Windows 7 Virtual Mea Culpa

I may have been wrong, very wrong about Windows 7. I interviewed dozens of Windows 7 beta testers, and no one said a word about a virtual XP compatibility mode. When I suggested that Microsoft give Windows 7 a virtual layer to mimic or even fully include XP, it wasn't an entirely original thought; some analysts, including from Gartner, made a similar argument.

Apparently, behind the scenes, Microsoft felt the same way. Word is now leaking out that at least some versions of Windows 7 will run XP apps in this virtual compatibility box.

Turns out, I wasn't such a dunce, as none of the test versions have this feature. It's strange that something of such significance would show up so late. And there's another worry, at least according to Redmond magazine columnist Mary Jo Foley: It may be that the XP Mode will only be for Software Assurance customers. Well, they should get something sweet for all that dough!

Windows 8 Help Wanted
Microsoft may be in the process of laying off 5,000 workers, but there's one area where Redmond can't get enough new employees: Windows 8.

The job postings reveal a smidge about new features, including clustering and replication. The replication is interesting as Notes creator Ray Ozzie is considered the father of modern replication. The ads also mention that "the core engine is being reworked," which is a very good thing. Some experts, however, are focusing on the term "rework" and believe there won't be a new core.

Browsers: Still the Swiss Cheese of Software
What kind of software does pretty much every PC have? Yeah, an operating system. But they also have a browser, especially as Microsoft still largely considers the browser and OS as one and the same. That, and the fact that the browser is the most Internet-facing tool, make it a perfect target for hackers.

But there's another factor making browsers so vulnerable: the features war that has us upgrading browsers faster than Donald Trump switches girlfriends. As we move to more Web-based apps, we best start battening down our browsers.

Mailbag: What To Do with Sun, Microsoft Earnings, More
During last week's big Oracle-Sun hoopla, Doug asked readers what they think Oracle should do with Sun's portfolio. Here are one reader's suggestions:

Here is my wholly unqualified opinion on the subject from the perspective of what I could see being the most valuable/sensible actions for Oracle: Sun hardware, along with Solaris, becomes a pre-packaged Oracle database solution complete with storage, software and hardware optimization (sort of a database appliance, if you will). NetBeans and Java, including the recently released JavaFX, get packaged and sold together (to IBM, perhaps?). MySQL becomes an Oracle-backed open source project with the goal of pushing the envelope and proving concepts that will get refined and optimized into Oracle. OpenOffice gets released to the public domain and/or Open source community to thrive or die. VirtualBox goes one of two ways -- either the whole xVM project gets placed in its own division to survive or die as a strategic counter to the other virtualization solutions Oracle is able to run on (in theory), or the xVM project gets scrapped and sold or left to die on its own.

Is this what will happen? Who knows. Is this what I would like to see? No. I like Sun the way it was (well, except for the nearly non-viability of the operation). What I want to see is marketing and business operation consolidations between the companies and the rest left alone. I just have never seen any buy-out like this happen that way.
-Thomas

Sure, Microsoft's Q3 earnings report was kind of a downer, but James thinks the company can learn something from it:

Is this the beginning of the end for Microsoft? No, I don't think so. What I do believe is that if MS continues laying eggs like Vista, then yeah, they might as well fold up shop and retire as millionaires or maybe become reclusive hackers. But I don't think that is really going to happen.

Hopefully, this will make Microsoft realize that they can't just throw out software that nobody really likes and expect people to blindly buy it and rejoice in it. Without getting into who's fault, the bottom line is that Microsoft paid for it. Now, will people that still use MS move to Windows 7 or bail for good? I guess that is something that we will have to watch for in the coming quarters. Keep watching those MS headlines...maybe the next one will be "Microsoft Rebounds from 32% Q3 Loss."
-James

Chris wonders whether VMware's vSphere is actually a cloud, and why localized clouds aren't a bigger deal:

Is it a cloud? I don't know, but I do know that we need localized clouds. Localized clouds need to become the replacement for SANs. For example, in the database space, the vendors all need to support having clients connect to a virtual IP that front-ends a database, but allow the data in the database to be moved between different instances inside a locally managed database cloud. They also need to let us specify where to store different pieces of the data, including which pieces should be stored on multiple instances (and how many instances). Then they need to give us the ability to move the data from one instance to another so that individual instances can have service packs and patches applied.

Some vendors support this kind of vision partially, but Microsoft needs to get into this game in a large way. Otherwise, they run the risk of losing market share to other products that are less capable from a data query, modeling and management point of view for two reasons: first, proponents for those other data platforms are being very vocal about their benefits; and second, because Microsoft is being too slow to deliver on this kind of model with SQL Server.
-Chris

More letters coming on Friday, including thoughts about Microsoft's latest ad campaign, the so-called "Mac tax" and more. Meanwhile, coment 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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