The New Redmond Report

This week, you'll notice a few changes to Redmond Report that I'm sure you'll like.

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 your letters!

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 DNS problem.

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 far closer.

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 a blog.

(And yes, the new magazine already has a blog!)

Do you rely on tech blogs, and if so, which ones? Let me know at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

By the way, I put my head on the blogger's block recently with my column "Print Is Dead -- Not!" Check it out here.

And here's 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 keyboard.

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, More
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 honest.
-Bruce

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.
-Dan

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.
-Gus

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.
-John

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.
-Matt

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.
-Craig

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.
-Rich

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:
http://theinquirer.net/default.aspx?article=39217

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.
-Tim

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.
-Mitchell

As always, we want to know your thoughts! Send an e-mail to dbarney@redmondmag.com -- or just leave a comment below.

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