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Doug's Mailbag: Microsoft Naysayers and Partners

One reader discusses the recent negativity towards the Microsoft brand:

As a news guy, I'd guess this is not the first time you've seen a strong company treated like it was yesterday's news.

I mean it's really all about the next hot restaurant, company, trend, technology, etc. Business focused PCs are soooooooo last year. All the buzz is about the eventual convergence of consumer entertainment and the PC/computer.

Still, Microsoft keeps a hand in the consumer entertainment market. Some have done well, like the Xbox, while others have not -- the only place I have seen a Zune is at the store. Microsoft is not out of the game yet.

Here are some of your thoughts on the relationship between third-party software vendors and Microsoft:

I run a full suite of applications from a major software manufacturer, and almost all of the components are now developed in Java. When I started working with these products in 1997, it was all solid as a rock. As each component was converted to Java, it became less stable and more problematic. Moving to Java made it easier for them to add features and develop across platforms, but the subsystems became more sensitive to memory issues and Java versioning, which is a nightmare.

Based on years of observing things break, my rule of thumb now is to try to use ONLY the version and release of Java on which they developed a particular version of their product; it usually will not run properly on an earlier release (meaning the _xx number), and it will break if you update the Java to a later release. If an essential security update for Java comes out, it is safer to ignore it than to install it and risk having the entire enterprise application grind to a halt.

Recently they released some of their code in 64-bit, which means that some of the Java programs run as 32-bit apps, and others as 64-bit, and you must install both flavors of Java (x86 and x64) on your server. I am now convinced that the only Java-based applications that are reasonably stable are those that run completely outside the Java version that is installed in Windows, and instead use a specific jvm that the application installs in its own directory space, similar to how the Unix gurus tell me that they do it.

BTW, the last version of Java that I actually had no problems with was Microsoft Java 1... because it was MADE to run properly in Windows.

There are three programs that ought to somehow be included in Microsoft Updates: Adobe Flash Player, Adobe Reader and Java Runtime. These three programs are probably on almost all Windows PCs. Yes, Oracle and Adobe have started providing notification of updates -- the problem is you have to be an admin to install them, and most business users are not going to be admins on their PCs. That means that those of us who are admins have to figure out ways to keep these programs up-to-date. While there are work-arounds for doing this, nothing is as simple, and seamless as Microsoft Update.

While we have not been "attacked" through these three products to this point (that I am aware of!), it only takes one machine that does not get an update to ruin your day.

I have heard rumors of collaboration among these three vendors to distribute updates through Microsoft Update. I hope they can look past their differences, and work together.
- Jim

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Posted by Doug Barney on 11/03/2010 at 1:18 PM


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