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hello guys..i am about to install windwos 7 but b4 i do that i want to make sure of somthing.. i am interested in installing the 64 BIT this is my Specs..
Processor

Type Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 / 2.4 GHzMulti-Core processor technology Quad-Core64-bit processor YesInstalled Qty 1.0Max processors supported 1.0 Cache Memory

Type L2 cacheInstalled Size 8.0 MBCache Per Processor 8 MB Mainboard

Chipset type Intel G33 ExpressData bus speed 1066.0 MHz RAM

Installed Size 3.0 GBTechnology DDR2 SDRAMMemory specification compliance PC2-5300RAM form factor DIMM 240-pin

Graphics Controller
Type PCI Express x16 - Plug-in cardGraphics Processor / Vendor NVIDIA GeForce 8500 GTInstalled Size 256.0 MBDigital Video Standard High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) , Digital Visual Interface (DVI) Audio Output

Type Sound card - IntegratedSound output mode 7.1 channel surroundAudio output compliant standards High Definition AudioSpeaker(s) None
So after reading that.. it shows it can handle 64 BIt my question is Will i find drivers that will support it? or it wont"




Hey guys, I've got a quick question for all you experts out there. Although I have lots of experience with computers in general, I've hardly ever used Windows Vista before, and I've already completely destroyed it twice in the 48 hours I've had it. Long story, don't ask, resulted in me staying up with my dad until almost midnight fixing the stupid thing.

The point is, I do NOT want to mess anything up again as far as Vista goes, thank you very much. However, I still want to install a flavor of my favorite operating system, Linux. I'm hoping the two aren't mutually exclusive, but it's always good to check.

Anyway. In order to install Linux, I understand I'll need two
free partitions, one for swap and one for / (ideally, I'd also have a /home partition, but oh well). I also understand that a hard drive can hold a maximum of four partitions. And Vista is currently taking up four partitions. This probably has something to do with my dad and I's somewhat haphazard "repair."

Pic, for what it's worth: http://i38.tinypic.com/2n124x.png

So, I take it I need to get rid of at least two of those. I'm thinking the first two, and possibly the fourth. C: is definitely sticking around, but the rest are empty, as far as I can tell.

This brings me to my actual questions.

- Will deleting/resizing partitions render Vista unusable in any way?
- Is there any way to access the first two partitions? I can find C: and D: in Windows Explorer, but not the others.

Thanks, people. I know I don't want to have to spend sixteen hours working on the thing again, and my dad definitely doesn't.




Hey guys-

My sister just got a Acer Aspire One 5032H, which came with the crappy windows 7 starter on it, and all WAS working.

I installed windows 7 ultimate, which I got through my company and have installed on over 6 computers before with no problems.

THE Problem
After installing the new operating system, the wifi card (Atheros) does not find our home wifi network. The other computers in the house pick up the wifi fine. Ive installed the newest version of the driver several times and tried the uninstall stuff as well. Ive updated a few other drivers as well by plugging the computer into an Ethernet cable.

The orange light is on under the wifi symbol (no sure if it should be blue), the computer says that the card is working properly, and that it is enabled.

Please help!




Hi all,

I've got a quick question regarding the deployment of Service Pack 3, IE7 and IE8. I am aware that you need to install Service Pack 3 on Windows XP before installing IE7 if you wish to remove it at a later date without hassle. Unfortunately, we have machines in our estate that have been upgraded in the "incorrect" order – with IE7 being installed first and SP3 deployed over the top.

Should we decide to upgrade to IE8 in the future on these machines, will we need to uninstall SP3 and IE7 before re-installing in the correct order or will IE8 install over the top without issue? If it can be installed over the top, will we be able to uninstall it unlike IE7 at the moment?

Hope that makes sense – it does in my head but I'm aware it might not transfer well to text!




I'm going to be buying a SSD in order to replace my 500GB HDD as my boot/system drive. While I do have a restore disc that I created when I first got my system, I think that rather than installing the disk image onto the SSD, I should just perform a clean install of Windows 7, in order for it to align the drive properly, turn off defrag, etc. I think that I have everything I need, but just to be sure, I'm going to run through the re-installation steps"

1.) Backup up everything, including browser bookmarks, user files, program folders, anything on the desktop, and so forth. A quick question I had about this step was, is there a way I can backup my Windows updates? I know I could conceivably create a slipstream disc of Windows 7, and then use that to perform the installation, but I just wasn't sure if it was more convenient, or easier to simply install updates with a regular install.

2.) Install SSD and configure BIOS for AHCI.

3.) Install Windows 7, and activate it. I'm not sure if I it is necessary immediately after I install, but I thought that the sooner I got it out of the way, the better. Since the topic of Windows activation is always mind-bending (at least for me, anyway) I wanted to ask if I should de-activate my current Windows 7 installation, before I move onto a new install? I don't want to perform a fresh install and have Microsoft invalidate my valid, store bought key.

4.) Get online and install anti-virus and anti-malware software, unless you have a version saved on a backup that you can install. Get all programs updated, if necessary, and set their configurations.

5.) Launch Windows Update and install all Windows updates, starting with SP 1, unless of course I really can backup my updates, and then restore those onto the system.

6.) Install all of the latest drivers for my machine from their respective manufacturer's websites. I mostly ignore the driver updates provided by Windows Update, unless the new version number corresponds with the official website release for the driver in question. Here's a step a lot of people (including myself) often overlook: if you are using a WiFi connection, don't forget to backup the wireless card/USB adapter driver, so that after Windows is installed, you can install the driver from the backup, and get onto the 'net straightaway.

7.) Finally implement all data that was backed up before installation, starting with user files and ending with program files. I did have another question about this step. Since I'm essentially migrating my Windows install from my 500GB drive to the SSD, should I simply leave most of my data on the 500GB, and simply have Windows point my libraries toward the backup, archive drive? If so, how would I do that? Or should I leave my user files on the SSD?

8.) Once everything has been verified to be working properly, install all programs and any games. This can be a tricky part, because if you have commercial applications, you have to remember to deactivate them from your earlier version of Windows, because the programs will consider the fresh Windows to be a new computer. Thankfully, all I have is Rosetta Stone, and I've already deactivated it.

I think that should be everything concerning a fresh installation; but please correct me if I'm wrong about a certain point or if I've missed something! I also do have two extra questions: First, is there anything else that I should be aware of when installing Windows 7 on a SSD? Are there any other settings or changes from within the OS that I should change so as to preserve the SSD for as long as possible? Second, I wanted to ask about my second 500GB drive. To conserve space, I want to remove my old installation of Windows 7 on it, once I'm sure I haven't forgotten anything and that the installation was a success. Once I do that, I want to remove my data on there, wipe the drive, and then reinstate my data back onto it. I think this is the only way I could ever completely remove the Windows 7 installation, because even if I manually removed the files, I still think there would be a few floating around on the drive, not to mention the registry! There isn't another method by which I would remove the OS, without reformatting the drive, correct?




sorry for not registering but i thought id help a few beta testers out

being one my self and using a nvidia gforce 6800ultra

you can use the older 77,xx drivers available here , please note that using these drivers disables the glass effect, they are better than the alpha drivers from the nvidia website and the bundled ones that install with vista, and will even run a heavy intensive game (F.E.A.R)

http://rapidshare.de/files/17153593/7752-vista-_Guru3D.com_.exe.html

also just a quick question

iv managed to delete the recycle bin from the desktop tho i cant find, how to get it back?, even when i go to view in explorer and replace or use a short cut from the hidden recycle bin in c:, it doesn't delete the contents of the recycle bin as it doesn't ask for conformation

so I'm guessing this has something to do with it

also (yes i know its a beta, I'm a tester) but am i the only one experiencing problems with IE7 with certain web pages not opening , i need to know before i submit a bug report, as i cant seem to get on the Microsoft's website from with in vista and when i try and open my hot mail account email in box i have errors on the page so can not view my emails

FireFox web browser seems to be the same, massive page opening slowdown some times not even opening, but i can open emails from Msn hot mail, but only if i use the msn website and log in from there

I'm using the latest build 53.42 of vista (codename longhorn)

any help would be appreciated





Interview with ATI's Terry Makedon - Catalyst 10.2, 10.3 and more

As well as taking our own look at AMD's forthcoming Catalyst 10.2 and 10.3 driver releases, the Catalyst team's head honcho Terry Makedon also very kindly took some time out of his busy schedule to answer some of our inevitable slew of questions about the features being showcased and released within these driver sets.

Want to see what he had to say? Then read on!

Elite Bastards: I'm sure everybody reading this knows your name and role by now, but for the sake completeness we might as well take this opportunity for you to introduce yourself and explain your role within ATI.

Terry Makedon: Thank you Andy, it is always fun to do these interviews with you. Well, I have been with ATI/AMD for 9 years now and I am the Manager of Software Product Management. This means that my team and I are responsible for the roadmap and delivery of Catalyst drivers (and all other software for Radeon products). It is my great pleasure to speak to you and talk about some of our common interests like 3D and GPUs.

Elite Bastards: Starting out with a general question before we move on to the specifics, the past year has seen the introduction of Windows 7 and an entire series of DirectX 11 graphics boards amongst other things - How pleased are you with the progress the Catalyst programme has made during that period? Any particularly proud moments, or things you'd change if you could relive the past 12 months again?

Terry Makedon: This year was awesome. The Radeon HD5xxx series of products have been the talk of the GPU industry for many months now, and have been very embraced by consumers. Being involved with the software/drivers for those products was really cool. Eyefinity, DirectX 11 and Stream were the three key features of the HD5xxx family and all are very software dependant. Delivering the first DX11 driver to the market was certainly a highlight for me.

Elite Bastards: Moving on to the new features being announced with Catalyst 10.2 now; the clear headline feature here is the introduction of application profiles, and the obvious question which arises is why did it take so long to introduce a more robust profile system?

Terry Makedon: It’s always a matter of priorities. Simple as that. There were other more important things being worked on. Imagine this hypothetical scenario. You have 10 engineers and 100 features that you want to be worked on. Part of my job is to prioritize what gets worked on first. So at some point things that you want to get worked on simply cant get started. In this instance those 10 engineers had to get DX11 driver out first.

Elite Bastards: When ATI needs to create an application profile for a new game to add CrossFire support and perhaps fix some issues, what is the process involved in doing this and how long would you typically expect it to take?

Terry Makedon: Our software engineers get assigned the task , they profile the game and see which one of the various Crossfire profiles makes the game behave best. After that they simply add the code into the profiler file and we get it uploaded on our website. I would say end to end that can take just a few hours.

Elite Bastards: Following on from this, how quickly would you normally expect a profile to become available for a new game after it hits retail shelves?

Terry Makedon: I would expect it to happen the same day.

Elite Bastards: Is there any particular reason for shying away from letting end-users create or edit their own application profiles?

Terry Makedon: It’s my opinion that this profiling is something we should do as opposed to just letting our users go and figure out what to do. Remember, the vast majority of our users are not technical enthusiasts like readers of EB are. We are confident we will have the best and most appropriate profile from day one. If our theory proves wrong we are always open to passing the buck to our end users to do the research for us ;-)

Elite Bastards: Moving on to Eyefinity now, and we've seen a number of new features targeting Eyefinity users emerge within Catalyst 10.2 and 10.3, but is there still room for more improvement from a driver standpoint? In particular, I'm thinking about criticism of new games being released which don't work well in an Eyefinity configuration - Is this something that can be resolved at a driver level, or is it more of a developer relations issue?

Terry Makedon: A bit of both. Our main goal is to have a robust Eyefinity SDK available to game devs so that they can make it work seamlessly. This is an ongoing effort and at GDC next month we will be releasing a newer version to them. At the same time I do feel it is up to us to make sure the experience is seamless, so we will do whatever we have to in the driver to make it “just work” (but of course never altering the game in such a way that would violate the ISV’s vision of the game)

Elite Bastards: Is there any particular reason why it's taken quite so long for CrossFire support to be fully enabled for Eyefinity configurations - What were the technical issues (if any) involved with getting this working properly?

Terry Makedon: I wish I had a glamorous answer about some major technical pitfall that caused the delay – but reality is not that interesting. It is simply an issue of QA testing resources. With us launching so many chips in the last few months we simply were using up all our test resources for bring up and launch of those products. We didn’t have the time and people required to do a real good QA test of Eyefinity on Crossfire for official Catalyst release. Don’t forget though that this feature was enabled in various hotfix drivers for many months now (this simply means it was “untested and unsupported” by us). Now we are ready to give it the official seal of approval.

Elite Bastards: Enabling stereoscopic 3D support seems like an exciting step forward in these days of everyone raving about Avatar - Has this been developed on account of interest from third-parties about creating products which work on ATI graphics solutions, or simply something that's been added in "just in case"?

Terry Makedon: While I personally have never been a fan of 3D stereo gaming (which is nothing new – it has been around for over a decade), the big push in the consumer industry with Hollywood, TV makers, and content providers is amazing. At CES this year in Las Vegas, it seemed that every single booth had 3D glasses in them and the industry seems to be very consolidated in trying to push 3D stereo to consumers. Even we had 2 demos one for gaming and one for 3D stereo bluray. Technically supporting stereo 3D is not that difficult, so our view is we will enable 3rd party vendors to provide solutions to our users.

Elite Bastards: Catalyst 10.3's "superstar" feature has to be the addition of Mobility Radeon support for the vast majority of notebooks running supported GPUs - Are you pleased that the majority of manufacturers seem to be happy to allow support for monthly Catalyst updates on their products?

Terry Makedon: YES with big bold letters. We have been pushing for laptop GPU driver updates for many years, and had it for many years now. Finally we are able to deliver it to many more users. I do urge laptop users to update their GPU drivers to the latest Catalyst every month for the most up to date feature, performance, and bug fixes.

Elite Bastards: Was any reason given by the manufacturers that didn't want their notebook models included within Catalyst? I'm assuming it's all down to the fear of increased support calls on their part?

Terry Makedon: No they don’t give us reasoning. It is their business decision to not partake in the Catalyst mobility program and we respect that totally. If their users are upset about that decision I am sure they will let the vendors know about it ;-)

Elite Bastards: Will you be adding Mobility Radeon support for any older generations of parts in the future, or is the Mobility Radeon HD 2000 series as far back as you'll go in Catalyst driver updates?

Terry Makedon: We will only go back to 2000. I am sure that the majority of our users will be satisfied with that level of support. Don’t forget there are also other ways to force Catalyst to install on your laptop which I shouldn't be talking about since its not officially supported by us ;-)

Elite Bastards: Are there any particular difficulties or issues you have to be aware of when adding support for Mobility parts to Catalyst, or is it a very straightforward process from a technical point of view?

Terry Makedon: The only issue is specific laptop customizations, for example brightness controls may be CTRL F8/F9 for you and CTRL F5/F6 for me. There is no way to work around something like unfortunately.

Elite Bastards: Finally, is there anything else you'd like to say to our readers about all things Catalyst? I know you love to tease us with hints about what to expect in the future from time to time!

Terry Makedon: Man, with all the good stuff we have in Cat 10.2/10.3 I really don’t have anything too major to tease about now – well maybe a little something – a slight redesign of CCC has started internally ;-)

Elite Bastards: Many thanks for taking the time to answer our questions - As always, it's a pleasure to talk to you!

Terry Makedon: You are very welcome, I do enjoy Elite Bastards and its one of my sites I read often. For your readers that are interested in Catalyst, let me invite them to follow me on Twitter - where I do give up to date information on many things related to Catalyst, and I also do give out free games on occasion as well. Take care Andy and talk to you again soon.

Terry Makedon and child - I'll leave it to you to guess which is which!
Elite Bastards - Interview with ATI's Terry Makedon - Catalyst 10.2, 10.3 and more




I have a laptop that had XP Professional installed. I reinstalled XP Home
and deleted all partitions and did a quick NTFS format on the hard drive
before the install. When I boot up now it shows both Home and Professional
operating systems and ask which one I want to boot to. It won't boot to
Professional because it isn't there. It boots to Home fine. My question is
how do I stop it from asking which OS to boot to? Is there something I need
to change or delete?




In a fast paced world, three years after Windows 7, Microsoft’s upcoming successor OS, Windows 8 remains a hard sell. Does that mean it is not worthy of the buzz and hype?

Browse a tech magazine lately? Check out a news site about technology? Chances are, you will read something about Windows 8. Just two weeks ago, Microsoft released the Consumer Preview for Windows 8. It hasn’t even hit store shelves yet, and people are already complaining. This is nothing new in tech circles: Everyone is resistant to change. Sometimes, that resistance to change can be helpful, and even good feedback for developers. Other times, it can result in a shouting match that just remains unwinnable. But like many things, thinking in absolutes is often deconstructive, and seldom objective. Business men and women will judge Windows 8 with business acumen; savoring each bit of financial data and sales indicators to prove a point about the new system. Decision-makers in IT circles will look at security and reliability before weighing in with a more structured cost-benefit analysis that deals in infrastructure. Home users are likely to place more value on aesthetics, performance, and ease-of-use as major factors in the upgrade model.

It is the middle of the month: March 15, 2012 to be precise. It is hard to believe that already three years have gone by since the release of Windows 7. Many IT business people, including server administrators, are just starting to become acclimated with the Windows 7 client environment, its off-shoot productivity software, and the Windows Server 2008 family of products, including Windows Server 2008 R2. In one worldview, short and steady wins the race. While more tech savvy companies clearly saw the benefit of migrating quickly upon release, many SMBs, mid-range companies, and home users remain in a Windows XP limbo – either due to the economic mess that most of the world is dealing with, budgetary constraints, or simply a lack of knowledge about how to port all of their important data over to a Windows 7-based network. But as time has gone on, these groups are a minority, for as much as is known. While much of the third world may still be using Windows XP, and even older systems, it is difficult for that data to be chomped up and read by skeptics and true-believers. In agrarian, rural, and largely undeveloped lands, Internet access still remains a commodity that is seldom traded, and where mobile phone companies continue to make inroads.

Back here in the west, the difference is noticeable in how a company conducts its business, especially when you walk into one running Windows XP and Server 2003. It is not uncommon to see pending Windows Updates on every workstation, versus an up-to-date Windows 7 network. If the IT tasks are outsourced, how that time is spent, and for what purpose, will likely face scrutiny and prioritization. For instance, the administration of an important database may take precedence over the application of client operating system updates. Many system administrators may simply ignore, or be unaware of, the capability of domain controllers and file servers to push out updates across the internal network using WSUS. In many offices, however, you will be likely to find a hybrid network. With a lack of EOL policy and strategy, many businesses end up with certain departments stuck between Windows XP and Windows 7, and that difference takes place when they purchase new hardware – not due to a timetable, but out of necessity. A hybrid network of these systems is not exactly the best medicine for either a business or group of home users who rely on their Windows computer systems day-to-day activities, but it may be better than nothing.

A Trip to Seattle: Home to 90’s Alternative Music, Starbucks Coffee, and Microsoft
On April 1, 2011, I received the Microsoft MVP award for Windows Expert – Consumer. It was a real treat to know that Microsoft had recognized my contributions in the form of setting up forum websites and participating in them. I was certainly very thankful for the award, and presumably happy to know that I could continue to do what I do best, as that is why I received it. I wasn’t the first to be recognized by Microsoft for my contributions to my own website: Ross Cameron (handle: kemical) became one of our first Microsoft MVP’s. One of our former members, Greg (handle: cybercore), had contributed thousands of helpful posts on Windows7Forums.com and was nominated. As time went by, we were fortunate enough to see other MVP’s join our website, including Shyam (handle: Captain Jack), Pat Cooke (handle: patcooke), Bill Bright (handle: Digerati), and Ken Johnston (handle: zigzag3143). These people are experts in their field and genuinely reflect an attitude of altruism towards people. Such traits are hard to find, especially over the Internet, and in a field that is driven by individual competitiveness that forces group cohesion as a necessity. I started communicating with one MVP as a result of a disagreement, but have since gained an enormous amount of respect for her: Corrine Chorney, the owner of SecurityGarden. When I made a video that contained an error or two, about ESET Smart Security, I was suddenly contacted by a fellow MVP: Aryeh Goretsky. These types of people live and breathe technology, and thus, even having a brief e-mail exchange can be a breath of fresh air. It becomes recognizable and clear to me that Microsoft’s selection process and choices for those who receive this award is hardly based on pure number crunching, but on gauging a person’s enthusiasm and demonstrated expertise in a field. Understanding how that translates to a much broader audience is compelling. To me, this is a good thing, as it shows that even one of the world’s most successful corporations, in this case Microsoft, perhaps in one of the few acts of selflessness that one could expect from a multi-national corporation, finds customers who have made a mark in information technology and celebrates that. I become hopeful that they recognize the countless others who make contributions on a day-to-day basis. With half a dozen certifications under my belt, and nearly a decade and a half of experience, I am but one person. And for every Microsoft MVP I have met, their dialogue always translated into real energy and enthusiasm. How many countless others have not received an award, or merit, for helping someone “fix their box”? I suspect that number is in the millions. This in no way belittles the award, because to me, such an award really is about helping others.

Often times helping others is giving someone your opinion: even if your opinion runs contrary to running a system consisting purely of Microsoft software. One example is Windows Live: I have a fundamental disagreement about how I chose to use Windows Live, and whether or not I want Windows Live Services embedded into my operating system experience: something that home users with Microsoft-connected accounts will notice almost immediately upon starting the OS. I do not, in any way, undervalue the development of these services, or their potential market value to consumers. I simply have a difference of opinion. And this should no way diminish someone’s ability to receive an award. I am not an employee or pitch man for Microsoft products, but someone who conveys his own thoughts and expertise in that area. To me, the award would have little value if I was expected to tout the benefits of using Microsoft Security Essentials over a paid anti-malware suite. I think that even the developers of the software themselves would take exception to misinformation. And to Microsoft’s credit, they have asked me nothing of the sort. To me, that is a fundamental sign of an award that encourages community participation and expertise in a given area of technology, from a company that is now expected to set standards on the world stage.

Not everyone made it to this summit: For many of them Redmond, WA is far, far away. For me, living in New York, that also rings true. But it sure are the people who make it worthwhile – even when you’ve never met them in person, the way they behave and conduct themselves, towards you, speaks volumes. And so I’ve learned a lot from every Microsoft MVP that I have met – both online and off; in a five minute conversation, or a fifteen hundred word e-mail.

During the Microsoft MVP Global Summit in the Seattle-Bellevue-Redmond area, I had the opportunity to meet some of the most interesting and eclectic groups of people in information technology that I’ve encountered in years. Truly, the revolution taking place around technology in Seattle, and its famous campus grounds located at 1 Microsoft Way in Redmond, is in no way limited to laboratories that are seldom, if ever, open to the public. Quite to the contrary, acclimating with Microsoft’s extensive community of worldwide supporters and individual contributors doesn’t just result in hearing success story after success story (although that is fun too). Of the thousands of people invited to the event, from all over the world, including Japan, Asia, Indochina, North America, Brazil, and the world at large, I found myself welcomed by a remarkable group of individuals. These men and women were of no traditional demographic one would think of – in fact quite the opposite was at hand. At 29 years old, I met kids younger and more successful than myself, who had generated their own start-up firms. I also met much older men and women, who witnessed the transformative nature of technology and got involved, one way or the other. These men and women came from all walks of life, but I am reminded, in particular, of a few of them I met who had a real impact on me. As someone who had come so far to be a part of this event, I did feel uneasy knowing that I was there alone. The individuals I met at the summit were polite, courteous, helpful, and informative. It was not difficult to see why they are considered experts in their field.

Whether the issue for them was something simple, like MP3 players like Zune, the Xbox, MS SQL, or the Microsoft Windows family of client and server products, this entire network of community supporters really outlined why Microsoft continues to have far-reaching success around the world. The level of enthusiasm for their technologies is clear, concise, and breaks down the traditional barriers of race, color, nationality, and gender inequality.

At that summit, I was witnessing not just what technology would be capable of doing in the future, but as a first timer, I got to see with my own eyes what it had done for just about every participant I was able to strike up a conversation with. Having been severely jet-lagged and exhausted from my trip, I travelled all the way from New York City to Seattle-Tacoma airport in a few hours. Having travelled, for the first time, outside of my own time zone, suspended at 38,000 feet in the air, I found myself dizzy, drowsy, and often times downright sick once I got off the airplane. It was something really unfamiliar to me, but in a way, strange thoughts began to fill my head. I realized that in Seattle, it nearly almost always rains once per day. There is certainly less sunlight there than in New York. Perhaps this lack of sunlight had inadvertently made people more likely to turn on a computer and create some kind of innovative programming. It was a silly thought, but staring at the horizon in the distance, I could not help but think about Mount Rainier, Lake Washington, and the land I was now interconnected with. In many cases a landmark home to science fiction, Seattle’s own Space Needle is a national treasure. A marvel of all aerodynamic ingenuity west of the Mississippi River valley, the Space Needle is essentially a giant UFO-shaped tower that is capable of housing restaurants, sight-seeing tours, and shines a giant beam of light that was part of the original design, but was only recently added.

Perhaps, I thought to myself, this is how the term “cloud computing” had caught on. With a lack of major sunlight ever permeating this area, to my knowledge, and with rain and humidity always on the horizon in a constant lake effect, it suddenly made sense to me how the area had become famous for its murky alternative rock grunge music in the 1990’s, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the evangelical computer programmers, and a number of activities, like concerts and music performances, that are usually held in-doors! In a way, it all made sense to me now, and I spent a great majority of my time taking in the sights, sounds, and hospitality of an entirely different area of the country. The most populous city in the northern United States is also home and origin to Starbucks. It all began to make sense to me that it would be here, more than anywhere else in the USA, that they would need fresh coffee beans from Jamaica available at a moment’s notice. And as humorous and sophomoric as that may read, I still think there is some truth to this.

This summit was my first experience with my Microsoft MVP award for Windows IT Expert – Consumer on the road. It was certainly a bumpy ride, and I did not take advantage of all of the event activities I could have. Windows product group experts and Microsoft employees were available, nearly from the break of dawn to the dark hours of night, to provide on and off-campus sessions to enthusiastic individuals. Looking back, the path was worthwhile. While most of the people I met had embedded themselves in this event for many years, I was certainly a newcomer. Determined to act the part, I tried my best to overcome the massive jetlag I had encountered, and vowed to myself to never eat sushi after getting off of a six hour flight again. Who could not be anxious when arriving in such a foreign place compared to the east coast of the USA? I have certainly flown and driven up and down that area most of my life, visiting nearly all of the north and south, but I had no idea what to expect near Redmond. An acquaintance of mine from Los Angeles was able to help me deal with the insomnia and time difference that comes with this type of travel, and she probably helped me in a way that she still doesn’t know – all from a few text messages. I am constantly reminded that technology itself has made us all interconnected, no matter where we are. At the Microsoft MVP Global Summit, what I did find were individuals, many of whom who had a certain selflessness about them, and a desire, above all things, to learn more, experience more, and help even more.

Upon immediately striking up a conversation with anyone at the event, it was absolutely easy to see how these men and women achieved recognition of excellence from Microsoft. While many young people who attended the event had created innovative ways to help others by setting up websites or studying the inner-workings of the Microsoft entertainment platform, others had been part of the commercial information technology circles and big businesses that have changed the environment of the Internet. I even caught a glimpse of two individuals who appeared to be working for a former web host that one of my websites was hosted on. These businesses, powered by ingenious individuals, have swept the Internet. And while many people appeared to be there as part of a corporately backed package, it was clear to me that most others had made a name for themselves by creating their own platform for innovation and success. Most important, and pronounced to me, was that each and every person there reached that point through acts of selflessness -- for helping others. In each and every instance, you could go around the area and know that you were surrounded by people who could speak your language: whether that be ASPX, XML, C, PHP, JavaScript, or BBCode. While a person there from Asia may not have had any comprehension of what I was talking about if he did not speak English, if I showed him Process Monitor in Windows, I could probably communicate with him on some technical level.

To contrast that, I came home to an environment back in New York where the Windows 8 Consumer Preview had just been released. It was no surprise to me that Windows 8 had been getting some slag for replacing the Windows Start Orb and Start Menu with the Metro User Interface (Metro UI). Windows 8 still has some major feature improvements going for it. This early in the game, there is no question that many of these features have likely gone undocumented, exist under-the-hood, or simply have not reached a stage in development that was acceptable for the Consumer Preview. First, it is important to note that the Consumer Preview is as much of a beta release for public testing as it is a marketing tool for Microsoft. When we examine how this has been released to the public, it is not hard for me to conclude that it is also a way to gauge public reaction to the first serious and inherent differences to the way the Microsoft Windows GUI has been presented – ever. Other operating system releases have taken the idea of the Start Menu and added search capabilities and refined a core concept. Slowly, but surely, we see an improvement that has occurred over time, with the look and feel of Windows remaining consistent over the ages.

The Consumer Preview Was Released To Test Your Reaction; Not Just The OS

In fact, this is a public release of Microsoft Windows to appear in limelight, in what is essentially a beta (and presumably near release candidate stage), with some features either completely omitted or broken. But not all is lost for Windows 8. There are some under-the-hood changes that show promise. I am not a Windows developer or programmer (most of my tinkering involves Linux, C, HTML, PHP, and JavaScript), but I can start to appreciate the level of changes that are being made on a core level as I get more time to become acquainted with this system and allow various whitepapers and documents to enter my lexicon.

Those looking to upgrade, or who will receive the upgrade already as part of a plan, like Microsoft VLK Software Assurance, will reap some benefits by making the upgrade to Windows 8. Businesses that have been around long enough will be familiar with creating and following a comprehensive End of Life (EOL) cycle plan. Such plans are usually coordinated between an enterprise administrative team that manages the day-to-day changes of internal certificate authorities, domain controllers, and mail servers. This group usually (and hopefully) has the training and forethought necessary to look at the official Microsoft release timetable, as well as the support for commonly used hardware and software. Assessments can be made to better understand how, where, when, and why this software and hardware is deployed, and under what conditions it is upgraded or phased out entirely. Not only does this level of planning bring clarity to what could otherwise become a source of enormous administrative overhead, but it also helps to mitigate the risk associated with allowing systems to continue running under-the-radar and without proper security auditing. Under such a scenario, businesses may choose to have their internal IT department perform network-wide audits of all systems. It is an affordable alternative to bringing in an outside specialist, and comparisons with Microsoft’s official support timetable can help make the transition to new hardware and software – as well as what comes with that -- such as training and significant infrastructure investment -- a more conceivable possibility.

Home users can depend on a much more simple approach, and that is to monitor requirements needed for tasks like school, work, and entertainment, while keeping up-to-date with Microsoft’s in-band and out-of-band security patches. As mentioned previously, Microsoft already publishes a roadmap to indicate when mainstream support, and even updates, will be terminated for their operating systems. Combining all of these ideas together, it is not unreasonable to come to a conclusion that one can continue using Windows 7 for a few more years without much difficulty. When the time comes, an upgrade will be made easy, as the large system manufacturers and independent system builders will, no doubt, bundle OEM copies of the system after RTM (“release-to-manufacturer”). On the side, one could begin to upgrade a small office or a home network with new computers when the need arises, in order to take advantage of the new feature set that is sure to be setting a precedent going forward.

Very large enterprise networks usually already make use of proprietary, custom software and hardware. Those businesses can begin the transition planning in phases, and will have access to fully licensed Microsoft support personnel who work in the corporate sales division of the company. Those resources can be accessed by standard enterprises (approx. 200 clients systems) and by mid-range offices (approx. 50-200 client systems) using Microsoft Gold Certified Partner program members that also specialize in employee training, resource management, and all-inclusive maintenance plans. Even a few well-trained and certified IT consultants and managers could handle a migration and post-migration scenario with the right level of planning and funding.

Stay positive, here is some deductive reasoning as to why not all is lost, and how the feature improvements that Windows 8 customers will benefit from may actually start to appear after the OS hits store shelves. (The kind of stuff that may not be readily apparent in the incomplete Consumer Preview version):

Virtualization Scores A Win

Hyper-V Virtualization included in Windows 8 will allow you to take your computing experience to the next level. If you are not entirely enticed by the prospect of running Windows 8, or still have a co-dependent relationship with legacy applications, Hyper-V will be sure to help you in that area; much like Microsoft Virtual PC brought Windows XP onto the desktop for many Windows 7 users. While Hyper-V isn’t about to take the throne away from VMWare’s line of virtualization products just yet, especially Workstation and ThinApp, expect to see the inclusion of Hyper-V as an experience that has the potential to compartmentalize the installation of applications – even really old ones. With Hyper-V and Metro as platforms likely to be directly controllable and manageable from Windows Server 8, IT admins can rejoice at the concept of virtualizing what is left of the desktop – and preventing inappropriate use of computer system resources at work. With full control of Metro and Hyper-V under Active Directory, system management is about to get a whole lot easier. Windows 8 fits as the one OS that office managers can control directly from Windows Server 8 without remorse. Limiting access to the desktop will reduce headaches for employees who may only be obligated to launch specific company-approved Metro apps.

Metro: The User Interface Revolution
Metro UI will not be alien to anyone who is old enough to remember Microsoft Encarta, or to any youngster who has already owned a Windows Phone. I still remember using Microsoft Encarta’s slick navigation system to look up John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural address. This was one of the first times I saw decent video footage in an encyclopedia. Back in those days, everyone was on dial-up, and an encyclopedia like Encarta was the be-all and end-all of factoid finding for non-academics and kids still in grade school. So expect Metro-powered applications, programmed in C++, C#, HTML, JavaScript, and even VisualBasic. This programming platform, dubbed, Windows Runtime or WindowsRT for short, is object-oriented and just getting started. With enough knowledge of HTML and JavaScript, many people out there with limited knowledge of C++ could create some pretty snazzy object-oriented apps that make use of jQuery and YUI hosted over the web. With the launch of the Windows App Store, don’t be surprised to see some amazing third party apps put long-time industry staples to shame. Once you start looking into the development platform for Metro, then you start to realize that it isn’t just a gimmick for touch screen users. Ostensibly, a great deal of time developing the .NET Framework is about to pay off, in bundles, for everyone who starts using Metro.

Gamers Not Doomed; HID Development Pushed Forward by Windows 8 OS
Gamers likely won’t be left out of the picture. Metro apps are designed to run in full screen, and as all hardcore gamers know, most high intensity games actually throw you into full-screen mode any way. The difference is likely to be negligible, but who wouldn’t like a concise way to manage all entertainment software and keep it running in the background every once in a while? Single player games that enter the market as instant classics like TES: Skyrim could suddenly appear more interactive in the future. Don’t be surprised to see some form of Windows 8 incorporated into the next version of Xbox (Xbox 720?) with DirectX 11 support. It would be nice to see cross-compatibility with the Xbox and Windows PC. Imagine if you could run any console game on a PC and vice versa: Now that kind of unification would prevent a lot of people from buying all those Media Center extenders and going wild on home entertainment systems. Only time will tell how far Microsoft will take us down the rabbit hole. For gamers, that is a great thing.

Multi-monitor and multi-touch support will bring Windows 8 to tablets and phones like never before with certified Metro applications that are programmed for Windows Runtime (WindowsRT). Expect a lot to happen in how we use our desktop and laptop systems. While major advancements in human interface devices are years away, it appears to be one of the major cornerstones of IBM Research and Microsoft Research. Unification across platforms is a recipe for redundancy, but in the case of sensitive data, redundancy is a very good thing. We want to be able to access our office files from home and our home files from the office, without necessarily having to do cartwheels with third party software. The integration of SkyDrive, and ultimately, shell extensions for third-party apps like Dropbox, is a given. Microsoft is never going to take over the cloud-hosted backup market, but they could pull off a pretty neat way of sharing, updating, and collaborating on projects between tablets, phones, desktops, laptops, game consoles, and more. Kinect for Windows is going to be scoffed at in the beginning, but once everyone has such a device linked up to their monitor, moving your hand around to change the active Window on your computer isn’t going to be that bad of a trade-off. In 2009, I gave a speech to a number of people in the public sector about what I saw as the cornerstone for future technology. That presentation included the fact that a device like the SmartBoard would be obsolete within five years’ time, due to the decreasing price of touch screen computers, and the ability for computing devices to detect human movement. While it didn’t go over well with the locals, it is happening, right now. That is something to be excited about. Whatever touch screen advancements Microsoft introduces with Windows 8 will once again push the hardware market to accommodate the software. This means all sorts of new human interface devices are already in development, even from third parties (see: Google Goggles/Google Glasses as one superlative example).

A New World for Software and Hardware Development

It’s not just a Microsoft world: Software companies, game studios, and all sorts of IT companies depend on the reliability and performance of Microsoft products and services, even when their customers aren’t in Microsoft Windows. This happens whenever an e-mail passes through an Exchange server, or a large database is designed for interoperability between a metadata retrieval system and Microsoft Access. Companies that specialize in document management, database administration, and even brand marketing will reap massive benefit from an interface that contains a display mechanism that has the potential to plot and chart raw data into something visually understandable. For example, if I tell you we ordered a hundred pizzas, each consisting of eight slices, and we only have 10 minutes to finish 25 slices, you’re going to wonder how many pizzas we have left. Once data entry software, even stuff that was initially designed with a Mac in mind, is designed for Metro, we’re not just going to be able to see how many pizza slices we have left – we may have the option to order some extras, or watch other people eat the ones left in 10 minutes. It’s that kind of world we’re delving into. We don’t see how great Metro can be: Only because software companies known for their great innovative capabilities like Google and Apple are just getting started on WindowsRT and Metro. This stuff is not going away, and when all the great innovator’s in the world get involved, we’re going to see sparks fly off the third rail.

Negativity Bias
Many people who try the Windows Consumer Preview may be inexperienced with running beta software. And when your whole operating system is a big chunk of bugs, in many cases unbranded, and in some cases feature incomplete, there is going to be a heck of a lot to complain about. I admit that I’m one of them. Take a look at my post about Windows 8 being a platform to sell Windows Live connected services. Well, of course that is what Windows 8 is, but it has the potential to be much more. Studies show us that, on average, people tend to remember a negative outcome 2.5x more than they do a good one. That means you’re 2.5 times more likely to remember when you got a bad haircut then when you got a good one. You’re 2.5 times more likely to dwell on the day you lost your job, than you are to remember the years you spent at the very same job when you contributed an enormous amount of productivity to the company’s bottom line. You’re 2.5 times more likely to remember that turbulence on the airplane. It was unbearable for ten minutes, and now you’re 2.5 times less likely to remember the time you struck up a great conversation with someone on that long flight. You’re 2.5x more likely to remember that woman or man who rejected you on that first date then you are to remember the laughs you shared going into the restaurant. This negativity bias is something we usually learn about in the first or second year of undergraduate psychology, but very few of us even remember or know what it is. In general, your body is trained to remember when bad things happened more than good things, and actually dwell on it. It is truly a response from the Stone Age, and is a very healthy response. It keeps you in balance. But in today’s high tech and demanding world, it can be taken too far.
So yes, we can look at Windows 8 and positively say, “Maybe this thing won’t be so bad. Maybe I can learn it, and enjoy it.”

The True Test: Greater Than The Sum of Its Parts?

Don’t forget that Windows 8 will include a Start on Demand model for all system-related services. For years, I found myself sending Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 customers to a web page called Black Viper (BlackViper.com). This site contained detailed guides on how to configure your Windows operating system to use as few services as absolutely necessary. That site became especially popular during the Windows Vista release. Essentially, the site goes through every single service running on your system and will tell you, not only what the default start setting is for it, but how best to optimize it to suit your needs. If you were trying to squeeze every last drop of performance out of the operating system, without much care for its ability to perform certain operations, you could always use BlackViper’s “Service Configurations” lists to decide whether or not it was safe to make sure that something like the Distributed Link Tracking Client service or the World Wide Web Publishing Service could be completely disabled or not. If I haven’t lost you on this one, Microsoft has come up with a novel solution that is sure to improve your experience with Windows 8, and that is by using “Start on Demand”. Under Start on Demand, when Windows 8 needs a service, it launches it – only when. So that, in and of itself, will save resources. And when we look at what is coming up with memory deduplication, we are looking at true advancement in operating system performance at its most basic level.

Yes, the Consumer Preview is flawed, but for all its flaws, let us all think about these things and realize that the best is yet to come for an operating system ahead of its time.




I have reserved a great deal of time not passing judgement on Windows 8, but so far I am not as enthused as, perhaps, I should be. This is not to say that I have given up on Windows 8, but for me, the Consumer Preview just isn't doing it. The main problem, of course, for me, and I suspect many others, is not so much the lack of Start Orb, but the Metro UI itself. Please allow me to explain:

Is Windows 8 a service, a product, or both?

I have discussed this quite entangling issue to some length with others in confidence, and have found myself to be disappointed with Metro UI. Some concerns that I see myself and others having is the Metro UI as a service platform for Windows Live. It is clear to me that this is likely the reason that Metro UI has been embedded into the operating system. While its usability is no doubt optimized for touch screens and next generation human interface devices, I find myself frustrated with the pre-installed applications in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. In fact, I find myself quite annoyed, and in some cases, startled by what happens when you link your Windows Live ID to Microsoft Windows 8.

In Microsoft Windows 98 SE, upon launching Internet Explorer 5, one of the first screens a user saw was:

"Welcome to MSN Internet Access"
"Get fast, reliable Internet access and e-mail from Microsoft."

During that time, it was uncommon for someone to be on a LAN (local area network) using a router. A LAN would actually have to be manually set up, and so Microsoft attempted to use MSN as an Internet Service Provider to give you dial-up access to the Internet using a dial-up modem.

However, this terminology is telling to me. The issues with Active Desktop from the Windows 9x series of operating systems have not been lost on me. In this context, I am mindful of the fact that Microsoft has attempted to control the desktop, and did make an early bid to control and monetize on the Internet, from its early ages. This is not so much condemnation of Microsoft as it is a realization that Microsoft is a business: just like Google and Facebook.

But what was once seen as a massive attempt to take over the Internet by a corporation that controls the majority of the operating system market, now seems to be getting a welcome reception with bells and whistles from a new generation, corporations, media, and people planning on selling books off their review sites. Indeed, even Paul Thurrott threw me for a loop in one of his more recent reviews, when he concluded something like (paraphrase) "More soon... I have a book to write! (Windows 8 Secrets)".

I have always admired Paul, and his contributions with reviews and early access to Microsoft software. In fact, I have nothing against the guy. But it is true. He has a book to write. About all of the secrets of Windows 8. Much of that review was spent explaining what certain features do. And why they actually may be relevant. To me, this was a sharp departure from highlighting some of the improvements that could be found in the OS or talking about faster benchmarks and better ease of use. What I saw was a middle-of-the-road exploration of features that are so difficult to interpret or understand, even though they are deeply embedded into the operating system, that he has to go around telling you what they are for.

Most of the benchmarks performed on the CP show that there is a small performance blow in comparison to Windows 7, thus far. The system does not run any faster, but boot times have been expedited by code optimization. We have seen this before, with other Windows releases besides Windows 7. One major drag on the operating system seems to be battery usage. The results seem to be inconclusive in this realm, with one site showing better returns, and another site showing massive battery consumption compared to Windows 7. Even though memory deduplication is supposed to improve battery life, benchmarks show either less battery utilization, or much more.

Better Battery Life:
Hands on with Windows 8 CP: Battery life test | ITworld

Less Battery Life:
Windows 8 Consumer Preview: A Quick Look at Battery Life (Updated) | Your source for downloading popular benchmarks

Then there is the whole idea of interest in this OS:

windows 8 cp vs 7 vs xpsp3 benchmarks? - Neowin Forums

Huh? What is going on here? Where is the main interest in the system that we saw with the likes of Windows 7 and even Windows Vista? Windows Vista was a major flop for Microsoft, and it was released years after Windows XP. Still, it offered robust security, and was a step in the right direction for many of us. This is because Windows XP was released in October 2001, and something had to go in the right direction after so much time. Now, with Windows 7 only a couple years old, one is left to ask whether they even need a new operating system. With five years of time between Windows XP and Windows Vista, we still saw big manufacturers like Dell and HP offering downgrades to Windows XP - which many businesses took to save money, at their own peril. But Windows 7 offered something its predecessor, Windows Vista, could not offer. And that was performance on par with Windows XP, a much more slick look, and virtualization technology that would allow anyone with a fairly decent computer system to run, not just a legacy Windows XP application, but the entire Windows XP operating system, in a virtual machine inside Windows 7.

My first point was about Windows 8 as a service, and that is where I also run into some difficulty swallowing the results. Windows 8, when connected with a Windows Live account, seems to want to download your life from Facebook. The "People" Metro application runs a Facebook-based application that, with your consent, downloads all of your information from Facebook and syndicates it to your Windows Live page and Windows Live Messenger. It then uses that information to help you find your "people", by literally just taking all of the data off of your Facebook account. Then, your Windows Live status page becomes something of a Facebook clone. You can find even more people by performing the same task on LinkedIn, and presumably, in the future, all other services, perhaps maybe Google. But what if they let you link Google as well? Then, you can just access everything from "People", which is your Windows Live Messenger status page. What incentive do those other sites have to continue to develop their own social networking sites?

Next up was the product placement in Metro UI applications. When going to video, I found advertisements for popular television shows like The Walking Dead on AMC. It appears that you will eventually be able to purchase video content from this store, and watch videos on your computer. Where will this content come from? Microsoft, of course. This would not be a problem for me, if other services did not exist, like Netflix, for this very purpose. Then, going to Music doesn't show any advertisements just yet - but it does show a blank user library, where you can't add any music to it unless you go into the Desktop any way. Chances are this will be changed, but that doesn't discount the fact that over a decade of software development went into Windows Media Player, which has taken almost a dozen versions for any serious audiophile to even remotely take into consideration. Most will still jump over to iTunes, Winamp, and foobar. Does the Music app interact in some way with Windows Media Player? Is Windows Media Player being phased out? Is Microsoft going to offer its own music service now? We are left to try to figure this out.

You may be wondering where this is going. For me, any way, controlling the presentation means controlling the content. I am very pleased that services have been created like Steam for games and Spotify for music. With these programs, you are able to purchase music as a service. You are also able to purchase and download the full version of games. This software is fantastic, has its own interface, and offers remarkable service when you create an account. You are free to buy stuff, or never do that at all. You can take advantage of social networking within these services. But the great thing about these programs, in my opinion, has always been that you can install and uninstall them at your leisure. Thus, I ask the question, why can't Metro UI itself, just be an icon on the desktop, and a component of Windows that can be removed at any time? After testing the Windows Live features in the built-in Microsoft apps, I am left to make a conclusion I don't really want to make. That conclusion is that because Microsoft could not market social networking to the masses on par with Facebook or Google+, and because the company could not market their operating system to phones and tablets, they have decided to use forced obsolescence to make sure that everyone on the entire planet that buys a PC desktop or laptop computer, besides Linux users, will be forced to interact with their online services like Windows Live and Bing.

When I use the term forced obsolescence, I specifically state that Windows 8 is being designed to make Windows 7 obsolete - eventually. While the touch screen features are great, they seem to be an excuse for giving us a brand new version of Active Desktop. However, this time, everyone actually uses the Internet, and bandwidth/connection speed/throughput is no longer a major concern.

I am left to imagine an Internet where everyone who used a Microsoft Windows computer signed up for MSN Internet Access in Windows 98 and never bought a router. What if everyone in the world was OK with Microsoft placing advertisements for their own or preferred online services in all of their applications years ago? Well, you'd never have Facebook, Google, Yahoo, or a number of other companies. Everyone would be using MSN Search (Bing), Windows Live, Windows Live Messenger, and Windows Live Mail (Hotmail). I am reminded of America Online.

I have never really minded that Microsoft sells their online services to the world. Windows Live has always been something I considered a decent alternative to Google. However, I do have a problem with the operating system that I use also being designed directly to connect to a slew of services I do not use, and likely never will. This includes everything I listed above about Windows Live. This integration of applications that are dependent on Windows Live is a sharp contrast from Windows 7, and I, at least right now, would have major privacy issues divulging all of my Facebook information, online information, and handing it over to Windows Live. I like the fact that I can use multiple social networks, and that I have options. I use Windows Live for a variety of reasons, but I would never want it to be the only option on my phone. much less my desktop. I would want to be able to uninstall software applications associated with Live.

Because Microsoft controls the operating system market, they have decided to expand their business and compete in other areas. This includes gaming consoles, phones, and tablets. I have never taken issue with this, but I do take issue when these services are being bundled and forced down my throat in an OS release. I am reminded of how, on nearly every operating system installation I performed for years, I would have to be sure to remove the "Online Services" section from Microsoft Windows. These "Online Services" included America Online, AT&T WorldNet, CompuServe, and Prodigy.

Today, the desktop is being phased out. Many Windows 8 Consumer Preview users have found this to be a difficult issue to deal with. They claim they prefer the traditional desktop and Start Menu. I find that to be true, but for different reasons. At the click of a few buttons, in order to use the People app in Windows, Microsoft downloaded nearly the entire contents of my online Facebook account. They downloaded my data from LinkedIn. And they turned it into a Windows Live service. When I go to the Videos app, they're trying to sell me movies and TV shows when I already have Netflix. When I go to the desktop, I'm led to believe that the entire concept is a legacy feature. When I want to access a web browser, I don't want it to take up my entire screen and use 20% of my entire monitor to show me what my browser URL is. What happens when I actually need to do some real work? What happens when I need to bypass all of this junk?

For me, it will probably be easy. I have worked in IT and trained myself on how to get around almost anything. I have learned, over the years, what services are not essential on a Windows desktop, and how to install, manage, and maintain all kinds of different services. But for a person who is basic to intermediary with computers, they will never get passed Metro. They will have their content presented to them in a way Microsoft can control. And instead of the Internet being divided up into different areas operated by different corporations and public interest groups, it becomes very clear to me that Microsoft will showcase a heavy hand in controlling all online content, including multimedia, browsing, search, and social networking. Whereas before people didn't use their services because Google or Facebook may have had an edge, tomorrow people will be led to believe that this is much easier. With no off switch, Metro UI becomes a platform for delivering "online services" as part of the computing experience itself. And in so far that Microsoft could not put a dent in the multi-billion dollar online advertising network run by Google, or take advantage of the benefits of data mining that Facebook has had with their one billion users, they will now use their operating system platform to scoop up hundreds of millions, if not billions of new Windows Live members. To me, this matters.

While I have never had an issue with Google managing my e-mails and search, they also don't control the presentation of all the apps on my desktop. And while I may rely on their online services, I would never purchase an operating system released by them for just that reason. And that brings me back to Metro UI, and the reason why, at least right now, I can't tolerate it.

Here will be my test: If Windows 8 is even significantly slower or more resource intensive than Microsoft Windows 7, I will likely have no reason to upgrade. With a big magnifying glass being placed on my online presence through the integration of Windows Live into my operating system, I won't want to. If my computer boots a few seconds faster with Windows 8, I'll still breathe a sigh of relief that someone isn't trying to sell me zombie flicks directly on my desktop with no off switch.

I won't have as many privacy concerns as others will. If people were upset that Microsoft was going overboard with including Internet Explorer with their operating system, they will be infuriated by the massive takeover of the desktop with intrusive data-collecting applications that make up the Windows 8 Metro UI interface on install. While Microsoft was once a software development company that released products, they have now concerned themselves with maintaining a strong and marketable online presence on the web. They want people using their services on every phone, every gaming console, every desktop, every laptop, and every type of device in existence that uses a micro-processor. For me, this is overboard, and not what I'm interested in spending my money on.

I would have liked if Microsoft came out with an option for consumers: Pay a $100 annual subscription for feature improvements to the operating system. That is a service I would have been willing to buy. And under those circumstances, I'm willing to bet I'd be promptly allowed to uninstall Metro UI and delete the shortcut to it off my desktop; something that will never happen once you examine the changes that have been made between the Windows 8 Developer Preview and the Windows 8 Consumer Preview.

When discussing the new OS with even some of the most technically minded individuals, a guy who designed a Skype app for Windows Phone before the official one was even announced, I found these types of comments:

"Im going to place a shortcut to shutdown.exe -s on my desktop. Although I have my power button assigned to turn it off too."

If that's not being "Vista'd" I don't know what is. But perhaps here are some other considerations:

If this is the most advanced operating system in the world, is it going to even detect whether or not you have a touch screen monitor, and adjust the situation to compensate?

As one other expert put it, why do you have to do "double-backflips" to shut it down?

If the Windows 8 installation asked if you wanted to install Metro UI, would the majority of desktop users currently say no?

Does the operating system showcase more opportunities to market Microsoft online services than it does actual improvements to productivity, usability, and computing power?

How come the only way to close an app is to hit ALT-F4 or CTRl-ALT-DEL, but the option to download TV shows seems to be fully developed? Is this thing like a hotel room menu or something?

Is this OS release inspired by a spur of new innovation or a desire to compete more directly with iOS, Android, Google, Facebook, and Apple?

Does Windows 8 outperform Windows 7?

I'd love to read your comments.

(These are my opinions and they do not reflect on anyone else here at Windows8Forums.com. They are subject to change, of course. Here's hoping Microsoft gets it right.)




Hi everyone. Mike Reavey from the MSRC here. Today we're releasing our Advance Notification Service for the December 2010 security bulletin release. As we do every month, we've given information about the coming December release and provided links to detailed information so you can plan your deployment by product, service pack level, and severity. However, since this is the last release for the year, I thought it would also be good time to take a look back at the security releases we've had over the last 12 months.

First, for December we're releasing 17 updates addressing 40 vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows, Office, Internet Explorer, SharePoint and Exchange. Of the 17, two bulletins are rated Critical, 14 are rated Important, and one is rated Moderate. As always, we recommend that customers review the ANS summary page for more information and prepare for the testing and deployment of these bulletins as soon as possible.

Looking back over 2010, that brings the total bulletin count to 106, which is more bulletins than we have released in previous years. This is partly due to vulnerability reports in Microsoft products increasing slightly, as indicated by our latest Security Intelligence Report. This isn't really surprising when you think about product life cycles and the nature of vulnerability research. Microsoft supports products for up to ten years. (One of our most popular operating systems from the turn of the century, XP SP2, reached its end-of-support life in mid-2010, in fact.) Vulnerability research methodologies, on the other hand, change and improve constantly. Older products meeting newer attack methods, coupled with overall growth in the vulnerability marketplace, result in more vulnerability reports. Meanwhile, the percentage of vulnerabilities reported to us cooperatively continues to remain high at around 80 percent; in other words, for most vulnerabilities we're able to release a comprehensive security update before the issue is broadly known.

At the end of the day, Microsoft's primary focus is to release reliable, high-quality updates to our customers. Feedback from customers indicate that this is the most important factor in minimizing disruption and allowing them to deploy our updates quickly - even more important than the overall number of security updates.

Back to this month's bulletins. We're addressing two issues this month that have attracted interest recently. First, we will be closing the last Stuxnet-related issues this month. This is a local Elevation of Privilege vulnerability and we've seen no evidence of its use in active exploits aside from the Stuxnet malware. We're also addressing the Internet Explorer vulnerability described in Security Advisory 2458511. Over the past month, Microsoft and our MAPP partners actively monitored the threat landscape surrounding this vulnerability and the total number of exploit attempts we monitored remained pretty low. Furthermore, customers running Internet Explorer 8 remained protected by default due to the extra protection provided by Data Execution Prevention (DEP). On that note, I want to point you to a new post on the Security Research & Defense team blog describing the effectiveness of DEP and ASLR against the types of exploits we see in the wild today.

We encourage customers to review this month's bulletins and to prioritize their installation according to the needs of their environment. (And, of course, for most home users these updates will be installed automatically.) If you have questions, join us next Wednesday (December 15) when Jonathan Ness and Jerry Bryant will host a live webcast covering the December bulletins. They'll go into detail about the release and answer your bulletin-related questions live on the air. Register at the link below:

Date: Wednesday, December 15
Time: 11:00 a.m. PST (UTC -8)
Registration: https://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/WebCastEventDetails.aspx?EventID= 1032454441

Thanks,

Mike Reavey
Director, MSRC

More...




By Joe Wilcox, Betanews

The other night, I got quite the shock. A good friend, who is a Windows enthusiast and IT administrator/consultant, informed me that he had dumped Windows 7 for Ubuntu. I didn't see that coming. For one, he's a Windows fan. For another, I would rate Windows 7 as nearly Microsoft's best operating system ever (sorry, even with the driver problems, Windows NT 4 still ranks as my fav; for its time -- 1996ish). My buddy contacted me by Skype, and I kept the transcript which I offer here with his permission.

Many of my questions were deliberately pointed, for three reasons. 1) As with all interviews, I strive for impartiality. 2) This friend, whom I'll call IT Guy for this post, is a good buddy. I know his personality enough to press hard about certain things. 3) I don't want to give some of Betanews' more rabid commenters cause to accuse of bias against Microsoft or Windows (I have none, but they accuse anyway). Hey, I'm just as surprised as you about my buddy's Ubuntu conversion. He had tried Linux years ago and didn't really like the experience, particularly because of driver problems and deficient or missing applications.

I don't see that IT Guy gave very good technical reasons for abandoning Windows 7. He mostly states what I consider to be perception problems -- that there are daily updates (which isn't the case), that there are massive security problems (because of the number of patches) and that Microsoft's anti-piracy mechanisms are harassing. These are actually emotional reasons, which is why I am posting the conversation. Even for experienced users, a purchase decision is still an emotional one. My friend didn't feel good about Windows 7. Microsoft doesn't want long-time loyal users like IT Guy going rogue and switching to Linux or Mac OS X.

With that introduction, I present the conversation, which has been edited in four places for flow (We asked and answered some questions out of sequence). The opening question reflects IT Guy contacting me by Skype, where my username isn't my real name. So he wasn't initially sure he was skyping me.

IT Guy: That you, Mr. Joe?
Joe Wilcox: Hey, bud. What's shakin?
IT Guy: Same ole same ole! And you?
Joe Wilcox: Working. Caught me at bad time.
IT Guy: I've tossed Windows7 Ultimate!
IT Guy: Ahhhh. sorry....
Joe Wilcox: Oh?
Joe Wilcox: Wait.
Joe Wilcox: Do tell.
Joe Wilcox: Tossed for what?
IT Guy: Yeah, moved back to Linux. Using Ubuntu.
Joe Wilcox: Because?
IT Guy: Very satisfied, very impressed!
IT Guy: Couldn't keep Win running with any speed.
Joe Wilcox: What about drivers? Software?
IT Guy: That's with 8 GB of RAM.
Joe Wilcox: Really. What's the system config again?
IT Guy: Everything including video if you want to vid chat.
Joe Wilcox: I can't vid chat now. Later perhaps.
IT Guy: It is a truly amazing system. Especially with the spec's I'm running.
Joe Wilcox: But give me some more details. Start with complete system specs.
IT Guy: Intel quad i7 proc.
IT Guy: 8 GB Ram
Joe Wilcox: Laptop?
IT Guy: Yes
Joe Wilcox: Just spell out specs in one sentence.
IT Guy: 500 GB HD
IT Guy: sorry
Joe Wilcox: Model and manufacturer too.
IT Guy: HP Pavilion DV6T. 1 GB dedicated vid ram, and the rest listed above. Came with win7 home, upgraded to Ultimate. Wireless internal of course.
Joe Wilcox: You ran Ultimate for how long?
IT Guy: Now running Ubuntu Desktop 10.04 Lucid Lynx. I ran Ultimate for about 3 mos.
Joe Wilcox: Why so little time?
IT Guy: Just got tired of fighting with it all the time with rights issues and such. A patch an hour somedays? Come on...
Joe Wilcox: What kinds of rights issues?
IT Guy: I've got some stuff I never want to lose, and with Windows I wasn't feeling warm and fuzzy anymore.
Joe Wilcox: Because?
IT Guy: Anytime installing anything from software to copying doc's localy folder to folder...
IT Guy: I understand some of that but come on. I upgraded to Ultimate to get access to some of my old db files created on XP.
Joe Wilcox: You couldn't access them?
IT Guy: No. Windows 7 Ultimate is the only version that will.
Joe Wilcox: Did you try and identify why? Use Microsoft Knowledgebase or forums?
IT Guy: They are up front about that though.
IT Guy: The KB for sure. Most didn't have the time of day.
Joe Wilcox: What about performance? Powerful system, should be plenty of oomph for Windows 7 Ultimate.
IT Guy: Yes it was at first. I could never keep it that way short of doing a sys restore.
Joe Wilcox: So what about performance?
IT Guy: Oddly enough, I came here from the Ubuntu forums
Joe Wilcox: Came here, meaning where?
IT Guy: A refreshing change from MS. Not only is the OS free, if you're kind in your approach on the forums, it's almost like free tech support as well!
IT Guy: I highly recommend Ubuntu.
IT Guy: In case you couldn't tell.
IT Guy: Been using it about a month.
Joe Wilcox: You still haven't answered question about Windows 7 Ultimate performance.
IT Guy: With NO problems!
IT Guy: The performance degraded as time went by.
Joe Wilcox: How so?
IT Guy:: I have no explanation why. That was the most frustrating part of the whole thing.
Joe Wilcox: What makes you sure Ubuntu won't degrade in another two months?
IT Guy: I consider myself, if not a 'computer guru', then pretty darn close.
IT Guy: With Linux today you can monitor and control everything the system is doing.
Joe Wilcox: So let's discuss that. You have how much IT experience?
Joe Wilcox: You've managed systems?
Joe Wilcox: Meaning, as I recall, your experience is broader than just an end user.
IT Guy: Started my first programming classes in 1983. Been working in the industry in one way or another ever since. You know that.
IT Guy: Went to Devry or however they spell it.
IT Guy: Ended up as a full time employee for my COBOL professor.
Joe Wilcox: OK. How about you give me three things you liked and also disliked about Windows 7 Ultimate?
IT Guy: It was pretty.
IT Guy: It was shallow!
IT Guy: Reminded me too much of a cheap woman! hehe
Joe Wilcox: Are you describing Windows or your first date?
IT Guy: Liked the new Aurora interface and how fast my games played.
Joe Wilcox: Cheap woman as in easy to get or hard to please?
IT Guy: I disliked that it has so many security flaws. There were literally patches per hour some day!
Joe Wilcox: Microsoft releases patches on second Tuesday of the month. There couldn't have been that many.
IT Guy: No stable OS should have to be updated continuously in order for the end user to have some sense of security.
Joe Wilcox: Apple regularly updates Mac OS X.
IT Guy: True enough.
Joe Wilcox: What about Ubuntu?
IT Guy: If I want the update yes.
Joe Wilcox: How often? More often in one month than Windows?
IT Guy: My kernel is protected and I only update it in the event of hardware change.
IT Guy: I've updated the kernel once since install.
Joe Wilcox: The Windows 64-bit kernel is pretty hardened. Did you run 64-bit Ultimate?
IT Guy: Yes I did.
Joe Wilcox: Could it be Microsoft is just more proactive about security?
Joe Wilcox: Crime goes up after cities put more cops on the street. It's a well-documented occurance. More cops means more crime recorded not an increase in actual crimes.
IT Guy: That is a possibility. I was thinking about it more from the disgusted end user perspective of 'what is so wrong that I have to have all these updates' feeling.
Joe Wilcox: So the updates generated fear -- that Windows isn't safe enough?
IT Guy: I just figured that as loaded up hardware wise as this laptop is, that I shouldn't have noticed any slowdown, or at the most it should have been imperceptible.
IT Guy: It wasn't so much a fear factor thing though it did weigh on me at times.
Joe Wilcox: Got it. OK, now to those three things you didn't like most about Windows 7 Ultimate.
IT Guy: The slow down, the security, and having it act like I was a new user every time I tried to do something at the sys level.
Joe Wilcox: OK. So what about Ubuntu? What three things do you like most or dislike most?
IT Guy: I like most the fact that when I turn on the laptop, I'm able to be editing my website live, in about a minute flat!
Joe Wilcox: How do the bootup times compare?
IT Guy: Three weeks later I like that it still is booting just as fast.
IT Guy: Ubuntu=1 minute up and able to start an app.
IT Guy: Windows 7 Ultimate=At the end about 4 and a half minutes before you could try to start an app..
Joe Wilcox: That's from bootup? What about sleep? I find Windows 7 Ulitmate to resume quickly on a much less powerful system than yours.
IT Guy: Ahhh, never used sleep.
Joe Wilcox: Really? I assume most everyone uses sleep.
IT Guy: I can't give you a good answer there because I just never used it.
IT Guy: I now do! Took Ubuntu for me to 'discover' the value of sleep mode.
Joe Wilcox: My experience is about 10-15 seconds from sleep.
IT Guy: With Win7?
Joe Wilcox: Yes.
IT Guy: Wow.
Joe Wilcox: That's hardcase scenario -- using Outlook. Outlook was super slow on Vista.
Joe Wilcox: From sleep.
IT Guy: Now I'm going to have to reinstall and look at it again. I used it hard as well. Outlook, Word, Access and typically a media player app of some kind running.
Joe Wilcox: What else do you like about Ubuntu? How is the UI and drivers?
IT Guy: The UI for Ubuntu is on a level with OS X.
Joe Wilcox: That's good?
IT Guy: As far as I'm concerned, it's the best, most intuitive UI I've ever had. The drivers are superlative and run everything very well.
IT Guy: I'm using Gnome, by the way.
IT Guy: KDE was just to much like windows for me. Seemed like there were two ways to do everything.
Joe Wilcox: OK. Driver installation compares how with Windows 7 Ultimate?
IT Guy: Ahhhh.
IT Guy: Are you talking initial install? Of Linux?
Joe Wilcox: Both for drivers.
Joe Wilcox: What if a device doesn't work? How easily can you get a new driver?
IT Guy: At present, I've not come across anything hardware wise that hasn't worked. I have intentionally reinstalled the nVidia drivers with no problems or issues.
Joe Wilcox: What about applications?
Joe Wilcox: Can you watch DVD movies? Make home movies, etc.?
Joe Wilcox: Microsoft has Windows Live Essentials, and there are plenty of good third-party apps. Apple has iLife and its pro products.
IT Guy: All my writing is done with OpenOffice, I watch movies with VLC, I've been happily burning my DVD's with Brassero, and so on and on...
IT Guy: All of the apps I use are free. Part of the OpenSource community.
Joe Wilcox: You do some photography. Have you got anything comparable to Adobe Lightroom?
IT Guy: I am using Gimp for all my photo needs.
Joe Wilcox: That's enough? Really?
IT Guy: Matter of fact the photo used on my twitter account was imported and edited with Gimp today.
IT Guy: It's a really awesome graphics program actually.
IT Guy: So far, I've found there is nothing I can't do with this OS that I was doing with Mac or Windows.
Joe Wilcox: And it handles your Nikon RAW files?
IT Guy: Very well.
IT Guy: Actually found a nikon driver for the camera that imports them directly to Gimp and then wants to know if I want to convert them to a different format.
Joe Wilcox: Would you recommend Windows 7 Ultimate to friends? Would you recommend Ubuntu to friends?
IT Guy: hmmm.
IT Guy: Yes to Ubuntu.
Joe Wilcox: And WIndows 7 Ultimate?
IT Guy: I don't think right now I'd recommend Windows. I mean Ubuntu is free, and you can do everything with it that you can do with Windows, so do the math!
IT Guy: Also, Linux tends to keep your skills honed. Windows seems to not want the end user to have any smarts!
Joe Wilcox: Skills honed how?
IT Guy: You can do a lot from the terminal. Learn basic commands to run in the terminal to maintain the overall health of the computer...
IT Guy: Stuff that harkens back to the Unix console days.
Joe Wilcox: Windows has a sophisticated command line feature.
IT Guy: It definitely does.
Joe Wilcox: But you prefer the Unix/Linux terminal?
IT Guy: Unless you know more or can do more than the basic old dos commands it is really limited compared to the console in Linux.
IT Guy: Especially compared to Unix...
IT Guy: So yes I prefer the Unix/Linux command line over Windows.
Joe Wilcox: And how many years have you used Windows?
IT Guy: Holy *^#*. since ver 1.0.

Copyright Betanews, Inc. 2010

Windows 7 - Linux - Operating system - Joe Wilcox - Microsoft Windows

More...




ok i'm gonna try this again.... my last novel timed out and is floating around in space somewhere now. that smiley doesn't even begin to express my emotions about that.....

You might want to Tarentino this one, my question is at the end and you could read backwards as information is needed.... I have never posted a thread but the one thing I know is that there are a lot of smart people out there who want to help, but there is never enough info. If you have some time to kill and you are looking for a bone to chew on, I would really appreciate some advice.

Preamble: I apologize because this is still going to be long winded but I'm going to try and sum it up as quickly as possible while still including all of the necessary and unecessary details. I can save some of you some typing by stating some facts right off the bat: 1- Yes. I am an idiot. 2- I definately read and purposefully do not follow instructions because to me a computer is nothing more than an expensive toy to play with. You can do what you please with yours. 3- Everything I know about computers is based off of a mixture of trial and error, and years and years of awesome threads. I know just barely enough to be dangerous.

I am actually on the asking end of a post for the first time because for once time is on my side and I am not in a panic stricken dash to save my sinking ship. I have been stretching my rope for some time now, and I think I have finally positioned myself right in the middle of a pretty snug knot.

The machine in question:

HP pavilion dv6000 (notebook)
AMD Turion 64x2 (2.00Ghz)
4GB RAM (3.75 usable)
((don't even get me started on that.... some other day. but keep that in mind cause who knows....))
150GB hard drive (~147GB) as follows:
C: Local Disk 130GB/111GB free
D: DoX (just documents and such) 998MB/103MB free
E: AMADOIR (random other storage) 7.02GB/1.08 GB free
F: HP_RECOVERY 10.7GB/1.01GB free

Ok so about a month and a half ago or so I was on a gaming tangent and decided I was going to see if I could go against the grain a little and try to squeeze some extra juice out of this notebook (obviously I was just spinning my wheels) but I did end up finding a new tangent which turned out to be way more time consuming than any game would have been anyways.

I was running the factory installed 32-bit windows VISTA with 3GB RAM, I decided that a slightly noticable performance increase would be worth a complete OS overhaul and I came across windows 7. I couldn't resist. So I swapped out the 1GB card with a 2GB card (now 2X2), burned the 64-bit image of build 7048, and set up my hard drive as it is above. My thinking at the time was that between the HP recovery partition and the backup partitions I had set up for my random odds and ends that I would be covered in a near worst case scenario. (I know better, but ***k it.)

I booted the disk and did a clean format/install on C: and despite the excitement and hype it went disappointingly smooth. No problems other then a random IE tab crash every once in a while which it actually fixes and restores the tab usually before I even noticed anything was going on. Pretty impressive for a beta. The only driver I had to putz with was a missing graphics driver which I was able to substitute with a Vista64 driver until windows recently sent me the new one. Somehow (and this is where it starts to get tricky) they even managed to package all of my program files and windows files into a nice compact 75GB folder which it must have used to string together any other missing drivers during the install. After everything was up and running smooth I shredded it and let it defrag.

Despite the fact that My Computer>Properties still claims that I have only 3.75 usable GB out of 4, I actually noticed a pretty significant increase in complete performance. Wether it was the smoother OS, the 64 bit upgrade, or the increase in memory remains to be seen, probably just a slight increase from each made a nice difference.
Fast Forward: After a month or so of extensive use the whole system was lagging and running like crap even though I was still only maxing out at 45% RAM and peaking 45-75% CPU. I attributed this to a huge variety of downloads with a crappy virus set up while I was waiting on McAfee to get around to it. Last week I found a working beta McAfee suite that set up and ran like a champ, but performance still sucked (I know McAfee is slow, what I mean is performance didn't change). Yesterday I had a couple cups of coffee in me and got to thinking that if the install and supposed "format" kept all that 75GB of windows junk through the install that it probably kept plenty of other junk as well and I decided that it wouldn't hurt to try and reformat/start over with a clean install and a nice virus suite.
This time when I got to the clean install option I clicked a box that said- format all by itself, before I clicked install and the action only took a few seconds at most. I didn't actually think it had done anything until I completed the install and found a bite size C: drive and a couple of "issues".

1- Windows can not find my internal microphone. I installed the factory drivers and it claims that there is no device to "apply" them to, so to speak. recording>properties tells me that I don't have a mic plugged in. Lots of threads on solving sound issues but havn't found near this particular issue. Least of my concerns.... just a clue.
2- I now have a missing driver for an SM Bus Controller and a Coprocessor whichwere not flagged on the previous install and have no useful information, and can not fix themselves.

Individually I could probably fix these issues but I am concerned that I have done some more damage than I planned. After the clean install, performance is sticky and piss poor even with RAM sitting still at 25% and CPU peaking under 40%.
After careful consideration I came up with the evil geneous plan which I though would solve all my problems at once. I got another cup of coffee and decided I was going to hit up the recovery partition and head back to Vista32, clean out all the garbage, and then drop a new clean 7 over that, in theory bringing me back to where I was a month ago, but wiser.

No such luck. F11 is no longer a functioning button at the BIOS screen (still listed during the momentary pause in startup, but not operational) if I hold it down the system waits for me to let go and then loads 7. The closest I have gotten is into the windows recovery center, and then into a command prompt where I was able to change to the desired directory, but I really didn't know what to do when I got there and the only folder on the F: drive was empty. Back into windows My Computer still shows 9.6GB of something on the drive but there is nothing hidden and again, one folder (RECOVERY). Empty.

I have found some good idea's but I think my best move at this point is to look for some advice.
-HP recovery disks (lame and brings about feelings of giving up...)
- This thread talks about manually writing the image over windows and kinda working backwards which I am open to, but this plan is flawed for my situation... empty folders.
-Someone mentioned installing a certain version of Linux which would add the recovery partition back into the MBR, but I know nothing about Linux and that seems like the same situation that got me into this in the first place.

My fear (worst case scenario) is that my original 64-bit w7 install did not format anything or somehow the switch from 32 to 64 was flawed in some way possibly doing damage to the processor causing a slow decay in performance. (hence the 3.75 usable RAM?)
OR
My most recent install somehow affected the recovery partition and may have wiped it clean in the process.

My question is, is there a way to bypass w7 or build my own boot image which would direct the system to boot from the recovery partition or am I fighting a losing battle?

Thank you if you are still reading this, and I would appreciate any guidance/suggestions you might have to throw out there.




I may have posted in the wrong section but im new here, sorry.

I consider myself a decently computer savvy guy for my age, however, this has me completely stumped. so if any of you can tell me weather or not re-installing windows (or any other solution you could think of) would be likely to help, because as much as It would be a pain to go into safemode and copy all my files onto something, i simply cannot wait until the guy who usually fixes my computer gets back from vacation in a couple weeks.

I have an old laptop (6ish years). the history of witch includes a bunch of viruses (before i owned it, fixed years ago) a fried hard drive (over a year ago, imediatly replaced) and recently the screen started falling off on one side (heavily ducktaped). i was running a cracked version of windows 7 (instaled over a year ago) and is a toshiba satalite pro M300.
the other day my cat attacked me while i was using my laptop and in my startled spasms i droped my laptop. it didnt fall far, about 2 feet and it landed rightside up in a way that didnt realy worry me, its been through far worse. but when i turned it on the screen wouldnt work, i was rather panicked until i realized that the screen did infact work but the backlight was gone, i could just barely make out what was on the screen if i held it up to the light just a certain way. When i did i noticed some odd looking messages and warnings and all around a very buggy and non responsive feel about my precious laptop. So i removed all the tape that is keeping my screen in one piece and keeping that one piece attached to the base and quickly noticed that there was a wire that got unpluged. After finding some tweasers the rest was easy work and i just pluged it right back in, and imediatly the screen was working properly. but after having re-taped it i noticed that since then whenever i use my computer half my programs wont launch and the ones that do almost always stop responding imediatly. also my antivirus goes beserk and warns me about retarded things like (thatoneprogram.exe is trying to access windows/programfiles/thatoneprogram ) but its not responsive enough for me to run a scan. Then after a little while it blue screens with a message that goes by to fast to read. One time i tried launching startup repair but after a long wait all I got back was an error. The weirdest part is, that since this all started when i droped it, you would expect it to be hardware related, but since everything works fine in safemode, and the antivirus goes nuts, and etc it makes it look alot like a software problem, specificaly a virus or something of the like.

Please tell me if you think you've figured out whats wrong or if you have any questions or feel like ive forgoten to mention something. im kinda desperate. either way, thanks for reading to the end.

EDIT: just ran startup repair again and at the end of a freiking massive startup repair report it sais

Root cause found:
-------------------------------
unspecified changes to configuration might have caused the problem.

Repair action: System files integrity check and repair
Result: failed. Error code = 0x45d
time taken = 345821ms

what does it mean?




ok i've of this little netbook that has no optical drives and windows 7 which is of course... on a dvd. now last time i needed to install XP on it i used syspart because there was no option to boot from USB. here is the how to i followed:

Code: 1) Install the hard drive as a slave in a working desktop system. (If laptop HD will require an adapter) 2) Right click "My Computer" click "Manage", goto "DisK Managment" and format the drive, NTSF Quick Format will do. 3) Insert your Windows XP CD in the drive, then exit the auto launch screen. 4) Go to "My Computer" and look at the drive letters of the CD-rom containing the XP disk, and also the drive letter of the hard drive you are installing to. 5) Assuming the hard drive is "Z" and the XP cd is in "X:", go to the DOS prompt and type (or cut and paste): X:I386winnt32.exe /syspart:Z: /tempdrive:Z: /makelocalsource /noreboot 6) Setup will begin and ask you if you want to upgrade or full install. It will then ask you for a few more things including the CD key. 7) When it finishes doing what it needs to your HD it will close automatically and return you to the desktop. it essentially stopped the installation right before it takes into account my system so that you can put the HD back into the laptop and finish the install and it would play nice with everything. i don't know a lot about the syspart command. and obviously seeing "winnt32" in the string i'm guess at minimum i've got to adjust my file path. i guess my question is two fold:

A) will the syspart command work the same as in the above example to install windows 7?

B) if so what do i need to change in "X:I386winnt32.exe /syspart:Z: /tempdrive:Z: /makelocalsource /noreboot" to make that happen?

any help would be greatly appreciated!




You might want to Tarentino this one, my question is at the end and you could read backwards as information is needed.... I have never posted a thread but the one thing I know is that there are a lot of smart people out there who want to help, but there is never enough info. If you have some time to kill and you are looking for a bone to chew on, I would really appreciate some advice.

Preamble: I apologize because this is still going to be long winded but I'm going to try and sum it up as quickly as possible while still including all of the necessary and unecessary details. I can save some of you some typing by stating some facts right off the bat: 1- Yes. I am an idiot. 2- I definately read and purposefully do not follow instructions because to me a computer is nothing more than an expensive toy to play with. You can do what you please with yours. 3- Everything I know about computers is based off of a mixture of trial and error, and years and years of awesome threads. I know just barely enough to be dangerous.

I am actually on the asking end of a post for the first time because for once time is on my side and I am not in a panic stricken dash to save my sinking ship. I have been stretching my rope for some time now, and I think I have finally positioned myself right in the middle of a pretty snug knot.

The machine in question:

HP pavilion dv6000 (notebook)
AMD Turion 64x2 (2.00Ghz)
4GB RAM (3.75 usable)
((don't even get me started on that.... some other day. but keep that in mind cause who knows....))
150GB hard drive (~147GB) as follows:
C: Local Disk 130GB/111GB free
D: DoX (just documents and such) 998MB/103MB free
E: AMADOIR (random other storage) 7.02GB/1.08 GB free
F: HP_RECOVERY 10.7GB/1.01GB free

Ok so about a month and a half ago or so I was on a gaming tangent and decided I was going to see if I could go against the grain a little and try to squeeze some extra juice out of this notebook (obviously I was just spinning my wheels) but I did end up finding a new tangent which turned out to be way more time consuming than any game would have been anyways.

I was running the factory installed 32-bit windows VISTA with 3GB RAM, I decided that a slightly noticable performance increase would be worth a complete OS overhaul and I came across windows 7. I couldn't resist. So I swapped out the 1GB card with a 2GB card (now 2X2), burned the 64-bit image of build 7048, and set up my hard drive as it is above. My thinking at the time was that between the HP recovery partition and the backup partitions I had set up for my random odds and ends that I would be covered in a near worst case scenario. (I know better, but ***k it.)

I booted the disk and did a clean format/install on C: and despite the excitement and hype it went disappointingly smooth. No problems other then a random IE tab crash every once in a while which it actually fixes and restores the tab usually before I even noticed anything was going on. Pretty impressive for a beta. The only driver I had to putz with was a missing graphics driver which I was able to substitute with a Vista64 driver until windows recently sent me the new one. Somehow (and this is where it starts to get tricky) they even managed to package all of my program files and windows files into a nice compact 75GB folder which it must have used to string together any other missing drivers during the install. After everything was up and running smooth I shredded it and let it defrag.

Despite the fact that My Computer>Properties still claims that I have only 3.75 usable GB out of 4, I actually noticed a pretty significant increase in complete performance. Wether it was the smoother OS, the 64 bit upgrade, or the increase in memory remains to be seen, probably just a slight increase from each made a nice difference.
Fast Forward: After a month or so of extensive use the whole system was lagging and running like crap even though I was still only maxing out at 45% RAM and peaking 45-75% CPU. I attributed this to a huge variety of downloads with a crappy virus set up while I was waiting on McAfee to get around to it. Last week I found a working beta McAfee suite that set up and ran like a champ, but performance still sucked (I know McAfee is slow, what I mean is performance didn't change). Yesterday I had a couple cups of coffee in me and got to thinking that if the install and supposed "format" kept all that 75GB of windows junk through the install that it probably kept plenty of other junk as well and I decided that it wouldn't hurt to try and reformat/start over with a clean install and a nice virus suite.
This time when I got to the clean install option I clicked a box that said- format all by itself, before I clicked install and the action only took a few seconds at most. I didn't actually think it had done anything until I completed the install and found a bite size C: drive and a couple of "issues".

1- Windows can not find my internal microphone. I installed the factory drivers and it claims that there is no device to "apply" them to, so to speak. recording>properties tells me that I don't have a mic plugged in. Lots of threads on solving sound issues but havn't found near this particular issue. Least of my concerns.... just a clue.
2- I now have a missing driver for an SM Bus Controller and a Coprocessor whichwere not flagged on the previous install and have no useful information, and can not fix themselves.

Individually I could probably fix these issues but I am concerned that I have done some more damage than I planned. After the clean install, performance is sticky and piss poor even with RAM sitting still at 25% and CPU peaking under 40%.
After careful consideration I came up with the evil geneous plan which I though would solve all my problems at once. I got another cup of coffee and decided I was going to hit up the recovery partition and head back to Vista32, clean out all the garbage, and then drop a new clean 7 over that, in theory bringing me back to where I was a month ago, but wiser.

No such luck. F11 is no longer a functioning button at the BIOS screen (still listed during the momentary pause in startup, but not operational) if I hold it down the system waits for me to let go and then loads 7. The closest I have gotten is into the windows recovery center, and then into a command prompt where I was able to change to the desired directory, but I really didn't know what to do when I got there and the only folder on the F: drive was empty. Back into windows My Computer still shows 9.6GB of something on the drive but there is nothing hidden and again, one folder (RECOVERY). Empty.

I have found some good idea's but I think my best move at this point is to look for some advice.
-HP recovery disks (lame and brings about feelings of giving up...)
- This thread talks about manually writing the image over windows and kinda working backwards which I am open to, but this plan is flawed for my situation... empty folders.
-Someone mentioned installing a certain version of Linux which would add the recovery partition back into the MBR, but I know nothing about Linux and that seems like the same situation that got me into this in the first place.

My fear (worst case scenario) is that my original 64-bit w7 install did not format anything or somehow the switch from 32 to 64 was flawed in some way possibly doing damage to the processor causing a slow decay in performance. (maybe the "3.75 usable RAM" is indicating 32-bit parameters ?) no idea if that makes sense.
OR
My most recent install somehow affected the recovery partition and may have wiped it clean in the process.

My question is, is there a way to bypass w7 or build my own boot image which would direct the system to boot from the recovery partition or am I fighting a losing battle?

Thank you if you are still reading this, and I would appreciate any guidance/suggestions you might have to throw out there.




So I've been having some major issues with Windows Media Player. I wouldn't really mind, because the general library function works perfectly otherwise and it's perfect with foobar2000, but Windows 7 has a very nice integration with the Sonos music system (UPnP) which allows streaming over the network. I've installed 7000, 7048, 7057, and 7100 32-bit as they were released (oh, I mean leaked xD), and recently installed 7600 to see what had changed. I decided to try going 64-bit with 7600, to see how my laptop handles it (haven't noticed any difference, to be honest). To migrate between the OSes I've been installing the older version over the new, and then copying the Users folder from Windows.old, and then reinstalling programs for the registry/start menu entries.

The issue is that Windows Media Player doesn't have a library. No matter what I do, it refuses to add anything: by going Organize -> Manage Libraries -> Music I can add folders, and they stay there (Googling my problem has found that folders vanishing from that list is pretty common), and then WMP usually says "Scanning new folders..." or something similar. This ends a couple of seconds later, with nothing showing up my library - and, in fact, the Library entry in the left menu is greyed out.

I've also tried Tools -> Advanced -> Restore media library..., and that's had no effect. I've manually deleted the wmdb file (and sometimes wiped out the entire C:/Users/David/AppData/Local/MicrosoftMedia Player folder, it has exactly the same effect) many times. It just causes WMP to scan new folders the next time it's opened, and still not find anything.

I found a partial workaround in earlier versions of Win7 by downgrading to WMP 11 (detailed at devrexster - WMP 11 - For Windows 7), which - to be honest I've forgotten exactly how it happened - worked to a limited extent. I added my library at the time and I'd be able to browse and stream those files perfectly from various Sonos devices, but I couldn't update the library with any new files.

After a while I moved all my music from C:/Users/David/Music to C:/Music to see if that would have any effect; it hasn't. I've checked the attributes of the files, they're all neutral (no system, no hidden attribute). I can't find anything wrong with the files themselves: they're from various sources (some ripped from CDs in WMP10 on an XP machine and then copied over, some from various free music sites such as Newgrounds, some plain pirated), their metadata is pristine (works in both iTunes [grr, but I have to use it to sync my iPod] and foobar2000).

I ran a Windows Troubleshooter for solving WMP Library problems, and when run in administrator mode it reported that my database file was corrupted and offered to remove it so that WMP would rebuild it. I tried that, it had the same effect as manually deleting the file or folder in question (namely, a very quick scan by WMP and an empty library). If I run the troubleshooter again it says exactly the same thing, no matter how many times or what I do in between as regards WMP or the .wmdb.

So. I've tried various solutions, one of which has resulted in a limited-use but sadly lost solution, and none of which have produced my ultimate outcome (the library wmdb file actually updating). I don't care about playing my music in WMP or WMC, but I need to get the .wmdb file working for the Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service. Has anyone encountered this kind of issue before, and what kind of success have they had?




Today, we released MS13-008 to address the issue described in Security Advisory 2794220. We’ve seen only a limited number of attacks through an issue in Internet Explorer 6-8, but the potential exists that more customers could be affected. The majority of customers have automatic updates enabled and will not need to take any action because protections will be downloaded and installed automatically. For those manually updating, we strongly encourage you to apply this update as quickly as possible. As always, we recommend upgrading to Internet Explorer 9-10, as they are not impacted by this issue.
As we discussed in the ANS blog post, if you previously applied the Fix it offered through the advisory, you do not need to uninstall it before applying the security update released today. However, the Fix it is no longer needed after the security update is installed, so we are recommending that you uninstall it after you have applied the update to your system.
Please watch the video below for an overview of this security update, and you can find more information on the Microsoft Security Bulletin summary webpage.

We also invite you to join Jonathan Ness and myself for a live webcast at 1 p.m. PST today, where we’ll provide a detailed review of the bulletin and answer your questions in real-time. You can register here. I look forward to chatting with you then.
Thanks,
Dustin Childs
Group Manager
Trustworthy Computing

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Before we discuss this month’s release, I wanted to briefly touch on the big event happening this week. No, I’m not talking about the romantically-themed holiday on Thursday. I’m talking about the start of spring training and the return of baseball. There are a few things I am very passionate about and those who know me, know how much I love baseball. From playing, to coaching, to watching, it's how I spend most of my free time. Of course, those who know me also know I am passionate about defense, both on the field and off. As a catcher and with Trustworthy Computing, protection is just another part of the job.
When it comes to protections for computers, I usually point to our security updates (mentioned below), but I also like to bring up additional tools that people can use to protect their systems. The Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET) is a free tool that offers great protection, but many people I talk to haven’t heard of it or don’t use it. If you are not familiar with EMET, it provides security mitigation technologies to make it more difficult for an attacker to exploit vulnerabilities in existing software – even those issues that are unknown. EMET does this by stopping known exploit techniques and allowing applications to opt-in to existing mitigations that already exist on your system, like Data Execution Prevention (DEP) and Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR).
We’ve been recommending EMET for a while, and it’s great to see others endorse it as well. While quite a few folks have installed EMET on their home systems, the tool can be a bit daunting to configure at first glance. To help out, we’ve provided some easy installation and configuration tips for home users.
Now, on to today’s bulletins.
We’re releasing 12 bulletins, five Critical-class and seven Important-class, addressing 57 vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows, Office, Internet Explorer, Exchange and .NET Framework. For those who need to prioritize deployment, we recommend focusing on MS13-009, MS13-010 and MS13-020 first:
MS13-009 (Microsoft Internet Explorer)

This security update resolves thirteen issues in Internet Explorer. The most severe vulnerabilities could allow remote code execution if a user views a specially crafted webpage using Internet Explorer. An attacker who successfully exploited these vulnerabilities could gain the same rights as the current owner. The issues were privately disclosed and we have not detected any attacks or customer impact.
MS13-010 (Vector Markup Language)
This security update resolves an issue in the Microsoft implementation of Vector Markup Language (VML). The vulnerability could allow remote code execution if a user viewed a specially crafted webpage using Internet Explorer. This issue was privately reported and we have not detected any attacks or customer impact.
MS13-020 (Microsoft Windows)
This security update resolves an issue in Microsoft Windows Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) Automation. The vulnerability could allow remote code execution if a user opens a specially crafted file. An attacker who successfully exploited the vulnerability could gain the same rights as the current owner. This issue was privately reported and we have not detected any attacks or customer impact.
Please watch the bulletin overview video below for a quick summary of today’s releases.

As always, we recommend that our customers deploy all security updates as soon as possible. Our deployment priority guidance is below to further assist in deployment planning (click for larger view).

Our risk and impact graph shows an aggregate view of this month's severity and exploitability index (click for larger view).

For more information about this month's security updates, visit the Microsoft Security Bulletin summary webpage.
Jonathan Ness and I will host the monthly technical webcast, scheduled for Wednesday, February 13, 2013, at 11 a.m. PST. I invite you to register here, and tune in to learn more about the February security bulletins and advisories.
For all the latest information, you can also follow the MSRC team on Twitter at @MSFTSecResponse.
I hope your team has a great spring, and I look forward to hearing your questions during the webcast.
Thank you,
Dustin Childs
Group Manager, Response Communications
Microsoft Trustworthy Computing

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Top Ten Linux Distributions

DistroWatch.com: Put the fun back into computing. Use Linux, BSD.

The bewildering choice and the ever increasing number of Linux distributions can be confusing for those who are new to Linux. This is why this page was created. It lists 10 Linux distributions (plus an honourable mention of FreeBSD, by far the most popular of all of the BSDs), which are generally considered as most widely-used by Linux users around the world. There are no figures to back it up and there are many other distributions that might suit your particular purpose better, but as a general rule, all of these are popular and have very active forums or mailing lists where you can ask questions if you get stuck. Ubuntu, Linux Mint and PCLinuxOS are considered the easiest for new users who want to get productive in Linux as soon as possible without having to master all its complexities. On the other end of the spectrum, Slackware Linux, Gentoo Linux and FreeBSD are more advanced distributions that require plenty of learning before they can be used effectively. openSUSE, Fedora, Debian GNU/Linux and Mandriva Linux can be classified as good "middle-road" distributions. CentOS is an enterprise distribution, suitable for those who prefer stability, reliability and long-term support over cutting-edge features and software.

The launch of Ubuntu was first announced in September 2004. Although a relative newcomer to the Linux distribution scene, the project took off like no other before, with its mailing lists soon filled in with discussions by eager users and enthusiastic developers. In the few years that followed, Ubuntu has grown to become the most popular desktop Linux distribution and has greatly contributed towards developing an easy-to-use and free desktop operating system that can compete well with any proprietary ones available on the market.

What was the reason for Ubuntu's stunning success? Firstly, the project was created by Mark Shuttleworth, a charismatic South African multimillionaire, a former Debian developer and the world's second space tourist, whose company, the Isle of Man-based Canonical Ltd, is currently financing the project. Secondly, Ubuntu had learnt from the mistakes of other similar projects and avoided them from the start - it created an excellent web-based infrastructure with a Wiki-style documentation, creative bug-reporting facility, and professional approach to the end users. And thirdly, thanks to its wealthy founder, Ubuntu has been able to ship free CDs to all interested users, thus contributing to the rapid spread of the distribution.

On the technical side of things, Ubuntu is based on Debian "Sid" (unstable branch), but with some prominent packages, such as GNOME, Firefox and OpenOffice.org, updated to their latest versions. It has a predictable, 6-month release schedule, with an occasional Long Term Support (LTS) release that is supported with security updates for 3 - 5 years, depending on the edition (non-LTS release are supported for 18 months). Other special features of Ubuntu include an installable live CD, creative artwork and desktop themes, migration assistant for Windows users, support for the latest technologies, such as 3D desktop effects, easy installation of proprietary device drivers for ATI and NVIDIA graphics cards and wireless networking, and on-demand support for non-free or patent-encumbered media codecs.

Pros: Fixed release cycle and support period; novice-friendly; wealth of documentation, both official and user-contributedCons: Lacks compatibility with DebianSoftware package management: Advanced Package Tool (APT) using DEB packagesAvailable editions: Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Ubuntu Studio and Mythbuntu for 32-bit (i386) and 64-bit (x86_64) processors; Ubuntu Server edition also for SPARC processorsSuggested Ubuntu-based alternatives: Linux Mint (desktop), gOS (desktop with Google applications), OpenGEU (desktop with Enlightenemnt), Ultimate Edition (desktop), CrunchBang Linux (desktop with Openbox), gNewSense (free software)

Although Fedora was formally unveiled only in September 2004, its origins effectively date back to 1995 when it was launched by two Linux visionaries -- Bob Young and Marc Ewing -- under the name of Red Hat Linux. The company's first product, Red Hat Linux 1.0 "Mother's Day", was released in the same year and was quickly followed by several bug-fix updates. In 1997, Red Hat introduced its revolutionary RPM package management system with dependency resolution and other advanced features which greatly contributed to the distribution's rapid rise in popularity and its overtaking of Slackware Linux as the most widely-used Linux distribution in the world. In later years, Red Hat standardised on a regular, 6-month release schedule.

In 2003, just after the release of Red Hat Linux 9, the company introduced some radical changes to its product line-up. It retained the Red Hat trademark for its commercial products, notably Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and introduced Fedora Core, a Red Hat-sponsored, but community-oriented distribution designed for the "Linux hobbyist". After the initial criticism of the changes, the Linux community accepted the "new" distribution as a logical continuation of Red Hat Linux. A few quality releases was all it took for Fedora to regain its former status as one of the best-loved operating systems on the market. At the same time, Red Hat quickly became the biggest and most profitable Linux company in the world, with an innovative product line-up and other interesting initiatives, such as its Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) certification programme.

Although Fedora's direction is still largely controlled by Red Hat, Inc. and the product is sometimes seen -- rightly or wrongly -- as a test bed for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, there is no denying that Fedora is one of the most innovative distributions available today. Its contributions to the Linux kernel, glibc and GCC are well-known and its more recent integration of SELinux functionality, Xen virtualisation technologies and other enterprise-level features are much appreciated among the company's customers. On a negative side, Fedora still lacks a clear desktop-oriented strategy that would make the product easier to use for those beyond the "Linux hobbyist" target.

Pros: Highly innovative; outstanding security features; large number of supported packages; strict adherence to the Free Software philosophyCons: Fedora's priorities tend to lean towards enterprise features, rather than desktop usabilitySoftware package management: YUM graphical and command line utility using RPM packagesAvailable editions: Fedora for 32-bit (i386), 64-bit (x86_64) and PowerPC (ppc) processors; Red Hat Enterprise Linux for i386, IA64, PowerPC, s390x and x86_64 architectures; also live CD editions with either GNOME or KDESuggested Fedora-based alternatives: BLAG Linux And GNU (desktop, free software), Berry Linux (live CD), Yellow Dog Linux (Apple's PowerPC-based systems)Suggested Red Hat-based alternatives: CentOS, Scientific Linux, StartCom Enterprise Linux

The beginnings of openSUSE date back to 1992 when four German Linux enthusiasts -- Roland Dyroff, Thomas Fehr, Hubert Mantel and Burchard Steinbild -- launched the project under the name of SuSE (Software und System Entwicklung) Linux. In the early days, the young company sold sets of floppy disks containing a German edition of Slackware Linux, but it wasn't long before SuSE Linux became an independent distribution with the launch of version 4.2 in May 1996. In the following years, the developers adopted the RPM package management format and introduced YaST, an easy-to-use graphical system administration tool. Frequent releases, excellent printed documentation, and easy availability of SuSE Linux in stores across Europe and North America resulted in growing popularity of the distribution.

SuSE Linux was acquired by Novell, Inc. in late 2003. Major changes in the development, licensing and availability of SUSE Linux followed shortly afterwards - YaST was released under the General Public License, the ISO images were freely distributed from public download servers, and, most significantly, the development of the distribution was opened to public participation for the first time. Since the launch of the openSUSE project and the release of version 10.0 in October 2005, the distribution became completely free in both senses of the word. The openSUSE code has become a base system for Novell's commercial products, first named as Novell Linux, but later renamed to SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

Today, openSUSE has a large following of satisfied users. The principal reason for openSUSE getting high marks from its users are pleasant and polished desktop environments (KDE and GNOME), excellent system administration utility (YaST), and, for those who buy the boxed edition, some of the best printed documentation available with any distribution. However, the recent deal between Novell and Microsoft, which apparently concedes to Microsoft's argument that it has intellectual property rights over Linux, has resulted in a string of condemnation by many Linux personalities and has prompted some users to switch distributions. Although Novell has downplayed the deal and Microsoft has yet to exercise any rights, this issue remains a thorn in the side of the otherwise very community-friendly Linux company.

Pros: Comprehensive and intuitive configuration tool; large repository of software packages, excellent web site infrastructure and printed documentationCons: Novell's patent deal with Microsoft in November 2006 seemingly legitimised Microsoft's intellectual property claims over Linux; its resource-heavy desktop setup and graphical utilities are sometimes seen as "bloated and slow"Software package management: YaST graphical and command line utility using RPM packagesAvailable editions: openSUSE for 32-bit (i386), 64-bit (x86_64) and PowerPC (ppc) processors (also installable live CD edition); SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop/Server for i586, IA64, PowerPC, s390, s390x and x86_64 architectures

Debian GNU/Linux was first announced in 1993. Its founder, Ian Murdock, envisaged the creation of a completely non-commercial project developed by hundreds of volunteer developers in their spare time. With sceptics far outnumbering optimists at the time, it was destined to disintegrate and collapse, but the reality was very different. Debian not only survived, it thrived and, in less than a decade, it became the largest Linux distribution and possibly the largest collaborative software project ever created!

The success of Debian GNU/Linux can be illustrated by the following numbers. It is developed by over 1,000 volunteer developers, its software repositories contain more than 20,000 packages (compiled for 11 processor architectures), and it is responsible for inspiring over 120 Debian-based distributions and live CDs. These figures are unmatched by any other Linux-based operating system. The actual development of Debian takes place in three main branches (or four if one includes the bleeding-edge "experimental" branch) of increasing levels of stability: "unstable" (also known as "sid"), "testing" and "stable". This progressive integration and stabilisation of packages and features, together with the project's well-established quality control mechanisms, has earned Debian its reputation of being one of the best-tested and most bug-free distributions available today.

However, this lengthy and complex development style also has some drawbacks: the stable releases of Debian are not particularly up-to-date and they age rapidly, especially since new stable releases are only published once every 1 - 3 years. Those users who prefer the latest packages and technologies are forced to use the potentially buggy Debian testing or unstable branches. The highly democratic structures of Debian have led to controversial decisions and gave rise to infighting among the developers. This has contributed to stagnation and reluctance to make radical decisions that would take the project forward.

Pros: Very stable; remarkable quality control; includes over 20,000 software packages; supports more processor architectures than any other Linux distributionCons: Conservative - due to its support for many processor architectures, newest technologies are not always included; slow release cycle (one stable release every 1 - 3 years); discussions on developer mailing lists and blogs can be uncultured at timesSoftware package management: Advanced Package Tool (APT) using DEB packagesAvailable editions: Installation CD/DVD and live CD images for 11 processor architectures, including all 32-bit and 64-bit processors from Intel, AMD, Power and othersSuggested Debian-based alternatives: MEPIS Linux, Ubuntu, sidux. Damn Small Linux (for old computers), KNOPPIX (live CD), Dreamlinux (desktop), Elive (desktop with Enlightenment), Xandros (commercial), 64 Studio (multimedia)

Mandriva Linux was launched by Gaël Duval in July 1998 under the name of Mandrake Linux. At first, it was just a re-mastered edition of Red Hat Linux with the more user-friendly KDE desktop, but the subsequent releases also added various user-friendly touches, such as a new installer, improved hardware detection, and intuitive disk partitioning utility. As a result of these enhancements, Mandrake Linux flourished. After attracting venture capital and turning into a business, the fortunes of the newly established MandrakeSoft fluctuated widely between a near bankruptcy in early 2003 to a flurry of acquisitions in 2005. The latter, after merging with Brazil's Conectiva, saw the company change its name to Mandriva.

Mandriva Linux is primarily a desktop distribution. Its best loved features are cutting edge software, superb system administration suite (DrakConf), excellent implementation of its 64-bit edition, and extensive internationalisation support. It had an open development model long before many other popular distributions, with intensive beta testing and frequent stable releases. In recent years, it has also developed an array of installable live CDs and has launched Mandriva Flash - a complete Mandriva Linux system on a bootable USB Flash device. It was the first major distribution that offered out-of-the box support for popular netbooks, such as ASUS Eee PC.

Despite the technical excellence, Mandriva Linux has had a roller coaster ride in recent years. This has partly to do with the emergence of other user-friendly distributions that have caught up with Mandriva, but also with some controversial decisions by the company which have alienated a sector of the distribution's user base. Mandriva's web presence is a messy conglomeration of several different web sites, while its "Mandriva Club", originally designed to provide added value to paying customers, has been getting mixed reviews. Although the company has been addressing some of the criticism, it continues to face an uphill battle in persuading new Linux users or users of other distributions to try (and buy) its products.

Pros: Beginner-friendly, especially the commercial edition; excellent central configuration utility; very good out-of-the-box support for dozens of languages; installable live CDCons: Lacks a comprehensive marketing strategy to compete with other major distributions, non-existent Mandriva books show lack of "mindshare" among publishing housesSoftware package management: URPMI with Rpmdrake (a graphical front-end for URPMI) using RPM packages; "SMART" available as an alternative methodAvailable editions: Freely downloadable Mandriva "Free" installation media for 32-bit (i586) and 64-bit (x86_64) processors; freely downloadable Mandriva "One" installable live media for 32-bit (i586) processors; commercial Mandriva PowerPack edition for 32-bit (i586) and 64-bit (x86_64) processors; also high-end "Corporate" solutions for desktops and servers, all with long-term support options

Linux Mint, a distribution based on Ubuntu, was first launched in 2006 by Clement Lefebvre, a French-born IT specialist living and working in Ireland. Originally maintaining a Linux web site dedicated to providing help, tips and documentation to new Linux users, the author saw the potential of developing a Linux distribution that would address the many usability drawbacks associated with the generally more technical, mainstream products. After soliciting feedback from the visitors on his web site, he proceeded with building what many refer to today as an "improved Ubuntu".

But Linux Mint is not just an Ubuntu with a new set of applications and an updated desktop theme. Since its beginnings, the developers have been adding a variety of graphical "mint" tools for enhanced usability; this includes mintDesktop - a utility for configuring the desktop environment, mintMenu - a new and elegant menu structure for easier navigation, mintInstall - an easy-to-use software installer, and mintUpdate - a software updater, just to mention a few more prominent ones among several other tools and hundreds of additional improvements. The project also designs its own artwork, while its reputation for ease of use has been further enhanced by the inclusion of proprietary and patent-encumbered multimedia codecs that are often absent from larger distributions due to potential legal threats. However, one of the best features of Linux Mint is the fact that the developers listen to the users and are always fast in implementing good suggestions.

While Linux Mint is available as a free download, the project generates revenue from donations, advertising and professional support services. It doesn't have a fixed release schedule or a list of planned features, but one can expect a new version of Linux Mint several weeks after each stable Ubuntu release. Besides the "main" edition which features the GNOME desktop, the project also builds a variety of semi-regular "community" editions with alternative desktops, such as KDE, Xfce and Fluxbox. However, these are often completed several months after the release of the "main" GNOME edition and may sometimes miss some of the "minty" tools and other features found in the project's flagship product. Linux Mint does not adhere to the principles of software freedom and it does not publish security advisories.

Pros: Superb collection of "minty" tools developed in-house, hundreds of user-friendly enhancements, inclusion of multimedia codecs, open to users' suggestionsCons: The alternative "community" editions don't always include the latest features, the project does not issue security advisoriesSoftware package management: APT with mintInstall using DEB packages (compatible with Ubuntu repositories)Available editions: A "main" edition (with GNOME) for 32-bit and 64-bit computers, a variety of "community" editions (with KDE, Xfce and Fluxbox) for 32-bit computersPossible alternatives: Ubuntu, SimplyMEPIS

PCLinuxOS was first announced in 2003 by Bill Reynolds, better known as "Texstar". Prior to creating his own distribution, Texstar was already a well-known developer in the Mandrake Linux community of users for building up-to-date RPM packages for the popular distribution and providing them as a free download. In 2003 he decided to build a new distribution, initially based on Mandrake Linux, but with several significant usability improvements. The goals? It should be beginner-friendly, have out-of-the box support for proprietary kernel modules, browser plugins and media codecs, and should function as a live CD with a simple and intuitive graphical installer.

Several years and development releases later, PCLinuxOS is rapidly approaching its intended state. In terms of usability, the project offers out-of-the-box support for many technologies most Windows-to-Linux migrants would expect from their new operating system. On the software side of things, PCLinuxOS is a KDE-oriented distribution, with a customised and always up-to-date version of the popular desktop environment. Its growing software repository contains other desktops, however, and offers a great variety of desktop packages for many common tasks. For system configuration, PCLinuxOS has retained much of Mandriva's excellent Control Centre, but has replaced its package management system with APT and Synaptic, a graphical package management front-end.

On the negative side, PCLinuxOS lacks any form of roadmap or release goals. Despite the growing community involvement in the project, most development and decision-making remains in the hands of Texstar who tends to be on the conservative side when judging the stability of a release. As a result, the development process of PCLinuxOS tends to be long and a new version is not released until all known bugs are solved. There are currently no plans for a 64-bit edition of PCLinuxOS.

Pros: Out-of-the-box support for graphics drivers, browser plugins and media codecs; fast boot times; up-to-date softwareCons: No 64-bit edition offered; no out-of-the-box support for non-English languages; lacks release planningSoftware package management: Advanced Package Tool (APT) using RPM packagesAvailable editions: MiniMe, Junior and BigDaddy editions for 32-bit (i586) processor architecturesSuggested PCLinuxOS-based alternatives: SAM Linux Desktop, Granular Linux

Slackware Linux, created by Patrick Volkerding in 1992, is the oldest surviving Linux distribution. Forked from the now-discontinued SLS project, Slackware 1.0 came on 24 floppy disks and was built on top of Linux kernel version 0.99pl11-alpha. It quickly became the most popular Linux distribution, with some estimates putting its market share to as much as 80% of all Linux installations in 1995. Its popularity decreased dramatically with the arrival of Red Hat Linux and other, more user-friendly distributions, but Slackware Linux still remains a much-appreciated operating system among the more technically-oriented system administrators and desktop users.

Slackware Linux is a highly technical, clean distribution, with only a very limited number of custom utilities. It uses a simple, text-based system installer and a comparatively primitive package management system that does not resolve software dependencies. As a result, Slackware is considered one of the cleanest and least buggy distributions available today - the lack of Slackware-specific enhancements reduces the likelihood of new bugs being introduced into the system. All configuration is done by editing text files. There is a saying in the Linux community that if you learn Red Hat, you'll know Red Hat, but if you learn Slackware, you'll know Linux. This is particularly true today when many other Linux distributions keep developing heavily customised products to meet the needs of less technical Linux users.

While this philosophy of simplicity has its fans, the fact is that in today's world, Slackware Linux is increasingly becoming a "core system" upon which new, custom solutions are built, rather than a complete distribution with a wide variety of supported software. The only exception is the server market, where Slackware remains popular, though even here, the distribution's complex upgrade procedure and lack of officially supported automated tools for security updates makes it increasingly uncompetitive. Slackware's conservative attitude towards the system's base components means that it requires much manual post-installation work before it can be tuned into a modern desktop system.

Pros: Highly stable, clean and bug-free, strong adherence to UNIX principlesCons: Limited number of officially supported applications; conservative in terms of base package selection; complex upgrade procedureSoftware package management: "pkgtool" using TXZ packagesAvailable editions: Installation CDs and DVD for 32-bit (i486) and 64-bit (x86_64) processorsSuggested Slackware-based alternatives: Zenwalk Linux (desktop), VectorLinux (desktop), SLAX (live CD), Slamd64 Linux (64-bit), Bluewhite64 Linux (64-bit), Wolvix (desktop, live CD), GoblinX (desktop, live CD)Other distributions with similar philosophies: Arch Linux, Frugalware Linux

The concept of Gentoo Linux was devised in around the year 2000 by Daniel Robbins, a former Stampede Linux and FreeBSD developer. It was the author's exposure to FreeBSD and its "autobuild" feature called "ports", which inspired him to incorporate some of the FreeBSD software management principles into Gentoo under the name of "portage". The idea was to develop a Linux distribution that would allow users to compile the Linux kernel and applications from source code directly on their own computers, thus maintaining a highly-optimised and always up-to-date system. By the time the project released its 1.0 version in March 2002, Gentoo's package management was considered a superior alternative to some binary package management systems, especially the then widely-used RPM.

Gentoo Linux was designed for power users. Originally, the installation was cumbersome and tedious, requiring hours or even days of compiling on the command line to build a complete Linux distribution; however, in 2006 the project simplified the installation procedure by developing an installable Gentoo live CD with a point-and-click installer. Besides providing an always up-to-date set of packages for installation with a single command, the other important features of the distribution are excellent security, extensive configuration options, support for many architectures, and the ability to keep the system up-to-date without re-installing. The Gentoo documentation was repeatedly labelled as the best online documentation of any distribution.

Gentoo Linux has lost much of its original glory in recent years. Some Gentoo users have come to a realisation that the time-consuming compiling of software packages brings only marginal speed and optimisation benefits. Ever since the resignation of Gentoo's founder and benevolent dictator from the project in 2004, the newly established Gentoo Foundation has been battling with lack of clear directions and frequent developer conflicts, which resulted in several high-profile departures of well-known Gentoo personalities. It remains to be seen whether Gentoo can regain its innovative qualities of the past or whether it will slowly disintegrate into a loose collection of personal sub-projects lacking clearly-defined goals.

Pros: Excellent software management infrastructure, unparalleled customisation and tweaking options, superb online documentationCons: Occasional instability and risk of breakdown, the project suffers from lack of directions and frequent infighting between its developersSoftware package management: "Portage" using source (SRC) packagesAvailable editions: Minimal installation CD and live CD (with GNOME) for Alpha, AMD64, HPPA, IA64, MIPS, PPC, SPARC and x86 processors; also "stages" for manual installation from command lineSuggested Gentoo-based alternatives: SabayonLinux (desktop, live CD/DVD), Ututo (desktop, free software only)Other source-based distributions: Lunar Linux, Source Mage GNU/Linux, Sorcerer, Linux From Scratch

Launched in late 2003, CentOS is a community project with the goals of rebuilding the source code for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) into an installable Linux distribution and to provide timely security updates for all included software packages. To put in more bluntly, CentOS is nothing more than a clone of RHEL. The only technical difference between the two is branding - CentOS replaces all Red Hat trademarks and logos with its own. But the connection between RHEL and CentOS is not immediately visible on the CentOS web site; due to trademark laws, Red Hat is referred to as a "Prominent North American Enterprise Linux Vendor", instead of its proper name. Nevertheless, the relations between Red Hat and CentOS remain amicable and many CentOS developers are in active contact with Red Hat engineers.

CentOS is often seen as a reliable server distribution. It comes with the same set of well-tested and stable Linux kernel and software packages that form the basis of its parent, Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Despite being a community project run by volunteers, it has gained a reputation of being a solid, free alternative to the more costly server products on the market, especially among the experienced Linux system administrators. CentOS is also suitable as an enterprise desktop solution, specifically where stability, reliability and long-term support are preferred over latest software and features. Like RHEL, CentOS is supported with a minimum of 5 years of security updates.

Despite its advantages, CentOS might not be the best solution in all deployment scenarios. Those users who prefer a distribution with the latest Linux technologies and newest software packages should look elsewhere. Major CentOS versions, which follow RHEL versioning, are only released every 2 - 3 years, while "point" releases (e.g. 5.1) tend to arrive in 6 - 9 month intervals. The point releases do not usually contain any major features (although they do sometimes include support for more recent hardware) and only a handful of software packages may get updated to newer versions. The Linux kernel, the base system and most application versions remain unchanged, but occasionally a newer version of an important software package (e.g. OpenOffice.org or Firefox) may be provided on an experimental basis. As a side project, CentOS also builds updated packages for the users of its distributions, but the repositories containing them are not enabled by default as they may break upstream compatibility.

Pros: Extremely well-tested, stable and reliable; free to download and use; comes with 5-years of free security updates; prompt releases and security updatesCons: Lacks latest Linux technologies; by the time of release, most software packages are outdatedSoftware package management: YUM graphical and command line utility using RPM packagesAvailable editions: Installation DVDs and installable live CDs (with GNOME) for i386 and x86_64 processors; older versions (3.x and 4.x) also available for Alpha, IA64 and IBM z-series (s390, s390x) processors.Other RHEL clones and CentOS-based distributions: Scientific Linux, SME Server, StartCom Enterprise Linux, Fermi Linux, Rocks Cluster Distribution, Oracle Enterprise Linux

FreeBSD, an indirect descendant of AT&T UNIX via the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD), has a long and turbulent history dating back to 1993. Unlike Linux distributions, which are defined as integrated software solutions consisting of the Linux kernel and thousands of software applications, FreeBSD is a tightly integrated operating system built from a BSD kernel and the so-called "userland" (therefore usable even without extra applications). This distinction is largely lost once installed on an average computer system - like many Linux distributions, a large collection of easily installed, (mostly) open source applications are available for extending the FreeBSD core, but these are usually provided by third-party contributors and aren't strictly part of FreeBSD.

FreeBSD has developed a reputation for being a fast, high-performance and extremely stable operating system, especially suitable for web serving and similar tasks. Many large web search engines and organisations with mission-critical computing infrastructures have deployed and used FreeBSD on their computer systems for years. Compared to Linux, FreeBSD is distributed under a much less restrictive license, which allows virtually unrestricted re-use and modification of the source code for any purpose. Even Apple's Mac OS X is known to have been derived from BSD. Besides the core operating system, the project also provides over 15,000 software applications in binary and source code forms for easy installation on top of the core FreeBSD.

While FreeBSD can certainly be used as a desktop operating system, it doesn't compare well with popular Linux distributions in this department. The text-mode system installer offers little in terms of hardware detection or system configuration, leaving much of the dirty work to the user in a post-installation setup. In terms of support for modern hardware, FreeBSD generally lags behind Linux, especially in supporting popular desktop and laptop gadgets, such as wireless network cards or digital cameras. Those users seeking to exploit the speed and stability of FreeBSD on a desktop or workstation should consider one of the available desktop FreeBSD projects, rather than FreeBSD itself.

Pros: Fast and stable; availability of over 15,000 software applications (or "ports") for installation; very good documentationCons: Tends to lag behind Linux in terms of support for exotic hardware, limited availability of commercial applications; lacks graphical configuration toolsSoftware package management: A complete command-line package management infrastructure using either binary packages or source-based "ports" (TBZ)Available editions: Installation CDs for Alpha, AMD64, i386, IA64, PC98 and SPARC64 processorsSuggested FreeBSD-based alternatives: PC-BSD (desktop), DesktopBSD (desktop), FreeSBIE (live CD)Other BSD alternatives: OpenBSD, NetBSD, DragonFly BSD, MidnightBSD


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