Redmond Magazine Survey Finds Higher IT Salaries

Every year Redmond magazine does a salary survey and the last few have been pretty flat when it comes to salary growth. I was expecting more flatness this time around. Boy, was I surprised to find that on average your pay went up 3.25 percent. Now that may not put you in the market for that new 60' Hatteras, but you shouldn't have to settle for a leaky dingy either.

Almost 60 percent of readers got raises. That's also pretty sweet!

In case you are looking to switch gears, the top areas of expertise for the money include data warehousing, research and development and software design. All have average salaries of over 100 grand. 

Posted by Doug Barney on 08/17/2012 at 1:19 PM0 comments


New SkyDrive Almost Ready To Fly

There is a new version of the free Microsoft Web storage service, SkyDrive, that is almost ready for duty. The update has been in preview (which is one of many words Microsoft uses when it should just say beta) for a while.

Here's what's new: The service, in keeping with Windows 8 and what Microsoft is looking to do with all its cloud/Live services, will get the "modern" look found in Windows 8's new interface.

Also, instead of 25 GB of free storage, which is amazing generous, you only get 7 GB, which is only remarkably generous (at least on the surface). Here's the hook: It is easier to run out of 7 GB, leading you to buy the premium service at $50 a year for 100 GB.

Posted by Doug Barney on 08/17/2012 at 1:19 PM3 comments


Windows 8's Done, Time To Worry

Windows 8 has now been released to TechNet and MSDN subscribers, which means the code is essentially done. I am getting very very nervous. Before Vista came out, things looked pretty good. It was really just a modest upgrade to XP. The slick, new addition was the optional Aero interface (and you didn't have to use that). The real problems started after Vista shipped, and the little gotchas all added to big problems. This app didn't work. And worst of all, many hardware devices became obsolete overnight.

Win 8's problems are showing up before ship time and they are fundamental. It is not a happy camper on existing desktop and laptops, but yearns for touch tablets. It has two entirely different interfaces that you must use. Metro (or what Microsoft decides to call the interface) can't do it all. An I thought The Cable Guy had a split personality.

So now it's time to see what this thing's really got.  Will Win 8 succeed or fail? You tell me at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 08/17/2012 at 1:19 PM37 comments


Doug's Mailbag: Microsoft's Hardware Shift

Is Microsoft becoming more and more like Apple every day? Here's what some of you think:

Microsoft has long tried to be more like Apple, often to its detriment. The Windows XP UI was made to look more like the Apple UI (OK, the trash can became the recycle bin and the menu/task bar was at the bottom instead of the top). Despite what Microsoft might think, just because it is Apple does not mean that Microsoft should copy it.
-Darryl

I would love if Microsoft started selling its own hardware like Apple does. I am sick and tired of hearing morons say that Apple is better, just to find out that it is because the computers are faster. Well guess what? If I spent around the same amount of money on a PC as you would for a Mac, then you would get that speed. Too many people buy the low-end models and then wonder why the $1,000 Mac is better. It's because it was made with parts that cost $1,000 rather than $400. Maybe Microsoft will do the same and get a better rep for it.
-DJ

I hope it does try to be more like Apple, as long as it doesn't try to be a 'me too.' I am worried that all this catch-up will mean it becomes just like Apple -- leaving the PC enthusiast that wants to use their own researched hardware purchases instead of settling for the big name, big ticket, big box retail solution. These solutions have a history of ignoring what people want unless they number in the millions. Unfortunately "device" means Microsoft probably will go that route too. Heaven forbid we allow people to actually have a choice that doesn't involve compromise!
-Tom

Share your thoughts with the editors of this newsletter! Write to dbarney@redmondmag.com. Letters printed in this newsletter may be edited for length and clarity, and will be credited by first name only (we do NOT print last names or e-mail addresses).

Posted by Doug Barney on 08/17/2012 at 1:19 PM1 comments


Exchange Conference Back, Build Show Sold Out

One of my fondest semi-early memory of a dedicated Microsoft shows was an Exchange conference in New Orleans, despite the fact that it was mid-summer. A FoxPro event in Orlando was a close runner up because the attendee loved their product so dang much. Foxpro memories welcome at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

It's been 10 years since Microsoft had an Exchange show, but the Microsoft Exchange Conference is back, baby, and will be held late next month in Orlando (my apologies to FoxPro fans but there's nary a track on this old beauty).

Meanwhile, Build, built for developers, is waiting list only and is up in Redmond in late October. Build is all about Windows 8 applications, and I expect this event to jumpstart a pretty cool Metro (oops, can I still call it that?) library.

What was your favorite computer show? Votes and descriptions welcome at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 08/15/2012 at 1:19 PM4 comments


Google's Misplaced Privacy Fines

A record-breaking $22.5 million fine was slapped on Google for violations. And although the company fully deserved them, they were, at the same time, misplaced.

The fine largely revolved around Safari and issues around opting out of Doubleclick ad tracking -- really the least of Google user worries. Even after you may have opted out, cookies still tracked you, despite the fact that Safari was designed to block these cookies in the first place.

The fines also related to Google Buzz (now Google+). One problem with Buzz was that as a Gmail user, all the stuff you did was shared with all your Gmail contacts. Oops.

Gmail later was found guilty of reading your e-mail and sending out ads depending on what you wrote or received. Handy and invasive.

The $22-plus million is a pittance, as Google made nearly $40 billion last year (almost all of this from ads, despite that fact that, to my knowledge, Google doesn't have a single journalist, author or real content creator on staff). It creates virtually no content, yet makes more from content than the world's largest media company News Corp. (which only brought in $33 billion and has over 50,000 employees).

The fine was misplaced because Google does far worse privacy damage when Streetview sniffs out our Mac addresses.

Google really doesn't care and, in fact, the fine wasn't for privacy violations but for contempt due to how the company acted after it was found to violate privacy.

Posted by Doug Barney on 08/15/2012 at 1:19 PM3 comments


Hyper-V Is Now FreeBSD Friendly

Hyper-V is getting more and more non-Windows friendly every day. It's already reaching out to Linux and now it is doing the same for FreeBSD.

The support isn't ready for prime time, but the drivers are in beta and are open source just like the operating system it supports. The drivers right now work with Windows Server 2012 R2.

Helping Redmond in the effort is NetApp and Citrix.

Posted by Doug Barney on 08/15/2012 at 1:19 PM0 comments


Is Microsoft the New Apple?

Sometimes it pays to read the fine print. Ed Bott has made a career out of it. Last year he read a Microsoft 10-K investor report and saw the company mention devices, leading him to predict that Microsoft would enter the hardware game. That may sound like bragging but I've known Ed for over two decades. And if it's bragging, he's got the chops to back it up.

Bott dissected the latest 10K and saw references, again, to hardware. Ed's analysis is that Surface is just the tip of the hardware iceberg. Last year its 10-K mentioned hardware eight times. This time it was around 15. Last year it used the word "device" on 11 occasions. Now we see it 25 times.

Now it's time for me to predict the future. I think Microsoft watched the incredible success of Apple blending hardware and software, and had its own success with the Xbox experiment. This will lead Microsoft to decide it wants to be a hardware company!

Do you see Microsoft trying to be more like Apple? Forward your best analysis to dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 08/13/2012 at 1:19 PM9 comments


Acer Begs Microsoft To Come Clean on Surface

Of all the PC OEMs (and there are far fewer than there used to be), Acer is the one making all the noise about Microsoft's Surface plans. At one point early on I remember the Taiwanese company threatening to not build Windows 8 machines in response to Microsoft's plans. Like that would ever happen.

That'd be as crazy as Friendly's not making ice cream.

Later on, Acer backed down and said it had plans to, yes, make Windows 8 machines.

Most recently it reportedly tried to get Microsoft to disclose what it planned to charge for its Surface machines so Acer could figure out how exactly it would position (price) its units. Reports had it that Microsoft wasn't forthcoming.

One Redmondmag.com reader commented this way:

 "Doesn't this sound like price fixing and collusion? Microsoft has shown what they got, if Acer wants to play in the ball game, they had better come up with a better one or similar one at a lower price. Stop whining that Microsoft screwed you. How did they screw you? By building a better widget than the folks who are supposed to be the experts? I'm kind of tired of Microsoft coming up with great ideas and manufacturers poo-pooing them because they don't think anyone would buy it. Everybody knows that Win 8 loved touch, but how many new laptop models have touch display? Approximately 0 percent !"

My take? Acer having years in the OEM space and massive factories in Taiwan (and an equally massive worldwide supply chain) should have a massive advantage over Microsoft. The only exception is that Microsoft doesn't have to pay for the OS and could, perhaps, design more tightly around what the OS does. I don't know, do we then call it even? You tell me at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 08/13/2012 at 1:19 PM11 comments


Patch Tuesday: 5 Critical, 4 Not

Patch Tuesday is coming up next week, and Microsoft Windows is in for a whole heap of fixin'. In fact, five of the nine bulletins are aimed at the OS and three of them labeled "critical."

Where some Patch Tuesdays are light, this one will be busy. Nine might not sound like a huge amount of patches, but there are lots of different kind of fixes and lots of reboots, experts caution.

As usual, remote code execution remedies lead the charge. Eight of the fixes are RCE related.

Posted by Doug Barney on 08/10/2012 at 1:19 PM1 comments


Doug's Mailbag: Understanding the Win RT Strategy

Readers chime in on whether Win RT makes sense:

Windows RT tablets are primarily a consumer offering. Yes, they may play an enterprise role in the BYOD arena. And certainly some businesses will use them for specific non-information worker applications (i.e., point of sale). But they are not intended to be full information worker devices. You want one of those, get an x86 device.
-Hal

Why would the person needing this type of functionality not have the Pro device? I view RT as more a consumer or non-power user device. Do we know how long the battery life is for Surface Pro? Intel is making great strides in that area and Windows 8 is using as less energy was possible. All this on a free version of the software.
-THEKMAN58

I am soooooo tired of bloggers repeating the same lame bull*** about the differences between Win RT and Windows 8. So, for the absolute last time:

  1. Windows RT tablets are for CONSUMERS, just like the iPad, and anything associated with it is for CONSUMERS.
  2. Windows 8 tablets (you know, the one with the built-in keyboard) are for enterprises/businesses.

So does Office 2013 that is designed to work on Windows RT need VBA, macros or third party plug-ins for consumers who make spreadsheets to balance their checkbook, write their mother or their grandmother a rare letter or make-up a birthday card really going to miss those features? Absolutely not.
-Anonymous

Share your thoughts with the editors of this newsletter! Write to dbarney@redmondmag.com. Letters printed in this newsletter may be edited for length and clarity, and will be credited by first name only (we do NOT print last names or e-mail addresses).

Posted by Doug Barney on 08/10/2012 at 1:19 PM1 comments


Criminals, Terrorists and Maybe the Rest of Us -- Watch Out

I saw two items that gave me pause. I'm going to be neutral on this because, quite frankly, I'm more concerned with what you think, and this is sensitive stuff. Say too much and I'm sure to offend someone. So just the facts this time, ma'am.

First up, Microsoft has finished working on a system for New York City that combines massive video surveillance with an equally massive database. The idea is to see anyone in the city, watch exactly what they are doing in real-tine and match them to what is already known about them. The system, according to press statements, is aimed at terrorists and suspected criminals.

The second item is more interesting. Apparently Homeland Security has a new laser that, pretty soon, will be able to shoot beams at us and find out most everything -- whether we have drugs, weapons, if we're nervous, even what we ate in the Red Carpet Club. All this from 50 yards away. And even though this is aimed at airports, what's to keep this out of the hands of regular old law enforcement?

The author who brought me this info had a point of view and used the article as a platform to promote a new app that can secretly record one's interactions with the police.
The point here is that sometimes in some places police officers believe being recorded is illegal and have arrested those doing the recording.

You can see how divisive these topics can be. But because the technology is moving so fast (who doesn't have a camera phone?), we may want to tackle some public policy now before we reach the point of no return.

Posted by Doug Barney on 08/10/2012 at 1:19 PM14 comments


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