Microsoft's latest efforts to persuade customers to upgrade to its much-maligned Vista operating system have met with a cool response from users.
Historically, Microsoft's first service pack for one of its marquee products – such as Windows – provides the impetus for users to upgrade. As Gartner analyst, Stephen Kleynhans recently noted, customers see SP1 as the sign that the OS has reached maturity and is ready for enteprise deployment.
But even the offer of free support for using installing Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) and tools to lower implementation cost, the user response has been one of stony indifference.
Vista SP1 includes a number of fixes for bugs that have plagued the operating system, as well as improved support for drivers. It initially became available to download from Microsoft's website and will be included as part of the Window's Update feature from mid-April.
But with some users reporting initial problems with installing Vista SP1 – from problems installing the software from Microsoft's website to unexpected spikes in memory usage once SP1 was installed – the company was quick to offer customers help manage the upgrade.
Mozilla Corp. Thursday confirmed that it will release the final beta of Firefox 3.0 shortly, and that it expects to deliver the finished browser to users in June.
Firefox 3.0 Beta 5 has been code-frozen, said Mike Schroepfer, Mozilla's vice president of engineering, and is working its way toward release. "That will be the last beta for Firefox 3.0," he said. Once Beta 5 is out of the way, developers will move to the Release Candidate (RC) stage.
Release Candidate 1 (RC1) should be ready sometime in early May, said Schroepfer, assuming Mozilla meets its current schedule. "The release candidates will move a little slower than beta," he continued, noting that the company must make allowances for public feedback.
Mozilla typically tries to dissuade most users from trying betas, calling them fit only for developers and testing, but in the past has encouraged the public to try out its RC builds.
Although plans are flexible, Schroepfer said he expects version 3.0 to hold true to past Firefox form and cycle through three release candidates before Mozilla signs off on the code. The RC period is also useful to extension developers, he said, many of whom wait until the code is at that stage before tweaking their add-ons.
With Windows Vista Service Pack 1 out the door, Microsoft was largely expected to release Windows XP SP3 last week or this week. It didn't, instead making public a Refresh build of SP3 Release Candidate 2.
Microsoft says it "made this release candidate available in order to receive further user feedback prior to the release of Windows XP SP3." But many users are wondering what's taking the company so long, as SP3 is largely a roll-up of existing updates and includes no major new features.
The first SP3 RC2 build was released in February, and was slated to be the final release candidate of the service pack. Microsoft says the Refresh is simply "to validate improvements to the Windows Update experience with Service Pack 3." In turn, there's no real changes in the service pack as far as bug fixes.
Microsoft hasn't provided any further guidance as to when XP SP3 final will be available to the public, only stating its original timeline of the first half of 2008. The company has good reason: it wants the focus to remain on Vista SP1 and continuing to provide updates to XP could lead people to hold off on migrating to Microsoft's newest operating system.
In a surprise announcement, the BitTorrent and Comcast will partner to address issues of network management and architecture, as well as content distribution.
BitTorrent could be described as the bane of the cable industry's existence when it comes to high-speed Internet services.
Users of the file-sharing service routinely consume a large percentage of the available bandwidth, and Comcast has throttled some connections. Approximately half of the Internet traffic through its network is BitTorrent transfers, it claims.
Talks are ongoing and the two sides say there have already been amenable results. By the end of this year, Comcast will migrate to a capacity management system that its protocol agnostic. This is essentially the closest the cable operator has ever come to publicly admitting it targeted the P2P format.
At the same time, BitTorrent says it also agreed with Comcast on the need to limit the bandwidth of some users during peak times, although it also said that it believed the cable operator and others could have used other options.
It builds CPUs, chipsets, and now with ATI, it builds graphics processors. So beginning today, AMD is radically reforming its marketing strategy, arguing now that it takes all three components together in harmony for customers to realize value.
Between now and April 7, AMD will be releasing its first triple-core processors, announced last September, along with performance upgrades to all three of its quad-core Phenom desktop processors. The success of their release may be completely dependent upon how well the company's new value proposition is received by consumers: What their CPUs may lack in performance against Intel's top-of-the-line, may be compensated when you add an AMD chipset-based motherboard and an ATI graphics card.
The triple-core line may be AMD's biggest gamble to date. Its success hinges on a theory that there's a serviceable niche of the buying public in-between its best-performing dual-core and its entry-level quad-core -- up until today, somewhere within a price gap of $31.
Though pricing details were not released on time by AMD this morning, it estimates its new 2.1 GHz Phenom X3 8400 will sell for just above $150, and its 2.3 GHz Phenom X3 8600 will stay well below $200.
Mozilla issued its 13th update to alternative browser Firefox 2, fixing six issues, two of which the company called critical.
"Some vulnerabilities and weaknesses have been reported in Mozilla Firefox, which can be exploited by malicious people to bypass certain security restrictions, disclose potentially sensitive information, conduct cross-site scripting and phishing attacks, and potentially compromise a user's system," security firm Secunia said of the fixes.
According to advisories, some of the problems also affect Thunderbird and SeaMonkey. Of the critical issues, "several" issues were fixed that appeared to be memory corruption issues. Mozilla presumes that arbitrary code could be executed with enough effort.
Two high priority fixes were also issued, which dealt with an XUL popup spoof, an a Java issue that could allow for the opening of arbitrary ports on a user's system. Those issues only affected Firefox and SeaMonkey,
Other than that, a moderately rated fix was issued for an HTTP referrer spoofing risk, and a low-priority fix for a privacy issue with SSL client authentication.