Home Away from Home Office

Some people have a home away from home, but I have something different: a home office away from my home office. This week, I'm working from chilly Cape Cod where it's spring vacation for the kids. I should be in good shape to bring you all three editions of Redmond Report.

On Saturday, my cable Internet was restarted and I spent an hour straightening out my Linksys wireless router by upgrading the firmware. The funny thing is there are three Mac laptops that got on the wireless without a hitch, while my XP-based Dell had a connection that was less reliable than a Yugo. Go figure.

Oracle Predicts Sun Sale
A few weeks ago, it was IBM looking to buy Sun. Today it's Oracle offering $7.4 billion to buy the company that brought us Solaris, SPARC, Java and Jonathan Schwartz's ponytail. 

At first blush, I just didn't see a fit. Buying Sun turns Oracle into an altogether different company, one focused on server and storage hardware, operating systems, and infrastructure and development software.

But does that really matter? Is, perhaps, the attitude and culture of the buyer more important? And here there's an interesting match. Sun has always been aggressive and since few of its products are me-too, it needs a charged-up company to push them. Who better than Larry Ellison? I kinda like this deal! Tell me where I'm right or wrong at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Microsoft Continues Commercial Security Software Push
Microsoft tried to play in the consumer client security space with OneCare and then enterprise client security with Forefront. OneCare got the hook, but Forefront is still very much alive.

I wasn't a fan of Microsoft's client security play. I felt Microsoft was simply copying the pioneering work of companies like Symantec, McAfee, Trend Micro and Sunbelt.

Fortunately, Microsoft is pushing a more comprehensive strategy in the form of "Stirling," a suite of tools that protects clients and servers, and handles identity management and compliance. As Microsoft has built a large suite of IT products, it makes sense for it to have a broad suite of security tools. Stirling will be out next year.

Would you trust a Microsoft security suite? Have you used Forefront, and if so, how would you grade it? "A"s, "B"s, "C"s, "D"s and "F"s can be forwarded to dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Office 2007 Gains Native OpenDoc/PDF
Office 2007 is gaining a new service pack -- and this puppy isn't just about bug fixes, performance tweaks and random features that few will use. SP2 brings Office further into the open world with native support for the OpenDoc file format, letting you share files with your OpenOffice brethren. And finally it gains the built-in ability to save files as PDFs, rather than through a clumsy add-on.

Mailbag: Thoughts on Patches, Windows 7 Upgrades, More
One reader shares his thoughts about the impact of malware writers taking shots at Windows, while another wonders what can be done to stop them in the first place:

Regarding patches, at some point, it could be that Windows might just end up the most secure. When everyone is taking shots, Windows will either die from the wounds, or strengthen the armor. But who knows?
-Andrew

I would love to help nab some of the malware promoters, or at least divert some of their energies. But running a honeypot properly takes a bunch of time and energy, both of which are in short supply in most IT shops.
-Robert

Here are more of your thoughts on upgrading to Windows 7 from XP:

This whole XP ugprade in the enterprise thing is ridiculous! If an enterprise is moving to Windows 7, there's no way it's going to do individual upgrades on thousands of PCs. Every large company that I've worked at uses images. They'll dump a new working Windows 7 image on the existing hardware if that's the route they're going, or they'll just phase Windows 7 in with the hardware replacements over time. I've had some experience with companies in the 100,000-plus desktop range. Problems with a desktop? Step 1: reimage it.

Other thoughts: Why would you want to carry over all the junk that accumulated in your XP box over the years when you try to "upgrade" the OS to Win 7? For how many years have the "experts" been telling us to do clean installs? Why upgrade to Win 7 if you've got a working system?
-Anonymous

Many of your readers are complaining that they will not be able to upgrade to Windows 7 from XP. This is causing them to move to Mac. There are many reasons to move to Mac -- but this is not one of them. OS X didn't work on older Macs. Older Mac software didn't work on OS X. Where was the uproar about this? Weren't there enough users to care about the problem? What will they say when Apple does this again? Mac makes an excellent machine and it is very stable because they control the entire process. This prevents users from using incompatible hardware and software. That is the biggest advantage to using a Mac. It is not enough to make me overpay for the privilege.

I supply computer support for Windows, Linux and Macs. There are not many people who support Macs and if my clients' experiences with Mac tech support are an indication, even they don't do a very good job. I saw a blog from one arrogant Mac user that said, "I can use my Mac to do anything you can do on your PC and I'll do it better." He is wrong. There is not as much software or hardware available for Macs as there is for PCs. Further, I can do anything on my PC that he can do on his Mac. I can do it just as well -- and it will cost me much less to do it.
-Earl

And Bill calls out a couple of readers for their criticism of Microsoft:

I normally don't let commenters get under my skin, but the constant bashing of Vista/Windows 7 has finally made me snap. First of all, to Jeff talking about the implementation rate: I'm the IT director for a small business. I haven't upgraded operating systems in a long time; it just makes sense to do a full install. With Windows Deployment Services (free) and the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (also free), I am able to install a full OS, including driver injection, in 60 minutes. In addition, I can deploy apps through GPO or as part of the MDT, and let their user profile propogate. It takes me an hour to install a full system! Why would I upgrade?

Secondly, David has me confused: Microsoft doesn't just "push" updates. Of course, if you set your machine to automatically download and install then reboot, it will. Three or four clicks and you can just have them download and notify for installation (no reboot required). For that matter, use Group Policies (part of the Active Directory that he apparently despises) to set it for you. Also, I'm curious as to what RAID controller he was using; I have never seen one that doesn't continue rebuilding after a reboot. For that matter, Windows itself will work through reboots (if using Disk Management to create your array, but that is servers only). Additionally, the fact that it was taking three days to rebuild an array tells me that he wasn't using best practices, anyway. The comment about AD is confusing and technically inaccurate. Active Directory is a huge asset to any IT person -- I can't imagine NOT centrally managing all of my users, groups, permissions, etc.

I just don't get so-called "IT pros" who don't do the basics and then blame Microsoft (often spelled with a childish $ instead of an "s") when their poor planning is really at fault. It seems that most of the negative comments come from users who don't really understand basic networking. It can bring job security to blame Microsoft -- but it certainly isn't honest.
-Bill

More letters coming on Wednesday. Meanwhile, join the fray! Leave a 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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