Microsoft in the Pink

Rumors continue to swirl that thousands of Redmond-ites may soon become ex-Redmond-ites. Some say as many as 15,000 Microsoft employees may soon be flooding the tech market with freshly tuned resumes.

My take? Microsoft can still be highly efficient and productive with a smaller workforce. After all, it's an aggressive capitalist enterprise; competition is in its DNA.

So the question is: If Microsoft and others can run fine with smaller budgets and workforces, why can't government -- local, state or federal -- do the same thing? Seems odd to me that as tax revenues fall and the economy contracts, government's answer is to grow larger. As an economics major, I understand the multiplier effect, but this still makes no logical sense.

How would you solve our economic mess? Is massive debt/stimulation the answer? Right- and left-wing answers equally welcome at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

New Redmond Virt Tool Rankles Top Journalist
I love having experts on staff. I'm not an artist, so my creative team makes our magazines and Web sites look great. And I couldn't sell Pabst Blue Ribbon to Britney Spears, which is why we have sales professionals that keep the money rolling in. When it comes to technology, I have software development experts that drive Redmond Developer News and Visual Studio Magazine. For partner issues, I rely on the gurus that put out Redmond Channel Partner.

Virtualization is another area in which I'm far from expert. Here, I lean on Keith Ward, editor of Virtualization Review. Case in point is when I read about Redmond's beta release of Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V).

When I first read Microsoft's breathless announcement of this amazing new breakthrough, I had a few misgivings. For one, MED-V sounds like some kind of new ambulance. More important, Microsoft's desktop virtualization strategy at this point is overly complex. You can use Windows Terminal Services (I'm sure this has been renamed) to run apps from Windows Server. You can also use the application virtualization wares Microsoft got from SoftGrid. And you can use Virtual PC to give your PC multiple OS personalities. Or you can run apps from the cloud. (I'm sure I'm forgetting a few more options.)

MED-V is based on Kidaro, which Microsoft recently acquired. It works with Virtual PC and lets you run legacy apps on newer operating systems such as Vista. I thought I had all the negative angles well in hand until I read Keith's recent blog, where he points out that the only way to get MED-V is to buy an expensive Software Assurance (SA) contract. The same is also true for the application virtualization tech acquired from SoftGrid.

SA is no picnic. You pay a lot of money for benefits you may never use, and for upgrade rights to software that may not ship on time. Want to know if SA is right for you? Check out this special report I put together a few years ago (it's just as relevant today).

Google Greenness Questioned
The world loves Google. Imagine, a huge company based purely on smart ideas, programming and leeching off all our intellectual property. To some, Google is a model of the new economy, a way to drive growth that doesn't involve smokestacks, toxins or dangerous work conditions.

But a Harvard physicist argues differently. Alex Wissner-Gross (sounds like a physicist to me!) says that two Google queries emit as much CO2 as heating up a tea pot. The problem is that Google servers are highly distributed so a single query can reach out to servers churning away thousands of miles apart.

I mentioned this to my kids and they asked what we should do. I suggested we get used to cold tea from now on.

Many Google searches are clearly non-essential (I fail to see the economic value of +"Pam Anderson" +"JPEG") But this doesn't mean that the type of cloud computing Google and others offer isn't green. If Google or Amazon or Microsoft or Sun or Oracle build massive datacenters, one would think these would be highly efficient. Compare this to having all enterprises cobble together and power their own server farms. For power savings, I'd go with the cloud every time.

Are you concerned about electric use and costs? What's your plan? Share your ideas by writing to dbarney@redmondmag.com.

IE 8: Your Turn
IE 8 is currently in beta and will be a key part of Windows 7. Are you using IE 8? What do you love, hate or just mildly adore? Shoot me an e-mail at dbarney@redmondmag.com. I'll send you back a bunch of questions and build a feature story based entirely on your feedback!

Mailbag: Microsoft, Apple and the Cool Factor
Last week, Doug asked for your thoughts on which is cooler: Apple or Microsoft. Better yet, how would you rate your own company's coolness? Here are some of your responses:

Apple: Cool.
Microsoft: Somewhat cool.
Workplace: Uncool.

-Anonymous

Apple, cool. Microsoft, no. My workplace, no.
-Anonymous

Redmond is cooler. "The Simpsons" said it best. Yeah, I'm slightly prejudiced.

And to answer your question: My workplace is the coolest on the planet.
-David

Apple is cool. Microsoft is frigid.
-Mark

Microsoft is cool. Apple, not so much.
-Anonymous

The only thing actually cool about Apple is its marketing machine. Microsoft could learn something from it (or almost anyone) about hip marketing.
-Jeff

Come on. Apple may seem cool because Jobs is a GREAT salesman and convinced everyone who is a Mac-er that he's cool, but they are just easily impressed with ribbons and flashing lights. Jobs wears cool dress-down clothes (probably $1,000 apiece) that make him seem like he's a free thinker, not caught up in corporate structure, but that's crazy.

Bill Gates is a nerd and has developed his company and persona on the fact and he never tried to fool people. It is what it is. Are the guy and his products cool? Yeah, they are.
-Dan

Short answer: neither! They are businesses with profit-driven motivations. Gates, while to be lauded for his charity work, is doing so with his personal fortune, not Microsoft's, to my knowledge. Let us not forget that both Microsoft and Apple have BODs, investors, industry analysts and a slew of other interested parties to keep happy in terms of profit, loss, earnings, etc. It's time to stop conferring knighthood or sainthood on corporate execs, sports stars or winsome politicians.

My company (the largest consulting company no one's ever heard of, with annual revenues of over $8 billion), while an interesting and very entertaining place to work, is not cool either. I know full well that earnings, PBT and gross margins all drive decision-making, and no matter what HR lip service to "people-focused" and "professional development" is pandered about the workplace, the bottom line rules the roost here. Please do not think me cynical, however, as I believe that's how it should work.
-Mercury

I vote for Apple as cool as it beats Microsoft in every way except price. Microsoft is the cheaper alternative.
-Anonymous

Definitely Microsoft is cooler. Even years ago when I was taking classes for MCSE NT, I remember I always had some classmates thinking that MS is uncool. However, I told them then and I'll still say it today: "BLUE IS COOL!"
-Scott

Check in on Wednesday for more of your letters! In the meantime, leave your own comment below or send 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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