Mobile Phone Free-for-All

While the PC market is dominated by Windows (with Apple getting a small slice and Linux a sliver), the mobile phone space has more competitors than "Dancing with the Stars." There's Palm, Apple, Google, BlackBerry, Microsoft and more. Microsoft has been in this market for years and must be dumbfounded that it doesn't rule.

But Microsoft barely ever says "uncle." It just released Windows Mobile 6.5, which has a full QWERTY keyboard (not full-size, of course) that can either work through a touch screen or keypad.

While proud of its product, Microsoft isn't overselling 6.5. Steve Ballmer admits that 6.5 doesn't have a full set of enterprise features, but that Windows Mobile 7.0 sure will. Meanwhile, the reviewers are pulling out their knives, slashing and stabbing the poor, defenseless Windows Mobile 6.5.

What's your favorite phone OS? Call in your votes to [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on October 07, 2009 at 11:53 AM1 comments


Windows 7 Unfettered and Alive on Netbooks

It's official. The starter version of Windows 7 for netbooks will no longer be crippled.

Windows 7 Starter isn't the beefiest Windows ever, to begin with. It's 32-bit only, can't play DVDs and doesn't have the XP compatibility mode. But originally, someone in Redmond had the brain-dead idea of letting it run only three apps at a time. I'm currently running four apps, and I've just booted my machine!

Do you see a true advantage in higher-end editions of Windows, like Ultimate, versus low-end versions? Give me the hows and wherefores at [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on October 05, 2009 at 11:53 AM5 comments


Long Live XP

IT expert and author Brian Posey thinks that despite all the love for Windows 7, many will in fact stick with good old XP. Why? He offers 10 good reasons.

Many fear that XP product support will vanish, but Posey points out that official support will be around for five more years. XP also doesn't need a lot of PC horsepower, which is a huge advantage over Vista. (But Redmond Report readers have told me that Windows 7 runs great on low-end machines, so I'm not sure I side with Posey on this one.)

Brian also touts XP's compatibility, but I think Windows 7's XP Mode squashes that advantage.

However, recent research backs up Posey's claims, showing that many of you will drag your Windows 7 feet. What are your Windows 7 plans? Send details to [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on October 05, 2009 at 11:53 AM9 comments


Ballmer Is Right About the Mac

If it seems that I've been writing a lot about Steve Ballmer, it's because he's been on a whirlwind tour of speeches and interviews. Let's face it -- the man has a lot to say.

In a recent interview, Ballmer explained why I have yet to buy myself a Mac laptop (even though my three kids old enough to compute all have them). Macs are simply too expensive.

Given that PC laptops and netbook prices are falling faster than Steven Seagal box office receipts, it's no wonder that Apple sales are suddenly flat. Now that Windows 7 offers a faster, slicker, more stable PC platform, Apple really should respond.

Meanwhile, where I used to dream of a Mac lapper, I'm now jonesin' for a Windows 7 netbook. Three hundred bucks ought to get me that dream!

Posted by Doug Barney on October 05, 2009 at 11:53 AM5 comments


IBM and Microsoft Actually Agree on Something

As the previous item indicates, Microsoft and IBM get along about as well as Jon and Kate Gosselin. But one thing they do agree on is helping IT adopt Hyper-V as part of datacenter restructuring.

What does IBM get out of it? It wants IT to restructure around brand-new IBM high-end servers! The two have developed the kludge-ly named Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit for IBM 1.0. (Man, those marketing folks really have a way with words!)

The tool details IBM hardware, does application discovery and then shows how Hyper-V can shrink the number of servers needed in the datacenter.

Posted by Doug Barney on October 02, 2009 at 11:53 AM0 comments


IBM in Reverse, Ballmer Says

There's nothing worse than a boring actor, politician or CEO. That's why I'm such a fan of Steve Ballmer. Boring he's not. Nor is Steve shy.

In a recent interview, Mr. Ballmer analyzed IBM's business moves over the last decade or so and found them wanting. In particular, he wondered why IBM would purposely divest itself of businesses such as network hardware and PCs, and purposely become a smaller, less strategic company.

IBM's logic is these were low-margin businesses. But Microsoft has a different worldview: It will happily lose money or break even just to get into a market it sees as core. If it sticks with the plan long enough, it wins -- like it did with the Xbox.

Has IBM lost some of the sizzle it had back in the PC days? Share your thoughts at [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on October 02, 2009 at 11:53 AM10 comments


Firewalls Losing Their Spark?

In simpler times, a firewall (and some anti-virus software) was all you pretty much needed to protect the network. But times have changed, hackers are more devious, networks are more complex, and company insiders are more evil. In fact, you even have to keep tabs on your own IT folks, as we explained in a cover story three years ago.

This doesn't mean we should ditch firewalls, but instead equip them with additional layers of protection. First, you should get up-to-speed on the latest in firewall configuration -- and don't simply have them at the perimeter.

After that, look for firewall technologies that protect at multiple layers of the OSI stack, including the application layer.

Posted by Doug Barney on October 01, 2009 at 11:53 AM2 comments


Microsoft Lawyers Save Company $388M

Sometimes, even the most expensive lawyers are worth the dough. And after getting a nearly $400 million judgment against it dismissed, I'm sure Microsoft agrees. The whole dispute centers on whether the activation technology for key Microsoft operating systems (you know how much you love product activation) violates patents held by Uniloc. A judge in Rhode Island says it doesn't.

What do you think of Microsoft's product activation? Should the company have to pay customers the $388 million for activation pain and suffering? Send your best legal opinions to [email protected]

Meanwhile, as if Bill Gates needed more good news, Forbes has once again crowned him America's richest man with $50 billion in the bank -- even after giving billions to charity.

But not all legal and financial news is good. Microsoft is still trying to overturn a $240 million judgment because Office violates patents held by i4i.

Posted by Doug Barney on October 01, 2009 at 11:53 AM0 comments


Multicore Mavens

Multicore chips sound pretty exciting. In the same space as a single processor, you can have two, four, eight or more cores. Shouldn't that mean that you have two, four, eight or more times the speed? Nope. In fact, these extra cores do little or nothing unless the software knows how to exploit them. It's a complicated area, one we explored in a cover story last year.

In that article, we highlighted some of the key vendors trying to bring multicore capabilities to today's software. I'm not sure if Intel or Microsoft read the piece, but both recently snagged multicore companies. Intel, which already has multicore development tools, actually bought two: Cilk Arts and RapidMind. Microsoft, meanwhile, nabbed Interactive Supercomputing.

I think it will take years for software to catch up with multicore and manycore chips. But when it does, you can say goodbye to the Windows hourglass!

Posted by Doug Barney on September 30, 2009 at 11:53 AM6 comments


Anti-Virus Free for the Taking

There's one big pain for those of us with multiple computers: keeping anti-virus software up-to-date and paying for the darn stuff!

For low-end uses, Microsoft has an answer, and it's free. Microsoft Security Essentials, formerly code-named "Morro," is now present and ready for download. Just make sure you have a legit copy of Windows before you download it.

This software runs on XP, Vista and Windows 7. And it can protect the Windows 7 XP virtual machine, as well. You don't want to secure Windows 7 and leave XP Mode unprotected!

Are you happy with your anti-virus/anti-malware software? Tell us why or why not at [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on September 30, 2009 at 11:53 AM5 comments


More Bing for the Buck

Bing has two things over MSN Live Search, which it replaces: a cooler name and a slicker interface. Oh, there's a deal to make it the default search engine for Yahoo.

All this is moving the Bing needle up and the Google needle down (albeit by an almost infinitesimal amount). Bing is up nearly 9 percent, and Google is down a whopping 0.1 percent. Once the Yahoo deal kicks in, expect another nice bump for Bing.

What do you like most about Bing, or are you a true Google loyalist? And has anyone tried Wolfram Alpha? Send your results to [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on September 30, 2009 at 11:53 AM2 comments


Google Rescues IE 8?

As an IE 8 user, I'm relatively happy, but I have noticed slow page loads which made me question my cable Internet connection. According to current wisdom, my connection is just fine -- it's IE 8 that's slow.

Google has what sounds like a neat solution: Web developers can invoke the Chrome engine from within IE 8, dramatically speeding performances. The Google Chrome Frame is in beta, but early reports are promising. And all developers have to do is add one simple tag.

Microsoft isn't entirely happy and warns of possible security flaws. And after spending so much time making IE 8 secure, Redmond may have a point.

Posted by Doug Barney on September 28, 2009 at 11:53 AM8 comments