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New Shipment of Vista Ultimate Extra’s (Of Sorts)

April 23rd, 2008 by Patrick S

After months of being left in the dark after the first release of Microsoft Ultimate Extra’s for Windows Vista’s Ultimate edition Microsoft surprised us yesterday with some new content.

I admit  surprised is sort of the wrong word used to describe my feelings for the latest batch of Ultimate Extra’s…
But nonethe less – Get ready to justify Ultimate’s large price tag because today we were gifted a few cheesy Windows sound effects, some language packs and a couple more mediocre Windows Dream-scene wallpapers.

…Sure in the past we were rewarded with Texas Hold’em Poker as well as Windows Dream scene, with promises of more to come but the latest instalment has left me with a bitter taste in my mouth-I think it’s time Microsoft woke up and actually fulfilled their promise and take care of the little guy!

…But who knows, perhaps its just a Taste of whats to come?

The WoW Starts now?

Added Feature?: Windows Live Photo Show NOW appears in the list of apps to which sound events may be added. New sound effects to come?

Posted in MS News, Rants, Windows Vista | 4 Comments »

Microsoft discloses vulnerability affecting multiple Windows Versions

April 22nd, 2008 by Patrick S

After investigating public reports, Microsoft has published Microsoft Security Advisory 951306, which describes a vulnerability that affects multiple versions of Windows (including Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2, all supported versions and editions of Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, Windows Vista Service Pack 1, and Windows Server 2008.)

The newly found security flaw could potentially allow a malicious local user (who has authentication) to execute specially crafted code to raise his privilege level to LocalSystem. IIS and SQL Server are the main attack vectors. But other vectors are possible, such as Microsoft Distributed Transaction Coordinator (MSDTC) on Windows Server 2003.

The vulnerability looks like it basically allows for any process that has the SeImpersonatePrivilege to execute some code and be able to impersonate LocalSystem (which has the NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM SID and a wealth of privileges in its token). For Windows 2003 and beyond the users awarded that privilege are in the Network Services, Local Services, Local System, and Administrators groups. On Vista/Server 2008 you additionally won’t have the privilege unless you’ve elevated. That fortunately reduces the scope of this otherwise highly serious vulnerability, though it still isn’t pretty.

It must be noted however  Microsoft stated in its advisory that- “Hosting providers may be at increased risk from this elevation of privilege vulnerability.” However, no exploitation has been observed at this time.
Microsoft Security Advisory 951306

Posted in MS News, Security, Windows Server System, Windows Vista, Windows XP | 1 Comment »

Windows Vista SP1 Released!

February 4th, 2008 by Jabez Gan [MVP]

Hi, Mike Nash here from the Windows Product Management group at Microsoft.  Today we are excited to announce that we have released Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista to manufacturing (RTM) for our first set of languages (English, French, Spanish, German and Japanese).

Service Pack 1 is a very important milestone because it addresses many of the key issues that our customers have identified with Windows Vista over the last year both, directly and through programs like the Customer Experience Improvement Program.  With Service Pack 1, we have made great progress in performance, reliability and compatibility.  One of the great things about my job is that I get to play with the latest builds of our products — I’ve personally been running Windows Vista SP1 pretty exclusively for a few months and I’ve noticed that my systems run faster and more reliably than they did with the “Gold” release of Windows Vista.

When we first released Windows Vista last year, there were lots of customers who had great experiences, but some had issues finding applications that worked well on Windows Vista; others had problems finding the right device drivers for some of the hardware devices that they used.  The reason for these issues is that in order to improve the reliability and security of Windows Vista, we made some important architectural changes to the system.  While this caused some issues in the short term, in the long term we know that these investments will improve both the reliability and security of the customer experience on Windows.  Check out this blog post about the first year of Windows Vista security to see how some of these changes are paying off.

The good news is that this last year has been a great year of progress for Windows Vista in terms of improving application and device compatibility.  For example, 98 out of the top-selling 100 applications have versions available for Windows Vista.  And through the great work of our hardware partners, we now have 78,000 devices and components supported by Windows Update, up from about 34,000 in November 2006.  As a result, we have licensed over 100 million copies of Windows Vista to date.

Service Pack 1 brings new improvements that are based on feedback we heard from our customers.  It further improves the reliability and performance of Windows Vista.  The information we collect thanks to tools like the Customer Experience Improvement Program, Online Crash Analysis, and Windows Error Reporting help us learn about where and when customers are having issues with Windows Vista and the applications that run on it.  Since these issues have a direct impact on our customers’ experiences, we’ve invested time and energy to make this better.  While Windows Vista Service Pack 1 is an important milestone, we will continue to invest in the continuous improvement process.

More from source: http://windowsvistablog.com/blogs/windowsvista/archive/2008/02/04/announcing-the-rtm-of-windows-vista-sp1.aspx

Posted in Windows Vista | 1 Comment »

Get the new face of Windows XP, Before it eXPires!!!

January 6th, 2008 by Patrick S

 

2008 Is here, its now time to face the truth… The clock is ticking on Microsoft’s Windows XP. And whilst Microsoft may view this as a natural stage in the evolution of a product that was RTM’ed (released to manufacturing) all the way back in 2001, a healthy proportion of people will fail to see eye to eye with the company on this one. In this context… Windows Vista.xptarget

Vista In 2007

Even with Vista hot off the presses, XP did not give one inkling that it was going to give up the fight, with Microsoft focusing on winding XP up for good-Ending support for SP1 and soon to be SP2.

-Microsoft’s Windows Product Management vice president Mike Nash on September 27th: “with more than 60 million licenses sold as of this summer, Windows Vista is on track to be the fastest-selling operating system in Microsoft’s history.”
They had done it-sold over 20 million licences in the first month since RTM, passing 40million within the first 100days and 60 million by mid 2007. The last statistics made available to the public, dating back to the end of October, pointed to over 88 million Vista copies sold worldwide.

At the end of 2007, according to statistics provided by Net Applications, Vista enjoyed a market share of 10.48% – a percentage roughly synonymous with 100+ million sold copies. And while in just a single year Vista’s install base has passed the combined audience of Mac OS X and all the Linux distributions, its performance is still perceived with nuances of failure. And at fault is Windows XP with its roots firmly dug in for the past six years.

Vista’s Problem

Currently Vista (in general) leaves a lot to be desired-to be honest it’s just how I feel. Sure SP1 comes out this year, and there is still hope that Microsoft will boost Vista up to the OS that it has the potential to be, but lets face it-there are A LOT of users who wont go with the flow. Admittedly Vista HAS grown on me since I first tested it a couple of years ago-I have the upmost confidence SP1 will change my mind for the better.

Let’s explore what’s gone down with Vista last year:

  • Dell, HP and Acer have all asked Microsoft to extend XP’s availability for an additional 6 months due to the concerns of customers.
  • Many Businesses have been slow to adopt Vista due to poor performance and compatibility issues.
  • Complaints have arisen regarding performance issues and the fact that Vista is so damn hungry.

XP’s Future

2008 Marks another milestone for Microsoft Windows-No it’s not Service Pack 1. It’s the real upgrade to Vista (SP0)… XP’s Service Pack 3. This final major update to XP has been dubbed by some as the Vista without the crap.

Although XP was faster than Vista before, SP3 ups the ante. Microsoft has said that SP3 features about 1073 fixes and adds some cool features from Vista to make your experience far better. Using Vista after XP seems weird-no device incompatibility warnings, pop-ups asking for permission and poor performance.

Sure this may not seem like big improvements and most of the fixes included in SP3 can already be found on Vista, but isn’t that the issue here? Now that XP is more secure and already sports any and all drivers you are currently using without costing hundreds of dollars to implement, couldn’t it be said that XP is simply the better choice? … It just works!!!

Sadly the end of June (30th )2008 marks the day where Windows XP will no longer be available pre-loaded on computers from original equipment manufactures or from retail outlets. Starting with the summer of this year (4th Quarter) and ending sometime in 2010, when windows 7 is planned, end users will only have access to Windows Vista. XP will survive a little longer with System Builders until early 2009, and until mid 2010 with the Starter edition, but sales of the Windows operating system connected with white-box PC’s are only a fraction of the Windows client businesses.

What about the Big Picture?

In the end, it’s not all about the support life-cycles and marketing, not by a long shot. With SP1, Vista will enter its first stage of evolution and with that a massively increased user-base. This will lead better support and compatibility, to increased reliability and boosted performance-XP will fade to the background and Vista will take centre stage.

So…While Office 07 and Vista get their first Service Packs-Windows XP will get its last.

I Say “Viva La XP” but Bring on Vista SP1 😀

Stats and info sourced from cnet and softpedia

Posted in Beta News, MS News, Products, Windows Vista, Windows XP | 2 Comments »

Windows Virtual Desktops

January 5th, 2008 by Patrick S

I love Windows as much as the next guy however there are certain features on Linux that I really wish were in Windows. E.g. The Power of Bash or Multiple (Virtual) Desktops.

Thanks to Microsoft’s Code Plex program I stumbled across a program that allows users to run multiple desktops within Windows XP & Vista. Its a completely open-source program (yay) and even supports Vista’s DWM based aero interface (They seem to have found a way around the slowness of the SDK however).
This virtual desktop program takes advantage of this new API and uses some tricks of its own to provide a powerful virtual desktop manager with a full screen thumbnail based preview. You can have as many desktops as you want and can seamlessly switch between them.

Some of the programs key features include:

  • Multiple-monitor support
  • Per-desktop backgrounds
  • Sticky windows to exclude windows from the virtual desktop manager
  • Live Vista thumbnails of all of your windows (Will only work in Vista-XP does not support WDM)
  • An infinite number of desktops only limited by the amount of memory in your computer

Download and toy around Virtual Desktop Manager here http://www.codeplex.com/vdm

VDM

Pretty cool huh?

Posted in Computing, Reviews, Windows Vista, Windows XP | 2 Comments »

Delayed Startup of Windows startup applications

January 4th, 2008 by Jabez Gan [MVP]

Are you experiencing a loooooooooooooong startup of Windows due to the startup of not-so-important applications, like OneNote or Adobe Gamma Loader? Or maybe you want Microsoft Office Outlook to run automatically after Windows loads? Fear no more, there’s a quick app by Clint Rutkas called “Delayed Startup” which will help you!

From his blog,

“Why did I create a delayed startup program?  After I saw all the stuff my manager had booting up on his computer, I thought this may be useful.  His computer really wasn’t terribly usable for a good 10 minutes after a reboot so I decided to spend a few minutes and create him a nice program while I’m at a .Net User Group meeting (they had free food and it was 1 floor up in my building).  My theory is most of the programs in your startup folder aren’t actually needed asap.  I don’t need OneNote open right away, I don’t need a bunch of other stuff right away.  The nice thing is now I can have Visual Studio, Outlook, IE, and a few other programs I run everyday not impact me restarting my computer’s bootup time since they’ll do a gradual loading sequence.”

More information of Delayed Startup can be found at http://betterthaneveryone.com/archive/2007/10/29/delayed-startup.aspx ,  which includes the Setup program.

What do you think of this application? Leave a comment!

Posted in Windows Vista, Windows XP | Comments Off on Delayed Startup of Windows startup applications

Vista pirated half as much as XP, Microsoft Happy

January 4th, 2008 by Patrick S

While it admits it’s not possible to pin down an exact number, Microsoft has let out word today that it estimates the counterfeit rate of Vista to be about half that of XP, a figure that it seems to be more than pleased with. Of course, one could interpret those numbers in slightly less positive ways, but Microsoft claims the sharp dip in piracy is due to Vista’s amped up authentication system, which it says is a “proven and effective way to combat piracy.” To come up with the numbers, Microsoft apparently relied statistics based on Windows Genuine Advantage validation failures, as well as other unspecified internal data. As TG Daily notes, all this follows Microsoft’s announcement of revised anti-piracy measures in Vista SP1 and, specifically, some big changes to the aforementioned WGA feature.

Microsoft’s statistics are based on Windows Genuine Advantage validation failures, along with other internal data.

Microsoft’s statement on counterfeit data comes as it reveals new piracy prevention plans for Vista’s first service pack. “What is changing with SP1 is the nature of the experience for those systems that are never activated or that fail validation,” said Sievert. The service pack will also help prevent users with legitimate installs from being affected by Vista pirates.

Posted in Anti-Piracy, Windows Vista, Windows XP | 4 Comments »

Submit your Windows feedback NOW!

November 3rd, 2007 by Jabez Gan [MVP]

Would you like to help Microsoft and shape Windows? Do you have a cool idea that you want to see in the next version of Windows? Is there something which is bugging you in the current version of Windows? Or does Windows not work for you?

Now it is the time for you to submit your feedback about what you want to see in the next version of Windows, through the Windows Feedback Program!

Register and join and Submit your feedback now at http://wfp.microsoft.com/

Posted in Windows Server System, Windows Vista, Windows XP | Comments Off on Submit your Windows feedback NOW!

Exclusive: Windows Vista SP1 Update!

August 29th, 2007 by Jabez Gan [MVP]

General Overview:

What is Windows Vista Service Pack 1?

Windows Vista SP1 is an update to Windows Vista that, along with improvements delivered to users via Windows Update, addresses feedback from our customers. While SP1 contains valuable updates to Windows, organizations don’t need to wait to deploy and can experience the improved security, management and deployment benefits of Windows Vista today.

In addition to previously released updates, SP1 will contain changes focused on addressing specific reliability and performance issues, supporting new types of hardware, and adding support for several emerging standards. SP1 also continues to improve upon the IT administration experience. SP1 is not intended to be a vehicle for releasing new features; however some existing components do gain enhanced functionality in SP1.

Windows Vista SP1 is designed to not significantly change the UI or to cause regressions in application compatibility.1

When will the Windows Vista SP1 beta be released?

The beta will be released to a moderate size audience in a few weeks.

What guidance would we like MVPs to share with customers considering waiting until SP1 before evaluating Windows Vista?

Customers do not need to wait for SP1 to deploy Windows Vista. Today, Windows Vista provides higher productivity, mobility, and security, with lower ownership costs, than any previous version of Windows. We encourage our customers to begin their Windows Vista evaluation and deployment now.

1. Customers currently evaluating and deploying Windows Vista should continue their evaluation, pilot programs, and deployment on Windows Vista RTM. Microsoft provides the tools and guidance customers need to deploy Windows Vista today and will provide additional guidance, tools and support for moving to SP1 when the service pack is released.

2. Customers just starting to evaluate Windows Vista should plan a pilot program, targeting the PCs that gain the most business value from Windows Vista (for example, many organizations will find that mobile PCs get the most benefits) and present the simplest upgrade from Windows Vista RTM to SP1. (A customer ready white paper discussing best practices for running a pilot can be found here: http://technet2.microsoft.com/WindowsVista/en/library/a825cf2a-5248-4aa7-b8f5-a074339c729c1033.mspx)

3. Customers waiting for Windows Vista SP1 should start their compatibility testing on Windows Vista RTM now, and then begin their evaluation and pilot programs on the RC Windows Vista SP1 when it is released. Windows Vista includes some architectural changes relative to Windows XP, in the interest of improved security and reliability. These changes can cause some applications which work on Windows XP not to work on Windows Vista. However, it is important to note that these architectural changes are also part of Windows Vista SP1. For this reason, testing applications on Windows Vista RTM will be a very good proxy for compatibility with Windows Vista SP1.

Customers should alert ISVs if specific applications are not yet compatible on Windows Vista RTM, and should begin remediating internal applications if they are found not to be compatible.

(Additional customer-ready application compatibility content can be found here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windowsvista/aa905066.aspx)

What improvements are there to reliability in SP1?

Windows Vista SP1 improves the reliability of Windows Vista in many areas. Thanks to the rich instrumentation capability of Windows Vista, we are able to understand the type of problems that our customers are experiencing (while respecting their personal information and privacy preferences).

Many of these crashes and blue screens stem from problems with 3rd party applications and drivers, so we are working with our partners to solve these problems together. Other problems occur entirely in Windows code so we are aggressively working to solve as many of these as possible too.

Some of these improvements are made available before SP1 in the August updates available via Windows Update and the Download Center.

What are some examples of additions to the service pack in the “Support for emerging technologies and standards” category? Throughout the lifetime of Windows, new hardware innovations occur and standards enter the marketplace. SP1 includes support for some of these new innovations, which are expected to become increasingly important in the coming years. For example:

· With SP1, Windows Vista can boot via EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) on an x64 machine

· SP1 supports ExFAT, a new file format that will be used in flash memory storage and consumer devices

· Support for SD Advanced DMA Support to improve transfer performance and decrease CPU utilization is part of SP1

· SP1 includes a series of new API’s and software features to enable 3D application and game developers to make more complete and efficient use of the upcoming generation of graphics Direct3D 10.1 hardware

· Windows Vista SP1 includes SSTP (Secure Sockets Tunnel Protocol), a remote access VPN tunneling protocol that will be part of Microsoft’s RRAS (Routing and Remote Access Service) platform. SSTP helps provide full-network VPN remote access connections without some of the challenges that other VPN tunnels face traversing NAT, web proxies, and firewalls

What are some examples of additions to the service pack in the “Improve management experience” category?

SP1 improves the administration experience. For example:

· With Windows Vista SP1, BitLocker Drive Encryption has been enhanced to not only fully encrypt the entire Windows Vista volume but also any or all additional locally created data volumes. (Customers can now not only fully encrypt C: but also D: and E:)

· SP1 Improves printer management by addressing problems associated with printing to a local printer from within a Terminal Server session

· Network Diagnostics in Windows Vista SP1 will help users with the most common file sharing problems, in addition to basic problems already supported

· SP1 includes an update to Disk Defragmenter so administrators can control which volumes the disk defragmenter runs on

Additionally, the tools used to manage Group Policy for Windows Vista will change with the installation of Windows Vista Service Pack 1. GPMC will be uninstalled with Service Pack 1 and GPEdit will default to Local Group Policy editing. Following these changes, SP1 users can download an updated version of GPMC that contains much requested functionality including the ability to add comments to GPOs or individual settings, to search for specific GP settings, and to use Starter GPOs which encapsulate best practices.

What languages will Windows Vista SP1 include?

SP1 is going to be released in two waves. The initial release of SP1 will include 5 languages (English, French, Spanish, German, and Japanese). A Service Pack containing all 36 of the languages (including the original 5) will be released about 3 months later.

What drivers are new in SP1?

Windows Vista SP1 does not include new drivers. Rather, new drivers are delivered to users via Windows Update or directly from the driver vendor. There are two benefits to doing it this way:

· Drivers can be delivered when they are available, and not just with the service pack

· Via WU, drivers are only delivered to PCs which need those drivers, which help keep the size of the service pack from growing.

When will Windows Vista SP1 be released?

· We currently expect to deliver SP1 during the first quarter of 2008, but we will collect customer feedback from our upcoming beta process before setting a final date. Quality is our most important factor when determining availability.

· The beta will be released to approximately 10-15K private testers that will not include TechNet subscribers, but MSDN and Technet subscribers will be able to participate in testing when the RC of Windows Vista SP1 is available. The timing of the RC will be based on feedback from the beta testers, and we’ll share more info as we have it.

How large will the Service Pack 1 be?

The Beta of Windows Vista SP1 will be approximately 50 MB when delivered over Windows Update (to 32-bit PCs). We expect that will be the experience for the majority of our users. For IT Departments in large organizations, we also provide the “Standalone Package”. It will be significantly larger in size (about 1 GB for 32-bit), as it includes more just the changed files between Windows Vista Gold and Windows Vista SP1 as well as all 36 languages.

There are three changes to how the standalone Service Pack is built in Windows Vista which are responsible for its larger size. However, these changes also bring benefits to IT professionals.

1. For the first time ever, the “standalone” package includes every language that Windows is released in. This increases the size but adds the benefit that the same package can be used to apply SP1 on any Windows Vista computer in an organization, regardless of language.

2. Additionally, updating in Windows Vista is now “component based.” This means that if a file is changed, the entire component, including some files that may not been changed, is included in the standalone pack. This is a departure from previous versions of Windows, where the basic unit of updating was a file, not a component. A component is made up of multiple files.

There are a number of benefits gained with the new component based servicing model. For instance:

· More reliable out of order uninstall

Uninstalling packages in a different reverse order than they were installed in could result in an inconsistent system state. Now packages can be uninstalled in any order more reliably

· Automatic Language Updates

When an update is installed, the MUI files for all installed languages can be updated simultaneously, since they are in the component store

3. Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 have been built from the same fundamental source code base since the beginning. Many of the core files are identical between the two products, although each product has unique features, specific individual files and functional behaviors that are appropriate for the intended customer uses for the specific product. For example, Windows Media Center only appears in Windows Vista, while Active Directory or Windows Clustering only appears in Windows Server 2008. Examples of common files shared between the two operating systems are the kernel and core OS files, the networking stack, file sharing. In the past year since the Vista public release, the common files in Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 have been continually improved based on customer beta feedback, customer deployments, and Microsoft internal testing.

Because these are common files, any changes to the code for Windows Server 2008 will result in corresponding changes in the files in Vista SP1. Some of these changes may increase the reliability of Vista SP1, while others may be in server-only codepaths that do not directly affect Windows Vista customers. However, in order to keep the code common for future servicing and management, the changes have to be included in the common version of the files. While many of these files have been updated for Server scenarios, most of these changes do not change the features or functionality of Windows Vista, but they are included in the service pack.

Who will receive the Beta of Windows Vista SP1?

There are approximately 10,000 customers and partners that will be participating in this beta. We rely on this group to help us test our software on a broader range of hardware and over diverse usage scenarios as well as to ensure that the larger partner ecosystem has had sufficient time to test their products on Windows Vista SP1.

Microsoft has created deployment guidance, available to beta testers on Microsoft Connect. The Application Compatibility Toolkit and Business Desktop Deployment (BDD) will be updated to help customers prepare for and deploy for SP1.

What about MSDN and TechNet subscribers access the Beta?

Currently the beta is restricted to about 10,000 participants, which represent a sampling of our user base. MSDN and TechNet members will gain access to a later milestone beta of SP1, to be announced later during the beta cycle.

Additional Resources

SP1 White Paper

Check TechNet for Link

Windows Vista blog

http://windowsvistablog.com/blogs/windowsvista/default.aspx

Application Compatibility Resources

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windowsvista/aa905066.aspx

Piloting Windows Vista

http://technet2.microsoft.com/WindowsVista/en/library/a825cf2a-5248-4aa7-b8f5-a074339c729c1033.mspx

Posted in Windows Vista | 1 Comment »

Vista Recovery Command Prompt

June 16th, 2007 by Patrick S

As good as the recovery console in is Windows-it really aint that secure at all. Did you know that the Command Prompt tool found in Vista’s System Recovery Options doesn’t require a User Name or Password? And that the Command Prompt provides Administrator level access to the hard drive? For multiple versions of Windows? All you need is a Vista Install DVD and you’re all set to go.

Just boot from the DVD and select the Repair option:

Then select the Command Prompt:

Here you have full access to this computer, not only as an administrator but also as a system account user. After this you can insert usb-memory and copy any non-encrypted file from this computer to usb-memory and steal information without leaving any marks to the system or event viewer logs.
Also, you could for example copy SAM-file (contains names and passwords of local users) from c:\windows\system32\config to usb-memory and start cracking computer’s user password at  remote computer.

A cracker can:
1. … copy files from hard disk to USB, floppy or network server
2. … create / modify / delete files and folders
3. … use most of the MS-DOS like commands
4. … use this method in Vista, XP, 200x

To protect you computer or workstation, try to:

setup bios boot order so that booting from other media than hard disk is not possible

  • setup startup password from your bios (mainly in home computers)

  • use hard disk encryption software, if possible (such as bit locker)

  • encrypt files and folders using EFS, if mechanisms above are not possible

  • This kind of reminds you of a Windows XP Home feature. The Administrator account password for XP Home is blank by default and is hidden in Normal Mode. But if you select F8 during boot for Safe Mode, you can access the Administrator account and have complete access to the computer.

    For more proof of the concept check out find more details from Mr. Kimmo Rousku and F-Secure

    Posted in MS News, Products, Security, Windows Vista, Windows XP | 5 Comments »

    Test drive Windows Vista without installing!

    June 11th, 2007 by Jabez Gan [MVP]

    Are you one of the people who hasn’t jump on the migration to Windows Vista? Still having doubts about the stability and usability of Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows Vista?

    If yes, fear no more as you can test out Windows Vista without even buying/installing on any of your machine!

    To test out Windows Vista, please visit: http://www.windowsvistatestdrive.com/

    You will be able to choose which edition of Windows Vista to test. 

    The above website will be hosting the virtual machines of Windows Vista and will stream it to your javascript enabled browser running Internet Explorer.

    Note: Currently only US and Canada visitors can run the virtual machines.

    Posted in Windows Vista | 1 Comment »

    Workaround for KB 933245 – Lsm.exe Handle Leak

    May 25th, 2007 by Patrick S

    Consider the following scenario. If you have a computer that uses a high definition audio device, which is running Microsoft Windows Vista, and you are using Windows Media Player 11, handles and memory may be lost because of a leak in the Lsm.exe process.

    As you fast forward through your Windows Media Player library, or have a playlist set to repeat, you may lose a large amount of handles in a short amount of time. This can lead to performance degradation and in some cases, “out of memory” error messages and other unexpected behavior. If you review the Task Manager you may notice that Lsm.exe is consuming a large amount of memory.

    This issue only occurs if the following statements are true:

    • Your computer utilizes a High Definition Audio Device
    • You are running Windows Vista, or Windows Vista 64-bit.
    • You are using Windows Media Player 11 to play back audio files.

    There is a hotfix available from Microsoft to resolve this issue, however in some cases this may not resolve the issue. The following workaround is a method that I have tested on several systems that exhibit this issue and have found that it does indeed resolve the issue.

    • Click on Start, and then click on Control Panel.
    • Click on Hardware and Sound.
    • Under Sound, click on “Manage audio devices”.
    • Select your output device in the list that appears (the default output devices is commonly labelled “Speakers”)
    • Right click on the device and from the context menu click on Properties.
    • In the “Properties” window, click on the “Enhancements” tab.
    • Tick/check the option box for “Disable all enhancements”.
    • Click on OK to dismiss the properties window.
    • Click on OK to dismiss the “Sound” window.
    • Close the Control Panel window by clicking the Close (”X”) button at the top right of the window.

    NOTE: You will have to restart your computer in order to reclaim previously lost memory and handles.

    This article was posted by MSBLOG’s Kristen Kenny on his personal blog: http://www.canucky.net

    Posted in Bugs, Computing, Media Center/Media Player, Microsoft, Windows Vista | 2 Comments »

    Vista + IE7’s default security: Blocked site from stealing info

    May 15th, 2007 by Jabez Gan [MVP]

    At the ToorCon Seattle (beta) conference, Web application security specialist Robert Hansen (RSnake) demoed Mr-T (Master Recon-Tool), a new utility that combines information disclosure flaws in Internet Explorer and Firefox to collect information on a target’s computer system.

    Basically, it will attempt to use Javascript to cough up information about ones’ browser details, eg: version of browser, what plugins are running/enabled, location of the machine, internal IP of the machine etc.

    However on a Vista with IE7 running, “Access denied” error will be shown. This is because Vista + IE7 has Javascript disabled by default.

    Please test your browser here:
    http://ha.ckers.org/mr-t/

    Through the above website it can also show you what gmail address you are using.

    More information: http://blogs.zdnet.com/security/?p=197&tag=nl.e622

    Does it work on IE7 on Windows XP?

    Posted in Internet Explorer, Windows Vista, Windows XP | 1 Comment »

    It’s a day I’d hoped wouldn’t come – but here we are – Thank You for all You have done!

    May 14th, 2007 by Patrick Elliott

    I’ve been in Redmond (Washington) for a year now – I actually arrived here May 12th, 2006.  It’s been a long ride but given the opportunity, I wouldn’t change anything. Today marks the MED (Maximum End Date) of my contract at Microsoft. 

    For those of you not familiar with contracting at Microsoft, essentially it means I have to take a 100 day break in service.  If it were up to me, or anyone on our team – believe me I wouldn’t be going anywhere 🙂It’s been a bittersweet day – I had lunch with many of my friends I’ve made from this and other teams – I’ve been holding off tears all day long – not of sadness, but rather happy of all I’ve accomplished, and upset from having to leave what I’ve grown to love.

    To our beta customers, testers, MVPs and partners – you guys have been an awesome group to work with — your contribution to Windows and to the team I have worked with is tremendous – and you should be very proud.

    I’m looking around for Full-Time opportunities with Microsoft, but one way or another I’ll be back here just like old times – full of new ideas and a smile because I know I’ll have all of you guys to work with again.Until then, please continue to help out the beta effort — the team members I leave behind are top-notch, and I hope you’ll grow to work with them just as many of you have worked closely with me.

    Thank you again for all you have done for me, for your fellow beta sites, and for Windows –

    -Patrick

    Posted in Beta News, Daily Life, Microsoft, MS News, MVP Program, Windows Vista | 3 Comments »

    Power management of Windows Vista Vs Windows XP

    May 11th, 2007 by Jabez Gan [MVP]

    Windows Vista, the latest and currently the greatest OS by Microsoft, comes with numerous improvements, which includes better Power Management.

    Power Management is claimed to be better with the introduction of the Sleep mode, and ther tweaks which includes timing to turn off the hard disk, show the screensaver etc. But what does HP says about it?

    “It’s a little scary,” said John Wozniak, a distinguished technologist in HP’s notebook engineering department, referring to the work HP needed to do on making Windows Vista more suitable for notebooks.

    It is all caused by the introduction of Aero glass, which takes more GPU thus more electricity to run it. Due to the high power that Vista needs, HP and other OEMs have started to modify and optimize the power management that comes with Vista to provide users with a longer lasting battery time for laptop users.

    However according to Microsoft’s own whitepaper on the study of power consumption of Vista Vs XP,

    “Aero graphics have a negligible impact on overall power consumption.

    Vista also addresses many of the arguments that have blocked companies from adopting a powermanagement strategy. The Sleep state is now much more reliable, and the user experience is not harmed – the fact computers resume from Sleep in under two seconds is almost the same amount of time that a screen takes to reactivate from Idle mode in Windows XP. Vista also has built-in management tools via Group Policy.”

    What? Aero graphics have a negligible impact on overall power consumption? I do agree that the fact that Vista is more superior than XP in Power Management, but due to other reasons like the introduction of Aero, laptop battery life is actually much shorter!

    What do you all think? Is your battery life shorter in Vista? If yes, how much shorter compared to XP?

    Source:

    http://news.zdnet.co.uk/hardware/0,1000000091,39286975,00.htm

    http://download.microsoft.com/documents/uk/business/PC%20Pro%20Labs%20White%20Paper%20Mar%202007.pdf

    Posted in Windows Vista, Windows XP | 4 Comments »

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