Beta for Next Version of Microsoft Security Essentials 2.0 Now Available

Today we are announcing the beta for the next version of Microsoft Security Essentials. Microsoft Security Essentials was first released in September 2009 and is our award-winning no-cost light weight anti-malware service. It’s designed to help address the ongoing security needs of PCs running genuine Windows – helping keep people protected from viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.


New features in the beta of Microsoft Security Essentials include:

Windows Firewall integration – During setup, Microsoft Security Essentials will now ask if you would like to turn the Windows Firewall on or off.

Enhanced protection for web-based threats – Microsoft Security Essentials now integrates with Internet Explorer to provide protection against web-based threats.

New protection engine – The updated anti-malware engine offers enhanced detection and cleanup capabilities with better performance.

Network inspection system – Protection against network-based exploits is now built in to Microsoft Security Essentials.


Microsoft Renames and Revamps its Phone OS

Don’t call them Windows Mobile phones anymore. In announcing the latest revision of Microsoft’s OS for handsets at Mobile World Congress today, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said that henceforth, the devices will be known as Windows phones.

"It’s a mouthful to say, ‘You want a Windows Mobile phone?’" Ballmer said when asked about the decision to once again re-brand the OS, which has over the years been known as Windows CE and Pocket PC.

Ballmer’s three main announcements to a crowd of journalists in Barcelona, Spain, had been widely leaked beforehand: Windows Mobile 6.5, a new version of the handset OS with a revamped, touch-optimized user interface; My Phone, an online backup and sync service for Windows phones, and the Windows Marketplace for Mobile app store.

My Phone and the Windows Marketplace will be accessible to Windows phones running Windows Mobile 6.5; Ballmer said support will be available via download, at the discretion of the vendor, to Windows Mobile 6.1 devices, but not to handsets running earlier versions of the OS.

Windows Mobile 6.5, which in addition to the new user interface sports an improved, more desktop-like browser, will make its debut later this year on handsets also announced on Monday, including the HTC Touch Diamond2 and the LG-GM730.

Interestingly, however, neither handset presents the new user interface unadulterated: Both HTC and LG have made changes they believe make the UI more user friendly. In fact, fiddling with the Windows Mobile UI is not uncommon, and Ballmer squirmed when asked how bothersome this was to Microsoft.

"It’s not the area where I would have aspired to see the first add-ons," he admitted. But he said that with the new UI, Microsoft hopes to get more vendors on board without significant changes.

Microsoft Prepares for End of Windows With Midori

With the Internet increasingly taking on the role of the PC operating system and the growing prevalence of virtualization technologies, there will be a day when the Microsoft Windows client OS as it’s been developed for the past 20-odd years becomes obsolete.

Microsoft seems to be preparing for that day with an incubation project code-named Midori, which seeks to create a componentized, non-Windows OS that will take advantage of technologies not available when Windows first was conceived, according to published reports.

Although Microsoft won’t comment publicly on what Midori is, the company has confirmed that it exists. Several reports — the most comprehensive to date published on Tuesday by Software Development Times — have gone much further than that.

That report paints Midori as an Internet-centric OS, based on the idea of connected systems, that largely eliminates the dependencies between local applications and the hardware they run on that exist with a typical OS today.

The report claims Midori is an offshoot of Microsoft Research’s Singularity OS, which creates “software-isolated processes” to reduce the dependencies between individual applications, and between the applications and the OS itself.

With the ability today to run an OS, applications — and even an entire PC desktop of applications — in a virtual container using a hypervisor, the need to have the OS and applications installed natively on a PC is becoming less and less, said Brian Madden, an independent technology analyst.

“Why do you need it?” he said. “Now we have hypervisors everywhere.”

Madden suggested that a future OS could actually be a hypervisor itself, with virtual containers of applications running on top of it that can be transferred easily to other devices because they don’t have client-side dependencies to each other.

And while he has no information about Midori beyond the published reports, he said descriptions of it as an Internet-centric system that provides an overall “connectedness” between applications and devices makes sense for the future of cloud computing and on-demand services. Microsoft likely recognizes the need for this even if the actual technology is still five or more years out, Madden said.

“They’re preparing for the day when people realize we don’t need Windows anymore” and thinking about what they will do to remain relevant, he said.

Indeed, Microsoft has been emphasizing its virtualization strategy, based on its new Hyper-V hypervisor, beyond merely virtualizing the server OS. The company also is moving full steam ahead with plans to virtualize applications and the desktop OS as well.

Using virtualization in these scenarios would eliminate the problems with application compatibility that are still giving headaches to Vista users, and that have made the OS a liability rather than a boon for some Windows power users and enterprise customers.

If Midori is close to what people think it is, it will represent a “major paradigm shift” for Windows users and be no easy task for Microsoft to pull off, said Andrew Brust, chief of new technology for the consulting firm Twentysix New York.

He said challenges to an OS like Midori would be both technological complexities and the “sobering compromises” that must be made when a product moves from being a research project into commercialization. “I would expect those in abundance with something of this scope and import,” Brust said.

Though he has not been briefed by Microsoft on Midori, Brust said the idea makes sense because Microsoft needs to drastically update Windows to stay current with new business models and computing paradigms that exist today — particularly to help the company compete against Google on the Web.

“Breaking with the legacy of a product that first shipped 23 years ago seems wholly necessary in terms of keeping the product manageable and in sync with computing’s state of the art,” Brust said. “If Midori isn’t real, then I imagine something of this nature still must be in the works. It’s absolutely as necessary, if not more so, to Microsoft’s survival as their initiatives around Internet advertising, search and cloud computing offerings.”

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Once Tricked into Using It, Users Like Vista

This smacks somewhat of those old blindfold taste tests you see on commercials.  It goes a little something like this…

“I hate Diet Coke.”

“Here, try this new soda!”

“Wow, it’s great!”

“That was Diet Coke!”


In a similar move, Microsoft took Windows XP fans and showed them a new OS, “Mojave.”  What’s interesting is that this “new” OS wasn’t really new at all…

Spurred by an e-mail from someone deep in the marketing ranks, Microsoft last week traveled to San Francisco, rounding up Windows XP users who had negative impressions of Vista. The subjects were put on video, asked about their Vista impressions, and then shown a “new” operating system, code-named Mojave. More than 90 percent gave positive feedback on what they saw. Then they were told that “Mojave” was actually Windows Vista.

“Oh wow,” said one user, eliciting exactly the exclamation that Microsoft had hoped to garner when it first released the operating system more than 18 months ago. Instead, the operating system got mixed reviews and criticisms for its lack of compatibility and other headaches.

Yep, but they were spared a few things: finding drivers, application compatibility, Vista-capable PCs that run the OS sluggishly at best.  Let’s do another test and add that to the mix, and see what kind of response we get then.

We’re not going on an all out we hate Vista rant here.  In fact, we use the OS in the HH labs for testing and benchmarks, sometimes under some fairly rigorous requirements.  However, setting up a controlled sample test and calling it something that is supposed to be compared to broad market appeal, just isn’t right.  It appears Microsoft needs to ease up on the marketing kool-aide and work on sound research practices of their target user base.

Serious Rumours?? Microsoft Windows 7 in 2009?

I am personally unsure if it will really come this soon, Make your opinions.

Microsoft Corp. has dropped two strong hints in the past two days that the next version of its Windows operating system will arrive in 2009, shaving up to a year off previous expectations. It could also be a signal that Microsoft intends to cut its losses with Windows Vista, which has been poorly received or shunned by customers, especially large companies. Microsoft has long said it wants to release Windows 7 about three years after Vista, which was released to manufacturing in November 2006 but not officially launched until January 2007. Given Microsoft’s recent track record – Vista arrived more than five years after XP — most outsiders had pegged sometime in 2010 as a safe bet for Windows 7’s arrival.

Microsoft is targeting the middle of next year for some sort of release milestone for Windows 7 — the only codename known at the moment — though whether that would be a final release to consumers or an RTM, which allows businesses and resellers to start installing it, is unknown. Gates also said that he was “super-enthused about what [Windows 7] will do in lots of ways” but didn’t elaborate. What could those be? Microsoft has divulged a few things. Responding to criticism that Windows has become unnecessarily bloated, the company has 200 engineers developing a slimmed-down kernel called MinWin that uses 100 files and 25MB, compared to Vista’s 5,000 files and 4GB core and is so small it lacks a graphical subsystem. Microsoft has also confirmed that the operating system will come in consumer and business versions and in 32-bit and 64-bit editions.

Windows Vista Aero Is Old News, Introducing the Cairo Windows Shell Alternative

home Page screens

Cairo is a Windows Shell alternative designed to run on both Windows Vista and Windows XP. The project is currently in the pre-alpha stage, and scheduled to go public next week. At this point in time, Cairo is served only to the users that sign up in the Milestone 1 testing phase of the project. The brainchild of Michael Ciarlo, Cairo Designer/Developer, the Windows Shell alternative comes with the stated goal of redefining the desktop experience. In fact, the slogan that accompanies the Cairo brand is “welcome to the revolution.”
“Throughout the development process we will be releasing milestones, alphas, betas, and release candidates—milestones marking the furthest from completion and release candidate the closest. The UI in [the] image [toward the bottom] represents a Milestone 1 UI, meaning that we have begun taking all of our UI work and consolidating it towards a final interface. Like Microsoft or Apple, this UI may evolve substantially over the course of its development. The alpha available soon will be a Milestone 1 release, meaning it will mark the first leap towards getting Cairo out into the world. The UI milestones are not necessarily going to coincide with the release milestones,” said Cairo Team.

In the end, Cairo, from the perspective of an alternative Windows Shell, comes to the table as a new approach to offering a graphical user interface to Microsoft’s proprietary operating system. One thing that Cairo developers and designers need to keep focus on, in this context, is the balance between functionality, eye candy and resource consumption. By all means, this equilibrium is not achieved with Windows Aero. Cairo will feature a Start-Bar, Multi-Desktop capabilities, File Explorer, File and Application Grouping, Launcher, and Dynamic Desktop.
“With Cairo you can transform your desktop from the dated Windows user-interface to a brand new system that will change the way you use your computer forever. Taking advantage of proven functionality, and with stability and performance in mind, the Cairo Desktop system aims to give users a productive and easy to use shell that advances current technology standards. Welcome to the Revolution,” reads a message on the official Cairo website.

Windows Mobile Update Leak Shows New Features

A Motorola Q9h was recently leaked with an updated version of Windows Mobile, a version 6.1. It includes a number of new features including a new home screen similar to the one seen on T-Mobile’s Shadow, threaded text messaging and contact search in the messaging “To:” field, as well as copy and paste of text. It was recently revealed that Microsoft would deliver an update for Windows Mobile to manufacturers in the first quarter of 2008, and is likely that this leak is an early version of what Microsoft is preparing.