More Communication About UC

Microsoft is beginning to make some real moves in the area of Unified Communications (UC) with real products, real partnerships and a real chance to finally get this UC train rolling.

Many might argue that other vendors, particularly those in the networking space, invented UC and Microsoft merely jumped on the bandwagon. And they'd be right -- except that these vendors never really lit a match under the concept the way Microsoft has. So, tough beans!

Now Microsoft is rolling out its secret weapon: developers. Late last week, Microsoft introduced a raft of UC development tools for the enterprise. That's the icing on the cake, as UC only becomes interesting when it's been tweaked for a particular use.

What do you think about Microsoft's UC strategy? Send me your thoughts at [email protected].

Don't Blame Technology
Every time I miss a deadline, I blame a system crash -- and as a Windows user, they usually buy it. When I was a teen, whenever my friends crashed their cars, they always pointed to faulty brakes or a messed up steering system (it was always messed up steering, but it was the idiot steering, not the steering mechanism!).

Well, in the great tradition of "My dog ate my homework," a South Korean man blamed an exploding cell phone for the death of a co-worker. Turns out the co-worker was hit with a drilling truck. Maybe Phil Spector can use this one if he has a second trial.

Fess up -- have you ever blamed technology for something that had a completely unrelated explanation (like an out-of-control drilling truck)? Send me your stories at [email protected].

Is Google the Future of Wireless?
Google is vying for a chunk of the wireless spectrum that supports Internet access and mobile phone use, and is offering over $4.5 billion for it (chump change for the Google-izers!).

This is just one more indication that Google wants to do for wireless what it's done for the Internet: Stake out a colossal market position and make everyone else try to catch up (hmm, sounds like Google's copying Microsoft here!). The neat thing about this is that Google wouldn't likely take a traditional approach, but -- like Apple did with the iPhone -- surprise us all.

But this all might fizzle out. Anyone remember Google's bold plan to offer wireless to all of San Francisco?

MCPs Gain New Bennies
Now's a great time to be a Microsoft Certified Professional. Salaries are climbing steadily, and there are always plenty of things to either fix or configure. And Microsoft is taking pains to treat MCPs right, announcing last week a raft of new benefits for the certified crowd.

MCPs can now find peers through a new directory, set up their own Web pages (sort of like MySpace for geeks), get Knowledge Base articles and download certification logos to spruce up resumes, business cards and marketing materials. Good stuff.

Are you an MCP? Are you satisfied with the certification's new benefits, or should Microsoft do more to keep MCPs happy? Tell me what you think at [email protected].

Mailbag: Google's Energy Move, More on Dongles
Last week, Lafe asked readers what they thought about Google's move into the energy business. Is the company trying to do too many things? Readers don't seem too worried:

Google is behaving more like an incubator than a search engine company. Is that bad? I don't know -- it obviously has tons of cash and flash right now, and it's drawing a lot of smart people. It's hippy enough to change the world and has the money to actually pull it off. If you look at how the VC world works, you pour money into 30 projects hoping for one that pays off big time. If Google does the same thing, who's to say that it won't work? But even if it flops, how much scientific information will be gained, how much cheaper will the technology become?

I don't see a bad outcome as long as it doesn't sink the Good Ship Google by pouring too much money into too many projects.

Actually, it makes a whole lot of sense. Think of the average company, whether they produce widgets or whatever: They are paying exorbitant prices for rent on their factory premises. If you were the business operator, wouldn't it make sense to purchase your own factory? Wow, all of a sudden you are now in the property/facilities management business (rates, insurance, maintenance, etc.), which has nothing to do with the widgets. So why is it seen as something of a wonder because Google is doing it?

One way to ensure your supply chain is to own it. Thinking of who else Google would pay the most money out to, one would have to be a PC/server manufacturer, and -- let's face it -- that's not a market you really want to get into in a small scale.

As someone who works in a data center, I can see numerous advantages to reducing energy costs. Google's not the first company to realize this but it deserves a lot of credit for taking such a smart and bold route in this area. Good for them!

The difference that I see between Microsoft and Google trying to be everything for everybody is that Google seems to be paying attention to its customer's needs and wants, while Microsoft seems to mostly fabricate what it thinks its customers want and need (take Vista as an example). Or maybe it's a matter of the decision makers at Google being closer to the action than the decision makers at Microsoft who always seem surprised by reality.

Regardless, I'm happy to see an innovative company like Google getting involved in other fields. Maybe it will stimulate some action in research and development. At this point, I think Nanosolar is the company Google is going to have to beat in the power-generating field.

And Fred shares his experience with dongles:

I have licensing dongles from on several installs of their Kofax Ascent product -- very nice and simple to use. When I add features to the product, I go to their Web site, give it my dongle ID, pick up a new authorization code and enter it into the licensing utility on the PC where the software is installed -- clean and simple. And if I have to replace a hard drive or reinstall anything, the dongle is still good. If the dongle gets lost (one did, in an office move), they charge you 10 percent of the cost of a new one for the replacement. They have NO piracy problems that way, and they support an excellent family of products.

Share your thoughts with us on any of these topics! Leave a comment below or send an e-mail to [email protected].

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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