How About a Trip Through 'Fiji'?

Our fearless leader Doug Barney is winging his way back from another trip to Redmond, so Redmond magazine Editor Ed Scannell is filling in today. Doug will return to Redmond Report next week.

Just as many Windows users are thinking about maybe installing Windows Vista for the first time or buying a new system with the recently released operating system bundled, Microsoft is trying to get them to focus on a major update to it, code-named "Fiji."

Microsoft just yesterday started accepting applications from would-be beta testers to put Fiji through its paces, helping the company stomp out the bugs.

Fiji is not the next full-blown version of Vista, but only an update to the Media Center portion, which will sit on top of Vista.

Home or business users interested in participating must go to Microsoft's Connect site to complete the online survey, which asks applicants many questions about multimedia habits, ranging from listening to digital music to watching TV on a PC screen. Once they submit the survey, applicants will have to wait until May 31 to see if they've been picked.

One can only hope that Fiji will be significantly faster than the Media Center woven to the current version. Many users with just 1GB of memory have complained to us that Media Center is so slow, particularly with multiple applications open, as to be unusable at times. If you don't have 2GB of memory, you're better off staying with the Media Center stitched into Windows XP.

How anxious are you to try out the new update? Let me know at [email protected].

No. 2 Still Moving Up
IBM's software unit -- sometimes overlooked as the world's second largest software company -- is continuing on its roll, reporting this week that sales rose some 9 percent in this year's first quarter to $4.3 billion.

Most of the growth was shouldered by WebSphere, a key integration platform for a wide variety of Big Blue's other software offerings, along with its Tivoli management software. There was no mention of Notes, which, like Exchange Server, is hardly knocking the cover off the ball lately, thanks in part to a rising raft of Web 2.0 competitors.

The company's relentless acquisition of both smaller and larger companies (now over 40 just since 2000) also contributed to the unit's growth. At this pace, some observers expect IBM to top $19 billion in revenues for the year.

Microsoft, of course, has little to fear when it comes to the possibility of losing its ranking as the world's largest software company. Most analysts expect Redmond's sales to be in the $50 billion range for the current fiscal year ending June 30.

Another aspect to IBM's quarterly financial results that always seems to surprise people, particularly those firmly anchored in the Web 2.0 generation, is the performance of the company's venerable line of mainframe hardware. While the company's host hardware sales only rose 2 percent, mainframe sales increased by 12 percent.

I remember one well-known pundit back in the mid-1990s who ran a contest among readers, asking them to predict when they thought the last mainframe would be unplugged. If I recall, the pundit garnered a lot of support for his own prediction of June 1996. Whoops. "Juuuust a bit outside," as announcer Harry Doyle says in the movie Major League.

How much of your IT budget is still set aside for mainframe-based products, and/or do you have any plans to unplug your last mainframe (only kidding)? Let me know at [email protected].

Pirate Fighter Gets His Just Rewards
The software industry needs all the help it can get in fighting piracy these days. The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) is doing its part by offering an incentive for those looking to help out. The organization has established the Annual Anti-Piracy Leadership Award, with the first recipient being Justice Department Attorney Jay Prabhu for his successful prosecution of central figures involved in software piracy over the last year.

One conviction was that of Nathan Peterson, owner of iBackups, which sold pirated software over the net but called it "backup software." Peterson was sentenced to 87 months in prison and was fined close to $6 million.

The newly established award will go to those individuals or organizations who put themselves in a leadership role against the piracy of copyrighted products and services, and whose work has made a significant difference in fighting piracy here and abroad.

The SIIA, which has been fighting piracy for 20 years, provides up to $1 million for those who report piracy. More about the organization can be found here.

Don't Wait Up for Me, Honey
Following up on an item in last week's Redmond Report on Charles Simonyi -- Microsofter and boyfriend of Martha Stewart who bought his way onto a 13-day flight into space with two Russian cosmonauts for $25 million -- it seems that Chuck gets to hang out for an extra day.

Because of boggy ground in Kazakhstan, the time and location of his return had to be changed from April 20 to April 21. According to a spokesperson for Space Adventures, which organized Simonyi's excellent adventure, he won't have to pay anything extra. At $1,923,076.92 a day, such a deal.

Quote of the Day
"We know the future is bright for Software as a Service. Any way you look at it, you can't imagine the future of IT without online delivered services."

-- Art Wong, senior vice president of Symantec Security Response and Managed Security Services, speaking at the SaaScon conference, where his company rolled out its first SaaS offering: the Symantec Protection Network, which offers small and medium-sized companies low-cost online data backup and recovery.

About the Author

Ed Scannell is the editor of Redmond magazine.


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