Letters to Redmond

Readers Respond December 2004

Reader's sound off on Microsoft's Software Assurance program, product coverage and what others had to say about the Salary Survey.

Controversial Practices?
Last month we asked our readers to weigh in on whether they feel Microsof's Software Assurance (SA) program is a rip-off. Travis Parrent of Saginaw, Mich., has this to say:

If Microsoft's SA isn't a rip-off, it's awfully close to being one. The biggest problem I have with SA is that for most products Microsoft is forcing its Open License and Open Business customers to go to it. How is this? By not offering upgrades through its Open Licenses anymore.

I'm currently working for a small company of only about 20-25 users. We have an old Open License agreement with 25 copies of MS Office 2000 standard. In looking at our options, we can't purchase upgrade licenses through Open Business or Open License. Microsoft is forcing us to buy the complete package again and in order to keep up on the software, to purchase SA with it. It's cheaper for me to purchase the box product than it is to go through SA.

If we only want to change software every five years or so our only option is to buy the full versions each time, or force ourselves to stay current on software through SA. There's a last option that may be somewhat of a gray area. Microsoft still offers upgrades through its retail box products. We can purchase 24 upgrade box products, put them on a shelf, and purchase one Open License of MS Office 2003. With that we get a Volume License CD, enabling us to upgrade all 24 machines without having to activate the boxed products individually. Our licensing is legit in terms of what we own. Our method of deployment could be considered controversial, but no more controversial than Microsoft's SA.
—Travis Parrent
Saginaw, Mich.

Vexing Legitimacy
"Rosie O'Donnell on a moped"?!? [Chief Concerns, November 2004.]

I laughed out loud! There's too much crap out there and too many tools are needed to clean it off (I'm speaking of spyware mostly). But, the way some of these "legitimate" programs are packaged still vexes me.
—Lance N. Rea
New York, N.Y.

Left Out
Why didn't SMS make the line up ["Grunt Work," November 2004]?

The short answer is, there hasn't been a significant enhancement to Microsoft's Systems Management Server in a while. Additionally, Redmond Roundup is not intended to be a comprehensive buyer's guide, but rather a look at some of the most significant players within a particular category. We will review new versions of the seasoned veterans, as well as consider what the new players have to offer.

When a product undergoes a significant revision, we'll consider them individually in a standalone review or in a future Redmond Roundup. That's true for SMS, Everdream's Patch Control, Symantec's iPatch, St. Bernard Software's UpdateExpert and the other patch management systems we weren't able to include.
—The Editors

Flattened Salaries
"An MCSE," in his short letter ["So, Why Get Certified?" October 2004] described aptly what the certified probably think of the non-certified. In this day of training schools touting MCSE and other certifications within very short timeframes—what value does a certification really add? Can six months (or less) of schooling and certification in Microsoft technologies really replace someone who has lived with it through several years of actual hands-on work? Certification can be used as another yardstick for deciding who to hire when all else is equal. And pay increases should depend on the performance of the individual and not whether he has certification.

I'm not surprised that certified salaries have flattened. It was bound to happen.
—Rangarajan Suresh
Lansdale, Pa.

Successful Successor
I enjoyed Redmond quite a bit. I found many of the articles very informative, and the five-year review of Bill very interesting. I chuckled at the "Time to Dump IE?" article (Don Jones, October 2004), in which the writer made a good case for why not to drop it. But, a very good read. I look forward to the next one. I do hope that, unlike the MCP Magazine predecessor, you all remember that there are developers in this world, and not only MCSEs.
Keep up the good work!
—Bob Whitehead, MCSD
Pensacola, Fla.


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