Tech-Ed Pumps Out the News

This week, Orlando welcomes Microsoft customers, execs and assorted hangers-on (like the motley Redmond crew), and as usual there are more press releases than Orlando area theme parks.

Today's keynoter was Bob Muglia, senior VP of the server and tools business. Muglia's theme was "Dynamic IT for the People-Ready Business."

I read reports of his speech but I can't for the life of me understand what Microsoft means by "dynamic." Don't get me started on "people-ready," a vacuous marketing term if there ever was one.

Digging deeper, "dynamic" really seems to mean "well-managed," and this management just happens to come from Microsoft. When systems are well-managed, they're easier to change, upgrade, tweak and add services to, so I guess this could kind of make them dynamic.

We'll be diving more deeply into individual new products in the next few newsletters, but here's a quick rundown:

  • There are new versions of Forefront security, including a unified system for clients, servers and the edge of the network.
  • There was a formal announcement of the name of the next version of Visual Studio, due next year. Get this: It's gonna be called "Visual Studio 2008"!
  • IIS 7.0 was announced and will be bundled with Windows 2008 Server Core. This seems like the perfect Microsoft antidote to the Linux/Apache duo.

Google Strengthens Software Development Hand
Google is dipping its well-heeled toes into the software development market with a new set of tools that will allow the building of apps that can actually run offline (gasp!).

The apps are still browser-based, but through Google Gears users can store the applications on Google's LocalServer, the data in a (you guessed it) database, and WorkerPool, which handles application management-type duties such as synchronization.

Microsoft Pushes Web Apps Envelope
Critics love to make fun of Microsoft failures, not realizing that what seems like a weak effort is actually just the beginning of a long slog to greatness.

Take Web apps. Knee-jerk, self-appointed pundits say that Google is absolutely killing Microsoft in Web software. A Redmond cover story that compared the two companies' Web software found the battle to be much, much closer -- more of a draw.

And Microsoft is just getting started. It just released three new betas of three new tools, including Live Writer, a blogging tool, Live Messenger and Live Mail (not to be confused with Windows Live Hotmail).

Microsoft Licensing Made Less Hard
Confused about licensing Microsoft software? The first thing you should do is read Scott Braden's Redmond Negotiator column every month.

Next, you can hear the Microsoft take through a new Webcast series at http://www.insidelicensing.com.

The first edition included a snippet from Steve Ballmer, as well as a partner and an analyst from Forrester, which has also developed an ROI calculator for Microsoft Software Assurance.

Any information about the confusing world of licensing is good, but always be aware of the source. For instance, the Forrester ROI calculator tends to assume that you exploit all the features of Software Assurance. If you use this tool, make sure all of your assumptions are realistic, and do some side calculations to account for upgrades that don't ship, problems with upgrades and other glitches that can destroy rosy ROI predictions.

Have you looked at the Forrester SA ROI tool? What do you think of Microsoft licensing? Let us know at dbarney@redmondmag.com!

Amiga Games: Not Dead Yet
I'm probably the only journalist in North America who still writes about the Amiga. A month or so ago, I talked about plans to actually bring back complete Amiga computers.

Now, UK-based Vulcan Software is bringing old Amiga games to the PC.

In the '80s, the Amiga was the game machine, and many huge arcade machines had tiny, stripped-down Amiga 500s inside. My floppy-based Amiga 500 is still well-protected -- in the bottom of my son's closet!

What Does iTunes Know About You?
Apple may always come off as the good guy, but privacy advocates have discovered that iTunes songs can include information about the buyer, including name, e-mail address and more.

The theory is that this information can be used to hunt down the folks that offer up these tunes on file sharing networks.

So Apple demands that publishers take DRM off music, but uses a secret way of tracking down people that copy it?

Mailbag: "Surface" Thoughts, Big Blue's Buyback Binge
Last week, Microsoft took the covers off "Surface," a table-sized, touch-screen computer. Readers share their thoughts on the new gizmo:

I hate it when I sound like an absolute geek, but what a cool device/concept! Just the education factor alone...think of the possibilities. And for anyone out there who has kids, well, think of the games table you could have now (I dread to think of all the lost Monopoly pieces, playing cards and multi-sided dice from Dungeons & Dragons).

Good technology is "useable." Great technology is technology you can use and you don't even have to think about.
-Michael

I'd like to see a tabletop-sized screen that could be used by draftspersons (architects, engineers, etc.) to "draw" on more like they did when they used paper and pencil.

The trouble with CAD systems is that, often, either the image is too small or you can only view one section of a drawing at a time. If the screen could be, say, 30 inches by 40 inches or so, the architecture and engineering field would really appreciate that.
-Rod

And here's what one reader think about IBM's current buyback streak:

Given the regularity of investor clamor for short-term, maximum return on investment, while ignoring the long-term health and well-being of the company and the overall national economy, I find it encouraging that a behemoth like Big Blue is buying back controlling interest in itself. This allows for management to make the long-term health of the organization its priority, rather than the quick return on investment so many corporations find themselves being brow beaten into following by stock holders.

There is a balance point wherein investors are rewarded for their faith in a company, while the company has the autonomy to follow proper strategic thinking for the long term. Microsoft and scores of other companies do it, and now IBM is making its way there. As more and more companies see the light and reinvest in themselves, perhaps we'll see a brighter future return to American business, along with a more realistic, docile market.
-John

Got someting to add? Send an e-mail to dbarney@redmondmag.com or leave a comment below.

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