Get Service Pack 1 RTM for Windows 7 Now!

Windows 7 Ultimate package retailFinally! Service Pack number One for Windows 7 is out! Good bye blue screens of death! Sigh and install Windows 7 now if have not done it yet. There are number of fixes and improvements included, I already mentioned in one of my last posts. Officially Microsoft has not provided Service Pack 1 to public yet, but its RTM version (released to manufacturing, the final one!)  has leaked and available in torrents to download. Here’s some links below: Continue reading “Get Service Pack 1 RTM for Windows 7 Now!”

Windows Firewall Rules. What we know from books.

Windows FirewallWindows Firewall is a built-in security tool you would never regret to have, even if you do not know what it is and what for. It is designed to protect your computer from hackers attacks from outside, that is not always solely Internet — local network (LAN) could be also an area where you want to be alerted. Firewall can also protect, if some malware is already planted and trying to communicate out of your machine. The latter is very unlikely though, that is once your machine is infected, the virus would most probably find a way to break silently through the firewall. I once already explained how to configure  Windows Vista firewall to filter outbound traffic [article link “Tweak Windows Firewall”]. Since then I expect Windows 7 firewall to be even more convenient and maybe more functional, let’s check.

Let’s see what we can learn from popular books. Let’s start with Windows 7. The missing manual. By David Pogue, Published by O’Reilly Media, 2010. At first it gives a nice definition of the firewall: “The firewall acts as a gatekeeper between you and the Internet. It examines all Internet traffic and lets through only communications that it knows are safe; all other traffic is turned away at the door.” But then on page 363 it describes the outbound versus inbound topic, where to my big surprise I see the following: “Windows Vista didn’t have an outbound-blocking firewall at all.” That’s wrong, Vista had almost the same firewall that Windows 7 has. Good suggestion for the errata, I think. But anyway, the author is right about the firewall: outbound-blocking feature is turned off by default. Why? “The theory is that if your PC is locked down tight enough with antivirus software, antispyware software, and an inbound firewall, you won’t get any infection that could send outbound signals in the first place.” That’s a fair explanation, but a bit too general for a book like that. Otherwise, there is a good guide in the book of how to tweak Windows firewall. One good point I would like to quote: “there’s no harm in having both a hardware and software firewall in place. In fact, having the Windows Firewall turned on protects you from viruses you catch from other people on your own network (even though you’re both “behind” the router’s firewall).” The book gives an interesting link to Microsoft TechNet library article Windows Firewall with Advanced Security Getting Started Guide, where you can learn a lot of interesting stuff. For example, I was wondering why my Avast Internet Security 5.0.677 did not disable the Windows Firewall once it has it’s own. As it turned out, that is a new feature in the Windows Firewall that it coexist with third party firewalls:

Continue reading “Windows Firewall Rules. What we know from books.”

Windows 7 Service Pack 1 Release Candidate

win7-sp1-rc-hotfixesHere it is — the Windows 7 Service Pack 1 Release Candidate (KB976932), available for public here at Microsoft download center. As stated there: The RC is best suited for IT Pros, tech enthusiasts (for us people!), and developers who need to test the service pack in their organization or with the software they are developing. The final release of Service Pack 1 will be available through Windows Update for consumers when it is ready. RC is only released in English, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish. Everybody can try though, it is safe and easy to uninstall if something goes wrong. The RC will expire on November 30, 2011.

Here’s the question for the big underground part of computer world: will Windows 7 RC tackle DAZ loader and all similarly successful cracking stuff? I would bet any money it won’t. But I will test anyway and let you know. Sometimes Microsoft was known for making bad surprises for lovers of freeware at the very end of testing period and that can be an example.

If you can not install SP1 RC for Windows 7 having error code 80070017, try to disable antivirus and run again.

Here’s the TechNet Evaluation Center for W7 SP1 RC for further information.

Here you can download a list of Fixes and Security Updates included in Windows 7 SP1 (625 patches altogether!)

 Changes specific to Windows 7:

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Microsoft delivers pre-released Forefront Endpoint Protection 2010 to corporate customers

I’m surprised to see that Microsoft delivers pre-released beta version of Forefront Endpoint Protection 2010 to its corporate customers. What can force a company use unfinished product to protect daily business? Though it is true that some well-established and evolved projects like Gmail had been running for years in beta phase, I don’t really remember examples when corporate users are heavily involved in that. Corporate customers are usually the ones who drag the old versions (like Windows XP) for long long time before any upgrade, because stability and low cost service are the keys.

Versions numbers:
Forefront Endpoint Protection 2.0.375.0
Antimalware Client 3.0.6509.0
Engine 1.1.6201.0

Here’s some more screenshots below.

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Windows Live Essentials 2011 Final is out

Windows Live Essentials 2011 FinalWindows Live Essentials 2011 Final is available now, check this out. As reported Windows Live Messenger 2011 Build number is 15.4.3502.922.

Windows Live Essentials 2011 includes Messenger, Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, Mail, Writer, Family Safety, and Windows Live Mesh, plus Bing Bar, Messenger Companion, Microsoft Silverlight, and Outlook Connector Pack (Microsoft Outlook Hotmail Connector and Microsoft Outlook Social Connector Provider for Windows Live Messenger). Operating system requirements: 32- and 64-bit editions of Windows Vista Service Pack 2 with the Platform Update for Windows Vista, or Windows 7, or Windows Server 2008 with Service Pack 2 and the Platform Update for Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2.

Direct download link for offline installer http://g.live.com/1rewlive4-all/en/wlsetup-all.exe

Windows 7 Editions. Features and differences.

Windows 7 Ultimate package retailI like comparing stuff, especially when it comes to software products. If you have a choice to pick one Windows 7 edition out of few (sometimes this choice is very limited, say, you are buying a laptop — because then Operating System is included and rarely dominates as a factor to consider), then it is important to make a right decision. Of course, you can always upgrade later, but who wants all this headache with reinstalling and backup.

This time Microsoft made it easier to choose (comparing to Windows Vista), let’s have a look. Traditionally I will start with the best and then going down the road, explaining what we strip along the way.

Continue reading “Windows 7 Editions. Features and differences.”

Beauty of Internet Explorer 9 beta — not for Windows XP majority

Microsoft has released a public beta version of Internet Explorer 9 on the website Beauty of the Web. New Internet Explorer is featured with hardware-accelerated text, video, and graphics thru Direct2D and DirectWrite, HTML5 support, CSS3 support, fast new JavaScript engine Chakra based on “power of modern multicore processors.”  Question is: should you care? Of course, you should, but probably not now. First of all, it is a pre-release version, not final. What I found IE9 beta is not compatible with WordPress 3.0.1 control panel, buttons for post editing do not function. So, to me it is a broken toy so far. I don’t like how controls are organized: why home button is so tiny and hidden? Opera did it right, I think.

Whatever Paul Thurrott is saying about big advantage of Microsoft as the Windows OS maker over all over web-browers makers (which I take more as a religious point actually), let’s face the facts. IE9 will not run on Windows XP. Great. You know the share of Windows XP today? 61%! Let me repeat: sixty one percent. The source is Netmarketshare. Here’s full statistics: Top Operating System Share Trend. As you can see Windows 7 and Windows Vista are just 16% and 14% accordingly. So, what about browsers share? Top Browser Share Trend tells you all: Internet Explorer 6 (six) is still 16%! IE7 — 11%, IE8 — 28%. So, that is my prediction: biggest trouble for IE9 is actually users of previous versions of Internet Explorer and Windows XP. That’s the beast for the beauty.

My screenshot:

Internet Explorer 9 beta

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Windows 7 — The best, expensive, and free

As I wrote many times, Windows 7 (and Windows Vista before) is incredibly popular software, which is the fact. But I think Microsoft deliberately makes it available for crackers in a very hidden way. By doing this, Microsoft can kill two birds with one shot: people who buy software and the ones who don’t — both run the latest superior operating system — Windows 7. My point — one population will never merge with another one completely, so if you really restrict the illegal use, you will loose the other half. You’re only interested when everybody is using your software, because then there will be no real alternative. Linux? It is a free headache in short. Apple? That is a good example of those who want to exclude the dark side. Pirated Leopard is a very rare animal. Result? Look at their market share. Microsoft makes it in a very wise way: they say they fight piracy and they do, but in reality they leave back door open. So, you could ask: Well, how about that activation stuff and genuine software program? That really works, however the workaround is very simple.

Loader

The idea has become possible due to specific OEM activation mechanism (SLP): If the OS can match three things together (OEM information in SLIC table from BIOS + digital certificate (file) + product number), then the activation happens automatically and instantly. The first part is the most tricky one, because it is hardware driven, i.e. depends on PC manufacturer, all the rest can be simply copied, given the System Locked Preinstallation keys are common for one OEM (ASUS could use one product key for many-many computers, for instance). So what hackers did, they introduced a program loader that puts appropriate OEM info into memory before Windows boots.

Here is a very good explanation of the method, ironically called The Official Windows 7 Repository. Let me quote: “Activators, also known as loaders, add a script on the boot partition (Linux Grub boot loader (GRLDR)) which will put OEM information (SLIC 2.1) into memory before Windows starts. This way Windows thinks that the SLIC 2.1 come from the BIOS (which is false). Activators also install a certificate and an OEM SLP key to activate Windows”.

Windows Loader by Daz is the most popular activator which is kept steadily updated (last version is 1.9.2)

Windows Loader by Daz

Continue reading “Windows 7 — The best, expensive, and free”