Happy New Year!

We're going to start this newsletter with a bit of fluff, so get ready. First off, we offer our thanks again to the amazing Scott Bekker for filling in for your editor last week. It has been a long three weeks since your editor last clacked at the keyboard writing this newsletter, so hopefully you'll forgive him if he welcomes himself back to your inbox (and laptop screen) Brooklyn-style.

Your editor spent some of his time off in Arizona, following his beloved TCU Horned Frogs to the Fiesta Bowl. Alas, we lost (congratulations, Boise State), but Arizona turned out to be a fantastic winter getaway -- and the pregame tailgating was terrific, which helped ease the pain of the game itself.

Anyway, next time you're in sunny Scottsdale, be sure to check out a new restaurant called 5th and Wine. Your editor received no -- absolutely zero -- compensation for saying this, but RCPU highly recommends this new restaurant and wine bar. Your editor and his wife stumbled in at 10:30 on a Tuesday night and, despite the fact that the restaurant closed at 11, we received top-flight service and consumed tremendously good food and wine. The atmosphere is fantastic, and the place is brand-new. So check it out next time you take a trip to the Valley of the Sun, which is an entirely sensible destination for those of us who live in colder climes. Yes, we still kind of miss being there.

Posted by Lee Pender on January 12, 20100 comments

Tiger and Accenture: A Match Not Made in Heaven

Jeff Schwartz weaves together an IT angle for the Tiger Woods, uh, scenario. And he does it quite well, actually. Boost RCPmag.com's hit count by clicking to get Jeff's take on Tiger.

Posted by Lee Pender on December 21, 20090 comments

Firefox the World's Most Popular Browser?

Color us skeptical, although Firefox is the official browser of RCPU. (No money changed hands for that designation, by the way. We just made it up.) StatsCounter says that Firefox has passed Internet Explorer as the most popular browser in the world.

If that's even close to being true, we find it kind of funny. After all the rigmarole of the browser wars and the U.S. Justice Department lawsuit against Microsoft in the '90s (not to mention the EU hassling the company over IE in recent years), a little browser with no operating system behind it and no real advertising or marketing to support it has literally conquered the world. Score one for innovation and word of mouth (or keyboard, as the case may be). But, again, we're a bit skeptical about this story. We do sort of want it to be accurate, though.

Update: Reader Rob e-mailed to point out that your editor totally misread the news about Firefox being the world's most popular browser and got a little carried away. The hook here is that Firefox 3.5 is now ahead of IE 7 in market share and is (supposedly, although we're still skeptical) the single most-used version of any browser. IE overall, counting all versions, still has much higher market share than Firefox. We got sucked in by headlines on this and didn't read closely enough. Sorry about that. It will likely happen again, but we'll do our best to avoid it. And thanks to Rob for paying attention.

Posted by Lee Pender on December 21, 20092 comments

Former Microsoft CFO Lands at GM

Really, Chris Liddell? GM? We hope you're getting some serious coin over there and a company car made by somebody else... OK, we're kidding about that last part. But this is going to be a challenge for Microsoft's former financial honcho.

Posted by Lee Pender on December 21, 20090 comments

Will the Teens Be the Decade of the Cloud?

We're coming to the time of the year when pundits look back on 2009 (no thanks) and, given that we're nearing the end of the decade, look back on the 2000s, or whatever they're called. We considered doing a long post of technologies of the decade but never pulled the trigger.

And then we figured, why look back? Let's look forward to 2010 and the teens. Right after we talk a little about the 2000s....

For us -- and this seems fairly obvious -- "the" technology of the '90s was the consumer Internet, the World Wide Web. (The technology of the '80s was the Atari game system, of course, and we won't hear arguments to the contrary. And of the '70s? Conway Twitty's hair. But we digress...) We'd say that "the" technology of the first decade of this century has been social networking, followed by (and tied in with) easy accessibility to online video (and to cameras to make videos and put them online).

In the enterprise, maybe it's been virtualization, or maybe something mobile, like the Blackberry or some other sort of smart phone. Whatever. We're here to talk about the teens, that petulant, rebellious, acne-ridden decade we're about to enter. Standing on the precipice of 2009, it seems as though "the" technology of the teens will be, in one form or another, the cloud.

Of course, the consumer cloud is already big, with photo sites and online banking and what not extremely common now. But the enterprise cloud, which seems to generate new announcements from big vendors almost by the week is still a tough sell for some IT departments and financial executives. And it's also a tough sell for some partners, who don't want to lose control of their accounts to a big vendor or don't want to see lucrative services revenues trickle down to a slow drip of monthly fees.

We're very enthusiastic about cloud technology here at RCPU, and we think that by 2020 (looks weird, doesn't it?) it could very well be dominant in IT departments of all sizes across the globe. But, as many observers have noted and as Microsoft realizes, the pure cloud (whereof a company's information is stored in some vendor's distant data center) likely won't be the prevalent model. Private clouds -- or cloud services that companies run in their own data centers -- and hybrid clouds that include SaaS technologies with on-premises implementations will likely be the first step most companies will take into cloud computing. Of course, all of that will rely heavily on virtualization.

How long will the partly cloudy IT forecast last? Well, that's hard to say, but we're guessing that there still won't be many companies running a pure cloud model 10 years from now. Technology always moves much more quickly than acceptance of it does -- look at Windows XP holding out against competition from its own creator. Enterprise acceptance of new technologies tends to be very slow. Your editor personally knows one IT professional whose extremely large company is still on Windows 2000 and only recently started a Vista upgrade. Our guess is that his company is not alone.

For partners, it won't be a bad thing if cloud technology is a little slow out of the gate. They need to figure out how to monetize it and work with it before it really does take over corporate IT departments. A long period of dominance for the hybrid or private-cloud model would give partners time to do that. Plus, it would let them open up new sources of services revenue.

We don't want to go all Gartner on you or anything here, but we really do think that just about everything will run in a pure cloud environment...eventually. Just not all that soon. And that's OK. The real question for us going into a new decade is: How long will the operating system be around and be relevant for everyday computing? Maybe we'll tackle that one in January.

What's your forecast for cloud technology? What do you think "the" technology of the 2000s was? Send your thoughts to [email protected].

Posted by Lee Pender on December 21, 20091 comments

Editor's Note: The Last RCPU of the Year

Since we're feeling nostalgic this time of year, let's set the mood with some old, grainy credits from the Carol Burnett show. It's this time every year when I -- yes, you're getting first person in this entry -- take the opportunity to thank everybody who helps keep this newsletter running. I really am so glad we had this time together.

To Gladys Rama, who somehow hacks though my nonsensical ramblings and manages not only to make them sound mostly rational but to make them look good online and in the e-mail newsletter, I offer my heartfelt thanks. To Michael Domingo and Becky Nagel, who keep our Web operations running and somehow manage to find spare bandwidth even after posting 2,000-word RCPU rants, thank you so much for your time and effort.

To Doug Barney, my boss at Redmond magazine, who helped me immensely when I started writing this newsletter almost four years ago, thank you for your continued support and suggestions. I hope someday that RCPU will drive the kind of feedback that your Redmond Report newsletter gets week after week.

To RCP Editor in Chief Scott Bekker, the Earl Morrall (or maybe Jeff Hostetler) of RCPU -- in other words, the greatest "back-up" of all time other than maybe Tom Brady, thank you for filling in at the very last minute so many times when you're so overworked yourself. You are a lifesaver. You're also the voice of calm and reason during chaos, something I find myself needing to hear more and more often.

To Jeff Schwartz, thanks for all the links and news stories and great suggestions you've given me. To Kurt Mackie, thanks for your continued fantastic work writing news online. And to "Kathleen" (she's Kate to us here) Richards, Scott Shultz, Matt Morollo, Brad Zerbel and David Ramel, thanks for being great office mates here in Framingham during what we might call a turbulent year. You've been a lot of fun to hang around, despite the fact that sometimes it feels as though we've been through battle together. We make for a great group.

Most of all, though, thanks to you, the reader, for continuing to pay attention to our little enterprise here, and for delivering remarkable feedback again and again. There would be no RCPU without you, and I'll try to keep you as entertained, informed, engaged and enraged as I can in 2010. You are the best.

I've probably left a lot of people out here (sorry about that), but believe me when I say that RCPU goes way beyond one crazed commentator pounding away at a keyboard in Framingham, Mass. The "we" I always use in RCPU really does represent a whole team of people who keep this newsletter going.

This is, of course, the last RCPU of 2009. I'm not going to sugar-coat anything here -- this has been a rough year on a lot of levels. (Derek Torres, I and all of your friends miss you immensely and will for a long time to come.) But there's hope that 2010 will be better, and there's comfort for me in knowing that the best team in the business will be with me all the way.

I'm taking off the first week of January to see the undefeated TCU Horned Frogs (yes...finally) play in the Fiesta Bowl in Arizona. As always, Scott Bekker will fill in for me while I'm gone. But I'll be back in mid-January with more rants, raves and ramblings. Until then, happy holidays, and enjoy this time of year. Oh, and GO FROGS!
-- Lee

Posted by Lee Pender on December 21, 20090 comments

Le Browser Menu: Microsoft and EU End Standoff

Wherever you go in Europe, but especially in France -- where, if we remember correctly, it's the law -- you see menus in front windows of restaurants. Some feature multilingual text; others play to either the locals or snobby travelers by sticking to the country's native language. But they're there -- food and drink options, prices and all.

Yes, Europeans love menus, and now they'll have another to use when they buy new computers. Microsoft and the European Union have finally settled the EU's antitrust lawsuit against Redmond, and, yes, the infamous "browser ballot" (we'd like to think of it as more of a menu) is part of the settlement.

We're coming around on this idea a little bit. RCPU opposed it initially in the name of wanting to keep government from being too intrusive in corporate matters (and we still have impulses in that direction), but our personal distaste for Internet Explorer (sorry, Microsoft) is such that we'll be glad to know that other folks will be able to easily find alternative browsers.

Of course, we figure that the browser -- which is free, after all -- will eventually be a commodity rather than some sort of strategic development tool or big revenue driver...if it isn't a commodity already. (We kind of think it is.) So, we might all end up looking back on this and laughing someday. In fact, we're sort of chucking as we type this. But all this talk about menus has us hungry, so we're just going to stop talking about browsers...now.

Have an opinion on the browser wars? Send it to [email protected].

Posted by Lee Pender on December 17, 20092 comments

Microsoft Owns Up to Stolen Code

Honestly, who was stupid enough to do this? Somebody at Microsoft nicked code from a Canadian company called Plurk, which not only has an awful name but also makes a (yuck) microblogging application.

Seriously, though, we feel for Plurk, and Microsoft has admitted to being in the wrong here. But who on Planet Redmond did this? We doubt it was on executive orders or anything like that. Still, somebody somewhere should have caught the stolen code (the theft wasn't subtle), and, more importantly, somebody else shouldn't have stolen it in the first place. Unemployment office, get ready for another application or two (or more).

Posted by Lee Pender on December 17, 20090 comments

FTC Sues Intel

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is accusing Intel of using its lofty position in the chip market to freeze out competitors, specifically AMD, and "strengthen its monopoly."

To be honest, we're hardly experts on the chip market, so we're not going to try to pass judgment on this one (although someone will, eventually). We're just throwing it out there to let you know that the U.S. government vs. technology giant fight is not just a remnant of the '90s and early '00s. It lives on.

Posted by Lee Pender on December 17, 20090 comments

Mystery Company Sues Entire Software Industry

Gotcha headline? Well, maybe, but not by much. Some company in East Texas called BetaNet LLC has launched patent infringement lawsuits against most of the big technology companies we can name. The funny part is that BetaNet seems to be some sort of mysterious operation that nobody wants to discuss. But watch out -- those East Texas juries love to find in favor of patent plaintiffs. Is it too late to go to law school?

Posted by Lee Pender on December 17, 20091 comments

Rounding Up Microsoft's Latest Deals

Microsoft bought Canadian software firm Opalis, a company that does datacenter automation, late last week. And there's been more wheeling and dealing in Redmond's calendar fourth quarter, but to read about it, you'll have to boost the RCPmag.com hit count by going here.

Posted by Lee Pender on December 16, 20090 comments

Amazon Auctions Cloud Capacity

This is a pretty interesting little model, actually. Amazon's auctioning little unused chunks of its cloud capacity as part of a program called Spot Instances. From Jeff Schwartz's RCPmag.com story linked above, here's Amazon's CTO talking about the plan:

"Customers bid any price they like on unused Amazon EC2 capacity and run those instances for as long their bid exceeds the current Spot Price," said Amazon CTO Werner Vogels in a blog post. "Spot Instances are ideal for tasks that can be flexible as to when they start and stop. This gives our customers an exciting new approach to IT cost management."

We'll be interested to see whether other cloud vendors pick up on this idea, as well.

Posted by Lee Pender on December 16, 20091 comments