Apr 16 2010

Microsoft Advises Some XP Users to stay Unpatched

Microsoft has released an update to the Windows operating system today but has advised some Windows XP users not to install the update just yet. Systems infected with a rootkit virus, a form of malware that buries itself deep in the operating system, should not receive the update until the virus is cleaned.

The rootkit infects an area that the update attempts to fix. If users install the update on an infected system, the system could be rendered unusable. This happened earlier this year, in February. Users installed an update, which caused some systems to stop working. Microsoft wants to avoid a repeat of that incident, and it also does not want to make users wary about installing updates.

Microsoft urged users to make sure they are not infected with the rootkit and if they are to remove it, either with the Microsoft malware removal tool or tools from security companies.

Via BBC News, image via BBC News.

Mar 18 2010

Nail in XP’s Coffin #4: Microsoft Previews Internet Explorer 9

It is every anti-XP’s fan favorite time of the week: when yet another interesting news tidbit marks the end of Windows XP.  This week it is doubled by the fact that this tidbit it is a hope (and fear) of every anti-IE user of the world.

Microsoft released the test platform for Internet Explorer 9 at MIX 10 yesterday.  Normally, the internet just does a big yawn whenever a new IE is released, as it is just a rehashing of the same old flawed and vanilla browser known as Internet Explorer 6.  Microsoft has known for years that, even amongst non-geeks and home users, it was losing a significant market share, and kept mocking our intelligence with the marginally improved releases of IE7 and 8.  However, a new dawn has risen over Redmond, and for once Microsoft seems to care about being relevant in the browser wars.

Internet Explorer 9 plays a major game of catch-up, implementing many overdue features.  The most notable of these of course is HTML 5.  HTML 5, the supposed godsend for the Internet destined to end the tyranny of plug-ins like Flash everywhere, has been sitting on Firefox, Chrome, and Safari for some time now.  Still, it is good to see Microsoft joining the fray, and it is holding back no punches in updating support for the new web under HTML 5.  It has weighed in on the HTML video wars, showing off H.264 support on YouTube.

Furthermore, they are adding CSS3 support and a brand new JavaScript engine. All of this means Internet Explorer finally is getting a somewhat comparable engine to the other browsers.  It managed to score a relatively impressive 55/100 on the ACID3 test, but that’s a far cry from the 100 of the Webkit browsers and the 97 of Firefox.

Still, IE9 has one ace up its sleeve: Direct2D Acceleration.  That’s right, Microsoft has drastically improved the render graphics quality and performance for IE by using hardware acceleration.  The result is much smoother HTML 5 video viewing and and SVG rendering than the norm of HTML 5 browsers.  There is really no comparison between IE9 and the others for rendering.  However, the cost for this is using drivers that only came into play after Windows Vista. You guessed it: there’s no Windows XP support.  XP has no future in Microsoft’s world, and it probably shouldn’t in yours either.

If you want to play around with the IE9 platform, feel free to go on its website. IE9 isn’t even in the alpha stages yet, and the platform just renders webpages so far and not much else. You have a pop-up box to input URLs and no forward and back buttons.  Still, if you are into web development, it might be worth a look.

Via Gizmodo

Mar 11 2010

Nail in XP’s Coffin #3: Goodbye New Hard Drive Support

I promise our readers, I am not some sort of Windows PR employee, being paid to tell you to upgrade to Windows 7.   At this point, I really don’t care what you switch to, but yet another reason has come up to switch away from the elderly and frail XP.  The BBC has reported that by 2011, modern hard drives will be incompatible with the sectoring scheme in Windows XP.

The issue is that until recently, all hard drives worked on the premise of 512 byte sectors, which are the smallest readable unit on a HDD.  Now part of these sectors would be dedicated to overhead and simply wasted spaced.  The 512 byte scheme was nice for a while, but due to a combination of factors including 64-bit computing and the fact it causes a maximum partition size of 2 TB, it is obvious we need to change them.  So the International Disk Drive Equipment and Materials Association decided to use 4096 byte sectors as the new standard.

Now this won’t be a problem for many (but sadly not most) of us, as Windows 7, Vista, Mac OS X Tiger or newer, and modern Linux kernels (post-September 2009) already have support for the 4K drives.  However, Windows XP uses the 512 byte pattern hard coded in certain places, so using the new hard drives with it could result in drastic write speed reduction.  Solution: stop using a ten year old OS, because it is time to move on.  Or just don’t ever change your hard drive.  I’m sure it won’t ever fill up.

Via Gizmodo

Mar 8 2010

In Windows XP, Only Hackers Can Hear Your Cries For Help

It should come as a surprise to no one that I have a very low opinion of Windows XP; I still maintain that any other modern OS is better.  It seems like Microsoft’s security bulletins are only looking to further my point.

Latest in the XP Bug Saga: F1, the universally known help key, has fallen victim to malicious hackers on the internet.  Evidently pressing F1 on certain websites in Internet Explorer exposes the user to any code a person seeks to run on their PC.  The detailed security bulletin from Microsoft is as follows:

“The vulnerability exists in the way that VBScript interacts with Windows Help files when using Internet Explorer.  If a malicious Web site displayed a specially crafted dialog box and a user  pressed the F1 key, arbitrary code could be executed in the security context of the currently logged-on user.”

Microsoft’s current advice? Don’t press F1 if a website tells you to.  My advice? Ditch IE and Windows XP. The Internet and web developers around the world will thank you.

Via Gizmodo, image via Wikipedia.

Feb 14 2010

The XP Patch Nightmare: Why We Should Move On

October 25, 2001 – A Microsoft operating system was released as the Internet revolution entered the everyman’s home.  Only one year after the absolute fiasco known as Windows ME (in a time before Vista was known as possibly the worst operating system of all time), Windows XP was released, and with it came hopes of a new stable Windows OS. Combining the new technologies of ME with the stability of Windows 2000, XP became the world’s number one OS, and sits on that throne to this day. It heralded the modern internet era, and until recently was the OS of choice for OEMs.

Now, we can finally see what a horrible, horrible mistake keeping it alive was.  Since the appearance of a 17-year old DOS exploit, followed by an update that has created countless BSODs and endless reboots, Windows XP looks unlikely to be able to weather the coming years.  Microsoft believes they have discovered the primary cause of the current maladies:

“In our continuing investigation in to the restart issues related to MS10-015 that a limited number of customers are experiencing, we have determined that malware on the system can cause the behavior. We are not yet ruling out other potential causes at this time and are still investigating.” (emphasis added)

People attacked Windows Vista for performance flaws and pricing, but at least Microsoft began to clean up its act regarding internet security with Internet Explorer 7 and the improved Windows Firewall.  User Account Control, a feature Unix systems have had for quite a while, was a step in the right direction (despite its dreadful implementation).  And Windows 7 finally comes with performance improvements and most modern hardware is capable of handling it.

The only market that really had any justification in using XP was netbooks, but even they have moved on to Windows 7 Starter Edition.  While XP may have extended support till 2014, users should realize that they need to upgrade far before that.

There are essentially three routes. If you have anything with higher performance than a netbook, it is safe to move on to Windows 7.  “Vista-capable” PCs should not still have Windows XP on them. It is an insult to their hardware, and these recent episodes have shown that it is no longer safe.

If for some reason you are still using a 800 MHz Celeron with 128 MB RAM, then it is either time to get a new computer (anything from any brand with any operating system circa 2010) or to install Linux.  For the majority of users, the latter seems like too difficult of an option, but Ubuntu is a usable and user-friendly introduction to Linux.

As for netbooks, which is the only platform where new machines still have this abomination,  please get Windows 7 or Linux or even a Hackintosh.  Microsoft has directions for those of you who don’t know how to set up an ISO to install from a USB. And while I am sure there will be many of those hesitant to move forward from XP, I beseech you: at least take this as a wake up call.

Via Engadget.

Dec 20 2009

Marks & Spencer Netbook

British Retail Company Marks & Spencer has announced the upcoming release of its first netbook, the MSNB-2009.  It is the largest retailer in the United Kingdom and only recently began venturing into selling technology.

The Marks & Spencer netbook’s features will include:

  • 10-inch LCD Display
  • 1 GB DDR2
  • Intel Atom 1.6GHz processor
  • Windows XP

This lackluster netbook is another addition to a continually saturated and expanding market. Like most brand name apparel from well-known retailers, you seem to pay for the name and what it represents, rather than for the actual attributes of the product. This seems to be the case with this netbook computer, offering the prestige of the Marks & Spencer name and not much else.

Image Via TFTS

Via TFTS

Nov 27 2009

Get a Dell Inspiron Mini 10v Netbook on Cyber Monday for $249

Black Friday is almost coming to an end and we’re getting ready for some great Cyber Monday netbook sales. Here’s a sneak peak of some of the action that’s in store.

CyberMonday.com, a website powered by Mall Networks and initially created by retailers as a one-stop shop for awesome Cyber Monday deals, will be offering a Dell Inspiron Mini 10v netbook for $249, after a $139 discount. The Mini 10v netbook will come with the Windows XP operating system.

On CyberMonday.com, they’ll also have a Deal of the Hour every 60 minutes. These items and offers will be announced on Sunday, November 29th, but are not limited to just netbooks – there’ll be free shipping specials, price discounts, percentage discounts, and free gifts with purchase. If you’re interested in getting some new stuff, make sure to check it out.

Via Duniyalive.

Nov 13 2009

Windows 7 Starter a No-Go for Netbook Buyers

According to Retrevo.com, an online consumer comparison shopping site, most netbooks sold on Amazon.com (23 out of 28) come with Windows 7 Starter pre-installed. Unfortunately, most people in the market for a netbook aren’t really digging the Windows 7 Starter OS.

Here are some thoughts that Retrevo collected on what consumers think about this new software. Out of the 1,100 consumers that responded to the survey:

  • 56% would be dissatisfied if a new netbook were to be pre-installed with Windows 7 Starter.
  • 61% did not realize that Windows 7 Starter lacks some features that come standard with Windows XP (dual-screen capability, personalization of desktop, DVD playback capabilities, etc.)
  • 54% knew the difference between the various editions of the Windows 7 operating systems.

Microsoft is trying to transition consumers from Windows XP to Windows 7, but among netbooks Windows XP has continued to remain popular. The company has not yet disclosed how much profit they make from each copy of Windows 7 Starter sold, but executives have said that the profit margin is greater than that for Windows XP.

Via InternetNews.

Oct 10 2009

Can your Netbook Handle Windows 7?

As it is, most netbooks today ship with Windows XP and the few that actually ship with Windows Vista perform like a college student doing a problem set – i.e., procrastinatingly slow. The important question now is whether a netbook can handle the Windows 7 OS.

According to Microsoft, Windows 7 will have no problems running on netbooks. Windows 7 Starter Edition may be better than its Windows Vista counterpart, but there are still limiting features. (You can’t change your wallpaper. What?!)

Using the WorldBench 6 rating system, employees at the Washington Post tested and compared the performance of the three different versions of the Windows 7 OS with the performance of Windows XP. They used a Lenovo IdeaPad S10-2 with a 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor and the results were that Windows 7 ran slightly slower than Windows XP.

Windows 7 Starter, the edition meant for netbooks, received a score of 31 on the WorldBench 6 test, while the other two versions of the Windows 7 OS received 30s. The Windows XP OS received a score of 33. Three points may not seem like much, but it actually represents a difference of nearly 10 percent – ouch. Ready to reconsider Windows 7?

Via TheWashingtonPost.

Sep 30 2009

Sluggish Netbook Performance Feared For Windows 7

Microsoft claims that Windows 7 will run great on netbooks, but how tested is this claim? Most netbooks run XP totally fine but run Vista slowly. While it seems likely that 7 will be more resource-taxing than XP, will it really be light-weight enough to run on an Intel Atom?

Windows 7 Starter Edition is the version that’s been tested on most netbooks. We don’t have to worry about a three-application limit, as was earlier rumored, but Starter Edition does disable some features… like the ability to change your desktop background.

Netbooks running the full version of Windows 7 might therefore suffer in performance, a prediction corroborated by the Washington Post on a Lenovo IdeaPad S10-2. Their conclusions?

“So while it looks as though Windows 7 will run on a netbook, you may want to take the OS for a spin on a demo netbook at a store before you decide to upgrade.”

That’s sound advice. There are only 22 days left until 7 is launched, so look out for many more updates about the new Windows OS in the coming weeks.

Aug 12 2009

Details About Microsoft Windows 7 Starter Edition Restrictions & Pricing for Netbooks

Microsoft wants to give low-cost netbook manufacturers a low-cost Windows licensing option, but exactly how low will the pricing for the Windows 7 Starter Edition OS be? Well, the price tag is rumored to be higher than the current Windows XP OS, which will still be an option for future netbooks.

Microsoft has decided that rather than lower the price of their Windows 7 OS, the company would instead offer the Windows XP OS with more features and at a lower price.

Potential netbook purchasers who buy a netbook with Windows XP may not be able to run some of the newer software, but it doesn’t seem like they’ll be missing too much.

Microsoft hasn’t yet officially announced the pricing agenda for the Starter Edition, but since the software would only be sold to netbook manufacturers instead of in retail stores, the pricing could vary.

Microsoft’s CEO, Steve Ballmer has stipulated that the Windows 7 software range will fall into the scheme of things as follows (from least pricey to most pricey): Windows XP, Windows 7 Starter, Windows 7 Home, and Windows 7 Professional. Surprise surprise.

Unfortunately though, there will be some restrictions on the types of netbooks that can run the Starter version of the Windows 7 software. Rumor has it that such a netbook must have a “super-small screen” and “a certain processor.” More details to come.

Via Liliputing.

Images via EeePCBlog and Instructables.

Aug 5 2009

NVIDIA Ion LE Brings Netbook Gaming To XP

Nvidia Ion GEForce

Even though Windows 7 is on its way, NVIDIA is focusing on the vast number netbook users still on XP by bringing the Ion graphics platform to that operating system.

The ION LE is identical to the existing NVIDIA 9400M mobile graphics Ion technology, but supports only up to DirectX 9 graphics rather than Vista’s DirectX 10 or Windows 7′s DirectX 11. Hopefully, this will augment the platform for better performance with XP.

Microsoft will only allow OEMs to install XP on lower-end netbooks for a year after the October release of Windows 7.

However, a vast majority of games and HD content still run on DirectX 9, at least according to NVIDIA senior product manager of GPUs Mat Wuebbling:

“For a $400 netbook, does [having] DirectX 11 really matter?”

Ion LE should provide the same performance and 1080p HD video as the Ion.

Via ComputerWorld, image via SlashGear.

Jul 26 2009

XPize Beautifies XP For Netbook Users

XPize

Most netbook consumers using Windows XP assume that the old-school look is just part of the sacrifice you take in exchange for low prices when you buy a netbook. Luckily, that’s an uninvestigated assumption that needs some correction.

XPize is a project run by volunteer developers, designed to update the user interface of Windows XP to give it a newer look. Its visual bells and whistles make the OS look a lot better, which may appeal to the vast number of XP-using netbook users out there.

Vize is also available if you want to touch up Vista, and a Sevenize getup is planned after the release of Windows 7. Check it out!

Via jkOnTheRun.

Jul 8 2009

Windows XP Slow On Your Netbook? Fix It The Easy Way

While the more tech savvy among us have hundreds of tricks for trimming the fat on Windows XP, there’s one method that nails the big issues and takes only a minute to do. Here’s how it goes:

  1. Open the Control Panel.
  2. Double click System.
  3. Click the Advanced tab, then the Settings button in the Performance header.
  4. The Visual Effects tab is generally set to Let Windows choose what’s best for my computer by default. Well, if you’re on a netbook, Windows might not know best – switch it to Adjust for best performance. Your may notice that your interface is now a bit more boring.
  5. Click Ok and wait while Windows adjusts to your settings.

Your netbook should run faster now, as it is expending less energy on visual effects.

Is your netbook still not fast enough? Try some free downloadable applications instead of their clunkier store-bought counterparts, or try out Ubuntu Linux.

Via WP.

Jun 6 2009

Microsoft May Ban Hybrid Netbooks

Microsoft has stunted netbook growth before with its regulations, and this time MSI seems to be the target. Word from bit-tech is that the Wind U115 Hybrid netbook will be taken off of store shelves, because its hybrid storage system puts XP on the SSD while allowing other apps and media to be loaded to the HDD.

However, the Wind U115 is still up at MSI’s store, and NEC is just now revealing a hybrid netbook in Japanese markets. What’s the deal? We can’t say for sure, but if Microsoft keeps this up there are going to be a lot of angry netbookers out there.

Via Engadget.

May 10 2009

Why Linux Netbooks Have A Chance

Linux Penguin

Linux was the first OS seen on netbooks, but Microsoft took the market with XP. Does Linux have a chance of stealing customers back?

According to one blogger at DigiHub, the answer is no. While early Eee PCs worked with Linux, today’s netbooks have “more grunt than your average desktop did only a few years ago.” Windows 7 works well on netbooks with a 1.6 GHz processor and 2 GB of RAM, and Linux is nowhere near as crowd-pleasing.

However, there may be some problems with these simplifications. The aforementioned article mentions that Linux feels “cumbersome” compared to Windows 7, but most Linux users choose the OS because it’s known to be more efficient than Windows. Sure, the new OS has a “learning curve,” but a number of adjustments to Ubuntu Netbook Remix, for example, are making the OS more user-friendly than ever.

Furthermore, any claim that Windows 7 is “the final nail in the coffin for Linux” disregards the unhappy fact that Microsoft plans to cripple Windows 7 for netbook use. The move to defend its profit margins has left Microsoft in a more precarious position, with longtime partners Acer and Intel both signaling their doubt that Windows 7 will see any kind of success.

My final criticism of the DigiHub article is of this assertion:

Here’s the big test. Find a Windows user and give them a netbook running Ubuntu Netbook Remix for a week. Now give them Windows 7 for a week and then see if they want to switch back to Ubuntu. I can assure you the vast majority of people will stick with Windows. Given long enough they might warm to Linux, given the right distro, but they probably don’t want to invest the time.

Simply put, that isn’t true. Chris Kenyon of Canonical noted that “when customers are offered choice on equally well-engineered computers around a third will select Ubuntu over XP.” Two thirds is a lot, but hardly a vast majority.

Regardless, talk is only worth so much – sales numbers talk loudest. Linux is definitely behind, but if Microsoft continues its antics the door may open to Linux dominance.

Apr 14 2009

Nettop : Desktop :: Netbook : Laptop

Nettops are to desktops what netbooks are to laptops. Nettops run on the Intel Atom processor and tend to be smaller (and have smaller screens) than regular desktops. Their all-in-one-package factor provides a high level of convenience since it minimizes the amount of separate computer parts that an individual would have to deal with upon setup.

Recently, nettops have grown in popularity, and while they are less powerful than the original desktop, they are also easier on the wallet.  In this economy where price plays a big factor in a consumer’s purchasing decisions, it is no wonder why there is a growing trend in the popularity of these devices. The sale of nettops may even be able to save the overall declining sales of current desktop computing technology.

nettop1

The price of nettops currently ranges from $400-$800 dollars. For consumers who greatly dislike the Windows Vista operating system and don’t want to wait for Windows 7, don’t worry. Nettop devices can operate on Windows XP technology.

Via Cnet.

Apr 9 2009

Why OEMs Still Use The Same Old Netbook Formula

The politics of the tech industry are rarely discussed, save for in the most conspiratorial of circles, but they are often of great importance for understanding the market. One question that we have often asked is – why do so many netbooks only offer the same boring formula as others?

Gadgetell netbook

While it’s been proven that Intel Atom/160 GB/1 GB RAM/XP netbooks work, manufacturers aren’t just taking the easy road with a tried and true setup that others did the work to figure out. After all, laptop manufacturers follow diverse paths in making their machines. So why all the repetition?

It turns out that Microsoft enacted some restrictions when it decided to sell XP for netbooks. Early in the days of netbooking testers found that Vista was too beefy for the diminutive machines, and Microsoft wasn’t about to let Linux take the whole market. So although XP won’t rake in the profits of newer operating systems, Microsoft was forced to bite the bullet and let manufacturers sell netbooks with XP… with a few conditions.

Reports have surfaced that netbook manufacturers would only put Windows XP on machines too weak to run Vista. This created a problem for netbook makers – should they undercut the RAM of their systems to satisfy Microsoft, or sell netbooks with a clumsier OS just for the freedom to crank the power a little?

Microsoft

As netbooks are a budget product (with a few exceptions), most decided to obey and keep RAM to 1 GB. But Microsoft wasn’t yet satisfied, calling for OEMs to restrict screen size to 10.1 inches and HDD space to 80 GB. As the netbook market proved to be a profitable one Microsoft’s cannibalization fears were assuaged and the restrictions were stretched to accomodate devices up to 14.1 inches and 160 GB, though only if low-powered chips were used.

At least we don’t have to blame a lack of innovation for netbooks’ repetitive formula – manufacturers are just following restrictions set up by Microsoft.

What does this mean for the future? While Microsoft claims Windows 7 will be slim enough to run on netbooks, not everyone’s convinced. Will consumers drop more cash for a snappier version of Windows, or remain content with XP? Nobody can say for sure, but answers will only be a matter of time.

Via NYTimes.

Mar 5 2009

OCZ Neutrino Netbook Shows Up In Germany

Today at CeBIT, OCZ Technology announced that it would be making an entrance into the netbook market with the OCZ Neutrino netbook.

OCZ Neutrino Netbook

The new netbook will be shipping in the US in about nine weeks, coming in two variations.

The first is to be “priced competitively,” which OCZ calls a “DIY” model. This version will allow consumers to select the RAM and HDD they want to customize the netbook experience. Alternatively, if you’re a bit less patient, you can get the machine at a set price with standard specs.

OCZ Neutrino Netbook

What are those standard specs? The 10.1-inch, 2.86 pound OCZ Neutrino netbook uses “a 1.6GHz Intel Atom CPU, a 945GSE chipset, up to 2GB of RAM, an optional 250GB OCZ SSD, 1,024 x 600 resolution LCD, VGA output, Ethernet, twin USB 2.0 ports, a 4-cell (2,200mAh) battery, WiFi and a 1.3 megapixel webcam.”

You can run Ubuntu or Windows XP on the netbook. Criticisms of the machine are generally aimed at the iffy trackpad, but the keyboard makes up for it.

Via Engadget.

Jan 24 2009

Market-Defining Viliv S7 Netbook Is Released

A new device is out on the market, one reminiscient of the flashy but expensive Sony Vaio P. It’s called the Viliv S7, and rocks some features you’re definitely going to want to check out. Could it be indicative of a new trend of luxury netbooks?

Viliv S7

All the info we have is from a single image, available here. However, it’s more than enough to get us extremely excited.

The Viliv S7 uses a 1.33 or 1.86 GHz Intel Atom CPU. At first we didn’t know what to call it, but the processor combined with the sleek tablet-style form factor told us – this thing is a netbook.

It has a miniscule 7.0-inch display, small even by netbook standards. The Viliv S7 could almost be considered a smartphone due to its diminuitive size.

The Viliv S7 has a 1.3 megapixel camera and will run for 7 hours with “continuous movie playback.” It has 1 GB of RAM, which is nothing special, but uses both a 16 GB SSD and a 60 GB HDD in concert. This combination of drives is a computing style that it alone shares with the MSI Wind U115 Hybrid. It will run Windows XP.

If you’re anything like us, this netbook looks undeniably awesome. We don’t know about price or release info but we’ll be sure to check up on it when the time comes.

Via MyViliv.

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