Microsoft May Finally Hit the Bank

It looks like even the monstrous $44.6 billion bid Microsoft has put in for Yahoo might be a bit much for its cash on hand. The well-heeled, cash-rich software giant is considering taking on some debt to settle part of the purchase price for Yahoo, which is structured as half stock and half cash.

During its annual strategy meeting with financial analysts, Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Chris Liddell said, "It's likely we're actually going to borrow for the first time. [The cash payment will] be a mixture of the cash we have on hand plus debt." Microsoft apparently has enough to settle the deal, with a reported $21 billion cash reserve, but rightfully wouldn't feel comfortable draining its entire reserves.

This would be historic -- the first time the software giant took on a degree of debt. Speaking at the same analysts meeting earlier this week, Microsoft top dog Steve Ballmer said he thought the offer for Yahoo was "generous." He expects Yahoo's board and shareholders to agree to the buyout quickly, but acknowledges it would take months to sort out the details.

Heck, I have to hit the bank and move money around every time I go grocery shopping, much less plunking down nearly $45 billion to buy a company. What's your take on Microsoft's proposed purchase of Yahoo? How do you think this will affect its standing with Google? We've heard from every talking head and analyst in the news. We want to hear from you. Let me hear your bid at llow@redmondmag.com.

Intel's Next-Gen Chip
Intel expects to double performance in server processors with its new Tukwila processor -- the next generation of its 64-bit Itanium processor. The leading chip maker announced its new processor at a conference in San Francisco earlier this week.

The Tukwila processor is a quad-core design, runs at speeds up to 2GHz and is built with Intel's integrated memory controller and QuickPath architecture. It will also feature 30MB of on-die cache and dual-integrated memory controllers. The Tukwila will support Unix, Linux and Windows Server operating systems, and is expected to be delivered by the end of this year.

This ups the ante in the server processor wars. The Tukwila will be positioned to drive servers running enterprise-grade, mission-critical applications, like financial services, health care, insurance and government. The chip is designed with advanced RAS features that promise improved reliability, availability and serviceability.

Does your organization need this kind of horsepower? How do you ensure your mission-critical apps are always running? What's your high-availability strategy? My e-mail is always on, so let me know at llow@redmondmag.com.

New Botnet Sneaks In
The anti-virus, anti-spam and security researchers at BitDefender have scared up a new spam botnet. And when I say scared up, I mean scared up. This new botnet attracts potential victims with explicit videos of celebrity "hotties" like Britney and Paris Hilton. Please, as if nausea weren't enough to keep you away from those two.

Anyway, victims are lured to a site that naturally has a bunch of malware spun up and ready to go. The botnet e-mails use legitimate-looking links like: http://www.google.com/pagead/iclk?sa=l&ai=trailhead&num=69803&adurl=http://******.com. Notice that address is missing the "www" of a real Google search result address, like http://www.******.com.

Once you've gone to the site and executed the file, the Trojan.Downloader.Exchange.A executes more rootkit and spambot malware on your system. Then you're mercilessly spammed with links to the Trojan downloader and the cycle continues. Nice, eh? Check out BitDefender's defense portal for more details on this nasty new spam botnet.

It's an ongoing battle, isn't it? How do you defend your systems against nastiness like this? How frequently do you upgrade your filters and settings? Share your war stories with me at llow@redmondmag.com.

Mailbag: Vista SP1 Un-Fashionably Late, More
Yesterday, Peter reported on Microsoft's decision to delay Vista's first service pack for at least six weeks. Readers share their thoughts on whether withholding SP1 makes sense:

It would have made more sense to hold back the entire "completed" OS.
-Kirk

Vista's SP1 should be released immediately to those of us who have been using Vista for a year, rather than staging the release to coincide with its appearance on new computers. Can you imagine Apple doing this to their loyal customers?
-Paul

My opinion is this: There are problems with Vista that Microsoft knows exist. Delaying this release is nothing more than a slap in the face of the people that already have it installed and have problems that cannot be corrected.

This software has extreme shortcomings and I have chosen not to purchase any additional computers with Vista installed.

-Randy

It makes sense to keep this waiting. We enabled the download of the RC1 on our Vista Enterprise 64-bit (updated to the latest patch). The Windows Update downloaded the RC at least five times from varying file sizes but never completed. We disabled the same after waiting for a week.

I would consider deploying on a virtual machine before advising a customer rollout.
-Biju

I can't believe how many folks are complaining about having to wait six weeks. I won't deploy it for six months! I have never deployed a newly released service pack because of the potential problems it can cause by deploying early.

Once I killed the TCP auto-tuning feature, my installations have been performing fine. Of course, I have good hardware which I suspect is really the main reason folks are not having any luck with Vista. They are running or trying to run Vista on the same hardware they were running XP on with performing RAM upgrades, etc.

Anyway, I don't see any reason for hurrying or even wanting to deploy SP1 as soon as it is available. But, as usual, I don't have all the issues that folks seem to have every time MS deploys a new OS.
-Michael

And in the wake of Dell's rollout of its new line of PS5000 Series iSCSI SAN storage devices, Russ gives his 2 cents on iSCSI technology:

We're currently in the middle of a VMware I3 implementation that will eventually use an iSCSI SAN from LeftHand Networks. The first phase of our project was just going to use local ESX server storage as the SAN wasn't budgeted for purchase until a later date. The problem we ran into was that we ran out of local storage before we got everything virtualized.

I was able to take an older HP server, load it up with extra drives left over from servers already virtualized and then install Openfiler NAS, an open source iSCSI-capable storage platform. The entire system works like a champ and didn't cost us anything but an hour or so to install the Openfiler and configure it. If we had gone with a fiber channel solution, we'd still be on hold waiting for the SAN.
-Russ

Tell us what you think! Send an e-mail to llow@redmondmag.com or leave your comment below.

About the Author

Lafe Low is the editorial liaison for ECG Events.

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