Microsoft Claims OneCare Tells Users About Update Settings Changes

The saga of the continues. Microsoft confirmed that the Windows Live OneCare security program does indeed change update settings, but they say users are told during installation. On closer examination of the installer, the note is included in a long, multi-paragraph block of text on one of the installer’s screens, with a button that says not “I agree” but “Next”. This is a big problem for users who don’t pay much attention to EULAs and the like, who will likely just click “Next” without realizing what they are agreeing to (or that they are agreeing to anything at all). Microsoft…

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Leopard: 2,000,000 Copies Served

Just in the time since October 26, when Apple’s Leopard OS X upgrade was released, over two million (yes, 2,000,000) copies have been sold, according to Apple. This number would put Tiger, the previous version, in second place when it comes to first-weekend sales. Steve Jobs says that the new upgrade is getting good reviews, and the innovative features are making more people than ever think about switching to the Mac. Personally, I’m not too much of a Mac fan — I find them pricey, and the interface is a little weird to me, a Windows user — but the…

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Microsoft Admits Update Error

The Windows Desktop Search (WDS) program, included with Windows Vista, has been installed on some enterprise computers without administrator approval through the Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) program, a free update administration platform for corporate PC networks. The program allows administrators to approve and block updates that will then be installed on the computers on the network if approved, and not installed if blocked — that is, until the WDS update. Microsoft admitted blame in the unauthorized installations of Desktop Search, which caused massive slowdowns due to the intense initial indexing process. Supposedly, the cases where the program was installed…

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Regressions in Firefox 2.0.0.8

Mozilla is reportedly rushing to fix several regressions in the latest security update to the Firefox browser, version 2.0.0.8. The patch could be available as early as next week, and will address problems with startup crashes (on XP), two page-rendering issues (all versions), and an odd bug that disables extensions on a fraction of Windows PCs. I’ve noticed some issues with the toolbar reverting to default state, adding things back and removing others, and the address bar failed to respond to the return key earlier today until I restarted the browser, but I have definitely seen the toolbar bug before,…

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Nope, Microsoft Did It

Well, don’t blame the reports of unasked-for updates in Windows XP and Vista . PC World reports that Microsoft’s OneCare security product changes Automatic Updates settings to fully automatic without permission, or even notifying the user. If you must be technical, there is a note about it in the program’s help file, but it should say something up-front. Before trying to blame the users for the automatic updates, another Microsoft spokeswoman was more blunt, saying (incorrectly) that OneCare offers users the option. The program sells for $49.95, with a 90-day free trial available. Next time Microsoft tries to blame you…

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Incompatibilities Still Affecting Windows Vista

Windows Vista was released nine months ago (at the end of the month), but is still plagued by incompatibilities in both hardware and software. Printers, bookkeeping programs, photo editors… You name the category, there’s at least one product that claims to support Vista but doesn’t. And that doesn’t include the devices and programs that don’t support Vista at all. Part of the problem is companies’ reluctance to support a product for a nanosecond longer than they have to. Another piece involves the decreasing time-to-live of the average product revision, or model. New models and upgraded versions of existing products are…

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Firefox 3 Visual Refresh

Apparently the Mozilla developers working on the next major Firefox release, version 3, are planning big integration changes. Operating system-wise, that is. Firefox will have Windows XP, Vista, and Mac OS X themes, each carefully matched to the existing native applications and interface style. Alex Faaborg, part of Mozilla’s user experience design team, has more details on his blog. I won’t get into too many details. However, I do hope the new ‘Fox will support switching between OS themes if the user wants. I might like to try out a Mac or Linux theme on my XP computer.

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Microsoft Claims They Didn’t Modify Update Settings

The second instance of Windows PCs updating themselves without user permission might be a user problem, not another “stealth update” like the one in September. The reports have only cropped up on the AeroXperience website, while Microsoft’s Automatic Updates support group has remained silent about these issues. Microsoft’s update program managers investigated and found that none of the patches changed any settings. User action is required for all five of the scenarios described as possible causes for the changes. Since the problem only affects Windows Vista, I can’t say if it was a Microsoft change or a user thing.

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Microsoft Wants to Shrink Windows Kernel

Think of Windows Vista. Think of 4 GB of hard drive space. Think, “the same thing.” Now think of the Windows kernel. Still pretty big (exact size unknown). But Microsoft wants to make it smaller in preparation for Windows 7, Vista’s successor. So they’ve developed (and shown) MinWin, a 25 MB kernel that can run on a system with less than 40 MB of RAM. Yet they still want it smaller. While the kernel isn’t half of what makes operating systems take up so much space, smaller kernels mean more device availability, since less memory is required to run the…

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Microsoft Fixes URI Handler Flaw

The Windows URI handler is finally getting a fix today. Microsoft is changing the function ShellExecute() so it sanitizes any links it processes. The flaw has been blamed for many vulnerabilities in other programs, vulnerabilities Microsoft originally said were not its problem. The software company has since reversed its position. The patch’s release date has not been revealed, but the next set of patches is due November 13. Not all URI handling vulnerabilities will be fixed, though. Depending on how Microsoft implements changes, the changes will go only so far, but bugs in other applications that are exploited after Windows’…

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