I was never a fan of Microsoft Works. It was just too different from Office in everything from interface to file formats. And that was probably the point -- make it so unlike Office that you had to actually have Office to get anything done.
Microsoft finally gave Works what it long deserved: retirement. In its place, and only available on new PCs starting next year, is Office Starter 2010.
Starter has only Word and Excel, and those versions are reduced-function (which could be good or bad depending on what functions get pulled out). I'd actually like to see these apps and, if I like 'em, to see them hosted in the cloud.
My favorite word processor of all time was from New Horizons and ran on the Amiga. It was graphical, clean, fast and ultra easy. Call me old-fashioned, but I don't see the need for more than a handful of fonts -- unless, of course, you're art directing one of my magazines (and many of those fonts are custom-built). Starter Word could be perfect for me, at least on a netbook.
Do crazy fonts and feature overload drive you batty? Let it all out at [email protected]
Posted by Doug Barney on October 19, 2009 at 11:53 AM7 comments
There's a new editor in chief for Virtualization Review -- and he's already making waves.
Bruce Hoard was the founding editor of Network World, and is now driving Virtualization Review and The Hoard Facts blog. Here's more about Bruce.
This week Bruce is taking a hoard, I mean hard look at the Xen hypervisor. Not only is Citrix pushing Hyper-V harder than Billy Mays used to push household cleaners, but Red Hat is moving away from Xen in favor of KVM which it spent millions to acquire.
Though a relative virtual newcomer, Bruce quickly understood the core market dynamics and used that insight to explain Red Hat's overall strategy and impact on Xen. According to Bruce, Red Hat still has nice things to say about Xen and commits its support. But it's clear that Red Hat has other plans: It sees a three-way market ruled by Microsoft, VMware and Red Hat's KVM.
Does Red Hat stand a chance, or will Xen continue to rule the open source virtualization roost?
Posted by Doug Barney on October 16, 2009 at 11:53 AM1 comments
Nearly everyone is love with netbooks -- they're small, light, cheap, and the battery actually lasts long enough to get some real work done. I've railed several times (selfishly, I'll admit) against Apple for not having affordable laptops or even one netbook in its overpriced lineup.
One man (besides Steve Jobs, apparently) is not a fan of these tiny wonders. Michael Dell is not impressed with the tiny keys, tiny screen and slow performance. Dell (Michael, not the company) believes users are better served by laptops.
As smart and as rich as Michael Dell is, he's missing the point. Netbooks aren't meant to replace your core machine, but to act as a companion -- to be used on the road or anywhere that requires mobility. There's another advantage: By using a netbook, your laptop is safe and sound, and so is the data.
What I want to see built into all netbooks is good synchronization software so any change on either computer is reflected in the other. Is that too much to ask? You tell me at [email protected]
Posted by Doug Barney on October 16, 2009 at 11:53 AM12 comments
Exchange 2010 might beat its own name to market. The 64-bit-only messaging server is now released to manufacturing so it can be bundled up and shipped to you, the paying IT customer. That puts Exchange 2010 on course for an early November commercial release.
Exchange 2010 requires Windows Server 2008, but it can also interoperate with Exchange 2003 and 2007, so you don't have to move all your servers all at once.
One new 2010 feature I find interesting is the ditching of .PST backups in favor of an easier archiving and retrieval scheme. I've never been able to really figure out .PSTs. Am I a dunce or are .PSTs more complicated than need be? Use any mail system you like and e-mail your conclusions to [email protected]
Posted by Doug Barney on October 14, 2009 at 11:53 AM0 comments
I'm always suspicious when a journalist, even one with decent technical chops, calls a true technologist a failure and a bum. Computerworld blogger and longtime Redmond watcher Preston Gralla didn't call Ray Ozzie a bum, but he said something worse to an overachiever like Ray: He said Ozzie is a failure.
This fits the pattern of know-it-all self-proclaimed pundits claiming that Microsoft itself is going down the tubes. For those, I offer this bit of data: A recent IDC report shows that Microsoft drives more IT spending than any other vendor and produces millions of IT jobs.
Now, back to Ozzie. Has he utterly revolutionized Microsoft software? Not yet. Instead, he's laying the groundwork for this revolution through Azure and Web services. Heck, even Bing is turning out to be a solid competitor to Google, or so a dozen or so Redmond Report readers recently told me. Meanwhile, Microsoft is surviving the downturn quite well.
Ozzie, a failure? Nope. But what are your thoughts? What is Mr. Ozzie doing right and wrong? Send you evals to [email protected]
Posted by Doug Barney on October 14, 2009 at 11:53 AM2 comments
Green technology, at a high level, makes perfect sense. Not only do we get to help the environment, but we can save gobs of cash at the same time. And that's the real point: Saving electricity means saving money.
So you'd think IT would be jumping all over it. But in the case of green, you have to spend money to save money. And in this economy, spending money today to save tomorrow just ain't gonna happen. Recent Gartner research bears this out. The research giant doesn't blame budgets as much as the failure of current green technologies, such as energy monitoring tools.
I'm not sure IT should rush headlong into huge green investments, but it should clearly be part of a long-term plan. Am I just a do-good environmentalist or is green a big deal? Don't use paper; send tree-free e-mail to [email protected]
Posted by Doug Barney on October 14, 2009 at 11:53 AM1 comments
The just-mentioned Forrester report argues that Microsoft will be a huge beneficiary of the 2010 tech boom. Recent research for IDC bears that premise out.
The report finds that over the next four years, there will be a nice rise in IT employment. And where will most of these jobs center? On Microsoft technologies, of course. In fact, nearly 15 million people owe their jobs to Redmond. And nearly 6 million more IT jobs are expected in the next four years.
As they say in "Jaws," we're going to need a bigger magazine!
Posted by Doug Barney on October 12, 2009 at 11:53 AM1 comments
Are you tired of buying food in bulk, skipping vacations and driving around that old clunker because of the recession? Help may be on the way, says Forrester Research, which predicts that IT will pick up serious steam this winter.
Call 'em crazy, but analysts at Forrester actually believe we'll have a "tech-boom" next year. I just hope it's not like the tech boom we had this year. That turned out to be more of a kaboom -- as in, the market imploded!
What do you think? Will 2010 be a very good year, or will you still be buying food in bulk, skipping vacations and driving around that old clunker? Let us know at [email protected]
Posted by Doug Barney on October 12, 2009 at 11:53 AM1 comments
Some patches are good. When I was a teenaged hippie, I had nearly a hundred patches hand-sewn on my jeans. The pants were so frayed, my Swedish grandmother replaced the whole backside, which also soon got patched.
Other patches aren't so good -- patches on inner tubes that fall off faster than a 4-year-old on a two-wheeler, and "Patch Adams" are examples of that.
Microsoft patches are almost always good, so I'm optimistic that next Tuesday there will be another fine batch. And what a big batch it will be. Eight fixes are deemed critical (often, that term is scarier than need be).
These are equal-opportunity patches hitting everything from databases to productivity software to dev tools like Silverlight. And, of course, there's Windows. Windows needs so many patches I'm starting to worry about moths!
Most of these tools are beset by the same old beast: remote code execution exploits. Darn them! But the reliable denial-of-service and spoofing attacks also made a comeback. Give the hackers points for bringing back a couple of classics.
Posted by Doug Barney on October 09, 2009 at 11:53 AM0 comments
I've been doing this work so long that I've seen first-hand the move from 16 to 32 to 64 bits (and used my fair share of tortoise-like 8-bit machines, as well). More recently, I've witnessed the rise of multicore processors, which are slowly being exploited by new software.
But like drag racing, the quest for computing speed is never-ending, and the next generation is clearly 128 bits -- with multiple cores, to boot!
Now rumors are flying that Windows 8, likely a few years out, will exploit all 128 bits in a 128-bit processor. And with Microsoft developing tools for multicore, Windows 8 could be one smokin' OS.
But just to warn you, there's only an infinitesimal basis for this rumor. In fact, it comes from a LinkedIn posting from a Microsoft insider apparently working on the project. Microsoft won't even admit this person exists!
What would you do with a 128-bit multicore computer? Crunch the numbers and shoot your findings to [email protected]
Posted by Doug Barney on October 09, 2009 at 11:53 AM8 comments
The U.S. federal government may not always make the best choices (have you looked at our tax code lately?), but in the case of operating systems, it mimics the best thinking of many of you Redmond Report readers. The feds have largely skipped over Vista and are now gung ho for Windows 7.
Other areas of the government, however, are on Vista, and for them the move to Windows 7 will be a tad easier. Apparently, Vista government shops tend to be more disciplined, patch and update their software frequently, and are careful in application choices and configuration. And that's precisely why Vista works so well in these well-run environments.
What did you do to make Vista run smooth? Share your secrets at [email protected]
Posted by Doug Barney on October 07, 2009 at 11:53 AM2 comments
For those who care about market size, SMB means small to medium-size businesses. For Windows IT mavens, it means Server Message Block, which is a way of sharing files.
Anything that shares is a vector for intrusion, and security gurus believe that Microsoft's SMBv2 is ripe for attack. In fact, code to do nasty things to SMB has already been written. But Microsoft appears nonplussed and may or not patch SMB during this month's Patch Tuesday.
Posted by Doug Barney on October 07, 2009 at 11:53 AM0 comments