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Microsoft launched one of the most recognisable components of computing, the Start button. It was launched 17 years ago, with a huge advertising campaign, where its hard for people to not know the Start button now.
When it comes to Windows 8, Microsoft are changing it up, not just a bit, but considerably. The removal of the Start button marks a serious change, where the Start button is replaced by the "hot corner." Instead of clicking the Start button to show the full-screen Metro-style Start Screen, you just flick your mouse to the bottom left corner of the screen, or touch it with your finger, and voila - Metro-style Start Screen.
Why would Microsoft do such a thing? Well, they save some on-screen pixels by removing it. That's it. Imagine long-time Windows users, booting up for the first time, not aware of this news and virtually unprepared for there to not be a Start button. They would think the OS is faulty, or a non-legit version. New users, would be OK, but how would they know to push to the bottom left of the screen to display the Metro interface?
Apple is ready to unleash a new update for OS X Lion, dubbed version 10.7.3. The new update resolves some lingering issues that Lion currently has, and includes some other things, too.
First up, it'll fix the annoying Wi-Fi connection resume issue when the system has gone to sleep (which I experience myself and it is annoying), it also addresses a bunch of issues: when using smart cards to log into OS X, compatibility issues with Microsoft Windows file sharing, printing Microsoft Word documents that use markup, graphics performance issues after the system goes to sleep on earlier ATI-based iMacs and finally, an issue that may prevent Safari from opening before joining a wireless network.
v10.7.3 also adds new language support with Catalan, Croatian, Greek, Hebrew, Romanian, Slovak, Thai and Ukrainian support now included. RAW image compatibility for additional digital cameras is included, too.
Apple recommends using Time Machine before updating, and you can either download it by choosing Software Update on your Mac, or you can manually download the installer, here.
Windows 8 is set to make it easier than ever for users to manage their Wi-Fi and mobile connections, with group program manager on Microsoft's devices and networking team, Billy Anders, publishing a post on Microsoft's Building Windows 8 blog, that outlines steps taken to improve the wireless connectivity experience.
Mobile broadband is being integrated alongside standard Wi-Fi in Windows 8. In Windows 7, it was included, but there were several steps required to be taken before the mobile device could connect, such as installing third-party drivers and software. Microsoft are removing that annoying step, by working with mobile broadband hardware partners to develop a universal driver that will work with all mobile devices and eliminate the need for additional drivers or software.
Windows 8 will include a new networks settings menu that allows you to turn off individual radios (Bluetooth, mobile broadband, Wi-Fi) or disable them all at once with the new airplane mode. This native radio management is said to eliminate conflicts and confusion that is often introduced when third-party manufacturers add their own connection software.
Windows 8 requirements are quite interesting, more interesting are the details inside for "device requirements". If you want to check them out, here's the link. Better get a coffee, energy drink or similar because it's nearly 1000 pages long. Onto the good stuff!
Within Windows have covered the interesting requirements, where Microsoft have stated that there must be five hardware buttons on Windows 8 tablet/convertible PCs, as well as a minimum component set for tablets and convertible PCs.
Microsoft requires '5-point digitizers', which is a minimum. This means it supports at least a hand of fingers on the screen at once. NFC "touch marks" are featured in Windows 8, where any tablet or slate must have a sticker of similar signage telling the user its NFC-capable. Microsoft also require that Windows 8 has the aforementioned 5 button minimum, with those buttons being Power, Rotation lock, Windows Key, Volume up, and Volume down.
CES 2012: Microsoft announced during their final CES keynote that the Windows 8 beta will be released to their darling public late next month. On top of the release of the public beta of Windows 8, Microsoft will also launch the Windows Store.
Microsoft's Windows Store is their central repository for Metro applications. Windows Store will be available globally, and will support every language that Windows supports, which is great. At this point in time, there was no talk of the release candidate, but if we're seeing a public beta next month, we should expect a single release candidate of Windows 8, just like Windows 7 had.
It is worth pointing out that when compared to Windows 7, Windows 8's development is slightly lagging when on a calendar basis. The Windows 7 beta was released to the public on January 10th, while the Windows 8 beta arrives 6 weeks later. There was a 9.5 month gap between the Windows 7 public beta and retail availability, so we should expect Windows 8 toward the end of the 2012. Maybe on December 21, 2012 and that's what the Mayan's meant by the end of the world? Gasp.
Microsoft have released a rare out-of-band update to fix a vulnerability in the .NET Framework. The update comes weeks before the next regularly scheduled "Patch Tuesday" in mid-January, and addresses a flaw that could allow attackers to exploit hash tables to perform a denial-of-service (DoS) attack against a website built with Microsoft's ASP.NET application framework.
DoS attacks usually require thousands of malware-controlled systems in a botnet to overwhelm a site with requests. This opening would allow an attacker to cripple a vulnerable site by sending a certain type of HTTP request. Each of these requests would consume 100-percent of one CPU core. As you can imagine, the more of these requests, the more CPU power that is zapped away.
Microsoft says "Attacks targeting this type of vulnerability are generically known as hash collision attacks." They also added that the problem is not specific to Microsoft's Web services as it affects PHP 5, Java, .NET, v8 and even PHP 4, Ruby and Python. The people behind these platforms will release updates soon, but the holidays will dampen these efforts.
Microsoft is preparing a new way to log into tablet PCs with Windows 8, by allowing a user to perform gestures on a screen instead of typing in letters or numbers. For example, you can use a photo with some personal meaning to you, create a sequence of taps, lines, and circles that must be performed in the right order, in order to unlock the computer.
It is a new form of an unlock procedure, and will have three paths chosen for it: people will love it, people will hate it, or Apple will sue Microsoft for some form of patent rip-off. Microsoft does acknowledge that the new gesture unlock puts smudges on the screen, and recording devices could theoretically allow the gesture password to be compromised, but says the risks are very low.
Not everyone agrees with Microsoft, though. Kenneth Weiss, inventor of RSA's SecurID token who now runs a three-factor authentication business called Universal Secure Registry, told Network World that it's not "serious security," that the gestures someone makes upon a screen can easily be recorded from a distance.
Google last week announced Android 4.0.3 as the next incremental update to arrive for Ice Cream Sandwich. The update includes the usual bug fixes, optimizations and a handful of new APIs for developers, some of the new things included are:
A "Social stream API in Contacts provider" which leverages social networking for developers, allowing them to show users what their friends are doing while tying in photos and contact information.
Improvements for calendar providers: Apps can now color calendar events and utilize ne attendee types and states.
Add camera capabilities: Apps can now manage and check for video stabilization. They may also use QVGA resolution profiles.
Improved accessibility: Screen readers can access more content and will enjoy text-to-speech status and error reporting.
Improve user experience: Small improvements and bug fixes for graphics, database, spell-checking, Bluetooth, and more.
Password management and security is something that confuses a lot of people, and Microsoft are hoping to change that. A new feature that will be included in their next OS will allow users to put an unlimited number of individual passwords behind one master password, and then sync them across all other Windows 8-based machines they use.
The Live ID password is all you'll need, so for the multiple websites you use, you can set very complicated passwords for them, in the case you get hacked and your credentials are stolen, your entire digital life isn't ripped away from you. Windows 8 will automatically enter your login information when visiting a saved website.
On Monday, Steve Ballmer made some interesting changes of leadership over at Microsoft. First up, leadership of the Windows Phone 7 team has been taken away from Andy Lees, who has been steering the WP7 ship for three years now.
Terry Myerson, vice president and lead engineer will take his place. Lees has been moved to yield "maximum impact" of Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8 in 2012. "Maximum impact" is not clearly defined, so we don't know what Microsoft are hinting at here. It could be tighter integration between Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8, which is something I'm sure Microsoft are aiming at.