IE7, Whether You Like It or Not

Microsoft is apparently so concerned about having less than 90 percent browser market share that it is literally planning to shove its newest software down our throats. Through Automatic Updates, users will be nearly forced to move to IE7. For IE6 users, that's terrific -- that older browser has more holes than a Hezbollah-controlled village. Firefox users, however, may be dismayed by Microsoft's relentless push to upgrade to what could be a worse browser. IE7 beta testers can tell me where I'm wrong at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

New Windows Flaw: Block Those Ports!
Internet Security Systems (ISS) has discovered a flaw that affects nearly all modern Microsoft desktop and server operating systems. Hackers can use the hole to blue-screen your system (heck, I can do that all on my own). ISS' advice is to block ports 139 and 445. Fortunately, it appears that a system crash is the worst damage that can be done.

Reminder: Ballmer's in Charge
Steve Ballmer has never been a shy sort. In high school he would have run the Glee Club, done all the morning announcements and told the assistant principal exactly how to run things. So any perception that Ballmer hasn't been running the show at Microsoft are as false as a Tour de France doping denial (Floyd possibly excepted, for now).

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But with all the questions about Bill (Gates, in case you were unsure) retiring, Ballmer recently saw it fit to explain his exact role -- as in, "I run this company!" Ballmer will be as aggressive as ever, which is good and bad. Good because we want our tech companies to push the envelope; bad because so many terrific third parties are in Redmond's crosshairs and Ballmer is clearly gunning for them.

Ray of Sunshine
OK, here's a minor revelation: When we put Ray Ozzie on our cover last year, I wrote this for a headline: "The Next Bill Gates." I had a feeling that Bill bought Ray's company so Ray could decide the future of Microsoft software. I failed to believe in my own instincts and toned down the headline. I was wrong. Less than a year later, Bill gave Ray the keys to his kingdom.

Ozzie is an eminently trustworthy software guru, and he is staking that reputation on "Live," otherwise known as Windows, Office and other Web services. I'm a skeptic, but if anyone can pull this off, it is the new Bill Gates.

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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