Microsoft Slips Ad Generator Into Windows 7/8.1 Security Update

Microsoft has been getting more brazen every day as  they continue to try to get users to upgrade to Windows 10. After making Windows 10 a recommended update for Windows 7 and 8.1 systems, Microsoft may have gone too far with their latest step. If Microsoft’s own documentation is to be believed, the latest Internet Explorer 11 Security update for Windows 7 and 8.1 bundles in an ad generator that urges users to upgrade to Windows 10.

KB 3139929 is the latest cumulative security update for Internet Explorer 11, bundling in a number of security fixes. Digging into the documentation, you find KB 3146449, an update that “adds functionality to Internet Explorer 11 on some computers that lets users learn about Windows 10 or start an upgrade to Windows 10“. According to some users, this pops up a blue banner when a user opens a new IE11 tab with the message, “Microsoft recommends upgrading to Windows 10”.

While it is understandable that Microsoft wants to get as many users as possible on Windows 10 and is trying to spread the message, bundling a non-security update into a security update is simply unacceptable. Is is misleading to users and raises the question as to how trustworthy and legitimate Microsoft’s limited Windows 10 update notes are. Along with moves like the bundling of third-party apps into Windows 10, Microsoft may still reach their Windows 10 install goals, but only at the cost alienating users and undermining trust.

Microsoft Edge Browser to Ditch ActiveX

Microsoft Edge, the browser formally known as Project Spartan to be bundled with Windows 10, will ditch ActiveX and Browser Helper Objects (BHO) in favour of HTML5 and JavaScript. However, the replacement will not appear until after the release of Windows 10 this Summer. Internet Explorer 11 support, which still includes ActiveX and BHO, will remain in place for Enterprise users.

Both ActiveX and BHO are long in the tooth – they were introduced in 1996 and 1997, respectively – and, as such, contain a whole host of security issues that hackers have been exploiting for over a decade. Modern browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, and Opera had long ago moved away from the frameworks for the standards-based HTML5.

“The need for ActiveX controls has been significantly reduced by HTML5-era capabilities, which also produces interoperable code across browsers,” Microsoft’s blog says of the move, in a section titled ‘Why we don’t need [ActiveX] anymore’. “Microsoft Edge will support native PDF rendering and Adobe Flash as built-in features rather than external add-ons. We recently demonstrated our early work on a modern, HTML/JavaScript-based extension model to provide extensibility beyond what is available with HTML5. We will enable this new model after our initial release of Microsoft Edge this summer and we look forward to sharing more details soon.”

Though Windows 10 will launch with IE11 while Edge is being finished, the browser and its framework are not long for this world. Edge hopes to rival Chrome and Firefox, both for efficiency and security. Microsoft is, eventually, catching up, and it’s about time.

Thank you Computer World for providing us with this information.

The Latest Figures Show One Internet Browser Dominates Them All: But Which One?

When it comes to browsers there is always a lot of “usually” friendly rivalry between Microsoft, Mozilla and Google as the big three browsers jostle for top spot. However, with Internet Explorer as the default browser in all Microsoft operating systems of late, Microsoft is unsurprisingly still on top. That comes despite the recent antitrust ruling Microsoft faced for not offering Windows users the option to choose their browser upon first use. That ruling forced Microsoft to create a start-up prompt offering Windows users the option to choose between a variety of browsers, instead of relying entirely on Internet Explorer.

Google has 19.34% with its Chrome browser taking second spot and Firefox comes in third with 15.54% for its Firefox browser. Microsoft leads the way with a staggering 58.38% of the browser market as of last month. Microsoft’s IE8 is the most popular followed by IE11, the latest release of Internet Explorer. IE11 ships as the default browser on Windows 8 and 8.1 operating systems and uptake of that has been helped by the recent rise in notebook and desktop sales caused by the end of Windows XP support.

Source: NetMarketShare, Via: Softpedia

Images courtesy of Softpedia/Net Applications

Internet Explorer 9 and 10 Users Exposed To Unpatched Vulnerability

Microsoft revealed yesterday that Internet Explorer versions 9 and 10 both contain an unpatched vulnerability. Computer World reports that these vulnerabilities are mainly being exploited on Internet Explorer 10 by hackers.

The distribution of Internet Explorer versions among users shows that 15.3% use IE9 and 15.9% use IE10 meaning around a third (31.2%) of all IE users are vulnerable.

“Microsoft is aware of limited, targeted attacks against Internet Explorer 10. Our initial investigation has revealed that Internet Explorer 9 and Internet Explorer 10 are affected.” Said a Microsoft spokesperson.

The solution to the problem, unsurprisingly, is that Microsoft thinks all IE users should upgrade to the latest version which is IE11. Windows Vista users are being “left out in the cold” as the latest version of IE they support is IE9. Microsoft is expected to deliver a fix for the problem on March 11th.

Image courtesy of the Verge

Internet Explorer 11 Now Available For Windows 7


From today Microsoft is making its new Internet Explorer 11 browser available for download to Windows 7 users. IE11 was released alongside Windows 8.1 and was previously a Windows 8.1 exclusive, but now it has been made available to users of Microsoft’s most popular desktop operating system – Windows 7.

Internet Explorer 11 brings a bunch of notable improvements to Internet Explorer, of which Microsoft claims the speed aspect is the most notable – see Microsoft’s above graph for one aspect of its performance: JavaScript. Microsoft claims IE11 boasts faster page loading, faster JavaScript performance, reduced CPU usage and improved battery life over past revisions of the browser.

Microsoft is also boasting support for 25 new or improved modern web standards to allow developers to offer Internet Explorer 11 users more interactive experiences. If you’re interested in reading about some of the changes to IE11 for Windows 7 then you can do so here.

Image courtesy of Microsoft

Some Google Services Encountering Problems On IE11 And Windows 8.1

Click to enlarge

The Next Web reports that Internet Explorer 11 on Windows 8.1 was creating a load of problems and issues for some Google services. The Windows 8.1 rollout has been hit with some issues more broadly as users have experienced issues downloading the update (notably with it getting stuck at 50%) and many more issues when installing it (such as installation errors and failed update messages).

The issues with Google services occur with Microsoft’s new Internet Explorer 11 browser and Windows 8.1. The browser apparently caused issues with rendering the Google search engine (pictured above) and also stopped Google+ working for some people too. The explanation can be put down to the fact Google was added to Microsoft’s IE11 compatibility view list which causes it to render incorrectly, this can be fixed by removing Google from that list.

After complaints about the problems escalated, Microsoft quickly addressed the issue by rolling out a minor update for Internet Explorer 11 which fixes the problems users have been encountering with Google services.

“It appears Google made some changes to its search engine that temporarily impacted the way search results rendered for some browsers,” a Microsoft spokesperson told TNW. “We have already made the necessary adjustments to ensure customers using Internet Explorer are not impacted.”

Image courtesy of The Next Web

Microsoft Adds Pre-Rendering To Bing Searches On IE11

We already explained a few weeks ago how Microsoft wanted to make Internet Explorer 11 the fastest internet browser, it claimed to be 30% faster than any other browser on Windows 7. Now we have learned that part of that faster package will involve pre-rendered searches on Microsoft’s Bing search engine when using Internet Explorer 11.

What this means is when you’re using Bing and you start to type something Bing will intelligently predict what to pre-render (normally the top search results given what you’ve typed at that current point). The result is near instant page loading when using Bing with IE11. Microsoft claims to be doing this in a streamlined way that prevents battery life on mobile devices being eaten up. Microsoft’s blog post explains it all in more detail:

“Today we are introducing an improvement available for Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) that helps you accomplish your search tasks even faster. The next time you perform a search in Bing using IE11, you’ll notice that when you click on the top result, the associated page is almost instantly rendered. To achieve this, we leverage IE11’s pre-render tag to automatically download and render the top result page in the background – it does this in a streamlined fashion taking care to not waste your bandwidth and battery life.

With pre-rendering, you can now enjoy a faster end-to-end search experience, whether you are trying to navigate to a popular web destination (e.g. “New York Times”) or looking for movie reviews (e.g. “Django Unchained reviews”). Because half of people click on the first result on the search results page, pre-rendering that page is an important addition in our quest to improve the overall task completion time.”

Image courtesy of eTeknix via Bing

Microsoft Claims Internet Explorer 11 For Win7 Is 30% Faster Than Rivals

Over on its blog Microsoft has been bragging about how Internet Explorer 11 is 30% faster than all its rivals. Microsoft have made the Internet Explorer 11 Release Preview available for Windows 7 today and that new browser revision comes with a dramatically redesigned JavaScript engine.

“Internet Explorer 11 advances the performance leadership of our JavaScript engine, Chakra, while ensuring compatibility, interoperability, and security. As we improve performance for real-world sites, IE11’s JavaScript performance on benchmarks like WebKit SunSpider continues to lead compared with latest version of other browsers.”

Microsoft claims the new browser isn’t all about performance and they’ve improved compatibility with new standards. They also claim the browser is optimised for anything – the mouse, the keyboard, the pen or a touch screen.

“IE11 Release Preview for Windows 7 includes updates to reflect the latest emerging Web standards. For example, now that the Pointer Events specification is a Candidate Recommendation at the W3C, IE11 supports an un-prefixed version of the emerging standard. With Pointer Events support across the full range of Windows devices (and soon to other browsers), Web sites can easily build experiences that work equally well with mouse, keyboard, pen, and touch.

IE11 Release Preview for Windows 7 adds new user controls for the Standard Delivery Profile for Closed Captioning. With the new control, accessible from the Internet Options menu, users can customize how captions appear in the browser, even overriding the default styling provided by the video source. This customization further advances IE11 as the best browser for professional-quality online video without plugins.”

You can read all the additional technical details about Microsoft’s new browser right here. Download links are also provided.

Image courtesy of Microsoft

Microsoft Internet Explorer 11 Bug Bounty Claimed By Google Employee!

Microsoft and other big browser companies often give out “bug bounties” for people who can discover exploits in their software. Microsoft offered up a rather large bug bounty for Internet Explorer 11 and is offering up to $11,000 for every security flaw people can find in the browser.

Katie Moussouris, Senior Security Strategist at Microsoft said:

“The security community has responded enthusiastically to our new bounty programs, submitting over a dozen issues for us to investigate in just the first two weeks since the programs opened.  I personally notified the very first bounty recipient via email today that his submission for the Internet Explorer 11 Preview Bug Bounty is confirmed and validated. (Translation: He’s getting paid.)”

One of the winners of a bounty was Google information security engineer Ivan Fratric who bagged a healthy serving of the Internet Explorer 11 bounty. He previously won $50,000 back in 2012 in Microsoft’s BlueHat contest.

“We have other researchers who have qualified for bounties under the IE11 program as well, and their notifications will be coming from secure [at] Microsoft [dot] com this week and beyond. We plan to add an acknowledgement page on our bounty web site, listing the researchers who would like to be publicly recognized for their contributions to helping us make our products more secure, so look for that page to appear linked from in the near future.”

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 11 bug bounty window ends on July 26th.

Image courtesy of the Verge