Steve Jobs Is a Genius

Twenty years ago I figured Apple was a goner. By then nearly every non-PC platform -- the Amiga, Atari, etc. -- were either dead or dying. I just couldn't see the Mac or Apple surviving.

But Steve Jobs is way smarter than me, and during his second reign (remember when he got fired from his own company?) built Apple into a computing and electronics powerhouse.

Turns out the Mac isn't all that important after all. Sales of iPods, iPhones, iPads, along with applications and music are where the real money is.

All that led to Apple now having a market cap larger than Microsoft.

The lesson here? Never bet against Steve Jobs.

What is your favorite Apple product? Is Jobs a genius, a control freak or both? Answers welcome at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on May 28, 2010 at 11:53 AM8 comments


HP Laptops Too Hot to Handle

Last year HP had to recall 70,000 laptops due to overheating and possible fires (that's gotta hurt!). Now the company is recalling another 54,000 batteries for the exact same reason.

The recall affects Compaq and HP Pavilion (hey, I've got one of those!) machines. The machines were made between August 2007 and May 2008. If you have one of the puppies, a free new battery could be on its way.

Posted by Doug Barney on May 28, 2010 at 11:53 AM1 comments


Doug's Mailbag: Anti-Anti-Virus, IE 6 Compatability Problems

One reader discusses the connection between security holes, anti-virus software and Windows OS:

It is important to realize that AV makers got started by leveraging the same vectors into the kernel that hackers do.

When Vista hit the streets, Microsoft closed those vectors so effectively that AV makers could not get in! Microsoft was forced to give in and open up the vectors used by AV makers because, unlike non-monopolies, Microsoft cannot do anything that stinks of locking out competition. (Which is, of course, what competition is all about.) In short, Microsoft has (well, had) built protections into Vista that made AV software all but unnecessary!

With Windows 7, Microsoft has taken a different tact. This time, Microsoft is competing directly with AV vendors by offering its own free consumer (Microsoft Security Essentials) and not-so-free professional (Forefront Client Security) AV tools.
-Marc

Here's one reader's thoughts after Doug asks you if you have had any IE 6 compatibility issues in your shop:

We still have a few issues with browsers other than IE6. One of them is our Siebel platform; it will not function on IE7 or IE8. To get around this I'm now having Siebel run as a published app in Citrix so that the workstation can run a newer version of IE while Citrix publishes IE6.

We have one other application from AT&T called Route-It which is a client install going out via port 443 that seems to be having issues with the new browser and is not supported on anything other than IE6. Fortunately it is only installed on one machine. It's possible a browser setting needs to be changed -- we're just now starting to look into it. Also, Route-It has a Web version, but because of its inefficiency,  the user is requesting the fat client for better performance.

Aside from that, most of our other apps seem to be doing fine on a beta of about 20 people running IE8 at my site. We're planning on rolling out to another 20 this week, and then to another 500 or so computers next week due to the success of the beta.
-Travis

 Share your thoughts with the editors of this newsletter! Write to dbarney@redmondmag.com. Letters printed in this newsletter may be edited for length and clarity, and will be credited by first name only (we do NOT print last names or e-mail addresses).

Posted by Doug Barney on May 26, 2010 at 11:53 AM0 comments


Google Apps Lame, Microsoft Says

Microsoft and Google clearly dislike each other and make no bones about it. And as a journalist, this is endlessly amusing. Now that they are fighting in the apps space, things are particularly nasty.

The latest salvo is Microsoft's claim that customers are leaving Google Apps in droves because it just can't match the features of the 25 year-old Office.

You tell me? Do we really need 25 years' worth of features, or is lean software better? Answer me that at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on May 26, 2010 at 11:53 AM2 comments


A Father's Story

Kirk Foutts is not just a loyal Redmond Report reader, he is also an intensely loyal father. Five years ago, Kirk's son Michael fell and was left seriously disabled, incapable of controlling movement. It was so bad that Michael could only communicate with his thumb -- down for no, up for yes.

Kirk wouldn't accept this, and used his IT gifts to craft a system that allows Michael to more fully engage with those around him.

The system is based on a touchscreen that Foutts saw in action at Michael's rehab center.

Foutts managed to procure the touchscreen computer, but it was underpowered and the XP-based unit was unstable.

Foutts ended up buying a touchscreen running Windows 7 that had wireless so his son could stream movies. The only problem -- it still had to run XP software, which was taken care of by XP Mode, a virtual machine for older apps. The new machine even has Skype and a Webcam so Kirk can keep in touch with his son at all times.

Kirk Foutts, you are the man!

Kirk isn't just an IT guru -- turns out he is a gifted writer as well. Read his full report here.

If you‘ve been part of an unusual or groundbreaking project, share your story by writing me at dbarney@redmond.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on May 26, 2010 at 11:53 AM1 comments


.PST Open for Business

Outlook's .PST file format is not always the most intuitive thing in the world, but it is an effective tool for saving personal folders. You could argue that the data contained in .PST files is as valuable as anything in your shop, especially if your company is big enough to fall under compliance regulations.

Microsoft has two tools that give you more control over .PST. On the low end is software that teaches you how .PST works. Once you know the innards, the second tool can come into play. This File Format SDK offers APIs and source code libraries so you can build apps that use .PST or can move data from .PST files to other formats.

Is .PST as clumsy as I think, or is my brain just not developed enough? You tell me at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on May 26, 2010 at 11:53 AM0 comments


Win7 Up, IE 6 Down

When a hot new album (or CD or digital download) comes out, consumers snap it up fast.

When a hot new operating system arrives, it can take years for IT to make the move. There's testing and training, and oh, it can cost a bundle too!

That's the story with Windows 7. While consumers are buying Windows 7 in droves, those of you in IT take a bit longer. Forrester Research thinks enterprises will start refreshing PCs and moving to 7 this summer. In the world of operating systems, that is right quick!

Microsoft's efforts to get IT to move away from IE 6 are expected to pay dividends. By definition, moving to Win 7 means moving away from IE 6. The only hitch is many corporate apps are tied to IE 6. In the old days, you'd have to rewrite these puppies to run on the new software. Now with virtualization, you can run these apps in a virtual machine.

Forrester expects XP and IE 6 to be out of most shops by 2012.

Do you have IE 6 issues? Tell us about them at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted on May 24, 2010 at 11:53 AM1 comments


Shavlik Moves to the Cloud

I recently had a great seafood lunch with Mark Shavlik, founder and CEO of the company that bears his name. Not only is Mark a true technology guru (as aptly profiled in this piece) but he's also one of the nicest people you'll ever meet.

The purpose of our get together was to discuss two new cloud tools -- Opscloud and PatchCloud. PatchCloud replaces server-based patch distribution with cloud-based distribution. Not only is there less to manage, but reportedly the patches can be sent out lightening fast to mass quantities of computers.

OpsCloud takes a similar approach except that it is focused on software management, asset management and the ability to manage ESXi virtual machines.

Are you a Shavlik customer, and if so, why? And does this cloud strategy sound enticing? Answers to both equally welcome at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted on May 24, 2010 at 11:53 AM0 comments


Symantec Nabs Chunk of VeriSign

I remember when Symantec was just a pup. I started covering computers in 1984, two years after Symantec started. Back then the company focused on an innovative PC database tool called Q&A.

The big breakthrough came six years later when the company bought Peter Norton Computing and got into security software. That was the beginning a buying spree that saw Symantec snap up Altiris and Veritas, among others.

Now the company hopes to shell out a cool $1.2 billion to buy the authentication and identity pieces of VeriSign. Expect a big battle between Symantec and RSA if this deal gets approved.

What is your take on Symantec? Share your thoughts at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on May 24, 2010 at 11:53 AM5 comments


SharePoint 2010 Gets Office Push

Remember when Microsoft has about a kazillion different collaboration tools? That was so complicated that customers were stymied, with some opting for a simpler Lotus Notes alternative. In recent years the fog has burned off and the main collaboration product left standing is SharePoint.

Now Microsoft is trying to convince corporate customers to make SharePoint part of an overall system. The latest push involves SharePoint 2010 helping manage files from the upcoming Office Web Apps line.

Here's how it works: You move users to Office Web Apps and they can get their files from anywhere. But instead of trusting the cloud, SharePoint handles the storing and organizing. Not only does this give IT more control, it may be essential for shops ruled by compliance regulations.

Are you a SharePoint fan or foe? Cast your vote at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on May 21, 2010 at 11:53 AM0 comments


Response Point Unresponsive

Microsoft made a pitch for the small-business telephony market with the Response Point phone system. Apparently not enough customers answered the call as the cord was pulled on Response late last week.

If you think this is Microsoft admitting failure, you'd be wrong. Instead of pushing Response, Microsoft is hoping small business will opt for Office Communications Server (OCS), a richer and more modern offering.

Are you using or evaluating OCS? If so, what do you think? Let us know at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on May 21, 2010 at 11:53 AM4 comments


Anti-Virus Actually Pro-Virus?

There is a found flaw in many anti-virus tools that actually provides a perfect entrée for hackers to spread, you guessed it, viruses!

The flaw was found by security concern Matousec, with whom Microsoft is now working with to close the hole. The exposure comes through "hooking," where anti-virus vendors modify the Windows kernel to tie in more tightly.

Access the kernel is the Holy Grail for hackers, and apparently software from Symantec, Trend Micros, McAfee and Sophos all allow this to happen.Some security firms are downplaying the concerns, claiming these attacks are so difficult to pull off as to be a non-issue.

What do you think? Are security firms doing all they can to protect you? Send your answer to my real hopefully unattacked e-mail address of dbarney@redmondmag.

Posted by Doug Barney on May 21, 2010 at 11:53 AM2 comments