Tag Archive for Microsoft

End of Windows XP Support

No More Microsoft Windows XP

No More Microsoft Windows XPIn less than 1,000 days, on April 8, 2014, Microsoft will stop issuing security patches, updates, and hotfixes for all versions of Windows XP.

You may, or may not, be aware that Microsoft issues FREE updates to Windows and other Microsoft software products every Tuesday evening. Most computers will automatically retrieve them when the computer is connected to the Internet. (Although, some people, who don’t know about the service, choose not to install them. Is that you?)

On April 8, 2014, PCs running Windows XP will no longer find updates and fixes to download, so those computers will remain at risk to any new security threats that arise. Furthermore, many other companies (known as “third party” providers) will no offer service or support for their hardware or software applications on systems using Windows XP.

What about businesses using Windows XP? Business owners and managers may find this may generate more complexity, security risks, and ultimately, added management costs for IT departments.

Industry analysts say that it can take from 12 to 18 months for an organization to migrate, and a recent Gartner report stated that “more than 50% of organizations that do not start deploying Windows 7 by early 2012 will not complete their deployments before Windows XP support ends.” (Read “Creating a Timeline for Deploying Windows 7 and Eliminating Windows XP“)

Several other versions of Windows have had their service runs ended within the last year.

Previous End of Support Schedules for Other Windows Operating Systems

  • Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) support ended on July 12, 2011. SP2 is still being supported.
  • Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2*) support ended on July 13, 2010. SP3 is the most recent and last service pack issued for XP systems.
  • Windows 2000 support ended on July 13, 2010.
  • Windows Vista Release to Manufacturing (RTM) support ended April 13, 2010.

Ready to Deploy Windows 7? Whether your a home user or a business user, I encourage you to consider making the move to Windows 7. If you feel your computer is still going strong on XP you may find it runs even better on Windows 7. Otherwise, if your budget allows, you may find it’s more cost effective to buy a new system.

Windows Easy Transfer

Windows Easy Transfer

What about the files on my old system? Moving fromWindows 7 from Windows XP is easier than ever. Windows 7 comes with powerful tools to assist and guide you every step of the way. If you decide to get a new system, you can use Window Easy Transfer to move your files from one system to another using a network or USB flash drive.

Some of the world’s most prominent companies have made the move to Windows 7 like Boeing, InfoSys, Dell, Samsung, and BMW and getting benefit from the cost-savings, security, and productivity gains Windows 7 delivers.

On the homefront. I have helped several people upgrade their Windows XP computers to Windows 7, and they say their computer is faster than it was with Windows XP. I have been very impressed with Windows 7’s performance. It’s easy to install, and works great with every device I’ve connected to my computer — specially with devices that weren’t supported by Windows Vista (hiss).

Need help? If you have any questions you can send them to me at skylarkingblog @ gmail.com or with the contact page on this site. Or consult with your local computer service professional.

Windows 7 from The Microsoft Store. You can purchase Windows 7 on DVD from The Microsoft Store. If you have more than one computer in your home, or your family, then I recommend the orange package below. It will allow you to upgrade 3 computers for one low price. It’s my favorite package. Click the image below for more information.

Also, if you get the Home Premium version or the Professional version, you can always upgrade to a higher level for a reasonable price using the Windows Anytime Upgrade feature on your Windows 7 installation. I have used it to upgrade one Home Premium computer to a Professional system.

Windows 7: Its Features and My Theories

windows-7

My Theories on Windows 7

There appears to be a trend with Microsoft Windows release, in my opinion.  It appears that one version comes out which receives a lot of bad press and criticism, and then that system is followed up by a version which becomes popular and accepted.  People often say the newer version is the “working version” of the previous version.

New Desktop

New Desktop

Historically speaking, I have noticed that Windows 98 was called “Windows 95 that works”, and Windows XP was “Windows Me that works”, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Windows 7 is called “Windows Vista that works”.

What’s In Windows 7?

  • Touchscreens! The new version of Windows will support touchscreen technology which allows you to manipulate objects on screen with your fingers instead of a mouse. You’ll have to buy touchscreen monitor, of course. HP has been promoting and selling a Touchscreen system for several months now.
  • Touchscreen

    Touchscreen

  • The taskbar at the bottom of the desktop, looks and acts a lot more like the Dock in Mac OS X by listing open applications as icons without the names, along with lists of common commands and recently opened documents.  A feature I like is the ability to re-arrange the running application buttons by dragging and dropping them in a preferred order.
  • Dragging a program or document to the top of the screen maximizes that window to fill the screen. Dragging the window to the left or right causes it to cover that half of the screen. Additionally, you can hide other windows on the screen by “grabbing” one window with your mouse and shake it.  Or you can grab and shake by touching your touchscreen monitor.
  • Vista’s User Account Control is revised in 7 to allow the user to select four control levels.
  • Roku Soundbridge

    Roku Soundbridge

  • Home audio and video features are extended in 7, allowing music and video to be shared and viewed on other devices in the home such as networked media players like the SoundBridge wireless media receiver from Roku, and Microsoft’s own Xbox 360 game console.
  • Cell phone and smart phone synchronization features are developed further in Windows 7, thereby allowing you to sync your calendars or contacts or copy over your music.

See yesterday’s article on the Windows 7 Beta release.


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Microsoft Scores

Nick Wingfield of the Wall Street Journal reported some significant news regarding Microsoft this past Friday, and agreed with what they had to say.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at CES 2009

First, let me tell you this were mostly business deals that will greatly benefit Microsoft. Two of them involved raising the profile of Microsoft’s Windows Live Search service, and the last bit of news concerned the next version of Windows, Windows 7, the successor to Windows Vista, due out later this year.

These news bits were all connected to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s keynote address at this past week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. This was Ballmer’s first time delivering Microsoft’s keynote address at CES. Previously it has been done by Bill Gates, but Bill Gates stepped away last year from day-to-day matters to become more involved in his philanthropic projects.

verizonVerizon and Windows Live Search

Steve Ballmer announced that Microsoft had a 5 year deal with Verizon Wireless to make Windows Live Search available on Verizon’s mobile phone network.  Microsoft and Google have supposedly been in a bidding war to provide their search services on the network. The deal is estimated to cost a minimum of $650 million with Microsoft paying on a per phone/handset basis.

windows-liveThis bodes well for Microsoft, as they have been trying earnestly to get an advantage on Google. For example, Microsoft’s efforts to acquire Yahoo!have been reported for a long time in the news. Microsoft is the third most popular search service after Google and Yahoo!, but the Verizon deal will get them more visibility.

The Verizon deal will take off in the early half of this year.

dellDell and Windows Live Search

Microsoft also secured a Dell, I mean deal, to have Windows Live Search and the Windows Live toolbar setup as the default search service and tool on Dell’s line of consumer and small business computer systems for the next three years. Microsoft already has similar deals with Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Lenovo.

The Microsoft/Dell deal displaces an existing deal between Dell and Google. Windows Live Search will start appearing on new Dell systems starting in February.

Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft Sr. VP

Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft Sr. VP

Microsoft Senior Vice President Yusuf Mehdi admits that Microsoft needs more deals of this sort to truly compete with Google, but that “These two partnerships are very significant for us, because it…gives an opportunity to put our search offering out before a broader audience now in a pretty mainstream way, and I think you should think about it as the first step of us slowly bringing up the dial on how we start to promote our product.” 

Windows 7

windows-7Steve Ballmer’s other big announcement was that a “test version” of Windows 7 — the successor to Windows Vista which is expected to be released late this year — is now available. The test version, also known as a “beta” version in the computer industry lingo, is available for consumers to tryout on their systems.

Let me warn you that test or beta copies are far from being final, and that bugs do exist in these programs, and that harm could be done to your system and files. Do not use it on your primary computer. The purpose of beta versions if to help Microsoft determine what bugs exist and how to fix them.  It is strongly recommended that should you decide to “try it out” that you back up your entire system first, and, I repeat, don’t use it on your primary computer system.

Microsoft has setup a page discussing things you should know about the beta version, and they have another page for information on the upcoming Windows 7 and its features.

The beta version expires on August 1, 2009. You will need to install a prior version Windows on your system before that date.

Tune in tomorrow morning when I discuss the new features of Windows 7, as well as my theories on how it will be received.




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Internet Explorer 8 Coming Up!

Back in October 2006, IE7 was released. Chances are your reading this page with it right now. (Maybe, maybe not, you know who you are). It had been 5 years since IE6 was released in August 2001 just two months prior to Windows XP’s release in October of that year.

It won’t be long before IE8 becomes available. Just yesterday, August 27, 2008, Microsoft made the second test version (Beta 2) available to the public. Please note this is still a test version. The purpose for releasing it is to get it out of the lab so people can try it in the real world and help Microsoft “shake out the bugs”. This is common practice in the computer and software industry. These test or non-final versions are called “Beta” versions. For example, Google Mail (Gmail) has been in Beta for over 4 years now, and still is today. See for yourself.

IE8's Accelerator Features

IE8s Accelerators

IE8 looks pretty much the same as IE7, but they smoothed its looks a bit, and put some new items under the hood.  My favorite tool, the right-click.  And if you ever wondered what that key is just to the right of the spacebar and ALT, you know, the one that looks like a tower with an arrow on it?  That’s the right-click key.  It does the same thing as the right mouse button. It brings up a shortcut menu.

Here’s a list of some of the new features in IE8.

Accelerators: Common everyday tasks can be performed faster and hassle free with the new Accelerators feature. For example, you’re looking at the address of a restaurant you’d like to go to, and you want to see a map of the location, just highlight the address and an arrow will popup over the highlighting. Click the arrow and choose the “Map” option to see a map of the location. Or you could choose the “Email” option to send it to a friend. Choose “Search the NY Times” to see if they’ve reviewed the restaurant. You’ll even be able to use accelerators with social networking sites such as Facebook.  More accelerators will become available after IE8’s release. Visit the Accelerator’s Gallery for more information.

Instant Search

Instant Search

Instant Search: IE8 is linking with top search sites such as Live Search, Wikipedia, Yahoo!, Amazon, Google, The NY Times and others. With Instant Search a list of suggested or similar searches will appear as you type. If a search suggestion matches what you were going to type, you can click on that suggestion to execute the search without having to finish typing. The results come from your chosen search provider and are influenced by your browsing history. Images will appear along with your search results, too.

Favorites, The Links Bar, and Web Slices: The Favorites and the Links bar has been a common feature on Internet Explorer for many years now. This is the row of buttons just under the address bar that list the names of web sites. Currently you can click “grab” the icon to the left of an address in the address bar and drab and drop it to the links bar. A little arrow will appear on the Links bar wherever you can drop it.  That enables you to click the name associated with that web site to quickly jump to that site.

Web Slice

Web Slice

IE8 adds a new quick use feature to the Links bar.  It’s called the “Web Slice”. If the page associated with that Link bar button gets updated, the button will become highlighted. Now you can click the button and a drop down window will appear revealing the “slice” of the page that has been updated. See the picture at right. (Read more about web slices at the IE8 Beta site.)

InPrivate Browsing: Ever wanted to erase your browsing history or cookies? With InPrivate browsing in IE8 all traces of your browsing activity can be erased just by closing the Internet Explorer window. Or you can set the Internet options (under Tools) to determine what information you’d like InPrivate browsing to control or conceal for you. I suppose parents will be able to disable this feature when their kids use the computer so you can keep tabs on how your children use the Internet.

Smart Screen

Smart Screen

SmartScreen filters: Fake or spoofed web sites, phishing schemes, and other attempts to trick the unwary will continue on the web, but IE8 has added features to protect you and make your browsing experience safer. One feature is called “Domain Highlighting”. This feature will apply boldface or highlighting to the main address (also known as an URL or domain name) of the site in the address bar. So if you think you’re looking at a Yahoo site, you can check the address bar to see if that’s true.  The page might look like Yahoo, but does the address bar say Yahoo?  (After all, my living room may be covered in copies of the Wall Street Journal, but that doesn’t mean I live in one of their offices.)

Other safety features include phishing and malware filters that block documented scams or infected sites. Microsoft’s update service will automatically update your browsers list of danger sites. This isn’t a substitute for antivirus software, and it’s not meant to be.

Compatibility mode: The internet is changing fast, and not even the web designers can keep up with it. SOme web sites might not work well with IE* as a result. With compatibility mode you can switch to IE7 mode to see the site as it would appear in the earlier version of Internet Explorer.

Video Demos

Microsoft has a series of video demonstrating the new features of IE8. Here’s a list of some of the avaiable videos you can view online.

Read more about IE8 at the IE8 Beta Home page from Microsoft.

Post Comments or Questions with the link below. Keep up-to-date with Skylarking: By Email or RSS Newsfeed or on Twitter. You can also send questions with my email form. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.


Microsoft Access Warning

July 7, 2008, Redmond, WA — Microsoft issued a Security Advisory regarding targeted attacks against users of its Access 2000, Access 2002, and Access 2003 database software.

Access is not commonly found on home computers.  It is more common on business and office computers, and is part of the expensive “Microsoft Office Professional” software suite, which should not be confused with “Windows XP Professional”.

Do I Have Access 2000, 2002, or 2003?
Most home computers do not have Microsoft Access installed on them.  If you are unsure, or if you want to check, do the following:

  1. Click “Start”
  2. Click “Programs” or “All Programs”
  3. Click “Microsoft Office”
    1. If you don’t see Microsoft Office, then you don’t have to go any further; you’re safe.
    2. If you see and click Microsoft Office, but you don’t see Access 2000, 2002, or 2003, then you’re safe, too.

So if you can’t find Microsoft Office and Microsoft Access then you’re safe.  You are also safe if you have Access 95, 97, 98, and 2007. Those versions are unaffected.

What Attack?
The attack affects a flaw in the ActiveX control for the “Snapshot Viewer” for Microsoft Access. An attacker could exploit the vulnerability by constructing a specially crafted Web page. When a user views the Web page, the vulnerability could allow remote code execution. An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could gain the same user rights as the logged-on user.

How To Avoid It?
Computer users who have one of the affected versions of Access should perform the following actions:

  1. Start Internet Explorer, then click Internet Options on the Tools menu.
  2. Click the Security tab.
  3. Click Internet, and then click Custom Level.
  4. Under Settings, in the Scripting section, under Active Scripting, click Prompt or Disable, and then click OK.
  5. Click Local intranet, and then click Custom Level.
  6. Under Settings, in the Scripting section, under Active Scripting, click Prompt or Disable, and then click OK.
  7. Click OK two times to return to Internet Explorer.

Updates?
Every Tuesday evening Microsoft issues Windows Updates and Microsoft Updates to patch flawed software. No patch has been released for the Access problem at this time, and the procedure above is only offered as a workaround until the underlying problem can be solved.

Update: Patched on August 12, 2008

Need more information?

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