Monday mornings are not known for amusing news, but today is different. I fired up Firefox on my work Laptop and up poped a dialogue warning me that the Windows Presentation Foundation had been disabled.
The Windows Presentation Foundation plugin caused a stink earlier this year when it was installed into Firefox by a Microsoft update without the users consent or knowledge. Uninstalling the plugin proved initially difficult (later resolved with another update) and last week Microsoft announced it contained a critical security vulnerability.
The block came into effect late Friday, but since I’m a Macintosh user at home I do not (yet) suffer intrusive Microsoft updates that install components without my permission.
This week I had a chance to play with the latest (available) Windows 7 build, 6956. The new style taskbar that was a hack in the previous 6801 version is now standard, and surprisingly includes the Windows explorer by default. There are some tweaks and graphical changes to the installation and startup screens but nothing massively different to the previous build. Techradar have a nice guide to what to expect from Windows 7 so I won’t repeat it all here. Read on for a screenshot gallery, and remember that these were taken running in VMware so there’s no Aero effects. Read more…
Biggest news today is that Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer last night previewed Windows 7 at the All Things Digital conference. From the details revealed, the future of Windows is multi-touch in a big way. Full details of the interview and video can be found at engadget (and here), osnews and allthingsdigital.
While it looks very impressive, I’m a bit puzzled at the big focus on multi-touch interfaces. While they work great for a handheld device, or a tablet PC, they’re not so great for a desktop PC where lifting your arms to the screen constantly would quickly become tiring for a lot of users. Tablet PC’s have so far met little success, so does this mean they will become the focus again for Windows 7? I can’t see big business adopting multi-touch interfaces any time soon, where home users are more likely to embrace a tactile interface. Hopefully someone is developing a fingerprint resistant screen to go with this. Read more…
When details of the next version of Microsoft Windows first started appearing, there was much talk of it being a lot more modular in nature. There were even Microsoft demo’s’ of a bare bones ‘MinWin’ that removed the many layers of Vista and gave a fast and compact core that used 40Mb or Ram and 25Mb of disk space. For once it sounded like Microsoft’s engineers were leading the development of Windows 7 instead of the marketing teams.
Unfortunately thing don’t seem to be going the way I had hoped. Arstechnica has an article titled ‘Why modular Windows will suck for Microsoft and suck for you’ that makes a good argument for why it’s not a good idea. It’s all about the way in which Windows will become modular, using software or services that are bought individually or subscribed to. If you want the full Windows package you end up paying more for it, or users who want to strip out the bits they don’t use could get a cheaper deal. Read more…
FT.com reports that both Apple and Microsoft are in talks with Sony to add Blu-Ray drives to their hardware. Does this mean we may finally have an easy method of storing and transporting the High Definition video we’ve been shooting for the past couple of years? Apple’s iMovie HD was released in 2006, and only allowed burning to Medium Definition™ DVD. Now the latest format war is over can we have an industry standard High Def disk? Just to keep us going until we all have super fast internet and modern media delivery systems so disks aren’t needed.
The latest security flaw to Mac OS and Windows is revealed in an article I found on ZDNet today. Microsoft’s BitLocker, Apple’s FileVault and the open-source TrueCrypt are all rendered insecure because memory contents are not deleted when the computer is rebooted. Sounds pretty scary until you read the rest of the article. To achieve this feat you need to supercool the memory cards and transfer them to another computer, or follow a long and involved procedure using specially developed software and lots of technical knowledge.
Transferring memory to another computer is not difficult, but won’t much of the memory be overwritten when the recipient computer boots? And as for the other method using another computer attached via ethernet cable and network booting the mac, using an open firmware password will block this. The other point worth mentioning is that the Windows version used was Vista, but the Mac OS was Tiger. Is Leopard still vulnerable to this type of attack?
One of the ideas I have been toying with for a while now has been switching to free sofware, or reasonably priced software. The second MacUpdate promo bundle finished recently, and I got some great software for £25. Most of it I wanted, some was usually priced out of my reach so you can’t complain about £25 for twelve bits of quality software. There’s a similar bundle on sale soon at MacHeist, and for now you can solve the challenges they are posting to win free software and money off the bundle when it goes on sale. Good fun and some nice software given away so far.
But what of the free software? There’s some excellent stuff out there, so I’ve added a new section to the site to document my switch to free and cheap software. Microsoft office may be the industry leader, but how much power do you need to write a letter?
My first recommendation is Frostwire, a free open source Limewire replacement.