microsoftI hate being right some days, but this isn’t one of them. I’m loving being right this time.

The other day I wrote up a post here about Windows Systems Suffering Black Screens After Security Update, and I stated:

What seems odd about this whole report is that the supposed guilty security update was sent out Nov. 10th, but the first reports came in last week from a security firm named Prevx.  Prevx says they have a tool that will fix some instances for users, and at this point Microsoft is simply stating that they are investigating the situation and have no official word on it.

The reason I find this whole thing a bit questionable is how as someone plugged in to the technology world such as I am heard no complaints prior to a third-party company I’ve never heard of suddenly saying they know how to fix it.  True its solution is being provided for free, but the amount of publicity more than makes up for it.  I have heard no independent verifications of something being wrong with the update, and believe me, something like this happens, you’d hear all about it on Twitter.

There is every chance this problem is real, but it does seem a tad odd at the moment.

Well, according to Ed Bott at ZDNet, I was right to say it smelled fishy because it was.

… on Tuesday evening, Prevx backs down completely from the story, publishing a formal retraction and apologizing to Microsoft. Another follow-up post the next day from Prevx CEO and CTO Mel Morris tries to deny any responsibility for the damage. He includes this hilarious bit of understatement: “Regrettably, it is clear that our original blog post has been taken out of context and may have caused an inconvenience for Microsoft.”

What a shock.

What was disturbing about this whole thing (and according to Steven Hodson at Shooting at Bubbles, I deserve the right to pat myself on the back for this one), I was one of the very few tech journalists who called it suspicious.  As Mr. Bott chronicles the whole debacle in his post, he points out time and time again how all of the major tech blogs went nuts reporting it, but yet no one seemed to question it or research it.

While I did look around unofficially online, I admit I did not contact Microsoft.  Why?  Because I fully admit I knew I would get an empty answer with no substance to it, and lets face it, StarterTech isn’t exactly a leading tech blog like the big boys.  If they weren’t getting quotes, neither was I.

What I did do was to use this amazing resource called “the Internet”, perhaps you’ve heard of it?  We are sitting on top of the most powerful research tool ever invented and apparently most bloggers couldn’t be bothered to head to a search engine and do some basic research.  Where were the cries of outrage from users?  Why wasn’t this a trending topic on Twitter?  Where were the Apple Fanboys crowing over their superiority?  Instead what I found was tech blogs writing the same headlines over and over with nary a question in sight as to why we were the only ones talking about it.  Would it have really been that difficult to do a search and go, “Wait a minute … something doesn’t smell right here …”

If the Internet has proven anything, it is that people will not hesitate to complain about the smallest irritation.  Do you really think if black screens had been happening the entire Internet would have been silent about it?  Of course it wouldn’t have been.

So, yes, for once I am going to pat myself on the back for calling this into question from the start, and I echo Mr. Bott’s questioning of the tech blogosphere at large.

At the same time, I join with Mr. Bott for calling for Prevx to be laughed out of the security field.  Honestly, I’d go even further and wonder when the lawsuits will start.  Was this a marketing gimmick?  If so, good job, you’re going to get more press coverage than you know what to do with … and none of it is going to be good.

Categories: Microsoft, Opinion, Windows 7, Windows XP   
 

microsoftIf you’re suffering the black screen update problem that is reportedly striking some Windows systems … you probably aren’t reading this.

Kidding aside, reports have come in that some Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 systems are suffering “black screens of death” for some reason after the latest Windows security update.  Here is the explanation from PCWorld:

Microsoft apparently made changes to the Access Control List (ACL), a list of permissions for a logged-on user. The ACL interacts with registry keys, creating visible desktop features such as a sidebar.

However, the latest patches appear to make some changes to those registry keys. The effect is that some installed applications aren’t aware of the changes and don’t run properly, causing a black screen…

In short: your system may be messed up.

What seems odd about this whole report is that the supposed guilty security update was sent out Nov. 10th, but the first reports came in last week from a security firm named Prevx.  Prevx says they have a tool that will fix some instances for users, and at this point Microsoft is simply stating that they are investigating the situation and have no official word on it.

The reason I find this whole thing a bit questionable is how as someone plugged in to the technology world such as I am heard no complaints prior to a third-party company I’ve never heard of suddenly saying they know how to fix it.  True its solution is being provided for free, but the amount of publicity more than makes up for it.  I have heard no independent verifications of something being wrong with the update, and believe me, something like this happens, you’d hear all about it on Twitter.

There is every chance this problem is real, but it does seem a tad odd at the moment.

Categories: Microsoft, Opinion, Windows 7, Windows XP   
 

windows 8Windows 7 is so yesterday.

Even though Microsoft isn’t releasing Windows 7 until Oct. 22nd, it seems that the company is already hard at work on Windows 8 and Windows 9.

According to Ars Technica, the first serious hints came out of a software engineer’s LinkedIn profile.  Once he realized people were figuring out that his brief mention of working with 128 bit processing meant Windows 8 was probably going to double the current systems processing power, he took that info out of his profile.

The cat is out of the bag though, and Windows 8 News has even gotten Robert Morgan, the engineer in question to agree to an interview since there is no putting the genie back in the bottle.

Before any one gets too worried though, figured you have 3 -4 years before Windows 8 shows up on store shelves, so if you skipped Vista to wait for Windows 7, don’t go thinking you can wait for the next iteration.

Categories: Microsoft, Windows 7   
 

windows 7If you’re planning to upgrade to Windows 7, you better hope you have a high end machine with not very much data.

According to Ars Technica, Microsoft tested Windows Vista upgrades to Windows 7 on various machines, configurations and amounts of data, and while some systems were able to do it in as little as 30-minutes, the longest took 1220-minutes, or 21 hours.

We here at StarterTech have never been big fans of major operating system upgrades like this one will be.  As I am fond of saying, “Have you ever tried changing a table cloth without taking the dishes off?  That’s exactly what changing your OS is like.”  While it can be done, it doesn’t always mean that it should be, and if you aren’t really computer savvy, I would definitely not recommend trying it.

There are also questions of hardware compatibility, software compatibility, driver compatibility and on and on.  If you want Windows 7, we recommend you just wait until the next time you buy a new system and get it as a fresh installation.

Below is the chart that Ars Technica provided showing what you can expect in the ways of upgrade times from Windows Vista to Windows 7.  (Remember, Windows XP to Windows 7 is not recommended)

windows 7 upgrade time

Categories: Windows 7   
 

windows 7If you are one of the hundreds of millions of users of Windows XP users in the world, you might want to think twice before even pondering the idea of upgrading to Windows 7.

Walt Mossberg, the man behind the All Things D column at The Wall Street Journal, released a video about the pain Windows XP users will suffer when trying to upgrade their current computers to Windows 7.  The bottom line?  Buy a new computer.

While Windows Vista users will probably have a painless upgrade experience (about the only painless experience Vista users have ever had), Windows XP users have no direct route to doing so, and the only workarounds involve a ton of work.  Feel like wiping your entire hard drive and having to reinstall every program?  Yeah, that kind of painful.

Basically there is no official support for XP users to upgrade, but it is possible.  Mr. Mossberg goes in to far greater detail in the video below, but at the end of it you will just be saying, “… I think I’ll just buy a new one instead…”

Categories: Windows 7, Windows XP   
 

windows 7Microsoft can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to businesses accepting its new versions of Windows.

While many companies opted to skip updating from Windows XP to Windows Vista, it looks like Windows 7 may not be getting a whole lot of love from IT departments either.  In a survey of 1,000 businesses conducted by ScriptLogic, 5.4% of respondents said they expect to upgrade to the new operating system this calendar year, over a third said they would do it in 2010 and the remaining 59.4% said they have no plans at this time.

This isn’t to say that the nearly two-thirds who said they have no plans won’t ever do it, but it sure doesn’t look too promising for Microsoft at the moment.  As to why companies said they wouldn’t be rushing to the new system, it was a mixture of the economy and concerns over if there would be software incompatibilities with applications currently used.

This is another feather in the cap of those of us who said Microsoft should have just worked towards improving Windows XP instead of forcing Vista down every one’s throats, followed now by Windows 7.  While it isn’t so difficult for individuals to move on to new systems, the lengthy list of incompatible peripherals such as printers and scanners between Windows XP and Vista was just too lengthy for most businesses.  In the case of the StarterTech offices, we would have had to buy all new printers if we had gone to Vista.  Being a small business, that was just never an option for us.  We may go to Windows 7, but it will be a process of attrition more than a planned move.

Microsoft needs to realize that computer users are not ts personal ATMs, and we aren’t just going to snap to anytime they come out with a new piece of software.

Categories: Windows 7   
 

windows 7It looks like the rumored Windows 7 release date of October 22nd is becoming more believable by the day.

According to NeoWin, Microsoft is ready to declare Windows 7 “Gold Master” on July 10th barring any hiccups.  This means that computer manufacturers such as Dell will receive the software on July 13th and can begin prepping their new systems for release in the fall for the much needed holiday shopping season.

Anyone looking for a computer right now has a tough call to make.  You can either wait for Windows 7, or you may want to wait until Microsoft releases the first update to the operating system to correct the inevitable bugs that will be found in the system as more and more people use it in far more circumstance than could have been tested for.  Personally, I just bought one last Windows XP laptop on a heck of a sale from Dell.  I want to take a “wait and see” approach to what Microsoft finally puts out there in the marketplace.

Categories: Windows 7   
 

windows 7The date is set, the prices are set, and now you can order your official copy of Windows 7.

October 22nd has been set as the official release date for the next iteration of the Microsoft operating system, Windows.  Amazon has started taking pre-orders, and they are even offering 50% discounts while supplies last on the Premium and Professional versions of the program.

In addition to this, HP has announced that all qualifying computers purchased after June 26 will receive free upgrades to the new iperating system once it is released.  This was an essential move, and one most manufacrurers are sure to follow if they have any hope of selling any new computers between now and the release in October.

Just remember my golden rule of operating system upgrade: It’s like trying to change the table cloth on a table after you’ve already set the silverware… without moving any of it.  It never goes well.

Categories: Windows 7   
 

windows 7If you tried the Windows 7 beta, you need to remember your clock is quickly winding down.

The beta version of Windows 7, build 7000, was released in January of this year, and starting on July 1st, your system will begin shutting down every two hours as a reminder you need to move to the Windows 7 release candidate, build 7100, that came out in May.  If you have not moved from 7000 to 7100 by August 15th, your desktop will begin displaying a message saying that your system is not genuine, and this will be followed by unknown punishments from Microsoft.

You can still get the release candidate through August 15th for free, and that version will be usable through March 2010 when it starts its own cycle of bi-hourly shut downs.

Considering both version were free, there isn’t a whole lot to complain about here.  The final version of Windows 7 is rumored to be going out to manufacturers in July for a fall release.  Very soon Vista may be a distant, ugly memory, for users and new computer buyers.

Categories: Windows 7   
 

windows 7 box artWindows 7 is one step closer to release with the appearance of the new operating system in the official Microsoft Store.

While it has been pretty much a forgone conclusion that Microsoft was aiming to release Windows 7 this fall, the sudden addition of the operating system to the Microsoft Store pretty much cinches it.  They do not have prices listed yet, nor are they taking order, but putting up the box art for the various versions with “Coming soon” is not something one typically does with a product unless you are fairly clost to releasing it.

In an attempt to get consumers excited about the new operating system, they have listed some bullet points to help convince them that they need to upgrade to the latest version.

  • Faster, more responsive performance: Nobody likes to wait, so we designed the operating system to start up, shut down, resume from standby, and respond faster.
  • Streaming media in your home: Windows 7 makes it easy to use your PC to stream music, videos, or photos to your home audio-video system and other networked media devices.
  • Improved taskbar and full-screen previews: Pin any program to the taskbar so it’s always just a click away. Rearrange the icons on the taskbar just by clicking and dragging.
  • Desktop enhancements: Windows 7 simplifies how you work with the windows on your desktop. For example, Snaps lets you easily compare two open windows side-by-side.
  • Reduce interruptions: When Windows 7 needs your attention, you’ll see an Action Center icon and can find out more by clicking it. Or wait and read it later when you have time.
  • HomeGroup: This great new feature is set up automatically when you add the first PC running Windows 7 to your home network. Store digital photos on a computer in one room and access them in another.
  • Jump Lists: Access recently used files with just two clicks. Right-click the relevant program icon (such as Word) on your taskbar and Jump List will show your most recent, frequently used, and pinned Word documents.
  • Windows Search: Windows 7 makes search results more relevant and easier to understand. It also uses libraries to show all content of a particular type, like photos, in one spot.
  • No firm release date has been announced yet, but definitely expect it sometime this fall so it can be in those new computers under the Christmas tree.

    Categories: Windows 7   
     
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