New storage features have come to Windows Vista Service Pack 1, Windows XP SP3 and releases of the Windows Server platforms. Windows Feature Pack for Storage 1.0 was released to web (RTW) and is now available for download and integration with the supported operating systems. This is the finalized version of Windows Feature Pack for Storage 1.0, with Microsoft cooking the pack since 2008. In fact, in August 2008, the Redmond company was dropping a pre-release version of the solution via Microsoft Connect.

“The Windows Feature Pack for Storage 1.0 includes the following features: Image Mastering API Update for Blu-Ray Media – this feature enables the Windows platform to do master style optical burning on Blu-Ray media. Smart Card Driver – this release provides support for new form factors, such as ICCD,” Microsoft revealed.

“The following system requirements are necessary to install the Windows Feature Pack for Storage 1.0 – the system must be running one of the following operating systems: More »

Users currently running Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) or earlier, and Windows Vista RTM, SP1 or the upcoming SP2, will be able to upgrade to Windows 7, Microsoft informed as it introduced the SKU lineup for the next version of the Windows client. There will be essentially three upgrade models for Windows users according to the Redmond company, depending on the source operating system, namely XP to Windows 7, Vista to Windows 7 and of course Windows 7 to Windows 7.

As far as Windows XP users are concerned, Microsoft indicated that upgrade licenses of Windows 7 will be available to them, superseding the existing XP licenses, and that the upgrade media can be used in order to move to Windows 7. However, the transition implies a clean installation of Windows 7 rather than an actual in-place upgrade. Still, the deal has to please XP users, as they will get the full Windows 7 bits at a discounted upgrade price. Users are advised to back up all their data from the partition where XP is installed before deploying Windows 7, just to be on the safe side. More »

Although the Server Message Block remote file was originally introduced in the 1980’s, the first major overhauling it suffered was with the availability of Windows Vista RTM in 2007. SMB2, as it was labeled in Vista RTM, was subsequently updated the following year, with the introduction of Windows Vista Service Pack 1, and Windows Server 2008 SP1. However, even with the advent of SMB2, Windows operating systems continue to be interoperable with platforms that support SMB1, as the latest version of the remote file protocol has been tweaked in order to provide full support for the connection setup mechanisms of its precursor.

“A key improvement in SMB2 is the way it makes it easy for clients to send a number of outstanding requests to a server. This allows the client to build a pipeline of requests, instead of waiting for a response before sending the next request. This is especially relevant when using a high latency network,” Jose Barreto, technology evangelist with the Storage Evangelism Team, explained. More »

Following the release of Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 at the end of August 2008, Microsoft offered a toolset designed to permit advanced customization of the browser. Internet Explorer Administration Kit 8.0 Beta was dropped after the English, Japanese, Chinese (Simplified), and German localized versions of IE8. On September 16, the kit was updated to reflect the wave 2 of Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 releases. Earlier this week Microsoft made available 21 new fully localized flavors of IE8 Beta 2, bringing the total number of language versions to 25.

“With the release of these additional languages, the IE8 IEAK can now build an additional 20 language packages. We’re excited to enable more users to download IE8 Beta 2 and use it in their native languages,” revealed Vishwac Sena Kannan, IE international program manager.

The September 16 release of Internet Explorer Administration Kit 8 Beta is tailored to the new span of IE8 Beta 2 language versions. The kit is designed to permit the customization of Microsoft’s latest iteration of the Internet Explorer browser. IEAK 8 Beta enables customized packages of IE8 Beta 2 to be put together, and this is valid for the many flavors of the browser. More »

On September 16, the Redmond company went live with the second wave of IE8 Beta 2 releases, offering the browser in no less than 21 localized versions. The fresh IE8 Beta 2 releases covering 21 additional languages on top of the original four are supported only on the 32-bit versions of Windows Vista RTM and Service Pack 1, Windows XP SP2 and SP3 and Windows Server 2008.

“The IE team is pleased to announce the availability of Internet Explorer Beta 2 in 21 additional languages. The languages released today are fully localized versions of the IE8 English Beta 2. The Complete List of IE8 Beta 2 Languages: Arabic, Chinese (Hong Kong), Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish,” explained Vishwac Sena Kannan, International Program Manager.

Microsoft is currently gearing up for the availability of the gold build of Internet Explorer 8. The Redmond giant has not confirmed a deadline, except to say that it expects to deliver the final IE8 two years after the general availability of Internet Explorer 7 considered by the company to be January 30, 2007, the Windows Vista launch day. More »