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Kill rogue processes with taskkill in Microsoft Windows

There are times, regardless of your operating system, when you will need to manually kill a rogue process. Most of the time, this can easily be done with the help of the Microsoft Windows 7 Task Manager. There are times, however, when that tool doesn’t seem to have the ability to kill a rogue process. I have seen this plenty of times when trying to kill an Acronis process that has gone astray. When this happens, I have to employ a more powerful tool, taskkill, which is used from the command line.

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Note: In order to run the taskkill command, you will have to open the command window. To do this, click Start | Run and type cmd in the text field or just enter cmd in the Run dialog box (access Run dialog box by clicking Win+R) (Figure A).

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Figure A
Open the command window.

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Using taskkill
The general syntax of the command looks like this:

taskkill [OPTIONS] [PID]

As you might expect, there are plenty of options available for this command. Some of the more helpful options are:

* /s COMPUTER — (Where COMPUTER is the IP or address of a remote computer). The default is the local computer, so if you’re working with a command on the local machine, you do not have to use this option.
* /u DOMAIN\USER — (Where DOMAIN is the domain and USER is the username you authenticate to). This option allows you run taskkill with the account permissions of the specified USERNAME or DOMAIN\USERNAME.
* /p — If you use the /u option, you will also need to include the /p option, which allows you to specify the user password.
* /fi — Allows you to run the taskkill command with filters.
* /f — Forces the command to be terminated.
* /IM — Allows you to use an application name instead of the PID (Process ID number) of the application.

One of the most useful options is the help switch (Figure B):

taskkill /?

Figure B
Use the help switch for the taskkill command.
Killing with application name
The simplest way to kill a rogue application with taskkill is using the /IM option. This is done like so:


Where APPLICATION_NAME is the name of the application you want to kill. Say, for example, Outlook is refusing to close. To close this with taskkill, you would execute the command:

taskkill /IM outlook.exe

Killing with PID
Let’s say you do not know the name of the application, but instead you know the PID of the application. To kill a process with a PID of, say, 572, you would issue the command:

taskkill /PID 572

Killing all processes owned by a particular user
What if you want to kill all processes owned by a single user? This can come in handy if something has gone awry with a user account or if the user has logged out, but some of the processes owned by that user will not go away. To manage this you would issue the taskkill command like so:

taskkill /F /FI “USERNAME eq username”

In this case, the username is the actual username that owns the processes. Note: The USERNAME option must be used in order to tell the taskkill command a username will be specified.

Killing processes on a remote machine
This one is very handy. Say something has locked up your desktop and you know exactly what application is the culprit. Let’s stick with our Outlook example from earlier. You can hop onto another machine and remotely kill that application like so:

taskkill /s IP_ADDRESS /u DOMAIN\USERNAME /IM Outlook.exe

Where IP_ADDRESS is the address of the remote machine (Note: The hostname can be substituted if the machines are able to see one another by hostname), DOMAIN is the domain (if applicable), and USERNAME is the username used to authenticate to the remote machine.

Final thoughts
The ability and power that comes with the taskkill command can be a very valuable tool that might save you from having to forcibly reboot a machine. Having a solid grasp of this tool, in conjunction with using the Windows Task Manager, will help to keep your Windows machines enjoying longer uptime and, should the occasion strike, the ability to manage a task when a virus, rootkit, or trojan has taken over your machine.

Is Windows 7 Right for Your Business?

There may be a lot to switch to Windows 7 at home, but what about at work? Naturally, businesses big and small have been thinking about whether to upgrade to the new operating system. Some analysts say it’s inevitable for businesses that skipped Windows Vista and stuck with XP—if they want to keep up, they’ll have to consider Windows 7 as computers continue to age.

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So does Windows 7 make it worth giving up that well-known if not loved XP? What are the benefits and drawbacks specific to SMBs? Take a look at our reasons for and against the upgrade. The points that follow may help you make a decision that will make your work day a little bit better. First the reason for an upgrade.—Next: Yes, You Should Upgrade to Win 7 >

Google Researcher Uncovers Windows XP, Server 2003 Bugs

Tavis Ormandy, a security researcher for Google, on Thursday posted a vulnerability report to the Full-Disclosure mailing list, which detailed a vulnerability in Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. Later versions of Windows are unaffected.

The flaw is in the Help and Support Center, a relic of the time when Microsoft was trying to make everything on the computer a browser app. Help, Control Panel, Windows Update, and other components were browser or browser-like apps. In order to access remote help, the Help and Support Center supports remote links to help using hcp:// addresses.

Windows XP SP2 introduced a model whereby the program, when run with the /fromhcp parameter, runs in a special restricted mode where only links from addresses on a special whitelist can have privileged access. Ormandy’s vulnerability is an implementation error that allows the whitelist to be bypassed. Read the FD posting if you want all the gory details, but the end result is arbitrary code execution from links on the Web.

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Ormandy notified Microsoft about this bug on June 5, the Saturday before this last Patch Tuesday. Thursday afternoon the Microsoft Security Response Center responded with a blog entry, which criticized Ormandy for releasing the information without giving them a fair chance to evaluate it and provide a registry hack to remove all hcp support. That blocks the vulnerability as well as useful hcp links, such as those in the Control Panel.

Ormandy also created an unofficial hotfix of his own and linked to it from his post, but a Secunia analysis of the issue claims that the hotfix does not sufficiently address the problem.

If you run Windows XP (and that’s your first mistake) you will be much better off following Microsoft’s registry mitigation technique, although I think you could probably get away with renaming the key rather than deleting it. This should make it easier to undo when the patch is available.

Ormandy posted the vulnerability report using his personal e-mail and is probably acting in a private capacity, but don’t expect Microsoft to see it that way. Microsoft’s initial report on the bug referred to Ormandy as “a Google security researcher” and the tweet announcing it said that the “information on the Windows Help vulnerability [was] disclosed by Google.”

People can have reasonable disagreements about the limits of full disclosure vs. “responsible” disclosure, but I doubt Google would take kindly to a Microsoft researcher blind-siding them like this. For Ormandy to expect turnaround like this during a heavy Patch Tuesday is not reasonable. In fact, even Ormandy may be reconsidering the wisdom of his move.

Windows 7 Phones Home to ID New Piracy Tactics

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Microsoft has announced that an update will soon be released that will change the behavior of WAT (Windows Activation Technologies) in Windows 7. WAT determines whether a copy of Windows is, as Microsoft puts it, “genuine” (they used to call this Windows Genuine Advantage).

After the update is installed, WAT will check with Microsoft every 90 days for information on new activation hacks that Microsoft may have found. Therefore, if you buy a computer with a pirated copy of Windows (or hack activation yourself) and it’s not found at first, it may be found later.

If a system is found to be non-genuine it will display dialog boxes informing the user of the situation and giving them information on how they can get genuine. The desktop wallpaper will turn blank with a watermark reminding the user of the problem, and the dialog boxes will reappear periodically. The only updates they will be able to install are important security updates. Microsoft stresses that no user functionality will be lost.

The activation problem from Microsoft’s standpoint doesn’t come from individuals hacking their own copies of Windows to avoid buying a license. It comes from unscrupulous OEMs, mail-order and storefront computer shops I imagine, that sell Windows systems with hacked versions so that *they* don’t have to buy a license. In these cases, the consumer is usually unaware that they are buying pirated software (or maybe they just don’t want to know). If you’re actually curious about the genuiness of your Windows copy, go to Microsoft’s “How to Tell” site.

But this new approach raises the possibility that users won’t find out they have a problem until some time after they have been using their computer. Is this unfair to the consumer? Yes, but it’s not Microsoft being unfair, it’s the OEM. For consumers in this position Microsoft is happy to sell them a real license.

There has been some negative reaction to this move by Microsoft, such as this one by Lauren Weinstein. Weinstein is concerned about false positives, but in the main she argues that the fact that Microsoft is even checking such things on old customers is an offensive intrusion on privacy. Personally, I don’t understand her concern. I don’t feel violated at all by the check.

The update will be made available today, February 16, at for Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional, Ultimate and Enterprise. Tomorrow it will be available at the Microsoft Download Center, and later in the month it will be available as an “Important” update on Windows Update. As an Important update, most users will, per the default settings, download and install it automatically. But it is not mandatory, you can opt-out, and as long as you haven’t been busted by it yet, you can uninstall it.

Microsoft Issues Advisory for 64-Bit Windows 7, Server 2008

Microsoft has issued an advisory for a vulnerability in a component of a small number of Windows versions. The company judges the compromise as very difficult to pull off. Theoretically, it could result in remote code execution, but is much more likely to hang and then reboot the system.

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The 64-bit versions of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, as well as the Itanium version of Windows Server 2008 R2, are vulnerable to an attack against the Canonical Display Driver (cdd.dll), part of the desktop composition components of Windows. The problem is that cdd.dll does not properly parse data copied from user mode to kernel mode. Because of ASLR (address space layout randomization) it would be very difficult to execute remote code using this attack. Microsoft has rated the exploitability of this vulnerability as “3” for “reliable exploit code unlikely.”

No patch is available yet for the issue. Microsoft is studying it and, based on today’s announcement, this would seem to be a low-priority problem. In the meantime, the advisory describes how users can disable Windows Aero, which blocks the problem.

Microsoft released the advisory after the vulnerability was publicly disclosed. They are not aware of any attacks using the vulnerability.

Windows Phone 7 Thwarts Jailbreakers

The yet-unknown number of people who’ve bought a Windows Phone 7 device this fall probably didn’t know of a hidden feature on their devices: jailbreak rollback.

The jailbreak rollback reverts a jailbroken WP7 back to its locked state. It was observed by the makers of ChevronWP7, the first known jailbreak application for WP7, during discussions with Microsoft earlier this month.

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As creators Rafael Rivera, Chris Walsh, and Long Zheng wrote in a blog post:

“Contrary to circulating reports, Windows Phone 7 devices unlocked via ChevronWP7 are not being targeted by Microsoft. Instead, the phone is reverting back as a result of a periodic check. Simply put, the phone rings Microsoft and asks ‘Hey, am I supposed to be unlocked?’ If Microsoft responds with a ‘No, what are you thinking?’, the phone apologizes and initiates a lock down.”

“Unfortunately, while in this state, an unsigned application launch results in a misleading (and scary sounding) error message: “[application name] has been revoked by Microsoft. Please uninstall it.”

Launched in November, ChevronWP7 lets users side-load applications onto their phones without having to go through the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace.

On December 1, however, after “good faith” discussions with a Microsoft executive, the makers of ChevronWP7 agreed to discontinue the tool in order to show its support for Microsoft facilitating homebrew development.

Next Generation of Windows Will Run on ARM

LAS VEGAS—Microsoft did a rare thing today and gave a glimpse of the somewhat distant future of Windows: a world in which the venerable operating system is capable of running on almost any System on a Chip (SoC), including those from Intel, AMD and, more radically, ARM-based systems from Qualcomm, Nvidia, and Texas Instruments.

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In an unusual event before Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s keynote event, Microsoft not only talked through the importance of Windows running lean and mean on relatively low-powered and seemingly ubiquitous small form factor SoCs, but showed unnamed early builds of the next-gen Windows operating system running on Tegra 2 and Qualcomm Snapdragon-based systems. Granted, these were not what regular people would call PCs or even mobile devices. They were essentially gigantic motherboards with the SoCs at their core. Microsoft engineers and developer and partners are using systems like these to make Windows and even partner peripherals work.

During the demonstration, we saw these ARM-based “systems” running a future Windows build, running Microsoft Word, playing HD movies, and even printing using a slightly altered Epson print driver. Despite showing Word running on these systems, Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft’s Windows and Windows Live Division, said that X86 applications do not run on the ARM architecture right now. However, he added that the company will be talking about application support at some point in the future.
CES 2011

Sinofsky said that users do not expect compromises simply because they’re using their new SoCs. “Consumers have the right to demand everything from us as the providers of new technology for them,” said Sinofsky.

When asked why Microsoft decided to go forward with ARM architecture compatibility, Sinofsky explained that it saw the customer interest and felt “this was an investment we could make in the Windows engineering process.”

Sinofsky refused to call the demonstrated version of Windows “Windows 8.” In fact, Microsoft is not offering any details on when the next version of Windows will ship, though Sinofsky did say “For Windows: 24 and 36 months between releases seems about right.”

Microsoft Unveils Windows Phone 7 Lineup with AT&T, T-Mobile

Microsoft officially unveiled its Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system Monday, announcing that it will be available on a total of five devices in the U.S.

Windows Phone 7 handsets from AT&T and T-Mobile will begin shipping in November, while devices from Sprint and Verizon will be available next year. All the devices announced Monday will run a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, Microsoft said.

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At a New York launch event, Microsoft chief executive characterized Windows Phone 7 as a means to keep in touch but not be tied to your phone 24-7. “Get in, out, and back to life,” Ballmer said. The experience should be “delightful.”

AT&T will support three Windows Phone 7 devices—the HTC Surround, the Samsung Focus, and the LG Quantum.

The HTC Surround includes a 3.8-inch touch screen, and is the first smartphone to include integrated Dolby Mobile and SRS surround sound speakers, AT&T said. It has 16GB on onboard storage, a kickstand on the back, and a 5-megapixel camera. It is the “perfect device for media and gaming enthusiasts,” Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets, said at the event.

The LG Quantum (above) has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, a 3.5-inch screen, and 16GB of onboard storage. It also includes a pre-loaded app called Play To, which allows users to wirelessly stream videos, music, and pictures from the phone to DLNA-enabled TV, stereo, Windows 7 PCs, and other consumer electronics devices.
Samsung Focus with Windows Phone 7

Finally, the Samsung Focus (right) will be the thinnest Windows Phone at 9.9mm. Its Super AMOLED touch screen will make the Focus the “best-looking screen on any Windows Phone,” de la Vega said. It also includes a 5-megapixel camera and 8GB of onboard storage.

AT&T Windows Phones will also include a U-verse app that allows users to download and watch TV shows on their devices, de la Vega said. The app has been an entertainment option on AT&T phones since earlier this year, but it will now be available on all Windows Phone 7 devices for a monthly fee. It will also work on Xbox 360.

The Samsung Focus will debut on Nov. 8; the Quantum and Surround will be available “for the holidays.” All AT&T phones will be sold in AT&T stores and online for $199.99 with a two-year contract.

T-Mobile, meanwhile, will release the HTC HD7 and the Dell Venue Pro.

The HTC HD7 includes a 4.3-inch, 800-by-480 LCD screen on the front and a kickstand on the back. The Venue Pro also looks big: it has a 4.1-inch screen and 5.1-megapixel camera.

In all, Microsoft announced nine Windows Phone 7 phones on Monday, the remainder of which will be available in Canada, Mexico, the U.K., Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Singapore, and Australia. It will debut in some European markets on Oct. 21.

Electronics Arts also announced the first wave of games coming to Windows Phone 7, including “Need for Speed Undercover,” “Tetris,” and “The Sims 3.” All EA games for Windows Phones will be Xbox Live-enabled.

The Windows Phone 7 interface, meanwhile, includes tiles on the home screen for People, Music and video, Photos, Games and Office. Facebook photos, music and contacts are pulled into the phone and distributed across Hubs. It also brings together many Microsoft products, like Xbox, Zune, Office, and Bing. Copy and paste functionality will be available as an update in early 2011, Microsoft said Monday.

Microsoft to Launch ‘Windows TV’ at CES, Reports Suggest

Even before he kicks off the tech industry’s annual geek gathering, it seems that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is late to the party.

With Internet-connected TVs all the rage, Ballmer is likely to talk about “Microsoft TV” during his keynote speech tonight at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Microsoft is reportedly working on a pared-down version of Windows that will run on set-top boxes and Blu-ray players.

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Ballmer’s entry will follow Apple TV and Google TV, with the new Windows TV boxes rumored to cost a hefty $200 a pop.

Microsoft has had a run at this sector before with a similar concept named WebTV.

For five decades, the Consumer Electronics Show has shown the world the future — technologies such as the VCR, the Nintendo Entertainment System, and HDTV. But that pressure to impress can sometimes result in disaster. Here are the biggest CES flops of all time.

Gage Eller tries out a prototype 3D head mounted display at the Sony booth at the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada — the world’s largest consumer technology trade show. slideshow

The future is unveiled every January at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The future of gadgets that is. Here’s a look at some of the gizmos that will soon hit the market.

So it’s hard not to feel that the company’s target market is late adopters, given that the software behemoth is also behind the curve in the tablet market and in smartphones.

Microsoft may have more luck pitching an update, dubbed Avatar Kinect, for its popular Xbox 360 gaming device.

A leaked screenshot suggests Avatar will map users’ body movements more accurately to create a virtual self onscreen.

* Digital music chiefs are headed to CES to further talks with Google and Apple about their respective music endeavors.

Sources say even executives from Apple — whose chief, Steve Jobs, has long shunned CES — are slated for meetings to discuss their iTunes ambitions.

Rival Google is pushing hard to get firm commitments for its own music initiatives, which include a song-download store and a cloud-based “locker” service for storing music.

Meanwhile, Sony will be all over CES with a cloud-based music service that allows consumers to access millions of songs for a subscription fee.

Sony’s Qriocity is up and running in parts of Europe and is expected to roll out in the US this year.

The service will enable users to access songs via such devices as gaming consoles, Bravia TVs and Android phones for a small fee.

* Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, arguably one of the biggest tech innovators of the past 12 months, will be on hand Friday for a Q&A with HuffPo co-founder Arianna Huffington.

Ahead of his CES appearance, Netflix announced yesterday it is working with a host of companies to create a Netflix-branded button on remotes for Web-connected TVs, DVD players and gaming devices.

* The big merger news that was supposed to come out of CES was Qualcomm reaching a $3.5 billion deal to buy Bluetooth designer Atheros.

However, the story broke in advance of the show, making any announcement anti-climatic, a source close to the situation said.

While there’s a chance a rival suitor could make a last-minute bid, potential candidates seem tied up with other issues.

Broadcom is too small to take on Qualcomm, Intel is busy trying to get anti-trust approval for its McAfee purchase and Samsung might not have an appetite to make a rival approach again after losing out on SanDisk, the source said.

Microsoft’s new home page goes ‘Metro’

Microsoft is testing a new version of its home page that completely changes its lineup of products and services depending on whether you’re there for “work” or “home.”

While the idea of a custom-tailored site is nothing revolutionary, Microsoft has managed to go about it in a rather creative way, making use of a Web-based variant of its “Metro” UI that has the page slide from side to side instead of reloading, or having users scroll downward. The same look and feel as can be found in Windows Phone 7 and the recently refreshed Surface computer, as well as in other Microsoft products like the Zune, Xbox 360, and the Windows Media Center software.

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In order to make the change between the two versions of the site, users can click on a tab on the top right corner of the page. Clicking it again toggles it back.

As blog TechFlash notes, the updated version of the site also finally gets around to adding Microsoft’s latest tagline, “Be What’s Next,” which leaked out back in June of last year, and made its big premiere this past weekend in video advertising during the Golden Globe awards.

Microsoft is currently testing the new look out as a limited preview, though you can opt-in to it by following this link. Once in, users are also able to opt out to go back to the current version of the site.

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