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Mice Net : October 2009
mice.net 81 By now most of you will have heard that Windows 7 will be launched in October 2009 replacing Windows Vista (launched in January 2007) which replaced Windows XP (launched in October 2001). Fewer of you will have heard of Apple's new Mac operating system called Snowleopard or Google's Chrome OS. After all an OS is just something that makes the computer work... Consumers will be exposed to these new operating systems when they buy new PCs, notebooks or netbooks. Businesses however, usually have replacement cycles of about five years which is why so many still use XP and Office 2003 at work and skipped Vista and Office 2007. The reason we have new releases is not so much to make Microsoft or Apple squillions of dollars (which they do) but to add new useability features and importantly beef up security. Security is probably the greatest issue for any consumer or business today. An average hacker can easily turn an XP computer into a "zombie" to do their bidding, less so for Vista and hopefully less so for future operating systems. A hacker can subvert a website written a few years ago using the tools of the day (HTML, SQL, ASP and PHP), less so for modern websites written in .Net language. Windows 7, amongst many other things, concentrates on securing remote access (work from home, telecommuting, etc, called DirectAccess) to business networks and protecting data on thumb drives and mobile devices (called BitLocker) -- both uses that have really only become commonplace in the last few years. Mobile "warriors" , telecommuting and access anywhere has become and will become even more important to business. It also includes AppLocker technology that allows administrators to control the software that runs in the corporate network to ensure that only authorized programs are used -- keeping unlicensed software off machines, useful in preventing spyware being installed. Of course that is all fine until the hackers find ways of defeating these new defences and then we will see Windows 8. In many cases XP security vulnerabilities were due to the original design of the software and the language tools used to create them. It is not easy to patch an operating system to close vulnerabilities when that may be contrary to how it needs to operate -- hence new operating systems are always under development. Similarly Office programs, Adobe PDF and many other common programs can be hacked -- it is always best to keep up to date with new versions. Unfortunately, new versions are costly and often require much more horsepower to run. Vista for example was written to run on dual core CPUs with lots of memory and fast graphics processors. Windows 7 won't need quite as much power but it will work best with the latest technology. So my message is pretty chilling -- update or perish. No it is not a conspiracy theory -- can you risk not being secure? STORY BY RAY SHAW RAY@IM.COM.AU windows 7 - WHAT'STHE FUSS? RAY SHAW PONDERS whether upgrading your computer operating system is really necessary. technology