HP and Microsoft's New Cloud Combo

IBM and Microsoft, it seems, have never gotten over their nasty Windows-OS/2 breakup. While they should be very much aligned (IBM sells tons of servers that run Windows Server operating systems), they bicker like children.

That's perfect for HP, which has used this animus to stay close to Microsoft. And now that IBM and Microsoft are fighting over the cloud, why wouldn't HP sidle up and becomes Microsoft new cloud best friend?

That's just what HP did this Wednesday with the announcement of a three-year partnership with Microsoft to jointly build and sell cloud solutions. Much of the work centers around integration -- just making sure that Microsoft software works well on HP software and that techies from either side can support it. These efforts will help cloud providers as well as IT who may want to build private clouds in their own datacenters.

But with a quarter-of-a-billion dollars pledged to the effort, I'm hoping to see more than integration, but nifty and compelling new services.

Are any of your apps in the cloud, and if so, how are they faring? Share your experiences by writing [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on January 15, 2010 at 11:53 AM0 comments


Rental Agreement

As we discussed Wednesday, software licensing is a tricky thing. The licenses are written by lawyers in consultation with software folks. Can you say complex?

One of the hidden secrets of Windows and Office licenses is they don't allow for machines to be rented. Instead, thousands of Internet cafes, rental companies and gaming centers around the world have paid a subscription fee -- or pretended nothing's wrong.

Microsoft has a fix: Pay a one-time fee, and now your PC can be rented out to whomever. This is far simpler than shelling out subscription fees every month. The price for the Windows rental option is $23, and Office starts at $45. And no, you don't need to buy extra insurance!

Posted by Doug Barney on January 15, 2010 at 11:53 AM0 comments


Champagne Time for Mimosa

Archiving powerhouse Mimosa Systems has cause to pop a few corks: It just signed up its 1,000th customer.

For Web apps, iPhone tools or end user solutions, 1,000 customers isn't even enough to keep the lights on, never mind stock the programmers' fridge with Jolt. But for enterprise software, 1,000 customers is a very big deal.

Mimosa's main technology is NearPoint, a line of tools that can archive files, Exchange e-mail and SharePoint documents. I first met Mimosa soon after its founding in 2003. At the time, startups came by my office several times a week, and most were never heard from again. But Mimosa was heard from again and again. It's a bold, aggressive company that isn't afraid of a little competition.

What's next for Mimosa? The company plans to offer its archiving tools on-premise, in the cloud, or as a combination of the two.

Who's your favorite third party and why? Vote at [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on January 13, 2010 at 11:53 AM0 comments


Patch Twos-Day

IT pros have an easy week this week, at least when it comes to Microsoft patches: Only two fixes were delivered yesterday.

As usual, remote code execution is the biggest problem, and one patch fixes an RCE flaw that exists in all flavors of Windows. Sounds like this puppy should be installed pronto.

The other patch really isn't a patch in the sense that it doesn't close any vulnerabilities or fix any bugs. Instead, this patch -- which you should install only if you get a notice from Microsoft -- removes bits of XML technology from Microsoft Word. That XML technology violates a patent held by i4i, a Canadian content management company, a U.S. court found. Microsoft argues that removing the offending technology isn't a big deal and won't affect the performance or functionality of Word.

But if you think Microsoft has the software with the most holes, think again. Oracle this week issues two dozen patches. Larry's been busy!

Which vendors do a good job with patches and which don't? Answers welcome at [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on January 13, 2010 at 11:53 AM0 comments


Failing the Licensing Test?

OK, so my first item is pretty positive about Microsoft. Lest you think I'm a mindless Redmond apologist, allow me to talk about licensing for a bit.

I think Microsoft's licensing plans are purposely complex. Like legal documents that only a lawyer can understand, you need a Microsoft rep to explain how its licensing works, and I doubt that more than a handful of those really understand it all. That complexity gives Microsoft control -- it can lead you to the deal it wants you to make.

Now there's apparently even more confusion, this time relating to Microsoft's licensing Web sites that were redesigned last year. Customers are having problems logging in, and once in, often have trouble finding their accounts or accessing features that used to be a cinch. Microsoft says only a portion of customers have these problems and the issues are being addressed.

If there's one group you don't want to irritate, it's volume customers. What do you think of Microsoft licensing? Do you have any special negotiating techniques you'd like to share? Send answers to both to [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on January 13, 2010 at 11:53 AM4 comments


Office 2010: An Upgrade Without an Upgrade

Loyal Redmond customers are used to getting a deal when a new version of their favorite software arrives. But Office users are out of luck this go 'round as there are no upgrades for Office 2010. Microsoft claims it killed the upgrade to simplify its lineup.

Simpler it is, cheaper it's not. This is a risky strategy. I've interviewed nearly a dozen Redmond Report readers who are beta testing Office 2010. You generally like the new rev a lot, but I don't think I've come across anyone who's truly blown away. And you have to be plenty impressed to shell out at full price!

Posted by Doug Barney on January 11, 2010 at 11:53 AM17 comments


Microsoft Rescues Word

Last year, Microsoft lost a patent infringement lawsuit to i4i, a company that owns an XML patent that Word violates. Microsoft has to pay i4i $290 million and take the offending Word off the market.

Not one to take the death of a 27-year-old product lightly, Microsoft has issued a patch that removes the specific XML function.

Meanwhile, Redmond's legal eagles plan to fight the ruling, and i4i promises to keep a close eye on Word.

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


SMBs Gain Savings

While consumers get no break on Office 2007, small and medium-size businesses with small and medium-size volume licenses can get half-off the first year's subscription price of Windows 7 and Office 2007. As an added bonus, because Software Assurance is involved, SMBs that purchase Office 2007 get a free upgrade to Office 2010. The only catch: You have to buy before June 30.

Is this the kind of deal for your organization? Would you wait for Office 2010 in June, or take advantage of the Office 2007 deal now? Let me know at [email protected]

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


Final Analysis: $120 Million

Doug is out today, so filling in for him is Michael Domingo, editor of MCPmag.com and the voice behind Redmond Radio.

Gartner just gobbled up AMR Research for $64 million last month, then scooped up Burton Group for $56 million this week.

Gartner's FAQ explains that their data has "strategic" implications, while Burton's is "practical." Spin is one thing and perception is another, so my questions to you is: Whose data is more useful? How much, if any, do you rely on analyst firms on your own IT planning and spending decisions? Send your analyses to [email protected]

Posted by Michael Domingo on January 08, 2010 at 11:53 AM3 comments


IT Hiring Still in Deep Freeze?

Doug is out today, so filling in for him is Michael Domingo, editor of MCPmag.com and the voice behind Redmond Radio.

The federal government's recent jobs report pegs unemployment at 10 percent (arguable, maybe). So, what's the outlook in IT? Two recent studies tell us that it's still the winter of our recession.

Janco Associates' most recent report shows IT hiring and spending to be as frigid as the weather fronts sweeping across the U.S. -- and salaries are just as icy. A study from Computer Economics mirrors Janco's report in IT hiring. But then it offers a ray of sunshine, predicting that those who plan to spend more has jumped from 11 percent in 2009 to 52 percent in 2010. [End of sentence corrected, per Computer Economics. -- MD]

That's a pretty big jump; do you buy it? Tell us at [email protected] Also, do us a favor and vote in this poll at MCPmag.com about how many IT people your company plans to hire in 2010.

Posted by Michael Domingo on January 08, 2010 at 11:53 AM2 comments


Azure Data To Vaporize for Non-Upgraders

Doug is out today, so filling in for him is Michael Domingo, editor of MCPmag.com and the voice behind Redmond Radio.

Microsoft's Azure has finally gone gold (no pun or mixed metaphors intended). Redmond says it's now time to hop on or off if you've been testing it out with data that resides up there. Data will be accessible in read-only mode after Feb. 1 and then, come March 1, that data will be vaporized if subscriptions aren't upgraded.

Azure testers, we'd like to hear about your experiences and whether you plan on upgrading for an upcoming feature. Send all feedback to [email protected] and put "Azure experience" on the subject line.

Posted by Michael Domingo on January 08, 2010 at 11:53 AM0 comments


Ex-Microsoft CTO vs. Global Warming

Nathan Myhrvold is a major-league brain. Decades ago, Microsoft bought Myhrvold's company Dynamical Systems not just for its multi-tasking technology, but more for the pure brainpower of Nathan and his brother Cameron. Nathan eventually founded Microsoft Research, became chief technology officer at Microsoft, and then left Microsoft a decade ago to pursue private hobbies and investments.

All this is to give credibility to Myhrvold's idea to fight global warming. Under the plan, balloons will lift into the stratosphere a huge hose through which sulfur is pumped -- sulfur that blocks the sun and lowers temperatures. And you could pump more or less sulfur depending on temperature trends.

Unlike the trillions involved in worldwide cooling efforts, Myhvrold's scheme only costs a quarter of a billion dollars. Bill Gates could probably nab that with a few swipes of his ATM card.

Posted by Doug Barney on January 06, 2010 at 11:53 AM13 comments