Cisco Can't Deny DoS Attacks

Critics like to argue that Microsoft's security is worse than a Barney Fife jail cell. But a quick glance around shows that nearly every piece of hardware or software has flaws.

Take Cisco: Its hardware has been stung by an unrelenting swarm of denial-of-service (DoS) attacks. Where Microsoft patches each and every month, Cisco rolls it patches out only twice year.

Early last week, Cisco put out 11 advisories that are well worth looking into for security-conscious network pros.

Posted by Doug Barney on September 28, 2009 at 11:53 AM1 comments


Windows 7 More Compatible

The success or failure of a new OS has way more to do with compatibility than it does with hot new features or smokin' performance. A lack of apps has given Linux on the desktop less market share than Moxie soda, and it was only after the Mac got real file interchange that it became truly viable for business.

That's why Microsoft is pulling out all the stops to help Windows 7 run as many programs as possible.

One approach is trying to make the OS itself compatible, which Microsoft has clearly worked toward. Next, you get ISVs to tweak or port apps. A third and rather unique effort is creating an XP virtual machine to let old apps run. Microsoft also has an application virtualization tool it acquired when it bought Softricity.

Finally, the latest build of Windows 7 has a few compatibility tricks; for one, it can detect an incompatible program and refuse to run it. Windows 7 also has an update that lets you run some apps that previously broke.

By the way, I want to thank reader Mike G. for helping me get my HP LaserJet 1000 hooked up via a virtual driver. With guys like Mike, I have a huge virtual IT department at my disposal. Now I'm 100 percent in business!

Posted by Doug Barney on September 28, 2009 at 11:53 AM3 comments


Does CNN Get Microsoft?

I lost total respect for CNN when it abandoned coverage of the protests in Iran in favor of wall-to-wall coverage of the King of Pop. Not one CNN journalist publically protested this egregious lack of journalistic judgment. (Anderson Cooper's hair would probably turn white if he heard me saying this, but it's true.)

Now CNNMoney has the audacity to question whether Microsoft is still relevant, just because Larry Ellison asked the question in some artificially provocative speech.

For one, Ellison accused Microsoft of being a consumer company with no real enterprise story. Say what? The fact that Microsoft has the Zune and Xbox does nothing to negate Dynamics, SQL Server and Exchange.

But it turns out Ellison's question and the article headline are just a way to trick you into reading a muddled analysis that ultimately concludes that Microsoft does actually matter. Thanks, CNNMoney -- you had me ready to quit Redmond and go to work for an Oracle magazine. Not!

I guess once again the press is hypnotized by Mr. Ellison's charms.

Random question: Would you change places with Bill Gates? Send your answers to [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on September 25, 2009 at 11:53 AM4 comments


An Eternal Digital Life

I hate to keep bragging about ideas I've had in the past, but in this case I must. Twenty years ago, while I was editor in chief of Amiga World magazine, we built a monster machine capable of storing and editing a couple of hours' worth of broadcast video. It was impressive at the time.

That made me think about what could be done with nearly unlimited storage. First, I thought one could digitize everything that comes over the TV and watch shows whenever you want. Sounds like a TiVo to me. I blew that one.

I also thought that your life, memories, writing, audio, video and photographs could all be digitized, along with a 3-D rendering of your entire body. That, I surmised, could make an amazing memorial. Instead of a passive gravestone, you could have an interactive tour of you for anyone that passes by. In fact, some companies have apparently made or tried to make a version of this in recent years.

Now Microsoft researchers are working on a similar concept. Gordon Bell, father of the DEC VAX and now a leading Microsoft researcher, is putting it into action, digitizing as much of his life as possible. He's recording phone calls (I hope he knows the wiretapping laws of his home state), digitizing pictures, archiving e-mail and saving anything he can put his hands on. Microsoft hopes to build tools that automatically do the same for you.

This is a terrific idea (that I had 20 years ago), but make sure what you save can't be used against you in a divorce, court of law or job interview!

Posted by Doug Barney on September 25, 2009 at 11:53 AM5 comments


Windows 8 Clues Emerge

Microsoft is a better master of the press leak than Deep Throat. A smidge of information turns into a bushel of articles -- such as this one. All Microsoft has to do is post a few jobs and do a quick interview, and suddenly we're all excited about Windows 8. (Hey, I'm happy just to have 7.)

Microsoft watcher extraordinaire Mary Jo Foley is once again in the forefront with this Windows 8 news. According to this longtime Redmond magazine columnist, Windows 8 will have a more secure kernel and vastly improved management hooks.

And for someone who still finds that Windows 7 hangs instead of hibernates, news that Microsoft is working on better sleep and hibernation features is welcome indeed.

Posted by Doug Barney on September 25, 2009 at 11:53 AM2 comments


Dell Confronts Consulting Envy

If you're a large IT hardware vendor, you just have to have a large IT consulting arm. IBM built its own over the decades, HP bought its way into consulting with EDS, and now Dell is joining the crowd by buying Perot Systems. (H. Ross Perot is batting two for three here!)

I may not find consulting terribly interesting, but as systems get more complex, it's awfully important.

Dell actually is the easiest hardware vendor to understand. Where IBM and HP have multiple lines, both proprietary and open, Dell pushes a singular Intel-compatible PC and server architecture augmented mostly by standard third-party products. This should make the work of Perot consultants relatively simple and straightforward.

What do you look for in a consulting company? Any success or horror stories? Send 'em my way at [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on September 23, 2009 at 11:52 AM0 comments


Pick a Topic, Any Topic

It may be only September, but we at Redmond magazine are already thinking about next year and need to build our editorial calendar. Help us by sending broad topics and specific ideas to [email protected] You may even see your suggestion on our cover!

Posted by Doug Barney on September 23, 2009 at 11:53 AM1 comments


Windows 7 Over the Mac?

Longtime Microsoft follower Joe Wilcox, who uses both Mac OS X and Windows 7, makes this rather startling claim: "I get about 30 percent to 40 percent more work done using Windows 7 than either Leopard or Snow Leopard."

Joe may get more out Windows 7, but 30 to 40 percent more productive? That sounds pretty steep. I replaced a barely functioning XP laptop with Windows 7, and even though the old machine froze more than a Ben & Jerry's assembly line, I'm only about 8 percent more productive now.

Random thought: Does Ballmer look like Terry Bradshaw? Yes or no answers sent to [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on September 23, 2009 at 11:53 AM8 comments


Those Who Can't Work Teach

The state of Georgia has unemployed IT folks just like our other 49 states. Georgia Tech isn't taking it lying down, and is training laid-off techies to teach computers to high schoolers.

Sounds like a fine idea. There's nothing better than a teacher with real, practical experience.

If money was no object, what would your ideal IT job be? Send your wishes to [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on September 23, 2009 at 11:53 AM1 comments


Malvertisements

I, like 100 percent of PC users, have come across ads that when clicked (or often when they're not) start up some bogus virus scanner and try to get you to shell out hard-earned cash to solve problems you don't actually have.

Now thanks to Microsoft, there a word for this stuff: malvertisements. And Redmond's legal eagles are going after a handful of companies responsible for these scams. Go get 'em, I say.

For the record, I never click these nasties, but that doesn't stop 'em from running. In fact, yesterday and today, one company has been bugging me with fake virus scanning. Now, I use Task Manager to shut my whole browser down. But in fact, Windows 7 Task Manager wants to me to click and close the bogus dialog box before it shuts down that browser tab. Sorry, Microsoft -- I'm bringing down the whole dang thing!

Any malvertisement horror stories? Send your scariest to [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on September 21, 2009 at 11:53 AM3 comments


Microsoft the Third Strongest Brand. Really?

Every year, BusinessWeek puts out a list of the world's strongest brands. Microsoft always hovers near the top and this year finished on the podium with a solid third-place finish. Sugar-water purveyor Coca-Cola is No. 1 and technology rival IBM came in second.

I'm a bit surprised about IBM. Sure, it's roughly double the size of Microsoft. But most consumers don't have any IBM gear. Meanwhile, even many Mac users still run Office (like all three of my kids; I should know -- I paid for the license). Microsoft touches almost all of us.

But the real surprise is that Harley-Davidson came in 72nd place, behind Hyundai! When was the last time you saw a Hyundai, IBM or Microsoft tattoo?

Posted by Doug Barney on September 21, 2009 at 11:53 AM10 comments


7 for $30

Apple has always been strong in the educational market, but over the last decade-and-a-half, Microsoft has bitten deep into Apple's share with cheap software.

Now that the Mac is gaining overall market share, Microsoft is fighting for students with cheap versions of Windows 7 for as little as $30. You can't even get a one-quarter keg of cheap beer for that amount!

All you need to qualify is an .edu e-mail address or a valid way to prove you're a student. The best part? Thirty bucks gets you Home Premium or Windows 7 Pro, not the low-end stuff.

What about the rest of us? Looks like we'll be paying four times as much.

Posted by Doug Barney on September 21, 2009 at 11:53 AM5 comments