Netbook manufacturers wouldn't be forced to install Windows 7 on their machines

Experts fear that netbook manufacturers would be forced to install a cut-down version of Windows 7 on their machines have been allayed by Microsoft.

The software giant also confirmed that the daft three application limit originally planned for Windows 7 Starter has been removed.

"OEMs and ODMs have the choice to install any version of Windows on a netbook," said a Microsoft UK spokesperson. "[But] Starter is an entry version and doesn’t have many of the consumer or business features. The three application limit isn’t there anymore."

Microsoft's reassurance follows heavy hints dropped earlier this week at Intel's Developer Forum in San Francisco.
The Starter version only comes in a 32 bit variant - as does Windows 7 Home Basic, aimed at emerging markets - and is missing features such as Aero Glass, Taskbar Previews or Aero Peek.

Other bits of the OS that have been switched off include desktop personalization, fast user switching, multi-monitor support, DVD playback, support for domains and XP Mode. Windows Media Center is not available and Starter machines can join a homegroup, but not set one up themselves.

Home Basic also lacks the Aero interface, Taskbar Previews, Internet Connection Sharing and other goodies and will not be sold in the US, Europe and other 'established' markets.

Its key advantage over Starter was that it didn't have the three app restriction, but now that's been removed, it's hard to see exactly why we need two entry SKUs of the OS.

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The first laptop with Windows 7 pre-installed

A long time from now we've played around with various pre-release versions of Windows 7 , but the prize for being the first PC maker to actually ship us a street-ready system with Windows 7 pre-installed goes to Lenovo.

Even better, this new version of the ThinkPad T400s also includes a multi-touch display, with custom touch software to take advantage of Win 7's built-in touch support.

It can be argued that Lenovo's build quality and attention to detail are second to none, and the T400s feels like a solid, heavy-duty machine that will stand up to a lot of action. ThinkPad buyers (either small business individuals or corporate IT departments) know what they're looking for and don't mind paying premium for it. The touchscreen T400s starts at $1,999, and includes Lenovo's usual ThinkVantage suite of business and security-minded software and hardware.

watch this video for about the first laptop with Windows 7 pre-installed :

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Archos new tablet device running on Windows 7

Archos is set to release a new tablet device running on Windows 7, which it claims represents the "future of netbooks".

The Archos 9pctablet offers a 9in screen that naturally takes advantage of the multitouch facilities offered in Microsoft's new operating system.

Despite touting the device as a "netbook" the 9pctablet doesn't have a keyboard, relying instead on the virtual software keyboard built into Windows 7. However, Archos will supply an optional "super-slim" external keyboard.

Archos claims the device "pushes the boundaries of elegance and simplicity on a netbook, fulfilling all expectations of most mobile users". Most being the operative - and perhaps debatable - word.

Aside from the lack of a keyboard, the 9pctablet does have a low-end netbook style spec, with an Atom Z510 processor and an 80 GB hard disk. Those who desperately crave a keyboard could use the 9pctablet's Bluetooth connection to connect a wireless keyboard.

The device is only 1.6cm thick and weighs less than 800g. It also includes a digital TV tuner, which underlines its focus on entertainment rather than work.

The device will appear alongside Windows 7 on the 22 October, with Archos yet to provide any details on the price.

The company is also gearing up to launch tablets based on Google's Android OS, according to a company spokesperson.

Author: Barry Collins

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Microsoft admits Windows 7 security bugs

Microsoft has promised to patch a flaw in Windows Vista and 7 that could allow hackers to take complete control of the machine.

The company was alerted to the flaw after security researcher Laurent Gaffie produced exploit code which showed how Microsoft's SMB2 network file and print-sharing protocol could be hacked to allow attackers to hijack the machine.

The exploit was initially used to bring on the dreaded blue screen of death, however Microsoft later admitted that it could also be used to remotely execute malicious code on vulnerable machines.

"An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could take complete control of an affected system," says Microsoft's advisory. "Most attempts to exploit this vulnerability will cause an affected system to stop responding and restart."

Versions of Windows older than Vista do not use SMB2 and remain unaffected by the threat. Microsoft also claims that while the release candidates of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 are vulnerable, RTM editions are not.

Microsoft claims it is working on a patch, but has not confirmed when it will be made available. Until then, the company is recommending that users disable SMB2 by editing the Windows Registry. If that's beyond you, it also suggests blocking TCP ports 139 and 445 at the firewall.

This latter method will also bring several important services and applications, including the browser, screeching to a halt, Microsoft admits.

The flaw is the second embarrassing vulnerability the company is being forced to deal with. Earlier in the month, Microsoft admitted it was investigating a critical vulnerability in Internet Information Services (IIS) server, after a hacker posted exploit code to the site.

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Setup Kernel 2.6.31 to speed up Linux desktop

Linux desktop users can look forward to a faster experience in addition to USB 3.0 support and new Firewire drivers With the next version of the Linux kernel, 2.6.31, due for release soon.

The kernel developers have been working on improvements to desktop interactivity, particularly when it’s under memory pressure since the last release, version 2.6.30, in June.

Desktop applications can experience long and noticeable pauses when the application’s code path jumps to a part of the code that is not cached in memory and needs to be read from the disk, which is slower.

However, recent kernel memory management scalability work can result in a desktop environment with poor interactivity as applications become unresponsive too easily.

In version 2.6.31, some heuristics have been used to make it much harder to move the “mapped executable pages” out of the list of active pages, according to

“The result is an improved desktop experience; benchmarks on memory tight desktops show clock time and major faults reduced by 50 per cent, and pswpin numbers (memory reads from disk) are reduced to about one-third. That means X desktop responsiveness is doubled under high memory pressure.”

Furthermore, memory flushing benchmarks in a file server shows the number of major faults going from 50 to 3 during 10 per cent cache hot reads.

Linux founder Linus Torvalds, first developed the operating system for his desktop and it rose to prominence as a commodity Unix server.

However, adoption of Linux on PCs and notebooks has remained niche compared with Windows and only became more of a mainstream alternative in recent years.

Estimates vary wildly as to how many Linux desktops are in use today, but according to market share data from Net Applications, the proportion of Linux desktops peaked at 1.17 per cent in May 2009 and has since dropped to 0.94 per cent in August.

The advent of Windows 7 in October may drive Linux’s desktop market share down even further.

It’s not all doom and gloom for the penguin, however, as the improvement in kernel memory management, display server developments, graphics driver updates and advancements in the two main desktop environments – GNOME and KDE – all continue to enhance the Linux desktop ecosystem.

Another improvement coming with 2.6.31 is kernel mode-setting support for ATI Radeon graphics cards.

Kernel mode-setting moves graphics mode initialisation from the X server startup process to the kernel, enabling faster user switching and a more seamless startup experience.

Peripheral developments that will also improve the Linux desktop experience include support for the new USB 3.0 specification and a new Firewire stack.

Intel has been working USB 3.0 device support for hardware that implements the eXtensible Host Controller Interface (xHCI) 0.95 specification.

USB 3.0, or SuperSpeed USB, ups the theoretical maximum data transfer rate to 4Gbps.

No xHCI hardware is available yet, but the kernel drivers have been tested under the Fresco Logic host controller prototype.

For Firewire, 2.6.31 brings improved support of fine-grained access permission policies for application programs in userspace, IP networking with the new driver stack, and support for Firewire disks larger than 2TB.

“No longer marked as ‘experimental’ in the kernel configuration menu, distributors who provided the older ieee1394 driver stack so far are encouraged to build and install both driver stacks,” according to the project.

The last release candidate of the new Linux kernel was 2.6.31-rc8 on August 28.

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Microsoft release Windows 7 enterprise trial

On Tuesday Microsoft announced the release of a Windows 7 enterprise trial for IT professionals without access to the release to manufacturing (RTM) version of the OS.

The trial, available for download online now, will last 90 days and provides IT professionals with the opportunity "to test their applications, hardware and deployment strategies with final Windows 7 bits," Microsoft's Stephen Rose wrote in a blog post.

It is intended for workers responsible for desktop administration, Microsoft said. It is aimed at those who are currently working with the release candidate (RC) version of Windows 7 because they do not have access to the RTM via a software assurance license agreement or via MSDN or TechNet.

The enterprise trial is the RTM version of Windows 7, and is feature-complete.

The offer is limited and will be available while supplies last, Rose said. It is available in English, Spanish, French, German, and Japanese in 32-bit and 64-bit versions.

Users must activate the trial within 10 days of downloading or the product will shut down every hour.

After the 90-day trial ends, the computer where the Windows 7 Enterprise trial is installed will shut down every hour. IT professionals will then have to purchase and perform a clean installation of Windows 7, including drivers and applications, to continue using the OS.

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Nokia Netbook will be powered by Windows 7

Nokia on Tuesday announced that its new Booklet 3G netbook will be powered by Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT)'s Windows 7 operating system -- a move that should help Redmond bolster its presence in the compact computing space.

Buyers of the Nokia Booklet 3G, which is powered by an Intel Atom processor, can choose either Windows 7 Starter Edition, Home Premium, or Professional. System prices start at $810, placing the offering in the higher end of the netbook price range.

Unlike a number of less expensive alternatives, however, the Booklet 3G comes with a robust complement of hardware, software, and communications tools.

Integrated Nokia services include Ovi Suite 2.0, Nokia Music for PC, Ovi Maps, and Social Hub—which aggregates feeds from online social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Internet Explorer 8 is the default Web browser.

For connectivity, the Booklet 3G offers built-in WLAN and WWAN support for connecting to the Internet through WiFi or cellular networks. The system features 1 GB of DDR2 RAM and 120 GB of storage.

Nokia's decision to include Windows 7 on one of its first netbook offerings is the latest sign that Microsoft and Nokia are cooperating more closely in the mobile computing market. Last month, Microsoft pledged to optimize a mobile version of Microsoft Office for use on Nokia's Symbian OS-based smartphones.

Microsoft needs to promote Windows 7 adoption on netbooks, the PC industry's fastest growing market segment.

Many first-generation netbooks shunned Windows in favor of free software such as Linux in order to keep a lid on prices. The trend has resulted in a significant falloff in Windows sales in recent quarters.

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Samsung Netbooks will come with windows 7

Samsung announced on Thursday that it will use Windows 7 Starter Edition on N130 and N140 netbooks .

Both the N130 and N140 will come with the Starter Edition of Microsoft's upcoming operating system, but Samsung isn't putting all its eggs in the Windows 7 basket. Windows XP Home Edition is also an option on both devices, according to a statement.

The two devices have the same hardware specification, including an Intel Atom N270 or an N280 processor, a 10.1-inch screen and up to a 250 GB hard drive. The latter is only available with the Windows 7 version.

The biggest difference between the two computers is battery life. Using a 6-cell battery, the N140 should last for up to 11 hours, compared to 7.5 hours for the N130, according to Samsung.

The N130 also includes optional support for mobile broadband technologies HSPA (High-Speed Packet Access), WiMax and WiBro, which is a South Korean version of mobile WiMax.

Both models are expected to start shipping in September. The N130 will cost between €349 and €399 (US$500 and US$570). Pricing for the N140 adds €50 to both sides of that price span.

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