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Users of Internet Explorer (IE) were in no hurry last month to discard older versions, even after Microsoft told them that their browsers will drop off the support list in early 2016.
In a surprise announcement on Aug. 7, Microsoft said that after Jan. 12, 2016, it would support IE9 only on Windows Vista, IE10 only on Windows Server 2012, and only IE11 on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.
IE7 and IE8 will drop off support completely, but others on certain editions of Windows — like IE10 on Windows 7 — will also get the patch axe.
The browsers will continue working, but Microsoft will halt technical support and stop serving security updates for the banned versions. Because of the large number of critical vulnerabilities Microsoft patches in its browser — 110 in the last three months — it will be extremely risky running an unsupported version.
But Microsoft’s mandate did little to change the user share of the various versions of IE last month as measured by metrics vendor Net Applications.
Microsoft’s asking more than two-thirds of current Internet Explorer users to ditch their browser by January 2016.
IE9 actually gained ground. The browser, which is the newest able to run on Vista, added two-tenths of a percentage point to its user share to average 9.2% for August. But because Vista currently powers just 3% of all Windows computers, a majority of IE9 runs on Windows 7, which must dispense with the 2011 browser in under a year and a half.
IE8 will be an even bigger problem. The browser, which is the default for many of the Windows XP PCs still in operation, also was adopted by large numbers of businesses as the standard for Windows 7. That showed in Net Applications’ statistics: IE8 accounted for 21.4% of all browsers last month, down just two-tenths of a percentage point, and 36.6% of all copies of Internet Explorer.
(The difference between the numbers for all browsers and only IE was because Internet Explorer has a 58.5% share of the browser space, not 100%.)
IE6 and IE7 also declined last month, but by minuscule amounts of two-tenths of a point and less than half of one-tenth of a point, respectively. IE6, although no longer supported on Windows XP, is still patched on Windows Server 2003, which is slated for retirement in July 2015.
IE10 barely moved, too: Its user share dropped by less than one-tenth of a point to 6.2% of all browsers, and to 10.6% of all copies of IE.
The only bright spot was 2013’s IE11, which gained about eight-tenths of a percentage point to average 17.6% of all browsers, 30% of all copies of IE.
By the numbers, Microsoft’s customers will have a very hard time scrubbing out-of-date versions of IE by 2016. If IE8 was to magically disappear — which it will not — it would have to shed 1.3 percentage points each month. That would represent an increase of more than 2,000% from its six-month average decline.
Likewise, IE9 will have to be aggressively suppressed. Even if every copy of Vista runs IE9 — certainly not the case — Windows 7 PCs must increase their IE9 disposal rate by 630% to make the monthly quota towards zero.
Overall, the numbers are daunting: Microsoft has taken the unprecedented step of demanding that nearly 70% of its current IE user base migrate to a newer browser, and do so, for enterprises at least, in a very short time.
Little wonder, then, that Gartner analyst Michael Silver last month said, “This is huge” when asked to characterize Microsoft’s announcement.
Net Applications calculates user share by mining data from the approximately 160 million unique visitors each month who browse to the sites it monitors for customers.
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Microsoft’s internal censors seem to be sleeping on the job this year. In June, the Surface Pro 3 manual included several references to a small-screen Surface Mini despite the fact that a small-screen Surface Mini was never actually released. And now, as rumors of Windows 9 swirl, Microsoft China appears to have confirmed the impending reveal.
Posting to Weibo—a Chinese social media site—Microsoft China posed its followers a question: “Microsoft’s latest OS Windows 9 is coming soon, do you think the start menu at the left bottom will make a comeback?”
Oops. And not just because Microsoft has already announced the return of the Start menu.
The post was accompanied by a screenshot of a Windows 9 logo mock-up by Shy Designs. Microsoft China appears to have quickly realized the error of its ways, as the Weibo message has since been removed, though not before Cnbeta noticed and first reported it.
Several reports from oft-reliable sources say Microsoft is prepared to announce Windows 9 in “technical preview” form at the end of September or early in October, just before Windows 7 PCs disappear from store shelves, though Microsoft itself has yet to confirm it. Leaks suggest Windows 9 will better let a PC be a PC and a tablet be a tablet, bringing several mouse-friendly changes to the desktop and possibly killing the desktop completely in tablets and phones powered by mobile ARM processors.
If Windows 9 is indeed incoming—and Microsoft China’s slip-up suggests it is—we have some suggestions for features we’d want to see. But one of the most crucial improvements Microsoft needs to make ASAP has nothing to do with the core operating system itself: The company needs to clean up the Windows Store pronto if it ever hopes to make Metro apps viable on the desktop. Fortunately, Microsoft’s already taking its first tentative steps towards fixing the mess.
With Windows 9 already on the immediate horizon, there’s increasing speculation that Microsoft may change up the licensing and business model for the flagship OS. Some suggest that Microsoft will just give the OS away, while others think that Microsoft will either offer Windows as a cloud-based service or in a subscription model á la Office 365.
All of those are possibilities. What concerns me is that there’s still so much confusion about Office 365, and that confusion will bleed over into a possible “Windows 365” scenario, creating chaos for users trying to decide what is best for them.
Article by Microsoft was very confusing and misleading, because the headline made it clear it was related to Windows-as-a-Service — however, in the very first paragraph, the author stated that Windows might soon follow in the footsteps of Office 365. It then went on to claim that those rumors might be true because Microsoft listed a job posting that alluded to “Windows-as-a-Service.”
Make it stop!
That particular article demonstrated a complete lack of understanding about what Office 365 is and how it works. If that isn’t bad enough, it doubled down on that ignorance by linking the misguided understanding of Office 365 to both Windows 365 and Windows-as-a-Service, as if all of those are related or similar. It’s no wonder consumers on the street can’t make sense of Office 365 — the tech press doesn’t get it either and writes things that make it more confusing.
Let’s start by backing up and talking about Office 365 for a minute. Office 365 is NOT a cloud-based Office-as-a-Service offering. Office 365 is the exact same Office as the traditional Office Professional 2013 suite, but it’s sold as a subscription rather than as a one-time purchase. It includes additional cloud-based features and benefits that don’t come with the desktop suite, but the actual Office applications are installed on and run from your Windows or Mac PC literally the same way.
So, now let’s break down the difference between what “Windows 365” might look like as opposed to “Windows-as-a-Service.” If Microsoft chooses to offer Windows the same way it has packaged Office 365, all that means is that rather than charging a one-time fee of $100 or $200 for the OS, it would instead offer it as a subscription for say $25 or $50 per year.
Users would still have the exact same Windows 9 (or whatever they call it) as the users who pay $200 to buy Windows 9 outright, but they’d pay less up front, and they’d have perpetual rights to the latest version. That means, when Windows 10 comes along, the Windows 365 users will just keep paying their subscription fees and install it, while those who purchased Windows 9 outright will have to spend the $200 again if they want to upgrade.
A cloud-based Windows, or “Windows-as-a-Service,” is an entirely different concept. It would likely still include some sort of subscription, or ongoing fees, but with Windows-as-a-Service, Microsoft would install and maintain the Windows OS on its Azure servers in the cloud, and users would need to somehow connect to and login to the cloud-based Windows to run software in a virtualized, streaming fashion over the internet.
I’m not a fan of the idea of Windows-as-a-Service. It seems too much like trying to use a Chromebook — where your ability to use your computer or be productive is tied to your ability to find a reliable internet connection. Windows 365, on the other hand, sounds like an awesome approach that I really hope Microsoft does offer.
Both of these are potential options for Microsoft, and each has pros and cons. It’s important to understand that they are completely different models, though, and to not confuse users and muddy the waters by implying that Office 365 means you’re using some sort of cloud-based Office-as-a-Service.
Microsoft yesterday re-released the updates for security bulletin MS14-045. This update had been released on the August Patch Tuesday, August 12, but withdrawn later in the week after user reports of blue screen crashes and disabled systems.
Updated on August 27: With respect to these remaining updates, Tracey Pretorius, Director, Microsoft Trustworthy Computing, told ZDNet “[w]e continue to work diligently to get the Windows August Update rereleased to customers.”
A blog entry from Pretorius implies that the problem was related to a change in the release schedules for non-security updates.
The Knowledge Base article for the revised update (KB2993651) lists a confusing set of Known Issues remaining with the update.
- With the update installed, fonts in the system that are not in the default fonts directory (%windir%\fonts\) cannot be changed when loaded in an active session. For more detail, see the KB article.
- With the update installed, the z-order (depth) of some windows is changed. This means they can be hidden and therefore invisible. Four other earlier updates also cause this problem:
- 2965768 Stop error 0x3B when an application changes the z-order of a window in Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1
- 2970228 Update to support the new currency symbol for the Russian ruble in Windows
- 2973201 MS14-039: Description of the security update for Windows on-screen keyboard: July 8, 2014
- 2975719 August 2014 update rollup for Windows RT 8.1, Windows 8.1, and Windows Server 2012 R2
Two of these (2970228 and 2975719) are among the updates withdrawn by Microsoft along with MS14-045. The other two have not been mentioned previously with respect to the recent problems. Those two now-problematic updates are also still available for download as of late afternoon on August 27.
The security bulletin says that “Microsoft strongly recommends that customers who have not uninstalled the 2982791 update [i.e., the old version, released on Patch Tuesday] do so prior to applying the 2993651 update [the new version].” This recommendation applies to users whether they are having problems with the old update or not. Note that Windows Update and Automatic Updates do not remove the old version.
To uninstall the update go to Control Panel, Programs and Features, Installed Updates, find the 2982791 update in the Microsoft Windows section, right click and uninstall. You can find the update by searching for “KB2982791” in the Control Panel for uninstalling updates. See the screen capture below.
The update addresses three Windows kernel bugs, two of which could result in privilege elevation and the third in exposure of sensitive kernel information.
Open Terminal. Go to Applications > Accessories > Terminal and type in the following command (or to use copy/paste method): sudo uname –m and hit Enter
- If the response is i686, you have a 32-bit version of Ubuntu.
- If the response is x86_64 for example, you have a 64-bit version of Ubuntu.
Check out other information as needed. You have other commands for other information also, so type those commands or to use copy/paste method to the Terminal:
- sudo uname –s, shows you the kernel name
- sudo uname –n, shows you the network node host name
- sudo uname –r, shows you the kernel release
- sudo uname –v, shows you the kernel version
- sudo uname –m, shows you machine hardware name
- sudo uname –p, shows you the processor type or “unknown”
- sudo uname –i, shows you the hardware platform or “unknown”
- sudo uname –o, shows you the operating system.