The Launch of the Launch Is About To Be Launched

Explain this to me, please. We have three new Microsoft products about to ship. They've all been in beta, so millions have used them. Meanwhile, dozens of books have already been written. When it comes to Vista, Office 2007 and Exchange 2007, they hold fewer secrets than Paris Hilton's Sidekick.

But this is Microsoft we're talking about. For Redmond, you leak that you're going to build something, and -- after several hundred stories are written -- you publicly disclose such plans. Then, after a few thousand more articles, you announce your intention to actually build such a thing. After a few months and many more articles, it finally makes it to beta and tech journalists fall all over themselves to discover the next little feature.

Eventually, the code is gold and all the secrets are known and dissected. So it should just ship, right? Not for the masters of PR. For Microsoft, it's time for launch. So break out the Moet et Chandon, crank up the tunes and bring in the celebs. This is a press event as shallow and contrived as a new Madonna hair color.

So on Nov. 30, when Vista, Exchange and Office are all launched, ignore the tech press -- as we'll simply tell you all the things you already know.

But if your PCs and servers have a few hundred spare megabytes, it might be fun to download these babies. They should all be far superior to their predecessors.

Meanwhile Microsoft loosened Vista licensing after IT had a major conniption. Read the good news here.

Microsoft and Novell: Linux Lip Service or Fundamental Shift?
At first, it seemed like a blockbuster. Microsoft, for whom open source is the Saddam Hussein of software, formally agreed to support Novell's version of Linux. I've gotten more questions about this than almost any other subject (except "Is that your real hair?").

After my heart stopped racing, I realized this is a huge deal for Novell, but far from a seismic shift for Microsoft.

What Steve Ballmer announced was Microsoft's intention to treat Novell's Linux server software as if it actually exists. There will be no patent disputes, and Microsoft will answer questions about Novell's Suse software -- if you have a coupon and a pre-existing Microsoft support contract, of course.

If you think about, this is akin to Microsoft agreeing that IBM mainframes have a right to exist and interact with Windows servers. If this was all about the desktop, where Microsoft has two monopolies (Windows and Office) -- now that would be something to write about.

Chinese Take Out?
A Microsoft exec recently mentioned the possibility the company might leave China over the massive country's equally massive repression. Microsoft has only been tangentially involved in the ruckus over U.S. high-tech companies actually helping the Chinese government repress citizens, but I'm sure that deep down, counterfeit versions of XP are the main tool keeping the Chinese populace down. My guess is it will never happen -- Microsoft could never fully cede a billion customers to open source or some other alternative.

Doug's Mailbag: Dell Problems, IE7 and Vista Still Making Waves
All this fuss about Vista and IE7 has generated a lot of reader opnions, not surprisingly. But first, one reader weighs in on why Dell's ditch seems to be getting deeper.

I've had issues with Dell and what I experienced as "bait and switch" when ordering PCs from it. Around the time flat panel displays came out, a friend needed a PC. As a salesman to the local board of education, I had recommended and sold many Dell systems. Dell advertised a Celeron system with a free 15-inch flat panel upgrade, which was my motivation for recommending this particular system. What came to the house was a 17-inch CRT.

After talking with one of the representatives for Dell, we were told that no flat panel would be forthcoming unless another $130 was placed on our credit card, and that there was no one else who could rectify the situation. When the order was placed, it was done directly from the ad and, at that time, the company was happy to process the order. Subsequent calls were dropped, blocked or rerouted to a holding pattern. I was pissed and vowed to never recommend Dell again. Now they've gotten their just desserts! Ha!
-Rodney

I love how indignant M$ sounds over the "other" IE7 vulnerability. "Pish posh, that's an Outlook issue." Excuse me, but who pumped out this bug-riddled program? Apple?
-John

I have installed IE7 on two of the five computers I use (three at home, two at work). While I recognize there are improvements in IE7, I'm encountering quite a few problems accessing sites that IE6 never choked on. And I've had a number of times when IE7 terminates abnormally. I know my computers have sent at least 15 to 20 error reports to Microsoft.

I'm inclined to uninstall IE7 (if that's possible without hosing up my systems) and to wait for SP1. I don't need aggravation -- I need a browser that will work without issues. If I can't uninstall IE7 cleanly, I may have to use Firefox as my primary browser on those IE7 machines until SP1 comes out.
-David

I have to agree. MS should have denied Vista's third-party API access. It would make for a much more secure (potentially, in any case) OS.

And MS should provide its Giant/Defender, etc. antivirus/anti-spyware for free, to boot. It would really go a long way to buttoning up its leaky software rep.
-Mark

Windows 98 may turn out to be a better buy than Vista! Also, a little advice: Watch out for that Leopard software. It may be wearing sheep's clothing!
-Tom

Microsoft announces it will make a more secure OS and the public cries foul, saying it's anti-competitive toward security companies. Oracle announces it will support Red Hat at half-price, thus killing Red Hat business, and hardly a word is spoken.

Oracle is doing all it can to steal customers from Red Hat. Then, it will come out with its own version of Linux to support, thus killing off a market leader in that arena. Where are the lawsuits? Has anyone called the DOJ and the EU? I seriously hope this backfires on Larry Ellison -- he is such a weasel.
-Mark

Got some thoughts you'd like to share? Comment below or drop me a line at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

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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