If you’ve never heard of ITG and their xpPhone before we don’t blame you. The device was launched last year in November and failed to create any waves, but it looks like they have not given up and will be launching the successor to the xpPhone – the rather uninspired xpPhone 2!
In terms of hardware specs, the xpPhone 2 appears to be more like a netbook packed into a smartphone form factor, and will feature a 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z530 processor, 2GB of RAM, 112GB of SSD storage, a 4.3″ display and is said to be compatible with both Windows 7 and Windows 8. It also claims to be capable of handling up to 18.5 hours worth of talk time on a single charge.
ITG claims that they favor Windows over more mobile platforms, such as Android, iOS, Windows Phone, MeeGo, etc simply because a greater range of software is available, although with both the iTunes App Store and Android Market brimming with all sorts of apps, perhaps ITG is going with a more enterprise crowd with their xpPhone 2. No word on pricing but the handset is expected to be made available in January of 2012.
Microsoft is facing a massive fine from the European Commission after removing the Browser Choice Screen from copies of Windows 7 back in February 2011.
The Browser Choice Screen existed so as to give Windows users across Europe a choice as to what web browser to use by default. It caused a bit of a headache for Microsoft when Windows 7 launched as Internet Explorer was so heavily integrated into the OS and Vista that came before it. But it worked out and European users got to make a choice.
Then in February 2011 a Windows Update that installed Windows 7 Service Pack 1 removed the choice screen from the operating system. Microsoft explained that this was done in error, but it didn’t reappear for 14 months. Obviously the European Commission wasn’t happy, especially as during that period Microsoft claimed it was still allowing users the browser choice option.
Microsoft has since apologized and co-operated with the EC investigation that followed. They could have been fined as much as $7.4 billion (10 percent of the company’s revenue in 2012), but the fine has now been set at a still massive $731 million. The reason it remains so high is because the EC wants to make it clear no company can get away with what they class as a “serious breach” of an antitrust infringement procedure commitment.
It seems that Microsoft has little choice other than to pay the fine and move on. You can be sure that a few extra checks will be made to Windows updates in future as not even Microsoft can afford to pay out that much money on a regular basis.
Now read: Windows 8 browser ballot screen arrives via Windows Update
At the end of August we were urging everyone to disable Java on their machines due to a zero-day exploit being used to install malware. There was no patch available due to the slow pace at which Oracle moves, so the only way to protect against it was to disable Java completely.
Oracle did eventually respond with the release of an emergency patch, but now it looks as though we might be telling you to disable Java again in the near future.
Security expert Brian Krebs has highlighted the fact another zero-day exploit has been discovered and is currently being offered for sale on the invite-only forum called Underweb. The seller wants a five-figure sum for the exploit, which he says takes advantage of a flaw in the Java component that handles audio input.
The exploit works on the most up-to-date version of the Java Runtime Environment (JRE 7 Update 9) and has been tested and works on Windows 7 using either Internet Explorer or Firefox.
The sale was being offered last week, meaning by now it may be owned by someone willing to use it. Alternatively, others could have discovered the exploit too, and are now taking advantage of it, or at least planning to.
With Oracle’s slow response to the last zero-day exploit we can probably expect more of the same this time around. Although, you’d hope the company’s Java security team would learn from that experience.
If you currently have Java installed on your machine, is there a reason why? If you can’t think of one then remove it and make your PC all the more safer. It’s easy to do, just follow our guide on How to disable Java on everything.
More at Krebs on Security