Monday, July 13, 2009

Will the Web Browser Become the Operating System?

WXPNews: Published by Sunbelt Software since 2001

Vol. 9, #79 - Jul 14, 2009 - Issue #387

 Will the Web Browser Become the Operating System?

  1. Editor's Corner
    • Will the Web Browser Become the Operating System?
    • Follow-up: The Death of the Desktop
    • Quotes of the Week
  2. Cool Tools
    • Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
  3. News, Hints, Tips and Tricks
    • Microsoft Gazelle: will it outrun Chrome OS?
    • Do you need Silverlight 3?
    • "Luxury netbook" a contradiction in terms?
    • New York State Attorney General sues social networking site for stealing data
  4. How To: Using XP Features
    • How to start System Restore when you can't boot into XP
  5. XP Security News
    • Video ActiveX Control can allow remote code execution
    • Six security bulletins for this month's Patch Tuesday
  6. XP Question Corner
    • Can I or can't I upgrade XP to Windows 7?
  7. XP Configuration and Troubleshooting
    • Disk Cleanup Tool hangs while compressing old files
    • Remove invalid entries in the Add/Remove Programs Applet
  8. Fav Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  9. Product of the Week
    • Acoustica CD-DVD Label Maker: Create CD/DVD Labels And Jewel Cases/Boxes With The Ultimate In Ease!

Kiss Your Antivirus Bloatware Goodbye

We asked users of antivirus products what they didn't like about their AV software. They told us they are resource hogs and slowed their computer down. They told us that scan times took way too long, and that the AV software nagged them. In short, old-style AV software takes too much Memory and CPU. Time to switch to VIPRE! It gives you malware protection that combines antivirus, antispyware, anti-rootkit and other technologies into a seamless, tightly-integrated product. Even if you run "free" antivirus software, it hijacks 20% of your PC, so it's really not free at all! Get VIPRE now and see how fast your PC can really be:

 Editor's Corner

Will the Web Browser Become the Operating System?

For many years now, government anti-trust agencies have been complaining about Microsoft "bundling" the Internet Explorer web browser with the Windows operating system. Microsoft argued that the browser was an integral part of the OS, and it was no coincidence that both the web browser and file manager were named "Explorer" and could be used more or less interchangeably. Microsoft recognized at that time that local and Internet resources would become more and more intertwined, and gave users a way to access both through the same interface.

But software companies that made competing web browsers cried "foul" and pressed authorities to stop Microsoft from including its web browser with the OS, protesting that this gave IE an unfair advantage in the browser market. Now it's come to the point where the European version of Windows 7 (called Windows 7 E) won't include IE at all. It will be up to OEMs to provide one or more browsers, and consumers who buy the boxed version will have to figure out how to deal with the conundrum of not having a browser built-in when you install the operating system. Just as I need my glasses to find my glasses when I misplace them, you need a web browser - or some other means of accessing downloadable files across the Internet - to get a web browser.

At the same time all this is going on, open source advocates are making a pitch for using Linux instead of Windows based on the idea that "the operating system doesn't matter anymore" because everything is done in the ... web browser! In other words, the web browser is the interface.

Even Apple fans are embracing this philosophy that the Internet is - or in the future will be - the operating system:

Now comes the announcement that Google is getting into the desktop operating system business. Their first effort at this is rumored to be due out sometime in the second part of 2010 and it's going to be called (you saw this coming, right?) Chrome OS. That's right, same name as their web browser.

Of course, the company has already tried its hand at an open source (sort of) operating system for mobile phones, Android, which is currently available on some T-Mobile phones:

At this point, no one in the tech press is sure about the details surrounding Chrome OS, and those who do know aren't talking much. The story is that it will be a separate OS from Android, a "web-based" or "cloud" operating system with a Linux kernel and a "new windowing system," designed to shift much of the interface from the local computer to the web. Google announced that Acer, ASUS, HP and Lenovo had formed partnerships with them, so it's likely we'll see computers from some or all of those vendors sold with the Chrome OS.

Everything I've read about Chrome OS stresses its "simplicity" and "minimalism" and the fact that it's "web based." Sounds a lot like a Linux thin client to me. If so, its success is going to be dependent on popular acceptance of the whole cloud computing concept. And despite the fact that netbooks are selling like hotcakes, most of the people I talk to and readers I hear from - both from the consumer and IT pro categories - still have serious reservations about trusting the cloud with their data and applications.

Now here's a question to consider: if the EU requires Microsoft not to bundle its web browser with its operating system, will it require Google to provide a version of Chrome OS that doesn't include the Chrome web browser? Could this "web based operating system" even exist without its web browser?

Some will argue that they can do everything they need to do with web based applications right now, and I suppose that's true if you only do limited tasks on your computer. Sure, you can get your mail via Gmail or Hotmail, or even if you have an Exchange account, you can use Outlook Web Access (OWA) if your mail server supports it. But it's not the same as a full featured email client like Outlook 2007 (and Outlook 2010 is even better). There have been times when I was traveling and had to use OWA and it works - but it's not nearly as efficient and flexible as using "real" Outlook. Likewise, you can use Google Docs for word processing but if you're used to Word, you're probably going to feel as if you're settling for less. And while there are several online photo editing applications, having to upload your pictures to a server somewhere in order to manipulate them is a pain.

I like my web browser and it figures prominently in my everyday computing. But I certainly don't want to use it for everything. In fact, I'm trying to get more things out of the browser. For example, I recently installed a cool little Outlook add-on called Twinbox that integrates my Twitter account into Outlook, so that I can read tweets and compose my own from within Outlook, without ever having to go to the Twitter web site. There's one for Facebook, too, that lets you update your FB status from Outlook. Both of these are made by TechHit and you can download them free at

Is it just me, or do others think an operating system needs to be much more than just a platform for a web browser? Has the tide changed since our last discussion of cloud computing? Are more of you warming up to the idea of having your applications and data reside on a remote server? Could you get along fine with a single local application - the web browser? Tell us what you think. Discuss this topic with other readers in our interactive forums at

Follow-up: The Death of the Desktop

In reading through the forum discussions about last week's editorial topic ("Has the death of the desktop been greatly exaggerated?"), I noted that the majority of readers are not planning to give up their desktop computers anytime soon - even those who have and use and like laptops and netbooks. Many of you cited the performance and price advantages of desktops as the biggest factor, and expressed doubt that those advantages would disappear anytime soon.

One reader put it this way: "I believe in Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. I cannot see the death of desktops, or the netbook replacing laptops, or smartphones replacing both. Pursuit of happiness requires more options not less."

Also, thanks to KeybrdKowboy for posting a link on the forum to the Mimo Mini USB monitor. This could be a great accessory for laptop users who get frustrated with the limitations of their small screens. Check it out at

Read all the rest of the reader comments in the forum at

'Til next week,
Deb Shinder, Editor

PS: Did you know this newsletter has a sister publication called VistaNews? You can subscribe here, and tell your friends:

And for IT pros, there's our "big sister," WServer News, at

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Quotes of the Week

Self development is a higher duty than self-sacrifice. - Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815 - 1902)

Things are more like they are now than they ever were before. - Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890 - 1969)

Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful. - Samuel Johnson (1709 - 1784)

Keep The Bad Guys Out With The Sunbelt Personal Firewall

Why do I need a firewall? Together with antivirus and antispyware, a firewall is a "must" to protect your computer. PC Magazine gave the Sunbelt Personal Firewall a "Very Good" rating with 4 Stars and a conclusion of "good protection". Check out the Reviews on the site and it will be clear why you need the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to protect your PC. One good example: Unlike the Windows XP and Vista Firewall, you can tell the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to look carefully at the data leaving your browser, so that sensitive information like your credit card numbers, email address, bank account, social security number and PIN code do not get stolen by hackers!

 Cool Tools

Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without


Never reinstall your XP again. New technology: no set-up, no loss of data or applications. The ultimate professional repair tool. Free PC booster with every scan, get it now!

World's Most Popular Computer Optimization Software. Run the Free PC Pitstop Optimize 3.0 Scan Now

Fully automatic back ups to the "Cloud", and only $5/month for unlimited storage. Nice!

PC Tune-Up: 4 Easy Steps That Eliminate Frustrating Slow Computer Problems:

Registry First Aid 7.0 - New Release Is Faster, Safer and Even More Effective

Improve your English writing skills with WhiteSmoke a smarter solution for high quality writing. Download the free trial version here.

Rip DVDs for your iPod/iPhone or Apple TV. Bundle includes video converter too! Try it free!

Vista gets bogged down very quickly! Advanced Vista Optimizer will tweak Vista for Max performance. Easy to use:

Backups? Why back up when you can sync? Simply replicate every piece of data to another drive in real-time. Set it and forget it.

Spotmau PowerSuite Professional 2008: Fantastic! All the tools necessary to fix most common computer problems. Clone and backup too!

 News, Hints, Tips and Tricks

Microsoft Gazelle: will it outrun Chrome OS?

Google isn't the only company that's working on a browser-operating system hybrid. Microsoft, already deeply into the "cloud" with Azure, Live Mesh and other projects, is developing its own stripped-down, browser-based OS, currently code-named Gazelle. Like Chrome OS, it would be a fast, cheap operating system designed to run on netbooks. You can read more about it here:

Do you need Silverlight 3?

Microsoft has just released a new version of its multimedia software, Silverlight 3. Silverlight is Microsoft's answer to Adobe's Flash and works with your web browser to display animations and audio/video content, but the new version also allows you to display content on the desktop, not just in the browser. It also supports higher quality video and audio and has been text rendering and font support. You can find out more and get it here:

"Luxury netbook" a contradiction in terms?

Okay, I thought the very point of the netbook concept is that they're, well, cheap. Why else would you want a low-powered portable when there are so many more powerful notebooks out there? Now vendors have come up with the idea of the "luxury netbook" that looks a little nicer, has a higher resolution screen and sells for a couple hundred dollars more. But if you're going to pay almost as much as you would for a full-fledged notebook, why buy a network anyway? Read about it at

New York State Attorney General sues social networking site for stealing data

It's bad enough to have to worry about someone hacking into your social networking site and stealing your data, but now you can also worry that the site itself might take your contacts list and use it to send spam. New York AG Andrew Cuomo is suing for doing just that. Read more here:

 How To: Using XP Features

How to start System Restore when you can't boot into XP

If you're having problems that prevent you from booting into the GUI, you may still be able to use the System Restore tool to roll back to a previous operating system state, and thereby fix the problem. Here's how:
  1. Restart the computer and press and hold F8 during startup to bring up the options menu
  2. Select "Safe mode with a command prompt"
  3. If you have multiple operating systems installed, select the correct instance of XP
  4. Log on with an administrative account
  5. At the command prompt, type
    and press ENTER
  6. Follow the on-screen instructions

 XP Security News

Video ActiveX Control can allow remote code execution

Last week, Microsoft issued a security advisory (972890) regarding a vulnerability in the Microsoft Video ActiveX Control that could allow an attacker to gain access to your computer with the same rights as the logged on user. Windows XP and Server 2003 computers are subject to these attacks, and Microsoft recommends removing support for this ActiveX control. Vista and Server 2008 computers are not affected. A security update is in the works, but meanwhile, find out the steps for removing the control to protect your computer here:

Six security bulletins for this month's Patch Tuesday

July's Patch Tuesday comes this week, and we're expecting six security bulletins to be released, including three that affect various flavors of Windows (the others target vulnerabilities in Microsoft Publisher 2007, ISA Server 2006 and Virtual PC/Virtual Server. Find out more here:

 XP Question Corner

Can I or can't I upgrade XP to Windows 7?

I read that there is no "in place" upgrade from XP to Windows 7. Then I read that you CAN upgrade, but only enterprises can do it. If they can do it, why can't I do it with my home machine? What's the best way to get there from here, do I need to upgrade to Vista first and then Windows 7 or am I better off just doing a clean install? Thanks. - Jorge C.

It's true that there is no direct upgrade path from XP to Windows 7. That is, if you start the Windows 7 installation, you cannot choose to upgrade the current OS and install Windows 7 "over" XP. It's also true that Microsoft is providing, primarily for enterprises that have many XP machines to migrate, a tool called the Microsoft Deployment Tool 2010 that uses "hard links" to retain certain files and settings, including your user data and user preferences, and then do a clean install of Windows 7 and restore these to the correct location in the new OS. However, this does not preserve your applications as an in-place upgrade does; you'll still need to reinstall them. The tool is a free download and available to anyone, not just enterprises. You can read more about it and see a video of how it works here:

 XP Configuration and Troubleshooting

Disk Cleanup Tool hangs while compressing old files

The Disk Cleanup Tool in XP can be used to regain space on your hard drive by removing unneeded files and compressing old files that you want to keep but don't use very often. Sometimes, though, you may find that it hangs (stops responding) when it's compressing old files, continuing to give you the message that it is calculating how much space you will be able to free. You can fix the problem by using the Fix It link or following the instructions in KB article 812248 at

Remove invalid entries in the Add/Remove Programs Applet

Sometimes even after you remove a program with the Add/Remove Programs tool in Control Panel, a reference to that program stays in the "Currently Installed Programs" list. You can get rid of these invalid entries by editing the registry. To find out the steps for doing so, see KB article 310750 at

 Fav Links

This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

Disclaimer: WXPNews does not assume and cannot be responsible for any liability related to you clicking any of these linked Web sites.

 Product of the Week

Acoustica CD-DVD Label Maker: Create CD/DVD Labels And Jewel Cases/Boxes With The Ultimate In Ease!

Why let the artists have all the fun? Create your own CD/DVD labels and CD jewel cases with the ultimate in ease and flexibility! If you're sick of guessing which songs are on which CD, get the CD label software that automatically puts your track list on your CD/DVD label! Chock full of custom art for holidays and special occasions like Christmas, Valentines, birthdays, vacations, weddings and more! Automatically imports your track information from Acoustica MP3 CD Burner, iTunes, WinAmp, Easy CD Creator or any other popular playlist or previously burnt CD! Print on standard paper, stock sticker labels, CD jewel case templates or print directly on a CD or DVD*! Automatically import your iTunes play lists! Version 3 now supports HP LightScribe direct labeling drives! WXPNews readers can read the complete feature list and download the free evaluation version here. Get an exclusive 10% discount with purchases now.

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