SQL Server 2008 R2 Due, Too

Nearly three years in the making, SQL Server 2008 R2 is finally on its way. It's due to land in IT shops this May.

Something called R2 doesn't sound that exciting or all that new, but Microsoft often packs a lot of new stuff into these releases. Windows Server 2008 R2, for instance, could have just as easily been called SQL Server 2010.

SQL Server 2008 R2 has some new business intelligence features such as PowerPivot. PowerPivot (can we call it PP?) works with Excel and turns database data into online analytical processing (OLAP) data.

There's way more to this, but I don't have room for an entire treatise. All I can say is that Microsoft thinks PowerPivot is so important, it actually had its own code name: Project Gemini.

Posted by Doug Barney on January 25, 2010 at 11:53 AM1 comments


Lotus Notes a Social Animal?

I used Notes in a past life and didn't much care for it, at least as far as pure e-mail goes. It was clunkier than my rusted-out '96 Ford Bronco (which is my daily driver). But many people love Notes, especially IBM, which is touting an upcoming version that's a bigger social butterfly than the late Truman Capote. (Remember when social butterflies actually had some brains?)

Project Vulcan, a Notes and Domino technology with no set delivery date, aims to help corporations build their own social networks, both for internal use and customer outreach. The technology also lets employees track who is doing what, a feature similar to the activity streams in SharePoint 2010.

Who has the clunkiest daily driver? Tell us about your jalopy at [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on January 25, 2010 at 11:53 AM1 comments


17-Year-Old Hole Found

It took nearly two decades, but a vulnerability in the Windows kernel that affects nearly all versions has been found.

While it took 17 years to uncover, it also took Microsoft over six months to issue an alert once the vulnerability was known. Fortunately, this elevation-of-privilege vulnerability requires the hacker to have network credentials and local access.

The hole, which is in all 32-bit versions of Windows from NT to present day, should be fixed next month.

Posted by Doug Barney on January 22, 2010 at 11:53 AM2 comments


Google Hole Filled

The hole in IE that Chinese hackers used to hack Google is now fixed.

This particular exploit involves the hacker directing users to malicious Web sites where the real hacking work is done. A combination of bad publicity and a real security threat had Microsoft security programmers working overtime on a patch that covers IE 5, 6, 7 and 8.

Despite the fix for older versions of IE, Microsoft still recommends upgrading to IE 8, as well as Windows 7.

Posted by Doug Barney on January 22, 2010 at 11:53 AM2 comments


Sun One Step Closer to Full Eclipse

I admit it: I'm a huge fan of Sun Microsystems. I like companies with creativity and guts. Sun is no me-too company.

But it soon may no longer be a company at all as the European Union this week approved Oracle's proposed $7.4 billion buyout. It's such a done deal that Larry Ellison is planning a Hugo Chavez-style five-hour company and press event next week on the matter.

I hate when innovative companies get bought. We no longer have an independent Lotus, Compaq or Digital Equipment Corp. Fortunately, there are new companies cropping up all the time. But the sad truth is that in IT, real power is concentrated in the hands of a few.

What's your favorite defunct computer company? Tell us all by writing [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on January 22, 2010 at 11:53 AM19 comments


Google and Microsoft Look at Clouds from Both Sides Now

Google and Microsoft agree on less than Scott Brown and Martha Coakley, so it's no surprise they differ on clouds. Both companies' views are clearly informed by their pasts. In the case of Microsoft, it's always sold software meant to be installed on hard drives with files stored locally. Google is all about the Internet.

All this came out in a debate last week at the New York Technology Council. As you might expect, Google feels that everything can and should be done in the cloud -- with few or no exceptions. Microsoft believes in the cloud, in part because that's what the market believes and in part because it's the natural evolution of software. But Redmond feels that while some stuff should be in the cloud, there's also a critical role for old-style clients. Redmond sees a hybrid approach where data can be split between the two models and even synchronized.

Critics see self-interest powering both attitudes. Microsoft needs to protect its old base of products, while Google wants everything on the 'Net so it can index and sell ads against all this data.

Which company would you put your money on? Send your thoughts, but not your dollars, to [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on January 20, 2010 at 11:53 AM2 comments


Panasonic E-Mail Brouhaha

Earlier this week, I reported that Panasonic was moving a huge number of users from Exchange to LotusLive, a cloud-based e-mail and collaboration suite. Some of you wrote me, arguing that Panasonic was already a Notes shop and had just a handful of Exchange users. And you were right!

Now the plot thickens as Microsoft takes issue with IBM's assertions. Microsoft agrees with Redmond Report readers that only 4 percent of Panasonic users are on Exchange. IBM, wanting this to be a big win, claims that percentage is higher.

Microsoft also argues the LotusLive migration is simply part of an already existing contract, and is nothing new. In the same breath, Microsoft blasts IBM for its declining market share. Aren't these companies a little old for a cat fight?

Posted by Doug Barney on January 20, 2010 at 11:53 AM1 comments


Google Hack: It's All Microsoft's Fault

If the world ran on Firefox or Chrome, Google might still be committed to censoring in China. But with more than half of the market still in IE, hackers took advantage of a bug in the Microsoft browser to hack into the Gmail accounts of Chinese activists.

That's what prompted the Sino-Google conflict and led to Google threatening to take away the special version of its software that censors out anti-government content.

Microsoft admits to the flaw and has posted an advisory, which reported the bug affects nearly all versions of IE 6. With a patch still in the works, Microsoft at first advised setting IE security on "high." Upon further investigation, Redmond realized only IE 6 was vulnerable, and now advises upgrading to a more recent browser.

Posted by Doug Barney on January 20, 2010 at 11:53 AM2 comments


China vs. Google vs. Microsoft

Google is apparently ready to give up on the world's most populated country all because it censors the Internet.

It seems disingenuous of Google to threaten to leave China when Google invades privacy and has for years allowed China to dictate what searchers see on their Google results pages. In fact, Google built a special version of its search engine for China that "self-censors."

That engine was built in 2006, and ever since Google has been apparently happy with China. That is, until a Chinese group tried to hack Gmail to see what dissidents were up to. That has Google so peeved it may just walk away from the country.

While I do think taking a stand on this issue when Google is on the wrong side of so many others is disingenuous (and thank you, Eric Schmidt, for giving me an opportunity to use a really big word), I do find the Google move exciting. Walking away from a billion potential users takes guts.

Meanwhile, Microsoft says it will stay in China and respect Chinese laws. Of course, Hotmail didn't get hacked so there's no real impetus.

I'm not sure that a U.S. company should impose U.S. values on a foreign nation. On the other hand, we may not want to allow our technology to suppress others. What's your take? Fire up Gmail, Hotmail or whatever mail and send your thoughts to [email protected]

[This post previously said that Google's "self-censoring" Chinese-version search engine was built in 1996. The correct year is 2006. --Ed.]

Posted by Doug Barney on January 18, 2010 at 11:53 AM9 comments


Panasonic Exchanges E-Mail

Massive Exchange shop Panasonic is giving the Microsoft e-mail platform the boot, not just switching vendors but fundamentally changing the way its e-mail is handled.

LotusLive offers a service-based approach to mail, Web conferencing, social networking and collaboration.

This deal ain't no small potatoes. Panasonic could have over 300,000 users on LotusLive in the coming years. Bet the Microsoft rep who handles Panasonic mail didn't have a very merry Christmas!

There'll probably be more Lotus news next week when the longstanding Lotusphere conference takes place.

Do you use a non-Microsoft e-mail system, and if so, why? Shoot your experiences to [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on January 18, 2010 at 11:53 AM7 comments


If You Think Microsoft Patches a Lot, Just Try Adobe

Microsoft gets a bad rap for security, some of it deserved, some not. Meanwhile, other vendors operate with un-blackened eyes even though their software has more holes than an old Alaskan fishing net.

Last week, we reported that Oracle sent out two dozen patches in its latest round. Now, we find out that Adobe is patching many versions of Adobe Reader.

This doesn't sound like a big deal 'til you realize that most Macs and PCs run Reader to view PDFs. That's a lot of vulnerable machines.

Posted by Doug Barney on January 18, 2010 at 11:53 AM2 comments


SEO the Microsoft Way

Web sites live or die by traffic. Microsoft hopes to pump some life into yours with a search engine optimization (SEO) tool you can have for free. The SEO Toolkit does all the things an SEO Toolkit should do -- it maps sites, finds broken links, helps you select strong keywords and validates your page markup.

Check your systems: The toolkit runs with IIS on Vista, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008, but it will check sites on other Web platforms, like Apache.

Posted by Doug Barney on January 15, 2010 at 11:53 AM0 comments