WinInfo Daily UPDATE, May 12, 2003

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In the News

- May Security-Patch Trickle Follows April Deluge
- Nintendo and Sony Show Off Competing Portable Game Players

==== In the News ====

by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

May Security-Patch Trickle Follows April Deluge

In sharp contrast to April's torrent of security fixes, May's monthly security-fix release was just a trickle. The lone May patch, which is rated important, fixes a vulnerability that could let attackers remotely take control of PCs running 32-bit or 64-bit versions of Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP.
"Microsoft is committed to helping customers keep their information safe and today released one security bulletin as part of the monthly schedule designed to make managing security updates more predictable and easier for customers," a Microsoft representative told me yesterday. "\[This patch\] addresses a vulnerability in Windows and has a maximum severity rating of 'important.' The vulnerability could allow an attacker to remotely execute code."
Microsoft says that this month's vulnerability affects the Microsoft Help and Support Center component in Windows 2003 and XP. By exploiting a vulnerability in the way Help and Support Center handles Host Configuration Protocol (HCP) URL validations, attackers can create Web pages that include specially encoded links that, under certain circumstances, could let the attackers gain control of user machines. According to Microsoft, HCP links are similar to standard Web URLs but use the hcp:// prefix instead of the http:// prefix.
Microsoft also rereleased two bulletins about earlier patches, MS04-014 and MS01-052, which address the Jet database engine and Windows 2000 Server Terminal Services, respectively. As usual, customers who want to stay up-to-date can use patching technologies such as Automatic Updates, Windows Update, Microsoft Software Update Services (SUS), and Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS), or they can manually download patches from the Microsoft Web site.

Nintendo and Sony Show Off Competing Portable Game Players

At the Electronic Entertainment Exposition (E3) 2004 trade show this week in Los Angeles, video game giants Nintendo and Sony showed off competing visions for the future of portable gaming. Nintendo previewed its dual-screen Nintendo DS portable game player, which will ship later this summer, and Sony demonstrated a prototype of its forthcoming PlayStation Portable (PSP), which will play movies and video games on its widescreen display. Sony says the PSP will ship in the United States in spring 2005.
Nintendo, which currently owns the portable game market with its successful Game Boy line, says the clamshell-design Nintendo DS, which features identical screens on each half of its hinged body, will be hugely successful with the company's traditionally young user base and will be sold alongside Game Boy models in stores. The Nintendo DS will play Game Boy and Game Boy Advance titles as well as its own unique software.
Predictably, Sony's portable entry, the PSP, is more entertainment oriented and doesn't concentrate only on games. A higher-end unit than the Nintendo DS, the PSP supports wireless networking and uses a new 2" optical disk format called the Universal Media Disc that can store 1.8GB of data. Like Portable Media Centers, the PSP will play movies, music, and photo slide shows. However, some people are concerned about the device's battery life and price, and the Nintendo DS will almost certainly beat the PSP in these two crucial areas.
Neither company announced pricing or precise ship dates. However, analysts expect both products to be priced in the $150 to $300 range. In related news, in a bid to better compete with Microsoft and Nintendo, Sony lowered the price of its PlayStation 2 video game console to $149. Microsoft's Xbox system also costs $149, and Nintendo sells its GameCube console for $99.

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