Microsoft either cares deeply about virtualization or is scared silly about VMware's unrelenting product development. In any event, Microsoft is going after this market with new tools, and a cool new partner. At WinHEC, Redmond rehashed a lot of things it has already talked about, like its new Hypervisor virtualization tech that will ship about a half a year after Vista (those with terminal diseases should forget about this one!). Oh, it also has the Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager (MSCVMM?), which is kinda like MOM for virtual servers. But the real news was the intended acquisition of Softricity, which virtualizes applications. In short, Softricity wraps apps in a virtual layer so they don't conflict with other apps or with the registry. One lesson here might be that Vista will be home to as many app conflicts as previous client OSes, and that Softricity solves a problem that Vista code-monkeys couldn't.
Forget MIT's $100 Laptop, We'll Sell You One a Card at a Time
This is not a bad idea, just not a great one. Still irritated that MIT had the gall to develop a cheap laptop for the Third World that -- gasp! -- didn't require Windows, Redmond is pulling out every cockeyed idea it can think of, like having African bushmen attach their cell phones to their TVs (you can start reading again when you stop laughing -- in 10 minutes or so). That went over like a lead hang glider, so Redmond moved onto the next big idea: Those in lesser developed countries can make a down payment, get a PC, and pay for it though something akin to pre-paid phone cards. Don't pay, the PC don't boot. I worry that this idea, which is fairly decent, will be abused the same way that stores rent couches and big screen TVs to the poor -- and in the end the poor pay $1,500 for a $300 TV.
Microsoft Wants You To Be Vista-Ready
Microsoft still maintains it will ship Vista late this fall, but it won't be pre-installed on PCs till next year. Buying a Vista PC should be a piece of cake; you know it runs out of the box. Upgrading in-place is a tougher deal. The hardware has to be equipped to deal with the rigors of the new graphics-intensive interface. To grease the Vista skids, Microsoft has a new Web site with all the info you need, including a link that will test your PCs to see if they can withstand the new OS.
IT Isn't So Sure It Wants To Be Vista-Ready
A new survey of network admins sponsored by VanDyke Software (not sure if was started by Dick, Jerry or the guy that invented that wacky style of goatee) shows that a slight majority have no current Vista plans. Meanwhile, around 10 percent are actively beta testing the new OS.
In other news, and I'm not sure if this is good or bad, but a larger percent of IT pros don't mind using their systems to track what employees are doing on the Internet. Corporate policies often require this to battle sexual harassment and protect confidential data, but the actual monitor should be done by trained HR pros, not technical folks. What do you think? Have you seen cases where IT has abused its power, invaded workers privacy, and even spied? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll keep your name private.
For more, go here and click on "Findings from 3rd Annual Enterprise Security Survey Reveal Highest Level of Network and System Administrator Angst in Three-Year Period."
Google Still Rules
Like Microsoft in the markets it owns, Google is gaining massive amounts of share. As much as its rivals try to fight back, Google keeps kicking butt like Mike Tyson (when he was good). But unlike Redmond, Google does not yet have a monopoly. Go here for the details.
Ecora Drives for Virtualization Hoop
Ecora Software sees the future and its name is Virtualization. As more and more shops re-architect around virtualization (it can support some rather massive server consolidation and network simplification), one can lose track of exactly what is going on -- and this could lead to some rather nasty compliance issues. That's why Ecora built Ecora Auditor for VMware, which can detail and track configurations and see how and when changes were made. The software comes with 28 reports out of the box, including permissions, security settings and memory. Check out the beta here.
Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.