Posts Tagged ‘ Windows 7 ’


How to get a job in financial IT

Written by admin
January 2nd, 2014

IT practitioners with the right mindset — analytical and dogged — will find themselves welcome in the resurgent financial services industry.

It’s been a rough few years for people seeking work in the finance industry. Its growth-by-acquisition strategy over the last decade meant that companies needed fewer new workers, and its contribution to the economic meltdown of a few years ago soured it to a lot of potential employees.

And salaries haven’t exactly skyrocketed either. Data from a recent survey by recruiting firm Mercer in conjunction with Gartner shows salaries for several finance IT positions are on par with — but not statistically higher than — those positions for the whole IT industry.

Even so, signs indicate that financial services, including IT, is heating up again. While salaries may be comparable, total compensation (including bonuses) was considerably higher than the national average for three of the four finance IT positions cited in Mercer’s survey results. Additionally, Robert Half Technology ranks financial services among the top five fastest-growing industries in six of the nine U.S. regions it tracks.

What’s changed on the hiring front in the financial services industry? In a word: technology.


 

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Reacts to upcoming revelations of gadget vulnerabilities at Black Hat by offering tool that kills feature in Vista, Windows 7

Computerworld – Just two weeks before researchers are to disclose bugs in Windows “gadgets” at Black Hat, Microsoft acknowledged unspecified security vulnerabilities in the small pieces of software supported by Vista and Windows 7.

To deal with the vulnerabilities, Microsoft has provided a way to cripple all gadgets and disable the “sidebar” engine that runs them.

“The purpose of this advisory is to notify customers that Microsoft is aware of vulnerabilities in insecure Gadgets affecting the Windows Sidebar on supported versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7,” Microsoft said in a security warning issued Tuesday.

“The deprecation of gadgets and the sidebar is interesting,” said Jason Miller, manager of research and development at VMware, in an interview. “Gadgets are not much used for business, so if you don’t use it, get rid of it. That’s one of the best ways to reduce your attack profile.”

Microsoft did not detail the vulnerabilities or explain why it was letting users ditch gadgets, but the move may be linked to an upcoming presentation at Black Hat, the annual security conference held in Las Vegas. On July 26, Mickey Shkatov and Toby Kohlenberg are scheduled to present research on gadget flaws and exploits.

 

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The Black Hat entry for their presentation, “We Have You by the Gadgets,” noted “a number of interesting attack vectors” in gadgets.

“We will be talking about our research into creating malicious gadgets, misappropriating legitimate gadgets and the sorts of flaws we have found in published gadgets,” the description stated.

In its advisory, Microsoft thanked Shkatov and Kohlenberg for their help with gadget bugs. The researchers were unavailable for comment or to answer questions late Tuesday.

Gadgets and the sidebar engine were introduced in 2007′s Windows Vista as a way to run and manage single-use, lightweight applications. Windows 7 also supported gadgets, but let users place them directly on the desktop rather than on the separate sidebar.

At their debut, some critics noted gadgets’ similarity to the widgets and Dashboard introduced two years earlier by Apple in OS X 10.4, also known as Tiger.

While touted by Microsoft before the launch of Vista, gadgets never caught on with users. It was thus no surprise when Microsoft announced last fall that it was pulling support of gadgets from Windows 8. At the same time it retired the Windows Live Gallery, a source for desktop gadgets.

The Windows website, which until Tuesday described how to obtain gadgets, now warns users. “Gadgets installed from untrusted sources can harm your computer and can access your computer’s files, show you objectionable content, or change their behavior at any time,” said the site.

Microsoft offered users a “Fixit” — one of its automated configuration tools — that disables the sidebar and all gadgets in Vista and Windows 7. The tool can be found on this page of Microsoft’s support site.

“My first take was that Microsoft was admitting that it’s very difficult for a third-party developer to securely write a gadget,” said Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Security. “So they’re disabling them all. Thank goodness for that.”

This was not the first time that Microsoft has reacted to security problems in gadgets. More than four years ago, Microsoft updated Vista with a tool that let the company automatically — and remotely — disable suspicious or malicious gadgets.

Blogger pegs price for Windows 7 PC buyers during run-up to fall debut of new OS

Computerworld – Microsoft will charge users who buy a new Windows 7 PC $14.99 for an upgrade to Windows 8, according to a report.
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The cost of the upgrade was revealed yesterday by Paul Thurrott, a popular blogger who writes SuperSite for Windows.

An earlier report by CNET had claimed that Microsoft would charge a fee for the upgrade, but had not spelled out the amount. CNET said that the program would kick off alongside the delivery of Windows 8 Release Preview.

Microsoft has said it will ship the preview the first week of June. If the company follows the same schedule it used in 2009 to deliver Windows 7′s release candidate, the most likely date is Tuesday, June 5.

Eligible customers must purchase a new Windows 7-powered PC between June 2012 and January 2013.

Unlike the past two upgrades — a 2006 program for Windows XP-to-Vista and the 2009 deal for Vista-to-Windows 7 — Microsoft will this time not upgrade users to the corresponding Windows 8 edition, but instead will provide everyone with Windows 8 Pro, the higher-end version of the two that will be widely available at retail, said both Thurrott and CNET.

The two previous upgrade plans offered the newer operating system for either no cost or for a small fee. Details varied, as computer makers fulfilled the offer, with some demanding small fees while others provided the upgrade free of charge.

Some OEMs had given customers free upgrades to earlier editions as well. In 1998, Gateway, for years a Dell rival in the direct sales market, offered free Windows 98 upgrades to people who bought a Windows 95 machine prior to the former’s release.

Although Microsoft has not divulged upgrade pricing for Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro, if it sticks to its current scheme, those versions will run customers $120 and $200, respectively. Microsoft’s $15 charge for the Windows 8 Pro upgrade would then represent a discount of nearly 93%.

Apple, which is also releasing a new operating system upgrade this year, has not announced an upgrade program. Last year it offered customers a free copy of OS X 10.7, or Lion, if they bought a Mac equipped with Snow Leopard.

Apple’s OS pricing, however, has been significantly lower than Microsoft’s of late: Upgrades to OS X 10.6, aka Snow Leopard, and Lion ran users $29 and $30, respectively.

Users ineligible for the low-cost Windows 8 upgrade may be able to score a copy at a substantial discount if Microsoft’s promise of “limited-time programs and promotions” results in a repeat of the aggressive deal the company ran for Windows 7 pre-sales.

In mid-2009, Microsoft sold Windows 7 upgrades for between 50% and 58% off the sticker price, then delivered those orders after the late-October launch of the OS.

Microsoft will likely run the Windows 8 upgrade program through a website it registered in February.

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Stats show some Windows 7 and Vista users upgraded to IE9, but the new practice affected few XP users

Computerworld – Microsoft’s decision late last year to switch on “silent” upgrades for Internet Explorer (IE) has moved some Windows users to newer versions, but has had little, if any, impact on the oldest editions, IE6 and IE7, according to usage statistics.

In December 2011, Microsoft announced it would start automatically upgrading IE so that users ran the newest version suitable for their copy of Windows.
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Under the plan, Windows XP users still on IE6 or IE7 would be updated to IE8, while Windows Vista or Windows 7 users running IE7 or IE8 would be pushed to IE9.

Previously, Microsoft has always asked users for their permission before upgrading IE from one version to the next, even if Windows’ automatic updates was enabled.

First to get the automatic treatment, Microsoft said, would be Australia and Brazil, both guinea pigs for the January 2012 debut. The program would then be gradually expanded to other markets.

Yesterday, Microsoft declined to disclose what other countries, if any, had had the auto-upgrade switched on.

But in Australia and Brazil, the move shuffled share among some editions of IE, according to data from StatCounter, an Irish Web analytics company that publishes country-by-country usage share numbers for IE6, IE7, IE8 and IE9.

In both countries, IE9 jumped unexpectedly in February, the first full month after the auto-upgrade switch was thrown, while IE8 saw an almost-corresponding decline in share.

IE9 in Australia climbed 3.3 percentage points that month, a 23% increase, which was significantly greater than any spike of the previous 12 months. Meanwhile, IE8 slipped 2.8 points, or 15%, in February.

The result in Brazil was eerily similar: IE9 jumped by 3.5 points (42% increase over the previous month) and IE8 dropped by 3.1 percentage points (for a decline of 16%).

There was some evidence that the auto-upgrade did impact IE7′s share in Australia, since the browser’s February decline was only a third that recorded for both January and March.

It’s impossible to tell if, assuming some copies of IE7 were upgraded to IE8 or IE9, which operating system — Windows Vista or Windows XP — was affected: Both those editions can run IE7.

The theory that IE auto-upgrades primarily applied to Windows 7 and Vista users was bolstered by the shares XP owns in each of the two countries: In Australia, XP accounted for 19.5% of all operating systems used in February, while Brazil’s XP share that month was double that at 37.7%.

If appreciable numbers of XP users had had their copies of IE upgraded, one would have expected to see Brazil’s numbers for IE 6 and IE 7 show a larger variance from the norm than Australia. That just wasn’t the case.

The shifts reported by StatCounter hint that IE’s automatic upgrade program successfully moved some Windows 7 and Vista users from IE8 to IE9, but did little to migrate Windows XP users to a more modern browser, since IE6 and IE7 shares did not drop more than the usual.

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One thing you’ll like about Windows 8: Even though it’s only in its preview form, it’s already faster than Windows 7. And as development proceeds, it should only get even faster.

PC World ran a series of benchmarks on the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, and found it beat Windows 7 handily, even though the new operating system is still in an early version and has yet to be fine-tuned for performance.

The magazine ran Windows 7 and Windows 8 Consumer Preview on the same machine and found that Windows 8 was 14% faster than Windows 7 on the WorldBench 7, the magazine’s comprehensive performance benchmark. It also started up 35% faster, and was 50% faster when it comes to Web performance. Windows 8 lagged behind Windows 7 in an office productivity test by 8 percent, and was essentially tied with Windows 7 for a content creation test.

Given that the later stages of development are usually used to fine-tune performance, you can expect Windows 8 to get even faster when it’s released.

These numbers don’t surprise me. I’m running Windows 8 Consumer Preview on an Acer Aspire One netbook and it’s quite speedy. It starts up fast, is extremely responsive, and rarely displays lags. The only time I’ve noticed any lagginess is when I’m browsing the Windows Store.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Windows Vista at launch had performance problems, and Microsoft did a very good job in Windows 7 of making the operating system faster and leaner. It targeted even better performance for Windows 8, very important because the operating system is being designed for tablets, which tend to be less powerful than traditional PCs.

The performance boost may take some of the sting out of using an operating system that for now at least has many people complaining is somewhat of a kludge because Metro isn’t designed well for mice and keyboards, and because of the poor integration of the Metro interface with the Desktop.

As these test results show, if Microsoft could fix those problems, it would cleary have a winner on its hands.
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Users must be alert about having their real identity from Google+ replace pseudonyms in other Google services

Google’s work to integrate its Google+ social networking site broadly with its other services could raise red flags for users who want to closely guard their privacy.

It’s valid to raise concerns over Google’s decision to integrate Google+, which carries a real-name requirement for users, with other Google services people have been using with pseudonyms for years, said John Verdi, senior counsel with the Electronic Privacy Information Center, in a phone interview.

Google’s nightmare scenario would be for a critical mass of users to inadvertently green-light Google+ integrations only to later complain that they didn’t know their pseudonyms in certain services would be replaced by their Google+ real name.

 

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If that were to happen, Google could find itself in a privacy controversy that it can ill afford. The U.S. government has the company on a short leash, having mandated audits of its privacy policies and practices for the next 20 years after a privacy firestorm ignited with the launch of the now-closed Buzz service last year.

Buzz, a microblogging and social networking service, debuted with an integration with the Gmail webmail service that exposed users’ private e-mail contacts publicly and without authorization.

Since launching Google+ this summer, Google officials have been stressing that it makes it simple and intuitive for members to control what they share, with whom and how.

During this initial period, when Google+ has operated mostly as a stand-alone social networking site, consensus has been that, yes, its content sharing and privacy controls work well and as advertised.

However, Google has now started to integrate Google+ with other services, and it remains to be seen whether a critical mass of users will fully understand the interaction, cross-functionality and data sharing between Google+ and other Google services.

Google officials, from the CEO on down, are gung-ho about Google+ and it’s clear that the push to fuse Google+ with other company services will be extensive.

Google has redesigned the interface of the Google Account control panel, whose previous version clearly listed Google services available to users as part of the account, along with links to the services and some of their settings pages. The new control panel lacks that list of services.

Previously found at google.com/accounts, the control panel is now part of the Google+ site domain, another sign that Google+ is becoming the command center for privacy controls and settings across Google services. The new control panel includes a link to the old control panel, but it’s not clear for how long the latter will be available.

The road to propagate Google+ across the Google product line is just starting, and the potential for a misstep at some point seems high, considering that at issue is the online identity of potentially hundreds of millions of people.

In some cases, shielding their real identity is of life-and-death importance for some people, such as spousal abuse victims and political dissidents in totalitarian regimes.

“If Google wants to be the broker in the relationship between pseudonyms and real names, there will be all sorts of ways that that could go wrong across their many services. If you’re a user in Syria depending on your pseudonymity in order to stay alive, that’s not a very comforting situation,” said Peter Eckersley, technology projects director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, via e-mail.

In other words, now more than ever, Google must make sure that it fully complies its famous “do not be evil” philosophy.

Google (NSDQ:GOOG) and Microsoft (NSDQ:MSFT) are likely helping finance rival bids to acquire Yahoo (NSDQ:YHOO), with mountains of cash as likely a motive as competitive reasons, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

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Google has talked to at least two private equity firms about the possibility of financing bids to acquire Yahoo, the Journal reported.

The word of the potential deal comes less than a month after it was reported that Microsoft may be looking for a partner to bid on Yahoo.

The possibility of both Google and Microsoft financing rival bids for Yahoo makes a powerful statement about the future of the Internet and search engines.

Yahoo and Microsoft in 2009 agreed to work together in the online search and advertisement business, with Microsoft’s Bing search engine powering Yahoo’s search capabilities and Yahoo becoming the exclusive worldwide relationship sales force for both companies’ premium search advertisers.

A successful bid by a Microsoft-backed private equity firm could help cement that company’s relationship with Yahoo.

At the same time, Google is Yahoo’s top rival in the online search engine business, an important business because searches help drive a large portion of internet advertising dollars. If Google were to back a successful bid for Yahoo, it could help prevent Microsoft from capitalizing on its Yahoo relationship.

The Journal, citing two unnamed sources, wrote that Google is in talks with two private equity firms about the possibility of financing a bid for Yahoo.

Such a move, however, would come under strong antitrust scrutiny, especially since an agreement between the two regarding an advertising partnership was scuttled by the U.S. government in 2008.

Google and Microsoft may be looking to finance bids for Yahoo for reasons other than competitive drivers. The Journal, in a separate report, wrote that Google has about $42.6 billion in cash, while Microsoft has about $57.4 billion in cash. For both companies, the bulk of that cash is overseas, and could be put to better use as a loan to private equity firms than leaving it in the bank, the Journal wrote.

Yahoo’s share prices rose 3.7 percent to $16.71 on the news of the rival bids.

Google did not respond to a request for further information.

How Windows 8 could kill Linux, MultiBoot OS

Written by admin
October 24th, 2011

Microsoft has finally forked a way to kill its smaller rival, Linux from the PC / desktop segment. Since most PCs are only designed to run Windows, and Windows 8 would be the obvious choice in the future, there is something we need to worry about.

 


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With Windows 8, Microsoft would set certain guidelines to OEMs and PC manufacturers. All Windows 8 machines will need to be have the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) instead of the venerable BIOS firmware layer. BIOS has been pretty much the sole firmware interface for PCs for a long time.

The EFI system has slowly been making headway in recent years, and right now EFI firmware is compatible with Windows supporting the GUID Partition Table (GPT), OS X/Intel, and Linux 2.6 and beyond machines. EFI is seen as a better hardware/software interface than BIOS, since it is platform-agnostic, runs in 32- or 64-bit mode, and GPT machines can handle boot partitions of up to 9.4 zettabytes. (That’s 9.5 billion terabytes.)

Linux supports UEFI, thats is not a problem. The problem is Microsoft‘s other requirement for any Windows 8-certified client: the system must support secure booting. This hardened boot means that “all firmware and software in the boot process must be signed by a trusted Certificate Authority (CA)”.

By locking, Microsoft intends to prevent injection of malware onto Windows PCs, which looks like a justified claim. Linux bootloaders are EFI-ready but none of them are signed, hence they would just not work on PCs.

Bootloader Unlocking?

So what, we would Unlock the bootloader, like we did on Android phones and iPhone. No, it won’t be that easy. If all parts of the chain need to have a CA signature, then swapping out a machine’s signed EFI layer with, say, an unsigned BIOS or EFI would not work. Matthew Garrett from Redhat notes:

“Microsoft requires that machines conforming to the Windows 8 logo program and running a client version of Windows 8 ship with secure boot enabled. The two alternatives here are for Windows to be signed with a Microsoft key and for the public part of that key to be included with all systems, or alternatively for each OEM to include their own key and sign the pre-installed versions of Windows. The second approach would make it impossible to run boxed copies of Windows on Windows logo hardware, and also impossible to install new versions of Windows unless your OEM provided a new signed copy. The former seems more likely.”

So what about Signing Linux Bootloader Distros?

“Firstly, we’d need a non-GPL bootloader. Grub 2 is released under the GPLv3, which explicitly requires that we provide the signing keys. Grub is under GPLv2 which lacks the explicit requirement for keys, but it could be argued that the requirement for the scripts used to control compilation includes that. It’s a grey area, and exploiting it would be a pretty good show of bad faith. Secondly, in the near future the design of the kernel will mean that the kernel itself is part of the bootloader. This means that kernels will also have to be signed. Making it impossible for users or developers to build their own kernels is not practical. Finally, if we self-sign, it’s still necessary to get our keys included by ever OEM.”

What can be done?

We jsut have to rely on Manufacturers & OEMs so that they would include an option in their UEFI firmware to disable the secure booting feature.

Microsoft has finally found a way to tackle Linux, and someone out there has to make the extra effort to save it from the vicious Monopoly!

Update: Microsoft finally clarifies, it could be disabled via BIOS.