Microsoft Delivers SQL Server 'Denali' Test Build

The first test build of the next version of SQL Server is available for download now, if you're a TechNet or MSDN subscriber. Denali will bring cloud enhancements and a whole bunch of other stuff Mary Jo Foley describes in her piece.

Posted by Lee Pender on 11/10/2010 at 1:23 PM0 comments


Microsoft Security Essentials Has Competitors Upset

Go figure. Microsoft has taken more knocks about security over the years than Gerry Cooney has taken punches, and now that Redmond has actually made a pretty solid effort at protecting its own operating system, its security partners are whining.

Microsoft's free Security Essentials is available to Windows update subscribers who actively say that they want it -- it is not, in other words, an automatic download. But security firms such as McAfee, Symantec and especially Trend Micro are complaining that Microsoft's practice of offering Security Essentials as part of an update download -- even a completely elective one -- is anti-competitive.

We at RCPU have very little sympathy for the third parties here, and here's why: First off, Microsoft has long shirked the responsibility of properly protecting Windows, and the $50 Microsoft Windows Live OneCare -- the predecessor to Security Essentials -- was just an insult. Buying OneCare was like paying protection money to slick-haired men in track suits.

Security Essentials, on the other hand, is simply an example of Microsoft doing what it should have been doing for years -- securing its flagship product, fairly effectively (apparently) and for free. It's Microsoft's responsibility to do this, not a privilege. Besides, Microsoft is constantly coming out with technologies that could (and do) put certain third parties out of business. ISVs just have to live with and adjust to that -- it's part of being a software company.

That brings us to another point: Symantec, McAfee (soon to be part of Intel) and Trend have huge product portfolios that go way beyond what Security Essentials offers. And while we frankly doubt whether many uses will take the risk of using only Security Essentials to protect their PCs (in other words, third-party vendors shouldn't see a huge drop in sales), security vendors would do well to improve their own wares.

For years now, the major third-party security ISVs have offered bloated, overpriced, under-effective products and sub-standard customer service. They've gotten fat off of complacency and Microsoft's failure to secure its own products. Well, welcome to the paradigm shift, Symantec, McAfee and Trend. Just as Microsoft is having to adjust to competition from other vendors as never before, you're going to have to adjust to competition from Microsoft. After all, the mother ship is only trying to do what it should have done all along.

What's your take on Security Essentials? Send it to lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 11/10/2010 at 1:23 PM7 comments


Redmond Encourages Users To 'Be What's Next'

It's Microsoft's new tagline -- Be What's Next, that is. The question is, what is next for Microsoft? A wave of new cloud products? A new CEO? Success in the mobile market? Billions of dollars more in revenues? Probably billions of dollars more in revenues.  

Posted by Lee Pender on 11/10/2010 at 1:23 PM1 comments


Microsoft Fills Out Partner Lineup for Private Clouds

In Berlin this week, over beer and schnitzel (probably...and mmm, by the way), Microsoft announced a lineup of partners that will help the company provide private cloud infrastructures. Dell, Fujitsu, Hitachi, HP, IBM and NEC are on the not-so-surprising list. Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft watcher extraordinaire and Redmond magazine columnist, has all the details.

Posted by Lee Pender on 11/08/2010 at 1:23 PM0 comments


Patch Tuesday Won't Fix Zero-Day Flaw

Tomorrow's small set of fixes won't include a patch for the zero-day flaw that's been ripping through older versions of Internet Explorer. Have fun with the rest of them, though.

Posted by Lee Pender on 11/08/2010 at 1:23 PM0 comments


You Just Can't Kill the Mainframe

You can stab it with your steely knives (although we're not really sure how much good that would do...), but you just can't kill the mainframe. It's the Hotel California of data.

Posted by Lee Pender on 11/08/2010 at 1:23 PM3 comments


Ballmer To Sell Microsoft Stock

We're sure that Steve Ballmer doesn't mean to cause any panic with his planned big sale of Microsoft stock. He's very wealthy. He can do what he wants with his money. His tax preparations have to be only slightly more complicated than doing calculus in Mandarin.

Still...Ballmer's planning on selling $2 billion in stock by the end of the year. That's billion with a "b." Executives sell stock in their companies all the time, but Ballmer hasn't sold any of his Microsoft shares in seven years. He'll still have a lot left over after the sale, but this is not an insignificant dump.

All of this leads to the obvious question: What does Steve Ballmer know that we don't? It's hard to explain away a $2 billion stock dump -- the first in seven years -- with just the tax excuse. Does Ballmer see stormy seas on the horizon for Microsoft, financially speaking? And if so, how stormy could those seas be, given how long Microsoft's stock has been flat and how much it has actually declined this year (12 percent as of Monday morning)?

Does the CEO lack confidence in Windows Phone 7, Windows 8, Azure or the Xbox? Does he fear the effects of competition from companies like Google and Apple? Did he wake up one day and panic because he suddenly realized that he was still Microsoft's CEO (heh heh)? Is his job in jeopardy?

We don't know the answers to those questions, but we do feel as though now is a good time to ask them. Tax preparations or not, a CEO dumping billions in stock for the first time in years is not a sign of confidence for a company. There's almost no positive way to spin this story, especially since Microsoft stock has been falling -- meaning Ballmer isn't exactly taking profits here, in all likelihood. Partners, beware—Ballmer's move might not be bad news, but it almost can't be good news for Microsoft and the channel.

What's your take on Steve Ballmer as Microsoft CEO? Send it to lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 11/08/2010 at 1:23 PM3 comments


Microsoft Talks "BizTalk Azure"

As Redmond magazine columnist Mary Jo Foley explains, the idea is "integration as a service" on Azure. In fact, she does such a good job of explaining this concept that we'll just turn the whole thing over to her.

Posted by Lee Pender on 11/04/2010 at 1:23 PM0 comments


Zero-Day Flaw Ravaging IE

OK, OK, so "ravaging" might be an overstatement. But for users of IE 6, 7 and maybe 8, the latest zero-day mess could cause some problems.  

Posted by Lee Pender on 11/04/2010 at 1:23 PM0 comments


Google Takes Department of Interior Rejection Badly

Don't you just love headlines? We adore headlines. Some of our favorites so far this week include: "Google Sues US Government over Microsoft Favouritism" (complete with superfluous British "u" in "favoritism"), "Google Sues Agency over Microsoft-Only Cloud Deal" and "Google Sues US over Unfair Cloud Contract".

Well, that's that, then. Obviously, some U.S. government agency has jobbed Google by showing blatant favoritism toward Microsoft in the process of awarding a contract. Right? That's what the headlines say. So, case closed; Google can wipe the floor with the U.S. government -- the Department of the Interior in this case --in court and move on.

Or maybe not. Check out this little tidbit from our own RCPmag.com story, which has something of a more sophisticated headline:

"Google is suing the Interior Department for allegedly excluding Google's products in a request for quotation the agency issued on Aug. 30. The RFQ, for hosted e-mail and collaboration services, specifies that the proposed solutions must be part of the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite.

According to the court filing, Google officials had met with the Interior department several times, and pursued discussions in correspondence, in an effort to convince the department that Google's applications were capable of handling Interior's needs, and that they should also be considered as a possible solution.

Ultimately, however, Interior limited its scope to Microsoft with the requisite Limited Sourcing Justification document, telling Google officials that Microsoft offered unified/consolidated e-mail and better security than Google Apps."

Read that middle paragraph again; that's the money bit. Google officials had met with the Interior Department... and got shot down. That's how we read it. So, Interior is stipulating a Microsoft-only contract because it... prefers Microsoft's product offering. Shocking! Well, that certainly is "favouritism" if we've ever heard of it. It's called choosing one product over another. Of course, in today's America, that's ground for a lawsuit -- and for shocking headlines. Good luck with all that, Google.

What's your take on Google crying foul? Send it to lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 11/03/2010 at 1:23 PM4 comments


Oracle To Spend $1 Billion On Art Tech

It's an e-commerce software company (remember those? Commerce One, anyone? Ariba?), not some massively expensive piece of Art or a guy named Art. We'd change our name to Art for $1 billion, though.

Posted by Lee Pender on 11/03/2010 at 1:23 PM1 comments


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