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Researchware, Inc.

Simply Powerful Tools for Qualitative Research

QuickTime for Windows: Media Support in HyperRESEARCH and HyperTRANSCRIBE

Apple Inc. recently announced that they are no longer supporting QuickTime 7 for Windows. That news, coupled with the discovery of two new vulnerabilities that expose Windows computers to possible attacks, caused some companies to suggest that Windows users should uninstall QuickTime 7. (The ending of support for QuickTime 7 only affects Windows users. OS X users will continue to receive security updates for QuickTime for Mac.)

What does this mean for HyperRESEARCH and HyperTRANSCRIBE users who use Windows, since Researchware's software uses QuickTime for audio and video support?

As part of our ongoing effort to increase the media formats available to our users, we are actively working on support for alternative media frameworks on both OS X and Windows. In the future, HyperRESEARCH and HyperTRANSCRIBE users will be able to choose to use QuickTime or another available media framework.

Until this development effort is complete, Windows users can limit any vulnerability by following good computing practices.

So what to do?

Like many software vulnerabilities, the problem that has cause this concern requires the user to download a malicious file and and play it using QuickTime. A hacker who creates such a file and makes it available for download can exploit the security problem, but only against users who actually download and play that file. Because of this, you are at risk only if you download and play files that you are not sure are "clean".

As long as you are maintaining your normal Windows anti-virus protection and are not downloading or opening any media files whose source you aren't sure about, your risk will be minimal. And although these vulnerabilities were recently discovered, there are currently no reports of these vulnerabilities having been used in actual cyber attacks.

Most of our customers transcribe and use media files they recorded themselves or obtained from trusted sources. We do not expect these recently discovered vulnerabilities in QuickTime 7 for Windows to affect our customers when using our software.

Can I still use your software without QuickTime?

HyperRESEARCH can be used for coding and analyzing text data, even if QuickTime is not installed. QuickTime is required only for playback of audio and video files.

If you leave QuickTime installed, you will be able to continue working with audio and video files in HyperTRANSCRIBE or HyperRESEARCH. Provided you exercise caution with the audio or video files you open with HyperRESEARCH or HyperTRANSCRIBE, taking care to work only with files you trust, you are not likely to be affected by the reported vulnerabilities.

What can I do to continue using QuickTime while limiting any risk of problems?

To reduce your risk even further, change the default media player on your Windows computer to a different media player (there are many to choose from!) This will prevent QuickTime from automatically opening a file as you are browsing the web or navigating through your files on your computer. This ensures that you can't accidentally use QuickTime to play a file whose source you aren't completely sure of.

Here's how to change the default music or video player under Windows 7: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/change-default-music-video-player#1TC=windows-7 (Other versions of Windows should have essentially similar ways of setting the default music video player.) You may want to be extra careful to check to make sure QuickTime is not set up as the default application for any file type. This will ensure that double-clicking a file won't automatically play it in QuickTime.

Where can I find out more?

Researchware is not the only software developer affected by this situation. Adobe and some other companies with software that interfaces with various audio and media formats have issued information regarding continued dependence on QuickTime for some or all of their products. For example, Avid Technology has released helpful and detailed information regarding the announcement and what it means to users who want to continue using their software, which also relies on QuickTime for media support:  "QuickTime Support and Security on Windows".

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this or any other issue with HyperRESEARCH or HyperTRANSCRIBE, please contact Researchware's technical support team.