A Light Patch Tuesday

Tomorrow's Patch Tuesday is nice and light. Only four fixes are scheduled, all designed to repair remote execution vulnerabilities. Office, Windows Media Player and Media Encoder all get plugs. Like this item, Patch Tuesday should be short and sweet.

Microsoft's Big Virtual Shindig
Is this is a coincidence? Next week is VMworld, VMware's annual trade show hosting over 10,000 customers, press and partners. This week, Microsoft has a massive virtualization launch event focusing on old products, current products and products yet to come.

The biggest news, in my view, is the release of a standalone version of Hyper-V. Until now (actually, it doesn't ship for another month) you had to buy Windows Server 2008 to get it.

Microsoft is also getting serious about management, promising to ship System Center Virtual Manager 2008 in the next 30 days. The company is also expected to make noise about Live Migration, a feature it needs to truly compete with VMware on the high end.

So, is this timing with VMworld a coincidence? Given that the big products Microsoft is talking about won't be out for a month, I'd say yes.

Is Hyper-V a true competitor to VMware? Yes and no answers welcome at [email protected].

Chrome: Welcome to the World of IE
Google has had it easy for the last few years. Everyone seems to love this cuddly company with the kooky name. Its new browser, Chrome, is beginning to change all that. Fact is, Google is gaining more power and reach -- and with that comes controversy and criticism.

Let's start with Chrome. Soon after the beta came out, security researchers reported a denial of service vulnerability. The same day, a researcher demonstrated how a "malformed URL" could take the browser down. All this a day after the beta came out!

Then there's this: The original license gave Google the rights to anything you might create with Chrome. That didn't go over too big.

And there are still fears about how much Google knows about us -- and, more importantly, will know. For example, some believe that Google does deep-packet inspection, letting it see everything we do on the Web. I'm not sure about this deep-packet inspection, but I do know that Google isn't backing down from things like Street View, which lets strangers see what's going on in your yard and sometimes right inside your own house.

As you'll see in our Mailbag, Redmond Report readers have mixed feelings about Chrome. Some see it as fast, simple and slick. Others complain about the lack of features and how it isn't that friendly with some Microsoft technologies. Who would have thought? More Chrome impressions welcome at [email protected].

Mailbag: Chrome First Impressions, More
Here's the skinny on Chrome from those of you who've already taken it out for a spin:

Chrome is nice...but no dice. After succumbing to the overwhelming buzz about the browser, I was one of the first in this part of the world to get my copy. My immediate impression (from using the browser and reading the comic) is that the Google Chrome team designed the browser for the pages, not for the humans browsing.

Reload All Tabs (or Refresh All, in IE talk) is missing. Imagine your Internet connection going off briefly, and you have like 19 tabs open (after all, memory usage isn't an issue). You will have to refresh each page one at a time. Also, when Flash crashed in one of my tabs, it crashed in all tabs. Where is the isolation? "Evil:%" as a link on mouse-over or typed in the "omnibar" crashes Chrome completely, warranting a restart. Also, it had a problem handling a certain malicious site I came across.

I love Chrome. Yes, it is sparse, but it doesn't have the excess baggage and Band-Aids of 10 years of kludges. Its approach to security, processes and even compilation of JavaScript are all innovative and it shows. It seems rather solid for a beta (a shame it used the unpatched version of WebKit as the MS press hounds are HOWLING about insecurity already).

I imagine that what Google did with Chrome is very similar to what MS needs to do with Midori: start from scratch based on today's paradigms.

I have tried Chrome briefly. One of my home pages is a Microsoft personalized Live page. I could log into my Live account but the personalized pages would not display -- it always went to the Live search screen no matter what I did. I also could not figure out how to get the bookmarks listing to always be open on the left side of the program as in IE and Firefox. When you have a wide screen, there's plenty of room to have that open and still have horizontal space for page display. It did seem faster than IE but about the same as Firefox.

Biggest concern is what Chrome is doing under the covers to track activity and report back to Google. Call me paranoid but...

I gave Chrome a whirl and I've been kind of puzzled by the number of people that say it is so much faster than other browsers. I did a side-by side comparison on three of our own sites that are kind of slow and I did not see any appreciable difference in performance between Firefox 3, IE 7 and Chrome. I did like the sparse layout so that more of the page shows in the browser, but it wasn't as big a difference as I thought it would be. Overall, it is a nice browser but as someone who works at a Web design firm, my main reaction is, "Great, another browser to test against." Oh well, more work for us.

I tried Chrome on Vista Business and got an execution error. It loaded the interface but I could not load any pages.

I thought I had a solution in Chrome only to be disappointed once again. I have two Gmail accounts. Firefox only allows me to have one opened at a time (I open them both, but when I access one account, the other one automatically gets signed out). I thought for sure Chrome was the answer -- especially after reading the introductory comic strip about different access for each tab and how crashing one would not crash any others. I -- foolishly, it appears -- concluded that since the tabs were not synched together in any way, I could open both Gmail accounts and access them without fearing one would get logged out.

Not so. In Chrome, the same symptom appears when I open both accounts; accessing one for action signs out the other. Perhaps only one may run from any single machine? Not the case. I open one in Firefox and the other in Chrome and both may be accessed in turn without knocking the other offline. My conclusion: Chrome is smoke and mirrors. Great concept, poor execution. Perhaps I'm not knowledgeable enough to understand how it works. If all the tabs in Chrome work independently of each other, how would it know to sign one Gmail account offline when the other is accessed without knowing that I'm opening both accounts from the same machine in two different browsers? My head hurts.

And readers continue the debate started by a few letter writers last week over IE bundling and how it affects market share.

There is a big difference between bundling, as the original writer apparently intended (embedding), and John's interpretation. IE was and still is embedded and can never be removed completely without doing irreparable damage to the OS. I agree that the browser market share stems significantly from this embedding. If, instead, the browser was just a bundled app on top, not unlike AOL's offerings (and others), then a great many people would immediately download their browser of choice and delete IE.

Instead, it is a question of why have two browsers if I have to have the one anyway. By your statements, John, how can anyone use any ISP other than AOL? That is how.

Jeff had the correct idea, even if he used the wrong word to express it. IE does not come 'bundled' with the OS; it is a component of the OS. John is incorrect in his assertion that one needs a browser in order to download anything, particularly another browser, from the Net. That's why one can use FTP. Yeah, yeah, I know, try telling that to your normal PC-challenged user.

I can remember when IE did come separately from Windows. It is precisely because MS has made IE a basic component of its OS that I despise it so much. The only reason I ever use it is to visit Windows Update occasionally to check on patches. Otherwise, I use Firefox and even obsolete Netscape 9. As far as how one can get the first browser on a new machine if IE were once again separated from the OS, since most people buy their computers with the OS already installed, and since most vendors include massive amounts of "extras" that are suitable only for deleting, these vendors could easily include installation media/packages for each of the popular browsers like Firefox, Chrome, Opera, IE, even Netscape, despite its obsolescence. MS would finally begin to get an accurate guage for its market share and there could finally be real competition. I'm confident that IE would be left eating EVERYONE's dust.


Tell us what you think! Leave a comment below or send an e-mail to [email protected].

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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