Tag: "windows vista"

Windows Vista looking good on the security front

So Microsoft held their biannual BlueHat security gathering last week, as they've been doing for a couple of years now, inviting outside security researchers to have a chit chat with Microsoft developers on security.  The press aren't invited to these (officially it's an internal Microsoft event), and so what details emerge is usually from the blogs of researchers who were involved.

Halvar Flake, from Sabre Security was invited to write up his thoughts on the BlueHat blog.  He makes a few good points, which I feel is generally the concenus out there after seeing Windows Vista out there for nearly a year.

Microsoft did do a good job at addressing the issues of previous Windows versions. Progress on all fronts has been achieved, and MS is probably better than any other closed-source software vendor when it comes to the the security of their products.

I've been saying this for a while now, this is Microsoft's security investment at work.

As a result, I think that most of the security researchers will move on to greener pastures for a while. Why try to chase a difficult overflow out of Vista when you have Acrobat Reader installed, some Antivirus software with shoddy file parsing, and the latest ITunes?

No surprise there judging on Adobe's and Apple's non-rapid release of patches for QuickTime, iTunes, Reader and the like, they're popular, and in the case of Reader rarely updated.  You won't find any of that software on my machines, not only due to their poor history record in addressing security, but for how bloated and buggy they are.

This is one of the key reasons I tell people NOT to disable UAC, nor to elevate programs which don't work as standard user - better to replace those programs with ones that work properly, Microsoft issued these guidelines in 2000, things shouldn't assume they have full rights to the box, nor should they be saving data all over the place, it's about time Microsoft forced the 3rd parties to clean up their act.

UAC ensures these programs are running as standard user, so if there is a vulnerability it seriously limits the damage that they can do.  Leave it on people.

Secretly, all attackers are hoping that Vista will be a failure, security spending will be scaled back and nobody will attempt to build a secure mainstream OS again.

No doubt at all they're going to be in for a harsh time for the next few years, with Windows Vista taking a majority share on the client, and Windows Server 2008 rolling out, they're going to have to save their pennies.

Chris Pirillo you're an ass

This guy has turned from a fairly balanced geek into an absolutely opinionated ass. In his latest blog entry he installed the beta version of Windows Vista Service Pack 1, and then complains because it hosed his machine, it booted to a black screen - which strangely I've heard no other reports of. What do you think the beta means Chris?

He's been ranting for months about Windows Vista failing in the market, why? All because he had some issues when he first got it - his printer didn't have drivers. My 10 year old Deskjet works fine! May be you should shop around for printers that have solid driver support for multiple platforms.

Some of his readers/viewers point out to him the stupidity of his ways, and counter the XP/Apple fanboyism creeping into his stuff.

G.J.Edwards wrote about his experience with Windows Vista:

I have absolutely no idea what all you people are talking about. In April this year I bought a relatively inexpensive Compaq laptop pre-loaded with Vista Home Premium, I THINK IT IS BRILLIANT, everything works very well, the built in security features gives me a lot of confidence and the step-by-step operating instructions are clear and well thought out.
The updates download automatically without any problems and I have downloaded numerous programmes e.g. open office and Picasa without any trouble.
I think that "the average PC user" like myself just want something that works, whereas the Anoraks want to find problems so they can write about it.

Then Gordon points out about warning Pirillo about installing beta software on a production machine (common sense).

Chris, I watched you install that BETA version of Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista on your Ustream.tv web site live.

I questioned your actions in live chat about installing beta software on a production Windows Vista computer at that time, yet you ignored my comment in live chat.

You lost credibility, Chris, since beta software was not meant for use on a stable production Windows Vista machine.

I also have no doubts what-so-ever that Chris provided no useful feedback to Microsoft about this, people like this shouldn't be allowed pre-release copies of Microsoft software, because obviously they don't get it, nor the point of a beta program.

I think Windows is in huge huge huge trouble.

Pirillo, get real, 90% market share, that's huge huge huge trouble? Windows Vista is the best operating system to date, and tens of millions of people agree.

Andrew Grygus - arrogance & stupidity

Check out this nonsense. Only Gutmann comes close to spreading this number of lies and FUD.

Upgrading to Windows Vista has been banned by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), technology giant Texas Instruments and other corporations and government agencies

False. They said they would not be upgrading to Windows Vista for X number of months. I notice you used and underlined the word banned, indicating to me that you're lying.

Small business and consumer demand for computers with Windows XP is very high, but Microsoft has moved swiftly to make sure they can't get it. No sane person wants Vista, so Microsoft is making sure they have no choice.

Windows XP is still available in OEM channels and retail, it is also available from most PC manufacterers as an option. So that is wrong, did you just make that up or are you getting that from an even more nutty source?

A confusing new user interface. Vista actually reduces user productivity according to a consulting firm's study

They're not a Linux firm like you then are they?

Blamed for so many security problems, Microsoft has placed security responsibility right where it doesn't belong, squarely on the shoulders of the average user. Confusing security pop-up dialogs are so common users get used to just hitting "Yes" automatically to everything, including malware.

Which "yes" dialogs would those be? If you even bothered to use Windows Vista you'll see they're labeled Continue or Cancel. This brings it into line with elevating like on Linux (which you don't moan about I see) and Mac OS, and others.

Most existing software is not compatible with Vista. You will have to purchase upgrades to almost all the software you run and many programs will never be upgraded to Vista.

False. I have yet to come across software which doesn't work with Windows Vista, in fact I put out a request for software which won't work so I could do a tutorial video on troubleshooting these issues. Most software, come on get real.

It's an exercise in frustration to try to upgrade an XP computer to Vista. Few Vista drivers are available except for new devices designed for Vista, and manufacturers don't plan any.

Two and a half million drivers, yeah nothing has any drivers, right.

Developing Vista drivers and getting them approved by Microsoft is just too expensive.

Drivers don't need to be approved by Microsoft, they don't need to be signed by Microsoft. On 64-bit they need to have a certificate which can be obtained from any number of 3rd party providers, this is no different than how SSL certificates are obtained for websites.

Vista is effectively a Windows price increase.

False, even Windows Vista Ultimate is cheaper than Windows XP Professional. See here. In short Windows Vista Ultimate: £123.36, Windows XP Pro £123.73 and Windows 2000 £124.55.

Vista Activation, should it fail or be aborted, phones home to Microsoft with enough details to identify your computer and possibly your location

Your own websites can "possibly" get somebody's location from an IP address. Activation generates a key from the hardware in the machine, but this cannot be reversed to identify the computer. Nothing but scare mongering. Microsoft of course operate websites and no doubt record the IP addresses of everybody visiting the website, like every other website on the internet, they have the same ability to get your location as anybody else. Getting the country isn't always reliable and getting the city is a good result, that's as far as anybody can get without getting the police and your ISP involved.

Windows Update is now mandatory.

False. Windows Update can be turned off. If you bothered to look in the Control Panel you'd see the same options as Windows XP SP2 on how Windows Update works.

Their most basic mistake is "one size fits all", holding that an entertainment device is equally suited for business.

What the hell are you smoking? There are six SKUs of Windows Vista, Business for example, doesn't have all the entertainment stuff.

He then goes on to ask... What should you do? I'll tell you what people need to do, drive this FUD spreader out of town.

d3dx9.dll is missing or not found or installed

So this error message has been doing the rounds lately.

This application has failed to start because d3dx9_32.dll was not found.

Or other error messages around d3dx9.dll, dxdx9d.dll, d3dx10.dll, xinput.dll, xact.dll, d3dx10_33.dll, d3dx9_40.dll and other variations being missing, not being found or installed.

These are all optional components to DirectX that may not be installed with the version of DirectX you already have on your system.

Typically these will be installed when the game installs DirectX, however for historical reasons a lot of gamers, knowing they had the latest version of DirectX didn't bother (I never do either). Microsoft a couple of years back provided these optional components in the SDK, and as such may not be installed with the version of DirectX present on your system.

Games I've come across with this happening range from

Age of Empires III (3).
Battlefield 2.
Battlefield 2142.
BioShock (unconfirmed)?
Caesar IV (4).
Civilization IV (4).
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter.
Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2.
Hitman Blood Money.
The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-Earth
The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-Earth 2.
Lost Planet.
Need For Speed Most Wanted.
Virtual Skipper.

I'm sure there's probably a couple of dozen more games, feel free to list any additions in the comments below.

The solution is to either install the version of DirectX on the game's disc, or download the latest DirectX End-User Runtime from Microsoft (at the moment this is being redirected to the Games for Windows website), or from the Download Center.

MVP of the week - Richard Urban

My one off MVP of the week award has just gone to Richard Urban, I was just about to go to bed but just thought I'd check the Microsoft newsgroups for a few minutes.

Richard Urban was replying to this post:

I have a brand new notebook with a dual core 2.2GHz processor, 2G of memory and a 160G hard drive. It's an HP Pavillion. I turn it on. It takes 45 seconds to display the login prompt. I login. It takes 2 to 3 minutes to display the windows welcome center.

I look at the system configuration and I have dozens of services and startup programs running. I tried to remove all the Norton Anti-virus services and programs. But it still takes 2 minutes to display the windows welcome center. But that means it was taking 60 seconds to load the Norton Anti-virus stuff.

Also, the system is loading 970M of programs and data into memory. That is alot of stuff.

So far my impression of this operating system is that it is too slow. My XP Pro system is far faster and it only has 1G of memory and a single processor.

Also, my daughter just bought an Acer 5100 5674 system at Circuit City. It only has 1G of memory and a 1.6G dual core processor. It is running Vista Home Premium. It takes about 30 seconds to display the login prompt and 1.25 minutes to display the windows welcome center. It is not running Norton Anti-virus.

So I spend all this money on serious hardware, and I am let down by the experience.

Seriously highlighting the fact PC manufacturers need to stop installing so much JUNK on PCs. It has to stop.

Anyway Richard replies with the following:

Your computer has Norton crapware installed. Your daughters doesn't. Your computer runs slow - hers doesn't. And you blame the operating system?

I fail to understand your reasoning that the operating system is at fault!

You already KNOW where the problem lays! Do something about it! Uninstall it.

-includes link to free AV-

You heard the man, uninstall Norton, install some good anti-virus which doesn't ruin your experience. AVG (free), Avast (free) and NOD32 (moneyware) spring to mind.

I don't know how to use a computer, so let's blame M$

Here's something I came across, way to start out a blog post.

I hate Windows Vista again today. A lot.

Uhhh huh, why's that?

I put my machine nicely to 'Sleep', only to find that when it woke up, it had helpfully restarted to install some goddamn update, which I can always refuse and reset if I'm actually working on the computer, and lost my work and the browser windows I had open so that I wouldn't forget to blog about those things today.

Oh right, so I'm assuming Windows Vista was set to install updates automatically at 03:00.

Windows Vista Update settings

OK so let me guess, you're going to say "why the frakking hell did Microsoft do that?"

Well guess what, Windows XP does the same thing.

Windows XP Update settings

Ironically somebody posted this in one of the comments:

the more I hear about Windows Vista, the more I'm glad I opted to stay with XP

Heck it was worse with Windows XP because there were about 3 times as many updates, and they weren't all released one day a month, they were released all over the place.

Yet I don't hear anybody complain about Windows XP doing that. Maybe because very few people would put their Windows XP machines to sleep because it was about half as reliable as Windows Vista.

So here Windows Vista checkmates Windows XP on a feature, and thanks to user-stupidity Windows Vista gets another negative story in the blogosphere.

Stupid, frakking operating system. I'm planning on a Mac next time.

Yeah the Macintosh does the same thing, and when you're at the machine it's nagging you even more to install updates and that's only the start of it, on a Macintosh you're looking at multiple reboots to install updates, and that's assuming it doesn't brick the machine.

I never hear any of the Mac users I know complaining about this kind of stupid bullpuckey from their machines.

Well for a start there are about a hundred Windows users for every one Mac OS user, and they have much bigger issues to worry about, like the guy I just linked to, whose machine was bricked thanks to an update and couldn't even reinstall Mac OS. Or how Apple shifting their platform around so much breaks compatibility every few years.

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