The SkIE Is Falling

Over the last two decades Computer Associates has done a lot to irritate IT pros. It bought up failing ISVs, then jacked up maintenance fees for customers locked into those platforms. It didn’t help that some CA salespeople were as pushy and overbearing as Joan Rivers (and her even more annoying daughter) outside the Oscars.

Microsoft has a similar popularity problem—either you love 'em or you hate 'em. Apparently at least 10 percent of browser users are the latter, as at least that many stubbornly refuse to use IE, even though it is bundled with Windows and virtually impossible to remove.

Two firms that track these sorts of things put IE market share at less than 90 percent, with one as low as 87 percent. Any economist worth his slide rule will tell you that 87 percent is a monopoly, so where’s the harm? The harm is that enough people either dislike Microsoft or don’t trust IE enough to download install and configure an alternative, usually Firefox. And the trend is getting worse.

There is often another side to the story. Charles Wang, former CEO of CA, told me that if his company didn’t buy all these software houses, they would have failed and then the customers would really be stuck. And truth be told, CA has done a lot this decade to clean up its sales image.

In Microsoft’s defense, they have spent millions adding features to a pretty cool browser, then giving it away. Kinda tough to complain about that.

Bill, Bill and More (Sir) Bill
The instant you become rich and powerful, you turn into a target. I’m sure Bill Clinton and George W. took a lot less guff when they were ordinary citizens than the brutal shots they both absorbed as president.

The same is true for William H. Gates III. He’s a punching bag for the Linux zealots, Netscape sympathizers and anti-trust rabble rousers. Many claim he’s contributed nothing to today’s technology, something I’d rather vociferously contradict (except this is e-mail, so there’s no audio).

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But Mr. Gates has contributed immensely to the world of charity. The Slate list (Microsoft founded Slate, but the site hasn’t been shy of blasting the software giant) of America’s biggest philanthropists has Bill and wife Melinda at the top of the heap. The couple gave away $627 million last year, and has pledged far more. Bill even turned a chunk of his Microsoft stock dividend right over to his foundation.

Other techies on the list include Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and Oracle’s Larry Ellison.

Much of Bill’s largesse has been directed towards India and the prevention of AIDS. England, former imperialist ruler of India, has taken notice and Queen Elizabeth II recently gave Bill an honorary knighthood. Let’s face it. Bill is far more deserving than Sir Paul McCartney, who put the soft in soft rock. Unfortunately, because Mr. Wings is English, he gets to be called Sir, while Mr. Gates is stuck with KBE, short for Knight Commander of the British Empire.

Which Is the Real Worm?
In the summer of 2003, Microsoft.com was attacked by a rather vicious worm. Demonstrating how few technical chops are required to be a hacker these days, one of the culprits was 14 years old at the time of the attack. Now this little clown has been sentenced as a juvenile delinquent. The attack was relatively easy because it went after the same opening as the MSBlaster worm.

March Is Security Bulletin Free (Maybe)
Last month, Microsoft blanketed IT with a dozen security bulletins. This month no bulletins are planned. Plans and reality are often two different things, and if problems crop up, bulletins will follow.

Double Your Bits, Double Your Pleasure
Next month, 64-bit nirvana arrives, as Microsoft plans to ship x64 versions of XP and Windows Server 2003. This could be the beginning of a pretty sweet software revolution, once the ISVs fully kick in.

Super Duper Windows
Microsoft is tired of cheap Linux clusters getting all the supercomputing glory. Redmond is getting aggressive and hopes to have Windows Server 2003 Computer Cluster Edition commercially available this November. Later versions will support coding in C# and can tap into unused PC cycles for application processing.

Killing the Messenger
Leave it to hackers and their deranged brethren to find any way possible to frustrate the rest of the world. In these first few months of 2005, almost a dozen worms have spread their foul contagion across various instant messaging services, including MSN Messenger, which was hit recently by an amusing Bropia variant coupled with the more dangerous Agabot.ajc worm.

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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