Posts Tagged ‘Technology’

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

How to Shut Down Windows 8 In Just One Click

October 28, 2012 1 comment

Where Windows 7 displays its power button in a prominent place on its Start Menu, Windows 8 makes you perform four actions just to turn your computer off. To get to the power button in the new OS, you must pull out the Charms menu, click the Settings charm, click the Power button and then select Shutdown or Restart.

However, there’s an easy way to put the shutdown and restart functions just one click away from the desktop and Start screen. Just create shortcuts for both actions using the following steps:

  1. Navigate to the desktop.
  2. Right click on the desktop and select New -> Shortcut. A shortcut menu appears.
    Create new Shortcut

  3. In the location box, type shutdown /p to shut down Windows 8 immediately or shutdown /r /t 0 to reboot Windows 8 immediately. Click Next to continue.
    Enter Shutdown /s /t 0 in the location box of the create a shortcut window.

  4. Enter a name for the shortcut and click Finish. A new shortcut will appear on your desktop.
    Name your shortcut and click Finish

  5. Right click on the shortcut and select Properties. A dialog box appears.
  6. Click Change Icon under the Shortcut tab then Click Ok in warning box that says shutdown.exe contains no icons.
    Click Change Icon

  7. Select an Icon from the list of available images Click Ok twice (once to close the Change Icon window and once to close Properties window). Your shortcut will now have an icon.
    Choose the Icon for Your Shortcut

  8. Right click the shortcut and select Pin to Start. The shutdown icon will now appear on your Start screen.
    Pin to Start

  9. Drag the shutdown icon to a prominent place on your Start screen. We recommend putting it in the first column to the left so you will always see it.
    Drag your button to a prominent place

  10. Right click the icon and select Pin to Taskbar if you want the shortcut to live on your desktop’s taskbar as well.
    The Shutdown icon can be pinned to taskbar
  11. Repeat the previous steps to create a Restart button. Use the command “shutdown /r /t 0″ in the location field.

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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

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Microsoft: virus-infected computers should be quarantined

Virus-infected computers should be blocked from the internet and kept in quarantine until they are given a “health certificate”, a top Microsoft security researcher suggested on Thursday.

Under the proposed security regime, put forward by the technology giant’s trustworthy computing team, an individual’s internet connection would be “throttled” to prevent the virus spreading to other computers. But security experts today warned that cutting people off from the internet could be a drastic step too far – and that the question of who would issue and verify the “health certificate” was troubling.

Millions of computers around the world running versions of Microsoft’s Windows operating system are infected by viruses without their user’s knowledge and used to generate billions of spam emails and attacks against websites, such as that used against a British law company earlier this month.

The infected computers are often marshalled by virus writers into “botnets” which are hired out for criminal use. Microsoft, internet service providers, banks and web companies have fought long but so far unsuccessful battles against botnets. Earlier this year Microsoft took its fight to the US courts after a group of infected computers sent more than 650m spam emails to its Hotmail accounts. The spread of computer viruses has, however, continued unabated.

The new proposal, Microsoft claimed, is built on the lessons of public health. Scott Charney, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s trustworthy computing team, wrote on the company’s blog: “Just as when an individual who is not vaccinated puts others’ health at risk, computers that are not protected or have been compromised with a bot put others at risk and pose a greater threat to society.”

But Ram Herkanaidu, a global researcher at computer security firm Kaspersky Lab, told the Guardian that cutting people off from the internet was a wrongheaded solution. He said: “This would be a bad idea in practice. Just say your machine was infected – if you could not access the internet, how would you be able to update your anti-virus and also apply any software patches required? Technically, though, an ISP could give limited access to a safe area so that they could get the relevant updates but this would be done by individual ISPs themselves.”

Charney countered that “In the physical world, international, national, and local health organisations identify, track and control the spread of disease which can include, where necessary, quarantining people to avoid the infection of others. Simply put, we need to improve and maintain the health of consumer devices connected to the internet in order to avoid greater societal risk.”

Many of the infected computers are in the far east in countries such as South Korea and China, where pirated versions of Windows are common, though the US still accounts for a substantial number of machines in botnets.

US and European ISPs have periodically considered blocking virus-infected machines from internet access and diverting users to cleanup pages. But they have shied away from it on the basis that it would be costly, while bringing them little direct benefit, as most infected machines would be on other networks.

Presenting his suggestion to the International Security Solutions Europe conference in Berlin, Germany, Charney said computers should be required to have a clean “health certificate” before being allowed to connect to the internet. If a fix is available, the computer would be prompted to download a solution or to update its anti-virus settings.

“If the problem is more serious – say, the machine is spewing out malicious packets [of data], or if the user refuses to produce a health certificate in the first instance, other remedies such as throttling the bandwidth of the potentially infected device, might be appropriate,” Charney said, adding that the spread of computer viruses had continued unrelenting despite the best efforts of software companies.

He conceded that abolishing an individual’s internet connection “could well have damaging consequences”, proposing that machines have an emergency function whereby users could perform certain activities – much like mobile phones and the emergency services safeguard.

Herkanaidu said that there were flaws in the approach. “Stopping an infected machine from accessing the internet so that it cannot be used in for malicious purposes like sending out spam on the face of it seems sensible,” he said. “However, it does raise a lot of important questions like: who would issue the proposed health certificates? What would be the criteria? How often should it be updated? But, more importantly, would it work? At Kaspersky we see over 30,000 new pieces of malware everyday – it’s difficult to see how we could have a general scheme that would be able to cope with this.”

Alan Bentley, a senior vice president at business computer security firm Lumension, welcomed the idea in principle, but had reservations on how it would work in practice for corporations using Microsoft machines and software. “Suggesting that infected PCs should be quarantined until a clean-up job is complete is an interesting proposal,” Bentley told the Guardian. “However, the health check seems to be simply repeating a process which most people try to adhere to now.

“Most consumers and businesses run anti-virus [software]. But a lot of them don’t even know their computers are infected. So the important question to ask here is: who would be responsible for turning off their internet and how would that be legal? This is a great philosophical idea, but totally impractical when using anti-virus software.”

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Google to introduce a Google Wave app store

google wave

Google’s upcoming ‘Google Wave’ communication platform is an interesting one; it’s currently in testing, but it’s arguably one of the most discussed online services this year. It’s now been announced that it will even be getting its own app store, to help provide some more functionality.

According to The Next Web, the app store was announced at the GoogleTechnology User Group meeting in London earlier, stating that, “an extension store is planned where developers would be able to display and charge for apps.” This app store would help provide a bit of momentum for the service upon its public release, and it would be of benefit to developers also. Lars Resmussen, the engineer behind the concept of Wave, stated recently, “We’ll almost certainly build a store… so many developers have asked us to build a marketplace – and we might do a revenue-sharing arrangement.” It’s known already that the company will make Google Wave’s API public, so people can develop their own software based on it, and having a dedicated app store will obviously help keep everything contained in one place.

At the same meeting, it was noted that Google will not build a dedicated iPhone or Android Wave app any time in the near future, but instead will work to improve the mobile web interface; this’ll allow them to update the service at any time, rather than submit a new app version for approval to Apple (providing its the iPhone app in question here).

Google Wave is certainly showing promise, but only upon public release will we truly know how well it’ll fare in the real world.