Microsoft's Mo' Money

Microsoft late last week pulled a classic Wall Street maneuver, reporting record results while sheepishly worrying about the future—all so it can beat expectations next year and next quarter. Driving Microsoft’s business are raging PC sales, almost all of which come with Windows and most of which ultimately have Office installed. Microsoft is now nearly a $40 billion company.

Things ain’t so bad on the server side either—for as much as Linux grows, the Windows server family grows stronger and more complete each day. I only hope Redmond clients will someday be that good.

Windows Vista
Say goodbye to Longhorn, at least on the client side. The official name for the next rev. of Windows is Vista. We’ll probably all get used to it, but it seems like such a un-Microsoft name. Vista is vague, nebulous, cliche and pretty much meaningless. Execs came up with some marketing mumbo jumbo about the new OS offering “clarity.” I’d rather they call it Windows Secure, Windows Less Expensive or Windows Stable.

Meanwhile, Redmond magazine contributor and Beta Man author Don Jones pointed out that there is already another Windows Vista, or at least Vista Windows. Check it out here.

And there’s weirder news. A Washington-based software company named Vista Inc. is checking to see if its trademark is being violated. Vista’s founder John Wall is no slouch as he earlier founded Wall Data. Wall was also a major stockholder in Microsoft rival SCO, so surely the Redmondites should not have been caught unawares.

XP SP2 Gathers Steam
It may seem strange to brag about the penetration of a free OS upgrade, but Microsoft and the industry should be happy that some 60 percent of users have moved to Windows XP SP2. This service pack packs a free firewall and anti-virus features—and more than a few holes plugged. Well worth the download.

But SP2 is not a cure-all. My laptop, running the service pack, inexplicably lost its USB connections, and days later the screen turned a horrible low-res pink. The challenge is absolutely on for Microsoft to fix these problems with Vista—it’s just plain unacceptable for IT and consumers to spend so much time fixing the dominant desktop operating system.

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Buying Security
XP2 and hopefully Longhorn—err, Vista—are all about security. But third parties are the ones driving the security train. And some of the best are getting bought by Microsoft, or getting cash injections. Content security and appliance vendor Finjan just got a nice dose of dollars from the boys of Redmond. This deal has a soap opera feel to it, and I’m sure I don’t know half the story. What we do know is that Finjan was publicly slapped by Microsoft for disclosing software flaws before they were fixed. Then nine days before the deal was announced, the founder and CEO of Finjan was suddenly removed by his board. I’ll let your imagination fill in the blanks.

Reader Response
My recent item on Microsoft AntiSpyware brought some 50 reader messages—a clear record, so thanks. Many had my experience with AntiSpyware mysteriously not detecting anything. Others thought the software sub-par, while a whole bunch of folks were very pleased with the free beta.

All this is prompting me to dig a little deeper. Look for an upcoming Chief Concerns and a Your Turn story. And if any of you have been hit by the SpySheriff infection, write me at [email protected]—I’m still steaming.

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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