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Should we say ‘Hello’ to RemoteFX ?

June 7, 2010 1 comment


Bill Laing, Microsoft’s corporate vice president in charge of the Server and Solutions Division, told a roomful of reporters yesterday, “My desktop today is a thin client … and I’m pretty happy with it.” Coming from the company whose Windows OS has been synonymous with the fat client for decades, that’s a profound admission. But it’s a measure of how much Microsoft has changed in recent years that he could make that statement and barely raise an eyebrow.

What technology is Microsoft using to power a thin client good enough to stand in for a full-fledged Windows PC? It’s called RemoteFX. It works hand in hand with Hyper-V virtualization, and it’s one of a handful of new capabilities that are being grafted into the upcoming Service Pack 1 for Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7. (These new Hyper-V server capabilities are the only new features included with SP1. For Windows 7, which shares the same code base, SP1 will include no new features, just bug fixes and roll-ups of updates already being delivered via Windows Update.)

Over the weekend, I saw a preview of the RemoteFX technologies that were officially unveiled at Microsoft’s Tech-Ed conference in New Orleans this morning. Collectively, they solve some of the nagging issues that have made virtual desktops second-class citizens to PCs.

RemoteFX starts with a Windows Server running Hyper-V. It virtualizes the graphics for each VM—including high-definition video, the full Aero interface, and even high-end apps like AutoCAD—and then sends that output to the remote client using a new codec, which can run in hardware or software. A single graphics card on the server can handle the graphics needs of multiple virtual guests, which need only low-end graphics hardware and a Virtual GPU driver that will come with the new Remote Desktop client in Windows 7 Ultimate  and Enterprise editions. (The RemoteFX code also runs on similar editions of Windows Vista, but not on Windows XP.)

SP1 will also deliver a couple of other big improvements aimed at virtual desktops. First up is support for a broad range of USB devices. The list includes webcams, VOIP headsets, biometric hardware, Windows Mobile devices, and even multi-function printers and scanners, which previously didn’t work at all with virtual machines. Plug one of those USB devices into a thin client connected to a Hyper-V machine (where both ends of the connection are using RemoteFX) and you’ll be able to use the devices with your virtual desktop. The other major improvement is the option to dynamically assign memory to a virtual machine. A VM can start with a minimal amount of memory, add virtual RAM on the fly as apps need it, and give up the virtual RAM to the system when other apps need it more. Dynamic memory solves a common virtualization problem in a way that’s surprisingly graceful for desktop clients. (It solves the same problem as VMWare’s Memory Overecommit feature.)

The goal, at least for enterprises, is to move a group of users and their Windows desktops off of PCs and onto a single server. With those desktops running on a single server, Microsoft argues, you can replace relatively expensive PCs with small devices that have basic graphics hardware, a handful of USB ports, and just enough processing power to run a Remote Desktop session. One such device that Microsoft showed yesterday is a tiny green box that uses a mere 3W of power under load and weighs less than a pound. Sprinkle a few of those around an office or department connected to a Hyper-V server and you suddenly have something very close to an old mainframe environment, with “terminals” that are smarter than their ancestors but still less expensive than PCs, with far less maintenance required.

One big question is how much demand Microsoft is likely to find for RemoteFX. Although running AutoCAD on a virtual machine makes an impressive demo, it’s likely that most companies running a high-end drafting program will still want to do so on dedicated hardware—in other words, a PC. A more realistic scenario is to replace a basic business PC with a smaller, cheaper device that still delivers the full PC experience.

The other big question is how much video hardware you’ll need for a server that’s capable of driving the displays on multiple guests. The good news, as Laing explained, is that RemoteFX is GPU-agnostic; it will work with any modern graphics card with enough video RAM. The irony is that it requires adding high-end graphics support to servers, which have historically been equipped with only the most basic video hardware. Microsoft recommends setting aside 150-200 MB of VRAM for each virtual desktop.

In its announcement today, Microsoft said SP1 will be available as a beta in July. It didn’t assign a date for when SP1 would be released, cautioning customers: “Continue your testing and deployment of Windows 7. Don’t wait for Service Pack 1.” They also readily acknowledge that RemoteFX is still in its early phases—an understatement, to be sure.

Where Microsoft’s ambition was once to put a PC on every desktop, in 2010 they’ll settle for delivering a desktop to you over a network, on a device that might or might not be a PC. That’s an enormous change.


ManUtd: Back ON TOP !! (ManUtd 4 – 0 Hull City)

January 23, 2010 Leave a comment


United 4 Hull 0

United returned to the top of the Barclays Premier League table with a 4-0 victory that was inspired by the imperious quality of Wayne Rooney, who scored all four goals.

Up until the last ten minutes, the performance had perhaps not been completely convincing, but the same could not be said of Rooney’s 90 minutes.

The Reds’ no.10 turned what was a fairly ordinary match into a healthy victory that catapults United above Arsenal and Chelsea, who both play league fixtures in midweek. His first arrived in the eighth minute during a first-half display that was energetic and provided plenty of attacking intent. But United struggled to back it up in the second period, that is until Rooney took matters into his own hands. The final eight minutes were a gold rush for Rooney as he bagged the match ball in brilliant style.

Sir Alex was able to recall Rio Ferdinand for his first match since defeat to Liverpool at Anfield back in October, while Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney started together for only the fourth time in the league.

The United boss made clear that the target on an otherwise free weekend in the Barclays Premier League was to take top spot from new leaders Arsenal. United’s determination to achieve it was clear from the start as Rooney broke through down the left channel and cut the ball back for Owen in the third minute. The United no.7’s shot, however, was deflected wide by Hull captain Anthony Gardner.

An early breakthrough was still achieved, four minutes later, when Paul Scholes’ fizzing long-range effort was parried by Boaz

Myhill into the path of Rooney, who steadied himself and drilled the ball into the net.

Hull, who are without win on the road and only eight away goals scored this season, found themselves increasingly pinned in the defensive third of the field with Nani blazing a shot over the bar, and Park inches away from connecting with an inviting Fletcher cross.

The visitors had a brief spell of pressure when they earned a series of corner kicks, but otherwise United looked sharp and dangerous in attack, with Rooney looking lively and Owen constantly seeking to link up with his strike partner. Midway through the half Rooney had a volley deflected over the bar for a corner, before a delightful flick from United’s no.10 almost played in Owen, but Gardner had sensed the danger.

The excellent Rooney was tantalisingly close to scoring with a curling free-kick from 25 yards out on 37 minutes. The performance was far livelier than the sluggish display against Burnley a week ago, and Sir Alex will have wondered how his team didn’t have a healthier lead at the halfway stage.

Nani was proving to be a constant outlet for the Reds on the right flank, delivering a number of dangerous deliveries into the area. One low centre almost found Rooney and Owen, but neither could find the decisive touch.

The fragility of the 1-0 scoreline did not match the balance of play and with the Tigers characteristically refusing to give in, United required another goal to make the points safe. Rooney was still doing his best to provide it, watching a long-distance

snap-shot zip narrowly past the post.

With less than 20 minutes to play, Sir Alex wasn’t so much shoring up victory as trying to ensure it; Owen and Scholes making way for Dimitar Berbatov and Darron Gibson to provide much-needed fresh legs to a display that had lost just a little bit of its vigour.

There was a heart-in-mouth moment when substitute Kamel Ghilas almost turned in Paul McShane’s cross with a shot that trickled past the post. Victory at this point seemed far from a certainty. Seconds later, however, a rapid United counter almost led to the Reds’ second goal, Gibson’s lobbed effort landing on the roof of the net rather than in it.

United emerged from a cagey spell thanks to three quality finishes from Rooney. First, the Reds striker blasted the ball home from just inside the area after being teed up by Gibson. Then he expertly headed in his third after a fine cross from the impressive Nani.

Rooney wasn’t finished there. His fourth arrived on 90 minutes when, surrounded by a posse of Hull defenders, he still managed to find a way through past Myhill. The victory was only emphatic because of Rooney’s outstanding contribution. He’s notched up 20 goals for the season and is now only three goals short of matching his best season return for United. Now for City…

Google’s Nexus One: ‘Smart’phone or ‘Super’phone

January 6, 2010 Leave a comment


Google on Tuesday unveiled its Nexus One and introduced what could be a new market: The superphone. Here’s what you have to decide: Is that Google’s superphone spiel for the Nexus One reality or mere marketing?

At this early juncture it’s hard to tell whether the Nexus One will be a superphone. Nexus One has some neat features—animated wallpapers, neat weather widgets and other items—but do those items qualify as “super.” Perhaps the Nexus One is just a “really smartphone.”

Also see: Live from Google’s Android Press Event: Meet Nexus One

In other words, the Nexus One is snazzy, but it’s unclear whether it’s super, or an iPhone killer (Techmeme).

Among the key features:

  • Every text field is voice enabled. Speak your Tweets. That’s the most impressive thing Google had going.
  • Nexus One is 11.5 mm thin.
  • Runs on a Qualcomm QSD 8250 1 GHz processor;
  • It’s 130 grams, or as heavy as a Swiss Army keychain knife.
  • Does multimedia well.
  • Features shortcuts and widgets, but we’ve seen that elsewhere with the Palm’s Web OS and Motorola Droid.
  • Animated wall papers and personalization features.
  • A 3D framework on the phone for Google Earth.

There’s also a new way to buy Android phones with simple plans and hookups with devices. You can buy a phone with service or without service. With service Nexus One is $179. Without it’s $529. The rub: Nexus One is on T-Mobile at first. Verizon later. Count me out until Verizon comes along.

Are those items super enough for you to pay? The debate may take some time to play out.

Microsoft has its Bing “decision engine” and now Google has its “superphone.” Both have to live up to their advance billing. What remains to be seen is whether the market—all of you consumers and gadget freaks

DELL Experiment on Chrome OS

December 1, 2009 Leave a comment
By Stephen Shankland, CNET
Tuesday, December 01, 2009 09:25 AM

Dell has released an experimental version of Google’s Chrome OS adapted for its own Mini 10v netbook.

Earlier this month, Google released the source code underlying the Chrome OS browser-based operating system; the first version of the software won’t be complete until 2010, when it will become available only when purchased on a computer. But because it is open source software, others can sample it today if they’re willing to build it themselves.

That’s what Doug Anson, a technology strategist for Dell, did.

“I’ve been doing some tinkering over the last few days working to get our Dell Mini 10v up and running with ChromiumOS. As of late yesterday, I can report success,” Anson said on the Direct2Dell community blog.

Anson released the software so it can be loaded onto an 8GB USB flash memory drive. But he offered cautions along with tips to those considering using it. “Use this image at your own risk,” he said. “It comes to you totally unsupported and very minimally tested.”

Chrome OS uses Linux under the covers, but Google intends for the software to run only browser-based applications. That obviously leaves a lot behind, but Google is among several allies working to gradually improve the Web and browsers as a foundation for programs.

In July, Anson said in a blog post that Dell will evaluate Chrome OS, but he didn’t make any commitments to offering a product using the software.

The initial version of Chrome OS is for netbooks, but Google intends to spread it to higher-end computers after that.


Google Showed-off : Chrome OS

December 1, 2009 Leave a comment
By Elinor Mills, CNET
Tuesday, November 24, 2009 10:38 AM

With most computers threatened by attacks coming through Web applications, it’s no surprise that security would be a key piece of Chrome OS, Google’s browser-based operating system that stores data in the cloud.

Google showed off its new lightweight operating system designed for netbooks and cloud computing last week. As anticipated, it will rely on many of the same security features and concepts used by the Chrome browser.

“The browser is the operating system. We’ve expanded the browser to add operating system functionality,” Caesar Sengupta, a group product manager at Google, said in an interview.

Chrome OS uses a combination of operating system-level protections and exploit mitigation techniques to limit the attack surface, or amount of code that can be targeted in an attack, and to reduce the likelihood of an attack being successful. “The biggest security impact is that all applications run within the browser,” Sengupta said.

Chrome relies heavily on sandboxing, keeping different processes and applications in separate partitions. This limits the interaction between applications and the OS kernel.

For example, with conventional operating systems, if an application crashes, it can crash or otherwise affect other programs that are running, Sengupta said. “But if everything is sandboxed, that becomes more difficult to do,” he added.

Many systems are compromised by deceptive attacks, such as when a user opens an innocent-looking PowerPoint file which unleashes a virus or other malware that can get access to everything on the computer.

With Chrome, “applications can’t just download any binary and run it,” Sengupta said.

Chrome has a verified boot process that uses cryptography to ensure that the Linux kernel, the nonvolatile system memory, and the partition table are not tampered with when the system starts up, according to a security overview of Chrome. (Google security engineer Will Drewry explains the security concepts of Chrome OS in a video on YouTube.)

“Right now, on your conventional operating system, any kind of process can run, which makes it difficult to predict what any process will do,” Sengupta said. “On Chrome, because the whole operating system is essentially signed by Google, there is a lot we can do to make it secure.”

If an application manages somehow to break out of the browser sandbox, to get through the kernel hardening and processing infrastructure, and manages to change something on the operating system, the changes will be detected the next time the user boots up the machine. “As soon as it detects something is different and not signed by Google, it will warn the user and try to clean itself again,” Sengupta said.

Cleaning up is easier than with a standard operating system, too, because the system data is separated from the user data, which includes user preferences, system settings, and a local cache of data stored on the Google servers in the cloud, he said.

All user data stored by the operating system, browser, and any plug-ins are encrypted and users cannot access each others’ data on a shared device, according to the Chrome OS security page.

Meanwhile, Chrome will automatically update to get the most recent software and patches for the operating system, just like the Chrome browser updates in the background while users are online, Sengupta said. Users will not run the risk of having their system get infected or compromised before they can install updates, as happens with Windows and other software.

In addition, the antiphishing technology found in the Chrome browser will protect Chrome OS users from inadvertently visiting malicious Web sites, he said.

Google is publishing detailed design documents on Chrome OS, which will allow security experts to scour the code for weaknesses over the next year before the operating system is released to the public, according to Sengupta.

There are some security and networking technologies that are supported in other operating systems that Google is passing on, at least for now.

Google will keep an eye on biometric authentication technologies, but believes that the cost/reliability trade-off is not where it needs to be just yet, according to the security overview for Chrome OS. Smart cards and USB crypto tokens are “interesting technology, but we don’t want our users to have to keep track of a physically distinct item just to use their devices,” the overview concludes.

Google is likewise not interested in Bluetooth, a wireless protocol widely used in laptops and handheld devices. “Bluetooth adds a whole new software stack to our login/screenlocker code that could potentially be buggy, and the security of the pairing protocol has been criticized in the past,” the security overview says

Lesson from IKEA: advert using Facebook

November 25, 2009 Leave a comment

Maybe some of you has seen this video,
For those of you who hasn’t,

Watch this video.

IKEA smartly use Facebook to make people as their ambassador, and willing  to promote the product to their friends.

Personally, I’m using Facebook and Twitter to promote this blog… with facebook URL share and hashtag &  retweeting on Twitter, the hit of this blog is quite awesome (with minor(none) effort to advertise)

What else can we do using this social networking awesome ? ^_^

Android vs Symbian

November 17, 2009 4 comments


In the battle of the open-source mobile platforms, developers have at least two choices: Google Android, which is open source but (relatively) closed development, or Symbian, which is open source…once it gets around to releasing the full source code.

Guess which one is winning?

You can’t code me, but at least you can buy me.

(Credit: Google)

Gartner expects Android to become the second-most popular mobile platform within the next few years as it continues to gobble up Symbian’s declining market share.

But why?

Symbian has been dismissive of Google Android, as well as smaller upstarts like the LiMo Foundation, arguing that the latter is overly focused on middleware for wireless operators and the former is fake open source with more hype than substance.

All of which might be true, but the reality is that it seems to be working for Android. Google has been signing new handset manufacturers at a frenetic pace, while Symbian has been holding steady with Nokia…and that’s about it.

Despite Symbian announcing new handsets, Google is actually shipping Android. There’s a big difference between marketing and reality. Google Android offers the latter.

For all the buzz that Android gets from developers, its success owes more to handset manufacturers than to open-source developers. Handset manufacturers and wireless carriers are hungry for alternatives to surging Apple and declining Microsoft. And while others may not be seeing source code in copious amounts, handset manufacturers are apparently getting their fill.

More than this, though, Google gives them a safe, consumer-friendly brand. Symbian does not.

This is the reason Google Android is winning. It’s not about developers–at least, not yet. Neither Symbian nor Android really offers developers open communities and open code.

No, the difference today is brand. Google has it. Symbian does not, and that’s despite decade-long dominance of the mobile market.

Symbian still has a ways to go. It has a weak user interface (UI) that is supposed to get better, but that describes much that is wrong with Symbian today. Everything (source code, revamped UI, and resumption of market dominance) is always spoken of in the future tense.

Meanwhile, Google Android rolls on–not because it out open-sources Symbian, but rather because it out-executes it.