24-Hour Support

Playtex may offer 18-hour support, but Microsoft goes six further -- for a full 24 hours! For shops that need to be up 24x7, Microsoft has a new support plan, Premier Ultimate.

This high-end enterprise support offering has tech folks standing by all day and all night to solve your most vexing Microsoft problems. More interesting is the proactive part, where Microsoft looks for problems before they actually bite you in the hiney. This may cost a pretty penny, but could save a lot of headaches and downtime.

Do you trust Microsoft to solve your support issues? Yes and no answers more than welcome at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Virtual Firewalls for Virtual Servers
Virtual servers are proliferating, but the security for them isn't always keeping pace. Check Point hopes to catch up with its new VPN-1 Virtual Edition, a firewall specifically built for virtual environments.

There's a good chance you already have virtual servers. There's just as good a chance you already have a Check Point firewall or two laying around your shop. With the new firewall, you can protect virtual machines as if they were physically discrete servers.

Right now, Virtual Edition only secures VMware systems. But if I were a betting man, I'd lay down some serious change on it embracing Hyper-V in the near future.

How do you secure virtual servers? Tactics welcome at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Teach Your Hackers Well
I don't usually read Newsweek, but it had an interesting profile of George Ledin, a Sonoma State University professor who teaches his students to write viruses and keystroker recorders, and cause all sorts of digital mischief.

Of course, many people are appalled, likening Ledin's teachings to a subversive training camp. (Digression: I hate the term "terrorist" because it gives these punks too much power; by calling them terrorists we imply that they've already succeeded in creating fear.)

I believe the only way to fight hacking is to know hacking. Is it wrong to teach hacking techniques? Send your thoughts to dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Mailbag: A Winning Windows 7
Doug asked readers yesterday what Microsoft should do to make Windows 7 your OS of choice. Here are some of your suggestions:

If Microsoft really wanted to do it right, all it has to do is make Windows 7 look and feel just like XP. Just make it better behind the interface. Have it use the same third-party drivers, only use them better. If nothing else, Microsoft should do as it did when it changed the Control Panel -- that is, give us a one-click option to revert back to an interface which we are familiar and comfortable with. Rather than obsolescing hardware, it should be able to create more efficient coding to do more with less. After all, we've not really added any major capabilities that we couldn't do with Windows NT and that first Pentium CPU. We can just do everything faster.

When a brand-new PC with a brand-new OS is slower than my seven-year-old one, then there is a major problem somewhere. I for one am not likely to trust my livelihood to a company that doesn't understand that very simple point.
-T.W.

I hate to say it, because I know it won't happen, but above all else Microsoft needs to KEEP IT SIMPLE!
-John

I believe that in order to make Windows 7 shine, Microsoft must do the following: One, optimize the OS to make it as stable and fast as possible. Two, make sure that the UI isn't a performance killer. Three, replace the command prompt with Powershell. Four, drop User Account Control and replace it with a confirmation prompt for elevated permissions for installation. Five, remove the need for Internet Explorer to be installed on the machine at all. Six, provide recovery options that don't require floppy disks be used for disaster recovery. Seven, provide real multi-user capability, like what's found in Windows Server 2003, where multiple users can make use of a single machine at the same time. And eight, provide two versions only: Home Edition and Business Edition.
-Jerald

Build it on BSD like Apple did with OSX.
-Bill

Windows 7 looks like window (excuse the pun) dressing on Vista. Are we actually going to get a new file system?
-T.

A nice thing that I am very surprised has not been done in any of the Windows OSes yet would be the ability to move the position of your open windows on the Task Bar, instead of just grouping similar ones beside each other.
-Anonymous

It may be too late, but I'd like to see Windows 7 be secure from the outset, small enough to fit on a single CD, and faster.
-Ray

Check out tomorrow's edition for more reader letters. And to share your own thoughts, e-mail dbarney@redmondmag.com, or fill out the form below.

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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