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This NSA document published at the NYT states explicitly that the NSA is attempting to "Influence policies, standards and specifications" for public key encryption, and given that the project described in that same document is about expanding the NSA's access to data, rather than increasing the security of that data, this proves that the NSA is working to weaken, not enhance, public key crypto. That NSA document doesn't specifically mention DUAL EC DRBG, but this NYT story does say that the Snowden documents somewhere list DUAL EC DRBG as one backdoored technology.
Of course DUAL EC DRBG is only one algorithm. How many other algorithms has NSA contributed to? At this point, they're all suspect, because it's obvious now that the NSA is more worried about decrypting communications it intercepts rather than protecting any communications transmitted. So what academics should be doing is independently vetting all widely used encryption technology, starting with anything the NSA is known to be involved with, even peripherally. That is a tall order, and it used to be tin-foil-hat thinking, but like a police officer caught lying under oath causing decades worth of court cases to be thoroughly redone or thrown out, there is no alternative if we want to be sure that nothing else got through.
What about the start search field? Does it replace that? Can I just push the windows key, start typing a couple of characters, and launch my app if it's not in the folder?
Actually, yes. I just tried it now, I hit the Start key, and, yes the stupid Start Screen came up, but just start typing and it automatically searches, just like the Windows 7 Start Menu search. I entered "calc", calculator came up, I pressed enter, and it didn't even come up with a stupid Metro version of calculator, it brought me back to the desktop and launched the regular calculator program. I do think the forced mode switching between a tablet-style interface and a "normal" PC desktop is weird and kludgy. Metro apps should really just run in a window on Windows 8, even if that window is forced to maintain a constant aspect ratio to match the tablet experience. You could even still allow the user to maximize Metro apps to their full-screen "glory," if they wished to do so. But I can see they're trying for a unified experience across PCs and tablets, they just got off on a wrong foot. Hopefully Windows 9 will apply some lessons learned.