Ballmer promises Windows 8 PCs, slates and tablets in 2012

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has promised a Windows 8 release next year.

Ballmer, speaking at Microsoft’s Developer Forum in Japan on Monday, promised a Windows 8 release across PCs, tablets and slates next year. “As we progress through the year, you ought to expect to hear a lot about Windows 8,” said Ballmer. “Windows 8 slates, tablets, PCs, a variety of different form factors.” Ballmer’s mention of Windows 8 is a stark contrast to that of his colleagues. Steven Sinofsky and the Windows team typically refers to Windows 8 as the “next-generation” of Windows, avoiding the 8 branding. Mary Jo Foley reports that a Microsoft spokesperson referred to Ballmer’s words as a “misstatement.”

    “We’re obviously hard at work on the next version of Windows. Windows 7 PCs will sell over 350 million units this year. We’ve done a lot in Windows 7 to improve customer satisfaction. We have a brand new user interface. We’ve added touch, and ink, and speech. And yet, as we look forward to the next generation of Windows systems, which will come out next year, there’s a whole lot more coming. As we progress through the year, you ought to expect to hear a lot about Windows 8. Windows 8 slates, tablets, PCs, a variety of different form factors.”

Windows Chief Steven Sinofsky will appear at the All Things Digital D9 conference next week. WinRumors reported on Monday that Sinofsky plans to demo Windows 8 at the conference. The demo will likely only be a “technology preview” of what Microsoft is planning for its tablet and slate come back. Microsoft has been secretly preparing an “immersive” tablet experience inside Windows 8. The “immersive” experience will include a Metro based user interface according to sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans. Microsoft will include a new application model codenamed “Jupiter” that will allow developers to create Silverlight based applications, deployed as AppX packages (.appx). The packages will be part of a new Windows application store, pre-installed with Windows 8. WinRumors understands the company will be looking to provide an easy way for existing Windows Phone developers to scale their applications for use with Jupiter.

Read full story...

Windows 7 Infection Rate Lower Than Windows XP

Newer is better.

A newer Windows is a safer Windows, as Microsoft proved with its internal security findings comparing its three most recent versions of its OS family.

Windows XP SP2 suffered a quarterly infection rate of 19.3 computers per thousand. SP3 improved things to 15.9 per thousand.

Windows Vista improved upon those numbers significantly. Windows Vista SP1 had 9.8 infections per thousand, while SP2 hit 7.5. The 64-bit versions of the OS did even better at 6.6 and 5.3, respectively.

Windows 7 was the best of all with the 32-bit version having only a 3.8 infection rate, and the 64-bit improving to 2.5 per thousand.

Read full story...

How Microsoft, Skype, Nokia can rule: Cut out obscene data roaming rates abroad

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates stumped for the $8.5 billion Skype purchase and international domination may be a good reason for the enthusiasm. Microsoft, Nokia and Skype could be deadly to data roaming charges.

In a BBC interview, Gates said he advocated for the Skype acquisition. Surprise! Did you expect Gates to say that he hated the Skype purchase and that it was too pricey?

In the BBC chat, Gates said video conferencing will improve. He’s alluding to the fact that video phones will be common—you could argue that they are today via tablets and Skype.

Kevin Fox, a Mozilla Labs designer, argued that Microsoft-Skype and Nokia can upend mobile carriers. Google is aiming for something similar.

I agree with Fox, but there are a few other key items to consider about the Microsoft-Skype combination with a broad partnership with Nokia. Here’s the landscape:
* Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 on Nokia phones will still have a tough time getting traction in the U.S.
* In Europe, however, Microsoft and Nokia could do significant damage in terms of market share gains.
* Skype is well received abroad and serves as a killer app on a solid mobile OS with good hardware from Microsoft and Nokia, respectively.
* Europe also happens to be the place where data roaming charges are obscene. ZDNet highlighted the data roaming issue in polls around the world.
* Take those moving parts and Nokia and Microsoft could take Skype and integrate it to the point where it can minimize carrier connections on the fly. If Skype could instinctively leverage Wi-Fi where ever possible—or cut out wireless carriers entirely—Nokia and Microsoft could do a real service.
* And those data roaming charges are high enough where even folks that even the Microsoft phobic would play along.

Read full story...

Microsoft software satisfaction rating hits record high

But high ratings can't solve slumping sales

Computerworld - Americans are more enamored than ever with Microsoft's software, according to a national customer satisfaction survey released today.

Microsoft scored a record 79 points in the newest poll conducted by American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), a consumer survey started by the University of Michigan.

The three-point increase over 2009's results -- representing a 7% gain -- put Microsoft's rating at its highest level since ACSI began quizzing Americans about the quality of computer software in 2006.

And it shows that Microsoft's put the Vista debacle behind it, said David VanAmburg, the ACSI's director.

"Microsoft's continued improvement over the last three years suggests that we're out of the Vista phenomenon," said VanAmburg, referring to the hammering Microsoft took after it launched Vista in early 2007 with nearly-instant bad reviews.

MIcrosoft's ACSI rating has improved each of the last three years after dipping as low as 69 in 2008, the second year of Vista's general availability.

Read full story...

Microsoft Buys Skype in $8.5 Billion Deal

Microsoft will purchase VoIP service juggernaut Skype for $8.5 billion in a deal to be officially announce Tuesday morning. The all-cash deal will make Microsoft a powerful player in Internet-based voice and video communications overnight. Microsoft issued a press release Tuesday morning making the rumored acquisition official.

Previous reports suggested the purchase price would be somewhere between $7 billion and $8 billion. Skype has been on sale for a while now, and a number of companies reportedly showed interest in purchasing the Web-based phone and video chat service, including Facebook, Google, and Cisco.

The $8.5 billion purchase is Microsoft's largest acquisition in nearly three decades. Until now, Microsoft's most expensive acquisition was its 2007 purchase of digital marketing services agency aQuantive for $6 billion.

Despite Skype's having a debt of $686 million, the deal should be a plus for Microsoft. After all, Microsoft will finally have a brand-name Web service under its wing, though it's believed Microsoft plans to integrate Skype into Microsoft Live.

Read full story...

Unpatched DLL bugs let hackers exploit Windows 7 and IE9, says researcher

Although Microsoft has patched multiple DLL load hijacking vulnerabilities since last summer, Windows and Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) can still be exploited, a security company warned today.

Microsoft confirmed that it's investigating the claims by Slovenia-based Acros Security.

Researchers from Acros will demonstrate the new attacks at the Hack in the Box security conference in Amsterdam later this month.

"We'll reveal how IE8 and IE9 can be used on Windows 7, Vista and XP for attacking users without any security warnings, even in 'Protected mode,' and how to remotely make many seemingly-safe applications, for example, Word 2010 and PowerPoint 2010, vulnerable," said Acros CEO Mitja Kolsek in a Friday email.

The attack class called "DLL load hijacking" by some, but dubbed "binary planting" by Acros, jumped into public view last August when HD Moore, the creator of the Metasploit penetration hacking toolkit and chief security officer at Rapid7, found dozens of vulnerable Windows applications. Moore's report was followed by others, including several from Kolsek and Acros.

Many Windows applications don't call DLLs using a full path name, but instead use only the filename, giving hackers a way to trick an application into loading a malicious file with the same title as a required DLL. If attackers can dupe users into visiting malicious Web sites or remote shared folders, or get them to plug in a USB drive -- and in some cases con them into opening a file -- they can hijack a PC and plant malware on it.

Read full story...

13 Windows Key Tips

For most people, the Windows key (you know, the one with the flag on it?) just sits neglected on your keyboard. It was fairly well known when Vista was released that the then-new (and not yet reviled) OS included a new way to shuffle through open application windows. Using the Windows key while successively pressing the tab key displayed the Aero Flip 3-D view of your windows flying by in mid-screen. Well, that still works in Windows 7, though it's probably just as convenient to stick with the less glitzy Alt-tab to switch through windows, or just choose the one you want from the now-bigger Taskbar.

But the Windows key does a lot more than this fancy scrolling. Windows 7 added a new way to hide all windows at once to reveal the desktop that involves moving the mouse pointer all the way down to the lower-right-hand corner of your screen. While that new Aero Peek is cool, sometimes you want a quicker way to view the desktop. For example, pressing Windows key + D reveals your desktop far quicker than moving the pointer to the corner. If you just want a peek, it's even easier—hit Windows key + Spacebar.

Read full story...