Just in case you had any doubt, new PCs loaded with Windows 8 also come pre-bloated with crapware. For those unfamiliar with the term, crapware refers to the software pre-installed on OEM systems that typically adds nothing useful, but uses up system resources and causes slowness and instability.
OEM system builders like Dell, HP, Acer and so on install the software because they make money from it: third-party software companies pay the OEM builders to install trial versions of their software. Other types of crapware originate with the OEM builder: software that delivers advertising, offers to sell more products, reminds the customer to register their software, tracks usage, and a host of other shady purposes, often presented as helpful.
Some builders offer an option to buy systems without the crapware, but that will cost you extra. A better solution is to use the free software PCDecrapifier.
ITWorld has some details on new Windows 8 crapware they’ve encountered.
Version 23.0.1271.91 of Chrome includes several security and other bug fixes.
With Christmas just over a month away, CERT is reminding us to be wary of holiday-related email. Malware and scam perpetrators use ‘big events’ like Christmas and celebrity deaths to push their wares on unsuspecting people.
Renowned interface expert Jakob Nielsen has taken a closer look at the new Windows 8 user interface, and his conclusions are not positive. While the new UI works reasonably well for tablets, it’s problematic for desktop PCs.
One of Nielsen’s most entertaining findings is that the new UI no longer supports multiple windows, leading him to suggest that the O/S be renamed “Microsoft Window”.
Computerworld has a useful summary of Nielsen’s findings.
The latest version of Firefox includes some security improvements designed to help prevent malware infection via out of date versions of Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight. Specifically, when Firefox tries to display content using those older plugins, it will prompt the user for confirmation.
Version 17 also includes the usual assortment of security, performance and other bug fixes.
The latest version of Opera includes security and stability improvements.
Anyone who hasn’t yet tried Opera is encouraged to do so. A lot of people who reflexively stay away from Internet Explorer use Firefox instead, but that browser has had some issues lately. Google Chrome is a good alternative, but lacks some features that many users like. Opera is an excellent fourth option.
Microsoft has been putting a lot of effort into making their software more secure, and it’s paying off: Kaspersky’s IT Threat Evolution: Q3 2012 report includes no Microsoft software in its Top Ten Vulnerabilities List.
The anti-malware software bundled with Windows 8 is Microsoft’s strongest offering in any version to date. But as long as Windows is widely deployed, it will remain a popular target for malware developers, as is demonstrated by the recent discovery by Symantec that a new Trojan variant, detected as Backdoor.Makadocs, includes code specific to the new O/S.
Apparently Microsoft was expecting Windows 8 sales to be much higher than they have been to date. No doubt this is at least partly because of doubts related to the new user interface, and partly due to general satisfaction with Windows 7, acknowledged to be the basis for Windows 8.
Update: Ars Technica looks at the available numbers and says it’s too soon to declare Windows 8 a disaster.
Update 2: The Verge reports that Microsoft is claiming they have sold 40 million Windows 8 upgrades in its first month.
At one point it looked like Microsoft might not produce a version of Internet Explorer 10 that would run on any version of Windows earlier than Windows 8. Thankfully, for those of you still using Microsoft’s web browser, a Windows 7 compatible version of IE10 is now available. Please note that this version is categorized as a ‘Release Preview’, so it is probably somewhat buggy.
You can find more information regarding this development at Ars Technica and The Verge.
Anyone accustomed to using Google’s Chrome browser, seeing Google search in their browser and having other Google tools handy in previous versions of Windows will notice their absence in Windows 8. Google noticed as well, and has instructions for bringing Chrome and Google search tools to the new O/S.
Google’s aptly-titled Get Your Google Back page provides users with a simple wizard-based process for returning the missing features.