Microsoft Paid Antivirus Set for Rev

While Security Essentials is aimed at consumers, Forefront is geared towards a group with somewhat deeper pockets -- enterprises.

There is a new Forefront client tool coming in the form of Forefront Endpoint Protection 2010, which will replace Forefront Client Security (was this name change really necessary?).

The new software is now in beta and includes a new antivirus engine, and what Microsoft calls "behavioral threat detection." Here, instead of executables running native, they are first tested in virtual environment, roughly akin to a sandbox.

While third parties may not like it, Microsoft is taking the security software market very seriously and will stake out a major role in the years to come.

Should Microsoft compete with the same security vendors that have saved its bacon time and time again? Is Forefront a credible family of offerings? Weigh in at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on July 28, 2010 at 11:53 AM5 comments


Microsoft Free Antivirus Set for Rev

Microsoft Security Essentials is a free replacement for the ill-fated, fee-based OneCare. Microsoft is aiming the software at consumers and netbook users who may not need or can't afford a full security suite but prefer not to have their computer fully exposed.

A new rev is coming and, in fact, appears to be in its second beta iteration. This rev will reach out and scan the network, and has a built-in firewall (so does Windows, so I'm not sure I get this feature).

Unfortunately, this new "network inspection system" only works with Vista and Windows 7.

Have you used Security Essentials? If so, what do you think? Share your thoughts with the world by writing to dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on July 28, 2010 at 11:53 AM6 comments


Doug's Mailbag: The Hip List, More XP SP2 Thoughts

Here are some reader comments on Doug's article on which company keeps it cool:

 "...and Bing -- if you haven't tried it -- is pretty slick."

This seems to imply that if you have tried it, it's not slick.
 - Clay

I liked your editorial. Mentioning Andrew Carnegie and Bill Gates in the same piece was somewhat ironic. Both spent their careers building huge fortunes and both ended up giving away much of those fortunes (Carnegie to build libraries across America, Gates to help the poorest of the poor in Africa). Steve Jobs is of the same generation as Bill Gates (and has built himself a similar empire) but we don't hear much about Steve's philanthropic activities. I wonder why?

Equally ironic is that using the term "cool" these days is not very cool!

You asked what I think about Microsoft: Well, Microsoft is destined to follow in the footsteps of most big monolithic corporations. (The phone company, the cable company and IBM all come to mind.) These entities have lots and lots of customers. Lots of people hate them and lots of people love them. Most people really don't care. While they might introduce a "cool" product now and then, they are never really considered "cool." These kinds of companies never really die but they often just fade away. (Don't be confused. IBM never really faded away. They are still the largest computer firm in the world. They have just returned to their roots as a service firm.)

Apple is chock full of "cool," but what happens when Steve is gone? I wonder if he will leave a lasting legacy (either personal or corporate). Steve comes across as supremely competent -- and equally arrogant. Bill comes across as somewhat of a geek -- and somewhat less arrogant. Yet, in some ways, these guys are cut from the same cloth.

Apple is probably a lot more typical of a computer company than Microsoft. These companies usually spring up overnight, have a few big "cool" products and find themselves displaced just as quickly as they had arrived. In my view, Apple is still a player in very large part because Steve Jobs is a marketing genius. He sells "cool" looking (Dare I say "sexy?") products to well-healed customers. Few people have Steve's vision and sense of style. Who will replace him?

In the spirit of full disclosure, I moved from PC-DOS to Windows in 1987 and never looked back. I did a stint along the way as a Unix specialist before coming back to Windows. I had piddled with Macintosh from time-to-time but never quite "got it." I have never owned one! I have owned more than one iPod and I am listening to iTunes as I write this. (I never tried Zune, and Windows Media player offers me nothing of interest.) I also own a Kindle and have been a BlackBerry guy since 2004.

I got an iPad as a belated Father's Day gift and, so far, I am unimpressed.
-Marc

One more reader shares his thoughts on the loss of support for Windows XP SP2:

For the most part, most people can upgrade to SP3 and continue with support -- unless I misread your report. I have not found any significant issues with SP3 that would cause me to keep working with SP3. The real question is how many computers are running XP, SP1, SP2 or SP3. I think SP2 will still be a significant number but I don't think it needs to be. Most people can upgrade to SP3 with minimal problems. Certainly not the number of problems that SP2 caused.

But I do agree -- If Vista didn't have such a bad release (worst since Windows Millennium), Microsoft would not be facing the rebellion.
-Thomas

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 July 28, 2010 at 11:53 AM0 comments


Adobe Gets More Microsoft Security Help

Is it any wonder that as the Adobe/Apple relationship disintegrates, the Adobe/Microsoft one gets stronger? As Apple spurned Adobe over claimed Flash performance and stability problems, Microsoft was waiting with open arms, ready to help anyway it could.

First up was an agreement to make Adobe patches part of Patch Tuesday. And last week we learned that Adobe has been given Microsoft-built sandbox software that will be used first with Adobe Reader.

The idea is to run PDFs through a so-called "protected mode" so that hackers can't directly access the registry, change files or install malicious code.

The sandbox isn't just for Adobe -- Microsoft is offering it to software partners through a new program.

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


Bad Motherboard

Hackers are a sneaky lot. Not content with infecting our machines with common viruses downloaded from the Web or e-mail, some like the challenge of actually infecting components sold by major computer manufacturers.

The latest example is that some clever dirtbag managed to install the W32.Spybot worm on a number of replacement motherboards for Dell servers.

Brand new or untouched machines are not in jeopardy. What are exposed are PowerEdge R310, R410, R510 and T410 machines with replacement boards.

The work is activated by running the 32-bit diagnostics or updating the unified server configurator.

If the Dell news wasn't bad enough, the company just coughed up 100 million clams to settle claims that it falsified financial reports concerning its dealings with Intel.

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


Doug's Mailbag: Microsoft Knows All?

Here are some reader comments on how much personal information Microsoft actually knows about customers:

I'll guarantee you that Microsoft knows LESS about you than your local grocer does. (And the grocer doesn't even pretend to protect your privacy.) All over America, people sign up for "discount" cards in exchange for personal information (essentially, buying habits). We give out our snail-mail addresses as quickly as we give out our e-mail addresses and our cell phone numbers.

Microsoft knows exactly what we allow them to know when we agree to share system performance information. When we sign up for newsletters. When we connect ourselves perpetually to the Internet. When we don't use AV software, spyware detectors, firewalls or routers to isolate our computers from the Internet. We don't even use common sense when using e-mail or the Web.

The federal government created the HPPA laws to protect our privacy, and the first thing our doctors do is ask us to sign a waiver to release them from these privacy restrictions.

Our kids put every aspect of their lives on Facebook and then get upset when their parents, teachers or (prospective) employers look them up.

If you don't want to share information, then don't. But, don't demonize those entities with which you DO share personal information.

That's my two cents.
-Marc

Interesting idea, Doug. We will let the people who are gathering the information about us tell us what they have. They would never lie would they? As if any manager at Microsoft or Google knows what his people are doing every minute. The reality is, we should all be actively engaged in lying to the data gatherers so they do not know what to believe.  Since you have surrendered your life to people you do not know, you should simply quit worrying about it. It is already too late.
-Anonymous

Am I becoming a Redmond fanboy and, therefore, missing what Microsoft is up to? Or is it really concerned about your privacy?

Maybe a little of both...
-Vicke

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 July 26, 2010 at 11:53 AM0 comments


100,000 VMs in One Big Box

In 1968 IBM invented virtualization with the release of the IBM System/360 Model 67 mainframe. IBM never gave up on the concept and last week released the zEnterprise mainframe, a beast that can handle some 100,000 virtual machines, or what Big Blue refers to as a "datacenter in a box." (I think I've heard Sun use the same nomenclature.)

While this monster is outside the realm of most shops, conceptually, the approach is sound -- have one big box act as thousands, reducing complexity and shrinking data centers and associated energy costs.

The new machine can run Windows, but IBM advises IT to opt for Linux instead, arguing that it's about the lack of visibility into source code, (and) not wanting to support an OS that 'drag(s) in primitives from DOS."

Is IBM a major virtualization force? Is the mainframe making a comeback in this increasingly complex computing world? You tell me at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on July 26, 2010 at 11:53 AM6 comments


Microsoft Kicks Fourth-Quarter Butt

So Microsoft is done, and Apple and Google are kings. How then can you explain the fact that in this dormant economy Redmond set another record with $16 billion in revenue and $4.5 billion in profit in its latest quarter?

While one could credit the Xbox and Windows 7, Microsoft says all its businesses saw growth in the double digits.

Still, Windows 7 was the star of the show. With some 175 million licenses sold, Microsoft claims that 15 percent of PCs worldwide now run the latest version of Windows.

Online stuff, such as Bing, still loses a ton of dough, but Microsoft has deep bank accounts and can afford to be patient.

Given Microsoft's great financial performance in recent years, why is its stock so hideously moribund? Long and short sellers alike can explain this to me at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

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


Doug's Mailbag: Saying Goodbye to Sunbelt

Here are some reader's thoughts on the acquisition of Sunbelt by GFI:

I was saddened to hear about the sale of Sunbelt to GFI -- I immediately e-mailed the CEO of Sunbelt with my concerns for a possible degradation of customer service and the great products they carry, and said that I hoped they did not lose the name Sunbelt. I have used their products for many years. In typical Sunbelt fashion, the CEO responded personally to my e-mail message the same day. He assured me there would be no degradation in customer service or product, but the name Sunbelt was history. What a great company!

I truly hope that it stays as great as it has been.
-Shon

It seems like GFI is most successful in Europe, while Sunbelt is best known here in the U.S. This might be a great opportunity for each company's products to expand more globally. IMO, one of the best things about this is the lack of overlap between product lines -- hopefully no jobs will be lost as a result of this acquisition.
-Dave

I switched to Sunbelt's CounterSpy about three years ago after I got tired of paying Symantec big bucks just to eat up my system resources. I upgraded to VIPRE when it came out and I love it! It absolutely works and is very reasonably priced! You only notice it's there when it finds something fishy!

The merger has me worried, though, as GFI has much more of a business focus that a home focus. While that might finally help me convince my system guys here at work to give up McAfee, I'm worried the price for my home license may start being priced like a business license at the cost of Symantec (or McAfee) renewal prices. My VIPRE renewal is next month; we'll see what happens to the cost!

However, if GFI absorbs Sunbelt's home use philosophy, this will be a fantastic merger. Time will tell.
-Ron

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 July 23, 2010 at 11:53 AM0 comments


Dell Releases Virt-Based Tool for Secure Browsing

If you want to add an extra layer of security protection between your network and the Internet, you may want to check out the Dell Kace "Secure Browser."

Security is enhanced by using a "virtualized instance" of the Firefox browser, keeping any malware that may be encountered contained from the user's PC. Dell explains that "when using the Secure Browser, any changes or malicious files inadvertently downloaded from the Internet are contained within the secure browser, keeping the underlying OS and computer secure from hostile changes."

The tool, long part of Dell Kace's K1000 management appliance, is now available on it's own -- and for free. Download it here.

If you try it out, be sure to let Doug know what you think by e-mailing him at dbarney@redmondmag.com.
-- By Becky Nagel

Posted by Becky Nagel on July 21, 2010 at 11:53 AM0 comments


What Are Your Favorite Work-Related Mobile Apps?

We're working on a series of articles regarding the best mobile apps for IT managers and admins, and we want to hear from you! What mobile apps have you found to be the most useful in your day-to-day job? Let us know by e-mailing our associate editor Chris Paoli at cpaoli@1105media.com, use "Mobile Apps" in the subject line, and be sure to give us not only the app name but the platform you use it on (iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile, etc.). Thanks!

Posted by Becky Nagel on July 21, 2010 at 11:53 AM1 comments


Microsoft Issues Zero-Day Warning, Fix-It Tool for 'Shortcut' Flaw

On Friday, Microsoft issued a zero-day (a.k.a. "It's here!") warning about a security flaw that can allow malicious code to get through to Windows desktops and servers (including Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2) via "specially crafted" shortcut icons on attached devices such as USB drives.

Although an official patch has yet to arrive, Redmond yesterday released a so-called "Fix-it" tool that can implement the recommended workaround (disabling shortcut files) for you; the support page (KB338619) also offers instructions for doing the steps manually.

A complete list of the affected software is available on the security advisory here.

The flaw is associated with the spread of the "Stuxnet worm." More information on the underlying Stuxnet malware is available here.
-- By Becky Nagel

Posted by Becky Nagel on July 21, 2010 at 11:53 AM1 comments


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