Is Ozzie Already the Next Bill Gates?

At this week's Tech-Ed, there was a major keynote laying out the future of Microsoft software. So what did Bill Gates have to say? Nuthin'. He wasn't there. Ray Ozzie did the honors, laying out an architecture that consists of clients, servers and services. To Microsoft's mind, Web services don't immediately replace older style software. Instead of rewriting everything, new Web services can run on top.

Ozzie showed off Dynamics AX, a new version of the ERP that now includes Web services for collaboration.

What Does Microsoft Know About You?
Conspiracy theorists wonder how much data Microsoft collects about its customers. It has the ability to go into an enterprise and figure out exactly what software is running where, all in the name of license management. But what does it know about consumers?

Apparently it could know a lot if it wanted to. Take the Windows Genuine Advantage program, a euphemism for checking for pirated software. Once you've clicked on this little icon -- and you will, since it is the only way you can get security updates these days -- you are connected to Redmond servers that make sure your copy of Windows is legit. But the system actually connects your machine to Microsoft every day -- this way, it can be shut down if there is a malfunction, Microsoft says. Not sure I fully get this explanation; sounds as fishy as a Bill Clinton deposition.

Forget warrantless wiretaps -- if the U.S. government really wants to know what its citizens are up, it should talk to Microsoft.

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I Can Almost See Vista
Tech-Ed is going on all week, and to prime the pump, Microsoft last week released a beta of Vista that nearly anyone can try. This is not really a beta -- that's a word lesser vendors use. Nor is it a Customer Technology Preview, Redmond 's own term for most of its test releases. No, this is part of the Customer Preview Program (CPP -- now we have to memorize acronyms that refer to types of tests!). Of course, adding to the confusion, this CPP is actually a Beta 2. I hope the OS isn't as confusing as the beta program.

Microsoft says the CPP, er, Beta 2 should be run on a machine you don't really need, not your main home or work PC.

But I Can't See Vista 's PC-to-PC Synchro
One of my majors beefs with Vista is there is no way to use multiple PCs and have the same versions of all your files without a major kludge: flash drives that you can lose, remote access to your central machine, Internet storage, whatever. I've traded with Windows Briefcase a few times, but since I couldn't figure it out, I couldn't really trust it. So you can see why I might be a tad disappointed that the PC synchronization was yanked from Beta 2, er, CPP, and will probably shift after Vista itself.

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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