Category: Microsoft


As Microsoft readies its Office 15 suite (expected late 2012 or 2013) many wonder if the launch timeline hints to the arrival of Windows 8 tablets.

A handful of tight-lipped customers are getting their eyes on Microsoft Office 15 for the first time, as the software enters its Technical Preview phrase.

During the Technical Preview, Microsoft gets feedback from a select group of customers, who are bound to non-disclosure agreements. That allows Microsoft to test the software without revealing features or other details to the public.

A public beta for Microsoft Office 15–a codename for what will likely become Office 2012 or Office 2013–is scheduled for this summer. No word yet on a release date.

Microsoft hasn’t said much about what to expect in the new version, but PJ Hough, vice president of development for Office, wrote in a blog post that it will be “the most ambitious undertaking yet for the Office Division.”

“With Office 15, for the first time ever, we will simultaneously update our cloud services, servers, and mobile and PC clients for Office, Office 365, Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Project, and Visio,” Hough wrote. “Quite simply, Office 15 will help people work, collaborate, and communicate smarter and faster than ever before.”

Office 15 is also expected to have some Metro-style enhancements for Windows 8 tablets, but Microsoft hasn’t commented on that, nor has the company said whether Office 15 will support Windows 8 on ARM devices.

Even if Office 15 includes tablet support, timing could be an issue, as Business Insider’s Matt Rosoff points out. Device makers want to launch Windows 8 tablets in the second half of 2012, but Office 15 may not be ready until very late in the year or early next year, judging by the timing of Technical Previews for earlier versions of office. ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley backs up this notion, with her unnamed sources saying that Microsoft is trying to release Office 15 by year-end.

Of course, all that speculation assumes Microsoft isn’t developing a separate version of Office just for tablets, or some kind of light, Metro-style version akin to the mobile Office included with Windows Phones. Though I don’t have any inside information, given the importance of Windows 8 for Microsoft as it tries to enter the tablet market, I wouldn’t rule out Microsoft having a backup plan for tablet document editing.

as said by Jared Newmen

2012 is finally here. Although Microsoft has not shared any details regarding an official launch date for Windows 8, all signs point to sometime this year. Windows 8 is still Windows at its core, but it is also a major departure from previous versions of the flagship operating system.

So, what can we expect with Windows 8 on the horizon? Is there any reason to get excited about what Windows 8 has to offer? Here is a look at five features and capabilities of Windows 8 that may change the way you do computing in 2012.

Ribbon UI

Windows 8 Metro UIThe controversial ribbon UI is spreading from Microsoft Office to take over the Windows operating system as well. While some users despise the ribbon UI and lament the loss of old-fashioned drop-down menus, many users embrace the more flexible, customizable, and useful interface of the ribbon.

I realize the traditional drop-down lists are "comfortable" because they’re more familiar, but once you adapt to the ribbon UI it really does help you work more effectively and efficiently. I like it in Microsoft Office, and I am looking forward to it in Windows 8.

The Metro UI tiles are uniquely suited for a touchscreen device like a tablet.Internet Explorer 10

Microsoft didn’t rest. As soon as Internet Explorer 9 launched, details began to emerge about the next generation browser from Microsoft.

With IE10, Microsoft is moving its line in the sand. IE9 is only available for Windows Vista, and Windows 7 — shunning Windows XP and earlier versions of the operating system. IE10 cuts out Windows Vista as well, requiring Windows 7 or later. Microsoft stands by the decision, though, insisting that only current hardware and software are capable of delivering the Web experience it is striving for with IE10.

Windows Store

Microsoft is borrowing a page from rivals like Apple and Ubuntu by creating an online software market. The Windows Store will be an outlet for purchasing apps developed for the Windows 8 Metro-style interface. In fact, the Windows Store will be the only place that users will be able to buy Metro-style apps — a move Microsoft claims will improve the quality of the apps, and reduce the potential for bugs and malware.

OS on a Thumb Drive

One of my favorite features of Windows 8 so far is the ability to store an entire, bootable Windows 8 operating system on a USB thumb drive. You can literally take your entire Windows 8 environment with you in your pocket, and boot it up on whatever PC hardware happens to be available. It could make travel much easier, because you could just take a tablet for use on the go, and Windows 8 on a thumb drive to use for when you get to your destination.

Tablets

Last, but not least, we have tablets. With Windows 8, the iconic Microsoft desktop operating system will also work on ARM-based hardware, and will be able to run on tablets as well as desktops and laptops. The Metro UI, and the look and feel of Windows 8 in general seem to have been designed from the ground up to deliver both form and function for touchscreen devices.

The tablet market is currently dominated by the Apple iPad 2. The Amazon Kindle Fire has been a huge success as well, but it is more consumer-oriented, and not as useful as the iPad as a mobile device for business. If Windows 8 can deliver a solid user experience at a decent price, the tablets could be a huge success.

While a public beta of Windows 8 might be available in the next couple months, I don’t expect Windows 8 to officially hit the street until Q4 — maybe Q3 if we’re lucky. But, when it does get here, early builds suggest it has what it takes to be a success.

as said by Tony Bradley

 

windows 8More than ever, passwords are a part of our lives, the key to our digital identity. On average, each of us has 25 online accounts, and that is beyond the internal systems you also need to authenticate to in your business. You should have unique, complex passwords for each system, but who can remember all of that? Windows 8 will include features that make it easier to manage your digital identity so your business’s data stays safe.

The Problem with Passwords

In the BuildingWindows 8 blog earlier this week, Microsoft’s Dustin Ingalls said that despite each of us having 25 online accounts, on average we only have six unique passwords. Anyone trying to gain entry to your company’s data knows that if they can get access to any password a user has, there’s a good chance they can use it to gain entry to other services. There are generally four methods attackers will use to access a password: phishing, keylogging, guessing, and cracking. Windows 8 will address each of them in the following ways.

1. Protect Against Phishing and Keylogging

These tools protect your computer against malware, which once installed can access your entire computer and any remote resources to which you have access.

Secure Boot: Using UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface), the boot-up process of your computer is protected so bootkits and rootkits are prevented.

SmartScreen: By collecting information about bad websites and software, SmartScreen can use the reputation of a URL or application to determine how safe it is to open, protecting from known attacks and cautioning about those that are uncertain.


Windows Defender:
Previously thought of as virus protection, Windows Defender now protects against all types of malware, including viruses, worms, bots and rootkits.

2. Protect Against Guessing and Cracking

password guessThe strength of your password is critical in combating guessing and cracking. Windows 8 makes it easier to create, use and manage unique and complex passwords.

Store Accounts: Windows 8 allows you to save the login name and password for websites that allow it, similar to most web browsers. Not only Internet Explorer, but other web browsers and software can make use of it, making it easier to use unique and complex passwords that you don’t need to remember.

Sync Passwords: If you use multiple computers, having passwords stored on one doesn’t help when logging into a service on another. Windows 8 can sync your account information through Windows Live to trusted PCs, making unique and complex passwords a more practical option.

Virtual Smart Card: Using the Trusted Platform Module found in many business PCs, passwords can be avoided by using a software-based version of a smart card that works wherever physical smart cards do.

3. Protect Against Your Own Forgetfulness

Finally, users won’t use strong passwords if they are afraid they will forget them, which is easy to do when managing so many of them. Windows 8 makes recovering from a forgotten password easier.

USB Recovery: Creating a USB recovery stick before you forget your password will help you reset it should that ever happen.

Reset from Another PC: If you use a Windows Live ID to login, you can reset your password from another PC.

Two Factor Authentication: By linking your account to a secondary email address or a mobile phone, you can reset a lost password by proving you are the rightful owner of the account.

 

as said by By Joseph Fieber

Though it’s common not to have a password on a home computer, and some even skip it on their personal mobile devices, it’s the first and most important barrier protecting a company’s data. Windows 8 will provide a number of ways of securing your password, and Microsoft recently talked more about a feature called Picture Password as a new way to authenticate without standard passwords and pins. Will this feature have your business tapping and drawing its way to more secure devices?

Keyboard Passwords

Traditionally, authenticating to a device involves typing in a password or PIN. Unfortunately, users tend to choose passwords that are easy to remember, or using characters that they relate to. This makes it easier for attackers who know something about you to guess passwords. Character-based passwords are also vulnerable to keylogging, where malware installed on the device can detect the specific keystrokes and easily reproduce them.

Pattern Passwords

A newer authentication technique involves drawing on a device’s touchscreen. Google has a patent pending on its Android pattern-based unlock screen, in which you connect dots in a nine-dot grid. A drawback of this method is that it tends to leave smudges on the screen, so that an attacker with possession of the device could see the pattern.

Picture Passwords

windows_8_picture_password-6658777How setting up a Picture Password will look.Microsoft’s Picture Password for the upcoming Windows 8 was designed to avoid the issues that accompany keyboard and pattern-based passwords. The technique starts with you providing a picture. You can position the picture as you like, and are then prompted to make gestures on the picture that become your authentication signature. There are three gesture types you can use; a tap, a circle, and a line.

More Secure

Each gesture you make must be in the correct order and proper position, and have the proper directionality. While a single tap isn’t very secure, offering only 270 acceptable inputs, using eight taps increases the options to over 13 quadrillion inputs. Circles are even more complex, with seven circles providing almost one quintillion options.

Faster Login

The point of Picture Password is not just to increase the complexity of passwords, but to provide a secure login that is faster than on a touch keyboard. With as few as three gestures, a Picture Password can still provide over one trillion combinations, compared with 81,120 for character-based, and 1,000 for numeric, while still taking an average of less than four seconds to complete.

Smudges Addressed

Pictures Password still requires a touchscreen, though Microsoft mentions that it can be utilized with a mouse. So, aren’t smudges still a problem? Yes, you’re still likely to leave smudges on your screen when entering a Picture Password. But, even if your screen were perfectly clean and three gestures were clearly visible on it, order and directionality complicate its replication. Those three specific gestures still have over one billion possible combinations.

Useful to Business?

Picture Password is not a replacement for the traditional text-based password. In fact, you’ll need to enter your password before creating a Picture Password, or if that password is attempted five times incorrectly. Nor will it protect you from someone looking over your shoulder while you log in.

So, will this be useful for Windows 8? On mobile touchscreen devices, its combination of a personalized picture and a higher level of security should make it a desirable and possibly mandatory feature. But, with most business desktops and laptops not having touchscreens, it’s far less likely to be used in the office, where standard passwords will still rule.

as said by Joseph Fieber

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