Ed Bott

Ed Bott is an award-winning technology writer with more than two decades' experience writing for mainstream media outlets and online publications. He has served as editor of the U.S. edition of PC Computing and managing editor of PC World; both publications had monthly paid circulation in excess of 1 million during his tenure. He is the author of more than 25 books on Microsoft Windows and Office, including Windows 7 Inside Out (2009) and Office 2013 Inside Out (2013).

Latest Posts

OEM licensing confusion starts at Microsoft.com

OEM licensing confusion starts at Microsoft.com

Microsoft’s members-only OEM Partner Center contains a perfect example of how much confusion surrounds the subject of Windows licensing. Two pages on this supposedly authoritative information source for OEMs contain answers that are completely contradictory.

September 8, 2008 by in Hardware

Should Microsoft get into the PC hardware business?

Should Microsoft get into the PC hardware business?

In a recent interview, Microsoft Technical Fellow Mark Russinovich noted that there's "a lot of discussion within Microsoft" about whether the company that makes Windows should also make PC hardware. It's a theme that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer touched on as well in a memo that was leaked to the press a few months ago. The big problem with that strategy is that Microsoft doesn't dare upset its business model by competing directly with its hardware partners. But maybe there's a way around that problem.

September 8, 2008 by in Windows

Microsoft finally earns a passing grade (barely) for WGA

Microsoft finally earns a passing grade (barely) for WGA

Microsoft launched its Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) anti-piracy program in early summer 2006. Its first year was, to put it charitably, a disaster. An epic fail. A big fat F on the year’s report card. Things didn't get much better in 2007, either, as a server failure and other outages unfairly labeled thousands of legitimate Windows customers as pirates. In the past year, Microsoft has revamped and re-engineered its WGA and Vista validations systems and processes. What did they do and what does it mean for you? I went back to the same data source I used in 2006 to measure Microsoft's performance and see whether they finally deserve a passing grade.

September 4, 2008 by in Microsoft

An IE8 Beta 2 Q&A

An IE8 Beta 2 Q&A

Yesterday I published my first look at the just-released Beta 2 of Internet Explorer 8. I got some great comments in the Talkback thread and via e-mail and thought it would be worth answering them here. Should you install IE8? Where can you download the correct code for your OS. Are there any special precautions you need to follow before installing the beta? Can it be uninstalled? I've got the answers to these and other questions.

August 28, 2008 by in Windows

Is 64-bit Flash support just around the corner?

Is 64-bit Flash support just around the corner?

A few weeks ago, I noted the explosive growth in sales of 64-bit Windows in recent months and wondered aloud when Adobe plans to release a 64-bit Flash player. A commenter on that post suggested that Adobe was planning to unveil 64-bit support in its upcoming Flash 10 release, but I wasn't able to confirm that. This morning, a reader pointed me to an eyewitness report that Adobe has publicly demonstrated the Linux and FreeBSD versions of its new64-bit player at a recent event for Flash developers. Does this mean that 64-bit Windows is almost here?

August 22, 2008 by in Enterprise Software

Why do you want WinFS?

Why do you want WinFS?

Every time the conversation turns to Windows 7, the subject of WinFS comes up. This next-generation file storage software was cut from Windows Vista (and eventually killed completely) nearly four years ago. But it keeps reappearing on lists of features that people want to see in Windows 7. Why? WinFS made for great PowerPoint slides, but it was a terrible idea. Don't just take my word for it: Some of Microsoft's most experienced and respected developers agree.

August 20, 2008 by in Enterprise Software

My Windows 7 wish list

My Windows 7 wish list

Cynics see the new Engineering Windows 7 blog, which launched last week, as a pure PR play from Microsoft. Maybe. But in a 2000-word post yesterday, Windows boos Steven Sinofsky provided some more details about the development effort, including some clues as to what to expect in Windows 7. In his post, Sinofsky lists the 25 main "feature teams" working on the next version of Windows. I've rearranged that list into nine groups and outlined what I think are the main challenges facing each one.

August 19, 2008 by in CXO

Sinofsky dishes on Windows 7

Sinofsky dishes on Windows 7

The incredibly tight veil of secrecy around Windows 7 is about to lift, at least a little. After months of information lockdown, Microsoft is ready to begin talking about the next version of Windows. The first bits of information come from the very top, with a new blog written by the Microsoft Senior VPs in charge of Windows 7: Steven Sinofsky, who runs the Windows and Windows Live Engineering Group, and Jon DeVaan, who’s in charge of the Windows Core Operating System Division. The first post includes an explanation of why we've heard so little so far and the news that the real unveiling of Windows 7 will be in October at Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference.

August 14, 2008 by in Windows

Alarmed about Vista security? Black Hat researcher Alexander Sotirov speaks out

Alarmed about Vista security? Black Hat researcher Alexander Sotirov speaks out

Earlier today I published a lengthy blog post questioning some of the sensationalist conclusions raised in press coverage of a paper presented by Alexander Sotirov and Mark Dowd at last week’s Black Hat Conference in Las Vegas. This afternoon, I received an e-mail from Sotirov, who says he was "horrified by the lack of understanding displayed by the tech press when they covered the paper." He agreed to a follow-up interview, in which we discussed Microsoft's reaction to their research, how Windows users should respond to this news, and how they conducted field research into whether girls really are impressed by browser memory protection bypasses.

August 11, 2008 by in Microsoft

Windows security rendered useless? Uh, not exactly

Windows security rendered useless? Uh, not exactly

Oh dear. The Chicken Little contingent is out in full force. Break out your Kevlar helmets, everyone, because the sky is falling on Windows! At last week’s Black Hat conference in Las Vegas, researchers Alexander Sotirov and Mark Dowd presented a paper that outlined some new attack vectors they had discovered targeting some security features introduced in different versions of Windows XP and Windows Vista. Unfortunately, most people who read about Sotirov and Dowd’s work didn’t bother to read the technical paper. Instead, they relied on quick summaries, most notably the one provided by SearchSecurity, which was picked up by Slashdot and our own Adrian Kingsley-Hughes. Alas, those stories are wildly inaccurate and hopelessly sensationalized. Here's the real story.

August 11, 2008 by in Enterprise Software

You’ve got Vista x64 questions, I’ve got answers

You’ve got Vista x64 questions, I’ve got answers

I got a lot of great questions and comments via e-mail and in the Talkback section of my previous post on the sudden surge in adoption rates for Windows Vista x64. In this follow-up, I summarize the answers I’ve found for questions like whether Vista x64 uses more memory than x86 (yes, but not as much as you might think), where you're most likely to run into compatibility problems (got a scanner?) and why anyone who uses a VPN should think twice before making the move to 64-bit Windows.

August 4, 2008 by in Enterprise Software

Dear Adobe, can we please have a 64-bit Flash player?

Dear Adobe, can we please have a 64-bit Flash player?

In the TalkBack section of my earlier post on the sudden popularity of x64 Vista, a commenter notes that Adobe's Flash player is not yet available in a 64-bit version, which means that if you go to a site that uses Flash, your 64-bit browser will not render the content correctly. That’s one of the minor annoyances in using 64-bit Vista, and Adobe's been silent on the subject for six months except to say, "We're working on it." Can someone light a fire under the Flash development team?

July 30, 2008 by in Networking

Suddenly, 64-bit Windows is mainstream

Suddenly, 64-bit Windows is mainstream

Last year, x64 editions of Windows Vista were hard to come by and seen as mainly for early adopters. This year, with little warning, the tide seems to have shifted dramatically. By my back-of-the-envelope calculations, at least 20% of all Vista PCs sold in the second quarter of this year came with 64-bit editions of Windows Vista preinstalled. By fall, it’s possible, even likely, that we’ll reach a tipping point, with more than 50% of new PCs sold at retail coming with 64-bit editions of Windows Vista preinstalled. So why the sudden shift? And what's in it for you?

July 29, 2008 by in Enterprise Software

21 months later, Vista is still more secure than XP

21 months later, Vista is still more secure than XP

Last October, roughly one year after the release to manufacturing of Windows Vista, I did a comparison of how well Windows Vista was living up to its promise of being more secure than its predecessor, Windows XP. My data source was the Microsoft Security Bulletin Search page, where I tallied up security bulletins rated Critical or Important for the two Windows versions. The result? Vista had an overwhelming edge over XP. So, has Vista maintained its security edge in the succeeding nine months? I did the same comparison for that period. Go see the numbers for yourself.

July 25, 2008 by in Enterprise Software

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