Doug's Mailbag: MS Lawyers Fighting a Losing Cause?, Beef With Doug's Blog

With the rumor that Microsoft may take their i4i patent case argument to the Supreme Court, here are some of your thoughts on what their next move should be:

Let's recap.
 1. Already removed offending code?
 2. Lost main lawsuit?
 3. Lost appeal case?
 4. Fighting fully substantiated Patent Office claim?
 5. Looking to waste millions of dollars making wealthy lawyers wealthier?

Oops, sorry about #5 there, just got lost in the moment. Seems their efforts could be better spent and money better invested in coming up with new features or applications to draw in more customers. Or they could make existing customers happier rather that just make wealthy lawyers richer. Must be nice to be able to afford to waste the kind of money they are fixing to give away. Face it -- that money is going to the lawyers, win, lose or draw.
-Ron

You indicate that the i4i patent has been upheld by the USPTO. That being the case, Microsoft would have to argue that:

  • Despite two jury trials, they did not violate the i4i patent, or
  • The previous award was not justified

Either one is a crapshoot for Microsoft and my guess that that it would cost Microsoft less to just settle with i4i than it would to send their (undoubtedly high-priced) lawyers to DC.

If the i4i patent was still pending, that would be one thing, but the patent office has made it official so I don't see that Microsoft can justify the cost of litigating it further.
-Marc

Put the lawyers to better use -- firing range targets.
-Bill

One reader calls out Doug on his perceived writing laziness:  

"Virt?" Is it that much trouble to type those three extra letters for "Virtual?" Please don't start another word shortening piece of nonsense; you're a much better writer than to do that.
-Anonymous

 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 21, 2010 at 11:53 AM0 comments


Citrix Makes New Virt Moves

Citrix is like the Rodney Dangerfield of virtualization. While Rodney got no respect, Citrix doesn't get enough. That's because industry watchers focus on the server hypervisor providor, such as VMware, Hyper-V and Xen. And Citrix is only doing okay.

But today, the hypervisor doesn't much matter. After all, they are largely free.

The virt market has matured to the point where the battle is over management, new forms of virt and applications. Measured on these counts, Citrix is doing very well and upped the ante in several areas last week at its annual Synergy show.

Here's a quick rundown:

There's a new XenClient. While bare-metal server hypervisor are all the rage, this is reportedly the first bare-metal client hypervisor. Intel even played a role in the hypervisor, making it sure it is optimized for Intel's latest virt-ready chips. HP showed off machines built just for XenClient, making them multiplatform as soon as you fire 'em up.

Citrix is also still serious about server virtualization, and announced XenServer 5.6, with better load balancing, memory management and power savings.

Do you use Citrix? What do you think of the company and its products?
Share the news at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on May 19, 2010 at 11:53 AM1 comments


Self-Serving Virt Report Probably Right

Vendors often commission research. Some is suspect and clearly self-serving. Some is self-serving but also clean and true. I think the latter is true for Prism Microsystems. The company just released research arguing that IT, in its rush to virtualize, either doesn't do enough to secure these environments, doesn't have good enough tools to do the job or can't afford to do things right.

Less than a third of the 382 respondents are confident that their virtual systems are safe.

One of the key issues is tracking what users do, what they log and measure who is accessing critical corporate data. In all these cases, a minority of IT pros running virtualized shops conduct these activities.

And yes, Prism is a security firm.

How is security different in a virtual world? Tell me for real at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on May 19, 2010 at 11:53 AM2 comments


Doug's Mailbag: The Passing of Sybase, Google and Microsoft Duke It Out

One reader eulogizes the dearly-departed Sybase:

I remember working on Microsoft SQL Server 4 in 1992 -- it still referenced Sybase in the documentation at that point. It was stable, though, and worked well in our environment. Around the same time, I learned PowerSoft's PowerBuilder which made development against the SQL Server database much easier. PowerBuilder for local apps used the Watcom database engine which was an extremely quick SQL engine. Watcom was acquired by PowerSoft and morphed into SQL Anywhere. Sybase acquired PowerSoft shortly thereafter.

So, all of these products (except MS SQL Server) are owned by Sybase now and by SAP overall. All are really good products, but with most large companies, you are either an SAP shop or an Oracle shop (I won't include the others, no disrespect intended) and usually do not buy tools from the other ERP vendor. I think this will hurt PowerBuilder as it has already seen a decline due to the growth of .NET and Java. I hope SAP is able to re-invigorate the product lines and not just cast off PowerBuilder. SAP has major investments in java and ABAP already.

It is kind of funny to note that Microsoft used PowerBuilder internally. In fact, the "datagridview" in .net 2005 is very similar to the functionality of PowerBuilder's "datawindow" -- only 15 years late.
Joe

With Google and Microsoft squaring off to be your cloud-based document solution, here's what a couple of readers have to say about the situation:

I've just read your article about Google getting stronger. Like many people, I have followed Google for a number of years and always used to joke around and say that one day houses would have Google Thin Clients in them…

I think without Google, we wouldn't have seen the Web version of Microsoft Office or today's updates to Hotmail. I think we have a few very interesting years ahead of us, and working in IT means I'm very excited about what the future holds. It'll be interesting to see what amazing solutions are going to be developed by Google and Microsoft. I think there is room for both of them. Google is most certainly capable of giving Microsoft some much needed competition.
Jonathan

NO, NO, NO. I do not trust either MS or Google (or anyone else) to secure my data in the "cloud." I want my data in my business, backed up on my servers and not available to any hacker who wants to try to snag it.
-Jay

 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 19, 2010 at 11:53 AM2 comments


A Quick $200 Million

Want to get rich fast? Forget the lottery or American Idol. Just get a patent that Microsoft infringes upon!

VirtnetX has such a patent and Microsoft just shelled out a cool $200 million to settle the case. The patent involved Virtual Private Networks (VPN), an area Microsoft is pushing with Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. Actually the opposite is true: With this combo you can set up secure private connections without a VPN.

In fact, the offending Microsoft products are generally far older, and include XP, Vista, Windows Server 2003 and Office Communicator.

Microsoft licensed VirtnetX technology, so as Pete Townshend said, "We won't get sued again."

Posted by Doug Barney on May 19, 2010 at 11:53 AM0 comments


So Long Sybase

Sybase is (or was) one interesting company. Founded in 1984, two of the founders, Bob Epstein and Stu Hoffman, quickly became among the most accessible and honest business leaders. SQL Server was brand new, giving Oracle and all the other DBMS players fits.

Then Sybase crafted a deal with Microsoft and Ashton-Tate, a deal finalized behind closed doors at Esther Dyson's PC Forum (I was there, just not behind the doors).

Ashton-Tate quickly fell out as it failed to deliver a truly-SQL compatible version of dBase that would front-end SQL Server.

That left Microsoft with what was essentially a full PC server version of SQL Server. Sybase's thinking, apparently, was databases running on PC-based servers were a small slice of the market. So what's the harm giving one to Redmond?

Things turned out differently as Microsoft used Sybase's own code against it, and Sybase ultimately moved away from the pure DBMS space and deftly maneuvered into data warehousing and mobile tools. The transition went so well that SAP just ponied up nearly $6 billion to buy Sybase. Not too shabby.

Will you miss Sybase, and if so, why? Answers welcome at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on May 17, 2010 at 11:53 AM1 comments


Google Partners Now a Thousand Strong

When pundits claimed in recent years that Google was a major Microsoft competitor I scoffed. That's because back then they weren't. Their apps were bare-bones and the company's enterprise story weaker than a Keith Richards bicep.

But just as Microsoft has done time and time again, Google hung in there and its story slowly got better. Now Google Apps are stealing real business from Redmond, and with over 1,000 Google resellers, these apps are only going to get stronger.

I say good. Without competition, what incentive does Microsoft have to lower prices or fundamentally improve? In fact, you could argue that Google Apps drove Microsoft to build a free (albeit ad-driven) version of Office.

Even some Microsoft partners are starting to push Google. This could get real fun real soon.

Is Google a credible alternative to Office or just another lumbering monopoly? Tell it straight at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on May 17, 2010 at 11:53 AM5 comments


Google and Microsoft: Competition?

While Google would clearly love to replace Office in corporate accounts, the company is also apparently pleased if you use Office and Google together. The latest pitch is for corporations to keep Office and use Google Apps to store files in the cloud. This allows users to get at the files from nearly any device while still using the familiar Office interface.

Microsoft has its own Office cloud strategy, which Google is clearly trying to blunt. Do you trust either to store your personal or work files? Let us all know by writing dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on May 17, 2010 at 11:53 AM5 comments


Doug's Mailbag: Exchange Plans, Cult of Apple, Securing Users

With almost half of shops planning on migrating to Exchange 2010 in the next year, here's a reader's plans regarding the new version:

I'm investigating Exchange 2010 migration. We moved to 2007 last year, but we would like to take advantage of the archiving feature in 2010 (and other features). I will wait for SP1 for sure.
-Adrian

Another reader chimes in on the changing face of Apple's image:

Apple is the cult of tech users. Ever try to debate -- not argue -- about the merits of your PC system vs. their Apple's system? I'm not sure what kind of subliminal messages are sent through that one button mouse, but it has got to be some powerful stuff!

Now their façade is cracking, be it ever so slightly, with the crusade against Adobe Flash and sending the paratroopers to Gizmodo. The Flash thing didn't raise the attention of the general public, but Gizmodo did, pointing out that the Apple faithful will do anything for a glimpse of what they will pay for next.

Who will fall on their swords to defend Apple now, and how much longer will they do so?
-Heidi

After asking readers how they train users in security, one reader responds:

I have found that education of users is very important in helping with security, especially  teaching them not to click or respond to suspicious e-mails, Web sites, etc. Showing some basic examples of suspicious e-mails and how they may attempt to trick you has been helpful. Now the people I work with will inform me about suspicious content so that I can investigate before systems have incurred any damage from malware. Keeping up on the standard processes --  basic network security, firewalls, patching, etc. -- is important. Adding the element of user education brings another tool to your use and further reduces the likelihood of malware taking root.
-Craig

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 14, 2010 at 11:53 AM0 comments


Kagan on the Microsoft Case?

If Elena Kagan is confirmed for the Supreme Court, she may have a say in the future of Microsoft Word.

In case you hadn't heard, software company i4i sued Microsoft claiming Word violated an i4i XML patent. i4i won, Microsoft appealed and i4i won again. Now the patent is fully substantiated by the U.S. Patent Office.

You'd think Microsoft has nowhere to turn, especially since it already stripped the offending code from Word. But no, Microsoft is considering taking this puppy all the way to the Supreme Court. Kagan better start reading up an XML and metacode maps!

Should Microsoft keep pushing, or put its lawyers to a different use? You tell me at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on May 14, 2010 at 11:53 AM3 comments


You Want Office 2010? You Got it!

If you are an average schmoe, you'll have to wait a month to get your mitts on Office 2010 or SharePoint 2010. If you are an enterprise licensee, well you can get the finished goods right now.

I've seen Office 2010 and interviewed many of you that tested this bad boy, and if you like feature-rich software, this Bud's for you.

Office 2010 is truly for the power user. You can do all kinds of crazy formatting, produce videos and slice and dice data six ways to Sunday.

And if you have SharePoint, SQL Server and Office Communication Server, you can integrate and communicate to your heart's content. Perhaps communicate too well.

Posted by Doug Barney on May 14, 2010 at 11:53 AM0 comments


IT Security Fears: What Keeps You Up?

IT is a nerve-wracking profession. You have dopey end-users, unrealistic bosses and vendors looking to squeeze out every dime.

And then you have hacker creeps. Amplitude Research feels your pain and just released a report detailing what worries you the most.

Busting through the network is the number one fear, so say nearly 40 percent of those polled. A close second is "risky user activity" such as visiting malicious Web sites or falling victim to phishing schemes.

Social media also raises IT blood pressure as these sites can give hackers access to information that should really be kept private (especially given Facebook's lax attitude towards privacy).

Finally an increasing number of you are worried that the cloud is insecure, a topic we're tackling in the June issue of Redmond.

What are your biggest security concerns? How do you train your users to be careful? Should Facebook be more circumspect with our information? Shoot your answers, not you buffer overflow attacks, to dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on May 14, 2010 at 11:53 AM0 comments


RCP Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

Terms and Privacy Policy consent

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.