Posts tagged Operating Systems

Windows 10 revealed: Microsoft’s next OS fuses Windows 7 and 8

At a press event on Tuesday, Microsoft launched the next version of Windows: Not Windows One, not Windows 9, but Windows 10, which combines the reborn Start menu with Windows 8’s colorful live tiles and adjusts its behavior depending on how you’re using your device.

Windows 10 will officially launch in the middle of next year, but you’ll have a chance to try it out before that via a new Windows Insider program, launching Wednesday. The platform’s most vocal fans will have a chance to download the technical preview before it launches next year.

Microsoft executives unveiled the new OS at a small press event in San Francisco, where the company tried to position the Windows 10 OS as a “natural step forward” for both Windows and Windows Phone, which will also be renamed Windows 10.

Windows 10 will be designed for the enterprise, Terry Myerson executive vice president of Microsoft’s OS group, said. It will have a “familiar” interface, whether it be for Windows 7 or Windows 8. “They will find all the tools they’re used to finding, with all the apps and tools they’re used to today,” he said.

Windows 10 will be compatible with all the familiar management systems, including mobile device management. MDM tools will manage not just mobile devices, but PCs, phones, tablets, and even embedded devices inpart of the Internet of Things, Myerson said. Enterprise customers will be able to manage their own app stores, so that ther employees get the right apps for them. As Windows 8 did, data security will be a priority, he said.

Windows 10’s ‘Task View’ includes multiple desktops, a feature long desired by power users.
Joe Belfiore, who runs part of the OS team focused on the PC experience, showed off the new OS, which he called a “very early build.” Yes, the new build has the Stat menu, combining the icon-driven menu from Windows 7, plus the added Live Tiles to the right.

Belfiore used the analogy of a Tesla to describe how Windows 7 users would feel when they upgraded—something that Microsoft desperately wants them to do: a supercharged OS, but one that will feel familiar.

One of the things that Microsoft wants to ensure is that Windows 10 is personalized results, including search results, Belfiore said.

Windows 8 had a universal app platform, with a common Windows Store that handle updates independently. Belfiore said that Microsoft wanted all those Windows 7 uses to get all the benefits of Windows 8 apps. Apps will be shown in the Live Tiles, with no real indication whether they are “classic” apps or modern, Windows 8 apps. Apps can be “snapped,” like Windows 8. Users will also not have to leave the Windows desktop to use modern apps, as expected.

Multitasking will also be a priority, with a stated goal being able to “empower” novice users, Belfiore said. On the taskbar there will be a “task view” where users can switch back and forth between different environments—whether it be 32-bit Windows 7 apps or modern apps. And yes, they will include virtual desktops, with the ability to switch back and forth between virtual environments. A “snap assist” feature will allow users to select similar windows to snap alongside other apps. And up to four apps or windows can be snapped to the four corners of the desktop, Belfiore said.

Even more advanced uses will be able to take advantage of new keyboard shortcuts, with the ability to ALT-TAB between desktops. “It’s a nice forward enhancement to make those people more productive,” Belfiore said.

Microsoft even improved the command line interface, with an improved keyboard interface. (You can use Crtl+V to paste now!)
Touch when you need it

Belfiore wrapped up by talking about touch: “We’re not giving up on touch,” he said. But he did say that that massive numbers of users were familiar with the touchless Windows 7 interface, while supporting those who have jumped to Windows 8.

So that means that the Charms experience will be revamped. When you swipe right on Windows 10, the Charms bar is still there. But Belfiore said that the Charms experience would change. When people swipe in from the left, Windows 10, you’ll get a task view. “I’m using touch in a way that accelerates my use of a PC,” Belfiore said.

Microsoft is also working on a revamped UI that isn’t is in Windows 10, yet. For two-in-on devices, a “Continuum” mode will adjust the UI depending on whether or not the mouse and keyboard is present. When a keyboard is disconnected, the Windows 8-style Start menu appears and a back button is available so that users can easily back out to a prior command. Menus grow larger. Bu when a mouse and keyboard is connected, the desktop mode reappears, Windows apps return to desktop windows, and the Start page disappears.

Now, Microsoft needs to take the next step: pitching enterprise customers, Myerson said. And that’s critical for Windows’ future, analysts said. Expect more details on the consumer flavors of Windows 10 early next year, more application details at BUILD, and then a launch of Windows 10 near the middle of next year.

“For businesses, I think there are some businesses who have picked it up and they are really early adopters, but in general, the sense—when we engage with customers, we’re not hearing a lot of reception out there,” Wes Miller, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, said in advance of the briefing. “We’re hearing a lot of businesses even before whatever that thing comes out tomorrow, before that came out, businesses were saying, we’re going to hang out on Windows 7, it’s stable, it does what we need to do.”

Starting Wednesday, Microsoft will launch a Windows Insider program, distributing the technical preview of Windows 10, Myerson said. Through Window Insiders we’re inviting our more vocal Windows fans” to help refine the Windows experience, executives said. Users wil be able to sign up at, he said, where they will be able to hold private discussions with Windows engineers and give feedback.

“Windows 10 will be our most open, collaborative OS project ever,” Myerson said.

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Microsoft Patch Tuesday bids adieu to Windows XP

Microsoft will no longer issue security patches for Windows XP

This month’s “Patch Tuesday” includes the final round of security fixes Microsoft will issue for Windows XP, potentially leaving millions that continue to use the OS open to attack.

XP will become an easy target for attackers now that Microsoft has stopped supporting it, said Wolfgang Kandek, CTO for IT security firm Qualys.A The OS will no longer receive fixes for holes that Microsoft and others might find in the OS. Moreover, attackers will be able to reverse engineer patches issued for newer versions of Windows, giving them clues to the remaining unfixed vulnerabilities in XP, Kandek said.

Microsoft has acknowledged the problem and has been pushing hard to get users onto newer versions of Windows.

“If you continue to use Windows XP now that support has ended, your computer will still work but it might become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses,” it said in an advisory.

Its efforts haven’t always been successful. Qualys compiled data from 6,700 companies and found that use of XP still represents a sizable portion of OSes running in the enterprise.A About one-fifth of companies in finance, for instance, still use XP — a surprisingly large number for an industry handling sensitive data. A

In retail, 14 percent of PCs still run XP, and in heath care the figure is 3 percent.

Organizations may be holding off on updating for a number of reasons, Kandek said. Some didn’t realize support was closing and are just now putting a migration plan in place. Others may be taking a calculated risk, saving on the cost of an upgrade and trying to minimize exposure by limiting access to the Internet and through other measures.

In addition to ending support for XP, Microsoft is no longer supporting Office 2003 or Internet Explorer 8.

The company released four security updates altogether on Tuesday. They cover 11 vulnerabilities in Windows, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office and Microsoft Publisher. Two of the updates are marked as critical. One of those, MS14-018, fixes a number of issues with Internet Explorer. The other, MS14-017, addresses critical vulnerabilities in Microsoft Word and Office Web Apps. They include a zero day in how Office 2010 handles documents encoded in the Rich Text Format.

Even after that fix is applied, organizations might want to disable Word’s ability to open RTF files, if those types of files aren’t routinely used, Kandek advised.A

The two other updates in April’s round of patches were marked important. One of them, MS14-020, handles a vulnerability in the company’s Publisher program. The other, MS14-019, covers how Windows, including XP, handles files.

Kandek also advised administrators to apply the patch Adobe issued Tuesday for a serious vulnerability in its Flash multimedia software.

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Microsoft extends Windows Server 2008 support by 18 months

Again nags users to dump Windows XP and move to Windows 7 — but stays mum about Windows 8

Microsoft has extended mainstream support for Windows Server 2008 by 18 months, and again reminded customers that the still-strong Windows XP will retire in April 2014.

Windows watcher Mary Jo Foley, a blogger for ZDNet, first reported the change. Announced in the company’s newest support lifecycle newsletter, the extension was triggered by standard practices at the Redmond, Wash. developer.

[ Also on InfoWorld: Eric Knorr says Microsoft earns cloud cred with Windows Server 2012. | Stay ahead of the key tech business news with InfoWorld’s Today’s Headlines: First Look newsletter. | Read Bill Snyder’s Tech’s Bottom Line blog for what the key business trends mean to you. ]

“The Microsoft policy provides a minimum of five years of Mainstream Support or two years of Mainstream Support after the successor product ships, whichever is longer,” the newsletter stated [emphasis in original].

In mainstream support, which runs the first five years of a product’s lifetime, Microsoft ships free security patches, general fixes and even feature updates. The back-half of the 10-year-support, called extended support, commits the company to free security updates only, although it will provide non-security bug fixes for a price.

But as Microsoft noted, an exception in the rules requires an extension if the follow-up product is slow to arrive.
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Microsoft considers Windows Server 2012 the true successor to Server 2008, even though Windows Server 2008 R2 followed the latter in 2009. Server 2012 debuted earlier this month. The old date for shifting from mainstream to extended support — July 9, 2013 — has been bumped to Jan. 15. 2015. And the end of extended support — in other words, the final retirement date — has been pushed out 18 months, too: It is now Jan. 14, 2020.

Microsoft’s newsletter also reiterated frequently voiced advice from the company: Get off Windows XP.

“We recommend that customers running computers with Windows XP take action and update or upgrade their PCs before the end-of-support date,” read the newsletter, referring to the April 8, 2014 drop-dead date. “If Windows XP is still being run in your environment and you feel that migration will not be complete by April 8, 2014, or you haven’t begun migration yet, Microsoft is eager to help.”

Notably, Microsoft listed links to several online resources for migrating Windows XP to Windows 7, not to Windows 8, perhaps recognizing that customers are much more likely to pick Windows 7 in any case.

Support extensions are rare, but not unprecedented. Last February, for example, Microsoft quietly prolonged support for the consumer versions of Windows 7 and Windows Vista by five years to sync them with the lifespan of enterprise editions.

That move was, in fact, more significant than Monday’s, as it accompanied a promise by Microsoft to support all versions of an operating system, including consumer-targeting SKUs, or “stock-keeping units,” for at least 10 years.

And in Jan. 2007, Microsoft extended mainstream support for Windows XP Home to 2009 and its retirement date to April 2014, primarily to sync its timetable with Windows XP Professional’s but also recognizing reality: XP would remain a powerhouse for the foreseeable future.

According to metrics company Net Applications, Windows XP accounted for 42.5% of all operating systems used to reach the Internet last month. At its current — and relatively slow — rate of decline, Windows XP should still be powering one in four personal computers in April 2014.

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