Linux is 24-Years-Old Today!

Today marks the 24th birthday of the Linux operating system, pioneered by Linus Torvalds and provided an open-source, community-based alternative to Microsoft Windows. Linux is Unix-powered and features customizable source code under the GNU General Public License. This means you can modify the source code for commercial or non-commercial purposes. Unlike Windows, Linux is released via distributions which contain varying UIs, and levels of complexity. For instance, Ubuntu was originally built on the Gnome interface and transferred to Unity. It’s suitable for basic users, as codecs and plugins can be easily installed without terminal knowledge.

In contrast to this, Gentoo Linux minimal is created by the user from scratch using a command-line. Of course, this is only recommended for highly experienced Linux users but shows how adaptable the operating system is. In the wider picture, Linux only accounts for an estimated 1.5% market share. Why? People have grown up using Windows for so many years, and the small minority who try something else, buy an Apple device. Things could change in the near future though as Valve pushes their own gaming-centric version of Linux. Its success will greatly depend on how well Windows 10 does and if consumers can accept Microsoft’s privacy policy.

I’ve dabbled with Linux in the past and believe it’s a fantastic operating system but lacks the core programs required for media work and games. Nevertheless, happy 24th birthday Mr. Tux!

Image courtesy of CentOS Blog

Thank you Softpedia for providing us with this information.

Windows 95 Celebrates 20th Birthday Today!

Windows 95 has reached the ripe old age of 20 today, and remembered quite fondly by critics and consumers who witnessed the iconic operating system’s initial launch. Way back in 1995, Microsoft set the technological world alight with a remarkably intuitive user-interface and support for plug-and-play devices. The foundations of Windows 95, are still used today which shows how revolutionary the operating system was at the time. Other features included MSN social networking, filenames up to 250 characters, and synergy across multiple devices.  Microsoft’s marketing strategy was legendary and while embarrassing today, the videos have a certain charm.

To launch Windows 95, Microsoft enlisted the help of The Rolling Stones and used the track, “start me up” to add an exciting, rock-and-roll feel.

The launch video inspired a wonderful parody from Weird Al Yankovic with classics lyrics such as:

“This Windows 95!
It suckin’ up my Drive.
It’ makes a pentium fly.
But my PC… is obsolete.
I’ll have to buy myself a brand new machine…”

Perhaps the most memorable moment is a marketing video featuring Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry from the hit TV sitcom, Friends. Throughout, this “educational” work, there are a host of cringe worthy jokes and bemused looking faces. The video is almost an hour long, but certainly worth a watch!

The Windows 95 start-up sound holds so many nostalgic memories and I’d like to see it included as an optional extra in modern versions of Windows.

Did you pick up Windows 95 on CD-ROM? We would love to hear your first-hand experiences and favourite memories!

Image courtesy of ModDB

Microsoft is Keeping its Windows 10 Updates Secret

Microsoft has refused to reveal the content of its Windows 10 updates, unless the revisions to its operating system are what it deems “significant”. Microsoft was asked by The Register to clarify its policy following the new cumulative update for Windows 10, the details of which are unclear. In a statement, Microsoft refused to reveal the contents of the update, saying only that it offered “improvements to enhance the functionality of Windows 10.”

Regarding its overall policy to Windows 10 updates, the Microsoft spokesperson said, “As we have done in the past, we post KB articles relevant to most updates which we’ll deliver with Windows as a service. Depending on the significance of the update and if it is bringing new functionality to Windows customers, we may choose to do additional promotion of new features as we deploy them.”

Microsoft’s decision to keep the contents of its Windows updates a secret is a legitimate security concern. If the company is, say, patching vulnerabilities in the operating system, it is in the user’s interests for any potential security holes to be disclosed; if the security guard left the back door open, we need to be told. Or maybe Microsoft is rolling out more ways in which it can collect user data for itself. Either way, the reasons for keeping the content of Windows 10 updates a secret is never a good thing for the user.

Thank you The Register for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of ITPro.

Windows 10 Banned by Torrent Trackers

Paranoia over Windows 10’s privacy policy is reaching its apex with the news that users of the operating system have been banned by a number of torrent trackers. The excessive prohibition has been implemented over concerns that Microsoft’s newest Windows iteration could share data related to torrents and associated servers with the company.

Windows 10 has been attacked from all quarters for its invasive approach to user privacy, from sharing WiFi access with other people to its storage and sharing of user data gathered through software, apps, and the Cortana personal assistant. Erroneous reports even emerged that Microsoft’s Software License Terms allowed the company to delete pirated files from Windows 10 computers.

One of the torrent trackers to ban Windows 10 over privacy concerns, iTS, told TorrentFreak that Microsoft’s lack of transparency over what data the operating system collects and how it is used has driven the block.

“Unfortunately Microsoft decided to revoke any kind of data protection and submit whatever they can gather to not only themselves but also others. One of those is one of the largest anti-piracy company called MarkMonitor,” a spokesperson for iTS said.

“Amongst other things Windows 10 sends the contents of your local disks directly to one of their servers. Obviously this goes way too far and is a serious threat to sites like ours which is why we had to take measures,” they added.

Trackers BB and FSC are also considering a ban on Windows 10. “We have also found [Windows 10] will be gathering information on users’ P2P use to be shared with anti piracy group,” BB staff told its users. “What’s particularly nasty is that apparently it sends the results of local(!!) searches to a well known anti piracy company directly so as soon as you have one known p2p or scene release on your local disk … BAM!”

In the same vein, FSC informed users, “As we all know, Microsoft recently released Windows 10. You as a member should know, that we as a site are thinking about banning the OS from FSC. That would mean you cannot use the site with the OS installed.”

If you use torrents, it might be expedient to ditch Windows 10.

Thank you TorrentFreak for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of ITPro.

New Android Vulnerability Affects Everything on the Device

Following Stagefright, another worrying Android vulnerability has been uncovered by researchers. The security flaw can be exploited by taking advantage of the operating system’s multitasking functionality, giving hackers access to every part of the device. “The enabled attacks can affect all latest Android versions and all apps (including the most privileged system apps) installed on the system,” Chuangang Ren, security researcher from Penn State University, warned.

The researchers from Penn State who discovered the Android Vulnerability presented a paper on it at the USENIX Security 15 conference in Washington DC last week. It explained:

Android multitasking provides rich features to enhance user experience and offers great flexibility for app developers to promote app personalization. However, the security implications of Android multitasking remain under-investigated.

With a systematic study of the complex task dynamics, we find design flaws of Android multitasking which make all recent versions of Android vulnerable to task hijacking attacks. We demonstrate proof-of-concept examples utilising the task hijacking attack surface to implement UI spoofing, denial-of-service and user-monitoring attacks. Attackers may steal login credentials, implement ransomware and spy on user’s activities.

We have collected and analyzed over 6.8 million apps from various Android markets. Our analysis shows that the task hijacking risk is prevalent. Since many apps depend on the current multitasking design, defeating task hijacking is not easy.

The research team has notified Android about the vulnerability. Neither them nor Google – or Alphabet, as the parent company is now known – has commented on the findings of the paper.

UPDATE – 24th September, 2015:

Matt Penny from Google’s press office has issued the following statement:

“We appreciate this theoretical research as it makes Android’s security stronger. Android users are protected from attempts at phishing or hijacking like this (including manipulation of the user interface) with Verify Apps and Safety Net security features. Based on our research, fewer than 1% of Android devices had a Potentially Harmful App (PHA) installed in 2014, and fewer than 0.15% of devices that only install from Google Play had a PHA installed.”

Thank you The Register for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Hacoder.

Redditer Discovered Hidden Feature in iOS 9 and Mac OS X El Capitan

We got a lot of information out of what to expect from iOS 9 and El Capitan this fall at Apple’s WWDC in June. Even so, developers are said to be good at discovering Apple’s ‘hidden’ new features, but this time around, it seems that one of them, who I think is actually useful, was actually discovered by someone else.

A redditer going by the name of homeboi808 seems to have stumbled upon a feature who went on unnoticed so far. On both iOS 9 and El Capitan, if you tap on a flight number in either the Mail, Messages or Notes app, the OS’ will work the flight out and give you a flight path overview, along with all information about that flight. This includes arrival, departure times, possible delays and even airport terminal details.

It seems that Apple has added a built-in feature that detects and reacts to gestures when it finds a flight number. However, that needs to adhere to the actual flight number style, so don’t expect it to do the same with just anything you type in. Even so, the flight number needs to be valid in order to get information about it.

Even so, the feature is really helpful when you’re expecting to pick someone up from the airport or are planning a journey. Getting up-to-date information about your flights is a must from my point of view. What do you think?

Thank you BGR for providing us with this information

How to Stop Windows 10 From Sharing Your Bandwidth

The Windows 10 upgrade procedure is remarkably simple and easily reversed if you prefer an older operating system. To manage the bandwidth demands, Microsoft uses a peer-to-peer (P2P) system which allows your network to host the data for additional machines. However, a number of Reddit users discovered the P2P update delivery protocol extended to computers outside of your network and across the globe. Subsequently, this can reduce your download and upload bandwidth as you seed the data to other Windows users.

Currently, there’s no substantial evidence which estimates the impact of the worldwide P2P delivery. It’s clear this has caused some concern and can be manually disabled via the following process:

Firstly, click the “Start Menu” and select the “Settings” tab.

This should open a new window and you need to click on the “Update & Security” sub-menu.

Navigate to the “Windows Update” option on the left side panel, and click “Advanced Options”.

This next menu simply involves scrolling down to the bottom and clicking on “Choose how updates are delivered”.

Once complete, change the highlighted option to “PCs on my local network”. Doing so will disable network sharing across the internet and restrict your bandwidth to a local connection.

In real terms, I’m not entirely convinced the network sharing will have a major impact on the average user’s internet connection. Although, some people may oppose the idea of using their own network to manage traffic instead of Microsoft building a greater networking infrastructure.

Thank you PCWorld for providing us with this information

How to Unlock Windows 10 ‘God Mode’

The full retail version of Windows 10 has been available for nearly a fortnight, and with users still familiarising themselves with all the operating system’s tricks, it was only a matter of time before a favourite feature of previous Windows iterations was discovered. Present in Windows since the release of Vista, the Windows Master Control Panel shortcut, or God Mode as it is nicknamed, is available in Windows 10, and here’s how to access it:

  1. Ensure your system account has administrative privileges;
  2. Right-click on your Windows 10 desktop and choose New > Folder;
  3. Name the folder: GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C} and press enter/return.

The resulting icon should look like this:

If you’re an atheist, or think God Mode sounds a bit egocentric, you can name the icon anything you want. Just replace GodMode. with your moniker of choice. I opted for TheWorldIsMoreThan6000YearsOld.

God Mode gives Windows 10 users access to 40 different sets of controls which collects together every editable variable within the operating system, though particular options vary depending which version of Windows 10 (Home or Pro) you have.

It’s more convenient than exciting, compiling pre-existing controlables within a single folder, but is sure to benefit advanced users of Microsoft’s new operating system.

Thank you Windows Central for providing us with this information.

Windows 10 Market Share Rises to 3.55 Percent

Despite some of the negative press surrounding Windows 10’s hidden snooping tools, the operating system appears to be roaring success and has extended its market share to 3.55 percent. The latest data comes from the weekly Statcounter report and shows a distinct shift from Windows 8.1 to Microsoft’s latest operating system. More specifically, Windows 8.1 dipped from 16.45 percent to 14.93 and Windows 7’s share reduced from 54.41 percent to 53.8.

These numbers are extremely impressive considering how new the operating system is and users are taking full advantage of the free upgrade incentive. Transferring customers from Windows 7 will be a more difficult task for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s a more desktop-orientated environment and doesn’t use the Metro interface. Secondly, Windows 7 is stable, fast and adopts a familiar user-interface most people are accustomed to. While Windows 10 implements the Metro style in a more desktop-friendly manner, it’s still integrated into the Start Menu.

Thankfully, users have a full year to initiate the upgrade process and within a few months, most of the glaring issues should have been resolved. Also, it will be fascinating to see how Microsoft responds to concerns about privacy and their data policy. Whatever the case, Windows 10 continues to expand its market share at a rather impressive pace.

Thank you The Register for providing us with this information.

The Free Software Foundation Calls on Users to “Reject Windows 10”

One of the best things about Windows 10 is that it’s available for free to Windows 7 and 8.1 users. You’d think that an organisation called the Free Software Foundation would appreciate that fact, right? Well, no. The FSF has issued a harshly-worded statement, imploring users to eschew Microsoft’s new operating system for its lax approach to privacy, its closed-source construction, and its use of free upgraders as glorified beta testers.

“The Free Software Foundation urges everyone to reject Windows 10 and join us in the world of free software,” its statement opens. It then goes on to attack the operating system, and its creator Microsoft, for using “draconian laws to prevent anyone from popping the hood on Windows”.

Users should steer clear of Windows 10, though, mainly due to its flagrant abuse of user privacy, according to FSF:

“Because it is fundamentally insecure and scoffs at privacy, Windows is an open window onto you. Because it locks users and independent experts out of the development process, it is also a locked door to your computer, and only Microsoft has the key. If you are considering replacing your operating system with Windows 10, we hope you switch to GNU/Linux instead.”

The FSF statement waxes lyrical about GNU/Linux for being free, open-source, and its democratic community, saying:

“By contrast, free software like the GNU/Linux operating system is developed by professional and volunteer communities working transparently, freely sharing their work with each other and the world. Users have meaningful influence over the software development process and complete choice over what code they run. This means the software usually treats them with respect. Even if a free software developer took a page from Microsoft’s book and began abusing its users, it would have no way to keep them locked in — when this happens, independent experts copy the source code, remove the offending bits and help people switch to the user-respecting version.”

Have you upgraded to Windows 10? If not, is it due to privacy issues? What advantages to GNU/Linux users have over Windows users?

Thank you Free Software Foundation for providing us with this information.

Why You Shouldn’t Upgrade to Windows 10 Today


The launch date of Windows 10 has finally arrived after an extensive Beta testing period for users in the Windows Insider Program. Microsoft’s latest operating system is designed to be light on system resources and implement the Metro user-interface in a less obnoxious way. Windows 8 was heavily criticized by Microsoft customers, game developers and even Valve who became so concerned, they pushed their own Linux-based operating system. Microsoft’s strategic direction was too focused on mobile devices and tried to implement touch functionality at the expense of Desktop PCs.

Microsoft made a catastrophic error in trying to enforce full-screen applications through the Metro user-interface. As a result, it was extremely awkward to arrange multiple Windows and the OS felt pretty cluttered. Furthermore, navigating to newly installed programs, the Control Panel or advanced settings seemed counter-intuitive and hidden behind too many sub-menus. The end result was a terrible operating system for power users or customers opting for a traditional keyboard and mouse control scheme.

Windows 8.1 alleviated some of these concerns but kept the garish Metro system and Microsoft were unwilling to admit defeat. Many users derogatorily refer to Windows 8 as “the next Vista” and refuse to upgrade from the highly acclaimed Windows 7 operating system. Given the amount of disdain Windows 8 received, you might be a little perplexed about not upgrading today. However, there are a number of factors which you should take into consideration before upgrading.

Slow Download Servers

As with any digital product launch, the download servers are being hammered and resulting in extremely slow download speeds. This can create a rather frustrating experience as the queues grow and Microsoft struggles to keep up with demand. Perhaps waiting a few days is a more cogent option so you can download the update when the servers aren’t overpopulated. Also, the free download only applies to existing customers. Subsequently, you cannot legitimately acquire an ISO from a fast mirror and apply the update yourself. Personally, I would perform a re-format of my existing operating system, then install Windows 10; unless you have a boot SSD and few programs, this may take a while.

Windows 10 Could Suffer From Undocumented Compatibility Problems

Despite undergoing a thorough Beta testing phase, Windows 10 hasn’t been adopted on such a widespread scale. This means various third-party programs, games or hardware could experience teething problems. For example, older printers using a Parallel to USB converter might no longer work until the manufacturer releases a fix. Of course, this is a very small percentage of people but emphasizes what kind of problems you might run into. More commonly, many older games could become unstable or fail to detect the platform being used. It shouldn’t be a major issue due to Windows’ compatibility mode, but it’s something to be wary of.

Additionally, mods or unofficial game patches are untested and it’s sensible to let others be the guinea pig. Another factor to take into consideration is the amount of old games like Wing Commander which already struggle on modern operating systems. Windows 10 is brand new, so the amount of threads with information to get the game running will be minimal. Hopefully, the Windows 8.1 fixes work on Windows 10, but this is still an unknown entity.

DirectX 12 is Here, the Games are not

In terms of potential, DirectX 12 is one of the most revolutionary changes to PC Gaming in over a decade. This new low-level API reduces CPU overheads and theoretically increases the performance of games by an estimated 20%. However, there are no games on the market able to leverage this extra performance and it’s up to developers to begin supporting the new API. Realistically, this could take at least a year before modern games are reworked to use DirectX 12.

A large quantity of older games were produced by defunct studios and unable to implement DirectX 12 functionality. I highly doubt this could be done by a modder since the engine needs to be reworked. The data on DirectX 12 is quite new and we need to wait until the API has matured before analyzing its significance. Make no mistake, DirectX 12 will be a monumental change, but gamers shouldn’t expect to see this anytime soon.

Windows 10 Will be Free for a Year

It’s remarkably easy to get into the hullabaloo of a product launch and be disappointed by the final result. There’s no need to rush if you want to upgrade because Windows 10 will remain free for an entire year. As such, you could wait a month to see how well the operating system has been received and until the launch bugs are patched. Perhaps Windows 10 doesn’t offer enough of an improvement from Windows 7 and isn’t worth the hassle of learning a new visual style. This will be fairly prominent with those who aren’t technically minded and struggle to navigate around an operating system.

The Metro UI Still Exists

For all Windows 10’s posturing about returning to its Desktop roots, the Metro UI is still an integral component, albeit in a less obtrusive manner. In Windows 10, clicking the Start icon brings up the familiar Start menu. Unfortunately, this takes up a lot more space as the Metro icons are positioned adjacent to the Start menu. Once pressed, the menu can take up to 50% of your screen space instead of the narrow 20% seen in Windows 7. Microsoft’s ideology revolves and integrating all their services together including mobile, PC and Xbox. This sounds like a good idea, but I strongly believe Microsoft should release two versions of Windows 10; a Metro-based tablet edition and PC version which drops the Metro UI completely.

Windows 8 or 8.1 users can download an invaluable tool called Classic Shell which removes the Metro UI and replaces it with a simple, yet customizable Start menu. I’m surprised Microsoft didn’t take greater notice of this software which creates a much better experience than Windows’ 10 default setup. While the tool should work on Windows 10, this is just another example of how previous operating systems can be made more intuitive than Microsoft’s latest effort.

Final Thoughts

Windows 10 is shaping up to be a highly successful release, as Microsoft attempts to transfer individuals from older operating systems through the free upgrade incentive. Despite this, launch dates are always marred with a wide array of problems. In this case, the servers are almost at breaking point and I wouldn’t recommend downloading the update right now. Furthermore, DirectX 12 games could be some time off, and the Metro user-interface is still an integral part of the user-experience.

There’s no need to rush out and instantly download the update either as the average user will not majorly benefit from upgrading today. This doesn’t apply to technology enthusiasts or tweakers who want to play with the latest operating system. I’m still wary about the lack of mature drivers for unusual peripherals and wonder if they will work without any complications.

Microsoft has hinted that this could be the last version of Windows formally released. After that, Windows could possibly become a service platform which evolves without reselling the operating system as a product revision. Windows 10 is here and you should definitely upgrade, but now is probably not the best time for everyone.

Windows 10 Rolls Out – Upgrade Available to Install Now

Windows 10 has officially arrived for Windows users. For a lucky few who have already reserved their copies of the new Microsoft OS, Windows Update is already offering a 2.699 GB download to upgrade from your current OS. The rollout is staggered so don’t fret if you don’t see it for a while yet. For those that are more impatient to get their free upgrade, ISO images are available. These will allow in-place upgrades, but they will also allow for a fresh install for those that want to do that.

Given that Windows 10 is free for upgrades for the next year, there really is no need to rush and upgrade right away. For those who haven’t tried Windows 10 during the beta test, it might be a good idea to hold off installing the new OS on a production machine and let others be the guinea pigs. There are some concerns about incompatibilities and automatic updating though Microsoft has addressed these concerns somewhat.

For those who aren’t eligible for an upgrade, you should be able to pick retail boxed CDs and USBs relatively soon. Windows 10 is set to receive support for the next 10 years and pioneer Microsoft’s new focus on Software as a Service. Microsoft attempted to address some of the concerns users had for Windows 8 and we shall soon see how the public receives this new OS.

Windows 10 Will Include Tool to Block Updates

Much fuss has been made, rightly, about Microsoft’s decision to include mandatory automatic updates in its forthcoming operating system, Windows 10. There is no way to edit, control, or block Windows Update in Windows 10 Home, and Windows 10 Professional only features limited control over software and driver updates.

Windows 10 testers have even been complaining about the imposition, with some users reporting problems with broken NVIDIA drivers being forced on to their systems:

It seems that Gabe Aul, Head of the Windows Insider Program (and tagged in the above tweet), has been listening. When Windows 10 launches in a matter of days on 29th July, it will include KB3073930, a hidden troubleshooter package that will allow users of the new OS to opt out of selected software and driver updates.

KB3073930 was digitally signed on 15th June so, despite ideas to the contrary, allowing users the option to block or hide updates was something that has been on Microsoft’s radar for at least 8 weeks, and it should be ready to use at the time of the official Windows 10 launch.

While forcing updates for Windows 10 makes sense for most people, protecting their systems without relying on them to stay on top of system updates and patches, giving more advanced users the option to control what gets added to their copy of Windows 10 and when is a welcome addition.

Thank you ZDNet for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Windows Blog.

GeForce GTX 980 Ti Owners Won’t Be Able to Reserve a Windows 10 Upgrade

If you wanted to upgrade before reserving a Windows 10 Upgrade, you might want to reconsider. Apparently, GeForce GTX 980 Ti owners are not able to reserve a copy of Microsoft’s latest operating system because the company seems to believe the OS ‘won’t work’ with NVIDIA’s latest graphics card.

The funny situation was reported by PCWorld, where they tried to reserve an upgrade with a rig featuring the GTX 980 Ti, but found out they couldn’t. Digging deeper, they found out from their Check your PC option that the graphics card was deemed to be not compatible with Windows 10, which is quite awkward due to the fact that the 980 Ti is one of the cards that supports DirectX 12.1 and has support for the OS with NVIDIA’s 353.30 driver.

It seems that Microsoft has not updated its compatibility database and an NVIDIA employee apparently told through a tweet that 980 Ti owners would have a great experience with the card and Microsoft’s Windows 10.

So what is there to do? Well, Microsoft may be able to fix this problem easily by adding support for it in the database or they could just ignore it and let 980 Ti users update to Windows 10 after it gets released. So what do you think it’s going to be? Do you have a 980 Ti? Have you been able to reserve a Windows 10 Upgrade? Let us know!

Thank you PCWorld for providing us with this information

Take a Look at a Leaked Version of Cortana for Android

Microsoft announced in May that it will roll out its personal assistant, Cortana, to Android and iOS. As the official launch is getting closer, so are the leaks it seems. Word is that a pre-release version of Cortana has cropped up last weekend on various websites.

It is said that the standalone Cortana app is already running smoothly on devices and is compatible with Android 4.1.2 and later OS versions. There have been some problems with getting it to work on some handsets, but that is bound to happen as it is a leaked version and not the official app. However, you can at least try it out before you decide if you actually want to get it for your Android handset.

People who had a chance to test it out say that it performs “as expected” and if you got a chance to test Windows 10 Preview for PC or Phones, then you most likely are familiar with what Cortana can do on Android or iOS devices too. There are some minor differences, like Cortana not being able to get content from emails or listen for music, but there were bound to be some restrictions in place. Compared to the integrated version on Windows Phones, the standalone Cortana for other OS’ requires permission to get access to pretty much everything, so if you don’t have a way to provide it, the app will not be able to use the external information.

Microsoft plans to launch Cortana for iOS and Android next week. They say it will hit the US, UK, Chinese, French, Italian and Spanish markets at first, followed by Canada and India in the following months and then the rest of the targeted markets by the end of the year. The company chose this approach due to the fact that it also wants to personalize the user interaction with Cortana. For example, the Japanese market will feature Cortana bowing by default to show signs of politeness, while the UK market will house a Cortana that expresses the well-known British humour.

You can download the leaked version of Cortana for Android from APKMirror. I already have a Windows Phone device, so if you have an Android handset and choose to test it out, don’t forget to share your thoughts with a comment below!

Thank you Sci-Tech Today for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of PCkoloji

Microsoft Hurries Out Emergency Windows Patch

Microsoft has broken their trend of releasing hotfixes on the second Tuesday of every month to release a vital “out of band” security patch. The critical flaw entitled MS15-078 is a vulnerability in the Microsoft Font Driver which allows Remote Code execution. In basic terms, this means any webpage or document containing embedded OpenType fonts could become a major security risk. Microsoft explained the situation and why it’s imperative to enable automatic updates or download the patch:

“An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could take complete control of the affected system. An attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights.”

“There are multiple ways an attacker could exploit this vulnerability, such as by convincing a user to open a specially crafted document, or by convincing a user to visit an untrusted webpage that contains embedded OpenType fonts. The update addresses the vulnerability by correcting how the Windows Adobe Type Manager Library handles OpenType fonts.”

“When this security bulletin was issued, Microsoft had information to indicate that this vulnerability was public but did not have any information to indicate this vulnerability had been used to attack customers. Our analysis has shown that exploit code could be created in such a way that an attacker could consistently exploit this vulnerability.”

All Windows users are advised to update as a matter of urgency to keep their system secure. However, Windows XP customers cannot access this fix due to the lack of support for that particular operating system. Microsoft believes this security hole could lead to a huge influx of malware. Once the update has finished installing, a reboot will be required. This couldn’t have come at a worse time for Microsoft with the pending launch of Windows 10. The Redmond-based company needs to establish their latest products as an extremely secure platform to make users more inclined to upgrade.

Thank you The Register for providing us with this information.

Check Out the Windows 10 Packaging Boxes

With the launch of Windows 10 later this month, more and more information about Microsoft’s upcoming OS is appearing. Today we have been gifted with some images that show the box art for Windows 10. This time around, the OS will be available on both DVD and USB installation media for the first time. Above, you can see the box art for the USB media with purple being the Pro version while blue is for Home. This is a change from the previous blue for Pro and green for Home that prior releases had adhered to.

For the DVD box art, a detailed depiction of the OS desktop is front and center. It seems Microsoft made pains to ensure that the much-missed Start Menu features front and center. Once again Pro gets a striking purple while Home is blue. Given the relative rarity of DVD drives in PCs and the rolling release style of Windows 10, this may be the last time we will ever see DVD media being sold. In fact, the USB installation media might also fall by the wayside as more and more users create their own installation media and USBs from downloadable ISOs. Be sure to follow our Windows 10 coverage here as we near the release date.

Images Courtesy of Microsoft Insider

Apple Pokes Fun at Android in new Commercial

When you have two competitors as large as Apple and Google, or Apple and Samsung, Okay Apple Vs the World; things differentiating between the two (or more) companies can become extremely petty. In the newest advert launched by Apple, they seem to poke fun at the software and hardware compatibility.

Apple design most of the hardware and software in-house, the boffins know that in every single iPhone, it will feature 99% the same parts; so software writing is essentially a simple process. This then means that the software can better utilise the hardware to increase efficiency and/ or performance.

When the magnifying glass points at Android, the operating system has to be compatible with hundreds, if not thousands of different hardware configurations. In some cases, it works perfectly fine, in others it flops. This is why each manufacturer releases their own version, so it works better with the phone in hand.

Personally I don’t like Apple, but I have to admit that they are onto something here. Google released the Nexus a few years back which took the Android world by storm thanks to the optimised performance (and screen), and that is what Apple do with almost every iteration of the iPhone.

What smartphone do you own? Do you wish you went for the competition? Let us know in the comments.

Thank you to BGR for providing us with this information.

US Navy Pays For XP Support

Governments have long been accused of not planning for the future and thus wasting money on projects which really should have been modernized. Well, this is no exception as its been announced that the US Navy will be transferring approximately $9 million dollars to Microsoft. What for! You may ask, is it for the latest back door into the software’s giants system? No, the money is for a polite but expensive tech person to offer support for Microsoft XP which is installed on the US Navy’s systems.

In response the US Navy has stated that it plans to upgrade their systems, did god I hope it’s not Vista, by July 12 2016. This sounds promising until the small print also states that the US Navy has the option to extend the support for XP until at least June 2017 which will then raise the amount, paid into Microsoft to nearly $31 million dollars.

The next statements discussing tech are even scarier, not by what is said but from who says it and the position which they represent. These come from Steven Davis who is the spokesman for Space and Naval Warfare Systems, who announced that because certain programs which the Navy uses rely on a legacy windows product, until these programs are replaced, it’s XP all the way.

Microsoft are also making a killing by offering Support for Windows XP, according to Net Market Share, a huge 44% of corporations still have Windows XP installed on at least one PC Worldwide, this is nearly 15% of PCs which are still running XP. So the next time you wonder why your government cannot fund a certain project, just think of that dam Paperclip.

Thank You CNN Money and US Department Of Defence for providing us with this information

Image Courtesy of teknorio

Watch How This Hacked Macintosh OS 7.5.5 Runs on the Apple Watch

Back when Macintosh OS 7.5.5 first got released in 1996, you were required to sit in front of a big desktop computer and a CRT monitor. Those of you who still remember the latter bulky displays will probably think ‘boy, those were some good times’, eh? But technology advances and it looks like the 20-year-old OS gets a bit of attention again, but not as you imagined.

A developer with a lot of spare time on his hands ported the old 7.5.5 operating system on the Apple Watch. While this seems useless, it does however point out a clear fact, namely how far we’ve come in just 20 years. I mean, imagine that we were using the OS with a keyboard and a mouse on a big rig back then and now, you can use it on your watch.

The developer achieved the result by running the OS on a ported version of the Mini Vmac Macintosh emulator. It is nice to see the old OS up and running again, but don’t expect to actually use it on your watch. The Macintosh 7.5.5 was not designed with touch screen support. Why? Because nobody knew what touch screen was back then.

However, a hack would be possible to add touch screen interactions on the OS, but who would dedicate that much time and effort to do it? Just sit back and enjoy the nostalgia of old times in the video below.

Thank you TechSpot for providing us with this information

Testers Getting Windows 10 For Free? Maybe Not

Microsoft just can’t seem to make up its mind regarding who is eligible for a free Windows 10 upgrade, or at the very least is struggling to communicate it clearly. Over the weekend, news broke that Microsoft would offer a free, full upgrade to Windows 10 to any member of the Insider Program who had downloaded the preview build of its new operating system. However, the Microsoft blog which broke the news has been silently rewritten. On Friday, the post said that Windows Insiders would “receive the Windows 10 final release build and remain activated,” but a stealth edit has removed the words “remain activated,” suggesting a volte-face on the part of Microsoft.

Then yesterday, Gabriel Aul, Head of the Windows Insider Program, revealed on Twitter that, in fact, Windows Insiders would get a free, permanent Windows 10 upgrade, so long as they had a valid Microsoft Account (MSA):

If that is still the case, then why was the blog post reworded? Has Microsoft’s policy changed, did the company misspeak, or is it deliberately muddying the waters in order to obscure a method by which customers can bag themselves a free copy of Windows 10? Expect further clarification/obfuscation soon.

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

Microsoft Is Giving Away Windows 10 To Testers

Windows 10 has had some confusing upgrade notices. First it was everyone that was running windows 7 and above could upgrade for free, this initially included people who had a less than legit version installed. This was then changed later on (or “clarified”) by stating that Windows 10 would only be available for legitimate users but “incentives” would be available to help sway people  towards the platform. The latest news is if you are interested in a free copy of Windows 10, just install the latest test build.

Confirmed on Twitter yesterday, Gabe Aul outlined the plan for testers to be able to upgrade to the final release build for free. With testers soon to require a Microsoft Account to receive the latest test build’s, the plan is for anyone who has the preview installed and linked to a Microsoft Account (after opting for future test versions) will be able to upgrade to the final release of windows 10 when it is released later this year.

The latest build allows you to link a Microsoft Account (build 10130) and is the start of the latest initiative to release windows 10 to a wider range of users.

With yet another way to get Windows 10 for no real cost to yourself, when it is released later this year Windows 10 is definitely set to invite users from all over to give the new operating system more than a fair chance.

Thank you The Verge for the information.

Image courtesy of Asus.

Google Adds a Big Pot of Money as Android Security Rewards Program Incentive

Google is known for rewarding its fans and developers who find and provide fixes to its Android operating system. Through its reward system, Google ensures that bugs are found and dealt with accordingly. Through its open-source nature, Android provides a lot of potential for both development and hacking.

The Android Security Rewards has been made for developers to submit any code that won’t fall into other rewards program covered by Google. The company is interested in AOSP, OEM, kernel and TrustZone OS bugs, but firmware bugs can also be submitted if they pose a potential security risk for the Android OS.

The new rewards program currently covers only two devices, namely the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9, but Google says it will add more in the future. Bugs that qualify for the latter devices should fall into the moderate, high or critical area, so if you find a complex bug or just a text misspelled wrong, they won’t qualify.

As far as rewards are concerned, Google offers between $500 and $2,000, depending on the bug severity and how well it is documented and/or patched. For example, Google will reward anyone who submits a critical bug, the patch and CTS test with up to $8,000. Also, Google offers a larger sum of money for functional bugs as follows:

  • An exploit or chain of exploits leading to kernel compromise from an installed app or with physical access to the device will get up to an additional $10,000. Going through a remote or proximal attack vector can get up to an additional $20,000.
  • An exploit or chain of exploits leading to TEE (TrustZone) or Verified Boot compromise from an installed app or with physical access to the device will get up to an additional $20,000. Going through a remote or proximal attack vector can get up to an additional $30,000.

If you like a challenge that would potentially bring you a lot of cash, you can head over to Google’s Android Rewards page here and see more details.

The Truth About Windows 10 Annual Fees

The internet has been awash with rumours ever since Microsoft announced that Windows 7 and 8.1 users will be eligible for free upgrade to Windows 10 within one year of the new operating system’s release, with the talk being that Microsoft will charge annual subscription fees beyond that one-year, making the upgrade far from free. Those rumours have now been tackled by Gabriel Aul, the Engineering General Manager for Microsoft’s Operating Systems Group, in a clarification on Twitter.

Twitter user @OjJanne tweeted Microsoft, concerned that the statement “free for a year” could “[leave] the door open for annual fees later”. Aul (@GabeAul), who was not tagged in the tweet, responded with a categorical statement: “Please allow me to close that door for you: No annual fee for Windows 10.”

Aul later linked to the FAQ section on the official Windows site, which deals with the “free” upgrade explicitly:

Is the upgrade really free?

Yes, it’s free. This is a full version of Windows, not a trial or introductory version. It is available for a limited time:  you have one year from the time Windows 10 is available to take advantage of this offer.

Windows 10 is released on 29th July 2015, at which point Windows 7 and 8.1 users (minus Enterprise users) will have until 29th July 2016 to claim their free upgrade to the new OS. Microsoft estimates that the Windows 10 upgrade should take around an hour to install.

Thank you Digital Trends for providing us with this information.

Apple Takes a Radical Approach with its Swift Programming Language

Apple just announced something really radical today at its Worldwide Developer Conference. We all now how strict and closed the company is with its software and hardware, but it looks like things are about to change and we might see them before the end of this year.

Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president, announced that the company will make their latest programming language, namely Swift, open source by the end of the year. This is quite surprising since the company enforced a strict closed box policy on their products up until now. So why the change of heart?

Nonetheless, Federighi said that the compiler code and libraries for iOS and OS X will be made available to everyone and it looks like they are planning to go even further and release the latter for Linux as well. This means that developers will be able to program in Apple’s code on all major operating systems once the code gets released.

Don’t get too excited though. A similar promise was made by Steve Jobs in the past, who said that the company would deliver the FaceTime protocol to developers so they can integrate it into other software outside Apple’s own OS’. As you can imagine, the protocol is still not available, so take the recent information with a grain of salt until you actually see Swift’s code available for download.

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Business Insider

Microsoft Backtracks on Free Windows 10 Upgrade for Pirates

Contradicting previous reports, Microsoft has confirmed that it will not be offering free Windows 10 upgrades to people using pirated copies of Windows 7 and 8.1. Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s Executive Vice President of Operating Systems, says that pirates will be offered “very attractive” upgrade options, but that they won’t be getting Windows 10 for free.

“While our free offer to upgrade to Windows 10 will not apply to Non-Genuine Windows devices, and as we’ve always done, we will continue to offer Windows 10 to customers running devices in a Non-Genuine state,” Myerson writes on Microsoft’s Windows Blog. “In addition, in partnership with some of our valued OEM partners, we are planning very attractive Windows 10 upgrade offers for their customers running one of their older devices in a Non-Genuine state.”

“Non-Genuine Windows has a high risk of malware, fraud, public exposure of your personal information, and a higher risk for poor performance or feature malfunctions,” he added. “Non-Genuine Windows is not supported by Microsoft or a trusted partner.”

Previous reports suggested that Microsoft would offer a rudimentary, stripped-down version of Windows 10 as an upgrade for pirates using eligible previous versions, with the desktop embedded with a watermark. Now we know for sure: if you’re a pirate, you will have to pay.

Windows 7 and 8.1 Users Can Now Reserve Windows 10 Upgrade

Microsoft has confirmed the release of Windows 10 as 29th July, and certain Windows 7 and 8.1 users are able to reserve their free upgrade to the new operating system, thanks to a handy little icon in their Windows taskbar notifications area:

If you are a Windows 7 or 8.1 user and you don’t have the icon on your desktop, you need to make sure that you have installed the KB3035583 Windows Update from March. Without it, you will not be able to reserve your automatic Windows 10 update. After the update is installed, the icon should appear instantly. Once clicked, it offers a load of information about the new OS, and at the click of a button signs the user up to the free update.

The update window will even warn you about drivers and programs that either might become incompatible or will need to be reinstalled after the update, though an option titled “Check your PC”.

Windows 7 and 8.1 users have one year from Windows 10’s release date to take advantage of the free upgrade “for the supported lifetime of your device,” as Microsoft puts it, stressing that it is a permanent upgrade, not a free trial or limited version. Sadly, Windows RT and RT 8.1 users are not eligible for the offer.

Thank you CNet for providing us with this information.