Google: Ozzie Impressed, But Won't Imitate

Ray Ozzie told Wall Street this week that Google's success is forcing Microsoft to respond, and respond fast! But while Google rakes in billions from online advertising, Microsoft won't simply copy the Google plan and go 100 percent Web.

Instead, Microsoft plans to complement existing hard drive-based tools like Office with Web services, a model Ray calls "Software Plus Service."

If anybody else were driving this strategy, I'd be skeptical. But since Ray is about a billion times smarter than me, I think it might just work.

FoxPro Lives!
I spent years covering databases for InfoWorld and Computerworld, and perhaps the liveliest market of all was FoxPro. Originally a dBase clone, it grew to outshine the Ashton-Tate tool and was eventually bought by Microsoft.

I even spent a week in Orlando at a FoxPro user group, and boy, those folks were hardcore. Some looked like they hadn't left their keyboard in a decade!

Microsoft tried to kill off FoxPro in favor of both Access and SQL Server, but users never let 'em.

So what is Microsoft to do? Build a brand-new version that's .NET 2.0-compliant and works with Visual Studio. With this kind of tweaking, I'd give FoxPro another 10 years, at least!

Exchange Not Standing Still
Exchange Server 2007 is far from being a year old but is already ready for its first service pack. The update, due for testing next month, boasts new replication features, including Clustered Continuous Replication and Standby Continuous Replication. I have no idea how these things work, but I do know you'd better start buying bigger disks!

The Scary Side of RFID
Radio frequency identification devices (RFID) are amazing if you're Wal-Mart trying to keep track of thousands of pairs of Wrangler cargo pants, cheap TVs and copies of the National Enquirer.

But with RFID devices getting smaller and smaller, there is also the potential for abuse. Previously small enough to embed under one's skin, Hitachi now has RFID tags so small you can barely seem 'em. While this may prompt fears of RFID tags stuck secretly in your hair, skin, or on your clothes, the antenna needed to make it work is a monster -- over a sixth of an inch!

Carolyn's Mailbag: A Few Views on Vista, Microsoft: Standards Hog?
Last week, Carolyn April asked readers for their first impressions on Vista. With a reception like this, no wonder Steve Ballmer has been trying to temper Vista sales expectations:

I won't be upgrading my home systems, of which I have three, or corporate systems, of which we have 185, any time soon because of the added hardware costs. Vista will make its way into my home and office as we replace systems, most likely when XP support winds down.

I found my Vista experience somewhat disappointing. Until Microsoft gets more to run than Office 07, I will stray away from Vista.

Our production department uses Photoshop. We use digital photography in some of our departments and Vista does something strange to our images: It will not recognize them properly. XP is fine. Quark issues -- don't go there.

Bottom line: Let other people be the guinea pigs for an operating system that was, in my opinion, not fully ready for release. I might revisit it in six to 12 months, but for now, my dollars will purchase XP Professional. Vista is not ready for the primetime business arena.

Tried Vista beta 2 and RC1. My question is this: Does Microsoft ever consider management of a mixed environment, of even its own OS types? I run a multiple-server environment, including Novell. MS, of course, just assumes that you are going to do it 'their' way, which over time has become more of how Unix, Novell, IBM and all the server OSes that made any sense have done things. With Microsoft's OS security model and what the 'industry' has had to put up with, I am, quite frankly, amazed that MS did not get sued off the face of the planet!

You don't go changing areas of how people interface with computers en masse so as to force them all to have to be trained to use something you have simply renamed! Exasperating. I don't think what Microsoft has done with the security interface is worth the 0s and 1s it is not printed on. I have not seen anything that states that Vista is a better-performing OS.

Oh, I guess it is pretty. Like I care.

My early take on Vista? I think it's a step in the right direction for the business world, but the home systems that are not already loaded with all the new requirements will be slow to afford Vista.

As for my company, I work for the Department of Homeland Security and it just changed to XP last year! I don't think they're planning to jump to Vista -- at least, it's not being mentioned to us lowly contract techs.

I have upgraded both a home and business PC with Vista Business. Both upgrades went fine. However...

As a Windows administrator, I use the Microsoft management tools all day long (or, really, a tool that relies in those tools' DLLs: Hyena). What software didn't work with Vista? The Microsoft management tools (Server 2003 and Exchange 2003)! No Active Directory users and computers MMC, no Exchange Management MMC, etc. This, even after running the Vista upgrade assessment tool with no report of incompatibilities on my PC!

After much digging on the Internet, I found enough info to get most of the functionality working but still not the Exchange Management MMC. And other rantings said Microsoft had no plans to make these tools work with Vista.

Seems to me that the people Microsoft would want to please the most would be the professional IT people so that they might encourage their companies to upgrade.

We tried to install a copy of the CPT version twice last year. On both occasions, the setup went well, but the installation seemed to run really poorly when compared to XP (both were a clean install). We also tried the beta 2 version a bit later in the year, but again the performance was not good. We have recently purchased some higher-specification PCs for use in a CAD environment (dual 3.0Ghz processor with 2GB RAM with a high spec graphics card) and decided to run another test using beta 2. This time the PC seemed to run well, but we have noticed several issues on startup.

There are some features that we think are good, but there are also a number that are really horrible (the power-down as opposed to shutdown is awful!). Overall, though, there is nothing to make us want to upgrade at the present. Based upon our experience, we would have to spend a lot of money replacing some of the older PCs and to be quite honest, there seems no real business benefit for us to do so. In fact, it is highly likely that we will try to maintain a consistent XP environment for at least another two years.

I am a computer engineer who has been buying, using and programming Windows since version 3.0. I will NOT be 'upgrading' to Vista, nor will I learn any more about it than I am forced to. I am using Linux more and more, and plan to be completely converted away from Windows by the time XP is no longer viable.

Microsoft needs some remedial training as to what an operating system is. An operating system is a software component that provides services to applications so that they are easier to write. Microsoft instead thinks that an operating system is something that should overwhelm and crush your computer, so that it must be replaced -- and that even after it's replaced, all of its resources should be used up by the operating system.

We are a very successful SMB with a low people count (about 50) and big numbers. We are running all workstations on XP SP2 just fine. Most are P3s with a few P4s scattered about. Why on Earth would I choose to upgrade more than half of our workstations any time soon simply to install ANY software company's new product (be it an OS or application) when it does nothing to genuinely improve our business?

As an IT manager, one of the biggest hats I wear is cost management. As stated before, we are doing just fine running XP, thank you. Maybe Microsoft isn't really listening after all. Linux sure looks interesting these days...

This upgrade is a very important issue for my clients. Organizations with thousands of desktops think long and hard about deploying a new desktop. Some clients have just moved to XP as their standard desktop. They are not likely to move to another major release so soon. Such an upgrade truly needs to make business sense to the clients first. It must not be governed by vendors waving the "new and improved" flag every time they need a revenue stream.

Vista has some great new features and they are not offered in all versions. The product is so fragmented it is hard to understand which version is appropriate for now and for growth.

It is time for evaluation and not a rush into a deployment. If it is worth upgrading, we will take the time to do it right.

My experiences with Windows Vista are not great, and I am not a supporter of this OS. I cannot see us rolling this OS out to our company (10,000 clients). The learning curve is too great to move from XP to Vista. I would sooner roll out Linux as the cost would be less for the license fees and the learning curve would be similar.

I am an MCSE and an avid supporter of Microsoft, but its latest two products, Vista and Office 2007, have me thinking that it doesn't know where to go but to make things look pretty and make changes to how its software operates.

Personally, I will not recommend to anyone I know that they upgrade to Vista; instead, I'll suggest that they stay on XP. And I further predict that Vista will probably be the worst-performing OS, as far as sales go, that MS has released -- except for Millennium, that is.

Vista business installed well on this Celeron D 3.2GB (1GB RAM) machine and seems to run OK, even with the integrated graphics. The 50 percent-and-over memory usage without any apps running is a little disconcerting, though. The HP color Laserjet 1600 drivers aren't ready for Vista yet but the printer does work, even though the install program reported two errors as it finished. MS Money 2006, Palm Desktop, WinZip, Adobe Reader 8, Picasa 2, QuickTime Player, Mozilla Firefox, AVG Free and RSS_Radio (podcatcher) work well with Vista. The screen graphics and menus are pretty. In Windows Explorer, the way the tree view slides slightly from side to side as needed is very slick.

Office 2007 installed well and does have an interesting new toolbar. I imagine it is more thoughtfully organized. However, MS Word doesn't have the "import picture from scanner" function like 2003 did from the menu. Now I must go to the control panel and a separate scanner
image program, get the image, save it and return to Word to import the graphic. A great step backward in progress!

Then I went to play a DVD. Not a high-def copy, mind you, just a regular DVD. It couldn't! I searched for and tried to install the codecs for Media Player 11 for DVDs. They aren't available! I attempted to install a copy of PowerDVD that I had. It was machine-specific and wouldn't install. I downloaded a couple of shareware programs for playing DVDs and one worked. But the next time I restarted the PC, it wouldn't play the DVD anymore. Finally, I downloaded the Media Player Classic 6.4.9. This works well with DVDs even after restarting Windows. I had to go back to version 6.4.9! This is nuts!

How many users of a PC or laptop with Vista Business will stick in a DVD, assuming it will play, only to be disappointed to find that they can't do it without buying and installing another program first? That is, unless they insist on doing it for free, like me, and go back to this OLD version? Every low-end PC with Windows XP installed will play DVDs right out of the box, no?

And finally, David gives his thoughts on the file format standard battle between Microsoft's Open Office XML and the IBM-backed OpenDocument Format:

Based upon the overwhelming glut of obvious evidence provided by Microsoft itself, Microripoff is a seriously unethical company that benefited from starting in the right place at the right time. It will continue to benefit so long as its customers fail to identify and object to its "my way-or-no-way-modification-of-your-way" actions.

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.


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