Thursday, July 30, 2009

Free Windows 7 for Beta Testers

Microsoft has reversed its decision not to offer free copies of Windows 7 to beta testers.

In a recent statement posted today on the Windows 7 Team Blog, Brandon LeBlanc wrote that last week, I blogged that members of the Windows Technical Beta Program would not be receiving a complimentary copy of Windows 7. Normally I hate to be wrong but in this case, I'm stoked that I am. To show our appreciation, members of the invitation-only Windows 7 Technical Beta Program will be eligible for a free, final copy of Windows 7 Ultimate.

People who took part in the public beta will still have to buy a copy of of Windows 7 - this is restricted to people invited into the Technical Beta Program, who can expect to get their copy on the day that Windows 7 RTM build hits MSDN and TechNet - 6 August.

Further details are posted to the .Beta_Program newsgroup, explaining that "all current members of our English technical and international mini-beta programs are eligible. We are offering you a full (non-upgrade) copy of Windows 7 Ultimate Edition for your own personal use, not to be resold."

Members of the English beta program can also opt for a "limited amount of boxed copies" available on a first come, first served basis.

Those who choose the download will be able to grab their free copy of Windows 7 via Microsoft Connect.

As for non-English versions of Windows 7, "other languages will follow as they become available."

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Google opens Checkout for all websites: Now Online Shoping Made Easy!!!

Google has added a new widget into its Labs library that makes opening up your very own online store incredibly easy.

Users simply have to sign up for Google Checkout merchant account, put the details of what they want to sell in a spreadsheet, and then choose from a range of widgets to embed in their site.

Google is offering tiny, small and large widgets to display your stuff, which essentially takes the hassle out of selling stuff online by letting you have your own little shop.

Size options

You can embed the gadget in a variety of ways, with it being easiest in Google branded sites (ie Blogger or iGoogle) but also any site built using HTML (which is fairly wide ranging...)

Google states that using this method means "a fast, secure checkout process [that] helps Google Checkout users convert 40% more than shoppers who have not used Checkout before."

It's subject to Google's transaction fees of course, which if you sell less than £1500-worth of stuff a month you'll incur 3.4 per cent of the fee plus 20p for each thing you sell (with the costs coming down the more stuff you shift).

If you're a wannabe entrepreneur, a web lover but too lazy to actually set up an online presence, then head on over to and get creating.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

10 Interesting Things about Bing!!!

Bing, Microsoft's new search engine, has had several weeks to prove its worth. It's proved popular, picking up market share from both Yahoo and Google to become the second most used search service on the web.

But there's more to Bing than first meets the eye. Like Google, it has hidden depths and additional features. Here are ten useful bits of Bing you may have missed.

1. Get more from the USMost of Bing's mash-up functionality is embedded in the US version of the site. You don't need an anonymised proxy - like - to fool the site though. All you need to do is click the country link at the top right of the main page. In the UK it will say "United Kingdom" by default. Choose "United States" instead. Done.

2. Search for wallpaperUsing Bing Image search to find desktop wallpaper? Do your search by keyword, then click "Size > Wallpaper" in the sidebar. Not only is the search narrowed to desktop wallpapers - it's narrowed down to your computer monitor's current screen resolution. If it's set to 1280 x 1024, for example, it only returns images with those dimensions.

3. Remove the backgroundBing's main search page has a background image embedded by default. Want a cleaner page? Step one: enter in the address bar and hit return. Bing's front page now appears without any background clutter. Step two: drag the Bing favicon in the address box to your favourites or bookmarks bar. Next time you want to Bing something, click that link.

4. Boolean searchesBing's all about simplicity, but it still does Boolean searches. With multiple keywords "AND" is inferred, but you can exclude terms from searches with - or NOT. For example "auction sites NOT ebay" will exclude eBay from your results. Like Google, using the + operator requires that the specified keyword appears in the page. You can also use "OR", for example "HD DVD OR Blu-Ray" will return results containing either search term.

5. Find instant answers
Like Google, Bing has built in smart algorithms for location data, word definitions, weight and currency conversion and even complex arithmetical calculations. Try "define computer" for a dictionary definition or "$20 into pounds" to sample Bing's conversion capabilities. Want to know the weather in your local area? Try the term "weather" followed by your nearest town or city. You can even search the status of specific flights. Just type "Flight status of ". You'll be prompted to enter a flight number.

Bing goes even further - pulling data from partner sites in response to requests for statistical data. The query "What is the UK population" returns results from online census data, for example.

6. Find your siteIs your site listed in Bing? Type in to find out. Once you've established that Bing has you listed, type to see how many of your pages Bing has listed. If nothing turns up, you can submit your site for indexing.

7. Save results for later"Save and Share" is an experimental feature powered by Silverlight. Click "See All" in the Search History section of the sidebar - then "Save and Share". Select the search query you want to save in the list then click "save to". Choose "Saved searches" or create a new folder. Searches can also be emailed or published to you Facebook wall. If you decide you no longer want to use the service, click "return to your history".

8. Convert Search to RSSAn RSS feed of a search result is a handy thing to have - whether you're keeping tabs on a developing news event or want to track the performance of your web site. Like Windows Live Search before it, Bing results pages can be saved as RSS feeds.
On your results page, click the RSS symbol in IE then click "Subscribe to this feed". In Firefox, you can choose to add the feed to Google Reader instead. To add to other feed readers, select and copy the URL in the address bar, paste it into your RSS reader and add "&format=rss" to the end of the address before saving.

9. Add Bing to your BrowserDo you use Chrome but want to search Bing from the address bar? Right click on the address bar then choose "Edit search engines" from the context sensitive menu. Click "Add" and, giving the name "Bing" - enter the URL
To add Bing to Firefox's quicksearch bar, you'll need an add-on. Install the official Microsoft Bing extension.

10. Quick Add in HotmailHotmail recently added Bing integration. Log in to Hotmail and create a new message. In the Quick Add sidebar click images or video. Use the search box to find suitable content, then click "Insert". The new content is formatted and added to the body of your message.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Windows 7: Trend Amoung Individual Consumers

While businesses may be planning to skip Windows 7, individual consumers look like they're lining up in droves to snap up the OS, which recently ended its pre-order sales period in the U.S. But is still available for sale in a number of European countries.

How successful has the pre-order sale been? Specific sales figures aren't easy to come by, but the BBC has aggregate information for the UK.

The response has been huge: The BBC notes that Windows 7 pre-orders on were higher in the first eight hours of the sale period than they were in the entire 17-week period in which Vista was available as a pre-order.

Obviously that torrid pace is unlikely to continue over the entirety of the pre-order run (and the number of copies available for pre-order are limited), but the figures are nonetheless impressive, indicating serious interest in upgrading among the masses (and likely serious dissatisfaction with Windows Vista as well). Pre-orders are being taken through August 9 in the UK.

Of course, the hugely discounted price tag for Windows 7 -- which is available for as little as $50 a copy, depending on the version -- is probably a big help in boosting these sales figures, too. The big test will come with Win 7's October release: Will consumers be willing to pay the higher sticker prices for the new OS then? That is, are they more likely to pony up a little more if they can walk out of the store with the software on the same day? Or are we just seeing the usual mad rush of early adopters, enticed by a great bargain?

For what it's worth, I'm expecting strong sales.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Microsoft confirmed another zero-day vulnerability!!!

Microsoft confirmed another zero-day vulnerability on Monday in a set of software components that ship in a wide variety of the company's products.

The vulnerability resides in Microsoft's Office Web Components, which are used for publishing spreadsheets, charts and databases to the Web, among other functions. The company is working on a patch but did not indicate when it would be released, according to an advisory.
"Specifically, the vulnerability exists in the Spreadsheet ActiveX control and while we've only seen limited attacks, if exploited successfully, an attacker could gain the same user rights as the local user," wrote Dave Forstrom, a group manager who is part of Microsoft's Security Response Center, in a blog post.

An ActiveX control is a small add-on program that works in a Web browser to facilitate functions such as downloading programs or security updates. Over the years, however, the controls have been prone to vulnerabilities.
The new flaw comes just a day before the company is set to release its monthly patches, including one for another zero-day vulnerability revealed earlier this month. That problem lies with the Video ActiveX control within Internet Explorer and is currently being used by hackers in drive-by download attempts.

In cases of especially dangerous vulnerabilities, Microsoft has deviated from its patching schedule and issued one out of cycle.

Microsoft said that the flaw could allow an attacker to execute code remotely on a machine if someone using Internet Explorer visits a malicious Web site, a hacking technique known as a drive-by download. Web sites that host user-provided content or advertisements could be rigged to take advantage of the vulnerability.

"In all cases, however, an attacker would have no way to force users to visit these Web sites," the advisory said. "Instead, an attacker would have to persuade users to visit the Web site, typically by getting them to click a link in an e-mail message or Instant Messenger message that takes users to the attacker's Web site."

Microsoft issued a list of affected software, which includes Office XP Service Pack 3, 2003 Service Pack 3, several versions of Internet Security and Acceleration Server and Office Small Business Accounting 2006, among others.

Until a patch is ready, Microsoft said one option for administrators is to disable Office Web Components from running in Internet Explorer and has provided instructions.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Google Chrome OS: 10 ways it will change netbooks!!

Google took the fight straight to Microsoft’s door earlier this week when it announced Chrome OS, its take on what a modern operating system should look like. The initial target is netbooks, so here are ten things that a bit of Google magic could bring to the little laptop market.

1. Less is more important

Chrome OS is lightweight, making it fast to run even on modest hardware. All the heavy lifting has been offloaded to Google’s central servers so you don’t need to lug round a portable powerhouse to make the most of it.

2. Instant on

Windows takes an age to boot - fine if you’re going to be stuck in there for the next eight hours, but if you just want to quickly check your email it’s frustratingly tardy. Chrome OS will be instant on, so you can be in and out before Windows has even had time to ask you if you want to download the latest security updates.

3. Superior security

Windows is always spring security leaks. Google has pledged to make Chrome extra safe by: “completely redesigning the underlying security architecture of the OS so that users don’t have to deal with viruses, malware and security updates. It should just work.” Let's hope for a safer future.

4. Gamers go home

Chrome OS puts everything on the web, which means 3D shooters are a no go. But it does means there’s no need for fancy graphics chips, which will help keep costs down.

5. Online storage

You no longer need oodles of storage on board as Chrome OS will store your files in the cloud. As an added bonus, they’ll be accessible anywhere you’ve got the Internet. Need to re-look at the speed of accessing a file online....

6. Better battery life

As the hardware specs are minimal and it’s been designed with netbooks in mind, the batteries should just keep on going. And going. And going.

7. Two’s a charm

There’ll be the option to dual boot Chrome OS and Windows, so you can jump into Chrome OS when you want to quickly get thing done or have an extended Windows session if you need applications that only run in there.

8. Face lift

Netbooks are not known for their big screens, which makes Chrome OS’s cut down user interface a bonus. Less onscreen clutter, more pixels to work with.

9. Not ARM less

As well as standard Intel x86 chips, Google is planning a version that runs on super power efficient ARM chips which opens up the market to cheap netbooks with extra long of battery life. affordable netbooks for everyone!

10. Low, low price of free

With Windows a certain percentage of the netbook price gets funnelled straight back to Microsoft’s coffers. Chrome OS is free, which means more of your money is going on hardware.

Once the Chrome hits its users, the OS will be much cheaper to compete with the Chrome. As a result you gonna get a cheaper computer!!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Google to Enter OS War...

In what is certain to be the biggest tech story of the summer, Google is finally making official what has been rumored for years: It will create its own computer operating system, Chrome OS, slated for release in late 2010.

While the news is stunning in its potential impact on the industry, it hardly arrives without warning. Google already makes its own cell phone OS, the fledgling Android, which continues to slowly gain devotees. And well before the company unleashed its own web browser, Chrome, many had long since assumed that Google had been preparing to release an operating system. When the Chrome browser was released instead, many observers actually saw it as a bit of a letdown in the news department.

Now it's clear what Google has been up to all along: Chrome is simply the centerpiece of a larger table setting, a full-blown operating system that will run without Windows or the MacOS beneath it.

Google is keeping many details close to the vest -- and, with at least a year before the OS comes out, it really has no choice since the OS has miles to go before it's ready -- but the company has made a few details public. Chrome OS will be open source, like Linux operating systems, upon which Chrome will be based; it will be designed to be "fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the web in a few seconds;" and it will be designed with security in mind (though, seriously, everybody says that). The OS will run on both ARM and x86 CPUs, the latter being the most common PC chip architecture on the planet, used on virtually every PC produced today.

Despite the hints about Chrome OS, many, many questions remain. Obviously Chrome is designed with the web in mind, and it will undoubtedly be closely tied into Google's extensive suite of services. But what will its offline components look like, if any? With Linux as a base, it will obviously be able to run Linux-based applications, though it won't be compatible with Windows... or will it? Emulator systems exist that could let Chrome run Windows apps, but they're complex and at odds with the goal of creating a streamlined, super-simple operating system. I am immediately curious as to how big of a hard drive a Chrome OS laptop would have, if it will have one at all.

Another big question involves the hardware this operating system will run on. Google obviously has inexpensive, low-power netbooks in mind for Chrome OS, but will tinkerers be able to install it on computers they already own? Driver issues become a major obstacle at that point, as a "simple" OS can't possibly account for the thousands of hardware variations present in modern PCs (printing alone is going to be a headache as it is). My hunch is that a downloadable version will eventually be available, but that it won't be supported by Google at all should you decide to install it on a non-approved PC.

That leads to the question of whether Google is ignoring a key part of the market. Netbooks are great little toys, but they're hardly the tools of choice for those looking to get real work done. By embracing the web and largely ignoring offline applications, Chrome-based netbooks will by necessity remain tools for the low end of the market, playthings for when you're not really being productive. Like the Linux-based netbooks before them, they just won't do enough for many users.

And that's an ominous issue hanging out there for Chrome OS's future. Linux-based netbooks haven't been a rousing success, as Windows fought back with a vengeance after they hit the market, offering buyers a more familiar working environment and compatibility with their other computers while keeping prices down. Consumers have so far warmed up to the idea of having more features on their netbooks, not fewer, relegating Linux on netbooks to the background. Will a spiffy, Googleized version of Linux change consumer opinion? Maybe, but probably not dramatically.

Contrary to public opinion, everything that Google touches does not turn to gold, and to be frank, Google has a serious uphill battle ahead for its OS ambitions. I'm cautiously optimistic that Google will put something brilliant together here, and can't wait to get my eyes on the software, but the challenges it faces are extreme. Put together something too unique and different and consumers may be put off and confused. Or you could make an OS that clings closely to the Windows interface, but what would be the point of that?

What will Google's Chrome OS be like?

So Google has launched a major salvo in its ongoing war against Microsoft. But what will the new Chrome Operating System look like?

The initial details suggest that the structure of the operating system will be Google Chrome (the browser) running "within a new windowing system on top of a Linux kernel." That's the words of the Google blog, which also announced the new OS will work on both x86 and, interestingly, ARM processors, too.

That last point is an interesting one, as it gives netbook manufacturers the option of a different processor architecture as well as raising further questions about Android - could the Chrome OS run on smartphones? Surely the answer to the latter point is that it won't, officially at least.

Indeed, the whole experience of Chrome OS is designed to take place online using Google Gears-like online/offline web app technology."The user interface is minimal to stay out of your way, and most of the user experience takes place on the web," explains Google's Sundar Pichai who was also keen to talk about security, often a sticking point.

"And as we did for the Google Chrome browser, we are going back to the basics and completely redesigning the underlying security architecture of the OS so that users don't have to deal with viruses, malware and security updates. It should just work."

Challenges for developers?

You might think it would also raise challenges for software developers, who will have to recode for a new OS. And yes, in the traditional model of software, this would have been an interesting challenge for Google. Software developers would traditionally only develop for something that will make them money.

But Google says that new applications can be written using standard web technologies - and this ease of adaptation is bad news for Microsoft. Existing web apps will already work, while newly developed apps will equally be able to be used in standards compliant browsers on Windows, Mac and Linux machines.

Google may have a problem challenging consumer expectations of what an operating system should be like - most people expect software to work in the traditional way. In other words, they expect it to be offline, rather than apps that work on the web and consider "the web is the platform". Chrome OS will challenge this.

Speed and simplicity

However, it is clear that Google wants Chrome OS to be driven by speed and simplicity. "We hear a lot from our users and their message is clear - computers need to get better. People want to get to their email instantly, without wasting time waiting for their computers to boot and browsers to start up, they want their computers to always run as fast as when they first bought them," explains Pichai.

And Pichai might as well have been specific in saying that Chrome OS can easily be location unspecific, sharing documents, apps and user profiles over the web. "[Users] want their data to be accessible to them wherever they are and not have to worry about losing their computer or forgetting to back up files."

"Even more importantly," continues Pichai, "they don't want to spend hours configuring their computers to work with every new piece of hardware, or have to worry about constant software updates. And any time our users have a better computing experience, Google benefits as well by having happier users who are more likely to spend time on the internet."

Google says it will need a lot of help from the open source community to accomplish the vision of the Chrome OS. It will be releasing the code later in 2009 so it'll be interesting to see it in action later this year, even if it won't be available commercially on networks until late 2010.

Google Chrome OS: New Way of Computing???

It's been an exciting nine months since google launched the Google Chrome browser. Already, over 30 million people use it regularly. Google designed Google Chrome for people who live on the web — searching for information, checking email, catching up on the news, shopping or just staying in touch with friends. However, the operating systems that browsers run on were designed in an era where there was no web. So today, Google announced a new project that's a natural extension of Google Chrome — the Google Chrome Operating System. It's Google's attempt to re-think what operating systems should be.

Google Chrome OS is an open source, lightweight operating system that will initially be targeted at netbooks. Later this year google will open-source its code, and netbooks running Google Chrome OS will be available for consumers in the second half of 2010. Because google is already talking to partners about the project, and google will soon be working with the open source community, Google wanted to share thier vision now so everyone understands what they are trying to achieve.

Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS. Google is designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the web in a few seconds. The user interface is minimal to stay out of your way, and most of the user experience takes place on the web. And as we did for the Google Chrome browser, google is going back to the basics and completely redesigning the underlying security architecture of the OS so that users don't have to deal with viruses, malware and security updates. It should just work.

Google Chrome OS will run on both x86 as well as ARM chips and google is working with multiple OEMs to bring a number of netbooks to market next year. The software architecture is simple — Google Chrome running within a new windowing system on top of a Linux kernel. For application developers, the web is the platform. All web-based applications will automatically work and new applications can be written using your favorite web technologies. And of course, these apps will run not only on Google Chrome OS, but on any standards-based browser on Windows, Mac and Linux thereby giving developers the largest user base of any platform.

Google Chrome OS is a new project, separate from Android. Android was designed from the beginning to work across a variety of devices from phones to set-top boxes to netbooks. Google Chrome OS is being created for people who spend most of their time on the web, and is being designed to power computers ranging from small netbooks to full-size desktop systems. While there are areas where Google Chrome OS and Android overlap, Google believes choice will drive innovation for the benefit of everyone, including Google.

Google hear a lot from their users and the message is clear — computers need to get better. People want to get to their email instantly, without wasting time waiting for their computers to boot and browsers to start up. They want their computers to always run as fast as when they first bought them. They want their data to be accessible to them wherever they are and not have to worry about losing their computer or forgetting to back up files. Even more importantly, they don't want to spend hours configuring their computers to work with every new piece of hardware, or have to worry about constant software updates. And any time the users have a better computing experience, Google benefits as well by having happier users who are more likely to spend time on the Internet.

Google has a lot of work to do, and google is definitely going to need a lot of help from the open source community to accomplish this vision. google and it's users are excited for what's to come and me too.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Microsoft Office Word 2010

The Microsoft Office 2010 has been announced by Microsoft after two years of workarounds. Microsoft introduced Word 2010 at a very high-level, and a short summary of what you can expect is given bellow:

The way we work with documents has changed dramatically. In the past, individuals worked on relatively simple, local documents, from their office. Today, it is common for groups to work on rich, shared documents, from anywhere.

Given this shift, Microsoft has focused Word 2010 on dramatically improving document collaboration, graphics, and navigation…and then taking the richness and familiarity of Word, and putting it into the browser and onto the mobile phone. Yes, you heard it right, the Office 2010 also will reveal Web Office 2010.

Dramatically Improved Collaboration, Graphics, and Navigation

Simultaneous editing of Word documents à all the richness of Word with multiple people at the same time. Say goodbye to file in use dialogue. With Word 2010, you can co-author right within Word. You don't need to hassle with email attachments, or documents with names like ASP_final_2_reallyFinal_FINAL.docx. Instead, just open your document, and start co-authoring. You can see who else is working with you, and where they are editing.

Automatic offline editing and synchronizing of shared documents: when you open a shared document, Word automatically caches it so that you can edit it offline, and then Word will automatically sync your changes when you come back online. So if you need to work away from the office, you will no longer need to worry about saving local copies or manually merging your changes into the server document when you get back to your office. Word 2010 takes care of all of that for you.

All sorts of new graphical goodness: Artistic picture effects and easy picture editing, more SmartArt diagrams, and rich graphical and typographic effects on text is another added advantage of Office 2010.

A new navigation pane and search experience: Easily reorganize your document via drag and drop, and find stuff quickly with incremental search. You can stop copying and pasting huge sections of your document, quickly find your way around long documents, and you don't need to know exactly what you are searching for to find it.

Word in Your Browser and on Your Phone: The other big piece of Word 2010 is giving you the power and familiarity of Word everywhere you need it. In short, you will be able to view, navigate, and edit your Word documents from the browser and from your mobile phone without compromising your document's richness.

I know that was really high-level, but hopefully you have a sense for how Word 2010 will dramatically improve how and where you work on documents. Keep watching this space for more on Office 2010 :)

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