Archive for September, 2009
Microsoft is releasing Security Essentials, the final version of the new Microsoft-built antivirus software which provides free malware protection for Windows PCs. Designed to replace the now-discontinued OneCare product, Security Essentials requires no registration, trials, or renewals. It’s completely free, no strings attached.
As we noted earlier this summer when the program went into public beta, the software has several features which make it a good alternative to store-bought AV software on the market today including its rootkit protection, one-click fixes, dynamic signature service and more. The software is also designed to run quietly in the background not eating up CPU and memory use like many AV programs have done in the past.
Another nice thing about the Security Essentials is its interface. Previously, I’ve used a handful of free AV programs on my PCs including Avast and AVG and I always felt like I was getting what I was paying for (nada) when it came to UI design. The programs were often ugly and confusing. That’s why it’s refreshing to see a free product like Security Essentials which has such a clean, minimalist interface. There are only four tabs at the top to navigate through (Home, Update, History, and Settings) and none of the pages are cluttered with content, allowing you to focus on what’s important.
The program also makes it very clear when you need to take action. When the AV is up-to-date and the system is protected, for example, the bar at the top is green and an icon of a computer with a white check on a green screen is displayed. If, however, something is wrong, the bar turns red and the computer icon’s screen is red with a white “X”. It couldn’t be more obvious.
In the event that you actually get a virus, the software immediately addresses the threat without confusing the end user with too many choices of what to do next. That’s great for the non-tech savvy end users who don’t know when they should choose “quarantine” versus “remove threat.” Instead, a small “show details” link is provided so advanced users can learn more about what happened while a “clean computer” button lets you simply remove the malware from your machine, if desired.
Security Essentials runs unobtrusively in the background, never prompting you to run a scan or download updates – that all occurs in the background without user intervention. And it does so when the computer is idle, too, so as not to slow things down.
Best of all, the software is completely free, as long as you are running a legal copy of windows. You can download your copy of Security Essentials from here as of now: http://www.microsoft.com/security_essentials.
related file tcpip.sys which has a half connection limit in itself, which doesn’t allow more than 10 half open connections to be made simultaneously.
This has been designed to make your connections more stable and your network more responsive to all computers attached to it.
However if you are frequent p2p & bittorent user or surfing the internet heavily, then this limit may create connection errors or result in connection dropping. TCP-Z is the only program which automatically patches tcpip.sys file to remove TCP connection limit.
Here are the latest builds that I could find:
Universal Theme Patcher
Latest Update: V126.96.36.199, Build 20090409
* Allow UniversalThemePatcher-x86.exe to patch the 32bit files in \windows\syswow64.
Download Link 1: UniversalThemePatcher_20090409.zip (ZIP, 81 KB)
Download Link 2: UniversalThemePatcher_20090409.zip (ZIP, 81 KB)
Download Link 3: UniversalThemePatcher_20090409.zip (ZIP, 81 KB) (Click to download)
Microsoft dreams of conquering the phone business, but it knows that ‘pink’ is just one hue in a very broad palette.
The leaked photos that emerged on Gizmodo on Wednesday, while genuine, paint just one part of the picture of how Microsoft hopes to get back into the phone game.
According to sources familiar with the company’s plans, the designs shown on Gizmodo are are more the evolution of the Sidekick than they are an effort to take on the mass market or even Apple’s iPhone. The devices themselves won’t be built by Microsoft itself and are unlikely to arrive before next year, the sources said. A Microsoft representative declined to comment on the Gizmodo report.
Microsoft has been working for years now on plans to revitalize its phone business after ceding ground to Apple, Research In Motion, and others. The software maker has been working on a major overhaul of its operating system–Windows Mobile 7, which was supposed to be in phone makers’ hands by early this year but has suffered a number of delays.
The new devices draw heavily on the company’s 2008 acquisition of Danger, the maker of the T-Mobile Sidekick. Although they use Windows Mobile at their core, they are geared at the same kind of consumer who bought a Sidekick–one who is heavily into social networks, instant messaging, and other online services.
Microsoft is counting on Danger for more than just its cachet with teens and young adults, though. Danger also specialized in delivering much of its technology via services. Indeed, the Sidekick evolved as a device where nearly all of the data lived in the cloud as opposed to being managed by the phone itself.
That will be an important component of Microsoft’s phone push, even beyond the range of these devices.
In outlining the future of its phone strategy, Microsoft is trying to keep the breadth of its existing Windows Mobile ecosystem, while at the same time developing a few, closer partnerships that could yield more worthy rivals to the most popular handsets.
Microsoft has signed deals with a few phone makers, such as LG, that are expected to offer Windows Phones designed more closely with Microsoft.
However, this project appears to be in addition to that effort, expanding on the legacy of the Sidekick. Sources wouldn’t provide any exact timing, but I’d think about a year or so, given what I have heard. That also appears to be the current timing for Windows Mobile 7.
For this year, Microsoft is focused on a more modest evolution of Windows Mobile–Windows Mobile 6.5–as well as efforts to re-brand products using its operating system as Windows Phones.
Microsoft also continues to shift executives and other resources to strengthen its phone efforts.
Former server executive Andy Lees now runs the phone business, while former Mac Business unit chief Roz Ho heads a "premium mobile experiences" team responsible for some of the Pink work. The software maker has also tapped folks from its Tellme unit to help bring improved voice recognition capability into Windows Mobile.
In a July interview with CNET News, Entertainment and Devices unit president Robbie Bach acknowledged that Microsoft also just needs to pick up the pace.
"If your point is we haven’t advanced Windows Mobile as fast as we like, I think the answer is that’s true," Bach said. "You are going to see that change."
Every month since its launch, Microsoft’s Bing search engine keeps taking a little bit of market share. In August, Bing gained 0.4 percent to end the month with 9.3 percent of search query volumes in the U.S., according to comScore’s Qsearch estimates. Meanwhile, Google’s share came down 0.1 percent to 64.6 percent and Yahoo/s remained flat at 19.3 percent.
In other words, Bing showed the only significant gain, while everyone else stayed relatively flat. That $100 million marketing campaign must be working, or maybe it’s the improvements Bing is making to the search experience, or maybe it’s both. Whatever it is, it is translating into nearly a half-point market share gain every month for the past three months.
Bing is up a total of 1.3 percent from its launch at the end of May. Yahoo, however, is down 0.8 percent in that same period, so the combined gain is only half a point. But Yahoo has stabilized its share, and if Bing can continue to nibble away at the same rate, Google will have to start to actually worry.
In August, it grew faster than Google for the first time, with a 31.9 percent annual increase in search queries compared to 21.6 percent growth for Google and 16.8 percent for Yahoo. How long can Bing keep it up?
Microsoft Office Web Apps will bridge the gap between your desktop Office documents and the web, but it’s currently in an invite-only preview. However, the always clever Amit Agarwal at weblog Digital Inspiration discovered a simple trick that’ll score you an invite.
As you can see in the video above, all you’ve got to do is log into Microsoft’s SkyDrive using a Live.com account (if you don’t already have one, registering is free) and then uploading any Microsoft Word doc. When the upload completes, SkyDrive will ask you if you want to join the Office Web Apps preview program (see the screenshot below).
Once you’ve joined, you’ll be able to view any uploaded Word doc, Excel spreadsheet, or PowerPoint presentation from your browser in Microsoft’s (currently barebones) online offerings. Word documents are currently read-only, but Excel docs and PowerPoint presentations are fully editable. If you’re eager to try out the preview, this simple trick does the job nicely
Microsoft plans to release the final version of its free antivirus software soon, according to a note sent to testers late Sunday.
"The final version of Microsoft Security Essentials will be released to the public in the coming weeks," Microsoft said in the note.
Microsoft first announced its plans for the product, then code-named Morro, last November, at the same time the company said it was scrapping its paid Windows Live OneCare product.
The concept of a self-branded Microsoft phone (or two) actually making it to market is more believable than ever. A deterrent frequently cited in years past was Microsoft’s vested interest in keeping its Windows Mobile hardware partners happy — but as even their staunchest supporters (think HTC and LG) have turned to Android to shore up their smartphone lineups, it’d be far less of a backstabbing move on Redmond’s part to get into the business next year than it would’ve been in, say, 2006 or even 2008. Add in the fact that the Zune HD shares 99 percent of its DNA with what could be a top-notch Windows Mobile-beating smartphone, and… well, it’d actually be a little ridiculous at this point if they didn’t move in that direction, wouldn’t it?
This discussion takes us back once again to Project Pink, the oft-rumored secret package of hardware, software, and services (or some combination thereof) allegedly being developed deep within Microsoft’s skunkworks. Last we’d heard it’d be based on Windows Mobile 7 Chassis 1 with a heavy dose of 2009-spec components capable of chewing through processor-intensive apps and games, and now 9to5Mac says it’s received information that Microsoft will be releasing two Pink devices next year, likely at CES. We’ve heard for a long time that Pink is one of the fruits (perhaps the only fruit?) of the company’s Danger acquisition, and to that end, the Pink devices will apparently be sourced from Sharp — Danger’s primary Hiptop ODM, up to and including the Sidekick LX 2009 — and will feature "Microsoft+Sharp" co-branding, not unlike Garmin Asus. The handsets are said to be codenamed "Turtle" and "Pure," both sliders of some sort with Pure possibly destined for Verizon. As you might expect from a product developed with Danger, it’ll feature tight app store support with carrier integration, but otherwise, there’s nothing else to this latest noise. Considering Danger’s utter lack of experience with Windows Mobile, that could account for the amount of time it’s taking for Microsoft to show its Pink cards — assuming it’s all WinMo- or WinCE-based to begin with. That would also imply that the company would have to start revealing details on its primary next-gen mobile platform in January, which gives 6.5 extraordinarily little breathing room at the top of the food chain.
Of course, 9to5Mac isn’t exactly a bastion of reliable Microsoft banter — we turn to the likes of Mary Jo Foley for that, who’s been providing much of the guidance on Pink so far — but it’s an interesting rumor that we think holds far more water than The Inquirer’s bunk piece from a little under a year ago. Let’s not forget that Danger has a history of procuring its own hardware, and that precedent has transferred to Microsoft by virtue of the purchase. If we see Microsoft+Sharp gear with GSM radios bow in a little over three months, you won’t find our jaws on the floor.
Here we have the Zune HD‘s mobile Web browser, which we’re told was engineered by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer team. The browser displays Web pages in a similar fashion as Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch, using pinching and flipping gestures to zoom and scroll through content. Pages also reorient themselves based on the position of the device, flipping from landscape to portrait view depending on the tilt of the screen.
Thanks to Paul Thurrott, I’ve just come across another application that automates putting the Windows 7 installation DVD onto a USB drive. This is especially helpful for folks who plan on installing Windows 7 on their netbook computers since these tiny PCs rarely include an optical drive.
Microsoft is getting ready to launch the next iteration of Bing, according to some wayward tweets.
Mary-Jo Foley at our sister site ZDNet spotted a few eager Twitter users spilling the beans on Bing 2.0 following Microsoft’s annual company meeting, where employees were apparently given a preview of some new features that will be rolled out over the coming weeks. Some attendees had the changes coming next week, while others thought it would be more of a gradual rollout, but expect changes to Bing shortly.
What might be coming? One attendee said "imagine seeing maps plus pics from the neighborhood of a restaurant to try." That tweet has since been deleted. Another said "bing + silverlight in maps = amazing !! goodbye google." In what is likely not a coincidence, that tweet has also been deleted.
One message spotted by The Seattle P-I from Microsoft employee Luis Bitencourt-Emilio says "Bing 2.0′s upcoming search visualization is pretty sexy…" It’s not clear whether Microsoft is actually thinking of these changes as a version-style upgrade or a series of gradual tweaks, which seems more common in this market.
The popular Windows XP PowerToy, ImageResizer, has recently been updated to support Windows 7. Like it sounds, this tool lets you quickly resize a selection of multiple images at once. It’s was typically used in the past to compress photos to more manageable sizes for sharing via email (although that’s not necessary anymore since Windows Live Mail does this for you). Now, it’s more likely to be used to compress photos down for use on your web page or blog.
In any event, thanks to the folks over at CodePlex, the application has been re-written in C++ to support Vista and Windows 7 in both 32 and 65-bit versions.
You can access the downloads directly from here:
ImageResizer for Windows Vista/Windows 7 Download ImageResizer-2.0.msi
ImageResizer for Windows Vista/Windows 7 (FOR 64-Bit) Download ImageResizer-2.0_x64.msi
There’s a new program called 7Stacks that lets you add stacks of icons to the Windows taskbar (aka the “Superbar” in Windows 7). Instead of launching a program when you click the icon with your mouse, you’ll see a list of programs appear in an Aero-style menu.
The software offers handy way to clear up clutter of icons off your desktop while also not using up too much toolbar space. Those who want an easy shortcut to their frequently accessed folders and files will like 7Stacks too since you can use it to pin exact folder locations to the taskbar. This is different than how Windows 7’s built-in “Libraries” folder icon works. When clicking that icon, which appears next to the Start Menu in Windows 7, Explorer opens. However, your frequently accessed folder locations are available only on right-click. With 7Stacks, you can create a list of folder locations which pop-up upon a left-click instead.
7Stacks also allows you to configure the stacks in three different formats: normal, grid, and menu. Normal displays a vertical stack, grid shows a square-shared grid of icons only, and menu is a cascading menu of items with very small icons labeled with text. Perhaps the nicest thing about 7Stacks, though, is the way it uses the Aero technology for displaying the stacks. This makes it look more like a feature included in Windows 7 itself and not some extra add-on program.
7Stacks is a free download available here.
here’s a list of free tools for converting from various proprietary disk image formats to the universally supported ISO format. Most of these converters are for Windows, though some also have versions for Linux.
Converting BIN to ISO
BIN is a very popular disk image format that stores the CD/DVD image in pure, raw form. Typically the .bin is accompanied by a .cue file – you will need both of them to convert the .bin to .iso. You can use one of these free converters :
- CDBurnerXP, a very good CD/DVD burning application with lots of additional features.
- BIN2ISO, a simple no-frills bin-to-iso converter.
- BIN to ISO Converter, an old – no, ancient – converter from the days of Win2K.
- If you’re on Linux here’s a how-to for you – How to convert .bin to .iso image.
Converting IMG to ISO
I’ve looked far and wide but couldn’t find any .img to .iso converters that would be truly freeware. So you’ll have to settle for using a shareware application to convert this format to ISO. Either of these will work : WinISO or UltraISO.
Converting DMG to ISO
DMG files are basically “ISO for Macs”, a different way to store disk images because OS X just Thinks Different™. How to convert DMG to ISO :
- dmg2iso, an old command-line utility (freeware). Here’s the command syntax :
dmg2iso file.daa file.iso
- IsoBuster, shareware. You can open a DMG file using this program and then use the Extract command (right click) to get the contents as ISO.
- If you’re on a Mac, use Disk Utility or hdiutil:
hdiutil convert /path/to/filename.dmg -format UDTO -o /path/to/savefile.iso
Converting UIF to ISO
UIF (a.k.a Universal Image Format) is a propiertary format used by MagicISO. I’ve already written about converting UIF to ISO before, so check out this post : UIF To ISO Converter.
Converting NRG to ISO
NRG files are another proprietary CD/DVD image format used by the Nero Burning ROM software. You can download a free trial of Nero and use that to convert NRG to ISO, or use one of the freeware utilities listed below :
- CDBurnerXP, a disk-burning app with a multitude of additional functions, .nrg to .iso conversion included.
- NRG2ISO – a popular tool, but doesn’t support all NRG files.
- nrg4iso – a more versatile and up-to-date NRG converter.
Converting DAA to ISO
Converting MDF to ISO
MDF is yet another proprietary format, used by the Alcohol 120% disc emulator/burner (shareware). Notable for the fact that most of the copy-protection info can be correctly saved when ripping a disc in this format. You can convert MDF files to ISO with mdf2iso (might be a bit tricky) or the Iso Analyzer Tool. Both tools have versions available for pretty much any popular operating system.