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The Google controversy

December 29th, 2006 by André Nogueira

As you may or may not be aware, there has been some controversy regarding Google’s tips on some search phrases.

Some see this as a good thing (it’s helping users), some as a bad thing (they’re using their position as a monopoly), and some really just don’t care (it’s their webpage, people see it’s not a search result, what’s the big deal?).

Personally, I think this is a bad thing – but one which I’ve seen coming for a long time. It’s not the tip per se. After all, most companies would do this anyway. It’s the fact that Google says they’re not like most companies.

Remember the lawsuit against Microsoft regarding IE7? They said Microsoft was using their monopolist position to increase usage of Windows Live Search – the default search engine in Internet Explorer 7. They said they “don’t think it’s right for Microsoft to just set the default to MSN on install”, that “users should choose” and that “companies should compete for users based on the quality of their search services” – this despite the fact that it’s very easy to change the default IE search engine. (link)

Fast forward to this week, and we see that Google has done something as “bad” as what they said Microsoft did – if not worse. They are using the trust people have in them to advertise their own products. Unlike IE7, where competitors could easily add a link for users to change their default browser, here there is no way for Google’s competitors to create an ad like Google’s. A “tip” with a picture is very different from a link which is clearly marked as being “sponsored”.

As I said, I’d expect this from most companies. But not from a company whose PR department doesn’t get tired of saying “We’re not like most companies”. I see this not as a “meaningless tip”, but as a sign of what’s to come – Google betraying the trust people have in them.

And what do you think of this? Feel free to comment!

Posted in Computing, Daily Life, Rants, Reviews, Uncategorized | 7 Comments »

Moving the Offline Files Cache in Windows Vista

December 29th, 2006 by Patrick Elliott

Thanks to Jill Z, Navjot Virk, Sriram Srinivasan, and Shubhankar Sanyal for posting this over on The Filing Cabinet.   I wasn’t aware you could do this, so I’ve learned something new myself (and it’s useful because *everything* (offline files, my documents, pictures, etc) is redirected to my secondary partition now)

“Several customers have asked us how to move the Offline Files cache location from the default location (c:\windows\csc) to another volume. Here is a procedure for doing this.

Continue reading here…

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Testing, Windows Vista | 1 Comment »

Microsoft gives out Ferrari’s (laptops, not the cars) but not to us!

December 28th, 2006 by Zack Whittaker

OK this isn’t fair. Yeh I’m jumping on the bandwagon here because I want and/or need a new laptop and I’m having a world class hissy fit because of it. *sigh*

According to Alexa Traffic Rankings:

So Mitch Denny (the latter of the two addresses) gets a free laptop with free Windows Vista Ultimate installed on it… even though he’s not as heard of as us. It’s not fair, we didn’t even get *one* to share. OK it’ll be hard for me and Patrick to share as he’s literally half the world away, but has anyone heard of Remote Desktop? I do think so.

My conclusion - it’s not fair. I’ve worked with the Windows Live teams in the UK, Patrick E works for Microsoft, Joseph and Jabez are both MVP’s, Patrick S is just a geek but we love him none the less, Dean’s a geek also but he’s bloody good on the web, and Andre, dear Andre, the ultimate in bug submission for Windows Server 2003 R2.

If you’re from the team that decided to send out laptops to these guys – we respect your decision. However could we have one pretty please, as we’ve given so much to your organisation and we expect very little. We’ll love you lots and lots? 🙂

Posted in Humour, Microsoft, Windows Vista | 5 Comments »

Minor tweaks and updates for Report Abuse Desktop Client

December 27th, 2006 by Zack Whittaker

Report Abuse Desktop Client
(released 27th December 2006 – version
Download now Please uninstall/delete and disregard any previous build
(Alternative link if above doesn’t work – some router’s/firewall’s don’t like subdomains)
Compatible with: Windows 2000 Professional, All versions of Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Vista (32-bit only)

The Report Abuse Desktop Client has had a few updates and tweaks – no extra functionality has been added, rather some things changed (the odd spelling mistake here and there). Don’t forget, you can auto-update – click on the Reporting tools tab, then Check now to update.

Posted in MSBLOG Related, Online Safety | 1 Comment »

Who wants to know how Windows Live Messenger actually works?

December 27th, 2006 by Zack Whittaker

Oh it’s really rather simple once you look at it from all the right angles! Here’s a nice little visual representation of the “Messenger Relay” system of which sends and receives all your messages. I’ve basic’d it down as much as I can because it does get tricky in places. Click the thumbnail to view a larger shot.

1. The user starts the session by double clicking a contact.
2. The user’s Windows Live ID credentials are sent across to the Windows Live ID Credentials server for further verification
3. The information is passed through a incoming only firewall to the dispatch server. This is the first point of connection for the message being sent.
4. Depending where the user is in the world, a connection will be made to the local notification server. There are main ones in Singapore, Dublic, Redmond and Reading. This keeps the connection between the two users alive, and keeps things updated such as user status, chat requests and email notifications from Windows Live Mail/Hotmail.
5. The message itself doesn’t go near the notification servers – it is passed onto the switchboard server which is the where all the messages and files are exchanged. The user starting the chat can talk to one user, whilst using another switchboard session to talk to someone else, and another switchboard session for someone else still – without even knowing it. Invitations, file transfers and video/voice chat are also sent through here.
6. The information is then relayed back through an outgoing firewall and checks the user is still online. If the user is offline by the time the message is ready to be received, then it’ll bounce back and be saved on the switchboard session until the user logs back on again. If they are online, they will receive the message.

This is all done in the space of around 2 seconds – most of the time your message will be sent at least twice around the world, in the space of 2 seconds. Not bad eh?

Posted in Networking, Windows Live Messenger | 20 Comments »

Administering Windows Server 2003 from Windows Vista

December 25th, 2006 by Patrick Elliott

Want to know how to get the Admin Tools to work on Windows Vista?  Thanks to the Windows Server guys, there is a KB article here!  —

From the Windows Server Weblog:

“One of the more popular questions on our Windows Server “Longhorn” discussion forums is around the Windows Server 2003 Administration Tools Pack. In particular, people have been asking why they can’t use the Admin Pack on Windows Vista. It can be installed, but it gives error messages and many of the administration tools seem to be missing or are not properly configured. Some of these issues are related to User Account Control and not having the necessary administrative privileges when attempting to install the pack.

Well help is at hand! We’ve just released a new Knowledge Base article describing how to get the Admin Pack working on Windows Vista, and describing some of the limitations that will still exist.

Note that this does not address managing Windows Server “Longhorn” from a client machine (either Windows XP or Windows Vista). We are working on a new version of the Admin Pack for Windows Server “Longhorn” and we will provide an update on our progress with this in the Beta 3 timeframe.”

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

– Patrick Elliott

Posted in Testing, Windows Server System, Windows Vista | 1 Comment »

New computers for your kids this Christmas? Watch this first.

December 24th, 2006 by Zack Whittaker

If you’re buying a new computer for the family or for a child this Christmas, watch this thought provoking film first. Be patient, may take a minute or so to load.

Find the Video HERE

Releated downloads
Report Abuse Desktop Client
Windows Live OneCare Family Safety
Windows Live Messenger 8.1 (with Report Abuse features)

Related links
Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center
Virtual Global Taskforce

Posted in Daily Life, Online Safety | 2 Comments »

Just in time for the holidays another Microsoft 0-Day

December 24th, 2006 by Patrick S

Microsoft has received and acknowledged that a new 0-Day exploit is public, and the proof-of-concept code announced for it is valid today on their Security Blog.

The proof-of-concept code targets the CSRSS (Client/Server Runtime Server Subsystem) the part of windows that launches and closes applications, the exploit affects all versions of Windows including the (un)released Windows Vista.
Tested on XP Service Pack 2 the proof-of-concept will cause the computer to crash resulting in a system lockup, system failure (Blue Screen of Death), or simple hard reboot.

Microsoft SRC said today “Initial indications are that in order for the attack to be successful, the attacker must already have authenticated access to the target system. Of course these are preliminary findings and we have activated our emergency response process involving a multitude of folks who are investigating the issue in depth to determine the full scope and potential impact to Microsoft’s customers.”

This is good news for users, as a patch is coming. The potential for attack, rated less critical by Secunia is still problematic if the system is infected by rootkits, or applications designed to allow remote access to a PC. The method of attack, and the way this exploit works, means there is no real protection for end users, other than to ensure you are fully patched, and your malware, spyware, and virus scanning software is running and up to date.

Info Sourced from

Posted in Bugs, MS News, Products, Security, Windows Server System, Windows Vista, Windows XP | Comments Off on Just in time for the holidays another Microsoft 0-Day

Upcoming interview with GPM of Windows Live – get your questions in!

December 21st, 2006 by Zack Whittaker

Got a treat for you guys! In a series of interviews which will be coming to MSBLOG over the next few weeks, we start off with…

Philippa Snare
Group Product Manager – Live Services – Microsoft UK
She manages a team of UK product managers who are responsible for the end to end
    business plans and strategies for each of the Live Services Products: Mail, Messenger,
    Mobile, Spaces, Domains, Family Safety, Premium Services and Personal Expression.

A highly respected and important figure for Windows Live in the UK, and she’ll be answering your questions on all that is Windows Live. I’ve worked with Philippa for some time in and out the London office during my internship-type-thingy, and she’s a wealth of knowledge for MSN, Windows Live and life within Microsoft.

Get your comments in now! Simply add a comment, and she’ll pick out the best ones and we’ll have a reply here on MSBLOG in a couple of weeks. Closing date: Thursday, 28th December 2006.

 Digg this story

Posted in Interviews, Microsoft, Windows Live | 7 Comments »

The bigger and better Report Abuse Desktop Client

December 20th, 2006 by Zack Whittaker


Report Abuse Desktop Client

(released 21st December 2006 – version
Download now –  Please uninstall/delete and disregard any previous build
(Alternative link if above doesn’t work – some router’s/firewall’s don’t like subdomains)
Compatible with: Windows 2000 Professional, All versions of Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Vista (32-bit only)

The Report Abuse Desktop Client is an application written by myself and provided by MSBLOG enabling younger users of the Internet to report online abuse or suspicious activity of online predators. It’s free to mirror and distribute, and recommended for those who have a family computer or for families with children who use the Internet. It has an auto-update feature in it as well so it’ll still update easily.


Please spread the word of this software. It does not benefit MSBLOG in any way at all, talking as a collective, we all want children to be safe online and this is a one-of-a-kind solution to help it happen. The image below can be put in link exchanges, affiliates lists, anything like that. Please spread the word :) 


 Digg this story
 Watch a thought provoking short video

Posted in MSBLOG Related, Online Safety | 4 Comments »

New build of Windows Server “Longhorn”

December 20th, 2006 by Zack Whittaker

There’s a new build up on the ongoing Longhorn Server beta program. It’s the next build up from 5600 which was available back in August. This current build, 6001.16406 will be on Microsoft Connect very soon – just waiting for permissions to propagate across domains.

There’s also an updated copy of the Microsoft Beta Client. Ensure that your new build of Longhorn Server is running this, and another versions running on any other machine are updated accordingly.

Download (Tech beta participants only)

Posted in Beta News, Windows Server System | 16 Comments »

50 free essential software to consider using

December 17th, 2006 by Zack Whittaker

Here is compiled a full list of software which must be downloaded. Yep, every one of them. All of these are brilliant in every way, shape and form and are just plain brilliance. OK you don’t have to download them, but all of these are free except where stated, and are just great. Download ahoy!

 = Download the software
 = Show information regarding the software

  1. Windows Live Messenger
Talk to your online friends, view your Live Space and join the biggest instant messenger network in the UK! Formerly MSN Messenger, you can video chat, transfer files and even talk using your mobile device.

  2. Adobe Reader (formerly Acrobat Reader)
“The reader of e-books” – allowing you to view the popular PDF format. Use it to view small tiny files which can contain rich content and images.

  3. Audacity
One of the best sound and audio editors on the market, and it’s 100% free. It’s open source so you can play with the program to your hearts content. Hosts many features and simple to use.

  4. Daemon Tools
Emulate ISO and other type of images as if it’s another disc drive in your computer. It’s fast, reliable and works brilliantly restoring files from images you’ve created previously, and ideal for installing Vista!

  5. Microsoft Virtual PC 2004
Virtually run an entire operating system from a small, compact and simple to use stable and reliable environment which has no impact on your actual system other than using memory and CPU. Brilliant!

  6. Microsoft Visual Express 2005 Editions
Free software for developing web pages, C++ applications, J# and the ever so popular C# programming language. Write visually rich applications and the code behind it aint so difficult to get either!

  7. Mozilla Firefox 2
This web browser being open source is free, simple to use and secure. You can search from any web page, and reads pages directly from the code behind it.

  8. Visual Task Tips
An XP program designed for emulating the “Live Thumbnails” feature in Vista. Any program in the taskbar will show up in it’s own preview window above the taskbar item to show you what it’s doing.

  9. Winamp
A small, compact and very handy media player. It just sits in the corner of your screen playing music, playing video and even streamed music over the web.

  10.Windows Internet Explorer 7 for Windows XP Service Pack 2
The next Internet browser following on from the world’s most used browser. Simple, secure, has some brilliant safety features and works on all Windows machines.

  11. Windows Live Maps (and Virtual Earth 3D Beta)
Online maps are fair enough, but this is the Google Earth equivilent and runs directly from your web browser. You can see the contours of the landscape, advertisements on billboards and 3D-buildings.

  12. The Linux operating system
The free operating system – boasts some brilliant things such as plug-ins and styles.

  13. OpenOffice
If you’re a student or strapped for cash, use the OpenOffice suite – totally free and works with all the Microsoft Office filetypes. Brillant for opening and editing Word documents and it’s simple to use.

  14. Apache Web Server
The world’s most popular web server application. Host your own websites from your computer at home – drag and drop in your web pages and it’ll organise them and traffic easily.

  15. PHP Runtime
Superb backend server side programming language which lets web developers do some amazing things with their code. Highly dynamic and it’s all server side so it’ll work in any browser on any computer.

  16. Free Download Manager
Sick of your downloads failing or stopping for no reason? This free solution lets you start, pause, stop and manage your downloads and even preview them before their even done. Hense the name, 100% free.

  17. Sygate Personal Firewall 5.8
Although taken over by Symantec, this is one of the best free firewalls on the market. Simple to use, and protects your computer from incoming and outgoing traffic which could be malware etc.

  18. Windows Defender
Microsoft’s free anti-spyware tool. It runs in the background and constantly protects your machine from all kinds of nasty malware. It’s very easy to use and even for the most basic user it’s simple to manage.

  19. ClamWin Anti-Virus
The world’s free portable anti-virus. It doesn’t embed itself into your system, and doesn’t realtime scan so it doesn’t use loads of memory. However you can scan your system whenever you feel like it!

  20. LimeWire 4.13 (Beta)
Browse the world of peer-to-peer networking, download files from other machines and even download torrents using this software. Remember, play safe and don’t donwload something which has a copyright!

  21. WinRAR (free trial)
A brilliant software tool which lets you compress and decompress all kinds of files. It uses a popular RAR extension which is used worldwide and decompresses all kinds of file types – ISO, ZIP, TAR and GZIP.

  22. FLV Player (free trial)
A web Flash player which lets you convert any media file into a web standard. Instead of hosting hefty files online, simply embed this into your page and it’s small, efficient and easy for users to use.

  23. Windows Media Player 11
One of the world’s most used media players which comes as an Automatic Update in Windows XP and as a download. Enables you to download from an online store, organise your music, videos and pictures.

  24. Primo PDF
Forget saving everything as a Word or PowerPoint document, not everyone uses the Microsoft Office System. Using this software you can turn any Office file into a PDF so it’s small in size and portable.

  25. Password Safe
Loads of passwords? I know, so put them all into the Password Safe for memory’s sake and use one strong password to open it up again. Keeps all your passwords safe but helps you keep track of them all.

  26. Microsoft Office 2003 File Viewers
If you only want to view certain Microsoft Office 2003 documents, you can just view them with these programs instead of downloading or buying the full version of Office. Download the Word, Visio, PowerPoint, Excel viewers.

  27. Paint.NET
An excellence in image editing. Initially a project from Microsoft interns, this software has become huge. You can do almost anything with almost any image type and it’s amazingly simple to use.

  28. DynDNS Updater
Want to host a website but only get an IP address? Then DynDNS enables you to transfer your websites homepage IP address into an actual website – eg. =!

  29. Messenger Plus! Live
The world’s biggest Windows Live Messenger plugin. Forget standard instant messaging, with this you can send each other sounds, you can enhance your IM experience and set custom status messages.

  30. VLC Media Player
This media player will play absolutely anything and everything. It’s light, it’s portable and it works on almost any computer (from the download source anyway).

  31. Windows Vista Product Guide
Want to know more about Windows Vista before it comes out? Download the product guide – it is packed with information, screenshots, images and lets anyone understand the power of Vista.

  32. Microsoft USB Flash Drive Manager (Standard)
Got loads of USB devices? Then this software is for you – you can backup and restore entire drives and even rename them so when you plug them in, it’ll give you a handy description of it so you know which is which!

  33. Windows Live OneCare Family Safety
Protect your family and the kids in the house from those bad websites – this free software enables parents (administrators) to block categories of websites and individual websites out for the kids (clients) so that kids are protected from the online nasties.

  34. Windows Live Mail desktop/center
The replacement for Outlook Express – manage your Windows Live Mail accounts, your POP3 accounts, work email accounts and even your schedule with this free software. Say goodbye to Outlook for good!

  35. Windows Desktop Search
With this, you can search any aspect of your computer from documents, emails, pictures, and other types of media with the push of a button.

  36. HealthMonitor
A brilliant free and powerful system performance monitor which monitors CPU usage, memory usage, disk space and the Event Viewer and can inform users via email, popups or even through text message.

  37. Cheetah DVD Burner
The ultimate in burning software – it lets you burn pretty much any kind of media to disk and even sets options for bootable disks, setup disks, and disks which work in DVD players.

  38. Microsoft Research Group Shot
Free image manipulating software which overlays two similar pictures to expand the final image to a bigger and more beautiful image. Take two photographs and overlay them together for a brilliant finish.

  39. HijackThis
Lets you see right into your computer – what’s running and what shouldn’t be running. Kill processes, check your startup items, and browser hijackers. Very simple and powerful software for any user.

  40. Orb 2.0
Free remote access software which lets you stream music, images and video directly from your home computer to any other computer in the world and even over a mobile device.

  41. Skype
VoIP (Voice over IP) software which lets you make free phone calls to potentially anyone in the world. Excellent voice quality, video support and even instant messaging support. Works on desktop computers, mobile phones and mobile devices.

  42. Google Earth
Lets you search for any landmark or location and find it on a 3D map. You can browse through the 7 Wonders of the World and even find landmarks through the online submission forums.

  43. NetStumbler
Wireless software which lets you pick up information about any detected wireless network, and also helps protect the user against rogue access points. Any wireless user should have this software.

  44. Microsoft Sysinternals Suite
A collection of small unique programs and utilities which can help any system administrator or even the advanced user troubleshoot and help secure their systems.

  45. MediaPortal
This software turns your computer into a media center. It’s open source, works with most TV sets and allows you to share, store and record DVD’s and other file formats.

  46. WordPress
Free web-based database software for blogging with! Runs on any web server and is easy to use and install, and even has free plugins and themes for the user to change the style of their blog.

  47. Resource Hacker
A small utility to extract, view, modify, rename, add, delete and extract resources in Windows executables and resource files such as DLL files and other files with media attached.

  48. Azureus
A free, simple Java based torrent downloader which manages your torrents in any number of ways. Limit download speeds, upload speeds, handy icons to see what your torrent is doing – simply ingenious!

  49. IrfanView
One of the most popular image viewers in the world. Convert images to other file types, it’s small, compact, and opens files within micro-seconds.

  50. Zone Alarm
A free, simple to use personal firewall and lets users customise their computers inbound and outbound traffic so that they are significantly safer from online threats.

Posted in Daily Life, Windows Live, Windows Vista, Windows XP | 14 Comments »

Install Windows Media Player 11 on Windows Server 2003

December 17th, 2006 by Zack Whittaker

Aye, I’ve finally worked out a way how to do this, and as far as I can see from 5 test machines running Windows Server 2003, Standard; Windows Server 2003, Enterprise; Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise; Windows Server 2003, Datacenter, Windows Server 2003 x64 Enteprise… it works.

1) Download the Windows Media Player 11 setup file from here and save to disk.
2) Run the setup file – the first thing you should see if a validation checker. Just leave this up, don’t go any further.
3) Search the hard drive for “wmp11.exe” – it should be in a temporary directory somewhere. Right click the file in the search then click “Open containing folder” (and not open).
4) Open and run the wmfdist11.exe file, then umdf.exe and wmdbexport.exe. Be warned, you may need to run these files in Compatibilty Mode. Simply right click each file, click Properties. Go to the Compatibility tab, then ensure that Windows XP is selected.
5) After all these are installed, you must restart (very important.)
6) Once you’ve restarted, run the wmp11.exe file in the same directory – this also may require compatibility settings being applied to it. Restart once more.
7) Back into Windows again, go to Start, Run then type in wmplayer then OK. Configure as you like, and viola it’s done 🙂

Any questions?
Post em here 😉

Posted in Media Center/Media Player, Windows Server System, Windows XP | 103 Comments »

Hello World

December 16th, 2006 by Dennis Fraederich [MCP]

Two days ago I have bought a new mobile phone. It’s a Qtek 8310 Windows Mobile 5 smartphone. This small „Hello world″ was written on this phone, which was connected via wlan to the internet.

Dennis Fraederich

Posted in Daily Life | 2 Comments »

Update for Windows Internet Explorer 7’s phishing filter

December 16th, 2006 by Zack Whittaker

IE7 recently received a minor but welcome update this week, with a patch improving the speed of the built-in phishing filter. If you haven’t used IE7 yet, it’s filter is similar to other browsers filters in that it will scan a page to look for common fraud attempts, but was known to make a PC fairly slow when it attempted to scan multiple pages at once. Now that IE supports tabbed browsing, that’s much more likely to occur. This update addresses that issue, though it still relies on the underlying principle of checking a server-side list of known bad sites.This patch isn’t pushed to your PC, and instead must be downloaded from Microsoft’s site. If you are using IE7 there’s no reason not to get it!


Posted in Internet Explorer | 1 Comment »

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