Microsoft Crawling All Over IE 8 Bugs
Everything I know about Internet Explorer 8 I've learned from you, the faithful Redmond Report reader. First you told me the beta and release candidate were shakier than the world economy. Then you told me the final version was actually pretty darn clean. But a number of you still report glitches -- and these have the IE 8 dev team tracking, prioritizing and, hopefully, soon fixing all the bugs
You can actually search the bug database to see if your particular problem is on the list. If not, time to stand up and shout. For the minority that have big enough problems to warrant a full de-install, Microsoft has posted instructions on how to remove the offending browser.
Gartner Windows 7 Advice Not as Good as Yours
You may have noticed a recurring theme in this newsletter: Most of what I think about Microsoft's products and strategies comes from interactions with real customers -- that's you, the Redmond Report reader.
In my last item, I explained how most of you are having a good experience with the final release of IE 8, with a handful of exceptions. I also learned enough about Windows 7 from you that I wrote a two-part series, the first appearing on the cover of the March issue of Redmond magazine with part two running in April.
Here's what I heard: Windows 7 is 10 times better than Vista, and many shops will move ASAP to the new OS based on current test results. Now Gartner is jumping on the Windows 7 bandwagon with a somewhat confusing report. First, the analyst group argues that IT need not wait until the first service pack to move to Windows 7. That's because Windows 7 is really just a small upgrade to Vista, the opposite of what most of what you told me.
Then Gartner argues that it will take a year or more for ISVs to have their apps prepped for Windows 7. Here again, your views were different; nearly everything you had seems to run fine on Windows 7.
Finally, Gartner advises waiting about a year-and-a-half before migrating -- which is precisely when the service pack should be out!
Rather than buying an expensive Gartner subscription, I'll just keep getting my insights from you! Do you use and trust IT research firms? Send me the skinny at email@example.com.
Microsoft Dribbles Out Open Source
Microsoft's open source strategy is foggier than an '80s hair band's stage show. Here's what I've been able to decipher through the haze: Microsoft wants to be friendly to certain open source tools like those from Novell. It also wants Windows to manage the open source tools, rather than having open source tools manage Windows.
What's less clear is whether Microsoft itself should release open source software. So far, there has been little more than dabbling and dribbling. A prime example is !exploitable Crash Analyzer, an open source tool to help programmers figure out why their software is crashing and how to fix it. It can also prioritize crash causes so you can fix the worst culprits first.
What should Microsoft do about open source? Advice always taken at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your Turn: IT Gone Good
Two-and-a-half years ago, I wrote a story about IT abusing its power -- blackmailing executives, spying, stealing and sexually harassing.
I'd love to do the opposite, to show where IT uses its power for good. Do you volunteer and use your skills for good? Does your organization itself do good and have IT systems to support those efforts? If so, tell me your tale at email@example.com.
Your Turn: Green IT
Do you care about green technology? Is there pressure to save energy? Have you pushed any green initiatives, such as virtualization? Are there ways to use Microsoft software more efficiently and has Microsoft told you about them?
Help me spread the green word by writing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mailbag: Why Sun, More Thoughts on IE 8
Last week, Doug expressed his misgivings about IBM's possible acquisition of Sun. But Marc thinks he knows what's behind Big Blue's reasoning:
I agree that IBM may not be gaining a lot in a buy-out of Sun, but Sun would certainly benefit from IBM's considerable clout in the marketplace.
What Sun does have to offer IBM, though, is considerable intellectual property rights to Unix, which IBM lacks. As a co-developer of Unix System V (along with AT&T), Sun's IP rights to Unix are equal to Novell's. Buying Sun could free IBM from threats of any future potential Unix litigation. Sun also has considerable x86 assets with Solaris x86, as well as open source x86 assets with OpenSolaris.
Bruce thinks virtualization has its uses, but issues a word of caution:
I think virtualization can be a valid tool in IT. What it can be used for is what I call "junk servers" -- those servers that run a small application or handful of users you don't want interfering with the file, database, mail server, etc. It keeps the cost of both rack space, hardware and power costs down.
The problem comes in when too many servers or hardware-intensive services get put on one system. This may work fine under "normal" conditions, but have the usage on three of four VMs spike and watch them all slow or crash. Don't think you're safe having two VM servers and putting half on each one, depending on failover to keep things running. Make sure one VM server can handle the load of two. Care must be taken to not over-virtualize servers and maintain the balance between cost-effectiveness and reliable, usable server environment.
And here are some more of your takes on IE 8:
IE 8 is dog sloow. How can you seriously call it fast?
I did not use the beta or RC versions of IE 8 but installed the RTM version last week when released. I seems much faster than IE 7 and at least as fast as Firefox. I did just have a tab crash but only that tab (my Live.com homepage, believe it or not). I'll give IE 8 a "thumbs up" for now.
IE 8 needs a good ad blocker. IE 7 Pro is inferior to Adblock Plus when it comes to ad blocking. Occasionally, there are Web sites that are completely incompatible with Firefox and for those, we'll have to use IE, but it's Firefox for everything else until further notice. I wonder if Steve B. at Microsoft understands that issue.
I would have to agree that IE 8 is very stable, and much better and faster than IE 7. I have been evaluating the release version since its release on several different machines, and so far I am very happy with it, and prefer it to Firefox or Chrome. IE 7 used to freeze up frequently for no known reason and I had to constantly end the IE process. So far, IE 8 has not frozen up, but I am keeping my fingers crossed.
While IE 8 seems quite solid on my Vista SP1 system at home, it was dying on virtually every URL I clicked on my work XP Pro SP3 system. I quickly removed it. As a beta tester of Win 98, XP and Vista, as well as VS 2005 and VS 2008, and VFP 7.0, 8.0 and 9.0 -- and an MS MVP for four years -- I know beta software when I see it, and IE 8 on XP just doesn't appear to be ready for primetime!
You surely must have heard about the sidebar clock provoking a serious hang-up of the processor after IE 8 installation. But I experienced on another machine screensavers refusing to start -- in particular the Microsoft American flag screensaver and most of the Microsoft Plus screensavers. There was also the sudden appearance of unwanted full-page pop-ups (that did not happen at all in IE 7).
I am so scared now that I stopped installing IE 8 on my grandchildren's computers.
I found IE 8's performance to be excellent -- better than IE 7. I found two incompatibilities, though: eRoom would not execute and one of our Web applications would not function as expected.
IE 8 is not compatible with a number of real estate programs, e.g., Zillow.com. When you go to pictures, it comes up with errors.
As it becomes more important to tighten spending everywhere, there will be more emphasis both at homes and in the marketplace to reduce costs. I am hearing more interest in Linux than I have heard in some time. While that doesn't affect IE directly, show me a Linux distribution that comes with a copy of IE on it.
While I have downloaded IE 8, I am too busy working with Linux to even look at it.
Finally, Paul ran into a snag when installing IE 8. Any explanations from Redmond Report readers in the know are welcome:
I tried to download IE 8 to my Windows Ultimate machine, and it said I do not have a compatible OS for it. What can you tell me about this?
Got an answer for Paul? Or have another comment you'd like to share? Leave it below or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.