Does Anyone Care About Green Computing?

Redmond Report is the perfect test as to what's hot and what's decidedly not. I've asked a few times about green computing, and let me tell you, it's crickets out there.

Do you all truly not care about green computing? Has your shop made any moves to achieve greater efficiency and save on power? If not, what would it take for you to be convinced? Write me at [email protected] and give me a lesson in green.

Posted by Doug Barney on November 09, 2009 at 11:53 AM9 comments


You Can't Say No to Windows 7

The push is on for Windows 7, and while your enterprise can resist for a while, it will get harder and harder to hang on to XP as the years go on.

There are lots of ways Microsoft moves enterprises to its newest wares. It eventually ends support (though for popular products the company is either kind enough or smart enough to extend it), and in the case of operating systems, it no longer lets OEMs pre-install.

If Microsoft were pushing enterprises from XP to Vista, I'd be pretty worked up. But we're talking about moving from XP or Vista to Windows 7. In either case, it's a vast improvement.

I know XP has its fanboys, but I only like it when it's freshly installed. After a year or so, it gets all kinds of flaky and is slower than Kevin Federline thought process. But hey, that's just my opinion. You're the expert. Should Microsoft push users of XP onto Windows 7? And what am I doing wrong with XP that it starts to peter out after a year? Answers and advice equally welcome at [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on November 09, 2009 at 11:53 AM17 comments


Windows 7 Upgrades Upgraded

When I first read of glitches with Windows 7 upgrades, I downplayed it, thinking a tiny majority were making a big deal out of their problems while most everyone else did just fine.

You, the loyal Redmond Report reader, set me straight. My mailbag is full of both success and horror stories. If you haven't upgraded yet or want to compare your experience to those of your peers, check out the letters here and here.

The good news is that at least one of these problems has been fixed. With a new "Fix It," Windows 7 should no longer hang during the upgrade (a problem that apparently only occurs when moving from Vista).

We have a ton of letters about Windows 7 upgrades, but could always use more. Feel free to weigh in at [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on November 06, 2009 at 11:53 AM3 comments


Microsoft Slightly Smaller

Microsoft shrunk a tad on Wednesday when 800 pink slips were issued. Lest you think Microsoft is in real trouble, these layoffs are part of the 5,000 jobs the company announced earlier this year would be disappearing. However, it seems that this is, in a way, an additional layoff, and that with these cuts some 5,400 jobs are lost.

I have mixed feelings about all this. The layoffs are not to stem losses, but to protect profits. Microsoft still makes gobs of money. Then again, we live in a capitalist society and Microsoft is a public company beholden to shareholders.

What's your take? Are layoffs in pursuit of profits just part of the American way, or a tawdry way to treat people you thought were smart enough to hire? Answers welcome at [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on November 06, 2009 at 11:53 AM17 comments


Security That's Free Seems Not That Secure

This post has been brought to you by Michael Domingo, executive editor of new media. Michael's filling in for Doug, who'll be back for Friday's edition.

I've been using Microsoft Security Essentials for a few months now, ever since it was downloadable. Good thing too -- the license to my other AV solution expired just as MSE went online and I had no budget to buy anything else.

MSE has been solid so far, quietly alerting me to intrusions once in a while. But, like anything that's free, I've got two worries with MSE: One, how much longer will it remain free? Two, how long will it continue to keep out the riff-raff (that is, will I have to pay in more ways than one later on)?

So tell me: Am I foolish to be so trusting of MSE? What else should I be doing as a fall-back plan? If you're using it, what are your experiences with MSE so far? Send in your answers to [email protected]

Posted by Michael Domingo on November 04, 2009 at 11:53 AM5 comments


Windows 7 Upgrade Workaround a 'Hack'?

Doug is out for today, but will be back for Friday's edition. Meanwhile, helping fill in for him today is Online News Editor Kurt Mackie.

Microsoft rolled out its latest OS last month during a profound world economic downturn. The word "consumer" may finally disappear from the U.S. lexicon as credit-busted, increasingly jobless Americans hunker down, saving perhaps a few lumps of coal for the approaching winter.

Though consumers actually bolstered Vista sales when it was first introduced in late 2006, Vista's poor driver support early on, as well as its additional hardware requirements, steered many IT pros away from upgrading. In fact, IT pros showed such a resolute rejection of Vista that about 80 percent of commercial PCs still use XP, according to a Forrester Research third-quarter report.

Even the ebullient Steve Ballmer wasn't particularly optimistic about current IT spending prospects. He told reporters in South Korea on Monday that while the economy may see some growth, there will be no "recovery." He also acknowledged tight budgets for IT departments.

Given all of that, Microsoft has priced a full version of Windows 7 Professional at $299, according to the Microsoft Store (it's $18 cheaper at Amazon.com). However, if you have a copy of XP or Vista licensed to run on a particular PC and you want to upgrade that same machine to Windows 7, the upgrade version of Windows 7 Professional costs $100 less.

"Necessity is the mother of invention," it's said. Some people are eyeing that $100 "discount" by trying to use Windows 7 upgrade media to perform clean installs. This Windows 7 upgrade "hack," which could cut into Microsoft's Windows revenues, elicited a reaction from the company: The hack apparently can work, according to Microsoft, but the resulting installation is illegal per Microsoft's end user license agreement.

The illegalness of this Windows 7 upgrade hack was emphasized by Eric Ligman, a global partner experience lead at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group, in a Microsoft blog. A reader of that blog shot back, saying, "Why wouldn't Microsoft make a gesture of good faith by rewarding savvy computer users who can pull off the hack with this $80-$100 discount? It sounds like good PR to me, but I am just a savvy computer user, not a PR guy."

Of course, those IT pros who deal with Microsoft's volume licensing policies will likely submit meekly to them rather than try any sort of hack. It's the consumers, that vanishing breed, that will still fight back against a Microsoft policy that compels them to associate the OS license with their aging PC hardware. For them, upgrade pricing and full-edition pricing just seem designed to give Microsoft's profits an arbitrary boost.

Should Microsoft give consumer users a break? And have any of you actually tried the upgrade hack? Answers welcome at [email protected]

Posted by Kurt Mackie on November 04, 2009 at 11:53 AM14 comments


Industrial-Strength Pivot Tables?

This post has been brought to you by Michael Domingo, executive editor of new media. Michael's filling in for Doug, who'll be back for Friday's edition.

An interesting feature in SQL Server 2008 R2 (being previewed at the PASS Summit this week) is the PowerPivot. It's kind of like Business Intelligence 2.0 in that it takes all that important data you collect from SQL Server and packages it up for sharing onto SharePoint Server. End users can then slice and dice the data further without leaving the comforting grid patterns of Excel.

Posted by Michael Domingo on November 04, 2009 at 11:53 AM1 comments


Prepping for Office 2010

There are several kinds of Office users: those that refuse to budge from the older versions with the older interface, those that moved to 2007 and like the ribbon...and those that moved to 2007 and don't like the ribbon. Then there's me. I found the ribbon easier to learn than I anticipated, but am still sometimes befuddled as to how to perform basic functions -- just like Office 2003!

When it comes to migration, there are also several kinds of users. Some may still refuse to budge from the older versions with the older interface. Others on these older versions may decide that Office 2003 is too old and jump to 2010. Ribbon lovers likewise fall into a couple of categories. Many believe the big advance was 2007 itself. Power users may upgrade to get the latest and greatest features.

My 2007 upgrade was pretty simple. I set Word up to save in the 2003 format so I don't spit out .DOCX files that most can't read. Corporations with custom apps, lots of VBA scripts and more files don't have it so easy. Microsoft hopes to help with a set of compatibility tools: the Office Migration Planning Manager. The company is confident that overall compatibility is good, that files are more or less interchangeable, and that VBA scripts will work.

Have you taken a look at 2010? What's your Office upgrade strategy? Fire up Word Version Whatever and write me a note at [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on November 02, 2009 at 11:53 AM2 comments


Help for Windows 7

Microsoft wants to make Windows 7 as smooth as possible. It's trying to fix some upgrade glitches, has XP Mode for older apps, and now has a bevy of new support options.

You can get questions answered via e-mail, Twitter, the Web and -- for the truly well-heeled -- the good, old-fashioned telephone. There's also a set of online repair and diagnostic tools called Fix It, which can pop up when a problem is detected.

Speaking of online support, here's a pet peeve: When I used DSL, the connection would die literally every few days. I'd call support and they'd try to talk me into using online tools. What part of "my connection is dead" did you not understand?

Posted by Doug Barney on November 02, 2009 at 11:53 AM2 comments


Green Advice?

Have you greened your datacenter, server rooms, desktops or even storage arrays? If so, how'd you do it? Your advice and experiences could help drive an upcoming feature story on green computing and datacenter efficiency. Let me know how you can help at [email protected].

Posted on October 30, 2009 at 11:53 AM0 comments


Exchange 2010 Info Trickles

Exchange 2010 is in the hands of manufacturers and should be broadly available for purchase soon. So why is Microsoft still letting its details out in dribs and drabs? So it can get publicity, like this here newsletter item. Once again, I get suckered by the big Microsoft PR machine.

This information is actually of interest to potential customers, so I might as well share. The big news, which customers should and may already know, is that mobile access to Exchange servers is free, or at least that's what a Microsoft blog indicates. But if you want integrated voicemail, you best get an enterprise license, the company says. Overall, the CALs will be roughly the same as previous versions, with Enterprise CALs running at $35.

Oh, and expect yet another announcement in a week or so when the software is formally available. Dang, I might have to write about that, too!

Posted by Doug Barney on October 30, 2009 at 11:53 AM0 comments


No Rush for MS-Yahoo Deal

I've heard so much about the Microsoft-Yahoo search deal that I'm always surprised to learn that it's not yet consummated, and that Yahoo search still drives Yahoo. Looks like I'm going to have to get used to this as the deal is apparently more delayed than a Microsoft software release.

The deal between the two was supposed to be finalized this week, but Microsoft and Yahoo didn't finish their paperwork. Now it's on hold for an unspecified period of time. Since I use Yahoo only for IM, I suppose I can wait a little longer.

Posted by Doug Barney on October 30, 2009 at 11:53 AM0 comments