Microsoft: No Upgrade to Windows Phone 7

So, you're actually using Windows Mobile 6.5 (Microsoft thanks you for your fidelity, we're sure), and you want to go ahead and upgrade to Windows Phone 7. Well, you (probably) can't.

Posted by Lee Pender on March 01, 20100 comments

Microsoft and Google Bicker over Antitrust

Talk continues to swirl that it's Microsoft that's trying to get Google into legal trouble in Europe (fascinating turn of events) as well as elsewhere. Hey, if nothing else, it fans the flames of the rivalry.

Posted by Lee Pender on March 01, 20100 comments

Support Ending for Microsoft Products

Still using Windows 2000? We know you're out there. Actually, a lot of you probably are still using Windows XP SP2; we here at RCPU are. Well, support for those products and more is ending soon.

Posted by Lee Pender on March 01, 20100 comments

Sophos Researchers Mostly Positive on Windows 7

Sure, there are some problems when it comes to Windows 7 and security, but it's mostly OK, according to a report from the folks at Sophos.

Posted on February 25, 20100 comments

Google Apps Gaining Traction in Channel

Microsoft Office is still the champ, but now there's a real challenger. Google Apps is making inroads into the one group that has long been Microsoft's greatest asset: the channel.

Granted, Google can't hold a candle to Microsoft's 600,000-strong partner base, but the Web empire says that it has recruited nearly 1,000 resellers for its Google Apps productivity suite. How does that compare to the number of partners actually working with Microsoft's online productivity offering?

Well, the story linked in the last paragraph says that Microsoft has more than 5,000 partners selling its most direct competitor to Google Apps, the Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) of Software as a Service applications. So while Microsoft's channel numbers still dwarf Google's in the online suite game, the Microsoft-Google partner ratio in that market is closer to 5-1 than it is 60,000-1.

While Redmond claims to have more than 1 million seats running BPOS, Google and its partners have nickel-and-dimed Microsoft Office and BPOS out of accounts, whittling away a few thousand seats (and sometimes more) here and there. On the partner side, Google Apps is attracting managed service providers (MSPs), and active ones at that. Check out these numbers from Jeff Schwartz's story, linked above:

The MSPmentor 100 report for 2010 found that while 68 percent of MSPs now try to sell hosted Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings to enterprise customers, 22 percent promote Google Apps as an option.

That 22 percent number is fairly impressive given that Google's channel program is only a year old. We should pause here to note, though, that we at RCPU don't see Google Apps overwhelming the Office franchise any time soon, if ever. Office is the de facto standard for word processing, presentations and spreadsheets and is still massively popular for e-mail, as well. It has swept away competition from Novell, Corel, Lotus, Sun and Oracle. Familiarity has not bred contempt in the case of Office; if anything, it has kept the product on top of its market.

But Office -- hosted or on the desktop -- isn't the only serious game in town anymore. Google Apps really does offer something unique: a hosted model with simple, easy-to-navigate interfaces and a pleasant lack of complication. Its dearth of bells and whistles is likely a strong point for many of its users, not a disadvantage. Plus, now that Google Apps can upload and store any kind of document, it's a much more flexible system than it was just a few months ago.

The real dilemma for Microsoft partners is whether it's worth trying to walk the tightrope between Microsoft and Google and sell both suites. Redmond isn't always too fond of partners that don't show loyalty in situations like this, but clearly there's some opportunity in working with Google on Apps. We figure that most Microsoft partners will stick with Microsoft, and maybe wisely so. But Google Apps looks as though it'll be a thorn in the Office juggernaut's side for some time to come, and it's building a partner base to do its bidding.

Do you work with Google Apps? Would you? Sound off at [email protected].

Posted by Lee Pender on February 25, 20100 comments

Windows 7 Surges, IE Sinks

If Charles Dickens were writing IT analyst reports in the 21st century, he might work for Janco Associates. The firm this week outlined the best of times (Windows 7) and the worst of times (Internet Explorer) in Redmond.

OK, so maybe that's a little hyperbolic. Led Zeppelin's classic "Good Times, Bad Times" might be more appropriate. And it rocks a lot harder than ol' Chuck ever did. We have to stop typing now so we can play air guitar.

Posted by Lee Pender on February 25, 20100 comments

Microsoft, Amazon Ink Patent Agreement

Kindle and some Linux stuff are in there, but it looks as though Microsoft and Amazon will still fight tooth and nail in the cloud.

Posted by Lee Pender on February 24, 20100 comments

Microsoft Turns to Virtualization To Boost Windows 7 Adoption

Windows 7 is the real thing. It's the true heir to XP's throne and the next Microsoft operating system just about everybody will end up having. That much we know.

The challenge for partners, though, is to get their enterprise customers to move to Windows 7 when so many companies seem content to stick with XP. Redmond magazine offered advice on migrating to Windows 7 back in January, and now Microsoft is releasing tools that will make the migration effort easier.

If Microsoft had a tag line for the move to Windows 7, it would likely be "Virtualize It!" This week, Redmond added a bunch of virtualization applications to its Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack 2010. MDOP is a set of tools geared toward helping enterprise customers migrate to new software, especially Windows 7.

The new virtualization apps in MDOP are part of a big push by Microsoft to get companies to take the plunge into Windows 7 (and Office 2010, eventually). For partners, Microsoft is not only making the migration pitch easier with new virtualization apps, it's also offering all sorts of facts and customer testimonials online.

So, now is as good a time as any to embrace virtualization in the Windows migration process and jump on Microsoft's Windows 7 bandwagon. Finally, there's not only an operating system worth migrating to but also a pretty robust set of tools that make migration easier. Well done, Microsoft. Partners, it's all up to you now.

What's your experience with using virtualization to migrate to Windows 7? Share it at [email protected].

Posted by Lee Pender on February 24, 20101 comments

Iron Mountain Acquires Mimosa

The big storage company takes on the provider of e-mail and SharePoint archiving applications.

Posted by Lee Pender on February 24, 20100 comments

Muglia Sees Improvement in Enterprise Demand

Redmond's server and tools guru sees things looking up, especially in the server market. He also gives a brief-ish explanation of Azure in an interview with Barron's.

Posted by Lee Pender on February 24, 20100 comments

The Devil and Mr. Kennedy

Bear with us on this entry, if you would. It doesn't really strike at the heart of what Microsoft partners want or need to know, but it's pretty darn interesting. We just love a scandalous tale. And it does involve Windows...

Back in August 2008, when the getting was good for Vista bashing, RCPU reported some shocking -- shocking! -- numbers about the percentage of PCs being downgraded from Vista to XP. One commenter who identified himself as "Crash" added this bit to the comments section of that entry:

This blog means squat. 2000 is still on servers around the globe. If anyone cares to remember, XP gained no traction against 2000 until after SP2 some three years later. Go find some real news to discuss. This is a red herring smelling up the place.

As it turns out -- although not necessarily for the reasons he mentioned -- Crash was right. The blog (well, that entry, anyway) did mean squat -- or didn't, depending on how you want to use that expression. The 35 percent downgrade number we alluded to in the entry came from an article in Computerworld (the original tech trade publication and a very credible organization), which used as a source a company called Devil Mountain Software. The Computerworld journalist -- who, by the way, is a fine reporter and has written many very good articles over the years -- even quoted the company's CTO, one Mr. Craig Barth. No big deal, right?

Well, cut to February 2010. And cut Craig Barth out of the story because...he doesn't exist. Thanks to some excellent reporting from one of ZDNet's inexplicable and terrifying three-headed blogs, we now know that although Devil Mountain Software does sort of exist, Craig Barth doesn't. He's really Randall C. Kennedy, a now-former writer for InfoWorld and allegedly something of a gigantic con artist.

It appears as though ol' Randy created Craig Barth as something of a pseudonym years ago and then kind of let the character run from there -- right into a bunch of news stories, mainly in Computerworld and mostly written by the same guy. The poor, duped reporter -- hey, it could have happened to any of us -- apologized, and we believe that his apology is entirely genuine. In fact, we at RCPU don't really even think it was necessary, as Kennedy -- or Craig Barth, we suppose -- appears to be the real fraud here.

ZDNet's long, three-headed investigation gets into all sorts of sins that Kennedy (or somebody at Devil Mountain Software, anyway; it's hard to know what's real and what's not at this point) seems to have allegedly committed, including falsifying information about customer implementations. Devil Mountain was usually pretty rough on Windows and Microsoft with its metrics, and its numbers made for some intriguing reading. However, it's probably best at this point just to ignore anything with the name Devil Mountain or Craig Barth associated with it. Craig Barth isn't a real person, and whatever Devil Mountain is, it's hardly a credible organization at this point.

It's easy to point fingers in this case. When we put together RCPU, we do very little first-hand reporting, mainly because your editor is also busy putting out a print magazine and doing a bunch of other stuff. When we do interview somebody, we're careful to mention that the person spoke directly to RCPU. Other than that, standard procedure for putting this newsletter together is to sift through, and Google News for interesting stories, link to them and then comment on them. We're in the commentary game here, not the news game.

As such, we don't spend a lot of time verifying sources because we don't spend a lot of time talking to sources. We kind of have to take what we find at face value -- and, if we're skeptical about something, we let you know. We probably should have been more skeptical of Devil Mountain's numbers back in 2008 given how shocking they were, but we never suspected any fraud there. We're sorry about that.

However, your editor doesn't really blame this fellow at Computerworld for what happened in the Devil Mountain case. Your editor has done plenty of reporting over the years, and having an exclusive source that seems to only want to talk to one journalist can be a gushing oil well of information for the fortunate journalist who's receiving the source's info.

Pretty much every business relationship is based on trust, and while we journalists (and bloggers) need to be wary of our sources, we generally -- and this is especially true for the trades, where sources are usually happy to see their real names in print and pixels -- believe people when they tell us they are who they are. So, if everything in the Devil Mountain fiasco that is allegedly true (according to ZDNet, anyway) actually is true, shame on Randall C. Kennedy. We don't need people in our industry doing what he allegedly did. And, no, "The devil made me do it," while fairly clever in this situation, is not an acceptable excuse.

How much does the alleged fraud committed by Devil Mountain Software make you rethink how much you trust what you read? We'd be curious to know at [email protected].

Posted by Lee Pender on February 22, 20108 comments

Cisco and HP Split the Blanket

It's heating up and getting really nasty between Cisco and HP, as Cisco said last week that it is cutting ties with its former partner. We could blather on about this, but Jeff Schwartz has done such a good job of analyzing the situation in his blog for that we're just going to point you to what he has to say.

Posted by Lee Pender on February 22, 20100 comments