Windows XP SP3 Twice as Fast as Windows Vista – Leaves Vista SP1 in the Dust

Forget about Windows Vista. And forget about Windows Vista SP1. Microsoft's latest Windows client has been quite sluggish to begin with. This in both consumer adoption and in terms of the performance it delivers.

As the operating system was crawling along, while performing the most common of tasks, even "speed bumps" seemed an integer part of the road's landscape. Right, that was uncalled for... But still, even on its best day, Vista is slow, and the first service pack for the operating system will change nothing in this aspect. Windows XP SP3 simply flies in comparison to Vista, SP1 or no SP1.

Benchmark testing delivered by the researchers at Devil Mountain Software, a software-developmentcompany based in Florida, revealed that Windows XP SP3 is twice as fast as Windows Vista, with or without SP1 installed. The company threw the two operating systems one against the other on the following configuration: Dell XPS M1710, 2GHz Core 2 Duo CPU, 1GB of RAM and nVidia GeForce Go 7900GS video. While Vista SP1 delivered minor and disappointing growth in performance, XP SP3 faired quite well. "Windows XP Service Pack 3 (v.3244) delivers a measurable performance boost to this aging desktop OS. Testing with OfficeBench showed an ~10% performance boost vs. the same configuration running under Windows XP w/Service Pack 2. XP SP3 is shaping-up to be a "must have" update for the majority of users who are still running Redmond's not-so-latest and greatest desktop OS. Of course, none of this bodes well for Vista, which is now more than 2x slower than the most current builds of its older sibling", revealed a member of Devil Mountain Sofware.

Windows XP SP3 finished the OfficeBench test in approximately 35 seconds, XP SP2 went over 40 seconds with Vista RTM and Vista SP1 both exceeding 80 seconds. The company then added another GB of RAM. Moreover, they also tested Vista in tandem with Office 2007 instead of Office 2003. But while Vista dropped under the 80 seconds milestone it still doesn't even come close to the performance of XP. Commenting the benchmarking Microsoft explained that both Vista SP1 and XP SP3 are still under development and as such, not delivering a complete experience. Vista SP1 is currently planned for the first quarter of next year, while XP has been announced by mid 2008.

"By providing Vista (SP1) with an additional 1GB of RAM (that's a total of 2GB for those of you keeping score) we managed to achieve a "whopping" 4% improvement in OfficeBench throughput. Moving from Office 2007 to Office 2003 definitely improved Vista's showing. Instead of being over 2x slower than XP on the same OfficeBench workload, Vista is now "only" 1.8x slower", the Devil Mountain Software added.


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Five-Year-Old Windows Design Flaw Comes Back to Haunt Vista

Windows Vista, Microsoft’s latest operating system, has been continually applauded as an apex of security and an epitome of user protection when it comes down to the Windows platforms available on the market.

Yet Vista is far from being bulletproof despite the additional security mitigations built into the product from User Account Control to Address Space Layout Randomization. And although Vista is the first product to come out of the Security Development Lifecycle, as a new software building methodology and process designed to tone down the severity and reduce the volume of vulnerabilities, Microsoft still managed to miss some issues.

Case in point, a five-year-old design flaw, already discovered and patched by the Redmond company, has come back to haunt Vista, according to New Zealand hacker Beau Butler who presented the vulnerability at the Kiwicon hacker conference in Wellington. Although the security hole has been reported not to affect the U.S. version of Vista, users around the world running the operating system are vulnerable to severe attacks. Butler also revealed that Vista is by no means the sole operating system vulnerable, with the flaw impacting all versions of Windows.

The vulnerability is related to the Microsoft WPAD functionality, and involves problems with Windows Proxy Autodiscovery. Butler stated that because of the vulnerability, Windows proxy auto-configuration requests are frequently sent out on the Internet. The flaw essentially allows an attacker to serve false proxy information to vulnerable machines, and in this manner to take over thousands if not million of computers simultaneously.

Microsoft confirmed both the vulnerability and its severity, and added that a patch is in the works. However, Microsoft’s general manager of product security, George Stathakopoulos, informed that not all Windows machines are vulnerable, and that the configuration of the operating system has a great deal to do with putting its user at risk.


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Windows XP outshines Vista in benchmarking tes

New tests have revealed that Windows XP with the beta Service Pack 3 has twice the performance of Vista, even with its long-awaited Service Pack 1.

Vista's first service pack, to be released early next year, is intended to boost the operating system's performance. However, when Vista with the Service Pack 1 (SP1) beta was put through benchmark testing by researchers at Florida-based software development company Devil Mountain Software, the improvement was not overwhelming, leaving the latest Windows iteration outshined by its predecessor.

Vista, both with and without SP1, performed notably slower than XP with SP3 in the test, taking over 80 seconds to complete the test, compared to the beta SP3-enhanced XP's 35 seconds.

Vista's performance with the service pack increased less than 2 percent compared to performance without SP1--much lower than XP's SP3 improvement of 10 percent. The tests, run on a Dell XPS M1710 test bed with a 2GHz Core 2 Duo CPU and 1GB of RAM, put Microsoft Office 2007 through a set of productivity tasks, including creating a compound document and supporting workbooks and presentation materials.

In response to the test, a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement that although the company understood the interest in the service packs, they are "still in development" and will continue to evolve before their release. "It has always been our goal to deliver service packs that meet the full spectrum of customer needs," the spokesperson said.

If SP1 does not evolve sufficiently, it could be another setback for Vista, with many businesses waiting to adopt the operating system until the service pack is released.

A year after its launch, only 13 percent of businesses have adopted Vista, according to a survey of IT professionals.

Microsoft admits that the launch has not gone as well as the company would have liked. "Frankly, the world wasn't 100 percent ready for Windows Vista," corporate vice president Mike Sievert said in a recent interview at Microsoft's partner conference in Denver.

Microsoft has not done enough to make users aware of the benefits of Vista, NPD analyst Chris Swenson said at the conference. "The problem is that there are a lot of complex new features in Vista, and you need to educate consumers about them...much like Apple educating the masses about the possibilities of the iPhone or focusing on a single feature or benefit of the Mac OS in the Mac-versus-PC commercials. Microsoft should be educating the masses about the various new features in a heavy rotation of Vista in TV, radio, and print ads. But the volume of ads (for Vista) has paled in comparison to the ads run for XP."

XP has proved to be more popular than its younger sibling, with the first six months of U.S. retail sales of box copies of Vista 59.7 percent below those of XP's in the equivalent period after its release.

Microsoft has had to allow PC manufacturers to continue to sell XP on new PCs, setting a deadline for the last sale at January 31. However, the pressure from manufacturers and consumers has been so great that Microsoft has been forced to extend the deadline another five months, until June.

According to Microsoft, sales of Vista have been picking up, with the software giant reporting 88 million units sold.


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C|Net shows no love for Vista yet

Oh dear! It seems that there are no allies at CNet when it comes to Windows Vista. I can only imagine that their IT department is still firmly attached to Windows XP on all their clients (except of course some very poor test machines).

Anyway, a bright spark at CNet HQ has clocked Vista in at Nr 10 on their article: Top ten terrible tech products, with the Sony Rootkit fiasco just ahead of Vista at Nr 9. The list even includes the Sinclair C5 as the worst tech product, will Sir Clive ever be forgiven for that?

Do our active members even know what a C5 is?

Heres what CNet have to say about Vista: Any operating system that provokes a campaign for its predecessor's reintroduction deserves to be classed as terrible technology. Any operating system that quietly has a downgrade-to-previous-edition option introduced for PC makers deserves to be classed as terrible technology. Any operating system that takes six years of development but is instantly hated by hordes of PC professionals and enthusiasts deserves to be classed as terrible technology.

Windows Vista conforms to all of the above. Its incompatibility with hardware, its obsessive requirement of human interaction to clear security dialogue box warnings and its abusive use of hated DRM, not to mention its general pointlessness as an upgrade, are just some examples of why this expensive operating system earns the final place in our terrible tech list.


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Raise your hand if you're tired of negative Vista articles

Neowin member ispamforfood (interesting nickname!) has posted an interesting question on our Back Page News forum asking "Raise your hand if you're tired of negative Vista articles".

It is true that there are many news outlets that are having quite a bit of a lark bashing Microsofts latest offering, hardly surprising based on the real-world problems that many people suffered after upgrading their Windows XP machines.

In defence of Microsoft, the recommended machine to use Vista with has increased quite a bit from Windows XP where 256MB of Ram was quite enough (or 512 for optimal performance) and now the recommended is 1gig or 2 depending on who you believe. Personally, I had 1GB in my machine when I upgraded (clean installed) but I only saw an improvement after I added an extra 1GB, bringing my RAM up to 2GB.

It's probably also fair to mention that Microsoft has since released Performance & Stability updates, which do fix a lot of annoyances such as slow copy/paste (calculation time) to other partitions. Anyway I have also done a poll, so voice your opinion by voting Yay or Nay to negativity on Vista by clicking the Member Poll link


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What’s on tap for Windows Live Messenger 9?

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, Microsoft sent out invitations to pre-selected testers for the next version of its consumer instant-messaging service, Windows Live Messenger (WLM) 9. grabbed, posted (and later, at Microsoft’s request, pulled) the feature list for WLM 9.0. On the feature list for the beta of WLM 9 (according to a cached version of LiveSide’s list):

* Multiple Points Of Presence Support - Now you can sign into Messenger v9 from several different locations and remain signed in, In v8.5 and under, signing in at a new PC will sign you out anywhere else
* Signature sounds - Make sound signatures instead of just graphical ones
* Per contact sounds - chose a sound to associate with each of your contacts’ actions
* Animated Display Pictures - now you can use animated .gif files as your display picture
* Links in Status Message - Links in the status message are now clickable
* SPIM reporting - report and block users who spam you via IM

So far no word on when Microsoft plans to make the WLM 9 beta available privately or publicly. And still no update on when the final release is due, though it sounds like late 2008/early 2009 is the working target. (And so far, no mention from the Softies of the alleged GTalk integration.)

Meanwhile, speaking of Microsoft and Live services, Microsoft’s Live Search engine lost query-share for the month of October, according to data from ComScore.

Microsoft’s loss of .6 percent was Google’s gain. Comscore reported that the Google sites increased their search ranking to 58.5 percent of U.S. searches, gaining 1.5 share points over September’s total. Yahoo sites ranked second with 22.9 percent, followed by Microsoft sites with 9.7 percent. Ask Network’s share was 4.7 percentand Time Warner Network’s 4.2 percent.

Microsoft’s goal of getting to 30 percent search share within three to five years is looking pretty elusive right now….


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Windows Infection Deleting The Program Files Content

Security company Trend Micro today released an advisory concerning TROJ_AGENT.ADNA, a new Trojan horse which attempts to remove a file usually placed inside Program Files, a folder created by Windows which usually stores the content needed by the installed applications.

According to the advisory, the infection affects most versions of Microsoft's operating system including Windows 98, ME, NT, 2000, XP and Server 2003. In addition to the Program Files removal, the Trojan also attempts to modify some registry entries which could change the way your firewall works and make it useless in front of other web attacks.

"It also attempts to delete the file TORUN.EXE, if found in the Windows Program Files folder," Trend Micro added. Just like many other infections, the Trojan creates a new registry entry in order to start every time the operating system is loaded. In case you're wondering how you can get infected you should know that this Trojan is usually installed by another malware or it can be downloaded through infected websites without users' approval.

"This Trojan arrives as a file downloaded unknowingly by a user when visiting malicious Web sites," Trend Micro wrote in the security advisory. "It drops copies of itself. It attempts to delete a certain file from the Windows Program Files folder. Moreover, it attempts to disable certain firewall applications by deleting registry entries."

Having a look at the ratings mentioned by Trend Micro, you might believe the Trojan is not as dangerous as it sounds because it only has a damage potential and a distribution potential set too low.

Because the infection is pretty new, there's no report concerning the number of the affected computers yet but the consumers are still advised to keep their antiviruses up-to-date with the latest virus definitions and apply the latest patches as soon as they are released.


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Did Microsoft's Security Focus Hurt Vista Adoption?

Microsoft's emphasis on improvements to security features in Windows Vista may have undermined business adoption of the OS, as many business and enterprise customers are still holding off on upgrading to the OS nearly a year after its release to them.

Microsoft spent a good deal of time and money to ensure Vista's security after Windows XP and applications running on it proved susceptible to devastating worms like Blaster, Slammer and MyDoom. Though Microsoft released Windows XP Service Pack 2 to remedy some vulnerabilities, the company decided that security would be a top priority for the next major Windows release, said George Stathakopoulos, general manager of Microsoft's Response and Product Centers.

"The security part of Vista was talked about a lot because it was a primary concern all over the world," he said.

But in retrospect, those close to the company and even Microsoft have acknowledged recently that security has not proved to be important enough to encourage businesses to upgrade to Vista.

Robert Hansen, CEO of IT security consultancy SecTheory LLC in Austin, Texas, who has spoken at Microsoft's Blue Hat hacker conference and done contract work for the company, said Microsoft is aware that its laser focus on Vista security may have been a misstep, and that it is trying to remedy that.

He said that Microsoft staffers are pleased in general with Vista's security improvements, but they acknowledge that "the consumer reaction was ho-hum."

"Over the next year, although security is definitely top of mind, some people feel as if the security as a priority is going to shift downwards, as opposed to feature enhancements," Hansen said.

Hansen also said that Microsoft traded general OS usability to add some of Vista's security features, such as User Account Control (UAC), and is "feeling pressure from Apple" to provide a more intuitive and user-friendly OS.

UAC gives system administrators more control over what features business users can access. It has become a chief complaint with users because it interrupts a PC user's work with a pop-up window whenever they're about to do something the feature considers an administrative function. UAC can be bypassed by working in administrator mode instead of standard user mode, but this defeats the purpose of the added security the feature was supposed to bring to the OS.

Microsoft has said that it plans to improve UAC in a future update to Windows to address usability and make it more intuitive for users while maintaining OS security.

In an interview last week as part of an update on Vista adoption, Mike Nash, vice president of product management for Windows Client for Microsoft, acknowledged that security "is not a reason in the short term" to buy a new OS. He promoted other features of Vista, such as updates to how it manages and stores multimedia, to encourage end users to upgrade.

Indeed, Microsoft certainly seems to have misjudged just how important security was with customers prior to Vista's business launch. But to be fair, the company faced complexities in promoting and marketing Vista to customers because with every new version of Windows, the company "is competing with itself," said Tim McAtee, research director for MarketingSherpa, a research firm that provides market intelligence for marketing professionals.

Still, Microsoft made a crucial mistake in pushing and marketing something that many feel should be an inherent part of an operating system, he said. By telling customers a feature of the OS was not right in a previous version and promoting that it's been improved in the new one, "you're abusing the trust of your customer if you expect them to buy an upgrade to fix your mistake," McAtee said.


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Windows Genuine Advantage works

IT may have cost Microsoft millions of sales, but Redmond claims that Windows Genuine Advantage has forced punters to buy legitimate copies of its software.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Vole had tried everything from court cases, to threats, to try and counter piracy. But now that Windows Genuine Advantage has locked down its Vista product, piracy is more or less a thing of the past.

The SMH admits that Microsoft does not have any actual figures to back up its startling claim. The closest thing it has said was that Windows sales were up 20 percent while worldwide PC sales were up only 14 to 16 percent.

It claims that this was because people with counterfeit copies of Windows were having to put the real thing on their computers or the software does not work.

Lockdown software has been traditionally avoided by software companies who fear that the technology just annoys users so much that they go elsewhere.

However pirate hunters, the BSA is calling on them to follow Microsoft's lead and install more of this type of blocking gear.

Robert Holleyman, who has headed the BSA since 1990, said lock down technology was becoming more customer-friendly. This will reduce levels of piracy and make it easier for customers to interact with the product.

However what Holleyman and Vole have not pointed out is that sales of Vista, with WGA, are abysmal in comparison to what XP was doing a year after its release. Some of this is to do with a lack of drivers and bugs, but there is a huge reluctance on the part of punters to wrestle with Vole's incredibly bureaucratic, and unforgiving WGA.


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CPU-Z 1.42

CPU-Z is a tiny freeware application that provides information on your current processor (including voltages, clock speeds and cache), the mainboard and memory.

The program is a self contained exe file, which allows you to run it without installing. Power users and overclockers will find CPU-Z an invaluable tool as it exposes values not normally accessible via Windows.

What's New:
* Intel Wolfdale/Yorkfield/Penryn CPUs support.
* AMD Phenom and Opteron Barcelona support improved.
* Current core selection menu (right click on the CPU page).
* Loading progress.

CPU-Z 1.42

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GetTubeVideo 1.0

GetTubeVideo is high performance online video download manager that lets you get most every video on the web. GetTubeVideo allows you to download videos directly to your computer from most online video sites and automatically convert it to variety of video formats.

With GetTubeVideo, you don't need to play with unreliable download websites, crude FLV players, sophisticated file converters and so on. With one click of a button, your file is downloaded and converted to a format that is playable on your machine right away.

Run GetTubeVideo and copy the url of the video you want to download. Then just click on "Get Tube Video" button.

GetTubeVideo features:
* Download videos from YouTube and XTube kind sites
* Extract audio from YouTube kind videos
* Extract audio from any video file
* Convert any video file between all popular video formats (3GP, ASF, AVI, FLV, MOV, MP4, MPEG, WMV)
* Convert any audio file between all popular audio formats (MP3, OGG, WAV, WMA)
* Ability to setup width/height of encoding video

GetTubeVideo 1.0

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Vista Requires More Hardware Resources than Microsoft's Windows for Supercomputers

A new level of the absurd... Windows Vista requires more hardware resources than Microsoft's Windows for Supercomputers.

Yet one operating system is designed to run on home computers while the other is aimed at the high-performance computing (HPC) market. And when it comes to the actual machines, there simply is no contest between the performance delivered by a commercially-available, off-the-shelf PC and a supercomputer.

With Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 Microsoft made the first step into the high-performance computing market, the initial stage in a strategy set up to make HPC a mundane aspect of the commercial mainstream, in the company's vision. The availability of Windows HPC Server 2008 will be synonymous with the Redmond company gaining ground on parallel supercomputers and computer clusters. Parallel computing represents without a doubt the future direction of evolution for processor architectures, with even Microsoft anticipating the tailoring of the Windows client to multicore infrastructures.

At this point in time the technology is light years away from general consumer implementation, with the market still struggling to move from 32-bit to 64-bit architectures. In fact, Windows 7, the successor of Windows Vista, will continue to be offered in both 32-bit and 64-bit flavors in 2010. But perhaps the biggest challenge of a scenario involving the mainstream adoption of multicore CPUs is related to the creation of an ecosystem of software made up of parallel programs that would integrate with the new processors.

Windows HPC Server 2008 is the successor of Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003, based on the 64-bit Windows Server 2008 and currently planned for the second half of 2008. With Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 already on a couple of the world's top 500 supercomputers (according to the Linpack benchmark) the Mitsubishi UFJ Securities Cluster Achieves 6.5 TFLOPS and the Microsoft Rainier Cluster Achieves 9.0 TFLOPS, Windows HPC Server 2008 is not a newcomer to the market.

Surely a Windows for Supercomputers Cannot Run with Less Resources than Windows Vista...

"Windows HPC Server 2008 is a two DVD package. The first DVD contains the setup for a 64-bit version of Windows Server 2008 that is restricted to an HPC workload, and the second DVD contains the Microsoft HPC Pack, which provides the additional interfaces, tools, and management infrastructure. The minimum hardware requirements for Windows HPC Server 2008 are similar to the hardware requirements for the x64-based version of the Windows Server 2008 Standard operating system. Windows HPC Server 2008 supports up to 64 GB of RAM," Microsoft revealed in Windows HPC Server 2008 Overview whitepaper.

Windows HPC Server 2008 will integrate seamlessly with the following processors: AMD Opteron, AMD Athlon 64, Intel Xeon with Intel EM64T and Intel Pentium with Intel EM64T. But the limit of 64 GB of RAM is already an indication of the truly minimum system requirements of the operating system. The truth is that Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008, more so after the availability of Vista SP1, share the same core and in this context the resources necessary for running the two operating systems are close.

Windows HPC Server 2008 Minimum Hardware Requirements (according to Microsoft – emphasis added):

"- CPU - x64 architecture computer with Intel Pentium or Xeon family processors with Intel Extended Memory 64 Technology (EM64T) processor architecture; AMD Opteron family processors; AMD Athlon 64 family processors; compatible processor(s)
- RAM - 512 MB
- Multiprocessor support - Windows HPC Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 Standard Edition support up to four processors per server. Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Edition supports up to eight processors per server.
- Minimum Disk space for setup - 50 GB."

Now, Microsoft failed to give indications on the processors, but the system requirements for Windows Server 2008 will clarify this aspect. However, outside of the 50 GB hard disk space, Windows HPC Server 2008 runs with just 512 MB of RAM. Yes, try doing that with Windows Vista. Because of the multiple flavors of Microsoft's latest Windows client, there is one Vista that can run on 512 RAM – the Home Basic SKU.

Give Me More RAM, Vista Is Still Hungry!
But even for Windows Vista Home Basic, 512 MB of RAM is equivalent with the recommended minimum hardware requirements that are guaranteed to offer just basic (!) functionality and nothing more. Now, in all fairness, Microsoft has traditionally upped the stakes in terms of hardware requirements with each new edition of Windows. Addend functionality, features and capabilities inherently demand increased resources. Vista is by no means an exception to this rule. Vista Home Basic will run with the same amount of system memory as Windows HPC Server 2008. But the same is not valid for the remaining editions of the operating system, which need double the RAM.

"Windows Vista Home Basic:
• 800-megahertz (MHz) 32-bit (x86) processor or 800-MHz 64-bit (x64) processor
• 512 megabytes (MB) of system memory
• DirectX 9-class graphics card
• 32 MB of graphics memory
• 20-gigabyte (GB) hard disk that has 15 GB of free hard disk space."

"Windows Vista Home Premium, Windows Vista Business, Windows Vista Enterprise, and Windows Vista Ultimate:

• 1-gigahertz (GHz) 32-bit (x86) processor or 1-GHz 64-bit (x64) processor
• 1 GB of system memory
• Windows Aero-capable graphics card (Note: this includes a DirectX 9-class graphics card that supports the following: a WDDM driver, Pixel Shader 2.0 in hardware, 32 bits per pixel)
• 128 MB of graphics memory (minimum)
• 40-GB hard disk that has 15 GB of free hard disk space."


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What's New in Microsoft Land: 12th - 16th November 2007

Microsoft is growing bigger and bigger by the hour and Monday’s announcement that it opened the new international headquarters for Microsoft Research, Building 99, confirms it.

It is said to be the first of seven new buildings on the West Campus, four of which are to be occupied by the company’s Entertainment and Devices Division. The West Campus will offer employees convenient amenities such as a post office, a mini-spa, a bookstore and 12 food venues.

"Continuing to build a world-class campus in Redmond is critical to a company like Microsoft that has innovative people as its greatest asset," said Chris Liddell, chief financial officer at Microsoft and the executive overseeing the expansion. "The physical campus growth the company announced today underlines our investment in Redmond and the greater Puget Sound area and shows our commitment to our future."

Microsoft began a three year expansion project back in February 2006 and the rate at which it is growing it had to admit that that was not enough. It announced that it will probably be building outside the project some additional constructions on the former Safeco Corp. headquarters that it acquired in 2006 and that it started site planning for the addition of new buildings on the land it acquired from Nintendo of America Inc. not so long ago this year.

"Microsoft continues to grow at a healthy pace, and this growth means strengthening our physical infrastructures," said Brad Smith, senior vice president at Microsoft, on Monday. "We are committed to doing our part to help improve transportation on SR 520 with the goal of facilitating an easier commute for all Puget Sound residents."

On Tuesday Microsoft Corp. and Kyocera Mita Corp. announced the signing of a patent cross-licensing agreement to allow each other access to its respective patent portfolio. This is just the latest in a long line of such agreements that Microsoft has closed since the beginning of its IP licensing program, back in December 2003. More than 200 such deals were struck and the Redmond based company still strives to develop programs that will allow its customers, partners and competitors to access its IP portfolio.

Wednesday brought about the release of the Office Accounting Express 2008, the alternative to the old shoebox-and-paper method of accounting that most of the 20 million small businesses in the US still use to this very day. Believe it or not (and you will believe it because it’s true), the new suite has big shoes to fill as its earlier 2007 version has won the "2007 Tax & Accounting Technology Innovation Award".

Thursday brought a new spin on the MSN Money – Morningstar investment data and editorial content collaboration as Microsoft decided to partner itself with the leading provider of independent investment research. The addition of Morningstar’s video content enables users to access up-to-date information, analysis and tools as well as helpful video segments from MSN editors.

Friday was somewhat funny in terms of the Apple – Microsoft rivalry as the two released major updates of their respective operating systems at the same time. Something like "Ha! Beat you! What? You’ve upgraded/improved too? Ah, let’s leave it at that than."


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Microsoft HealthVault Connection Center 1.1 Beta

HealthVault Connection Center is a utility you can use with your HealthVault account to add data to your Health Records from health and fitness devices such as heart-rate monitors and blood pressure monitors.

When you use HealthVault Connection Center, data from your device is imported into your computer and then uploaded to HealthVault. You can view the data in HealthVault Connection Center before and after uploading it. You can also use HealthVault Connection Center to launch HealthVault programs such as HealthVault Search.

System Requirements:
* Supported Operating Systems: Windows Vista; Windows XP Service Pack 2
* The following are required and included in the setup package:
o LiveID Client Runtime
o Microsoft Core XML Services (MSXML) 6.0
o Microsoft Visual C++ 2005 SP1 Redistributable Package (x86)
o XMLLite
o Windows Media Format 11 runtime

Download: Microsoft HealthVault Connection Center Beta (1.1) Validation Required

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What will Microsoft share about Windows futures in 2008?

Microsoft’s 2008 conference dance card is starting to fill in. It’s looking like a very busy February and March for the conference-going set. And, as usual with Microsoft, mid-summer will be full of Microsoft industry and insider events.

The biggest questions going into 2008 is how, when and if Microsoft will share more about its Windows futures plans with developers, partners and customers.

Microsoft has postponed its annual Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) to some time in the fall of 2008. Usually, WinHEC is a May event. And there’s still no word on when and if the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference (PDC) will take place in 2008. Microsoft “postponed” the PDC, which was slated for the fall of 2007, and so far has not rescheduled it.

WinHEC and PDC are Microsoft’s biggest Windows-roadmap events of the year. But given that Microsoft will be in a ramp-up period in 2008 — with no new Windows 7 or Windows Server 7 bits ready to share — it’s going to be tough to come up with show content that looks ahead instead of back. (TechEd conferences, which usually are more focused on shipping products, not futures, are the primary venues for that.)

Windows 7 isn’t expected to ship until 2010. Windows Server 7, if Microsoft sticks to schedule, could hit around 2010, as well. Both products will be in the early milestone phase, at best, by next year. Given Microsoft’s reticence to talk about unannounced Windows products, I’m wondering what the Softies will have to say at WinHEC 2008 and, if it happens, PDC 2008. Stay tuned….


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Microsoft postpones Winhec 2008 to Fall 2008

Microsoft announced that WinHEC 208 will not be held in the spring as previous years, but in the fall (October probably) of 2008.

We are pleased to announce that WinHEC 2008 will be held in the fall of 2008 on the West Coast (location to be determined). We rescheduled WinHEC for the fall in response to industry feedback.

WinHEC is always the best opportunity for industry professionals who want to stay aligned with Microsoft's platform roadmap and new market opportunities. WinHEC 2008 will present:

. Hardware implementation directions for OEMs, ODMs, device engineers, and system builders.
. Microsoft directions and industry partnerships for long-term initiatives.
. Microsoft vision for Windows and the future of PC computing.

Throughout 2008, we will hold a series of technology-specific events that are designed to keep hardware engineers and Windows driver developers up to date. Subscribe to WinHEC News to receive announcements about these regional and technology-specific events in 2008.


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Microsoft's limited Zune 80 Stock sells out way too quickly

The 80-gigabyte Zune media player Microsoft Corp. launched Tuesday has sold out across the Web, to the dismay of online shoppers and delight of the world’s largest software maker.

“Anyone know where I can get a Cabbage Patch Doll ... er ... I mean Zune?” asks an Inc. customer listed as Paul Taylor on the Web retailer’s message board for the product.

Amazon told Taylor and others that their preordered devices for Nov. 13 shipping would not be sent for 10 more days, according to the message board.


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5 little-known Gmail features you may not yet know about

When we began rolling out a new Gmail code architecture a few weeks ago, we also launched some new features to help improve the speed and convenience of managing email.

I've been using several of these new additions over the last few weeks, and while they might seem small on their own, they really can add up to save you a lot of time and hassle. That's why I decided to list my five favorite new features that are so new, you may not have noticed them. We are still rolling them out to IE6, international and Google Apps users, but for those of you who noticed a new contact manager among other recent improvements in our latest version, here they are:

5. "Archive and next" shortcut
We added a bunch of new shortcuts to Gmail, but one that I've found to be a true time-saver is what I call the "archive and next" shortcut. When I have a lot of mail, it can be really annoying to have to open a message, click "Back to Inbox" and then select the next email I want to read. So once you enable shortcuts in Settings, you can simply press the left bracket key "[" while viewing a message to archive it, and then immediately open the next oldest one. When I see a long list of unread messages, I like to open the first one and then just hit "[" to swiftly move through my mail and archive as I go. (P.S. By clicking the right bracket "]" you can also move the other way if you want to open newer messages after you archive).

4. Share mail searches with friends
How many times do your friends tell you, "I can't find that email you sent me." Now you can prove that you did indeed send that message, despite the accusations. All you have to do is search for the message using your expert mail searching skills, and when you find it listed in the results, just copy and paste the URL and email it to your friend. When he or she goes to that link while in Gmail, your friend's Gmail will run the same search you ran and will be able to locate that "lost" email instantly. For example, if you wanted to share a search for "pick me up at airport," so flight information can be located, you would send over this URL:

3. Browser navigation and history
Your web browser is now a great way to navigate Gmail. Instead of having to find the right links on the page to move from inbox to messages to other Gmail views, you can use the browser navigation buttons (back and forward) to jump back and forth between emails. You can also open your browser history and click on specific emails that you've read to go right back to them. This allows you to quickly access certain emails without having to re-read your inbox. Browser history is something that often doesn't work well on complex web apps like Gmail, but we've gone to great lengths to make it work right.

2. Bookmark emails
I frequently need to save a single email for a period of time, such as a message that includes an important phone number. But I don't want to create a separate label for one message, and I also don't want to archive all the email that comes in after that message just to keep that thread near the top of my inbox--and hopefully the top of my mind. This problem is now easily solved by a new ability to bookmark specific emails. All emails now have dedicated URLs, so just by adding a browser bookmark while viewing a message, you can return to it whenever you want, just like a regular web page--although you will still have to log in to Gmail if you've signed out.

1. "Filter messages like this"
I find filters to be one of the most useful features in Gmail, but sometimes it can be hard to set them up quickly. So we added a new capability that makes a filter based on the message you are reading, so you can keep track of future similar emails. By clicking on the dropdown menu in the upper right-hand corner of every email (the upside-down triangle), you can now see the option to "Filter messages like this." Not only can you easily create a filter based on the sender, but this is especially handy if you are trying to filter emails sent to mailing lists. We automatically set up a filter for you based on the "list ID" header, which does a better job of finding emails sent to mailing lists.


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Microsoft makes November build of Windows Server 2008 available to testers

Microsoft didn’t release only a refreshed test build of Windows Vista Service Pack (SP) 1 this week. It also quietly posted an updated test build of Windows Server 2008.

Testers with pre-approved access to Microsoft’s private Connect download site can grab the Windows Server 2008 November Community Technology Preview (for both X86 and X64 machines). The build number is 6001-17042-071107-1618.

No word yet from testers on what’s new in the latest Windows Server 2008 build. It’s not yet quite Release Candidate (RC) 1, but the Softies are getting closer.

Microsoft has said to expect Windows Server 2008 to be released to manufacturing in the first calendar quarter of 2008. Windows Server 2008 will ship in eight flavors, some of which will include Microsoft’s integrated Hyper-V hypervisor, and others which won’t, Microsoft announced earlier this week.

Given that the new Vista SP1 build and this server refresh came out simultaneously, I’m wondering about any new features in the SP1 build that touch Windows Server 2008. I’ve asked Microsoft for comment on what’s in the newest Windows Server 2008 CTP, but no word back yet.

Any testers out there had a chance to download and play with the new server build? What’s new in it?


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Microsoft wins Windows XP patent suit

Microsoft won a patent dispute over technology that helps computers boot up faster Thursday. The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, charged Microsoft with infringing on U.S. patent 5933639, which was issued in 1999 to Acceleration Software International Corp.

The suit asked the court to award the patent holder US$2.50 per copy of Windows XP sold in the U.S. By Microsoft's account, that could have amounted to $600 million to $900 million.

Microsoft argued that there are many ways to improve the boot speed of PCs and that XP uses different technology than that in the patent.

The jury found that Microsoft did not infringe on the patent and that the patent is invalid because it was obvious and because the technology already existed. In addition, the judge is still considering Microsoft’s assertion that the patent holder wrongfully withheld information about the existing technology when filing for the patent.

Acacia, a company that buys patents and defends them in court, is behind the suit. Acacia bought the patent and formed a company called Computer Acceleration Corp., which filed the action against Microsoft.

The plaintiff late in the case sought to add a claim against Vista but the court denied the request.

This is the fourth suit that Acacia or its subsidiary companies have brought against Microsoft. One was settled, another Microsoft won during a summary judgment, and another was just filed on Monday, Microsoft said.


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Anti-P2P college bill advances in House

The U.S. House of Representatives has taken a step toward approving a Hollywood-backed spending bill requiring universities to consider offering "alternatives" and "technology-based deterrents" to illegal peer-to-peer file sharing.

In the House Education and Labor Committee's mammoth College Opportunity and Affordability Act (PDF) lies a tiny section, which dictates universities that participate in federal financial aid programs "shall" devise plans for "alternative" offerings to unlawful downloading, such as subscription-based services, or "technology-based deterrents to prevent such illegal activity." The committee unanimously approved the bill Thursday.

Supporters and opponents of the proposal disagree, however, on what the penalty would be for failure to comply with the new rules. The proposed requirements would be added to a section of existing federal law dealing with federal financial aid.

Some university representatives and fair-use advocates worry that schools run the risk of losing aid for their students if they fail to come up with the required plans.

"The language in the bill appears to be clear that failure to carry out the mandates would make an institution ineligible for participation in at least some part of Title IV (which deals with federal financial aid programs)," Steven Worona, director of policy and networking programs for the group Educause, said in a telephone interview Thursday.

Worona acknowledged that "there does appear to be a great deal of confusion with respect to what penalties would be involved in not carrying out the mandates in this bill." Still, Educause, which represents college and university network operators, continues to "strongly oppose these mandates," he said.

House committee aides respond that failure to craft those antipiracy plans would not imperil financial aid awards. A fact sheet distributed by the committee this week attempts to dispel "myths" that it argues are being circulated by "supporters of intellectual property theft."


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Safari 3.0.4 Beta for Windows

Experience the web, Apple style, with Safari: the fastest, easiest-to-use web browser in the world. With its simple, elegant interface, Safari gets out of your way and lets you enjoy the web, up to 2 times faster than Internet Explorer.

The fastest web browser on any platform, Safari loads pages up to 2 times faster than Internet Explorer 7 and up to 1.6 times faster than Firefox 2. And it executes JavaScript up to 2.8 times faster than Internet Explorer 7 and up to 1.6 times faster than Firefox 2. What does all that mean for you? Less time loading pages and more time enjoying them.

* Latest security updates
* Improved stability
* Improved compatibility
* Improved JavaScript and application launch performance
* Resize windows from any side
* New keyboard shortcuts
* Additional font smoothing option
* International text input methods
* Advanced text (contextual forms, international scripts)
* NTLM support
* PAC file auto-detection
* FTP directory listings
* Link to proxy settings from Safari (Safari respects the proxy settings in the Windows Internet control panel)
* Cookie management
* LiveConnect support
* Tooltips
* Spell checking

Safari 3.0.4 Beta for Windows

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Vista's Biggest Problem Remains Windows XP, Survey Says

Windows Vista biggest worry shouldn't be rival operating systems from Apple Inc. or Red Hat Inc., but competition from Microsoft's own Windows XP.

Microsoft Corp.'s biggest worry over Windows Vista shouldn't be rival operating systems from Apple Inc. or Red Hat Inc., but remains competition from its own Windows XP, an analyst said Wednesday.

"The big story isn't that 32% of the companies we surveyed said that they would start Vista deployments by the end of next year," said Benjamin Gray, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. "It's that companies have been hugely successful in standardizing on Windows XP."

According to a survey of nearly 600 U.S. and European companies that have more than 1,000 employees, 84% of all their PCs now run Windows XP, up from 67% the year before. While XP may have peaked, Gray warned not to bet against the 6-year-old operating system. "There are plenty of companies looking forward to XP SP3," he said. That next hot-fix and patch rollup is to ship sometime in the first quarter of 2008, Microsoft has said, and it will reportedly be XP's last service pack.

"Vista's biggest competition isn't Apple or Novell or Red Hat; it's Microsoft itself, it's XP," Gray said. So enamored of XP are businesses that Microsoft may feel obligated to extend the operating system's mainstream support past its current April 2009 expiration date. "I wouldn't be surprised," Gray said, although it might require some additional pressure on the company by its largest customers.

Still, XP will eventually get the boot in favor of Vista, Gray said. "Vista isn't a matter of if, but of when and how," he noted.

Nearly a third of the polled businesses -- 32% to be exact -- said they would begin deploying Vista by the end of 2008, while another 17% said they would start in 2009 or 2010. But more than half of all companies remain skittish about Vista, according to Forrester's data. A year after Microsoft released Vista to duplicators, 38% of companies claimed they had no plans at this stage to deploy the operating system. Another 14% said they just didn't know.

Gray also echoed other analysts who last week said Vista plans had been significantly scaled back by most companies. "That's absolutely the case. In May 2006, 40% of the companies we surveyed said they planned on deploying Vista within the first year of its public life," Gray said. "Forty percent were planning on deploying, but by the end of 2007, only 7% will have started. Enterprises are absolutely pulling back from their very, very aggressive deployment plans."

He attributed the lowered expectations to a lack of detailed information about Vista in 2006; too-high prices for PCs with 2GB of memory, which is essentially the minimum needed for Vista, according to company managers; and a larger-than-expected number of incompatible applications.

"Application incompatibility is a big, big headache," Gray said, citing reports from companies preparing for a migration to Vista. Those firms said applications incompatible with Vista made up between 10% and 40% of their software portfolios. "That's causing a lot of XP shops to take a wait-and-see approach to Vista."


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eBoostr - Boost Windows XP with Flash Memory

MDO Ltd. announces the release of eBoostr, a complete replacement for Microsoft ReadyBoost technology for Windows XP. Upgrade the performance of your PC without upgrading its components. Get ReadyBoost-like technology in Windows XP.

ReadyBoost limitations and use up to four inexpensive flash devices to speed up your system. Add more speed to your PC without upgrading!

If you could improve the performance of your computer by upgrading just one item, that would be memory. Adding more RAM speeds up Windows and applications, allowing the system to access the hard disk less often. This is especially true for older PCs with 256 or 512 MB of RAM, and laptop computers with slow hard drives.

Upgrading computer components can be costly, and is not always possible. Buying and plugging a USB flash memory stick, on the other hand, is neither expensive nor complicated. That is why Microsoft developed a new technology called ReadyBoost. ReadyBoost uses flash memory plugged into a computer to enhance operating system responsiveness, decrease loading time, and improve computer performance.

Unfortunately, Microsoft ReadyBoost is only available in Windows Vista. Since the day Microsoft announced its ReadyBoost technology for Windows Vista, the company made it clear that no ReadyBoost upgrade will be released to support Windows XP and older operating systems.

eBoostr is a third-party implementation of speed-enhancing technology based on using flash memory to enhance the responsiveness and performance of a Windows XP computer. eBoostr works similar to Microsoft ReadyBoost, providing many of the same benefits to the end user.

Improved Performance with No Costly Hardware Upgrades
eBoostr improves the performance of any PC without having to upgrade its components or the operating system. Using flash memory allows Windows XP to access hard drives less frequently, which results in improved performance and responsiveness of Windows XP and all applications.

No ReadyBoost Limitations
ReadyBoost is a great technology, but it has its limitations. Its current incarnation does not support more than one flash memory stick or card at a time. ReadyBoost requires using fast flash memory that can be more expensive than the typical flash drive found on everyone’s desk. Finally, ReadyBoost helps the most to those with little amount of RAM installed, and provides slim benefits to PCs with a gigabyte or more of RAM.

eBoostr overcomes these limitations. While it works great with ReadyBoost Certified devices, eBoostr also supports slower, less expensive flash memory sticks and cards, allowing for a really inexpensive way to improve your computer performance. eBoostr is not limited to a single stick or card, and supports up to four flash units simultaneously. Finally, unlike ReadyBoost, eBoostr provides noticeable performance benefits even to PCs that are stuffed with RAM sticks to the max.

Download eBoostr Trial Version

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Vista SP1: Release Candidate test build goes to 15,000 testers

Microsoft has delivered yet another test build of Windows Vista Service Pack (SP) 1 to testers. On November 14, the new build — designated the SP1 Release Candiate (RC) Preview — went to a slightly expanded group of 15,000 pre-selected testers.

Microsoft made a first public beta of Vista SP1 available to 12,000 testers in September. The new build, No. 6001.17042, can be downloaded by invited testers from Microsoft’s private Connect test site.

Microsoft has been making builds of Vista SP1 available to progressively larger groups of testers since earlier this spring. The company has been dangling the promise of making a test build Vista SP1 available more broadly, first as a semi-public build downloadable by Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) members, and ultimately, by any interested parties. Microsoft posted a note to MSDN two weeks ago announcing avaiablility of a Vista SP1 beta, but later pulled the note and apologized for the false alarm.

As of November 14, Microsoft officials declined to say when broader, more public SP1 builds would hit.

Microsoft is continuing to promise delivery of Vista SP1 for the first calendar quarter of 2008. SP1 will be a rollup of fixes and updates that the company has pushed out via Windows Update since releasing Vista to manufacturing last fall. SP1 also will include support for new standards and a couple of other minor new “features.”


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More than Sixty New Features Requested for Windows 7

A wishlist for Windows 7, the code-name for the desktop operating system that will replace Windows Vista, has been leaked online.

A leaked wishlist for Windows 7, the code-name for the desktop operating system that will replace Windows Vista, has been published online by tech site Neowin.

The requests for tweaks, improvements and additions to next version of Windows come from those contributing to Microsoft's Windows Early Feedback program, under which the software giant seeks input from techies over potential improvements for the OS.

However, the 61-strong wishlist, free for all to see on Neowin, includes requests for a selection of usability tweaks rather than any major upgrades. Examples include "Change 'delete' to 'remove from desktop' in the recycle bin context menu", "Recycle bin should 'fill up' visually" and "Add Alarm function to the OS Clock".

There are some potentially useful suggestion, however. One person asks for a 'Tabbed Explorer', perhaps suggesting Microsoft add the tabbed browsing feature offered by various web browsers to Windows Explorer.

There also appears to be a decent number of gamers involved in the Windows Early Feedback Program -- one suggested Windows 7 should allow users to 'Back up Xbox 360 games to Windows PC', while another asked for a 'Windows Gaming Mode'. The latter was described by one person commenting on the story on Neowin's site as a "killer feature", while another called it a "godsend".

Microsoft plans to release Windows 7 - formerly code-named Blackcomb, and then Vienna - in 2010.


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Microsoft Promises to Lock Down the Windows Core

No matter how bulletproofed will Microsoft manage to get the Windows operating system, there will always be an alternative avenue for attacks. And while targeting the Windows core, one of the preferred methods for attackers is to piggyback ride on faulty and vulnerable third-party drivers, in this manner gaining kernel level access.

This is of course the case of a Macrovision secdrv.sys driver that ships by default with Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. At the beginning of November, Microsoft stated that it was concerned for the risk delivered to end users by the fact that information related to the vulnerability had been made available in the wild.

"As your probably also aware we recently released Security Advisory 944653 regarding a vulnerability in secdrv.sys, a SafeDisc driver, which is made by Macrovision and shipped in certain versions of Microsoft Windows. Macrovision has also released an Advisory and posted a manual patch to update the system driver, secdrv.sys, on Window XP and Windows Server 2003 systems, which is available here," revealed Simon Conant, Security Program Manager with the MSRC.

Macrovision did in fact release a security patch designed to address the issue, but Microsoft also answered questions from the security community related to the integration of the patch with Windows Updates. In this sense, the Redmond company confirmed that it is working to test drive the patch in order to include it among the updates release as a part of its monthly security patch cycle.

"It’s important to note that Microsoft Windows Vista is not affected by this vulnerability. As the vulnerable driver is included with Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 we wanted to make sure you knew that we are working with Macrovision to test the Macrovision update for deployment using Microsoft’s security update process. Once the update has gone through the Microsoft security update testing process, completed deployment testing and is ready for release, Microsoft will release it to customers as part of the Microsoft security update process", Conant added.


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Microsoft's OneCare 2.0 due next week

Microsoft is about to release a major update to its Windows Live OneCare security suite, according to online retailers, who have already begun taking orders for the software.

The exact ship date of OneCare 2.0 is unclear, with one online retailer saying it will be offered early next week and others saying it will arrive earlier. Amazon has already begun accepting orders for the product, which it says will ship on Thursday.

Microsoft has been beta testing OneCare 2.0 since July, billing it as a better way for users to manage their home computing environments and as "a foundation to better address the needs of small businesses," according to a company blog posting.

The software, which can be run on up to three PCs, has new tools for backing up, monitoring, and managing home networks. It also has new features to speed up the performance of systems that use the software. Its suggested retail price is $49.95, but Amazon is offering it for $42.99. OneCare is sold on a subscription basis, so these prices would cover a one-year subscription.

Since it was introduced last year, OneCare hasn't exactly been a runaway hit.

Just last week, the software came under fire for changing users' automatic update settings without proper notification, and earlier this year the software ranked last in a test of 15 anti-virus products by AV-Comparatives, an Austrian anti-virus testing project.

But Microsoft has improved its malware detection rate, according to Vinny Gullotto, general manager of the company's Malware Protection Center.

Between September 2006 and September this year, Microsoft has bettered its malware detection rate by about 20 points, Gullotto said. Now, Microsoft's detection rate is usually between 91 and 95 percent, depending on the testing plan, he said.


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Ballmer: Advertising Is the Future

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer wants to grab the worldwide advertising opportunity by the horns. It's one big steer to bring to the ground.

Ballmer laid out Microsoft's advertising opportunities during the company's annual shareholders meeting this morning.

He spoke about the blurring lines between media, software and advertising. "It's a huge opportunity," he said. Ballmer observed that the online advertising market would surge from $40 billion today to about $80 billion in 2010.

"There's a much larger advertising [opportunity] as well, $600 billion worldwide," Ballmer said, referring to broadcast, print and other advertising channels. Ballmer predicted a dramatic "shift to digital advertising," for which software would play a pivotal role.

He made a valid observation. Many advertisers and content providers are seeking to reach consumers in more places and by more interactive means. Software will be the major mechanism for delivering new advertising solutions in more targeted and interactive ways. Simple example: Advertising placed in online or console games.

"Our goal is to be a powerhouse in digital advertising," Ballmer said. He spoke about delivering "breakthrough, next-generation advertising solutions."

Clearly, Microsoft has big plans for its aQuantive acquisition. As I explained last month, Microsoft is organizationally three businesses: desktop and server platforms, consumer electronics and advertising and search. But the strategy is much broader, as Microsoft seeks to develop more operating system platforms for more devices.

By no means is Microsoft abandoning its core. Rather, the company is expanding the core into providing the plumbing for the future delivery of advertising, media and interactive content.

Microsoft's CEO donned his Chairman Bill Gates hat during opening remarks. He spoke about "changes" and future technology, in a way similar to Gates. The two men must share the same speech writer.

For Gates, this was his last shareholders meeting in his current role. Gates is due to retire—the transition from monopolist to philanthropist—on June 30, 2008. "When we meet a year from now, I will be a part-time chairman by then," Gates said during his opening remarks.

Gates spoke about future investments and made absolutely clear that SharePoint, with "over 100 million customers," would anchor Microsoft's server applications portfolio. He likened SharePoint to Office, asserting that SharePoint would similarly take a "central position as a key tool."

Gates described Web-based access to information as "a major trend." In a surprising public declaration, Gates said that all Microsoft's software would eventually be available in the data center and the cloud—meaning online.


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Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool 1.35

The hack was performed by two security experts working with Serious Organized Crime Agency, the U.K. government intelligence group.

The start of the hacking event sponsored by Get Safe Online was a copy of Windows XP Service Pack 1 and an unsecured wireless network, the kind so often encountered in households everywhere.

Now in all fairness, it was a copy of Windows XP SP1 with no additional patches deployed, and with absolutely no security solutions installed. In this context, the stripped down XP SP1 proved nothing short of an excellent target for the hack. Initially, the SOCA experts used an open-source tool available for download in the wild and designed to sniff out possible avenues of attack on the target computer. After identifying the IP address of the test machine connected to the wireless network, the system was scanned for vulnerabilities. A second tool revealed the security holes in the target computer and served to build an exploit, attack and own the XP SP1 PC. The entire process from start to finish took just six minutes.

"In the demonstration we saw, it was both enlightening and frightening to witness the seeming ease of the attack on the Windows computer. But the computer was new, not updated, and not patched", McGrath revealed as cited by According to the SOCA experts, moving to Windows XP SP2 with the latest patches installed reduces the possibility of exploits in this manner. But at the same time the evolution in security, and especially in scenarios involving wireless networks, brought by Windows Vista, recommends the latest operating system from Microsoft as a better choice.

Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool 1.35

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One More Reason to Upgrade to Vista: 6-Minute XP Hack Is Frightening!

Six minutes... that is all it took to hack Windows XP, and to completely take over the operating system. Nick McGrath, Director of Platform Strategy at Microsoft U.K., witnessing the XP hack first hand, described the effortless attack and compromising of the platform as "enlightening and frightening.

The hack was performed by two security experts working with Serious Organized Crime Agency, the U.K. government intelligence group. The start of the hacking event sponsored by Get Safe Online was a copy of Windows XP Service Pack 1 and an unsecured wireless network, the kind so often encountered in households everywhere.

Now in all fairness, it was a copy of Windows XP SP1 with no additional patches deployed, and with absolutely no security solutions installed. In this context, the stripped down XP SP1 proved nothing short of an excellent target for the hack. Initially, the SOCA experts used an open-source tool available for download in the wild and designed to sniff out possible avenues of attack on the target computer. After identifying the IP address of the test machine connected to the wireless network, the system was scanned for vulnerabilities. A second tool revealed the security holes in the target computer and served to build an exploit, attack and own the XP SP1 PC. The entire process from start to finish took just six minutes.

"In the demonstration we saw, it was both enlightening and frightening to witness the seeming ease of the attack on the Windows computer. But the computer was new, not updated, and not patched", McGrath revealed as cited by According to the SOCA experts, moving to Windows XP SP2 with the latest patches installed reduces the possibility of exploits in this manner. But at the same time the evolution in security, and especially in scenarios involving wireless networks, brought by Windows Vista, recommends the latest operating system from Microsoft as a better choice.


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Windows Server Update Services Choke on an Error

Microsoft's Windows Server Update Services infrastructure has managed to choke on an error and lock users out just ahead of the November release of security bulletins and adjacent updates.

Microsoft started receiving feedback from users clamming that access was discontinued to the administration consoles. The Redmond company confirmed the problem and after it identified the cause, it introduced a fix on their servers. Bobbie Harder, WSUS, Sr. Program Manager, revealed that following the resolve provided, WSUS users should have the service up and running with no issues at all come the next synchronization cycle. The problem was generated by something as trivial as double quotes.

"The cause of this issue is that, on Sunday evening, Microsoft renamed a product category entry for Forefront to clarify the scope of updates that will be included in the future. Unfortunately the category name that was used included the word Nitrogen in double quotes (appearing as "Nitrogen"). A double quote is a restricted character within WSUS, which created an error condition on the administration console. This issue occurred on many WSUS servers that synchronized with Microsoft servers between 5pm Sunday and 11am Monday Pacific Time", Harder explained.

On Monday, the Redmond company addressed the issue and renamed the category in accordance with the WSUS limitations. "This will fix the issue for any impacted WSUS server the next time it synchronizes with Microsoft’s servers. We are also improving our publishing tools to make sure that issues like this are caught during the publishing process, before they impact customers", Harder explained.

WSUS users that did not synchronize their servers with Microsoft during this time are not impacted by the problem. At the same time, end users that rely on Windows Update, Microsoft Update, or Automatic Updates to access updates are also in the clear. The next planned WSUS synchronization will apply the fix to all affected customers. But if the automatic resolve fails, users also have the possibility of manually synchronizing their servers.


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Microsoft Kicks Windows Vista Diagnostics and Recovery Up a Notch

The TechEd IT Forum 2007 in Barcelona, Spain, was the stage where Microsoft kicked the Windows Vista diagnostics and recovery up a notch.

But Vista was not the sole operating system in the company's focus. As a matter of fact, the upcoming Windows Server 2008, formerly codenamed Longhorn, will be able to leverage the new diagnostics and recovery capabilities offered via Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset (DaRT) 6.0 just as much as Vista did. The toolset is designed to integrate seamlessly with both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Microsoft's latest client operating system, and the upcoming last 32-bit server platform.

"We're adding Windows Vista 32-bit and 64-bit, as well as Windows Server 2008, support to the Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset (DaRT). DaRT 6.0 will enable IT staff offline removal of malware and viruses from infected PCs. On top of that, DaRT 6.0 now can unlock BitLocker volume encryption and allow IT professionals to use DaRT functionality on a BitLocker-encrypted drive. DaRT 6.0 is available via private beta currently and will be made more broadly available in Spring 2008. DaRT 5.0 is available today for download by MDOP customers," revealed Nick White, Microsoft Product Manager.

The sole caveat of the toolset – as White pointed out – is that it is a product addressed exclusively at current users of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack, as DaRT is in fact an integer part of the package. DaRT is excellently positioned to bring back to live unresponsive and crashed Windows computers, and manage various scenarios for diagnostics and recovery including infections with malicious code. Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc gave DaRT a try.

"The first thing I noticed when I started using DaRT is that it provides two options to the IT Professional: a way to analyze crash files from unresponsive PCs through the Crash Analysis Wizard, and a way to create a startup disc with the necessary tools in fixing an unresponsive PC that is unable to boot into Windows called ERD Commander", LeBlanc explained.

The Crash Analysis Wizard will permit the analysis of crash dump files with the *.dmp extension. Such files always accompany a system crash. The wizard had to work in tandem with Microsoft Debugging Tools for Windows, but otherwise the evaluation of the crash report is automatic, and the conclusion presented is straightforward.

"ERD Commander lets you create a startup image. That startup image can then be burned to a CD in which you can boot off of that lets you repair PCs that do not function. After experiencing DaRT first hand, I believe it is a must have for IT Professionals and offers a great set of tools in helping IT Professionals recovery crashed PCs in their environment. DaRT 6.0 (announced today as part of MDOP) offers IT Professionals the ability to run these tools on a BitLocker-encrypted drive as well", LeBlanc added.


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Gates responds to questions about his stock sales

The recent jump in Microsoft's stock price was on the minds of shareholders during the company's annual meeting in Seattle this morning, but not necessarily with a sense of satisfaction. During the question-and-answer period, a couple of shareholders asked and commented about recent stock sales by Bill Gates and some other executives following the share increase.

"Like all the shareholders in this room and elsewhere, we were delighted three weeks ago when the stock took a nice bounce up and exceeded its six-year high. Curiously after that, for about the next 10 days, the stock has been decreasing," said shareholder Peter Schroeder.

He cited executive and board-member stock sales and added: "The talk out of Wall Street is that this showed a certain lack of confidence in the future of where the company is going."

One important point: Schroeder cited a report saying that Gates had sold around $37 million in stock, but in fact, that was only a slice of his recent stock sales. Data from SEC filings, which I've aggregated on this page, show that Gates has actually sold about $476 million worth of shares since Oct. 31. That still represents a fraction of his remaining holdings in the company, which are worth more than $29.3 billion based on current market prices. He's still the company's largest shareholder.

First to tackle the question was Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, one executive who hasn't sold stock recently: "Our board members, our top management, Bill and I are all and remain all significant shareholders in the company," Ballmer said. "It's a significant part of what we own and our net worth, and there's a lot of confidence and faith I think in the future of the company, but from time to time people will sell shares."

Then Gates addressed the question: "I have the majority of my net worth in Microsoft stock. I've sold the same number of shares every quarter for over five years, so that's a plan that I've been on and so that's a very predictable thing. I do think if you look at the volume that clearly there are factors in terms of overall market sentiment that are involved there. But I certainly agree with you, we all want the stock to be as high as possible."

Update, 3:15 p.m.: The chart previously at the bottom of this post was based on incorrect data, and so I've removed it. Sorry for the error. The volume of Gates' stock sales so far this quarter is on track to be about the same as in quarters past, consistent with what he said above.

Separately, the company said Gates sells a preset amount of shares each quarter, at market prices, as part of an effort to diversify his portfolio. The sales aren't triggered by the price reaching any particular threshold.


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Microsoft Brings a Piece of Windows Vista to Linux and Mac OS X

Microsoft has announced that it will bring a small piece of Vista to both the open source Linux operating system and the UNIX based Mac OS X. The Redmond company's partners will work to extend Network Access Protection to Linux and OS X desktops.

NAP was developed as a Microsoft initiative designed to protect vulnerable machines from compromising when accessing or communicating on a network. The end purpose of NAP is to safeguard computers that have not deployed the latest patches for the operating system or the last antivirus updates from being compromised. The technology is not restricted to Windows Vista.

Microsoft introduced "key additions to the Network Access Protection (NAP) ecosystem with new third-party products that extend NAP to Macintosh and Linux desktops, as well as the first NAP-powered appliance. The new products will extend NAP, a policy enforcement platform built into the Windows Vista operating system and the upcoming versions of Windows Server 2008 and Windows XP SP 3, to non-Microsoft operating systems in heterogeneous network environments," the company revealed.

Three Microsoft partners announced support for the extending of NAP to Linux and Mac OS X. UNETsystem, Avenda Systems and Celestix Networks will all offer products set up to permit Linux and Macintosh desktops to leverage the NAP technology. In this context, UNETsystem's Anyclick for NAP, Avenda Linux Network Access Protection Agent and an appliance from Celestix Networks will all ensure that Windows rival platforms can benefit from NAP. According to the latest statistics from the Redmond company, NAP has already been deployed on in excess of 150,000 desktops worldwide, 70,000 of which at Microsoft.

"NAP is a policy enforcement platform built into Microsoft® Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, and Windows XP Service Pack 3 that allows you to better protect network assets by enforcing compliance with system health requirements. With NAP, you can create customized health policies to validate computer health before allowing access or communication, automatically update compliant computers to ensure ongoing compliance, and optionally confine noncompliant computers to a restricted network until they become compliant," reads Microsoft's description of NAP.


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Microsoft to Release 8 Versions of Windows Server 2008

Microsoft will release eight versions of Windows Server 2008 when it ships in late February 2008, three of which will include its hypervisor technology, Hyper-V.

The Standard, Enterprise and Datacenter versions of Windows Server 2008 will be offered with and without Hyper-V, both in 32-bit and 64-bit versions, Brad Anderson, general manager for the Windows and Enterprise management division, said at a press conference at the TechEd IT Forum event here Nov. 12.

Anderson's comments came ahead of the conference's opening keynote address by Bob Kelly, corporate vice president of infrastructure server marketing.

The Windows Server 2008 Standard product with Hyper-V will cost $999 and include five CALs (Client Access Licenses) and $971 without Hyper-V. The Enterprise version with Hyper-V will cost $3,999 and comes with 25 CALs and retail for $3,971 without the hypervisor, while the Datacenter edition will cost $2,999 per processor including Hyper-V and $2,971 without, Anderson said.

Windows Web Server 2008, designed as a single purpose Web server, will cost $469, and Windows Server 2008 for Itanium-based systems, which is optimized for large databases and line-of-business and custom applications, will cost $2,999 a processor.

Neither of these products include Hyper-V, Anderson said, noting that there will only be a 64-bit version of Windows Server 2008 for Itanium-based systems.

"When Windows Server 2008 ships next February, those versions that have Hyper-V will include the beta bits for that, and those will be updated to the final version when that ships within 180 days," he said.

Microsoft will also release Hyper-V server, a standalone hypervisor-based server virtualization product that complements the Hyper-V technology in Windows Server 2008 and allows customers to virtualize workloads onto a single physical server, Anderson said. That will retail for $28.

The software maker is also rolling out a new server virtualization validation program to enable vendors to test and validate virtualization software running Windows Server 2008 as well as earlier versions of the software.

"This program will also help Microsoft offer cooperative technical support to customers running Windows Server on validated, non-Windows server virtualization software," Anderson said, noting that Microsoft was also making a set of free guidance resources and tools available that can help IT professionals effectively plan and deploy virtualization technologies.


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Vista SP1 Beta Build 6001.17036 v.652 Kills Hack to Download the Service Pack

Microsoft is making headway toward the final release of the first service pack for Windows Vista. A new beta build of the first refresh for the operating system is now live following the initial beta release.

At the end of September, Vista SP1 was taken out of preview stage and evolved to beta stage. Concomitantly, the Redmond company opened up the testing milestone to over 12,000 testers also involved in the test driving of Windows Server 2008, formerly codenamed Longhorn and Windows XP Service Pack 3. But at the same time, the new version of Vista SP1 brings bad news for those that have used a hack available in the wild to access Build 6001.16659 straight from Microsoft.

Windows Vista SP1 Beta Build 6001.16659 went live on September 24 in both 32-bit and 64-bit variants. Shortly after, the first beta version of Vista SP1 was leaked to peer-to-peer file sharing networks. Under a month since the beta build was released, a hack became available designed to permit end users not included in the selective pool of 12,000 testers for the service pack to access the 6001.16659 release via Windows Update straight from Microsoft.

The Redmond company failed to address the issue immediately, but with the launch of Vista SP1 Beta Build 6001.17036 v.652, the hack allowing the download of Build 6001.16659 is no longer functional. Microsoft indicated last week the fact that it is cooking the first Release Candidate of the Windows Vista SP1. With the launch of the RC build of Vista SP1, the company will also expand the testing process, by offering a download via MSDN. At this point, Microsoft has failed to confirm if Vista SP1 Build 6001.17036 v.652 is still a beta release or if the service pack testing milestone is the Relase Candidate version.


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Download Windows Vista SP1 Beta RC Build 6001.17036 v.652 via WebUpdater

Windows Vista Service Pack 1 Beta build 6001.16659.070916-1443 v.275 has been upgraded to new version.

As previously warned, the Service Pack 1 for Vista is still currently in beta, and may cause the Vista system to be more unstable with more problems rather than solving current issues. Use and install SP1 beta only if you prepare to deal with problems that may arise.

1. Uninstall all older version of Windows Vista SP1 if you have installed any of them before you executing the following steps.

2. Download sp1_rc_17036_v652_web_updater.cmd (download below) file. if you cannot download, simply copy and paste the following text to a text editor, and save the file as sp1_rc_17036_v652_web_updater.cmd filename.

3. Right click on sp1_rc_17036_v652_web_updater.cmd file and click on “Run as Administrator”.
4. Log off from Vista system and then log in again.
5. Open Windows Update and check for updates.
6. Install Update for Windows Vista (KB935509) - v1.005, and reboot the system.
7. Open Windows Update and check for updates again.
8. Install Update for Windows vista (KB937287) - Build 6001.17036 (x86 or x64).
9. In Windows Update, check for updates again.
10. Install Update for Windows Vista (KB938371) - v1.018, and then restart the computer.
11. Wait for about 5 to 10 minutes.
12. Open Windows Update and check for update again. Repeatitively check for updates until Windows Vista Service Pack 1 Beta - Build 6001.17036 (x86 or x64) is shown.
13. Install Windows vista Service Pack 1 Beta - Build 6001.17036 (x86 or x64).
14. After installing Windows Vista SP1 beta, the following information will appear:
Note that to install Windows Vista SP1, users must install Vista in non-modified and non-altered manner. Only original Vista RTM, OEM DVD or those web download release from MSDN is confirmed to be able to use the hack to install SP1. If you installed Vista from vLite enhanced DVD media or image, you may not be able to install SP1.


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Microsoft: Windows XP Failures Are by Design

Nothing but bad design is responsible for Windows XP failures. The consistent volume of logon failure events in Windows XP, when the operating system is not part of a domain, is generated by the design of the overall log in process.

Eric Fitzgerald, Program Manager, Windows Auditing and Intrusion Detection Microsoft, revealed that the shell teams had to make up during the development process for the lack of a application programming interface designed to indicate accounts that had blank passwords.

"When in a workgroup (not domain joined), Windows XP displays a welcome screen that has little pictures (called "tiles") for each user who is permitted to log on to the computer. The shell team wanted the experience that when you click on a tile, that you will immediately be logged on if your password is blank (we have good data that a large percentage of home users have blank passwords). They only want you to be prompted for a password if you actually have a password. Fair enough, and it also helps with accessibility for people for whom typing is challenging", Fitzgerald explained.

Simply put – during the start-up process, Windows XP has to make up for the missing API via a trial and error action, namely the XP Welcome Screen will use a blank password in order to log in each user. Accounts with passwords will generate failures immediately, while accounts without passwords will produce log in success just to also fail the logon. This issue has gone unfixed in SP1 and SP2. In Windows Vista the Welcome Screen was redesigned in order to scrap the problem.

"The Welcome Screen uses the result of these logon attempts to decide whether to display a password box when you select a user's tile. If the user has a blank password, they will be logged on instead of being prompted for a password. Why are they logging on the account? Well it turns out to be the easiest way to tell if your password is blank. We don't have a "is your password blank" API- that would be a security disaster - and we would prefer that the shell team not go mucking about in the SAM, retrieving hashes and computing the blank password hash for each account so that it could compare them", Fitzgerald added.


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Forget about Vista – Onward to Future Versions of Windows...

In November 2006 and in January 2007, Windows Vista came to plug the gap that stretched all the way back to the late 2001 release of Windows XP.

But with Vista still hot on the shelves, Microsoft was already looking ahead to future versions of the Windows client. In this context, the Redmond company had introduced, since late 2006, the Windows Early Feedback Program, inviting all those that participated in the test driving of the beta milestones for Windows Vista to deliver their input designed to impact the next versions of the operating system.

Via the image included towards the bottom of this article, courtesy of Neowin, you will be able to access an exhaustive list of the top requests for future versions of Windows, centered of course on Windows Vista SP1 and Windows 7.

What you have to understand is that the list provides an insight into what end users want to see in Windows, and not what Microsoft will actually deliver with its forthcoming releases of the platform. According to the last count made public, former Vista beta participants had submitted approximately 800 suggestions focused on new features, some 500 for features that needed modification and almost 400 reports of malfunctions across the operating system.

The feedback can equally affect both Vista SP1, in terms of softening the rough edges of the platform, and Windows 7, when it comes down to additional functionality, features and capabilities. At this time, Microsoft has failed to disclose how user input would ultimately impact future versions of Windows. Just access the image to the left in order to make an idea where Microsoft might go with the development process.


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Microsoft Steps Against Linux with 8 Flavors of Windows Server 2008

Microsoft is beginning to increasingly focus on outlining its strategy against Linux on the server operating system market, and Windows Server 2008, formerly codenamed Longhorn, is positioned as an ace up its sleeve.

After having delayed the release to manufacturing date of Windows Server 2008 from the end of 2007 to early 2008, the Redmond company now confirmed yet again that its last 32-bit server operating system will indeed ship on February 27, 2008.

Moreover, Bob Kelly, corporate vice president of Infrastructure Server Marketing at Microsoft, revealed that Windows Server 2008 is approaching the final stage of development at fast pace. Kelly stressed the success of the server platform delivered as early as the testing phase, through the adoption of preview milestones starting with Beta 3 build.

"Windows Server 2008 redefines what a server operating system delivers to customers," said Kelly, present at the TechEd IT Forum 2007 in Barcelona, Spain. "With more than 1 million downloads and evaluation copies, we’ve built Windows Server 2008 based on a solid foundation of customer feedback, which is reflected in the product’s ease of management, security enhancements and overall reliability. The unprecedented range of customer choices and the virtualization enhancements will help customers tailor solutions built to fit virtually any business need."

Although on the Windows client market, Microsoft's dominant position is undisputed, on the server side, the Redmond company, despite owning the lion's share, is faced with the increasing adoption of the Linux open source operating system. In this context, Windows Server 2008 is positioned as a veritable Linux killer. And Microsoft is preparing a luxuriant set of offerings, with no less than eight flavors of the platform, all based on the firmament that is the basic Windows Server 2008.

"Windows Web Server 2008. Designed to be used as a single-purpose Web server, Windows Web Server 2008 delivers a rock-solid foundation of Web infrastructure capabilities in the next-generation Windows Server 2008. Integrated with the newly re-architected Internet Information Services (IIS) 7.0, ASP.NET, and the Microsoft .NET Framework, Windows Web Server 2008 helps enable any organization rapidly deploy Web pages, Web sites, Web applications and Web services," Microsoft revealed.

On top of the basic Windows Server 2008, customers will also have access to the following SKUs: Windows Server 2008 Standard, Windows Server 2008 Enterprise and Windows Server 2008 Datacenter. These three editions will each come in two variants with and without Hyper-V, the hypervisor technology formerly codenamed Viridian. Last, but not least, Microsoft will also deliver Windows Server 2008 for Itanium-based Systems. All SKUs will cover both 32-bit or 64-bit infrastructures. Exception to this rule makes Windows Server 2008 for Itanium-based Systems (exclusively x64). And in addition customers can access a 64-bit edition of Web server, dubbed Windows Web Server 2008 and Microsoft Hyper-V Server.

Here is a list with all the Windows Home Server SKUs and their price tags:

- Windows Server 2008 Standard: $999 (with five Client Access Licenses, or CALs)
- Windows Server 2008 Enterprise: $3,999 (with 25 CALs)
- Windows Server 2008 Datacenter: $2,999 (per processor)
- Windows Server 2008 for Itanium-based Systems: $2,999 (per processor)
- Windows Web Server 2008: $469
- Windows Server 2008 Standard without Hyper-V: $971 (with five CALs)
- Windows Server 2008 Enterprise without Hyper-V: $3,971 (with 25 CALs)
- Windows Server 2008 Datacenter without Hyper-V: $2,971 (per processor)


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Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 Quad-Core Processor

Man, a lot is happening at this very moment in the hardware industry. It's called silly season, and every manufacturer will try to deliver it's best and most refreshing product just in time for you to purchase at Christmas.

We'll see some interesting hardware from companies like NVIDIA, AMD-ATI and obviously that big blue giant Intel.

Now you guys know that all our test-systems are running on an Intel Core2 based processor as quite frankly this is the mainstream product series of choice when it comes to processors. Intel's release last year with Core 2 Duo was huge, really really huge, and AMD is still suffering from that greatly. AMD is not sitting still though no Sir, Phenom processors are just around the corner which promise great performance and TDP. In fact when you read this article I expect the first samples to arrive in our labs. It's time though that they get that product actually launched.

Since the testosterone levels between AMD and Intel are pretty significant obviously Intel is not sitting still either. They can act and will counteract any move made by AMD. Whether that is low, mid or high-end .. Intel can serve any market. Today we are focusing at the high-end segment of processors. Intel's cream of the crop quad core processors.

Seriously, we can have an entire discussion whether quad-core is really needed or not since 95% of the applications out there in software land are single-threaded. That meaning they utilize precisely one core. The dual-core trend has most definitely played a big role in software housed to acknowledge multi-threaded applications. For that matter I'm a strong believer of multi-core processing, because when needed and supported it can boost your processing performance by a factor of four.

See, a Core 2 Extreme X6800 is pretty much the fastest desktop processor in the world, yet adding two more cores gives you the absolute best of both worlds. Get the highest stock clock speed Intel offers for the best performance in lightly multithreaded (or single threaded) applications, and a total of four cores for those heavy multitasking or CPU intensive multithreaded scenarios. Really, you can't lose there now can you ?

Right now three systems in our lab already have Core 2 Quad processors equipped. Face it, it is the future and you have to accept that. This is also why Intel this year released the Core 2 Quad Q6600 processor. It really was the first attempt to get the quad-core CPU into mainstream. A fantastic processor with 4 cores running at 2,4 GHz each priced below 250 EUR. Now for the freaks there however is an Extreme edition of the quad core processor available, currently the top of the line QX processor, the Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850 Quad-Core. Four cores clocked at 3.00GHz, 4x2MB cache, 1333MHz FSB, it's pretty much the fastest processor money can buy. Until today that is.

Today the Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 Quad-Core Processor is released, yes the Penryn family of processors has arrived. And oh my Gawd does this processor rock. Let's go to the next page please where we'll quickly strawl through some technical features, the changes opposed to the QX6850, some photo's of the new CPU, benchmarks and a verdict on Intel's newest kid.

Guys, meet the Core 2 Extreme QX9650 Quad-Core Processor, the best processor money can buy to date.


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