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Gates Lays Out Security Changes

Bill Gates gave the keynote at the RSA Conference 2006 in San Jose, Calif., this week. Among the many topics he discussed were changes to the Windows infrastructure to improve security. The Active Directory in the Windows "Longhorn" Server is getting an overhaul, which will include some security changes. Meanwhile, a few new features of Internet Explorer 7.0 are supposed to improve everyday browsing security.

See more about the Active Directory and IE changes here.

Leading up to the RSA conference, Microsoft revealed subscription pricing and licensing for Windows OneCare Live, the beta for Internet Security & Acceleration Server 2006, private beta availability of Microsoft Client Protection and private beta availability of Microsoft Antigen.

To see the transcript of the Gates speech, click here.

Managed Services Survey
The MSP Alliance recently conducted an interesting survey of customers who had purchased managed services. I'm not sure how large the contingent of managed service providers is within the Microsoft Partner community, but I suspect it's growing. The survey sample is small, about 50 customers, but it illuminates a few interesting industry directions and surfaces a classic new market question -- are you best served by cold calling leads or by raising awareness of your business model and nailing the right trade shows and referrers?

See more about the survey here.

Patch Tuesday
Yesterday was Microsoft Patch Tuesday, and it was a busy one. Microsoft published seven security bulletins for flaws affecting Internet Explorer, Windows and Office. Two of the bulletins patched critical flaws that could allow an attacker to take complete control of your system remotely over the Internet. One of those critical flaws only affects systems running Windows 2000 with Service Pack 4. The other critical bug, wriggling through Windows Media Player, affects everything from Windows 98 on up to Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP with Service Pack 2.

Find out more here.

IE7 -- Too Little Info, Then Too Much
It seems like it's always this way with Microsoft technologies. There's an unsteady drip, drip of information until a certain point, followed by a full fire hose of data. Too little, then more than you can handle.

That's been the case with Internet Explorer 7.0. Since the browser entered Beta 2 testing on Jan. 31, Microsoft has been fast and loose with information. Since the beta release, the IE development team posted more than 20 items explaining and promoting various features on the IEBlog ( Entry topics include tabbed browsing, search, quick tabs, Protected Mode, Page Zoom, Favorites Center, keyboard shortcuts and printing.

There's one entry that's definitely worth looking into if your company's site includes an RSS feed. It describes how IE7 identifies RSS feeds and alerts users that a feed is available on the page.

Subscribe to Redmond Partner Update

This column was originally published in our weekly Redmond Partner Update newsletter. To subscribe, click here.

Snitch Fee
The Business Software Alliance is offering up to $50,000 for people who report software piracy before Feb. 28. Microsoft is a major member of the BSA and arguably is the company that loses the most money (theoretically at least) to piracy. If there's any doubt that Microsoft is fully supportive of this BSA effort, if not the driver behind it, see Eric Ligman's post on the Microsoft Small Business Channel blog.

There's little doubt that partners are hurt when competitors sell pirated software, undercutting legitimate partners' pricing and creating false price gouging impressions in customers' minds. This is a way to level the playing field and get rewarded for it at the same time.

Posted by Scott Bekker on February 15, 2006