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Microsoft to Sweeten SA Pot

Many customers buy Software Assurance for one reason: for the “free” upgrades that SA customers get when new software versions come out. If no upgrades are released before their three-year SA contracts expire, those customers may be irked, to put it mildly. But Microsoft has been working to change the perception that SA is all about the upgrades by putting more benefits into the package. Next month, it will further sweeten the SA pot, with benefits such as deployment services and training vouchers that should mean more work for partners.

Slings and Arrows over IE Flaw
This is one ugly brouhaha. Microsoft late last week issued a security advisory regarding an Internet Explorer vulnerability that could allow an attacker to take over a user’s machine. At the same time, the company took to task the unnamed security research firm that made the vulnerability public without first telling Microsoft about it, thus giving the company time to create a patch. Meanwhile, the SANS Internet Storm Center is coming down hard on Microsoft for allowing the flaw, which involves a default-permit setting for certain COM objects in IE, to exist in the first place. Both sides have valid points.

Microsoft Issues XP SP1 Security Advisory
Microsoft also posted a new security advisory warning regarding a “narrow and limited case” under which Windows XP SP1 systems may be vulnerable to attacks from the same flaw that the Zobot worm attacked earlier this month.

Virtual Server Update
At the Intel Developer Forum this week, Microsoft provided an update on its Virtual Server product roadmap, including the official name for the next version: Virtual Server 2005 R2. That’s R for “release” as opposed to SP1, for service pack. The product is due out in Q4. Microsoft also said it’ll deliver another release of Virtual Server next year. The beta is scheduled for the first half of 2006 and the product is due out in the second half. That release will provide a transition to the Windows hypervisor technology that is to be included in Windows Server Longhorn, Microsoft said. The 2006 release will support Intel’s VT and AMD’s Pacifica virtualization technologies, which promises to promote better interoperability, reduce corruption between virtual machines on the same system, and offer improved performance for guest operating systems, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft Extends SUS Support
Microsoft this week gave a six-month reprieve to users of Software Update Services (SUS) 1.0, saying it will now support the product until Dec. 6, 2006, instead of the planned June 6, 2006. The move is apparently in response to customer complaints about having to upgrade to Windows Server Update Services, the follow-up product to SUS. Microsoft is still encouraging users to deploy WSUS and is offering an upgrade guide to nudge them along.

Layton Offers A Deal to Consultants
This is something more software vendors should do: offer consultant pricing on tools that service providers may want to use at multiple customer sites. Layton Technologies is doing just that, enabling consultants and service providers to use its AuditWizard tool to conduct asset audits at client sites for as little as $1.50 per PC.

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Mac on Marketing
Consider this a shameless plug for our esteemed Redmond Channel Partner marketing columnist, M. H. “Mac” McIntosh. Mac will be launching a one-day seminar called Marketing for Leads – Part Two, which is intended to help Microsoft Partners learn the ins and outs of Web-based marketing, database marketing, telemarketing and more. The seminar costs just $75 and will be offered in 14 cities starting in October.

Mac is also conducting a series of five Web seminars for Microsoft as part of the U.S. Partner Readiness program, on topics ranging from relationship marketing to lead generation tactics. The seminars start on Sept. 22 and run through February. To find them on the full list of Webinars, select the “Business Readiness” competency and “Live” training type.

Posted by Paul Desmond on August 24, 2005