Archive for August, 2011

Microsoft quietly finding, reporting security holes in Apple, Google products

Researchers at Microsoft have been quietly finding — and helping to fix — security defects in products made by third-party vendors, including Apple and Google.

This month alone, the MSVR (Microsoft Security Vulnerability Research) team released advisories to document vulnerabilities in WordPress and Apple’s Safari browser and in July, software flaws were found and fixed in Google Picasa and Facebook.

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The MSVR program, launched two three years ago, gives Microsoft researchers freedom to audit the code of third-party software and work in a collaborative way with the affected vendor to get those issues fixed before they are publicly compromised.

The team’s work gained prominence in 2009 when a dangerous security hole in Google Chrome Frame was found and fixed but it’s not very well known that the team has spent the last year disclosing hundreds of security defects in third-party software.

Since July 2010, Microsoft said the MSVR team identified and responsibly disclosed 109 different software vulnerabilities affecting a total of 38 vendors.

More than 93 percent of the third-party vulnerabilities found through MSVR since July 2010 were rated as Critical or Important, the company explained.

“Vendors have responded and have coordinated on 97 percent of all reported vulnerabilities; 29 percent of third-party vulnerabilities found since July 2010 have already been resolved, and none of the vulnerabilities without updates have been observed in any attacks,” Microsoft said.

This week’s discoveries:

A vulnerability exists in the way Safari handles certain content types. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability to cause Safari to execute script content and disclose potentially sensitive information. An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability would gain sensitive information that could be used in further attacks.
A vulnerability exists in the way that WordPress previously implemented protection against cross site scripting and content-type validation. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability to achieve script execution.

Gmail or Exchange? Six questions to help you make the right choice

When it comes to e-mail, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution. I’ve learned that lesson emphatically over the last year as I’ve tested a variety of different e-mail solutions for myself and for various friends and clients.

The top-secret Technology Reviewers Handbook says that after all that evaluating I’m supposed to pick a winner. But there is no clear winner. Instead, I’m happily using three different e-mail systems:

 

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    My business e-mail i running on a hosted Exchange account at Intermedia. My wife’s business account is hosted on the same server. (I’ve written previously about my reasons for choosing Exchange 2010; I switched to Intermedia earlier this year because they offered Exchange 2010 when other hosted Exchange providers were still offering Exchange 2007.)
I have a single user account at Office 365 for several upcoming projects, where features other than e-mail were the deciding factor.
I’m playing Google Apps administrator for an out-of-state client who needed a free, easy e-mail solution that would work well with his new Android phone.

Why three different solutions? Because each client (including myself) had different needs. I sorted them out by asking a series of questions and thought it might be useful to share my decision tree here.

A note: If you live in the United States, your options should be the same as the ones I write about in this post. In other countries, some services might not be available, and others might be offered at different prices. In addition, I do not cover the many educational offerings available for students and others associated with an educational institution.

1. Do you want a store-and-forward server or one that syncs your messages in the cloud?

Most Internet service providers offer POP3 mailboxes. They’re usually a standard feature with cheap web-hosting plans, too. These accounts use store-and-forward servers that assume you’re downloading your messages to a local store and deleting them off the server immediately. The server isn’t designed to keep an archive. Your master copy of any message is local.

By contrast, cloud-based mail products store your messages on a server so that you can access your e-mail—all of it, new and old—via a web browser. You can usually sync the server’s message store with a local PC or device, using Exchange ActiveSync or IMAP.

For this question, I think there’s only one correct answer. If you work in a big corporation, a central server that stores every user’s messages is a key part of a legally acceptable archiving policy. But a cloud-based server is also a good idea even if you’re a one-person organization. If you have more than one device (smartphone and PC, maybe a notebook, maybe a tablet), keeping everything in sync with a POP3 account is impossible. I still have a few POP3 accounts associated with some domains I own, but I forward all incoming messages from those accounts to a cloud-based account.

2. Do you need a custom domain?

I’m a firm believer in owning your own domain—especially for business mail. You might be perfectly happy to use a generic webmail address as your calling card to the rest of the world. (Just don’t adopt an address from your ISP as your primary e-mail account. If you move or change service providers, that address will become useless.)

The free Google Apps offering allows you to assign your custom domain to Google Apps. Hotmail offers this feature, too, but the domain management tools in Windows Live Admin Center made me want to scream in frustration. For my out-of-state clients, it took a few hours to get their custom domain working with Google Apps, but after those initial hiccups were out of the way it’s been problem-free.

Naturally, all of the paid services—hosted Exchange, Office 365, and Google Apps—offer excellent integration with custom domains. For Office 365 and Intermedia, I had a choice of turning an entire domain over or just defining mail exchange (MX) records. If you know your way around DNS configuration, this is a straightforward task. If you don’t, be prepared to ask for help (or take a crash course in DNS management).

Here’s the DNS manager for an Office 365 P plan. Note that you must set up the MX records with an external DNS service and can’t edit them here:

And here’s the custom DNS manager that Intermedia customers find in the HostPilot control panel:

3. Do you plan to use Microsoft Outlook?

If you live in Outlook, then your primary account should be on an Exchange 2010 server. Period. Full stop.

The combination of Outlook and Exchange offers great online and offline support. That’s true whether you’re using Microsoft’s Office 365 or a hosted Exchange option like Intermedia’s. Hotmail accounts work well after you install the Microsoft Outlook Hotmail Connector.

My experience with accessing Gmail and Google Apps accounts via Microsoft Outlook has been consistently bad—so bad that I won’t use the two products together. I won’t recommend that combination for anyone else, either. If you have a Gmail account and you want offline access, you can use the Offline settings in Google’s Chrome browser or try a third-party client program other than Outlook.

Quotations from Chairman Steve

A mosaic of Apple leader Steve Jobs’ on-the-record opinions and musings

We ended up opting for these Miele appliances, made in Germany. … These guys really thought the process through. They did such a great job designing these washers and dryers. I got more thrill out of them than I have out of any piece of high tech in years. — Wired, February 1996

 

 

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On copyright and patents

If copyright dies, if patents die, if the protection of intellectual property is eroded, then people will stop investing. That hurts everyone. People need to have the incentive that if they invest and succeed, they can make a fair profit. Otherwise they’ll stop investing. — Rolling Stone, 2003
On television as the “most corrosive technology I’ve every seen”

Because the average American watches five hours a day of television, and television is a passive medium. Television doesn’t turn your brain on. Or, television can be used to turn your brain off, and that’s what it’s mostly used for. And that’s a wonderful thing sometimes — but not for five hours a day. — Rolling Stone, 2003
On music

I think we’re all happier when we have a little more music in our lives. … We were very lucky — we grew up in a generation where music was an incredibly intimate part of that generation. More intimate than it had been, and maybe more intimate than it is today, because today there’s a lot of other alternatives. We didn’t have video games to play. We didn’t have personal computers. There’s so many other things competing for kids’ time now. But, nonetheless, music is really being reinvented in this digital age, and that is bringing it back into people’s lives. It’s a wonderful thing. — Rolling Stone, 2003

On how the Web will “affect the way we live in the future”
I don’t think of the world that way. I’m a tool builder. That’s how I think of myself. I want to build really good tools that I know in my gut and my heart will be valuable. And then whatever happens is … you can’t really predict exactly what will happen, but you can feel the direction that we’re going. And that’s about as close as you can get. Then you just stand back and get out of the way, and these things take on a life of their own. — Rolling Stone, 1994
On the next great thing

If I were running Apple, I would milk the Macintosh for all it’s worth — and get busy on the next great thing. The PC wars are over. Done. Microsoft won a long time ago. — Fortune, Feb. 19, 1996, via Wired: “Steve Jobs’ Best Quotes Ever,” March 2006
On whether innovation can be “systematized”

The system is that there is no system. That doesn’t mean we don’t have process. Apple is a very disciplined company, and we have great processes. But that’s not what it’s about. Process makes you more efficient.

But innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or | Free MCTS TrainingMCTS Online Training . calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we’ve been thinking about a problem. It’s ad hoc meetings of six people called by someone who thinks he has figured out the coolest new thing ever and who wants to know what other people think of his idea. And it comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much. — Businessweek, October 2004
On his involvement with Apple’s innovations

We go back and forth a lot as we work on our projects. And we’ve got such great people [in the top executive team] that I’ve been able to move about half of the day-to-day management of the company to them, so I can spend half my time on the new stuff, like the retail [store] effort. I spent and continue to spend a lot of time on that. And I meet weekly for two or three hours with my OS X team. And there’s the group doing our iLife applications.

So I get to spend my time on the forward-looking stuff. My top executives take half the other work off my plate. They love it, and I love it. — Businessweek, October 2004
On the nature of the Web

The best way to think of the Web is as a direct-to-customer distribution channel, whether it’s for information or commerce. It bypasses all middlemen. And, it turns out, there are a lot of middlepersons in this society. And they generally tend to slow things down, muck things up, and make things more expensive. The elimination of them is going to be profound. — Wired, 1996
On optimism

I’m an optimist in the sense that I believe humans are noble and honorable, and some of them are really smart. I have a very optimistic view of individuals. As individuals, people are inherently good. I have a somewhat more pessimistic view of people in groups. And I remain extremely concerned when I see what’s happening in our country, which is in many ways the luckiest place in the world. We don’t seem to be excited about making our country a better place for our kids. — Wired, 1996
On technology and its prospects for changing the world

The problem is I’m older now, I’m 40 years old, and this stuff doesn’t change the world. It really doesn’t. … Having children really changes your view on these things. We’re born, we live for a brief instant, and we die. It’s been happening for a long time. Technology is not changing it much — if at all.

These technologies can make life easier, can let us touch people we might not otherwise. … I’m not downplaying that. But it’s a disservice to constantly put things in this radical new light — that it’s going to change everything. Things don’t have to change the world to be important. — Wired, 1996
On being fired from Apple

I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life. — Commencement address, Stanford University, 2005
On death

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

New book: I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”: A Decade of Hard-Won Lessons from Microsoft, Second Edition

We’re very happen to announce that the second, newly expanded edition of I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”: A Decade of Hard-Won Lessons from Microsoft, by Eric Brechner is available for purchase.  (Print ISBN 9780735661707; Page Count 448).

 

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Here is  an excerpt from Chapter 5, “Software Quality—More Than a Dream”.

Chapter 5
Software Quality—More Than a Dream

image

Some people mock software development, saying if buildings were built like
software, the first woodpecker would destroy civilization. That’s quite funny, or
disturbing, but regardless it’s misguided. Early buildings lacked foundations. Early
cars broke down incessantly. Early TVs required constant fiddling to work properly.
Software is no different.

At first, Microsoft wrote software for early adopters, people comfortable replacing
PC boards. Back then, time to market won over quality, because early adopters
could work around issues, but they couldn’t slow the clock. Shipping fastest meant
coding quickly and then fixing just enough to make it work.

Now our market is consumers and the enterprise, who value quality over the
hassles of experimentation. The market change was gradual, so Microsoft’s initial
response was simply to fix more bugs. Soon bug fixing was taking longer than
coding, an incredibly slow process. The fastest way to ship high quality is to trap
errors early, coding it right the first time and minimizing rework. Microsoft has
been shifting to this quality upstream approach over the time I’ve been writing
these columns. The first major jolt that drove the company-wide change was a
series of Internet virus attacks in late 2001.

In this chapter, I. M. Wright preaches quality to the engineering masses. The first
column evaluates security issues. The second analyzes why quality is essential and
how you get it. The third column explains an engineering approach to software that
dramatically reduces defects. The fourth talks about design and code inspections.
The fifth describes metrics that can predict quality issues before customers experience them.
The sixth focuses on techniques to make software resilient. And
the chapter aptly finishes by emphasizing the five basics of software quality.
While all these columns provide an interesting perspective, the second one,
“Where’s the beef? Why we need quality” stands out as an important turning point.
When I wrote it few inside or outside Microsoft believed we were serious about
quality. Years later, many of the concepts are taken for granted. It took far more
than an opinion piece to drive that change, but it’s nice to call for action and have
people respond.
May 1, 2008: “Crash dummies: Resilience”

imageI heard a remark the other day that seemed stupid on the surface,
but when I really thought about it I realized it was completely idiotic
and irresponsible. The remark was that it’s better to crash and let
Watson report the error than it is to catch the exception and try to
correct it.

image

From a technical perspective, there is some sense to the strategy of allowing the crash to
complete and get reported. It’s like the logic behind asserts—the moment you realize you
are in a bad state, capture that state and abort. That way, when you are debugging later
you’ll be as close as possible to the cause of the problem. If you don’t abort immediately, it’s
often impossible to reconstruct the state and identify what went wrong. That’s why asserts
are good, right? So, crashing is sensible, right?

image

Oh please. Asserts and crashing are so 1990s. If you’re still thinking that way, you need to
shut off your Walkman and join the twenty-first century, unless you write software just for
yourself and your old-school buddies. These days, software isn’t expected to run only until its
programmer got tired. It’s expected to run and keep running. Period.

Struggle against reality

Hold on, an old-school developer, I’ll call him Axl Rose, wants to inject “reality” into the
discussion. “Look,” says Axl, “you can’t just wish bad machine states away, and you can’t fix
every bug no matter how late you party.” You’re right, Axl. While we need to design, test,
and code our products and services to be as error free as possible, there will always be bugs.
What we in the new century have realized is that for many issues it’s not the bugs that are
the problem—it’s how we respond to those bugs that matters.

Axl Rose responds to bugs by capturing data about them in hopes of identifying the cause.
Enlightened engineers respond to bugs by expecting them, logging them, and making their
software resilient to failure. Sure, we still want to fix the bugs we log because failures are
costly to performance and impact the customer experience. However, cars, TVs, and networking
fail all the time. They are just designed to be resilient to those failures so that crashes
are rare.

image
Perhaps be less assertive

“But asserts are still good, right? Everyone says so,” says Axl. No. Asserts as they are implemented
today are evil. They are evil. I mean it, evil. They cause programs to be fragile instead
of resilient. They perpetuate the mindset that you respond to failure by giving up instead of
rolling back and starting over.

We need to change how asserts act. Instead of aborting, asserts should log problems and
then trigger a recovery. I repeat—keep the asserts, but change how they act. You still want
asserts to detect failures early. What’s even more important is how you respond to those failures,
including the ones that slip through.
If at first you don’t succeed

So, how do you respond appropriately to failure? Well, how do you? I mean, in real life, how
do you respond to failure? Do you give up and walk away? I doubt you made it through the
Microsoft interview process if that was your attitude.

When you experience failure, you start over and try again. Ideally, you take notes about what
went wrong and analyze them to improve, but usually that comes later. In the moment, you
simply dust yourself off and give it another go.

For web services, the approach is called the five Rs—retry, restart, reboot, reimage, and
replace. Let’s break them down:
■ Retry  First off, you try the failed action again. Often something just goofed the first
time and will work the second time.
■ Restart  If retrying doesn’t work, restarting often does. For services, this often means
rolling back and restarting a transaction or unloading a DLL, reloading it, and performing
the action again the way Internet Information Server (IIS) does.
■ Reboot  If restarting doesn’t work, do what a user would do, and reboot the machine.
■ Reimage  If rebooting doesn’t work, do what support would do, and reimage the
application or entire box.
■ Replace  If reimaging doesn’t do the trick, it’s time to get a new device.
Welcome to the jungle

Much of our software doesn’t run as a service in a datacenter, and contrary to what Google
might have you believe, customers don’t want all software to depend on a service. For client
software, the five Rs might seem irrelevant to you. Ah, to be so naïve and dismissive.

The five Rs apply just as well to client and application software on a PC or a phone. The key
most engineers miss is defining the action, the scope of what gets retried or restarted.
On the web it’s easier to identify—the action is usually a transaction to a database or a GET
or POST to a page. For client and application software, you need to think more about what
action the user or subsystem is attempting.

Well-designed software will have custom error handling at the end of each action, just like
I talked about in my column “A tragedy of error handling” (which appears in Chapter 6).
Having custom error handling after actions makes applying the five Rs much simpler.
Unfortunately, lots of throwback engineers, like Axl Rose, use a Routine for Error Central
Handling (RECH) instead, as I described in the same column. If your code looks like Axl’s,
you’ve got some work to do to separate out the actions, but it’s worth it if a few actions harbor
most crashes and you aren’t able to fix the root cause.

Just like starting over

Let’s check out some examples of applying the five Rs to client and application software:
■ Retry  PCs and devices are a bit more predictable than web services, so failed operations
will likely fail again. However, retrying works for issues that fail sporadically, like
network connectivity or data contention. So, when saving a file, rather than blocking
for what seems like an eternity and then failing, try blocking for a short timeout and
then trying again—a better result for the same time or less. Doing so asynchronously
unblocks the user entirely and is even better, but it might be tricky.
■ Restart  What can you restart at the client level? How about device drivers, database
connections, OLE objects, DLL loads, network connections, worker threads, dialogs, services,
and resource handles. Of course, blindly restarting the components you depend
upon is silly. You have to consider the kind of failure, and you need to restart the full
action to ensure that you don’t confuse state. Yes, it’s not trivial. What kills me is that as
a sophisticated user, restarting components is exactly what I do to fix half the problems
I encounter. Why can’t the code do the same? Why is the code so inept? Wait for it, the
answer will come to you.
■ Reboot  If restarting components doesn’t work or isn’t possible because of a serious
failure, you need to restart the client or application itself—a reboot. Most of the
Office applications do this automatically now. They even recover most of their state as a
bonus. There are some phone and game applications that purposely freeze the screen
and reboot the application or device in order to recover (works only for fast reboots) Free MCTS TrainingMCTS Online Training .
■ Reimage  If rebooting the application doesn’t work, what does product support
tell you to do? Reinstall the software. Yes, this is an extreme measure, but these days
installs and repairs are entirely programmable for most applications, often at a component
level. You’ll likely need to involve the user and might even have to check online for
a fix. But if you’re expecting the user to do it, then you should do it.
■  Replace This is where we lose. If our software fails to correct the problem, the customer
has few choices left. These days, with competitors aching

Another Windows 8 tidbit: File management to get an overhaul

Microsoft’s Windows 8 engineering team is continuing to trickle out information on some of the changes coming with the next version of Windows. Today’s tidbit is about how file management/copying will be getting an overhaul.

Bit by bit, the Windows 8 engineering team is revealing some of the under-the-covers changes coming with the next release of Windows.

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In the latest (August 23) posting to the “Building Windows 8″ blog, Program Management Director Alex Simons shared more about what Microsoft has been doing to tweak the copying/moving/renaming and deleting of files in Windows.

(And if you think this is a “who cares” kind of thing, at 8:30 a.m. ET on August 24, there were nearly 150 comments on this post, the vast majority of which are from people with real ideas and opinions on the topic. With Windows, there is no feature too insignificant to merit lots and lots and lots of heated feedback.)

The core file-management commands in Windows 8 that handle so-called “copy jobs” are going to be optimized for high-volume, concurrent simultaneous use, according to the new blog post.

Currently, fewer than .45 percent of Windows 7 PC users (a number brought to you by the infamous telemetry gathering done by the Windows team) are using third-party tools optimized for these kinds of jobs. While Microsoft still sees a place for third-party copy-job add-ons, Simons maintained, the Windows team is going to be adding to Windows 8 new functionality to the Windows Explorer to handle high-volume copy jobs.

“Our focus is on improving the experience of the person who is doing high-volume copying with Explorer today, who would like more control, more insight into what’s going on while copying, and a cleaner, more streamlined experience,” he said.

The post includes a new video of how Windows 8 will tackle file-copying tasks, as well as lots more granular details about the coming copying experience (including new dialog-box options for resolving conflicting file names, etc.).

As a number of commentators on the five “Building Windows 8″ posts that have been published in the past week are quick to note, Microsoft still hasn’t shared information on many key topics of interest about its coming Windows release (especially around the development-tool story beyond HTML5/JavaScript). Microsoft officials are not expected to talk about this information until mid-September at the Build conference.

Today, by the way, is the 16th anniversary of the launch of Windows 95, for all you granular-tidbit-loving Windows watchers…. And it’s also the 10th anniversary of the release to manufacturing of Windows XP, as my ZDNet colleague Zack Whittaker notes.

2017: When PCs go the way of the dinosaur?

Today, In-Stat predicted that the global tablet market will reach 250 million shipments by 2017. It’s a seemingly big number, but its real significance is bigger: How much will tablets displace PC sales?

 

 

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Right now the global install base of PCs is about 1 billion units. Shipments have been above 300 million PCs per year, but they’re way down in mature markets, still strong in some emerging markets and losing sales to tablets, according to both Gartner and IDC. Is there market sustainable enough for 300 million PCs and 250 million tablets? I’m the wrong person to answer, having already proclaimed — to the chagrin of many Betanews commenters — that the “PC era is over.”

The synopsis to In-Stat’s report — “The Reality and Ramifications of Tablets” — focuses more on how consumer electronics devices are impacted. In-Stat sent me data sheets with no data, but questions and other info that let me see the report doesn’t take the PC into the equation.

It is the PC that will matter more to many Betanews readers managing IT departments.
Two months ago, I asked: “Are tablets a fad?”. In-Stat’s data surely suggests otherwise. Then there are Gartner and IDC, which, respectively, forecast 69.8 million and 53.5 million this year.

Much depends on overlap. How much can tablets replace PCs? Many of our readers don’t see that happening. Maybe, but Windows 8 is coming, and I’m expecting a juicy developer beta to drop during next month’s BUILD conference. Microsoft is clearly targeting Windows 8 for tablets as well as desktop and portable PCs — and it’s what analyst firms Gartner and IDC consider a “full” OS rather than a mobile.

In context of Microsoft entering the tablet market in a big-OS way and with its core market being businesses, there’s good reason to rethink the PC’s future — not just in the hands of Apple or Android tablets but Microsoft leading businesses down a hybrid path. Whatever, tablets are maturing fast and the overlap with PC functionally can only get greater (with Windows 8 part of that equation).

I don’t see enough room for both tablets and PCs in 2017. Something has to give. Either tablets must cannibalize PC sales or a hybrid product emerges, something that absolutely could happen in a post-Windows 7 world, with Windows 8 driving new form factors. That 250 million is a mighty big number. But many analysts made big predictions about netbooks, which sales have collapsed before tablets. It may be that Microsoft and its hardware partners can similarly upset the current tablet market with Windows 8. If not, we have a date, or thereabouts, for PC’s obsolescence: 2017.

In the here and now, In-Stat sees tablets encroaching on consumer electronics devices. “The tablet market and its associated ecosystem are still evolving. Over the next few generations we will see more differentiation between devices that are targeting different market segments and usage models. In addition, competitive device and service pricing will bring tablets into the mainstream consumer and enterprise markets”, Jim McGregor, In-Stat chief technology strategist, says in a statement.

“Tablets are joining an array of smart-connected devices that allow users almost unlimited access to content and communications”, he continues. “These new devices mark a significant change in the value change of the electronics industry where the content and applications are now the key differentiators and innovation drivers”.

In-Stat sees Android and iOS coming to dominate 90 percent of the tablet market during the forecast period, with Windows pulling up the rear. Tablets 9 inches to 11 inches will make up 56 percent of the total tablet market in 2017.

Microsoft Confirms Native USB 3.0 Support in Windows 8

Seemed like a foregone conclusion but it’s always reassuring to see this news.

There’s nothing like official Windows support to make a specification a standard, such as when Microsoft added USB 2.0 support to Windows XP Service Pack 2. With Windows 8, Microsoft has cast its lot with USB 3.0, giving the new port some badly-needed native support.

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Really, it’s not like this was in doubt. I think if Microsoft didn’t include native USB 3.0 support it would be accused of being derelict in its duty to support standards. At this point, the real suspense is whether or not Microsoft will support Intel’s Thunderbolt interface.

The news came from Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows/Windows Live team, via his Building Windows 8 blog. As it turns out, changes in USB 3.0 forced Microsoft to wait a bit.

“Our design had to follow the revised 3.0 specification precisely in order to enable emerging USB 3.0 hardware,” Sinofsky wrote. “There are also billions of older USB devices that Windows must remain compatible with.”

USB 3.0 shipped in 2008 and is found on Intel Westmere and Sandy Bridge-era motherboards and AMD Fusion motherboards. However, the spec is continuing to evolve.

Earlier this month, the USB 3.0 Promoter Group announced an update to the USB Power Delivery specification for both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0. USB 3.0 went from being able to push through 4.5 watts to 100 watts, an incredible change that could mean USB-powered monitors and hard drives, which could thin out the tangle of power cables in our computers.

The decision to support USB 3.0 was an easy one to make, he wrote. The real challenge was in preserving the current USB ecosystem. “There are also billions of older USB devices that Windows must remain compatible with. How do you write a single piece of software to enable the latest technology on evolving hardware, while making sure it still works with 10 billion existing devices in homes and offices across the world?”

What follows is a rather lengthy post. To make a long post short, he said Microsoft built a custom tool called the Microsoft USB Test Tool (MUTT) to simulate a full range of device behaviors that the company had observed over the years. Microsoft shared this new software tool with third party hardware makers and “they’ve used it to find and correct problems in their devices before releasing,” Sinofsky wrote.

All of this is good news. The screw-ups of Vista – not getting the ecosystem ready for launch – are clearly not being repeated.

IT recruiting a casualty of the recession

Companies have lost some talent-acquisition muscle, and they’re going to feel the effects of that loss
In the face of a lousy economy, hiring freezes and expense cuts, many companies have decimated their recruiting teams. But as IT staffs ramp up efforts to fill open positions and compete for key talent, this lack of recruiting resources could hurt them.

 

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“A lot of recruiting staffs just don’t exist anymore,” says Joel Capperella, senior vice president of client solutions at Yoh, a technology staffing firm. “As the crash in 2008 came on full strength, the first folks to go were often recruiters. If you’re not going be hiring anybody, why do you need recruiters?”

Some companies eliminated their internal recruiting teams and shifted to using outsourced services on an as-needed basis. Others kept recruiting in-house, but significantly downsized their departments. In both scenarios, companies have lost some talent-acquisition muscle — and they’re going to feel the effects of that loss, says Paul Rowson, managing director at WorldatWork, a nonprofit organization focused on human resources issues.

“When you start to recruit back, you start to experience all the signs of the hiatus, the laziness and the remission,” Rowson says. “Any time you stop using a muscle and you don’t exercise it, you can’t just spring into action again.”

While the job market is by no means booming, there have been signs that have industry watchers cautiously optimistic about the hiring outlook. IT jobs site Dice.com currently lists 81,498 available tech jobs, a gain of 24% compared to 65,959 open tech jobs in August 2010.

OPPORTUNITY: Want a new IT job? Now’s your chance

Among 1,400 CIOs surveyed by staffing firm Robert Half Technology, just 7% said they plan to add IT staff in the current quarter. However, 87% of CIOs are confident in their companies’ growth prospects in the next three months, and 48% say it’s challenging to find skilled professionals today. (See also: “5 surprising IT skills that hiring managers want now”)

With talent gaps to fill, recruiters could be hard pressed to find the right people without adequate resources. It’s a problem not only for designated recruiters, but also for hiring managers — in IT and other departments — who share the staffing burden with HR.

The recession isn’t the only reason hiring managers are feeling more pressure to take on recruiting responsibilities, says Eric Winegardner, vice president of client adoption at Monster.com. It’s a trend that has been developing for years as managers have taken a more active role in scouting talent and shaping their teams.

Five years ago, most managers would have waited for HR to present them with candidates for an open position. Nowadays, an IT manager is more likely to say, “Hey, here are three or four people I’ve talked to over the past six months. Let’s start with them,” Winegardner says.

As shepherd of a team, that’s how an IT manager should behave, he says. “A good manager is always scouting for the next team member.”

However, just as recruiters are out of practice, so too are managers who have been focused on making do with current staff, not hiring new talent. Companies that aren’t in good recruiting shape could wind up making desperate hires, which could include overpaying for talent.

Free 70-620 Exams

This is demo only, this pdf do not include the questions and answers pictures
Exam : Microsoft 70-620
Title : TS: Configuring Windows Vista Client
1. Your computer runs Microsoft Windows XP Professional. The computer has the following hardware configuration:
·512 MB of RAM
·1-GHz processor
·60-GB hard disk
·15 GB of free space
·64-MB video adapter.
You perform a clean install of Microsoft Windows Vista.
You need to ensure that Microsoft Windows Aero Experience is supported.
What should you do?
A. Upgrade the memory to 1 GB of RAM.
B. Upgrade the hard disk to 120 GB with 40 GB of free space.
C. Install a video adapter that has 128 MB of RAM, support for Microsoft DirectX 9, and Microsoft Pixel Shader 2.0.
D. Install a video adapter that has 128 MB of RAM, support for Microsoft Scalable Link Interface (SLI) and Microsoft Pixel Shader 2.0.
Answer: C

 

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2. You install Microsoft Windows Vista on a new computer that is not connected to the Internet.
After you log on, you receive a warning message about an unknown device.
You need to prevent the display of the warning message until you download an available hardware driver.
What are the two possible ways to achieve this goal? (Each correct answer presents a complete solution. Choose two.)
A. Disable the device.
B. Uninstall the device.
C. Select the Ask me again later option from the warning message details.
D. Select the Don’t show this message again for this device option from the warning message details.
Answer: AD
3. You have a computer that runs Microsoft Windows XP. The computer has a custom application installed.
You plan to upgrade the Windows XP computer to Windows Vista.
You need to identify whether User Account Control (UAC) will allow the custom application to run without requiring elevated privileges.
What should you do?
A. Insert the Windows Vista installation media and run mighost.exe.
B. Insert the Windows Vista installation media and run setup.exe /unattended:unattend.xml.
C. Install Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit 5.0 and run the Setup Analysis Tool.
D. Install Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit 5.0 and run the Standard User Analyzer.
Answer: D
4. You set up Really Simple Syndication (RSS) subscription feeds on your computer.
You need to view the RSS subscription feed in XML format.
What should you do?
A. Disable the Turn on feed reading view option.
B. Enable the Always use Clear Type for HTML option.
C. Configure the RSS feed to be sent to your e-mail client.
D. Enable the Automatically download attached files option.
Answer: A
5. You perform a clean installation of Microsoft Windows Vista on the first partition. Then, you install Microsoft Windows XP Professional
on the second partition of the same machine.
You are able to log on to Windows XP Professional but do not have the option to boot to Windows Vista.
You need to be able to dual boot the computer.
What should you do?
A. Run the bootcfg.exe application with the /fastdetect option.
B. Perform a clean installation of Windows Vista on the first partition.
C. Run the msconfig.exe application and change the order of the operating systems in the boot.ini file.
D. Edit the boot.ini file. Add the following line:
Multi(0)Disk(0)Rdisk(0)Partition(1)Microsoft Windows
Answer: B
6. Your computer fails to produce any audio output. The Device Manager management console is as shown in the following exhibit. (Click
the Exhibit button.)
You need to receive audio output from your computer.
What should you do?
A. Enable the audio hardware.
B. Initiate a Microsoft Windows Update scan.
C. Update the driver for the audio hardware.
D. Download and run the latest installation program for the audio hardware from the manufacturer.
Answer: A
7. You have a computer that runs Windows Vista.
You upgrade the network adapter driver on the computer.
After the upgrade, you can no longer access network resources. You open Device Manager and see a warning symbol next to the network
adapter.
You need to restore access to network resources.
What should you do?
A. Roll back the network adapter driver.
B. Assign a static IP address to the network adapter.
C. Disable the network adapter and scan for hardware changes.
D. Uninstall the network adapter and scan for hardware changes.
Answer: A
8. You have a computer that runs Windows Vista Ultimate.
You open the Windows System Performance Rating tool and receive a Windows Experience Index base score of 1.0. The subscores are
as follows:
·Processor: 4.7
·Memory (RAM): 3.6
·Graphics: 1.0
·Gaming Graphics: 1.0
·Primary Hard Disk: 3.0
You upgrade your video adapter card with a new card that meets the minimum requirements for Windows Aero.
You open the System Performance and Rating tool and notice the base score and subscores have not changed.
You need to enable Windows Aero.
What should you do?
A. Install additional RAM.
B. Install the latest version of DirectX.
C. Update your Windows Experience Index score.
D. Install a USB flash drive and enable Windows ReadyBoost.
Answer: C
9. You install Windows Vista on a new computer. You update the video card driver and restart the computer.
When you start the computer, the screen flickers and then goes blank. You restart the computer and receive the same result.
You need to configure the video card driver.
What should you do first?
A. Restart the computer in safe mode.
B. Restart the computer in debugging mode.
C. Restart the computer in low-resolution video mode.
D. Insert the Windows Vista installation media into the computer, restart, and use System Recovery to perform a startup repair.
Answer: A
10. You configure a subscription to a Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feed that often includes large videos.
You need to minimize delay while watching the videos.
What should you do?
A. Configure the RSS feed to download attached files.
B. Configure the RSS feed to retain the most recent items.
C. Enable the Turn on feed reading view option of the RSS feed.
D. Enable the Automatically mark feed as read when reading a feed option of the RSS feed.
Answer: A

70-680 Exam Questions&Answers-Part 1

Exam     :  Microsoft 70-680

Title    :  TS: Windows 7, Configuring

1. You have a computer that runs Windows 7.

You need to identify which applications were installed during the last week.

What should you do?

A. From Reliability Monitor, review the informational events.

B. From System Information, review the Software Environment.

C. From Performance Monitor, review the System Diagnostics Report.

D. From Performance Monitor, run the System Performance Data Collector Set.

Answer: A


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2. You have a computer that runs Windows 7.

You need to view the processes that currently generate network activity.

What should you do?

A. Open Resource Monitor and click the Network tab.

B. Open Windows Task Manager and click the Networking tab.

C. Open Event Viewer and examine the NetworkProfile Operational log.

D. Open Performance Monitor and add all the counters for network interface.

Answer: A

3. You have a computer that runs Windows 7.

You discover that an application named App1 runs during the startup process.

You need to prevent only App1 from running during startup. Users must be allowed to run App1 manually.

What should you do?

A. From the local Group Policy, modify the application control policy.

B. From the local Group Policy, modify the software restriction policy.

C. From the System Configuration tool, select Diagnostic Startup.

D. From the System Configuration tool, modify the Startup applications.

Answer: D

4. You have a computer that runs Windows 7. The computer contains two volumes, C and D.

You create a new folder called D:\Reports.

You need to ensure that all files stored in the Reports folder are indexed by Windows Search.

What should you do?

A. Enable the archive attribute on the folder.

B. Modify the Folder Options from Control Panel.

C. Modify the properties of the Windows Search service.

D. Create a new library and add the Reports folder to the library.

Answer: D

5. You have a computer that runs Windows 7.

You perform an image backup.

A virus infects the computer and causes the computer to become unresponsive.

You need to restore the computer as quickly as possible.

What should you do?

A. Start the computer by using the Last Known Good Configuration feature.

B. Start the computer from the Windows 7 DVD and then use the Startup Repair tool.

C. Start the computer from the Windows 7 DVD and then use the System Image Recovery tool.

D. Start the computer from Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE) and then run Imagex.exe.

Answer: C

6. You have a computer that runs Windows 7.

You update the driver for the computer’s video card and the computer becomes unresponsive.

You need recover the computer in the minimum amount of time.

What should you do?

A. Restart in safe mode and then roll back the video card driver.

B. Restart in safe mode and then revert the computer to a previous restore point.

C. Start the computer from the Windows 7 installation media. Select Repair your computer and then select System Restore.

D. Start the computer from the Windows 7 installation media. Select Repair your computer and then select System Image Recovery.

Answer: A

7. Your network consists of one Active Directory domain. You have two computers named Computer1 and Computer2 that run Windows 7. Both computers are members of the domain.

From Computer1, you can recover all Encrypting File System (EFS) encrypted files for users in the domain.

You need to ensure that you can recover all EFS encrypted files from Computer2.

What should you do?

A. On Computer1, back up %systemroot%\DigitalLocker. On Computer2, restore %systemroot%\DigitalLocker.

B. On Computer1, export the data recovery agent certificate. On Computer2, import the data recovery agent certificate.

C. On Computer1, run Secedit.exe and specify the /export parameter. On Computer2, run Secedit.exe and specify the /import parameter.

D. On Computer1, run Cipher.exe and specify the /removeuser parameter. On Computer2, run Cipher.exe and specify the /adduser parameter.

Answer: B

8. You have a computer that runs Windows 7. The computer has System Protection enabled.

You need to retain only the last System Protection snapshot of the computer. All other snapshots must be deleted.

What should you do?

A. Run Disk Cleanup for Programs and features.

B. Run Disk Cleanup for System Restore and Shadow Copies.

C. From the System Protection Restore settings, select Turn off System Restore.

D. From the System Protection Restore settings, select Only restore previous versions of files.

Answer: B

9. You have a computer that runs Windows Vista.

You install Windows 7 on a new partition on the computer.

You need to ensure that the computer always starts Windows Vista by default.

What should you do?

A. Run Bcdedit.exe and specify the /default parameter.

B. Run Bcdedit.exe and specify the /bootems parameter.

C. Create a boot.ini file in the root of the Windows 7 partition.

D. Create a boot.ini file in the root of the Windows Vista partition.

Answer: A

10. You plan to install Windows 7 on a computer that contains a single hard disk drive. The hard disk drive is connected to a RAID controller.

During the installation, you discover that the Windows 7 installation media does not include the files required to install the RAID controller.

You need ensure that you can install Windows 7 on the hard disk drive.

What should you do?

A. Insert the Windows installation media and press F8 during the computer’s power-on self test (POST).

B. Insert the Windows installation media and press F6 during the computer’s power-on self test (POST).

C. Start the computer from the Windows installation media. From the Install Windows dialog box, click Load Driver.

D. Start the computer from the Windows installation media. From the Install Windows dialog box, click Drive options (advanced).

Answer: C

11. You have a computer that runs Windows 7 Professional. A USB disk is attached to the computer.

You need to ensure that you can enable BitLocker To Go on the USB disk.

What should you do?

A. Enable Encrypting File System (EFS).

B. Upgrade the computer to Windows 7 Enterprise.

C. Initialize the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) hardware.

D. Obtain a client certificate from an enterprise certification authority (CA).

Answer: B

12. You have a computer that runs Windows Vista Service Pack 2 (SP2).

You need to upgrade the computer to Windows 7.

What should you do?

A. Start the computer from the Windows 7 installation media and select the Upgrade option.

B. Start the computer from the Windows 7 installation media and select the Custom (advanced) option.

C. From Windows Vista, run Setup.exe from the Windows 7 installation media and select the Upgrade option.

D. From Windows Vista, run Setup.exe from the Windows 7 installation media and select the Custom (advanced) option.

Answer: C

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