Doug's Mailbag: Tablet Market, Government Involvement in Private Security

Stepping in for Doug last week, Mike Domingo asked about Microsoft's tablet future. Here's one reader's take:

I've been giving some thought to the whole (new) world of tablet computing that the iPad has opened up. The Slate is dead and Courier is a footnote. But there are plenty of other contenders waiting their turn on stage. What kind of computing model are they offering potential customers?

Apple makes a big deal about their "curated" model --  with them having the final say about what apps can be run, what technologies are supported (and not supported) and how these apps are developed. Is this really fundamentally different from the corporate model of the locked-down desktop that we've had for so many years? Approved apps, approved modes of doing things, etc. -- how is the Apple model any different, except in the breadth of the walled garden in which iPad users can play and work? It's freedom, of a sort. A moderated, subtly constrained freedom -- something that a lot of people are apparently comfortable with.

What model is the Windows tablet (if one appears) going to use? Will it be like the Windows PC environment, where essentially anything goes? Or will it be more like the Windows Phone 7 environment, which is basically an imitation of the Apple model? At this point, we just don't know.

We already have these two paradigms of computer usage in place in the video game realm. We have console partisans, and we have PC game partisans. Consoles are locked down, PCs are wide-open. Which model do you favor? How about your readers? Which model is doing well in the market -- one, the other, or both -- catering to different attitudes and value sets and demographics?

I suspect that there's room in the marketplace for both types of tablet computing as well. Except that, once again, Apple has stolen the lead on the other players, and we're seeing a mighty effort to play catch-up.

This is going to be fun to watch.
-Dennis

In light of the news that the DoD is considering taking a bigger role in large corporations' cyber security, one reader chimes in on why this could be a good thing:

If the government doesn't take more control of the Internet then America's security is at risk. With so many companies now off shoring software development, what is to prevent a cyber-attack using our defense weaponry against the U.S.? There are many telecommunications companies that work with the government and promise only domestic support. However, they are skirting the shoreline with phone numbers in the U.S. for those employees in Communist China, Argentina and India. How soon will it be for those countries so close to daily terrorism activities go after our security in the U.S.?
 -Elise

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 June 14, 2010 at 11:53 AM1 comments


New Friday IT Fun

Our new Web editor Chris Paoli loves to scour the Web looking for nutty stuff. As his boss you'd think I'd object such a waste of time, but Chris cleverly turns this surfing into a weekly feature he calls Friday IT Fun.

Last week he found a few doozies, including a cartoon depicting the darker side of Steve Jobs, an Onion story mocking BP paying Google to suppress anti-BP Web sites and a goofy take on Ralph Macchio's flagging career. Friday IT Fun is worth checking out each and every week.

Posted by Doug Barney on June 14, 2010 at 11:53 AM0 comments


Windows Help Needs Help

The help system for Windows XP and Server 2003 has a flaw that could (but hasn't yet) allow remote code execution exploits. For the attack to work, a user will have to visit a malicious Web site or click a bad link in a spam message.

The flaw was discovered by Google which blasted Microsoft for waiting to release the information. Correct me if I'm wrong, but disclosing an unpatched flaw is an open invitation to hackers, n'est-ce pas?

What do you think? Should flaws be publicized before there's a remedy? Send me a malicious-code-free e-mail with your thoughts to dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on June 14, 2010 at 11:53 AM7 comments


VMware Pushes Win 7?

VMware and Microsoft aren't exactly friends. So why is VMware offering advice on moving to Win 7? Because it is in its self interest. You see, Win 7 doesn't run all the older XP apps and drivers, which is why Microsoft built XP Mode to allow virtualization of XP under Win 7.

VMware has what it thinks is a better answer: Package up your old XP environment and run it under Win 7 using VMware Player.

VMware claims its Player is faster and just plain better than XP Mode.

Have you tried either? What are your thoughts? Let them be known at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on June 14, 2010 at 11:53 AM6 comments


There's Bing Envy Over at Google

Visit the top search engine home pages and what do you notice? One of them is stark, plain, all business. But in a weird turnabout, Google seemed to have a bit of Bing envy when it experimented with photos on its homepage. What followed was harsh commentary from all corners of the Web and Google finally coming to its senses, giving the experiment the swift heave-ho a few hours later.

Not everything Google does drips with awesomeness, and you can't blame it for trying. Successful companies have many more failures than hits -- this experiment was definitely in the former category.

My opinion? I'm all for the change. But it's not about what I think, so tell us: Is it time for Google to change its home page or should it leave well enough alone?
--By Michael Domingo

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


Azure Skies Over Florida's Census

Another win for Microsoft in the cloud, as the state of Florida turns to Windows Azure to host its portal for census information. Key snip from the press release: "The Florida House chose to host the application in a cloud environment because application use is expected to be high for only a few critical weeks and then gradually fall off over time."
--By Michael Domingo

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


Doug's Mailbag: Google or the User's Fault?

There have been a huge amount of responses to the case of Lauren Rosenburg's navigation accident. Here's some of your responses:

A couple of years ago, my wife and I drove to Des Moines, Iowa, to attend an event there. Because we wanted to make a weekend of it, we booked a room at a new hotel on the east edge of town. I printed out driving directions from Google Maps so we'd have a hardcopy to guide us as we drove.

We reached the exit on the interstate where we were to turn left and cross the bridge over the highway to get to our hotel. The only problem with this maneuver was that it directed us to an empty field. In fact, the hotel was visible from the ramp, but to the right, rather than to the left and across the bridge. I took matters into my own hands at that point and decided, against the advice of Google Maps, that I was going to go my own way.

Long story short, the weekend was a lot of fun, and we had a great stay at the hotel. The fact that the Google Maps data was totally wrong was just an indication that you have to use common sense when following directions.

This whole situation is relevant to far more than just going from point A to point B geographically. How many times have we been installing or using computer software when we have to "adapt" the instructions to what we actually see on the screen? How many times are the assembly instructions for some consumer purchase less than clear, and we have to work around that shortcoming? How many times has there been an article in a newspaper or magazine that said one thing, and actually meant another, through a misunderstanding on the part of the reporter? In all these situations, we have to be active participants, rather than passive spectators blandly accepting what we're given.

In the case of Ms. Rosenberg, I won't say she was stupid. She could well be called naïve, or gullible, to think that walking along a highway that carries a lot of traffic is going to be a totally safe activity. Did she have no one around her who could give her directions? Was she incapacitated in some way? Who knows? Suing Google for what sounds like her own carelessness seems typical of modern-day America, but I still think the suit should be thrown out. I know enough, however, to expect that she'll get a settlement, and probably her fifteen minutes of fame from all this, however undeserved.

Will I use Google Maps in the future? You bet. I've got it on my phone, and I've used it often. Will I trust it blindly? No -- I've got far too much skepticism about the overall reliability of the data that Maps includes to want to do that. But it is a very handy guide.

Thanks for your reporting on this.
-Dennis

While I feel bad that Rosenberg was hit by a car and feel that the Google mobile app is certainly lacking some important features the full Web version has, she didn't use the good sense that God gave her. This case should not see the inside of a courtroom.

Great writing. Please keep it up.
-Kevin

If there were no cars when she went down the street then it was a good idea. If there were a lot of cars then it was probably a bad idea. But in the end, it was up to her to use her best judgment according to the situation she found herself in and judging by the result she made a bad choice. Can't blame that one on Google any more than if I was using a GPS unit that said I could turn left, but the arrow on the sign in front of me says I can only turn right.
-Jim

An imbecile, clearly.

My car does not warn me that if I drive it into a lake that I will likely drown.
Food packages do not warn me that if I eat too many frozen pizzas that I will barf.
Washington does not warn us that if we elect stupid leaders that our country will suffer.

Shall I sue BMW? Tombstone Pizza? Obama?

If I ever met Lauren, I'd have two words for her (maybe four)
"HUMAN RESPONSIBILITY" and/or "COMMON SENSE."
-Daniel

My vote -- Rosenberg was stupid.
-Scott

Stupid is as stupid does. Google is not at fault. She chose to walk down the road. If I told her to jump off a bridge and she did it, would it be my fault? We are responsible for our own decisions and actions. Now if she paid Google to instruct her where to go, maybe she has a case. She will win her money just because Google will desire her to go away quietly.
-Joe

Why do people insist on abdicating responsibility for their own actions? She should sue her parents for not having a child smart enough to know not to go into an unsafe situation.
-Deborah

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 June 11, 2010 at 11:53 AM1 comments


Microsoft Zero-Day Patches on Upswing

Lost in all the brouhaha of the latest spitting match between Microsoft and Google -- this one about a Windows XP exploit that Google discovered and didn't give Microsoft any chance to respond to before it went public -- is that fact that it's Microsoft's eighth zero-day vulnerability threat this year. According to a Computerworld story, that compares to 10 zero-day threats for all of 2009. That means zero-days are happening at nearly twice the rate of the previous year. Does that make anyone else nervous?
--By Keith Ward

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


Windows XP Deadlines Loom

Several Windows XP deadlines are coming up, both of which may affect businesses. The most important is that end-of-support for Windows XP SP2 hits on July 13. Support for the final XP service pack, SP 3, goes through April 2014, so there's lots of breathing room there. If you haven't upgraded to SP 3, however, the time is now. Microsoft, of course, would like you to skip SP 3 altogether, dump your desktops and replace them with shiny new Windows 7 boxes.

The other note is that this Oct. 22 -- not coincidentally, the day that Windows 7 will be one year old -- OEMs will no longer be allowed to put XP on netbooks, and most will likely move to Windows 7 Starter Edition. It shouldn't be that big a deal for most, since that's what goes out on about 80 percent of netbooks right now.
--By Keith Ward

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


Tech-Ed: Software vs. the Real World

Microsoft's learning event, Tech-Ed North America, is winding down in New Orleans. And the most interesting thing about it is…well, New Orleans.

The opening keynote by Bob Muglia, senior vice president of Microsoft's Server and Tools Business, was about cloud computing (a fancy word for "outsourcing"), along with a recap of past Microsoft announcements.

A lot about the cloud is still murky. Cloud computing can have a dark side, especially when you have to change out your hosted applications, according to Gartner analyst Andrew White. His colleague, Lydia Leong, pointed out that the magic cloud might not be so magic.

One Tech-Ed news tidbit tucked away in the shuffle was the availability of Exchange 2010 Service Pack 1 beta. Microsoft had announced the details about the Exchange 2010 SP1 beta back in April. The beta has some personal archive handling improvements with .PST files, as shown here. It also adds improvements to the Outlook Web App client. But that's about it.

Still, in the background of all of that excitement, there was New Orleans. They are still rebuilding five years since Hurricane Katrina. If that weren't enough, the gushing BP spill spews oil into the Gulf of Mexico with no end in sight. Something's rotten in the country, and we're not talking Denmark here!

And even though Microsoft has its hands full plugging holes in Windows, its engineers still found time to build houses in New Orleans while at Tech-Ed. Steve Andrews, a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for Visual Studio ALM, founded a group called Geek Give that advocates spending some time at conferences helping local communities. What a guy!

Will Microsoft employees next devote time to plugging BP's underwater torrent? Maybe they could inject boxes of Windows Vista into that hole? This needs some think time.

In the mean time, Microsoft has generously donated $100,000 to the Colbert Nation Gulf of America Fund, which will go towards the relief efforts in the area

But seriously, what has grabbed you so far at Tech-Ed? Check out the summary here. Was it the technical nuances of cloud computing and using the Opalis solution to manage services? The scale-up capability of SQL Azure? How about the RemoteFX capability coming next month with Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1? RemoteFX will enable 3-D graphics experiences on remote thin-client devices. Maybe you were wowed by the promise of unified communications with the release of Communications Server "14" later this year?

Tell Doug what impressed you about Tech-Ed at dbarney@redmondmag.com. And please don't mention our national disasters.
--By Kurt Macike

Posted by Doug Barney on June 09, 2010 at 11:53 AM1 comments


Would You Buy a Windows Tablet?

Remember the demos earlier this year of the Windows-based HP "Slate" that may have been nixed because of HP's acquisition of Palm? Yeah, HP's slate was pretty sick, and I would have waited for it if it was coming, but the iPad now looks like a sound choice. Forrester Research makes a convincing case, in a report, that Microsoft needs to come out with a Windows tablet to maintain consumer relevance. If you're reading this post, chances are good you're a Windows consumer. That being the case, if a Microsoft partner produced something like the HP Slate, would it sway you from an iPad? 
-- By Michael Domingo

Posted by Doug Barney on June 09, 2010 at 11:53 AM28 comments


Doug's Mailbag: Google Ditches Windows

Here are some of your responses on the news that Google has restricted the use of Windows throughout its company:

It's an interesting statement against Apple that Google considers Microsoft a competitor and Apple isn't. This is kind of weird because I thought that Apple was actually Google's biggest competitor with the iPhone going against Android.

Or is maybe Google just taking the classic Linux user approach where they are just against Microsoft, no matter what they do? And in that case, maybe Microsoft should just wholeheartedly accept Google so that Google has to be against itself!

But I guess it just comes down to CXOs making decisions without the understanding of the reality of what goes on beneath them. Totally not understanding what the ramifications of their actions really are, you know, just like the U.S. Congress.

Hopefully this just didn't transpire because Google is so cheap that they are going to hoard the $10M or so that they would be paying Microsoft for licenses.
-Ed

As many complaints that I have concerning Microsoft, Google, et al, won't catch them for years to come, if ever. Not only do they dominate the marketplace, the interoperability between their vast array of products is almost profound.

Linux is for geeks. Macs are too expensive. Google operates in the cloud market, which won't be trusted by most businesses for years to come.

Microsoft is for business. And since business do the overwhelming amount of computer training, everyone knows Microsoft. It will continue to dominate for at least another generation or two.

FYI, I'm implementing Small Business Server 2008 w/Office Communications Server 2007 R2. What a sweet package for the Small Business. It has everything they'll ever need for IT, and it's unified.
-Ian

What I have seen at some tech companies is a big divide between the technical/production side of the company and the business side -- when it comes to what machines they need. The technical side uses whatever they need: Windows/Linux/Mac, etc. But at the business end, while the PC dominates, the Mac has gained a cool status and can usually support the business end, when they are using Microsoft Office for the Mac -- there's that pesky Microsoft again. But, Macs are far more expensive than a PC with Windows, with no added cost/benefit (except for the cool status). I guess Google feels the need to spend the extra cash on Macs for the business staff.

But do we really think GE or another enterprise will wake up and say to themselves: "Gee, let's spend all that extra cash on more expensive Macs." The cost benefit is just not there. Maybe someday, but not yet.
-Andrew

As I understand it, the Google hack was successful because they were still running IE6 on some of their systems. Upgrading to 7 or 8 was recommended long ago because of security issues with 6. And, yes, it was Gmail that was hacked. Is that thing out of Beta yet?
-Dana

No, Microsoft isn't under pressure from Google's drop of Microsoft products, nor by the iPad. If anything, Microsoft's cell phone market is practically dead. Windows Mobile 7 is taking far too long to be released and other cell phone OSs, particularly the iPhone and Android OSs, are grabbing a huge portion of the market share. This is where Google and Apple are taking a bite out of Microsoft. Windows Mobile 7 is going to have to be spectacular for Windows Mobile phones to come back with a vengeance.
-Mark

The last company to take such a bold stand with MS was Netscape and that did not end well. Before that was IBM and they seem to have since joined MS rather than fight them.
-Anonymous

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 June 07, 2010 at 11:53 AM0 comments


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