Weekend Roundup: Avast and Samsung launch new products, ITPP heads to London's IP EXPO and Windows 8.1 bursts onto the scene

We have lift off: Avast antivirus and Samsung storage launches

ITProPortal touched down in Prague this week to report on what antivirus software creator, Avast, had up its sleeve for its 2014 AV product. In fact, we discovered that the folks over at Avast have very big sleeves indeed, chock full of new features and ideas with everything from a browser clean up add on that removes unwanted toolbar clutter, to a nifty feature that makes users invisible to hackers on public WiFi networks.

Travelling itch not fully scratched, we also found the time to head to Germany for the third annual Samsung Memory Solutions Forum in Frankfurt, which saw the launch of the South Korean technology powerhouse’s fifth generation of enterprise storage products, designed specifically with its new modern, more environmentally-conscious data centre in mind. With the introduction of its new DDR4, PCIE, SSD and 'green solution' will aim to solve common data centre issues by cutting down on power consumption and creating extra physical space for computer systems.

Exciting cloak-pulls aside, we also heard some of the biggest voices in IT offer thought-provoking insights on wider issues. According to Professor Klaus Toepfer, the former German Environment minister, “mankind is acting like a quasi-ecological force”. He believes that the IT industry needs to wake up to the problems caused by an increasing population and use “wasted” unused computer capacity and surplus virtual services to help maintain the planet for future generations.

All things IP EXPO

As well as doing its fair share of globetrotting, the whole team upped sticks this week and relocated the ITProPortal office to Earls Court for this year’s IP EXPO event where we typed, interviewed and live blogged our technological hearts out.

Kicking off proceedings on day one, internationally renowned Internet security expert and convicted former hacker, Kevin Mitnick, opened with a keynote Q&A session. “Antivirus software isn’t going to save you,” he began on a less-than-reassuring note, “it’s only 60 per cent effective.” During the address, Mitnick demonstrated some of the easiest ways that hackers can use social engineering to gain access to people’s data; he even gained access to a computer through just emailed Word and PDF documents.

“Mobile Management Solutions” also dominated chatter in the hall as the growing trend of BYOD (bring your own device) has manufacturers scrambling to invent systems that control and manage the devices handling valuable business data. As Dell KACE’s Jim Docherty told ITProPortal, people “are used to the structured [system of] Windows, desktop, servers – and suddenly there’s these new devices… It becomes a challenge over how do we bring that in, whether we lock it down, and how we work with things that cater to security."

In other news, our interview with Kevin Linsell, head of Service Development for Adapt, revealed his belief that businesses need to implement a “cultural change” around cloud services. He claimed that customers can never completely shirk responsibility for the security of their data to cloud storage companies. “We’re only a part of their business,” he said “so we need to fit with them and understand which bits of security we’re responsible for. Encryption of data at rest, for example. They need to choose their standard of encryption and where they want their keys held.”

What's new in Windows 8.1?

Windows 8’s colourful cartwheel onto our screens last year divided users straight down the middle, with some revolting against Microsoft’s clear bias towards touchscreen devices and others gleefully celebrating the company's attempts to revolutionise graphical user interfaces.

The release of Windows 8.1 on Thursday, then, was a major update and a potential game changer on the pro/contra Windows battlefield. Vital changes included the introduction of a much-beloved Start button and the addition of keyboard shortcuts which remove the need for different touchscreen keyboards.

Enhanced security features, better integration with Microsoft’s Xbox console, and the ability to host a remote desktop connection have also set up Windows 8.1 as the latest in a long line of Microsoft point-one releases that correct the course of operating systems grappling with some serious gripes.