Malware infected PC's are rapidly becoming the most common support issue for many IT vendors. Client's PC's that become infected with Malware are all but unusable, not to mention key logging of critical information, becoming an unwilling member of a zombie bot-network or being subjugated to random pornographic advertisements. Needless to say, people are not happy once their PC’s become infected, nor is the IT cost of malware removal particularly pleasing. Clients always want to know, how did I get malware?
My answer to them is, “from using the Internet.” Cybercriminals have utilized search engine optimization poisoning techniques with astounding effectiveness. On today’s Internet performing a web search using common search sites, such as Google, can yield a significant number of results which direct users to unsafe malware-laden URL links. A recent study has shown that some 22.4% of Google searches performed since June 2010 produced malicious URLs within the first 100 results (Websense 2010 Threat Report). Compare this number to just 13.7% during the first half of 2009.
Recent trending shows that searching the Internet for adult material and other more scandalous topics is actually less risky than searching for news items, entertainment and other common subject matter material. Commonly recognized news sites such as CNN and Fox News are not sources for malicious links, but search results can yield links designed as malware traps to fool people. This is particularly evident during major events or crisis situations, where web searches for a particular topic are accelerated (World Series, Haiti Earthquake and Brett Favre).
Victims doing the search that end up clicking the bad URL, find themselves at “rogue anti-virus” sites where someone is attempting to sell fake software. This is where exploits in browser and operating system technology are utilized to bypass security measures and gain a foot hold, infecting the user’s PC. Websense’s 2010 Threat Report states that the number of web links to malicious content is up 111% in 2010 from 2009. Malicious sites themselves have seen growth of around 1 million per month in April 2009 to 2 million today and some 80% of legit websites have at one time been compromised in some manner.
It is also worth noting that social-networking sites (Fakebook, Tweeter, etc.) are now the most common carriers for malware and spam.
Windows 7 has only been out for a few months and it is already garnering great support from the business world. ChangeWave surveyed corporate IT buyers to see how businesses were reacting to Windows 7. The results were overwhelming. 37% were very satisfied and another 56% were somewhat satisfied (Golub, & Carton, 2009). That means that 93% were on the satisfied side of the fence. This is a vast difference from Vista’s challenged beginnings.
Many previous survey respondents said their companies were holding off on purchases in anticipation of Windows 7. Now that it is here, nearly one-fifth of over 1,700 survey respondents say that their companies are not only making those replacement purchases, but are also accelerating their upgrade cycle meaning that even though newly purchased XP machines are running fine, they are upgrading them to match the Windows 7 operating systems of new purchases.
All in all, this is good news for Microsoft and for consumers. Microsoft earns back a little respect, and consumers can feel more confident about making the switch to Windows 7.
Golub, A, & Carton, P. (2009, December 22). Windows 7 and corp pc buying. Retrieved from http://www.changewave.com/freecontent/viewalliance.html?source=/freecontent/2009/12/windows-7-corporate-pc-purchasing-12-22-09.html
The ConnectWise Engineers are finding ways to tweak out all the performance on new computers where they can. Most of the business class machines we install today just come with the standard integrated on board graphics card, and they work pretty good in a business environment. But, users that like to have lots of windows open may notice that the screen seems to drag at times, which is typically a result of having Aero Glass turned on (by default in most cases). Scott on our help desk makes this great recommendation to tweak your graphics settings on a Vista or Windows 7 computer for optimum business performance by turning off the full Aero Glass effect.
How do you do this? Pretty Simple, these settings can be found in the control panel under System > Advanced System Settings
This is a great transition from my last post about not waiting until the beginning of the new year to make that purchase you’ve been thinking about. From November 1 to January 2, Microsoft is running their Big Easy offer again. For those who are not familiar with this program, it works like this. You purchase qualifying products from Microsoft such as Server 2008, Pro versions of Vista or Windows 7, Office Small Business or Enterprise edition, or a choice of many, many others. We send in the purchase information to Microsoft. Microsoft sends you a credit voucher that you can spend with ConnectWise for services. The services can be anything labor-based such as installing your new software, regular service calls, help desk support, etc.
At this point, the two most popular questions are, “which products are qualifiers?” and “how much is the credit voucher?”. There are a lot of products that are qualifiers, but here is a list of some of the most popular ones:
This is not a comprehensive list. If you have questions about a particular product, call us and we can look it up.
Regarding the amount of the voucher, it depends on how many products you purchase. But here is an example. Let’s say you need a new server and 5 new PC’s. The server will have Windows 2008 Small Business Server, and the PC’s will have Windows 7 Pro. In addition to that, each PC will get Microsoft Office 2007 Small Business Edition. Your credit voucher will be great because you are buying multiple products from multiple categories (Server OS, Desktop OS, and Office System). In this scenario your credit voucher would be $735. And you would be able to spend that $735 for any labor-based services that ConnectWise offers.
But again, this offer is only good from Nov. 1 to Jan.2. So if you are going to purchase equipment and software, now is the time to do it. Well, wait a couple days…November 1 is the day to do it :-)
Are legacy applications or software compatibility issues holding your business back from a potential upgrade to Windows 7? Microsoft doesn’t want this to get in the way of your business upgrading all those dilapidated Windows XP workstations. As their “friends” at Apple would say – “There’s an App for that.” Windows XP Mode (or XPM for short) is a new feature of Windows 7 (available only in the Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate editions) that can help businesses to upgrade their computers to Windows 7 with little concern.
That’s right; I made the switch to Windows 7. So the next few minutes of ramblings will be my first impressions of Microsoft’s new operating system. First of all, the upgrade was nice. I didn’t have any problems during or after the process. It found drivers for all of my hardware. I didn’t have to go searching for any drivers after the upgrade. Speaking of which, I was able to do an upgrade because I was going from an approved version of Vista to an approved version of 7. If you are currently running XP, you are out of luck. You cannot upgrade from XP to 7. You will have to backup all your data, wipe the hard drive, install Windows 7, then reload all of your data. That, I think is a negative. Microsoft knows that many consumers avoided Vista and are still clinging bitterly to their XP. It is also worth noting that not every version of Vista will upgrade to just any version of 7. Some versions are compatible and some are not. Scott Smith posted a blog with a very handy conversion chart that illustrates what will upgrade and what will not. This is called “upgrade path”.
A minor annoyance after upgrading was that by default I (as administrator) did not have permission to open system folders. So every time I tried to, Windows asked me, “Do you want to have permissions to open this folder?”. So I would have to click yes on each new system folder that I opened for the first time. But after that, the permissions were set and it wasn’t a problem anymore. When you first do this, the folder will not expand in the navigation pane. You will need to close Windows Explorer and reopen in order for the folder to be expandable.
Another quirk was that the Quick Launch toolbar is disabled by default and replaced with the functionality of being able to pin programs to the task bar. Some people like it and some don’t. You try it out and see what you think. You may fall in love with it. If not, you can always enable the Quick Launch toolbar by following the instructions listed here.
The taskbar preview is SWEET! If you have more than one instance of a program running (for example, you have 2 or 3 Word documents open), then they will all automatically collapse into one representative icon so you preserve real estate on the taskbar. The neat part is that if you hover over the icon, not just the different names of the document show up, but actual images of the document about 2” x 2” show up so you can see the different documents you are working on.
One of my personal favorites of Windows XP and Vista was Windows Movie Maker. Alas, poor Movie Maker, I knew you well. But it is no longer. It does not come loaded on Windows 7. One thing you can do is go to the Office Live website and download a free Office Live Movie Maker, but it is not the same. It does not include a collections folder hierarchy, and I have not yet found a way to view it in timeline format. That is big for me. I need to see things in timeline format, not just graphical representations of various elements. Office Live Movie Maker has some cool new transitions, but too much granular control is lost for me. I guess I will have to break down and buy some video editing software. Sadness overwhelms me; it’s the end of an age.
A great feature is the ability to arrange application windows. If you have some apps open, you can right click the taskbar and select either stack, cascade, or side by side. This automatically arranges the open windows to a format that is easy to view and easy to work with. Try it out. You’ll like this one.
Well, that’s all for now. As I discover more, I will report me. And don’t forget, if you are interested in learning more about Windows 7, ConnectWise will be hosting a free event on September 24. Go to www.ConnectWise.net/Win7 to register.
So last week, on the slow Friday before a long weekend, I finally decided to upgrade the primary desktop I use at the office to Windows 7 Enterprise Edition.
I had already been running Windows 7 on my laptop since the initial beta release, and had completed upgrading it a few weeks ago with a clean install. But this time I needed the upgrade to preserve my settings and application installations. Here is how it went:
Connectwise will be hosting another workshop in September. This workshop will cover what’s new in Windows 7 and how it compares to XP and Vista. There will be some time at the end for attendees to explore the Windows 7 laptops that will be available. The workshop is free to all attendees, but you need to register beforehand.
Thursday, Sep 24
Networking and Continental breakfast: 8:30 – 9:00am
Workshop: 9:00 – 10:30am
Click here to register or learn more.
Microsoft has released a chart to help consumers and retailers understand the upgrade path existing XP and Vista PC users can expect when upgrading to Windows 7. With 5 variations of Windows Vista and XP (both 32 and 64 bit) that can possibly be in place for a Vista upgrade, which itself has 4 variations (again both 32 and 64 bit); knowing if you can perform an "In-Place Upgrade" or must do a "Custom Install" can be a nightmare.
Custom Install - Better known as a "clean install", or not really an upgrade but rather wiping out my PC and starting over.
In-Place Upgrade - This option retains your beloved files and settings as you upgrade to Windows 7.
For most, an In-Place upgrade is the quick-dirty and therefore appealing route, otherwise you will likely find yourself performing the following steps:
Temporarily relocating your personal files to an external drive or other computer
Wiping your hard drive clean
Installing Windows 7
Moving your personal files back
Re-installing all of your programs from their original disks or download files
Reinstalling all updates and patches that may have been issued since the original installation files were released
Thankfully Microsoft does provide a free transfer program to assist, but it won’t transfer your applications, only your personal files and settings.
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This tale begins with a situation that on too many occasions our clients find themselves in...
"Client A" went to a local retail store or online distributor to purchase a new PC or laptop from one of the multitude of manufacturer brands available, the system came pre-loaded with Windows Vista/XP Home Premium. The next day at work, they call us at ConnectWise and request we set the PC up on the network with all the bells and whistles they are accustomed to at work. Sadly, we inform "Client A" that
With Microsoft's latest operating system, Windows 7 expected to hit shelves on Oct. 22nd, our favorite software giant revealed its expected pricing today.
Full version of Windows 7 Home Premium: $199
w/ uprgrade from Vista or XP: $119
Full version of Windows 7 Professional: $299
w/ uprgrade from Vista or XP: $199
Full version of Windows 7 Ultimate: $319
w/ uprgrade from Vista or XP: $219
Yesterday Microsoft released what will be the final Service Pack (before the release of Windows 7) for its often criticized OS- Windows Vista. This upgrade offers several significant additions to Vista including: Windows Search 4.0, Bluetooth 2.1, the ability to burn to Blue-Ray discs, Windows Connect Now (WCN) as part of the Wi-Fi setup, and exFAT file system improvements. The Service Pack also includes nearly 800 Hot Fixes. Below is a complete list of notable changes in Windows Vista SP2.
Vista Service Pack 2 is not currently available through Windows Automatic Updates, but will be pushed to users in the coming months. For now, you can download the manual install for Vista SP2 at the links below.
Other notable improvements in Vista SP2: