Microsoft Brings Back Big Easy Offer

A popular Microsoft rebate offer is back for June, which just happens to be the last month of Microsoft's fiscal year. Scott Bekker has details here.

Posted by Lee Pender on June 03, 2010 at 11:56 AM0 comments


IE Market Share Stops Falling

The third-best browser (at best) on the market finally stopped its market-share slide in May, actually picking up a bit of share at the expense of Firefox and Chrome. Why? We have no idea.

Posted by Lee Pender on June 03, 2010 at 11:56 AM1 comments


Google Dumping Windows: What a Crock

OK, we're calling BS on this one. (Can we say BS here? We'll find out…) Apparently Google is going to make it very difficult for its employees to get Windows on their machines from now on, a move that has led many press outlets to say that Google is dumping Microsoft.

Why, pray tell, would Google do something like this? Because it is developing its own operating system now and wants to, as the old saying goes, eat its own dog food? Maybe it's because Microsoft is a huge competitor to Google, and it's best not to pay a competitor to run everything on its software. Or maybe Google wants to embrace the open source community by moving to Linux. Maybe Google just wants to make Microsoft look bad -- old, tired and not ready for Web 2.0 or whatever the hipsters are calling it these days.

Actually, all of those reasons for Google dumping Windows would make sense. But then there's this: One of Google's approved non-Windows operating systems is the Mac OS. Google competes with Apple, so why would it buddy up to Steve Jobs and his gang? It wouldn't…and it isn't, according to folks at Google.  

Oh, no. People at the search giant say that the reason for ditching Windows is…security. Specifically, they're upset about a hack from China that hit the company pretty hard back in December. Evidently, they're blaming Windows and Internet Explorer for the breach. To that, we say: Whatever, Google.

Sure, Windows has security issues, but so do all operating systems, including Apple's vaunted OS and Linux. Most companies -- you know, the 90-plus percent of companies worldwide that use Windows -- manage to find ways to protect their Windows installations and fend off serious attacks. Google, did it ever occur to you that the reason somebody in China hacked you was because you pulled out of that country (a decision we at RCPU actually support) and that the hackers who got you would have found a way to hit you whether you were running Windows, Mac, Linux or OS2? Maybe the whole China hack was a Google problem and not really a Windows problem. Ever think of that?

Google, you don't have to use Windows. In fact, you probably shouldn't. Load everybody out there with Chrome OS and see how it goes. Seriously. But, for heaven's sake, if you're going to restrict access to or use of Windows, at least be honest about why you're doing it. We're not buying the "security" excuse (and neither are a lot of other people), and you shouldn't be selling it.

Google, we at RCPU like a lot of things about you, but this is pretty lame. Please try to do better next time.

What's your take on Google's excuse for dumping Windows? Do you buy it? Have your say at [email protected]

Posted by Lee Pender on June 02, 2010 at 11:56 AM9 comments


HP To Outsource Thousands of Jobs

The headlines all said that HP was cutting 9,000 jobs, but did you read past the first paragraph of the story? Check this out from the story linked above:

"The Palo Alto, California-based company plans to replace about 6,000 of the eliminated positions with workers in different countries."

So…that's 3,000 jobs cut and 6,000 outsourced. Call it what it is, HP. Sure, we know that with your 300,000 employees we're talking about a tiny percent of your workforce here, but don't try to hide outsourcing as layoffs. That's just…weird, actually.

Posted by Lee Pender on June 02, 2010 at 11:56 AM5 comments


The Whole iPad Thing is Really Taking Off

We still think that they look ridiculous (and your editor still doesn't have one and isn't shopping), but people apparently love these iPad tablet thingies. Apple's currently selling them at a pace of about a million per month. That has left other computer makers racing to get tablets out the door -- Asustek and Micro-Star are talking about putting them out -- and Microsoft is wondering how on earth it's going to catch Apple in this market. Hey, Microsoft, how about Windows 7 tablets that work (almost) as well as iPads but are a lot cheaper and accessible for regular folks? Just a thought… And don't try to be cool this time. Just be functional. We don't need another Zune, thanks.

Posted by Lee Pender on June 02, 2010 at 11:56 AM7 comments


HP Recalls Laptop Batteries

From the in-case-you-missed-it department, HP is going to go ahead and need you to send back those 54,000 Pavilion and Compaq batteries that could explode and burst into flames…

Posted by Lee Pender on May 27, 2010 at 11:56 AM0 comments


Microsoft Releases Reporting Tool for Dynamics

It's a tool for corporate finance-management reporting, and while it's just for the new version of GP at this point, it'll ultimately work with other products in Microsoft's barbershop quartet of ERP suites.

Posted by Lee Pender on May 27, 2010 at 11:56 AM0 comments


Get Ready for the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference

The brain-melting heat in Greater Boston this week got us to thinking about summer and that staple of the greatest of all seasons: The Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference.

This year, the WPC will take place in Washington, D.C., which will no doubt be boiling by the time July rolls around. (Here comes a dreadful segue…) But the action inside the conference center should be pretty hot, with Microsoft (hopefully) providing updates on everything from the progress of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 to its further explanation of exactly what "all in the cloud" means.

RCPmag.com will have loads of coverage come conference time, but Scott Bekker, the hardest working man in the technology publishing business, has already put together a brief agenda of things you won't want to miss at WPC 2010. Highlights include the ‘70s folk-rock combo Ballmer Watson Turner (actually, they're all giving keynotes, although we'd like to see Ballmer wail on his axe for a while) and tons of sessions on the cloud.

So, if you won't be heading to WPC this year, check RCPmag.com for news about the event. And if you will, go ahead and book a flight to D.C. so that you can save yourself a seat for the conference events you'll really want to attend. Putting a jacket down in a chair should hold your place for a few more weeks -- and if the weather stays the way it is (here, anyway), you won't need the jacket anyway.

What do you most want or need to get from WPC? Have your say at [email protected]

Posted by Lee Pender on May 27, 2010 at 11:56 AM0 comments


Apple on Pace to Pass Microsoft as Biggest Technology Company

Most of us know that statistics are one of the famous three types of lies -- but they manage to be interesting, anyway. So we couldn't help but notice this week that Apple is close to becoming the world's most valuable technology company.

That spot, of course, has had Microsoft's name on it for years now. But while Redmond has floundered with its efforts to develop cool consumer technologies, Apple has re-made its name with its various and near-ubiquitous "I" devices. Suddenly Anthony Michael Hall's declaration as Bill Gates in the epic film Pirates of Silicon Valley is starting to seem dated. In case you had forgotten (and we really don't know how that's possible), the made-for-TV Gates bellows at Noah Wyle's Steve Jobs: “I got the loot, Steve!”

Well, Steve has the loot now, and he has for a while. (Bill, in fact, is now more interested in giving his loot away.) Apple has been gaining on Microsoft for some time in the battle to be the number one tech company, and it'll likely catch Redmond at some point -- possibly very soon. And for Microsoft partners, that's OK.

Really? Yes, really. It might be a good thing, actually. Microsoft has tried and mostly failed to be consumer cool -- a category Apple has just about managed to dominate. But for most Microsoft partners, and for RCPU readers in particular, consumer cool doesn't mean much. It's that boring old enterprise stuff that brings in the checks.

And that's where Microsoft needs to continue to focus -- as it has, successfully thus far, with products such as Windows Server 2008 R2 and, to some extent, Windows 7. Let Apple go shooting past Microsoft and become technology king of the mountain. That's fine. Hopefully Microsoft will get some inspiration from being the underdog for once. And hopefully Steve Ballmer and crew will realize that if they can't catch up to Apple in cool, they can still stay way ahead in practical and useful.

That's what partners, who probably have iPhones, like and need. Plus, serving the enterprise is something Apple will never seriously be able to do. Microsoft's rivalry is with Google now, and with IBM, Amazon and a few other big enterprise vendors, too. It shouldn't be with Apple anymore. Let Steve Jobs have the loot. Steve Ballmer has more important things to do -- like protecting enterprise market share.

Do you see Apple possibly becoming the biggest technology company in the world as a good or a bad sign for Microsoft? Sound off at [email protected]

Posted by Lee Pender on May 26, 2010 at 11:56 AM2 comments


Microsoft Opens Outlook File Format a Bit More

Microsoft peeled back another layer of its proprietary onion this week by opening Outlook's .pst files to third-party developers who don't use Microsoft's messaging client.

Posted by Lee Pender on May 26, 2010 at 11:56 AM0 comments


Redmond Rocks Consumer Division

Somebody had to shoulder the blame for the Zune. It turns out that Robbie Bach and J Allard will depart -- on good terms, Microsoft says -- after a couple of decades each in Redmond. They leave behind them a mixed record at best in developing consumer applications. The Xbox is cool but rarely, if ever, profitable. And the Zune…well, we don't even have any jokes left for that device here.

Posted by Lee Pender on May 26, 2010 at 11:56 AM0 comments


Microsoft Goes after Salesforce.com with Patent Lawsuit

The saber isn't ratting anymore. It's out now, and it's pointed at one of Microsoft's biggest rivals in the cloud- and enterprise-computing markets.

Microsoft has long threatened rivals (think Linux) with patent lawsuits, but rarely has it actually made good on those threats. Only a handful of times has Microsoft sued anybody for patent infringement without Redmond being sued by the other company first. So, it seems likely that Microsoft is pretty confident in laying down the patent gauntlet in front of one of its mouthier rivals, Salesforce.com.

This week, Microsoft revealed that it is suing the CRM and cloud-computing superstar for alleged violation of nine patents. What the patents cover really isn't all that important for the purposes of this entry, except that Microsoft is attempting to force Salesforce.com to stop offering the functionality that Microsoft says it patented.

What is important is what Microsoft is trying to do to Salesforce.com, a close ally of Google and a major rival to Microsoft's Dynamics CRM Online offering in particular and to the Azure cloud platform in general. From our viewpoint, it looks as though Redmond is trying to cripple its smaller competitor -- to force Salesforce.com into an expensive and possibly protracted legal battle and to plant seeds of doubt in the market about Salesforce.com's technology. (Salesforce.com shares dipped Wednesday following news of the suit.)

It's very possible that Microsoft really did patent nine capabilities that Salesforce.com is using now. We're not saying that there's no meat here. But, again, this is a lot more than just a patent lawsuit. It's a roundabout (and unorthodox) way of introducing Dynamics CRM Online -- now clearly the bell cow in Microsoft's enterprise-applications strategy -- to a broad audience. It's also a shot fired not just at Salesforce.com but also at Google and Microsoft's other cloud rivals. The message: Microsoft is powerful. Microsoft has many ways to shape markets. Don't mess with Microsoft.

There's a message to customers and partners here, too. It says that Microsoft is serious about Dynamics, CRM and cloud-computing, and it insinuates that the company is innovative after all. Remember, Microsoft is claiming here that Salesforce.com nicked technology that Microsoft invented. Who's the copycat now? We might find out in court -- which would be exciting, but we're guessing that a settlement of some sort is more likely. Still, stay tuned. It's not every day that Microsoft draws its patent sword.

What do you think about Microsoft finally pursuing a major patent lawsuit? What message does this suit send? Direct your thoughts to [email protected]

Posted by Lee Pender on May 20, 2010 at 11:56 AM3 comments