Archive for Windows 7

Android, Windows 7 & OS X “Leak” Location Data

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on July 4, 2014 by itnerd

If you have an Android phone and you are interested in your privacy, then you should read this story. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Preferred Network Offload feature in the Android OS extends battery life which is good. But it also leaks location data which is very very bad:

The preferred network offload (PNO) feature, found in Android versions from Honeycomb (Android 3.1) onwards, allows devices to connect to wi-fi networks while in low power in order to extend battery life. The feature prioritises less power-hungry wi-fi connections over cellular connections.

But the feature is broadcasting a list of the 15 most recent wi-fi networks the device was connected to even while the device is in sleep mode, the EFF found, meaning anyone within wi-fi range of the device is able to access the connection history and map the user’s recent physical location.

“Wi-fi devices that are not actively connected to a network can send out messages that contain the names of networks they’ve joined in the past in an effort to speed up the connection process,” the EFF found.

The good news is that this is in the process of being fixed:

The offending code is the open source wpa_supplicant application which is used by Android to manage wi-fi, the EFF said. It said Google yesterday submitted a patch to the application which fixed the issue, ahead of Google integrating the fix into the downstream Android code.

“We take the security of our users’ location data very seriously and we’re always happy to be made aware of potential issues ahead of time. Since changes to this behavior would potentially affect user connectivity to hidden access points, we are still investigating what changes are appropriate for a future release,” Google told the EFF.

The bad news is that other OSes have this issue. Namely OS X from Apple and Windows 7 from Microsoft. Those will have to be fixed at some point. But to protect yourself, the EFF suggests that you either turn off “keep wi-fi on during sleep” in device’s wi-fi settings (assuming the device has such a feature) or manually clear the network history to remain secure.


HP Bringing Back PCs With Windows 7 “By Popular Demand”

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on January 21, 2014 by itnerd

Another sign that Windows 8 has failed miserably is the news that HP has once again started selling Windows 7 PCs:

Hewlett-Packard today launched a new online promotion that discounts several consumer PCs by $150 when equipped with Windows 7, saying the four-year-old OS is “back by popular demand.”

“The reality is that there are a lot of people who still want Windows 7,” said Bob O’Donnell, chief analyst at Technalysis Research, in a Monday interview. “This is a twist, though, and may appeal to those who said, ‘I do want a new PC, but I thought I couldn’t get Windows 7.'”

HP has not discarded Windows 8.1 — the perception-plagued dual-UI operating system — nor resurrected Windows 7 from the crypt: The PC seller, like every other OEM (original equipment manufacturer) in Microsoft’s orbit, has never stopped selling Windows 7.

But HP was the first major OEM — it was the world’s second-largest in the fourth quarter of 2013, according to research firm IDC — to blatantly market Windows 7 PCs to consumers since Windows 8’s first few months, said O’Donnell.

So, why would HP do this? The bad karma that surrounds Windows 8 is likely keeping people from buying new PCs, or sending them to the Apple store for a Mac. Either way, it’s not good if you make your living selling PCs. Thus it’s better to bring back an OS people actually like rather than push on with one that they don’t.

One wonders how this is going over in Redmond.

Hey IT Nerd! My Windows 7 System Won’t Boot. What Can I Do?

Posted in Tips with tags , on May 8, 2011 by itnerd

First of all, lets assume you have a current backup (You do backup your data? If Not, read this). If you do, you have one option to try. Assuming that the actual hardware (like the hard disk for example) is fine. Then what might be wrong is the MBR (Master Boot Record) is somehow screwed up. If that’s the case, you’ll need to dig out your Windows 7 DVD and try these steps to see if you can fix the damage:

  • Boot from your Windows DVD
  • Choose Repair Your Computer
  • Choose Command Prompt
  • When the command prompt appears, type bootrec.exe /fixmbr and hit enter.

Assuming that the MBR is the problem, this will fix it. But you’re not done yet.

  • Type x:bootbootsect.exe /nt60 all /force and hit enter. (replace x: with the drive letter that corresponds with your DVD drive).

This will apply boot code that is compatible with boot manager on all partitions. Of course, boot code will not be updated in partitions which don’t have any Windows installations (in other words partitions which are not bootable). But there’s one more step.

  • Type bootrec.exe /rebuildbcd

This will scan all partitions for Windows installations. When detected, it will give you the option of selecting the installations you want to add to the bootloader.

Assuming you’ve done all of that correctly, you can reboot and see if your Windows 7 computer works. Now, what if it doesn’t? The problem might be the fact that your Windows system files might be bad. If that’s the case, try this:

  • Boot from your Windows DVD
  • Choose Repair Your Computer
  • Choose Command Prompt
  • When the command prompt appears, type sfc /scannow

This will scan your Windows files and try to make any repairs that that are required. You might want to grab a coffee as this typically takes some time.

Now I will admit that Startup Repair tool is available when you boot from the Windows 7 DVD automates the above functions. But I prefer to do this sort of thing from the command prompt so that I can see what’s going on. I guess I’m a member of the old school when it comes to these sorts of things. Oh year, I should also note that these commands work with Vista as well. So if you have a Windows 7 (or Vista) system that doesn’t boot, you can give these tips a try to get yourself up and running again.

Windows 7 Service Pack 1 Now Available

Posted in Commentary with tags , on February 22, 2011 by itnerd

Running a Windows 7 computer? You might want to run Windows Update because Service Pack 1 is now available. Now you can download the entire service pack which weighs in at almost 2GB. But I recommend simply running Windows Update which will get you a version that is ailored to your machine (and taking up a lot less space). Now you shouldn’t be expecting anything Earth shattering in this service pack. Besides the usual bug fixes and security fixes, you’ll get two new technologies called Dynamic Memory and RemoteFX. The former is described this way:

An enhancement to Hyper-V R2, Dynamic Memory pools all the memory available on a physical host. Dynamic Memory then dynamically distributes available memory, as it is needed, to virtual machines running on that host. Then with Dynamic Memory Balancing, virtual machines will be able to receive new memory allocations, based on changes in workload, without a service interruption. In short, Dynamic Memory is exactly what it’s named.

The latter is described this way:

RemoteFX is an exciting technology that lets you virtualize the Graphical Processing Unit (GPU) on the server side and deliver next-generation rich media and 3D user experiences for VDI. RemoteFX is also enabling new low cost ultra-thin client devices to enter the market. Together, these technologies will drive down the end-point cost and reduce endpoint power consumption to as little as a few watts.

I updated my Windows 7 machine and it much as I expected, nothing Earth shattering here. But that isn’t a bad thing as an update like this going bad would be bad for Microsoft. You might want to wait a few days before updating, but ensure that you have a backup before you do just to be on the safe side.

Windows 7 Service Pack 1 To Include “Minor” Updates

Posted in Commentary with tags , on March 19, 2010 by itnerd

In a posting on the Windows Team Blog that appeared yesterday, Microsoft said that Service Pack 1 for Windows 7 will include only “minor” updates. What does that mean? I’ll let them tell you:

For Windows 7, SP1 includes only minor updates, among which are previous updates that are already delivered through Windows Update. SP1 for Windows 7 will, however, deliver an updated Remote Desktop client that takes advantage of RemoteFX introduced in the server-side with SP1 for Windows Server 2008 R2.

That does sound minor as there’s really nothing earth shattering here. I guess that it’s a sign that Windows 7 is pretty stable, which I would say that it is. That’s actually a good thing as it helps to reverse the perception that this is the “son of Vista.” That in turn will drive adoption of Windows 7, which means more money for Microsoft and a better public image. So it’s all good for them.

I guess the next question is when will it be released. Here’s what Microsoft said:

We’re not yet announcing a beta or release timeline for SP1 for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 today. Once SP1 for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 is released, the service pack will be delivered through Windows Update and be available on Microsoft Download Center for download as well.

I guess that means that you’ll have to be patient for a little while yet.

Windows 7 RC To Start Shutting Down Real Soon Now

Posted in Commentary with tags , on February 1, 2010 by itnerd

For those of you who are too cheap to buy a copy still running of the release candidate Windows 7, the end is near. Don’t believe me? You might want to pay a visit to the Windows Team Blog:

“For the RC, bi-hourly shutdowns will begin on March 1st, 2010. You will be alerted to install a released version of Windows and your PC will shut down automatically every 2 hours. On June 1st, 2010 if you are still on the Windows 7 RC your license for the Windows 7 RC will expire and the non-genuine experience is triggered where your wallpaper is removed and ‘This copy of Windows is not genuine’ will be displayed in the lower right corner above the taskbar.”

That would be one month from now. So it’s time to pay up for your copy of Windows 7. After all, you wouldn’t want to starve Microsoft of its well deserved cash now would you?

Windows 7 Has It’s First Zero Day Hole…. Oh Noes!

Posted in Commentary with tags , on November 16, 2009 by itnerd

Here’s one that Windows 7 users need to pay attention to. In what could be the first of many holes in Windows 7, Microsoft has confirmed that a zero day hole in Windows 7 exists that oddly enough doesn’t affect earlier versions of Windows. In a security advisory, Microsoft acknowledged that a bug in their Server Message Block file and print sharing protocol could be used by attackers to cripple Windows 7 computers. Oh, it also affects Windows Server 2008 R2 computers as well. No fix is out yet, but the boys in Redmond are “actively” working on it. In the meantime, Microsoft suggested that if you are really worried about this, you should block TCP ports 139 and 445 at the firewall. Which sounds like a great idea except that it would disable web browsers as well as a host of critical services including network file-sharing and IT group policies to name a few. So their suggestion sounds pretty lame to me. It may be better for all concerned for Microsoft to fix this ASAP.

So how about a patch sooner rather than later for those users Mr. Ballmer?

Does Linus Torvalds Likes Windows 7?

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on October 23, 2009 by itnerd

The Interwebs are all a buzz today over a picture of Linus Torvalds who is best known for starting the development of the LINUX kernel posing for a picture in front of a Windows 7 display in Japan and giving a thumbs up.

So does the de facto father of LINUX love Windows 7? I doubt it. So does the guy who wrote the above article:

Do I actually believe Linus was endorsing Windows 7? No, he was in town for the Japan Linux Symposium. But it shows he has a clear sense of humor, understands tolerance, and knows how to lighten up when his Free Software counterparts are frothing at the mouth during one of the most important software launch days in Microsoft’s history.

Oh, it may be of interest that this display was across the street from a LINUX Symposium that Torvalds was attending. I guess Microsoft wanted to crash the party. Still, it’s enough of a story that a Google search shows how much digital ink is being dedicated to this topic today.

I can’t wait to hear his side of this.

Three New Apple Ads Appear To Bash Windows 7

Posted in Commentary with tags , on October 23, 2009 by itnerd

Windows 7 ships, and as if on cue new Apple ads appear to take shots at Windows 7. But I’m not shocked by that. Apple did say that they see Windows 7 as an opportunity to sell Macs.  We’ll see if that actually happens. In the meantime, here’s the new Apple ads for your viewing pleasure.

Windows 7: It Doesn’t Suck

Posted in Commentary with tags , on October 22, 2009 by itnerd

Today is the day that Microsoft has been waiting for. Today is the day when they can bin Windows Vista. That’s because Windows 7 is officially available today. The stakes are high for Microsoft. Vista was dead on arrival and Apple’s Mac OS X not to mention LINUX have been taking market share away from Microsoft. Even Google with their Chrome OS is getting into the game as they too see that Microsoft might be vulnerable. For Microsoft, this OS has to be right from the start.

The good news for them is that it is.

I’ve been using the Release Candidate, then the Release To Manufacturing version since early June. I’ve had months to put this through the wringer and here’s my impressions of it:

  • It starts faster, shuts down faster, and is faster when you use it. Bottom line, it’s much faster than Vista.
  • The user interface is basically similar to Vista, but it has a bunch of new tweaks that make using Windows 7 much easier. For example I tend to have a lot of icons on my desktop. Sometimes you can’t find the the one I want. There’s now a feature where I can make all of the windows you have up transparent, so I can quickly find the icon that I need. Nice.
  • User Account Controls which were a target for much derision because of those “Cancel or Allow” prompts is much more refined now. Sorry Apple, you won’t be able to bash that this time around.

One key feature in Windows 7 is XP Mode. This is a option that allows Windows 7 users to run a virtualized copy of Windows XP that will allow you to run older applications that aren’t compatible with Windows 7. Why is this important? Microsoft found that many people wouldn’t dump XP if one critical application didn’t run under Vista. This will help those people make the jump to Windows 7 (or so Microsoft believes. We will see). XP Mode is in Windows 7 Professional and higher versions.

Speaking of versions, there are six versions of Windows 7:

  • Windows 7 Starter
  • Windows 7 Home Basic
  • Windows 7 Home Premium
  • Windows 7 Professional
  • Windows 7 Enterprise
  • Windows 7 Ultimate

If any of that sounds familiar, it should. Those were the same names that were used with Vista. Clearly Microsoft didn’t want to make things easier for people in terms of what version of Windows 7 they should choose. I sense that the Apple “I’m A Mac” commercial that will bash this is being readied as we speak. Having said that, Windows 7 Home Premium is what home users should aim for. Business users should look towards Windows 7 Professional.

So should you upgrade to Windows 7? I personally always wait for service pack 1 before upgrading to any Microsoft OS. But if you really want to dive right in, then it depends on what you’re running right now. If you’re running Vista right now, you can upgrade straight onto Windows 7 without a problem for the most part. I’d just check to make sure your existing apps are going to run fine under Windows 7. If you’re still running XP, don’t bother upgrading. Buy a new computer with Windows 7 on it as you can’t upgrade straight to Windows 7 from XP without a lot of pain (and chances are your hardware won’t like Windows 7 anyway).

Speaking of hardware, here’s the minimum that you need to run Windows 7:

  • 1GHz CPU.
  • 1 gigabyte of memory (RAM).
  • At least 16 gigabytes of available hard disk space for the 32-bit version; or at least 20GB of available disk space for the 64-bit version.
  • A DirectX 9 graphics processor with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver.

I’ll make it simpler for you. If you didn’t buy your PC in the last two years and it didn’t come with Vista, you’re likely not going to be able to run Windows 7.

So, does Windows 7 suck? No. It’s actually quite good. If Microsoft had released this instead of Vista, people wouldn’t be sent running to The Temple Of Steve Jobs Apple Stores to buy Macs. It’s that good. Will it allow Microsoft to get back on top? That remains to be seen, but it’s a good start.