Windows Live Messenger — the successor to MSN Messenger — hit the stands
a week ago on
Wednesday. That was version 8.0.0787. Ancient history.
Less than two days later, Microsoft released a new version, 8.0.0792. Hooo boy.
Here we go again.
My last column explained why Microsoft needs the free Windows Live Safety Center to keep antitrust lawyers off its butt.
A few days ago I tested Windows Live Safety Center on a real zero-day Excel exploit. Does it work? Or is Microsoft blowing smoke? Frankly, I was amazed.
When Microsoft first announced Windows Live OneCare, I figured
Redmond had a lot of cojones to charge consumers for protection against
flaws in its own products.
In OneCare’s first month, however, it appears to my jaundiced eye that MS has responded
to two real, in-the-wild, zero-day attacks — first in Word, then in Excel — via a little-known
free service called the Windows Live
Safety Center. Never heard of it? Read on.
Windows Vista Beta 2 may be the most-downloaded program in history — but
heaven help ya if you use it for real work.
Bugs and lock-ups come with the territory
it’s beta software, after all, and you’d be crazy to run Vista Beta 2 on a
production machine. (Or go crazy trying.) Having spent months struggling with
various incarnations of the Vista beast, I’m worried about something more
fundamental than bugs. More insidious. One Vista feature, User Account Control,
just keeps getting in the way.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of
wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was… Nawww… It was just Windows XP
This past week, Windows XP networking surprised me twice. The first shocker
magically solved a long-standing problem (dare I say a “bug”?) in my office
peer-to-peer network. The other event scared the, uh, Dickens out of me.
For years I’ve been advising Windows consumers to disable Automatic Updates:
Keep Microsoft’s mitts off your machine until you’re darn sure the
proffered patches do more good than harm.
I’ve taken a lot of flak for that heretical stance, vilified for intimating that
Microsoft’s patching process leaves consumers in the lurch. Bah. Recent events
have proved my point conclusively: Windows auto-update is for chumps.
I don’t gush over new software very often. Most of what I see looks like
same-old, same-old, maybe with a burnished bell here or a twisted whistle there.
But I recently found something new — something exciting — on the Web, and it’s
saved my tail a couple of times. If you haven’t seen SiteAdvisor, you should
look. If you don’t use SiteAdvisor, you should try.
You’re a savvy Windows XP insider. You already know that you can pin programs
on the Start menu. Cool. Hanging your most-used programs on Start makes
it easy to get them cranked up, even when you’re bleary-eyed and blue-toothed,
and your mouse has a mind of its own.
But did you know that you can also pin folders, files, documents —
even Web pages — to the Start menu? Check out these tricks to
make the most of that prime piece of real estate.
Does Office think your name is “Satisfied Dell Customer”? When you install
new programs, do they want to send a confirmation e-mail to “OEM User”?
Or — raise your hand if this sounds familiar — when you first installed
Windows, did you misspell your own name? Hey, it’s happened to me. More than
once. If you’ve ever wanted to turn back the clock and tell Windows or Office
that the name or organization permanently emblazoned in your PC’s memory is all
wet, this secret’s for you.
I’ve spent most of the past
three weeks slogging through the “February
Community Technology Preview” of the next version of Windows — Vista Build
5308, to the tech-savvy.
For the first time in a very, very long time, I’m excited about a new product
from Microsoft. Vista holds tremendous promise. Whether the final product will
live up to the promise, though, is anyone’s guess.