Windows 10 is out. I say you should upgrade, just not necessarily right now.

Windows 10 is out today. Of course I’ve been getting questions about whether to upgrade from Windows 7 to 10, and I’ve been seeing mixed advice on upgrading, though some of that mixed advice is regarding Microsoft history that isn’t completely relevant today.

My advice is to upgrade immediately if you’re running Windows 8 or 8.1, and to wait, perhaps six months, if you’re running Windows 7, but I still think you should do it. I’ll explain.

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More Home Depot details emerge

Late last week, Home Depot finally released a statement about its data breach. At least they had the decency to call the attack “custom” and not spin it as “advanced” or “sophisticated.” Even “custom” is really a euphemism, as the attack wasn’t all that different from what other retailers experienced earlier in the year. It may have been as simple as recompressing the BlackPOS malware using a different compression algorithm or compression ratio to evade antivirus.

The breach involves about 56 million cards, making it a bigger breach than Target.  Read more

Windows Vista’s market share is growing. After seeing 8.1, I know why

I installed Windows Vista last week. I need a legal copy of a supported version of Windows to use to VPN in to work and run the corporate Citrix client. Vista fit the bill. It’s better than 8.1, and it’s supported until April 2017. I always hated Vista, but 8 and 8.1 made me realize it could have been a lot worse, and on recent hardware Vista does OK. It still prompts you for admin rights too much and too slowly and makes you work too hard to click yes, but at least you can find stuff. Read more

Bombshell: Ballmer steps down from Microsoft

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Steve Ballmer is retiring. It’s time. If anything, I agree with the people who say he would have been better off retiring years ago. But I really didn’t expect it. In spite of the immense pressure to step aside, at least in public he never gave any indication of having any intention of doing so.

To a degree it’s understandable. He’s more than set for life, but he’s 57 years old. He’s only worked two years anyplace else–at Proctor & Gamble–since graduating from college. It would seem he could work 10 more years pretty easily. The company is his life.

And I have to believe that if it weren’t for Ballmer, Microsoft could have just as easily flubbed up the IBM deal for PC DOS 1.0–the deal that put Microsoft on the map–as Digital Research did. Ballmer, after all, was the one who told Bill Gates to buy a suit. Early photographs of Microsoft employees that look like a bunch of hippies and transients that have become popular memes date back to before Ballmer joined the company and brought a bit of his alma mater, Harvard Business School, with him. Read more

Don’t read too much into the PC sales drop just yet

If you’ve been paying any attention at all, you probably know that new PC sales are in the toilet–out of the five biggest vendors, the only one whose sales managed to hold steady in Q1 2013 was Lenovo, while the other four saw a sales decline. So now Slashdot linked to a ZDNet piece stating that Windows is over, and said it must be true because ZDNet always sides with Microsoft.

Let’s not read too much into that. The author of the piece is a longtime open-source advocate. The points he raises are completely valid, but if there’s one person who’s going to take Microsoft to task, it’s Steven Vaughan-Nichols.

Microsoft has a long road ahead, but there is precedent for salvaging the boondoggle known as Windows 8. And I don’t think Windows 8 is the only factor here. Read more

Remove ghost device drivers from Windows 7

If you want a way to remove ghost device drivers from Windows 7, or other recent versions of Windows, it just got easier.

What’s a ghost device driver? When you change or remove hardware from a Windows system, Windows keeps the old device driver lingering. You don’t see it in Device Manager, but the time Windows spends chasing ghosts increases boot time, in addition to consuming some memory, registry space, and disk space.

It’s not as much of a problem as it used to be, but if you want your system to run as quickly and smoothly as possible, you don’t want it wasting time managing hardware you’ll never use again. (Don’t worry–if you change your mind and plug the hardware back in, Windows will reload the driver.) Read more

Happy late birthday, OS/2

Twenty-five years ago this month, on April 2, IBM announced its new PS/2 computers and a new multitasking operating system to run on (most of) them–OS/2. They even lured a bunch of the actors from M*A*S*H to do an ad campaign for them.

It didn’t seem like it at the time, but that was the beginning of the end of IBM’s PC business.
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Microsoft’s leaked roadmap

Microsoft is getting aggressive with Windows release dates, and I can’t help but wonder if it’s going to put a damper on future sales.

Windows 8 is coming out in August, which was a poorly kept secret anyway. That can’t be helping Windows 7 sales, but at this point I think Microsoft is mostly concerned about new computer sales and corporate sales. What’s more concerning to me–initially–is the revelation that Windows 9 will be out in November 2014.
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An old Windows myth looks to (finally) become reality in Windows 8

For the better part of my adult life, I’ve been dealing with the myth that if there were certain settings that could speed up Windows, Microsoft would make those settings the default for the operating system. The pundits who perpetuate this myth have their reasons for doing so, but that didn’t make them true.

Now, the difference is harder to notice today than it was when I started my career. There are things I can do to make Windows 7 run better on my 4-core, 3.1 GHz AMD64 box with 8 GB of RAM and a 100 GB SSD. But I won’t notice the cumulative effects of a few 5% improvements on that box. Not the way I did on 50 MHz 80486-based PCs in 1997.

Microsoft’s philosophy for 22 years, from Windows 1.0 in 1985 to Windows Vista in 2007, was to write the software, and if it takes a few years for the hardware to catch up with it, so be it. Windows 7 changed that–for the first time, the actual requirements for running a new version of Windows went down–and, with Windows 8, it looks like CPU requirements will hold steady, and memory usage will actually go down.

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