The Eiger Option

It was only a couple of weeks ago that Microsoft acknowledged the existence of “Eiger,” a stripped-down version of Windows XP that will run on older PCs, and already Gartner has come out with guidelines on what companies and machines might be good candidates for the OS. Redmond News Editor Scott Bekker has the skinny on Gartner’s recommendations, which include 300MB of disk space, 233MHz Pentium II processor and 128MB of RAM. "We believe Eiger is better described as a lean client than a thin client,” Gartner’s analysts say. “Lean” is an apt description, at least in comparison to Longhorn, for which Microsoft is recommending 512MB of RAM.

Our Microsoft Survey
A desire for thinner clients was just one of the dozens of opinions readers expressed in our Microsoft Survey, which serves as the cover story for the June issue of Redmond magazine. The survey quantifies the love-hate relationship many shops have with Microsoft and their sometimes conflicting opinions. For example, 62 percent of survey respondents say they want a thinner client OS, yet the same number are looking forward to Longhorn. Managing Editor Keith Ward reports on what else the 3,400 respondents had to say on topics from licensing and pricing to how responsive Microsoft is. Redmond Report newsletter subscribers can get an early peek at the results.

Double Secret Beta 1
For those who just can’t wait for Longhorn, Microsoft on Monday released beta versions of its Indigo communications subsystem, Avalon presentation subsystem and InfoCard, which is technology for managing digital identities. Microsoft is calling the software “Beta 1 release candidates”—a new wrinkle in its pre-release software naming convention. A release candidate for a beta? Is this for software that’s on double secret probation?

Special Report: Microsoft Licensing
Microsoft’s licensing practices are always a sticky issue with readers, who routinely complain licensing is too complex. Microsoft says it hears those cries and its top licensing priority is "business simplification," according to Scott Bekker’s Special Report on Microsoft Licensing on our sister site ENT News.

Meet the New World (same as the Old World)
Last week at the annual Microsoft CEO Summit, Bill Gates offered his vision of the "New World of Work" for information workers. Among the trends he sites are unified communications, increased presence information, optimized supply chains, better team collaboration, quicker pinpointing of the "right" information, spotting trends for business intelligence and better access to structured data.

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With the exception of presence information, and to some extent the business intelligence angle, it strikes me these are much the same trends we were hearing about five or more years ago. Unified communications and collaboration are getting especially ripe. (I was working at Network World in the early to mid-1990s when it launched a supplement called Collaboration, which proved to be way ahead of its time then and might still be were it launched today.)

There is hope, but you’ll likely have to look beyond the walls of Microsoft. BrightWork, for example, is today announcing a new version of its tool that turns Microsoft SharePoint into a platform for collaborative project management. One of its four modules is specifically designed to help you manage IT projects.

Laptops for $100
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab has a plan to build a laptop that will cost no more than $100—cheap enough that they can be distributed to millions of kids. The machine will run Linux (part of what keeps its price down) and do nearly everything a traditional laptop does. It will be distributed only through ministries of education in countries willing to adopt a policy of "one laptop per child." Minimum order is one million units, initially, and it is expected to be available in late 2006 or early 2007.

This is a development that may have Bill Gates somewhat conflicted. On the one hand, he is an ardent supporter of education and his foundation gives generously to the cause. On the other, he is an ardent supporter of Windows, which means he generally isn’t real crazy about Linux, to put it mildly. As our Editor in Chief Doug Barney points out, the project will also serve as quite the field test for client Linux.

Microsoft Grabs a Stevie
Microsoft on Tuesday announced its Tilt Wheel technology won a “Stevie” from the American Business Awards for Best New Product or Service of 2005. The Tilt Wheel is a mouse with four-way scrolling capabilities. That’s four, as in two more than your traditional up-and-down scroll wheel. (I’m holding out for a mouse that goes to 11.) The American Business Awards, by the way, are the self-proclaimed “world’s premier business awards competition”—in just its third year! “Stevies” has nothing to do with Mr. Ballmer, by the way—it comes from the Greek word “crowned,” which I’m reasonably sure proves that the father in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” was right that all words have their origin in Greek.

Meet Bill Gates
Microsoft’s own Start Something Amazing Awards, on the other hand, sounds like a contest worth entering. Winners get to meet Bill Gates—and that’s not even the best part. All you have to do is use Windows to pursue something you’re passionate about. Besides meeting with Gates, the five winners get $5,000 in Windows technology and prizes ranging from a trip for two to places like Zanzibar to a chance to attend a major movie premiere.

Worth the Clicks
Das Keyboard is pretty much the opposite of the Tilt Wheel: a blank keyboard, for “Ubergeeks only.”

There’s typically nothing funny about seeing people eating, nor is it usually too hilarious to see people crying. So why is it funny to see people crying while eating? I can’t explain it, but “Hannah and Paul” surely prove that it is, while “Afshin” might be the next DeNiro and “Robert” gives an inspired performance.

About the Author

Paul Desmond, the founding editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine, is president of the IT publishing firm PDEdit in Southborough, Mass. Reach him at paul@pdedit.com.

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