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Windows may install updates without asking

Windows XP and Vista have started installing updates at shutdown, in certain cases, without displaying a warning or requesting permission, according to reports by several readers.

The forced-install behavior has been witnessed at least three times by Windows Secrets editors, but Microsoft says its procedure for Automatic Updates hasn’t changed in the last 10 months.

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Break from MS Office with free alternatives

If you’re thinking of skipping the next expensive Microsoft Office upgrade, you can begin preparing today for the move to a free Office-like suite or Web service.

A gradual and easy transition allows you to avoid any possible file incompatibilities, because you can still keep an old copy of Office available as a safety net.

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Big-name sites spread latest malware infections

Going by such names as Gumblar, JSRedir-R, Martuz, and Beladin, a new generation of malware has managed to surreptitiously place malicious JavaScript code on tens of thousands of popular Web sites.

The hacker scripts try to infect site visitors and then attempt to use their compromised PCs to spread the infection to yet other sites.

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Windows 7 Starter Edition limits netbook designs

Last week, Microsoft dropped its plan to enforce a three-concurrent-app limit on Windows 7 Starter Edition — the version of the new OS that will be preinstalled only on small PCs, such as netbooks.

Microsoft is still expected, however, to restrict netbook hardware configurations that are eligible for Starter Edition pricing, which means your choices for cheap netbooks may be hobbled — at least in the near term.

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Shavlik, Secunia top Windows Update alternatives

If you followed the instructions in my May 21
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to build new systems without installing the trouble-prone Windows Genuine Advantage app, you may want to patch your PC using something other than Windows Update, which offers again and again to install WGA.

My favorite third-party software update service is currently the Shavlik Patch Google Gadget, although Secunia’s Personal Software Inspector is a worthwhile alternative.

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Get all security patches without WGA nightmares

If you’re a legitimate Microsoft customer, you can download and install all the Windows updates you need without running Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) and exposing yourself to the false positives it’s become known for.

In today’s article, I explain how to install Windows XP and upgrade it with every available security fix and many optional updates as well, without ever installing WGA.

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Two big reasons why you’ll like Windows 7

If you’ve ever wondered why it’s so difficult to manage and share files in Windows, you’ll be delighted with two significant new features in Windows 7.

These new capabilities, called Libraries and Homegroups, make finding files and connecting with resources on other PCs so easy you’ll think you’re using a Mac!

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ISPs assist in cutting off file-sharing users

Internet service providers are cooperating more and more with copyright holders to crack down on illegal downloading and peer-to-peer file-sharing.

Some of the changes are due to strict new piracy laws, but others appear to arise from sheer self-interest on the ISPs’ part.

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Gmail accounts hacked via unpatched hole

Exploits allowing hackers to break into Gmail accounts are likely to occur, if they’re not already circulating, after security researchers released details of a hole that Google has reportedly declined to patch.

There are steps you can take to reduce the risk of using a webmail account, but it appears that the usual tricks won’t solve the Gmail problem until Google fixes the software.

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Windows Genuine Advantage is still genuinely bad

Microsoft’s system for validating Windows before users can download most updates continues to be a problem for legitimate customers and for Internet security as a whole.

Despite claims of offering better security, Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) serves only Microsoft’s marketing interests — but you can eliminate the need for WGA if you know the trick.

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