Entries with tag microsoft windows.

Chinese Government Bans Windows 8

The Chinese government has announced that its agencies cannot use Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system. The prohibition was related to energy savings, said China’s Central Government Procurement Center, which offered no further explanation. The official Xinhua news agency, on the other hand, said the ban was enacted to ensure computer security after Microsoft ended support for Windows XP in April 2014. A more precise rationale for the ban was not provided by officials. Microsoft does provide security support, for a fee to governments still using Windows XP and is already doing so in the Netherlands and the UK. (Reuters)(TIME)(ZD Net)

Financial Systems Are Vulnerable as Windows XP Support Ends

Despite Microsoft repeatedly heralding the end of Windows XP support, analysts say several types of financial systems are vulnerable as their operators will likely keep running the 12-year-old operating system. The problem is that systems such as independent automated teller machines (ATMs) and small businesses’ credit-card-sales systems are likely to continue running XP—for which supported ended on April 8—because of the high cost and inconvenience of upgrading. For upgrades to Windows 7, some retailers could pay $1,700 for a single-store credit-card payment system and ATM vendors could pay between $4,000 to 5,000 per machine. If new ATM hardware is needed, that could cost another $50,000 and $60,000 per device.



The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council has warned retailers about the security risks of continuing to use XP systems but does not require them to upgrade their systems to operate on credit-card networks. Security analysts say malware writers sold new XP exploits that hackers have stockpiled in anticipation of Windows XP’s support ending. (TIME)(ZD Net)

US Tax Authority Misses XP Upgrade Deadline, Will Pay Millions for Security Patches

The 8 April 2014 end of support for Microsoft Windows XP poses a security risk for those still using the operating system, which includes businesses and government agencies that have failed to upgrade. Notable among them is the US Internal Revenue Service. Although the agency planned to migrate to Windows 7, in a budget hearing today, the agency said it needs $30 million to complete the task. Despite six years’ notice of the end of support, a mere 52,000 of the tax agency’s 110,000 Windows-powered computers have been upgraded to Windows 7. IRS commissioner John Koskinen claims this was but one of several IT projects worth a total of $300 million delayed because of budget issues. A portion of the $30 million needed to finish the task would be paid to Microsoft for Custom Support, a service providing help for customers with outdated software. Microsoft raised its prices for Custom Support from a cap of $200,000 per customer for the first year of service to an average of $200 per PC for the first year of service. Based on this, the IRS would pay Microsoft $11.6 million for a single year of Custom Support. The remainder would likely be used to purchase new PCs to replace the oldest systems. The IRS is not alone. The UK government has reportedly paid roughly $9.2 million for security patches for Windows XP, Office 2003, and Exchange 2003 covering them for the next 12 months.  (SlashDot)(Engadget)(Network World)

Former Microsoft Employee Arrested on Allegations of Stealing Trade Secrets

A former Microsoft employee was arrested in Washington state earlier this week for allegedly leaking early copies of Windows 8 to a French blogger. Alex Kibkalo, a Russian national who worked as a software architect for Microsoft for seven years, provided Windows 8 and associated documents and tools —including a software development kit—to a blogger in 2012, shortly before the operating system’s launch. Kibkalo allegedly uploaded proprietary software to a computer at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington, and then to his Microsoft SkyDrive—now called OneDrive—file-hosting account. A complaint was filed against him on 17 March in US District Court in Western Washington following internal and law-enforcement investigations. Federal agents then arrested Kibkalo in Bellevue, Washington. (PC Mag)(Seattle Times – 1)(Seattle Times – 2)

Windows 9 Planned for 2015 Launch

Microsoft is developing a major update to Windows for release in mid-2015, according to news reports. More details are expected at the company’s 2014 developer conference. The new operating system stems from a project known as Threshold that was intended as a Windows 8 update. However, pundits say, it will probably be called Windows 9 as a result of the rampant problems with Windows 8. “Microsoft is betting big on Threshold because of the disaster that was Windows 8,” noted Computerworld, “and because Windows 8.1 hasn't seemed to stem the bleeding.” The timing of the announcement is expected to follow Microsoft’s anticipated reorganization, which includes the appointment of a new CEO to replace the retiring Steve Ballmer. (Mashable)(Computerworld)(Supersite for Windows)

Microsoft Plans Cryptic Operating System Releases

Microsoft is planning a wave of operating system releases in spring of 2015 across all its various platforms, including Windows, Xbox One, and Windows Phone. This is according to new information reported by ZD Net, which obtained information from an internal Microsoft e-mail. “Threshold” is reportedly updating all three OS platforms in such a way that they will share more common elements. This will apparently be through sharing applications. It is unclear precisely how Microsoft plans to move forward or if it intends to take a device-agnostic approach. “If Microsoft is heading toward some sort of unified programming model, that’s going to require possibly years of work,” noted PC World’s Mark Hachman. “But other elements, such as the UI, services, and user data stored in the cloud, can be more easily manipulated.” Microsoft has indicated it will offer “Update 1” to Windows 8.1 in spring of 2014. (ZD Net)(Engadget)(PC World)

Microsoft Halts Updates for Windows RT Users

Microsoft has temporarily removed the Windows RT 8.1 update, designed to enable the user to update from Windows RT to Windows RT 8.1, from the Windows Store after users reported that it rendered users’ Surface tablet computers useless. Microsoft has not indicated when the update will be available again, nor has it indicated what specifically caused the devices to be bricked. Windows RT is an operating system for mobile devices using ARM microprocessors. (ZDNet)(SlashGear) 

Microsoft Allows App Developers to Create without Coding

Microsoft announced an update of Windows Phone App Studio, a hosted service in beta that lets users build applications without actually writing any code. The tool, which now has 55,000 active projects, was launched two weeks ago and is designed by Microsoft to increase the number of applications available on Windows Phone and stimulate interest in the operating system. Users choose from a change of templates, then add content that could included images, video, or feeds to create their applications. “[T]he response has been well above what Microsoft expected,” according to IT World, with roughly 20,000 users creating projects in the first 48 hours it was available. The update adds new functionality and new templates as well as the ability to draw data from external sources, such as Flickr. Gartner estimates the Windows mobile OS only has a 3.3 percent market share, but sales have been growing. (SlashDot)(IT World)(Microsoft Windows Phone Developer Blog) 

Microsoft Reveals Windows 8.1 Details

Microsoft has demonstrated Windows 8.1, an update to the oft-criticized Windows 8, at its Microsoft Build Developer Conference this week. Although participating executives, including CEO Steve Ballmer, acknowledged changes were needed to Windows 8, no apologies were offered for the OS. Users were frustrated with the experience presented when switching between desktop and modern interface modes, the loss of the start menu, and inability to boot to the desktop in Windows 8. Some market-research firms attributed the recent decline in PC sales to Windows 8. The company has retooled the OS so that it can be more easily used across various platforms, including mobile devices’s smaller displays, and restored both the start menu and the ability to boot to the desktop, which allows users to skip the display of the “Start” screen. Industry analysts say the release could be good for Microsoft’s bottom line.  “They’re setting themselves up for a nice holiday season this year,” said Gartner Inc. analyst Carolina Milanesi. (San Jose Mercury-News @ Bloomberg Businessweek)(PC Mag)(Windows 8.1 Previews)

Microsoft Reveals Features in Upcoming Windows Blue

Microsoft leaked some of the features that will be available in Windows 8.1. –  also known as Windows Blue – when it launches later this year. Notably, it is returning the Start button to the user interface. The lack of the button in Windows 8 had engendered controversy. The button will not launch the Start Menu, but will instead activate the system’s tile-based interface. The new OS will also reportedly provide users with the option to boot directly to the desktop as well as into other locations. The new iteration of Windows also will offer users varying options for desktop elements, including an option to use a photo slideshow as a lock screen and Snap views. No official release date has been provided by Microsoft, which has indicated it would be available in time for the holiday buying season. (BBC)(PC World)(ZD Net)(Microsoft Windows Blog)

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