Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft’

Microsoft’s Windows 8 Plan B(lue): Bring back the Start button, boot to desktop

start button

What if Microsoft relented and granted users who are lukewarm about Windows 8 two of their biggest requests: Allow those who want to boot straight to the desktop, and bring back the Start button with Windows Blue, a.k.a. Windows 8.1?

Though supposedly not part of the original plan for Blue, these two UI options are looking more likely.

Reports from a couple of different forums from this past weekend raised the possibility that Microsoft might be moving toward allowing users to skip booting into the Metro-Style Start menu and instead start their PCs in desktop mode.

Read more about this on ZDNET

PCs Come Pre-Installed With All Your Favorite Malware

Malware and viruses are bad, but so long as you’re careful, your PC will stay squeaky clean, right? Maybe not. Microsoft has found that many PCs from China are coming with malware pre-installed, as many as a fifth.

As if bloatware wasn’t bad enough, the four offending computers all run forged versions of  Windows, forged versions of Windows with all kinds of nasty functionality baked right in. Generally, the malware is designed to control the PCs for use in a botnet, In worse cases, the viruses could remotely engage cameras and microphones.

You’re probably safe; most of the computers that suffer from this come from relatively unregulated markets like China. Still, even if your laptop is clean having more infected computers out there isn’t going to be good for anyone. Microsoft has been trying to fix the problem with a lawsuit, but it’s a big problem to fix. For the time being, don’t buy a new computer in China if you can avoid it

EU approves Microsoft – Skype deal

Microsoft has won approval  from European regulators to buy the internet phone service Skype for $8.5 billion.

Microsoft already had been cleared by U.S. antitrust regulators to complete its deal to buy Skype Global. So the EU approval seems like a pretty good bet.

The Commission considers that there are no competition concerns in this growing market where numerous players, including Google, are present.

“This is an important milestone, as we’ve now received clearance from both the United States and the European Union,” Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general council, said in a statement. “We look forward to completing soon the final steps needed to close the acquisition.”

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has pledged that, under Microsoft, Skype would continue to support Google’s Android and Apple’s Mac OS X platforms.

Microsoft is buying the European-based internet calling service from an investor group led by Silver Lake that included eBay Inc.

Microsoft pulls partner status over Windows PC help scam!

Microsoft has revoked the “Gold” status of one of its certified partners for its alleged involvement in an IT tech support scam. PC Pro reports that the software giant has taken steps against India-based Comantra. The scam involved Comantra employees, posing either as Microsoft employees or being associated with the company, cold-calling users, and after claiming that a virus had been detected on their computer, offered to remove it for a fee of up to £185 ($290 US).

Although Microsoft only acknowledged there was a problem this summer, Comantra’s practices have been going on for a while. As far back as in 2009, blogs have complained about the company’s inappropriate solicitations.

Comantra’s director, Rajesh Bajaj, has denied the allegations. He claimed that his employees follow a very specific scripted pitch in which the individuals being called are offered a computer “health check.” Bajaj also blamed his company’s competitors for the complaints.

Gold is the most elite level of Microsoft’s partnerships. It is not clear if Microsoft has just revoked Comantra’s Gold status or stripped it of its certification as a Microsoft partner at any level. Comantra is in discussions with Microsoft to get the firm’s partner status restored.

The Comantra scam appears to be independent of another recent Windows phone support scam. In that scam, which surfaced in June, con artists posing as computer security specialists called people at their homes, and, after advising the potential victim they were at risk of a computer security threat, offered a free security check. The callers then gained remote access or planted trojan horses to steal money.

Rootkit infection requires Windows reinstall, says Microsoft

IT Solutions – Microsoft is telling Windows users that they’ll have to reinstall the operating system if they get infected with a new rootkit that hides in the machine’s boot sector.

A new variant of a Trojan Microsoft calls “Popureb” digs so deeply into the system that the only way to eradicate it is to return Windows to its out-of-the-box configuration, Chun Feng, an engineer with the Microsoft Malware Protection Center (MMPC), said last week on the group’s blog.

“If your system does get infected with Trojan:Win32/Popureb.E, we advise you to fix the MBR and then use a recovery CD to restore your system to a pre-infected state,” said Feng.

A recovery disc returns Windows to its factory settings.

Malware like Popureb overwrites the hard drive’s master boot record (MBR), the first sector — sector 0 — where code is stored to bootstrap the operating system after the computer’s BIOS does its start-up checks. Because it hides on the MBR, the rootkit is effectively invisible to both the operating system and security software.

According to Feng, Popureb detects write operations aimed at the MBR — operations designed to scrub the MBR or other disk sectors containing attack code — and then swaps out the write operation with a read operation.

Although the operation will seem to succeed, the new data is not actually written to the disk. In other words, the cleaning process will have failed.

Feng provided links to MBR-fixing instructions for XP, Vista and Windows 7

Rootkits are often planted by attackers to hide follow-on malware, such as banking password-stealing Trojans. They’re not a new phenomenon on Windows.

In early 2010, for example, Microsoft contended with a rootkit dubbed “Alureon” that infected Windows XP systems and crippled machines after a Microsoft security update.

At the time, Microsoft’s advice was similar to what Feng is now offering for Popureb.

If you need help and support with virus removal please don’t hesitate to contact us.

IT Solutions Support Team

Vista SP1 Dies in 2 Months

Time is running out for customers still leveraging Windows Vista plus the first Service Pack released by Microsoft.

Windows Vista SP1 has less than a couple of months of life left in it, support-wise. This because, Vista SP1 will reach end of support on July 12, 2011.
The best course of action for users is to make sure to upgrade as soon as possible, or at least start planning for the jump to a more recent release of Windows.

At this point in time customers have two options at their disposal, only one of which does not require them to actually change the operating system, namely moving to the second upgrade released for Vista.

“From that date onward, Microsoft will no longer provide support or free security updates for Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1). In order to stay secure and continue support you must upgrade to Service Pack 2 (SP2),” revealed a member of the Microsoft Small Business team.

In addition to moving to Vista SP2, Windows 7 is also available as an upgrade alternative, and of course, one that’s far superior to its predecessor.

Microsoft is currently hard at work on the next version of the Windows client, but those on Vista SP1 should not expect for the successor of Windows 7 to come out before dumping Vista SP1.

If anyone requires help and support please don’t hesitate to contact us

Internet Explorer 9 Launching March 14

No more platform previews, betas, or release candidates: the final version of Internet Explorer 9 is launching on March 14.Microsoft announced the launch date on its Windows Team Blog on Wednesday.

Internet Explorer 9 is Microsoft’s biggest Web browser redesign yet. The redesign takes on a minimalist look, which gives the user more browsing room by squashing menu space. It accomplishes this by using a single bar for URLs and searches — Google Chrome-style — and by placing browser tabs in a single strip alongside the omnibar.

IE9 also fuses with Windows, allowing you to pin Website shortcuts to the Windows taskbar and create lists of links from within those pinned sites. There’s also a download manager — at last. As for performance, IE9 supports hardware acceleration for HTML5 video.Since launching the IE9 beta in September, Microsoft has added even more features based on user feedback, including ActiveX filtering and tracking protection.

The vast majority of IE9’s features were set in stone with last month’s Release Candidate, but Microsoft says it still has “a few surprises left.” The company is planning a party for the release of IE9 at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas.

I do not see Windows 7 service pack 1 in my Windows Update

Windows 7 Service Pack 1 is now available for the general public at the Microsoft Download Center. You should soon be able to see it being offered in your Windows Update too.

If you do not see Windows 7 SP1 being offered in your Windows Update, the following could be the reasons:

  • Windows 7 SP1 may not be yet available for you in your market. Run Windows Update and see if it appears. Be patient. it will appear in a day or two.
  • Either Windows SP1 is already installed or a pre-release version of Windows 7 SP1 has not yet been uninstalled.
  • Another update, eg Windows Update KB2454826, has to be installed before Windows 7 SP1 will be available.
  • A program on your computer, eg SafeCentral, is preventing Windows 7 SP1 from being installed. If you have used vLite to customize your Windows 7 installation, you could face a problem too. Certain Intel drivers are also know to create problems.
  • System files that are required to install Windows 7 SP1 are missing from your computer or damaged. Run system file checker and see if it helps.

In case installing SP1 from Windows Updates does not work for you or if you still don’t see it in your Windows Updates, try downloading it directly from Microsoft and then installing it.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any problems IT Solutions Support Team

Microsoft sets Feb. 22 as Windows 7 SP1 public launch

Microsoft today announced that it had wrapped up work on Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1), and would start delivering the major upgrade on Feb. 22 through Windows Update.

The company said it had reached the “release to manufacturing,” or RTM milestone for both Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, and was shipping the code to PC and server makers today.

Customers who subscribe to either TechNet or the Microsoft Software Developer Network (MSDN) can download Windows 7 SP1 starting Wednesday, Feb. 16, the same day companies with volume license agreements can grab the upgrade.

The general public must wait until Tuesday, Feb. 22, when SP1 hits the Windows Update service. Microsoft typically reserves the last Tuesday of each month for shipping non-security updates.

Microsoft has said several times that Windows 7 SP1 would not include any new features specific to the operating system, but would instead be composed of the security patches and nonsecurity fixes that had already been issued via Windows Update.

The only additions to SP1 include an updated Remote Desktop client designed to work with RemoteFX, a new technology that debuts with Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1. RemoteFX is designed to improve the graphics performance of Windows 7 virtual machines hosted on Server 2008 R2 SP1 systems. Windows 7 SP1 also supports “Dynamic Memory,” a feature in Server 2008 R2 SP1 that lets IT staff adjust guest virtual machines’ memory on the fly.

Today, Microsoft touted the benefits of Windows 7 SP1 to corporations, claiming that RemoteFX and Dynamic Memory would let computer makers design and sell low-cost clients that run Windows 7 in a virtual machine.




Waledac botnet poised for comeback?

About a year ago a federal judge granted a very unusual request by Microsoft to shut down almost 300 domains that were used as command-and-control centers for the Waledac botnet. The move was generally hailed as a success by the security community: it dealt Waledac a huge blow and the botnet all but dropped off the radar of most online threat analyses. However, now Waledac seems to be back—and this time it’s armed with a sizable cache of valid FTP and email credentials that enable it to alter Web pages to serve malware and send “high quality” spam under the names of legitimate ISP customers.

According to security vendor Last Line, Waledac has accumulated almost half a million valid login credentials for POP3 email accounts around the Internet, as well as more than 120,000 valid login credentials for FTP servers. The vast number of login credentials may be significant: Waledac’s controllers use the credentials to log into the servers and, where possible, alter the contents of existing Web pages to server malware, promote pharmaceuticals, or engage in other forms of online scams. The POP3 logins mean that Waledac-controlled computers can connect to ISPs as legitimate customers—and send email using their accounts. The ability to bypass authentication requirements for sending email could give spam from Waledac systems an edge in defeating blacklisting and techniques that validate senders—from the point of view of the receiving system.

“The Waledac botnet remains just a shadow of its former self for now, but that’s likely to change given the number of compromised accounts that the Waledac crew possesses,” Last Line wrote on its blog.

The security community noticed Waledac coming back to life at the end of 2010, but Last Line’s analysis is the first reported look at the resources available to Waledac’s operators.