Bad Computers Still On

Here’s a wild one: A U.S. judge ordered some 6,000 computers servicing the American-Indian community to be shut off because security was so bad it was a certainty that hackers would break in and steal confidential data. The U.S. Department of the Interior fought the order and won a stay.

The computers contain data relating to a $100 million lawsuit against the U.S. government. There was no word as to whether the machines run Windows.

No Chairs for Steve
At a recent Gartner event Steve Ballmer was politely grilled by analysts who asked tough, probing questions like what kind of innovations to expect in Vista, four or five more questions about innovation, and why Microsoft virtualization was so popular. Talk about softballs. I could have hit those out of the park.

But Ballmer made one thing perfectly clear: He has never thrown a chair, as a Google lawsuit accuses.

Fast Companies
Many of the companies that make Microsoft what it is today have been rewarded for fast, consistent growth. The Deloitte Technology Fast 500 is a list of the fastest-growing companies in high-tech over the last five years. What’s impressive is that for two to three of these years, the tech market was in the tank.

The list includes Altiris, Ecora, Intellireach, NetIQ, Scriptlogic, Shavlik and SPI Dynamics. Nice going guys!

Virtually Free
Recently, I’ve been writing a lot about EMC’s VMware, which continues to push the virtualization envelope. Now EMC, er, VMware (EMC is shy about its ownership of VMware, and it’s almost impossible to find VMware on EMC.com) is planning to give virtualization away. Now in beta, the VMware Player is designed for testing and running applications. There could be some interesting security uses, such as having all browsers run in virtual machines, keeping malware away from the good stuff.

Windows Lords Over Linux
Microsoft third parties are helping the software deal with Linux -- by managing it. Vintela and Centrify are already in this game, letting Active Directory and Microsoft management tools control Linux. Now start-up Centeris has entered the fray with Likewise, a tool that extends MMC to various flavors of Linux.

Microsoft isn’t directly behind the company, but a bunch of key ex-execs are the ones that put up the dough to start Centeris.

Windows Server 2003 Almost Upgraded
Looking for a few new Windows Server 2003 features? Well, you’re almost in luck -- you can play with a late beta (what Microsoft calls a release candidate) of Release 2. I pine for the old days when we had alphas and betas. Now, we have a release candidate of a release, Community Technology Previews and regular old betas.

R2 promises better integration with third-party identity management tools.

Exchange Server 2003 Actually Is Upgraded
Exchange 2003 last week got a bunch of fixes, some new spam filters, larger mailboxes, and a dash of anti-phishing, all in the form of Service Pack 2, now available for download.

Redmond Goes Multiplatform, Not!!!
Microsoft’s Xbox division has multiplatform religion and has a new game controller that supports two different systems, the Xbox and the PC. What, were you expecting it to support the PlayStation, GameCube or Mac?

Collaborate, or Office Dies
I recently read a 2,166-word interview about Microsoft collaboration, and I must admit, I need lots of help to figure it all out. I’d like to invite you to help, but I can’t decide whether we should use Groove, SharePoint, BizTalk, the stuff built into Office, IM, Live Communications Server, InfoPath, the Web, video conferencing or build some shared Exchange folders.

See, that’s the problem. Microsoft has a dozen or so approaches to sharing, and I’m not sure how much any are being used. And the Q&A didn’t help me learn what Redmond’s priorities are.

One thing I do know is that collaboration features are the key to keeping Office ahead of its open source competition, and so it has to keep adding more and more to justify upgrades.

Do you use Office collaboration? Let me know at dbarney@redmondmag.com

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Office 12 Meets Business Intelligence
Just as Microsoft is throwing a confusing array of products at collaboration, it’s retooling a broad mix of tools and tossing them towards business intelligence. Many of the tools for collaboration and BI are one and the same. Office 12, for instance, is the Swiss Army knife of software, not just handling word processing and spreadsheets but also data sharing, working together and analyzing data for trends and exceptions.

For more info on how Microsoft plans to integrate more BI into Office, go here.

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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