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The InfoWorld expert guide to Windows 7 security
How to configure Microsoft's new Windows operating system to beat malware and keep data secure



Windows 7 has been warmly received and swiftly adopted by businesses, with the result that many IT admins are now struggling with the platform's new security features. In addition to changes to User Account Control, BitLocker, and other features inherited from Windows Vista, Windows 7 introduces a slew of new security capabilities that businesses will want to take advantage of.

Windows 7 improves on Vista with a friendlier UAC mechanism, the ability to encrypt removable media as well as hard drive volumes, broader support for strong cryptographic ciphers, hassle-free secure remote access, and sophisticated protection against Trojan malware in the form of AppLocker, to name just a few.

In this guide, I'll run through these and other significant security enhancements in Windows 7, and provide my recommendations for configuring and using them. I'll pay especially close attention to the new AppLocker application-control feature, which may be a Windows shop's most practical and affordable way to combat socially engineered Trojan malware.

Windows 7 has literally hundreds of security changes and additions, far too many to cover in one fell swoop. While this guide focuses on the ones that most organizations will be interested in, keep in mind that plenty of others may deserve your attention. A few the biggies not discussed here are built-in support for smart cards and biometrics, the ability to force the use of Kerberos in a feature called Restrict NTLM, and support for the new DNSSec standards, which are becoming essential to prevent DNS exploitation attacks. Also noteworthy is a new feature called Extended Protection for Authentication, which prevents many sophisticated man-in-the-middle attacks that can strike at some of our most trusted security protocols (such as SSL and TLS).

User Account Control
A Windows Vista feature that users loved to hate, User Account Control has been significantly improved to be both less intrusive and smarter at distinguishing between legitimate and potentially malicious activities in Windows 7. However, depending on whether you are logged on as administrator or a standard user, some installs of Windows 7 may have a default UAC security setting that's one level lower than some experts (including yours truly) recommend. Standard users have UAC security default to the most secure setting, while administrator accounts reside a notch below the highest setting, which is potentially riskier.

Note too that, although UAC provides a much-needed mechanism to prevent the misuse of administrator privileges, it can be bypassed. If you must have high security, users should not log on with an elevated user account until they need it.

Your domain environment should already be at the highest and most secure level ("Always notify"). If it isn't, make it so. That way, users will be prompted to input their passwords to perform high-risk administrative actions. No matter what else, UAC should be enabled.

BitLocker drive encryption
In Windows 7, BitLocker drive encryption technology is extended from OS drives and fixed data drives to include removable storage devices such as portable hard drives and USB flash drives. This new capability is called BitLocker to Go.

In Windows Vista SP1, Microsoft added official support for encrypting fixed data drives, but it could only be done using command-line tools. Now you can encrypt operating system volumes, fixed data drives, and USB flash drives with a simple right-click, via the Windows Explorer GUI. Moreover, you can use smart cards to protect data volumes, and you can set up data recovery agents to automatically back up BitLocker keys. If you're using a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip, you can enforce a minimum PIN length; five characters should suffice for most environments.

In Windows 7, there is no need to create separate partitions before turning on BitLocker. The system partition is automatically created and does not have a drive letter, so it is not visible in Windows Explorer and data files will not be written to it inadvertently. The system partition is smaller in Windows 7 than in Windows Vista, requiring only 100MB of space.

With BitLocker to Go, you can encrypt removable drives one at a time or require that all removable media be encrypted by default. Further, encrypted removable media can be decrypted and re-encrypted on any Windows 7 computers -- not just the one it was originally encrypted on.

BitLocker to Go Reader (bitlockertogo.exe) is a pro­gram that works on computers running Windows Vista or Windows XP, allowing you to open and view the content of removable drives that have been encrypted with BitLocker in Windows 7.

You should enable BitLocker (preferably with TPM and another factor) on portable computers if you do not use another data encryption product. Store the BitLocker PINs and recovery information in Active Directory or configure a domain-wide public key called a data recovery agent that will permit an administrator to unlock any drive encrypted with BitLocker. Require BitLocker to Go on all possible removable media drives.

Easily encrypted page file
Users who cannot use BitLocker but still want to prevent the memory swap page file from being analyzed in an offline sector editing attack no longer need to erase the page file on shutdown. Windows XP and earlier versions had a setting that allowed the page file to be erased on shutdown and rebuilt on each startup. It's a great security feature, but it often caused delayed shut­downs and startups -- sometimes adding as much as 10 minutes to the process.

In Windows 7 (and Vista), you can enable page file encryption. Even better, there is no key management. Windows creates and deletes the encryption keys as needed, so there is no chance the user can "lose" the key or require a recovery. It's crypto security at its best.

Better cryptography
Windows 7 includes all the latest industry-accepted ciphers, including AES (Advanced Encryption Standard), ECC (Elliptical Curve Cryptography), and the SHA-2 hash family. In fact, Windows 7 implements all of the ciphers in Suite B, a group of cryptographic algorithms that are approved by the National Security Agency and National Institute of Standards and Technology for use in general-purpose encryption software.

While Microsoft added support for Suite B cryptographic algorithms (AES, ECDSA, ECDH, SHA2) to Windows Vista, Windows 7 allows Suite B ciphers to be used with Transport Layer Security (referred to as TLS v.1.2) and Encrypting File System (EFS). Suite B ciphers should be used whenever possible. However, it's important to note that Suite B ciphers are not usually compatible with versions of Windows prior to Windows Vista.

By default, all current technologies in Windows will use industry standard ciphers in place of legacy, proprietary ciphers. Those legacy ciphers that still exist are included only for backward-compatibility purposes. Microsoft has shared the new ciphers in detail with the crypto world for analysis and evaluation. Key and hash sizes are increased by default.

EFS (Encrypting File System) has been improved in many ways beyond using more modern ciphers. For one, you can use a smart card to protect your EFS keys. This not only makes EFS keys more secure, but allows them to be portable between computers.

Administrators will be happy to know that they can prevent users from creating self-signed EFS keys. Previously, users could easily turn on EFS, which generated a self-signed EFS digital certificate if a compatible PKI server could not be found. Too often, these users encrypted files but did not back up their self-signed digital certificates, which frequently led to unrecoverable data loss.

With Windows 7, administrators can still allow self-signed EFS keys, while mandating ciphers and minimum key lengths. Windows 7 will prod users to back up their EFS digital certificates to some other removable media or network drive share -- and keep prodding them until they do it. A Microsoft Web page details the EFS changes.

Read more about how to secure your Windows 7 PCs in InfoWorld's free PDF report, "Windows 7 Security Deep Dive," including:

* Safe browsing with IE8
* Multiple active firewall policies
* Managed and virtual service accounts
* Configuring AppLocker
* Running by the rules



Source www.infoworld.com/d/security-c…
Windows 7: Enable Secret Godmode

Have you ever wondered if there are any secret Windows 7 features? Most games have a godmode, something that will enable all cheats and features. Windows 7 too. This is going to be a brief tutorial that will allow you to enable the secret godmode in Windows 7.

This trick actually duplicates the Windows Control Panel, but it puts the 270 most useful commands from its various modules front-and-center.

Here's how to set it up:

• Create a new folder on the Windows desktop (Right-click > New > Folder).

• Rename the folder: GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}

If you've done it right, the folder icon will change to that of the Control Panel.

Double-click on it to see dozens of tweak categories, each with commands for changing many aspects of Windows 7's behavior. It initially appears in the Details view - I recommend changing it to Tiles view.


Happy New Year and a great 2010.
Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE), Redmond's free consumer security software for PCs, is  available for download by the general public

The rollout of the antimalware solution comes after three months of public beta testing, limited to thousands of users. The software offers basic protection against viruses and spyware. The free MSE offering likely will compete with paid security offerings from McAfee and Symantec.

MSE is sometimes described as a replacement for Windows Defender, a free app from Microsoft that just removes spyware. Apparently, the two security apps can exist side by side. MSE disables Windows Defender and users don't have to remove it, according to a June Microsoft forum post.

MSE will be available for download on Sept. 29 for use on "genuine Windows-based PCs," according to Microsoft's announcement issued on Monday.

The software will work with the following operating systems: Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP using Service Pack 2 or 3. It's designed to use a small amount of CPU and memory resources and run on older PCs, according to Microsoft's announcement.

MSE also will work with Windows XP Mode, which is Microsoft's virtualized XP desktop that runs on Windows 7. Both x32 and x64 versions are supported.

Microsoft plans to roll out MSE in eight languages, in 19 countries, on Tuesday. Those countries include "Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States," according to the announcement.

The home page for the MSE solution can be accessed here.

www.microsoft.com/Security_ess…
Free Windows 7 RTM Enterprise 90-Day Evaluation

Windows 7 is the next release of the Windows client operating system, built on the secure foundation of Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008. Performance, reliability, security, and compatibility are core tenets of this release as we collect your feedback to meet our engineering goals of making Windows 7 the best-performing and most stable Windows operating system to date. All the new innovations in this product are meant to enhance your capability as an IT professional to better provision and manage increasingly mobile PCs, to protect data, and to improve end-user and personal productivity.

Windows 7 Enterprise 90-day Trial

Windows 7 Enterprise was designed specifically for IT Professionals, so that you can test your software and hardware on a final version of the product. In addition, it provides the opportunity for you to become more familiar with the key improvements over previous versions of the Windows operating system, and experience firsthand how Windows 7 can make your PC environment more productive, secure, and manageable.

Guidelines on usage:
- Protect your PC and data. Be sure to back up your data and please don't test Windows 7 on your primary home or business PC.
- You have 10 days to activate the product. If not activated within 10 days, the system will shut down once every hour until activated. Unsure on how to activate? Visit our FAQ.
- The 90-day Trial is the full working version of the Windows 7 Enterprise, the version most of you will be working with in your corporate environment. It will not require a product key (it is embedded with the download).
- The 90-day Trial will shut down once every hour when you have reached the end of the 90-day evaluation period.
- The 90-day Trial is offered for a limited time and in limited quantity. The download will be available through March 31, 2010, while supplies last.
- After the 90-day Trial expires, if you wish to continue to use Windows 7 Enterprise, please note that you will be required to purchase and perform a clean installation of Windows 7, including drivers and applications. Please keep this in mind; Windows 7 Enterprise is not available through retail channels.
- Technical details/updates/questions: Please review our FAQ or visit the Windows 7 support forum.
- Stay informed. You can keep up with general technical information and news by following the Springboard Series blog. Want technical guidance, tips, and tools? Visit the Springboard Series on TechNet.
- Keep your PC updated: Be sure to turn on automatic updates in Windows Update in case we publish updates for the 90-day Trial.
- Microsoft Partners-: Learn more about Windows 7 on the Microsoft Partner Portal.

Minimum System Requirements*:

1 GHz or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
1 GB of RAM (32-bit) / 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
16 GB available disk space (32-bit) / 20 GB (64-bit)
DirectX 9 graphics processor with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
DVD-compatible drive
Internet access (fees may apply)
*Note: Some product features of Windows 7, such as the ability to watch and record live TV, BitLocker, or navigation through the use of "touch," may require advanced or additional hardware. Windows XP Mode requires an additional 1 GB of RAM and 15 GB of available disk space; and a processor capable of hardware virtualization, with Intel VT or AMD-V turned on.

Requirements:

· Processor: 1 GHz 32-bit or 64-bit processor
· Memory: 1 GB of system memory
· Hard drive: 16 GB of available disk space
· Video card: Support for DirectX 9 graphics with 128MB memory (in order to enable Aero theme)
· Drive: DVD-R/W drive
· Internet connection (to download the Beta and get updates)

Limitations:

· 90-day Trial


!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~! ~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!
Developer: Microsoft
License / Price: Trial / N/A
Size / OS: 2,488.3 MB / Windows 7
!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~! ~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!



Download:

Windows 7 7600.16385.090713 [Trial]

technet.microsoft.com/en-us/ev…

Enjoy
From Brandon LeBlanc of Windows Team Blog:


Quote

Back in April, we introduced the Windows XP Mode beta and after a few months of incorporating your enthusiastic feedback, today we are announcing the availability of the Windows XP Mode Release Candidate.

As you may know, Windows XP Mode is specially designed for small and medium-sized businesses to help ease the migration process to Windows 7 by providing additional compatibility for their older productivity applications. The newly updated Windows XP Mode now works with the RC and RTM versions of the Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate and Enterprise SKUs.

Before I get into what has changed from beta to RC, I'd like to take a moment to clarify what Windows XP Mode is designed for, and highlight the point that in many cases Windows XP Mode will not be necessary. Windows 7 has a strong compatibility story with Windows Vista, and many applications that currently run on Windows XP-based or Windows Vista-based PCs should just run natively on Windows 7 – allowing you to take advantage of better performance, better management and better security built into Windows 7. In most cases, we recommend running applications natively in Windows 7. Windows XP Mode provides what we like to call that "last mile" compatibility technology for those cases when a Windows XP productivity application isn't compatible with Windows 7. Users can run and launch Windows XP productivity applications in Windows XP Mode directly from a Windows 7 desktop. I also strongly recommend that customers install anti-malware and anti-virus software in Windows XP Mode so that Windows XP Mode environment is well protected. For customers that manage several Windows PCs running Windows XP Mode and want to simplify management tasks, we offer Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V) as part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack.


New Features in Windows XP Mode RC :

• You can now attach USB devices to Windows XP Mode applications directly from the Windows 7 task-bar. This means your USB devices, such as printers and flash drives, are available to applications running in Windows XP Mode, without the need to go into full screen mode.
• You can now access Windows XP Mode applications with a "jump-list". Right click on the Windows XP Mode applications from the Windows 7 task bar to select and open most recently used files.
• You now have the flexibility of customizing where Windows XP Mode differencing disk files are stored.
• You can now disable drive sharing between Windows XP Mode and Windows 7 if you do not need that feature.
• The initial setup now includes a new user tutorial about how to use Windows XP Mode.

Download: Windows XP Mode Release Candidate www.microsoft.com/windows/virt…

Source : Windows Team Blog windowsteamblog.com/blogs/wind…
Windows 7 pricing and availability announced
Windows 7 pricing and availability has just been announced, along with a couple nice benefits to help put you into Windows 7 at half the price. First, Windows 7 will be rolling out on new PCs starting October 22nd. But starting tomorrow if you buy a new PC from a participating retailer you'll be able to get Windows 7 for little or no cost at all. (See www.windows.com/upgradeoffer for more details)
As for pricing, the retail prices for full and upgrade versions of Windows 7 follow:
Windows 7 Home Premium (Upgrade): $119.99
Windows 7 Professional (Upgrade): $199.99
Windows 7 Ultimate (Upgrade): $219.99
Windows 7 Home Premium (Full): $199.99
Windows 7 Professional (Full): $299.99
Windows 7 Ultimate (Full): $319.99
And if you want to skirt around paying full price - pre-order! From tomorrow until July 11th in the US and Canada (July 5th for Japan) you can pre-order Windows 7 Home and Professional from the Microsoft Store, Best Buy, or Amazon and get more than 50% off! That means Home Premium version for under $50 and Windows 7 Professional for under $100. Click here for more pre-order information.
link blogs.technet.com/stephenrose/
Paul Thurrott and Rafael Rivera have just unveiled a new feature of Windows 7 today that they have been forced to keep a lid on for quite some time. Introducing Windows XP Mode (XPM) for Windows 7!

[url=img12.imageshack.us/my.php?ima…

over a month ago, we were briefed about a secret Microsoft technology that we were told would be announced alongside the Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) and would ship in final form simultaneously with the final version of Windows 7. This technology, dubbed Windows XP Mode (XPM, formerly Virtual Windows XP or Virtual XP, VXP), dramatically changes the compatibility story for Windows 7 and, we believe, has serious implications for Windows development going forward. Here's what's happening.

XPM is built on the next generation Microsoft Virtual PC 7 product line, which requires processor-based virtualization support (Intel and AMD) to be present and enabled on the underlying PC, much like Hyper-V, Microsoft's server-side virtualization platform. However, XPM is not Hyper-V for the client. It is instead a host-based virtualization solution like Virtual PC; the hardware assistance requirement suggests this will be the logical conclusion of this product line from a technological standpoint. That is, we fully expect future client versions of Windows to include a Hyper-V-based hypervisor.


XP Mode consists of the Virtual PC-based virtual environment and a fully licensed copy of Windows XP with Service Pack 3 (SP3). It will be made available, for free, to users of Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions via a download from the Microsoft web site. (That is, it will not be included in the box with Windows 7, but is considered an out-of-band update, like Windows Live Essentials.)


More news - HERE - community.winsupersite.com/blo…
Screenshots - HERE - www.winsupersite.com/win7/xp_m…
Hi all...I am writing this to let everybody know who has not read the post here on D.A. There seems to be a hacker who has hacked into a lot of our personal I.D.s and is sending viruses all over D.A. My advice to all would be to change your password as soon as possible as this is how it is spread. If you receive a post or a message from anyone saying something like Oh Look at this Click on This...dont do it. Just report it as spam....
Microsoft has launched a new "Personalize your PC" website for users testing out the Windows 7 beta. If you're on Windows 7, you can get to it directly from the operating system (Right click desktop > Personalize > Get more themes online). The site currently has 15 themes, 13 desktop backgrounds, 8 desktop gadgets, and 5 SideShow gadgets (only for Windows SideShow-compatible devices). That may not seem like much, but the message at the bottom of the site gives a little hope:

Information about Windows 7 is preliminary and subject to change. Themes and wallpapers provided during this beta release are for testing purposes only. A greater selection will be available at the time of final release of Windows 7.

Personalize your PC Website windows.microsoft.com/en-US/Wi…

Source: arstechnica arstechnica.com/journals/micro…
Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc announced the move in a company blog Saturday:


Due to an enormous surge in demand, the download experience was not ideal so we listened and took the necessary steps to ensure a good experience. We have clearly heard that many of you want to check out the Windows 7 Beta and, as a result, we have decided remove the initial 2.5 million limit on the public beta for the next two weeks (thru January 24th). During that time you will have access to the beta even if the download number exceeds the 2.5 million unit limit.

Get more info at the link below

news.cnet.com/8301-10805_3-101…

Download the Windows 7 Beta www.microsoft.com/windows/wind…
Win7 Beta1 on technet and msdn

Come and get it! The Windows 7 Beta is here!

Many people have heard about Windows 7, some have even seen the M3 build at the PDC. MSDN Subscribers, now you can try the Beta!  Download the Windows 7 Beta now from Subscriber Downloads msdn.microsoft.com/en-ca/subsc…

Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, kicked off CES 2009 last night with his keynote speech in which he announced the Windows 7 beta will be available for public download, this Friday. This will be a download-only version, and will expire in August. They haven't announced yet at what time it will be available, but it will only be for a limited time to the first 2.5 million downloaded.

Get more info at the link below.
www.microsoft.com/windows/wind…
The greatest gift one can give is to give of ones self. There is no better way to give of yourself than to teach. To share your wisdom and experience in a way that makes the world a better place.
Happy Holiday to all..
Vistart menus for windows vista and windows 7 www.wincustomize.com/skins.asp…
Note: These files are for Vista SPI only. If you haven't installed the SP1 yet, then click here.

Rafael did it again! For those who can't use the custom visual styles in Windows Vista SP1, download and replace these three system files (uxtheme.dll, shsvcs.dll and themeui.dll).

Uxtheme Vista SP1 (32-bit) www.mediafire.com/?6jglbtlibs1
Uxtheme Vista SP1 (64-bit) www.mediafire.com/?fnbm2qqyyyy

How to..
1. Login as a user with Administrative privileges -or- have Administrative credentials ready (check under the keyboard for a slip of paper).
2. Navigate to %systemroot%System32
3. Right-click uxtheme.dll and click properties.
4. Take ownership of the file and close dialogs.
5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for themeui.dll and shsvcs.dll
6. Right-click uxtheme.dll and click properties.
7. Give yourself (or group) Full Control permissions and close dialogs.
8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 for themeui.dll and shsvcs.dll.
9. Rename uxtheme.dll to uxtheme.old.
10. Rename themeui.dll to themeui.old.
11. Rename shsvcs.dll to shsvcs.old.
12. Copy patched files into %systemroot%System32
13. Reboot (yes, this is really required)
14. Enjoy!

You can use Take Control or these registry files for taking ownership of system files in Vista. www.winmatrix.com/forums/index…
In the last little while it has come to my attention that a lot of people had no idea where to acquire the proper tutorials to make a Vista VS.  SO I will post these links to help those out who are interested in making their own VS for Vista. Happy skinning.....

Make a VS for Vista - Tutorial  ukintel.deviantart.com/art/Mak…

Vista msstyle Resource Finder  ukintel.deviantart.com/art/Vis…

Vista VS FONT Tutorial  ukintel.deviantart.com/art/Vis…

Vista Hex-Editing Tutorial ukintel.deviantart.com/art/Vis…
I would like to take this opportunity to extend my best wishes to all for a happy
and prosperous 2008. I have no idea what kind of a year this will turn out to be, but I
hope to try and make it a good one.In closing, I extend my heartfelt hope that 2008 be filled with health and joy for you all.

                                  Happy New Year 2008
For a limited time you can download and use AVG 7.5 Professional Antivirus for free. For those of you running the always-free version of AVG there are some advantages to making the upgrade, such as advanced scanning and scheduling options.

AVG 7.5 Professional retails for $29.95, and this offer is good until January 17, 2008.

Download Mirror1
CODE
rs172.rapidshare.com/files/790…
Download Mirror2
CODE
www.megaupload.com/?d=ZZFOZBS7
Homepage: AVG Home
CODE
free.grisoft.com/
Source: Computeractive
CODE
www.computeractive.co.uk/avg/i… Cybernetnews
CODE
cybernetnews.com/2007/12/26/fr…

The file that you download will automatically enter in a valid serial number during the installation process.

I realize that a lot of people don't use AVG, but it is a pretty good program overall and I have it running on the other XP in my dual-boot machine. The license is valid until 12/01/2008 (at least in my case).
Windows Vista SP1 RC released to public


Windows Vista Service Pack 1 RC is now available through Windows Update. Experience the WU based Vista SP1 installation by following 4 simple steps. Windows Vista SP1 RC distributed through Windows Update will be applicable to Windows Vista machines that are running on any of the 36 languages supported by Vista RTM.

If you already installed the Service Pack to your machine by using the standalone package, you must uninstall before you scan Windows Update for Windows Vista SP1.

Systems running on Windows Vista RTM require as many as three updates before SP1 can be installed. These updates are permanent to your Windows Vista systems. Windows Update will detect your system configuration and offer the prerequisite packages that are applicable to your system.

Download: Vista SP1 RC
www.microsoft.com/downloads/de…
Want to test Vista SP1? Anyone can, starting next week

As you heard here last week, Microsoft is making the Release Candidate (RC) test build of Windows Vista Service Pack (SP) 1 available to a private group of testers this week and to the general public the week of December 10.

Microsoft confirmed its RC rollout plans on December 5. Today, Wednesday, the company made the Vista SP1 RC bits available via Microsoft Connect to the same 15,000 testers it provided with the RC preview. On December 6, Thursday, Microsoft plans to make the Vista SP1 RC bits available on the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) and TechNet, officials said. And next week, the week of the 10th, Microsoft plans to make the Vista SP1 RC build available to anyone interested in downloading it from the Microsoft Download site.

Microsoft is still on track to deliver the final SP1 bits in the first calendar quarter of 2008, officials said.

Vista SP1 includes security, performance and reliability updates. Microsoft is emphasizing that in spite of the security updates, Vista SP1 won't break applications on anywhere near the scale that Windows XP Service Pack 2 did when it was released in 2004.

David Zipkin, Senior Product Manager with Windows Client, said Microsoft has managed to shrink significantly the size of the standalone installation packages for Vista SP1 since the company made a beta of the service pack available this summer. As itemized on the Windows Vista Team Blog, Microsoft has cut the size of the installer package between 37 percent (for the five-language pack) to 58 percent (for the package encompassing all languages). Microsoft also has cut back "significantly" the amount of disc space needed for SP1.

he size of the SP1 has been one of the major points of criticm by testers of the early builds of the service pack.

Zipkin uncharacteristically shared a bit of advance information about Microsoft's rollout plans for the final SP1 build.

Microsoft plans to release Vista SP1 in two waves: Vista SP1 for Microsoft's five primary languages (English, French, Spanish, German and Japanese) shortly after the product is released to manufacturing. Eight to 12 weeks later, it will roll out the final SP1 installers for all languages, Zipkin said.

Microsoft is planning to make available, as it did with Windows XP SP2 and other Windows releases, a blocking tool that administrators can use to prevent Windows Vista SP1 from being pushed onto users' desktops before they have tested sufficiently the update.

Source: ZDNet  blogs.zdnet.com/microsoft/?p=1…
Create Your Alienware Dream & Win a New PC

For the last 10 months, using the power of Windows Vista Ultimate, DreamScene (A Vista Ultimate Extra) and DeskScapes, 2D and 3D animators have been dipping their toes in the new world of Animated Wallpapers. Today, they have a great reason to jump in with both feet! I'm extremely happy to announce the start of the Create Your Alienware® Dream competition being held here at WinCustomize and sponsored by Alienware®
Fire up those graphics and animation tools and put your abilities to the test to compete with animated wallpaper designers from all over the US.
Here's what you have to do
Create an alien-themed .Dream animated Wallpaper and upload it to the contest site. Use your imagination and skills to put together your animated masterpiece. At the end of the competition, judges from WinCustomize, Stardock and Alienware will review all entries and pick the overall best. Here's what's up for grabs:
Grand Prize - Alienware® Area-51 7500 Desktop PC ($2,994.00 USD)
2nd Place - $1,000 Cash
3rd Place - $500 Cash
You have until December 31st, 11:59pm EST to upload your work. Winners will be selected the first week of January.
For full contest rules, prizes and information, head over to
contests.wincustomize.com/alienware
Interested in hearing more about Alienware competitions and giveaways in the future? Sign up for the Alienware newsletter here.
Click to view.
contests.wincustomize.com/alie…
QUOTE

Whilst Service Pack 1 is still expected to be the major update to Windows Vista fixing the widespread bugs and issues, at the same time Microsoft is not holding back on these reliability updates I'd like to call 'wonder patches' which seems to be screwing all the right bolts to make Vista flow like the wind, if you fancy analogies.

Today Microsoft released four sets of patches for Windows Vista which claims to improve Vista features across-the-board, Windows Media Player 11 and Media Center.




Source: I Started Something www.istartedsomething.com/2007…