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MSN Spaces 10.5 and Xbox 360

November 17th, 2005 by Zack Whittaker

Some good news folks, a Microsoft employee’s blog indicated that at the same time of the release of the brand new games console Xbox 360, a brand new release version of MSN Spaces is going to be available. As Windows Live Mail is certainly on the way out of beta soon, I’m sure that we can expect the next version of MSN Spaces to be rolled out to customers sometime between 22nd November (someone remind me on that day that I’ve missed my mum’s birthday as well) and 2nd December.

Just a heads up, that’s because Microsoft are releasing the Xbox 360 on 22nd November in America, and 2nd December in Europe, but seeing as MSN Spaces is also run by Microsoft, I reckon it’s more likely to be around next week sort of time but I really can’t confirm anything for definate.

View source: Zack’s Blog of Weird and Wonderful Things

Posted in Beta News, Xbox and Gaming | Comments Off on MSN Spaces 10.5 and Xbox 360

Protect your privacy NOW – Simple security advice that could save you time and money

November 16th, 2005 by Patrick Elliott

By Patrick Elliott

Yesterday for the third time this year I was asked to help someone (this time a good friend of mine) who had had some aspect of their identity stolen. My friend had her eBay account password stolen, and her account was being used to sell a lot of 40 cellphones for about USD $600. eBay noticed this (along with several password change requests) and cancelled the auction and red-flagged her account. We were able to obtain the IP address of the user who had stolen her password, an AOL user, and I sent several emails to the AOL Network Operations Center to help trace the criminal.

So you may ask yourself, why should I be concerned? Identity Theft, or esentially someone using some aspect of you without your permission to do so, is becoming more and more commonplace. So, below are a few simple steps you can take to help avoid it.

(1) Use different strong passwords for different sites. For example ilovedogs isn’t a strong password, but IlOv3d0GS would be much, much more secure. REMEMBER — use different strong passwords for different sites

(2) NEVER EVER use your email, banking, eBay, PayPal, or other “secure” password for sites such as forums or blogs, or even some ordering sites. You have NO WAY of knowing how secure that site’s password database is.

(3) Change passwords often, every 90 days or less should be a good schedule

(4) Finally, if you ever think a password has been compromized, IMMEDIATELY change all passwords and contact a local IT expert and proper authorities

While I hope none of you ever have Identity Theft happen to you, if it does, some of the sites below (U.S. Governement sites but will also be useful to those of you worldwide) will be of help:

Posted in Security | 1 Comment »

Microsoft’s Secret Bug Squasher

November 15th, 2005 by Patrick S

Terri L. Norris from MSFT emailed me early this morning and sent me a ling to a very intersting news story regarding Microsoft and how they have developed a tool to well…find bugs (will this be the end of beta testers- i think not 😛 ) However if you are interested read on and find out for yourself…

“It turns out that a good portion of all those Windows crashes over the years are not caused by the operating system itself, but by buggy device drivers — low-level pieces of code that allow the operating system to communicate with external devices like the computer’s keyboard, hard drive, screens and network cards.

Because device drivers run deep within the operating system, they are hard to write and hard to debug. And when they fail, they can take down the whole computer. “If they go bad, the whole OS can go bad,” says Tom Ball, a scientist at Microsoft Research.

But in a little-noticed project percolating in Redmond, the world’s biggest single producer of software bugs is pushing the envelope on an anti-bug technology that promises to make the Windows operating system a whole lot more reliable, and may eventually raise the bar for dependable software throughout the industry.

Microsoft has developed a tool called the Static Driver Verifier, or SDV, that uses “model checking” to analyze the source code for Windows device drivers and see if the code that the programmer wrote matches a mathematical model of what a Windows device driver should actually do. If the driver doesn’t match the model, the SDV warns that the driver might contain a bug.

It’s a deceptively simple-sounding breakthrough that encapsulates some remarkable software engineering theory. When Bill Gates announced that the technology was under development at the 2002 Windows Engineering Conference, he called it “the holy grail of computer science” — a description that does not overstate the tool’s significance. “Now in some very key areas — for example, driver verification — we’re building tools that can do actual proof about the software and how it works in order to guarantee the reliability,” said Gates.

Three years later, the technology has moved from Microsoft Research, where it was developed as part of a project called Slam, and into developers’ hands. And while the SDV can’t prove if a program will execute correctly, it can find many errors that previously snuck through the development process and went on to vex customers.

“It finds bugs via static analysis (compile-time analysis) of the code rather than run-time analysis,” says Ball, who led the Slam project with Sriram Rajamani. A typical driver can be checked in a few minutes, but some complex drivers can take as long as 20 minutes to analyze. “Most of the bugs it finds are real, but because it is a static analysis, it can report false bugs.”

Drivers are usually written by hardware makers — companies that invariably have less experience writing code than Microsoft. Because drivers have a limited set of operations that they perform — such as moving a packet from a computer’s ethernet card to the machine’s memory — they are amenable to formal analysis, says George Avrunin, a professor at the University of Massachusetts who is familiar with Slam.

“A lot of the problems with drivers seem to have to do with things like whether the right interrupts are masked before a certain operation, etc., and this kind of checking can detect errors of that sort,” Avrunin says. “Moreover, although the driver code can be quite complicated, the basic structure of what it’s doing is usually fairly simple — and there’s no concurrency — so it’s possible to do this kind of automated abstraction.”

Despite its success with device drivers, model checking isn’t a panacea, and in any event, the technique can’t work for complicated programs like Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat, because it’s too hard to create a formal specification of what these programs should actually be doing.

Instead, for large-scale applications, some experts are turning to special program checkers that scan source code looking for common mistakes.

Prexis from Ounce Labs is one such automated code analyzer. “We don’t just look for bugs,” says Jack Danahy, the company’s founder and CTO. Instead, Prexis looks for design errors that lead to security problems — for example, a program that sends sensitive information over a network without first encrypting that information.

Automated tools are especially useful when companies outsource programming to outside vendors, says Danahy: “Most of the security risks that people face are not just bugs — they’re decisions that programmers made.”

What programs like Prexis do is find the code that those decisions produced and bring it to the attention of managers and quality-assurance professionals. These reports are much easier to audit than the code itself. And if the reports can be audited, there is a chance — however small — that the programmers might actually be forced to fix their bugs before customers are bitten.”

SOUCRCE: Wired News


Posted in MS News | Comments Off on Microsoft’s Secret Bug Squasher

Dont worry yourself your Original Xbox games are safe

November 13th, 2005 by Patrick S

Xbox have put out a doc listing what old XBOX games will still work with the XBOX 360

Find the list HERE

Posted in Xbox and Gaming | Comments Off on Dont worry yourself your Original Xbox games are safe

Microsoft urges users to update Flash Player

November 13th, 2005 by Patrick S

In an unprecedented move, Microsoft has issued a critical advisory urging users to apply a critical update from Flash Player update from Macromedia.

The vulnerability first reported by eEye Digital Security and Sec Consult, can allow malicious parties to inject unauthorized code, using invalid array indexes, to be executed by Flash Player. This vulnerability is browser independent. Users who have already upgraded to Flash Player 8 are not affected by this issue. Macromedia recommends all Flash Player 7 and earlier users upgrade to this new version, which can be downloaded from the Macromedia Player Download Center.

Several forums including allow users to add flash files in their avatars or signatures. Therefore the impact of this issue is far reaching.

News Source

Download:Macromedia Player Download Center

Posted in MS News, Security | Comments Off on Microsoft urges users to update Flash Player

Windows Vista Beta 2 Delayed?

November 11th, 2005 by Patrick S

Windows Vista, scheduled for release late next year, is about to be delayed once again. Sources inside Microsoft are telling Paul Thurrott that Vista Beta 2 will be delayed from December 7 to sometime early next year, possibly as late as February. However, instead of pushing the final release date back further due to time constraints, they plan to eliminate one of the planned release candidates.

Thurrott’s sources also noted that the company is still on track for shipping Vista late 2006 stating, “We are on schedule and committed to shipping on time and ensuring a high-quality product. Microsoft sets internal targets for the development team around milestones, but these are not commitments to specific dates. We do not comment on these internal milestones and we have not announced a specific timeframe for our next major Windows Vista milestone.”

There is no current information whether the delay will affect related products, expected to be released around the same time as Windows Vista Beta 2, Internet Explorer (IE) 7 Beta 2 and Windows Media Player 11 Beta 1, both of which were originally scheduled for a December 7 public release.

Source: Neowin & windowsitpro

Posted in MS News, Windows Vista | 3 Comments »

Sony sued over copy-protected CDs that can infects Microsoft Windows

November 10th, 2005 by Patrick S

Am i obsesed with this topic or what! Anyhoo Sony is finally getting whats coming to them!

Sony BMG is facing three lawsuits over its controversial anti-piracy software.

One class-action lawsuit has already been filed in California and another is expected in New York. Digital rights group, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), is also gathering information from users to see if a case can be brought. But since Dr Russinovich wrote about his discovery the row has snowballed and now has led to lawsuits being filed against Sony BMG.

One filed in Los Angeles by Californian attorney Alan Himmelfarb wants to stop Sony BMG selling more CDs protected by anti-copying software and seeks damages for Californians that have bought any albums protected this way. According to a report in the Washington Post the lawsuit alleges that Sony BMG has broken three Californian laws. At the same time New York lawyer Scott Kamber is planning a class-action lawsuit for all Americans affected.

The EFF is also gathering stories from buyers of Sony BMG CDs protected with XCP. In a statement the organisation said: “We’re considering whether the effect on the public, or on EFF members, is sufficiently serious to merit a lawsuit”. At the same time the Italian digital rights group, Electronic Frontiers Italy, has asked the nation’s government to investigate Sony over its use of anti-piracy software. A weblog documenting the unfolding controversy and calling for a boycott of Sony products has also been created.

When contacted a representative for Sony BMG in the UK referred all calls to its corporate headquarters in New York. A call to a spokesman in that office has yet to be returned.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Sony sued over copy-protected CDs that can infects Microsoft Windows

Bot trying to hide under Sony DRM

November 10th, 2005 by Patrick S

We wouldn’t like to say “we told you so” but unfortunately this is one of those times you just have to do it.

We have just analyzed the first malware (Breplibot.b) that is trying to hide on machines that have Sony DRM software installed.

Luckily, the bot has a design flaw. If the Sony DRM rootkit is active (hiding) in the system during infection, the bot will not run at all. Moreover, the bot cannot survive a reboot because of a programming error. In any case, this is a very good example of why software should not use rootkit hiding techniques.


Posted in Security | 1 Comment »

Microsoft Security Bulletin MS05-053

November 10th, 2005 by Patrick S

Microsoft has released a security update that fixes three vulnerabilities. All of them are related to how Windows Metafile (WMF) and Enhanced Metafile (EMF) image formats are rendered. An attacker can exploit these vulnerabilities to remotely run arbitrary code and take over the affected computer. This can be done by using a malicious web page that the user visits, embedding a malicious image into an Office document or simply sending an HTML e-mail message with a specifically crafted image attached, to name a few alternatives. So, there seem to be a lot of venues for attack.

Although we haven’t yet seen any indication that the vulnerabilities are being exploited in the wild, it’s a really good idea to patch your systems – now.

Posted in MS News, Security | 1 Comment »

News That will make your day!

November 9th, 2005 by Patrick S

Ever wanted to learn C#, C++, SQL, or any other language but didn’t have the money to buy Visual Studio and get started? Well Microsoft is giving their Express products away for free!

How are Express Editions different from the rest of the Visual Studio and SQL Server Editions? Express Edition products are designed for hobbyists, students, and novice developers. As such, they lack the full breadth of features found in higher-end Visual Studio and SQL Server Editions. They are designed specifically for scenarios common to the hobbyist, student, and novice developer. Each Express Edition includes targeted documentation that will help the beginning programmer quickly learn the concepts required to build more advanced applications. The user interfaces are significantly streamlined to ensure that extraneous features do not interfere with the learning process. If you later decide that you do need additional features available in the higher-end editions of Visual Studio and SQL Server, you can seamlessly upgrade your code and skills.

Download: Visual Web Developer DL
Download: VB 2005 DL
Download: Visual C# DL
Download: Visual C++ DL
Download: Visual J# DL
Download: SQL 2005 Server DL

News source: MSDN

Posted in MS News, Products | Comments Off on News That will make your day!

The Halo Movie script?

November 7th, 2005 by Patrick S

When I read the title i thought “What allready?-We have a script” But yes, yes we do. We have a brief look at what the Halo Movie (Produced bt NZ Peter Jackson 😛 )
Dennis sent me a link this morning and I was amazed to how good it looks. I cannot wait to see it in all honesty.

Take a peek at the script HERE

Posted in Xbox and Gaming | Comments Off on The Halo Movie script?

If Microsoft Windows Leaves Korea, Linspire Offers to Move In

November 7th, 2005 by Patrick S

Microsoft has told South Korea that if the KFTC (Korean Fair Trade Commission) forces Microsoft to remove code or redesign Windows for the Korean market, it might withdraw Windows from the Korean market. In response, Linspire has offered to license every Korean computer with its Linux operating system.

Microsoft had threatened to remove Windows from Korea because the KFTC has been investigating allegations that Microsoft has (sic) breeched Korean antitrust laws by incorporating services its instant messaging client and media player into Windows

The KFTC is expected to rule on these allegations in late November. A preliminary KFTC is believed to go against Microsoft. If the KFTC upheld such findings, it is expected that it would require Microsoft to unbundle these applications.

Posted in MS News | Comments Off on If Microsoft Windows Leaves Korea, Linspire Offers to Move In

A chilling thought about CDs that have rootkit DRM

November 6th, 2005 by Patrick S

I was doing some more searching tonight…And this post about the recent sony rootkits (that intrest me oh so much) can prove quite a real problem if multiple reootkits are installed on one system making it unstable and causing it to crash-Which is very likely if companys keep using rootkits to hide/protect software…

In order to hide from the system a rootkit must interface with the OS on very low level and in those areas theres no room for error.

It is hard enough to program something on that level, without having to worry about any other programs trying to do something with same parts of the OS.

Thus if there would be two DRM rootkits on the same system trying to hook same APIs, the results would be highly unpredictable. Or actually, a system crash is quite predictable result in such situation.

So imagine a situation where Joe Customer buys CD from label A and another CD from label B. Label A uses third party DRM from company X and Label B uses from company Y.

Then our user first plays one of the CDs in his PC, and everything works fine. But after he starts playing the second CD, his computer crashes and wont boot again. This is something I would not like to associate with buying legal CDs.

I think that record companies should stop playing with rootkits and other Blackhat techniques while they have not yet caused major grief to the customers.

Also while being on the topic of real world effects of DRM, check out user ratings of Van Zant CD that got pinpointed as CD with DRM in it.

At the moment of writing this blog entry, it has 97 review entries and 1,5 stars. I actually feel sorry for Van Zant, as they certainly don’t have anything to do with the DRM on their CD.


Posted in Security | 1 Comment »

Microsoft Previews New Windows Live and Office Live Services

November 4th, 2005 by Zack Whittaker

SAN FRANCISCO — Nov. 1, 2005 — Microsoft Corp. today previewed two new Internet-based software services — Windows Live™ and Microsoft® Office Live — designed to deliver rich and seamless experiences to individuals and small businesses. The new offerings combine the power of software plus services and are compelling enhancements to the Microsoft Windows® and Microsoft Office products. In particular, Windows Live helps bring together all the elements of an individual’s digital world while Office Live helps small companies do business online.

At a briefing for members of the press and analysts, Bill Gates, Microsoft’s chairman and chief software architect, and Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s chief technical officer, demonstrated these new offerings for the first time, along with Xbox Live® — all of which reflect the company’s ongoing efforts to harness new delivery and business models for software to provide new value to customers and opportunities for developers and partners.

“These new offerings demonstrate how software is evolving through the power of services in ways that enable more dynamic and relevant experiences for people,” Gates said. “Our goal is to make Windows, Office and Xbox® further come alive for our customers at work, home and play.”

“Our dream is to deliver a seamless experience where all the technology in your life and business comes together in a way that ‘just works’ for you,” said Ozzie. “Seamless experiences put people and the things they want to accomplish at the center, with technology easily and transparently connecting them to the people, devices and information that matter most.”

Windows Live

Windows Live™ is a set of personal Internet services and software designed to bring together in one place all of the relationships, information and interests people care about most, with more safety and security features across their PC, devices and the Web. Microsoft demonstrated early versions of several new Windows Live offerings, some of which are accessible at, a new Web site where people can try the latest Windows Live beta services:

• serves as the personalized starting point for Windows Live services, powered by cutting-edge technologies such as RSS and Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX). offers complete choice and customization for individuals who want quick access to the people and information they care about most., which will be a great place to experience Windows Live Search, is available for trial today.

• Windows Live™ Mail is a new, global Web e-mail service, built from the ground up to be faster, safer and simpler. Existing MSN® Hotmail® users will be able to seamlessly upgrade to the new service. People can sign up for the beta waiting list at

• Windows Live™ Messenger helps individuals deepen their connections with the people they care about through instant messaging, file and photo sharing, PC-based calling, and more. Windows Live Messenger will enter the beta stage later this year. More information is available at

• Windows Live™ Safety Center is a Web site where users can scan for and remove viruses from their PC on demand. The service is currently in beta form, available at

• Windows OneCare™ Live is a previously announced PC health subscription that helps protect and maintain PCs via an integrated service that includes anti-virus, firewall, PC maintenance, and data backup and restore capability. People can sign up for the beta waiting list at

• Windows Live™ Favorites is a service that enables individuals to access their Microsoft Internet Explorer and MSN Explorer favorites from any PC that’s online. The service is currently in beta form at

Windows Live will be offered alongside, a global leader in services with more than 215 million active MSN Hotmail accounts; more than 185 million MSN Messenger contacts worldwide; and over 25 million MSN Spaces created by individuals to share their photos, Web logs (blogs) and interests with friends. will continue to deliver rich programmed content and provide access to Windows Live services.

“Millions of people enjoy the programmed content that offers, and we will continue to deliver that experience,” said David Cole, senior vice president of MSN. “Users also want more flexibility in creating a personalized experience with access to customized content and communications. That’s what Windows Live delivers.”

Windows Live will primarily be delivered free to users and supported by advertising, but subscription and transaction-based services also will be available. Windows Live extends the capabilities of Windows through standard mechanisms that are publicly available for use by the developer and partner community. Because Windows Live is available separately from the Microsoft Windows product, users will be able to run Windows with or without the Windows Live services.

Read the rest at the source!
View source: Microsoft PressPass

Posted in Windows Live | Comments Off on Microsoft Previews New Windows Live and Office Live Services

Sony releases update for DRM software (The rootkit)

November 3rd, 2005 by Patrick S

We wrote on Tuesday about the DRM software from Sony that used rootkit technologies. The company behind the technology, First 4 Internet, has now released an update for the software. After visiting the web site, downloading and installing the update, it now seems that the DRM software no longer attempts to hide anything on the computer. The rootkit driver (aries.sys) is removed from the system during the update.

The update from Sony is available here

We hope that the updated version will make it to the CD’s in stores as soon as possible. Many people that buy copy-protected music will not be aware of the programs that get installed on their computers, let alone worry about updating them.

Source Fescure

Posted in Security | 2 Comments »

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