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April: The Cruelest Month

Doug's still on the road at Redmond, Wash. today, but he'll be back on the Redmond Report saddle next week. I'll be covering for him in this issue -- so let's get started:

Eliot famously wrote that "April is the cruelest month," and for 2009, it's certainly turning out that way, as admins will be busy next week getting systems patched up on Tuesday. Two patches to keep tabs on are a fix for IE flaws that were exposed at a recent hacker contest, as well one for an Excel hole.

Naturally, the day after is bound to come with reports of zero-day flaws, just as many of us are wrapping up more important things -- like mailing our tax forms. Ouch!

What's the Word?
Mainstream support for Office 2003 ends next week. For my part, since I'm mostly holed up at the home office without an official Office 2003 license, I switched to OpenOffice long ago. I just can't fork over the dough when there's a free, highly capable alternative.

I'd like to know your thoughts on OpenOffice 3.0, especially if a) you're an admin who's moving to OO rather than Office, b) you switched, only to find out that Office has features that your company really needs, or c) you're running both (and explain why). Your comments might make it into an upcoming feature. Send them to me at [email protected].

A Mac Tax, or a Windows Deduction
Doug has previously touted the virtues of Macs in this column, most recently here. (By the way, click here to subscribe to the newsletter.)

I've got Mac-envy and have been forwarding my wishlist to the IT folks. They tell me to keep dreaming -- my five-year-old, business-class desktop is a solid hunk of hardware that hasn't had major problems, save for a hard drive upgrade about three months ago. Further thwarting my Mac upgrade efforts is Microsoft again dredging up the Mac Tax -- just in time for next Wednesday, of course.

Adobe Bats Clean Up, But Grounds Out
Early last spring, Microsoft Silverlight was the supposed RIA of choice for major league baseball's online game streaming. We saw the demo and then we waited. And waited. In November, MLB Advanced Media benched Silverlight for Adobe's Flash Player.

The baseball season opened this week and it looks like some streaming customers reported poor performance and glitches. Both players look like they need some more time down at triple-A ball.

Mailbag: On SBS
On Monday, Doug asked readers to weigh in with their thoughts on SBS. One reader didn't find much to complain about, while another...did:

I don't play with Microsoft's SBS all that often and have only run into it as an option for a business client a few times. However, the few times it has come up as a possible solution, it has worked far beyond all expectations.

Yes, those granular administrators have to learn to hold back a little and let the wizards do their thing, but in doing so the one server solution -- or as I like to call it, "business in a box" -- just flat-out works. No, it's not for every business out there, but it sure does answer the call when needed.

Let's talk about SBS, first the console. The console was designed in 2003 as a one-shot to do everything. In 2008, it became the "Office Ribbon" -- it is confusing, not laid-out right. It has actually been easier to do things in Server 2003 and not use the console. Also (this is good), when you first log on, the console opens. If you close the console and reopen it, you get a UAC! Since I found it easier to use "Active Directory users and computers," I found you can enable the REAL admin account. WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT? Because it is a SMALL BUSINESS SERVER, there is ONE admin -- ME! I log on to do one thing: administrate the server! This is great, no more UAC. If someone can see UAC, you're already in trouble! UAC is plain stupid on a server!

Let's go to one of the GREATEST things built into SBS 2003: remote workspace and OWA. It was great. Some training on where NOT to use it, and you were set! Now, to connect you need to have the cert file first to install. Then when you go to log on, it wants to do a "computername\username." My home computer is NOT on my work network! Now I have to remove my computer name -- this is STUPID. The company Web page removed the "check my e-mail link" -- again, less usability. I wonder if the effort isn't in making us FEEL more secure, or is this just aggravation? I feel like I am being treated as incapable!

I almost forgot: Home Server has a great backup idea. They did NOT put that in SBS because of resources. RESOURCES. In a time when we have quad-core processors and 64-bit with 16GB of RAM. That is SO LAME. That was the same excuse for pulling SBS Premium into separate boxes. Rubbish.

Share your own thoughts with us by writing a comment below or sending an e-mail to [email protected].

Posted by Michael Domingo on April 10, 2009