Archive for Microsoft

Bring down IE6

Posted in General, Technology with tags , , , , , on Tuesday, 24 March 2009 by Deems

bring-down-ie6-logoIn short what the campaign boils down to is to convince Microsoft to drop IE6 completely and allow newer versions to work on older Windows operating systems.

Ever since the release of IE7 and other non-Microsoft browsers clients have insisted that we as developers not excluded visitors with older browsers. This in turn, means a lot of time being spent doing browser compatibility and adding in IE6-specific code hacks to make sure it looks reasonably well, and still works, in IE6.

Up until recently, IE6 was the “previous” version of Internet Explorer and most common development practices is to support at least one major version prior to the current major released version. Now that IE8 has been released IE6 should be sent to the graveyard. It’s like the old days where we had to support Netscape browsers (before the Mozilla team brought out Firefox and Opera had a big enough market-share and Chrome was not even an idea on Google whiteboard).

Yes, there are many companies that are still using Windows 2000 on their desktops so, from a Microsoft offering persepctive, cannot use anything other than IE6 – but shouldn’t Microsoft at least have ported IE7 (if not IE8 also) to work on Windows 2000? Microsoft, I’m sure by now, knows what a disaster IE6 is and Windows 2000 users are going to be around longer than IE6 users (out of choice?) so doesn’t it make sense to make their newer (and more secure?) browsers available to older operating systems?

Developers and designers are shouting “enough is enough”. It’s time to put the old dog down. You can read more about this on the article on the Bring Down IE6 campaign website.

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Internet Explorer 8 unleashed!

Posted in General, Technology with tags , , , , , on Thursday, 19 March 2009 by Deems

Microsoft finally (today) made the release version of Internet Explorer 8 available to the public. It seems Microsoft has taken a page out of Google’s book (don’t they always) with regard to browser performance and functionality. 

According to Microsoft the new browser is faster and more user-friendly. Some of the features included to help you are as follows:

  • Quickly access a street map by highlighting an address and using an Accelerator such as Microsoft Live Search Maps effectively taking a 7 step process to getting a map from an address to simply 2 clicks.

    ie8-address-map

  • New and improved powerful search bar makes searching for and comparing products so much easier – without leaving the current browser window or tab.ie8-smart-address-bar  
  • Multi-tasking stability – now when a web page causes the browser to hang/crash only that tab is affected, not the whole browser – no more losing work or your train of thought. Should the browser crash it will automatically recover the previous tabs and sessions upon restarting. 
     
  • Internet Explorer 8 now remembers your recently opened tabs so that you can quickly re-open them and go back to a previously visited page.

    ie8-reopen-tabs

  • Just like Google Chrome’s Incognito browsing mode, Internet Explorer 8 has a new InPrivate mode which acts in the same way keeping your browsing in that session private by not storing cookies, cache items or browsing history for that session.
     
  • Again (starting a trend here) just like Google Chrome warning you of a website that is potentially unsafe, Internet Explorer 8 will attempt to do the same – making your web surfing so much safer. ie8-unsafe-site 
  • Compatibility mode for browsing websites, that aren’t geared up yet for Internet Explorer 8, using the Internet Explorer 7 rendering engine instead.ie8-compat-mode
  • A new feature is tab-grouping which makes related tabs have the same look so that you can easily switch between related tabs, or close them at once. And closing one tab from a group will switch you to another tab from the same group so that you stay within the same context you were in. 

For those of us already using Google Chrome, most of this will be something you’re used to, yet not accustomed to from Internet Explorer.  Remember that this is the first release version of Internet Explorer 8 so there may be a few teething problems, as always, expect a patch or two or a service pack in the not too distant future.

I’ve not tried IE8 for myself yet but early reports are that it’s not as fast as they claim – will that have an effect on its two-third market share? Read more at TechCrunch.

Download IE8 now for yourself.

Happy 25th Birthday, Windows

Posted in General, Technology with tags , , , , , on Thursday, 13 November 2008 by Deems

Love them or hate them, they’re still around and probably will be for at least another 25 years. Microsoft’s Windows platform turned 25 this week. Back in 1983, Bill Gates showcased Windows 1.0 and some of its features. Little did he know how powerful a software company Microsoft would become, 25 years on. Stuart Johnston reports more on InternetNews.com – thanks to Kevin for the link.
 

25-cake           windowslogo

To virtualize or not to virtualize

Posted in General, Technology with tags , , , , , on Saturday, 4 October 2008 by Deems

With Intel introducing their 45nm Xeon processors, which now have up to 6 cores, servers can now scale up to 16 processor sockets which means 96 cores on a single server.

The exponential growth of the Internet, the accessibility of information and the expected richness (real-time streaming video) means we need more powerful servers to cater for our needs. More servers mean more physical space, and in turn mean more power being used. But with the new processors they pack much more punch but emit less power. Less power also means less heat emission from the processors which require less cooling.

Virtualization is becoming the preferred way for hosting these days and by utilising more powerful servers with more memory and disk space; multiple copies of server operating systems can be installed on a single machine. Packing more virtual servers on a single server enables us to use less physical space and power consumption than we normally would. Tests have shown that for virtualization this type of setup delivers almost a 50% improvement in performance and up to 10% less power consumption.

With Microsoft Server 2008 and true hyper virtualization using processors from Intel (and AMD) true virtualization is now ever more possible. Now it’s not only like likes of Amazon with their EC2 cloud-comuting server architecture but smaller companies too and ISPs that can offer virtualized servers for their own and clients’ use. The Geeks at How-To-Geek have got an aritcle on this very topic explaining hyper-v and virtualization in more detail, read on and find out more and see what true virtualization has to offer and see how it has now become possible to have hyper-v solutions with up to 2TB of physical memory and 64GB of memory per virtual server instance! 

Wondering about Windows 7?

Posted in General, Technology with tags , , , , , , , on Thursday, 25 September 2008 by Deems

By now you’ve proably heard all the hype around the new version of the Microsoft Windows OS to be released sometime next year, currently called Windows 7 (although most feel  it will just be Windows Vista SP2). I’m still a Windows XP user and will be for sometime – but I just came across an article on the Windows Secrets website which got me thinking maybe the 64-bit route is the better route to go (making better use of your hardware and allowing the OS access to more physical RAM (since the cost have RAM has come down significantly in recent years).

If you’ve not seen any screen shots of Windows 7 yet, you can see them here (some say a lot looks the same in Vista). It also appears that Microsoft are moving away from including accessories in their operating system (such as Movie Maker, Windows Mail, Windows Calendar, etc) and rather using the new Windows Live online applications (means less overhead on the machine for those applications to run and Microsoft don’t need to push updates to your machine when needed).

One of the other reasons I was not in a rush to upgrade to Vista was because it was too early to ensure most hardware manufacturers had been able to provide updated drivers that would make their hardware compatible with Vista – a little over 18 months down the line and taking into account almost another year before Windows 7 is finally released to the public, maybe by then it might be safrer to upgrade to Windows 7 and not have many hardware problems like those plaguing early adopters of Vista.

And for those who want to stay with XP but are jealous of friends with Vista and want the same look and feel take a look at this How-To-Geek guide on tools to update your XP to look like Vista.

Windows Update Client = Spyware?

Posted in General, Technology with tags , , , , on Saturday, 16 August 2008 by Deems

I’ve never been a fan of software that forces downloads down my throat, especially without my express permission, which is why I’ve always set Windows Update and any other application, game, etc to NOT download updates automatically. Why, because I’m a firm believer in “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

And this has SO much been the case with just about any Microsoft product ever since I can remember. How many times have you experienced or read about an update (or even a service pack) ruining machines or causing more problems than there were to begin with after they were installed? Countless!

As a South African we’ve not really had the pleasure of bandwidth (cost being the biggest issue) so I, like many other South Africans, until recently, had been a dial-up user up until a few months ago. Have you ever tried downloading big updates (never mind trying a service pack) using dial-up? But as a newly converted ADSL user, bandwidth is still a cost issue for us South Africans, so my Windows Update settings are still set to Check for Updates (no updates are downloaded and you’re notified that updates are available for download and install). As a tech-savvy computer user I keep up-to-date with the latest news and know most of the time where there are vulnerabilities in my machine and decide myself whether or not a certain update is required or not. I don’t have unnecessary services running and don’t use certain Windows components on my home machine so I’m comfortable deciding when and what Windows Update downloads and installs on my machine.

And now on to the crux of the matter, it appears that Microsoft has for a long time decided that as long as there is an Internet connection available Windows Update will update itself whenever it wants to, without your knowledge or approval. Which in my mind means Microsoft has imposed on us Spyware (interestingly Microsoft’s Malicious Software Tool seems to ignore it).

Scott Dunn has been a contributing editor for PC World since 1992 and he’s also supplying articles for the Windows Secrets website. There’s a great article explaining in more details how Windows Update actually works and how to tweak it to your needs.