Up north in Vancouver, the well known computer security conference CanSecWest got off to an impressive start with its famous Pwn2Own competition. The goal each year is to take down various different platforms to highlight their security holes. And this year showed that no matter what you run, you probably are not safe.
For example, German hacker “Nils” managed to take down a Windows 7 PC which was running Firefox. Using a previously unknown hole, he took total control over the PC. Before this, Charlie Miller managed to take down a Mac OS X machine running on Safari, and Dutchman Peter Vreugdenhil took down another Windows 7 PC using Internet Explorer 8.
Most disturbing, however, was probably the attack against iPhone users. Two Europeans by the names of Vincenzo Iozzo and Ralf Phillipp Weinmann managed to lead an iPhone to a webpage where in 20 seconds the entire SMS database, including previously deleted messages, was stolen. All of the bugs were reported to the software’s creators by Pwn2Own and won’t be released until they are fixed.
Microsoft, after receiving blistering criticism for the apparent abject failure of Vista, has rebounded and achieved startling sales gains in recent months. Windows 7 currently holds 10% of the OS market after only 5 months, while Vista has managed to crawl up to 20%. Stunningly, XP still dominates at 60-70% of users, showing that until recently, most people have been wary of upgrading.
Microsoft is not content to stop here, however: Windows 8 is already in development. On the MSDN blogs, Chris Green, a former Microsoft employee, posted a chart that shows support dates for current and future products, posted above (dates are in dd/mm/yy). The date to look for is July 1st, 2011, the apparent time of public release. Of course, if you are like this blogger who participated in the Windows 7 beta, that means you can expect to see what’s coming in a future not so distant.
Microsoft furthermore finally seems to be defeating the scourge that is Internet Explorer 6, arguably deemed the worst web browser of all time. After multiple security flaws were revealed for Internet Explorer 6 and 7, Microsoft has started to push its first not-despised browser in a long time, Internet Explorer 8, which has finally overtaken IE 6 as the number one browser in the world.
Lastly, expect Windows 7 Service Pack 1 to come out in beta in June and final release in September. One of the most notable features of SP1 will be out of box USB 3.0 support.
Of course, Safari works better on the netbook than it does on an iPhone 3GS, completing the benchmark in only 3,606ms.
In general, default browsers that come with netbooks tend to be relatively slower than the competitors. Internet Explorer 8 is a better bet than IE7, but if you’re looking for even faster performance, try out Google Chrome. You can download it here.