Microsoft Enterprise Library 4.1 – October 2008

Enterprise Library consists of reusable software components that are designed to assist developers with common enterprise development challenges. It includes a collection of application blocks and a set of core features, such as object generation, configuration, and instrumentation mechanisms. This release of the Enterprise Library includes one new application block, the Unity Application Block, which implements a framework that provides object generation and dependency injection capabilities, plus other new features and enhancements.

Different applications have different requirements, and you will not find that every application block is useful in every application that you build. Before using an application block, you should have a good understanding of your application requirements and of the scenarios that the application block is designed to address.

Enterprise Library 4.1 – October 2008 contains the following application blocks:

  • Caching Application Block. Developers can use this application block to incorporate a cache in their applications. Pluggable cache providers are supported.
  • Cryptography Application Block. Developers can use this application block to incorporate hashing and symmetric encryption in their applications.
  • Data Access Application Block. Developers can use this application block to incorporate standard database functionality in their applications.
  • Exception Handling Application Block. Developers and policy makers can use this application block to create a consistent strategy for processing exceptions that occur throughout the architectural layers of enterprise applications.
  • Logging Application Block. Developers can use this application block to include standard logging functionality in their applications.
  • Policy Injection Application Block. Developers can use this application block to implement interception policies that can be used to streamline the implementation of common features, such as logging, caching, exception handling, and validation, across a system.
  • Security Application Block. Developers can use this application block to incorporate authorization and security caching functionality in their applications.
  • Unity Application Block. Developers can use this application block as a lightweight and extensible dependency injection container with support for constructor, property, and method call injection, as well as instance and type interception (via an extension).
  • Validation Application Block. Developers can use this application block to create validation rules for business objects that can be used across different layers of their applications.

Enterprise Library also includes a set of core functions, including configuration, instrumentation, and object creation. These functions are used by all other application blocks.

Common Scenarios

Enterprise Library can be useful in a variety of situations:

  • Enterprise Library provides enough functionality to support many common scenarios that enterprise-level applications must address.
  • Enterprise Library can serve as the basis for a custom library. You can take advantage of the extensibility points incorporated in each application block and extend the application block by supplying new providers. You can also modify the source code for the existing application blocks to incorporate new functionality. You can also add new application blocks to Enterprise Library. You can either develop extensions for existing application blocks and new application blocks yourself, or you can use extensions and application blocks developed by others.
  • Enterprise Library is designed so that its application blocks can function independently of each other. You have to add only the application blocks that your application will use; you do not have to add the entire library.
  • Enterprise Library includes the source code and the unit tests for all application blocks. This means you can modify the application blocks to merge into your existing library or you can use parts of the Enterprise Library source code in other application blocks or applications that you build.
  • Enterprise Library includes documentation, QuickStart samples, and source code. Hands-on-labs and webcasts are posted as separate downloads on the Enterprise Library Home page. This means that you can use the library as a tool for learning architectural, design, and coding best practices.

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Free (as in beer) CodeWeavers CrossOver Linux and Mac

Try as you might to get away from Windows, you might think that you're stuck with using it because there's this one program that you have to use and you can't find anything on Linux or Mac OS that works for you. Well, you're in luck. CodeWeavers the company behind CrossOver Linux Pro and CrossOver Mac Pro is offering for today, October 28th, free downloads and registrations for these programs that will enable you to run many popular Windows programs, such as Quicken, Microsoft Office, and Photoshop CS2 on your favorite operating system.

This offer started as a pointed joke at George W. Bush's expense: the Great American Lame Duck Presidential Challenge. In the Challenge, which CodeWeavers launched in July, the company said it would provide its software for free in the unlikely event that under Bush's administration any of the following things happened: Return the stock market to it's 2008 high; Reduce the average price of a gallon of milk to $3.50; Create at least one net job in the U.S. this calendar year; Return the median home price to its Jan. 1, 2008 level; Bring Osama Bin-Laden to justice; or, and this one that actually happened, bring the average gasoline prices in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul) to $2.79 a gallon.

As Jeremy White, president and CEO of CodeWeavers, explains, "I was filling my tank at Big Steve's Gas Palace in St. Paul, I had just finished my morning corn dog and 64-ounce Dr. Pepper when I looked at the pump and noticed gas was at $2.79. I screamed 'Woohoo,' then I yelled 'Oh, crap!' as I realized every American can now have my software for free. Kind of upsets my fourth quarter revenue projections..."

White admits this is not how he foresaw the Challenge unfolding. "I launched the campaign to inspire President Bush to make the most of his final days in office. Who knew that our Challenge would have this kind of impact on the country?" White said. "On the other hand, who knew that the economy would implode, causing oil demand to drop into the abyss and gas prices to plummet as well. Clearly, investigating Bear Stearns, AIG and those guys is misplaced -- CodeWeavers is responsible for this mess. So it's free software for all!"

Somehow, I don't think it really worked quite that way, but hey, free software is free software. To get a copy of CrossOver Mac Pro, Crossover Linux Pro, CrossOver Mac Games or CrossOver Linux Games, visit the company's Web site and download the software. You will, eventually, get a deal code that fully enables the software and gets you six-months of support as well.

I say 'eventually,' because right now the site is swamped. White says though that the company will send the registration code to users by e-mail over the next few days.

What you're getting for this is a program that makes the open-source project Wine an implementation of the Windows API (application program interface) on top of the Unix/Linux operating system family easy to use. Wine has more than 15 years of development behind it. In addition, CrossOver supports ActiveX, a Microsoft COM (component object mode) that's used on such Web pages and DirectX, a Microsoft multimedia API that's usually used in games.

What Wine isn't however, is easy to implement on your own. That's where CrossOver comes in. CrossOver makes it simple to install both the Wine framework and Windows programs on both Linux and Mac OS X.

Once installed, you can run many popular Windows applications and games. This isn't just what CrossOver claims, I've used CrossOver Linux for years and it works extremely well. In my own case, I often use Windows applications running on Linux thanks to CrossOver to work on Word 2003 documents, Excel 2003 spreadsheets, Internet Explorer 6-specific Web pages, and fairly complicated Quicken 2006 financial statements.

I also use it to play WoW (World of Warcraft) and, my own favorite game, Guild Wars. I'm a fairly serious player vs. player Guild Wars player and I can assure you that if Guild Wars, a 3D MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) didn't work well on Linux, I'd be running it on Windows.

How much do I like CrossOver? I pay my own money for it. How was I to know that gas would drop below $3 a gallon!?

CrossOver doesn't run everything, and it does have some quirks. That said, it does run most of the important Windows applications and, hey, today, you get the full version for free so you can try it out for yourself. Go for it! You've nothing to lose, and you might just find yourself able to give up your nasty Windows habit for good.

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Introducing the Windows 7 UI

During the Windows 7 reviewers workshop on Sunday Linda Averett demonstrated the user interface enhancements introduced with Windows 7. Keeping with the trend, Averett described herself as a PC, wearing a red top matching her fall colored desktop with orange and red aero glass tones. The session was an overview of some new features demonstrated on Windows 7 build 6933.winmain.081020-1842. Unfortunately the build that will be handed out to PDC attendees will not feature most of the enhancements I am about to detail.

First up was the new Windows 7 desktop. The new desktop includes a thicker taskbar, improved system tray and no sidebar. The orb on the start menu also glistens after hover over.

Although the look is similar to Vista, the main changes would be demonstrated next, hovering Window display and Jump lists. Averett described the jump lists as a "very addictive feature".

Jump lists are accessible by right clicking on instances in the taskbar and they give you a list of recent documents using the recent documents API. Jump lists are also available on the start menu.

I got the chance to play around with a more recent build of Windows 7 and recorded the following demo of jump lists and the Window preview:

The new hover over window previews:

Averett went on to demo the new Windows Media player controls from the taskbar. You can skip, play tracks and fully control the WMP experience from the new taskbar control.

Snap to side is the next major UI enhancement meaning if you have 2 windows open you can tile them easily by snapping them to the side. This also works by dragging the window up to the top of the monitor and snapping it to the top (maximising it). Interestingly in the demonstrations we saw when windows were maximised the glass effect was still visible. You can also see some of the latest Windows 7 touch advancements where jump lists are 25% larger than when used with the mouse and flick gestures are evident. When Sinofsky was asked if this violated Apple's patents he said he could not discuss any legal issues.

Another great new feature named in the Windows 7 build as "preview desktop" but described as "peek into desktop", allows you to see through windows and straight onto the desktop. Interestingly Microsoft have decided to remove the Windows Sidebar and simply drop the gadgets onto the desktop.

Averett went on to describe data Microsoft had gathered regarding customising Windows. 30% of people customise their glass colour. Customers and OEMs both care a lot about customisation. Windows 7 boosts what you can do with the glass colour. You can now create theme sets and save them to share with friends and family.

The system tray has also been re-designed allowing users to hide system tray icons if they wish:

Libraries are now included in Windows 7 to help you better manage documents. Libraries is a collection of content like photos, pictures and music. Libraries allow you to add storage and keep the pictures stored locally across lots of drives but have links to the library.

Federated search allows you to search across multiple PCs to pull photos from another photo library on another PC. The new search pane gives you a great preview of documents too within explorer.

HomeGroup is the feature that allows federated search to search across multiple PC libraries. A HomeGroup allows you to easily link Windows 7 computers on your home network so that you can share pictures, music, videos, documents and devices. It also makes them ready to stream media to devices on your home network such as a media extender. You can help protect your HomeGroup with a password, and you can choose what you want to share.
Another demonstration focussed on the new "PlayTo" option that will stream your music from other PCs and other music libraries (including iTunes) to your media receivers or other PCs. Windows Media Player now plays AAC songs that iTunes uses but as Apple does not license FairPlay content Microsoft is unable to provide this functionality. PlayTo also works on pictures and videos.

Device stage was demonstrated next. This is a part of explorer which will demonstrate what a device is and what it can do. It's an opportunity for the device vendor to fully showcase the device and present a photo realistic image of the device. It has a task area at the bottom section where the vendor can provide links to inbuilt applications and device information. Microsoft believes this will transform opportunities for vendors. The entire device stage is an implementation of software + services and devices built inside an XML document.

A new feature in Windows 7 that was not fully demonstrated was the magnifier tool pictured below. This allows users to zoom into specific parts of the desktop.

My first impression of Windows 7 is that it's a great improvement on Vista. It has improved performance, a neat boot screen that fires up devices quicker than before and the improved taskbar and windows management features will help when switching between various applications. Throughtout the rest of PDC Microsoft will be unveiling more information about the Windows 7 desktop improvements. We'll be there so keep an eye out on our PDC section.
For more images and screenshots check out our Windows 7 gallery. Our friends at ActiveWin and Paul Thurrott have some great reviews too so check them out.
View: Windows 7 Screenshot Gallery


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Azure Services Platform

The Azure™ Services Platform (Azure) is an internet-scale cloud services platform hosted in Microsoft data centers, which provides an operating system and a set of developer services that can be used individually or together. Azure’s flexible and interoperable platform can be used to build new applications to run from the cloud or enhance existing applications with cloud-based capabilities. Its open architecture gives developers the choice to build web applications, applications running on connected devices, PCs, servers, or hybrid solutions offering the best of online and on-premises.

Azure reduces the need for up-front technology purchases, and it enables developers to quickly and easily create applications running in the cloud by using their existing skills with the Microsoft Visual Studio development environment and the Microsoft .NET Framework. In addition to managed code languages supported by .NET, Azure will support more programming languages and development environments in the near future. Azure simplifies maintaining and operating applications by providing on-demand compute and storage to host, scale, and manage web and connected applications. Infrastructure management is automated with a platform that is designed for high availability and dynamic scaling to match usage needs with the option of a pay-as-you-go pricing model. Azure provides an open, standards-based and interoperable environment with support for multiple internet protocols, including HTTP, REST, SOAP, and XML.

Microsoft also offers cloud applications ready for consumption by customers such as Windows Live™, Microsoft Dynamics™, and other Microsoft Online Services for business such as Microsoft Exchange Online and SharePoint® Online. The Azure Services Platform lets developers provide their own unique customer offerings by offering the foundational components of compute, storage, and building block services to author and compose applications in the cloud.

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Graphics market on fire; AMD gains

The economy may be under water, but the graphics chip market is on fire.

The market for graphics processing units (GPUs) saw the biggest increase in third-quarter shipments in six years, according to Jon Peddie Research (JPR), as AMD gained in both the desktop and laptop segments.

Laptop graphics chip shipments soared by almost 40 percent quarter-to-quarter, as AMD gained.

Laptop graphics chip shipments soared by almost 40 percent quarter-to-quarter, as AMD gained

(Credit: Jon Peddie Research)

In the third quarter of 2008, more than 111 million GPUs were shipped, the market researcher said. During the same quarter last year, 91 million GPUs shipped, and 94 million units shipped in the previous quarter. That's an annual increase of 22.5 percent and a quarter-to-quarter increase of almost 18 percent, according to JPR.

In the overall market, Intel jumped from 33.4 percent in the third quarter of 2007 to 49.4 percent in the third quarter of this year, according to JPR. AMD saw year-to-year growth of 22.8 percent, while Nvidia lost 6.4 percent year-to-year.

For desktop GPUs, Intel increased its first place position to a 43.9 percent share, while Nvidia's position slipped to 32.6 percent, and AMD climbed to 20.3 percent, JPR said. Desktop GPUs saw an increase of 4.7 percent this quarter to 61.9 million units.

On the laptop front, Intel GPU shipments dropped one point to 56.2 percent, while Nvidia GPU shipments declined to 21.8 percent, and AMD jumped to 20.9 percent. Laptop graphics chips soared almost by 40 percent quarter-to-quarter to 49.4 million units, to claim 44.4 percent of the market, JPR reported.

Though the third quarter is typically up as PC makers place orders for chips for the holiday season, "this quarter was up more than any other for some time, and in spite of suggestions of a recession that started last Q4," said Jon Peddie, president of the Tiburon, Calif.-based firm.

Peddie cautions, however, that the doom-and-gloom scenarios may be having their effect on business and consumer spending plans and the fourth quarter could be flat (compared with the third quarter) this year.

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Microsoft: Pirates prefer Windows XP over Vista

Software counterfeiters pass on Windows Vista and instead prefer to pirate Windows XP, a Microsoft Corp. attorney said today, outlining a practice that tracks with the leanings of many of the company's customers.

While explaining the "Global Anti-Piracy Day" educational and enforcement effort Microsoft launched today, Bonnie MacNaughton, a senior attorney with the company, acknowledged that pirates prefer Windows XP over Vista.

"Historically, counterfeiters tend to focus on the 'n-1' version of software," MacNaughton said. "Because of the more robust antipiracy and security features in Vista, most sophisticated piracy rings still continue to focus on XP. But that's changing over time."

That pirates have stuck with XP -- which retains the bulk of the Windows operating system's market share -- is "very consistent with what we've seen in counterfeiting in the past," said MacNaughton. "There's usually a lag of between one and two years [before they can] figure out how to replicate those antipiracy and security features."

Counterfeiters currently copy Office 2003 rather than the newer Office 2007 for the same reasons, she said.

MacNaughton also touted the day's announcements of new initiatives and lawsuit filings scheduled to take place in 49 countries, ranging from Argentina to the U.S. "As counterfeiters have gotten more sophisticated, we have realized that this is not a situation that we can address alone," she said. "And we want to stress [today] the collaboration with Microsoft's partners and customers, and governments."

In the U.S., Microsoft filed 20 new lawsuits in federal court against software resellers that, according to the company's allegations, either sold pirated copies of Microsoft Windows XP Professional and Office or installed the counterfeit software on new PCs. Nine of the lawsuits were filed in California; two each were filed in Ohio, Oregon and Texas; and others were filed in Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, Minnesota and New York.

MacNaughton also said that Microsoft is planning on another antipiracy educational effort early next year to make sure that customers know Windows XP's lifespan is coming to an end. "We're expecting that counterfeiters will attempt to fill the void at XP's end of sales," she said.

Microsoft will halt Windows XP Professional sales to small mom-and-pop computer sellers after Jan. 31, 2009. Larger computer manufacturers, such as Dell Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co., however, will be able to obtain XP media for "downgrades" from Vista Business and Vista Ultimate licenses through the end of July 2009. Microsoft only recently said that it would extend shipments of XP to OEMs; previously, it had said it would stop the practice in January.


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Researchers hack wired keyboards, hijack keystrokes

A team of Swiss researchers say there are several ways to recover keystrokes from wired keyboards by simply measuring the electromagnetic radiations emitted when keys are pressed.

In all, the team of researchers from the Security and Cryptography Laboratory in Lausanne, Switzerland, found four different ways to fully or partially recover keystrokes from wired keyboards at a distance up to 20 meters, even through walls.

A research paper on the discovery will be published after a peer-review process. Team members Martin Vuagnoux and Sylvain Pasini explain the findings:

To determine if wired keyboards generate compromising emanations, we measured the electromagnetic radiations emitted when keys are pressed. To analyze compromising radiations, we generally use a receiver tuned on a specific frequency. However, this method may not be optimal: the signal does not contain the maximal entropy since a significant amount of information is lost.

Our approach was to acquire the signal directly from the antenna and to work on the whole captured electromagnetic spectrum.

We found 4 different ways (including the Kuhn attack .pdf) to fully or partially recover keystrokes from wired keyboards at a distance up to 20 meters, even through walls. We tested 11 different wired keyboard models bought between 2001 and 2008 (PS/2, USB and laptop). They are all vulnerable to at least one of our 4 attacks.

We conclude that wired computer keyboards sold in the stores generate compromising emanations (mainly because of the cost pressures in the design). Hence they are not safe to transmit sensitive information. No doubt that our attacks can be significantly improved, since we used relatively inexpensive equipments.

The team released two online videos (here and here) demonstrating the research findings.


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Windows 7 Needs to Be Windows 6.1

At the start of this week Microsoft revealed that for the next iteration of the Windows client, the codename, product number and official label would be one and the same: Windows 7.

At the same time, Mike Nash, corporate vice president, Windows Product Management, indicated that the Windows 7 moniker would have no impact over the actual version of the Windows code. In this context, Windows 7 turns out not to be Windows 7 at all, but actually Windows 6.1, the successor of Windows Vista which is v6.0. Steven Sinofsky, senior vice president, Windows and Windows Live Engineering Group, explained that Microsoft meant for Windows 7 to be Windows 6.1.

"As we started Windows 7 we chose to keep the major version number at 6 so as to maximize compatibility for third party developers. This is really about our commitment to compatibility. And as you have seen with past releases, the major/minor nomenclature for the qualitative aspects of the release don’t necessarily line up with the numeric designations. What you’re seeing with Windows 7 is just a deliberate focus on compatibility over version number vanity (just as you saw with the “major” release of Windows XP)," Sinofsky stated.

The head of the Windows 7 project explained that Windows 7 needed to be Windows 6.1 because of all the software solutions, with an emphasis on setup programs, were tailored to a specific Windows version. In this context, an application or a driver that is hard coded for Windows Vista will fail miserably to install or run under Windows 7, if the operating system features version 7 for its code. Not the same is valid for Windows 6.1. Essentially, all software packages that support Windows Vista will automatically support Windows 7 (Windows 6.1).

"Many folks have done the math to explain why we chose the name Windows 7 – this is because Vista is version "6" of the Windows product line (Windows 1, 2, 3 on 16 bits, Windows 95 was version 4, then Windows 2000 was 5, XP was 5.1, Vista was 6). So we chose "7". (This doesn’t count 98, 98 SE, Me, and of course NT 3.1/3.51 but they all fit in)," Sinofsky added.


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Download Microsoft ASP.NET MVC Beta

The ASP.NET MVC Beta release provides a new Model-View-Controller (MVC) framework on top of the existing ASP.NET 3.5 runtime. This means that developers can take advantage of the MVC design patterns to create their Web Applications which includes the ability to achieve and maintain a clear separation of concerns (the UI or view from the business and application logic and backend data), as well as facilitate test driven development (TDD).

The ASP.NET MVC framework defines a specific pattern to the Web Application folder structure and provides a controller base-class to handle and process requests for “actions”. Developers can take advantage of the specific Visual Studio 2008 MVC templates within this release to create their Web applications, which includes the ability to select a specific Unit Test structure to accompany their Web Application development.

The MVC framework is fully extensible at all points, allowing developers to create sophisticated structures that meet their needs, including for example Dependency Injection (DI) techniques, new view rendering engines or specialized controllers.

As the ASP.NET MVC framework is built on ASP.NET 3.5, developers can take advantage of many existing ASP.NET 3.5 features, such as localization, authorization, Profile etc.

Download Microsoft ASP.NET MVC Beta

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Windows 7 Search Performance – Superior to Vista SP1 and XP SP3

Get ready for the Windows 7 indexer on steroids, as Microsoft will deliver the first taste of the operating system to the world at the end of this month.

With Windows 7 the promise is that the next iteration of the Windows client will be superior to its precursor in every aspect. This is also valid for the performance delivered by Windows Search or the indexer. Chris McConnell, a principal SDE on the Find and Organize team, revealed that Microsoft had optimized the Windows 7 indexer in order to offer boosted performance and reliability compared to Windows Vista, which offers the same in comparison to Windows XP.

In Vista "the indexer runs as a system service vs. as a per user process," McConnell explained. "This minimizes impact on multi-user scenarios e.g. only one catalog per system results in reduction in catalog size and prevents re-indexing of the same content over and over. Additional benefit is gained from the robust nature of services. The indexer employs low priority I/O to minimize impact of indexing on responsiveness of PC. Before Windows Vista, all I/O was treated equally."

Microsoft has already made available for download Windows Search 4.0, the successor of version 3.0, which shipped as a default component of Vista. Available for Vista SP1 and XP SP3, Windows Search 4.0 delivers a sneak peek at what the Redmond company has in store for Windows 7. McConnell indicated that participants at the professional Developers Conference 2008 and the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference 2008 would be able to test drive the new Windows Search of Windows 7 on the pre-beta builds that would be offered at the events.

"Windows Search version 4 as an enhancement to either Windows XP or Vista which goes further in terms of performance and stability improvements, such as: significant improvements across the board for queries which involve sorting, filtering or grouping. [Including:] getting all results while sorting or grouping has been improved - typical query improvements are up to 38% faster; CPU time has been reduced by 80%; memory usage has been reduced by 20%; load on Exchange servers is reduced over 95% when Outlook is running in online mode. With previous versions of Windows Search, large numbers of Outlook clients running in online mode could easily overwhelm the Exchange server," McConnell added.

Microsoft has also tweaked Windows Search 4.0 in order to integrate feedback from users who reported scenarios in which the indexer would simply go dead. At the same time, the new indexer is now more aware of catalog corruptions and capable of recovering and rebuilding erroneous items.

Windows Search 4.0 is available for download here.


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Windows Half-open limit fix (patch)

Program Half-open limit fix intend for changing maximum number of concurrent half-open outbound TCP connections (connection attempts) in system file tcpip.sys.

This limit is entered by company Microsoft trying to make slower virus spreading from infect computer and cut down opportunities of participation of a computer in DoS attacks.

First this limit was entered in SP2 for Windows XP and present at all new versions of Windows. Limit consists that the computer is not authorized to have more than 10 concurrent half-open outbound connections. At achievement of a limit new attempts of connections are put in turn.

Thus, speed of connection to other computers is actually limited.

This limit is especially critical for P2P programs (µTorrent, BitComet, eMule, P2P TV etc.) users. When the P2P program works, pages in a browser can be loaded extremely slowly. The delay before the beginning of opening can make some tens seconds irrespective of speed of your connection.

Half-open limit fix cleans this limit, that is increases the maximal limit of half-open connections. For the overwhelming majority of users there will be sufficient the limit equal 100.

You can get Windows Half-open limit fix (patch) from here.

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Microsoft’s Next OS To Be Called “Windows 7″. Seriously.

Microsoft has announced that the latest version of Windows, due in the next couple of years, will be called - drumroll please - Windows 7. It’s about time Microsoft adopted a naming system that might actually make some sense to users, but I can’t wait for hordes of customers to start asking if they somehow missed Windows 1 through 6.

Windows has had one of the most ridiculous naming schemes in the history of software. First there were logical (but ugly) version numbers, like the once commonplace “Windows 3.1″. Then with the release of the overhauled Windows 95 the company adopted a naming system based on the year of release, which it continued until Windows 98.

Windows Me (perhaps the worst operating system I’ve ever used), sacrificed the scheme for a chance to be clever (it stood for “me” and the millennium at the same time!) Next up we hit Windows XP, which has served most of us reasonably well since 2001. It sounds sort of cool, it’s catchy, and we have no idea what it means. Fine.

Finally we had Windows Vista, which seemed to stick with the naming convention of “something that sounds sort of cool but didn’t really mean anything”. It had been more than five years since the release of XP, so there was little chance of confusion.

Microsoft is now in a hurry to push out its next operating system after the generally dismal response to Vista. And so we’ve come to Windows 7, which is apparently tied to the build numbers and not the actual releases. The new naming scheme lends itself well to faster, more incremental releases similar to what we’ve seen from Apple (about once every 18 months), but it’s probably going to confuse everyone and couldn’t be more bland.

You can read more at the company’s blog post here.

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Yahoo! Web Analytics is born!

From the acquisition of IndexTools, Yahoo! Web Analytics is born!

Yahoo! Web Analytics is an enterprise site analytics tool that provides real-time insight into visitor behavior on your website. With powerful and flexible tools and dashboards, Yahoo! Web Analytics helps online marketers and website designers enhance the visitor experience, increase sales and reduce marketing costs.

Yahoo! Web Analytics is a powerful, enterprise-class analytics solution that can serve the most complex and high traffic websites, by adding a simple tracking code to your web pages. Included are a host of standard reports and capabilities for creating custom-designed reports; each report is a departure point that lets you drill down for details, to look at trends, visitor paths, and individual visits and transactions.

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Forget Windows 7 pre-Beta, Windows Strata Is Coming

At the start of October 2008, during a presentation at CIGREF – Club Informatique des Grandes Entreprises Françaises in Paris – Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer stressed the need for a new operating system beyond the Windows server and client platforms.

Following the retirement of Bill Gates, with Ray Ozzie as chief software officer, Microsoft has adopted a new Software plus Services business strategy designed to bridge the desktop and the cloud. Windows Cloud is an integral part of this strategy, namely a new Windows operating system built for the Internet. Details published inadvertently on the Professional Developers Conference 2008 website indicate that Microsoft is readying to detail a product previously unmentioned, labeled Windows Strata.

We said inadvertently because the information unveiled by GeeksWithBlogs has been removed completely from the session area of the PDC2008 website since October 8. At the same time, Microsoft is not offering any details related to the new product name, and in this context there is no official confirmation that Windows Strata is actually the Windows Cloud that Ballmer mentioned. However, in less than a month, Microsoft is bound to unveil the first Beta for Windows Cloud as Ballmer promised, along with the pre-Beta bits for Windows 7.

At PDC2008, Microsoft will deliver, in two parts, the session "A Lap Around Cloud Services" with the following synopsis: "Hear about key problems that cloud computing is solving and how these services fit into the Microsoft cloud computing initiatives. Learn about the pillars of the platform, its service lifecycle, and see how they fit with both Microsoft and non-Microsoft technologies. Also, hear about the services roadmap over the next few years. [And] Learn about the cloud services that enable developers to easily create or extend their applications and services. From consumer-targeted applications and social networking web sites to enterprise class applications and services, these services make it easy for you to give your applications and services the most compelling experiences and features."

Of course that there are additional mentions of the Microsoft Cloud platform, but none referencing Windows Cloud or Windows Strata directly. In addition to promising a Beta for Windows Cloud, Ballmer also revealed that Microsoft would have a trademark label for the platform by PDC2008.


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World first for sending data using quantum cryptography

For the first time the transmission of data secured by quantum cryptography is demonstrated within a commercial telecommunications network. 41 partners from 12 European countries, including academics from the University of Bristol, have worked on realising this quantum cryptographic network since April 2004.

Today [Wednesday 8 October] the first commercial communication network using unbreakable encryption based on quantum cryptography is demonstrated in Vienna, Austria. In particular the encryption utilises keys that are generated and distributed by means of quantum cryptographic technologies. Potential users of this network, such as government agencies, financial institutions or companies with distributed subsidiaries, can encrypt their confidential communication with the highest level of security using the quantum cryptographically generated keys.

The network consists of six nodes and eight intermediary links with distances between 6km and 82km (seven links utilising commercial standard telecommunication optical fibres and one “free-space”-link along a line of sight between two telescopes). The links employ altogether six different quantum cryptographic technologies for key generation which are integrated into the network over standardised interfaces.

The network is installed in a standard optical fibre communication ring provided by SECOQC partners, Siemens AG Österreich in Vienna. Five subsidiaries of Siemens are connected to the network. The operation of the quantum cryptographic network will be visualised on a screen at the Siemens Forum in Vienna and streamed live over the Internet. The network-wide key generation and distribution will be demonstrated, the different functionalities of the network itself will be presented as well as utilisation of the keys for standard communication applications. A voice-over-iptelephone-application will be secured by the information-theoretically secure "one-time-pad-encryption“ while videoconferencing will be protected by symmetrical AES-encryption with frequent key changes. A low-cost key distributor, with the potential of extending the quantum cryptographic network to the consumer, will also be shown.

Academics at Bristol University led by John Rarity, Professor of Optical Communication Systems in the Department of Electrical & Electronic Engineering, working on the project have developed a low cost free-space quantum cryptography system, complete with purpose-built software that can operate in daylight conditions.

The system is designed to eventually work in applications where a consumer can regularly ‘top up’ a store of secrets for use in a variety of one-time-pad (OTP) and authentication protocols. This system could allow online consumer transactions to be PIN protected for instance. The user would use secret bits shared with the bank to encode his PIN.

In the framework of the project intensive development of existing and novel quantum cryptographic technologies has allowed the production of high performance, stable and mobile quantum cryptographic devices packed into standard 19-inch boxes. Theses devices interoperate seamlessly over standardized interfaces. The technical descriptions of the different quantum cryptographic technologies used in the network can be found on the projects website at:

Advantages of Quantum Cryptography
Confidential communication needs encryption in order to ensure that no unauthorised party could misuse the content. Quantum cryptography provides long-term security and thus conforms to the requirements of a number of recent legal regulations for protecting information. Quantum cryptographic technologies provide information-theoretically secure keys for encryption.

The basic approach includes sending streams of specially prepared particles of light (photons), their measurement by the legitimate parties and the subsequent post-processing of the measurement data. The output is the cryptographic key consisting of identical random bit strings.

A potential eavesdropper cannot gain any information on this key irrespectively of his resources. This property which has no classical counterpart is due to the fundamental laws of quantum physics which ensure that any measurement leaves indelible traces behind. These traces manifest themselves in an error-rate that can be identified by the legitimate users.

There exists a quantitative relationship between the error-rate and rate of key generation: In case the error is below a certain upper bound, and therefore the eavesdroppers invention was sufficiently weak, the process of generating the cryptographic key is still possible with the same security standard but at a accordingly reduced rate. The latter gets equal to zero if the error-rate exceeds the bound.

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Touchscreen Eee PCs are on the way

The real problem with netbooks is that they are improving so rapidly in terms of speed and features on offer that it is never a good time to buy one, because next month there will be something notably better on the shelf for the same price.

The Asus Eee PC is a perfect case in point. Not only does Asus release the S101 this month – quite possibly the most beautiful bit of kit TechRadar has seen all year – the latest internet Eee rumours are that the company plans to release a touchscreen Eee PC in 2009.

"There is no official announcement on this right now," our Asus rep told us today, though we expect to hear something straight from the horse's mouth pretty soon.

Digital Etch-A-Sketch

BoingBoing sums it all up rather nicely, noting that "a cheap netbook tablet could be marketed as an affordable, digital Etch-A-Sketch, useful not just for idle MS Painting, but also email and web browsing."

Dual core Atoms are also coming soon, apparently.

Damn it! Why did we go and buy the Eee PC 901 last month!

By Adam Hartley

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Mozilla Geode 1.5

Always know where you are.

You’ve arrived in a new city, a new continent, a new coffee shop. You don’t really know where you are, and are looking for a good place to eat.


You pull out your laptop, fire up Firefox, and go to your favorite review site. It automatically deduces your location, and serves up some delicious suggestions a couple blocks away and plots directions there.

In order for this to be a possibility, your browser needs to know where you are.

To do this, future versions of Firefox plan on supporting the new W3C Geolocation Specification, which adds the native ability for Web sites to request, and you to optionally grant access to, your location.  We’re still working out the specifics, but we’re hoping that location will be provided by one or more user selectable service providers and methods, e.g. GPS-based, WiFi-based, manual entry, etc. You’ll be able to play with this in the upcoming beta releases of Firefox 3.1, as well as alpha releases of Fennec.

We realized, though, that some of our Firefox 3 users might also want to get a head start playing with gelocation Today.

Introducing Geode, an experimental add-on to explore geolocation in Firefox 3 ahead of the implementation of geolocation in a future product release. Geode provides an early implementation of the W3C Geolocation specification so that developers can begin experimenting with enabling location-aware experiences using Firefox 3 today, and users can tell us what they think of the experience it provides. It includes a single experimental geolocation service provider so that any computer with WiFi can get accurate positioning data.

The potential here is for more than just resturant lookups. For example, imagine an RSS reader that knows the difference between home and work and automatically changes it’s behavior appropriately. Or a news site whose local section is, in fact, actually local. Or Web site authentication that only allows you to login from certain physical locations, like your house.

What else will location make possible? Even if you can’t code, you can share your thoughts by commenting on this post or via the Concept Series, a forum for surfacing, sharing, and collaborating on new ideas and concepts.

How It Works & Privacy Implications

With Geode when a web site requests your location a notification bar will ask how much information you want to give that site: your exact location, your neighborhood, your city, or nothing at all.

We’re using Skyhook’s Loki technology to map the Wifi signals in your area to your location. Unlike normal GPS-based methods which can take upwards of 45 seconds for a lock, Geode works both inside and outside with an accuracy of between 10 to 20 meters, normally within a second.

Please note that in this early implementation, both location and IP information is sent to the current provider, Skyhook, everytime a website is granted access to your location. Skyhook’s privacy policy is that they do not store or use any personal identifying information, and they promise to only keep data in anonymized agregate. The ultimate plan for Firefox is that service providers and geolocation methods will be pluggable and user selectable — to provide users with as many choices and privacy options as possible.

As an experiment, Geode is also the beginning of a conversation about location-based privacy and integrating services that share personal data into Web browsers.

Download & Try It Out

You can download Geode here.

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Intel: Core i7 to Be Up to 52% Faster Compared to Core 2 Quad.

Intel Corp. expects its forthcoming Intel Core i7 processors to be much more powerful compared to existing central processing units, according to documents reportedly seen by the media.

If the information turns to be precise enough, then Intel has all chances to keep processor performance crown even after smaller rival Advanced Micro Devices launches its new chips.

Documents from Intel Corp. allegedly seen by Expreview web-site reportedly mention that Intel Core i7 processor delivers 52% speed improvement in 3D games, 41% higher performance in media encoding and editing applications as well as 38% greater 3D rendering speed when compared to Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9770.

Intel Core i7 965 is a premium class Nehalem-micro-architecture microprocessor for desktops that operates at 3.20GHz. The Core 2 Extreme QX9770 is Intel’s top-of-the-range CPU at the moment at that also works at 3.20GHz. If the information regarding performance improvements is correct, then it means that the new micro-architecture in its first implementation provides roughly 52% more performance at the same clock-speed compared to currently used Core 2 micro-architecture.

Advanced Micro Devices recently said that its forthcoming quad-core processors powered by improved K10 micro-architecture will be roughly 35% more powerful than its existing chips at the same clock-speed.

Intel did not comment on the news-story.

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Google Street View, auto-correction prefs in iPhone OS 2.2 beta

A list of enhancements that may arrive in the next version of the iPhone operating system continues to grow with the unearthing of Google Street View support and an auto-correction toggle hidden in the most recent beta of the software.

Last week AppleInsider reported that the first private beta of iPhone Software 2.2 included a redesigned Safari address bar, as well as a new version of the App Store application with interface tweaks and a new bug report feature.

While those changes are visible to developers testing the software, a post at MacRumors details support for a few other features that have thus far remain inaccessible to developers, as they're not yet fully activated in the betas.

Among them is a preference to turn off the iPhone's text auto-correction. A request for this functionality was recently the subject of an online petition that has since received over 20,000 signatures.

Another feature is support for Google Street View in the iPhone's Maps application. Street View provides 360 degree panoramic views of major cities and their surrounding metropolitan areas using still photographs that have been stitched together. Google and T-Mobile recently highlighted support for Street Views on the G1 -- the first Android-based handset due to go on sale later this month.

Separately, and most critically, iPhone Software 2.2 appears to contain the groundwork for emoji icon support. Emoji is a form of Japanese clip art that can be inserted in sentences to spruce up email messages. A lack of emoji support was recently cited by the Wall Street Journal as one of the barriers to adoption faced by the iPhone in Japan.

Apple has offered no indication of when it plans to release iPhone Software version 2.2 and it's unclear whether the aforementioned features will be included in the release or held back for a future update.

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Creating an ASP.NET Newsletter Application

In this tutorial, we will learn how to create an ASP.NET newsletter application which will allow us to send emails to subscribers of our newsletter. First, we will display a subscription form to the user. Upon entering the email address, we will verify it by sending a validation email.

Upon clicking the link in that validation email, the user will be able to validate/confirm his email address and complete the registration process. We will then use a simple online ASP.NET administration interface to create and send newsletters.

Application Preview
Please have a look at images below to get a feel for this application. The details of how everything is developed and constructed from plain ground will be discussed later on.

  • Subscription Form: A form that allows users to enter their email addresses and subscribe to our newsletter.
    Newsletter Subscription Form
  • Subscription Form: If the user attempts to enter an invalid email address or if he tries to submit the form without entering any email address, a red asterisk will be shown next to the input field.
    Newsletter Subscription Form - after entry of an invalid email address
  • Subscription Form: When the user enters a valid email address, his email address will be stored in the database and he will be sent a validation email. He will be prompted to check his email and complete the registration by clicking the link in that email.
    Newsletter Subscription Form - after entery of a valid email address
  • Administration Interface: A simple online administration interface allows the admin to create and send emails to subscribers.
    Newsletter Administration Interface

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Google agrees to brief delay of Yahoo ad deal

WASHINGTON —  Google Inc. agreed to delay the start of a Web advertising partnership with rival Yahoo Inc., giving U.S. antitrust regulators more time to review the deal.

Under a plan announced in June, Google would provide advertising next to some of Yahoo's search results. The companies voluntarily held off for three months to give regulators time to assess whether the alliance will hurt competition.

Microsoft Corp., the No. 3 player in Web search, and a large group of advertisers, have protested the deal because together, Google and Yahoo control more than 80 percent of the rapidly growing U.S. market for search advertising.

Two weeks ago, Google CEO Eric Schmidt told The Associated Press he would not wait much beyond the intended Oct. 11 start date.

But in a statement Friday, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company said that since it was still in talks with the Department of Justice, it has agreed to "a brief delay" in implementing the agreement while the discussions continue.

The deal with Google represented a much-needed escape hatch for Yahoo, under pressure from shareholders to prove it could recover from lackluster financial performances after spurning a rich takeover offer from Microsoft.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Engineering Windows 7 : User Interface: Managing Windows windows

We’ve booted the machine, displayed stuff on the screen, launched programs, so next up we’re going to look at a pretty complex topic that sort of gets to the core role of the graphical user interface—managing windows. 

Dave Matthews is program manager on the core user experience team who will provide some of the data and insights that are going into engineering Windows 7.  --Steven

The namesake of the Windows product line is the simple “window” – the UI concept that keeps related pieces information and controls organized on screen.  We’ll use this post to share some of the background thinking and “pm philosophy” behind planning an update to this well established UI feature.

The basic idea of using windows to organize UI isn’t new – it dates back (so I hear) to the first experiments with graphical user interfaces at Stanford over 40 years ago.  It’s still used after all this time because it’s a useful way to present content, and people like having control over how their screen space is used.  The “moveable windows” feature isn’t absolutely needed in an operating system – most cell phones and media center type devices just show one page of UI at a time – but it’s useful when multi-tasking or working with more than one app at a time.  Windows 2.0 was the first Windows release that allowed moveable overlapping windows (in Window 1.0 they were only able to be tiled, not overlapping.  This “tiled v. overlapping” debate had famous proponents on each side—on one side was Bill Gates and on the other side was Charles Simonyi).  In addition, Windows also has the unique notion of "the multiple document interface” or MDI, which allows one frame window to itself organized multiple windows within it.  This is somewhat of a precursor to the tabbed interfaces prevalent in web browsers. 

As a side note, one of the earlier debates that accompanied the “tiled v. overlapping” conversations in the early Windows project was over having one menu bar at the top of the screen or a copy of the menu bar for each window (or document or application).  Early on this was a big debate because there was such limited screen resolution (VGA, 640x480) that the redundancy of the menu bar was a real-estate problem.  In today’s large scale monitors this redundancy is more of an asset as getting to the UI elements with a mouse or just visually identifying elements requires much less movement.  Go figure!

Screenshot of Windows 2.0 Screenshot of Windows Vista
From Windows 2.0 to Vista.

An area I’ve been focusing on is in the “window management” part of the system – specifically the features involved in moving and arranging windows on screen (these are different than the window switching controls like the taskbar and alt-tab, but closely related).  In general, people expect windows to be moveable, resizable, maximizable, minimizable, closeable; and expect them to be freely arranged and overlapping, with the currently used window sitting on top.  These transformations and the supporting tools (caption buttons, resize bars, etc) make up the basic capabilities that let people arrange and organize their workspace to their liking. 

In order to improve on a feature area like this we look closely at the current system - what have we got, and what works?  This means looking at the way it’s being used in the marketplace by ISVs, and the way it’s used and understood by customers.

Standard caption buttons or upper right corner of a window in Vista.

Caption buttons give a simple way to minimize, maximize, and close.  Resizable windows can be adjusted from any of their 4 edges.

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Nokia: 5800 XpressMusic first of many touchphones

Nokia xpressmusic Touchphone At the launch of the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, we got the chance to chat strategy with Nokia's director of the Xpress products group, Sven Jagebro, who said the new handset is the first of many touch phones from the Finns.

"Tonight is the release of the S60 touch platform as well this evening," said Jegebro. "We will have multiple handsets, for different consumer types.

"In Nokia we have the different series of handsets, which are aimed at different users. For instance, those for the style oriented, the N-Series with is a bigger experience, and 6000 series, which is more easy to use.


"I believe we'll see exploration in more segments, with devices targeted at these different segments."

Jagebro also said that Nokia was in discussions with a number of UK operators to bring the handset to the UK, though these will be made later in the quarter in conjunction with the new carriers.

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GIMP 2.6.0 Released

GIMP is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed program for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring.

It has many capabilities. It can be used as a simple paint program, an expert quality photo retouching program, an online batch processing system, a mass production image renderer, an image format converter, etc.

GIMP is expandable and extensible. It is designed to be augmented with plug-ins and extensions to do just about anything. The advanced scripting interface allows everything from the simplest task to the most complex image manipulation procedures to be easily scripted.

GIMP is written and developed under X11 on UNIX platforms. But basically the same code also runs on MS Windows and Mac OS X.

Minor Changes
  • Added a bounding box for the Text Tool that supports automatic wrapping of text within that bounding box.
  • Move handles for rectangle based tools like Crop and Rectangle Select to the outside of the rectangle when the rectangle is narrow.
  • Added motion constraints to the Move Tool.
  • Improved event smoothing for paint tools.
  • Mark the center of rectangles while they are moved, and snap the center to grid and rulers.
  • Enable brush scaling for the Smudge tool.
  • Added ability to save presets in all color tools for color adjustments you use frequently.
  • Allow to transfer settings from Brightness-Contrast to Levels, and from Levels to Curves.
  • Allow changing opacity on transform tool previews.
  • The Screenshot plug-in has been given the ability to capture the mouse cursor (using Xfixes).
  • Display aspect ratio of the Crop and Rectangle Select Tool rectangles in the status bar.
  • Desaturate has been given an on-canvas preview.
  • The Flame plug-in has been extended with 22 new variations.
  • Data file folders like brush folders are searched recursively for files.
  • Replaced the PSD import plug-in with a rewritten version that does what the old version did plus some other things, for example reading of ICC color profiles.

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Download Process Monitor v2.0

Process Monitor is an advanced monitoring tool for Windows that shows real-time file system, Registry and process/thread activity.

It combines the features of two legacy Sysinternals utilities, Filemon and Regmon, and adds an extensive list of enhancements.

Including rich and non-destructive filtering, comprehensive event properties such session IDs and user names, reliable process information, full thread stacks with integrated symbol support for each operation, simultaneous logging to a file, and much more. Its uniquely powerful features will make Process Monitor a core utility in your system troubleshooting and malware hunting toolkit.

Process Monitor runs on Windows 2000 SP4 with Update Rollup 1, Windows XP SP2, Windows Server 2003 SP1, and Windows Vista as well as x64 versions of Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 SP1 and Windows Vista.

Process Monitor Enhancements over Filemon and Regmon

Process Monitor's user interface and options are similar to those of Filemon and Regmon, but it was written from the ground up and includes numerous significant enhancements, such as:

  • Monitoring of process and thread startup and exit, including exit status codes
  • Monitoring of image (DLL and kernel-mode device driver) loads
  • More data captured for operation input and output parameters
  • Non-destructive filters allow you to set filters without losing data
  • Capture of thread stacks for each operation make it possible in many cases to identify the root cause of an operation
  • Reliable capture of process details, including image path, command line, user and session ID
  • Configurable and moveable columns for any event property
  • Filters can be set for any data field, including fields not configured as columns
  • Advanced logging architecture scales to tens of millions of captured events and gigabytes of log data
  • Process tree tool shows relationship of all processes referenced in a trace
  • Native log format preserves all data for loading in a different Process Monitor instance
  • Process tooltip for easy viewing of process image information
  • Detail tooltip allows convenient access to formatted data that doesn't fit in the column
  • Cancellable search
  • Boot time logging of all operations

The best way to become familiar with Process Monitor's features is to read through the help file and then visit each of its menu items and options on a live system.


Download : Process Monitor V2.0 [1.2 MB]

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