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.
The Ed Bott Report
Get outspoken insights and expert advice on the products and companies that define today's tech landscape, from a source who knows these technologies inside and out.
Ed Bott is an award-winning technology writer with more than two decades' experience writing for mainstream media outlets and online publications.
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.
The Beta 2 release of Microsoft's flagship web browser is packed with dozens of new usability and security features that will have an impact on just about every aspect of your browsing experience.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.