Who’s buying new PCs with Windows Vista Home Basic? Judging by the name, you’d assume those OS editions would be loaded on underpowered machines headed for tract homes in the burbs and studio apartments in the city. But you’d be wrong.

Based on my observations of the PC market over the past year or two, I think consumers have rejected Home Basic in favor of Home Premium. But small, budget-conscious businesses have embraced the low-end OS.

In one large sample I looked at, nearly three out of every five machines destined for small business included Windows Vista Home Basic. Small-business buyers are apparently able to look past that name, and PC makers are happy to accommodate them. The primary appeal of Home Basic isn’t technology, it’s cold hard cash. Vista Home Basic runs Windows apps just fine, and it’s dirt cheap. Dell, one of the world’s two largest PC suppliers, in fact, is pushing Home Basic as the preferred option for many computers aimed at the small business market.

Take Dell’s Vostro 200, which is aimed squarely at the small-business market and starts at $269 with a Celeron 430 processor, 512MB of RAM, and no monitor. A much more capable machine with a Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of RAM, and a 19-inch monitor sells for $449. All three machines in this line come with Windows Vista Home Basic. To upgrade to Vista Business or downgrade to XP Pro is another $99, which represents a huge percentage of the system cost.

The phenomenon is equally pronounced if you look at the Vostro notebook line, where more than half of all available configurations, 13 out of 24, include Vista Home Basic. By contrast, Dell’s consumer notebook lineoffers 34 separate configuration, of which only three start with Vista Home Basic. The remaining 90% come with Vista Home Premium (only one model includes Vista Ultimate by default).

You can see the same mix of Windows versions if you go to a business-focused reseller like CDW and look at a list of the cheapest available desktop computers, sorted by price in ascending order. Five of the 10 PCs on the list, including models from HP Compaq and Lenovo, come with Vista Home Basic. (Once you get past those low-end PCs, however, almost all computers sold at CDW include Vista Business.) (story Link)

Symantec Developing Vista User Account Control  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , , ,

User Account Control (UAC) is a new security feature in Microsoft Windows Vista that changes the architecture of the access token creation process and prevents users from logging on with full administrative rights. While the intent of this feature may have been enhanced security, all too often users need administrative rights for tasks like installing/updating programs, and many software applications need access to run properly.The User Account Control tool has been designed to replace the Vista UAC, to simultaneously make your system more secure while significantly improving user-friendliness.

By default, any application launched by an administrator is running with a filtered, standard user access token. When the administrator attempts to perform a task, the UAC prompts the user to approve the action. This can lead to poor user experiences because the prompts can be slow to display, and appear frequently and without warning. What’s more, because the UAC may give a false sense of security since other processes can still access the desktop, it actually raises security concerns.

The net effect is that many users find the UAC security clearance and prompting process annoying, especially those who are a computer’s only user and have all the latest Norton Internet Security software installed and updated.

The User Account Control tool will collect user input as well as information on applications causing prompts. The data will be processed to improve the comprehensiveness and robustness of the white list, which will be updatable while running the tool online. (story Link)

OpenOffice 3.0 to Launch October 13  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , ,

OpenOffice.org will host a launch party in Paris on October 13 to celebrate the eighth anniversary of OpenOffice and the release of version 3.0.

That day will hopefully mark the actual availability of the software as well; "[The] target date is now 13th or 14th of October," Charles Schulz wrote on the OpenOffice marketing blog on Oct. 2.

Meanwhile, OpenOffice 3.0 release candidate 4 is available via the organization's Web site as of Oct. 7. However, RC4 is not recommended for production use, as it is not the final product, OpenOffice.org said.

OpenOffice, intended to be a free, open-source alternative to Microsoft Office, released the beta version of 3.0 in May. OpenOffice 3.0 will feature a new Start Center, icons, and zoom control in the status bar, as well as support for the ".docx" file format used by Microsoft Office 2007. The release candidate also includes additional, technical updates, details of which are provided on the OpenOffice Web site.

The launch event will be sponsored by the Region Ile de France, Silicon Sentier, and OpenOffice, and will feature presentations by Jean-Paul Huchon, president of Region Ile de France, Louis Suarez-Potts, president of the OpenOffice.org Community Council, and Charles-H. Schulz, leader of the native-language confederation at OpenOffice.org.

The party is open to everyone, and registration is available online.

Earlier this year, versions of OpenOffice between 2.0 and 2.4 were affected by a vulnerability in the software's custom memory allocation routine. It was discovered by iDefense's VCP (vulnerability contributor program), which allows researchers to submit vulnerabilities and exploit code for money. (story Link)

Adobe Releases 'Clickjacking' Fix for Flash  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , , ,

When we first wrote up clickjacking we noted that the "...proof of concept code was said to affect every major browser and 'an Adobe product' (Flash? Acrobat?)" Turns out it was Flash.
Now Adobe has revealed a workaround for the attacks, which can trick a user into clicking on a link or dialog box unwittingly. Adobe Flash Player (the current version) and earlier are affected.

The Flash player's camera and microphone access dialog are the problem, and the workaround involves denying interactive access to them through Flash. There is a workaround to the workaround in which specific sites may be allowed access.

Adobe says that a true fix will be available before the end of October. (story Link)

Apple Invites Journalists to Notebook Launch  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , ,

Apple has sent out invitations to a press conference on Oct. 14, where the company says it will launch new notebook PCs.

"The spotlight turns to notebooks," the invitation reads.

The launch appears to confirm rumors of new MacBooks, including possibly the so-called "Brick," where Apple's manufacturers would use lasers to carve the notebook from a single block of aluminum. The advantage would be to add stability to Apple's thin-and-light notebooks, helping to eliminate the flex in the chassis.

Rumors have also surfaced that at least one of the notebooks will be priced as aggressively as $800.

A lower-priced notebook could help offset worries that the fourth-quarter will be an especially tough one for tech companies, including boutique companies like Apple. This week, a staff economist for the Consumer Electronics Association predicted that fourth-quarter consumer spending on consumer electronics would be just "okay".

The press conference is being characterized as a "town hall," and will be held at Apple's headquarters in Cupertino. (story Link)

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