Exchange 2007 SP3 Is Windows Server 2008 R2 Friendly

A lot of Exchange Server 2007 users just aren't ready to move to Exchange 2010, which while apparently impressive, includes a number of fundamental changes IT must adapt to. On the other hand, many shops are just fine with Windows Server 2008 R2, except that it doesn't run Exchange 2007. That is until now with the release of Exchange 2007 SP3.

SP3 is rather different than SP2, so if you may the move, get your Active Directory experts involved early to make the migration as soon as possible.

Posted by Doug Barney on June 28, 20100 comments

Gartner Guru's Google Guidance

Self-appointed master of the IT universe Gartner is weighing in on the battle between Google Docs and Microsoft's Office Web apps, and the insight is almost insightful.

According to the Gartner aces, Gmail is "good enough" for enterprises. Who said Gartner analysts weren't masters of precise language?

In an even more detailed analysis, Gartner claims Google Docs "isn't there yet." How does that correlate to the famous Gartner quadrant?

The company went on to highlight areas where Google and Microsoft compete, such as in search and mobile computing, something one could discern easily just by looking at Google's product list.

Am I too rough on Gartner? Put on your best thinking cap and tell me why or why not at [email protected] .

Posted by Doug Barney on June 28, 20102 comments

Complexity Makes Cloud Choice Clearer

It is no surprise that despite better user interfaces, computers and networks get more complex every year. I've been covering this stuff since June 4, 1984 and I can't totally keep up. Those in the trenches have it worse, managing new technologies while trying to remember how the old stuff works. According to the Gartner brain trust (and this one I may believe), all this is leading IT shops to consider the cloud since much of the application and network management is handled by the cloud provider.

Is Garter right in this instance, or once again merely in love with its own conjecture? You tell me at [email protected].

Posted by Doug Barney on June 28, 20101 comments

Doug's Mailbag: IE 9 -- Too Little Too Late, Azure Price May Be Too High

One reader responds on why he won't be giving the newest version of Internet Explorer a chance:

Are we on a pilgrimage in search of some browser Nirvana?

I'm sure IE has improved, but what is gained by switching yet again? Microsoft is finally observing security and standards (somewhat) so should I leap up and down with joy? It's just Malibu Stacy with a new hat, for Pete's sake!

I may have to write apps to please all those other browsers, but my personal search for browser perfection is pretty much over. Firefox does what I want and is consistent and it isn't Microsoft or Apple.

Unless Microsoft is going to pay me to try yet another browser that will just end up as buggy and insecure as its last incarnation, I'm done. I'm sure the new IE fine. In fact, I'm sure it's great! But switching browsers is a serious time bandit and my time is worth more than whatever earth shattering changes they've stolen...I mean, finally come up with.

Here's what one reader thinks of Azure's recently released pricing model:

I'm fine with the "per gig" price model, although $10 per gig seems a little high. To me the big unknown (huge unknown) is the fees to read and write to the database. Even if those fees are very low per transaction/per megabyte of data, I think you could easily end up with a huge bill at the end of the month.

Let's say you have an online catalog that is stored in an Azure database. Do you really want to pay Microsoft (or whomever) every time someone looks through your catalog? Think about how much Amazon would pay every month if their data was in Azure! Barnes and Noble would hire people just to run Amazon searches all day just to run up Amazon's cost!

I understand their concern with bandwidth and other resources getting consumed with no consequences, but I would rather see bandwidth limits or something similar. I don't have a good answer, but their answer makes me still shy away from Azure storage.

Share your thoughts with the editors of this newsletter! Write to [email protected]. 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 June 28, 20101 comments

Doug's Mailbag: Ribbon Rage Reignited, Google's Got an Eye on You

The release of the new version of Office brings us a batch of your Ribbon-hating e-mails:

If the 2007/2010 Office Ribbon was better than the 2003 interface, great. It is, however, not better. It adds no functionality that would have better served Office customers by simply adding it to the well-established, clearly user-understood 2003 interface.

I recently installed Office 2010 on a customer's computer and tried to export a .pst file in Outlook.  It took me 10 minutes to figure out where it was located in that ribbon configuration, which only takes 10 seconds in 2007. I don't understand the logic in moving everything around and making it hard for long time users of Office applications to find functions they've used for years.

Doug wrote about two different Google security issues at the beginning of the week. Here's what you have to say:

I figure that my cell phone is traceable. I can deal with that. But Google knowing anything else about my Web surfing, passwords, etc. is unacceptable. There is no reason for any company out there (or the government) to know more than I want them to know. Then again, I never let Google, Firefox or Explorer remember anything for me. Why some people want the world to know everything about them is really shortsighted and asking for trouble and identity theft.

This is exactly why I would not use Google's Chrome -- either the browser, their OS or an Android phone. I wrote you back when the Chrome browser came out that it was nice and fast but that I did not trust Google as to what Chrome might be doing in the background. Now I think we can guess.

I don't know if IE is just as bad but I'll stick with it for now.

You hear these fears concerning the Android system, but I would be concerned about my privacy if I had any "smart" phone -- including the iPhone. Just because programs have to pass the Apple approval doesn't mean that they review all of the code by hand -- that would be impossible. This means there may well already be programs available on the other smart devices that have nefarious blocks of code just waiting to gobble your unsuspecting bits. I find it funny that someone may have already paid $3.99 for a program that may have a worm in it (pun intended).

I don't have the Incredible, but do have an Android phone. I love it. My best one-word description is -- smooth. It just works, is seamlessly integrated and even has me questioning why I bought a Garmin. I do worry about my privacy on the Droid. Not only does it know an awful lot about me and my family (through Facebook), but it also knows where I am and where I go. Google collects a tremendous amount of information about me that I'm not sure I want anyone to have collected, but in getting the capabilities of the phone, I have put myself in this situation.

As for the Incredible issue, I believe this problem is specifically with the Sense UI from HTC, not with the base Android system and UI. I don't have that phone, but believe that Astro would make short work of the files (I use it to trim my current files).

Share your thoughts with the editors of this newsletter! Write to [email protected]. 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 June 25, 20102 comments

Hyper-V Really Moving Forward

I meet with a lot of virtualization vendors, both in my duties at Redmond, but also as the founding editor of Virtualization Review. One thing I hear (and I hope VMware is listening) is that Microsoft is far easier to partner with than VMware (at least for now).

Third parties are hopping on the Hyper-V bandwagon and customers, especially those using Windows Server 2008, are into Hyper-V as well.

And Microsoft keeps moving this ball forward -- most recently increasing the capacity to 1,000 VMs per cluster. I was plenty impressed until I realized the previous number was 960. I guess the pea gets pushed forward one inch at a time.

The VMware vs. Hyper-V war is going to be great. And while one vendor will ultimately win, the customer is the real beneficiary.

Posted by Doug Barney on June 25, 20103 comments

PCs are Dead. Not!

Pundit doofuses love to predict the demise of the PC. And of course they write these lame opinions from, you guessed it, a PC.

IDC begs to differ, claiming the PC market will grow a majestic 20 percent this year. I've got to believe a lot of this has to do with Windows 7, which is far better in my opinion than XP, thought not without its foibles.

I'm on my second Windows 7 machine and some funky stuff keeps going on, nothing that will stop me from working (unfortunately), more like Mickey Mouse behavior I can work around.

Do you experience any Win 7 weirdness? Is your shop finally buying new machines? Report your findings to [email protected].

Posted by Doug Barney on June 25, 20104 comments

Devexpress Does Something Awesome

I was at Tech-Ed recently and our Managing Editor Wendy Gonchar told me about Devexpress. I already knew about the company, which makes an array of great programming tools. What I didn't know is the company purposely reduced its sponsorship at Tech-Ed and used the savings to build a home in New Orleans through Habitat for Humanity. Here's what a spokesperson had to say: "In addition, we asked our customers to donate old computers to the Boys and Girls Club of New Orleans at our shipping expense. In the end it was a small gesture for a city that needs much more help. One of our main goals is to raise awareness that even five years later New Orleans still needs lots of help," says Bobby Edgar, marketing program manager for Devexpress. Nice work!

What's really cool is the company never made a big deal about it, no press release, no nothing. We found out through a casual conversation and asked if we could cover it.

Here are some video links from Edgar you may enjoy: wall raising, extra stuff.

Posted by Doug Barney on June 25, 20100 comments

Azure Pricing Comes Clearer

If you are wondering about Azure, there are probably two main question you have: Is it secure and how much does it cost? The first is still hard to answer and largely depends on how seriously the customer takes security. You can't leave it all in the hands of the cloud vendor.

The pricing is easier to fathom, and this month Microsoft will release a fuller price list.

On the low end, a 1-gigabyte database is about $10 month. This really is the low end. Moving up 5 gigs is almost exactly five times the price. Keeping with that model, 100 gigs is a $100 a month, all the way to a 50-gig database for, you guessed it, around $500. Talk about linear pricing.

There are also fees for writing to and from the database.

I'm no database guru, so you tell me if this is a good or bad deal at [email protected].

Posted by Doug Barney on June 23, 20100 comments

Nasuni Wants To Give You $5,000

Cloud storage startup Nasuni is so interesting that I've already had lunch with CEO Andres Rodriguez twice. It doesn't hurt that the company is right around the corner from my office. In one of my next posts I'll tell you more about what Nasuni does. The short version is that it delivers an on-premise virtual NAS that packages up data so it can be effectively stored on a number of different cloud platforms. The whole idea behind its NAS Filer is to simplify the storage IT has to manage in the shop by adding an externally-managed cloud tier. And the data is encrypted before it moves to the cloud.

To ease fears about data risks, Nasuni is running a contest. It is hosting a public bucket on Amazon S3 which is entirely encrypted. If you can decrypt the data and discover the secret file, you win five grand! Check it out here.

There's roughly a month left in the contest.

If you are interested in details on the NAS filer, there's a white paper posted here.

Posted by Doug Barney on June 23, 20100 comments

Doug's Mailbag: Google's Whistle Blowing Too Loud?

Was it wrong for Google to publicly broadcast a Microsoft security hole? Here's what some of you think:

It was irresponsible for Google to tell people how to exploit the hole (if that is indeed what they did). It is also irresponsible for Microsoft to let a high vulnerability stand once they knew about it (if that is indeed what they did).

As I recall, the last time an XP vulnerability surfaced, you had to be on the local machine to exploit it. If this is the vulnerability to which you refer, it is not much of one if it cannot be exploited without sitting at the keyboard.

That said, Microsoft announced the upcoming retirement of Windows XP in 2007 after releasing Windows Vista. Users demanded that they extend the lifetime of XP. Microsoft responded with Windows XP SP3 and announced a retirement date for XP SP3 for April 2014. More likely than not, XP and SP4 will ship shortly before that date.

Since then Vista SP1, SP2 and (a much improved) Windows 7 has shipped. Users have had three years to prepare for the transition to the NT 6.x kernel.

There reaches a point at which it is unrealistic to expect Microsoft to continue to support Windows XP. If users are too lazy or too cheap to upgrade a nine-year-old OS, I just don't feel very sorry for them.

If Microsoft knew about this flaw all along and did not fix it then I think they are almost criminally negligent and should be made to refund the cost of the software, as well as any costs associated with any damage caused by the flaw.

I applaud Google for exposing it so that it would be fixed. That this exposure has caused hackers to exploit the flaw should not surprise anyone.

It appears that the fellow who exposed the flaw was working with a group of his peers within Google. Unless they are working totally off-the-clock and with NO Google resources (even a copy of a compiler or a notebook controlled by the company) I would qualify this as a Google-sponsored issue.

If that's the case and there is any damage done by hackers, I would go after Google because they allowed the programmer to go public with the information in a reckless way. Also, the employee should also be blameed because he is putting many people at risk.

I'm sure that Google would love to embarrass Microsoft any way they can, but putting thousands of people at risk in the process is corporate irresponsibility.

Google is encouraging criminal behavior. Could it be prosecuted for conspiracy?

Flaws should NOT be advertised so that hackers may exploit them. The owner of the software or platform should be notified so that they may fix it. Even if they do not, it is better not to tell the world that it exists. If you do tell, every hacker around the world can take a stab at it, if they so desire.

Sounds like Google wanted Microsoft to take a hit over this. I trust Google less than I trust Microsoft.

I am one of those that think that all hackers should be taken out back and SHOT in the head.

Hacking should be a major felony, along with identity theft -- 10 years in federal prison, minimum.

I've been the recipient of these attacks.

Google should have told Microsoft about the problem with a phone call (not over the Internet).

Thanks Google. Stupid...

Share your thoughts with the editors of this newsletter! Write to [email protected]. 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 June 23, 20103 comments

Microsoft Takes a Bite out of Fraud

Microsoft, along with the FBI and American Bankers Association, are trying to kill off Internet fraud through the Internet Fraud Alert. The program helps companies know when they've been compromised -- before they would have found out themselves.

Fraud Alert looks for cases where accounts, passwords, card numbers, etc. have been stolen and alerts the victims ASAP.

While I love this kind of thing, I prefer more forensic work so hackers can be hunted down, busted and tossed in the cooler.

What are your thoughts? Are hackers just misunderstood and deserve our comfort or our worst retribution? You tell me at [email protected].

Posted by Doug Barney on June 23, 20101 comments