Patch Tuesday: Critical Fixes and Surface Updates

It’s that time of the month again. No, not that time of the month. It’s Patch Tuesday, the day when Microsoft issues various security patches and performance updates for Windows, Office, Internet Explorer, and other products.

This time around, we have a total of six bulletins. Four are critical, one is important, and the last one is moderate in importance. The first five address remote code execution exploits in Windows, Internet Explorer, the .NET Framework, and Office.The final bulletin is for a security update that resolves an information disclosure bug with the Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS).

On top of these security patches, Microsoft has also released a slew of updates for the Surface and/or Windows RT. Makes sense, seeing that this is the first Patch Tuesday to occur since the launch of the Surface RT and Windows 8 on October 26. Tom Warren over at The Verge installed the Surface firmware update on top of a few Windows RT updates and is reporting performance gains over an unpatched device. He’s also saying that app launch times have improved, which is a good sign; app launch times (and general lag while using them) was a major criticism of the Surface when it was released.

So, if you haven’t already, fire up Windows Update.

Panasonic Launches Windows 8 Powered Convertible Notebook for Outdoor Use

It has been barely a couple of weeks since Windows 8 was launched; however, we already have quite a few convertible Windows 8 laptops that can double up as tablets. Panasonic has just thrown its hat into the fray with the Toughbook CF-C2. However, unlike other OEMs, Panasonic isn’t really gunning for the consumer market.


The Toughbook CF-C2 is a niche product that is designed as a work device. Panasonic describes its convertible notebook as ideal for professionals like field and service engineers, and healthcare workers. It believes that the CF-C2 can easily deal with the knocks and scrapes of a busy mobile workers day, and can withstand drops of up to 76cm (6angles). It comes with a water resistant keyboard and touchpad and strengthened glass on the LCD. The 12.5” HD IPS display is advertised to have excellent outdoor visibility and wide viewing angles. The display is capable of recognizing up to 5 simultaneous touches. The Toughbook is powered by Intel Core i5-3427U vPro, and ships with 4 GB RAM (extendable to 8 GB). For imaging needs, you have high definition (720p) front camera, with an optional HD rear cam. Business’ can optionally add modem, VGA port, and serial port to increase compatibility with legacy devices. Connectivity options include Bluetooth 4.0, Wireless LAN a/b/g/n and optional Sierra MC8305 3G module.


The Panasonic Toughbook CF-C2 Is obviously not for everyone. However, business users seeking a flexible and powerful rugged laptop for outdoor use can purchase the CF-C2 starting January 2013. The base model will cost Rs. 1 lakh without taxes in India.

How to Check Compatibility of Apps and Devices with Windows 8

The biggest decision before you make your upgrade decision or the hardest chore after an upgrade is checking compatibility of apps that you use daily or have bought licenses of and the peripheral devices that you’ve purchased already. Windows Compatibility Center is the perfect resource for information on the same. The Windows Compatibility Center lists thousands of the most popular apps and devices to help you easily identify what will or won’t work with various versions of Windows.

While the site has been there before, it has been revamped for Windows 8 now. You can check compatibility of apps across different categories and diverse range of devices with Windows 7, Windows RT, and Windows 8.

The compatibility is determined in two ways. One, when the product has passed Windows certification requirements and received a logo, which indicates it has met Microsoft testing requirements for compatibility with either Windows 8, Windows RT and/or Windows 7. Second, when the app publisher or device manufacturer states that the product works with Windows 8, Windows RT and/or Windows 7.

The Compatible icon means the product is expected to work with the specified version of Windows. Usually, you won’t need to do anything to ensure compatibility, however, if a manufacturer or publisher offers a newer version or extra software is required, you’ll find an additional link to the publisher’s website. Certain devices (like my HP PhotoSmart Plus B210 All-in-One Printer) are indicated to have limited functionality on Windows RT, and you’d be pointed to specific details regarding the same.

The Action recommended icon indicates that you may need a solution to ensure that a product will work properly with Windows. Below ‘Action recommended’ you’ll find a link to the publisher’s website. The Not compatible icon, of course, means that the product is not compatible, or is not expected to work with Windows and the No info icon means that the compatibility information is yet to be confirmed.

On a product page, you can vote the product as compatible or not compatible. The product listing includes the community rating of the compatibility which would indicate the real-world scenario. The page also pulls discussions on the products from Microsoft Community (formerly Microsoft Answers). You can also click anywhere on the product listing to bring up a product details page to get downloads for drivers and software updates.

How to Order a Surface in India

While Microsoft has made it’s flagship Windows RT tablet – Surface – available in seven countries, India has been left out from the list. Bhaskar Pramanik, Chairman, Microsoft India gave no definite answers on the availability when I put the question to him at the launch event of Windows 8. While the strategic decision to keep Surface off India might please the OEMs in India, it certainly is irking the Windows 8 fans and early technology adopters in the country. 

Unless you have an uncle or a good friend travelling from the US who can carry a Surface for you, here are all the ways to buy a Surface RT online in India. While all the three options promise a similar delivery time-frame (around two weeks), there is no option yet to buy either the Type Cover or other Surface accessories.

eBay India

The premier shopping portal for anything that’s not available on the retail shelves, eBay of course was the first to have Surface listings. The price starts at INR 38,490 for the base 32GB model without a cover. The popular seller also lists Surface with Touch Cover in different colors. Amongst the three options, eBay is the only one that provides EMI facility for certain credit cards.

Tradus, another one of India’s growing online malls, also lists Surface at a similar price of INR 38,840 (Link). There is no listing for the product with keyboard cover though.


ShopYourWorld, an online store that offers Indian consumers the ability to shop from a wide range of products from the US and the UK, also lists the base 32GB model for INR 36,783 (Link). Again, like Tradus, there is no option to buy the tablet with the keyboard cover.

Microsoft: 4 Million Windows 8 Upgrades Sold in 4 Days

During a keynote at the BUILD developer conference, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced that the company has sold 4 million individual upgrade licenses of Windows 8 in the four days that have passed since general availability last Friday. Emphasis on individual; this figure doesn’t include the corporate accounts which amount to tens of millions of additional users of the OS.

During the event, Microsoft showed off a number of different devices — on top of their own tablet, the Surface — to really promote the Windows 8 ecosystem. Both tablets and laptops built for Windows 8 were showcased, some of the latter coming in a convertible form factor, and/or offering a touchscreen. Microsoft also proudly announced that there were over 9,000 apps in the Windows Store by general availability.

It isn’t just about quantity though; they also celebrated quality apps on the platform, such as Skype, Netflix, and Angry Birds Space, while anticipating even more apps headed to Windows 8, such as Dropbox.

Tiles Not Working After Updating to Windows 8 [Fixed]

I recently updated my PC from Windows 7 to Windows 8, and was surprised to see that the update went quite smoothly. There were no glitches, and Windows Update Assistant was honest enough to tell me upfront which programs would work, and which would not. Finally, after a long and painful hour-long process, my PC was ready with Windows 8 pro, and it felt good that nothing ended up broken in the process. However, my happiness was short-lived and I found that none of the tiles was working under Windows 8. When I click on a tile, it simply flashes the tile, but no application launches after that.

A quick search revealed that the problem was not with Windows 8, but with Avast Antivirus. Now, many people have had the same problem, and they have removed Avast Antivirus altogether to fix this issue. I use Avast Antivirus because it offers the best free protection available out there. It has a high detection rate, reports fewer false positives, and is good at removal too. Its low memory footprint makes its presence less intrusive, and overall, it is perhaps the best free antivirus. Removing Avast was not an option.


The solution is not in removing Avast, but in updating the program. Head over to the update program section on the Avast dashboard (Maintenance -> Update), and perform a program update. Once the update is done, you will be asked to restart your system.


On a successful restart, your Avast antivirus will show that it is updated completely.


Follow the discussion on this topic at TechNet forum. However, if you are not an Avast antivirus users, take a look at these possible causes for Windows 8 live tiles crash.

Windows 7 to Windows 8 Upgrade/Installation Guide

Microsoft has officially released the commercial version of Windows 8, which means that users will be able to digitally download a copy of Windows 8 with a genuine product key. In order to promote Windows 8, Microsoft has provided an upgrade offer for existing Windows 7, XP and Vista customers. That is, users can upgrade to Windows 8 for just $39.99. This offer is available only from October 26th to Jan 31st 2013.

Additionally, users who have purchased a new Windows based PC on or after June 2 will be eligible to avail Windows 8 Pro for only $14.99 or Rs. 700 INR. To avail this, head over to Windows Upgrade Offer to register yourself and get a Windows 8 Pro license copy for a discounted price.

Now, to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro, you will require Windows XP with SP3, Vista or any version of Windows 7 running on your system. Microsoft has provided an easy way to download and install Windows 8, which is done by the Windows Upgrade Assistant.

Before we get started with the step-by-step Windows 8 install tutorial, you will need to download the Windows Upgrade Assistant from here. Run the upgrade assistant from your existing Windows install, which will perform an compatibility analysis of currently installed apps and devices.

Upgrading to Windows 8

Also, make sure your system meets the following minimum system requirements:

  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster with support for PAE, NX, and SSE2 (more info)
  • RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) (32-bit) or 2 GB (64-bit)
  • Hard disk space: 16 GB (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
  • Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver

Step #1:

Once the Upgrade Assistant has completed the analysis, click the “Next” button. If you’re upgrading from Windows 7, then you will be provided with an option to keep your current Windows settings, personal files, and apps. However, this option is not available if you’re upgrading from Windows XP or Vista.

Upgrading to Windows 8

Upgrading to Windows 8

Step #2:

In the next step, click the “Order” button and then select the Windows 8 DVD option if you want to order the DVD separately. However, ordering a DVD is simply a waste of money as you can easily create your own bootable Windows 8 DVD in the later stages of the installation.

Upgrading to Windows 8

Step #3:

In the next screen, select your payment option — Credit card, or PayPal — and proceed further. Enter the necessary details along with the payment details. Make sure all the details provided are correct. Once done, click “Next”.

Step #4:

If you have a promotional code, you can enter it in the confirmation screen. Review your order, check the terms and conditions option, and click on “Buy.” After your payment is successful, you will get a new product key for your Windows 8. Along with that, you will also receive an email from Microsoft with the order details.

Upgrading to Windows 8

Step #5:

Start downloading Windows 8. This will take some time depending on the speed of your Internet connection. The download size is around 2.3 GB, so make sure you have an active Internet connection. Once the download has completed, the upgrade assistant will run a quick check whether all files have been successfully downloaded or not. This will also make the files ready for upgrade.

Step #6:

Now, you are provided with three options: Install now, Install by creating media, and Install later from desktop. Selecting “Install Now” will upgrade your current OS to Windows 8. The second option will let you create a ISO file, which you can burn into a DVD. If you’re selecting the first option, you can follow the onscreen instructions and skip the rest of this tutorial.

Upgrading to Windows 8

Step #7:

Finally, once the ISO file is created, use the provided option to open the DVD burner software, and burn the ISO image file. This will automatically create a bootable disc, which you can use it later to install Windows 8 from the boot screen.

Upgrading to Windows 8

Step #8:

Now, restart your system, and get into your BIOS and change the primary boot device to CD/DVD ROM. Save and restart your system again with the Windows 8 DVD inserted. The Windows 8 will begin its installation process and you can follow the onscreen setup instructions, which are pretty easy to understand.

Please note that you will have to create a new disk space if you want to keep your current OS (dual booting).

Three Important Pages From Microsoft’s Windows 8 Booklet

Microsoft representative are quite enthusiastic about showing Windows 8 and OEM devices to people at Times Square. Microsoft understands that Windows 8 has a learning curve, and the representatives are asking everyone who walks up to them if they’ve used Windows 8.

At the stations, Microsoft has Windows 8 booklets, 20 pages of images and text elaborating on the various new features in Windows 8. The first 3 pages are the same how-to that is shown when you run Windows 8 for the first time, however, the last 3 pages are the important ones. The 3 pages have a list of 10 interaction features and how they can be performed using touch, keyboard or mouse. Useful for both pro and regular Windows users, these lists should get everyone up to speed with how to efficiently interact with the new Windows 8:

Microsoft Releases Windows 8 Cover Photo App For Viral Facebook Promotions

With Windows 8 available to download and purchase, Microsoft wants its users to tell their friends about Windows 8. And what better way than Facebook. Microsoft has a Facebook app that generates an image of the new start screen using your Facebook information, and this image can be used as your cover photo. You don’t need to be running Windows 8 for the app but you can get a customized Metro start screen as your Facebook cover picture.

Creating the cover pic is a simple one-click process with the app doing most of the work. Once a cover has been created, you have the option of changing any of the pictures and the color:

Microsoft has done similar promotions for Windows Phone 7. An app loaded Facebook information into a Windows Phone 7 mockup and let users try what Windows Phone 7 is like. The promotion isn’t useless since Windows 8 has Facebook integration such as adding Facebook friends to the people hub and Facebook Messaging–which happens to be one of my favorite feature.

Microsoft Shows The Future Of Times Square & Art

Microsoft spared no expense for their Windows 8 launch in New York City. The street in front of their Times Square pop-up store was cordoned off, Times Square is filled with display stations showcasing Windows 8 PCs and tablets by partners, and there were a lot of sales people. As any New York City tourist or local would tell you, Times Square is filled street side sketch artists. Every street has them, and the next one is always right around the corner. You sit on a chair with a consistent facial expression while a guy uses old school pencil & paper to sketch a portrait of you. Then there are the more creative spray painters that will create beautiful portraits of New York using spray paint, it’s just fun watching them do it. So how does the future look like for these creative geniuses? Well, Microsoft’s New York City promotion blitz gave tourists a sneak peak at this:

For those who’ve been following Microsoft, this isn’t new. We’ve seen this before but getting this technology out there, in front of people–showing them what is possible with Windows 8, it’s a statement from Microsoft. Big screen multitouch devices that can be used to create art just like it is done on the street today but with more capabilities because it is all digital, makes a good sales pitch for Windows 8.