In efforts to get people to upgrade to SP3 or, more preferably for Microsoft, Windows 7, the software giant is ending support for XP SP2 users, which amounts for nearly half of the PCs in most organisations according to a recent survey by Softchoice.
This will leave a substantial number of computers exposed to attack. Microsoft is simultaneously fixing the vulnerability in XP which a Google employee discovered, saving potentially thousands of computers from attack. Is it just us or are these two things a little antithetical?
Microsoft has confirmed that it will continue to support SP3 until April 2014, but with such a large volume of people still on SP2, and with such gaping holes found recently in XP overall, is it really helping to ensure its older operating system is secure?
Today's patch will see the CVE-2010-1885 Windowx XP vulnerability mended, along with another in 64-bit versions of Windows 7, and two holes in Office. It will be the last patch XP SP2 users will see, which means any further vulnerabilities and exploits will not be addressed by Microsoft, making that version of XP very risky to use.
In fact, it effectively completely disables the security update feature for SP2 users, meaning that other software, such as Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player will also not receive any updates - even when critical patches are available for the same software on SP3, Vista, or Windows 7. And should a certain Google employee find another flaw in XP, SP2 users will not receive a fix for it.
Microsoft is obviously urging users to upgrade to SP3, but when SP3 originally launched in May 2008 it caused more problems for people than it solved. Numerous reports revealed complete computer crashes or looping reboots, while others had problems getting their web browsers and other software to work. It caused such an uproar that many users decided it was a much safer bet to simply not upgrade.
Two years on and it seems that the bad taste from the original SP3 launch is still very tangible, but wary XP users will need to upgrade now or risk a volley of attacks aimed at the unsupported service pack.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Obviously it is early days yet but there are some pointers. Be aware that some of these will not work, or will be dropped at the last minute.
1. Log in to your PC with your face
Who needs passwords when you computer can just look at your face and decide that you can look at your own files? Of course making a computer look at your face every morning might make it decide that it does not like the look of you. If you have a tragic disfigurement you might also not be able to get into your PC which would be a bummer.
2. Windows 8 will follow you across devices. To do this Windows 8 would have to be on a cloud. If you connect to other gear it does not really matter where you are. It does solve the problem of multiple licences.
3. Touch screens. This is practically with us anyway. However, Redmond wants to make the OS aware of the light so that you can actually see the screen when in the sunshine. The iPad is like a vampire. It can only be seen at night.
4. Watch HD movies on your wireless TV. Well not entirely wireless, you still have to plug it into the mains. But the idea is that Windows 8 will let you stream anything from the computer to the fridge onto your telly screen.
5. Download apps from the Windows App Store. Haven't we seen this somewhere? It is clear that Microsoft is copying Jobs' Mob.
6. Resetting things without having to wipe your data. If a virus takes out the OS then you have to do a re-install. After so many years Microsoft has never worked out a way around this that did not involve wiping your hard-drive. Windows 8 will, apparently, manage it.
7. Faster start up times. A March 2010 Windows Planning Survey polled 545 customers about 21 user activities, and found that starting the computer tops the list when it comes to "highest importance/lowest satisfaction in terms of speed and performance." On average, Windows 7 takes 27 seconds to boot up. Vista was 40 seconds, although it felt a lot longer. Windows 8 will probably be about 15 seconds with the wind behind it. Although this might be done by using a "new off state combining the best of hibernate with a boot/shutdown look and feel."
8. Better resource control for those who know what they are doing. There are shedloads of things in Windows 7 which require you to read the manual to find out what they do. Microsoft wants these functions to be easier to find. It should also be easier to kill off software which will not go away.
9. Er, that's it.