real life in my life

October 15, 2006

Microsoft promises Vista security

Filed under: microsoft,news — namwarn @ 6:24 pm

A senior Microsoft executive has promised that its new operating system will be more secure than ever. Jean-Philippe Courtois, president of Microsoft International, said that beefing-up security was one reason behind delays to Windows Vista.

Microsoft has been criticised for flaws in previous systems that left users vulnerable to attacks by hackers.

Mr Courtois said Microsoft had done “tons of work to make Vista a fantastic experience when it comes to security”.

The firm had originally aimed to launch Vista – the first major update since Windows XP was introduced five years ago – in the second half of 2006.

The new operating system will now be released to business customers “within the next few weeks” and to consumers early next year, he said.

Secure steps

Speaking in Barcelona at the European Technology Round Table Mr Courtois, the most senior Microsoft executive outside of the US, said that Windows Vista was the continuation of an ongoing effort by Microsoft to improve security across its software line-up.

“In the last 18 months, the number of vulnerabilities [in Windows’ software] has been much lower,” he said.

Jean-Philippe Courtois

The launch of Windows Vista is certainly one of the defining moments of the company

Jean-Philippe Courtois

“Microsoft has raised its game in a big way on security and Windows Vista is the next big step. The company has learnt to design software which is secure by default.”

Mr Courtois outlined features of Windows Vista that are designed to make it easier for users to protect themselves.

At the heart of the system will be the new Windows Security Centre which will show consumers any holes in their defences.

Vista will also feature new encryption technology designed to protect the data on a computer.

“Even if your laptop is stolen, nobody will be able to use it because it will be fully encrypted,” he said.

But Jean-Philippe Courtois said users had to play their part in making computers more secure.

“You’ve got to make sure that your firewall is on, that you’ve got anti-virus protection on your PC, you’ve got to understand what not to do on the internet,” he said. “It’s just like protecting your own home.”

This week the BBC set up a so-called “honeypot” computer running Windows XP without protection. The PC came under attack every 15 minutes.

But not everybody in the security software world is happy about Microsoft’s plans for Vista.

Symantec, which makes Norton anti-virus software, is among many security firms warning that Vista appears designed to shut out security products made by outside firms.

However, what is clear is that the long-awaited arrival of the new operating system will be a crucial weapon in Microsoft’s battle to retain its dominant position at a time when firms like Google are mounting a serious challenge.

“The launch of Windows Vista is certainly one of the defining moments of the company,” admitted Jean-Philippe Courtois.



September 24, 2006

Microsoft may offer web programs

Filed under: microsoft,news — namwarn @ 1:10 pm

Microsoft Works, Microsoft

The free programs will be based on Microsoft Works

Microsoft is planning free web-based versions of its word processing and spreadsheet programs. The online versions of the programs will lack many of the features found in the full versions found in Microsoft’s Office suite of applications.

Although the programs will be free to use, Microsoft is planning to fund them via advertising.

The move is seen as a rebuff to Google and others which already offer free versions of these types of programs.

Online fight

The free programs are likely to be based on Microsoft’s Works software suite that is often installed on low-cost home PCs.

No date has been set for when the free programs will show up on the net but the software giant told the Reuters news agency that it was “considering” new distribution and payment models for its software.

Like many others Microsoft has already started experimenting with web-based services. Windows Live lets people create a personal page that brings together many of the things they do online such as read news feeds, blogs and deal with e-mail.

There is also a beta version of a WYSIWYG writing tool for writing blog posts.

Microsoft’s Office suite dominates the business market but the software giant has had more competition of late as rivals produce and release free versions of programs that do the same job as those in the package.

For instance the Open Office project offers free versions of programs that are very similar to those found in Microsoft Office.

In addition, Google now owns the Writely online word processor and earlier this year started offering an online spreadsheet.

Many other smaller hi-tech firms run web-based versions of the applications people use in business or on their home PC.

Microsoft’s Office suite is hugely successful for the company and currently about 25% of the company’s revenue is generated by sales of it. A new version of Office is due in 2007.


September 14, 2006 goes live

Filed under: microsoft,news — namwarn @ 6:41 am

Microsoft took another step forward in their Windows Live software development effort yesterday, as they announced that the search portal was officially leaving beta status. In addition, the company revealed that Live Search would be replacing the older MSN Search portal on and all of Microsoft’s web-based search products, including the MSN Search option on the toolbar in Internet Explorer 7.

The Windows Live initiative started out in 2005 as a small grab-bag of web services and has quickly grown to become a major focus of development at the Redmond-based company. Astute Microsoft observers will have noticed that many products that were formerly marketed under the MSN brand name have been slowly absorbed into the Live collective, such as Windows Live Messenger and Windows Live Spaces. The Live program has received a major boost from the vocal support of Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s new chief software architect and the heir apparent to Bill Gates.

Ozzie got his start early on in the history of the personal computer. He was involved with the creation of VisiCalc (the first spreadsheet application) and Lotus Symphony. He created the groupware application Notes for Lotus, a project that was innovative enough (if plagued by user interface nightmares) to convince IBM to purchase Lotus outright just to get their hands on that product. Later he started his own company, Groove, that produced a peer-to-peer collaboration platform. Groove was purchased by Microsoft in 2005 and the technology is scheduled for integration into Microsoft Office 2007.

So what does the search offer that the old MSN one did not? The beta, which we reviewed earlier, had a strange user interface that used non-standard scroll bars and suffered from poor performance. This interface appears to be gone in the release version of the Live search, in favor of a more traditional Google-like interface with a sparse opening screen and the results displayed ten at a time in a standard browser window. The web search does not immediately appear to be superior to Google, but some Ars readers who have been using the tool during its beta days report that the Image and Video searches, which still retain the custom user interface widgets, are more powerful and useful than their Google counterparts—for example, when the user clicks on a picture for more details, the page retains a scrolling list of all images on the left hand side of the browser.

Does the new emphasis on Live mean the end of the MSN brand? It seems a bit strange for a company to spend so much money promoting a brand name (think of the butterfly guy and logo) and then just turn around and drop it. The Live brand does have some cachet from its association with Microsoft’s Xbox Live gaming service, but the connections to web services are still rather tenuous so far. And Microsoft is not abandoning the MSN name completely—their new YouTube competitor (Soapbox) will be launched under the MSN brand. Still, it appears as if thanks to Ray Ozzie, we should be seeing a lot more emphasis on Live products and services in the future.


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