Tag Archives: microsoft

Microsoft demos Windows 8 interface, RIP icons

In the first of what’s promised to be a series of videos, Microsoft are showing off some GUI details of Windows 8, the logical progression from Windows 7. The new interface is built upon javascript and HTML 5 and is primarily designed for touch screen, but will work perfectly fine with the standard mouse/keyboard setup.

There’s not a whole lot to say; it pretty much looks like Windows 7, minus the fancy UI for launching apps and looking at photos. We’ll have to wait for the next few videos to get a more in-depth look at Microsoft’s next flagship OS. In the meantime check out the embedded video above.

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Nintendo DS Lite price falls to $99 next week

 

Microsoft confirms Skype takeover

Microsoft confirms Skype takeoverMicrosoft confirmed the news today that it has agreed to buy internet phone service Skype.

This will be the the company’s largest acquisition, costing the Windows maker a massive $8.5bn (£5.2bn).

Skype is one of the world’s most popular software applications for making voice calls and chat over the Internet. With a staggering 663 million users globally, the potential for advertising revenue is enormous; although it’s still unclear as to what Microsoft has planned after the takeover.

Skype CEO Tony Bates announced the news today over on the Skype blog:

The combination of Skype and Microsoft will directly benefit all of you who use Skype by ushering in a new era of generative ways for everyone to communicate.

Once the acquisition is complete, Skype will operate as a new business division of Microsoft, and I look forward to working with the team as president of Microsoft Skype to write the next chapter of the Skype story. Onwards!

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IE9 nears 10% market share

IE9 boasts nearly 10% market share.According to the Windows Team Blog Internet Explorer 9 has nearly reached the 10% market share milestone.

IE9 went live on March 14th and since then has garnered more respect than most of the company’s other browser releases. Despite leaving Windows XP users in the shade, it appears IE9 is one of Microsoft’s biggest success stories in recent years. IE9 has already raced passed Opera 11, which holds a modest 2.18% share.

Microsoft’s Ryan Gavin:

This month’s share report from Net Applications continues to show some great momentum around Internet Explorer 9 on Windows 7, with share about to pass 10% for the last day in April. We’re excited about that.

But Microsoft is not resting on its laurels; the company already has a preview release of Internet Explorer 10, which can be downloaded here. This next release will be excluding users of Windows Vista as well as XP, making IE10 a Windows 7-only release.

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Windows 7 milestone, Microsoft wants you to ditch the “habit” of XP

Windows 7 on the rise; XP support is running out.Windows 7 is 18 months old today. Back in October 2009 Microsoft launched the follow-up to the luke-warm reception of Windows Vista.

Since that time Windows 7 has seen widespread adoption, sold more than 350 million licenses and just 2 months ago got its first service pack. This coupled with the arrival of Internet Explorer 9, it’s pretty clear the Windows 7 platform has been a success for Microsoft.

With all that in mind the company is taking this opportunity to give people and organizations advice on how to put XP in the recycle bin; the ageing OS still has over 46% of the worldwide market share. With only 1081 days left until XP’s support runs out, Microsoft wants everyone to ditch what they refer to as “the habit” of Windows XP. It may seem like an insensitive way to talk about one of their most successful operating systems, but given the fact that XP is nearly 10-years old it kind of makes sense.

If you’re leaning towards Windows 7, check out the Windows Team Blog’s 10 steps to point you in the right direction:

So how can Springboard help you to get off Windows XP and move to a modern OS? Here is 10 ways we can help?

  1. We dove deep into that topic during our most recent Virtual Roundtable, “Is XP Good Enough? Really?”. Check out the virtual roundtable to hear common issues and solutions around moving off XP.
  2. Test your skills at deploying Windows 7 in the Deployment Learning Portal.
  3. Check out the free Springboard Series Tour which will show Office 365, Windows Intune, Office 2010 and the latest Windows deployment techniques.
  4. Check out the Windows deployment sessions at TechEd in Atlanta.
  5. Become a Springboard Series Insider and get monthly tips and tricks on Windows, Office and Internet Explorer.
  6. Check out our Springboard Zone for OfficeInternet ExplorerWindows IntuneMDOP and Desktop Virtualization.
  7. Watch for local events from STEP (Springboard Technical Experts Program) members in your local city worldwide.
  8. Follow our twitter feed at MSSpringboard for great IT pro information. We were picked as one of the top IT pro feeds to follow by 26 different sites.
  9. Before you begin to deploy Windows 7, download the Windows 7 90-day Trial and get started testing your apps and hardware.
  10. Did I mention the cool desktop gadget? Download the Windows XP EOS Gadget (available soon in 10 languages) and see the countdown for yourself!

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Vista may whine but it’s stuck with IE9

Windows Vista users are locked out of IE10.Internet Explorer 9 that is. It has been confirmed that users of Windows Vista have had their final taste of an Internet Explorer upgrade. IE9 is the last browser Vista will get from Microsoft. Much like XP before, Windows Vista is now being marginalized in favour of Windows 7.

For many still clinging on to Vista this will be a kick in the pants. Anyone trying to install IE10 on XP or Windows Vista will receive the following error message: ”Windows Internet Explorer Platform Preview does not support any operating system earlier than Windows 7.” It seems the WOW effect Microsoft pushed back in 2007 is finally wearing off.

If you want to try the preview release of IE10 you must be running Windows 7 RTW or Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 installed.

A spokeswoman for Microsoft clearly put a bullet in the future of Windows Vista when answering questions about why Vista users won’t be able to install their next browser:

Windows Vista customers have a great browsing experience with IE9, but in building IE10 we are focused on continuing to drive the kind of innovation that only happens when you take advantage of the ongoing improvements in modern operating systems and modern hardware.

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Is Windows 7 finally overtaking XP?

Is Windows 7 finally overtaking XP?

The US seems to be more pro-active in Windows 7 adoption compared to other countries.The answer according to an Irish Web analytics company is a resounding yes, at least in the United States.

Figures released by StatCounter show Windows 7′s average daily share was 32.2% in April, compared to XP’s 30.7%; the first time Microsoft’s flagship OS surpassed the 10-year old Windows XP.

The figures for worldly use paints a slightly different picture. Although Windows 7 has a healthy 31.5% market share, XP is still flying high with 46.8%.

What about gamers? According to Steam statistics for March, Windows 7 64-bit accounts for 36.77% of all Steam users. This is quite a bit more than XP can claim at 22.70%.

I suspect in the coming months (especially for gamers), use of Windows XP will dwindle. Most software that works on XP will work on 7. Given the fact that Windows 7 has been out since late 2009 getting drivers for hardware is rarely an issue. It already has its first service pack out, plus an OEM copy Windows 7 can be had for as little as $99 on Amazon. There’s really no need to be stuck on XP, unless it’s what you want.

Related:
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Windows 7: The Definitive Guide (O’Reilly book)
3.6% of Windows 7 users have adopted IE9
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Firefox 4 smashes IE9′s first-day downloads
Millions download latest version of Firefox – Why?

Bumper Microsoft patch coming next Tuesday

Windows logoNext week’s Patch Tuesday for April is set to be a big one, with MS planning to roll out no less than 17 security bulletins to fix 64 different vulnerabilities. Nine of the bulletins are listed as critical and seven will require a mandatory restart.

According to Ars Technica, the patch is a tie with December 2010 for the most bulletins issued and exceeds that month for total vulnerabilities fixed.

As well as the typical patches for Windows, Internet Explorer, and Office, a couple of the bulletins include more unusual patches. Specifically, the Office Web Apps and Visual Studio are both receiving fixes this month. Not included in the list of patched software is Internet Explorer 9; this latest browser version is apparently immune to the flaws affecting versions 6, 7, and 8 that will be patched next week.

There’s a full list of the bulletins here and Microsoft’s advance notification of the patch can be found here.

Related:
Windows 7: The Definitive Guide (O’Reilly book)
3.6% of Windows 7 users have adopted IE9
European Commission seeks widespread adoption of Windows 7
Windows 7 price-drop on Amazon
Firefox 4 smashes IE9′s first-day downloads
Millions download latest version of Firefox – Why?

Microsoft offers students a Windows 7 upgrade for $29.99

Microsoft offers students a Windows 7 upgrade for $29.99

Are you a student still using Windows Vista? If so Microsoft wants to help you move on from that tragedy to Windows 7.

For a limited time Microsoft is giving students the chance to upgrade from Vista to Windows 7 Professional for only $29.99 (usually $64.95). All you need to do to take advantage of this offer is to be enrolled at a university, have a valid student ID and email address.

If you have all that just go here to register and purchase a digital license key. That’s it.

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3.6% of Windows 7 users have adopted IE9

IE9 has a 3.6% market share on Windows 7According to a blog post from the Windows Team, Microsoft’s newly minted Internet Explorer 9 is enjoying a 3.6% share on Windows 7. This is based on March usage of the new browser.

The beta and release candidate of IE9 were downloaded a total of 36 million times igniting interest among Windows users like never before. After the first 24hrs of the final release on March 14th, Microsoft reported 2.3 million downloads of the final build.

In the midst of promoting Internet Explorer 9 Microsoft has been actively trying to get users off Internet Explorer 6. IE6 although 10-years old still enjoys a 12% market share. But Microsoft is hoping to put a stop to that with the launch of its IE6 countdown website back in March.

Have you tried IE9 yet? You can find download links here. Windows XP is not supported.

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European Commission seeks widespread adoption of Windows 7

Steve BallmerThe European Commission looks set to upgrade its I.T. infrastructure to Microsoft Windows 7, according to PC World. This has rubbed a few people up the wrong way, not least of all open-source proponents, accusing the commission of favouritism in handing out its IT contracts.

The move would see more than 36,000 desktops upgraded to Windows 7, in a contract that could tie the commission to a 5-year deal with Microsoft. Red Hat distributor Jan Wildeboer expressed his dismay that the commission has opted out of going open-source in favour of a “lock-in” deal with the Windows giant:

We are hopeful that the Commission will practice what it preaches. In the interests of a fair and free market we must have vendor-neutral tendering..

According to the IDC European governments represent a massive 19% of all software purchases within the European Union, making this deal (although not yet finalized) a big win-win for Microsoft with potential for millions in revenue.

Commission spokesman for Inter-Institutional Administration Antony Gravili stressed that no descision has been made yet insofar as a large-scale adoption of Microsoft’s flagship OS. But it seems these words have done little to allay fears in the open-source community.

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IE9 downloaded 2.3 million times in first 24hrs

IE9 available for downloadInternet Explorer 9 went live on March 14th, and according to figures released by Microsoft all is going well with browser adoption. In the first 24 hours of its release IE9 has been downloaded 2.3 million times (that’s over 240 downloads every 9 seconds).

We already knew there was interest when we found out the beta and release candidate had a combined download total of 36 million. It seems Microsoft’s attempts to win back market share and make a push-back against Firefox and Chrome may be paying off.

From Microsoft:

We want to thank everyone around the world for downloading IE9 and the enthusiastic reception. 2.3 million downloads in 24 hours is over double the 1 million downloads we saw of the IE9 Beta and four times that of the IE9 RC over the same time period.

Among other things IE9 features an updated javascript engine, hardware acceleration support, a completely overhauled user interface and full support for HTML5. You can grab it now from Microsoft.

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Internet Explorer 9 goes live
IE9 downloaded 36 million times
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Google warns of IE security flaw

Microsoft Security Advisory (2501696)Google has issued a security warning to users of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. The software giant claims that a politically motivated attack is being made on IE via a popular social networking site; although they don’t go into detail about which one it is.

The exploit in IE is down to a flaw in MHTML which could allow someone to execute malicious script, taking over the infected PC. Microsoft has released a temprary fix which you can grab here. The exploit affects users of XP, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 (that includes both 32-bit and 64-bit editions)

From Microsoft:

Microsoft is investigating new public reports of a vulnerability in all supported editions of Microsoft Windows. The vulnerability could allow an attacker to cause a victim to run malicious scripts when visiting various Web sites, resulting in information disclosure. This impact is similar to server-side cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities.

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Internet Explorer 9 goes live

IE9 available for downloadIt’s been a long time coming, but the final release of Internet Explorer 9 has made its way to the Microsoft Download Centre.

IE9 was first released as a beta back in March of last year, and the first release candidate was rolled out just over 1 month ago. Combined together, both the beta and released candidate were downloaded over 36 million times according to figures from Microsoft.

With its updated javascript engine, hardware acceleration support, a completely overhauled user interface and full support for HTML5, Microsoft is looking to gain back market share lost to Mozilla’s Firefox and Google’s Chrome. At one time the software giant enjoyed well in excess of 90% of the browser market but with advances and adaptation of Chrome and Firefox this number has dwindled in recent years.

If you want to test-drive the new IE, you can grab it here. Microsoft provides both a 32-bit and 64-bit download. You will need to be running Windows 7, Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008 (there is no support for Windows XP).

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Microsoft: Final version of IE9 coming March 14th

IE9 coming March 14thMicrosoft announced that the final version of Internet Explorer 9 will be ready for public consumption on March 14th at 9 p.m. Pacific Time. Version 9 of Internet Explorer has been pretty well received and created a great deal of interest over the last few months. The beta and release candidate have been downloaded a whopping 36 million times.

Apart from user interface changes IE9 has a faster, updated JavaScript engine and support for hardware acceleration to take advantage of the GPU. There is also a neat little download manager that lets you pause and re-start your downloads.

Download Manager is a powerful new feature that keeps a running list of the files you download from the Internet and notifies you when a file could be malicious. It also lets you pause and restart a download—if you have a slow internet connection—and shows you where to find downloaded files on your computer. You can clear the list at any time.

If you want to test-drive IE9 or check out the rest of its features the release candidate is available for download, but seeing as the final build is coming in 4 days time you’re probably just as well to hold off until the final release.

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Internet Explorer 6 gets its marching orders from Microsoft

 

Microsoft wants you to stop using IE6

The 10-year old browser is showing its age and Microsoft is now actively encouraging webmasters to urge users to upgrade IE6 if they visit their site with the senior citizen of internet browsers.

The company has also started up a website simultaneously commemorating the 10-year anniversary of IE6 and encouraging its demise. Over on theie6countdown.com you can see an atlas of the World with constantly updated figures of IE6 usage.

But Microsoft isn’t stopping there, they are reaching out to users who know of anyone still browsing the internet with IE6 to show them the way, the truth and the light of a modern broswer. It’s kind of funny watching the company dish out abuse to their old software, sometimes sounding like a ‘don’t drink and drive’ ad campaign:

Friends don’t let friends use Internet Explorer 6. And neither should acquaintances. Educate others about moving off of Internet Explorer 6.

Currently the unruly 10-year old has a shocking 12% market share. Microsoft desperately wants to get this number down to 1%, and they need your help. It’s like an MS-hater’s dream come true, they get to proselytise their anti-Microsoft verbiage with the company’s backing; the irony.

Related:
IE9 downloaded 36 million times

IE9 downloaded 36 million times

Internet Explorer 9

According to statistic released by the Windows Team Blog, Microsoft’s latest internet brower has been downloaded a staggering 36 million times. This number includes both the beta and the release candidate.

There hasn’t been an official release date for the final version of IE9, but Microsoft India nearly let the cat out of the bag earlier when it tweeted a release date of March 24th. The tweet has since been retracted so we don’t know if that was initially a date Microsoft planned or a typo by someone who might be out of a job.

Haven’t tried out the Internet Explorer 9 release candidate? You can take a look and preview the latest release from Microsoft’s website.

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Fable III PC release date announced, plus new DLC for Xbox users

Fable III coming to PC on May 17

Over on the Lionshead Studios website Microsoft announced the release date for the PC version of Fable III. The third instalment of the action role-player is coming to PC on May 17th (North America), 19th (Aus), 20th (EU).

Fable the third has been wooing Xbox users since its release last October, and Lionshead promise more of a punch for the PC release. Users with enough grunt in the graphics department will be treated to full 3-D functionality. Also if you felt the console version was a tad on the easy side, there will be a PC-exclusive hardcore mode to challenge gamers a bit more. You can pre-order from Amazon.

In related news players of Fable III on the Xbox will be treated to some more DLC. ‘Traitor’s Keep’ will be availabe to download from Xbox LIVE Marketplace on March 1st, costing 560 MS Points.

Traitor’s Keep game add-on continues the journey as fans venture into three new levels called Ravenscar Keep, Clockwork Island, and the Godwin Estate, taking on new quests and encountering a mysterious prisoner. Traitor’s Keep also comes packed with 250 gamerscore points and additional content.

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Gears of War 3 release date confirmed

Gears of War 3

Epic and Microsoft have announced a North American and European release date for Gears of War 3. The Xbox exclusive title developed by Epic is hitting store shelves on the 20th of September, with Japan getting the game 2 days later. The news was tweeted first by Microsoft’s Graeme Boyd.

Gears of War 3 will launch worldwide on September 20, 2011 (except Japan, which will be 22/9). More Gears stuff to come I think.

Gears of War 3 was delayed back in October of last year, initially planned for an April 2010 release date. This will be the third and final installment of the Gears of War series.

Although Amazon’s product page doesn’t reflect the new release date, they are however taking pre-orders for the game.

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Windows 7 Service Pack 1 publicly available today

Windows 7 Service Pack 1, available for download on February 22ndIt’s finally here. The first service pack for Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system is finished after more than 8 months of beta testing. Although it doesn’t yet appear on Microsoft’s download center it is expected to be up in the next few hours. You will also be able to snag the service pack via Windows Update, in fact that is what Microsoft recommends for most users.

The service pack isn’t much to get excited about from the point of view of the average PC user, it’s just a roll-up of security updates for the most part; nothing on the scale of XP’s second service pack or Vista’s first. On the server side a few new features pop up but for you and me it’s more of a giant security patch.

Update: Download the .iso here.

Stay tuned for a slipstreaming guide in the coming days, for folks that want to create an updated install.

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Microsoft set to release Internet Explorer 9 on March 14th

Internet Explorer 9 coming March 14th

The release candidate has been available for a number of weeks now but it seems the bugs are ironed out and Microsoft is ready to finish it off and release the final build of their next browser.

According to sources of download squad the company plans to announce the release at an SXSW conference on March 14, where there will be a party of sorts.

Anyone that has the release candidate installed will not need to download the final build, as it will automatically update to the finished version.

This information tallies nicely with what we already know: Microsoft has said that there will only be one RC, and March 14 very nearly fits the six-week release cycle that Internet Explorer has so far stuck to. Most importantly, though, the IE team is holding a party at SXSW — and parties generally celebrate something.

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Irish PC users get less viruses than other EU countries, survey finds

Unhappy PC

According to figures released by the EU’s statistics office, about one third of European PC users have contracted a PC virus of some kind in the year 2010. The numbers that were released to highlight Internet Safety Day also show Ireland and Austria as the safest of the 30 countries surveyed.

At the other end of the spectrum is Bulgaria with a whopping 58% infection rate; with Slovakia, Hungary, Italy and Estonia not far behind. According to the survey most people infected had some kind of security software installed, which means they either lapsed in keeping it up-to-date, or failed to keep their OS up-to-date (or both).

Percentages of phishing scams were also revealed. About 3% of countires within the 27 EU states felt financial loss due to being scammed with some kind of phishing attack.

The EU statistics office wasn’t putting a positive spin on any of this news, stating that the numbers are likely to be much higher as the infections only include people who realised they were infected.

Microsoft is all too aware of this problem. They have been providing free antivirus software since late 2009 and it’s available to all Windows users on XP Service Pack 2 and upward (Vista, Windows 7 etc). It’s simple to install and runs seamlessly in the background. So you don’t even have the excuse that antivirus software is too expensive for your budget. MSE provides free, regular updates and best of all is made by the some company that constructed your OS.

In related news, Microsoft announced yesterday that the first service pack for Window 7 will be released to the public on the 22nd of February. The service pack will mostly be a round-up of previously released security updates. So if you’re planning on building a PC for someone any time soon or re-installing your OS it would be worth having that handy.

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Microsoft confirms release date for Windows 7 SP1

Windows 7 Service Pack 1, available for download on February 22nd

Microsoft has confirmed in a blog post that the first service pack for Windows 7 will be available to the public on the 22nd of this month. Earlier rumour suggested that the final release was already in the wild and available on torrent sites across the internet. But this was never confirmed by Microsoft, and it now appears that the touted RTM service pack that went viral on the net was NOT the official RTM build, although we’re still to get word on the build number of the RTM Microsoft has just announced.

The service pack will first be available to MSDN subscribers on February 16th, them the rest of the world on the 22nd.

Service Pack one may not be of too much interest for gamers as there are no major enhancmenets or new features for the average user. It’s more server-end changes for Windows Server 2008. Indeed Microsoft already concede that most of the service pack is already available via Windows Update patches that the majority of users are already likely to have.

Still though, I’m sure a lot of people will like to grab a network installation download and slipstream it into their current version of Windows 7; either by making a new DVD or USB stick. I’ll be making a tutorial on how to slipstream SP1 in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile here’s a thorough run-through of the changes in detail.

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Microsoft offers free antivirus over Windows Update

Microsoft Security Essentials

Microsoft’s free antivirus solution has been with us for well over a year now, but only in recent months have the Windows team begun rolling it out via Windows Update. You can now download MSE from your ‘optional’ updates, in case you were unaware.

It’s a welcome addition to Windows Update, giving basic virus protection for anyone using a legit copy of Windows; no fees, no subscriptions, regular updates and best of all, it runs very unobtrusively in the background.

To download simply click on Windows Update from your start menu, then run the check for updates button.

Windows Update

Then simply browse to the optional updates and select ‘Microsoft Security Essentials’ from the list.

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Windows 7 Service Pack 1, not quite ready

SP1 Build 7601

Rumour has been circulating these past few weeks that Windows 7 Service Pack 1 is ready and already shipped to OEMs by Microsoft. It all started with a Russian site that claims to have the final RTM build of the first service pack, which was allegedly finished back in November. However, Paul Thurrott of Win Supersite has said that this is actually not the final build and anyone thinking of downloading from a torrent site should err on the side of caution.

Thurrott claims that this is a near-final build and Microsoft will be ready with the finished version very soon. Either way the service pack yields little in the way of benefit for gamers. It’s more a culmination of previously released security updates and minor tweaks:

An updated version of Remote Desktop Services. This is required for a change that is coming in Server 2008 R2 with SP1 (RemoteFX).

Better support for third-party federation services. With this update, Windows 7 now supports services that utilize the WS-Federation passive profile protocol.

Improved HDMI audio device performance. SP1 fixes a bug in Windows 7 where a small percentage of users experienced a disruption of audio over HDMI after a reboot.

Minor XPS document fixes. For the rare case where an XPS document contains both portrait and landscape pages, SP1 fixes a bug that prevented correctly-formatted printing.

Hot-fixes and other bug fixes. Like any service pack, SP1 also contains an aggregation of previously released and new hot-fixes and other bug fixes.

Sneak Peek: A Quick Look at Windows 7 Service Pack 1

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Windows 7 64-bit crippled by AVG update

AVG on damage control after update

If you’re a user of Windows 7 64-bit and AVG 2011, you probably can’t read this because your computer is buggered. An update released on the 1st of December caused the majority of 64-bit machines using AVG 2011 to fail while loading the OS. The company are on damage control and have a guide on how to get your Windows back up and running. It basically involves a USB stick or a rescue CD.

AVG are asking customers to first try and run Windows System Restore from within safe mode, and restore their machines to a time before the update was applied.

Or use AVG Rescue CD -> menu Utilities -> Midnight Commander -> navigate to /mnt/sda1/program files/ (or program files (x86)) and rename by F6 AVG folder to other name (for example AVG_old).

Windows 7 Startup Repair
Described at this Microsoft website – follow section “To open the System Recovery Options menu on your computer”

Then start your system again and re-install AVG.

Please accept our apologies for any inconveniences caused by this situation.

If you know someone who needs advice on this matter, head on over to the AVG forums where they are offering more solutions if you’ve tried everything else.

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Happy 25th, Windows!

Seeing as Windows is now 25 years old, I felt it incumbent upon myself to drudge up an old favourite; Ballmer selling Windows 1.0 from 1985. Watching this video again, I’m reminded of the overabundance of cocaine in the 1980s.

Happy 25th Windows! I’ve still not forgotten about Vista, but Windows 7 eased the pain somewhat.

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Windows 7: The Definitive Guide

Man plays Kinect game without moving

In this short video clip (which may be a fake for all I know) a player manages to get through a track in Microsoft’s Kinect Joy Ride without even moving his hands. If the clip is legit, then it looks like the game was designed for the mechanically challenged.

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Another Civ V lightning deal is due today
Pilgrim’s Bounty Event open in WoW
New game releases for the coming week Nov 22 – Nov 29

MS offering free wireless router with Win 7 Family Pack

Microsoft Win 7 Family Pack Cisco Router offerMS are running a deal on the Microsoft Store of a free Cisco wireless router when you buy the Windows 7 Family Pack. The deal is a saving of $300 if you install the OS on 3 different PCs, and the router itself is worth $99.

Check out the offer here. It applies only as long as supplies last.

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5 Tips For A Healthier Gaming PC
AlienBEware: Why You SHOULD build Your Own Gaming PC
Do people still buy PC optical drives?
How to clone your Windows 7 DVD onto a thumb drive

If you only knew the power of a custom-built gaming PC!

AlienBEware Episode V: The Wallet Strikes Back

If you only knew the power of a custom-built gaming PC!

Back in August I set out to build a decent PC gaming rig without breaking the bank. I wanted to show how much money can be saved when purchasing all the parts separately and assembling it yourself. For the price comparison I chose Alienware as they are pretty well-known for making high-end gaming PCs and Notebooks but with a hefty price-tag.

Since the PC is now built, I figured I’d follow the last post up with some performance benchmarks and updates on the changes made (notably the price). It has pretty much remained the same apart from the graphics card and a few minor changes. But the few minor changes have saved even more money. All the parts arrived about 2 weeks ago and I have found the time to put it together and run some benchmarks. So if you’re interested in building your own rig, read on if you want to see the kind of performance that can be attained on this budget.

The previous build came to a total of 1,534.79 Pounds Sterling, with Alienware costing almost double for practically identical specs. My slight hardware revision shaves even more off that price and weighs in at a more pocket-friendly 1,251 Pounds Sterling. That equates to $1,970.67 USD, but these parts are much cheaper in the U.S. as opposed to here in Europe so it would be even less expensive than that for my Yankee comrades.

Parts:

Processor: Intel i7 950 Quad CoreIntel Core i7 950

This is a great Quad-core processor with Hyper-threading. All cores run at 3.06GHz but individual cores can be bumped up in speed when applications don’t make use of all the cores. It has come down in price literally by 50% in the past few months, so as I was going i7 anyway, this was a no-brainer for me. Plus if you’re into overclocking the CPU, I’ve seen people reach 4GHz with ease (with a decent air/water-cooler).

Graphics card: MSI Cyclone GTX 460 1GB MSI Cyclone GTX 460

I can’t begin to praise this card enough. It cost me under 200 Euro; it runs silent, even while in game and has more than enough beef to handle any game I’ve thrown at it so far. The desktop temps are in the mid 20s and when I get out of a long stint of gaming, the card never gets hotter than 44 degrees. Plus this little mid-ranger is a Herculean overclocker, but more on that later.

The original build included an ATI 5970 but for one 22″ monitor that was a little overkill in retrospect.

Motherboard: Asus P6X58D-EAsus P6X58D-E

This board is basically the same as the Premium variant but with a few minor features missing. It’s the perfect budget-board for anyone interested in building an X58 system. It supports 3-way SLI and Quad-CrossfireX and has support for USB 3.0 and SATA 6GB/s, with all the usual ASUS features you would expect. Obviously it can house any Intel i7 processor, including the 6-core Gulftown.

System RAM: Corsair Dominator 3 x 2GBCorsair Dominator 1600MHz 3 x 2GB

This RAM performs very well. Although I had to adjust the frequency in the BIOS settings in order for the Corsair Dominator to run at its native speed of 1,600MHz.  But that was painless and literally took seconds.

Power supply: Cooler Master Silent Pro M850

I went with the Cooler Master Silent Pro because it has an 80 Plus Bronze rating and got rave reviews pretty much across the board. It is extremely quiet (as the name
Cooler Master Silent Pro m850would imply), comes with a 5 year warranty and has ample power to feed my rig, even when I add another graphics card sometime down the line.

Modular PSU ftw!

 

PC case: Cooler Master HAF 932

Cooler Master HAF 932The Cooler Master HAF 932 is one of the main stars of this build, and is a shining beacon of engineering prowess. I cannot heap enough praise and when you look at the Amazon page, you’ll see others sharing in my enthusiasm. The case’s aesthetics are first and foremost what drew me in. It looks like something you’d find in Darth Vader’s chamber in The Empire Strikes Back. It’s black all around with some red LED lights on the front intake fan.

The case sports 3 x 230mm case fans; one that blows from the side door right over the graphics card and processor, the other sucking air from the front and one more venting heat out the roof of the case. There is also a smaller fan at the rear, sucking hot air out the back. I could literally cool beers inside this case, it’s pretty amazing. If you’re looking for something that will give you ample room to
Western Digital Caviar Black 640GB (6GB/s)work in, have plenty of cable management holes, great air flow and killer looks, than I highly recommend the HAF 932 full-tower case from Cooler Master.

Hard drive: 640 GB Western Digital Caviar Black 6GB/s

I know a lot of you recommended an SSD, some were horrified that I would dare put a mechanical hard drive into a new gaming rig. But unfortunately price-per-gigabyte, I cannot justify spending money on these things just yet. I’m happy to see that the prices are coming down all the time, and I will add one in at a later stage, probably around the same time I pick up another GTX 460. For now though, the Caviar Black is a decent hard drive, very cheap and serves its purpose well. It’s limited to 7,200 RPM but I can live with that until SSDs come down a title more.

Mouse: Sidewinder X3
Microsoft Sidewinder X3I really like this mouse. I’ve always said that Microsoft make great mice, that last. This mouse feels like it was custom-made for my own hand. I can game for yours with no cramp or wrist pain to speak of. The only thing I would complain about is the buttons on the side are a little far to the front of the mouse. But other than it’s a cool little mouse and pretty darn cheap.

 

Keyboard: Sidewinder x4

Microsoft SideWinder X4I’ve been using laptop keyboards for damn near 8 years now so it was a little bit of a transition to get back into PC keyboards again, but once I got past that hurdle, this is one comfortable keyboard with a wrist-rest at the base. It has all the usual features from a gaming keyboard; like the ability to assign macros to certain keys, and the likes of volume control, play, stop, etc. Very good price. Plus the keys light up in red, which matches the LEDs at the front of the case..’nuff said!

Monitor: 22″ LG E2240T LEDLG Flatron E2240

This is one sweet little monitor, with a crisp clear image. Compared to the laptop I have been using for the past few years, this monitor is like sweeping the cobwebs from my eyes and getting a cornea upgrade. For the price, wow.

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MS offering free hard drive with Win 7 Pro upgrade

Seagate FreeAgent Go Portable 500 GB Hard Drive (Black)Microsoft have a couple of late October deals at the Microsoft Store if you need to buy Windows 7.

First off they’re offering a 500 GB Seagate FreeAgent Go portable hard drive when you buy Windows 7 Professional upgrade. The hard drive costs $109 if you buy it on its own. The offer is valid while supplies last, check it out here.

They’re also offering $150 off a new PC when you buy a Win 7 Home Premium Family Pack. The range of PC’s this offer applies to is fairly large, and covers the price range of about $400-$2000. This offer is also valid while supplies last, check out the range of PCs here.