Doug's Mailbag: Windows Phone 8

Here are some of your thoughts on Microsoft's upcoming mobile OS:

I hope that the Win 8 phones that are released make Sprint and Verizon carry more options. If they do not, I might have to consider dropping Sprint and go with AT&T or another provider that has a good Win 8 phone selection. I am really hoping that Sprint gets one of the Nokia Win 8 phone (like the Lumina 900).
-'80s Rocker

When I heard of the shared kernel, I immediately thought that Microsoft's MinWin efforts finally paid off. MinWin is more than just the kernel. It's the minimum set of files to make a functional, bootable Windows OS (sans a GUI). Last I heard it was around 25 MB in size and required 40 MB of RAM. Microsoft haters weaned on an endless diet of Microsoft 'bloat' sneers won't get how they can make Windows Phone 8 work. My problem is the opposite direction. The latest MinWin OS with Metro slapped on top and a stripped Windows 7 UI bolted on is not very satisfying on a PC.
-Anonymous

I've been waiting for Verizon to get a phone like the Lumia 900 to dump my Droid X. I guess the forced wait was worth it. I'll now get one of the new Windows Phone 8 models.
-Jon

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 06/29/2012 at 1:19 PM1 comments


Reader Request: Help for Backing Up Virtual Servers

I'm writing a piece under tight deadline about storage for virtual servers. Are you involved in this? Your best advice and experience more than welcome at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 06/27/2012 at 1:19 PM2 comments


Microsoft's Social Network Buy

As largely expected, Microsoft bought Yammer, a social media player. This is not like Bing, which is 100 percent going up against Google. While Yammer does compete against Facebook for consumers, let's face it, that ship really has sailed.

I think Microsoft bought Yammer far more because it can be used for enterprise social networking. Those steeped in the Microsoft product line may remember that Microsoft, through SharePoint and other tools, offers social networking, but this requires lots of software licenses and even more IT elbow grease. Yammer is much more quick and dirty. Redmond can up sell you on SharePoint later.

Posted by Doug Barney on 06/27/2012 at 1:19 PM0 comments


Doug's Mailbag: To Track or Not To Track

Readers share their thoughts on Microsoft's "Do Not Track" function in Internet Explorer:

DNT ought to be the default. (Additionally, vendor offerings for things not requested should be OPT-IN not OPT-OUT.)

Unfortunately, advertisers are favored in Washington because profits come before consumer privacy.
-Marc

As usual, the federal government doesn't understand technology and its impact. It beats up on firms like Microsoft for trying to do the right thing.
-Thomas

Fact of the matter is that Washington bureaucrats rarely, if ever, has a clue about new technology and what it means to the average consumer. The batting average only gets worse for them being able to decide what might possibly be best for the average consumer.

While I don't always agree with what Microsoft decides is best for their consumer, usually you can change the setting if you have some technical savvy and Microsoft know-how. As most anyone who reads this already knows, Microsoft usually takes a buttoned-down, conservative approach on security (not politically, of course, just a tight security setting) which is best for keeping the average non-tech-savvy consumer out of trouble. The decision for the DNT default that MS wants to implement is just another case-in-point.

The Washington bureaucrats rattling Microsoft's cage on the DNT default setting make decisions based on politics. IMO they are likely just siding against big-business without an inkling of an idea of what the DNT setting even is or who is doing the tracking. Either that or they want to keep the option open for the government to do the tracking.

Regardless, they certainly aren't on the side of the consumer. They are only on whichever 'side' will help them politically.
-Heidi

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 06/27/2012 at 1:19 PM1 comments


The First-Ever (Almost) Microsoft Surface Review

Redmond magazine executive Jeff Schwartz shot me over link what is purported to be the first real review of a Microsoft Surface machine running Windows 8 RT. Being curious, I took a look hoping to have intelligent things to say about these units in the future. Heck, this may be your next computer.

From the TechRadar "review" I learned a bit about the hardware itself, which seems pretty slick. And judging from all the sweetness, it might hit your budget a bit hard, but that's just conjecture.

Unfortunately I didn't get any feel for the operation or get to the soul of the machine. I wanted to know what it feels like to use this machine, what the experience is like. What the review lacks is an analysis of the software -- kind of like testing a car without driving it.

For those who don't need the satisfaction of a full review, feel free to head here.

Posted by Doug Barney on 06/27/2012 at 1:19 PM0 comments


Another Reader Request: Do You Run Exchange or SharePoint in the Cloud?

The August issue of Redmond will be about the cloud, and two of the piece I'm writing concern hosted SharePoint and Exchange. If you run either in the cloud I'd love to hear from you at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 06/27/2012 at 1:19 PM1 comments


IE 10 'Do Not Track' Tracked in D.C.

Even when Microsoft does good it gets knocked around. Take Do Not Track (DNT). This does as it says if data brokers comply. The W3C Web standard will make it so your clickstream data isn't collected by data-hungry Web marketers who love to use it against you. Oh, and this data gets passed around more than playing cards at a Penn & Teller show.

Microsoft thought it was doing a good thing when it decided it (DNT) should be a default setting in IE 10. I mean, how much trouble do we all get into when we neglect to do something we probably should and don't know we can do?

For some reason the W3C thinks we should all opt-in to Do Not Track as if everyone understands the concept of clickstream data. A little optimistic, no?

So who's giving Redmond this hard time? The U.S. government

The spec, which like most Web specs is almost never really done, was the subject of a meeting of the Congressional Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus (and it was a fan of Microsoft's default ways).

The FTC fought Microsoft on antitrust grounds in the '90s. Now, at least one Commissioner doesn't like Microsoft deciding on what is best for consumers when it comes to Do Not Track.

But just as you can opt-in, can't you opt-out FTC?

Whose side are you on? Cast your vote at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 06/25/2012 at 1:19 PM5 comments


Windows 8 Phones Made in Redmond?

We've all heard that Microsoft is planning on making some of its own Windows 8 Surface tablets --  as big of a blockbuster move by Microsoft into PC hardware if I've ever seen one (and I've been following this stuff since June 4, 1984). All right, so I missed the Apple 1, the first IBM PC and the first Compaq, but I did see the Mac debut in '86!

On the heels of Surface are rumors that Microsoft is building its own Windows 8 Phone. "It's just a rumor," you skoff! Let me tell you a little about Rick Sherlund, the man behind the rumor. Sherlund was at Goldman Sachs in 1986 when Microsoft went public, and he, more than anyone I could recall, drove the IPO.

Now Sherlund says that Microsoft "may" be working on such a phone, which is a responsible way to share such information, in my estimation.

Given Nokia's shaky circumstances, this "may" not be a bad idea.

Keep in mind that Sherlund, still a Wall Streeter but not at Goldman, thought that Bing might be sold to Facebook -- so the "may" could be a very important word here. 

Posted by Doug Barney on 06/25/2012 at 1:19 PM0 comments


Quest's All Alone

I happen to care a lot about third-party companies. They take risks, invent things and are often a lot of fun to watch. Too many of the good ones get swallowed up by huge companies and lose their identities (with the loss of CEOs and sometimes half their employees!).

I feared this would happen to Quest. Word had it last month that Dell wanted to buy Quest. Dell's been on a bigger buying spree than Larry Ellison (did you hear he just bought almost the entire island of Lanai?

Fortunately for me and perhaps Quest, Insight Ventures kept the company private with a $2.2 billion buyout.

I'm a fan of Quest. Heck, I'm a fan of most third parties in the Windows market, and thank them for their guts and tenacity.

Want to know how the geniuses behind these third parties come up with their ideas? Look no further, for the Secrets of the Windows Gurus awaits.

Posted by Doug Barney on 06/22/2012 at 1:19 PM0 comments


A Windows Phone with a Windows Heart

The Windows operating system is big. Smartphones are small. This isn't stopping Microsoft from basing Windows Phone 8 on the actual Windows kernel.

The new Windows Phone 8 OS, due this fall (just when the new iPhone is expected) will run Metro -- which won't be a big adjustment for Windows Phone 7 users, I expect.

I'm kind of surprised that a phone OS due in the fall is getting details released this late in the game.

The advantage to using the Windows kernel is all the years of third-party development and the hundreds of thousands of commercial and corporate developers whose wares can be adapted to smartphones.

As to the phones themselves, they will have screens up to 1280x768, run IE 10, and are designed for intensive gaming and to serve as true enterprise computing devices.

And of this last point I am 100 percent sure of. I can't imagine that an Android or iPhone would integrate better with a Microsoft IT environment, though they aren't slouches in that department.

Microsoft has its work cut out for it on these phones -- even though reviewers often give Microsoft phones good marks.

Just yesterday my son David turned 19 and his Android phone is flaking. He wants a new iPhone and is trying to decide if he should wait until the fall for iPhone 5. If only he had known Windows Phone 8 is coming at the same time and is based on the Windows 8 kernel!

What does Microsoft have to do to get some phone respect? Tell a friend at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 06/22/2012 at 1:19 PM5 comments


Doug's Mailbag: Surface Impressions

Readers share their thoughts on Microsoft's newly announced Surface tablet:

I guess I don't get it. The MS Surface to me is unexciting. When I'm doing heavy work I prefer my 15.6" Dell notebook or my XPS with its 22" monitor. When sitting here in my chair relaxing, my iPad is the perfect environment. I read my books here, listen to my albums, browse the Web and play a game or two. Not interested in Metro in any form factor, really.
-Bruce

Sell your Apple stock now.
-Anonymous

What we have in Surface is just another Ultrabook with a touchscreen. Most people that I know who own iPads use it for what it was designed for -- content consumption, not creation. All they need is a browser and some apps to make the UI simple. That's it. A full-blown Win 8 machine is probably more than what they want. I don't think that this will be an iPad killer, but an ultrabook killer. OEMs must be howling made about that.
-NOTAFANBOY

Ballmer's been reading my mail! It looks like the Surface machine is built to be a lot better for information creators than the typical flat glass tablet. That makes it much more desirable from my point of view, though I have exactly zero desire to learn and use the stupid new Metro interface. Guess I'm not really a Metrosexual! All that said, I'm afraid there are a lot more drones, oops, sorry that's 'consumers' out there than creators. That, plus the fact that neither Bill G nor Steve B will ever have a cult of personality like the
departed Mr. Jobs, and I don't know if the Surface will sell any better than the Playbook.
-Karl

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 06/21/2012 at 1:19 PM0 comments


Win Tabs Get the Last Laugh

I am now officially an objective observer in the upcoming war between Windows and iPad tablets, having shelled out $500 hard earned Barney dollars for an iPad.

Owning an iPad for more than a month and the fact that it's barely been used in a house with two adults, a 16-year-old Apple fan and a five-year-old girl tells you something. The bloom is off the iPad rose.

The five year old loves Bugs Bunny on TV and Angry Birds on her brother's iPhone. He loves his Xbox 360, Netflix, Macbook and Greek classics in actual print. No e-readers for him.

So I have the Apple tablet all to myself. Here's what I think: The iPad camera is awesome, but the onscreen keyboard is still just an onscreen keyboard. It isn't a computer, so my lap remains covered with a trusty (but imperfect) workhorse: a Dell Latitude E6500.

That may change when Microsoft actually ships one of the new Surface tablets it just announced. These have a few things going for them. The OS and hardware, like the Xbox, are completely controlled by one vendor. Our Xbox hasn't crashed yet, plus it's simple as pie to use and works great with third parties.

More important, these Surface machines are full PCs. They have full PC operating systems, run fill PC applications and, best of all, have real keyboards.

And the Win 8 machines, running on Intel, are managed just like Win XP, Vista and Win 7 machines today -- through Active Directory, PowerShell, System Center and all those great third-party management tools we all depend on.

The iPad, as great and revolutionary as it is, will probably never have this. And Apple will probably never turn the Mac into a tablet because it already has the iPad.

If your end game is the enterprise, this is a masterstroke on Microsoft's part, wouldn't you say?

At first I thought tablets was Apple's game to lose. The iPad was slicker and more stable than anything Microsoft could do and had the "wow" factor.

Then I remembered a year ago watching a Microsoft employee spend a full day pounding away on a Win 8 tablet without a hitch. If it was that stable then, how good would a Microsoft-made machine be almost two years later? Then imagine an iPad-like machine that works as a full computer. Nice.

If my theory turns out to be right, will the critics who blame Steve Ballmer for all of Microsoft's wrongs admit their errors? Probably not.

Am I on to something or did Microsoft send me a big box of Kool-Aid mix? You tell me at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 06/20/2012 at 1:19 PM25 comments


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