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Even More Reader Feedback

Why do we run reader feedback at RCPU? Well, for one thing, we love your contributions. OK, so you can always make them on the individual blog posts on the Web site, and we love when you do. But we love running your thoughts in the e-mail version of the newsletter because...well, because it's less work for your editor, who doesn't have to write as much. (Kidding, of course...mostly. Partly. A little. OK, not really.)

Seriously, you're out there on the front lines every day, and we appreciate the fact that you're willing to take a break from your busy lives and drop us a line. It helps us make sure that we're still in touch with your reality, which we hope we are. Plus, some of the stuff you send is way better than anything we could come up with.

Also, let's face it: We're living in a news-dry era. With a few big vendors -- one of which we cover heavily here -- dominating the industry these days and snapping up smaller players, there just isn't as much news as there used to be. Questionable times for the economy have cut down on the news flow, as well. We don't get nearly the briefing requests from vendors and partners that we got even a year ago, and the actual news items of interest that come to us or that we manage to dig up seem to have become fairly few and far between.

So, you're helping us keep going, and we appreciate it. With that in mind, let's get to this week's e-mails. We talked last week about SBS server pricing, and Ian had a response for us:

"I think the SBS pricing is not adding any value at all to an SMB -- no more ISA Server on the Premium edition! Now you need to sell a third server solution or an integrated firewall appliance. There is some other value like the mixed CAL; however, for a typical SMB to see value at $189 per Premium CAL is not easy when the EBS Premium CAL is $195."

Ian, we got the impression, too, that Microsoft's new pricing scheme was moving SBS up-market (making the first "s" in the name a little less relevant), and the guys from IDC agreed with us. We'll see how that move plays out, but with Windows Essential Business Server already positioned for the mid-market, we're wondering why Redmond is leaving many of its smaller potential customers behind.

Following last week's tales of XP SP3, we have a couple more nightmare stories. Why do we run these? Not to antagonize Microsoft -- seriously. We run them because they're interesting to read and because some users out there might feel better knowing that other folks are experiencing the same problems they're having.

Diane has a real doozy to report:

"I have a not-quite two-year-old HP Pavilion Media Edition with the AMD Athlon processor. My computer is set to receive Microsoft updates automatically. BIG MISTAKE!!! The XP SP3 downloaded Tuesday and my computer totally CRASHED. I couldn't even get it to boot. I called my sister, and she immediately sent an e-mail to Microsoft then proceeded to 'chat' online with HP support.

"To make a long story short, nothing HP said to try worked, and I ended up having to use the HP recovery. I LOST EVERYTHING -- eight years of genealogy research records, all my photos, music, etc. I don't understand why Microsoft hasn't stopped automatic downloads from installing SP3 on the AMD Athlon processor computers.

"I 'chatted' with Microsoft support for quite a while today and asked if they had a software download free of charge for those of us who lost all our files. No, unfortunately, I have to use third-party software. I can't afford the $200-plus to retrieve all my files. What a nightmare!"

Diane, Microsoft did end up blocking SP3 from a AMD machines, but, unfortunately, the move seems to have come too late for you. We're sorry for your loss -- but we do thank you for sharing the story.

Another user who didn't even want his first name mentioned sent us this tale:

"Microsoft would have done well to wait a little longer before releasing SP3 and do some quality assurance testing on the ISO image for the SP3 update. I downloaded the ISO file and successfully burned it to a CD but immediately found an error when I went to install it. On the first screen (after the startup banner), there is a link entitled 'What to know before installing Service Pack 3.' If you follow this link, you will be presented with information on the SP2 update, not SP3. Although this may be an insignificant error as far as the update itself is concerned, it doesn't give me much confidence in the QA effort that Microsoft put into this update.

"I submitted a report to the Microsoft online support center and received a polite 'thanks' for my submission, but my trouble ticket has been closed without any acknowledgment of what, if anything, Microsoft intends to do about it. Given the other problems that have surfaced, I'm not holding out much hope that this is even on the radar."

We don't blame you, anonymous contributor. We do thank you for writing.

Have anything else to add? Chances are we'll probably add it. The address, as always, is lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on May 22, 2008 at 11:54 AM