Children of the Night — from Reuters Wider Image

Seris Bros
Click to enlarge

Twenty-one-year-old French twins Vincent and Thomas Seris lead an ordinary life no different to others their age – as long as it takes place after sunset.

During the day, the men only venture out in attire resembling astronauts to protect themselves from the sun and its ultraviolet (UV) rays, or risk developing fatal types of cancer.

Colloquially referred to as the “Children of the Night” — or Les Enfants de la Lune in French — the Seris twins are among 70 to 80 people in France who suffer from Xeroderma Pigmentosum (XP), a rare genetic disorder.

The two men have been testing out a new protective mask which is transparent and ventilated and developed by several hospitals in the country.

There are up to 10,000 XP sufferers in the world, according to the French association “Les Enfants de la Lune.”

Surviving in circumstances comfortable in comparison to poorer folks in a poorer country, you still can’t count the Seris brothers as lucky – being able to live a long and fulfilling life. Still, they are treated by most ignorant strangers as if they were lepers passing through a market in the 18th Century.

RTFA. A worthwhile read. The Wider Image is one of the best things about Reuters.

Six in 10 companies plan to skip Microsoft Windows 7

Six in 10 companies in a survey plan to skip the purchase of Microsoft Corp’s Windows 7 computer operating system, many of them to pinch pennies and others over concern about compatibility with their existing applications.

Windows 7 will be released October 22, but has already garnered good reviews, in contrast to its disappointing current version, Windows Vista.

Many of the more than 1,000 companies that responded to a survey by ScriptLogic Corp say they have economized by cutting back on software updates and lack the resources to deploy Microsoft’s latest offering.

I think the active definition is that they’re “unwilling” to deploy those resources. And that’s something that Microsoft has had to face increasingly since XP. Simply planking the next-gen Windows OS on retail PC’s and waiting for corporate IT depts to begin support – is over and done with.

ScriptLogic Corp, which provides help to companies in managing their Microsoft Windows-based networks, sent out 20,000 surveys to information technology administrators to learn the state of the market…

The survey found about 60 percent of those surveyed have no plans to deploy Windows 7, 34 percent will deploy it by the end of 2010 and only 5.4 percent will deploy by year’s end…

But there were reasons other than money for staying away from Windows 7. Another 39 percent of those surveyed said they had concern about the compatibility of Windows 7 with existing applications.

IT departments want to wait for the deployment of the 1st Service Pack – to back away from stability worries.

There are many industries where the XP-based software they’re running – or even older – does everything they need just fine. Why spend the money for bells and whistles that aren’t required to kee their systems happy?

Reversing Windows 7 to XP gets yet another reprieve – again

In a reversal of its earlier stance, Microsoft officials confirmed that customers will be able to downgrade from Windows 7 to Windows XP for a year and a half after the new system ships, or until the first Service Pack drops — whichever comes first.

While some industry observers the modified downgrade policy is a change for the better, at least one analyst says Microsoft still hasn’t enough to provide options for enterprises.

This industry observer says Microsoft simply hasn’t a clue!

The downgrade option is also not available to all Windows 7 users: Downgrade rights apply to purchasers of Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate, so the option isn’t available to customers who buy Windows 7 Home Premium.

Additionally, customers who have either Software Assurance subscriptions or Enterprise Agreements with Microsoft can continue to get the downgrade as long as they want.

Confused, yet?

“Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate customers will have the option to downgrade to Windows XP Professional from PCs that ship within 18 months following the general availability of Windows 7 or until the release of a Windows 7 service pack (SP), whichever is sooner and if an SP is developed,” a Microsoft spokesperson told in an e-mail.

Understand that, OK?

The secret is out. The new ingredient in Windows 7 is – Windows XP

Microsoft has finally revealed one of the “secret ingredients” in Windows 7, and it’s Windows XP SP3. This only applies to the Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions, and involves downloading the code from Microsoft’s web site.

XPM (for Mode) is based on Microsoft’s Virtual PC and includes a free copy of XP SP3. It provides a bit more functionality than simply installing your own copy of XP (if you have one that legally allows that) in Virtual PC, VMware or VirtualBox…

It will also be a big help even where companies don’t need XPM. They’ll be able to upgrade to the more secure and more capable Windows 7 with the confidence that they have a backwards-compatibility option if they run into an unforeseen snag…

It remains to be seen how well XPM runs on netbooks that don’t provide hardware assistance for virtualisation. But in any case, netbooks typically have too little processor power and not enough memory to make XPM attractive.

Uh, enjoy yourself, folks. Save it for some weekend self-flagellation sport.

Microsoft to allow Windows 7, erm, downgrades to XP

Microsoft officials have confirmed that it, along with PC partners will allow users of its upcoming Windows 7 the option to downgrade to both Windows Vista as well as Windows XP.

The last few days have been fraught with rumors that Microsoft will be offering users the opportunity to downgrade to Windows XP. Those who don’t like the look of Windows 7 and are afraid it’s their only alternative can rest easy; ZDNet asked Microsoft for a little clarification and the a spokesperson revealed that XP would also be on offer when it came to downgrades.

When asked if Microsoft had downgrade rights for Windows XP planned as part of Windows 7, the Redmond company responded with a resounding yes. The spokesperson went on to detail that this would not the first time that Microsoft has offered downgrade rights to a version other than its immediate predecessor and the company’s volume-license customers can always downgrade to any previous version of Windows.


Microsoft being sued for charging downgrade fees


Microsoft Corp., the world’s largest software maker, has been sued over claims it relies on predatory and anti-competitive behavior to charge consumers to downgrade operating systems on their personal computers.

Emma Alvarado of Los Angeles County, California sued in Seattle federal court asking for class-action status on behalf of consumers who want to buy computers with pre-installed Microsoft Windows XP instead of the company’s newer operating system, Vista.

“Microsoft has used its market power to take advantage of consumer demand for the Windows XP operating system by requiring consumers to purchase computers pre-installed with the Vista operating system and to pay additional sums to ‘downgrade’ to the Windows XP operating system,” according to the complaint.

Microsoft is trying to salvage Vista, which businesses and consumers panned after it went on sale in 2007. With the economy shrinking, companies are putting off new projects and technology purchases. Windows sales declined 8 percent last quarter, compared with Microsoft’s forecast for growth of as much as 10 percent.

Microsoft charged consumers $104 for the downgrade, and extended the offer to July, “likely due to the tremendous profits that Microsoft has reaped from its downgrade option,” according to the complaint.

How to run a business and retain customers, guys. How much are you charging your corporate customers to do the same?

XP – one more time. Crikey!

Microsoft has given yet another reprieve to its seasoned Windows XP operating system.

The cut off date for PC makers to obtain licenses for the software was 31 January 2009. But now Microsoft has put in place a scheme that will allow the hardware firms to get hold of XP licences until 30 May 2009.

Windows XP was originally due to disappear off shop shelves on 30 January 2008. It was to be removed so as to make way for Windows Vista which went on sale to consumers early in 2007.

Microsoft granted the reprieve largely because of customer’s preference for XP.

Many PC makers also got around the restrictions by exploiting a clause in Microsoft’s licensing terms that allowed them to offer a “downgrade” licence. Issued with a new PC running Vista it allowed customers to replace it with XP.

Early versions of Windows 7, the replacement for Vista, are due to appear in late 2009.

If you believe that last bit, I have have some oceanfront property to sell you in La Bajada, New Mexico.

Microsoft extends the life of XP – again

In April, Microsoft extended the life of Windows XP Home by two years for budget laptops. In June, the software giant did the same for ULCPCs as its partners continued to report strong demand. Now Microsoft is making another extension, this one affecting a much less specific market; the software giant has decided to halt XP Professional media shipments to major computer makers (system builders are not included) not on January 31, 2009, but instead on July 31. An e-mail from a Microsoft spokesperson explains the reasoning for the change:

As more customers make the move to Windows Vista, we want to make sure that they are making that transition with confidence and that it is as smooth as possible. Providing downgrade media for a few more months is part of that commitment.

Ever since the release of Windows Vista, Microsoft has offered customers “downgrade rights.”

Essentially this means that those who purchase Vista Business or Vista Ultimate have the option to use to Windows XP Professional on their PC and then move to Vista when they are ready, without having to pay for an upgrade. OEMs have supported this option forcefully ever since Windows XP expired on June 30, 2008 (XP was no longer licensed to OEMs and retail sales were terminated). Downgrade rights never expire, however, so those who insist on using XP will be able to as long as they can get their hands on Vista.

Tee hee. Leaves lots of room for blather about hardware this and that and – Microsoft hopes – little notice that XP is still more portable, system to system, than Vista.

Here comes Microsoft’s updated anti-piracy check for XP. Ta-Dah!

Microsoft has updated software that verifies whether a copy of Windows is genuine in its Windows XP Professional edition. The company said it made the changes to the Windows Genuine Notification (WGA) alerts for XP Pro because it is “the product edition that is most often stolen.”

Now when a version of Windows XP Pro is found to be pirated or counterfeit – [or at least Microsoft thinks it is] – the next time a user logs on to the system, the desktop screen background will be black, replacing whatever custom desktop may have been set by the user. This will reappear every 60 minutes, even if a user resets the screen’s background. Previously, this was not a part of the WGA notification for Windows XP Pro.

Another new feature of the alert system is to put the PC into “persistent desktop notification” mode, with a banner at the bottom of the screen informing the user that the copy of Windows is not genuine. The notification is translucent and users can interact with any objects underneath it; however, it will continue to appear on the screen until a user installs a genuine copy of Windows.

The office pool for this month will be – how many legit copies of XP Pro will end up saddled with the Microsoft accusing finger?

A third of Vista PCs downgraded to XP?

Vista’s death march picked up some pace after a metrics researcher revealed that nearly 35 per cent of PCs built to run the Windows operating system have been downgraded to XP.

In a survey of more than 3,000 computers, performance testing software developer Devil Mountain Software estimated that more than one in three new machines had either been downgraded by vendors such as Dell, or by customers once they bought the PC…

That’s a damning verdict on an OS that Microsoft still wants frustrated customers to love.

The software beast has already admitted it made some pretty big mistakes with Vista. Now, after trying some heavy duty marketing, Microsoft has finally conceded it’s high time to move on by explaining how MS will engineer Windows 7.

I left the wonderful world of Microsoft OS’ three years ago. Never looked back.