Windows 9 leak: New Start menu

The latest Windows 9 leaks, showing a Start-menu fusion of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, beg the question: Microsoft, why are you scooping ice cream over a hot dog?

On the surface, there’s really no reason for the straightforward, icon-driven approach of the Windows-7-like lefthand menu bar to coexist with the Windows-8.1-like, brightly colored tiles arrayed to the right of it. And we hardly pay attention to Live Tiles anyway: A typical Windows 8.1 user bounces to the Start page for a split second to launch an app, and that’s it. There’s not enough time for the user’s eyes to track the information Microsoft could be showing you via its Live Tiles before you’re off in your new app.

More of the same…or not, But yes, there is a reason that Microsoft may be trying to combine the two: because the icons represented in the screenshots are true Live Tiles.

That’s not always the case. So many tiles on a typical Windows 8.1 Start page simply show a static application icon, such as launch buttons for OneNote, or PowerPoint, or Adobe Reader. Many users undoubtedly still wonder what the point of all those massive icons floating in space actually are, and many wondered how to get rid of them when they appeared in Windows 8.

But in the screenshot of the leaked menu, the righthand Tiles should actually dosomething. If a user establishes an Outlook.com account, it’s a sure bet that the Mail tile will flip up to reveal new email. Or the News tile will deliver the headlines. Or Calendar will highlight a user’s upcoming appointments. (Yes, a user could also use them as easily navigable shortcuts to favorite apps, but that’s kind of a waste of space, no?)

So it’s going to be up to both Microsoft and the user to manage those tiles effectively.

windows 81 update1 power button
How long does anyone actually spend on the Windows 8.1 Start page, anyway?

From a marketing perspective, however, we’re stuck in the same quandary as before: if Microsoft leaves the Live Tiles there, the same users who were turned off by Windows 8 may not return. And if they hide them entirely, then Microsoft tacitly acknowledges that the Windows 8 design schema was a mistake.

That’s the tough choice I’d make. I don’t advocate eliminating the Live Tiles of Windows 8 entirely, but I’d leave them as an option for power users. Then I’d either replace the Charms bar with one that exposes a row of these tiles, or else replace them with a series of small, popup notifications.

Microsoft undoubtedly has its own design goals in mind, but it’s not too late for a little feedback. How say you, users?

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Best Antivirus in market?

AVG vs Avast Antivirus: Does the battle ever end?

Avast antivirus

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Looking at a few fresh features and software improvements to new options and the app you ought to be aware of. That’s not the only thing below you’ll find information and significant news you should read we look into now.

Both antivirus software are two of the most popular software applications for quite a number of reasons, not only because they both start with the letters AV, but both are guaranteed to be effective in removing threats, viruses and malware. The good thing is, both antivirus software are free. AVG and Avast, are almost always the #1 and #2 most commonly used software application on download.com.

Let us take a closer look on these two most admired software and determine which of the two is better.

AVG

AVG, the short term for Anti-Virus Guard, is a rock solid antivirus software with numerous features to look forward to. Aside from being a free antivirus software, it is the most popular and most commonly used security program in the market today. It has been considered as the most effective software that perfectly removes viruses, threats and other forms of malware.

AVG competes with the biggest players in the market today – Symantec and McAfee, which has consistently gained the trust of the public in removing and detecting viruses and threats. AVG has been proven to deliver the most important aspect to its users – security. It continues to add innovative new features that make the software more effective and easier to use.

The best thing about AVG is its LinkScanner, Cloud antivirus technology and it’s Social Networking Protection, leaving Avast far more behind. It has the best features that has never been found in other antivirus software, including Avast.

 

AVG has proven to be the best software in the market. Recently, the developers have been found to develop another key feature of their latest version. Whatever it is, nobody has known yet. But AVG promised the public that they will cater all their demands and needs, and will gradually improve the versions of their software.

Avast

Avast, the short term for Anti-Virus Advanced Set, is also a nautical word for stop. It is a strong security solution that is commonly used by the public to shield their system from viruses, threats, malware and other forms of spyware. They have been guaranteed to provide multi-layer solutions and protection to PS users. Their detection rates have been tested and configured, keeping the software better than any other software brands. The Avast antivirus software is very comprehensive and easy to navigate. With anti-spyware features and specific shields for email, internet and network protection, AVG provides its user the utmost protection from all major threats.

Avast provides Boot Scan, iTrack and P2P shield that users cannot find in AVG. Avast is quite complicated compared to AVG, but it is guaranteed to be one of the best software in the market.

Both antivirus software,

provides real-time protection from viruses, threats, malware and other forms of spyware. But overall, AVG has remarkably made up its name in the global market. Both features similar detection rates, removal effectiveness and impacts on the system. It is no longer a matter of who wins the fight, but rather the choice of getting the best protection from an antivirus software. We recommend both AVG and Avast, as they are both functional and effective, thus been given the recognition of being two of the best antivirus software in the market. More than just being known and popular, AVG and Avast totally competes in performance, protection and most of all, price.

 

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Windows 9 technical preview

Windows 9 Threshold Start menu crop

Windows 8 was supposed to finally unify the computing experience, bringing tablets and PCs together with Microsoft’s modern UI at its core. To say that hasn’t worked out would be a grotesque understatement. Consumers by and large have either avoided Windows 8 or managed to put up with its tablet-oriented feature set while grumbling to anyone who will listen. In response, Microsoft is accelerating its release cycle, and sources now say the first technical preview of Windows 9 (codenamed Threshold) will be out in late September or early October.

Threshold is going to be the logical continuation of changes the company started to make in Windows 8.1. Microsoft is rolling back the clear tablet focus for desktop users while maintaining usability on tablets in hopes Windows slates will finally catch on. One of the most complained about features in Windows 8 is the full screen start menu with big finger-friendly tiles. It matches Windows Phone and Xbox, but it makes no sense on a PC. Threshold will likely signal the return of the desktop start menu, but it will have a metro flair with smaller live tiles and smarter search. The 8.1 update added the visible start button back to the taskbar, so Windows 9 is just finishing the job.

Microsoft’s updated design aesthetic was carried through into apps built to work on Windows 8. These full screen apps were originally called “Metro,” and that will probably always be the most common name for the design style no matter how much Microsoft tries to distance itself from the term. Windows 8.1 added the ability to run metro apps in split screen mode with a maximum of three of four (depending on screen resolution), but Threshold will make metro apps fully resizable in traditional floating windows. The OS is still called Windows, after all.

Start Screen

Whether or not you use Metro-style apps on Windows 8, there’s always that strange Charms bar hiding on the side of the screen. You access it on tablets with an edge gesture, or by mousing to the corner on a regular PC. Threshold will allegedly kill that UI element, which really only served to hide common features in an unusual and not very discoverable place. That’s a lot of do-overs, but what about new stuff? Based on the information so far, Microsoft’s big new feature will be integration with Cortana, the voice assistant from Windows Phone. Windows 9 could also sport multiple virtual desktops. What do you do when desktop users aren’t happy? Give them more desktops.

The first technical preview might not show off all these changes, especially the much anticipated interface stuff. As a technical preview, it’s mainly intended to give developers a head start in ensuring software compatibility, so don’t expect a huge departure from Windows 8 just yet. Remember, the first developer builds of Windows 8 still had the translucent Aero UI. Despite the developer slant, Microsoft might still allow anyone to grab the first version of Threshold and take it for a spin.

You’ll probably want to wait at least until the consumer preview of Windows 9 to leave Windows 8 in the dust. Judging from Microsoft’s quicker update cycle, a consumer preview should be out around the end of 2014 with most of the final feature set in place. Windows 9 is expected to ship in Spring 2015, and only then will we see how successfully Microsoft has responded to customer complaints.

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‘Unofficial’ Windows XP SP4 Launched. Microsoft OS Lives On

 Windows XP SP4

Despite having been discarded by Microsoft MSFT -0.24% in April, the 12 year old OS just received Service Pack 4.

Needless to say this isn’t Microsoft demonstrating yet another generous act of utter stupidity, but the work of its diehard fanbase. Dubbed the ‘Unofficial Service Pack 4’, credit goes to Greece-based developer harkaz who started the project back in September 2013. The third beta has already been launched and, in true Microsoft fashion, a Release Candidate (RC) will be ready soon.

“Many users  who won’t be able to upgrade their old machines to a newer OS would like to easily install all Windows updates in one convenient package.

“Windows XP Unofficial SP4 ENU is a cumulative update rollup for Windows XP (x86) English,”. “It can be applied to a live Windows XP system which has SP1, at minimum, installed or it can be slipstreamed (integrated) in any Windows XP installation media.”

Harkaz breaks down Unofficial SP4 stating that it includes ‘ updates for most Windows XP components’, including:

MCE and Tablet PC
Request-only hotfixes
Microsoft .NET Frameworks 4.0, 3.5, 1.1 and 1.0 (Tablet PC only)
Integrated POSReady security updates

The POSReady security hack was announced in May and it takes advantage of a Microsoft loophole that provides security support for ‘Windows Embedded POSReady’ (now called ‘Windows Embedded Industry’) which will last until 2019. Emdedded Industry is a b2b-focused variant of Windows XP running Service Pack 3.

How it works is the POSReady hack tricks Microsoft servers into thinking consumer versions of Windows XP are in fact Embedded Industry and therefore supplying them with security updates. Rightfully critics have noted that the two OSes are not identical which could cause problems, but it has proved a fruitful route so far. The hack was fairly simple, but automating it within a wider update will appeal to many.

Needless to say caveats apply if you are going to consider installing Unofficial SP4, many of which are stated by harkaz. The main one of which is to obtain the downloads from the developer’s posts on RyanVM as there are numerous malware and virus infected fake SP4 patches floating around.

xp21
The official Microsoft Windows XP countdown clock has expired

I would also add that in installing any Windows patch not verified by Microsoft is a risk, though in this case the lack of future security patches for Windows XP means running the OS is already a big risk in itself. Furthermore – with a reported 25% of all PCs still running Windows XP – this is a risk which is only going to get worse.

All of this is a potential PR disaster for Microsoft. I personally believe the company has every right to end support for an operating system after providing it for free for 12 years and providing years of warning, but reports of Windows XP mass hacks and customers suffering poses a real problem. Furthermore with Windows 8 failing to take off and Windows 7 Mainstream Support ending in January Microsoft is fast becoming cornered.

The only card the company has to play is Windows 9. It will have to be incredibly lean to have any chance of running on Windows XP computers, but more than that it will need to be a compelling, crowd pleasing and affordable operating system in its own right.

The first public beta of Windows 9 is expected to arrive on 30 September. No pressure Microsoft…

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Parallels Desktop 10: A Smoother Way to Run Windows on Your Mac

But among techies, there was a gleeful realization: “Hey,” they said, “if a Mac has an Intel chip inside, we could hack it to run Windows!

And who would want to do that? Really, four categories of people:

1. Fans of programs like Quicken, QuickBooks, and Microsoft Office, which are far more polished and rich in their Windows versions.

2. People who use programs that don’t exist at all in Mac versions, like Internet Explorer, AutoCAD, SAP (corporate resource planning), Epic (medical records), and custom corporate apps.

3. People who write webpages and software, so they can test their work in several operating systems on a single laptop.

4. People switching from Windows to Mac who want a safety net — the ability to hop back into Windows when necessary.

So sure enough: For about a month, instructions for installing Windows onto a Mac circulated online like a secret recipe. Then Apple introduced Boot Camp: an authorized way to install Windows on a Mac. Unfortunately, Boot Camp lets you run either Windows or Mac OS X, not both at the same time — and you have to restart the computer to go back and forth.

There was soon yet another option: virtualization programs, like Parallels Desktop or VMWare Fusion. These programs let you run Windows in a window, floating there on your Mac screen. You can run both operating systems simultaneously, and even copy and paste between them. Insane!

 

Incidentally, these programs don’t just let you run Windows on your Mac. They create “virtual machines” (software versions of entire computers) — and all operating systems are welcome. So you can have Windows 8.1, Windows 7, Linux, Google Chrome OS, and even another copy of Mac OS X, all in separate windows — all on top of OS X Mavericks (or whatever your Mac usually uses).

Parallels windows for Windows and Chrome

Parallels 10
This week, Parallels Desktop 10 for Mac arrived ($80, or $50 to upgrade); it has come a long, long way. Not a long way since version 9 — the improvements, though welcome, aren’t brain-fryingly significant — but version 10 is infinitely easier to set up and use than the Parallels of old.

The biggest change is the look: Parallels has been remade to fit in well with OS X Yosemite, the Mac operating system version coming out this fall. Which itself looks like the latest iPhone operating system. Icons and graphics look “flat” and untextured.

Parallels Desktop Control Center

Bring your own
Parallels and Fusion don’t include a copy of Windows, Linux, or OS X; you have to supply that yourself. But Parallels 10 makes it easier to get started.

As before, you can connect to an actual Windows PC and slurp in its copy of Windows. But you can now double-click an .ISO file (a disk image) of Windows to create your simulated PC. You can also, from within the setup screen, download a 90-day free trial of Windows, which is handy.

Parallels Wizard screenshot

If your goal is to set up another Mac in a window, you can install OS X from the copy that’s nestled at this moment on every Mac’s secret recovery partition — a handy trick that spares you from having to download a 4-gigabyte file from Apple’s App Store.

Once you’re into your “Windows PC,” you discover that things like your time, date format, language, and other regional settings have been thoughtfully passed along to Windows.

Integration
If you’re using Parallels at all, then presumably you’re a Mac fan. On that premise, Parallels Inc. has designed version 10 to simulate and integrate with the Mac even more than ever.

Your various simulated computers, Mac, Windows, and others, show up as icons wherever fine Mac programs’ icons appear, like the Dock and the App Switcher — and so do the open apps in those virtual machines.

Windows 8 icon in Mac Dock

Windows apps show up in your Mac’s Launchpad, too.

The little red “unread mail” counter, usually seen only on Mac email programs’ icons, now appears on the icon of Outlook (for Windows).

And when you’re using a Windows program, you can even access the Mac’s Share menu, for easy sending of text or graphics by email, text message, AirDrop (wireless Mac-to-Mac sharing), and so on.

Online drives that you’ve signed up for using your Mac — Dropbox, Google Drive, and, soon, Apple’s own iCloud Drive — magically show up when you’re saving a file from within a Windows program, too.

If you upgrade your Mac to Yosemite this fall, you’ll find that Parallels has been waiting for the chance to participate. For example, you can right-click a phone number in Internet Explorer to place a call on your iPhone. And you’ll be able to add a Parallels panel to Yosemite’s new, expandable Notification panel.

Parallels Desktop in Notification panel

These are all just grace notes, of course — nips and tucks that, alone, might not merit the $50 upgrade from version 9. But there’s another category of improvement to consider: speed.

It’s always been astonishing that it’s faster to start up a Parallels PC than a real one. On my MacBook Air, I’m up and running in Windows six seconds after I double-click the Parallels icon.

In Parallels 10, you can specify what you’re using Windows for — Productivity apps, Games, Design, or Software Development — and the program automatically adjusts its settings for maximum speed.

The company says Microsoft Office documents open in half the time now, that Parallels hits your laptop battery 30 percent less, and that each of your simulated computers eats up 10 percent less memory. All of that is hard to measure, but overall Parallels certainly feels snappy, especially once it’s running. However, if it’s a 3D Windows game you want to play, you’ll get a few more miles per hour restarting your Mac into Boot Camp.

Virtual machines eat up a lot of memory and disk space. If you have a limited-space drive (like the solid-state drives on Mac laptops), that’s a painful sacrifice. At the moment, my Windows 8.1 “PC” eats up 23 gigabytes, and my Yosemite Public Beta “Mac” consumes 20.

In Parallels 10, at least, the program is always on the alert for ways to return unused disk space to your Mac; that space reclamation is automatic, rather than a manual operation you have to remember to do.

The balance sheet
With version 10, Parallels leaps past its archrival, VMWare Fusion 6, especially in Yosemite features.

But Fusion is less expensive ($60 instead of $80), especially if you intend to install it on multiple Macs. You’re allowed to install Fusion on multiple Macs for the same price — but you have to buy another copy of Parallels for each Mac, although additional copies are discounted. (Two copies cost $120, for example.)

There is also, by the way, an Enterprise version of Parallels, with bulk discounts and a million special features for system administrators.

The software design of Parallels is terrific, with only one exception: When you click the name of a virtual machine at this screen —

Parallels Desktop Control Center

— it should simply pop open. Instead, if you “suspended” (put to sleep) that operating system instead of shutting it down, you get an intermediary window that says “Click to resume.” Seems pretty clear that if you clicked the machine’s name, you intended to resume it.

Otherwise, though, Parallels 10 is smooth, solid, and surprisingly fast. If you can stomach the memory and disk space it eats up, you’ll be impressed at how well it works — and how liberating it can be to have a whole bunch of computers on your Mac.

Windows 9 news recap: Modern UI 2.0, Tech Preview to be updated frequently, and more

startmenuwindows9_r1_c1_0[1]_0

It’s been a busy week here at WinBeta with lots and lots of Windows Threshold news breaking ground. We learned about an updated Modern UI, a new rapid release cycle for the preview, when the preview will launch and what it will be called.

On Monday, WinBeta exclusively revealed new changes and features coming to the Modern UI-side of Windows Threshold. These new changes include brand new interactive live tiles, a notification center which is familiar to that on Windows Phone and live folders which are also similar to its Windows Phone counterpart. These new changes won’t be seen in the upcoming preview in September, however they’ll be available in a second preview coming later.

Speaking about the second preview, it was revealed this week that Windows Threshold would see an ARM specific preview launch in the beginning of 2015, which will include all the new updated Modern UI features and functionality. This preview will run on ARM devices like the Surface (RT) and Surface 2 (and Surface 3 if Microsoft release a new Surface in October). It will also run on phones, too.

This second preview won’t be months newer than the first preview, as it was revealed recently that Windows Threshold has a new built-in functionality which allows the operating system to upgrade builds without the need to reinstall the operating system. We revealed that Microsoft aims to update the Threshold Preview with new builds twice (or more) times a month, meaning by the time the second preview for ARM launches, any under the hood changes made in that second preview should be available as an update in the first preview too. Both previews should be up-to-date by the time the second preview is launched.

This week we also learned about the previews name, being “Windows Technical Preview for Enterprise”. This name obviously means the upcoming preview is to show businesses that Windows is still a viable option, with the new Start Menu and windowed-apps, along with virtual desktops and other desktop-focused features. The preview is said to be coming this September 30th, if not on that precise date, it’ll definitely launch sometime around then.

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97,000 Bugzilla email addresses and passwords exposed in another Mozilla leak

Around 97,000 early testers of the Bugzilla bug tracking software have been warned that their email addresses and encrypted passwords were exposed for three months.

The accidental exposure is the second disclosed by the Mozilla Foundation this month – on 1 August, the organisation revealed that around 76,000 Mozilla Developer Network email addresses and 4,000 hashed and salted passwords had been left on a public-facing server for 30 days.

The new breach started during a server migration, Mark Cote, assistant project lead for Bugzilla, explained.

One of our developers discovered that, starting on about May 4th, 2014, for a period of around 3 months, during the migration of our testing server for test builds of the Bugzilla software, database dump files containing email addresses and encrypted passwords of roughly 97,000 users of the test build were posted on a publicly accessible server. As soon as we became aware, the database dump files were removed from the server immediately, and we’ve modified the testing process to not require database dumps.

We do not know whether or not the leaked database dumps have been picked up by anyone with ill-intent, or whether the passwords were hashed and salted, but Mozilla said it would like to think that developers who use test builds are aware of their insecure nature.

That said, passwords do still get reused. For that reason Mozilla has contacted everyone who is affected by the leak, urging them to change their passwords if they have used them for other additional sites or accounts.

So, if you use the Bugzilla tracking software, you need to change your password right now. And even if you don’t, you can still learn from this incident by ensuring that you don’t use the same password more than once.

We suggest using long non-dictionary passwords made up from a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.

If you have a tough time remembering all your complex passwords you may want to consider using a password manager such as LastPass or KeePass.

Meanwhile Mozilla, which is no stranger to leaking passwords, said it is “deeply sorry for any inconvenience or concern this incident may cause” and is undertaking a review of its data practices in the hope that it will minimize the likelihood of such incidents happening again in the future.

mozilla-firefox-

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