Syria Suspicious of Israel, Blocks Facebook

Syrian authorities have blocked Facebook, the popular Internet hangout, over what seems to be fears of Israeli quot;infiltration quot; of Syrian social networks on the Net, according to residents and media reports. Residents of Damascus said that they have not been able to enter Facebook for more than two weeks. An Associated Press reporter got a blank page when he tried to open Facebook 39;s home page Friday from the Syrian capital.

Syrian officials were not available for comment Friday because of the Muslim weekend, but some reports have suggested that the ban was intended to prevent Israeli users from infiltrating Syrian social networks. Lebanon 39;s daily As-Safir reported that Facebook was blocked on Nov. 18. It said the authorities took the step because Israelis have been entering Syria-based groups.

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Yahoo! Messenger Preview for Windows Vista

The long-awaited Yahoo! Messenger for Windows Vista now has a preview build available for download.

The Vista version sports an entirely resdesigned user interface, tabbed chatting, the ability to transfer files of up to 2GB over the Messenger client, and a corresponding Sidebar gadget to boot.

A couple of things are missing from this build, however. Users eager to try out this version will have to do without both voice and video chat, and will also have to deal with poorer performance than the traditional Yahoo! Messenger. There is also no 64 Bit version of the software, although it is unknown if the final build will include a 64 Bit version.

Yahoo! Messenger Preview for Windows Vista

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Microsoft Developers Conference Slated For October

Microsoft (NSDQ:MSFT) plans to hold its next Professional Developers Conference (PDC) from October 27 to 30, 2008 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Microsoft generally schedules the PDC whenever it reaches a critical mass of momentum and coming technology to offer developers a sneak preview of what's coming down the road. Late last year, Microsoft announced plans for a 2007 PDC, but postponed it in May, claiming that the timing of the event didn't fit with the launch schedule for its next wave of platform technologies.

Many developers and partners were puzzled by this explanation, however, and were left wondering why Microsoft scheduled the show in the first place if it wasn't going to have new technology to tout.

At Microsoft's last PDC in September 2005, Scott Stanfield, CEO of Vertigo Software, Richmond, Calif., saw a preview of LINQ, a set of extensions that adds native data querying to .NET and was part of last month's .NET 3.5 release.

"By going to PDC, we were able to get a two year head start," said Stanfield.

Stanfield speculates that PDC 2008 could include previews of Silverlight 3.0 and the next version of Expression Studio, a set of design and media tools for developers.

"Scheduling the PDC 10 months out seems about right. By the time October rolls around they'll have enough baked and we'll hopefully get a drop of alpha code," said Stanfield.


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Upcoming Microsoft patches focus on media formats

Microsoft will issue seven security updates next Tuesday, including critical sets of patches for Windows and Internet Explorer.

The three critical updates are all for Windows components, Microsoft said in a note on the upcoming release. These components include Internet Explorer, the DirectX and DirectShow graphics software, and the Windows Media Format Runtime, which is used by Windows Media Player.

The media flaws could be quickly exploited by attackers, said Andrew Storms, director of security operations with nCircle Proactive Network Security. "With the Media Format and the Direct X update, we're looking at more ways for attackers to target rich Internet multimedia formats," he said via instant message. "The likelihood of getting someone to watch a tantalizing movie is much higher than opening an attachment."

Microsoft has said that it will fix a flaw in the way certain configurations of the Windows operating system look up DNS information, telling them how to connect with other computers on the Internet. Because of a flaw in the way Windows works, some visitors could be misdirected to inappropriate servers looking for this information, making them vulnerable to a man-in-the-middle attack, Microsoft says.

The other four updates set for Tuesday are all rated "important" by Microsoft, meaning that they require some level of user interaction in order to be exploited. These four updates are all Windows-related. Two of them are for Vista, and two of them are for Microsoft's other operating systems.

December will be a much busier month for system administrators than November was. Last month, Microsoft released just two updates.


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Microsoft: IE6 vs. IE7 vs. IE7 in Vista

As in the case of the inhouse competition between Windows XP and Windows Vista, due to its prolonged support strategy, Microsoft is also one of its most fierce and stubborn competitors on the browser market.

The XP vs. Vista race translates here into the face-off between Internet Explorer 6 and Internet Explorer 7. IE6 has become inherently associated with Windows XP SP2, while IE7 is delivered for XP SP2, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Vista. There was a time when Microsoft referred to the IE7 component on Vista together with a "+" label, but the practice has been dropped.

IE7 was introduced in October 2006 for XP SP2 and in November, 2006 and January, 2007 with Windows Vista. Without a doubt, Internet Explorer 7 is, by all means, a superior product to its predecessor, starting with the graphical user interface and ending up with the security mitigations built into the product. And Microsoft has went ahead and compared the number of fixed vulnerabilities in IE6, IE7 and IE7 in Vista, for the first year on the market.

"Microsoft shipped Internet Explorer 6 SP2 in August 2004 and in the three years since then has fixed a total of 79 vulnerabilities – 50 High / 24 Medium / 5 Low – or an average of about 2.1 per month. Microsoft shipped Internet Explorer 7 in October 2006 for Windows XP SP2 and in November 2006 as part of Windows Vista. In the nearly one year since release, Microsoft has fixed a total of 17 vulnerabilities in IE7 – 14 High / 3 Medium – or an average of about 1.4 per month. Only 14 of the vulnerabilities have affected the Vista release, so that rate is slightly lower," revealed Jeff Jones, Strategy Director in the Microsoft Security Technology Unit.

Just take a look at the adjacent image in order to make an idea of the sheer volume of security flaws impacting the three versions of the browser. From Jones' IE vulnerability counting game it is clear that IE7 in Vista, and IE7 for that matter, is an apex of security for the Internet Explorer line-up of products. "The data indicates that the latest version of Internet Explorer has improved security in terms of fewer vulnerabilities than previous releases, with the Vista version being a bit better than the XP SP2 version," Jones added.


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Does Microsoft Actually Want Windows Vista SP1 to Be Pirated?

Windows Vista Service Pack 1 is currently in its final stages of development in Redmond Utero, and heading for the first release candidate stage.

Microsoft has even managed to promise that the general public would be able to get a taste of the service pack ahead of the first quarter of 2008, pointing to mid of December 2007, as the date of availability for a public build of Vista SP1 RC. At the same time, the Redmond company began discussing the modifications that the service pack would introduce in the activation infrastructure of the operating system. In this sense, Microsoft mentioned that it was evolving its anti-piracy strategy, in order to meet the ongoing threat posed by the phenomenon.

Vista was made available in November 2006 and in January 2007, first to business customers and subsequently to the general public, bringing with it a new level of anti-piracy mitigations, such as Activation 2.0 and the Reduced Functionality Mode. Now, after a year since the operating system has been released to manufacturing, and just two months short of the celebration of the first month on the shelves, Microsoft claims that the piracy rate for Vista is half that of Windows XP. And at the same time, the Redmond company is making the illogical move of disabling Reduced Functionality Mode starting with the first service pack for the platform.

"We want to ensure that through this program, we maintain a great customer experience, and to do so, we will go after pirates and counterfeit software in a way that minimizes any disruption to our genuine customers. We are committed to transparently communicate how the program operates so that our customers and all interested parties clearly understand what’s happening and why. We understand the importance of protecting user privacy and conduct the program in accordance with a clear privacy policy. We are committed to delivering WGA with accuracy by making it a priority in identifying counterfeit software and striving to meet the high standards customers and partners expect of Microsoft," revealed Mike Sievert, Corporate Vice President, Windows Product Marketing.

Pirated copies of Windows Vista Service Pack 1, detected as non-genuine after failing the Windows Genuine Advantage validation, will deliver the same behavior as pirated copies of Windows XP. Namely, the users will be served "clear and recurring notices", informing them of the fact that Vista SP1 is non-genuine, but without any loss of access to features or of the functionality of the operating system. Net Applications credits Vista with over 9% of the operating system market, while Microsoft is boasting about having shipped in excess of 88 million copies of the platform to its channel partner. But, how desperate can Microsoft be to grow Vista's market share, if it will let its antipiracy guard down? And while we are on the same note... How can the Redmond company call the moving back to the "relaxed" antipiracy model of Windows XP, from that more strict in Vista, an evolution?

"Finally, we are committed to providing great customer service and support. For those systems identified as non-genuine, we will provide resources to help individuals acquire genuine Windows Vista. These principles will continue to serve as the bar we measure ourselves against in evaluating our anti-piracy efforts and how these efforts evolve over time to meet the continued threat of piracy," Sievert added.


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Microsoft Patch Day preview: 7 bulletins, 3 critical

Microsoft issued seven security bulletins on Thursday with three deemed critical. The other four were rated “important.”

According to an advance notice issued by Microsoft on Thursday the patches for these bulletins will land Dec. 11 at roughly 1 p.m. EST.

Here are the details based on the bulletins:

The three critical bulletins all cover remote code execution flaws. The software affected includes Windows, Direct X, Direct Show, IE and Windows Media Format Runtime.

Of the four remaining important bulletins–all for Windows–two address a remote code execution flaw. The other two cover elevation of privilege issues and local elevation of privilege.

According to the Microsoft Security Response Center blog the updates will require a restart.

The platforms affected are Windows 2000, Windows XP, Server 2003 and Vista.


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Vista SP1 will deliver big network speed boost

I downloaded the release candidate of Vista Service Pack 1 yesterday and was prepared to wait till its public debut next week before writing about it.

But after upgrading a few machines here and doing some tests, I changed my mind. If Microsoft’s decision to ditch the WGA kill switch in SP1 didn’t convince you, would you be interested in a 300% increase in tripling your network file transfer speeds?

Forget the reports you might have read about SP1 resulting in no performance boost. That story was based on a silly artificial benchmark involving scripting of Office applications. Back here in the real world, where gigabit network connections are now commonplace, you’ll see at least one huge improvement when transferring files over network connections.

In its original release, Vista had some design problems with its networking stack, resulting in slow file transfers, especially when connecting to computers running Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, or Windows Home Server (all three of these products share a great deal of their code base, including core networking components). In Vista SP1, file transfer speeds are dramatically improved. In this post, I’ll describe what I saw.

I did two sets of file-transfer tests using two separate systems configured to dual boot between Vista RTM and the new Vista SP1 release candidate. Both systems have dual- or quad-core processors (both in the Intel Core 2 Duo family) The first group of files consisted of two large DVD images in ISO format, totaling 4.2 GB. The second group of files was a folder filled with more than 3,000 files of all types, in 299 subfolders, totaling roughly 6.5 GB.

For the first test, I transferred the two groups of files from a shared folder on an HP MediaSmart Windows Home Server to the two test systems running Windows Vista RTM, recording the total transfer time for each one. Then I rebooted the two systems into an SP1 installation and repeated the test. I converted the times into throughput rates; here’s the result (note that bigger bars equal higher throughput and thus better performance).

As you can see, the file transfers under Vista SP1 were dramatically faster than the Vista RTM times. For the directory full of many small files, the performance increase throughput was more than 300%; for the large files, the speed increase was roughly 260%. Note that you can expect similar results when transferring files from Vista to systems running Windows XP or Windows Server 2003.

For the second set of tests, I performed transfers between the two machines running equivalent versions of Windows Vista: RTM to RTM, SP1 to SP1. Here, the results were less dramatic. For the folder full of small files, the throughput rate increased by about 50% under SP1, and the large files transferred slightly slower, although still faster than the transfer from Windows Home Server.


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Office 2007 Service Pack 1 Release to Web Tuesday 11th Dec

Next Tuesday, December 11th 2007, the Office System team here at Microsoft expects to announce the availability for download of the 2007 Microsoft® Office System Service Pack 1 (SP1).

This is sooner than previously announced for the "release to web" when the target date was announced at the IT Forum in Europe earlier this year!

The 2007 Microsoft® Office System Service Pack 1 (SP1) reflects unceasing efforts by the Microsoft Office System team to address customer concerns. Nearly all of the improvements included in the 2007 Office System SP1 are in response to direct feedback from power users at large organizations or indirect feedback from home and office users through the Dr. Watson bug-reporting system.

By tapping these extensive customer-feedback channels, the Microsoft Office System team has targeted the issues that customers care about most. As a result, the 2007 Office System SP1 will deliver significant stability and performance improvements to the applications that home and office workers rely on every day.

The 2007 Office System SP1 will be critical service pack for a variety of reasons. It will eliminate many deployment barriers to deployment you may have in your environment, it will provide support for Windows Server 2008, and will provide critical fixes to products such as Project and Project Server.


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Google to Give Developers Access to Trends API

Google will eventually give programmers access to an API for its Trends analysis tool.

Google will eventually provide an open application programming interface for its Trends analysis tool, allowing users to embed the tool in their applications, or download data from the application for personal use, a company official said.

Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience at Google, would not provide timelines for when the search vendor might open up the API for Trends, which tallies Google Web searches for the terms users enter relative to the total number of searches done on Google.

However, she noted the company's fondness for APIs, as well as Trends users' requests to be able to put data culled from Trends in a spreadsheet and have the ability to manipulate it. For example, users might be able to create a spreadsheet comparing Trends data from present and previous years.

"While I can't [give] particular dates for such a launch, I do believe that we will be making an API available so you can take the Trends product and embed it and use the data," Mayer said during a Web cast tutorial on the application Dec. 4.

Were Google to open up Trends and allows users to download data, marketers could customize their own Trends analyses to detect new patterns, ideally to better target users with products and services.

Google launched Trends in May 2006, and Mayer said Google uses it to improve its search quality.

Trends presents users a search volume graph on a linear scale on top of a news-reference-volume graph displaying the number of times topics appeared in Google News stories.

Trends also includes a feature called Hot Trends that lets users check the most searched terms for a that day. Clicking on a link in Hot Trends yields a number of nuggets of info, including when the search results for that term peaked and where, as well as news articles and blog posts about the topic.

Users can also compare query volumes, and do cross-discipline analyses, by typing in multiple terms in the search trends box. Trends will conduct analyses only as far back as January 2004.


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Microsoft to beef up anti-piracy checks in Vista SP1

Microsoft will change the user experience of its automatic anti-piracy checks in Windows Vista and also make it harder for hackers to bypass the system in the first service pack for the OS due out early next year.

Once Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) is installed on a PC, that computer will no longer go into limited functionality mode if a user or administrator fails to activate Vista on that system in 30 days, or if the system fails Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) validation, which checks to see if a version of Vista is pirated or counterfeit. In Vista, WGA is called the Software Protection Program feature.

In limited functionality mode, a computer will shut down after 60 minutes and then allow only browser use. Now, instead of going into that mode, a version of Vista that has not been activated in 30 days will start up with a black screen and a dialogue box that gives users the choice of activating Vista now or later, said Alex Kochis, a group product manager at Microsoft.

If users choose to activate now, the screen prompts will lead them through the proper activation system. If users choose to activate later, all the usual functions of Windows will start up, but with a black screen in the background instead of whatever customized background screen a user had set for the system.

Then, after 60 minutes of use, a balloon dialogue box will appear on the screen reminding the user to activate Vista. It also will reset the background to black even if a user had replaced the black screen with a customized view.

The experience will be similar for machines that fail the WGA validation, except that users will be reminded that their copy of Vista is not valid and that they need to purchase a valid copy of the OS.

Kochis said it was feedback from business and enterprise customers that inspired Microsoft to make the changes to the user experience. Many of these customers have been waiting until SP1 to upgrade to Vista, which means Microsoft has gotten their feedback on the Software Protection Program only recently. SP1 is expected to be available in the first calendar quarter of 2008.

Business and enterprise customers were concerned about the idea that desktop computers in their organizations would cease to function in the usual way if a machine were not activated or validated properly, Kochis said.

"In some cases, it was a simple reaction to this concept, as in 'We don't like this,'" he said. The complexity of getting a large number of users up and running again on Vista was also a concern.


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There Is a Good Reason to Get Vista SP1

Microsoft plans to do away with that nasty 30-day off switch. Maybe some IT organizations should rejoice and take a few darts out of their pictures of Bill Gates.

But there's a catch: The visual indications that Windows is counterfeit will be a whole lot more obvious—and in the end user's face. Also, Microsoft isn't doing away with that pesky re-validation requirement. Many enterprises will still need to maintain activation servers so that volume-licensing keys can be revalidated. Nutshell: Businesses won't get out of having their employees re-validate software on 180-day cycles. Consumers will revalidate whenever downloading Microsoft software.

Microsoft will introduce the anti-piracy mechanism changes with Windows Vista Service Pack 1.

Caveats aside, the off-switch turn off removes a potential IT headache: Unvalidated Vista copies shutting down within 30 days when not reactivated. The new visual cue also will be a stark reminder to employees that they must re-validate their copy of Windows Vista..

The changes men that Microsoft's anti-piracy notices will be much more in end users' faces, so to speak. From the 31st day after failing to activate or validate, "There will be a plain black background and a message in the lower right hand corner over the system tray telling them that their copy of Windows is not genuine," Alex Kochis, Microsoft's group product manager for Windows Genuine Advantage, told my eWEEK colleague Peter Galli. End users will get hourly notices that their software needs to be activated. If they changed the desktop background color, Vista will revert to black.

Microsoft might as well have used a skull and cross bones. Who knows, maybe Microsoft will yet make Vista popular. How about a Gothic Windows fad, where black-and-white backgrounds on unactivated Vistas are the poster-child protest against DRM?

Microsoft claims that the 30-day change is coming because enterprises complained that the feature targets consumers and small businesses. I don't see that. Microsoft's big piracy problem: Leaked volume-licensing keys. It's why Microsoft put the burden of 180-day revalidation on businesses. If a key is leaked, Microsoft can invalidate it. Consumers and small business activate Vista once. The process is ongoing for enterprises.

Way I see it: Microsoft is responding to enterprise complaints about the off-switch, and the company is feeling generous because Vista activation is working. My sources tell me that the early piracy reduction numbers are so significant, even some Microsoft executives can't believe they're true. Fifty-percent reduction is the number I heard from some Microsoft elves (they escaped from Santa's workshop).

Number that high is somewhat unbelievable. Absolutely, Vista's tougher Windows Genuine mechanisms could be working better. Or, maybe, pirates favor Windows XP because it's easier to pirate and more people want the older operating system. The truth lies somewhere between, methinks. XP is more popular, and 180-day volume-license key revalidation is reducing the number of pirated keys.


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Microsoft releases Office Mobile 6.1

f you've got a Windows Mobile 5.0 or Windows Mobile 6 phone or PDA, you'll want to grab this update.

The update is free for anyone who has an existing copy of Office Mobile, which should cover most Windows Mobile users. it adds support for Office 2007 documents including DOCX, XLSX and PPTX files. There's also enhanced viewing capabilities for Excel Mobile, the ability to add SmartArt in PowerPoint Mobile. Users can also view and extract files from ZIP folders.

If you don't have a previous version of Office Mobile, you can buy a full version of Office Mobile 6.1. This is the first time Microsoft will be offering a full version of Office Mobile for sale. We can't find a purchase link right now, so we're not sure how much Microsoft will be charging for Office Mobile 6.1 But odds are you can get it for free anyway.

Microsoft releases Office Mobile 6.1

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A Mac-to-Vista Switcher in Pink

This weekend, my 13-year-old daughter and I set out to replace her first-generation MacBook. She instead picked a pink Sony VAIO running Windows Vista Home Premium.

I bought her the MacBook on launch day, May 16, 2006, at one of Apple's two Bethesda, Md., retail stores. The computer came configured with a 2GHz Intel Core Duo processor, 512MB of RAM (which I upgraded to 1GB), 64MB dedicated integrated graphics memory, 60GB hard drive, DVD burner, 802.11b/g wireless and Bluetooth. She does lots of video editing, which was getting increasingly difficult because of the puny hard disk, system RAM and graphics memory.

My daughter also had some interest in Windows Vista because of certain applications not available for Mac OS X. We went to Fashion Valley Mall in San Diego looking at a new MacBook or a pink VAIO VGN-CR290EAP. The VAIO would mean a switch from the Mac. The mall has Apple and Sony Style stores.

Based on value for hardware, the Sony VAIO handily beat the MacBook.

MacBook specs:
13.3-inch glossy display, 1280 x 800 resolution
2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor
1GB of RAM
Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100 (64MB, shared up to 144MB)
120GB hard drive
Dual-layer DVD burner
Integrated WebCam
802.11 a/b/g/n
Two USB ports; one FireWire
Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard"

VAIO VGN-CR290EAP specs:
14.1-inch glossy display, 1280 x 800 resolution
2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor
2GB of RAM
Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100 (128MB, shared up to 358MB)
200GB hard drive
Dual-layer DVD burner
Integrated WebCam
802.11 a/b/g/n
Three USB ports; one FireWire
Windows Vista Home Premium
Cosmopolitan pink

Before Apple switched to Intel processors, this kind of Mac to Windows PC comparison would have been difficult. Oh, how have times changed. While the two computers use the same basic hardware architecture, for an extra $21, the VAIO comes with twice the system and video memory and 80GB more storage capacity. The VAIO's extras appealed to my sense of value; my daughter liked the computer's appearance more than the white MacBook.

Something else: Sony would give up to $319 credit for a trade-in on the MacBook. However, a friend offered $500, removing the trade-in value from consideration.

Initially, my daughter had been thinking about sticking with the Mac and dual-booting Mac OS X and Windows Vista. But the MacBook's hard drive wasn't big enough for her needs or my budget. I was willing to spend $1,400 with tax but no more for this early and ridiculously expensive Christmas present. The preconfigured 120GB would be as much as she could expect from the MacBook.

One 13-year-old girl is by no means a scientific study of Mac OS X compared with Windows Vista. But her thinking is revealing, nevertheless. At no time while evaluating the two platforms did my daughter mention Apple's Leopard as a consideration. She would miss iLife applications but reasoned that iTunes would be enough if necessary. She also worried that "young people think Macs are cool." But how many of her friends would have a pink laptop? I let her make the decision on which computer, with little influence.

Six months earlier, I would have interceded. The Windows Vista experience was broken and Leopard promised so much. But now: Vista delivers a darn good experience, and Leopard isn't such a cool cat after all. Between Leopard and Vista, I would pick Windows.

My daughter chose neither. She ended up with the pink VAIO because she liked the laptop's appearance more than the MacBook; she recognized the better value for base hardware; and she didn't see any huge benefit to Leopard over Vista. Operating system was not much of a consideration at all.

Still, she recognizes that security attacks besiege Windows more than Mac OS X. While I did some basic setup on the VAIO, my daughter used the MacBook to get some new HTML code for her MySpace page. She was concerned about malware pop-ups on many of the sites offering free MySpace layouts. After changing the layout, my daughter boasted that she also had removed the sponsored links from her new MySpace page. I didn't tell her that some of these links pose security problems, so I was surprised.

As for VAIO setup, I took responsibility for e-mail and data migration. My daughter had used Apple's .Mac for mail but would add an account, too. I considered using Outlook for both e-mail accounts. Instead, I opted for the Windows Live Mail client. I hadn't used the software since beta days a year ago and was uncertain about what to expect. Damn, Windows Live Mail impresses. The user interface is surprisingly clean, base features are robust and there is support for Microsoft's proprietary Hotmail protocol and IMAP (which .Mac offers). If not for Exchange Server, I would dump Outlook and switch to Windows Live Hotmail.


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Change Logon Background in Windows Vista

I caught this via Steve Clayton (who caught it via Jeff Sandquist showing off his home) - Stardock has a really neat application called LogonStudio that allows you to change the background of your logon screen in Windows Vista. I absolutely love the space background.

LogonStudio is available as a free download and also allows you to create your own backgrounds as well as download logon backgrounds via Stardock's WinCustomize Gallery too. Folks who create their own backgrounds can submit them to the WinCustomize Gallery. Give it a try. Let me know what you think.

LogonStudio XP
LogonStudio VISTA


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Check Out the Official Release Notes for Windows XP Service Pack 3

Mind blowing! Simply mind blowing! Shocking! And last, but definitely not least, a true revelation. Microsoft has published the official release notes for Windows XP Service Pack 3, and, boy, are you in for a treat! I bet you didn't see this coming in the least.

At this point in time, there are but scarce details available on the third and final service pack for XP. The Redmond company has postponed its release several times, taking it from 2006 as far back as the first half of 2008. The abstract launch dated sometime by mid 2008 is the sole aspect of XP SP3 that has officially been confirmed. But this is all about to change... Or is it?

Just take a look at the official release notes for XP SP3, while, of course, keeping in mind that "this article discusses a beta release of a Microsoft product. The information in this article is provided as-is and is subject to change without notice," as the company has put it. And, of course, that by this point you have visited the link to the release notes for XP SP3 and have been disappointed by the extended level of transparency that Microsoft has offered on this service pack for XP.

"No formal product support is available from Microsoft for this beta product. For information about how to obtain support for a beta release, see the documentation that is included with the beta product files, or check the Web location where you downloaded the release," Microsoft added. "No formal product support is available from Microsoft for this beta product. For information about how to obtain support for a beta release, see the documentation that is included with the beta product files, or check the Web location where you downloaded the release."

And the Redmond company even manages to finish at an apex of user frustration, by revealing that "release notes are not available for the Windows XP SP3 beta release." Windows XP SP3 RC has been made available to all MSDN and TechNet subscribers on December 3.


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Microsoft: Less Vulnerabilites in IE7 compared to Firefox

Microsoft today published a report that evaluates the security performance of Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox through a detailed comparative look at vulnerabilities.

The “Web Browser Vulnerability Analysis” report finds that over a period of three years, Internet Explorer proved to have fewer vulnerabilities than Mozilla Firefox.

The report research, conducted by Jeff Jones, Security Strategy Director in Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing group, examines in detail the volume and severity of vulnerabilities in the two browsers and includes these key findings:

• Microsoft has fixed 87 total vulnerabilities (across all supported versions of Internet Explorer) while Mozilla has fixed 199 vulnerabilities in supported Firefox products

• Internet Explorer experienced a lower volume of reported vulnerabilities across all categories of severity (high, medium, low)

Microsoft quitely announced the findings via the IE Blog.


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