Tech Strategy Trends

February 14, 2010  10:19 PM

One-Third of Pirated Windows 7 Contains Malware

Tony Bradley Tony Bradley Profile: Tony Bradley

Microsoft has developed an update for Windows 7 designed to detect more than 70 known activation exploits and attempt to identify counterfeit copies of Windows 7.

Obviously, users who knowingly use pirated versions of Windows 7 will not apply the optional update, but what about those who think their Windows 7 is legitimate? Well, those who think their Windows 7 is legitimate might still shy away from the update because they don’t see any value–to them rather than Microsoft–in identifying that fact.

That might be true to an extent, however, that super-cheap upgrade to Windows 7 might come with some extra bells and whistles you didn’t plan on. “Media Surveillance, an anti-piracy solutions company based in Germany, recently downloaded more than five hundred pirated copies of Windows 7 (and Windows activation exploits) and found that 32% contained malicious code.”

Part of the apprehension by users is based on not wanting to end up paying twice for Windows 7–once for the counterfeit copy, and again to replace it. A Microsoft spokesperson addressed that issue. “Microsoft does have a program to help customers who are victims of software piracy. Additionally the company will sometimes provide a free or discounted version of Windows to customers who report counterfeit products.

Microsoft encourages customers –enterprise, consumer, or SMB – who feel they have been victimized, to report their experience through or via Microsoft’s How To Tell Web site, here:

February 14, 2010  9:58 PM

February Patch Tuesday Nearly Record-Setting

Tony Bradley Tony Bradley Profile: Tony Bradley

There are some records that are good to achieve–most copies of Windows sold in a month, or most profitable quarter in company history, etc. Then, there are less desirable records, like say….the highest number of security bulletins, or the most vulnerabilities patched in a single Patch Tuesday.

According to Qualys CTO Wolfgang Kandek, the February Patch Tuesday was on track to do just that.  “Microsoft’s February 2010 was slated to be the biggest release for Microsoft patches in the last two years–14 bulletins addressing 34 vulnerabilities. But the Google/CN Internet Explorer 0-day forced Microsoft to accelerate the testing of the planned IE bulletin and release it early, still in January. That leaves 13 bulletins covering 26 vulnerabilities for the February release, which constitutes one of the bigger patch Tuesdays.”

So, thanks to a stealth attack launched in China against Google and other targets leveraging a zero-day exploit against Internet Explorer, the out-of-band update for IE saved February 2010 from the dubious honor of most security bulletins, and reduced it to a meager record-tying month.

February 14, 2010  9:50 PM

Microsoft Denies Windows 7 Battery Issues

Tony Bradley Tony Bradley Profile: Tony Bradley

Following a spike in online reports that a growing number of Windows 7 users were reporting issues with battery life–either the actual life of the battery, or at least how Windows 7 was reporting battery life–Microsoft began an investigation, working with hardware partners to get to the bottom of the issue.

The results of that investigation seem to suggest, at least to Microsoft, that Windows 7 is working exactly the way it was designed, and that reported battery issues are simply accurate–meaning the battery does have issues or is dying–or that users are simply confused or alarmed because Windows 7 has better power management–including new alerts related to battery life that users are not familiar with.

There are still users who insist the issue runs deeper than that, though, and Microsoft is interested in hearing from those users to continue exploring the issue to determine what, if anything, the problem might be.

February 6, 2010  9:03 AM

From the Trenches: Deploying Windows 7

Tony Bradley Tony Bradley Profile: Tony Bradley

Microsoft has seemingly endless resources and references explaining the features of Windows 7 and the potential benefits of the new operating system. It also has hours of podcasts, screencasts, video, and other multimedia presentations and tutorials on Windows 7. Microsoft has also developed tools to ease and streamline upgrades and deployments.

All of that is great, but what IT managers and administrators really want to know before embarking on a massive operating system refresh project is “how does it work in real life for an organization like mine?”

CXOToday(dot)com  interviewed Madhusudhan Mendu, GM-IT Initiatives for Wipro, to learn more about his experience with deploying Windows 7 and Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 in his organization.

Mendu says “In the last two years we have made it a standard to install a minimum of 1GB RAM in all the computers. We found that Windows 7 works fine with 1GB RAM. Therefore we do not see an issue in rolling out Windows 7 in our organization.”

Read the whole interview to find out more about how Windows 7 and Exchange 2010 are working for Wipro.

February 2, 2010  8:54 AM

Still Running Windows 7 RC? Not For Long

Tony Bradley Tony Bradley Profile: Tony Bradley

Time’s up.

Microsoft appreciates all who installed the Release Candidate (RC) version of Windows 7 to help identify and resolve any issues prior to the general availability of the official Windows 7 operating system, but now it would like you to quit using  the RC and get a valid, licensed copy of the actual OS.

As of February 15th Microsoft will begin to not-so-subtly remind you that Windows 7 RC is expiring with frequent warning messages. As of March 1st, your Windows 7 RC system will automatically reboot every two hours–just to keep it fresh in your mind. As of June 1st, Windows 7 RC will only boot to a black desktop and warn you that your Windows 7 is not a genuine copy of Windows 7.

Suffice it to say, time is up and its about to get very annoying–to say the least–to continue riding on the RC version of Windows 7.

Join the party. Upgrade to an official version of Windows 7.

January 31, 2010  11:21 PM

What You Need to Know About Windows 7 Security

Tony Bradley Tony Bradley Profile: Tony Bradley

Windows 7 is the most secure desktop operating system Microsoft has yet developed. As exhibited in Microsoft’s most recent Security Intelligence Report, it is a quantum improvement over Windows XP, which still enjoys better than 50 percent market share.

Roger Grimes takes an extensive, in-depth dive under the hood to explain the various features and components of Windows 7 security. Read all of the installments of Grimes’ three-part series on Windows 7 Security: What You Need to Know.

When you’re done with that, you can follow it up with a more general look at current security threats above and beyond Windows 7 by reading How to Stop 11 Hidden Security Threats.

January 31, 2010  11:13 PM

Hints of Windows 7 SP1

Tony Bradley Tony Bradley Profile: Tony Bradley

Windows 7 has only been officially available for a little over three months now. It has become the fastest-selling operating system to date for Microsoft and its success has driven a significant jump in revenue and earnings for Microsoft.

Still, its not perfect. There will be vulnerabilities found, and Microsoft will issue patches for them. Eventually, Microsoft will develop a Service Pack to bundle the accumulated patches, as well as adding features and updating the operating system in general.

There have been a few rumors and rumblings hinting that Service Pack 1 (SP1) for Windows 7 may be in the early stages of development. At this point, its mere existence is a matter of speculation, which makes predicting what it might contain even less reliable. But, if you want to get started early on the debate over what Windows 7 SP1 might have in store, check out What to Expect from Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 from PCWorld.

January 31, 2010  11:07 PM

More Hidden Windows 7 Features

Tony Bradley Tony Bradley Profile: Tony Bradley

Aside from the original “godmode” and the pantheon of additional “godmode” text strings, there are some other worthwhile features hidden beneath the surface of Windows 7.

Dwight Silverman of the Houston Chronicle recently pointed out a couple other Easter Egg-style discoveries. First of all, if you know where and how to look you can uncover a variety of international wallpaper and themes that exist on your hard drive, but are not made readily available by default.

Silverman also describes a different way to use the Aero functionality of Windows 7. Aside from being able to maximize a window or slam it to the left or right half of the screen, you can also get the window to simply fill the width it already has but occupy the full height of the screen by grabbing the top or bottom of the window and stretching it all the way to the top…or bottom, as the case may be.

Got any other favorite features or Easter Eggs we should know about? Feel free to comment here or send them to me.

January 31, 2010  10:56 PM

The Many “GodModes” of Windows 7

Tony Bradley Tony Bradley Profile: Tony Bradley

I wrote earlier about an Easter Egg in Windows 7 that grants access to a vast array of configuration settings by simply entering a secret string of text at the end of a folder name when creating a new folder in Windows Explorer.

It turns out that Windows 7 is polytheistic–it has many gods. According to an article from CNet’s Ina Fried:

“In an e-mail interview, Steven Sinofsky, Windows division president, said several similar undocumented features provide direct access to all kinds of settings, from choosing a location to managing power settings to identifying biometric sensors.”

I haven’t found many practical uses for most of the “godmode” text strings, but its still sort of fun to try them out and see what secret power each reveals.

Here is a list of the various “godmode” strings. Simply create a folder of any name, and add a period followed by one of these text strings to create a uniquely-endowed “godmode” folder:


January 31, 2010  10:05 AM

HP Mini 5102 Netbook: iPad Killer?

Tony Bradley Tony Bradley Profile: Tony Bradley

HP certainly never built up the level of media buzz and industry hype for the Mini 5102 netbook as Apple did leading up to the unveiling of the iPad tablet PC, but ounce for ounce and dollar for dollar there are a number of similarities and some key differences to consider which may make the HP a better value.

Let’s compare:

  • Size: the iPad is much thinner–only about half of the HP Mini 5102’s 0.9 inches
  • Weight: the iPad is much lighter–weighing about half of the HP Mini 5102’s 2.8 lbs
  • Display: Both have 10-inch capacitive multi-touch displays, so if you prefer to let your fingers do the walking you can do that on the HP as well as on the iPad. The iPad has slightly better resolution and includes IPS technology that gives the display a wider viewing angle. Both support 720p high definition video, and the HP has an option that will allow it to display 1080p resolutions.
  • eReader: the iPad comes with access to iBooks and native ePub format abilities, plus there is an app for reading Kindle. The HP Mini 5102 can read ePub formats using tools like Stanza, or the ePubReader add-on for Firefox, and Amazon provides free software to read Kindle on Windows as well.
  • Durability: the HP Mini 5102 is enclosed in an aluminum case so it is protected when closed in transit, and it has a special coating on the keys so its designed to take some abuse. The iPad screen is exposed to scratches and impacts unless you purchase an accessory like the iPad case which protects the iPad and adds some versatility for using it, but also adds to the thickness which levels the playing field on size.
  • Networking. both come with wireless networking capabilities by default. Apple will also offer a 3G-capable version of the iPad, but it will cost $130 more than the Wi-Fi version and is only truly compatible with AT&T. You can use the USB ports on the HP Mini 5102 to install a 3G USB dongle and add 3G connectivity to whichever wireless provider you choose.
  • Camera. One of the glaring omissions on the iPad is the camera. It doesn’t have one. The HP Mini 5102 has a 2-megapixel webcam which includes the ability to protect the PC and log in using facial recognition technology.
  • Battery Life. Both devices claim approximately 10-hours of functional battery life.
  • Storage.the iPad comes in 16Gb, 32Gb, and 64Gb models. The 64Gb model is $200 more than the entry-level 16Gb model. The HP Mini 5102 has a 160Gb hard drive, plus the ability to expand memory limitlessly using USB thumb drives and external USB hard drives. 
  • Software. the iPad runs apps rather than full-blown software applications. That means iPad users can run any of the 150,000 or so apps found in the iTunes App Store, and that the apps are typically cheaper and take up less space. The HP Mini 5102 can run any of the millions (haven’t verified that number, but seems plausible) of applications available for Windows, including the ability to run the ubuiqitous Microsoft Office products like Word, Excel, and Outlook.
  • Flexibility. the iPad is the iPad. Unless you use some sort of remote desktop solution to connect it to a Windows desktop, it will just be an iPad. The HP Mini 5102 is available with Windows 7, Windows XP (which I highly discourage), Suse Linux, or FreeDOS. You can configure it how you choose and install virtually anything.
  • Price. the iPad starts at $499 for the entry-level, Wi-Fi only 16Gb model. The 64Gb 3G-enabled iPad tops out at $830. The HP Mini 5102 starts at $399, with room for additional costs if you choose the optional 1080p high definition capabilities, or if you add a 3G USB dongle from a wireless provider.

Ounce for ounce and dollar for dollar, the HP Mini 5102 netbook compares quite favorably against the iPad. It has many of the same features that make the iPad desirable, many of the features that users wish the iPad had, more flexibility, and a lower price.

All its missing is the Teflon reputation of Apple, and the legions of rabid followers who won’t read this because they aren’t interested in how it compares with other products. If the logo on the case is the right shape, that is all the comparison-shopping they need.

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