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Is Windows 8 worth it?

Windows 8 is great!

Back to Windows 7!

What is windows 8?

Posted by Christo [PCD]
Votes: 130
Previous polls


Monday 21 July 2008
Ubisoft Steals ' No-CD Crack to fix Rainbow 6: Vegas 2
Christo [PCD] , Monday 21 July 2008 - 21:09:58 //

Hypocritical to say the least...

Hypocritical to say the least...

"UbiSoft has long been against No-CD patches. Referring to them on their forums would get you warned or banned. But now, they have just officially released a patch for Rainbow 6: Vegas 2, which, when opened in a hex editor, can easily be identified as coming from the RELOADED scene group, not from UbiSoft programmers. A picture of hex analysis is shown in the story. See? Piracy isn't that bad! It saves you from having to code fixes for your own games! (Watch the drama on the Ubi Forums before it gets scrubbed clean.)"


[Submitted by B@kg@t]

Monday 23 June 2008
DOJ Investigators Dig Into Windows 7
Christo [PCD] , Monday 23 June 2008 - 19:30:04 //

Big brother is watching Microsoft

Imagine someone coming into your room and watching you every day as you go about your business, looking through your stuff, waiting for you to make a mistake. This unpleasant sounding scenario is analogous to what Microsoft is facing as Windows 7 is being reviewed by the federal government.

With Windows 7 set to likely launch holiday 2009 (based on Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer's public remarks), Microsoft handed over the code and copies of Windows 7 in its current state to Department of Justice Technical Committee (TC) members to comb for possible antitrust violations.

The TC is the result of a long legal battle between Microsoft and smaller competitors in various fields, which all allege that Microsoft tries to write its Windows code in such a way to exclude them by defaulting to Microsoft applications. The U.S. government agreed that such anticompetitive antitrust violations were occurring and in November 2001, Microsoft finally agreed to settle with the U.S. government and face oversight.

With the final judgment a year later, Microsoft was forced to deal with inspectors during the development of Windows Vista. The inspection, which now is going on with the new OS focused on four key middleware categories -- e-mail, instant messaging, media playback and web browsing.

The effects on Microsoft can easily be speculated. While it might have been coincidence, when inspections started between 2004 and 2005, Microsoft made little progress on Internet Explorer, while Mozilla released Firefox and Thunderbird. Some speculate that this was due to Microsoft trying to remove Windows code that defaults services to IE and Outlook, or trying to make such code more subtle.

Meanwhile in the messaging sector, Microsoft abandoned Windows Messenger altogether, splitting it into MSN Messenger for private users and Office Communicator for business users. Both programs were much less attached to Windows than their predecessor.

In the aftermath of Vista, Google complained that Microsoft was violating the terms of its agreement and defaulting search traffic away from Google. The complaint eventually led in part to an extension of the supervisory period by the TC over Microsoft.

Microsoft, which had likely been eagerly anticipating freedom from inspectors has now been forced to live with U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly verdict of two more years of oversight -- about the amount of time needed to develop Windows 7.

Each month the Justice Department, the states' attorney generals, and Microsoft file a joint "status report" and the first one just came out offering insight into how Windows 7 is faring in the inspectors’ eyes. The first report came June 17 and offered the following overview of the process:

Microsoft has recently authorized TC access to another early build of Windows 7 (the successor to Vista), which the TC will review. As the builds of Windows 7 progress, the TC will conduct middleware-related tests in an effort to assure that bugs fixed in Vista do not reappear in the next operating system, as well as to assure final judgment compliance generally.

The "bugs" referred to are compatibility issues with various software that Microsoft mostly fixed over the course of Windows Vista's development. Microsoft contends that these were due to tricky communications flaws, not purposeful attempts to break competitors' products.

The report adds:

The TC's on-going review of Windows' treatment of middleware defaults is being expanded to include an operating system source code scan in an effort to determine whether some commonality in the code accounts for default overrides. The TC also is investigating certain default browser overrides, which Microsoft asserts arise from reasonable technical requirements that competing browsers apparently do not implement. The TC will discuss its findings with Microsoft once this inquiry is concluded.

The latter part refers to the ongoing review of the beta version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8 browser. More interestingly it reveals that unlike previous investigations, the TC has moved up to actually scanning the Windows source code. Investigators hope to use this to spot any antitrust violations, even subtly coded ones.

Meanwhile Microsoft is forced to watch and wait while the DOJ continues its investigations. It is entirely possible that its staff will have to make major changes to the code of Windows 7 and IE 8 to make them acceptable to the TC. Worse yet, as eWeek's Joe Wilcox points out, "Microsoft is making a godawful amount of Internet Explorer changes and taking risks with application and Web site compatibility. Surely somebody will try to interfere with the changes for competitive gain. Will it be Apple, Google or Mozilla?"

The world of inspections is not a pretty one for Microsoft, but it’s one that for the time being it must live with.

(Source: New York Times)

[Submitted by Christo [PCD]]

1 1214240467 DOJ In

Tuesday 29 April 2008
Ballmer Says Customers Don't Want XP; Will Likely Be Discontinued in June
Christo [PCD] , Tuesday 29 April 2008 - 16:33:38 //

The final days for Microsoft XP are fast approaching, according to Microsoft

A hot debate is raging over what Microsoft should do with Windows XP. Windows Vista is simply not viable for low-end PCs that are a mainstay of the consumer home computing market. Windows XP was originally scheduled to be discontinued in January 2008. In preparation for this phase out, most retail computers were to be loaded with Vista.

However, the lawsuits and negative feedback that ensued from underperforming computers struggling with Vista, led Microsoft to reconsider and offer XP "downgrades". It also gave XP a stay of execution until June 2008, sixth months after the planned date.

June 2008 is fast approaching and now Microsoft is faced with the dilemma of whether to officially retire the OS or further extend its career. In Belgium on Thursday, Steve Ballmer spoke to reporters about the OS's fate. He indicated that while customer demand could extend the life of the OS, currently he did not see customers demanding it, and he felt that unless something changes, XP would be headed the way of the dinosaur.

He stated, "XP will hit an end-of-life. We have announced one. If customer feedback varies we can always wake up smarter but right now we have a plan for end-of-life for new XP shipments."

All retail sales and licensing, under the current plan, will end June 30. Ballmer said that despite difficulties, most retail computers today are being sold with Vista, and most customers prefer Vista.

However, some customers portray a different story. They say that they were unable to buy XP in stores. Further, they say that in order to get XP they had to buy their computers as small businesses. It is indeed true that XP is virtually nonexistent at large retailers such as Best Buy and Circuit City.

Ballmer acknowledged there was business sector demand for XP still. He says this is driven by the fact that the IT industry frequent heavily employs older or outdated hardware. He states, "In the business environment, we still have customers who are buying PCs with XP."

Ballmer was also questioned by reporters about if Microsoft would appeal the landmark $1.4B USD fine from the EU. Ballmer simply remained mum, stating, "I really have nothing to say about that today, sorry."

Microsoft would have to appeal the ruling to the European Court of First Instance by early May at the latest. The European Commission imposed the fine due to the fact that it found that Microsoft was using pricing anti-competitively to drive rivals out of the market.

Steve Ballmer was in Belgium for the opening of a new "innovation center" in the city of Mons. Google has a data center in the same city, but Ballmer says that is not why it was selected.

Ballmer also reaffirmed that if Yahoo would not accept its buyout offer, Microsoft would seek to oust the company's board of directors. He stated, "We've sent them a letter that says, 'it's a good price, please let us know. If you don't let us know, maybe your shareholders will think it's a good price."

By far the most interesting insight he provided though was his outlook on XP. Microsoft already caved in to extend the life of Windows XP Home only for ultra-low-cost PCs (ULPCs) until June 30, 2010. Whether Microsoft will have a change of heart for the remaining versions of XP remains to be seen.

And the sooner Microsoft retires XP, the sooner it can fully focus on releasing Windows 7. The new OS, which is scheduled tentatively for 2010, promises slimmer builds, which may help relieve Microsoft's hardware woes. Still, two years is a long time to wait in the consumer market.

Steve Ballmer doesn't think customers are exactly screaming to keep Windows XP.
[Submitted by Christo [PCD]]

1 1209479449 Ballme

Saturday 15 March 2008
Lock Your Workstations, Or Not: New Tool Bypasses Windows Logon
Christo [PCD] , Saturday 15 March 2008 - 15:02:03 //

New Zealand hacker releases source code to utility that reads password directly from memory

Exploiting a little known feature built into Firewire port specifications, Adam Boileau released the source code to a utility authored in 2006 that allows anyone to bypass the Windows Authentication dialog box on any PC with a Firewire port.

The tool is a simple, 200-line script written in the Python programming language exploits features built into Firewire that allow direct access to a computer’s memory. By targeting specific places that Windows consistently stores its vital authentication functions, Boileau’s tool is able to overwrite Windows’ secured code with patches that skip Windows’ password check entirely.

Boileau says he decided to release the script now, two years after it was initially unveiled, because Microsoft had not acted to patch the vulnerability. Boileau considers his tool a “party-trick demo script thats been lying around my [home folder] for two years gathering dust,? and considers it “a pity to write code and have no one use it.?

“Besides,? says Boileau, “according to Microsoft's definition, it never was a Security Vulnerability anyway – screensavers and login prompts are … about the Feeling of Security.?

Boileau also notes that he’s seen others successfully modify the script to hack Windows Vista’s password-check code, as well as use a laptop’s PCMCIA port to plug in a Firewire card and attack the laptop after Windows auto-installed the card’s drivers.

It’s important to note that Firewire’s provisions for direct memory access, called DMA, are useful in other contexts, like in the use of software debuggers. Nowadays, a sizable percentage of the world’s software checks for the presence of programs monitoring memory directly – which is what a debugger does – and will frequently act differently or refuse to start up if it detects their presence.

Firewire ports are therefore usable as high-speed debugging devices, allowing developers and hackers alike to passively monitor anywhere in a computer’s memory and make changes where needed, whether its reprogramming a password check or seeding buggy software with correct data. It might also allow forensic investigators to grab an encrypted hard drive’s decryption key directly from memory, while the computer is running.

Also important is that the same technique has been known to work on other operating systems, including Mac OS X and Linux – and in fact some people have used modified iPods to run Firewire DMA attacks on the fly.

Common security thought dictates that a computer is essentially lost if it is in your opponent’s possession, and that security on a physical machine will be subverted with time: for computers equipped with Firewire, the thought couldn’t be more true.

[Submitted by Christo [PCD]]

1 1205585739 Lock Y

Friday 29 February 2008
EU Pummels Microsoft With $1.4B USD Fine
Christo [PCD] , Friday 29 February 2008 - 21:33:36 //

Big corporations beware: the European Union is playing high stakes

Like a plentiful oil well, the European Union (EU) has found, since 2004, that Microsoft is a rich source of funds. The EU allowed Microsoft to continue to operate in the region, but found it in violation of antitrust laws. Its conclusion -- in order to stay Microsoft will have to pay some big fines.

The Microsoft fines began in March of 2004 when a European Commission high court found the company guilty of antitrust violations -- in particular, using underhanded tactics to freeze out its competitors in the media player and server software markets. A massive fine of $690M (€497M) was charged against Microsoft.

Microsoft refused to comply and was promptly fined an additional $375.4M USD. In the end, Microsoft’s decision to fight the law turned out to be a futile one when the European Court of First Instance ruled to uphold European Commission's decision against Microsoft. Microsoft agreed to finally comply with the ruling.

Now Microsoft has been hit with another massive fine by the European Union. The EU says that between July 2006, and October 2007, Microsoft's refused to comply during its legal fight against the EU, making it eligible for the increased rate of fines of approximately $3.83M a day, for each day of non-compliance. The new fine announced by the EU for this period sums up to $1.4B USD (€899M).

The fine marks the largest antitrust fine in international history, and a record judgment against Microsoft.

Microsoft indicated it is willing to accept the fine, though, commenting that the fines were about past issues and that the company is now operating under revised principles that make its software more open. Microsoft twice reduced its patent rate and information license rate, last May. Finally in October it reduced its rates even further, offering new license for interoperability information for a flat fee of $14,000 and an optional worldwide patent license for a reduced royalty of 0.4%. The October reduction appears to be satisfactory in the EU's eyes, though the initial reduction was not.

The changes in licensing policy went into effect on October 22, 2007. The changes help make it easier for smaller software firms to gain access to interoperability information, allowing them to interface with Microsoft products. Microsoft had initially demanded a royalty rate totaling 3.87% of a licensee's product revenues and demanded an additional 2.98% of products' revenues from companies seeking access to communications information, which Microsoft deemed highly secret.

While the over $2.4B USD in fines reaped by the EU against Microsoft since 2004 have certainly hurt, Microsoft still has about $19.6B USD in cash reserves, when taking the most recent $1.4B USD fine into effect. Unfortunately for Microsoft, this may soon be shrinking further as the European recently launched two new investigations into Microsoft.

The EU is also keeping busy trying to squeeze on Intel, which it also accused of antitrust violations. Intel, like Microsoft, fought the EU's accusations. Meanwhile the EU was hard at work, strengthening their case, by seizing documents in a raid of German Intel offices.

EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes

[Submitted by Christo [PCD]]

1 1204313253 EU Pum

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