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Early Release for WinFS Beta

Microsoft threw developers a surprise gift on Monday by releasing a beta for the WinFS storage subsystem -- likely to be the first of many. The company had committed to releasing a WinFS beta at the same time it ships Windows Vista, in the second half of 2006. That plan hasn’t changed, according to Microsoft, meaning this is shaping up as one long beta with lots of issues to be hashed out -- including which operating systems WinFS will support.

R2 Release Candidate Zero Now Available
Microsoft this week announced that release candidate zero (RC0) of Windows Server 2003 R2 is now available for download. R2 includes Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 1 along with enhancements for branch office servers, identity and access management, storage management and application development. To learn more about R2, head to Microsoft’s Channel 9. You'll find an interview with Iain McDonald, director of Windows Program Management, who discusses the reasons for using RC0 over Linux, among other things.

Microsoft Delivers More Presence Tools
Microsoft last week unveiled tools that make it easier to integrate presence information from Live Communications Server 2005 into business applications. Here’s a market that you can expect to heat up, as Microsoft and lots of other companies -- including Cisco and other IP telephony players -- are hot to integrate IM-style presence data into everyday business applications. Partners including BrightWork,, Meridio, OSIsoft, Siebel Systems and Singularity have already managed to build some of the new capabilities into their apps. As Ed Simnett, a product manager in Microsoft’s Real-Time Communications Group puts it, "We think we're scratching the surface here."

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Intel Eyes “User-Aware” Computing
At its developer conference last week, Intel was talking up the concept of “user-aware” computing, which involves a platform that can “take care of itself, knows who we are, where we are, and tries to anticipate what we want done," according to one exec. Sounds like science fiction to me, but if it’s real it could be a big opportunity for ISVs as well as services providers, who will undoubtedly be needed to help when the stuff breaks.

Ulterior Motives?
Bruce Schneier, the CTO of Counterpane Internet Security, is a well-respected guy in security circles and people often stand up and take notice of his opinions -- myself included. So it’s not exactly good news for Microsoft when Schneier says he senses something funny in the company’s insistence that the work going on in the Trusted Computing Group toward building inherently secure computers should apply only to hardware, not software. He thinks Microsoft is trying to stall the group’s best practices document such that it won’t apply to Windows Vista.

Two Scores for Microsoft Legal Team
On the other hand, it’s been a very good week for Microsoft on the legal front. First, it helped authorities arrest the two men believed to be responsible for releasing the Zotob worm -- in Morocco and Turkey, no less.

Closer to home, a Connecticut man pleaded guilty to selling stolen Microsoft source code and faces up to 10 years in prison.

Posted by Paul Desmond on August 31, 2005