Windows XP, released back in October 2001 has finally been dethroned from its ‘2nd most popular computer OS’ title by Windows 8.1 now holding 13.12% market share. The most used OS will come as no surprise being Windows 7 which currently holds a commanding 60.89%
Microsoft ended support for Windows XP in April of 2014 so it holding the ‘2nd most popular computer OS’ title for over a year after this date is both impressive and worrying. Whilst it is worth pointing out paid extended support on specific XP versions is still available to organisations willing to spend the cash required, these exceptions are unlikely to do much to market share numbers.
Running an unsupported OS is strongly unadvised against and using it will make you and your data much more susceptible to security threats and exploits which won’t be patched up with updates having been finished.
This news also comes in very close to the July 29th launch of Windows 10 and with the 2 most popular OS’s; Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 being eligible to free upgrades for consumers all signs point to Windows 8.1 dropping back down to 3rd soon after its launch being replaced by Windows 10.
Microsoft has also detailed this week that not all users will be eligible to download Windows 10 on launch day. First in line will be member of the Windows Insider program who will be able to upgrade from their work-in-progress version to the final version on the 29th. Next up will be users who have digitally reserved their free copy and these will be notified in waves. After this Microsoft will open up Windows 10 as a free download to all Windows 7 and 8.1 users however has not stated how long after launch this will be.
Beware The Great Firewall of China
Recent reports of interest from Chinese electronics company Lenovo in taking over Blackberry have aroused serious concern with US regulators. A preliminary consortium deal from Fairfax Holdings remains on the table, along with a second consortium bid being prepared by Blackberry co-founder Mike Lazaridis. A large number of US corporate and government customers use Blackberry’s platform, so proposed Chinese control would attract a high level of scrutiny and concern. Last year, the manufacture of telecom network equipment by two Chinese companies was deemed to pose a threat to national security. Blackberry has historically routed messages via their own datacentre before crossing the network. This would not be a welcome precedent if the company were to have a Chinese parent, given the lack of freedom for users currently in the dragon State and their draconian interest in data control.
Windows 8.1 is now Live
Microsoft has released its first big update to the latest and controversial OS Windows 8, Windows 8.1. Microsoft has listened to feedback and re-introduced the Start button, conjoining the Start menu and desktop once more. With personalization options, the ability to boot to desktop, disable ‘hot corners’ and includes 3D printer support etc. Arguably the most important addition is the new integrated tutorials which should solve a lot of confusion for new users. Free to upgrade from Windows 8 it is a no-brainer for those existing desktop and tablet users. Anyone who has held off upgrading to Windows 8, should re-evaluate their decision now, as with the ability to control the user experience, you get the best of both worlds AND the reassurance of being supported.
Where a good BYOD policy would avoid conflict
With a rigid imposition of security policies on US government workers, a survey of cyber security professionals and non-cyber workers has found that resentment of controls so high, that 31% of employees sought a workaround to the security protocols at least once a week, whilst 49% of federal security breaches were attributed to end user non-compliance. Workarounds might include staff using their own devices and network, or altering network settings. Whatever the means, strictures and policies were found to be too burdensome, time consuming and hindered productivity. Harmonising security policies with end user behaviour is a challenge for CIOs, but one which should deliver better results for security by working as a team not adversaries – and improve the spirit of shared responsibility.
UK Government gets up to speed
With the first overhaul of its security banding since World War II, the Government is finally catching up with the digital age and removing over-complicated systems. Six security classification levels will drop to three. Currently classifications are listed as: Unclassified, Protect, Restricted, Confidential, Secret and Top Secret. These will become: Official, Secret and Top Secret. Affecting over 700,000 civil servant users, this is a further part of the Civil Service Reform Programme. It follows the Government’s endorsement of an adoption of Cloud earlier this year. Following the move away from paper, it reflects the increased use of mobile devices providing greater flexibility for the workforce, whilst controlling the distribution of sensitive data and saving costs.
Private Cloud in a box
Microsoft is finally ready to deliver a private cloud in a box, with the Windows Azure Pack. This lets you take advantage of Windows Azure technologies inside your own datacentre, providing self-service, multi-tenant services. Traditionally to use Azure services you would be reliant on Microsoft’s own hardware. This will enable MSPs more flexibility in providing different Cloud services to customers in addition to satisfying dataflow transparency needs.
Microsoft details Windows 8.1
Although many rumours have been spun about Windows Blue or 8.1 as we now know it, Microsoft for the first time has confirmed certain details and functionality Windows 8.1 will bring. By popular demand the Start button is back, however the old menu is still not. Microsoft is focusing on their Start screen with more personalisation options, and improving the consistency from Desktop mode to the new Start screen. In addition to OS tweaks, all the main built in apps are getting updates and some like the Music app are getting a complete overhaul. Microsoft is betting on these updates to give users another excuse to check out Windows 8 and by listening to customer feedback they should be able to convert back some previously alienated fans.
Motorola looking into future password replacements
Motorola who is now owned by Google has been tasked with looking into future alternatives to the traditional password. Motorola have shown off two concepts in trials. The first is an electronic sticker that is worn on your body, a circuit inside will be able to confirm your identity to nearby devices. The second is a ‘password pill’, a pill the user will swallow which is then powered by your stomach, the pill notifies nearby devices on who you are. Will we see either of these security methods take off one day or even become the de facto method of signing in to your devices?
Foxconn developing 5 Firefox OS devices
Mozilla is setting up partners to get phones running its new mobile operating system Firefox OS out into the market. Mozilla has signed a deal with Foxconn the world’s largest smart phone manufacturer to produce 5 different mobile devices running Firefox OS. With incredible competition from Google, Apple, Microsoft and even BlackBerry, Mozilla has a long and uphill battle on their hands. If they can convince their 20% desktop browser market share to go out and buy a Mozilla device, they may stand a chance yet.