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		Microsoft Agrees to Browser Ballot Terms
		http://www.sitepoint.com/blogs/2009/12/17/microsoft-browser-ballot-screen/
		http://www.sitepoint.com/blogs/2009/12/17/microsoft-browser-ballot-screen/#comments
		Thu, 17 Dec 2009 09:40:31 +0000
		Craig Buckler
				
		
		
		

		http://www.sitepoint.com/blogs/?p=16541
		Microsoft Abandons Windows E and Reveals the Browser Ballot
ScreenMicrosoft Backtracks on Browser-less Windows 7 EMicrosoft to
Offer Competing Browsers in Windows?]]>
			The European Commission has dropped their anti-trust charges
against Microsoft following long-winded arguments over the legality of
providing Internet Explorer within Windows. Under the terms of the
deal, around 100 million PCs throughout Europe will show a browser
ballot screen in March 2010.
The ballot screen will appear during a Windows update for XP, Vista
and 7 assuming the user has retained IE as their default browser.
Those that buy a new PC will see the screen the first time they access
the web.
12 browsers will be offered. Yes — you read that correctly
— there will be a bewildering choice of 12 browsers:

the 5 most popular browsers will appear in random order: IE, Firefox,
Opera, Safari and Chrome
another 7 browsers will also appear in less-prominent positions: AOL,
Maxthon, K-Meleon, Flock, Avant Browser, Sleipnir and Slim Browser.

The browser list will be updated at least once every six months with
choices changing with the popularity of the software.
The ruling will remain in effect for at least five years and applies
to all EU member states. European regulators have warned Microsoft
that it may be fined up to 10% of yearly global turnover if the
company does not fully abide with the terms of the deal during that
period.
Neelie Kroes, the EU’s competition commissioner, stated:
Millions of European consumers will benefit from this decision by
having a free choice about which web browser they use.
The ruling will act as an incentive to rival browser makers to
continue developing and improving their products.
Whilst I’m pleased users will be educated about alternatives,
I’m not convinced the ballot screen will have a major impact on
browser market share. A choice of 12 options will be confusing for
many novices. Those making an uninformed or random choice will still
have a 50:50 chance of opting for an IE-based browser!
Do you think the browser ballot screen will make a difference? Should
Microsoft roll it out worldwide? Does the use of the word
“ballot” annoy you? Is it a case of alliteration
prevailing over interpretation?!


Related posts:Microsoft Abandons Windows E and Reveals the Browser
Ballot ScreenMicrosoft Backtracks on Browser-less Windows 7 EMicrosoft
to Offer Competing Browsers in Windows?]]>
			http://www.sitepoint.com/blogs/2009/12/17/microsoft-browser-ballot-screen/feed/
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		Oracle Publicly Commits to MySQL
		http://www.sitepoint.com/blogs/2009/12/16/oracle-mysql-commitment/
		http://www.sitepoint.com/blogs/2009/12/16/oracle-mysql-commitment/#comments
		Wed, 16 Dec 2009 12:16:13 +0000
		Craig Buckler
				
		
		
		
mysqloraclesun
		http://www.sitepoint.com/blogs/?p=16524
		Windows 7: the First Month Review, Part 1Windows 7: the First Month
Review, Part 2Why Windows 7 Will Revolutionize Your Browser Testing]]>
			This is the final post a 3-part review of my experience with
Microsoft Windows 7 after one month. In part one, we discussed
installation and the interface. Part 2 covered productivity, software
and security. In today’s final part, we examine performance and
Windows future.
Performance
If you were expecting Windows 7 to be significantly faster than Vista,
you’re going to be disappointed.
Actually, that’s not quite true — it depends on your
system. If you have a reasonably modern PC, ensured Vista was
up-to-date, and kept your system clean, the speed improvements in
Windows 7 will be negligible. Sorry Microsoft — I may not have
benchmark figures to back that up, but Windows 7 certainly
doesn’t feel any faster to me.
However, I suspect you’ll notice speed improvements if
you’re running Vista on older hardware or have a clogged-up
system that would benefit from a clear out.
In my experience, boot times are similar, although only because Vista
has improved within the past few months. It takes my laptop around
40-50 seconds to boot followed by another 20-30 seconds to log in.
However, Vista was almost unusable for 5 minutes while it pre-cached
every application it thought I could feasibly use. Windows 7 is
better, although it’s still a little sluggish immediately after
a cold boot.
Memory management has improved and disk activity has been greatly
reduced. In addition, sleeping, hibernating and resuming are much
faster (the menu is also more logical now Microsoft has removed the 57
stupid options offered by Vista!)
Laptop users should experience longer battery life and your fan noise
will be noticeably quieter than before!
The Future
Microsoft are yet to reveal their plans for Windows 8 and beyond. A
few “leaks” suggest they’re planning a 128-bit
architecture, but that will certainly depend on processor and hardware
manufacturers. And it won’t help the 32/64-bit confusion.
However, Google’s Chrome OS will be released in 2010. It has the
potential to change the rules of the game, but I’m not convinced
many businesses are ready to consider Windows alternatives. I suspect
Microsoft will keep doing the same and Windows 8 will be evolutionary
rather than revolutionary. They tried to be radical with Longhorn (the
original vision for Vista) and it failed dismally.
Summary
To me, the most significant improvement to Windows 7 is that you
forget it’s there. It’s stable, works well, doesn’t
nag you, and offers good performance. It’s what an OS should be:
a way to launch programs and manage files. That may appear obvious,
but I think Microsoft lost its way when they started assuming the OS
was more important than the applications it ran (Apple take note!)
The OS may not be a huge step beyond Vista, but it’s ironed out
the problems and addressed the criticisms. If you like Vista and
it’s working well, the new OS won’t offer much
that’s new. However, once you’ve tried Windows 7, you
won’t go back.
In my opinion, the best points about Windows 7 are:

the UI improvements
libraries and jumplists
less intrusive UAC
XP Mode
no unnecessary software installed
good performance and battery life

And the worst points are:

cold starts are still fairly slow
the lack of native 64-bit software and the confusion it brings
inconsistent program interfaces and styles
crashing gadgets
few Vista users will notice significant improvements

Windows 7 is the first version I’ve purchased (other than
receiving OEM versions with PC hardware) and I don’t regret the
decision. The Vista improvements may be marginal, but that OS received
bad press from which it never recovered. With Windows 7, Microsoft are
hoping to change people’s perception and it appears to be
working.
Microsoft are increasing their prices in the new year, so don’t
hold off if you’re intending to purchase Windows 7. The current
Amazon offers are:
US Amazon.com:

Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade — $110
Windows 7 Home Premium (full version) — $180
Windows 7 Professional Upgrade — $175
Windows 7 Professional (full version) — $260
Windows 7 Ultimate Upgrade — $200
 Windows 7 Ultimate (full version) — $292

UK Amazon.co.uk:

Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade — £65
Windows 7 Home Premium (full version) — £110
Windows 7 Professional Upgrade — £139
Windows 7 Professional (full version) — £150
Windows 7 Ultimate Upgrade — £150
Windows 7 Ultimate (full version) — £166

Remember to consider Professional or Ultimate if you want the full
benefit of XP Mode.
See also:

Windows 7 review part 1: installation and the interface
Windows 7 review part 2: productivity, software and security



Related posts:Windows 7: the First Month Review, Part 1Windows 7: the
First Month Review, Part 2Why Windows 7 Will Revolutionize Your
Browser Testing]]>
			http://www.sitepoint.com/blogs/2009/12/10/windows-7-review-3/feed/
		8
		
		
		Windows 7: the First Month Review, Part 2
		http://www.sitepoint.com/blogs/2009/12/10/windows-7-review-2/
		http://www.sitepoint.com/blogs/2009/12/10/windows-7-review-2/#comments
		Wed, 09 Dec 2009 14:10:35 +0000
		Craig Buckler
				
		
		
microsoftwindows
		http://www.sitepoint.com/blogs/?p=16362
		Windows 7: the First Month Review, Part 1Windows 7: the First Month
Review, Part 3Microsoft Release Free Anti-Virus Package]]>
			This is a 3-part review of the first month with Microsoft Windows
7. In part one, we discussed installation and the interface. Today, we
look at productivity, software and security.
Productivity
One of the best new productivity features is jumplists. Right-clicking
a taskbar icon or hovering over an icon in the Start menu shows a list
of documents that have been recently opened by that application.
Regularly-used files can be pinned to the jumplist for easy access.
Libraries is another great feature that few people will notice but it
can save time. In essence, a library is a list of associated folders.
For example, you might store photos in “D:\My Pictures”
and “E:\My Camera”. You can add both locations to a
“Photos” library and treat it as though it was a single
unified folder for searching, saving, etc.
Networking has been improved and Windows 7 introduces a
“HomeGroup” which simplifies file and printer sharing
across multiple devices. The options are still a little daunting for
novice users, but it’s a step in the right direction.
We can’t examine productivity without discussing the dreaded
User Account Control (UAC). This was perhaps the most irritating
“feature” ever introduced and Vista continually nagged for
permission to do anything (until you disabled the damn thing). The UAC
is still in Windows 7, but it’s less intrusive and significantly
easier to configure. Perhaps the Windows 7 UAC isn’t an
improvement because it should never have effected productivity in the
first place. But for many Vista users, it’s a dream come true.
Finally, we have XP Mode. For me, this was one of the most compelling
reasons to upgrade because it allows you to run real versions of IE6
and IE7 (or any XP program) as if it were a native Windows 7
application. Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate users are provided
with a fully-licensed copy of XP SP3 which is easy to set up (see Run
IE6, IE7, and IE8 on the Same Machine Using Windows 7 XP Mode).
However, it’s also possible to obtain many of the benefits of XP
Mode on Windows 7 Home.

Software
Windows 7 provides surprisingly little software. That’s good
— I really don’t need Photo Gallery, MSN Messenger or all
the other dross that cluttered my system. Some have complained, but I
think it’s good Microsoft have returned to basics. I’m
sure anti-trust regulators do too.
Should you need it, all the software is available to download from
http://download.live.com/. Links are provided throughout the system
and in the Windows update.
For developers, Internet Information Server (IIS) is still available
as a component on all versions of Windows 7. Microsoft has also
released the Web Platform Installer which installs and configures a
variety of development systems such as PHP, SQL Server Express, Visual
Web Developer, and popular applications such as WordPress, Joomla, and
Drupal. That’s a good move. Microsoft appear to be embracing
open source using Windows as the development platform.
Internet Explorer 8.0 remains omnipresent in Windows 7, although
European users should eventually see the browser ballot screen if they
retain IE as their default browser. Ballot screen issues are still
being agreed, but most developers will switch browsers within 10
seconds of Windows booting for the first time.
Few people realize the incredible lengths Microsoft go to with
software compatibility. I’m yet to find an application written
for a previous version of Windows that does not work … although
I’m probably more cautious than some.
My only gripe is the lack of native 64-bit software. Most 32-bit
applications will work without a hitch, so you’ll be able to
install Firefox and Microsoft Office. However, issues can occur when
32-bit software needs to access a device with a 64-bit driver. For
example, Skype’s webcam functionality fails and few media player
codecs are available in 64-bit versions. The ludicrous situation is
highlighted by Java: you need both the 32-bit and 64-bit runtimes
installed depending on which applications you want to run. It’s
a mess that will confuse users and it really should have been solved
well before 2009.
Security
Microsoft claim Windows 7 is the most secure version to date.
I’m not doubting it. However, British security company Prevx
recently suggested Windows 7 users were experiencing a “black
screen of death” owing to a Microsoft update. This claim has
been retracted since malware was discovered to be the culprit.
It’s evident that Windows 7 can still be infected. However, in
my opinion, the anti-virus industry makes a lot of noise about Windows
security because they have the most to gain. Horror stories and
paranoia feed their profits.
A computer system is only as secure as the person who’s using
it. Novices who open every email attachment and click
“yes” to every software installation will undoubtedly
stumble across malware and viruses. That won’t happen if
you’re careful: I’ve run every version of Windows from
v2.0 without a memory-resident anti-virus solution and have yet to be
infected.
Until recently, I used lightweight solutions such as ClamWin to check
the integrity downloaded files. However, I’ve now opted for
Microsoft Security Essentials — independent tests show it offers
better security than many, it’s fast enough, and doesn’t
hog your hard disk or memory. SE isn’t provided with Windows 7,
but it’s worth considering if you usually purchase anti-virus
software.
In my next post, we discuss performance and the future for Microsoft
and Windows.
See also:

Windows 7 review part 1: installation and the interface
Windows 7 review part 3: performance, the future and a summary



Related posts:Windows 7: the First Month Review, Part 1Windows 7: the
First Month Review, Part 3Microsoft Release Free Anti-Virus Package]]>
			http://www.sitepoint.com/blogs/2009/12/10/windows-7-review-2/feed/
		5
		
		
		Windows 7: the First Month Review, Part 1
		http://www.sitepoint.com/blogs/2009/12/09/windows-7-review-1/
		http://www.sitepoint.com/blogs/2009/12/09/windows-7-review-1/#comments
		Tue, 08 Dec 2009 14:58:34 +0000
		Craig Buckler
				
		
		
		
MicrosoftreviewWindows
		http://www.sitepoint.com/blogs/?p=16282
		
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