Microsoft has released Virtual PC 2007 as a free download.
I am not dead, simply very busy as of late.
Microsoft has officially released the first version XNA Game Studio Express.
They have also setup a XNA Creators club which will set you back $50 for a 4 month subscription or $100 a year.
Grab it here: XNA Game Studio Express
Microsoft has released XNA Game Studio Express Beta to the public. Although you cannot yet create retail XBox 360 games with this Beta, developers can begin working with XNA Game Studio Express before the final release this holiday.
This package will allow developers to create games for Windows XP, Vista, and the Xbox360.
Microsoft has officially released Virtual PC 2004 SP1 to the public, FOR FREE!
This is an excellent tool to test new Operating Systems or beta software that may bork your box.
Anything that occurs in the Virtual PC will remain only in the Virtual PC and not cause harm to your main Operating System. Also, you can actually choose not to save the changes to the image, and return the system to the state it was in at the start of your session. It really is an excellent testing tool. I often use Virtual PC or VMWare for development using beta software.
I am really happy Microsoft has decided to offer this product for free.
Virtualization really is an excellent technology, and should take away the fears many users have about beta testing Windows Vista, Office2007, or other beta software and operating systems.
I might also recommend allowing guests to surf the web in a VirtualPC. If you have friends who frequently download and install spyware loaded applications on your machine, this will save you hours trying to undo their damage. Your box will thank you for it 🙂
Software bugs causing you strife?
Wish you could find a way to express your frustration to the developer?
Microsoft has heard your call and has implemented a new feature they call WE-SYP:
If you do not see the video above, you may view video here.
“Imagine a computer that is the size of a grain of sand that can test
keys against some encrypted data. Also imagine that it can test a key
in the amount of time it takes light to cross it. Then consider a
cluster of these computers, so many that if you covered the earth with
them, they would cover the whole planet to the height of 1 meter. The
cluster of computers would crack a 128-bit key on average in 1,000
That is a staggering number. Imagine the difficulty of brute force attacking a 256-bit encrypted key!
He goes on to offer several other quotes, and analogies which really put the difficulty into perspective.
This leads me to another point I would like to make. Always encrypt passwords in a database. Except in extremely rare circumstances there is no reason to store user passwords in plain text. If the user forgets their password it is trivial to generate a new password for them, and store a 1-way hash of the new password in the database. When the user logs in, simply 1-way hash the password they entered (with the same algorithm) and compare the hash to the one stored in the database.
For security, user passwords should never be recoverable, even by administrators. This not only prevents a rouge employee from retrieving a list of all usernames and passwords in the system, but also protects against SQL injection attacks if you make a mistake securing you forms based authentication system.
Below is an example of a simple string in C#:
private string HashPassword (string password2hash)
HashPasswordForStoringInConfigFile(password2hash, “sha1”); return hashedpassword;
For a greater level of security, I recommend using a salted-hash, which
appends a number of random characters to a string prior to hashing.
This method will also prevent potential dictionary attacks. For those interested, David Hayden provides a simple method for adding a salt to hashes.
Microsoft has announced that Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005 Express Editions will remain free permenantly.
Initially, Microsoft was promotionally offering the Express Editions of Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005 free for 1-year to spur development, with plans to charge $49 for them begining in November 2006.
Microsoft has now changed these plans, and the Express Editions will remain free forever.
This Infoworld Article details Microsoft’s change of plans:
“Citing 5 million downloads since November,
Microsoft has cancelled plans to begin charging for its Visual Studio
2005 Express products, which feature abbreviated developer tools for
hobbyists, beginners, and students. The plan had been to price the
products at $49 beginning in November 2006. Thus far, they have been
available at no charge.”
This is great news for the development community as a whole and a smart move for Microsoft. This will continue to spur the adoption of the .NET 2.0 Framework, and will provide provide a wealth of applications and tools for windows users.
If you haven’t already, and have been wanting to begin development with .NET 2.0 Download the Express Editions Today!
As if that is not exciting enough, Microsoft has also released the Atlas Server Controls Toolkit!
I have been playing around with the toolkit for the last hour and all I can saw is: “WOW!”
The toolkit comes with the following pre-built ASP.NET 2.0 AJAX server controls extenders:
- Cascading Drop Down
- Collapsible Panel
- Confirm Button
- Drag Panel
- Hover Menu
- Popup Control
- Reorder List
- Textbox Watermark
- Toggle Button
The toolkit also contains Atlas extender templates for creating your own AJAX server control extenders!