Tag: "microsoft"

Microsoft to offer browser ballot screen in EU versions of Windows 7

It looks like Microsoft and the European Commission have come to an agreement where Windows 7, instead of being browserless, will include a ballot screen to select any web browsers to install.

While this will be less annoying than going and finding a copy of Internet Explorer, it certainly raises other concerns.

For starters, which browsers will be included on the ballot screen, and how will any selection be made? Doesn't this move even more anti-competitive? Instead of bundling one browser, now the two 3 or 4 top ones are going to be bundled? What about Lynx or Maxthon? Or the other two dozen or more browsers out there for Windows? Are they going to be on this ballot screen, I doubt it.

What's the process for adding new web browsers? Can anyone now stick a browser together, use Google as the default search and make let the money roll on it?

I'm just waiting on my new Peugeot to have a ballot screen asking if I want to use a Ferrari steering wheel and dashboard.

Windows 7 released to manufacturing

Microsoft has announced that Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 have now been released to manufacturing.

This means that MSDN and Technet subscribers will be able to get their hands on a copy from August the 6th, Volume Licence customers from the 7th of August and Microsoft Partner Program members can get it from the 16th, Action Pack subscribers from the 23rd.

Here's the press release:

Steven Sinofsky, President of the Windows Division, has just announced on the Engineering Windows 7 Blog that Windows 7 has reached the Release to Manufacturing (RTM) milestone.

As I mentioned previously, RTM officially happens only after sign-off occurs. What happens is a build gets designated as a RTM contender after going through significant testing and meeting our quality bar for RTM. Then, it goes though all the validation checks required for RTM including having all languages of that build completed. If all the validation checks have passed – sign-off for RTM can occur. Today after all the validation checks were met, we signed off and declared build 7600.16385 as RTM.

Included in Steven’s blog post is a video of sign-off happening from the "Ship Room." Sign-off consists of representatives from all the teams here at Microsoft who helped build Windows 7 signing-off for RTM.

Also happening very shortly, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will get on stage for his keynote address to the Microsoft field community at MGX in Atlanta. MGX is an internal Microsoft event held every year. This is where we bring in our folks in the field from around the world and talk about selling Microsoft’s latest products. We’re a global company and this event is super important to us. As you can imagine, Windows 7 is a hot topic at this year’s MGX and we’re anxious to hear what Steve has to say, and I will update that here.

Not only is RTM an important milestone for us – it’s also an important milestone for our partners. Today’s release is the result of hard work and collaboration with our partners in the industry to make Windows 7 a success. We delivered Windows 7 with predictable feature set on a predictable timetable that allowed OEMs to focus on value and differentiation for their customers.

Our customers told us what they want (and expect) and we defined those specific experiences and then built features to support them (like HomeGroup and the Windows Taskbar enhancements). Our customers also told us that “fundamentals” on both the hardware and software side was extremely important. Windows 7 today runs great on the broadest array of hardware types ranging from netbooks to the high end gaming machines. We worked closely with OEMs so that their PCs ignite features in Windows 7 to excite their customers.

Of course, today’s release is also the result of the amazing amount of feedback we received from the millions of people who tested Windows 7 – from Beta to RC. We actually had over 10 million people opt-in to the Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP). That’s a lot of people opting in to help us make Windows 7 a solid release. Through CEIP, our engineers were guided by customer feedback all the way to RTM. We also have had a great group of beta testers who have dedicated a great deal of their time to testing Windows 7 too. A special thank you goes out to all the people who helped test Windows 7.

I’d also like to give a shout-out to my friends over on the Windows Server Team. Today they are also announcing that Windows Server 2008 R2 has RTM’d. Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 together can help businesses cut costs and increase productivity. Click here to read their blog post on Windows Server 2008 R2 RTM.

The RTM code will be delivered to our partners within the next few days who will then start preparing to deliver some amazing new products timed to hit at General Availability (GA) of Windows 7. And going forward, I expect to be showcasing MANY of these new products here on The Windows Blog.

We continue to be overwhelmed at the community’s response to Windows 7 and it has been an extremely rewarding experience to witness. We hope the enthusiasm will continue to grow even more as our partners build amazing experiences with their products and Windows 7.

Get your Windows 7 copies while they're cheap

Today the European pre-orders started for Windows 7.

Amazon currently have Home Premium E for £44.97, and Professional E for £89.97. That's less than half of the normal price.

(Disclaimer these links go through my Associates account).

Keep in mind these are full versions not upgrades. So it really is a good deal, the only disadvantage is you cannot perform upgrades at all with these, due to Internet Explorer being removed from the European editions. You also get both 32-bit and 64-bit versions in these packages.

Get 'em now while they're still for the offer price.

What features Windows 7 has lost from Windows Vista

With it looking like Windows 7 is just days away from being completed.  I thought it might be an idea to go over the applications and features that are absent from Windows 7, a lot of stuff is missing, and it will no doubt surprise people how much stuff has been stripped out compared with Windows Vista.

Windows Mail - gone

The most backward step in my opinion is the removal of Windows Mail formally Outlook Express.  In seemingly utter stupidity we now have a mainstream operating system that doesn't include an e-mail client, nor a newsgroup client.  The last operating system I used which didn't have an e-mail client built in was RISC OS 3.5.  People expect to be able to hit their POP3 and IMAP servers with Windows.  People are now expected to download the Windows Live Essentials pack to get Windows Live Mail.

Windows Photo Gallery - gone

One of the best new features of Windows Vista was the included photo gallery application.  It was, frankly stunning and had all the features you'd expect, cropping, colour correction the works, and best of all its tagging features were second to none.  But its gone.  The leftovers can be seen in Windows Photo Viewer in Windows 7 which is an image viewer, and that's it.  People are now expected to download the Windows Live Essentials pack to get Windows Live Photo Gallery.

Windows Movie Maker - gone

Windows Movie Maker was often dismissed as junk, of course by people that were spending hundreds of pounds on Adobe software.  For almost all users Windows Movie Maker was ideal for putting together home videos, it was easy to use and had enough advanced features to satisfy most people's needs.  People are now expected to download the Windows Live Essentials pack to get Windows Live Movie Maker.

Web Filtering and Activity Reports from Parental Controls - gone

Windows 7 still includes parental controls, but they lack any web filtering, and the really awesome activity reports are gone.  Unlike the above applications, the Family Safety pack from the Windows Live Essentials suite doesn't plug into this at all and fill this hole, if it did it wouldn't be so bad.  But it doesn't, it does its own thing completely seperately, which can only be described as /facepalm.

Advanced Tag Editor from Windows Media Player - gone

Windows Media Player has seen some welcome changes, but its also seen some dumb changes.  Like the removal of the Advanced Tag Editor which was a godsend for people who edit a lot of song information.  It's gone, if you want to edit songs now you'll have to do it from within Explorer or the Library page (with limited scope).

Mini player toolbar from Windows Media Player - gone

The mini player toolbar sat in the old taskbar and provided the basic play controls for Windows Media Player.  With the new taskbar its been removed, instead we get a more limited controls in the preview display, which are back, next and play/pause, there's no slider like there was before.  Annoying for music listeners.

Quick Launch from the Taskbar - gone

The new taskbar merges the Quick Launch toolbar with the regular part of the taskbar.  This has several downsides including it being more work to launch a second instance of a program, and requires and additional mouse click, others include the extra space required, even with small icons if you pin programs to the taskbar they take up considerably more space.

Internet Explorer - gone in the European Union

If current plans go through the European Union will be saddled with an 'E' edition of Windows 7, and unlike the 'N' versions we had to put up with, we won't have the option of buying the proper version of Windows.  Instead system builders will have the extra hassle of installing Internet Explorer separately, wasting a good 15 minutes on every machine.  This is insane, 2009 and we're getting an operating system that doesn't include a web browser.

As I think of more things missing I'll update this post.

Microsoft Security Essentials MD5 and SHA-1 hashes

I've been getting a few e-mails from people asking where they can download MSE now that Microsoft have closed off the beta. The short answer is I don't know.

I can tell you the MD5 and SHA-1 hashes, so you can at least make sure you can get a copy that hasn't been tampered with if you're that keen on using it.

There's three installers:

mssefullinstall-amd64fre-en-us-vista.exe (3.72MB) which is the installer for Windows Vista and Windows 7 64-bit, its hashes are as follows:

MD5: D460B3A5116FF1DB2CFA69ACA80DF8C0
SHA-1: B5E7FC24FCD646EFCAE3457DB7D7FC48E648AE23

mssefullinstall-x86fre-en-us-vista.exe (4.72MB) is the installer for Windows Vista and Windows 7 32-bit.

MD5: 4C9AC845F5FD5547FC522035FA251F00
SHA-1: 7986596458E37EF8875A9DDAC0AE9AAC9A41E936

mssefullinstall-x86fre-en-us-xp.exe (7.51MB) is the installer for Windows XP 32-bit.

MD5: 7F9D0DE36B6673974D4D6BD6F5731D89
SHA-1: F273DA4CC2EECFBF0C97B2B0701399A20EC5B7AA

So if you are going to go to any lengths to get hold of it, at least get one which hasn't been modified to include any unwanted surprises.

Symantec stepping up the FUD over Microsoft Security Essentials

As expected Symantec (the makers of Norton, the most popular anti-virus/security suite software) are a tad nervous over Microsoft Security Essentials, and with the number of technology enthusiasts they've scorned over the years they've got every reason to fear a backlash now, so they're upping the FUD campaign from level 1, they're not concerned about MSE, to level 2, stating that its rubbish and won't protect you.

From the BBC:

"Early reviews of the beta are showing that it under-performs when compared to existing freeware products, and well below paid solutions," said security firm Symantec in a statement.

I'm not sure what reviews Symantec are talking about, but I haven't read any data on MSE's performance yet, nor should we expect any for weeks, if not months as that's how long it takes to actual do proper scientific tests.  It does however use the same core engine and definitions as OneCare and Forefront, so the logical thing to do would be to use data evaluating OneCare's performance.

The latest tests by AV-Comparatives, rank OneCare second in detection of new malware, but also importantly it scores the lowest false positives by far, meaning it won't detect genuine files as being malicious.  Which is what led AV Comparatives to award it the highest ranking.  Here's the data for new malware detection rates.  Where's Symantec, oh right down the bottom with a dismal 35%.

Avira AntiVir Premium 69%
Windows Live OneCare 60%
Eset Nod32 56%
BitDefender 50%
AVG Anti-Virus 45%
Avast Professional 42%
Sophos Anti-Virus 37%
Symantec Norton 35%
McAfee VirusScan Plus 25%
F-Secure Anti-Virus 14%

For a good couple of years now OneCare/Forefront has been well above average on detection rates for new malware and on false positives.  MSE using the same engine will continue this trend, and if anything improve it as it will give Microsoft a larger sample size to create new definitions on.

What else do Symantec have to say?

"Referring to Microsoft's basic anti-virus and anti-spyware product as an essential security solution is misleading. Consumers need firewall protection, web protection, anti-spam and identity safeguards"

1) Windows XP SP2, Windows Vista and Windows 7 have a built in firewall which is turned on by default. :-)
2) Internet Explorer 7 and 8, and Firefox and other browsers have web protection, i.e. blacklists of known malicious or phishing/identity-stealing websites. :-)
3) Everyone's e-mail, either web-based like Hotmail or Gmail, or their e-mail clients, Windows Mail, Outlook etc all have built in spam filters nowadays. :-)

Seriously Symantec, you're not doing yourself any favours.  Microsoft Security Essentials is the most non-annoying consumer anti-virus ever, not only that it also has one of the best detection engines out there.

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