And Now, a Word from Our Sponsors

TV used to be great: It was free, and all they asked was that we sit through a few Sanka and Pall Mall ads. Then the cable powers figured out how to get us all to pay for TV -- and still watch all the commercials.

So maybe that’s why I’m not terribly excited by Microsoft’s plans to build the world’s biggest Internet advertising network based upon the new Live line of Web services. Still mostly in beta, Microsoft has already lined up Coca-Cola and JC Penney. If all these Live services launch free and stay free, I’ll put up with a few ads for expensive sugared water and cheap leather jackets, but if there’s a subscription fee on top of that, I’ll be as angry as I am every month when I pay my hundred-dollar cable bill! How do you feel about ads surrounding Web-based software? Let me know at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

By the way, Redmond Report does run ads -- but the newsletter is 100 percent free (and worth every penny)!

Your Kids Might Hate It, You Might Love It
This summer Microsoft will start testing a new service that lets parents customize the Web surfing experience of their kids, which is code for filtering out the stuff you hope like heck they’ll never see. This is all part of the ad-driven Live set of services. I think this is a darn good idea. Younger and younger kids are learning lots of great things on the Internet, but one wrong click can ruin this entire experience, mess with their heads, undo years of proper parenting, and lead to lots of questions you probably aren’t ready to answer.

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Buy Software Assurance, Please!
Late last year Microsoft announced a few more benefits to its Software Assurance (SA) program to try and get more customers to buy in -- bennies that are now becoming available. The company is crowing about its successes and the great feedback from customers. We should expect Microsoft to look on the bright side, and new licensing exec Mike Oldham predictably puts a spin on it that would make a child’s top proud. This Q&A with Oldham is worth reading, as SA is so complicated nearly anything about it is worth reading.

The bottom line is that if a customer uses every benefit SA offers, and if updates come out when they are supposed to, the program can be a decent deal.

Find out if SA is right for you with some objective reporting 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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