Doug's Mailbag: Internet Killed Privacy

One reader makes the case that we cannot go back to a private world after the rise of the Internet:

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that there is no way short of leaving the Internet in its entirety that anyone can hope to reclaim some semblance of privacy as we once knew it. And even then, the person leaving the Internet has left footprints all over the virtual veldt.

The Internet is a network of networks. People who are interested in gathering intelligence on their fellow human beings have all the interconnectedness they need to hunt down that sort of information. And we, the Internet users, are all too willing to share it, in order to have access to the services that the first group provide as an incentive to get that information they crave. Add to that automated daemons that scour the net for information of interest, and massive database engines that collect, collate and corroborate all the myriad bits and bytes, and you have the greatest privacy destruction engine the world has ever seen. And if you're interested in your privacy, don't expect the governments of our nation states to come to your rescue -- it's in its best interest to be able to accumulate as much information on its citizens as it can in order to facilitate social cohesion and stability.

Does this sound too cynical? Too cut and dried? Really? When the UK is becoming a surveillance society, when we have Congress considering CISPA, when we have Facebook hoovering up information daily by the terabyte, is this really anything more than a précis of the true situation? Privacy as we knew it died a long time ago; we're now arguing about its dried-out corpse. Pandora's box was opened; the demons have multiplied, and even a bigger box is not going to retrieve them.

-Den

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 04/25/2012 at 1:19 PM4 comments


The SkyDrive Is Falling

This week Microsoft made its SkyDrive cloud storage service better -- then made it way worse. First, the good part: You can now upload folders and bigger files, files as huge as 2GB. The bad news: New users can only upload three of these puppies, as the new limit for the free service is 7GB, down from the formerly generous 25GB.

Compared to Google Drive, SkyDrive is downright roomy. Google only offers 5GB on the house.

In both cases the vendors hope you'll fall in love, run out of room and pay for the premium service. And if you're an existing SkyDrive user, you can upgrade now and keep the original 25GB.

As for me, I'll stick with Carbonite for backup and DropBox for file sharing.

What do you use for remote file access, synchronization and so on, and are thumb drives as passé as Bartles and Jaymes wine coolers?

Answers welcome at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 04/25/2012 at 1:19 PM6 comments


Doug's Mailbag: Office 365 Gripes and Suggestions

Readers stuff our suggestion box with what bugs them about Office 365:

Just setting up a simple 30-day trial was not as easy as you would think -- some information was hard to find and confusing when you found it. Microsoft needs to make this much simpler to get wider-spread adoption.
-Anonymous

My chief complaint with Office 365/SharePoint in general is how shielded it is from the public Web. I really wish there was a real app store (PinPoint directory is a joke) and third-party Web services that can access/sync my data in a meaningful way. Where is the integration story with the popular MailChimp Web service? Where is the ability to make and receive calls using Lync client with a Skype business account? Why can't we use Lync to chat with customers on our ecommerce site?
-John

My favorite gripe of all time: 'Too many features.'  Oh please Microsoft, if you just allow us to do less; make it less powerful... eh... who is that? Google?
-Dan

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 04/23/2012 at 1:19 PM1 comments


Doom and Gloom or Boom and Zoom

Poor, poor Microsoft. It's stock is stalled worse than Paris Hilton driving a stick. Oh, and every pundit with a keypad or blog is talking about the end of Redmond hegemony and the total dufosity of Steve Ballmer.

Despite all this Microsoft's bean counters report that each and every quarter come up with more beans. This quarter Office and the Windows division both came through swimmingly. Surprisingly, entertainment, which contains the red hot Xbox and Kinect, faltered.

Now, is there anything short of an asteroid that can make the stock move?

Posted by Doug Barney on 04/23/2012 at 1:19 PM1 comments


Black Day for Privacy

Most of my cars are old -- and I plan to keep it that way. My VW camper is a '72, my 928 is from 1980 and the Land Cruiser shipped from Japan my junior year of high school is from 1978. The rig that gets the most miles is either the '95 Bronco with more rust than a Bering Sea wreck or a '95 Cadillac sedan.

Despite the high cost of gas, it looks like I'm going to have to keep these crates running. That because in a few years our precious government may well mandate that all our new cars have black boxes that will tell exactly what we were doing when an incident occurred. If you want this intrusion out of your own car, you just broke the law!

It always starts relatively small. But something like this can grow. With GPS and wireless there is the ability to not just track and spy, but to control your vehicle. And once you give up power can you ever really get it back?

The best thing about most of these old cars? There are no expensive power windows fixes and I can still actually find (and replace) the alternator.

What is your favorite old car and what should the government, car companies and insurance firms do with these shiny black boxes? Answers always welcome and shared at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 04/23/2012 at 1:19 PM7 comments


Windows 8 Version Types Trimmed

Recently we went through a short list of all the names Windows has gone through. It's a lot. I came up with nine separate names for Windows, but clever readers quickly corrected me, like this list from Marc:

Runs under PC/MS-DOS:

  • Windows 1.0
  • Windows 2.0, 2.10, 2.11
  • Windows 3.0, 3.1

Then it splits to:

  • MS-DOS kernel (Win32s, co-operative multitasking):
    • Windows 95, 98, 98se, Me
      • Versions 4.x (?)
  • NT kernel (Win32, pre-emptive multitasking):
    • Windows NT 3.1, 3.5, 3.51
    • Windows NT 4.0
    • Windows 2000, Windows XP (Versions NT 5.0, NT 5.1)
    • Windows Vista, 7 (Versions NT 6.0, 6.1)
    • Windows 8 (to be Version NT 6.2)

.
That's what, about 22 names in a bit over 25 years? Now that we are on the verge of Windows 8, Microsoft is trying to at least make things simpler by having fewer current versions. Right now there are six versions of Windows 7 -- from Starter to Ultimate. Win 8 will have only three for Intel and just one for ARM.

The good news is Microsoft won't change the basic name mid-stream, at least for Intel. It will still be Windows 8. However, when it runs on ARM it will be Windows RT (for Runtime).

On the Intel side, Win 8 will come as just Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, or Windows 8 Enterprise. Go Pro and you get Hyper-V, Group Policy and BitLocker. Enterprise, which requires Software Assurance, comes with extra software for mobility, security and virtualization.

Posted by Doug Barney on 04/23/2012 at 1:19 PM8 comments


Fixing Office 365

I've talked to over a dozen people about Office 365 and, like a cable news panel, everyone's got a different opinion.

I did an extensive report based on Redmond Report readers' experience and found that serious Microsoft IT pros loved Office 365 because it matched the on-premise equivalent pretty much feature for feature and was managed much the same way as the software it replaced.

Smaller shops preferred Google Apps. With hardly any features, it is cake to get this up and running and keep up and running.

Greg Shields, who himself moved to Office 365 some time ago, found this out when he recently moved a friend's small business over. The migration left Greg thinking that Office 365 could flop if Microsoft doesn't fix three big problems:

  • Beef 1: The features exceed those of ordinary men (and ladies), making it hard to use.
  • Related Beef 2: Because Office 365 is based on enterprise software, ordinary men (and ladies) quickly feel they need an IT pro to help get this stuff running -- and they're right.
  • Most Fixable Beef 3: Shields is a highly skilled IT pro, but even he needs help sometimes. In the case of Office 365, Greg found online support more wanting than Madonna at a Chippendale's review.

What is your take on Office 365? Does Microsoft have work to and if so, how?

 

Posted by Doug Barney on 04/20/2012 at 1:19 PM10 comments


Ex-Microsoft Super Genius Myhrvold Could Have Been Steve Jobs

If you read the above headline thinking Nathan Myhrvold is an ex-genius who worked at Microsoft, you'd be wrong. Nathan is a current genius who used to work at Microsoft.

Bear with me for a bit of history -- I've been writing about this stuff for 28 years. so I tend to ramble more than Dickey Betts (whom I'm distantly related to on my mother's side):

You may remember that when Bill Gates shelled out $171 million for Groove, he really didn't care all that much about the software. He wanted Ray Ozzie's gray matter.

Gates had done this before: Some two decades ago, IBM had a multitasking kludge for PC-DOS called TopView. Microsoft wanted the same thing in its back pocket and found a company called Mondrian. Even better, Mondrian had brothers Nathan and Cam Myhrvold -- both total braniacs. This is what Bill really fell in love with. Nathan eventually became Bill's first chief software architect.

One project the long-retired Nathan worked on that never panned out was video on demand. But just recently it came to light that more than 20 years ago Myhrvold pitched Gates on a pocket-size phone that would "consolidate all personal communication -- telephone, schedule manager, notepad, contacts, and a library of music and books, all in one. It would record and archive everything you asked it to," says Men's Journal magazine. Bill passed on the project. Geniuses aren't always smart, and in this case I'm talking about Bill. Even Ken Jennings got a few questions wrong.

What, in your humble estimation, was Bill's biggest mistake? Confide in all of us at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 04/20/2012 at 1:19 PM5 comments


Feds Investigate a Google Privacy Matter (Again)

Like Robert Blake, Google, it seems, can get away with just about anything. It takes photos of our homes, sniffs passwords and Wi-Fi MAC addresses, parses our e-mail, sells our data, co-opts the media and sells ads around content that isn't Google's. No big.

But apparently when you bypass a setting in Apple's browser, you are in for it! Well, in for it at least a little.

You see, Google just happened to sidestep a security setting in Safari that stopped Google cookies.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which dropped the ball on the Microsoft antitrust case a couple decades ago only to have the DOJ pick it up, is now looking at whether it should wag its finger at Google. Perhaps even levy a fine. Isn't this like penalizing Rex Ryan for swearing? Is he really going to develop a new vocabulary?  Not even Tebow can make that happen.

The fine is inconsequential. What is more important is the precedent the ruling could set -- that one cannot just bypass protections aimed at consumers even if everyone loves your free search engine.

Google has been hit hard by the feds before. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) whacked Google with a $25,000 penalty for Google Street View's invasions of privacy. This hurt. One of the company's private jets had to skip a detailing. And that money has already been spent for shrimp cocktail at a GSA party in Vegas. You see, it all works out in the end.

Can anything, anything at all, be done to restore the privacy so many Web and mobile vendors have taken away? Your best Newt-style "big ideas" welcome at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 04/18/2012 at 1:19 PM3 comments


Doug's Mailbag: Tablet Talk

Readers share their wishes, predictions and thoughts on Microsoft's future tablet entries:

ARM tablets running Windows 8 can not join domains or be managed by anything key management tools used at the enterprise-level (well, except for Activesync -- but that does not count as a software management tool, as no AD policies or System Center tools can touch it). This extremely aggravating detail means that most of the affordable, big-battery-life tablets for the enterprise won't be manageable. I am certain that management all over the world is going to be buying Windows 8 tablets at Best Buy for $300 and then get ticked at their IT guys because they can't put their tablets on the network and give them access to their files -- even though the guy next to them has a domain-integrated Intel tablet running Windows 8 (at twice the price). RRRRRgh...
-Garry

I think MS will do better than expect in the tablet market, especially in the enterprise because of all the enterprise features (connecting to domain, central management of policies, disk encryption, integration with Exchange, etc.). I just hope they change their mind and include the same Enterprise features on their Windows on ARM (WOA) as well. Not all enterprise users will need the full-blown i86 tablets. Once Microsoft gets a hold on the enterprise tablet market, then it will start being taken more seriously in the consumer market. MS will be OK as long as it does not fight the competition where it already has a stronghold, but make first priority to make Win8 tablets the tablet of choice for businesses (which no one has a real stronghold on yet).
- 80s Rocker

What I'm hoping for in a Win 8 tablet: I'd like enterprise support, tools to manage my servers and a decent Exchange client. I'd like a file system that I could see/manipulate/control.

I'd like to get out of Apple's balance sheet.
-Greg

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 04/18/2012 at 1:19 PM0 comments


Microsoft's Total Naming Confusion

Microsoft's next round of products have names that follow no known patterns in the universe. I'm taking about Windows 8, IE 10, "Office 15' and "SharePoint 15." How did all these unshipped products come by these names?

In the case of Windows, it went through this short list; Win 1, 2 3, then 95, 98, XP, Vista, 7 and soon 8 (with a little Windows ME tossed in for good measure). Makes less sense than a Foster Broks dinner speech.

Office went through Office 1, then 3, 4, 95, 97, 2000, XP, 2007, 2010, and now goes to a code-name number that seems higher than the number of released editions.

SharePoint was SiteServer, then OfficeServer, SharePoint Portal Server 2001, SharePoint 2.0/2003, SharePoint 3.0/2007 and SharePoint 2010. Now Microsoft is somehow leaping to SharePoint 15. Meanwhile Groove somehow got renamed SharePoint Workspace -- though I'm not sure how many really noticed.

This is all really a bit of a digression. I came here to tell you when you might expect to actually see Windows 8, IE 10, Office 15 and SharePoint 15.

As usual, we count on Mary Jo Foley, who writes the back column for Redmond magazine.

I competed against Mary Jo when she worked for what was then PCWeek and I was at ComputerWorld and then InfoWorld. These were the golden days when all software execs, no matter where they ranked in the Forbes 400, were accessible. And most all spoke their mind freely, especially about their competitors! Mary Jo was great then and she's great now.

Anyway, Foley is on the trail of ship dates. Here's what she surmises:

All the 15s (Exchange 15, Office 15, SharePoint 15, Visio 15, and Project 15) look likely to arrive early next year.

IE 10 has a broad ship range, anywhere from two months from now 'til early 2013. 

Posted by Doug Barney on 04/18/2012 at 1:19 PM10 comments


Tiny Tablet Slice

The prediction that Microsoft will have a scant 4 percent of the tablet market in 2012 at first blush sounded pretty bad. Then I realized that 2012 is this year! With Windows 8 expected to ship in the fall (and IT never willing to buy volumes of anything new) 4 percent in a few short months ain't bad. Ain't bad at all.

Sure, Apple can gloat all it wants. It will outsell Microsoft nearly 20 to 1 this year in the tablet market. That's because Apple already has a product and thousands of apps -- and it is on its third generation.

The Macintosh, on the other hand, is 28 years old, and has only 6 percent of the worldwide market.

I'm not 100 percent sure about Win 8 as a killer desktop or laptop OS. But I am bullish on Win 8 tablets because out of the box they will not just be integrated with enterprise apps, they will have the native ability to run most of them. The iPad, great as it is, can't say that. Virtualization is about as native as Iron Eyes Cody.

What do you think of Win 8 tablets vs iPads? Choose your poison at dbarney@redmondmag.com. And how long did it take to remember Iron Eyes Cody? Did the Sopranos Columbus Day parade episode jog your memory?

Posted by Doug Barney on 04/16/2012 at 1:19 PM11 comments


Upcoming Events

Redmond Tech Watch

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.