The New Redmond Report
This week, you'll notice a few changes to Redmond Report that I'm sure you'll
Instead of suffering through four straight days of my dreck, we're going to
mix it up. I'll still be writing on Mondays, Executive Editor of Reviews Peter
Varhol will tackle Tuesdays, Executive Editor of Features Lafe Low will do Wednesdays
and Redmond Editor Ed Scannell was roped into handling Thursdays.
Let them and me know what you like and don't like about the newsletters. And
please keep responding to items. I consider my newsletter simply an intro to
Seven Patches Prepped
It'll be another
busy Patch Tuesday tomorrow with two fixes for Windows, three for Office,
one for Exchange and the last for BizTalk.
This patch batch also includes a fix for the nasty Windows Server 2000/2003
In addition to the seven critical patches, there's a whole bunch of non-critical
fixes, as well as a new rev of the Malicious Software Removal Tool.
A $50 Billion Anti-Google Play?
There've been lots of stories about Microsoft either buying Yahoo or forging
a stronger strategic relationship to counter the weight of Google in search
and online advertising. Reports say that Microsoft
would have to spend upwards of $50 billion to nab Yahoo. And I've got three
words of advice: Don't do it!
Microsoft already has nearly everything that Yahoo has. And putting their search
shares together still leaves Google the clear market leader. It would smack
of desperation and be a colossal waste of money.
Yahoo is great, but Microsoft would be spending billions for today's technology.
Meanwhile, $50 billion can fund the development of some amazing new technology.
My guess? The acquisition will never happen, but the two companies will become
Chipping Away at Google
Instead of spending almost as much as Bill Gates' total wealth, Microsoft may
want to keep making small buys to go against Google, such as its acquisition
of ScreenTonic last week. This outfit supports advertising for mobile devices.
Just what I need. My BlackBerry is filled with spam, its voice mail with telemarketers
and bill collectors. Now, I'm going to be pounded with commercials. Thanks.
Print Is Dead -- Bloggers Say No!
You've heard the old saw again and again. Pea-brained media "pundits"
claim that blogs, Web sites and RSS feeds are killing magazines and newspapers.
Well, if blogs are killing print, why are a bunch of bloggers launching a magazine?
Aptly named Blogger
& Podcaster, the new book will go out to 20,000 readers. The wildly
optimistic organization thinks circ will reach a quarter-million in the coming
years. I'll believe that when I see it -- and certainly not when I read it on
(And yes, the new magazine already has a blog!)
Do you rely on tech blogs, and if so, which ones? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By the way, I put my head on the blogger's block recently with my column "Print
Is Dead -- Not!" Check it out here.
what a fan/critic of mine had to say in his blog.
RIM Reading Redmond?
Recently, I complained about BlackBerrys like the Pearl that have one key representing
two letters. While teenagers tap away at 100 words a minute on these things,
I can barely type my e-mail address without wanting to throw it into the garbage.
Maybe RIM was reading, as the company just announced
a new model that includes the best parts of the Pearl with a full QWERTY
The new Curve also has a camera with flash, and is smaller than today's full-size
BlackBerrys. I may just have to upgrade.
Doug's Mailbag: Figuring Out WGA, Microsoft Security,
Is anyone else puzzled about WGA's constant need to verify your software? Here
are some more of your thoughts:
Ever take a backup of a machine and install it on another identical machine
to save the time of reconfiguring the second machine? Presumably, the authentication
would follow the disk block rebuild to the second (and perhaps further than
that) machine. Microsoft's monthly pinging would keep all of the honest folks
I think the reason Vista keeps checking to make sure your copy is legitimate
is to simply re-register on a going-forward basis so that MS can verify that
your copy is only installed on one PC at a time.
By the way, I think MS is going the wrong way with all of its products.
It keeps adding more and more features which naturally adds to the complexity
of the product (for example, NT was 3 million lines of code, W2K was 12 million
lines of code -- you do the math!), but complexity naturally adds problems,
and additional features don't mean it's a better product by any stretch of
the imagination. I'm an MCSE (W2K3) and make my living supporting MS servers,
so I support the company to a good degree. But I think this feature addiction
is going to kill it in the end.
As an MCP, A+ Certified Professional, I too consider WGA's constant nagging
a nuisance. Since all my of Windows products are legit, I'm concerned that
this will turn off customers like it's turned me off. Even when you download
several WGA additions, you have to go through the verification process again
and again. If you add this problem to the User Access Control in Vista, "Houston,
we have a problem!" I know I can turn off UAC, but customers who don't
know any better may not; they are advised not to do so.
Microsoft, supposedly, desperately wants to push the "customer experience
improvement" idea, which is basically spying, as a way to help customers
improve Microsoft products. I don't think it will work.
The key is to communicate directly with customers. I'm not talking about
a survey with "yes" and "no," "rate from 1 to 10."
These are not effective ways to feel what the customer wants. I think the
solution is to make direct customer contact via voice or chat, good English
speaking and written skills, and people who know and understand the products
well, or are able to direct customer concerns to the appropriate individuals.
After last week's debut
of Forefront Client Security, we asked readers if they would pick a Microsoft
anti-virus software over a third-party solution. Looks like most of you are
leaning toward the latter:
Let's see: Microsoft is selling us a software with holes so large you
could drive a truck-sized bug through it. Now, it's going to sell us the gatekeeper.
I don't think so. Symantec has my money both for desktop and enterprise.
My clients ask me why they should trust anti-virus and spyware software
that is written and released by the very people who can't seem to make Windows
secure in the first place. If Microsoft can write software that detects malicious
code, that exploits weaknesses in Windows, why doesn't it just close those
weaknesses in Windows instead?
Clients generally are angry that MS makes them pay such high prices for
Windows and Office, makes them jump through activations and WGA hoops continuously,
and then wants to also charge them EXTRA for keeping their systems safe from
the insecurities that MS itself has created. In New York City, mobsters used
to do something similar to this -- charge business owners "protection
money" to make sure the same people didn't rob their stores!
No, thanks. I will stick with my third-party solutions that work well
and don't require me to trust a company that doesn't trust me.
I've tried both Norton and McAfee on my home PCs and have removed both,
in favor of Microosft's OneCare -- even though I know OneCare is not as good.
Reason? With Norton or McAfee, there were numerous, strange problems when
running normal applications, especially with IE (6 and 7). I removed their
software, and all was well again.
I talked with a sales rep at Best Buy this weekend about a laptop. He
did not recommend Norton or McAfee either. He did still suggest a different
third-party tool (not OneCare), but I can't remember the name. Hadn't heard
of it before.
We reported last week about Dell's decision to equip
some of its laptops with Ubuntu. One reader shares his skepticism:
I have had three different people bring in their computers and ask me
to remove Ubuntu and reinstall XP. That should just about say what the masses
are thinking about it, I would think.
Another reader shares his opinion of Microsoft's naysayers, like
those at The Register who wrote that Steve Ballmer's time was up:
Persons with less maturity and experience look at companies such as Microsoft
and see their successes as everlasting when, in fact, it's barely 26 years
old and not even considered a great company because it hasn't been around
long enough to qualify. But according to another knee-jerk journalist, Microsoft's
time is up: http://theinquirer.net/default.aspx?article=39087
Wow! I would have written off the Inquirer totally except for its "Microsoft
posts great big, fat profit" article:
I would recommend that knee-jerk authors stick solely to blogs or, better
yet, try publishing perceptive articles based on fact and real insight. But
I suppose that would require real effort.
And your tips on how to handle my BlackBerry keyboard just keep rolling in:
As the BlackBerry administrator for my firm (currently 87 devices), I
have carried the 7100, 7130, 7290, 8700 and 8100 (Pearl). While I am partial
to the full keyboard on the 7290, 8700 and new 8800 for business use, I think
RIM's implementation of SureType on the abbreviated keyboard devices (7100,
7130, 8100) is brilliant, and I currently carry a 8100 because I like the
size. It takes a little getting used to, but it learns fast. And if you have
trouble with oddly spelled names, just make sure they are in your address
book -- problem solved. The 8100 has certainly improved the technology, but
the 7130 is no slouch. The key is to trust the SureType and never, NEVER,
use multi-tap. Using multi tap with the two-letters-per-key feature is annoying
at best. If that is what caused the rant, then I can understand the frustration.
As always, we want to know your thoughts! Send an e-mail to email@example.com
-- or just leave a comment below.
Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.