option), there are now two columns of Live Tiles by default, and you can resize the Start Menu.</p> <p>There are a <a href="" target="_blank">number of other minor changes and UI refinements</a> throughout the build, including within the Settings, Weather, Sports, Finance and News apps. A more complete list of changes can be found <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.</p> <p><em>Image Credit: Wzor</em></p> <p><em>Follow Pulkit on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a></em></p> build 10056 leak operating system Software technical preview windows 10 News Mon, 13 Apr 2015 08:38:32 +0000 Pulkit Chandn 29725 at Can Your PC Handle Grand Theft Auto V in 4K? <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/gtav_4.jpg" alt="GTA V" title="GTA V" width="228" height="127" style="float: right;" />Rockstar Games discusses GTA V's 4K requirements</h3> <p>After numerous delays, Grand Theft Auto V is finally set to release on Windows-based PCs on April 14, 2015, otherwise known as next Tuesday. It's been a long, excruciating wait -- GTA V first shipped to PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles on September 17...2013! -- and in hopes of renewing interest in PC gamers who have moved on from being excited about the title, Rockstar Games has added a bunch of goodies, one of which is the ability to run the game at 4K, provided your PC can handle it.</p> <p>Our sister site <a href="" target="_blank"><em>PC Gamer</em></a> reached out to Rockstar Games to find out what players will need to run at 4K, and surprisingly enough, dual GPUs won't necessarily be required. Heck, you don't even need a GTX 980 caliber card.</p> <p>As Rockstar Toronto's president Kevin Hoare tells it, "to run the game on a 4k display at 30fps, you'll need at minimum an AMD HD 7870 or Nvidia GTX 760 with 2GB of VRAM." Not too shabby. To run on a 4K display at 60fps, that's where Hoare says you'll need a "high-end SLI or Crossfire setup."</p> <p>According to Hoare, there will be a ton of graphics options to tweak, giving the user fairly robust control over finding a balance between graphical eye candy and high framerates.</p> <p>"One of the lessons we have learned over the years through Grand Theft Auto IV and Max Payne 3 on PC was that people want the freedom to configure their system to suit their preferences," Hoare said.</p> <p>Assuming you're still interested, GTA V for PC is still <a href="" target="_blank">available for pre-order</a> for around $60 at several online locations. Those who do may be eligible to receive $1.2 million of in-game currency ($500,000 for GTA V and $700,000 for GTA Online), plus a bonus $150,000 for GTA Online.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> 4k games Grand Theft Auto V gta v Software News Thu, 09 Apr 2015 17:53:03 +0000 Paul Lilly 29716 at How to Remove Windows Malware for Free <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/fix.jpg" alt="Fix" title="Fix" width="228" height="151" style="float: right;" />Return a bug-infested PC to pristine condition</h3> <p>Your smartphone begins to vibrate. Not the quick vibration that would indicate it's an incoming text message, but a longer one associated with a phone call. Yes, people still communicate via voice, and thanks to Caller ID, you know it's your parents on the other end. It's been a few weeks since you've heard from them and a funny feeling begins to fill the pit of your stomach. You know what's coming next.</p> <p>A plea for PC help. You listen intently as your folks describe hijacked web searches, a toolbar they don't recognize, and sluggish behavior. Oh, and there are pop-ups. Lots and lots of pop-ups. The list of ailments goes on like a kid reciting a Christmas list to Santa Clause. Only instead of toys and candy, it's rogue programs and malware. It's a good thing you installed TeamViewer because trying to fix the problem over the phone is a time-consuming process that always ends the same way—"I'll be over in the morning."</p> <p>Or maybe you didn't install TeamViewer and you really will be over in the morning. Either way, the task at hand is to rid a system of malware. Perhaps it's your own system, especially if you let little Billy and sweet little Suzy hop on for a spell. Whatever the case may be, don't panic. <strong>Removing malware, while seemingly daunting, isn't all that difficult. Like anything else, you just need the proper know-how and tools, both of which we'll provide here</strong>. Be sure to read the entire guide before embarking on your malware removal journey.</p> <h3>Scrub the Browser(s)</h3> <p>Toolbars, hijacked web searches, and pop-ups are often the result of malware, adware, and or other unwanted-ware that was either installed without permission, or sneaked in through a legitimate application through the fine print, usually when installing a free program. That Spongebob screensaver pack that little Billy installed from a site he can't remember? Yeah, we're guessing he mashed the "Okay" or "Next" button throughout the process, at one point agreeing to change your browser's settings. Cut him some slack, the kid still eats his boogers.</p> <p>Luckily, these are usually easy fixes. Here's what you need to do.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Internet Explorer</strong></span><br />Let's start with Internet Explorer. Click the <strong>Gear (Tools)</strong> icon in the upper-right corner and select <strong>Manage add-ons</strong>. On the left-hand side is a column of categories: Toolbars and Extensions, Search Providers, Accelerators, and Tracking Protection. It's the first three that are of interest, starting with Toolbars and Extensions.</p> <p>See anything you don't recognize? Maybe something like "DealBuddy" or some other descriptor that's a clear giveaway? Click it and select <strong>Remove</strong> or <strong>Disable</strong>. If it's an entry you don't recognize, look it up on Google or your search engine of choice. In most cases, however, unwanted entries will stick out like a pimple on prom night.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u69/ie_add-ons.jpg" alt="IE Manage Add Ons" title="IE Manage Add Ons" width="620" height="364" /></p> <p>The same goes for the Search Providers category. The only thing you should see is Bing unless you've added another search provider, like Google. We're making this up (we think), but let's say the default entry is "CouponPal." The option to remove is grayed out, but that's only because it's the default search option. Click on one of the other options—Bing, Google, Yahoo, etc.—and punch the <strong>Set as default button</strong>, then return to CouponPal and click <strong>Remove</strong>.</p> <p>Now let's rinse and repeate for the Accelerators category. Is there a rogue entry? Remove or disable it. When you're finished with all these, close out the Manage add-ons window. Return to the <strong>Gear (Tools)</strong> icon and select Internet <strong>Options</strong>. Navigate to the <strong>General</strong> tab if you're not already there and look at the Home page section. Oftentimes adware will replace the default homepage with its own entry, which will load each time you fire up IE. Highlight the hijacked entry and change it to whatever you want, like (c'mon, show us some love!) and click <strong>Apply</strong>. Now hit <strong>OK</strong>, close IE, and reload it. If you haven't missed anything, it should work as new again. And if not, you may have a deeper malware problem, which we'll get to in a moment.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Chrome</strong></span><br />The steps are similar in Chrome. To check if the default search engine's been changed, click the <strong>three horizontal lines (Chrome Menu)</strong> in the upper-right corner and select <strong>Settings</strong>. Under the Search heading, click <strong>Manage search engines</strong>. Hover your mouse over whichever one you want to be the default and click <strong>Make default</strong>. Next, hover over the rogue entry and click the X button on the right to remove it.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u69/chrome_extensions.jpg" alt="Chrome Extensions" title="Chrome Extensions" width="620" height="473" /></p> <p>Also in the Settings menu is an <strong>On startup</strong> heading with three options: Open the New Tab page, Continue where you left off, and Open a specific page or set of pages. If your homepage has been taken over, click the <strong>Set Pages</strong> hyperlink next to the Open a specific page or set of pages option. Go ahead and delete the rogue entry and/or enter whichever page you'd like to load at startup. Alternately, you can use one of the other options.</p> <p>Go back to the Chrome menu and select <strong>More Tools &gt; Extensions</strong>. Here is where you'll see a list of installed add-ons, like Adblock (which we hope you've disabled on Maximum PC—we've gotta eat!), Google Play Music, or whatever. See any entries that shouldn't be there? Click the trash icon to dispose of them.</p> <p>Remember to close Chrome and reload it.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Firefox</strong></span><br />In Firefox, click the <strong>three horizontal lines (Firefox Menu)</strong> and select <strong>Options</strong>. Under the <strong>Search</strong> tab, you'll see a pull-down menu with your default search option, and under that a list of search engines. Highlight any rogue entries and click <strong>Remove</strong>.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u69/firefox_options.jpg" alt="Firefox Options" title="Firefox Options" width="590" height="628" /></p> <p>Next, navigate to the <strong>General</strong> tab to make changes to your homepage. If it's been taken over, you'll most likely see the address here. Change it to whatever you want, or click the <strong>Restore to Default</strong> button.</p> <p>Firefox has long supported extensions and plugins. To access them, go back to the <strong>Firefox menu</strong> and select <strong>Add-ons</strong>. Remove any rogue extensions, or if you're unsure, click the disable button to see how it affects your browser. You can always come back and remove it.</p> <p>Following the above steps will help restore your browser(s) to the way it was operating before adware dug its claws in. However, it might not remove the root cause if there's a deeper malware infection. <a href=",1">Let's move on.</a></p> <hr /> <h3>Just Uninstall It</h3> <p>Not all malware is highly sophisticated. Many of them can be uninstalled just like any other program, so before you go any further, bring up the Control Panel and head over to Programs and Features. Scan the list for any signs of adware, toolbars, or anything else that's obviously unwanted software and simply uninstall it. Is your system back to normal? If so, then great, you got off easy! If not, blurt out a few curse words (you'll feel better) and then continue reading.</p> <h3>Fight Software with Software</h3> <p>One of our favorite and most reliable anti-malware programs is <a href="" target="_blank">Malwarebytes</a>. There's both a free and paid version, the latter of which adds proactive protection like real-time monitoring and conveniences like scheduled scanning. For removing existing malware, the free version is sufficient.</p> <p>What's neat about Malwarebytes is that it scans for a wide range of rogue software, like spyware, adware, some viruses, and even rootkits. Be advised that Malwarebytes isn't intended as a standalone antivirus program, but as a supplement. Or, in this case, as a cleanup tool.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u69/malwarebytes_0.jpg" alt="Malwarebytes" title="Malwarebytes" width="620" height="409" /></p> <p>The first thing you should do when running Malwarebytes is to update the database so that it can scan for the latest threats. Just click the <strong>Update Now</strong> now link and let it do its thing.</p> <p>See that big <strong>Scan Now</strong>&nbsp;button at the bottom? Don't click it just yet. First, click the <strong>Settings</strong> option and navigate to <strong>Detection and Protection</strong>. Even though Malwarebytes scans for rootkits, you first have to enable the option, and this is where you'll find it—check the <strong>Scan for rootkits</strong> box.</p> <p>Now, go to the Scan heading and select <strong>Threat Scan</strong>, which is the recommended option. This will run a comprehensive sweep of your system and could take a long time to finish. Find something else to do for a bit—ride a bike, catch up on some reading, make love, play a console game, grab some lunch, or anything else you can think of that's more fun than watching a system scan. When it's finished, audit the list of threats for any false positives and uncheck them, then click <strong>Remove Selected</strong>.</p> <h3>Solicit a Second (or Third) Opinion</h3> <p>As much as we like Malwarebytes, there's no single program out there capable of detecting and removing every piece of malicious software. For a machine that's in particularly bad shape, it pays to run multiple spyware sweeps. Which ones? There are several out there, and one that we still like is <a href="" target="_blank">Spybot Search and Destroy</a>.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u69/spybot.jpg" alt="Spybot" title="Spybot" width="620" height="451" /></p> <p>As with all of these programs, be sure to update the definitions database first—just click the <strong>Update</strong> icon. The first update can take a few minutes, even on a fast Internet connection, so be patient. Once it's finished, click <strong>System Scan</strong> and let it sweep your system for junk.</p> <p>As you can see, these programs are pretty self explanatory, so rather than walk you through each one, here's a list of software we recommend running on badly infected machines:</p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank">Comodo Antimalware BOClean</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank">Hitman Pro</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank">AdwCleaner</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank">Kaspersky TDSSKiller</a> (rootkit removal tool)</li> </ul> <p>There are others out there, and if you have a favorite, feel free to add it to the list. Remember, it might not always be necessary to run several different programs, but for a machine that's in really rough shape, it doesn't hurt to blitz the opposition using multiple tools.</p> <h3>Better Safe Mode than Sorry</h3> <p>In some cases, you may not be able to run or even install the aforementioned malware removal software. Some of the more sophisticated malware will block them outright, and if that's the case, you should try booting into Safe Mode. The same is true if a piece of malware manages to reinstall itself after you've already removed it.</p> <p>To boot into Safe Mode, shut down your system, turn it back on, and start tapping the F8 key. Instead of booting into Windows, you should see an <strong>Advanced Boot Options</strong> menu. Select the <strong>Safe Mode with Networking</strong> option. This will load just the essential Windows drivers while also giving you Internet access so that you can download, install, and update anti-malware software.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u69/msconfig.jpg" alt="MSCONFIG" title="MSCONFIG" width="585" height="392" /></p> <p>If you're having trouble booting into Safe Mode, another way in there is to boot into Windows as you normally would. Click the <strong>Start menu</strong>, select <strong>Run</strong>, and type <strong>msconfig</strong>. Select the <strong>Boot tab</strong> and under the <strong>Boot options</strong> heading, check the <strong>Safe boot</strong> box. Mark the <strong>Network</strong> radio bubble and click Apply, then reboot your system.</p> <h3>Scan for Viruses</h3> <p>Microsoft's built-in Windows Defender in Windows 8.1 (separate download in prior versions) does a good job overall of detecting viruses, and if that's what you're rolling with, update the database and scan your system. Otherwise, do the same with whichever antivirus software you're using. If you're not using one, either enable Windows Defender or seek out a free AV such as <a href="" target="_blank">Avast</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">AVG</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">Avira</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">Bitdefender</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">Comodo</a>, or <a href="" target="_blank">Panda</a>, to name a few of the no-cost options. Be sure to install only one, as multiple AV programs can conflict with each other (though it's okay to run them with malware removal tools like Malwarebytes).</p> <h3>Bring Out the Big Guns</h3> <p>At this point, you've scanned for viruses, run multiple anti-malware programs, rooted out any rootkits, and cleaned up your browsers, yet your system is still acting up. That's bad news, but don't go throwing in the towel just yet. Instead, download <a href="" target="_blank">HijackThis</a>.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>HijackThis</strong></span><br />HijackThis is a simple little utility that audits your registry, browser settings, and system services. It only takes a few seconds to run, however, it doesn't discern between good and malicious entries, so don't go deleting entries willy-nilly.</p> <p>There's no installation required here—just fire up HijackThis and select the top option so that it saves the results to a log file. In a few seconds, you'll see a long list of entries. Scroll through them and look for any obviously malicious entries. For example, if you know you've been infected by a particular piece of malware and you see references to it in the HijackThis results, check the box.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u69/hijackthis_0.jpg" alt="HiJackThis" title="HiJackThis" width="600" height="533" /></p> <p>Most of the entries will be safe, so be careful what you check. You could even break functionality of a legitimate program or cause other problems by checking certain entries. This is where the log comes in handy. When the scan finished, it should have populated a Notepad file with the results. Highlight the entire text and copy it to your clipboard.</p> <p>Now head to <a href="" target="_blank">I Am Not A Geek</a>, paste the contents in the box, and click Parse. Potentially malicious entries will be highlighted red, but before you click the check box in HijackThis, look up each one in Google so that you're sure of what you're removing.</p> <p>There are several other online analyzers, such as <a href="" target="_blank"> Security</a> and <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. Try using at least two, and if you still need help, solicit advice from a forum such as <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Bleeping Computer</em></a>.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>ComboFix</strong></span><br />As a last resort before wiping your system clean and starting anew, there's <a href="" target="_blank">ComboFix</a>, an aggressive program that hunts for persistent infections and attempts to remove them. It was developed by the folks at <em>Bleeping Computer</em> and they recommend not running it unless specifically requested, so keep that in mind. It's also worth noting that ComboFix doesn't yet work in Windows 8.1 or Windows 2000, though it does run in Windows 8, 7, Vista, and XP.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u69/combofix.jpg" alt="ComboFix" title="ComboFix" width="600" height="263" /></p> <p style="text-align: left;">If it's finally come to this, follow the instructions in <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Bleeping Computer's</em> guide</a> and when it's finished running, see if your system is back to normal. Should problems remain, post a copy of the log ComboFix generated into the forum thread where it was recommended that you run it.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> delete features free guide how to remove malware Security Software Uninstall virus Windows Features Mon, 06 Apr 2015 20:25:46 +0000 Paul Lilly 29654 at 20 Software Easter Eggs <!--paging_filter--><h3>For the Geek in all of us</h3> <p>With Easter right around the corner, we thought it would be fun to update our old software easter eggs story to encompass 20 of our favorites. Do you have a personal favorite software Easter egg? Or perhaps you'd like to share one that we didn't mention? Let us know in the comments below!</p> chrome Easter eggs Google Skype Software utorrent Yahoo News Features Fri, 03 Apr 2015 19:14:10 +0000 The Maximum PC Staff 25917 at Five Alternative BitTorrent Clients to uTorrent <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/bittorrent_clients.jpg" alt="BitTorrent Clients" title="BitTorrent Clients" width="228" height="139" style="float: right;" />Find the best torrent software for you</h3> <p>One of our favorite BitTorrent clients, uTorrent, recently <a href="">came under fire</a> over complaints that an updated build silently installed a cryptocurrencly miner called EpicScale. Several uTorrent users took to the Internet to voice their displeasure over the situation, though it turns out there was plenty of blame to go around. On the user side, those affected by the mining software failed to read the fine print and gave EpicScale the green light to install. As for uTorrent, it could have done a better job letting users know what they were getting into, as the bundled software looked a lot like a Tos/EULA box.</p> <p>EpicScale isn't a nerfarious software application. In fact, the program taps into unused CPU cycles to solve "math problems, for weather prediction, physics simulations, cryptography (including cryptocurrency mining), and more" and donates about 75 percent of the proceeds it generates to various charities.</p> <p>In the end, we're still fans of uTorrent, though it's not the only BitTorrent client on the block. Far from it. To be clear, we don't condone using BitTorrent software to illegally download and share copyrighted files, but we do recognize it as a wonderful platform for legal content, especially large files like Linux ISOs, game updates and demos, non-copyrighted videos, and so forth. Therefore, <strong>we took it upon ourselves to gather up five worthy BitTorrent client alternatives to uTorrent</strong>, all of which are capable of getting the job done. Let's have a look.</p> <h3>qBittorrent</h3> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u69/qbittorrent.jpg" alt="qBittorrent" title="qBittorrent" width="620" height="401" /></p> <p>Straight to the point, qBittorrent describes its main purpose as being an alternative to uTorrent, so it's a strong contender on hype alone. In practice, qBittorrent offers up a similar user interface to uTorrent, so if you're making the switch, you'll find that it's easy to use and navigate. And if you're worried about situations like cryptocurrency miners slipping underneath your nose and putting your CPU to work without your knowledge, you can rest easy knowing that qBittorrent doesn't bundle any other software in its installation, nor does it serve up ads.</p> <p>As mentioned, we're fans of uTorrent, and likewise there's a lot to appreciate about qBittorrent as well. It's loaded with features, like integrated and customizable search (requires Python 2.x) on most of the popular BitTorrent search sites, it supports BitTorrent extensions, and it offers advanced controls for trackers, peers, and torrents.</p> <p>All the basics are covered, like support for UPnP / NAT-PMP port forwarding, upload and download speed management, and support for proxy servers. You can also fine tune various functions like disk write cache size and other bits that most users will likely leave alone. In our experience with qBittorrent, tweaking wasn't necessary. The client had no trouble taking advantage of our broadband connection, both to search for torrents and when downloading large files.</p> <p>Finally, qBittorrent earns brownie points for being open-source software that's available not only for Windows, but also Linux, Mac OS X, OS/2, FreeBSD, and even Haiku.</p> <p><strong>Free, <a href="" target="_blank"></a></strong></p> <h3>Deluge</h3> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u69/deluge.jpg" alt="Deluge" title="Deluge" width="620" height="450" /></p> <p>Deluge is another open-source, cross-platform BitTorrent client that somewhat resembles uTorrent, though it's not as fleshed out. It's a lightweight program free of hidden software and ads. There are a handful of first-party plugins that come pre-installed, like WebUI (start the web interface from within Deluge), Scheduler (limit Deluge bandwidth depending on schedule), Blocklist (download and import IP blocklists), and several others. It also supports a few dozen third-party browser and application plugins, which you can find <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.</p> <p>One of the neat things about Deluge is that it can run as a daemon or service, allowing you to install Deluge as a headless service that handles all BitTorrent activity and control it from a remote machine. You can then control the daemon using the Deluge client or through your browser.</p> <p>Though it's lightweight, Deluge isn't short on features, like Local Peer Discovery, UPnP / NAT-PMP, proxy support, and support for private torrents, to name a few.</p> <p><strong>Free, <a href="" target="_blank"></a></strong></p> <h3>BitComet</h3> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u69/bitcomet.jpg" alt="BitComet" title="BitComet" width="620" height="448" /></p> <p>Quick warning—be careful when installing BitComet, because like uTorrent, it tries to slip in other software during the install process. It also attempts to change your browser's default homepage, so don't click through the installation process haphazardly. In our experience with BitComet, a single screen presented both options (another software program and a new homepage). Uncheck them and proceed.</p> <p>Once you get past the installation shenanigans, you're left with a popular and versatile BitTorrent client that lets you preview partial downloads before they're finished collecting bits from cyberspace. It also has a Torrent Share feature that lets you get torrent files directly from other BitComet users.</p> <p>Advanced users will like having control over the read and write frequency of their storage drive, options you'll find by navigating to Tools &gt; Option &gt; Preferences &gt; Advanced &gt; Disk Cache. The advanced section also contains settings for scheduling bandwidth so that more is available at night when you're sleeping and less during the day when you're working on your PC (or vice versa), and the ability to set up remote downloads.</p> <p>You should always scan downloaded files with an antivirus program before running them, and in BitComet, you can automate the task. That's nifty.</p> <p>Unfortunately, the built-in search isn't all that great. It kicks searches out to your browser and is fairly limited in what it can find. We had much better luck searching on our own and then letting BitComet handle the torrent file. Otherwise, there's not a lot to complain about here.</p> <p><strong>Free, <a href="" target="_blank"></a></strong></p> <p><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <h3>Tribler</h3> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u69/tribler.jpg" alt="Tribler" title="Tribler" width="620" height="381" /></p> <p>One of the more interesting BitTorrent clients is Tribler, a program that was developed by researchers at Delft University of Technology over a decade ago. They've since offered up its client with support for a subset of the TOR onion routing protocol, which allows everyone to function as a relay. Note that it's not using the TOR network, but its own custom version.</p> <p>In other words, it has built-in anonymity. When you download a file, you're not grabbing bits of code directly from a seeder. Instead, all downloads go through other computers via three layers of proxies. This is supposed to make it more difficult to trace what you're doing, details of which you can <a href="" target="_blank">read here</a>.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u69/tribler_warning.jpg" alt="Tribler Warning" title="Trible Warning" width="490" height="350" /></p> <p>At the same time, this isn't a free pass to steal copyrighted software. There's even an omnious warning during installation that the anonymity feature is experimental, and that by becoming an exit node for other users' downloads, you "could get in trouble in various countries." If you're freaked out by this, you can opt-out and still use Tribler.</p> <p>Tribler is a continual work in progress and has the potential to be a privacy advocate's dream come true in the BitTorrent space. Regardless, if you're wanting a straightforward BitTorrent client that's easy to use, has built-in search that works well, and takes a minimalistic approach to downloading files, Tribler is a strong contender.</p> <p><strong>Free, <a href="" target="_blank"></a></strong></p> <h3>Vuze Leap or Vuze</h3> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u69/vuze_leap.jpg" alt="Vuze Leap" title="Vuze Leap" width="620" height="473" /></p> <p>Vuze Leap and Vuze are two separate BitTorrent clients by the same developers, both of which are free. The difference between the two is that Vuze Leap is a basic client for users who just want to download files with a lightweight program and don't have a need for plug-ins, remote access, and other advanced features, while Vuze offers several additional amenities for power users.</p> <p>It's also worth mentioning that Vuze Leap doesn't have ads, but Vuze does (there's a paid version of Vuze that removes ads, but we're focusing on free clients here). However, Vuze Leap is only compatible with Windows, whereas Vuze also works on Mac and Linux. Got all that?</p> <p>Whichever you choose depends on what you're looking for from a BitTorrent client. Either way, be careful during the installation process. During one of the steps, Vuze will attempt to install Yahoo Search, though at a glance, it appears to be a normal ToS screen. Hit Cancel to opt-out of the additional software and settings, and installation will proceed.</p> <p>Both versions offer built-in search and media playback. They're also both fast.</p> <p><strong>Free, <a href="" target="_blank"></a></strong></p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> best torrent software BitComet bittorrent Deluge features guide qBittorent Software Tribler utorrent Vuze Features Thu, 02 Apr 2015 18:17:39 +0000 Paul Lilly 29659 at Next Windows 10 Technical Preview Update for Phones Supports More Devices <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/lumia_1020_1.jpg" alt="Lumia 1020" title="Lumia 1020" width="228" height="161" style="float: right;" />From half a dozen to several dozen support Lumia phones</h3> <p>When Microsoft made available its first Windows 10 Technical Preview for phones, it only officially supported six Lumia handsets (630, 635, 636, 638, 730, and 830). The reason? Microsoft had to select from a set of phones that had sufficient system partition sizes configured by the manufacturer in order to do in-place upgrades. Well, <strong>with the next Windows 10 Technical Preview for phones, the mobile operating system will support a total of 36 Lumia devices</strong>, Microsoft stated in a blog post.</p> <p>The six-fold increase in supported devices is the result of a "partition stitching" feature that allows Microsoft to dynamically re-size the system partition of phones running Windows. This is a recent development, with partition stitching code coming into Microsoft's main code branch late last week. It's since passed all quality evaluations.</p> <p>Microsoft said it spent the last week testing the next build on individual devices.</p> <p>"This testing will allow us to support A LOT more phones for the next flight. I get a ton of questions every day on Twitter about when your favorite phones will be usable, and I’m happy to report that the vast majority will be supported with the next flight," <a href="" target="_blank">Microsoft said</a>.</p> <p>Here's a look at the current set of devices Microsoft expects to work:</p> <ul> <li>Lumia 430, 435, 435 Dual DIM, 435 Dual SIM DTV</li> <li>Lumia 520, 525, 526, 530, 530 Dual Sim, 532, 532 Dual SIM, 535, 535 Dual SIM</li> <li>Lumia 620, 625, 630, 630 Dual Sim, 635, 636, 638, 640 Dual SIM</li> <li>Lumia 720, 730, 730 Dual Sim, 735</li> <li>Lumia 810, 820, 822, 830</li> <li>Lumia 920, 925, 928</li> <li>Lumia 1020, 1320, 1520</li> <li>Lumia ICON</li> </ul> <p>This isn't necessarily a full list. Microsoft says some devices aren't listed because of the presence of a bug, which could get fixed in time for the next release. Likewise, a bug on any of the existing device could be cause for its removal.</p> <p>Microsoft isn't ready to announce a release date for the next build.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> mobile operating system OS smartphones Software windows 10 News Mon, 30 Mar 2015 15:58:15 +0000 Paul Lilly 29657 at Microsoft Decides Against Sharing Rendering Engines Between Project Spartan and IE11 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/project_spartan.jpg" alt="Project Spartan" title="Project Spartan" width="228" height="193" style="float: right;" />Lines have been drawn</h3> <p><strong>Some changes are coming to the way Microsoft's Project Spartan and Internet Explorer browsers will handle the web</strong> once Windows 10 ships. As originally conceived, both browsers would use the new rendering engine built for Project Spartan, and both would be capable of switching back to the legacy Trident engine to load certain sites that use dated technologies, and also to ensure compatibility among specific enterprise sites. Not anymore.</p> <p>In a <a href="" target="_blank">blog post</a> this week, Microsoft said it decided against its original browser strategy after taking into considering "strong feedback" from its Windows Insiders and customers. So instead of sharing engines on Windows 10, Project Spartan will exclusively use the new engine, while IE11 will stay unchanged from Windows 8.1, using just the legacy Trident engine.</p> <p>"We feel this change simplifies the role of each browser. Project Spartan is our future: it is the default browser for all Windows 10 customers and will provide unique user experiences including the ability to annotate on web pages, a distraction-free reading experience, and integration of Cortana for finding and doing things online faster," Microsoft said. "Web developers can expect Project Spartan’s new engine to be interoperable with the modern Web and remain 'evergreen' with no document modes or compatibility views introduced going forward."</p> <p>This should make things easier on users in deciding on what kind of experience they want -- Project Spartan will have all the bells and whistles for a modern web (Cortana integration, annotations, reader modes, etc), while IE11 will support legacy sites and technologies. And by clearly separating the two browsers, Microsoft can focus on its vision for Project Spartan as the web evolves without juggling multiple engines.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> browser ie11 internet explorer 11 microsoft project spartan Software windows 10 News Wed, 25 Mar 2015 16:36:31 +0000 Paul Lilly 29640 at All Four Major Browsers Hacked in Pwn2Own Contest <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/hacking_0.jpg" alt="Hacking" title="Hacking" width="228" height="152" style="float: right;" />Not a single browser was left standing</h3> <p>Could the world use yet another browser? Sure, if security is at the forefront of your mind. <strong>At the annual Pwn2Own hacking contest that took place this week, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari all fell prey to remote code execution exploits</strong> by the second day. Not to make a mountain out of a mole hill, this isn't unusual, as every year hackers gather at CanSecWest's conference to show off their skills for prizes.</p> <p>Credit goes to JungHoon Lee (known online as lokihardt) for taking down a 64-bit build of Internet of Explorer with a time-of-check to time-of-use (TOCTOU) vulnerability allowing for read/write privileges, which netted him a prize bounty of $65,000.</p> <p>Lee then took out Chrome with a buffer overflow race condition, followed by an info leak and race condition in two Windows kernel drivers to get SYSTEM access, earning him the biggest payout in Pwn2Own history -- $75,000 for the Chrome bug and an extra $25,000 for the privilege escalation to SYSTEM, plus another $10,000 from Google for a total of $110,000. That worked out to $916 per second for his two-minute demonstration, <a href="" target="_blank">HP reports</a>.</p> <p>Before wrapping up work for the day, Lee hacked Apple's Safari browser using a use-after-free (UAF) vulnerability in an uninitialized stack pointer and bypassed the sandbox for code execution. His reward was $50,000, bringing his total for the day to $225,000.</p> <p>In all, researchers earned $442,500 in bounties over the course of two days.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> apple browser CanSecWest chrome firefox Google Internet Explorer microsoft Mozilla pwn2own safar Security Software News Fri, 20 Mar 2015 17:37:00 +0000 Paul Lilly 29618 at Here are the Upgrade Paths to Windows 10 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/windows_10_laptop_0.jpg" alt="Windows 10 Laptop" title="Windows 10 Laptop" width="228" height="149" style="float: right;" />Some upgrade scenarios will require physical media</h3> <p>Microsoft <a href="">dropped a bombshell</a> yesterday when it revealed that even Windows pirates will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 at no cost, though we have a clarification on that, which we'll get to in a moment. The <strong>Redmond outfit also outlined how you'll be able to make the leap to Windows 10</strong> when it becomes available later this year -- if you have a PC or tablet running Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8.1 with all the latest updates, you'll be able to upgrade using the Windows Update service. The same goes for Windows Phone 8.1.</p> <p>According to Microsoft's PowerPoint presentation, all Windows 7 and Windows 8.x versions (Windows 7 RTM, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 RTM) will require an ISO image, which you can have on a DVD or USB drive, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>VentureBeat</em> reports</a>. Here's a better look:</p> <ul> <li>Windows 7 RTM: Media (ISO)</li> <li>Windows 7 SP1: Media (ISO) or Windows Update</li> <li>Windows 8: Media (ISO)</li> <li>Windows 8.1 RTM: Media (ISO)</li> <li>Windows 8.1 S14: Media (ISO) or Windows Update</li> <li>Windows RT: N/A</li> <li>Windows Phone 8.0: N/A</li> <li>Windows Phone 8.1: Windows Update</li> </ul> <p>That's a pretty wide range Microsoft is covering, so long as the <strong>minimum hardware requirements</strong> are met. They include:</p> <ul> <li>Processor: 1GHz or faster</li> <li>RAM: 1GB (32-bit) or 2GB (64-bit)</li> <li>Free HDD: 16GB</li> <li>Graphics card: DirectX 9 with WDDM driver</li> <li>Microsoft account and Internet access</li> </ul> <h3>Clarification on Windows 10 Upgrade for Pirates</h3> <p>There's been a bit of confusion over Microsoft's revelation that it will allow users running non-genuine copies of Windows to upgrade to Windows 10 at no cost. At first it seemed as though the policy would only apply to users in China where software piracy is a particularly big problem, however a Microsoft spokesperson told <em>Maximum PC</em> in an email that it would apply to users worldwide.</p> <p>That's still true, but there's a significant caveat that Microsoft <a href="" target="_blank">revealed to <em>Polygon</em></a>. Short and to the point, the free upgrade won't changes the status of the non-genuine license. Here's the full statement:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><em>"The consumer free upgrade offer for Windows 10 applies to qualified new and existing devices running Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1. Some editions are excluded from the consumer free upgrade — including Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 8/8.1 Enterprise, and Windows RT/RT 8.1. Active Software Assurance customers in volume licensing have the benefit to upgrade to other Windows 10 enterprise offerings.</em></p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><em>"We have always been committed to ensuring that customers have the best Windows experience possible. With Windows 10, although non-Genuine PCs may be able to upgrade to Windows 10, the upgrade will not change the genuine state of the license. Non-Genuine Windows is not published by Microsoft. It is not properly licensed, or supported by Microsoft or a trusted partner. If a device was considered non-genuine or mislicensed prior to the upgrade, that device will continue to be considered non-genuine or mislicensed after the upgrade. According to industry experts, use of pirated software, including Non-Genuine Windows, results in a higher risk of malware, fraud (identity theft, credit card theft, etc), public exposure of your personal information, and a higher risk for poor performance or feature malfunctions."</em></p> <p>It's not clear what the ramifications will be, such as nag screens, intermittent reboots, etc. We're also not sure that this approach will do Microsoft much good -- if software pirates were interested in running a legit copy of Windows 10, they'd go out and buy one. It seems like a stretch that upgrading them to Windows 10 with a non-genuine license will be enough incentive to fork over for a proper license.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> microsoft operating system OS Software windows 10 News Thu, 19 Mar 2015 16:40:37 +0000 Paul Lilly 29613 at Microsoft Will Upgrade Non-Genuine Windows PCs to Windows 10 for Free <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/windows_10_2.jpg" alt="Windows 10" title="Windows 10" width="228" height="171" style="float: right;" />Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me!</h3> <p>Software piracy has been the bane of Microsoft's existence ever since the first copy of Windows was pirated. Since then, it's been a cat and mouse game between Microsoft and software pirates, but when it comes to Windows 10, it looks like Microsoft is willing to call a truce. More specifically, <strong>reports have emerged that Windows 10 will be offered as a free upgrade to all Windows users, even those running non-genuine copies</strong>.</p> <p>The initial report comes from <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Reuters</em></a>, which spoke with Terry Myerson, Microsoft's Executive Vice President of Operating Systems.</p> <p>"We are upgrading all qualified PCs, genuine and non-genuine, to Windows 10," Myerson said, adding that the plans is to "re-engage" with the hundreds of millions of Windows users in China.</p> <p>Windows piracy runs rampant in China, and to deal with the problem, Microsoft is extending an olive branch, so to speak. It will dole out Windows 10 through security outfit Qihoo 360 Technology and Tencent Holdings, China's most popular social networking company with more than 800 million users.</p> <p>The article doesn't mention whether the free upgrade for Windows pirates only applies to users in China or if it will also be valid for users in the U.S. and other parts of the world. Other reports make it sound like it's a global thing, including <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Verge</em></a>, which was told by a Microsoft spokesperson that "anyone with a qualified device can upgrade to Windows 10, including those with pirated copies of Windows."</p> <p>I dropped a line to Microsoft asking for clarification and will post an update when I hear back.</p> <p><iframe src="" width="620" height="349" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <h3>Update</h3> <p>A Microsoft spokesperson provided <em>Maximum PC</em> with the following the statement:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">"We are excited to launch Windows 10 this summer. Anyone with a qualified device can upgrade to Window 10, including those with pirated copies of Windows. We believe customers over time will realize the value of properly licensing Windows and we will make it easy for them to move to legitimate copies."</p> <p>It's the same statement that's been floating around the web, however <strong>we were also able to confirm with Microsoft that aforementioned upgrade policy for non-genuine copies of Windows to Windows 10 at no cost is indeed worldwide, not just for China</strong>.</p> <p>This is an interesting turn of events, especially for anyone building a PC now. With Windows 10 right around the corner, and confirmed to be a free upgrade for both genuine and pirated copies of Windows, some may find it tough to pull the trigger on a paid version. I'm not condoning piracy by any means, just pointing out the obvious dilemma.</p> <p>In any event, this is a big deal and more than just an olive branch, it's the entire olive tree Microsoft is extending. If this doesn't buy the company some good will, I'm not sure what will.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> china microsoft operating system OS piracy Software Terry Myerson Windows windows 10 News Wed, 18 Mar 2015 16:35:02 +0000 Paul Lilly 29607 at