Microsoft and the Economy

In the April Redmond cover story, I stuck my neck out farther than the Toys "R" Us giraffe. In it, I argued that Microsoft has the talent, product set and fiscal discipline to make it through the recession relatively unscathed.

This flies in the face of longtime critics who even in times of prosperity predicted the demise of the Redmond juggernaut. First, it was the Internet that would do away with old styles of computing. More recently, open source signaled the Redmond death knell. And most recently, the Internet and cloud computing re-emerged as Microsoft's doom.

I knew my article would come out just a few weeks before another Redmond earnings report. If the news was horrible, I'd look like a real dope. So what happened? As my colleagues reported this past Friday, revenue and earnings were down, but even in a deep recession, Microsoft pulled in nearly $4 billion in profit.

Not quite Exxon territory but not too shabby. If this is as bad as it gets, Microsoft will do just fine.

Windows 7 Morality Test
A few months ago, I got hammered when I mentioned a certain non-public Microsoft beta was available on BitTorrent. A reader or two complained that these were unauthorized downloads and I was an unwitting accomplice.

So now I will report that the Windows 7 release candidate is up on BitTorrent, but will refrain from advising you to try it.

Microsoft Plea: Help Us Be More Secure
Microsoft spends billions on security, whether it's built into the products, an add-on or a fix. But as we all know, this isn't enough. Now Microsoft wants a helping hand -- from you! That's right, Microsoft wants IT professionals to help stem the hacker tide. It also want resellers and ISVs to kick in, as well.

One recommendation, it seems, is for IT to buy into Microsoft's security vision (and product line) which includes not only malware detection and eradication, but identity verification.

Mailbag: Microsoft Earnings, Ribbon Problems, Windows 7, More
One reader takes issue with the description of Microsoft as having had "two straight losing quarters":

Microsoft doesn't need me to defend them, really, but your choice of words, "two straight losing quarters," is deceptive, misleading or even untrue in that it implies that Microsoft lost money. A more accurate choice of words would have been "two straight quarters of declining earnings growth," which is still a critical business indicator, just not deceptive.

Upon further reflection, you could even say "declining earnings" without the "growth" if earnings are actually lower than the prior period. But it's still not losing when they're still profitable.

Sharon airs a couple of her grievances about the Office ribbon:

Honestly, the Office ribbon is just one of those things that's going to continue to change as new versions are released. It's easier for those learning Office apps to see the icons for what they need.

My complaints: One, why is inserting a hyperlink not on the "Home" tab? Other than text formatting -- I do that more than anything else. Two, why are the same commands in different locations depending on which app you're using? Look for the hyperlink button in Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook (the four apps I use most often in communicating with others at work). At least they're all on the "Insert" tab. PITA! And before anyone says anything: Yes, the quick key is CTRL+K across the board; just using this one as an example.


One reader likes what he's seen so far from Windows 7, but another reports that it's still not without its problems:

I am very excited by the release of Windows 7! If the beta is any indication of what type of product Windows 7 will be, I am truly impressed. Windows 7 in its beta form boots in less than half the time of Vista, and I have found that it is fully responsive in 30 to 40 seconds from the time Windows starts to boot to when the desktop becomes available (although booting from a machine joined to the Windows domains takes probably an extra 15 to 20 seconds). I am excited and hope it is released soon!

Using Windows 7 has been an experience. However, during my time using it, I have found that if you find yourself not being able to run some of your favorite installed software on the system, you probably have Windows Event Log stopped. I then found there was no way to start it. Had to format the drive and start over. Hope Microsoft finds a cure for this because it has also happened in Vista. No cure found to date.

Robert isn't buying into the recently released Windows Server 2008 Foundation, a server targeted at really small businesses:

I can only imagine the conversations I am going to have with future prospects who buy into this useless product. Is Microsoft trying to make it more difficult for me to sell their solutions? SBS is FAR superior in terms of benefits, features and scalability. Sure, Foundation is a bit cheaper, but the total cost of an installation and the ongoing maintenance of a system is not affected much by the initial price of the OS.

The SMB owner will be greatly disappointed once I inform them the guy at Dell pushing this cheap OS (just to make a hardware sale) didn't really sell them a viable solution. The cost to "fix" it with a retail or volume license of SBS plus our installation services doesn't do anyone much good. Yes, honestly, I don't want that business -- I want to engage prospects strategically, not reactively. I'm shocked (actually, not really) that Microsoft would create a product to confuse an already chaotic market and undermine the countless and loyal SBS-ers out there.

And Phil says thanks, but no thanks to Microsoft's desktop virtualization product, MED-V:

I would use MED-V if it did not require SA. I played with Altiris SVS when I was trying to get Vista to play nicely with some apps we have to use. They were 16-bit, or at least had 16-bit installers. It worked great, and would have allowed centralized app configs and updates. I could not package a couple of programs, but the software was beta and free-ish before Symatec purchased it.

Watch this space for more reader letters on Wednesday, including thoughts on what Oracle should do with Sun's portfolio, VMware's virtualization plans, and more. Meanwhile, submit your own 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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