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Windows 8 not foolproof after all

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With all the marketing in full force across the planet it is hard to avoid talking about Windows 8. This also means that different types of people are looking closely at the new operating system and finding issues. You may remember a few weeks back that Windows 8 was going to be the new bastion of security. 

There is a new version of Windows Defender that will, according to Bitdefender, allow 16% of the most common malware families to infect Windows 8 machines, based on their testing suite, that is. This allowed backdoors to be opened, machines to be controlled by remote access, keystroke interception and other detrimental effects. To be fair the testing was limited in scope and Bitdefender has a proprietary interest in showing that the Microsoft product is flawed. Security lab AV-Test also performed some preliminary testing against the rebranded Windows 7 Microsoft Security Essentials and had their own reservations. When testing is complete they will issue a full report. The new Windows Defender will offer some protection but it looks like you will still need a third party product to be safe.

Moving onto your new Windows 8-based smartphone a teenager has put together some malware that will steal app data. Shahtanu Gawde will be demonstrating this at the International Malware Conference (MalCon) in New Delhi on Saturday. Last year at age 15, he showed how to attack the Microsoft Xbox Kinect so he has form. Your teenager needs a new hobby.

One of the best ways to steal data from a computer is to grab the device, as European Commission officials found out in Azerbaijan's capital Baku during the recent Internet Governance Forum. They claim their devices were hacked in attendee's rooms and the twist here is that Apple sent a message to the owners that their computers had been accessed by a third party. I finally have something good to say about Apple this year, well done.

Another subject where there is always some news to be found is the US Patent & Trademark Office. Add that to Apple and you have their latest patent granted for "Display screen or portion thereof with animated graphical user interface". Digging into D/408,904 it shows an animation of a page turning, yes a page turning. There are a number of issues here. I have seen page turning animations a long time ago that had nothing to do with Apple. A patent is supposed to be granted to protect intellectual property, granting this patent protects no-one apart from those who are claiming someone else's idea as their own. A patent is supposed to be for a unique innovation to protect a company wanting to invest time and money to bring it to market. Clearly this is not the case here. Finally it is has been quite clear for some time that the USPTO is an ass that recognises no other country's patents.

During the late 90s and early in the new millennium, Microsoft languished somewhat and the result was the mess known as Vista. In 2003 the WinMin project began, designed to cut the fat from what had evolved into the then NT platform. The targets were mobile devices and other OS versions based on a smaller kernel. This influenced a trimmer Windows 7 and led to Windows 8 and the man behind that was Steve Sinofsky. He was also the one who pushed Metro and also Xbox greats like Ray Ozzie out the door. Other projects were curtailed as the focus sharpened onto tablets and smartphones.

The worry for senior management at the time was Apple and their market share in this realm so Sinofsky was the golden boy.

The result today is not a unified set of APIs that will run anywhere and apps are still smartphone, tablet or PC focused. The Surface project has also alienated the usual Microsoft suppliers like HP, Acer and Dell. Thanks to Sinofsky what is left is what Windows 8 has become, homage to the tablet with some table scraps for the PC user. The result is a fragmented strategy that Balmer has to now try and recover from, with a missed enterprise upgrade cycle, a platform that doesn't quite mesh together and a tarnished golden boy.

So you have seen the new Bond film Skyfall and you watched and grimaced as that classic 1960s Aston Martin DB5 was blown up. Dry those tears, that car was a third scale replica that was printed with a 3D printer by Voxeljet to be used in the exploding cars sequences. One real Aston Martin saved. Yay for computers and those amazing 3D printers.

You can now get one of your own, to printer smaller objects, for less than $1,000 (about 31,000 baht) these days.

Finally for this week your wait is over, the IE 10 preview is available for Windows 7. Why it is a preview for W7 and not W8 is a mystery but it is a beta so downloaders beware if it causes any problems. It is however fast and much more web complaint.


James Hein is an IT professional of over 30 years' standing. You can contact him at jclhein@gmail.com.

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