Microsoft Gains Boston Accent

While there are smart tech people all over the world and all over the U.S., it's clear there are pockets where these types tend to congregate: Silicon Valley; Redmond, Wash.; Austin, Texas; Raleigh, N.C.

But do you know where the spreadsheet was invented (by VisiCalc) and then reinvented (by Lotus)? Where the minicomputer was born (remember Data General, Wang and DEC?). Good, old Massachusetts, my home state.

Microsoft bought a bunch of Massachusetts' best brains by buying Groove and Softricity, and got some bright New Hampshire bulbs when it bought Desktop Standard. Now, Microsoft wants to tap into New England research minds by creating a lab in Cambridge, Mass.

The Massachusetts tech economy fell on hard times after 2001. It's already on a comeback, and with Microsoft in our back yard, things should only get better.

Botnets: The U.S. Is the Problem
We in the U.S. love to point fingers at overseas hackers, phishers and Internet vagabonds. To many of us, the threats are in Bulgaria, China and Russia. The reality, apparently, is much closer to home -- the problem is us.

According to research from SecureWorks, most botnet attacks (those nasties where a hacker uses your computer to attack others) start right here in the good, old USA.

Review: I Am a PC
On Monday, I lamented the loss of the Seinfeld Microsoft ads, which have been replaced by the "I'm a PC" commercials.

Here's my review: First, the commercials, by taking on Apple's characters, are overly defensive. Last time I checked, Windows was still the market leader. The commercials sound like a high school student who was stood up at the prom. And while they point out that Windows is effective for many, many people, they don't articulate what's so great about it.

The PC revolution has inspired our global economy, led to many technical and creative inventions, changed our very culture, and made the world more unified through nearly ubiquitous communication. Grandparents talk to grandkids a hundred or more miles away, college students e-mail parents...and not always to ask for money!

PCs are also a stunningly great bargain. With so many providers, prices steadily fall, and this commodity hardware is able to run everything from XP to all the major flavors of Linux (note that I left out Mac OS and Vista).

The PC industry has many things to be proud of, none of which I saw in these commercials. Maybe that will be in the next batch.

Are you a PC? Thoughts on these ads welcome at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Speak Out on VMware and Chrome
I'm doing two articles that I may want to quote you on. The first is about Chrome, which we've talked about quite a bit. I'm writing a Reader Review, which means you and your peers are the actual reviewers. Share your Chrome thoughts by writing me at dbarney@redmondmag.com. Over a dozen already have.

The second article is about VMware and its plans for a datacenter operating system, one that promises to turn all your x86 servers, network connections and storage into a single utility. The company claims 70 percent of this functionality is already in place. VMware users and others can contact me at dbarney@redmondmag.com and I'll shoot you a bunch of questions.

Both of these articles show how Redmond magazine is driven by readers as much as it is by our writers and editors. So thanks!

Mailbag: Microsoft Ads Redux, Cloud Computing, More
Unlike Doug, readers don't seem too sad to see the Seinfeld ads go. But at least one of you thinks the new ads are a vast improvement:

The Seinfeld commercials were an abomination (I can't say what I said when I first saw them aired). I'm neither a PC apologist nor a MacManiac; I'm a user of the Wintel consortium products. Those commercials should never have made it off the storyboard, and the agency who created them should be immediately cuffed and tossed in jail for abuse of our sensibilities.
-Benjamin

To heck with the Jerry Seinfeld TV spots. I think that Microsoft is onto something with its new 'I'm a PC' campaign that gives us quick cuts to some pretty cool people, both famous and un-famous, that all claim, "I'm a PC." This is a subtle yet powerful way to steer consumers away from the attitude that PC users are "squares," which was brilliantly depicted in the original Mac spots.

I saw this 'I'm a PC' spot a couple of times over the weekend, and was more impressed the second time I saw it than I was at first look. I think Microsoft is right to have a campaign that, unlike the Seinfeld spots and the "Seinfeld" show itself, is actually about something.
-Ken

On Monday, Doug asked readers whether they've come across any sites that cover cloud computing. Here are a couple:

Here are some sites: Enamoly Elastic Computing and Enterprise Cloud Computing: Build Your Own With Cisco VFrame -- Why Wait?
-Hermine

Here's an interesting cloud blog: The Wisdom of Clouds.
-Anthony

But Ari, for one, isn't buying into this cloud computing business:

I'm surprised that you don't see cloud computing for what it is: a return to the tyranny of the mainframe/dumb-terminal paradigm, and the loss of jobs for hundreds of MCSE/MSCAs. Most, if not all, of our tech support is outsourced, and most, if not all, of our manufacturing is outsourced as well. The United States doesn't really produce anything, with the notable exception that we keep finding new and wondrous ways for us to murder each other. The latest and greatest innovation to come out of the dot-com disaster -- and now cloudware -- is that today, your cab driver is likely to be an MCSE.

Then, there is the issue of downtime. With a server and smart workstation, even a company of 15 employees would not notice a problem on the local network; when setting up the network, you run two servers in parallel topography for redundancy. When properly configured, if one server fails, regardless of the reason, the secondary server automatically switches to the primary server's role and sends a notification to your MCSE and your hardware vendor.

By contrast, a slowdown or drop-off of a cloud system places you, as an employer, in the awful situation where you now have 15 to 20 people drawing their hourly wage while sitting around and making paper airplanes or stringing paper clips together, and you don't have a backup server, so you are stuck behind the eightball and dead in the water (pardon the mixed metaphor). This is exacerbated by the fact that you have no idea how long it will take for the cloud to recondense (besides, with cloud computing, you always pray for rain and that doesn't mix well with electronic components).
-Ari

And Mitchell shares his thoughts on Chrome:

I find it buggy, which is not surprising as a beta. It also tends to be jumpy when scrolling through pictures and graphics on large pages. Also have found problems with Flash and other multimedia. After using it for a day, I went back to IE 7.

Now, IE 8? Many problems, as well. Oh, well -- betas are betas.
-Mitchell

Check in tomorrow for more reader letters! In the meantime, share your thoughts by writing a comment below or sending an e-mail to dbarney@redmondmag.com.

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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