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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Already thinking about Windows Vista........Go through this !

I got this article on the Web(www.news.yahoo.com) and have reproduced it without any changes. So all the views expressed over here are solely that of the author.

Michael Desmond writes about technology from his home in Colchester, Vermont. He writes :

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few months, you probably know that the latest version of Windows--called Vista--is due to hit store shelves later this year (in time for the holidays, Microsoft tells us). The successor to
Windows XP offers a little something for everyone, from eye-catching graphics and new bundled applications to more-rigorous security. In fact, there is so much in the new operating system that it can be tough to get a handle on it all.
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I've been noodling around with a recent beta version of Windows Vista (Build 5270) and had a chance to make some observations. While the sleek new look and polished interface caught my eye, it's what's under the covers that impressed me most. Microsoft's done a great job of improving security across the board. Things like Windows and spyware library updates are streamlined, and I definitely appreciate the more robust Backup software.

Still, there's plenty of unfinished work left to do. Internet Explorer 7 struggled to properly render some Web pages, and I found local network connectivity to be a hit-or-miss affair. And then there's the stuff that isn't even in there yet--like the intriguing Windows Sidebar, which will put real-time weather info, stock quotes, system status, RSS feeds, and other information on the display.

So during my time with Windows Vista, I kept an eye out for the reasons I--and you--might ultimately want to lay my hands on the new OS when it's available. And frankly, if you buy a new Windows-based PC at the end of this year or any time in, say, the next five years, you'll probably end up with Vista by default.

Keep in mind, this is based solely on my experience with prerelease software (and a whole new beta could be out by the time you read this). Features get tweaked, they come and go, but from what we can tell, Vista is now starting to harden into the product that will be running many, many desktops for the foreseeable future. And by and large, that's a good thing.

Here's what to be excited about:

1. Security, security, security: Windows XP Service Pack 2 patched a lot of holes, but Vista takes security to the next level. There are literally too many changes to list here, from the bidirectional software firewall that monitors inbound and outbound traffic to Windows Services Hardening, which prevents obscure background processes from being hijacked and changing your system. There's also full-disk encryption, which prevents thieves from accessing your data, even if they steal the PC out from under your nose.

Perhaps most crucial (and least sexy) is the long-overdue User Account Protection, which invokes administrator privileges as needed, such as during driver updates or software installations. UAP makes it much more convenient for users to operate Vista with limited rights (meaning the system won't let them do certain things, like load software, without clearance from an administrator). This in turn limits the ability of malware to hose your system.

2. Internet Explorer 7: IE gets a much-needed, Firefox-inspired makeover, complete with tabbed pages and better privacy management. There's also the color-coded Address Bar that lets you know if a page is secured by a digital key, or, thanks to new antiphishing features, if it's a phony Web site just looking to steal information about you.

These features will all be available for Windows XP users who download IE7. But Vista users get an important extra level of protection: IE7 on Vista will run in what Microsoft calls "protected mode"--a limited-rights mode that prevents third-party code from reaching your system. It's about darn time.

3. Righteous eye candy: For the first time, Microsoft is building high-end graphics effects into Windows. The touted Aero Glass interface features visually engaging 3D rendering, animation, and transparencies. Translucent icons, program windows, and other elements not only look cool, they add depth and context to the interface. For example, hover your cursor over minimized programs that rest on the taskbar and you'll be able to see real-time previews of what's running in each window without opening them full-screen. Now you can see what's going on behind the scenes, albeit at a cost: You need powerful graphics hardware and a robust system to manage all the effects.

4. Desktop search: Microsoft has been getting its lunch handed to it by Google and Yahoo on the desktop, but Vista could change all that. The new OS tightly integrates instant desktop search, doing away with the glacially slow and inadequate search function in XP. Powerful indexing and user-assignable metadata make searching for all kinds of data--including files, e-mails, and Web content--a lot easier. And if you're running Vista on a Windows Longhorn network, you can perform searches across the network to other PCs.

5. Better updates: Vista does away with using Internet Explorer to access Windows Update, instead utilizing a new application to handle the chore of keeping your system patched and up-to-date. The result is quicker response and a more tightly streamlined process. The update-tracking mechanism, for instance, is much quicker to display information about your installation. And now key components, such as the Windows Defender antispyware module, get their updates through this central point. Like other housekeeping features, a better Windows Update isn't a gee-whiz upgrade, but it should make it easier--and more pleasant--to keep your PC secure.

6. More media: Over the years, one of the key reasons to upgrade versions of Windows has been the free stuff Gates and Company toss into the new OS, and Vista is no exception. Windows Media Player (perhaps my least favorite application of all time) gets a welcome update that turns the once-bloated player into an effective MP3 library. The Windows Photo Gallery finally adds competent photo-library-management functionality to Windows, so you can organize photos; apply metatags, titles, and ratings; and do things like light editing and printing. The DVD Maker application, which was still very rough when I looked at it, promises to add moviemaking capabilities--along the lines of Movie Maker--to the operating system. There are even some nice new games tucked into the bundle.

7. Parental controls: Families, schools, and libraries will appreciate the tuned-up parental controls, which let you limit access in a variety of ways. Web filtering can block specific sites, screen out objectionable content by selected type, and lock out file downloads. You can also restrict each account's access by time of day or day of the week. As a dad, I can tell you this will be great for keeping kids off the PC while you're at work, for instance. You can even block access to games based on their Entertainment Software Rating Board ratings.

8. Better backups: When Windows 95 first came out, the typical hard disk was, maybe, 300MB in size. Today, desktops routinely ship with 300GB or 400GB hard drives. And yet, the built-in data-backup software in Windows has changed little in the past decade. Windows Vista boasts a much-improved backup program that should help users avoid wholesale digital meltdowns. Microsoft also tweaked the useful System Restore feature--which takes snapshots of your system state so you can recover from a nasty infection or botched software installation.

9. Peer-to-peer collaboration: The Windows Collaboration module uses peer-to-peer technology to let Vista users work together in a shared workspace. You can form ad hoc workgroups and then jointly work on documents, present applications, and pass messages. You can even post "handouts" for others to review.

10. Quick setup: Beta code alert: There are some Vista features I hope dearly for even though they haven't been built yet. This is one of them. Jim Allchin, Microsoft's co-president, says that Windows Vista boasts a re-engineered install routine, which will slash setup times from about an hour to as little as 15 minutes. Hurray! The new code wasn't in the beta version of Vista that Microsoft sent to me--my aging rig took well over an hour to set up--so I'll believe it when I see it. Still, any improvement in this area is welcome.
Five Things That Will Give You Pause

All this is not to say that Vista is a slam-dunk and everyone should be running out to buy it as soon as Microsoft takes the wraps off. Heck, Windows XP has developed into a fairly stable, increasingly secure OS. Why mess with that?

Yes, during my time with Vista, I've found more than enough features to get excited about--features that will make a sizable chunk of Windows users want to upgrade. So why would anyone in their right mind stick with what they've got? Here are a few reasons:

Pay that piper: Vista is an operating system. It's the stuff your applications run on. But it'll cost $100 or more to make the switch. Unless you're buying a new PC and starting from scratch, you may be better off saving the money for something else.

Where's my antivirus?: For all the hype about security in Windows Vista, users may be disappointed to learn that antivirus software will not be part of the package. There's every indication that an online subscription service--possibly under the OneCare rubric--will offer antivirus protection to Vista users down the road. But for the time being, you'll need to turn to third-party companies like Symantec, McAfee, Grisoft, and others for virus protection.

Watch that hourglass: Vista is a power hog. Unless you have a top-end PC with high-end graphics hardware, for instance, you won't see one of the coolest parts of the new OS--the Aero Glass interface. Microsoft did the smart thing by offering Aero Basic and Windows Classic looks as well, which will let older and slower PCs run Vista. It just won't look as pretty.

Curse the learning curve: Microsoft has already ditched some aggressive ideas--such as the whole "virtual folders" thing--because the concepts proved too confusing for users. Even so, you'll find that the new Windows changes a lot of old tricks, and not always for the better. Heck, it took me almost five minutes to find the Run command, which used to show up right in the Start menu. And many users may struggle with the new power scheme, which defaults to putting the PC into hibernation rather than shutting down. I know it frustrated me the first time I wanted to power down the system to swap out a disk drive.

Meet the old boss, same as the new boss: Microsoft has added lots of new stuff to Vista, but some features are just warmed-over fare. Windows Mail is nothing more than a rebranded Outlook Express, and Windows Defender is simply an updated version of Microsoft AntiSpyware.

So keep your eyes peeled for future previews of Vista. It may not be perfect (what software is?), but in a lot of ways, it's a giant leap forward.

My turn: Hope this helps you!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Google unites IM with E-mail


Google Inc. will unite its instant messaging and e-mail services in the same Web browser, the company announced late Monday.

Google users will be able to conduct instant message chats from a Google Web browser window, alongside their e-mails, instead of requiring a separate application.

Google, known for its simple and powerful Web searching, hopes that by embedding new instant messaging software it calls "Gmail Chat" into its existing e-mail service, it can differentiate itself in a crowded market it was late to join.

Gmail Chat requires no special software download. It is available to any registered user of Gmail e-mail. Existing contacts within the more advanced Google Talk program automatically show up in Google Chat, the company said.

The new feature will begin to show up in some Gmail accounts today and should reach all users within the next few weeks, said Salar Kamangar, a Google product manager.

"We didn't think it made sense for there to be this artificial separation that currently exists between e-mailing and chatting," he said. "People don't want to have to have two separate contact lists for e-mail and instant messaging."

Monday, February 06, 2006

Windows XP performance enhancements

For all of you who are disappointed with your windows xp performance or in other words would like to sharpen your windows xp feel , this web page is just right for all you people. click on the following link,
http://www.pcstats.com/articleview.cfm?articleid=1494&page=1

I did try a few of them out and they are pretty useful.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

KamaSutra Worm may attack on 3rd February, 2006

The new computer worm, named Kama Sutra, is scheduled to attack infected systems Friday, 3 February. The worm, also known as Blackworm, Nyxem-D and W32.blackmal.e , is aimed at Windows-based computers and spreads by copying itself to shared network locations and mass emailing itself to email addresses on these systems.

The virus, also known as Grew.A or MyWife, tricks users by appearing as an e-mail attachment with subject lines such as "Hot Movie," "give me a kiss" and "Miss Lebanon 2006." Some variations refer to the ancient Kama Sutra guide to elaborate sexual positions in order to attract attention and convince victims to open.

It is estimated that the worm -- which spreads by e-mailing itself to addresses in an infected computer's mailbox -- may already have slipped onto 275,000 to 500,000 machines and is now simply waiting to obliterate files on Friday.

The virus causes a keyboard and mouse to freeze up and then disables anti-virus programs when the computer is restarted, leaving a machine vulnerable, said Ken Dunham, rapid response director at VeriSign Corp.'s security unit iDefense. The attack is scheduled to begin at midnight on February 3.

It is scheduled to attack files of Microsoft corp, adobe inc and zip files. It has gained the attention of the anti-virus community because of its ability to deceive Windows through phony digital signatures, and seems to have been created for the sole purpose of doing damage and not for commercial gain.

But the good news is that firms are claiming to have already come up with defendants.

But don't ask me friends, for my machine has already been infected once on the 17th of january, 2006 and i had to format my machine to get rid of the devil. Symantec client had stopped working and the registry entries had got infected too. I still wonder why did i click on those absurd zip files which had been created randomly on my hdd. So beware!!!

IE 7 Beta 2 available for public download

The beta version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer 7 is now available to the general public. It was released on 31st January, 2006.

Microsoft hasn't changed much in this version of the browser since PC Worldcompared the first IE 7 beta to Mozilla's Firefox 1.5 Release Candidate 1 and Opera 9 Preview 1. But version 7 is a different beast entirely than the IE you are probably using today.

This new iteration of the world's dominant browser adds a number of features long since taken for granted by alternative-browser users, such as tabbed browsing, a toolbar-integrated search box, and limited RSS support. Version 7 also has a much more compact and streamlined interface than its predecessor, with a strong emphasis on dedicating as much of the window as possible to the displayed Web site. Also included are a number of security upgrades, like a new antiphishing filter.

Note that this beta of the browser is compatible only with Windows XP Service Pack 2. And keep in mind that, like any still-in-development version, this beta 2 release has bugs and rough edges. Some pages don't display properly, for instance, and the browser will crash more than you'd like.

You'll notice IE 7's interface changes right away. A mere two slim toolbars reside up top, with navigation buttons like Back, Forward, Refresh, and Home split up to make the best use of space.

Preview your open browser tabs with the Quick Tabs feature in the new, streamlined Internet Explorer 7.Tabs, also new to version 7, show up on the second toolbar. You can't move the tabs around, but you'll find a nice new feature called Quick Tabs. Click a gridlike icon next to the tabs, and you'll see a thumbnail-page display of all your currently open tabs. Firefox can mimic this feature with an add-on, but neither it nor Opera has it built in.

New security features in IE 7 include an antiphishing filter that warns you if you happen across a known phishing site, better ActiveX management that disables potentially vulnerable controls by default, and programming changes that try to reduce the number of avenues for attack.

The browser also has a thorough flush feature that clears the browser history, cache, cookies, and other personal browsing data with one selection from the Tools menu.

IE 7 lets you easily find and bookmark an RSS feed on any given Web page. But once you're subscribed, you have no way to get a quick preview of that feed's headlines--as you can with Firefox's Live Bookmarks--so you lose a significant part of RSS's usefulness.

It remains to be seen how the new IE will stack up against its increasingly popular competitors. But its release presents no downside: IE finally gets an upgrade, and the newly revived browser wars spur competition that hopefully will make all our browsers better.