A Patch Tuesday that Lives Up to Its Name
Patch Tuesday isn't the most accurate way to describe the second Tuesday of every month; it should be called "Patches" Tuesday since there's always more than one fix.
But this week it actually lives up to its name, as only one repair is scheduled for release. This critical patch fixes a remote code flaw in Windows 2000, Windows Server 2003 and XP. So if you have a golf date tomorrow, you may be able to keep it!
Controlling IE 8
Microsoft is proud of IE 8 and, from what I hear, it's a pretty good browser (and will be a key part of Windows 7).
But IE 8 isn't for everyone. Many corporations have custom browsers apps, and if a new browser breaks them, there's heck to pay. The answer is an admin tool that blocks the installation of IE 8 until it's fully tested.
I asked last week why some shops use IE, and today's Mailbag section is full of highly intelligent responses. Scroll down and have a look!
VMware's Maritz Builds Crew
Former Microsoft hotshot Paul Maritz is now firmly in control of VMware and looking to protect VMware's business against increasingly aggressive Microsoft incursions. Now Maritz has a new ally: former Microsoft teammate and recent Borland CEO Tod Nielsen, who's now COO of VMware.
There are two interesting elements here. For one, Nielsen remains on the Borland board, meaning Borland could well have a VMware loyalist. And second, Nielsen is assuming an operational position, which seems to undersell some of his technical skills. My guess? Nielsen will be COO, but will play a major strategic role, as well.
As for Borland, the same week Nielsen left, the company passed out 130 pink slips. Happy New Year!
Windows 7: Your Turn
Redmond Report readers have helped me write countless cover stories for Redmond magazine. Now I'm asking for assistance again. For March, I'm doing a cover story on Windows 7 and trying to draw my conclusions based on what IT pros think of the current beta. I've already heard from a handful of readers but as usual, I want more.
If you've been playing with the Windows 7 beta, drop me a line at email@example.com. I'll get back to you with a bunch of questions. Like the rest of these cover stories, this will be your story!
Mailbag: Why IE, Vista and Windows 7, More
As promised, here are just a few of your responses to Doug's question last week about why some of you use Internet Explorer (more to come Wednesday!):
IE can be installed silently and pushed to remote workstations. Firefox requires a GUI install (try doing that on 1,000 workstations). Firefox does have an "undocumented" silent install switch, but using it results in Firefox taking over as the default browser. For some this might be OK, but not for us.
IE also has integrated Windows authentication, configuration via Group Policy and better security (see "Firefox tops list of 12 most vulnerable apps").
I guess I am a IE bigot, but the biggest things that matter to me is that it's generally the standard for Web-browsing and most of the time, when a browser recommendation is made by a Web site, IE is at the top of the list -- or is the only one on the list.
As for the paranoiacs that have to run Firefox to "be protected from the bad men," you can lock IE down if that is your desire. Or you can stay away from the "Hackers 'R-Us.net" and the "DownloadPiratedStuffHere.com" sites.
I use IE 8 because sometimes I want my browser to pop up before I have to get to bed. That's the bast advantage of having the thing tied to the OS. Firefox is still a slow pig to start. That being said, Firefox is my default browser because it's just smarter and it's quicker once loaded. I still depise it's bookmark management, or lack thereof. IE's URL management is dead simple.
IE is compatible with more sites and manages downloads easier. Easy to manage, easy to support -- those are the main reasons for staying with. Oh, and it's secure (if managed properly, and having a few plug-ins helps).
I use IE 7 (and 8 beta). Primary reason is that in my support role, I am often accessing Microsoft sites and, unless one uses the appropriate plug-ins, I find it awkward to stream Microsoft videos in Firefox. Thus, it is just simpler to stay with IE!
Marc shares his thoughts on how Windows 7 will stack up against Vista, while Bruce wonders how the new OS will affect Microsoft's bottom line:
Just as XP was (in 2001) really little more than an extension of Windows 2000, Windows 7 is an extension of Vista. Vista is (and hence Windows 7 will be) sluggish with 1GB of RAM or less, but RAM is very inexpensive these days; for an extra $25 to $30, any PC can have 2GB -- plenty of RAM for all but the most hardcore gamer. Buy 4GB of RAM for only a few dollars more and hit the 32-bit ceiling. I expect Windows 7 to be the last 32-bit OS Microsoft offers.
Finally, Windows 7 will, by definition, clean up the inefficient code which plagued Vista RTM and, to a lesser extent, Vista SP1. Vista SP2 will be only marginally slower than Windows 7 RTM.
I haven't played with Windows 7 because I don't have a machine to put it on, but to me Vista was just officially given the kiss of death by the potential announcement of possible free upgrades to Win 7. This is NOT good for Microsoft's books. Microsoft is big and has a lot of products, but this is going to hit its wallet -- the question is how hard. A person may say, "Well, now Vista sales will go up." Yes, they will, but that means for every sale of Vista, there won't be a sale for Windows 7.
And some issues like devices not working may get worse. I'm thinking about the medical market; since Windows 7 isn't out yet, this probably further delays medical devices being certified, reason being I can't see the FDA approving them for Vista and then giving them wink-nod-of-the-head approval for Windows 7. So why put a device on an OS that isn't going to be around much longer? That also means that XP will probably be extended AGAIN until Win 7 is out the door. Memo to Microsoft: Actively work with the medical industry to get its devices on your new OS so that it has its approvals when you start shipping. If doctors use it and trust it, then you have something.
Last week, Doug asked readers to name their most and least favorite high-tech execs. Here are a few of your votes:
Least favorite high-tech exec: Larry Ellison. He's the anti-Steve Jobs.
Top exec: Mark Templeton at Citrix Systems.
And when it comes to how software pirates are punished, Francis echoes the sentiment most of you expressed last week:
Let's face the truth. This menial sentence (and only 11 persons convicted) is a slap on the wrist at best. I don't want to hear crap about how harsh Chinese prisons are. When China is one of the top three countries for hackers, spam, spyware, malware, etc., what does it matter about software piracy?
China is simply doing this as a way to show that they are part of the world community. Bullsh*t. China is not part of the world community and never will be unless we give in to their way. International law means nothing to them. They don't give a damn about any of this or they would take a harder stance on all computer crimes. These 11 persons, although it is said they are going to prison, are probably going to end up in a luxury hotel provided by the government for doing a great job.
More reader letters coming your way on Wednesday! In the meantime, tell us what you think by leaving a comment below or sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.