That particular computer passion known as retrocomputing requires to use ancient hardware components unable to support the most recent programs, but this doesn’t mean fans have to feel obliged to exclusively run software dating back to 10, 15 or even 20 years ago. On the contrary: the “scene” of the new releases designed to keep the retro hardware alive with recently produced code provides non-stop announcements - some of them stealing the spotlight, for a bit at least, next to the latest version of Windows 10 or Google Chrome.
After their well-deserved moment of glory which lasted from 1981 to 1995, command line-based operating systems for PC better known as “DOS” (Disk Operating System) should be extinct by now. And yet DOS, and particularly Microsoft’s MS-DOS and the open source projects directly inspired to it, still is a market niche populated by extremely peculiar usage scenarios, old users and enthusiasts that have no intention to quit the command line for good.
Since its official debut on the market, nearly a year ago, Windows 10 has become the main discussion topic of the entire computer business. Many reported Microsoft’s inclination to cause troubles or even real damages to users with the company’s new policy about cloud computing, mandatory updates and free offers you cannot refuse, but for me Windows 10 suffers from a fundamental issue that’s even more difficult to ignore. The entire “Windows as a service” concept is utter nonsense, and if Microsoft has taken this path I don’t think I will be able to follow it.
After unveiling the partnership with DeNa for smartphone games and the new console known as NX, Nintendo recently said not to feel like a loser in the home console market: the corporation isn’t “cornered” at all, president Satoru Iwata has stated, even though it is aware of the need to be up to date in a constantly changing world. Nintendo had more than a chance to enter the mobile casual gaming business, so the DeNa partnership comes from a thoughtful choice and not from desperation.
Before the arrival of Windows 95, the creators of self-replicating malicious code were deeply concerned about the potential consequences of the new OS on the future of their activity. After the historical generation leap from DOS to the windows-based GUI, however, virus writers gained new confidence in their abilities, expanding their horizons and developing inclinations that occasionally turned into true megalomania. Some of the VXers from the Nineties had the god complex, and they didn’t hide it at all.
In April 1994 computing was still young, operating systems worked from the command line and the PC still had to become the universal phenomenon which later turned into a commodity like everything else. Microsoft was about to radically change things by releasing Windows 95, but there was another group of technophiles concerned with the generation leap from the prompt to the windows-based GUI and the consequences that it would have had on how the low-level code ran.
One March many years ago, when the IT industry was rather different compared to the modern one, two computer viruses brought panic because of an out-of-scale media attention. Born out of a time when the “malware” (an unknown term then) creators were largely interested in fame more than money, the viruses ended up making substantial damages valued (in one of the two cases) more than 1 billion dollars.
On the long, long road that leads to its final target, ReactOS continues to grow and evolve thanks to the hard work made by developers contributing to the project. The latest, important changes help the system to actually advance toward the aforementioned final target, ie to reach full compatibility with software and drivers made for Windows operating systems based on the NT architecture.
The CryptoLocker ransomware is still raging on-line and on users and companies computers, while new details about the source of this dangerous file-abducting trojan propagation come out and willing developers are trying to hinder the infection spreading. The criminal gang which created the malware even comes up with new ways to take money from users affected by the threat, even though in doing so it is forced to contradict itself.
A new ransomware for Windows PCs is roaming on-line, it’s called CryptoLocker and brings a very dangerous destructive potential. Security enterprise Sophos warns - via Naked Security - users and system admins about the new threat, its features and the fact that the “prevention is better than a cure” rule is true now more than ever. Curing the damages of a CryptoLocker infection, Sophos warns, is impossible for the time being.
Symantec recently detected a computer threat belonging to the ransomware category, a malware that is dangerous because of the way it attacks PCs based on Windows operating systems even though it isn’t particularly complex to defeat. Trojan.Ransomlock.AF, as the malware is named, targets users of the Chinese Internet with an account on Tencent QQ (or “QQ”), an instant messaging service that is very popular within the Asian country.
During the first days of April, anniversaries for two genuine pieces of the operating systems’ history took place, two different evolutionary lines of what should have been a single product born from the partnership between two giants of the PC industry. IBM OS/2 and Microsoft Windows 3.1 were initially destined to be merged in the graphical interface-based operating system by Big Blue, afterward history went in a different way and OS/2 sunk while the competing OS turned into the dominant platform on the market.
July has been a noteworthy month for fans of the not so trivial arts of multiboot and hard disk data encryption, which have been able to profit by the release of updated versions for two of the best utility software out there: NeoSmart Technologies released version 2.0(.1) of the EasyBCD advanced bootloader, while the so called TrueCrypt Developers Association brought to 7 the version number of its powerful, open source encryption software.
The month of June started with a bad news for all the Windows systems power users and personalizations fans: X-Setup Pro, a long-history tweaking software with unique features, reached the end of its lifetime. Because of its financial problems, the company behind X-Setup interrupted the program’s development giving away the latest version with a serial code useful for its registration.
Some technologies are really die hard, but they can be celebrated in due time when they finally become history. It happened by chance that the twenty-second day of May 2010 fell the anniversary of two fundamental tech products, considered as milestones within their field so much that there is a “before” and an “after” their appearance on the market. And both products have no need for introduction, being no less than the first “star” of the video games history and the first Windows version to be successful among the vast user base of “IBM and compatible” PCs.
Technology old fogeys can rejoice: even though they have lost the chance to obtain new Windows for Workgroups 3.11 licences by now, the almost-defunct operating systems and storage devices that persist in not wanting to fade away surely aren’t lacking. A recently surfaced couple of news actually highlights as even in information technology, probably the most rapidly evolving technology field, there are users niches that really don’t want (or can’t) abandon an outdated standard to adopt a more modern one.
CCleaner, one of those tiny, precious must-have tools to keep the PC in good shape and safeguard one’s own privacy by a single click, has been downloaded more than 320 million times. Piriform developer states the numbers on the program homepage, and together with the announcement the company released the new CCleaner version implementing (among the other things) a better Windows 7 support and a user interface tidying up.
As security experts have already highlighted in this months and years, the trend of the most sophisticated malicious code is to be able to reach the lowest levels of the machine to infect, putting out of the game all the security mechanisms and gaining full control of the PC and the operating system. This trend embraces more and more the term “bootkit”, literally a bootable rootkit, on which the attentions of researchers and Assembly code enthusiasts have recently focused uncovering new, potential threats with an ancient heart and dangerous security flaws sold as malware-proof security measures.
Maybe the bolt from the blue of the Chrome launch didn’t brought an awful market share figure to the newcomer, but the convulsions and the undoubted evolutive acceleration set off by the release of the made-in-Google browser are reverberating with increasing strength on the new war to control the access port to the worldwide network. Currently numbers are still on Mozilla’s and its red panda side, but in future things will become more complicated when Google will have played one of its best cards to turn Chrome from an oddity for few into a conquering force for the mainstream market.
Trend Micro security enterprise has ranked the attack vectors exploited by the 100 most widespread malware from January to November 2008, and the results speak by themselves: among all the possible infection ways Internet is absolutely the most used (or better still abused) one by worms, trojans and other types of digital pathogenetic agents constantly hunting for victims and unprotected systems to compromise.