Posts tagged Windows xp

Windows XP: No IE9 for you

Microsoft becomes first major browser maker to drop support for world’s most popular OS

Microsoft’s new browser, Internet Explorer 9 (IE9), will not run on Windows XP, now or when the software eventually ships, the company confirmed Tuesday.

The move makes Microsoft the first major browser developer to drop support for XP, the world’s most popular operating system, in a future release.

Although Microsoft excluded Windows XP from the list for the IE9 developer preview, it sidestepped the question about which versions of Windows the final browser would support. In an IE9 FAQ, for example, Microsoft responded, “It’s too early to talk about features of the Internet Explorer 9 Beta” to the query, “Will Internet Explorer 9 run on Windows XP?”
dialog box
This dialog box pops up during attempts to install IE9 Platform Preview on Windows XP.

That caused some users to demand a straight answer. “Please tell whether the final version will run on Windows XP SP3 or not,” said someone identified as “eXPerience” in a comment to a blog post by Dean Hachamovich, Microsoft’s general manager for the IE team. “If not, please be clear about it. Really, enough is enough of keeping users in the lurch about Windows XP support.”

Others bashed Microsoft on the assumption that IE9 would never run on XP. “Dropping Windows XP support is one of the worst decisions ever taken by [the] IE team, probably even worse than disbanding the IE team back in the IE6 days,” claimed an anonymous commenter.

Microsoft had offered up broad hints that IE9 was not in Windows XP’s future, however. Tuesday, a company spokeswoman said the new browser needs a “modern operating system,” a phrase that hasn’t been paired with Window XP for years. “Internet Explorer 9 requires the modern graphics and security underpinnings that have come since 2001,” she added, clearly referring to XP, which appeared that year.

Windows XP’s inability to run the Platform Preview or the final browser stems from, IE9’s graphics hardware acceleration, which relies on the Direct2D and DirectWrite DirectX APIs (applications programming interfaces). Support for those APIs is built into Windows 7, and was added to Vista and Windows Server 2008 last October, but cannot be extended to Windows XP.

Some users worried that by halting browser development for Windows XP, Microsoft would repeat a current problem, getting customers to ditch IE6 for a newer version. “Those who choose to stay with XP will be forced to [then] stay forever on IE8, which will become the new IE6,” said a user named Danny Gibbons in a comment on Hachamovich’s blog.

Tough, said Sheri McLeish, Forrester Research’s browser analyst. “This is the stick to get off XP,” she said. Windows XP users will solve the browser problem themselves when they upgrade, as most eventually will, to Windows 7. “What are they going to do, go to Linux or run XP forever?” she asked.

Still, IE9’s inability to run on Windows XP will prevent it from becoming widespread until the nearly-nine-year-old OS loses significant share to Windows 7. According to Web metrics company NetApplications’ most recent data, if IE9 was released today, it would be able to run on just over a quarter — 27% — of all Windows machines.

No other major browser maker has announced plans to stop supporting Windows XP, but several have dropped other operating systems or platforms. Last month, for instance, Mozilla said it would not support Apple’s Mac OS X 10.4, known as “Tiger,” in future upgrades to Firefox. Google’s Chrome for the Mac, meanwhile, only runs on Intel-based Macs, not on the older PowerPC-based machines that were discontinued in 2006.

The IE9 Platform Preview can be downloaded from Microsoft’s site. It requires Windows 7, Vista SP2, Windows Server 2008 or Windows 2008 R2.

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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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Patch Tuesday: Final Microsoft support for Windows XP addresses Internet Explorer problems

It is a light month from Microsoft lacking a flurry of last-second patches for XP

Microsoft’s final patches for Windows XP that come out next week focus on critical problems with older versions of Internet Explorer that can result in malicious code being run remotely on victim machines.

Internet Explorer 6, 7 and 8 that operate within Windows XP are all being patched in the April Microsoft Security Bulletins, as are vulnerabilities in Windows XP itself that are ranked as important but not critical.

These final XP patches come out April 8 and so represent the end of support for the operating system.

Internet Explorer patches are a routine piece of every month’s bulletins, says Russ Ernst, director product management at Lumension. “The second bulletin is the now-expected cumulative update for Internet Explorer,” he says. “It’s also rated critical and of course key for the many IE users out there.”

Other than the historical XP significance of the bulletins this month, they are otherwise unremarkable. There are just four of them, two critical and two rated important. The difference between them is that the important ones require action by the victim – such as clicking on a link – while the critical ones don’t.

The second critical bulletin affects all versions of Office and addresses vulnerabilities and active attacks identified last week in an advisory from Microsoft that offered up a workaround until this permanent fix was ready. “This is a critical vulnerability that could allow remote code execution if a user opens a RTF file in Word 2010 or in Outlook while using Word as the email viewer,” Ernst says.

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Is Windows 8 really a sitting duck for malware?

A report claims so, but given Microsoft’s attempts to harden the OS, that seems dubious.

A new report released by the security firm Websense Security Labs claims Windows 8 will become one of the top three most-hacked platforms in 2013 because of its newness and Microsoft’s efforts to encourage development for the radical new platform.

Yeah, that didn’t make sense to me, either.

It took a chat with the folks at Websense to make, er, sense of what they were saying, but I do see their point. With a new operating system on the market that will hopefully gain significant ground and Microsoft attempting to woo developers like never before, there’s lots of potential for exploit.

“Microsoft’s efforts to produce an extremely developer friendly platform will be embraced by the cybercriminal community, and vulnerabilities will be exploited,” the company said in its 2013 Security Predictions. “If they deliver on their promise, the rate of threat growth on Microsoft mobile devices will be the highest.”

That’s a big “if.” Android, another platform Websense sees as a major target in 2013, is far more insecure. But in the case of Windows, there is, for lack of a better word, an installed base of malicious code and talent who know their way around Windows operating systems, and they are going to bring that to bear on Windows 8.

They will try to get around security systems that have been tightened up. Good luck with that. BitDefender recently ran tests on Windows 8 and found that a system with just Windows Defender, which is hardly a suitable security program, stopped 85% of the malware samples used in the tests.

The bad guys aren’t just about code; they understand how people write code and how malware works. So it’s not just malware samples, it’s accumulated and applied knowledge that they bring to Windows 8, says Websense. And given the common code between PC Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, malware could easily move across platforms.

The other two platforms that will be big targets in 2013 are also mobile operating systems: Android and iOS. According to the firm, Android will be targeted because of its open nature. Websense expects attack techniques used on the desktop platform to continue to migrate over to Google’s operating system.

iOS should be a lot more stable due to its closed nature. However, with the growing popularity of iOS devices in professional environments, IT should consider this a prime platform for targeted attacks, Websense said. And most malware that does exist for iOS targets jailbroken phones.

Websense made seven predictions for 2013, most of them centered around cybercriminals attacking mobile devices. You can find the entire report, in PDF format, here. Free registration is required to view it.



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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.

Windows sales defy predictions, grow 4%

All credit to businesses upgrading to Windows 7, says MicrosoftComputerworld – Stronger-than-expected sales of Windows helped Microsoft post a 6% increase in revenue for the first quarter of 2012, the company said yesterday.

The Windows and Windows Live division brought in $4.6 billion during the three months ending March 31, an increase of 4% over the same period the year before.

That was a turnaround of sorts: Windows’ revenue for the quarter was just $112 million less than sales during the last three months of 2011, traditionally a strong quarter in the calendar because of holiday purchases of PCs. But in 2011’s fourth quarter, Windows revenue was down 6% compared to the year before.
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Business purchases of PCs — Windows’ revenue is directly tied to the sale of new machines — fueled the gain, with system sales to companies up 8% year-over-year, while consumer computer sales, long sluggish, remained flat.

“The business PC is what really drove the Windows business,” said Peter Klein, Microsoft’s chief financial officer Thursday during an earnings call with Wall Street analysts.

Most analysts had expected a poorer performance, largely on the projections by Gartner and IDC, which initially predicted a PC sales slump but then last week raised their estimates, saying that shipments actually increased about 2% in the quarter.

Microsoft estimated that PC sales grew between 2% and 4% during the quarter.

PC sales have struggled to match previous periods because of tougher competition from tablets and smartphones for consumer dollars, and the lingering effects of a hard disk drive shortage sparked by flooding last year in Thailand.

The Windows group accounted for 27% of the company’s revenue for the quarter, second behind the Business division, which handles the Office line. Windows’ piece of the pie was larger than the previous quarter — the division contributed 23% of all revenue in the last three months of 2011 — but slightly less than the same period a year before.

Windows 7 continued to gain ground among corporate users, said Klein, who claimed that 40% of all enterprise desktops were running the OS. Klein did not name a source for that number, but Net Applications, which Microsoft’s IE team regularly cites, said that 41% of all machines running Windows worldwide last month did it with Windows 7.

As executives touted the strong sales for Windows 7, they also, although only in the broadest strokes, reminded analysts of the upcoming Windows 8.

After noting that the next fiscal year — which runs July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013 — will include an “unprecedented refresh” of the company’s core products, Klein was upbeat about Windows 8, even though customers have seen only a beta of the desktop version and nothing at all on ARM.

“With Windows 8 and its availability on both x86 and ARM, we believe the ecosystem will capitalize on the new range of capabilities and scenarios Windows 8 enable,” said Klein in prepared remarks.

Although executives divulged no new information about Windows 8’s release date during yesterday’s conference call, Bill Koefoed, the general manager of Microsoft’s investor relations, said that the development of Windows 8 and Windows RT — the official name for the version designed for ARM processors — is “on our schedule.”

Klein dodged a question from one analyst about revenue swings later this year caused by Windows 8 upgrade giveaways. “We haven’t said anything and will not today, but we’ll have more to talk about in terms of programs and promotions as we get closer to the launch date,” Klein said.

With Windows 7, Microsoft offered free or nearly free upgrades to people who purchased a new Vista PC in the months before and after its launch. The company also aggressively discounted Windows 7 upgrades during a two-week pre-sale period. Microsoft may repeat one or both of those promotions with Windows 8.

If it does, the deals will impact the bottom line: Two years ago, Microsoft deferred $1.7 billion in revenue to account for the Windows 7 upgrades due Vista PC buyers.

Klein also sidestepped a question about whether Windows XP’s looming retirement will create additional incentive to upgrade to Windows 7, or even Windows 8, and accelerate sales of those editions. “Obviously, it’s high on the priority list for CIOs to upgrade their business desktop [from XP],” said Klein. “Exactly how that will play out over the next couple of years is hard to say.”

XP will fall off Microsoft’s support list in early April 2014.

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Parallels release Windows 7 desktop upgrade

Parallels have shipped their ‘Desktop Upgrade’ tool, which is geared toward PC users who are moving from Windows XP or Vista to the latest and greatest, Windows 7. The tool, available for online order now, allows users to upgrade keeping all their applications and settings intact – painlessly.

Supporting in-place upgrades on the same PC, or helps move everything across to a new system, the software will also be available in retail outlets from 31 May internationally.

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CEO of Parallels, Serguei Beloussov, announced that the Desktop Upgrade software for Windows 7 provides “a simple and safe solution for Windows XP and Vista customers who want to successfully move to Windows 7 but may be overwhelmed by the process.”

The software entirely automates the upgrade process, so that the user need only actually answer a few simple questions before leaving the Desktop Upgrade to work its magic. Following the upgrade, the user will be pleasantly surprised to find that their old applications remain installed – and even those with compatibility issues will run under a virtual machine, so as far as the user is concerned, everything that was available previously is still present.

Additionally, Parallels provide interactive video tutorials in order to train users to work in Windows 7! The software – “Parallels Desktop Upgrade to Windows 7” – is available at £39.95 (GBP) for the tool that upgrades on a single machine, and the price with the cable has yet to be announced.

For more information and a short product tour, visit the Parallel’s website !

Windows 7 Feature Focus: Problem Steps Recorder

Note: This article is adapted from Windows 7 Secrets Chapter 25, Troubleshooting and Recovering from Disaster. –Paul

The integrated Windows Troubleshooting tools works well in Windows 7, and they’re one of many reasons that this OS is superior to its predecessors. But sometimes you will run into an issue that isn’t covered by the built-in troubleshooters. When that happens, it’s time to escalate the issue, either with Microsoft Support or, if you’re a corporate customer, with your IT help desk. Either way, Windows 7 includes an excellent new tool that takes the guesswork out of explaining what happened when something went wrong. It’s called the Problem Steps Recorder, and it allows you to record the steps you took leading up to a problem so you can duplicate it and provide a record of what happened.

Secret: Problem Steps Recorder is hidden in Windows 7, so you have to know it exists before you can access it. To enable this tool, open the Start Menu and type problem steps in Start Menu Search. You’ll see an item called Record steps to reproduce a problem in the search results. Click that, and the minimalistic Problem Steps Recorder application appears.

Windows 7 Feature Focus: Problem Steps Recorder
Problem Steps Recorder is hidden in the Windows 7 UI and pretty subtle when it’s running too.

Here’s how it works. Click the Start Record button in Problem Steps Recorder. When you do, the application interface changes slightly, to indicate that it’s recording and provide a few additional options, including Pause Record, Stop Record, and Add Comment.

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Windows 7 Feature Focus: Problem Steps Recorder
You’re on candid camera: Duplicate that bug.

Now, you step through the things you did that caused the issue you’re trying to report. Along the way, as you click on things, you’ll see an orange circle appear below the mouse pointer, indicating that Problem Steps Recorder has taken note of that step. If you get to a particularly important part, you can take a manual screen, and provide a note: Just click Add Comment and you’ll see something like the following figure.

Windows 7 Feature Focus: Problem Steps Recorder
Take a picture and leave a note if you want to explain something further.

When you’re done, click Stop Record. Problem Steps Recorder will prompt you to save a ZIP file on your desktop. Give it a name and click Save. At this point, you’re supposed to email this to the entity that’s going to provide the help. But let’s take a look inside that ZIP file to see what’s going on.

Inside the ZIP file, surprisingly, you’ll find a single MHTML document, which can be viewed with Internet Explorer. The file, an example of which can be seen in Figure 25-15, is actually pretty impressive. It includes a complete walkthrough of all the steps you took.

Windows 7 Feature Focus: Problem Steps Recorder
The Recorded Problem Steps file documents want went wrong.

But it’s even more impressive than that. Each time you clicked anything, the Problem Steps Recorder took a screenshot and highlighted what was clicked. As you can see here, this can be very specific.

Windows 7 Feature Focus: Problem Steps Recorder
Each mouse click triggers a screenshot.

Secret: Problem Steps Recorder is so helpful, in fact, that it’s not hard imagining using it as a training tool or for other kinds of documentation. Hm…

But wait, there’s more…

There’s much more going on with Windows 7’s troubleshooting and recovery features, but you’ll have to check out Windows 7 Secrets for the rest, including Windows Troubleshooting, Troubleshooting Packs, Startup Repair, Windows Recovery Environment, and System Restore. The book is available now from and other booksellers. Click here to find out more about Windows 7 Secrets.

Windows 7 Feature Focus: Backup and Restore

Note: This article is adapted from Windows 7 Secrets Chapter 24, Keeping Your Data Safe. –Paul

With Windows 7, Microsoft expands on the pervasive and reliable backup and restore solutions for both data files and the entire computer that it introduced in Windows Vista. Key among this functionality is Backup and Restore, which can be ued to copy your important files and folders to a safe location or create a system image that can be used later to restore a broken PC. You may never need to turn to a third-party backup and restore utility again.

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Backup and Restore supports the following types of backups:

Data Backup If you think of your Documents library as the center of your data universe, and keep an elaborate series of folders and files there and in other libraries, then you?ll understand the necessity of backing up these crucial files on a regular basis. To this end, Windows 7 supports both automatic and manual data backup options, enabling you to choose which files to back up and when. You can then restore your backups at any time to recover previous versions of documents, or to replace a file you may have accidentally deleted.

System Image There?s nothing worse than discovering that you need to reinstall Windows for some reason. Not only do you have to take the time and make the effort to reinstall the operating system again, you also have to ensure that you have drivers for all your hardware, find and reinstall all the applications you use regularly, reload all your personal data, and reconfigure all of the system?s options so that it?s exactly the way you used to have it. Rather than go through this rigmarole, you can use a Windows 7 feature called System Image Backup to create what is called a system image or snapshot. This image?which is essentially a huge backup file?contains the entire contents of your PC as it existed the day you created the image. If you need to recover your entire PC, you can simply restore the system image and get right back to work.

In addition to these capabilities, Window 7 also offers a way to access previous versions of data files (called Previous Versions) and a way to return to a previous state in time, or restore point (called System Restore). These features are not part of Backup and Restore, but when you add it all up, what you have is the makings of a full-featured data recovery software suite. Amazingly, Microsoft provides all of that functionality in Windows 7, for free.

Secret: OK, there’s gotta be a catch, right? Actually, there is: Microsoft does not offer two kinds of backup that would be useful to have as part of Windows 7. The first is PC-to-PC data synchronization, or what we might called peer-to-peer (P2P) synchronization. With a such a solution you could, among other things, make sure that all of the files in your home PC’s Documents library were always duplicated, automatically, with the Documents library on your laptop; any time you made a change in either place, it would be replicated in the other. As it turns out, Microsoft does make such a tool, two in fact. They’re called Windows Live Sync and Live Mesh, respectively.

The second type of backup is online backup, where you backup files to the Internet cloud. Microsoft does have two online storage solutions, Windows Live SkyDrive, which is aimed at general online storage needs, and Office Live Workspace, which is really about document collaboration. However, neither offers any automated way, perhaps through Backup and Restore, to backup files or system images from your PC to the Internet. Maybe in Windows Live Wave 4. Or in Windows 8.

Available Backup Capabilities in Various Windows 7 Product Editions

The different product editions of Windows 7 include support for different features. These differences can be dramatic in some cases?digital media feature support is an obvious example?and subtle in others. In Windows Vista, lower-end versions lacked some of the systems?s best data and PC reliability features. Fortunately, this is no longer the case in Windows 7: Now, all Windows 7 product editions get Backup and Restore (with file and system image backup capabilities), Previous Versions, and System Restore. The only exception is network-based backups: Only Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate support that capability.

As a reminder, the following table outlines the Backup and Restore technologies that are available in each mainstream Windows 7 product edition. You can find the complete list of Windows 7 features in my article, Windows 7 Product Editions: A Comparison.

Starter     Home Premium     Professional     Enterprise & Ultimate
Windows Backup     Yes     Yes     Yes     Yes
System image     Yes     Yes     Yes     Yes
Backup to network                 Yes     Yes

One Tool to Rule Them All: Using Backup and Restore

Although various data recovery tools are available scattered through the Windows 7 user interface, a single interface?Backup and Restore?provides a handy front end to most of them. Shown in the following figure, this application helps you backup and restore files on your PC, create and restore complete system image backups as well, and access the System Restore recovery utility.

Windows 7 Feature Focus: Backup and Restore
It?s a one-stop shop for all your data protection needs.

Tip: This interface was called Backup and Restore Center in Windows Vista.

Because Backup and Restore basically sits in front of most of the other data recovery functions included in Windows 7, we will use this as the obvious starting point for the data and system backup and restore features discussed here.

Tip: Backup and Restore can be found in the Start Menu under All Programs, Maintenance, but the easiest way to find this application, as always, is Start Menu Search: Type backup and press Enter.

Backing Up Documents, Pictures, and Other Data

If you want to create a data backup, you can use Windows Backup, which is available from Backup and Restore. To do so, launch Backup and Restore and click the Set up backup link. This launches Windows Backup’s Setup up backup wizard, as shown here:

Windows 7 Feature Focus: Backup and Restore
Windows Backup helps you manually create a backup of your important data files.

In the first step of the wizard, you must choose a location to store the backup. You can save a backup to an internal or external hard disk or other storage device, a recordable optical disk (typically a writeable CD or DVD), or a network share. (Network backup is not available in Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, or Home Premium, however.) The amount of space you need, of course, depends on the amount of data you are backing up. The wizard autoselects the local storage offering the most free space, but you can change this selection, of course.

Tip: Microsoft does not allow you to back up to the disk or partition you are backing up. That is, if you are backing up data from the C: drive, you cannot save the backup to the C: drive.

In the second step, you have two choices: Let Windows choose (recommended) and Let me choose. If you choose the former, Windows Backup will automatically backup data files saved in libraries, on the desktop, and in any folders founder in your user folder. (Windows Backup will also create a system image if you choose this option, and then automatically make periodic backups on a schedule going forward.)

Windows 7 Feature Focus: Backup and Restore
Here, it really is best to let Windows choose.

If you choose Let me choose, Windows Backup will present an expandable view of your file system. From this interface, you can pick and choose exactly what to backup. You can also optionally cause a system image to be made with this type of backup.

Windows 7 Feature Focus: Backup and Restore
If you have specific backup needs, you can micro-manage Windows Backup as well.

In the next step, review what you’ve chosen. This step is important because you can change the schedule on which Windows Backup backs up your data going forward. Click the Change schedule link to change the default, which is to make a backup every Sunday night at 7:00 pm.

Windows 7 Feature Focus: Backup and Restore
This is your last chance to adjust settings before the first backup is created.

Click Save settings and run backup to start the backup and establish a backup schedule going forward. As the backup begins, Backup and Restore displays its progress.

Windows 7 Feature Focus: Backup and Restore
You can monitor the backup progress or get on with other work.

Tip: If you set up an automatic backup schedule now, Windows 7 will monitor your PC usage and prompt you to perform occasional full backups over time as well.

As the backup runs, the Action Center icon in the notification area of the taskbar changes, adding a small black clock. If you click this icon, you’ll see the message shown below: A backup is in progress. This message will occur in the future, when Windows Backup runs in the background.

Windows 7 Feature Focus: Backup and Restore
Backups trigger a change in the Action Center notification icon.

Tip: You can create multiple automatic data backup schedules if you want. For example, you may want to back up different drives or data file types at different times or with different regularity.

Managing Data Backups

Once you have created your first data backup, a few things change. First, Backup and Restore indicates that you?ve configured a backup location and notes when the last and next backups occur. You can also change the automatic backup settings and restore all of the files for the current user.

Windows 7 Feature Focus: Backup and Restore
Backup and Restore reflects the recent backup.

You can also manage the disk space used on your backup device. When you click the Manage space link in Backup and Restore, the Manage Windows Backup disk space window will occur, displaying information about the currently selected backup device. As you can see in the figure below, you can browse the file system of the backup location, view backups stored on that device, and change settings associated with system image backups.

Windows 7 Feature Focus: Backup and Restore
From this simple interface, you can manage details associated with your backup device and the backups stored on it.

If you do click View backups, you can’t actually navigate around inside of the backups you have made so far. Instead, you’re provided with the window shown below. From here, you can view the backups and delete them, but not get into them in any meaningful way.

Windows 7 Feature Focus: Backup and Restore
Only the simplest of backup management choices are available.

Tip: Want to see what’s in a backup? You can do it, but not from this interface. Instead, go back to the previous window and click Browse. This will open Windows Explorer, pointing at the location of your backup. At this location, you will see a special folder with a Windows Backup icon and the name of your PC. If you try to double-click this folder, a Windows Backup window will appear. Instead, right-click the folder and choose Open. Then, click Continue in the permission folder that appears. You’ll be presented with a folder structure representing your various backups. Inside of each of these folders? A number of standard ZIP files (shown below). Worse comes to worse and you lose everything, at least these files will always be accessible.

Windows 7 Feature Focus: Backup and Restore
Windows Backup uses regular ZIP files under the covers to backup your data.
Restoring Files

Backup and Restore can also be used to restore files you have previously backed up. There are three general file restore methods.

Restore my files. Restore your own files and folders.

Restore all users’ files. Restore your own files and folders as well as those of other users.

Select another backup to restore files from. Perform more advanced restoration tasks, such as restoring files from a different PC.

These all work similarly. You can follow these steps to trigger a restore of your own data:

1. Open Backup and Restore and click the Restore my files button.

2. The Restore Files window appears.

Windows 7 Feature Focus: Backup and Restore
Restore Files lets you find the files you’d like to restore.

From here, you have three options:

Search. If you know exactly what you’re looking for, and only need one or a handful of files, you can use the Search button to Search your existing backup sets.

Browse for files. If you’d like to manually browse around the backup set to find a file or any number of individual files, click Browse for files. You’ll be presented with a modified File Open dialog, from which you can browse the various backups you’ve created, diving into the full backup or just the files in your user account.

Windows 7 Feature Focus: Backup and Restore
With either Browse for files or Browser for folders, you can dig in and route around inside the backup set.

Browse for folders. To recover entire folders full of files (and other folders).

Whichever method you choose, you can mark files and folder for restoration as you go and then continue looking for more.

3. When you’re ready to go, click the Next button in the Restore Files window. Windows Backup will prompt you to decide where you want to restore the files to; either to their original locations or to a different location.

Windows 7 Feature Focus: Backup and Restore
While you will often want to simply restore to the original location, sometimes it’s a good idea to see what’s in the backup before overwriting your files.

Choose one and then click Restore. Windows Backup will begin restoring your files. If there any of the backup files will overwrite an existing file, you’ll see the normal File Copy window shown below, which offers you a chance to overwrite, copy but keep both files, or don’t copy.

Windows 7 Feature Focus: Backup and Restore
Make sure you don’t wipe out anything important while restoring files.

When the restore is complete, Windows Backup will let you know that the files have been restored and give you an opportunity to view a list of restored files.
Backing Up the Entire PC: System Image

Backing up and restoring data files is important and should occur on a regular basis; but over the past few years, a new type of backup utility that backs up entire PC systems using system images has become quite popular. These types of backups protect against a hardware disaster: If your hard drive completely fails, for example, you can purchase a new drive and use the system image to restore the PC to its previous state.

System imaging utilities aren?t actually all that new; corporations have been using them for years. But now that consumer-oriented system-imaging utilities have gained in popularity, Microsoft has created its own version, which it includes with Windows 7.

Secret: The system image utility was called Windows Complete PC Backup in Windows Vista.

Secret: System imaging utilities typically compress the data on your hard drives so that the image file takes up a lot less space than the original installation. Various solutions use different compression schemes, but you may be interested to know that Windows 7 uses the tried-and-true Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) format that Microsoft also uses in Windows Virtual PC and its server-based Hyper-V virtualization solutions. That means system images created with Windows 7 will be supported for a long time to come.

Caution: System images contain complete PC environments. You can?t arbitrarily restore only parts of a system image, as you can with data backups. Instead, when you restore a system image, it restores the entire PC and overwrites any existing operating system you may already have on there. That means you should be careful before restoring a system image: Any data you have on the disk will be overwritten. Of course, you?re using automatic backups, too, right?

To create a system image, launch Backup and Restore and click the Create a system image link on the left. This launches the Create a system image wizard, shown below, which walks you through the steps needed to completely back up your PC system. You can save system images to hard disks or optical storage (such as recordable CDs or DVDs), as well as network locations (Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, or Ultimate only). However, network-based system images cannot be securely protected, as hard drive- and optical disc-based backups can.

Windows 7 Feature Focus: Backup and Restore
System image is one of the best features in Windows 7.

Secret: You can only write a system image to a hard disk that is formatted with the NTFS file system. That?s because system images often exceed the 4GB file size limit imposed by the older and less reliable FAT32 file system.

Click Next. The wizard will give you a chance to confirm the backup settings and remind you which partitions are being imaged. It will also provide an estimate of the amount of space needed to create a system image. The required storage space varies according to the size and usage of the hard disk on your PC.

Windows 7 Feature Focus: Backup and Restore
System image is ready to go.

Click Start backup to begin the system image process.

Secret: Two file system locations must be included in the system image?what Microsoft refers to as the boot partition and the system partition. The boot partition is always C:\, whereas the system partition is the drive with the Windows 7 Windows directory. This is typically C:, but if you installed Windows 7 in a dual-boot setup with a previous Windows version, the system partition might be in a different location. If you have other drives or partitions, you can optionally choose to include them in the system image as well.

As the image is created, Windows Backup will provide an ongoing progress indicator.

Windows 7 Feature Focus: Backup and Restore
Though complete PC backups are huge, they are compressed and therefore much smaller than the actual disk to which you are backing.

This process could take some time, especially on a heavily used PC. When it’s done, Windows Backup will prompt you to create a system repair disc. You should do so: While Windows 7 does install recovery files directly into the boot partition, in some cases, these files will not boot the PC. If that happens, you can use the system repair disc to boot your PC, a requirement for restoring the entire PC with the system image (as we’ll see in the next section).

Windows 7 Feature Focus: Backup and Restore
If you don’t have one already, be sure to create a system repair disc.

Secret: You can use any writeable CD or DVD for a system repair disc.

Secret: If you have both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 7 on different PCs, you cannot use the same system repair disc for each. Instead, you must create separate system repair discs for 32-bit and 64-bit systems.

Restoring the Entire PC

If a catastrophic hardware or software failure has rendered your computer untenable, and you simply want to return to a known-good system backup, you can use one of the system images you’ve previously created to do so. Note, however, that you will typically need to boot your PC into the Windows Recovery Environment to make this happen, either using the boot files on your PC or the system repair disc that you previously created. Note, too, that restoring your PC in this fashion will wipe out all of the data and settings changes you’ve made since the last system image. So this should not be undertaken lightly.

Follow these steps to restore your entire PC using a system image:

1. Reboot the computer.

2. If you are using a system repair disc, boot the PC with that. Otherwise, after your PC has finished its BIOS sequence, hold down the F8 key. Choose Repair Your Computer from the Advanced Boot Options screen (below) and tap Enter.

Windows 7 Feature Focus: Backup and Restore
Choose the top option to restore your entire PC.

3. After the loading files screen, choose the correct language and keyboard input method and then click Next.

4. If you booted from the hard drive, you will need to choose System Image Recovery from the System Recovery Options window that appears. Otherwise, System Recovery will examine the hard drives attached to your PC and look for Windows installs. When it’s done, it will list the install(s) it found and give you the opportunity to use Windows 7’s built-in recovery tools to fix problems with Windows (which we cover in Chapter 24) or you can restore your PC to an earlier time using a system image. Choose that latter option and click Next.

5. The Re-image your computer wizard begins. In the first phase of this wizard, you choose the latest image available (the default) or you can select a different system image. When you’ve chosen, click Next.

Windows 7 Feature Focus: Backup and Restore
This wizard will step you through the process of restoring your PC with a system image.

6. In the next step, you can choose to format the PC’s hard drive and repartition disks (as Windows 7 Setup would do) to match the layout of the system image. Generally speaking, you should enable this option. Click Next to continue.

7. In the final phase of the wizard, you can verify what you’re doing and click Finish to continue. Note that restoring an entire PC from a system image can be a time consuming process.
But wait, there’s more…

There’s much more going on with Windows 7’s data protection features, but you’ll have to check out Windows 7 Secrets for the rest, including the Windows Recovery Environment, Previous Versions, and System Restore. (We also cover Live Mesh and Windows Live SkyDrive, too.) The book is available now from and other booksellers. Click here to find out more about Windows 7 Secrets.

Internet Explorer Feature Focus Download Manager

While Internet Explorer’s rivals have had download managers for years, users of the Microsoft browser have had to suffer along with a more limited and less useful downloading capability. Until now, that is: With Internet Explorer 9, Microsoft is finally adding a download manager to the dominant web browser line. And while they may be late to the game, IE 9’s download manager is, as you might expect, quite a bit more capable than those of its rivals.

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On the surface, the IE 9 download manager works much like similar features in other browsers. When you trigger a download, the IE 9 notification bar appears, asking you if you’d like to run or save the file, much like previous IE versions. But while there are prominent Run and Save buttons (as well as Cancel), the Save button has an ancillary drop-down that lets you choose between Save, Save as, and Save and run.

If you do choose to download the file, a View downloads button will appear, giving you access to the download manager. (You can also trigger this view by clicking Tools and then Download manager or with the CTRL + J.)

The download manager window provides a handy central location for viewing and tracking your downloads. Each entry in the list provides a location link, so you can jump directly to the folder in question, a Run or Open/Open with button so you can access the individual files, and a Remove (“X”) button so you can remove that file from the list.

Secret: If you mouse over the an item that is still downloading you can find out the transfer speed:

You can also clear the entire list and access a very simple Options window that lets you set the default download location.

OK, so most of that is likely familiar to you, if you’ve used other browsers. Where the IE 9 download manager improves on that basic design is through its integration with the IE security features, the SmartScreen Filter and a new SmartScreen download reputation service.

The SmartScreen Filter debuted in IE 8, providing users of that browser with integrated protection against electronic threats. In IE 9, the SmartScreen Filter works with the download manager, and the new download reputation service, to provide similar protections against threats from downloaded files. It checks the reputation service, scans downloads for viruses, and verifies the source of the download.

“Downloads are attack vectors,” Microsoft general manager Dean Hachamovitch told me. “The question is, are you getting real stuff or are you getting malware? This is handled generically in other browsers , which leave answering these questions up to the user.”

According to Hachamovitch, he talked to the guys at Microsoft behind IE’s phishing filter and SmartScreen features and asked them about the best way to handle download manager security. “They told me we needed application reputation. Each time the browser goes to download a file, it should be able to query a database and ask, is this a commonly downloaded thing like iTunes? Is it signed? Who signed it? Are they OK?

“This is an early warning system for malware,” Hachamovitch said. “Of the stuff that people download that has no reputation data, about 30 to 40 percent is malware. You need an early warning system.”

Note: IE 9’s reputation checking is running in silent mode during the beta and will be enabled (during the beta) when Microsoft feels it has enough data to make accurate download decisions. This update will not require users to download any code or update the browser explicitly.
Final thoughts

The Internet Explorer download manager was a long time coming, but Microsoft’s decision to bolster this functionality with important security features was a good one. Worth the wait? Absolutely. And if you’ve been pining for a true download manager, IE 9 won’t force you to switch browsers or download and maintain a separate add-on.

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