Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Which Windows 7 Version Suits You?

The wide availability of the Windows 7 Beta and subsequent Release Candidate have resulted in massive exposure. With the Windows 7 Beta beginning bi-hourly shutdowns starting tomorrow, July 1, 2009 (expiring August 1, 2009), the Release Candidate servers will be seeing increased activity while consumers attempt to determine which Windows 7 version will best suit their needs.

To help determine which version would meet your needs, Ed Bott created a table of features found exclusively in Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate. The purpose of the comparison is to provide a side-by-side showing of unique features in the Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate editions. If you do not need the unique features, it could well be that the Windows 7 Home Premium may best suit you.

Ed provides a detailed discussion of what the items from his table below mean on page 2 of Do you need more than Windows 7 Home Premium?

Still uncertain? Head over to Ed's detailed description in From Starter to Ultimate: What's really in each Windows 7 Edition?

Remember - "A day without laughter is a day wasted."
May the wind sing to you and the sun rise in your heart...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Special Windows 7 Pre-Order Discount

For a limited time, Microsoft is offering people in select markets the opportunity to pre-order Windows 7 at a more than 50% discount.

In the United States, this will mean you can pre-order Windows 7 as follows:
  • Windows 7 Home Premium for USD $49.99
  • Windows 7 Professional for USD $99.99

This special offer will be available online via select retail partners such as Best Buy or Amazon, or the online Microsoft Store (in participating markets).

The pre-order timeline is as follows:

  • U.S., Canada -- June 26, 2009 through July 11, 2009.
  • Japan -- June 26, 2009 through July 5, 2009.
  • UK, France and Germany -- July 15, 2009 through August 14, 2009.

Note: The special low pre-order price will vary per country. Complete information is available at Windows: Windows 7 Pre-Order Offer

Regular Windows 7 Pricing:

The estimated retail prices for upgrade packaged retail product of Windows 7 in the U.S. are as follows:

  • Windows 7 Home Premium (Upgrade): $119.99
  • Windows 7 Professional (Upgrade): $199.99
  • Windows 7 Ultimate (Upgrade): $219.99

Below are the estimated retail prices for full packaged retail product of Windows 7 in the U.S.:

  • Windows 7 Home Premium (Full): $199.99
  • Windows 7 Professional (Full): $299.99
  • Windows 7 Ultimate (Full): $319.99

As explained at the Windows Blog, by Microsoft Corporate Vice President Brad Brooks, the situation in Europe is a bit different:
"We wanted to make sure that all of our customers got Windows 7 at the same time. And because of what needed to occur around testing of Windows 7E, it became very clear that we would not be able to offer a retail upgrade version of that piece of software on October 22nd.

So, we had a choice to make. Either we delayed the launch of Windows 7 in Europe or that we brought it all together and did something different. So, what we decided to do is do something different.

And so in Europe we’re going to basically offer Windows 7E full version at upgrade prices."

Remember - "A day without laughter is a day wasted."
May the wind sing to you and the sun rise in your heart...

Windows 7 Upgrade Program Starts June 26

Microsoft announced tomorrow, June 26, for the start of the Windows 7 Upgrade Option Program. The timing is ideal for new or returning college-bound students needing a new computer.

Of interest to Security Garden readers from outside the United States and Canada, the Windows 7 Upgrade Option Program is global and will be available until January 31, 2010. All you need to do to qualify for the upgrade is to purchase a PC from a participating OEM or retailer with Windows Vista Home Premium, Business or Ultimate on it. You will then receive an upgrade to the corresponding version of Windows 7 at little or no additional cost!

The participating manufacturers supporting the Windows 7 Upgrade Option will be listed starting June 26, 2009, at Windows: Windows 7 Upgrade Option.

Remember - "A day without laughter is a day wasted."
May the wind sing to you and the sun rise in your heart...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Microsoft Security Essentials Makes the Grade

As reported by Computerworld, independent testing results by AV-Test.org indicated that Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) antivirus software passed a preliminary antivirus exam with flying colors.
"AV-Test GmbH tested Microsoft Security Essentials, the free software Microsoft launched yesterday in beta, on Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7, putting it up against nearly 3,200 common viruses, bot Trojans and worms, said Andreas Marx, one of the firm's two managers. The malware was culled from the most recent WildList, a list of threats actually actively attacking computers.

'All files were properly detected and treated by the product," said Marx in an e-mail. "That's good, as several other [antivirus] scanners are still not able to detect and kill all of these critters yet.' "
Microsoft Security Essentials was also tested by AV-Test.org against legitimate files and there were no false/positives. Since I am a firm believer in using System Restore before making any system changes, a particularly nice feature of Microsoft Security Essentials under "Settings > Advanced" is the pre-checked option to "Create a system restore point before applying actions to detected items."

In the event a false/positive should occur, using System Restore will quickly resolve the issue. I am not aware of any other antivirus software using that feature.

Should you use USB flash drives on public computers, I strongly recommend checking the box to "Scan removable drives".

According to the report, Microsoft Security Essentials also did well in anti-rootkit tests and its ability to remove malware from the system.


Remember - "A day without laughter is a day wasted."
May the wind sing to you and the sun rise in your heart...

Security Update available for Shockwave Player

Adobe Shockwave Player version has been released to address a critical vulnerability identified in Adobe Shockwave Player and earlier versions. According to the release notes, if this vulnerability is successfully exploited, the attacker could take control of the affected system.

To update to the latest version of Adobe Shockwave Player, please uninstall previous versions of Adobe Shockwave Player via Add/Remove Programs. Then download and install Shockwave version, available from http://get.adobe.com/shockwave/.

Note: The offered Google Toolbar is not part of the Adobe Shockwave Player software and that option can be unchecked when installing the latest version.

Remember - "A day without laughter is a day wasted."
May the wind sing to you and the sun rise in your heart...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Windows 7 RC Downloads End 7AUG09

When Windows 7 Beta was released, the crush to get the download was amazing and took quite a toll on the servers. However, the Beta is about to expire. On July 1, Windows 7 Beta will start to restart every two hours and will expire on August 1.

If you wish to continue using Windows 7, it is time to move to the Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC). The RC will begin its shutdown process every two hours starting March 1, 2010. In the meantime, that will provide plenty of opportunities to experiment with Windows 7.

Feedback on your experiences with Windows 7 RC is invited at http://input.microsoft.com/.

Remember - "A day without laughter is a day wasted."
May the wind sing to you and the sun rise in your heart...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Opera Unite

The launch of Opera 10, including a service called "Unite" has sparked a lot of attention in the tech security environment. As described in the Opera press release,
"Opera Unite turns any computer into both a client and a server, allowing it to interact with and serve content to other computers directly across the Web, without the need for third-party servers."
In addition to running as a Web Server, Opera Unite includes file sharing, the bane of security experts who provide log analysis and malware removal advice on security forums. I won't rehash all the details here but rather let you read the reports linked below for yourself. Please do note the following quote from the report by ZDNet UK:

A spokeswoman for Opera confirmed to ZDNet UK on Tuesday that there is no encryption involved in the Opera Unite.

Asked whether the platform could be used by someone to access data on the host's PC that the host had not chosen to share, the spokeswoman said: "Definitely not — unless they're a hacker."

Hmmm, hackers on the internet, oh my! What are they thinking?


Remember - "A day without laughter is a day wasted."
May the wind sing to you and the sun rise in your heart...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

SecurityGarden's Garden Project

Just to prove that I don't spend all of my time in front of the computer, follow this link to see the garden project we have been working on this week.

When we started, the section in front was overgrown with "creeping charlie" and fallen branches. There is another load of dirt to be moved into the area and more weeds to be removed in the original section. We have a general plan on what plants we are going to put in the area and will probably end up building a stone border around the boundary.

Remember - "A day without laughter is a day wasted."
May the wind sing to you and the sun rise in your heart...

Friday, June 12, 2009

Avoid Instant Messaging Viruses

With the end of the school year, instant messaging is a great way for classmates to stay in touch during the summer until school resumes in the autumn. However, instant messaging (IM) viruses have been on the rise.

IM viruses are generally spread when clicking a link or opening an infected file that was sent in an instant message that appeared to come from a friend.

Microsoft Security provided five steps to help avoid instant message viruses in Instant Messaging Viruses - Avoid IM Viruses. If your children are using IM programs, please talk to them about item number 1 and make sure to follow steps 2-5 yourself. Additional information on the importance of keeping your computer secure is available in Basic Computer Security for the Home User.

"As with most threats on the Internet, you can help keep yourself safe by taking basic precautions. If you know how to avoid e-mail viruses, you'll already be familiar with many of these steps.

  1. Be careful with links and files in IM. Never click a link or open, accept, or download a file in IM from someone you don't know. If the link or file is in an IM from someone you do know, don't click the link or open the file unless you know what the link or file is and you were expecting it. Contact the sender by e-mail, phone, or some other method to confirm that what they sent was not a virus.

  2. Update your Windows software. Visit Microsoft Update to scan your computer and install any high-priority updates that are offered to you. If you have Automatic Updates enabled, the updates are delivered to you when they are released, but you have to make sure you install them. For more information, visit the Protect Your PC site.

  3. Make sure you're using an updated version of your IM software. Using the most up-to-date version of your IM software can better protect your computer against viruses and spyware. If you're using MSN Messenger, upgrade to Windows Live Messenger, which will block attachments that might contain malware and allow you to scan attachments for viruses. For more information, see Windows Live Messenger Overview.

  4. Use antivirus software and keep it updated. Antivirus software can help to detect and remove IM viruses from your computer, but only if you keep the antivirus software current. If you've purchased a subscription from an antivirus software company, your antivirus software may update itself when you're connected to the Internet.

  5. Use antispyware software and keep it updated. Some IM viruses may install spyware or other unwanted software on your computer. Antispyware software can help to protect your computer from spyware and remove any spyware you may already have. If you don't have antispyware software, you can download Windows Defender. Windows Defender comes with Windows Vista. If you use Windows XP SP2, you can download Windows Defender for no charge."

Remember - "A day without laughter is a day wasted."
May the wind sing to you and the sun rise in your heart...

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

LandzDown Forum Celebrates 5 Years!

LandzDown Team is pleased to announce that ESET Smart Security, Malwarebytes' Antimalware and WinPatrol PLUS licenses have been donated to be awarded to lucky prize winners in games and contests as part of our fifth birthday celebration!

Please join us in the celebration, beginning June 10, 2009, at LandzDown Forum.

Remember - "A day without laughter is a day wasted."
May the wind sing to you and the sun rise in your heart...

June 2009 Microsoft Security Bulletin Release

Microsoft released ten (10) security bulletins today, of which six are directed to Windows, including two rated critical, three important and one moderate. The remaining are rated critical and affect Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office Word, Microsoft Office Excel and Microsoft Works Converters. Information about the bulletins is included below.

In addition, Security Bulletin MS09-017 was re-released to provide security update packages for Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac, Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac, Open XML File Format Converter for Mac, Microsoft Works 8.5, and Microsoft Works 9. Customers who currently have this software installed need to apply this update immediately.

Note that an update ready for the DirectShow vulnerability discussed in Security Advisory 971778 has not been released. As indicated in the MSRC Blog, the update will be released as soon as the Microsoft security teams are are confident that the update meets the right quality bar.

Also included in the MSRC Blog is information on Security Advisories 969898 and 971888. In addition, the blog post includes a video by Jerry Bryant and Adrian Stone from the Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC) where they go in to a little more detail on issues customers should be thinking about when considering the deployment of this month’s updates.

June 2009 Security Bulletin Information

  • MS09-018 - Vulnerabilities in Active Directory Could Allow Remote Code Execution (971055)
  • MS09-019 - Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer (969897)
  • MS09-021 - Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Office Excel Could Allow Remote Code Execution (969462)
  • MS09-022 - Vulnerabilities in Windows Print Spooler Could Allow Remote Code Execution (961501)
  • MS09-024 - Vulnerability in Microsoft Works Converters Could Allow Remote Code Execution (957632)
  • MS09-027 - Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Office Word Could Allow Remote Code Execution (969514)
  • MS09-020 - Vulnerabilities in Internet Information Services (IIS) Could Allow Elevation of Privilege (970483)
  • MS09-025 - Vulnerabilities in Windows Kernel Could Allow Elevation of Privilege (968537)
  • MS09-026 - Vulnerability in RPC Could Allow Elevation of Privilege (970238)
  • MS09-023 - Vulnerability in Windows Search Could Allow Information Disclosure (963093)


Remember - "A day without laughter is a day wasted."
May the wind sing to you and the sun rise in your heart...

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Activating Windows 7

The Genuine Windows Blog created a brief video demonstrating the product activation of Windows 7. The process is the same as Windows Vista but new to people who will be replacing Windows XP. Activation will be required in order to confirm that the installation is properly licensed and genuine.

From the Windows 7 RC FAQ:
"When you download the RC, you'll be given a product key. (See Installation Instructions.) Be sure to use the product key to activate the RC within 30 days, or you'll start getting persistent reminders to activate. Your product key will work for up to three separate computers, so if you want to install the the RC on another PC, you can re-use the same key."

Remember - "A day without laughter is a day wasted."
May the wind sing to you and the sun rise in your heart...

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Advance Notice: June 2009 Microsoft Security Bulletin Release

On June 9, 2009, Microsoft is planning to release ten new security bulletins. Six of the updates are rated Critical: Windows (2), IE, Word, Excel, and Office. Microsoft is also planning on including four additional updates to Windows, of which three are rated Important and the last as Moderate.

As indicated in the MSRC Blog, testing is still being conducted on an update for the DirectShow vulnerability addressed in Security Advisory 971778. Additional information, including work-around options, is available here.


Remember - "A day without laughter is a day wasted."
May the wind sing to you and the sun rise in your heart...

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Windows 7 to Launch October 22, 2009

Hot off the press -- ok, fresh from Twitter -- the news is that Microsoft has confirmed October 22, 2009, as the launch date for Windows 7.

If you are in the market for a new computer, keep your eyes and ears open as I expect the various vendors will be offering special upgrade packages. This will be of particular interest to parents planning a new computer purchase prior to sending a child off to university in the fall.

@inafried: Windows 7 to launch October 22
@MitchWagner: Windows 7 To Ship Oct. 22, Microsoft Confirms


As I suspected, there will indeed be a Windows 7 Upgrade Option Program. From The Date for General Availability (GA) of Windows 7 is…:

"Some people may not be able to wait for Windows 7 to arrive before having to order a new PC (like parents who are sending their sons or daughters off to school who need of a PC to take with them). Fortunately, there is no need to wait. Soon, customers will be able to take advantage of the Windows 7 Upgrade Option Program. This program enables participating retailers and OEMs to offer a special deal to upgrade to Windows 7 for customers purchasing a qualifying PC. I’ll be doing another blog post about this program with a date and more details when we get closer to availability.

Obviously, Release To Manufacturing (RTM) is an important milestone on the path to GA. We anticipate that we’ll be able to make the RTM code for Windows 7 available to our partners sometime in the 2nd half of July. We also expect to be able to make RTM code for Windows Server 2008 R2 available to our partners in this time frame as well."

Microsoft: Windows 7

Remember - "A day without laughter is a day wasted."
May the wind sing to you and the sun rise in your heart...

Monday, June 01, 2009

A Feature Update for WinPatrol

Bill Pytlovany announced a feature update for WinPatrol today. WinPatrol 16.0.2009 Build 5 has column memory. In other words, Scotty has been trained to remember any changes you make to the width of columns when you resize the main WinPatrol tabbed interface. So now you can adjust the columns in the WinPatrol interface and the next time you launch WinPatrol, Scotty will remember the column adjustments you made.

Members of the Fans of WinPatrol Facebook group and WinPatrol followers on Twitter (http://twitter.com/winpatrol) received advance notice of the update.

Download the new free upgrade at http://winpatrol.com/upgrade.html.

Remember - "A day without laughter is a day wasted."
May the wind sing to you and the sun rise in your heart...