How-To Geek

Week in Geek: Media Center to Only be Available as Paid Upgrade in Windows 8 Stable Release

Our first edition of WIG for May is filled with news links covering topics such as the FBI says they need wiretap-ready websites now, Internet Explorer continues to rebound in the browser market, Mozilla plans to auto-upgrade Firefox 3.6 users to version 12, and more.

Weekly News Links

  • Windows 8 won’t include Media Center automatically
    One of the new changes that Microsoft is introducing to it’s upcoming operating system is that Windows Media Center will only be available as an upgrade.
  • Microsoft angers users by cutting Media Center out of Windows 8
    Microsoft’s decision to charge extra for the Windows 8 Media Center and DVD playback is not sitting well with users judging from responses to the company’s blog.
  • Windows 8 to integrate cloud services, ditch Windows Live branding
    The Windows Live branding that Microsoft has used since 2005 for its range of consumer-oriented cloud services will fade away over the next few months, as the company positions the online services as an integral, integrated part of the Windows experience.
  • Mozilla to auto-upgrade Firefox 3.6 users to version 12
    Soon, users running Firefox 3.6.x will start being automatically upgraded to the current version 12.0 release of the open source web browser. The plan to auto-update these users has been being discussed since the end of March, when Mozilla Release Manager Alex Keybl proposed the move on a Mozilla planning discussion thread.
  • New Firefox design will offer uniform look across desktop and mobile
    Mozilla recently combined its desktop and mobile design teams with the aim of unifying the Firefox user experience across form factors. A presentation slide deck published by Mozilla’s Madhava Enros offers some insight into the design process and shows how the effort to boost Firefox’s visual cohesion aligns with Mozilla’s Kilimanjaro initiative.
  • IE continues to rebound in browser market
    Microsoft’s browser, after years of declines, reclaimed some share of its share of usage from rivals in April by one measurement.
  • Blue Systems: ‘No Plans’ to Change Kubuntu
    Kubuntu’s new financial backers – Blue Systems – have ‘no plans’ to change the way Kubuntu is run or built. The Kubuntu Community will continue to decide and manage the direction of the KDE-based distro as they have done in the past.
  • Linus Torvalds likes the Google Chrome OS Linux desktop
    Torvalds, still annoyed at the direction that GNOME 3 has taken, has some nice things to say about Google’s new Chrome Aura Linux desktop interface.
  • Programming languages not copyrightable, rules highest EU court
    European Court of Justice leaves door open to reverse engineering of programs. The European Court of Justice ruled this past Wednesday morning that the functionality of a computer program and the programming language it is written in cannot be protected by copyright.
  • FBI: We need wiretap-ready Web sites – now
    The FBI is quietly pushing its plan to force surveillance backdoors on social networks, VoIP, and Web e-mail providers, and that the bureau is asking Internet companies not to oppose a law making those backdoors mandatory.
  • Apple prepares upcoming Java updates for OS X
    Java development for OS X is being handed to Oracle, and Apple is better preparing its in-house Java runtime for co-existance with Java 7 from Oracle.
  • Flashback Trojan generates $10,000 per day for attackers
    The attackers behind the Flashback Trojan for OS X may be making as much as $10,000 per day through a click fraud scheme involving Google AdWords, Symantec says. The Trojan intercepts all queries made specifically to Google’s search engine and will redirect the user to a page of the attacker’s choosing.
  • Flashback: two thirds of all infected Macs run Snow Leopard
    According to a report by Russian IT security firm Dr.Web, the Flashback malware has made itself particularly comfortable on systems running Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. The anti-virus specialist and discoverer of the currently active Flashback variant has recorded and evaluated the botnet’s communications.
  • Firefox add-on exposes visited URLs
    Sophos’s Graham Cluley reports that the ShowIP add-on for Mozilla’s Firefox browser sends the URLs of visited web pages to a web service called in unencrypted form. Apparently, the browser extension doesn’t restrict this behaviour to the normal browsing mode, it also transmits URLs that are accessed via HTTPS and any sites that are visited while in “Private Browsing” mode.
  • Firefox WebSocket bug compromises Tor anonymity
    The current versions of the Tor Browser Bundle (TBB) include a bug that makes it possible for information about visited web sites to leak out of the anonymising layer. On version 2.2.35-9 of TBB for Windows and version 2.2.35-10 for Mac OS X and Linux, the included version of Firefox does not send DNS requests over the Tor network if the browser is using the WebSocket protocol. This means that an attacker listening in on the connection will be able to identify the servers the user is visiting.
  • Skype divulges user IP addresses
    According to a blog post, a modified version of the Skype VoIP software can be used to easily find out the IP address of any valid Skype user. No contact has to be made with the user in order to get the information. This IP could then be used to find out other personal details about the user, such as their location or even their employer.
  • Criminals use bogus invoices to set virus trap
    Criminals are currently sending out a large number of bogus order confirmations that are designed make recipients open the attached malware. The attackers appear to be using stolen online store customer data to address email recipients by their real names.
  • System-seizing Flash attacks prompt security fix from Adobe
    The company releases a security update for Flash to address a flaw that’s being used by hackers to gain control of victims’ machines.
  • New Office malware attack hunts Snow Leopard, not Lion
    While the Office-based vulnerability that is used to exploit OS X does not work in Lion, it serves as a reminder to always keep all software up-to-date.
  • Android malware now spreading through hacked Web sites
    Malware is now being targeted to Android devices via compromised Web sites, a first in the mobile world, says security firm Lookout.

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  • Published 05/6/12

Comments (9)

  1. win 8 h8er

    I really don’t think many people are going to buy win 8! Mostly because of all the stupid shit Microsoft is doing with it.

  2. TheFu

    A few opinions.

    I’m hardly a fan of Microsoft, but in this case, I agree as long as the 8MC with codecs is a nominal fee – $3-$5. Enough to handle support issues and cover the costs of commercial codecs that we are used to having available. It would be cool if mkv/h.264 were built-in too, seriously. Very few of the business installs need the commercial MP3 codec or the commercial version of DeCSS DVD codec, so not including either makes sense.

    It is a business decision, just like not including support for AD or RDP servers in the “home” version. Without knowing the inside aspects, it is difficult to 2nd guess the real reasons.

    The other consideration is whether their new “store” will be used? If they make getting the commercial codecs cheap and easy, then most users will sign up for the store and buy.

    A very small percentage of Windows users actually run Windows Media Center on their PCs. For example, there are 5 Windows licenses here, but only 1 actually uses 7MC …. and only 2 of those Windows licenses are used regularly, the other 3 are used for a few days every year only, if that often.

    Of course most readers here will just load VLC or use Windows Media Player with different codecs.

  3. Anonymous

    The only reason I even use Windows is for the ease of using Media Center with my TV card. You don’t necessarily need Media Center but it is a very nice app that once you do use it you quickly become hooked – almost like drugs or sex! There’s just nothing quite as easy to use in the Linux world and Microsoft knows it.

    Distros like MythTV or even the new XBMCBuntu might come close to Media Center but those Linux apps still offer almost no help when it comes to installing additional hardware. Just look and you might see that Media Center’s real strength has very little to do with the app itself since it’s really all about hardware support within Windows. And that’s just one of the hooks Microsoft gets into you. So should it really be any great surprise that Microsoft is now going to try and take advantage of it? I mean has everyone forgot about the EUFI issues or the browser wars? This is just standard operating procedure for Microsoft.

    So perhaps HTG – or someone! – could write a article or series of articles aimed at helping newbies get up to speed with installing hardware support in a Linux distro. What seems to be missing in all the writing I’ve read is a simple easy to understand guide on how to get non-standard hardware like TV cards up and running – even when there may be support from the manufacturer. For me, I just know there is a way to install and use my Hauppauge WinTV 1600HVR card with Ubuntu, Red Hat, SuSE or something. But every single distro I’ve tried and every single app/package I’ve installed either doesn’t work with my TV card or so totally locks my system up that I never try it again. I just know all my troubles can pretty much be blamed on my ignorance of how to integrate my hardware into Linux – something that’s become almost second nature with Windows and it’s “drivers”.

    I don’t know about anyone else but I see no reason at all to continue using Windows when there are so many other (better) choices to go with. But I’m also sure I’m not alone when I say I’ve become addicted to Windows mostly due to the ease of hardware integration and well written apps like Media Center. Entertainment activities like watching/recording TV is really not necessary but I do find that to be about the only reason I’m still using Windows – particularly when I can’t do it in Linux.

  4. Concerned

    With regards to the FBI and wiretapping websites, maybe it’s time to start looking for service providers from outside the US.

    Without a doubt the majority of the most popular web-based services are based in the US and for a lot of these services there probably aren’t too many genuine alternatives from outside, but given the choice between a service that is obliged to give the FBI unrestricted access to my data and one that is not, I have to say that the latter is more appealing.

  5. Fantasm

    Windows 8 is really looking like a non-starter…
    I hate, the Metro UI. Let me make this clear, I really, really hate it… The concept I can understand, I just hate the frakking way it’s done… cheap looking, crappy primary colors and simple baby-talk icons.
    Now to me, Media Center (especially with the Mediabrowser addon) is a big part of why my PC exists… It’s a home theater system… big monitors etc… (no touch screens)
    That being said, so I can get MC as an addon for Windows 8…. Nice, one more frakking thing to install…. I already have enough other crap to install… after windows finishes installing….
    Now my next question, is Window 8 going to be CHEAPER because it doesn’t have media center? No, we can pretty much laugh that one off….
    As it is, I see NO REASON to even consider Windows 8…
    Sure, I can replace my beautiful desktop screens (currently showing a fabulous brunette lady holding a guitar…) with a boring bland screen with lego block squares and rectangles…. but that’s not happeing either….
    Screw it… Not only have I decided that Windows 8 isn’t likely to be my next upgrade… I’m losing interest in even finding out how badly it fails…

  6. Lonnie

    Regarding Media Center – no stats offered to defend “decline”. For all we know they adjusted their metric to make it appear as if usage is in decline. MS is more interested in moving users to Kinect and charging monthly fees.

    Upside – Win 7 is here to stay and support for Media Browser, etc should support Win 7 for years to come. This is a clear indicator that Win 9 will not offer MC at all. This gives us Media Center enthusiasts plenty of time to upgrade our peripherals to ones with Linux support. Hauppauge should see the writing on the wall and begin supporting Linux, if not they’ll be out of business.

    Downside – Grasping Linux.

    MS has left us with no choice, but at least we have time to make the transition to Linux a smooth one.

  7. r

    I hate Widows eight….I hate Widows eight…

  8. Citrus Rain

    Windows 8 killed my dog.

    But at least thanks to windows 8, Gabe’s working on Steam for Linux! :D

  9. Terry S

    I have played with Windows 8 a little and for the most part it is interesting. That being said they have tried to make it a different experience from previous versions and it is not really very good. It is at best convoluted and reorganized in a fashion that is not really user friendly. The idea that Media Center will be an extra cost is another example of Bill Gate’s greed and the worst part is that most computer manufacturers will probably include/force it on new PCs without our choice like in Vista and Windows 7. The main reason I still use Windows at all is the fact that most all software and add-ons work well and I use a 3D Designing software package, I use LINUX Mint for my general usage. I have been a big fan of LINUX for years and most versions are finally getting user friendly and not needing a Techno Geek to us it. I will be happy to dump Windows for good when the available options are really good, no love lost.

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