Another Firefox update. Ho-hum. Oh. Wait. This one's an official release from ... Microsoft? If there's a browser war going on, someone forgot to tell the folks who are supposed to be doing the fighting.
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.
Microsoft continues to insist that there are no problems with its Windows Genuine Advantage anti-piracy program. But pesky customers keep spoiling the illusion by posting problem reports documenting the flaws. One recent example comes from a hospital, where doctors in the operating room can't view X-rays online until they click past bogus messages warning them that they may be victims of software piracy and demanding that they Get Genuine.
As I noted at the end of my earlier post on WGA failures, I contacted Microsoft last week and offered to brief them on my findings so that I could include a response in the original story. Despite repeated follow-ups, they declined that opportunity.
An independent analysis of reports to Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage support forum confirms that problems with the company's anti-piracy program are growing. Our investigation found that 42% of people reporting WGA problems were running copies of Windows XP that Microsoft's own diagnostic utility confirmed as Genuine. Microsoft support representatives even have cut-and-paste answers that acknowledge these problems "are coming up more commonly now." Why does Microsoft continue to insist that WGA is problem-free?
Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage anti-piracy program was an add-on to earlier versions of Windows and Office, but the Genuine Advantage code is baked into Windows Vista and Office 2007. And if you thought that Microsoft's next-generation WGA would work better than the current one, think again.
Does the multi-layered security protection in Windows Vista work? It's too early to provide a definitive answer, but Vista's handling of the zero-day VML exploit offers some encouraging news.
Microsoft touts Windows Vista as the most secure Windows ever, but critics say the changes are mostly cosmetic and are so annoying that most users will simply turn them off. There are big changes in the User Account Control feature in RC1. Have they done enough to win over skeptical users?
To hear some reviewers talk about it, Vista's new Aero interface is so demanding that it will make your old video card burst into tears. That may have been true a yewar ago, but it certainly isn't so today. In the latest Vista Mythbusters post, I explain what Aero is (a handful of flashy visuals), what you need to run it (even video chips integrated on cheap motherboards can handle Aero these days), and why it's not a make-or-break feature.
This week, Microsoft made new beta versions of Windows Vista and Office 2007 widely available. If you're interested in evaluating what the Windows and Office families will look like beginning next year, this is a good place to start.
Microsoft says they haven't raised prices for Windows Vista. And if you hold your head sideways and look at the official price list just right, you have to agree. Unless you're planning to buy Vista Ultimate edition, that is. With the highest price tag for any Windows version ever, the pricing makes no sense at all.