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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Simple Hack Gives Windows XP Users 5 More Years Of Support

Windows-support-for-XP-security-update

Forget Wolverine, clearly there is nothing more difficult to kill than Windows XP . Having finally ditched support for the 12 year old operating system in April, Microsoft MSFT -0.24% performed an arguably foolish U-turn just three weeks later when a massive Internet Explorer flaw blew holes through every version of Windows. And now it seems users will be able to get five more years of Windows XP support .
No Microsoft hasn’t changed its mind yet again. Instead the life extension comes courtesy of a simple hack spotted by computer tech support. The workaround exploits Microsoft’s continued support of ‘Windows Embedded Industry’ (previously ‘Windows Embedded POSReady’) which will last until 2019. Embedded Industry is designed for use in industry devices across retail, manufacturing, healthcare and – you guessed it – the operating system is based on Windows XP Service Pack 3.

Consequently the security updates that continue to be released for Windows Embedded Industry are essentially the same as what Microsoft would have released for Windows XP, had support continued. Now with a simple hack you can trick Windows Update into thinking Windows XP is Windows Embedded Industry.

This is how you do it:

1. Create a text document, and call it XP.reg. Be sure that the ending is ‘.reg’ not ‘XP.reg.txt.’ (check this in Windows Explorer by going to Tools > Folder Options > View and check ‘Show hidden files and folders’)

2. Right click the file, select ‘Edit’ and type in:

3. Save it and double click the file twice with the left mouse button which will add it to the registry.

You’re done. Windows XP will now tell Microsoft Update it is Windows Embedded Industry and automatically download and install security updates as they are released. The snag is this hack only works for Windows XP 32bit because Windows XP 64bit is based on Windows Server 2003. There is a more complex workaround for that which can be found here.

Now come the caveats. Firstly the updates are designed for Windows Embedded Industry not Windows XP and while that should not matter, it is possible there may be some compatibility issues. Secondly – and most importantly – it is impossible to say whether these hacks will keep working until support ends for Windows Embedded Industry in 2019 or if Microsoft will close this loophole.

The optimistic viewpoint is Windows XP’s end of life status should mean it receives no future software updates so Microsoft would have to make another U-turn to close the loophole.

The cynical viewpoint is Microsoft would prefer users to move to a newer operating system so closing the loophole would be in its interest. This is a fair point given the age of Windows XP, but countered by the fact 1-in-4 PCs still use it. Microsoft also hasn’t helped its case after releasing misleading data earlier this month suggesting Windows XP is safer than Windows Vista and Windows 7.

Either way Microsoft is left in a tricky situation. Following the controversial ‘Update 1’ patch Windows 8.1 is actually a very good operating system, but its reputation is irreparably damaged.

Furthermore, while it is fair to stop providing a free warranty service for a 12 year old OS, Microsoft is offering military and government organisations a paid service to keep their Windows XP computers safe as part of a scheme dubbed ‘Clandestine Fox ’. Surely this should also be a paid option for users who wish to stay safe, but can’t afford new hardware or fear the leap to a free Linux alternative like Ubuntu.

Yes Windows XP has arguably been Microsoft’s greatest success, but its troubled legacy is fast becoming the company’s Achilles Heel .

Call 1-800-935-0537 For any support.

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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.

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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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