Windows 7 SP1 pre-RC Build Leaked?

Leaked Microsoft software is nothing new. Both Windows 7 and Office 2010 kept getting leaked during their development stages. Now, Softpedia is reporting that an internal Windows 7 Service Pack 1 build has been leaked. Although some websites are claiming that this is the release candidate (RC), the leaked file is most likely a pre-RC build.

The leaked image is a chinese Windows 7 (32 bit) installation, which has been slipstreamed with SP1. The build number is 6.1.7601.17104. According to reports, the leaked build is time bombed to 01.09.2011. In other words, the leaked build will stop working in September 2011. This indicates that the leaked build is at least a month old.

Installing leaked builds is never recommended. Not only are they likely to be unstable and rough around the edges, but there is also the possibility that they have been tampered by the releaser. However, if you are dying to get your hands on the latest and greatest from Microsoft, then you should be able to locate the leaked release with a simple Google search.

HTC Home: HTC Weather and Clock Widget for Windows

One of the most distinctive aspects of HTC’s Sense UI is the combined weather and clock widget. It has been replicated on multiple platforms by numerous applications. For example, all Android users can get enjoy a similar home screen widget thanks to the Beautiful Widget application. However, there was nothing quite as good for Windows. The good news is that a free app called HTC Home has stepped in to fill the void.

HTC Home is an open source application for Windows Vista/7 that accurately emulates the HTC weather widget. Everything from the icons and styling to weather animations have been replicated. Here’s a screenshot demonstrating the default appearance.


The widget is fairly configurable. You can toggle animations, change the update interval and configure z-ordering. I am not confident about this, but the source of the weather information appears to be AccuWeather.

Techie Buzz Verdict

HTC Home is simply gorgeous. There is no doubt about that. However, its system resource usage might be of concern to users on slightly older rigs. It consistently consumed about 30 megabytes of memory. However, CPU usage was negligible. It also crashed on me on first launch, but has behaved well since. Of course, it is unfair to be too harsh on an alpha build. They are expected to behave unpredictably.

In the end, if having a beautiful desktop matters to you, you will probably appreciate HTC Home. Others, might be put off by the high memory consumption.

Techie Buzz Rating: 3.5/5 (Very Good)

[ Download HTC Home ]

via Addictive Tips

6 New Windows 7 Themes: Gaming, Music, Arts and More

Earlier this week Microsoft added six more impressive themes to the official Windows 7 Personalization Gallery, which has been growing ever since its launch. Five of these themes feature specially crafted wallpapers by graphic artists. They are:

  • Girls Rock! She’s in the band. Rock out with musician desktop backgrounds (wallpaper) in this Windows 7 theme.


  • 26Creative Live what you dream, just for fun.” So reads the message artist Chang, Fan-Hsuan pairs with cheerful florals and patchwork characters in this Windows 7 theme.


  • An Hsin Pu Tzu The land of the dreamy dreams. In this romantic Windows 7 theme created by artist Lin, Yu-Fu, cartoon characters relax in surroundings inspired by love and nature.
  • Bakehouse It’s always warm and toasty in Bakehouse, a Windows 7 theme made up of cartoonish breads and pastry characters created by Wang, Hsueh-Shih.
  • Imagination Let your imagination float away, with this gently surreal Windows 7 theme from artist Yeh, Hsin-Hung.

The other new addition to the gallery is the official theme for the recently released Gears of War 3 game.

Windows 7 Service Pack 1 Activation Technologies Already Cracked

Windows-7 You have probably heard by now that Windows 7 Service Pack 1 includes the anti-piracy update (KB971033) that was released earlier this year. However, it appears that Windows 7 is still as crackable as before.

The original WAT update killed more than 70 cracks available for Microsoft’s newest desktop operating system and promised to kill any new cracks that cropped up through signature updates. Although Microsoft succeeded in nixing several loaders that misused OEM SLP keys, many others managed to find a work around.

The Windows 7 SP1 beta has just been released, and crackers have already updated their loaders to bypass the new security measures. In the perennial cat and mouse game between Microsoft and the crackers, crackers have once again outsmarted Microsoft. However, the first service pack for Windows 7 is scheduled for the first half of next year. The Redmond based PC giant still has plenty of time to update the WAT tool’s signature and bounce back.

Windows “Shortcut” Bug Code Made Public

According to a security researcher – all versions of Windows Operating system contains a serious bug, which may result in critical vulnerability of your system. The bug is present in the latest Windows7 service packs as well as on older versions of Windows, PC World reports.

Microsoft issued a security advisory on Friday which discusses how hackers can use a shortcut file ending with a .ink extension to automatically run their scripts (read malware) by letting the user view the contents of a folder containing the shortcut.

The researcher, who is better known as “Ivanlef0u”, published proof of the concept code to several locations on the internet. His work was later confirmed by a Belgian researcher Didier stevens, who said that Ivanlef0u’s code can be used to create an effective malware attack on any Windows operating system.

Stevens announced in a blog post that he had tested Ivanlef0u’s code using his self made tool and that the utility successfully blocks attacks from USB or DVD drives. You can use Ariad if you want to mitigate attacks with these shortcut links until Microsoft releases a patch, said stevens.

While Steve’s tool can be effective in blocking executable files from removable drives, it is not meant for rookie users who do not understand the working of the application. This is because Steve’s tool is a mini filter drive and works inside the Windows kernel, causing disturbance in the kernel can have grave consequences.

To defend users from such malicious USB attacks, the US Computer readiness team added an article which reads:

By convincing a user to display a specially-crafted shortcut file, an attacker may be able to execute arbitrary code with the privileges of the user. Depending on the operating system and AutoRun/AutoPlay configuration, this can happen automatically by connecting a USB device. This vulnerability can also be triggered by viewing a web page with Internet Explorer or opening a document with Microsoft Office.

Disabling the autorun and auto play feature is a solution but not all computer users are security experts. Millions of people don’t know about such security holes and it would be better if Microsoft could come up with a patch or something. Wait!, they already stopped the security updates for older versions of Windows?

Now who is going to answer such concerns?

Lots More Windows 8 Information: Power Conservation, Evolved Identity Management, Stereo 3D and More

There has been a deluge of Windows 8 related information over the past few hours. We have already covered various aspects of the successor to Windows 7 including online app store, tablet optimizations, facial recognition and more. It appears that the source of all the leaked information was, which published a huge stockpile of confidential documents. Of course, as you can imagine, Microsoft is not bemused. Francisco Martin’s blog, which was hosted on Microsoft Live Spaces, has already been pulled down (possibly by Microsoft). Worse still, in their eagerness to share the confidential documents, Win7Vista might have exposed their source. One of the slides clearly identifies one Mr. Derek Goode from HP as the legitimate owner of the documents.

Anyway, the documents are still available for download from the aforementioned forum. If you are excited about Windows 8, then you should really check them out. In this post, I will highlight some of the stuff (other than that has already been mentioned) that caught my fancy.

Fascinated by Apple

Really! Microsoft openly acknowledges Apple’s cool cred and discusses Apple in at least three of the slides. No wonder, Apple keeps mocking Windows for stealing ideas.


Optimized for Variety of Platforms

Microsoft will continue with its philosophy of using the same operating system on different form factors. Windows 8 will be optimized for tablet PCs, laptops and normal desktops.


Instant On

I briefly discussed this earlier, but going through the slides I found a lot more information. With Windows 8, Microsoft is aiming for “Instant On”. The documents also suggest that Microsoft might be weighing Logoff + Hibernate as an alternative to conventional shutdown.


Energy Efficiency

Given that Windows 8 will run on both laptops and tablet devices, power efficiency is a critical aspect.


Improved Help and Support

Microsoft wants to broaden the Windows Help and Support by integrating more resources including custom resources provided by the OEMs.


Improved Recovery Option

Windows 8 will provide an option called “Factory Reset”, which will reset your system to its original condition, while retaining your data and configurations. Microsoft also wants to provide a pre-boot recovery environment, which will be simple enough to be useful to everyone, but will also house advanced diagnostic tools for power users.



There are a lot of people who believe that 3D is a passing fad. However, Microsoft is not one of them. As suggested by the following slides, Windows 8 ecosystem will be capable of providing a rich 3D experience.


Improved Identity and Authentication

Windows 8 might include a system level key ring to manage all your login information, thus freeing you from the burden of remembering hundreds of passwords. It also means independence from web browsers and other 3rd party tools for managing passwords.


With Windows 8, user accounts will finally become user centric. Your cloud based user account will follow you, from machine to machine.


As a part of its enhanced focus on simplified user authentication, Microsoft wishes to integrate facial recognition in Windows 8. Check our previous post for more on the Kinect-like features Microsoft is currently contemplating for Windows 8.


Some More Windows 8 Information: App Store, Attention Tracking and More

Making a mockery of Microsoft’s non-disclosure agreements, leaked documents pertaining to Windows 8 are showing up left, right and center. Now, Neowin has managed to get their hands on some of the leaked goodness.

The new leaked documents reveal that Microsoft is planning to launch a full-fledged app store for Windows 8. The objective of this store will be to provide a safe venue to users for discovering and installing new applications.


Quite obviously, this will be a strictly optional feature and users will still be able to install 3rd party software without having to go through the online store. According to Neowin’s Tom Warren, “The ‘Windows Store’ will be a software service Microsoft provides and hosts fully in the cloud. The company will likely build the distribution model on Windows Azure to lure application developers”.


Of course, unknown to most, Microsoft has already dabbled with an app store for Windows before. However, the Windows Marketplace failed to gain much traction. It was shut down and replaced with the Microsoft Store in 2009.

In related news, Manan Kakkar has released some more documents concerning Windows 8. It appears that Microsoft is also focusing on Tablets in a big way.


One of the more interesting features described by Microsoft is something called “Attention Tracking”. Microsoft has a horrible reputation when it comes to naming new technologies and concepts. Thankfully, with Windows 8, they have chosen to go down the obvious and sensible route. Attention Tracking does just what its name suggests.

Now that your interest is piqued, imagine a situation where you are playing a game when someone knocks on the door. Interrupted, you leave your tablet device on the couch and attend to the person at the door. Microsoft wants the tablet to be capable of detecting that the subject of your attention has changed, and automagically pausing the game.


If Microsoft indeed succeeds in implementing everything described so far in the leaked documents, then (at the very least) Windows 8 would turn out to be an interesting operating system.

More Windows 8 Details: Get Ready For Kinect Like Facial Recognition

Just a few hours back, we reported that confidential Windows 8 documents have been leaked. The leaked documents gave us an early glimpse of Microsoft’s plans for the successor to the highly successful Windows 7. Among the discussed features was facial recognition.

Now, Manan Kakkar has revealed some more specifics. As it turns out, Microsoft is planning to provide a very Kinect like experience on Windows systems. The idea is that your PC should be able to automatically recognize you and log you into the correct account, when you approach the system. Similarly, when you leave your PC, Windows should be able to detect this and automatically go to sleep. Microsoft is aptly calling this concept My PC Knows Me.

Here are the concept diagrams shared by Manan.


Before you get too excited, remember that Windows 8 is still a long way off. And if the Longhorn fiasco has taught us anything, it is that Windows’ feature list can be extremely flexible.

Confidential Windows 8 Details Leaked

Windows 8 is still a long way off, but Microsoft has already started communicating with OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturer) regarding the general direction they wish to take with Windows 8. Microsoft enthusiast, Francisco Martin, managed to get his hands on some of the confidential documents sent under non-disclosure agreement to select partners.


One of the areas, Microsoft is putting a lot of emphasis on is the system startup time. Microsoft wants Windows 8 enabled systems to focus on POST performance, S3 resume support and general performance optimizations for each of the Off states.

Windows 8 will also be better adapted to take advantage of modern trends like facial recognition for user authentication, automatic display adjustment through ambient light sensors and premium media experiences such as stereoscopic 3D and Wireless TVs. All this will be complemented by cutting edge graphics, which can be leveraged by developers to provide a rich user experience.


As expected, Windows 8 will support high speed connectivity options like USB 3.0 and Bluetooth 3.0. Microsoft is also working on improving Bitlocker (hard disk encryption tool) and System Restore to make them more functional and easier to use. Windows 8 will feature a new factory reset option, to restore your system to the original condition.

I am sure that this is only the beginning. In the coming weeks and months, we will be learning more about Windows 8. Stay tuned to Techie Buzz for more.

Bing Celebrates Its One-Year Anniversary With A New Official Windows 7 Theme

Bing has just turned one. Its first year of existence has been a mixed bag. While it has been fairly well received, it hasn’t really succeeded in eating away Google’s market share. Yusuf Mehdi, senior vice president, Online Audience Business Group, said, “It’s been a whirlwind 12 months, with the team shipping tons of new cool features aimed at making it easy and fast to make key decisions and just get stuff done. We wanted to take a short break to say thanks”.

As a special treat to Windows 7 users, Microsoft has released the third Bing theme pack featuring some of the best background images (wallpapers) used by Bing.


Our latest Bing’s Best Windows 7 theme pack gives you even more great Bing homepage images for your desktop. Bing’s Best 3 lets you gaze at a dying star, soar over an underwater sinkhole, and get up close and personal with an adorable baby sea turtle. There are 19 wallpapers in all”, stated Stephanie Horstmanshof, Bing Managing Editor.

You can download Bing’s Best 3 Windows 7 theme from the official personalization gallery (direct link).