Windows 8 creates more mixed emotions than a Madonna Super Bowl halftime show. The fact that half the people seem to be tearing their hair out isn't stopping some analysts like IDC from predicting big things for Win 8. To be clear, IDC is not saying XP, Vista and Win 7 users are all going to all upgrade in place. Clearly most of Win 8 criticisms are about Win 8 on keyboard- and mouse-centric machines, with the rest centered on having to switch back and forth between "Metro" and Desktop interfaces.
IDC instead is predicting big things -- specifically for tablets where Metro mostly rules the roost.
The research house thinks Microsoft will build around three million Surface machines this year, with millions more being built by OEMs. Unfortunately there were no real predictions as to how many will actually sell.
Best guess as to price was an iPad-like $600, which to me is pretty compelling. I wrote a while back that the Surface could be an iPad killer. It may not be as slick as the Apple machine, but it should have all the tablet features, plus be a full work-capable PC to boot. I have an iPad, but don't use it much because my laptop is a better browser and I get all my work done on the Dell (no matter how boring a machine it is).
A Surface for the price an iPad? Twice the usefulness and only twice as hard to use? What a deal!
Posted by Doug Barney on 08/27/2012 at 11:20 AM1 comments
Server virtualization was invented in 1967 or '68 by IBM (and the server was a mainframe). It became the revolution that it is today by virtue of two companies: Citrix (who turned NT servers into thin client hosts) and VMware (who turned Windows Servers into multiple Windows Servers).
Now the same thing is starting to happen to the network. No, not virtual LANs, which are cool but kind of passé. I'm talking about using software to emulate hardware networking devices, such as NICs, adapters, routers and switches.
First, this can save gobs of money. But if all this is virtualized, it can also be dynamic -- a must for a truly virtual data center and an absolute requirement for a true private cloud.
Microsoft is jumping on this bandwagon and is now talking about how Windows Server 2012 plays in this space. So far, it is really just a cog in the overall machine, and the machine for now is the high service provider area.
Just as virtualization started with big iron, Software Defined Networking (SDN) has to start somewhere -- and the high end is as good a place as any. In fact, these guys have the bucks and the savvy to sort it all out and later it can trickle down to us common folk.
My guess is that in five years we'll see some real SDN products that will simplify your network and make a lot of reconfiguration unnecessary.
Are you up on SDN and if so, what do you make of the whole thing? Your analysis welcome at email@example.com.
Posted by Doug Barney on 08/27/2012 at 11:11 AM1 comments
I am usually the guy that defends Microsoft, arguing that the company is hipper than it gets credit for. With the new corporate logo, the company isn't helping my cause. The Windows part of the logo changes to keep the squares Windows 8's "Modern" interface. I thought that part looked pretty lame.
But the name itself went from looking pretty smooth to appearing like the title page of a high school term paper.
Now keep in mind that art is subjective and this is just my opinion -- and it may grow on me. At first blush, though, it just doesn't work. Still, I'd rather have a logo that doesn't work than a product that fails.
What is your subjective take on the logo? Throw your rotten tomatoes or blow kisses at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Doug Barney on 08/24/2012 at 10:24 AM22 comments
Microsoft recently showed off a version of SharePoint 2013 built for Office 365 -- and this baby has some "Modern" touches.
Instead of a busy interface, either the old-style drop down or newer-style Ribbon, this one is rather sparse with Modern tiles and a small un-Modern-like menu bar.
Most of the changes are functional, and a lot have to do with the Webification of SharePoint. Specifically, a lot of work has gone into tagging including the ability to tag while posting (rather than as a separate process).
But the tagging changes speak to what is important to SharePoint. People, for instance, can be tagged and are at the top of the heap as far as objects are concerned. And people, as objects, are connected to other data, such as Facebook and LinkedIn pages.
Another big change (which raises some issues) is the role of SkyDrive Pro, now a key part of My Site. If you recall, SkyDrive Pro is a cloud storage service. Cool. But it also costs money, and has a yearly subscription fee. Stop paying and you lose access to the data. Not so cool.
In other big news, SharePoint Workspace, which used to be called Groove, still exists, but is being phased out in favor of SkyDrive Pro. Ray Ozzie must be so proud.
Does SharePoint make sense in the cloud, and what are your SharePoint thoughts in general? Fire off opinions to email@example.com.
Posted by Doug Barney on 08/24/2012 at 10:34 AM0 comments
You'd think Windows Server 2012 Essentials would be completely done. After all, its big brother (regular old Windows Server 2012) has already been released to manufacturing, which means it's in the bag.
Essentials is almost there, having just gained release candidate status. That means it's almost ready for manufacturing but needs a few more eyeballs to make dead sure.
Essentials is made for shops with up to 25 clients, and is looking to make it fully out the gate this year.
If your shop grows, you can upgrade to Windows Server 2012 Foundation which handles 50 more users.
Essentials is essentially the new version of Windows Small Business Server. Have you used that, and if so, what do you think? Share your experiences at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Doug Barney on 08/24/2012 at 10:27 AM1 comments
Shamoon is a new, or partly new virus that looked to be just a warmed-over version of Flame (probably Flame tweaked by some low-level scripter).
Shamoon might have been used in an attack on Saudi Aramco, the national oil company (this outfit is worth more than Apple!). But that may be only the beginning. Now that this little beastie is getting some press, expect a lot of little hackers to start spreading the goodness.
Successful attacks are no fun. Shamoon doesn't just steal your data; it covers its tracks by messing with your boot record. This thing rewrites more files than a KGB agent. Before long your PC is dead in the water.
So far the virus is used in a targeted way, experts say. My hope is that anti-virus definitions can handle all the variants before worse stuff happens. I think the vendors can handle it.
Posted by Doug Barney on 08/22/2012 at 9:59 AM0 comments
It must be no fun being a Win RT OEM. You now have the company that controls the OS competing with you with Microsoft Surface. Given that fact, you'd think Microsoft would cut you a little slack. But no. Instead, Microsoft controls your every move.
Here's one example: ARM is the company that makes the processor that drives Win RT devices. But these processors become part of a system-on-a-chip (SoC), which is made by Texas Instruments, Qualcomm and NVIDIA. The OEM, which makes the final machines, tablets or tablet/laptop hybrids, are under Microsoft orders to only work with one SoC provider. I'm not sure why this is the case but it sure makes it tough to negotiate price. The same is true on the Win 8 side -- you've got to choose your Intel or AMD poison (and can't flip flop).
Posted by Doug Barney on 08/22/2012 at 9:57 AM2 comments
Here are two readers' wildly different opinions on Windows 8:
We've been looking at Win 8 in the enterprise as part of our ongoing research agenda and we are coming to conclusion that Windows 8 (Enterprise) has no real compelling advantages over Win 7 -- and a number of disadvantages and risks for enterprises. In fact, our current advice is for enterprises with XP fleets to immediately begin migration to Win 7 (real pressure points are starting to build on the 50-60 percent of enterprises still on XP SOEs) and ignore Win 8. For organizations that have already made to move to Win 7, we recommend not spending any more effort or resources on examining a Win 8 upgrade.
I am publishing a research paper next week on this very issue. I have offered Microsoft a little time to counter my arguments before publishing.
One of the sticking points in my research is Microsoft's official 'we can't comment' on Downgrade Rights for OEM Win8. If licensing terms stay as they are, this would mean no more deployments of XP (outside of Software Assurance). My guess (guess only) it that Microsoft will not grant N-3 OEM licensing to keep XP alive...and I would not blame the company. In fact, I think Microsoft would be mad not to return to N-1 licensing.
What? Me worry? Not a chance, Doug! Vista was NOT 'just a modest upgrade to XP,' and the extent to which that illusion was perpetrated by Microsoft led to Vista's apparent failure.
It wasn't really but it sure felt that way to a lot of people. Microsoft's blunders made a bad situation look much worse than it was, and Vista received an undeserved black eye.
Vista's 2007 public release represented the first Windows kernel re-write since Windows 2000. That is a long time.
Windows 7 and Windows 8 are still running on an enhanced version of that Vista kernel. That is why the transition to Windows 8 will be relatively painless. If an application ran under Vista, it will run on the Windows 8 desktop. Getting used to a Start Screen instead of a 'Start Menu' is not nearly as traumatic as the pundits have been predicted and, if you really do not want to upgrade from Windows 7, there is no need to. Windows 7 will be supported until 2020!
As for the absence of touch on existing notebooks, well that is just nonsense. I use a mouse with Windows 8 and I love it. I detest fingerprints on my screen so I would probably use a mouse on the Surface RT as well.
I couldn't be happier!
Share your thoughts with the editors of this newsletter! Write to email@example.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 08/22/2012 at 10:03 AM2 comments
Google truly has no shame. These days it's nearly impossible to make it as an author. For every James Patterson, there are hundreds of thousands of men and women with unsold manuscripts, and hundreds of thousands who self-publish manuscripts that too few read.
For those lucky enough to get published, Google has a sweet deal. It will get you exposure by scanning and publishing parts of your book for free! That way you don't even have to worry about selling it or cashing all those pesky royalty checks.
If you don't think this is a big deal, Google has already scanned and posted parts of over 20 million books. That's great for cheapskates, bad for writing and the writing industry. The Authors Guild is suing, and the utterly shameless (Google) is fighting it, claiming that what it does is good since the public achieves "increased knowledge" and that "books exist to read." It won't be for long if writers stop writing because they can't make a living (or get paid at all).
One of the coolest writers on my shelf, "Ball Four" author and former big leaguer Jim Bouton, is a plaintiff. Imagine if that book never got written.
Am I too rough on poor old Google and should it be allowed to trample on copyrights so we can read book excerpts for free? What else should we give Google (my first born is already taken, sorry)? Send your lists and thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Doug Barney on 08/22/2012 at 10:01 AM7 comments
Redmond columnist Don Jones poses a lot of interesting questions. The great thing is he usually has the perfect answer.
The latest is whether all these great security tools are making us lax and over dependent on technology. In fact, how often does your shop conduct security training? See, you may already be lax.
Shops that are overconfident in their security apparatus may be less secure in a way than if they had nothing to protect them. That's because without training, your end users are apt to do all kinds of dumb things -- the kind of things social engineering hackers love to talk them into.
Do you do enough security training? You tell me at email@example.com.
Posted by Doug Barney on 08/20/2012 at 1:16 PM1 comments
Over the weekend I read Kurt Mackie's story about Microsoft finally supporting the Open XML file format with Office 2013, and I scratched my increasing gray haired head. Didn't Microsoft already do this? Can't I save as Open Document Text? This is an XML format used by OpenOffice. Here is some good background info from an old friend on all this.
What Microsoft is talking about now is the Open XML standard -- a higher level standard it apparently promised to support some years ago. I won't bore you will all the details, despite their soap opera qualities, but the battles over these document standards have been grueling. Here's hoping that full Open XML support finally puts an end to the bickering and actually allow us to share files between different systems both easily and at a deep level. If we can accomplish that, maybe we can apply that to different version of Word!
What do you make of all this? Send text only to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Doug Barney on 08/20/2012 at 10:23 AM0 comments
IIS is, by most accounts, a pretty good Web server. But when it comes to market share, it pales in comparison to Apache (and probably will for the next decade). It's tough to compete with free, especially when the free is so darn good.
You think Microsoft is going to give up? Not on your life. The next dynamic Web duo is Windows Server 2012 and IIS 8.0, which will come after the current 7.5.
Many of the improvements Microsoft recently touted come from Win Server 2012 itself, such as hooks to Azure and better scalability. As for IIS 8.0, here's what we know: The Web server can tightly control how it exploits processors through "throttle," which lets admins decide how much of the CPU IIS should hog, and "ThrottleUnderLoad," where the system itself adjusts depending how much load the CPU is under.
There are also a bevy of security boost and tweaks to exploit multicore processors.
What Web server do you use and why? Answers welcome at email@example.com.
Posted by Doug Barney on 08/20/2012 at 10:26 AM0 comments