Tag Archives: XP

Apple screws Windows users with iTunes 8 Install – Sneaky upgrade with no disclosure…


Apple are screwing Windows users again. If this was Microsoft the outrage would be far greater! I’m reading lots of complaints about the new iTunes 8 update causing horrific problems on Windows machines, including widespread reports of STOP errors, aka the Blue Screen of Death. My colleague Adrian Kingsley-Hughes has asked readers for reports and Gizmodo has a sketchy post as well. How can this be happening? Assuming that the underlying hardware is working correctly, STOP errors can only be caused by kernel-level drivers or system services. A poorly written program can crash itself but not the entire system. So how can a supposedly simple software update cause a fatal crash?

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Microsoft makes it official – XP is coming to the XO OLPC


Microsoft’s participation in the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative has been fraught with mystery and disinformation from the get-go. But on May 15, Microsoft officials finally gave the OLPC project Redmond’s official blessing.

Up to this point, OLPC Chief Nicholas Negroponte preannounced Microsoft’s every move on the OLPC front (and sometimes not quite correctly). But on May 15, Microsoft and the OLPC announced in tandem that Microsoft is “joining” the OLPC project.

Yet again, exactly what this means is a bit murky. Microsoft has been testing for months now whether it could get XP to run on OLPC XO laptops. Seemingly, according to a new blog entry by James Utzschneider, Manager of Microsoft’s Developing Markets Unit, the tests were successful. But now it sounds like there are going to be more tests. From Utzschneider’s May 15 blog post:

“Today Microsoft and the OLPC are announcing support for Windows on the OLPC XO computer.The two organizations will work together on several pilot programs in emerging market countries starting next month, and the offering will RTM in August or September. Initially it will only be available in emerging market countries where governments or NGOs are subsidizing the purchase of a large number of PCs for students, but there is the possibility of making this available for other customers through a broader set of channels at a later point in time.”

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Will Microsoft kill Linux on ULPCs?


Obviously, Microsoft has a significant interest in making sure that users of the new breed of netbooks and MIDs hitting the market don’t get too comfortable using Linux. Many manufacturers have taken to installing various flavors of Linux on these devices to minimize footprint, improve performance, and reduce costs on low-power, low-margin hardware. Similarly, most modern Linux distributions provide features that are tough to find on Windows XP (especially XP Home); Vista clearly isn’t an option on these little guys.

ULPCs come up a lot in Ed Tech, partly because the OLPC XO, largely credited with creating this market, is an educational tool and also because ULPCs have the potential to make 1:1 computing realistic (or even to simply make any sort of computing realistic in developing markets). The OS of choice for students today will be the OS of choice in business tomorrow; hence, Microsoft’s concern over the use of Linux.

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Surveys show Vista struggling one year on


Almost a year on from the release of Microsoft’s Windows Vista, only 13 percent of companies say they expect to move all desktops to the operating system, according to a survey released this week. Furthermore, adoption of Linux continues to gather pace, with a particular emphasis on the desktop emerging.

A survey of 961 independently selected IT professionals found that 90 percent still have concerns about the migration to Vista, and 48 percent have not yet deployed Vista in any way. Forty-four percent said they are “considering” alternative operating systems — mostly Mac OS X, Red Hat Linux, Suse Linux and Ubuntu.

But analyst Clive Longbottom of Quocirca advised caution when interpreting the figures. “Very few places are looking at Linux as a replacement for Microsoft,” he said.

Longbottom disputes the widely held belief that users will find it easier to upgrade to Linux than to adapt to Vista’s new GUI. “It does take a bit of time to find things on Vista, but most people do the majority of the transfer themselves and require less than an hour’s worth of training,” he said. And, while Linux might be free, there could be a lot of effort involved in transferring things like Word and Excel macros, he warned.

“Microsoft’s big problem is not Linux, but the difficulty of upgrading desktops to Vista,” said Longbottom. “Old hardware has to be checked, so Vista is a new-build, new-install solution,” he said. Many users are waiting to see if Vista Service Pack 1 improves the situation, he said, and are worried about software compatibility. “Microsoft has done a very bad job of getting people to sign up to say their software is compatible with Vista.”

Early results from the Linux Foundation’s annual survey of Linux use indicate that, in those businesses and organisations that have deployed Linux desktops, just under 40 percent are running Linux on more than half of their machines. And, in most of these places, Linux is more common on desktops than servers — apparently contradicting the common belief that Linux is, and will continue to be, mainly a server OS.

Again though, Longbottom sounds a note of caution. Citing hard usage data of operating systems used to access popular websites, he said: “It’s still less than one percent, after 15 years of Linux at the desktop — that’s less than Vista has achieved in one year.”

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The Vista Death Watch


So happy i became a switcher last year!

Microsoft has extended the life of Windows XP because Vista has simply not shown any life in the market. We have to begin to ask ourselves if we are really looking at Windows Me/2007, destined to be a disdained flop. By all estimates the number of Vista installations hovers around the number of Macs in use.

How did this happen? And what’s going to happen next? Does Microsoft have a Plan B? A number of possibilities come to mind, and these things must be considered by the company itself.

So what went wrong with Vista in the first place? Let’s start off with the elephant in the room. The product was overpriced from the outset. Why was it so expensive? What was special about it? All the cool and promised features of the original vision of Longhorn were gutted simply because it was beyond Microsoft’s capability to implement those features.

This failure to deliver what was promised—even after several delays in the product’s release, by the way—did nothing to excite anyone. It made the company look bad. It directly resulted in a no-confidence vote that was manifested in a lackluster reception and low sales. Microsoft should have scrapped the project two years ago and instead patched XP until it could deliver something hot.

To make things worse, there are too many versions. Exactly what is the point of that? Don’t we all just want Vista Ultimate? The other versions seem like a way to maybe save money for some users who cannot afford to get the real thing. You can be certain this version glut results only in complaints about what each variation is missing.

Microsoft’s initial approach to marketing this turkey was obviously going to be to put it on just new machines, which would eventually saturate the market, but the PC manufacturers squawked and demanded the continuation of XP sales. Though there is some chatter about how Linux could use this lull in the Microsoft juggernaut to make some real headway onto the desktop, this is unlikely to happen. But Microsoft, with all its paranoid thinking, might have believed it to be possible. So XP is still with us and will be until deep into next year.

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How about Microsoft investing in OLPC and releasing a low-cost laptop for the masses?


Now here is an interesting question. Since Microsoft is dealing with bad PR, in relation to Vista, what would happen if Microsoft put its full support behind OLPC and installed a version of Windows XP? XP SP2 is pretty much a solid Operating System and it really would not cost much for Microsoft to even load OLPC with an embedded or starter version. Imagine releasing a bunch of low-cost laptops to the world, in addition with the North American market. With the emergence of Eee PC and a host of other low-cost laptops, people are realizing that it really does not cost that much to “get-online”. Lets be honest, these machines are not for running high-end productivity and gaming applications. However, if you simply need to get online, check your email and get a little processing power, then why not. I am not sure if this would really fly in North America, but with the environment becoming such a hot issue, people are starting to realize that we consume too much. With everyone wanting to be portable and wi-fi slowly becoming available to the masses; a product like this could fill a small gap, for people who cannot afford high-priced laptops and notebooks. Maybe manufacturers like Dell, HP and others will look at the technology and try to develop low-cost products of their own. It definitely would be interesting to see what will happen.

By: Andy MJ
a.k.a “The G.T.A Patriot”
Toronto, Ontario

Read details from another article about OLPC below.

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Is it time for Microsoft to abandon Vista and move on to something else, as soon as possible?


Is it time for Microsoft to abandon Vista and move on to something else? Maybe Microsoft should consider doing what Apple did and create an OS based on an existing UNIX based system (BSD, Linux, Amiga, etc…). Or maybe Microsoft should “move up the time table” of Windows 7, Min-Win or Microsoft Singularity and make a radical change? Or maybe they incorporate some of the forgotten features of Longhorn into a “new and glorious” Operating System? How about taking some of their experimental technologies, like “Singularity” and fusing it with a UNIX based OS? Or Microsoft just buyout Novell now and make a new Linux based OS (Microsoft SUSE)? Hey, I’m not saying that Vista is totally bad; however it is starting to look more and more like the “Windows ME” situation. My apologies to the Windows ME lovers still out there on planet “Wishful thinking”, but I digress! In some of the business sectors I work in, I.T/MIS departments and various individuals alike will not touch Microsoft Vista or even allow one connected to their network. There are still issues with legacy software and recently purchased hardware. You need to justify making the upgrade and unfortunately for many businesses, but not all, it just is not there. Now, maybe you home users can tolerate the incompatibilities and problems. One of my extended family members recently purchased an HP system with Vista Premium (they forgot to ask for my advice). Let’s just say “she is not a happy camper”! Too many problems and issues with hardware and software left her with no option but to return the “lemon”. She just did not have the time to deal with it and neither did I.

I use Microsoft Vista 64-bit business edition, at my place of work. It runs great, but I have 4 GB of RAM, a nice SATA drive and a supercharged video card (512MB); along with a whole host of goodies, however I imagine I am not the “average” person or small business. They say that “time is money” and many I’ve spoken with, who do not want to spend that amount of cash and time with Vista. In addition they are often saying, with an assumption, that they will wait until SP2 (Service Pack 2) before they make the dive into the Vista world; if that even happens. Recently Microsoft came out with their revenue and profit numbers, on Vista. I am sure it was meant to show a positive spin on Microsoft’s financial outlook. It also was probably more to do with the release of Apple’s new Operating System called Leopard. However, how are the OEM and retail figures broken down? How many OEMs are allowing downgrades to XP, just to ensure the sale? Acer, Dell and others have made recent changes and moves; allowing users to downgrade to XP or even get Linux distros like Canonical’s Ubuntu. Microsoft cannot simply bury their electronic heads in the sand and hope the issues go away. Sure Microsoft is large and they can “weather the storm”, however I just wonder how much time Microsoft has before it starts to impact on them as a company? Maybe they are planning something in secret and will take a page from Steve Jobs and say nothing. Maybe Bill Gates will come back and lead them to victory. Or better yet, maybe they should outsource it? Sorry, it was just an idea!

By: Andy MJ
a.k.a “The G.T.A Patriot”
Toronto, Ontario

Microsoft addresses new reports of forced Windows updates and reboots


Microsoft has posted a long and complex explanation to its Windows Software Update Services (WSUS) blog, explaining the latest case of why software updates are being pushed to users who believe they’ve turned automatic updating off. Here’s the abridged version of what the Redmondians said.

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PC World – Vista Is Still Plagued by Incompatibilities


Vista Is Still Plagued by Incompatibilities. This is not good for the general “Microsoft PR” campaign. With Leopard being released and Linux looking better, Microsoft needs help fast. Albeit, some of the issues are directly Microsoft issues. Hardware and software manufacturers are just not up to speed. However regardless of the fact people are labeling this as a Vista issue. Slowly people are starting to see Vista as “Windows Millennium 2” or “ME2” reborn. Microsoft maybe saying that “it is not their fault, so don’t blame us”. This maybe true, but the fact remains that Vista’s perception of a rock-solid OS has been stained. They will have to either fix this perception or call it a loss and move on. For a company that depends on OS sales and software, they do not have time to fiddle with who’s to blame.

By: Andy MJ
a.k.a “The G.T.A Patriot”
Toronto, Ontario

Read more from the PC World article below.

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Nine months since its release, lots of hardware and software products still don’t work with Microsoft’s operating system, including some that are certified as Vista compatible. If you’re running Vista and you need a multifunction printer, Brother’s MFC-5860CN might seem like a great choice. After all, it’s proudly sold as “Certified for Windows Vista.”

But don’t plan on scanning any documents to turn them into digital files. The 5860CN is capable of doing that, but the optical character recognition software that comes bundled with the printer, PaperPort 9 from Nuance, isn’t Vista compatible. (Brother recommends that Vista owners use Microsoft Office’s Document Imaging feature.) And the printer’s Internet fax option? Forget about that, too. It works with XP, but not Vista.

This kind of Vista support, says Jim McGregor, research director at market research firm In-Stat, is more like torture by small incompatibilities. And nine months after Vista’s commercial release, it’s not at all unusual. Major software publishers and hardware manufacturers are dragging their feet when it comes to supporting Vista, analysts say. While vendors have developed new products for Vista, many are leaving customers who purchased hardware and software before they upgraded to Vista with crippled or inoperative gear, says Chris Swenson, analyst with the NPD Group.
Photoshop Users Upset

Consider the plight of Adobe Photoshop CS2 users who have upgraded to Vista. That software still isn’t fully compatible with the new operating system. Adobe Photoshop CS2 customers have been asking Adobe for a software compatibility upgrade without much luck, Swenson says. “If you want Vista and you use Adobe CS, you are going to have to buy the new CS3 version,” Swenson says. Adobe CS3 ($649) is the only version fully compatible with Vista. Upgrading from CS2 to CS3 costs $200.

Adobe is developing free patches for some Adobe products (PDF) so they run smoothly. Still, the company lists over a dozen Adobe programs that it says either do not support Windows Vista or do not “officially” support Vista. Programs in either category may install on Vista, but don’t work completely. Some products Adobe recommends not trying on Vista at all.

At the release of the Windows XP operating system six years ago, incompatibility issues affected consumers to a much smaller extent, Swenson says. This time around, “vendors wish they could just forget about [XP-era products],” he says.

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Windows auto-update case closed? Microsoft thinks users are to blame!


I am really not sure if Microsoft truly understands what is happening in the real world. Maybe they do not care or is there something else at play? They are smarter than this, aren’t they? Unfortunately they do not realize that the confidence of a once solid company is slowly breaking down. I run the Windows Vista 64-bit edition in my workplace and I have also experienced the “phantom update and restart”. There have always been Microsoft haters and I am not particularly one of them. Sure I have used Linux and Macs but I use them to complete a job or task. Microsoft needs to “re-think” how they do business. People may opt not to automatically update their system so that they can test or ensure that adverse issue will not take place. Overiding the will of the user is a blantent dictatorship, as far as I am concerned. I should be a Liberty, after purchasing their product, to do what needs to be done. Unfortunately, what has actually been lost is “confidence” and “trust”. Microsoft better start to realize soon that they are not the only game in town. Manipulating this issue, however which way they want to, is not helping the image. Microsoft can try to spin this issue but they have definaetely broken the trust of the user.

By: Andy MJ
a.k.a “The G.T.A Patriot”
Toronto, Ontario

To read more from the article from ZDNET, see below.

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It’s time for the latest and possibly final installment of the seemingly never-ending saga of “Why is my copy of Windows automatically updating and rebooting itself?” Microsoft says users just don’t realize that their machines are set to update. They think users are to blame! Is Microsoft completely incompetent or are they lying?

In the last episode, the Windows Update Product team stated on its blog on October 12 that neither Automatic Update (AU) nor the bunch of patches that Microsoft rolled out on October 9, Patch Tuesday, were responsible for reports from Windows users earlier this month that their machines were automatically updating without their approval.

The Product Update team continued to investigate. At some point (I’m not sure exactly when, as the time stamp does not reflect the post update time/date) the team updated its blog again, suggesting a few possible causes for the reports by certain Windows users of their machines updating automatically. On the team’s list of possible reasons that AU settings can be (re)set or changed:

  • “During the installation of Windows Vista, the user chooses one of the first two recommended options in the “Out of Box Experience” and elects to get updates automatically from Windows
  • “The user goes to the Windows Update Control Panel and changes the AU setting manually
  • “The user goes to Security Center in Windows Vista and changes the AU setting
  • “The user chooses to opt in to Microsoft Update from the Microsoft Update web site
  • “The user chooses to opt in to Microsoft Update during the installation or the first run experience of another Microsoft application such as Office 2007.”

In short, Microsoft’s explanation was that users were knowingly or unknowingly changing their own Automatic Update settings and complaining about the results.

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Microsoft agrees: Windows is a “really large bloated operating system”


We’re seeing signs that Microsoft is rethinking its monolithic approach to not only the mass-market Windows operating system but the entire family of Windows products from servers down to CE-based embedded devices. While newly minted Windows head Steven Sinofsky continues to play his cards close to his chest, we’re seeing signs that Microsoft is rethinking its monolithic approach to not only the mass-market Windows operating system but the entire family of Windows products from servers down to CE-based embedded devices.

First up is a streamlined microkernel codenamed MinWin, around which a re-engineered Windows line will be built. Described as “the Windows 7 source-code base”, in reference to the successor to Windows Vista which is slated for a 2010 release, MinWin strips back the current NT-based kernel to the barest of bare metal.

“We’ll be using this internally to build all the products based on Windows” said Microsoft engineer Eric Traut, when he slipped the first public glimpse of MinWin into a demonstration of Microsoft’s virtualization technology at the University of Illinois last week.

After loading multiple versions of Windows from the original 1.0 release through to NT 4 – including Windows ‘Bob’ which earned a few chuckles from the audience and which Traut described as “not necessarily Microsoft’s proudest moment!” – Traut fired up an additional VM session to load MinWin, which he called “the core of Windows 7, the Windows 7 source-code base”.

Eye candy, begone: MinWin is so lean that even the Windows flag on the splash screen is rendered using ASCIIEye candy, begone: MinWin is so lean that even the Windows flag on the splash screen is rendered using ASCIIYou can forget about eye candy – the prototype microkernel doesn’t even contain a graphics subsystem in its current build, so the startup screen flashed a Windows flag created with ASCII characters.

You can also forget about almost every other other creature comfort of a modern operating system. Microsoft has ditched the lot in orde to get MinWin down to the point where it takes up 25MB of hard disk space and runs in 40MB of RAM.

“A lot of people think of Windows as this really large bloated operating system, and that may be a fair characterisation, I have to admit” Taut said. “It is large, it contains a lot of stuff, but at its core, the kernel and the components that make up the very core of the operating system are pretty streamlined.”

“It’s still bigger than I’d like it to be, but we’ve taken a shot at really stripping out all of the layers above and making sure that we had a clean architectural layer there, and we created what we call MinWin. About 100 files make up the system in total, compared to the 5,000 files that make up all of Windows.”

While Taut stressed that MinWin was an internal-only project which “you won’t see us productising, but you could imagine this being used as the basis for products in the future.” He later elaborated that “we’ll be using (MinWin) internally to build all the products based on Windows. It’s not just the OS that’s running on many laptops in this room, it’s also the OS used for media centres, for servers, for small embedded devices. It’s used in a lot of different ways, and this will provide the opportunity to move into a lot of different areas.”

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New Features Discovered in Windows XP SP3: Is It Better Than Vista?


The principal reason given for the tremendous under-the-hood changes to Windows unveiled early this year in Vista was the need to overhaul the security model. Indeed, Vista has proven to be a generally more secure operating system, though some vulnerabilities that apply to ordinary software impact Vista users just as much as any other.

But now, software analysts testing the latest build 3205 of the beta for Windows XP Service Pack 3 are discovering a wealth of genuinely new features – not just patches and security updates (although there are literally over a thousand of those), but services that could substantially improve system security without overhauling the kernel like in Vista.

According to preliminary reports from Neosmart, testers there found evidence that the company is hardening XP’s network security with added features.

One of these features had actually been on Microsoft’s list for some time, and might actually have caused problems for customers had it been omitted: Network Access Protection (NAP), which is due to be managed by the forthcoming Windows Server 2008. This new service disallows network clients from accessing a WS2K8 server without passing a minimum “health screening,” which checks for the presence of updates and service packs (including SP3) and disallows access to failing clients until they upgrade.

When NAP’s inclusion in WS2K8 was first confirmed in late August, a Microsoft spokesperson contacted BetaNews to make sure we reported it wasn’t just for Windows Server and just for Vista. We assumed that meant it would find its way to XP as well, though the spokesperson declined to be pressed further at that time.

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