Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 Out

Why have just one point when you can have multi? The evaluation copy of Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 is ready for download.

Posted by Lee Pender on 02/24/2011 at 1:23 PM0 comments


Windows 7 SP1 Available

Those of you who aren't MSDN or TechNet subscribers can go get Windows 7 SP1 for yourselves now. The big adds are mainly centered around desktop virtualization, so give it a whirl and see where it lands. Or something.

Posted by Lee Pender on 02/23/2011 at 1:23 PM0 comments


Kinect in the Office?

Evidently, the Kinect game controller for the Xbox is more than just goofy fun. Microsoft seems to see it as the future of interfacing with computers, which makes us wonder how long it'll be before we'll be able to type this newsletter with interpretive dance rather than with your editor's worn little fingers. How does one take on the shape of the Windows Server operating system, anyway?

Posted by Lee Pender on 02/23/2011 at 1:23 PM0 comments


Google Launches Apps Certification Program

This cloud stuff is here to stay, and so is Google. As if you didn't know that already, Google reiterated its presence in IT today with the announcement of the Google Apps Certification Program.

There's something about a certification program that makes an IT alternative seem legitimate. Not that Apps (or the cloud in general) wasn't before today, but it really feels like a viable option for IT with a certification program in place.

Of course, the program isn't really for IT customers -- it's mostly for partners. Yes, Google Apps has a growing reseller program, and participants come from all sorts of practice backgrounds, including Microsoft. As is the case with the Microsoft certification system, diploma-toting Google partners will be able to separate themselves from their competitors and gain some cloud credibility in the IT landscape.

"Both our customers and our partners have been seeking opportunities to differentiate themselves," Stephen Cho, director of Google Apps Channels at Google, told RCPU in a phone chat Tuesday afternoon. "Customers want to have an assurance of the expertise and competence of partners they might engage. [For partners], it shows a depth in the technology."

From where we're sitting, certification also lends a sense of added stability to the whole notion of IT departments moving key functions into the cloud. There's still some trepidation about Software as a Service in the enterprise despite the model's fairly rapid growth, but having another major player (other than Microsoft) provide a certificate of competence to partners has to be reassuring for IT folks who might otherwise wonder what they're getting into with all this cloud stuff.

The first Google certification, Google Apps Certified Deployment Specialist, is available to partners and IT professionals as of today. There are more details about it here. More elements of the program are forthcoming, Cho said. They will include sales, support, developer skills and advanced deployment skills, he said.

"As the product gets broader, our technical expertise will also get broader," Cho said. And Microsoft partners are more than welcome to check out what's going on in Google's cloud.

Have you worked with Google Apps? Does a certification program make the notion more appealing? Why or why not? Send your thoughts to lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 02/23/2011 at 1:23 PM0 comments


Distinguished Partner Offers Advice on Microsoft-Nokia Deal

Finally, some clarity in the murky world of the punditsphere. With Microsoft and Nokia on the ropes before they even step into the ring with their mobile partnership, a voice of reason is emerging from Nokia's homeland of Finland.

Actually, Petri Salonen lives in your editor's old hometown of Dallas, but he's a Finn by origin and a keen observer of both Nokia and Microsoft. A former global chairman of the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners, Salonen is not just another blogger with a run-of-the-mill opinion. He's someone whose views carry weight, and he has a message for partners and developers regarding the Microsoft-Nokia deal: Go for it!

Salonen would like to remind everybody that there's some considerable selling power in Microsoft's channel of 600,000-plus partners. Plus, he correctly points out that most of the time, Microsoft is an excellent partner. There is opportunity here if Microsoft, Nokia and the companies in their ecosystem choose to embrace it.

For a refreshing take grounded in realism and not pessimism, check out Salonen's blog entry here. And thank you to Petri for sending this link to RCPU. Please do keep in touch.

By the way, a note on this story: This thing is out of control. Now it appears as though the shareholder revolt that ended on Wednesday was never a revolt to begin with but was a hoax all along. Whatever. Take what you read about this deal with something of a grain of salt. We're not actively reporting on this story -- just following it online, really -- and it seems to be changing more frequently than the protests in the Middle East. In any case, the greater point here is that everybody needs to calm down and wait until there's actually a product from this deal.

Any more comments on the ongoing Microsoft-Nokia saga? Send them to lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 02/17/2011 at 1:23 PM0 comments


Zune, We Hardly Knew Ye

Actually, we did know ye pretty well, and ye were pretty lame. It looks as though Microsoft might be (wisely) dumping the Zune name, thereby erasing from its portfolio a brand moniker that might as well have been spelled F-A-I-L. It's not that the Zune was such a bad device, really -- it's just that it was never close to competing with the iPod on any level that mattered (read: design and coolness).

The Zune always reminded us of the kid on "Beavis and Butthead" who wore a Winger shirt while the protagonists of the series were rocking shirts from legit hard-rock bands AC/DC and Metallica. Just weak. And that's your high-culture reference for the week.  

Posted by Lee Pender on 02/17/2011 at 1:23 PM12 comments


How JC Penney Gamed Google

From the in-case-you-missed-it file, here's that New York Times article about how JC Penney magically turned up for a while as the top Google search term for everything even remotely related to retail. An interesting read, to say the least.

Posted by Lee Pender on 02/16/2011 at 1:23 PM2 comments


Microsoft-Nokia Deal Continues to Take a Beating

Note: Apparently, Nokia's rogue shareholders gave up trying to kill the Windows 7 deal after just one day. (We usually write RCPU about a day in advance, and this story broke after we filed yesterday.) Nevertheless, this thing remains pretty unpopular.

We're getting a bit tired of writing about this, but it just keeps dragging on. Now it's not just shareholders but also unions that are bashing Nokia for hooking up with Microsoft. Talk about trying to kill this horse before it ever leaves the gate. This all seems a little ridiculous.

However, former Microsoft honcho and new Nokia CEO Stephen Elop's presentation of his old friends' technology to the Nokia board did feel a bit like a fait accompli, and that's not cool. Check out what one Nokia exec told Bloomberg:

"We had presented three scenarios: continue with the current plan of record, a Google option and a Microsoft option but the recommendation that we made to them was the Microsoft option so that's what they approved."

We're sure that all three options got a fair presentation, though...and the Kansas City Royals have a real shot at winning the World Series this year.

Posted by Lee Pender on 02/16/2011 at 1:23 PM2 comments


Apple Now Much Bigger than Microsoft -- and Google's Gaining

The world turned upside-down some months ago when Apple became bigger than Microsoft, thereby rendering obsolete -- or, at least, purely historical -- Bill Gates' declaration to Steve Jobs in the epic film Pirates of Silicon Valley that, "I got the loot!" It's about 7:40 here if you want to see it again.

Billions of dollars in sales of iPhones, iPads and just plain ol' Macs later, Apple isn't just bigger than Microsoft -- it's way bigger. In fact, it's $100 billion in market cap larger than any other company in the technology industry. (Yes, that's billion with a "b.") That's some pwnage, as we understand the kids call it these days, right there.

But look out, Microsoft. Your grip on the No. 2 spot is slipping. Rushing up behind you is Google, which is within striking distance of taking the runner-up spot. Apple and Google are growing explosively, and Microsoft is, well, not. So, what does all of this mean for the former king of the software hill?

We at RCPU actually interpret it as mostly good news. Microsoft's slow growth is bad news for partners, but its loss of the top spot in the technology industry (by a huge margin) shouldn't really matter that much. In fact, as we've said here before, it should encourage Microsoft to stop chasing Apple in the consumer market and focus instead on holding its enterprise ground -- which is where partners derive most of their revenues, anyway.

In the Pirates of Silicon Valley clip, somebody who works for Apple tries to convince Jobs that it's Microsoft, not IBM, that is the company's mortal enemy. Microsoft could take a similar lesson here: It's Google, not Apple, that Redmond should watch out for. Sure, the iPad is cutting into PC sales. But Google's cloud-based business offerings cut to the very core of Microsoft's most profitable and stable enterprise offerings.

And we're not talking about search here, either. Bing is actually making inroads against Google, but Microsoft has to focus on protecting its enterprise market. Azure and the cloud strategy will be key to that, and so will making sure physical servers stay relevant in an era of expanding cloud infrastructure. All of that means competing against Google, not Apple.

Bill Gates, to his immense credit, is busy giving his loot away these days. Back in the rat race, it's Steve Jobs, not Steve Ballmer, who has it now. Microsoft should just let that go, as difficult as that will be at a company that is used to ruling the roost. Better to hang on to second place than to slip behind another competitor that could do some serious damage.

What's your take on Microsoft's standing in the software industry? Send it to lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 02/16/2011 at 1:23 PM4 comments


Microsoft-Nokia Love Fest Gets Mixed Reviews

Who's the hottest celebrity couple this Valentine's Day? We have no idea, actually, given that most of our knowledge of popular culture comes to a screeching halt around the year 1992 or so. But one couple that's getting a lot of celebrity-style press is Microsoft and Nokia.

Steve Ballmer and Stephen Elop -- the former Microsoft executive who recently left to run Nokia -- consummated their deal with one of the dorkiest handshakes ever late last week, and Elop is talking about Windows Phone 7 being worth billions of dollars to his company.

We here at RCPU are modestly bullish on the hook-up ourselves, and validating our take a bit (not that we need validation...ahem) is at least one pundit who thinks that the deal will work out well -- for Microsoft, anyway.

So, everything's fine, right? Microsoft and Nokia, with their various synergies and what not, are preparing to carve out a respectable niche in the smartphone market. Well, maybe...or maybe not. There's one constituency that's not chuffed about this deal, and it's a pretty important (and often self-predicting one): Wall Street.

Investors have been, at the time of this writing, pounding Nokia stock and basically sending the message that the Microsoft-Nokia love story will end in tears. We wonder to what extent is this a self-fulfilling prophecy; Windows Phone 7 is still fairly new, and Elop just took over at Nokia. Could everybody have a few months, maybe, before Wall Street types brand this love-in a complete disaster? After all, folks in lower Manhattan have been wrong about stuff before…

We'll visit this topic later in the week with some reader comments. If you want to chime in, send your thoughts to lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 02/14/2011 at 1:23 PM5 comments


IBM Computer To Take on Champions on Jeopardy!

If you have nothing better to do (or nothing worse, depending on your perspective) on Valentine's Day, check out Watson, IBM's computer, taking on the legendary Ken Jennings and some other guy tonight on Jeopardy! By the way, it's not that we're so excited about this news—it's just that, as far as we know, the name Jeopardy! has an exclamation point in it. Of course, we've never respected that with Yahoo, but we kind of don't want to cross Alex Trebek. Powerful Canadians intimidate us. We will post this stupendous picture of Mr. Trebek, though, and we'll leave it to you to search and find your favorite Saturday Night Live Celebrity Jeopardy! sketch. We love them all equally.

Posted by Lee Pender on 02/14/2011 at 1:23 PM1 comments


HP Moving Away from Windows

One battle Windows Phone 7 has definitely lost is the fight to keep huge Microsoft partner HP interested. It looks as though HP is pretty much ditching Windows on mobile phones and tablets and even de-emphasizing it on PCs. HP is running with its WebOS platform, no more a guaranteed winner than Windows Phone 7 but a somewhat more tested platform since HP did, after all buy it from Palm. First Intel, now HP. Microsoft's traditional partnerships seem to be atrophying all the time. But, hey, there's always Nokia.

Posted by Lee Pender on 02/14/2011 at 1:23 PM5 comments


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