Microsoft vs. Global Warming

You might scoff to learn that Microsoft is helping fight global warming, and so would I, had I not written the article "Can Microsoft Save the World?" focusing on the company's efforts to eliminate disease, feed the world and fight population growth.

At the recent global warming summit in Copenhagen, Microsoft explained how it can reduce greenhouse gases, including its support of datacenter efficiency (largely through virtualization), video and Web conferencing, and cloud computing. Not just that, but the company talked about its work with global warming researchers mostly through database and data warehouse support.

Posted by Doug Barney on January 06, 2010 at 11:53 AM9 comments


Microsoft Hasn't Lost Its Sizzle

Google and Apple, Facebook and Twitter are all the rage, right? Not according to marketing firm Zeta Interactive, which tracked Web posts and found more items about Microsoft than any other company. Google came in second, Amazon third and Apple fourth.  

Posts were also overwhelmingly positive, with 83 percent being nice and 17 percent negative. In fact, the Microsoft comments were 1 percent more positive than Google posts, and far more positive than those about Apple (75 percent).

Posted by Doug Barney on January 06, 2010 at 11:53 AM0 comments


Sharing Synchronization Secrets

Most of us have several machines, and most of us are pretty mobile. So how do you keep a common set of files accessible from different PCs and locations? Are your files in the cloud or on a server? Do you use remote-control software and have one PC as the master? Any cool third-party apps help you out in this regard?

I'm looking to explore the best options in an upcoming feature story for Redmond. Share your solution with the world be writing me at [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on January 04, 2010 at 11:53 AM22 comments


Word Back Off the Market?

Last year, a court ruled that Microsoft Word violated a Canadian company's patent and must be pulled from the market. Microsoft appealed the decision and, as a result, got a temporary stay of execution.

Right before Christmas, Microsoft lost its appeal, and not only has to pay some $290 million in damages to i4i, but has to stop selling Word by Jan. 11 unless Microsoft can somehow rejigger the software so it no longer violates i4i patents relating to opening .XML files.

Microsoft claims the patent relates to a "little used feature" that can be easily removed. I guess we'll find out in a week.

Posted by Doug Barney on January 04, 2010 at 11:53 AM3 comments


Visual Studio 2010 Pushed Back

Microsoft was hoping to welcome in the spring with a March 22 release of both Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4. Instead, the IDE will ship in warmer weather; it's been delayed by a "few weeks" due to some issues with performance and use of virtual memory.

Developers are a prickly bunch, and Microsoft is battling Java, Eclipse and a wealth of other development tools and architectures. Given that, it pays to get Visual Studio 2010 right.

The cool thing about this is just how honest and open Microsoft is about the state of the product, what it's doing and when it'll be done. I'm hearing the weather in April should be just right for a VS 2010 launch.

Posted by Doug Barney on January 04, 2010 at 11:53 AM2 comments


Windows 7: The End of the Fat Client Era?

I saw a special in CNBC about Google. A few scenes had Googlers all sitting around a conference room to discuss new projects. What was in front of them? A good old-fashioned pencil and pad of paper? Nope -- state-of-the-art laptop computers. Hey, isn't Google all about the cloud? Isn't its Web-only software the death knell for Microsoft? Shouldn't Googlers be using a mobile phone or some fancy thin client?

Then there's Steve Jobs, sitting on top of an ever-rising stock price. Everything Jobs does requires local storage and processing, from the Mac to the iPod to the iPhone and even the upcoming tablet.

Despite all this, know-it-all pundits continue to write obits to intelligent clients. Latest case in point? IDC now predicts that Windows 7 will be the last old-style desktop client OS from Microsoft.

I think IDC is dead wrong. Microsoft Research has some cool operating systems in development that are flexible and secure. IDC also fails to understand the fundamentals of computer hardware. Everything is getting faster and cheaper. Flash storage, many core processors and insane amounts of RAM in a tiny space? What good is all this if the intelligence is all in the network? Why waste all this potential?

What's your prediction? Is IDC right and am I dead wrong? Shoot your thoughts to [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on January 04, 2010 at 11:53 AM11 comments


Office 2010 Deletes Malware

I wasn't aware that Office files were magnets for malware, but apparently the problem is big enough for Microsoft to build new protections into Office 2010.

Office 2010 will examine each file from an external source to see if it can be trusted. Sketchy files are automatically sandboxed so they can't do any damage. The user has to purposely retrieve the file from the sandbox in order to work with it. This sounds like a hassle, but a network infiltrated by malware is far worse.

Posted by Doug Barney on December 18, 2009 at 11:53 AM1 comments


Redmond Plays Private Cloud Catch-Up

Azure is getting pretty good early reviews. The only problem is that the tools and platform require the application to be hosted in a service provider's datacenter, not your own. Meanwhile, competitors like VMware, HP and others are more than happy to let you build private clouds.

Early next year, Microsoft will begin beta testing Azure services that can blend private and service providers' clouds, letting your internal app -- say, a database -- access and update the larger cloud database. Unfortunately, the ability to build a purely private Azure may take a bit longer.

Meanwhile Redmond just bought Opalis, whose automation software can help control clouds.

Posted by Doug Barney on December 18, 2009 at 11:53 AM0 comments


HP Seeds Private Clouds

HP seems to have something for everyone. Want a netbook? They've got whole bunch. Servers? The company has 'em from low-end to mainframe-class. They can fully equip your home or datacenter. And if you don't want racks of HP Itanium servers tied to HP SANs, the company can set up a cloud instead.

This week, HP announced cloud services for small and medium-size businesses, as well as for large telecom providers. It also now allows customers to use HP cloud tools but have those clouds reside with a third party such as Amazon.

Pure external clouds are interesting, but they involve an element of trust since your data is no longer really your data. That's why private, on-premise clouds are so exciting. You gain the efficiencies of utility computing, but still have total control of your data.

That's where HP Operations Orchestration comes in. This software lets IT stitch together, manage and automate datacenter resources such as virtual servers so they act as a cloud. Once your cloud is developed, you can run the hard darn thing, or parcel out chunks to service providers.

Posted by Doug Barney on December 18, 2009 at 11:53 AM0 comments


Microsoft Fesses to Stolen Code

I regularly get accused of two things: being a Microsoft shill and being a nattering nabob of Microsoft negatism. I'm either, depending on the day, though lately I've been kinder to Redmond than I ever have before.

I covered the investigations by the FTC and Justice Department; I saw some pretty cool companies put six feet under by Microsoft's ruthless and efficient shovels. But now I see a somewhat different Microsoft. Steve Ballmer is less ruthless than Bill Gates, and there are legitimate alternatives to Redmond's various and sundry monopolies such as Office, IE and Windows.

All of this is a prelude to me letting Microsoft off the hook for an egregious violation of ethics. Canadian Web site Plurk found that some Microsoft employees stole complete elements of the Plurk site. There are screenshots that show just how similar the two sites are.

In the past, I believe Microsoft has purposely co-opted design and even code. The Stacker lawsuit is a brilliant example where Microsoft used code from a hard drive compression it rather forcibly licensed from a third party.

But in this case, I think Microsoft employees pulled a Sarah Palin -- they went rogue. The copying was so idiotic and obvious that I can't see it being approved by anyone short of Vanilla Ice. And Microsoft copped to the mistake tout de suite.

I'm letting Microsoft off the hook on this one. Am I a bleeding heart, soft-on-crime judge? Let me know at [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on December 16, 2009 at 11:53 AM6 comments


Europeans Have Choice of Languages, Food and Browsers

Microsoft gave in to the relentless demands of European Union (EU) authorities and will no longer strong-arm customers in using IE. Under a recent settlement, Microsoft will let users pick from a menu of nearly a dozen browsers that can be installed when setting up a new machine.

The decision formally does away with an approach as old as Windows 95, when Microsoft argued that the browser was an intrinsic part of the OS and just as critical as the file system. That's now history -- except for the fact that it doesn't take a rocket scientist but a highly skilled IT pro to de-install the bulk of IE from Windows.

What's your browser of choice and why? Votes welcome at [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on December 16, 2009 at 11:53 AM5 comments


Google Foot in Mouth

I took a couple of days away from Redmond Report and immersed myself in the topic of datacenter efficiency. You can reap the fruits of my labor in the March issue of Redmond magazine. And if you have datacenter efficiency/green tips and experiences, please e-mail me at [email protected]

This distraction meant I couldn't take Google's Eric Schmidt to task for his inane, insane, imbecilic, illogical, insipid and idiotic comments (and no, I didn't look up those words on Google).

Even though the story is old, I've got something to say. Schmidt is a technical genius -- or at least nearly so, I'm not sure. But he is clearly socially inept. His take on Internet privacy is summarized by this inconceivably clueless recent quote: "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place." Who is the guy, Jimmy Swaggart?

Let's face it: Google pries into our lives, takes pictures of our homes when the kids are playing in the yard, and indexes much of our personal information. Google is the Patriot Act on steroids. First, we're supposed to give up our privacy for national security. Now, we should give it up for the greater glory of Google. Dang, I might have to go back to a typewriter and hand-delivered letters.

Are you as steamed as I am? Let 'er rip at [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on December 15, 2009 at 11:53 AM13 comments