Patch Happy

**It's guest columnist time! Doug Barney is traveling this week, so filling his chair today is Michael Desmond, former editor-at-large of Redmond and founding editor of our newest publication, Redmond Developer News. Stay tuned for more guest columnists throughout the week.**

IT managers might still be scrambling after last Tuesday's out-of-band patch to fix the urgent Windows Animated Cursor Handling flaw. Now we learn that tomorrow's scheduled patch will likely offer five Windows fixes, including at least one that merits a "critical" designation.

Some of the new patches will likely require a system restart, which could make life a bit complicated as IT managers try to sequence things so that services and servers don't fall offline. The critical update, targeting Microsoft Content Management Server, also demands a reboot.

Finally, some folks have expressed outrage that the animated cursor flaw had apparently been known to Microsoft for months. While the delayed remediation allowed an exploit to emerge, Microsoft in a blog posting contends that the time on task allowed Redmond to fix a series of vulnerabilities related to the flaw.

As ever with these urgent patches, it all seems to come down to a precarious balancing act. Does Microsoft rush patches to fill a hole before it can be attacked, and risk breaking or missing something critical in the process? Or should it take the time to build a more durable and manageable fix, knowing that the delay could leave systems wide open to attack?

What's your preference? Tell us at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

A McDonald's Moment: Over 100 Million Sold
Apple today announced that it had sold its 100 millionth iPod digital audio player (DAP). The now-iconic brand, which kicked off back in November 2001, helped revitalize Apple and inspired an entire industry of imitators, including Microsoft's Zune line of DAPs.

Even as it broke sales records and changed forever the way people listen to -- and buy -- music, the iPod helped escalate an ugly battle around the issues of intellectual property, ownership and fair use. That battle, which first flared around peer-to-peer services like Napster and Kazaa, has grown to engulf every area of consumable media --- from music and videos to books and software.

The 100 million sales mark also comes at an interesting time for Apple, which just announced that some of its EMI catalog music will be available on the iTunes Store sans DRM.

That's a huge change for Apple, which has pioneered DRM technology as a way to enable online music sales. What's more, the company has adamantly opposed unlocking its DRM scheme so other players might work with it. The result: Anyone who wants to shop the world's largest catalog of online music must play it back on an iPod family DAP.

For veteran IT managers, the iPod proves what many of us have long known: A good idea can become great if it's fronted with a truly compelling interface.

What will the music industry and the state of intellectual property look like when the iPod hits 1 billion sold, I wonder? After all, Ray Kroc probably never envisioned a McDonald's menu including items like Fruit and Walnut Salad, Snack Wrap and McLean Deluxe.

Lost in Space
As developers go, Charles Simonyi is a legend. All he did at Microsoft, after all, was spearhead the development of Word and Excel and expand that work to create Microsoft Office, the largest application suite in history.

Simonyi left Microsoft in 2002 to start his own firm called Intentional Software, but the Hungarian programmer has long wanted to go someplace else:

Space.

This weekend, Simonyi blasted off on a Russian Soyuz rocket from the launch facility in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Simonyi paid more than $20 million for the chance to experience microgravity, and will spend the next 11 days enjoying the confines of the International Space Station. He'll spend a total of 13 days in earth orbit. You can read more about Simonyi's extra-atmospheric jaunt here.

Microsoft's rich and famous have long been famed for retiring to pursue extreme activities, whether it's car racing or doing something really dangerous like owning the Portland Trailblazers. Now it appears Simonyi has (literally) raised the bar. My question is, who'll be the first Redmondian to land on the moon?

How Do Retirements Like FoxPro, VB6 Affect You?
Over at RDN, we're working on a story about how retired programming languages affect companies. If you're involved with these technologies (or with J#, for that matter), please take a moment to pop over here and let us know how you are dealing with the demise of these languages. Thanks!

About the Author

Michael Desmond is an editor and writer for 1105 Media's Enterprise Computing Group.

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