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Windows 7 will know where you are and other programs running will too

Vista left a bad taste in many mouths and Microsoft hopes to clean the palates of Windows Vista users with the coming Windows 7 operating system. Microsoft has plans for a variety of new features that it hopes to hit the spot with computer users.

One of the new features of the operating system is an entire range of new location-based services. Vista has a location-based service in the Windows Weather widget that allows you to type in your zip code for custom weather information.

In Windows 7, the location of the computer will be easier to find according to CNET News. Applications like PC tracking programs and programs for finding friends will be offered among others. Local search could be greatly helped if the computer knew where you were without you needing to type in your city or zip code.

While it's easy for most to see the usefulness in a much more location aware operating system, for some the thought raises serious security concerns. Control options for location aware services are offered in Windows 7, and according to CNET News, the location-aware service is off by default in Windows 7.

The concern is that if users turn the location-aware service on for search or weather, any program running on the computer would have access to that location information. Microsoft says that the reason for this is that the OS doesn't provide the option to let only certain applications access location. Windows 7 doesn't have a method of determining that an application is what it claims to be. Any attempt to limit the access of location information by the OS would be easy to spoof according to Microsoft.

Microsoft Program Manager Alec Berntson said, "We only promise the control that we can realistically give to them (Windows 7 users), rather than trying to promise more than we can deliver."

Microsoft uses two APIs to provide location based services in Windows 7. The first is a low-level API for sensors and the second is an API for location. This allows the OS to use several methods for finding its location. The computer could use GPS, Wi-Fi, and cellular triangulation in addition to simply typing in where a user is.

Once the positional information of the user is found, location-based applications can use the info in a variety of ways. The usefulness of the feature extends beyond mapping and weather. In the end, what applications using the location information are capable of doing is up to the developer. Microsoft will only include a weather widget with Windows 7.

Windows 7 features have been talked about a lot recently. So far, it is known that Microsoft is stacking Windows 7 with improved reliability and performance when using a SSD, multi touch capability, a new task bar, and more.

An exact launch date for the OS is still unknown. However, several sources point to a mid-2009 launch. ASUS has stated that it will have Eee PC netbooks running the Windows 7 OS by mid-2009.

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They already know where I am.
By Clauzii on 11/7/2008 12:01:31 PM , Rating: 3
Certain pages on the net already say "Where to find friends in 'xyzxyz' (insert town name here)!"

RE: They already know where I am.
By TomZ on 11/7/2008 12:18:51 PM , Rating: 4
Right - so in effect, each time you do anything involving the Internet, you are broadcasting your location via the IP address your requests include for reply packets.

This all sounds like much ado about nothing.

RE: They already know where I am.
By DeepBlue1975 on 11/7/2008 12:40:46 PM , Rating: 5
One thing is knowing that your IP belongs to a pool assigned to certain country / region...
And a very different thing is to know almost exactly were you are via a GPS / cell network positioning method.

IE, to know where you are with very little precision, and to know where you are within, say, a 100 meters radius, are two very different situations.

RE: They already know where I am.
By TomZ on 11/7/2008 1:13:51 PM , Rating: 4
Without adding additional hardware, e.g., GPS, to your system and enabling it, this wouldn't change at all.

RE: They already know where I am.
By MonkeyPaw on 11/7/2008 1:34:55 PM , Rating: 4
IE, to know where you are with very little precision, and to know where you are within, say, a 100 meters radius, are two very different situations.

That's why you need to hold the phone as far away from your head as possible. It throws off Major League Baseball's mind reading satellite.

RE: They already know where I am.
By DeepBlue1975 on 11/7/2008 2:20:59 PM , Rating: 2
Good one!

But would you like the wife to know when you went lanpartying with your laptop and said you were just gonna be working late? :D

Seriously, I'm not implying the government would take advantage of this to spy on every individual. But, IE, stalkers would try to take advantage of this.

By quiksilv3r on 11/7/2008 3:10:58 PM , Rating: 2
You wouldn't want Don Mattingly knowing everything about you, now would you?

RE: They already know where I am.
By mfed3 on 11/10/2008 10:05:00 AM , Rating: 2
The PURPOSE of this feature is to make it easier to find yourself and not have to type it in, NOT to broadcast your location publicly and insecurely to the entire internet telling them where you are.

The API is GOOD for developers, shut up about the security, its a location! not a credit card number

RE: They already know where I am.
By Clauzii on 11/7/2008 7:01:25 PM , Rating: 3
Exactly my thought too. Even my 'dynamic' IP is always the same, even after a modem reset. OK, some people don't WANT to be found on the net, so I'm sure they get their way through that system anyhow, should it be used for security purposes.

I actually think I saw some USB-GPS receiver with software, so MS is probably just putting something like that into the OS.

RE: They already know where I am.
By prenox on 11/7/2008 8:46:19 PM , Rating: 2
I know that on cable systems that if you change the MAC address on your computer or router that you will get assigned a different dynamic IP.

RE: They already know where I am.
By Clauzii on 11/7/2008 9:20:10 PM , Rating: 2
I thought so too, but my Canal Digital connection here in Denmark have shown the same the few times I needed to switch off. Unfortunately I can't switch of my modem/router setup without going through the scanning of frequencies which sometimes takes ~1 hour so no powersaving for me. I think it's my (Netgear) router, since I also only can access it with IE. FF doesn't work :-/

RE: They already know where I am.
By grenableu on 11/9/2008 5:32:28 PM , Rating: 1
This all sounds like much ado about nothing.
That's what most of these stories are, just an attempt to drum up some fear and sell press. "OMG, a computer I'm sending my IP address to is going to know my zip code!"

Big deal.

RE: They already know where I am.
By TomCorelis on 11/7/2008 2:16:28 PM , Rating: 2
Well hell, they certainly aren't very accurate. Wow, you geolocated me to San Diego! Nice job!

RE: They already know where I am.
By Clauzii on 11/7/2008 9:22:12 PM , Rating: 2
They never missed my hometown in Denmark. Not that I worry or anything :)

RE: They already know where I am.
By Major HooHaa on 11/9/2008 12:27:14 PM , Rating: 2
I heard that with Windows 7, Microsoft wants us to use on-line applications (rather than ones we have installed on our computers) and the files we create with those applications will be stored on-line. Have I got that right? Imagine your personal letters and copywrited work being stored somewhere in Internet Land.

Now I read that they can pinpoint your location while you’re using those applications.

Two points then... First is that from windows 7 onwards it seems you will have to have a working internet connection to do any work on your P.C.

Second is that Big Brother is well and truly here.

RE: They already know where I am.
By mfed3 on 11/10/2008 10:06:35 AM , Rating: 2
You're dumb and wrong. Get off Anandtech and go to Gizmodo or Engadget

Security concerns?
By Spivonious on 11/7/2008 11:58:28 AM , Rating: 1
I can't think of any security concerns that I would have. So what if an application knows you're in a certain town, or can get your coordinates from the GPS?

Hacker: Ooh, it looks like he's on the toilet.
Hacker2: Okay, let's break into his car while he's occupied.

If anything, this data will be used for marketing and choosing which ads are displayed on webpages, which is already localized based on IP.

RE: Security concerns?
By Mr Perfect on 11/7/2008 1:01:43 PM , Rating: 3
You aren't cynical enough, I guess. :)

Maybe someone could create a malware program that tracks your online purchases and, using this tech, link them to your location. That way, when your spiffy new purchases arrive, someone else is there to receive them.

How's that for cynicism?

RE: Security concerns?
By mindless1 on 11/8/2008 11:00:13 AM , Rating: 2
What if some instable person gets offended by what you write then knows where to find you? There are more reasons it could be a problem than anyone could possibly list at once.

RE: Security concerns?
By Iger on 11/10/2008 4:08:15 AM , Rating: 2
Ahh, but perhaps more people will then pause for a moment before clicking this "Post!!11!!" button ;)

RE: Security concerns?
By elgueroloco on 11/8/2008 1:14:57 PM , Rating: 2
Or, how about, dirty old pervert pretends to be a kid to talk to your kid, uses a program to get your comp's loc, then comes to your house and steals/molests your kid. Now they won't even have to trick your children into meeting them somewhere.

RE: Security concerns?
By Spivonious on 11/8/2008 7:32:26 PM , Rating: 2
How is he getting in the house? When I have kids, I won't raise them to be stupid enough to open the door for strangers. They also won't have computers in their rooms, so contacting the dirty old pervert in the first place wouldn't happen.

RE: Security concerns?
By Siki on 11/10/2008 7:02:43 PM , Rating: 2
If you think having locked doors prevents people from entering your home then you are sorely mistaken.

I like the taste of Vista
By homernoy on 11/7/2008 12:47:45 PM , Rating: 5
"Vista left a bad taste in many mouths"

Everyone has different tastes, and I find the tangy taste and glossy presentation of Vista to my liking, even though it doesn't burp quite as good as bacon.

RE: I like the taste of Vista
By therealnickdanger on 11/7/2008 2:53:14 PM , Rating: 2
Odd, but well said!

RE: I like the taste of Vista
By lumbergeek on 11/8/2008 3:33:23 AM , Rating: 2
Very much so!

RE: I like the taste of Vista
By anotherdude on 11/8/2008 10:26:34 AM , Rating: 2
Vista tastes good, like an OS should

They keep fishing around for a good way of referring to Vita's supposed problems and nothing seems to work. This happens a lot when you are avoiding the obvious - that Vista's problems were 99% early adoption issues and that the current state of the OS is sweet and succulent. Wonder when a tech writer will get some balls and say that?

Why not let the IP do this Job ?
By greylica on 11/7/2008 12:06:56 PM , Rating: 2
For the majority of sites, the location is given by the Ip number, why send an ID to other service ?

Isn´t better to let a service in a browser do this job and with consentment of the user ?

Another stupididy from Microsoft...

RE: Why not let the IP do this Job ?
By SiliconAddict on 11/8/08, Rating: 0
By robinthakur on 11/11/2008 7:57:27 AM , Rating: 2
I used to think it was a crummy feature, but having used the iPhone's geolocation along with apps like Vicinity, Locly and the integration with mapping it is actually useful. Similarly, on a laptop this makes sense. On a desktop, however, I remain to be convinced. As long as you get prompted on whether you want to reveal your location. It is slightly concerning that the API doesn't appear that flexible (from reading the article) as in its either on or off, though no doubt, this might be inaccurate.

By Alphafox78 on 11/7/2008 1:28:13 PM , Rating: 2
kind of how if you launch an app on the iphone it asks if you want to allow it to use location services. like to geotag a photo. not seeing much use unless you have a laptop with built in 'sensors' aka gps.

F**k Windows 7
By UNCjigga on 11/7/08, Rating: -1
RE: F**k Windows 7
By mikefarinha on 11/7/2008 12:15:34 PM , Rating: 4
Oh, go buy a Mac you goon.

RE: F**k Windows 7
By SavagePotato on 11/7/2008 12:22:59 PM , Rating: 1
But Apple charges you for updates from what I understand.

The above poster strikes me as one of the kiddies that is upset at the idea of paying for windows they probably pirated anyway.

RE: F**k Windows 7
By SavagePotato on 11/7/2008 12:28:12 PM , Rating: 2
Oh and lets not forget things like the iphone price drop screw over, they didn't even wait more than a few months, and the iphone was a hell of alot more expensive than Vista.

Look up the madtv "they iscrewed me again" sketch.

RE: F**k Windows 7
By homernoy on 11/7/2008 4:46:12 PM , Rating: 2
The very end of that skit was a bit anticlimactic don't you think? ;)

RE: F**k Windows 7
By Clauzii on 11/7/2008 9:24:45 PM , Rating: 1
Just remember that the Updates from Apple usally contains usable programs too ;)

RE: F**k Windows 7
By Bateluer on 11/7/2008 12:23:28 PM , Rating: 5
I think most people who actually bothered to 1)use Vista on a decent machine and 2) for more than 5 minutes found Vista to be rock solid and very fast.

My Vista 64 install on an E8500/4GB of RAM ran rings around the XP install while boasting the ability to actually use all the RAM, which I've since upgraded to 8GB.

RE: F**k Windows 7
By mindless1 on 11/8/2008 11:03:12 AM , Rating: 1
Then you'd be wrong, the vast majority of the world disagrees, it's only strange microenvironments like here at Dailytech where you'll find a lot of shills that are pro-Vista.

RE: F**k Windows 7
By kalak on 11/10/2008 1:10:34 PM , Rating: 1

I'm really Pissed off with this kind of post....

found Vista to be rock solid and very fast.

This is BULLSHIT !!! Vista IS a solid OS, but is not, IS NOT FAST ANYWAY !!!!!

RE: F**k Windows 7
By Proxes on 11/7/2008 12:27:39 PM , Rating: 2
Just like Windows XP was a free upgrade for all Windows ME customers?

RE: F**k Windows 7
By theprodigalrebel on 11/7/2008 9:49:35 PM , Rating: 3
So don't upgrade. Your copy of XP/Vista won't expire the moment Windows 7 hits retail. If the cost/benefit ratio doesn't appeal to you, don't upgrade. It really is that simple.

RE: F**k Windows 7
By kilkennycat on 11/7/2008 10:45:30 PM , Rating: 3
On the subject of Windows7 vs Win XP, I wonder how many Win XP applications will be broken under Windows7, regardless of any Windows7 backward-compatibility emulation mode? Vista has not been taken up by the majority of the business communities, educational organizations and government bodies because of its very poor backward compatibility with thousands of custom and 3rd-party commercial applications developed under XP. In these recession-type days, updating and re-testing a perfectly good 3rd-party WinXP application just to run under Vista is a criminal waste of business resources. For just one example, Intel has refused to formally adopt Vista as their default Windows operating system for exactly the above reason.

If Windows7 does not fully address WindowsXP backward-compatibility issues, expect a very slow take up by professional users, other than those with near-100% Office style applications - where the Linux-related office-tools are now beginning to make inroads. This is Microsoft's last chance of maintaining a stranglehold on the PC operating-system business. Not providing the missing bridge between Windows XP and Windows 7 for 3rd-party applications will open the door even wider for the bus called Linux.

The sooner Microsoft eschews the purely-spurious bells and whistles like the subject of this article and gets down to designing an OPERATING SYSTEM again, the better - for Microsoft. Leave the bells 'n whistles to a separate set of applications programs designed by either Microsoft or a 3rd-party.

RE: F**k Windows 7
By mindless1 on 11/8/2008 11:04:45 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed, an operating system should be only an operating system, then everything else is a USER CHOSEN add-on even if it happens to be on the same OS DVD.

RE: F**k Windows 7
By epobirs on 11/8/2008 3:46:16 PM , Rating: 2
You really haven't been paying attention, have you?

Windows 7 will have almost exactly the same compatibility profile as Vista, for the exact same reasons. The stuff Vista broke was badly in need of breaking. Microsoft has had guidelines for how and how not to write for Windows for many years. Those guidelines were available to anyone who cared when XP appeared the better part of a decade ago but many developers simply ignored those guidelines and did horribly stupid stuff in their code because it was convenient, even though it caused all sorts of security and stability issues.

Inevitably, Microsoft was pretty much always taking the blame for third party's failures. The only way to stop this was to take the recommendations and make them enforced laws. Vista doesn't allow apps to use the Registry for things it was never intended to do, as one major example. This is why older versions of QuickBooks failed on Vista. Intuit's method for connecting QuickBooks to other apps was nearly guaranteed to trash the Registry over time. They got away with this crap for years, even though they knew it was destructive.

Vista upped the requirements for good coding practices and that meant a lot of incompetently written apps got the boot. Too bad, so sad. As a result, stability on Vista systems is much better than can found on the typical XP box.

Yes, a lot of stuff was broken but for extremely good reason. Transitions always involve some pain. But people who make this transition will be avoiding a lot of problems in the future by outlawing bad apps on their systems.

Developers have had 8 years in which to study the XP logo requirements. Any app that would pass logo testing will run fine on Vista and Windows 7. This doesn't mean developers need go to the actual expense of obtaining logo certification but they should follow those rules internally as if they were going to submit their app for that process.

It isn't like Microsoft did a sudden about-face. The stuff Vista requires for apps to be good citizens was all there when XP was newly launched. By the time Windows 7 launches, its compatibility requirementsas established by Vista will be a few years old and most developers worth a damn will have had ample time to correct their faults. Those that haven't deserve to have their business die as competitors proclaim their Win7 compatibility.

RE: F**k Windows 7
By mcturkey on 11/9/2008 6:56:24 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, for newly written or updated apps this is true. What you're overlooking is that there are many apps that were custom written for a business, and that cannot easily be updated at this point, yet are vital to the operation of that business. Sure, if these were being updated regularly and sold for profit, they'd be fools to not correct compatibility issues. But that's simply not an expense that can be made for custom apps like that.

RE: F**k Windows 7
By JKflipflop98 on 11/10/2008 3:32:36 AM , Rating: 2
If you're dragging a specialized business machine into this, it should be noted that the system's software will be frozen with whatever OS it came with in the first place. Those systems will never, ever see windows 7.

“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads

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