Microsoft has finally released an early version of its next operating system to the public, known as a “release candidate”, and the early reviews are good.
But concerns about a security flaw have marred the release of the new version.
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Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at F-Secure, told Informationweek.com that the operating system contains a flaw in Windows Explorer, the software’s file management system, that allows hackers to attack other users.
The flaw allows Windows Explorer to hide a file’s identification system, which virus writers use to disguise virus program files as something innocent, such as a text file.
But the flaw is not new – it has appeared in previous versions of Windows and has not yet been addressed.
The discovery of the flaw comes after Microsoft released its “end-to-end trust vision” last year to help improve computer security, with the company saying it is committed to giving people knowledge about security issues.
The test version of Windows 7 is nearly identical to the final version that is expected to be released before January 2010, but the company has said that it is ahead of schedule.
While the operating system was made available for a select number of users last week, the general public can now download the software and install it on any computer.
Reviews of the new version are generally positive, claiming the upgrade performs better than its predecessor, Windows Vista. Samara Lynn from tech site ChannelWeb said the software is a worthy upgrade.
“Microsoft has raised the bar with Windows 7 that had been lowered with Vista. It will be of interest to see if the promise that Windows 7 (release candidate) shows will restore any customers’ faith that may have wavered with Vista.”
Microsoft encountered criticism over the Vista operating system, with complaints over slow performance times and constant security updates that interrupted day-to-day use.
As a result, the company has completely revamped some parts of the software, and has introduced new features such as touch-screen compatibility, a new task-bar similar to Apple’s computer products, and faster response times.
A new feature also allows users to stream music and other media files from one computer to another via the internet.
Simon Bessen from ZDNet.co.uk agreed, and said that Microsoft “has done a lot of work to tune up performance”.
“This is by far the most solid and feature-complete RC we’ve seen…The new OS’s performance improvements mean that it runs on a much wider range of hardware than its predecessor,” he said.