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How to download Windows 8.1 Enterprise Trial right now

November 23, 2013 Leave a comment

Original Post: http://www.ghacks.net/2013/10/17/download-windows-8-1-enterprise-trial-right-now/?_m=3n%2e003a%2e154%2evh0ao03kwj%2e5n3

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You have probably already noticed that Microsoft has released the Windows 8.1 update a bit early today. All Windows 8 users can install the upgrade by visiting the built-in store of the operating system. That’s very convenient, even though it is not that different from distributing the update via Windows Update.

Installation via the store is just one of the options to upgrade to Windows 8.1. It is likely that Microsoft will make available ISO images of the operating system as well, but those are not yet available.

But what if you want to test the new version of Windows first before you make the plunge and upgrade your operating system to it?

Microsoft has released a trial version of Windows 8.1 Enterprise that you can install for that purpose.

Windows 8.1 Download

windows 8.1 enterprise download

You can download Windows 8.1 Enterprise from Microsoft’s TechNet Evaluation Center. Here are the most important requirements and information about it:

  • The evaluation version is provided as a 32-bit and 64-bit ISO image.
  • The following languages are available: English (United States), English (Great Britain), German, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portugese, Russian, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional).
  • You do need a Microsoft account to download the ISO image from the site.
  • The trial version is good for 90-days.

Hardware Requirements

  • CPU: 1 GHz processor or faster.
  • RAM: 1 Gigabyte (32-bit) or 2 Gigabyte (64-bit).
  • Hard Disk space: 16 Gigabyte (32-bit) or 20 Gigabyte (64-bit).
  • Graphics Card: DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver

To download, select whether you want to download the 32-bit or 64-bit ISO image of Windows 8.1 and proceed. You are asked to sign in to your Microsoft account on the next page, and are taken to a form on the page thereafter.

Most fields are filled out automatically, but you need to make a couple of choices manually before you can start the download. Probably the most important choice is the language of the download. Make sure you pick the right language here and select data for the other fields that are not auto-filled.

If you prefer direct download links, here they are for the English version:

32-bit English Windows 8.1 Enterprise

64-bit English Windows 8.1 Enterprise

Note: The downloads may change at any time. Please notify us when that is the case so that we can correct the download links. They point to official Microsoft servers.

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Windows 8.1 to be released officially on October 17

August 18, 2013 1 comment

You will have to wait another two months before you can install the final Windows 8.1 update on existing Windows 8 machines or buy computer systems that ship with it pre-installed. Many users expected Microsoft to release the update in August, but that was never more than a rumor.
Windows 8.1 will hit the market about a year after the official release of the Windows 8 operating system, and it will be free for existing users.

The update will be available for all Windows 8 users through the Windows Store on October 17th, and as a retail version starting October 18th. While not explicitly mentioned, it is likely that the update will also be made available as a standalone download.

Interested users can still download and install the Windows 8.1 Preview which provides them with some but not all of the new features that Microsoft has integrated in the update.

Some of the features that are already available are Internet Explorer 11, a revamped search behavior, a redesigned Windows Store, integrated cloud connectivity with SkyDrive or more personalization options.

Features that were not included in the preview are a new bunch of tutorials that help you understand how to operate Windows 8.1 new cues that help users find and use features in the operating system, or the new “motion accents” personalization feature that animates the background when you scroll on the start screen interface of the operating system.

windows 8.1 help

New features added after the Windows 8.1 Preview

  • Windows-X menu now with sign-out option.
  • New “motion accents” feature on start screen.
  • New tutorials, including screenshots, short textual explanations, animations or links to Internet contents.
  • Apps list extended.
  • Several core apps have received updates.
  • Tooltips in the lower right corner for additional options are displayed in many core Microsoft apps which shows more commands (similar to right-clicking on pages or using Windows-Z)
  • Assigned Access is back. Select a (user) account to have access to only one Windows Store app.
  • SkyDrive fully integrated in the system. You can now change the location of the SkyDrive folder on your hard drive.

The most likely scenario right now is that Microsoft will finish up testing of the operating system in August, get the RTM release of Windows 8.1 out soon thereafter and distribute it to OEMs and partners so that they can start integrating it into their products.

It is interesting to note that Microsoft may not make the RTM version available on MSDN or Technet soon after it is hitting RTM status. That’s however just a rumor at this time and not something that got confirmed by Microsoft yet.

If you want to get your hands on the update at the earliest possible – legal – moment, you may need to download and install it by visiting Windows Store.

Here is a video that highlights many of the changes of the latest Windows 8.1 build.

It is clear that Microsoft is addressing several of the issues that users of Windows 8 had with the operating system. Windows 8.1 attempts to provide users with additional visual cues and tutorials to understand features of the system.

Windows XP users: what will you do on April 8, 2014?

August 18, 2013 Leave a comment

By on August 16, 2013in Windows 42
So what is happening on April 8, 2014 that is affecting all Windows XP users? It is the end of support for the operating system. What this means is that Microsoft won’t release any more security updates, or other updates for that matter, for the operating system.

There is one exception to that, and that is that companies can pay Microsoft money to get security vulnerabilities patched. But that is not really feasible for most as it would cost a lot of money to patch a single vulnerability.

While that is not really something that you do need to worry about if your computer running Windows XP is not connected to the Internet, you may enter a world of vulnerabilities shortly after that date. Vulnerabilities that get detected after the date won’t get fixed anymore, which means that the operating system will remain vulnerable to them.

There may be mitigating factors, like running applications in a sandbox or exploit mitigation tools, but those are usually only run by experienced users and not average ones.

Attackers may come up with new exploit code of their own, or by reverse engineering updates for other versions of Windows to find out if Windows XP is also vulnerable. Since the operating system won’t receive any more updates after April 8, 2014, it gives attackers many more opportunities to attack the system.

But it is not only users who will run into issues on that date. Microsoft too is in a precarious situation. If you look at operating system usage stats, you will notice that Windows XP is still placed second in the most used operating system. Only Windows 7 managed to pass it by, while Windows 8 just managed to pass Windows Vista to climb to the third place.

It is obvious that the company does not wan’t to “lose” that user base.  So what can Microsoft do to convince users that it is a good time to update? One approach seems to highlight the dangers of running Windows XP right now and after the end of support date.

windows xp security

Malware infection probabilities

The question is if this is enough to convince users and organizations to switch to another version of Windows that is still supported.

And what will Windows XP users do when doomsday comes?

  • Keep running the system even though it may have known vulnerabilities that are exploited in the wild?
  • Update the operating system to Windows 7 / Windows 8?
  • Switch to a different operating system such as Ubuntu Linux?

Closing Words

What I would do? I would probably update to Windows 8. Not because I think it is the superior operating system, but because it is possible to ignore the Metro / Start Screen interface for the most part, which means that you get an updated Windows 7 operating system with 3 more years of support.

Microsoft’s newest mouse has a start screen button

May 27, 2013 8 comments

Original Post: http://www.ghacks.net/2013/05/23/microsofts-newest-mouse-has-a-start-screen-button/?_m=3n%2e0038%2e891%2evh0ao03kwj%2ex2t

By on May 23, 2013

Microsoft announced the new Sculpt Comfort Mouse and Sculpt Mobile Mouse today on the Windows Experience blog. I’m usually not someone who is writing about untested hardware but the Sculpt Comfort Mouse comes with a feature that makes it report-worthy in my opinion.

The mouse ships with a start screen button which Microsoft calls the Windows touch tab that has been designed specifically for the Windows 8 operating system.

What it does? You are taken straight to the Windows 8 start screen if you tap on it. That’s not really this spectacular but that is not all the Windows touch tab has to offer.

If you swipe up the blue stripe on its side, it cycles through all open Windows Store apps, while a swipe down reveals all open apps that are normally displayed on the left sidebar if you move your mouse to the hot corner there.

microsoft sculpt comfort mouse

The Sculpt Mobile Mouse on the other hand ships only with a Windows button that you can click to open the start screen or the start menu, depending on which Microsoft operating system you are using.

The Sculpt Comfort Mouse will retail for $39.95 and the Sculpt Mobile Mouse for $29.95.

How to map the Windows button to your mouse right now

You do not really need a new mouse to add part of that functionality to your current mouse right away.  Here is how you set it up for your current mouse:

  • Download and install the free software X-Mouse Button Control.
  • Open it and locate the mouse button in the interface that you want to use for the functionality. I recommend you use mouse button 4 or higher for it, and not the left, right or middle mouse button.
  • Select Simulated Keys from the list of available commands that you can map to the mouse.
  • Enter {LWIN} and click apply.
  • Et voila, you have mapped the Windows-key to the selected mouse button.

Bonus: You may even add the app browsing feature of the mouse as well. I could not try it on my Windows 8 system as the Windows-Tab shortcut that is powering the feature is not working on it.

Just repeat the steps above and add {TAB} after {LWIN} in step 4. This simulates a Left-Windows-Tab shortcut, which displays all open apps in a small overlay on the screen that you can go through.

Bonus 2: The difference between Alt-Tab and Windows-Tab on Windows 8? Alt-Tab cycles through Windows Store apps and desktop programs whereas Windows-Tab only through Store apps.

Windows Blue build with minor improvements leaks

March 29, 2013 1 comment

Original Post: http://www.ghacks.net/2013/03/24/windows-blue-build-with-minor-improvements-leak/?_m=3n%2e003a%2e120%2evh0ao03kwj%2e4e0

By on March 24, 2013

Rumors about Microsoft’s strategy for the next version of Windows was all we had until recently. Some job postings highlighted that Microsoft is working on Windows 9 and Windows Blue. From the meager information that we have, it looks as if Windows Blue will be an update to Windows 8 while Windows 9 will be the next operating system the company plans to release. As always, Windows 9 is only a codename used during development. While it is unlikely that Microsoft will change the name, it is in the realm of possibility that the company will nevertheless.

Various Internet sites and forums indicate that a build of Windows Blue leaked on the Internet. If you have expected major changes in Windows Blue you will probably be disappointed as it seems to offer only gradual improvements over Windows 8. While it is too early to say if it will be an update – like a service pack with additional features – for Windows 8 or introduce major changes to Windows 8 that are implemented into later builds, it is clear for now at least that users should not expect too much from it.

A video was released on YouTube a couple of hours ago that walks you through Windows Blue build 9364.

The first thing that you will notice is that there is no start menu, and that the start screen is still there. If you had hopes that Microsoft would somehow reconsider some of its decisions that it made for Windows 8 you will certainly be disappointed by this. So what is new in Windows Blue?

  • Ships with Internet Explorer 11, the next installment of Microsoft’s web browser.
  • Additional personalization options for the start screen. Direct access to personalization, more colors mostly

windows blue personalization

  • SkyDrive integration into the Start Screen control panel including Device backup option which can be configured to automatically backup OS settings and app data.
  • New Sync feature under Accounts, currently not implemented and not clear what it will do.
  • Additional privacy options, including webcam, microphone and custom peripherals listings that detail which apps are allowed to use them. With option to disallow the use.
  • Apps can now be displayed in a 50/50 ratio on the screen next to each other instead of the current option to display them in a 1/3 to 2/3 ratio on the screen. Also options to display more than two apps on the screen at the same time including three or four with them sharing the screen equally.
  • Different live tile sizes on the start screen. The new size that you can see in the videos is small, which lets you add more tiles to the visible area of the start screen. That’s good I guess.

Many of the changes make sense and users of the operating system will likely welcome them with open arms. Critics of Windows 8 on the other hand won’t be convinced by the changes to give the operating system a(nother) try as the current build is not changing any of the major points of criticism.

What’s your take on the changes introduced in Windows Blue so far?

Windows 7 SP1 will be distributed via automatic update

March 29, 2013 Leave a comment

Original Post: http://www.ghacks.net/2013/03/19/windows-7-sp1-will-be-distributed-via-automatic-update/?_m=3n%2e003a%2e120%2evh0ao03kwj%2e4e5

By on March 19, 2013

The end of support for the original version of Windows 7 is near – it ends on April 9, 2013 – and Microsoft as a consequence decided to distribute the first service pack for the operating system via Windows Update as an automatic update. You are probably wondering why support is ending. Microsoft has a policy in place that specifies that support for a product ends 24 months after the released of a service pack for it.

What this means is that support for all versions of Windows 7 will run out in the beginning of April since Windows 7 SP1 was released two years ago. Support for the service pack version of the operating system continues however, with the mainstream support date set to end on January 13, 2015 and the extended support date ending January 14, 2020.

The differences between both support phases may need explanation as well. When a product enters its extended support phase, it will receive security updates as usual. It won’t receive other hotfixes and users can’t use no-charge support programs anymore.

You can download the Service Pack 1 for Windows 7 here if you do not want to wait until it is automatically distributed. Most Ghacks users who run Windows 7 have probably upgraded a long time ago anyway. Microsoft plans to roll out the service pack to all users of the operating system who have not upgraded yet over the coming weeks. The company notes that this update will only be applied to consumer PCs and not PCs that are managed by a Microsoft management tool such as SCCM or WSUS Server.

What happens if you fail to upgrade to service pack 1? You won’t receive any security updates or other updates anymore after the support end date as confirmed on the Microsoft Support Lifecycle page:

Both the Mainstream Support and Extended Support phases for software require a product’s supported service pack be installed to continue to receive full support (including security and DST updates).

Security updates released with bulletins from the Microsoft Security Response Center will be reviewed and built for the supported service packs only.

If you do not install the service pack for Windows 7, your PC will not receive these updates anymore after April 9, 2013.

Microsoft recommends that you make sure that you have sufficient free disk space on your system before you install the service pack for Windows 7.  The service pack requires about 750 Megabyte of space on 32-bit systems and 1050 Megabyte of space on 64-bit systems if installed via Windows Update.

Microsoft to turn on Flash by default in Windows 8

March 15, 2013 Leave a comment

Original Post: http://www.ghacks.net/2013/03/11/microsoft-to-turn-on-flash-by-default-in-windows-8/?_m=3n%2e0039%2e117%2evh0ao03kwj%2e496

By on March 11, 2013

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One of the new features of Internet Explorer 10 in Windows 8 is that Microsoft integrated Adobe’s Flash Player natively into the start screen version of the web browser. This native integration, much like Google does when it comes to the company’s Chrome browser enabled Microsoft to integrate Flash in a way that it is technical no longer a plugin that needs to be loaded from external sources. By doing so, Microsoft bypassed the operating system’s limitation on the start screen that would prevent the Flash plugin from being loaded otherwise.

The company made the decision to limit Flash contents to a list of whitelisted websites. If the site was on the list, Flash would run just fine, if the site was not on it, Flash would not be loaded. It was not really difficult to edit the site list and many users did so that used the app version of Internet Explorer 10.

Today Microsoft announced that it made the decision to change that behavior in Windows 8. Instead of using a whitelist approach, Microsoft from tomorrow’s patch day on will use a blacklist approach instead. This means that Internet Explorer 10 will support Flash on all websites except for those that are on Microsoft’s compatibility view list.

  Windows 8 Windows RT
Immersive IE Enabled unless on CV list Enabled unless on CV list
Desktop IE Enabled for all sites Enabled unless on CV list

It needs to be noted that this affects only Flash in the app version of Internet Explorer 10, and not Flash on the desktop in Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro. That version of Flash still needs to be installed separately and will run on all sites automatically.

Microsoft notes that the update will be made available via Windows Update tomorrow with this month’s Patch Tuesday.

You are probably wondering why Microsoft made the decision to make a 180° degree turn in regards to Flash in Windows 8. The reason that Microsoft provides us with is that it has tested thousands of sites and discovered that only a small fraction of sites are not compatible with the Windows experience goals.

If you are asking me, it may have just realized that limiting Flash contents in IE10 is too limiting for users of the operating system. If your favorite sites do not work because of that, it is likely that users will blame Microsoft in the end and switch browsers if they can. On Windows RT though, they can’t.

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