Microsoft finally fixes the 15-year old "Jasbug" security flaw affecting all versions of Windows

microsoft-headquartersThis week as part of the regularly scheduled roll-up Windows updates known as “Patch Tuesday”, Microsoft has released three “Critial” fixes that pertain to a bug that has been infecting all versions of Windows for over 15 years as the security flaw was never detected. The critical “Remote Code Execution” fixes included in this update bundle will finally plug the hole once and for good.

Jeff Schmidt who is an independent researcher at JAS Global Advisors in Chicago found the bug accidentally about a year ago while working on another project.

The security flaw apparently allowed hackers to spy on Wi-Fi users and potentially steal data or plant malware all without anyone knowing. The bug has been named “Jasbug” and Mr. Schmidt has been working closely with Microsoft to fix it. The task was enormous because the issue is rooted deep inside of Windows OS core and making such changes is very risky as you can imagine. The team tasked with removing this bug wanted to make sure the changes were carefully executed and thoroughly tested.

There has been no word on how many times this flaw was exploited by hackers or what kind of impact it might have had on the victims, but it’s too early to tell.

Here are the three related bulletins, all require system restart in order to be applied:

Security Update for Internet Explorer (3034682)

This security update resolves one publicly disclosed and forty privately reported vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer. The most severe of these vulnerabilities could allow remote code execution if a user views a specially crafted webpage using Internet Explorer. An attacker who successfully exploited these vulnerabilities could gain the same user rights as the current user. Customers whose accounts are configured to have fewer user rights on the system could be less impacted than those who operate with administrative user rights.

Vulnerabilities in Windows Kernel-Mode Driver Could Allow Remote Code Execution (3036220)

This security update resolves one publicly disclosed and five privately reported vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows. The most severe of the vulnerabilities could allow remote code execution if an attacker convinces a user to open a specially crafted document or visit an untrusted website that contains embedded TrueType fonts.

Vulnerability in Group Policy Could Allow Remote Code Execution (3000483)

This security update resolves a privately reported vulnerability in Microsoft Windows. The vulnerability could allow remote code execution if an attacker convinces a user with a domain-configured system to connect to an attacker-controlled network. An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could take complete control of an affected system. An attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights.

For more details on the update please visit Microsoft Security Bulletin Summary for February 2015

Microsoft reportedly restricting Windows with Bing licenses only for screens 14" and smaller

Windows 8.1Windows with Bing is has proven to be a popular SKU for OEMs due to it costing very little and even being free for devices with screen sizes under 9 inches. Windows with Bing is a full version of Windows with the only catch being that OEMs must set Bing as the default search engine and MSN.com as the homepage. Users who purchase these PCs can then change these settings if they prefer.

Earlier today, The Register reported that there were 115,000 notebooks running the Windows with Bing SKU sold in the UK in the fourth quarter of 2014.  However, over 81% of these notebooks or 94,000 of them were running this Windows SKU on 15.6-inch devices.  It is also reported that Chromebook sales were unimpressive in the UK, and that Microsoft overreacted to the threat by offering such fantastic promotions to PC OEMs with the Windows with Bing program.

“Microsoft realised it over-egged the response to Google and is limiting the licences,” said one source.

Therefore, Microsoft will be restricting the Windows with Bing SKU to devices with 14-inch displays or smaller including a minor price increase for the remaining licenses available starting next month.

Investors also didn’t respond too lightly over the drop in Windows revenue in Microsoft’s fourth quarter of 2014 earnings, and it seems like Microsoft is looking to bring more profit to the Windows division.

Windows 10 is still a little far out, but it’ll be very interesting to see how Microsoft prices their new flagship OS to PC OEMs.  Especially, as it looks to recoup some of the immediate financial losses by giving away Windows 10 for free in the first year after its release to users running Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.

Source: The Register via Neowin 

Microsoft planning a major Windows 10 event in January 2015

Windows 10Update: Microsoft’s January event is confirmed and is scheduled for January 21, 2015

Microsoft formally announced its plans to release Windows 10 alongside at a small-scale event in San Francisco in September, however the event was more business-centric focusing on what Microsoft’s new OS can do to help corporate users achieve more. The company also released the Technical Preview for Windows Insider users who can download and play with while Microsoft fine-tunes the OS based on user-feedback.

A new report by The Verge is suggesting the Redmond software giant is now gearing up for another Windows 10 event in January 2015 and details of this event should become available sometime next month (December). The event is speculated to be a large one and will focus on showing off the new features of Windows 10 as Microsoft is looking to create some buzz for its upcoming OS.

According to the report, Microsoft will also use this event to lay out its plans for phones and tablets, and perhaps announcing a new Xbox One dashboard update.

Stay tuned for more as details emerge, we will keep you posted.

Source: The Verge

"Apps run smarter on Windows" – watch Microsoft's new commercial for Windows/Windows Phone apps

windows-phone-apps-commercialIn this new ad, Microsoft shows off the large collection of apps available in its ecosystem – from popular apps like Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, PayPal, Pandora to countless news, entertainment and gaming apps. As a matter of fact, there are over 525,000 apps in the Windows/Windows Phone Stores according to Microsoft’s latest figures.  Microsoft also highlights the multitasking feature where as much as three apps can run side by side on Windows 8/8.1

Windows and Windows Phone have been the subject of negative perception by those who aren’t familiar with the platform, specifically when it comes to the app gap compared to Android & iOS. However, in reality this app gap has been substantially reduced over the last year as Microsoft has been working hard with many top app publishers to bring their products on-board.

Microsoft’s universal app model is expected to have a significant impact in app development, as these new apps will be able to run on any Windows device.  Windows 10 is also  just around the corner and it will  have the ability to adapt accordingly  to each device type, in addition bridging the Windows platforms very close together. We’re hoping that this new plan is able to resolve many of the app gap issues Microsoft’s mobile platform has, and once and for all be on par, or close to iOS and Android in the next 18-24 months.

"Apps run smarter on Windows" – watch Microsoft's new commercial for Windows/Windows Phone apps

windows-phone-apps-commercialIn this new ad, Microsoft shows off the large collection of apps available in its ecosystem – from popular apps like Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, PayPal, Pandora to countless news, entertainment and gaming apps. As a matter of fact, there are over 525,000 apps in the Windows/Windows Phone Stores according to Microsoft’s latest figures.  Microsoft also highlights the multitasking feature where as much as three apps can run side by side on Windows 8/8.1

Windows and Windows Phone have been the subject of negative perception by those who aren’t familiar with the platform, specifically when it comes to the app gap compared to Android & iOS. However, in reality this app gap has been substantially reduced over the last year as Microsoft has been working hard with many top app publishers to bring their products on-board.

Microsoft’s universal app model is expected to have a significant impact in app development, as these new apps will be able to run on any Windows device.  Windows 10 is also  just around the corner and it will  have the ability to adapt accordingly  to each device type, in addition bridging the Windows platforms very close together. We’re hoping that this new plan is able to resolve many of the app gap issues Microsoft’s mobile platform has, and once and for all be on par, or close to iOS and Android in the next 18-24 months.

Cortana will be able to track your packages soon

cortana

Microsoft’s Windows 10 technical preview is getting a lot of attention since its announcing two days ago, and slowly but surely new things are being uncovered as enthusiasts start looking under the hood of this new OS.

We all know that Cortana will make her way into Windows 10, and although we don’t have the privilege to try out the Windows 10 version of Microsoft’s personal assistant, it doesn’t stop us from finding out possible Cortana features in this early build of the OS.

Cortana assets pertaining to tracking packages have been discovered in the Windows 10 technical preview, there’s a bingconfiguration-en-us resource file that was found which clearly states ‘parcel delivery’ beside features we already have with Cortana in Windows Phone.

Cortana package tracker

This is a clear indication the feature is most likely on its way, and will very likely work in the same fashion as the way Cortana tracks your flight information-by scanning your email for tracking number automatically.

Cortana has a very important role to play for Microsoft as she represents a true vision of what a digital personal assistant should be like, representing the best in what Microsoft has to offer in both machine learning and search. If Cortana is executed correctly on Windows 10 we can expect that word of mouth will spread on just how powerful of a personal assistant Microsoft has created with such a large user base Windows 10 will have.

This can really help put Windows Phone in to people’s minds as they may want the same experience on mobile, which could significantly benefit Microsoft’s entire ecosystem, as long as Microsoft doesn’t release Cortana on iOS and Android by then.

Source:  Neowin

Is Windows 95 the reason Microsoft skipped Windows 9?

20140801220912!Windows_95_logoThis Tuesday Microsoft revealed to the world their new operating system Windows 10, leaving many scratching their heads asking why Microsoft skipped Windows 9 as that was widely expected to be the official name of the OS. The official stance by Microsoft on the issue is that the changes and improvements  Windows 10 will bring are so massive that they just had to skip a whole version and jump to 10.

Some people may not buy that pitch and some have joked that “Windows 7 8 (as in ate) 9”, but today we found out a possible real reason for the Windows version skip from a person on Reddit who claims to be a Microsoft Developer.

User /u/cranbourne revealed that the real reason Microsoft skipped Windows 9 is because of a common piece of legacy software code that searches strings for anything that starts with Windows 9 – such as Windows 95 and 98 such as in this example.

if(version.StartsWith(“Windows 9”)) {
    /* run some code for 95 and 98 */
} else {
    /* run this code for everything else */
}

Although this is not the greatest way to write code, many companies still use their proprietary legacy applications that have been ported over from the Win 95/98 days. If this rumor is true, maybe it was a good idea by Microsoft as we can certainly assume that no Windows 1.x code still exists because …StartsWith(“Windows 1”).. would cause the same issues with Windows 10.

Source: Reddit

Microsoft's new licensing strategy adds 50 new phone and tablet makers

Windows Family

Microsoft’s strategy of providing OEMs with a free Windows license for devices smaller than nine inches as well as certain notebooks running Windows with Bing services built in has so far been a very important move for the company.  This significant change to licensing has gathered over 50 new OEMs which will build devices running Windows, whether it be phones, PCs or tablets.

Windows lead Terry Myerson stated that Microsoft expects to continue the trend of Windows licensing in the future – saying, “It’s going well. I expect we will continue it.”

These changes have brought devices to lower price points and have brought in influx of new low-cost machines to market, with many more on the way.  This is a massive assault on Chromebooks and it’ll be interesting to see what effect this has on it in the future.

In addition to eliminating licensing fees in particular circumstances, Microsoft has gone to great lengths to reengineer Windows enabling it to run on lower cost devices that come with weaker chipsets but will provide a solid user experience.  This perhaps is the single most important step that they have taken to ensure the strongest market share growth possible in both mobile and low cost notebooks.

What to expect from today's unveiling of Windows 9/Threshold

Update (Sep 30, 2014) – Highlights from the Windows 10 event in San Francisco (Video)

Windows 8.1 Menu-900-80Today at 10 AM PT/1PM ET Microsoft is expected to announce the next generation of its flagship operating system, Windows 9 (codenamed Windows Threshold) in a small enterprise-only event in San Francisco, CA. Please note there are no live streams available as of right now – if that changes we will post the link right here.

As the tech giant tries to re-brand and reinvent the world’s most popular OS, the company is looking to focus more on enterprise, which was sort of left behind in some ways with Windows 8 and left a sour taste in the mouths of many. This event is likely an opportunity for Microsoft to share with the business crowd their vision of what next Windows OS should be but also to gather valuable feedback as Microsoft is still refining the features of Windows 9.

Although we don’t expect Microsoft to officially launch Windows 9 today, what we do believe that we may learn is more information about the recently leaked “Technology Preview for Enterprise” release and we could potentially get confirmation on some new features and improvements such as the integration of Windows Apps into the Start menu and Virtual Desktops. We also hope that Microsoft will announce what the new OS will actually be branded as – many believe, naturally, Windows 9 is in order but because Microsoft may look to distance itself from the past, some have speculate it may simply be called “Windows”.

Microsoft is definitely gearing towards the enterprise with this new Windows version, increasing the focus on the mouse and keyboard user experience – something that was missing initially with Windows 8 but fixed with Windows 8.1 at which point it was a bit too late to convince the masses. One can say this is Microsoft’s biggest chance to redemption and getting the new Windows right will be crucial for the Redmond software powerhouse.

Stay tuned and follow us on Twitter as we keep you posted on the latest developments.

Windows 8.1 Update 2 to be quietly released on August 12

windows8.1update2The rumor mill has been abuzz over the last few weeks about Windows 8.1 Update 2,as well athe new features it may bring. It now looks like the upcoming Windows update will be nothing more than a set of patches/bug fixes and minor improvements with no significant UI changes or enhancements as many have anticipated.

As a matter of fact, according to a leaked document on PCPortal.org.ru (image above), Microsoft is looking to quietly roll out the Windows 8.1 Update 2 with the August 12 “Patch Tuesdays”.

It was originally anticipated that Microsoft will release the new hybrid Start Menu with Update 2, but those plans have changed, according to insiders, and the company will now be looking to push the new Start Menu and many other enhancements through the Windows Threshold update, which is rumored to be the new version of Windows – or Windows 9.  Update 2 for Windows 8.1 should be the last of the major updates for Windows 8.1 as Microsoft focuses more on Windows Threshold, expected to hit the  shelves in the first half of  2015.

Source: PCPortal.org.ru