Monday, December 19, 2011

Windows 8 Picture Passwords: Smudging Your Finger for Security

Who needs long, archaic passwords full of letters, numbers, and characters when you can just circle a picture of your cat's head to log into your operating system?

Sound silly? Well, it's a new feature Microsoft is building into Windows 8 to supplement the ordinary text passwords that we've all been using on our desktops for countless numbers of years. And whether you're smearing your finger across the touchscreen of your desktop PC or drawing circles with your trusty mouse cursor, the picture password promises increased speed and security compared to a string of text characters.

"The experience of signing in to your PC with touch has traditionally been a cumbersome one," writes Microsoft's Steven Sinofsky, president of the company's Windows and Windows Live division. "In a world with increasingly strict password requirements—with numbers, symbols, and capitalization—it can take upwards of 30 seconds to enter a long, complex password on a touch keyboard."

Picture passwords change the game – and the time it takes to log in – on two fronts. First off, you're the one responsible for selecting the picture and up to three different gesture combinations that you use to interact with it. That offers additional avenues for security that conventional PIN numbers and plain text passwords just don't have. For example, it would be relatively easy for a person to test the waters of your desktop's plain-text password security if they had access to your personal information or a list of passwords you've used elsewhere: A number of computer users often use passwords with some kind of personal significance or, worse, repeat the same password across a number of different entities.

A picture, on the other hand, comes with a significance that only you understand. Whether you're tapping on all the faces of relatives whose names start with "G," drawing a line through cats you once owned, or circling the spot where you proposed to a significant other, the subtext of your touch-based password can't be easily determined even if a user can correctly identify everyone in the shot.

Better still, touch passwords are just as statistically secure as conventional, typed-in passwords.
"The use of three gestures provides a significant number of unique gesture combinations and a similar security promise to a password of 5 or 6 randomly chosen characters," writes Sinofsky. "Additionally, using three gestures ensures a Picture Password that is easy to remember and quick to use."

Sinofsky runs through the full mathematics behind his security statement on a long post within Microsoft's "Building Windows 8" blog. And he also describes the additional security measures in place for those looking to just draw all over a user's touchscreen in an attempt to gain access to the OS. After five failed attempts on a picture password, Windows 8 requires a user to use a text password for entry – picture passwords are designed as a supplement to the conventional password system, not a replacement, Sinofsky writes.

So while you might be able to draw circles on an image of your favorite cats to log into your desktop, don't forget your master text password – the 32-character combination of their names and birthdays – just yet.

Windows 8 Beta Installation Screenshots Leaked

The leaks of Windows 8 screenshots continue with the latest one coming from Win8China.The latest screenshots reveal the installation of Windows 8 Beta build which is slated to be released in late February along with Windows 8 Store.

The first screenshots shows the Product key screen,the major difference is that the installation is now optimized for the on screen keyboard unlike the previous versions,so you can straight away switch to the OSK mode to type the product key right from the touch input method.

The new Windows 8 beta setup shows up options for “keeping windows settings”,personal files and apps or choose to “keep nothing” from the previous Windows installation.So when you choose the Keeping windows settings option your previous windows system files and apps will be retained after the installation while the keep nothing option won’t move the previous version files to the newer version,so those earlier files won’t be retained in the new system installation.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Windows 8 Store Panoramic Mode Pictures Leaked

There is no stopping the leaks of the Windows 8 Store,yesterday we saw some leaks showing up the music beta app from the Windows 8 Store and now Win8China have added some more leaks to the Windows 8 Store list.

The latest leaked pictures of the Windows 8 Store reveals the Panoramic Mode of the Windows 8 Store.As we can see from the First Screenshot below the panoramic mode of the Windows 8 Store shows up various app tiles like the Weather app,Socialite app then the games,music and other apps in the panoramic view.

You can see the zoomed in screenshots of the App tiles from the Gallery below,The first block reads:”Have a new computer, but are not sure where to start? To your computer to install the necessary applications.”

Then it shows up the Weather and Socialite app as mentioned above,the 2nd block in the panoramic view lists the Games in the Windows 8 Store,3rd and 4th blocks shows up the Music app,video and the books and references apps while the 5th and 6th block showing up news and weather and some other stuff.

Windows 8 Store will launch along with the Windows 8 Beta release in February next year,but that won’t stop the flurry of leaks of Windows 8 and Windows 8 Store pictures over the web.We can expect some more leaks in coming days.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Windows 8 Store Welcomes Open Source Apps

Microsoft Windows operating system has been the most popular system operating system in terms of global market share with the current one i.e Windows 7 being the most popular one with over 500 million licenses and counting.The successor to Windows 7 i.e Windows 8 is being designed and near to a beta release in the month of February 2012 which will also see the release of Windows 8 Store for the Metro based apps.

Last week Microsoft previewed the Windows 8 Store and along with that also opened a new contest for the developers who want their apps to be featured first when the Store is released in a couple of months time,at the time of release there will be only free apps available over the store.

Those who thought that Microsoft won’t allow open source apps to the platform,well Microsoft thinks otherwise.As spotted earlier by TheRegister in the Windows 8 Store’s Developer’s agreement Microsoft will allow developers to develop their apps using any open source licenses as long as it’s been approved by the OSI(Open Source Initiative).

Here’s what the Agreement read:

“Your license terms must also not conflict with the Standard Application License Terms, in any way, except if you include FOSS, your license terms may conflict with the limitations set forth in Section 3 of those Terms, but only to the extent required by the FOSS that you use. ‘FOSS’ means any software licensed under an Open Source Initiative Approved License.”

“If your app includes FOSS, it must not cause any non-FOSS Microsoft software to become subject to the terms of any FOSS license.”

According to The Register Microsoft indirectly denied any support for the GPL(General Public License).So it would be interesting to see if this open source love lure the open source developers to take interest in the Windows 8 Store app development.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Windows 8 Tips and Tricks

Transition to Windows 8 may be quite painful for those wielding a mouse and keyboard so today we've thought to bring you 10 valuable tips and tricks that can familiarise you with the upcoming operating system from Microsoft. Some of the followings can be done solely using a keyboard and a mouse and some may be performed even by touch enthusiasts. Most of them were tested in the Windows 8 developer preview version so they may be removed by the time the final build arrives or, even become obsolete. Let's start, shall we?

1. Turn the device OFF: Believe it or not, this was a challenge even for me. To do this from the Metro interface, you'll have to move the cursor on the Start button in the middle-left corner and then click on Settings. A menu will appear in the right side, where you will need to go to Power and then choose to shut down the computer. Careful, as the computer will not truly shut down like in Windows 7, unless you turn off the Hybrid Boot.

2. Set the weather in Celsius Degrees: By default, Windows 8 uses Fahrenheit degrees to display the temperature in the Weather app. To change this to Celsius, all you have to do is press the Windows + C keys and then go to Settings. All the details will be found there.

3. Blaze through the Lock Screen: Getting through the Lockscreen can be done very fast. If you have a touch supportive display, just swipe the panel. Those with a mouse can double-click anywhere on the screen or, press Enter.

4. Search faster: If you are on the Metro Start screen you can start searching simply by typing the name of the object you are looking for. The well-known Search panel will appear instantly.

5. See favourite apps when searching: As you may know, the Search pane usually displays a list of all installed applications. This list can be modified by going to the Control Panel, hitting the Search menu from the far right and then toggling the apps that should appear in the Search pane.

6. Open the Task Manager: Ctrl+Alt+Delete is old fashion guys. In Windows 8, you can quickly open the Task Manager by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Esc.

7. Closing Win Explore: Also known as the Windows Shell, 8 does not allow this service to be completely shut down like in Windows 7. But, if you find yourself stuck you can always activate the Task Manager, click the Windows Explorer and then press the Restart button.

8. Quickly open the File History menu: From any folder opened in Windows Explorer, the File History menu can easily be accessed by pressing the buttons as shown below:

9. Preview backed-up files: Some of these files are backed-up with Thumbnails so previewing them becomes easy. Just choose Icons as the way to view them and everything should be revealed.

10. Add userful apps to the Metro Start screen: The Metro UI can display tiles of normal, Windows 7ish apps alongside others. To add one of these applications to the Start screen simply search the program and right click its result. Now, choose to Pin it on the app bar. To remove this selection, right-click it and then go for Unpin.

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