Tag Archives: Windows 8.1

Microsoft Windows 8.1: Rumoured Price Drop.

Following on from the announcement last month of a release date for Windows 9, which will come as welcome news to pretty much everybody in the world (we blogged about here), Microsoft are rumoured to be reducing the costs for Windows 8.1, as an added incentive to increase uptake of the software giant’s most recent flagship OS.

Bloomberg is reporting that Microsoft are prepared to reduce the cost to OEM’s by up to 70% in a bid to counter the growing popularity of alternative OSs on platforms like of Google’s cheaper Cromebook.

Targeting the low cost PC and tablet market, currently Microsoft charges OEM’s $50.00 per device that retails for under $250, this means the price will reduce to just $15.00.

Microsoft is hoping this new incentive will also help out its floundering (but resugrent, if  you believe the analysts) tablet market share, which is worth a total of $80 Billion table. This is after posting its worst annual decline on record last quarter. With global computer shipments falling and with a continued decline predicted, and the ever increasing popularity of tablets, Microsoft has to act fast to try and attract users away from Apple and Google products, who already have a huge head start on Microsoft.  

This is no easy task, as Apple and Google Chrome Operating Systems currently account for 95% of the tablet and smart phone market. However, if Windows 8.1 builds some momentum on the backup of this price drop, that could change.

Is Windows 8.1 an improvement?

Windows 8.1, the follow up to the flop that was Windows 8 has arrived after months of frustration for users. The initial release was part of Microsoft’s big effort to take on Apple and Google in the tablet market, but to the frustration of many Windows 8 spilled into the PC and server versions. The main complaints were the removal of the Start button, as well as the general feel of the OS, which was clearly designed for touch screens. The Start button issue has been addressed, along with the other complaints, in the release which was available last Thursday by download, and as a hard copy on Friday.

Gartner analyst Michael Silver called it “a significant improvement, more like what Microsoft would have liked to ship a year ago”. He also praised Microsoft’s willingness to listen to user feedback in their efforts to improve their flagship product. He added that 8.1 was Microsoft “clearly responding to the needs of enterprise users” which is a very positive thing to hear, considering how much business users felt ignored with the release of its predecessor.

Some of the improvements for business users are “more and better IT controls, security features and device management capabilities”, which were lacking from version 8 and made it a largely unappealing update to the competent Windows 7. As it happens, International Data Corporation (IDC) still recommends that businesses upgrade their PCs and servers to Windows 7 rather Windows 8, which is a reflection of the lack of fundamental change at the heart of Windows 8 and 8.1.

Despite the cosmetic overhaul, underneath Windows 8 is the skeleton of Windows 7, and it isn’t difficult to find evidence of this either. Simply changing between the new interface and the old style desktop shows this. Many in the industry have predicted that, like XP for so long, Windows 7 will now become the “gold standard” of enterprise IT operating systems, bar tablets and convertible PCs.

David Johnson, of Forrester Research, predicts that the Windows 8 family will be on a much more frequent release cycle, where new versions, such as 8.1 will be released on a regular basis. This can present a serious headache for IT managers if and when the older releases are no longer supported.

Johnson also predicted that new hardware from the likes of IBM, which should be much more “battery friendly”, will improve the picture for Windows and businesses. As well as improved hardware from Microsofts partners, the improvement of Windows’ own Surface tablets should benefit users greatly and make Windows 8 a much better product in general.


Microsoft Pays British Security Researcher $100,000

Microsoft has paid security researcher, James Forshaw, a sum of $100,000 after he found a security flaw within the soon to be released Windows 8.1 operating system.

Forshaw has received the reward through Microsoft’s bounty program which was started four months ago. The aim of this program is to help Microsoft improve the security of its operating systems and applications by encouraging security experts to try and find potential security flaws. Up until this latest case, Microsoft has already paid out $28,000. This money has largely been given to people who have found flaws within the Internet Explorer 11 web browser.

Forshaw, who is a security researcher for the security firm Context, found a mitigation bypass technique which could have given a hacker widespread access to the system.

Forshaw stated, “I think I originally came up with the winning idea sitting at home, pondering what I could do. When it comes to vulnerability testing, though, the eureka moment is more about the final working proof of concept. There are so many stumbling blocks that can trip you up along the way that you just can’t get too excited too quickly. We’re not talking retirement money here. When it comes to security flaw bounties like this, most of it goes to the company, and even if it didn’t, once the taxman has taken his cut it’s certainly not a life-changing sum.”

Kate Moussouris, who is the senior security strategist for Microsoft, stated, “While we can’t go into the details of this new mitigation bypass technique until we address it, when we strengthen platform-wide mitigations, we make it harder to exploit bugs in all software that runs on our platform, not just Microsoft applications.”

Moussouris has also congratulated and praised Forshaw for finding this security flaw.

Moussourish stated, “Congratulations and well done. You not only made history by receiving a total of $109,400 from our bounty programs, you’re also helping us make our customers safer from entire classes of attack. On behalf of over a billion people worldwide – Thank you and way to go!!”

This case shows that even Microsoft are starting to encourage security experts to find security flaws within the Windows operating system and applications to help them fight against the ever increasing threat of hackers.

Therefore, the importance of having a robust backup solution in place is more important than ever as hackers are developing more sophisticated and complex attacks each day which could lead to vital business data being held to ransom or deleted.

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