Windows 7 already bigger than Snow Leopard and Linux combined

It’s only been a couple of weeks since Windows 7 was released, but Microsoft’s new OS has already captured a larger percentage of the market than Apple’s OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard and Linux (yes, all of Linux). This doesn’t come as a huge surprise, considering how many Windows users were clamoring for Win7 after the flop that is Vista. Microsoft says Windows 7’s launch outdid Vista’s by 234%. Those brisk sales have already netted Windows a 2% share of the world’s OS business, compared to just over 1% for Snow Leopard, and just under 1% for Linux.

Despite the strong sales of Win7, Windows as a whole dropped a quarter of a percentage point in October, with Mac and Linux both making small gains. That quarter of a point hardly matters when you’ve got 90% of the OS market and your new operating system is being adopted quickly, though.

I expect to see Windows swing back up after Windows 7’s been available for a while. I mean, we’re talking about an operating system that outsold Harry Potter in the UK. Right now, it’s only got a 2% share, compared to 19% for Vista and 70% for XP, but that’s after only two weeks. Expect that number to zoom upward by the end of November.


Windows x64

I’ve re-installed windows on my computer this week – (Reverted back from Windows 7 to Vista x64) so I had to install all the software I’m using.

I’ve never used Windows x64 before and I’ve heard it’s as good as the 32-bit version, so I decided to give it a try.

Well I don’t know why do I trust people instead of reading user-manuals and the whole “Before You Install” section offered by any OS. Maybe it’s because I’m lazy and don’t like reading.

Most Microsoft Products (All the ones I tried installing so far) like “Microsoft Visual Studio 2008”, “Microsoft Office 2007”, “Microsoft SQL Server”, “Microsoft Expression Web”, Windows Live stuff…etc

Then as a Java Developer I had to install Java for Windows x64. Then my favorite java IDE “Netbeans”. All installations went smoothly and I had no problems what so ever. Until I tried running Netbeans 6.5. It only took me a couple of minutes to realize Netbeans with the help of Java is eating up my memory. I mean it did take a lot of memory before (on the x86 32bit OS) but now it’s eating my memory for no known reasons.

I then started installing my toys.. Windows with no toys would really look boring. So I started with my favorite applet “Taskbar Shuffle” – Which is basically a tool that allows you to organize the applications running in both Windows taskbar and the system tray – But for my bad luck it was the only application I really wanted to install that didn’t support Windows x64, so I tried going to the forums and I found a thread requesting Vista 64-bit support, which Jay seems to be ignoring – I guess he’s busy with other projects, or maybe he had to rewrite the whole thing because of Delphi 6. I don’t know.

Back to Java. I figured out Eclipse doesn’t support Windows x64 yet. I did find an “Early Access” edition for Windows x64 but it’s Version 3.2 which is not the latest version.

I’ll keep my fingers crossed even though I really doubt I’ll be using this Windows x64 for a long time. But what the heck, I also said I’ll never try a beta Windows.

Have a nice computing day (make that platform independent)

Another cross platform post

About a couple of months now I’ve decided I was going to make my transition from Windows XP to Windows Vista (A bit too late, I know) So I got my Windows Vista upgradable version to the Vista Business Edition. Since the ultimate edition looked a bit too fancy for me.

If you don’t already know, I’m a Software developer. which means I’ll be torturing my OS.. My (now ex) XP never complained and always found it’s way around. Which is why I loved it ever since I started using it, back in 2002.

Back to the flow of events, I installed Windows Vista and at first it was hideous. Until I reinstalled all the software I had and you can imagine how long it took me. To be honest Windows XP could have never provided the user experience I’m loving in Windows Vista. And neither could Ubuntu.

The design, the way things look on the desktop, the OS interactions are all just great. Until I heard about Windows 7 and started reading about the UI improvements in it.

At the end of hours honeymoon (Me and Vista) I started noticing the bad habits and the things wrong in Vista. The main issue with Windows Vista is not the bugs it has, it’s the way people are going to remember it since Microsoft has already rushed into Windows 7 so soon without considering Vista’s feelings.

One of the major problems I’m having with Windows Vista is it’s all new Address bar, the stupid navigational one. I mean I like the idea, ever since I’ve seen it in Ubuntu. But come on Microsoft you could have done it… Even I could have done it better for god’s sake. But no it had to be buggy. Most of the times I try using it when saving files (mainly images) from my all dear Firefox, it just can’t help me navigate past 2-3 sub-items so, it’s Computer==>C:==>Nothing, apparently Windows Vista thinks I have nothing on my drive C:. which is flat out stupid and I hate Microsoft for doing this to Vista.

The other issue that I’m still trying to figure out, or trying to figure out how the heck did they miss that up. to be more clear, it concerns my Wireless card driver. Yes, I use a wireless card (CWC-854) to be clearer (CNet hardware) and it was working fine when I’m using my home wireless network, Where I have a WPA2 secure network.

Recently I tried connecting to the wireless router at work, using WEP key. Again this thing worked on Windows XP like a charm, also on Ubuntu 8.04 and 8.10, But not Vista, I had no idea why Vista was throwing the “No response” error in my face. So I tried installing the latest driver software from CNet and guess what, the version I had installed (on my Windows XP, before upgrading) but I decided if it’s not really working why not give it a shot. And yes you guessed right, the older version worked fine and I can connect to both networks (home and office) with no problems what so ever.

But you see, the thing I’ve always hated about open source operating systems, such as Ubuntu Linux was the time wasted on trying to get your hardware to run right. But After this Vista incident I realized, it only took about 10 minutes to get all my hardware to run smoothly on Ubuntu 8.10

Hmmm, so on one hand we have Windows, a great OS becoming worse. On the other hand, we have Ubuntu a starting OS becoming better. Doesn’t seem like rough decision logically, but I choose Windows, I’ll always do.

More reasons why Linux has failed on the desktop

Linux enthusiast Gary Nielsen has listed a few reasons why his desktop is still running the Windows Vista operating system and not an Open Source alternative.

His top reason really goes back to my most recent post on this subject: Why Linux will always be stuck in the minority. (lack of good commercial software on the desktop) He also complains about poor wireless support for his machine, and that he doesn’t want to buy a Windows license to run XP/Vista in VMware.

The wireless driver complaint is a common problem with Linux.  But it’s not something you can blame on those behind Linux or the various distributions. If the manufacturer has elected to lock up the code, and has no interest in providing any support for Linux, there’s very little anyone can do to provide good support for your hardware.

You just have to chalk it down to experience and refuse to buy any systems in the future that include hardware from that company. Better yet, buy a Linux-ready machine next time from a Dell or HP that has guaranteed driver support.

Gary explains that he cannot run his Windows applications in Linux, and there’s no way to run Quicken 2008 – even with one of the popular ‘emulators’. (WINE is not an emulator) He concedes he could run Windows in a virtual machine inside Linux – but doesn’t want to pay for another OS license.

Unfortunately virtualization is the only forward if you want to run Linux on your desktop while retaining full compatibility with your Windows applications. There are too many headaches and technical issues with trying to do it in WINE or Codeweavers Crossover Linux product.

I already blogged recently why I felt Linux would never make it on the desktop. The fact is the open source movement is almost possessed by a philosophical cult that drives away the best developers from building great applications for the Linux platform. The comments in response to my post just emphasize that point.

If the software isn’t open source and free then it’s not welcomed by the most vocal and respected members of the Linux community. So where’s the incentive for developers and software companies to build great applications for Linux? There is none.

Don’t be surprised when you boot into Linux and start discovering a serious lack of great software on the platform. Do your research beforehand. Free is nice, but it tends not to attract the best developers, investment, or any kind of ongoing commitment to updates and improving the software over time.

Until there’s a sizable chunk of Linux desktop users prepared to pay for the privilege of installing and using great software, don’t expect applications like Quicken 2008 to be ported to the platform. In other words: you’ll be using Windows for many years to come if you depending on the ability to use the best of breed software applications in the marketplace.

Desktop search engines

When the topic of desktop searching is brought, Google desktop and maybe Microsoft "Windows Search" are the only 2 competing software available both for windows only.

I’ve tried both of the for a while now and I think I made up my mind when it comes to judging the 2 famous desktop searches.

Starting with Google desktop, I think it’s pretty descent looking, full of cool features plugable for many file types and comes with a pretty neat indexing process (you can’t tell it’s working).

The sidebar that comes with Google desktop is also really nice for a Windows XP user like myself. Since we are not allowed to have Windows Vista gadgets. Those gadgets are really entertaining and time saving for most of the time (There are games that would waste your time you know).

I’ve tried Google Desktop for 3 months now and the one thing I noticed is that it’s taking really huge disc space (2.5GBs) which is a little bit annoying for me. The other con is the way it misbehaves after starting a DirectX full screen app (Fancy word for a game).

So the keywords to describing Google Desktop are (Entertaining, plugable, neat, HUGE DISC SPACE, MISBEHAVING)

Now it’s time for Microsoft WindowsSearch 3.0 (I’ve Downloaded version 4 but haven’t installed it yet)

Well the only good thing about WindowsSearch so far, is that it didn’t take as much disc space as Google desktop. I’m trying hard to find any advantage for WindowsSearch over Google Desktop. Seems like the only pro to me.

It doesn’t take a long time to figure out what’s wrong with WindowsSearch. When indexing files you can always tell, Have a pretty strange way of categorizing files, looks hideous, And for some reason have to reindex your files on every system startup!

I just installed the New version of WindowsSearch, doesn’t look different from the older version. But is supposed to be capable of indexing more file types (OpenOffice files, PDFs…). The really STUPID thing was the setup, it was simple and I didn’t even notice it working. But thankfully I read the message shown when setup completed successfully, or else my computer would have rebooted when clicking finish and without even asking me if I wanted to reboot.

Not to be a biased reviewer but once again Google kicks some Microsoft butt.

Windows Vista experience (installing, uninstalling)

Before I start I just want to make an announcement:

"I don’t hate Microsoft, I just envy Bill Gates".

I’ve been hearing bad and good things about Windows Vista for some time now, so I decided to give it a try since I don’t trust the judgement of other people. So I got the Ultimate edition.

Upgrading XP to Vista

I thought I could upgrade from Windows XP SP2 to Windows Vista in no time. Well I was wrong, Windows Vista setup stopped half way of the "Expanding Files" stage to announce that there is a corrupt file in the DVD, I didn’t buy it (since I’ve already tried installing a fresh version on a virtual machine and it worked) so I was down for a couple of days. My good friends were trying to cheer me up by telling me the worse of Vista.

Fresh Vista installation

Today I decided to give it another try, so I started Windows XP in safe mode this time (thinking this might be anti-virus related issue) but I was wrong again, same error same place. Oh and the good part is that Microsoft forgot the Rollback action in the setup so all the files copied on the disk are left there but they’re safe to delete, no harm.

Again I tried installing it, fresh installation this time, and it worked as expected. I tried it for a couple of hours, even installed the service pack 1. Getting back to work I kept wondering if there is a way to run my XP installed programs on Vista, and that was an easy question.. As long as it doesn’t use the registry it works.

I thought for a couple of minutes of a way to import the registry from Windows XP to Windows Vista. Then I decided to let it go and uninstall vista.

Uninstalling Vista

I looked up a couple of articles on how to uninstall Vista and reverting to Windows XP, many web sites said that it’s impossible to do. Except for one web site for Vista fans that recommended using a BCD editor whatever a BCD is. And a couple of instructions on how important it is to reformat the partition where I installed Windows Vista.

Reformatting was out of the equation since I had so many huge files on that partition that I cannot afford to lose or back up – since I don’t like wasting my whole day – again I decided I don’t trust others so I started Windows XP and installed the application recommended "VistaBootPRO". It wasn’t hard to use, just erased Windows Vista from the "Manage OS Entries" tab. The next instruction was the reformat step. So I decided that maybe I can just delete Windows Vista folders, I tried and I found that I don’t have permission to do that.. BS, my computer I’ll get the permission no matter what.

Gaining back XP Control

So from "My Computer" I navigated to the properties window for the partition, directly to the Security tab and from there clicked the "Advanced" button, so another window popped out, in this window went to "Owner" tab and selected my account name (Since I’m an administrator) and checked the "Replace owner on subcontainers and objects" then clicked OK, back in the properties window I clicked apply, after dear Windows XP was done processing my request. I removed all security rules and added full control permission to the Administrators group and the System account and "Read & Execute", "List Folder Contents", "Read" permissions to the "Users" group. Then clicked the apply again and waited for Windows to process my request once again, then I went back to the advanced window same permissions in the properties window were in the "Permissions" tab of this window. I checked the "Replace permission entries…." and okayed this and the properties windows, again waited for a couple of minutes for windows to process my request.

Erasing Vista files

When I was done I tried deleting the Windows folder (Where windows Vista resides) and it worked then I noticed that a folder named "Windows.OLD" was created and that made me wonder because it wasn’t the drive I have Windows XP installed on, I looked in there and a couple of programs I had installed in the "Program Files" folder on Windows XP were moved there. Since I was already in Windows XP I tried launching one of those programs and it failed, so I deleted everything in the "Program Files" folder and moved my old applications there, I tried again and they all worked, so back to deleting Vista files I deleted the "Users" folder and the hidden "Documents and Settings" folder. Then I noticed I had to system folders  XP’s "Recycler" and another folder similar, so I removed the unknown folder – unknown to me – and went on deleting any folder I was not aware of.

After all it was a nice 1 day Vista experience which didn’t cost me anything.

Again I don’t hate Microsoft and I will get back to vista once I find a solution to my "Upgrade" problem.


That $200 Windows XP service pack called Vista

More than five years after the release of Windows XP, Windows Vista has arrived. The party line out of Redmond is that “Windows Vista is Microsoft’s most secure platform to date,” and you won’t find anyone at Microsoft saying otherwise. But saying it’s Microsoft’s most secure operating system isn’t saying that Windows Vista is the most secure operating system on the market today. No one can say that, I suspect, but Microsoft is really sensitive about security, saying that security is one of the main pillars that support a user’s decision to upgrade to Windows Vista. Unfortunately for most home users, the actual security features in Windows Vista Home Basic and Home Premium will amount to little more than a pillar of salt. That’s not to say home users won’t get enhanced security with Windows Vista; they will. It’s just that most of the security enhancements touted in Windows Vista don’t appear in the Home Premium and Basic editions, and what’s there, what’s not already available within windows XP, could have fit into a free Windows XP service pack instead of requiring a $200 upgrade.

The spin
I have several marketing documents from Microsoft, but I’ll refer to one entitled “Windows Vista Quick Reference Guide.” These are talking points for software reviewers regarding security, mobility, networking, deployment, and application compatibility. Under security, the document states that Windows Vista’s development followed the Microsoft’s Security Development Lifecycle. Programmers were required to take security training, strict coding standards were enforced, and throughout the cycle, rigorous testing and review of the operating system code was done. That’s the marketing spin.
 Most of the security enhancements touted in Windows Vista don’t appear in the Home Premium and Basic editions, and what’s there, what’s not already available within windows XP, could have fit into a free Windows XP service pack instead of requiring a $200 upgrade.

The reality is a little different. At least one major antivirus vendor, Kaspersky, has said there will be vulnerabilities reported soon within Windows Vista. “We’re not asking whether vulnerabilities will be found, but when,” said Alexander Gostev, principal antivirus researcher for Kaspersky. Indeed, there’s already been one Vista-related vulnerability reported, one that affected earlier versions of Windows, as well. You’d think Microsoft’s Security Development Lifecycle would have caught that.

A shell game
The marketing document goes on to list a dozen bulleted security enhancements within Windows Vista, such as Enhanced Authentication Model, User Account Control (UAC), BitLocker Drive Encryption, Encrypting File System (EFS), Protected Mode for IE 7, Windows Defender, Windows Firewall, Enhanced Firewall Management, Group Policy for Device Lockdown, Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR), Kernel Patch Protection, and Network Access Protection. That’s 12 enhancements that sound really thorough, if you get them.

However, because there are six different editions of Windows Vista, with varying features in each, only the people who purchase the $400 Ultimate edition or have access to the Enterprise edition (for volume-license customers only) will see all 12 features; for $200, home users will see fewer than half. I spoke with Pete McKiernan, a senior product manager for Windows at Microsoft, who said that BitLocker hard drive encryption wasn’t included in the Home editions because Microsoft feared home users would lock themselves out of their systems. He agreed that another feature, Device Lockdown, required a group policy, and therefore wouldn’t be in the Home edition, nor would Network Access Protection, Enhanced Authentication Model, or Encrypting File System (EFS). That’s 5 out of 12 security enhancements that you won’t find in the Home editions of Windows Vista.

I wouldn’t have minded a Windows XP service pack offering just ASLR. But Microsoft wants me to pay $200 for security features I don’t use or need just to get the one feature I truly do need.

Pete did say that all 64-bit editions of Windows Vista include Kernel Patch Protection, but I told him that most home users are running the 32-bit editions. It remains to be seen whether the 64-bit PatchGuard, also known as Kernel Patch Protection, works as advertised. At last summer’s Black Hat Briefings in Las Vegas, researcher Joanna Rutkowska hacked Windows Vista’s PatchGuard before a live audience that included several Microsoft employees who had also presented at the conference. If we include PatchGuard, that makes half of the security enhancements in Windows Vista that won’t be on your home system.

What you get
So what do you get with Home Premium and Home Basic? You get Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR), which protects against return-to-libc attacks, where an attacker uses exploit code to call a system function. ASLR randomizes the function entry points for common system calls, so on a typical 32-bit Windows Vista machine, an attacker stands a 1-in-256 chance of getting the address right, which should slow down an attacker. And home users will get not one but two firewall consoles within Windows Vista (why Microsoft couldn’t reconcile them, I don’t know), but you still won’t get full outbound protection within the Microsoft Firewall without some serious configuration. The new Windows Firewall with Advanced Security on Local Computer console provides different profiles for Domain Policy (corporate networks), Private Profile (home networks), and Public Profile (Wi-Fi hot spots), but the language offered is all legalese at best: “Inbound connections that do not match a rule are not blocked” (the double negative is Microsoft’s, not mine) and “Outbound connections that do not match a rule are allowed.” Basically, all inbound data from the Internet is allowed (as it should be) except where a rule exists; outbound data from your computer is also allowed (as it should not be) “except where excepted”–one of my all-time favorite Microsoft-issued statements. The difference here is that unless you create specific rules to block outbound data–say, from spyware or rogue apps–you won’t have true two-way firewall protection with the Microsoft Firewall. The reality is that most people will never tweak these settings and therefore won’t be as well protected as they would be with the free edition of ZoneAlarm, a true two-way firewall.

User Account Control (UAC)
Perhaps the most visible security change within Windows Vista is User Account Control (UAC), a dialog box that appears whenever system settings might be changed. I agree with McKiernan that UAC is a step forward in security, but I disagree with its final implementation. If you are a standard user, using a second account on someone else’s computer, you will need at administrator’s password in order to perform certain system functions. An annoyance, but that’s real security.

If you are the only one using your Home edition of Windows Vista, logically, you should be running the administrator account. But as a solo account user (administrator) within Windows Vista, you are actually running as a standard user until UAC flags you, only then do you escalate to administrator privileges. Unfortunately, Microsoft made it so that administrators need only hit Enter to access escalated privileges, no password required. McKiernan says Microsoft did that because it assumes administrators know how to respond to UAC messages, but I pointed out that other operating systems require even solo account users to enter a password before making system changes. And how long will it be until some malware prompts a UAC message, knowing the Windows Vista account user will just bat it away with a click of the Enter key?

The IE 7 features
Perhaps the biggest improvement over Windows XP is that Windows Vista places Internet Explorer 7 ActiveX processes into a sandbox. The sandbox allows the ActiveX component to run while you are using IE 7 and terminates it when you close IE. But you get even better security if you don’t use Internet Explorer and use Firefox 2 or Opera 9 instead. Microsoft could have provided this sandboxing feature for free within Internet Explorer 7 for Windows XP, but the company withheld it, wanting to give Windows Vista users some value for their $200.

And I’ve seen it spun that Windows Vista includes built-in antiphishing protection. But Internet Explorer 7 for Windows XP–and for that matter Firefox 2–also blocks phishing sites. Unfortunately, neither browser performs as well as the stand-alone antiphishing toolbar from Netcraft or the antiphishing technologies from Symantec and McAfee. And Windows Vista ships with Windows Defender, but Windows XP SP2 already has Windows Defender, and I don’t use it. In testing done last spring by CNET, Windows Defender missed some of the test spyware, finishing well behind other antispyware programs on the market today.

Nothing to see here, move along
Other security enhancements I see on my Windows Vista Home Premium machine are truly minor. One blocks double extensions in e-mail attachments, a common trick used by criminal hackers. But a Sophos study found that this e-mail security exists only if you use the new Windows Mail e-mail client–think Outlook Express with a prettier name. Most people won’t use Windows Mail; they’ll use their Web-based client before adopting Windows Mail.

Out of the 12 security enhancements within Windows Vista, only ASLR is notable; my decision on the value of UAC is mixed; and even within Windows XP SP2, I don’t use IE 7, Windows Defender, or the Windows Firewall, so these are unnecessary. Given that Windows XP SP2 was a beast of a service pack to install, I wouldn’t have minded a Windows XP service pack offering just ASLR. But Microsoft wants me to pay $200 for security features I don’t use or need just to get the one that I truly need. I’m going to wait until Windows Vista Service Pack 1, code-named Fiji, is released, sometime before the end of the year. Maybe then the security enhancements within the Home editions of Windows Vista SP1 will be worth the $200.