Archive for June, 2011:

CertKingdom Microsoft MCITP 70-620 Windows Vista exam

The Microsoft MCITP 70-620 Windows Vista exam is a universally-recognized certification exam that tests you in your knowledge of installing, configuring, and administering Windows Vista. According to Microsoft MCTS Certification, typical candidates for this certification have already had some experience with Windows clients, such as 2000 and XP, and have worked in a mid-to-large size computing environment before. In practice, many candidates for this exam have neither worked in a large computing environment or have had extensive practice with Windows Vista before. The exam does not test you on your ability to use Vista, per se, but rather on your ability to install, configure, and administer the software.


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It is important for you to understand that this exam does not cover the actual use of Windows Vista, but rather, the configuration of Vista for business and enterprise purposes. That being said, a power user would have only a slight advantage over a typical user of Vista as the exam does not cover the gimmicks and special features of Vista.

MCITP 70-620 Exam Specifics:
70-620 Exam Costs: $125 each attempt. You can buy exam vouchers of VUE or Prometric to get a discount. Many online vendors also offer discounts for specific exams; read more in the “vouchers” section to learn more about 70-620 discounts through vouchers.

70-620 Exam Location: You can register for the exam at any Pearson VUE and Thompson Prometric center. (Pearson VUE will discontinue selling Microsoft professional certification exams after August 31, 2007. To accommodate those who purchase Microsoft professional certification exams through August 31, 2007, Pearson VUE will continue to administer the exams through December 31, 2007.)

The question types found on the Microsoft Windows Vista exam are:

Multiple Choice with Single answer:
Student is required to select a single answer from a range of options (generally 4-5) by clicking on a radio button.

Multiple Choice with Multiple answers:
Student is required to select more than one answer from a range of options by clicking on a checkbox; when more than one answer is required free practice questions, the number of answers is specified as part of the question.

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Windows handheld accepts secure payments anywhere

Bluebird Soft announced a Windows-based handheld computer with a magnetic stripe reader (MSR), RFID reader, and cellular voice/data communications. The BPL-10 runs Windows CE 5.0, has a 3.5-inch touchscreen, and includes voice/data cellular communications, according to the company.


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Korean manufacturer Bluebird Soft entered the U.S. market in 2009 with several Windows handhelds, including the BIP-6000 pictured at right. Last year, we covered another model, the BIP-7000, and further “Pidion” devices are listed by U.S. distributor SDG Systems.

This week, the company announced a new addition to its line, the BPL-10, though only minimal specifications were provided. According to Bluebird Soft, the device includes a 3.5-inch touchscreen, a numeric keypad with large keys, and the Windows CE 5.0 operating system.

Bluebird Soft’s BPL-10
(Click to enlarge)

Designed to accept payments anywhere securely, the BPL-10 will include mobile voice and data communications, the company says. Other hardware features were unstated but may be inferred from the pictures above: For example, the device appears to include both a magnetic stripe reader and an RFID reader.

Bluebird Soft’s release also suggested that the BPL-10 will be part of the company’s “printer-integrated product line.” Therefore, we’re guessing the device will also include a thermal receipt printer.

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ActualKey 70-680 Exam Guide

Announcing an all-new SELF-PACED TRAINING KIT designed to help maximize your performance on 70-680, the required exam for the new Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS): Windows 7, Configuration certification. This 2-in-1 kit includes the official Microsoft study guide, plus practice tests on CD to help you assess your skills. It comes packed with the tools and features exam candidates want most – including in-depth, self-paced training based on final exam content; rigorous, objective-by-objective review; exam tips from expert, exam-certified authors; and customizable testing options.


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It also provides real-world scenarios, case study examples, and troubleshooting labs to give you the skills and expertise you can use on the job.Work at your own pace through the lessons and lab exercises. This official study guide covers installing, upgrading, and migrating to Windows 7; configuring network connectivity, applications, and devices; implementing backup and recovery; configuring User Account Control (UAC), mobility options, and new features such as DirectAccess and BranchCache; and managing system updates.Then assess yourself using the 200 practice questions on CD, featuring multiple customizable testing options to meet your specific needs. Choose timed or untimed testing mode, generate random tests, or focus on discrete objectives. You get detailed explanations for right and wrong answers – including pointers back to the book for further study. You also get an exam discount voucher – making this kit an exceptional value and a great career investment.

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ActualKey offers demo for Microsoft 70-680 exam. Besides, ActualKey 70-680 study guide will introduce you to the core logic of various subjects Microsoft practice tests so that you not only learn, but you also understand various technologies and subjects.

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Google Responds to FTC Antitrust Investigation

One day after becoming the target of an FTC antitrust investigation, Google is publicly making its case for why it’s simply looking out for its users and not breaking federal law.

“Yesterday, we received formal notification from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission that it has begun a review of our business,” Google Fellow and head of the search ranking team Amit Singhal said in a blog post. “We respect the FTC’s process and will be working with them (as we have with other agencies) over the coming months to answer questions about Google and our services.”


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Yesterday we learned that the FTC intended to launch a probe of Google’s business practices. It seems as if the FTC will be focusing on whether Google uses its overwhelming dominance in search to drive clicks to its products and lock out competitors. Companies such as Yelp, Expedia and Microsoft have complained that Google is engaging in antitrust practices.

In the post, Google argues that it’s only making decisions and developing products based on what is best for the user. “It’s still unclear exactly what the FTC’s concerns are, but we’re clear about where we stand. Since the beginning, we have been guided by the idea that, if we focus on the user, all else will follow,” Singhal said. He elaborated further, explaining that Google has been building a model “that has helped change the way people find answers,” all for free. The company also emphasized that using Google is a choice, and that there are other alternatives.

“Using Google is a choice—and there are lots of other choices available to you for getting information: other general-interest search engines, specialized search engines, direct navigation to websites, mobile applications, social networks, and more.”

Google has had its share of encounters with the FTC over Google Buzz and some of its acquisitions. This investigation though is more encompassing and reminds us of United States vs. Microsoft, the famous Microsoft antitrust investigation of the late 1990s. Google faces a similar antitrust investigation in Europe.

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Microsoft Beefs Up Lync Before Office 365 Official Launch

In addition to the anticipated launch of Office 365 on Tuesday, Microsoft recently announced Lync Power Pack, which has six applications to enhance the Lync user experience.

Lync is part of the Office 365 suite and provides unified communications for organizations, integrating Instant Messaging (IM), VoIP, presence, and conferencing. Lync also features extensive Outlook integration including single-click meeting scheduling.


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Lync Power Pack is part of the Lync Adoption and Training Kit, which provides resources such as primers, templates, user education and training. Applications include:

* IM an Expert: A tool that helps people in an organization ask questions and find experts within their company. The tool categorizes user questions into topic areas, finds experts best able to answer, and then forwards the questions to those experts.
* Conversations Analyzer: Reviews a user’s Lync IM conversation history. It then scores for use of trust-building language. The analyzer applies trust rules to determine the occurrence of words and phrases that have a positive or negative effect on trust.
* Conversation Translator: Provides real-time translation for Lync IM for up to 35 different languages.
* Information Dowloader: Provides current information about a contact’s location such as date, time, whether a user is calling the contact during regular working hours, the weather in that location, and news feeds pertaining to the location.
* Tabbed Conversations: Give users a tabbed conversation window for viewing multiple IM conversations in a single window.
* Group Chat Stress Tool: Helps users verify Lync Server 2010 and Lync Server 2010 Group Chat hardware deployment. It’s comprised of two applications: Group Chat Stress Tool and Group Chat Loaders. Using the stress engine in the Stress Tool, users can create the configuration files for the loaders and distribute the binaries to remote machines that will run the loaders. Group Chat Loader is used to apply specific load parameters on the Group Chat Server.

The Lync Power Pack is available to Office 365 customers as a download.

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Earn the Microsoft Certified IT Professional from CertKingdom

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How the Lytro Light-Field Camera Works

Light-field photography has the potential to revolutionize photography. Ren Ng, the founder of Lytro, explains how a camera can capture images that are never out of focus.

Lytro has big plans. This week the Mountain View, CA-based startup said it would soon bring to market a new kind of camera that’s based on light-field photography. The result: photographs that you can focus after you take them. Simply click your mouse on the spot on the picture you want in focus, and it changes before your eyes (check out the effect in the photo below).


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The idea of light-field photography isn’t new. Other companies, including Adobe and another Mountain View startup called Pelican Imaging, have dabbled in the technology. But the Lytro camera, assuming it debuts later this year as planned, will mark the first time the tech makes an appearance in a consumer camera. Its creator, Ren Ng (pronounced “ing”) was inspired to make the camera when he found he couldn’t capture properly focused pictures of his friend’s five-year-old daughter. If a camera existed that could capture all the light information—direction, intensity, and color—of the entire field of view, he thought, it would make getting the “perfect” shot incredibly easy.

“If you can shoot first, focus later, it’s going to be the fastest camera you’ve ever used,” Ng said in an interview with PCMag. “Because when you press the shutter button, it takes the shot instantly. It doesn’t have to wait for the lens to move.”

That’s the promise of Lytro’s upcoming light-field camera, which the company says will be on store shelves by the end of the year. Besides taking pictures extremely fast, the camera can use the light-field information to create 3D images, and with so much data being gathered, it has improved performance in low light.

How It Works

It all sounds a bit magical, but it opens up a lot of questions. How exactly does it work? What are the tradeoffs, and how will these so-called “living photographs” interact with existing viewing and sharing software?

The basic premise of the light-field camera is to gather all data about the visible light in the camera’s field of view so that software can manipulate the photo later. While the concept has been used previously to create imagery like the “bullet time” special effects in the Matrix movies, it required a room full of cameras, Ng says, and the power of a supercomputer. With special optics and sensors, Lytro has built the technique into a single, portable device.

“Regular photographs just don’t tell the whole story. If you think about all the light that enters that enters the lens of a camera, that’s much more than a photo. The light-field is all the higher-dimensional information that’s lost in a regular photo. When we record all this information, that provides us the opportunity in software after the fact.”

What happens “after the fact” is the big breakthrough: once the light-field data is captured, Lytro’s algorithms can do some impressive tricks. First and foremost is the ability to focus on any point the viewer wishes.

“When a regular camera focuses physically, what the regular camera is doing is adjusting the lens relative to the sensor to bring different parts of the scene into focus,” says Ng. “So if we have the whole light field, what we can do what that physical lens would normally have done, but in computation.”

Beyond Focus: 3D and More

3D pictures work similarly. With complete light-field information, software can discern how a scene would have looked to two separate cameras (which is how most 3D is shot). The algorithms separate the light from the left and right sides of the camera to create the 3D effect. Ng says the result has improvements over conventional ways of shooting 3D.

“It goes beyond the 3D you see in the movies because we can also change the perspective in the scene. It’s what would happen if you were standing at that scene, and you were kind of moving your head from side to side.

“For low light, all the light rays participate. We’re using all the light coming through a large aperture to make a picture with a large depth of field—totally impossible with a conventional camera. To give a sense of perspective, there can be 16 times less light for [a specific] depth of field.”

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Mozilla mulls Firefox 3.6 retirement, too

Will deliver at least one more security update, set for mid-August

Mozilla is planning to retire Firefox 3.6 from support, but won’t put the 18-month-old browser out to pasture until August at the earliest.

The retirement of Firefox 3.6 would follow that of Firefox 4 and Firefox 3.5 earlier this year.


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Firefox 3.5, which Mozilla launched in mid-2009, received its last security update in April. Since then, users have been encouraged to upgrade to either Firefox 3.6 or 4. Going forward, the estimated 12 million users of Firefox 3.5 will see their browser automatically updated to Firefox 3.6 , a move the company discussed last month.

This week, Mozilla retired Firefox 4 , which debuted three just months ago, as it rolled out Firefox 5 .
That move has been criticized by some enterprise IT managers . They’ve argued that the quick retirement combined with Mozilla’s rapid-release scheme — which delivers a new edition every six weeks — puts them in an impossible position: By the time they test one version, another will already be out.

Next on the drop list: Firefox 3.6.

Mozilla has decided to issue at least one more security update for that edition, which shipped in January 2010. The update, to be pegged 3.6.19, will be released alongside Firefox 6 when the latter ships on Aug. 16.

The company has not disclosed other parts of its plan to declare Firefox 3.6 at “end of life,” or EOL. Although Mozilla held a meeting Tuesday in its Mountain View, Calif. office to discuss Firefox 3.6’s retirement, unlike its usual practice the company did not publish notes from that meeting.

The demise of Firefox 3.6 from support would put users who have stuck with the older version in a bind.

IBM, for example, selected Firefox 3.6 last summer as its default browser for employees.

John Walicki, the manager of workplace and mobility in the office of IBM’s CIO, has complained about the retirement of Firefox 4, saying that it would force him to make a tough decision.

“I’m now in the terrible position of choosing to deploy a Firefox 4 release with potentially unpatched vulnerabilities, reset the test cycle for thousands of internal apps to validate Firefox 5 or stay on a patched Firefox 3.6.x,” Walicki said in a comment appended to a blog post .

When Mozilla retires Firefox 3.6, that last option won’t be available to Walicki and IBM.

Microsoft has exploited the Firefox retirement dustup to tout its support policies for Internet Explorer (IE).

Yesterday, Ari Bixhorn, director of IE, published an open letter to Walicki urging him to consider switching from Firefox to IE8 or IE9. “I think I speak for everyone on the IE team when I say we’d like the opportunity to win back your business,” said Bixhorn.

The retirement of Firefox 3.5 will affect only a small fraction of Mozilla’s active users. According to Web metrics company Net Applications, Firefox 3.5 accounted for just 6% of all copies of Mozilla’s browser used in May.

It’s unclear how many users would be impacted in mid-August by the retirement of Firefox 3.6: Although that edition accounted for 42% of all copies last month, the browser has been on a steady decline as people have upgraded to Firefox 4. If the trend of the last three months continues, Firefox 3.6 would near extinction by the end of August.

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Windows tablet has super-bright outdoor display

Handheld US released an 8.4-inch tablet PC that runs Windows XP Professional on a 1.1GHz Intel Atom Z510 processor. The “Algiz 8” resists shock, dust, and water, has a hot-swappable battery, offers an 1100-nit sunlight-readable display, and operates down to -4 deg.


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According to the Rugged PC Review website, which has already published a detailed analysis of the Algiz, the Algiz 8 derives from a design originated by JLT Mobile Computers AB of Sweden. Indeed, the device looks very similar to JLT’s JLT8404 and to Roper Mobile Technology’s Duros 8404 (right), another tablet that appears to have been based on the same design.

However, the Duros 8404 and original JLT8404 were offered with either a 500GHz AMD Geode LX or a 1.0GHz Intel Celeron M CPU, whereas the newly revised Algiz 8 uses Intel’s 1.1GHz Atom Z510. (A test comparing otherwise-similar tablets using these three different processors would make for interesting reading.)

For its part, Handheld claims that use of the Atom CPU has improved “both performance and battery life.” The company says the Algiz 8’s hot-swappable, 4800mAh battery “lets you continue working all day without recharging,” though it doesn’t add how many battery swaps are required to achieve this. Handheld also touts a new, optional outdoor-viewable display with an increased brightness rating of more than 1100 nits.

Like its JLT8404 and Duros 8404 cousins, the Algiz 8 is sealed against dust and water to the IP65 standard, and meets MIL-STD-810F standards for resistance to vibration and shock. According to Handheld, the device may be operated from -4 to 122 deg. F (-20 to 50 deg. C), and can withstand four-foot drops onto concrete.

The Algiz 8 is equipped with an 8.4-inch resistive touchscreen display, with 800 x 600 pixel resolution. To the right of the screen, there are membrane keys that toggle power, lock the system, control cursor movement, and may be assigned to various function keys, Handheld says.

The tablet comes with 1GB of DDR memory and a 60GB hard drive, plus a USB port, an RJ45 Ethernet port, and a connector for an optional docking station. Bluetooth 2.0 and 802.11a/b/g wireless networking are also standard, while GPS and a GSM cellular modem are listed as options. The Algiz 8 also includes a built-in microphone and stereo speakers, Handheld says.

Features and specifications listed by Handheld for the Algiz 8 include:

* Processor — 1.1GHz Atom Z510
* Memory — 1GB of DDR RAM
* Display — 8.4-inch resistive touchscreen display with 800 x 600 resolution; optional sunlight-viewable version has 1100-nit brightness rating
* Storage — Shock-mounted 60GB hard disk drive, or optional flash storage
* Networking — RJ45 Ethernet (speed n/s)
* Wireless:
o GPS (optional)
o GSM cellular modem (optional)
* Other I/O:
o 1 x USB 2.0
o DC input
* Expansion — Docking connector
* Power supply — 480mAh battery, or external power from 9VDC to 21VDC
* Operating temperature — -20 to 50 deg. C (-4 to 122 deg. F)
* Dimensions — 10.3 x 7.8 x 1.7 inches (261 x 198mm x 44mm)
* Weight — 4.2 lbs (1.9kg)

A promotional video for the Algiz 8
Source: Handheld
(click to play)

Further information

Handheld says the Algiz 8 runs Windows XP Professional. Since RMT’s Duros 8404 was also said to run Windows XP Tablet Edition, Windows XP Embedded, Windows Vista, and Linux, we’d guess these operating systems could also be installed on the device if desired.

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Windows signage modules follow Intel Open Pluggable Specfication

NEC unveiled two computing modules that follow Intel’s Open Pluggable Specification (OPS) for digital signs running Windows Embedded Standard 7. Designed to slot into the back of the company’s displays, they’re the Intel Core i5-powered N8000-8330 and the AMD-powered SB-02SC-2, according to the company.

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Last year, Intel announced its Open Pluggable Specification (OPS), a standardized design for digital signage computers. At the time, not much information was revealed publicly, but the chipmaker said the OPS would involve the use of its Core processors along with Microsoft’s Windows Embedded Standard operating system.

We’ve now unearthed a little more information about what OPS involves — reviewed later in this story — and NEC, an early supporter of the spec, has revealed two new devices using it. Both, the company says, are 7.87 x 5.41 x 1.18-inch modules designed to slot into the back of “select NEC X, P and V Series displays, including the new V462, P402 and P462.”

According to NEC, the N8000-8330 module incorporates an Intel Core i5 processor (module not specified), a 320GB hard disk drive, and the Windows Embedded Standard 7 operating system. Further specs were not provided, but the images at left and lower below make clear that the device has an Ethernet port, two USB 2.0 ports, audio I/O, and a DisplayPort output for a secondary display.

Intel had touted fanless operation for OPS devices, but the N8000-8330 appears to incorporate a cooling fan. The device features Intel’s vPro technology, with keyboard-video-ouse redirection capabilities that allow IT administrators to run diagnostic tests, install upgrades, and view and control the digital display content remotely, according to NEC.

We’d assumed that OPS would be limited to Intel-based devices, but this is not the case. NEC’s digital signage website has also listed — but has not yet pictured — another model known as the SB-02SC-2, which it says will use a dual-core, 1.6GHz AMD Fusion processor. (Probably the E-350.) According to the company, this device will also come with Windows Embedded Compact 7, and features a 32GB solid state disk.

Pierre Richer, president and COO of NEC Display Solutions, stated, “As the first industry-wide standard for digital signage, the OPS will simplify the use and maintenance of digital signage, and create a smaller product footprint, allowing for thinner displays. The operation of OPS-based products will allow easier installations, resulting in more deployments by current and new customers.”

Jose Avalos, director of retail and digital signage for Intel’s Embedded Communications group, stated, “Installing digital signage equipment based on Intel architecture results in scalable digital signage networks that are easy to maintain and upgrade to fit customer requirements for lower total cost of ownership. The release of the first OPS-based accessory from NEC Display Solutions is the next step in bringing standardization to the digital signage market segment.”

More about the Open Pluggable Specification

As we’ve mentioned, Intel didn’t reveal much about the Open Pluggable Specification when it was first announced last October. A December blog entry clarified matters as follows, however.

According to the posting, OPS defines a standardized module and related interconnections “to insure compatibility and ease of integration between digital signage components from multiple vendors.” As shown below, the standard specifies an off-the-shelf 80-pin JAE Electronics TX24/TX25 blind mate plug and receptacle connector system to interface the pluggable module and the display.

A diagam of Intel’s Open Pluggable Specification
(Click to enlarge)

The pluggable module itself consists of a printed circuit computing board housed in a protective wrapper chassis, Intel adds. The circuit board should be equal to or smaller than the EPIC (Embedded Platform for Industrial Computing) standard size of 115 x 165mm, and the overall dimension of the module including the mounting frame is 200 x 119 x 30mm, the company says.

It’s said the OPS standard also defines the interface signals for all 80 pins of the JAE connector. For example, power input is specified as 12~19V DC at less than 4A and is spread over multiple pins to stay within the connector’s maximum current rating. Other pins carry the digital signals for interface to the display, including HDMI, DVI, DisplayPort, audio, serial, plus provision for both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0, according to Intel.

According to Intel, the OPS standard also includes thermal specifications and details cooling requirements for modules based on the Core i7 processor and QM57 chipset. The company adds, “Although it is not required by the specification, installing digital signage equipment based on Intel architecture helps you implement scalable digital signage applications that can network easily with other equipment.”

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Microsoft provides security updates

Microsoft announced updates to its Windows Embedded Standard 2009 operating system, some of which also apply to Windows XP Embedded. New features include a Web Services on Devices API and Powershell 2.0, while there are three “optional” updates and three security updates, the company says.


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Microsoft’s premier embedded operating system is now Windows Embedded Standard 7, still in CTP (community technology preview) status. But ongoing updates for Windows Embedded Standard 2009 show that the company hasn’t forgotten about its earlier, Windows XP-based embedded OS.

Last month, for example, brought a variety of feature and security updates, including a macro component that allows installing Powershell 2.0.

According to Microsoft, June 2010 security updates are now available, and they’re applicable both to Windows Embedded Standard 2009 and Windows XP Embedded with Service Pack 2, Feature Pack 2007, Update Rollup 1.0 and Service Pack 3. The security updates may be applied directly to runtime images, the company adds.

The June 2010 security updates are described as follows by Microsoft:

* 978542 — vulnerability in Outlook Express and Windows Mail could allow remote code execution
* 979902 — vulnerabilities in media decompression could allow remote code execution; this KB solution is comprised of the following KB update packages: KB975562, KB978695, and KB979482
* 979559 — vulnerabilities in Windows kernel-mode drivers could allow elevation of privilege
* 980195 — cumulative security update of ActiveX kill bits
* 980218 — vulnerability in the OpenType compact font format (CFF) driver could allow elevation of privilege
* 981793 — May 2010 cumulative time zone update
* 982381 — cumulative security update for Internet Explorer
* 982865 — vulnerability in Microsoft .NET Framework could allow tampering
* 974378 — vulnerabilities in the Microsoft .NET common language runtime could allow remote code execution; this KB solution is comprised of the following KB update packages: KB953300 and KB974417
* 981343 — vulnerability in Microsoft .Net Framework could allow tampering; this KB solution is comprised of the following KB update packages: KB979909 and KB982865
* 982168 — Microsoft .NET Framework 3.0 SP2 update (rollup of KB976765, KB980773 and KB976769 to allow .NET opt-in to extended protection for authentication (security advisory KB973811)

According to a posting on Microsoft’s Windows Embedded Standard blog, an update is also included that resolves an issue introduced with the April 2010 component database security updates, whereby a duplicate package caused the Packages view to be locked in Database Manager.

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ActualKey MCITP 70-620 candidate profile

About this Exam:
Candidates for this exam operate in computing environments that use Microsoft Windows 7 certificate as a desktop operating system in an enterprise environment. Candidates should have at least one year of experience in the IT field, as well as experience implementing and administering any Windows client operating system in a networked environment.

Audience Profile
Candidates for this exam operate in computing environments that use Microsoft Windows 7 as a desktop operating system in an enterprise environment. Candidates should have at least one year of experience in the IT field, as well as experience implementing and administering any Windows client operating system in a networked environment.


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Candidates should be able to install, deploy, and upgrade to Windows 7, including ensuring hardware and software compatibility. Additionally, candidates should be able to configure pre-installation and post-installation system settings, Windows security features, network connectivity applications included with 70-620 Exam, and mobile computing. Candidates should also be able to maintain systems, including monitoring for and resolving performance and reliability issues. Candidates should have a basic understanding of Windows PowerShell syntax.

The Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) certification helps validate that an individual has the comprehensive set of skills necessary to perform a particular job role, such as database administrator or enterprise messaging administrator. MCITP certifications build on the technical proficiency measured in the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certifications. Therefore, you will earn one or more MCTS certifications on your way to earning an MCITP certification.

MCITP candidates are IT professionals capable of deploying, building, designing, optimizing, and operating technologies for a particular job role. They make the design and technology decisions necessary to ensure successful technology implementation projects.
Why get certified?

Earning a Microsoft Certification helps validate your proven experience and knowledge in using Microsoft products and solutions. Designed to be relevant in today’s rapidly changing IT marketplace, Microsoft Certifications help you utilize evolving free Microsoft practice tests technologies, fine-tune your troubleshooting skills, and improve your job satisfaction.

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Windows Embedded POSReady 7 released to manufacturing

Microsoft says Windows Embedded POSReady 7 has been released to manufacturing and will be available next month. The Windows 7-based point-of-sale operating system offers features such as write filter management, a custom shell launcher, 36 different languages, and increased componentization, according to the company.

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Microsoft’s Windows Embedded POSReady 7 was announced in January in conjunction with the National Retail Federation (NRF) show in New York, at which time the first Community Technical Preview (CTP) was released. A second CTP followed in late April, adding some features which are detailed further below.

The OS and software stack for retailers is pointed to replace the currently offered Windows Embedded POSReady 2009 — announced at the 2009 NRF Show — and the previous Windows Embedded for Point of Service (WEPOS). According to Microsoft, Windows Embedded POSReady 7 is based on Windows 7 and benefits from many of its new features, including power management and manageability enhancements.

Microsoft’s Windows Embedded POSReady 7
(Click to enlarge)

When it released the initial CTP in January, Microsoft highlighted “embedded-specific enhancements tohelp lock down public facing devices.” These were said to include:

* write filters forcreating stateless or semi-stateless environments
* suppression of unwanted dialog message boxes
* a keyboard filter for suppressing unwanted keystrokes such as CTRL+ALT+DEL,ALT+F4, Windows+L, and custom-defined keystrokecombinations

The CTP2 release added new write filter management tools that now provide a user interface. It also included the Enhanced Write Filter (EWF) Provider and File Based Write Filter (FBWF) Provider, delivering access to the Write Filter APIs through the Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) layer.

Microsoft says the Providers allow remote management of both EWF and FBWF. We’d guess they’ll also help POSReady 7 work with Windows Embedded Device Management 2011, since this management solution is designed to, among other things, distribute software to embedded devices even when their flash drives had been previously protected by the write filters.

Another key feature added to the CTP2 version of POSReady 7 was its Shell Launcher functionality, which allows replacing the Explorer shell with a custom shell. “Shell Launcher enables you to concentrate onyour custom shell application while Shell Launcher handlesissues such as executing the Run and RunOnce registry keysand restarting the custom shell if it crashes,” Microsoft said in release notes supplied with the revamped OS.

According to Microsoft, Windows Embedded POSReady 7 supports 36 different language packs and allows five to be installed at any given time. It also allows removal of media decoders that might otherwise have needed separate licensing, and has now been designed so that unwanted features can be completely removed from a device using the DISM.EXE command line utility, the company adds.

Further information

According to Microsoft, Windows Embedded POSReady 7 will be available to OEM and volume licensing customers starting on July 1. While the CTP program has concluded, the CTP2 build may still be downloaded on the Microsoft Connect website.

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