Sunday, 29 June 2008

After Bill Gates, Five Possible Futures for Microsoft

For most people, Bill Gates and Microsoft are one and the same. Gates has led Microsoft to global dominance in the 33 years since its founding, combining a strong opportunism -- getting the code for DOS to sell to IBM for the first PC and aping Apple's visual interface for the first Windows are the two best examples of Gates' moving where the wind was soon to blow -- with a steady vision of desktop computers being as powerful as the mainframes that captured techies' imaginations in the 1970s.
June 30 is Gates' last day as a Microsoft employee, though no doubt he'll continue to advise the company. Taking Gates' place is his longtime buddy and aggressive salesman, Steve Ballmer. In its 33 years, Microsoft has extended its quest to turn every PC into a mainframe and to make Windows the center of the information and technology worlds. It's come close, but there are strong signs that the Microsoft era, at least in the Gates mold, may be ending. And it's far from clear that there is a leader to take Gates' place at this critical time.
Which Microsoft future do you see as likely?
* The "Borvell" scenario* The "slow decline" scenario* The "streaming" scenario* The "Oort services" scenario* The "Gates was right" scenario

The Gates legacy
Calling Gates a visionary is misleading. His success has come from determination and identifying the right time to jump into already-brewing big ideas. Remember that Microsoft ignored the graphical user interface of Apple and then GEM for nearly a decade. It disregarded the Internet for several years. In both cases, Microsoft's adoption came just as the technologies became massively popular. In both cases, there was some degree of chicken-and-egg going on: Microsoft's adoption made it safe for users, but had Microsoft delayed any further, those same users may have gone elsewhere.
In the cases of the GUI and Internet, Gates was criticized for waiting too long. Yet it was Gates who pushed the first version of Excel -- on a Mac -- and several years before Windows previewed what the broader business computing world would look like. So it's clear that the idea of the GUI had been on his mind long before Windows 3.
Microsoft gets teased as being a Borg-like entity, after the Star Trek villains that assimilate other cultures and turn them into mindless drones. That's unfair, but Microsoft is good at appropriating technologies when they start passing the point of nascency and are ready for broad exploitation. Gates' strength has been to push, push, push into these areas.
[ Don't let InfoWorld have all the fun. Suggest your own future scenario for Microsoft after Gates. ]
It's no joke that the third version of a Microsoft product is the one you should actually adopt, given that taking those "at the cusp" technologies and making them work for the masses is no mean trick। Apple's Steve Jobs can usually pull it off (but not always -- he's had some spectacular failures along the way, as has Apple itself), but he's the exception that proves the rule. And besides, Apple is very good at pushing niche technologies, carefully controlling their scope so that they don't have an unlimited universe of possibilities to handle. Microsoft, by contrast, tries to do everything for everybody -- an impossible effort -- and so falls short for at least some.

Does Microsoft have a grand plan?
So what does that all mean for Microsoft after Gates? Plenty. Whether you think Gates is a technology leader or simply a fast-exploiting follower, he'll be gone very soon. And there's no clear driver at Microsoft. Ballmer is no technology guy; analysts and longtime technologists privately say he's just a salesman, hawking whatever there is to sell. Microsoft's official visionary, Ray Ozzie, is long on imagination but short on execution. Years of poetic memos on collaboration and Web 2.0 haven't amounted to anything substantive.
Even in Gates' waning years, Microsoft seems to have lost a cohesive outline for its future, allowing the debacle that is Windows and the bizarre interface changes in Office and Internet Explorer to come to market. Yet this same company has produced a great server operating system (Windows Server 2008) and sharing server (SharePoint 2007), and shows promising work in its touch-interface technology (Microsoft Surface), in addition to well-regarded midmarket business apps (Microsoft Dynamics) with a world-class user interface. It's clear that there are actually multiple Microsofts with their own visions and execution strengths.
[ Read the latest news and analysis on the post-Gates future in InfoWorld's special report. ]
This lack of forward focus is critical because of Microsoft's business realities. While Microsoft has its fingers in many pies, only two slices really matter: Windows and Office. Together, they account for 80 percent ($6.2 billion) of the company's profits and 61 percent of revenues ($8.8 billion) in the last fiscal quarter -- meaning that they subsidize most of the rest of the business. Yet a variety of factors -- poor execution on Vista and Office 2007, the rise of the browser, the resurrection of the Macintosh, and the emerging tidal wave of cloud computing -- all threaten this pair of lifeblood businesses. For comparison, all of Apple earned $7.5 billion and had a profit of $1.1 billion in the same quarter.
The next biggest contributor to the bottom line is the Windows Server unit, which provided 23 percent of revenues ($3.3 billion) and 14 percent of profits ($1.1 billion) in the latest quarter. The Xbox unit provided 11 percent of revenues ($1.6 billion) but just 1 percent of profits ($80 million). The online business provided 0.6 percent of revenues (843 million) but lost 0.2 percent of profit ($228 million). The rest of Microsoft -- the app dev tools, the midmarket business apps, and miscellaneous devices -- together accounted for 5 percent of revenues ($720 million) and 3 percent of profits ($186 million).
What these numbers mean is that if Microsoft's core Windows/Office business slows down or even fails, the rest of the company -- excepting the server division -- may not survive. Microsoft needs a strong Windows and Office business to execute the Microsoft-everywhere strategy. Migrating or adapting these assets to an on-demand future is an option, though the financial hit for such a transition is huge, risky, and thus, a hard sell to investors, at least today.
Five futures, from terrible to great
Given the state of Microsoft and the clear trends emerging, InfoWorld has envisioned five futures for Microsoft, from worst to best, from the vantage point of 2018। See which you agree with:]1। The "Borvell" scenario The "slow decline" scenario3. The "streaming" scenario4. The "Oort services" scenario5. The "Gates was right" scenario

Microsoft's future No। 1: The "Borvell" scenario
A failure to adapt to cloud computing spells the death of Windows and Office। What's left is a small but viable server-and-app-dev business.
Microsoft's a dinosaur that didn't know its dead yet। The cloud computing meteor was speeding its way, and when pervasive computing in the cloud became a reality in about 2015, Microsoft was all but dead. Why? Because the Windows and Office revenues collapsed as users finally stop buying upgrades they don't need, and cloud offerings via the browser took their place. Poof! Gone was 80 percent of Microsoft's profits. And gone was the money to invest in technologies that took multiple versions to get right -- if they ever got it right -- such as the Xbox, Zune, Microsoft Dynamics, and MSN.
Even before cloud computing finally emerged in an always-available, easily implemented, and secure form in 2014, Microsoft was seeing a long, slow drop in sales. Apple's Mac Viper OS had gained a market share of 40 percent, with all major products other than Office available for it. But the Office need was handled nicely by the 2012 edition of, which finally overcame the geeky failings of the open source app's past versions and delivered an Office equivalent that regular people and businesses could rely on. And the back-to-back Vista and Windows 7 fiascos -- which made Mac OS the new safe OS for business -- got the European Union and later the U.S. Justice Department to force Microsoft to resurrect Windows XP as a stable "basic" OS needed for businesses and government agencies to keep running.
[ Tell us what you think of this possible Microsoft future: Add your comments to this story. Or suggest your own future scenario. ]
Microsoft's own cloud attempts failed, as they required the use of Windows 7.3 and Windows Server 2012, and favored Internet Explorer over Firefox and Safari, despite the even market shares for all three. Microsoft's famous "embrace and extend" strategy failed because Microsoft could not let go of its dependence on Windows and Office revenues, which drove its decision to make its cloud offerings reliant on them as well.
Not that Microsoft hadn't thought about it, but stockholders panicked when Microsoft's second CEO since Steve Ballmer's departure in 2011 hinted that Microsoft might move quickly to cloud delivery for its key technologies -- the loss of upfront revenues would mean that Microsoft had to dig deep into its coffers to make up income that wouldn't arrive in big chunks if it went to the subscription model, and that would devastate stockholders' short-term returns. (SAP failed in the same struggle and ended up being bought by -- the renamed -- while Apple had used its iPhone, MobileMe, and iTunes businesses to slowly move to a cloud-delivered services model, cushioning the impact.)
By 2017, these wrenching changes led yet another Microsoft CEO to take the "Borvell" option, radically scaling the company down to a server-and-app-dev business, following in the footsteps of once-mighty Borland Software and Novell। The Windows/Office group and Xbox groups were spun out to their own companies, with the Windows/Office group following the "constantly rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic" path of Palm a decade earlier and the Xbox spin-off being acquired quickly by Sony. The Dynamics product line was sold to IBM, which had branched into being a cloud apps provider and wanted something beyond Lotus to offer the midmarket. MSN and the Web technologies were shut down, no match for Google, which had no interest in buying them.
Microsoft Server 2016 (which dropped the "Windows" label) had successfully kept the Linux competition to a draw and, through an alliance with Apple, integrated Mac OS Server features। This gave the "Borvell" Microsoft an advantage and helped Apple increase the reach of a server OS that never got more than 5 percent of the market despite the Mac's and iPhone's success.
Likewise, Microsoft's app dev tools kept the Java and Eclipse competition to a draw, as the developer world settled comfortably into two well-equipped, highly capable camps that allowed interoperability in the component/service model of development that became the norm in the mid-2010s.
The "Borvell" Microsoft was a sixth the size of the old Microsoft, but as a focused, smaller company, it proved to be nimbler and more respected for its technical acumen। And Microsoft could still rightfully claim a storied heritage of 40 years of proven success in its two remaining divisions, giving it the kind of respect that few "old-timer giants" -- such as Apple, IBM, and Oracle -- could claim.

Microsoft's future No. 2: The "slow decline" स्सनारियो
Unwilling to change but too big to be displaced, Microsoft enters a period of slow decline that hampers everyone.
Bill Gates retired from Microsoft a decade ago, yet his ghost still loomed large, in the form of a persistent effort to continually extend the reach of Microsoft into every nook and cranny possible। And that ghost inhabited a company increasingly focused inward on its own view of what users should want and do. Like Windows Vista and Windows 7 before it, Windows UT (Unlimited Technology) captured a smaller share of upgrades than its predecessor. Ditto with Office UT. Even though Microsoft paid attention to hardware resource requirements in UT and didn't wield the new software as a way to force users to buy new hardware as its last several versions had done, feature fatigue had set in. For most people, Office 2000 and Windows XP did the job they needed, and learning a new UI every few years was simply not in the cards for a user base that had long thought of technology not as a shiny toy to play with but instead as a tool that needed to get the job done and stay out of the way.
But the long reach of Windows and Office meant that they stayed front and center at work and home, even if users tended to stick with older versions of the software, fracturing the market along version lines and causing great grief for consultants, help desks, and app developers.
[ Tell us what you think of this possible Microsoft future: Add your comments to this story. Or suggest your own future scenario. ]
Although Macintosh market share now reached 20 percent, it remained a Microsoft-oriented technology world. And even though Internet-based apps such as, Intuit, and ADP were now the mainstays of small and medium businesses, Office and SharePoint remained the primary front ends for users' work, especially collaborative efforts.
Why? There just weren't many viable alternatives, and those that did exist tended not to team up to offer a complete alternative. For example, Mac users might rely on cloud-delivered apps such a, but no one had a viable alternative to Office, by 2013 available to Mac users only as the Windows version running in a virtual machine. And many Web sites based on .Net didn't work well with non-Microsoft browsers, just as many Java-based sites wouldn't play nice with Internet Explorer. Although the European Union and several Asian governments banned the use of IE in 2013 and discouraged government agencies' use of Windows and Office, desktop Linux never became usable enough to be a serious option, and office suites for Mac never worked well with the Microsoft version, making it hard to enforce the ban.
Various technologies meant to sideline the OS in favor of the browser -- AJAX, ARAX, application streaming, and Adobe AIR -- gained traction, but as supplements to the core OS, rather than as replacements. Part of that was due to the platform favoritism that had become the norm in Windows, Mac OS, and others.
But the OS alternatives also faced a series of service outages in 2012 and 2013 experienced by Amazon।com, Google, IBM, and, as well as several spectacular data breaches at and in 2014 that compromised millions of people's data and wiped out the business records of nearly 14,000 companies. Cloud-based provisioning didn't look that reliable or secure any longer, after a fling in 2010-2012. SAP and Oracle regained many enterprise customers after the scare, and Microsoft consolidated its hold in the midmarket for its Dynamics business apps.
High bandwidth charges also hampered the growth of cloud-based delivery, as AT&T-Comcast and Verizon-Roadrunner -- which served 80 percent of U।S. households by 2012 -- made by-the-byte pricing the norm, ostensibly to get the capital needed to enhance the wired and wireless networks to support video on demand, Internet radio, app streaming, cloud computing, and other bandwidth-intensive uses. In Europe and Asia, regional governments essentially returned telecom services to highly regulated, per-use utilities in the wake of the 4G bubble and its subsequent collapse. The result: The drop in use of Internet services created a freefall in the Internet economy that came just as businesses were recovering from the global no-growth era of 2009-2010.
In this environment of a few dominant players at each chokepoint, all fixed on their own machinations to make customers dependent on them. Microsoft was not alone in pursuing a path of "fully integrated stacks" that complicated hopes of heterogeneity; the two remaining major U.S. carriers, along with Google, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Oracle, and SAP, had similar strategies. Sometimes they acted as an informal cartel with each other and key players such as Adobe, Apple, Intel, and Sun Microsystems, but just as often, they came across as independently lumbering giants whose uncoordinated steps kept IT ever fearful of being stepped on accidentally.
Ironically, this very strategy perpetuated Microsoft's slow decline। Customers were loath to invest further, given the high prices that customer lock-in afforded providers such as Microsoft. That continued to drive a slowdown in Microsoft sales, as customers that could escape did and the rest stayed pat as long as possible.

Microsoft's Future No। 3: The "streaming" scenario
After a wrenching adjustment, Microsoft migrates Windows, Office, and its other apps to a controlled cloud, keeping a lock in these familiar territories
For investors, the 2011-2015 era was pure hell when it came to Microsoft। Windows 7 and Office 2010 followed Windows Vista and Office 2007 as duds, gaining minimal adoption, mainly as preinstalled software on new computers. For several years, Microsoft had been working in its server group on desktop and application streaming technologies meant to help datacenters better manage far-flung users. By 2011, it became clear that Microsoft should provide its OS and core apps over the cloud to everyone, not just give that capability to enterprise datacenters, as application streams.
The shift to an on-demand streaming model quickly ate up 75 percent of Microsoft's $6 billion in cash as the upfront sales of Windows and Office slumped, replaced by monthly and annual subscription charges that took years to add back to the upfront income. Investors focused on the next quarter's returns freaked out, abandoning the stock after Microsoft stood firm in its decision to make the wrenching changes in its business and delivery models.
[ Tell us what you think of this possible Microsoft future: Add your comments to this story. Or suggest your own future scenario. ]
That famous stubbornness paid off. CEO and Chairman Steve Ballmer could show in 2017 that Microsoft was earning even more as a streaming-based provider than as a packaged apps provider. That's because Microsoft realized it could sell its software steadily without disrupting its users every few years in the process with "big bang" upgrades.
In 2017, most users got Windows and Office as streaming apps, loaded into virtual machines on their computers but maintained at Microsoft. Thanks to virtualization, user apps and data occupied separate virtual layers, so they didn't cause problems for Windows, giving Microsoft huge support savings. The Office productivity apps and the Dynamics business apps were delivered the same way. Users no longer had to worry about managing these apps, could be assured that they always had the latest updates and fixes, and that their own apps wouldn't open security holes.
Plus, the Linux, Mac, and "ultra-low-cost" computer markets -- nearly 25 percent of users in 2012 -- could now embrace Windows again via this streaming method, which let Microsoft tune the OS to each computer without maintaining separate versions. Windows became part of the background of practically every computing device. Even in the mobile space, where Microsoft had been a bit player for years, the streaming strategy let it share the market equally with Apple's iPhone, and spelled the end of the many other mobile OSes such as Google Android, Java, Linux, and Palm.
These moves meant that 80 recent of profits continued to come from Microsoft's Windows and Office businesses, supplemented by the steady-as-she-goes Server and app dev divisions. But Microsoft never did figure out the Google competitive game, and quietly exited its MSN and search businesses in 2014, while also selling the Xbox group to Sony in 2012.
And its cloud-computing offerings remained in the controlled approach taken by its original Live offerings and also pushed by Oracle and SAP in their ERP "safe clouds"; minor enhancements and specialty plug-ins to the core Microsoft product lines, this time anchored to the streaming versions rather than to packaged versions।

Microsoft's Future No. 4: The "Oort services" स्सनारियो
A near-death experience lets Microsoft embrace the cloud and again become a favorite of customers वर्ल्दावैद
Long adept at staving off targeted threats to its core revenue streams, by 2013 Microsoft finally fell prey to the micromarket effect। Linux on increasingly popular UMPCs (ultramobile PCs), the rise of OpenOffice in developing nations, and the customized productivity app marketplace borne of Google's App Engine application-hosting service and its Salesforce and eBay acquisitions -- all chipped deeply enough into Microsoft's core customer base that the company finally had to loosen its grip on the computing industry's once-best legal license to print money, its Office and Windows software business.
Ballmer's impassioned 2014 "cold dead hand" speech, during which he shook a 3D optical copy of Office 2012 in front of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, before smashing it on the podium and storming off stage, was his last as Microsoft CEO. Rumors of a Gates return went unrequited, as the Microsoft board began spinning off product divisions to stanch shareholder flight and stabilize the company around interim CEO Ray Ozzie.
[ Tell us what you think of this possible Microsoft future: Add your comments to this story. Or suggest your own future scenario. ]
Divested of the Mobile Devices, and Home and Entertainment groups, Ozzie began the arduous journey of distancing the beleaguered company from impending litigation brought about by the strengthening of intellectual property and software patent rights. With Software Arts v. Microsoft expected to serve as a litmus test for retroactive patenting, Ozzie released what became known as the "Microsoft Global Services Manifesto" memo in 2015, hinting at the possibility of open-sourcing Windows as part of his plan to reshape Microsoft around a "services-plus-services" agenda, a move Fox Tech 24/7 pundit Michael Arrington mislabeled the "Gerstnerizing of Microsoft."
Despite internal turmoil and the specter of a $500 billion VisiCalc settlement, Microsoft ended up well positioned to make good on Ozzie's vision. Having successfully re-engineered its software for multitenancy during its "software-plus-services"-dominated early '10s, Microsoft shifted relatively easily into full-on Oort computing, an updated version of cloud computing that leveraged both Microsoft's decade-long buildup of datacenters across the globe and its recent accumulation of low-orbit satellites provisioned through deals with the American and Russian governments.
Corporations, having warmed to the notion of hosted services thanks to SaaS pioneers such as Salesforce and Google, welcomed the move, and what was once criticized as a small-business play began to win over Fortune 500 customers -- especially those whose technical infrastructures were left teetering on the brink of collapse as a result of the earlier implosion of Microsoft's software business.
On the client side, the breakdown of the Web/desktop divide spurred by Google, with its Gears technology, and Adobe, with its AIR suite, began working in Microsoft's favor, as users -- increasingly free of Windows environments and accustomed to ubiquitous muni-5G access, ultramobile tablets, and public thin-client terminals -- soaked up Ozzie's reintroduction of the Ballmer-banished Mesh initiative, now nostalgically coined Mesh 2।0, in early 2017.
Attracted to Microsoft's VPN-less approach to remote management and automatic services provisioning, companies also readily embraced Microsoft's proprietary Web-within-the-Web, collaborating with and conducting transactions with other organizations via Partner Mesh। Energy cost spurred by $500-per-barrel oil prices also pushed companies to adopt Microsoft's Live Work Live Mesh, technology that extended enterprise-grade services to employees' Personal Mesh environments so they could finally work anywhere they chose on whatever device got the job done -- an ethos extolled for years by myriad technology vendors in advertisements intended to woo stock investors but at last made real.
Developers, too, returned to the new-look, services-based Microsoft, after having wandered away from Microsoft due to waning Windows adoption rates and the once-lucrative ad-based application distribution model pushed by Google in the early '10s. Tapping into Ozzie's "feeds-within-feeds" application model for Mesh based on the long-forgotten XML, developers built a vibrant ecosystem around Microsoft's services offerings and were rewarded by the hidden fruit of Microsoft's ruined software empire: idle, and hungry, Microsoft sales reps.
Freed of the need to push software licenses on corporate customers, Microsoft's sales force -- many of whom counted themselves among the "Microsoft micronaires" whose life savings were decimated by the company's 2014 implosion -- found rich rewards acting on behalf of Microsoft developers, supplementing the services Microsoft provided its corporate clients with services from Microsoft's newly returning software developers।

Microsoft's future No। 5: The "Gates was right" scenario
Everyone thought Bill Gates had no vision. As it turns out, he did. And he got the last लौघ
Bill Gates didn't see much of Steve Ballmer anymore, now that Bill was skipping most of the board meetings। But when they met they'd share a good laugh. After all, although things went pretty much according to plan, they never imagined the company would reach such a peak. Good ol' MSFT was now bigger, in terms of market cap, than any company in the U.S. If it weren't for the Chinese banks, they'd be kings of the world.
Not that it was easy to get where they were. Well, the technology was easy, all considered. Everything the company needed to dominate the "software business" (as Gates insisted on calling it; he never liked carving it up into "business" and "consumer," or "desktop" and "Web," or "installed" and "hosted," which had always prevented people from thinking clearly about it) was already in place by 2010. The trick had simply been to stay the course and let the "idiotic fads" -- SaaS, cloud computing, virtual desktop, superthin clients, business cloud, the rest -- run out of steam. What was that other one? Bill could never remember. "Oh yeah, Web 2.0. Google and Web 2.0! Jesus," he exclaimed in an interview.
[ Tell us what you think of this possible Microsoft future: Add your comments to this story. Or suggest your own future scenario. ]
A decade after leaving the helm of Microsoft, Gates could now admit, in that told-you-so way of his, that those years had been painful for him. It was hard being criticized for being a technology laggard when in fact Microsoft's technology -- from the presentation layer to the back end -- was ahead of everyone. Well, almost everyone. As he told InfoWorld in an exclusive interview on the 10th anniversary of his departure as CEO:
But of course, who else had all the stuff we had? Larry Ellison? IBM? Steve Jobs, for crying out loud? Nobody! At least people know now that Google and Apple didn't matter. Blips. I kept saying it was about software-plus-services, and dammit, it was.
That was the key, our portfolio. Second to none. Back then, though, no one could see over their own desktops. Especially Wall Street. Windows and Office, Windows and Office, Windows and Office ... I can still hear them now. Sure, you couldn't dismiss Windows and Office -- still the most important software on the planet. They funded everything. But in those days, nobody gave us enough credit for all the stuff we built around the OS and apps -- the middleware, the communications, the rich media, the management and development tools. All the beautiful tools. And to have a lot of the neatest stuff, the really super stuff -- speech recognition, handwriting recognition, VoIP, the virtual reality -- written off as "Bill's adventures," that was hard to take. Wake up, people.
Couldn't they understand we would need it all? I mean, hello, we're working on the next generation of computing here. Wall Street, the press, the no-nothing analysts ... they have this mountain staring them in the face for 10 years, and the whole time all they can say is, "Where's your cloud? When are you going to put this in the cloud?" Well, here's your cloud, pal. You see it now, don't you? Yeah, a trillion-dollar cloud is hard to miss.
[ Gates was getting a little worked up, thinking back on it. Time to take a pill. --Ed.]
Of course, "cloud" isn't really the right word। That was the thing about software -- you could run it anywhere. On a client, or on a server, or on both at the same time -- what's the difference? Well, none of course. Same goes for operating systems and applications -- no difference, necessarily. People get stuck on the old concepts. Funny, back when we were pulling all the apps into the operating system, it was a crime. Ten years later, we've pulled the operating system into the applications (virtualization! now there's a word you never hear anymore), and no one blinks twice. And what's the difference? Not much. Idiots.
OK, sure, there's one huge difference। That's the whole point. Now that the OS travels with the apps, Office runs everywhere -- handhelds, laptops, desktops, wherever you like, even on Linux. Boy, did that one blow their minds. Almost as big as the shock we created when we rolled the OS (and everything else) into Office and killed the Windows brand. But like Steve and I agreed, if you're not running Office, then you don't need Windows. And as long as your software streams from, then we don't care where it lands. Run it on Linux or even a Mac, if you can still find one.
Hard to believe there was a time when people thought they would run serious apps in a Web browser. I guess maybe they thought they would have to. Gotta admit, we were really milking that Windows and Office cow. Still, Google apps? In a Web browser? I love the way Ballmer put it that one time, during that meeting with Jerry Wang and Yahoo. Running an app in a Web browser is like living without a penis. Exactly. Boy, I wonder what Jerry Wang is doing these days. Idiot.
Well, Steve and I can laugh now. Steve did a super job of keeping the train on the tracks. Like I told him when I stepped down, keep doing what you're doing. All the important pieces are in place. Keep hiring the best engineers, and make sure we've got our hands in all the important stuff. But don't give the engineers too much control. Engineers always want to be first, and that's the one sure way to kill our business. The shift to "on demand" is going to happen, but not how people think. It's still the software market. We own it today, and we'll own it tomorrow. Let's not be in too much of a hurry.
Yeah, everything worked out just fine. Soon as the Chinese banks hit a rough patch, we'll be No. 1. Even now, why can't people see that software is bigger than money? Anyhow, Steve was smart to hire all of those business guys. They really held the course. I'd much rather spend time with engineers than the MBAs -- I just had to get out of there. But you gotta admit, engineers have no business sense. Engineers would put a kitchen in a skateboard if you'd let 'em. Idiots.

Reference :

Dell Adds Storage, Disaster Management Services to Portfolio

Dell on Monday announced it was adding customizable storage and disaster management services to build out its services portfolio, which it began revamping last year.
The services, which include disaster recovery and data backup services, will offer tools and consulting for customers to meet exploding data storage requirements across multiple networking and hardware environments, the company said.
Dell has done occasional storage and disaster recovery consulting, but this is the first time these services are being pulled together as an offering to customers worldwide, said Paul Kaeley, global practice leader at Dell.
Two levels of disaster recovery will be offered to customers. The first level, for mid-size consumers, will protect data around key applications and provide tools to restore IT operations in case of a disaster. A higher service level targeted at larger customers will include the design and implementation of IT disaster recovery plans through tools and aligning more people to ensure the plan is effectively implemented.
Dell is also offering managed backup services with reporting and monitoring services to stabilize data backup. If a backup system goes astray, Dell is offering a managed backup through remote management. The services will span all storage offerings, including EMC storage resold by Dell.
The tiered storage service will categorize high and low-priority data to different storage levels to help a company cut costs.
The price and size of the services will be proportional to the size and complexity of the environment, Kaeley said.
Part of Dell's effort to "simplify IT," the service upgrades reflect Dell's push to reduce IT maintenance costs via customized hardware, software and services. Dell has acquired companies like MessageOne and Everdream to boost its remote management portfolio.
Dell has also been under increased pressure to improve its service offerings in the wake of Hewlett-Packard's acquisition of services company Electronic Data Systems in May. Analysts have said that EDS gives HP a leg up over Dell in the global services market.
Through its services, Dell does not want to send consultants to sit on a client's site for months only to create a 600-page report, Kaeley said. Dell intends to customize services and solve problems quickly through speedy data collection and reporting, Kaeley said.
The days of services and support being a simple break-fix maintenance are over; as computing systems get sophisticated, the need for remote diagnostic check and triage has increased. Dell has been at the forefront of the effort through its acquisitions and increase service focus, with companies like HP and IBM headed in that direction, said Ron Silliman, principal analyst at Gartner.
The new services may not affect Dell's relationship with channel partners that want to have Dell's brand name attached to product delivery. However, some partners may feel ambivalent as Dell's sudden jump into the space could undercut their support business, Silliman said.
Dell is tying up with companies like GlassHouse Technologies to provide the new services to customers.
"Dell is somewhat like Wal-Mart -- its the best thing and the worst thing -- you get a whole volume of business, but Dell expects a whole level of performance and more cost control।"
Reference :

OnOne Offers Plug-In Suite 4 for Photoshop

onOne Software has announced the release of Plug-In Suite 4 for Adobe Photoshop. The collection of Photoshop plug-ins costs US$499.95, or $199.95 to upgrade.
Plug-In Suite 4 combines full versions of six software tools developed by onOne, including Genuine Fractals 5 Print Pro, which helps you resize images by more than 1,000 percent with no loss of detail; PhotoTools 1.0 Professional Edition, which uses Photoshop Actions to create effects that can be stacked and blended like filters; PhotoFrame 3.1 Professional Edition, used to create border and edge effects; Mask Pro 4.1, a high-quality masking and selection tool that works with difficult subjects like hair and glass; PhotoTune 2.2, a color correction tool; and FocalPoint 1.0, a new plug-in that simulates selective focus or tilt-shift lenses.
System requirements call for Mac OS X 10।4.8 or later, Photoshop CS2 or CS3 or Photoshop Elements 4 or later, 512MB RAM, 3GB hard disk space, DVD drive, Adobe Flash Player 9.
Reference :,147493-pg,1/article.html

Is Ballmer Right for Microsoft -- for 10 More Years?

As the dynamic duo steering Microsoft Corp. together for the past 28 years, Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer have been a near-unstoppable team, combining Gates' technical vision and will to power with Ballmer's salesmanship and rousing, if polarizing, personality.
Dorm mates at college, best man at each other's wedding, their partnership changed in January 2000, when Ballmer took over as CEO from Gates, who became the company's chairman and chief software architect. And it will change again at the end of this month, when Gates retires from his day-to-day role at Microsoft, completing a transition process announced two years ago.
Gates will continue as Microsoft's chairman, and he told reporters at The Wall Street Journal's All Things Digital conference last month that he plans to spend 20 percent of his time working on Microsoft projects.
But once Gates leaves as a full-time employee, "I'm not going to need him for anything. That's the principle," Ballmer told the Journal earlier this month (subscription required to read full story). "Use him, yes, need him, no."
Meanwhile, Ballmer said in a speech earlier this month that he plans to run Microsoft for another nine or 10 years. He will be 62 years old in 2018, and if he's still running Microsoft then, he will have been atop the company for 18 years - an extremely long run compared to most Fortune 500 CEOs.
Some observers think Ballmer is up to the task.
"He's still got the energy -- I wish I still had that -- and the vision," said Tim Bajarin, an analyst at Creative Strategies Inc.
"Ballmer is a competition addict," noted journalist Fredric Alan Maxwell, author of the 2002 unauthorized biography Bad Boy Ballmer. "I see him giving up the helm akin to Charlton Heston giving up his gun -- 'from my cold, dead hands.'"
But other Microsoft watchers have increasing doubts about whether Ballmer, as a solo act, is the right person to steer the software vendor through the many competitive perils it faces in the Web era.
"He's still doing a sales job and not focusing enough on the rest of the business," said Enderle Group analyst Rob Enderle. Ballmer has neglected Microsoft's operations and failed to make tough decisions, such as firing underperforming executives, Enderle said.
George Colony, CEO of Forrester Research Inc., sees a subtle slippage in Microsoft's standing vs. rivals such as Google Inc. and Apple Inc. as Gates has disengaged himself from the company - and implies that the slippage could accelerate once Gates is even more out of the picture.
"Why hasn't Microsoft caught Google? Why has Steve Jobs clawed his way out of his grave to be adored once again?" Colony wrote in a June 16 blog post। "It's because Gates over the last five years has moved on to philanthropy - and taken his formidable legacy with him."

Fire and Ice, or 'Ballmer and . . .'
The fire to Gates' ice, Ballmer emerged long ago from Gates' shadow - and more recently became a YouTube star, thanks to stunts such as jumping out of an oversized birthday cake on Microsoft's 25th anniversary, dancing and shrieking frenetically at a Microsoft employee meeting to earn himself the nickname "Monkeyboy," and almost rupturing his vocal cords while shouting "Developers!" 14 times at another Microsoft meeting.
Former Sun Microsystems Inc. CEO Scott McNealy derisively called the Microsoft brain trust "Ballmer and Butt-Head." Ray Noorda, the late Novell Inc. CEO, had a perhaps even less flattering nickname: "The Pearly Gates and the Em-Ballmer: One sets you up for heaven and the other prepares you for death."
But critics say that the only embalming work Ballmer has done lately is on Microsoft itself. The company's revenue growth and profit margins may remain the envy of the industry, but its stock price is up just 7% over the last five years. Apple's stock, by comparison, has risen 1,500% in the same period, while Google's is up nearly 500% since that company's 2004 IPO. Even IBM, the ultimate blue chip, has seen its stock price rise 47% since 2003.
Thus far, Microsoft has failed to duplicate the success of its certified hits - Windows, Office and its server software (think Exchange and SQL Server) and development tools (Visual Studio) - on any of the many bets it has made in recent years: search, Web advertising, mobile phones, video games and others.
Moreover, even with ongoing technical face-lifts, Microsoft's stars are starting to show their age. Office is under heavy siege from online competitors led by Google Docs, while Windows Vista has become a PR debacle for Microsoft, in part because of the company's passive response to Apple's "PC and Mac" ads.
"Vista is not that bad, but Apple's disparaging has made it so Microsoft doesn't own its own image anymore," Enderle said.
At 6'1" and 225 pounds, and having a voice louder than a high school gym teacher, Ballmer is known for his fearsome tirades, such as the time in 2004 when he allegedly threw a chair across a room and launched into an expletive-filled rant about Google CEO Eric Schmidt after being told by a key Microsoft developer that he was leaving to join Google.
Nonetheless, Ballmer may lack Gates' competitive ruthlessness. According to an anecdote in Bad Boy Ballmer, a computer industry CEO once told Gates and Ballmer, "You shouldn't kill the competition, you should leave the companies wounded. ... Corpses look bad and attract attention." Gates "couldn't understand that," Maxwell wrote in the book. "He wanted 100% of any market he could get. Ballmer was quiet."
And in its recent story, the Journal quoted Microsoft executives saying that Ballmer, by working to settle many of the lawsuits filed against the company, has taken a more conciliatory approach toward legal opponents than Gates usually did.
Management-wise, Ballmer is also turning out to be a bit of a Micro-softie, in Enderle's eyes। Many of the executives reporting to Ballmer are "just not doing well," Enderle said. He added that while Ballmer continues to exhort his team to do better, a CEO like Hewlett-Packard Co.'s Mark Hurd "would've already changed the players."

Staying in the Comfort Zone
Ballmer has held almost every management job at Microsoft, including running Windows development. But Enderle said he appears to have fallen into the common CEO trap of staying within his comfort zone -- which in his case is being a "super sales guy."
Ballmer has his defenders. "I think Ballmer is a capable manager," said Jim Prevo, CIO at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc., which is a big Microsoft user. "My guess is that Microsoft has been evolving beyond the point where Bill Gates provides significant technical leadership for many years now."
Even Enderle thinks that for all of his failings, Ballmer remains a first-rate executive. "Ballmer could take Schmidt alone as a CEO any day of the week," Enderle said, describing Schmidt as "largely a babysitter at Google."
Also, if Microsoft did decide to replace Ballmer before 2018, who would take over? Apart from Rick Belluzo, who lasted less than a year as Microsoft's president and chief operating officer before leaving in 2002, there has never been a clear heir apparent to Ballmer.
Three years ago, Microsoft created a troika of divisional presidents reporting directly to Ballmer: Jeff Raikes (Microsoft business division), Kevin Johnson (platforms and services) and Robbie Bach (entertainment and devices).
Raikes, who has worked at Microsoft for 26 years, was a little more equal than the others, according to Creative Strategies' Bajarin. But in January, Microsoft announced that he would retire from the company, effective in September. Raikes said last month that he plans to become CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the philanthropic organization set up by Gates and his wife.
Kevin Turner, who as chief operating officer is responsible for Microsoft's sales, marketing and service organization, joined the company three years ago from Wal-Mart Stores Inc., where he was best known as its longtime CIO. "I want to see him make some hard decisions in his current role first," before considering him as a potential CEO candidate, Enderle said. He added that Ray Ozzie, who replaced Gates as chief software architect, is "a good technology guy and a coordinator, but in an administrative role, he would hate it."
Enderle's dark horse as a possible successor to Ballmer is Bob Muglia, senior vice president of Microsoft's server and tools business unit, which is responsible for developing products such as Windows Server, SQL Server and Visual Studio. "He is doing a fabulous job," Enderle said. "If all of Microsoft's divisions were doing as well as server and tools, the stock would be up two to three times." Muglia will be 58 in 2018.
Bajarin, meanwhile, calls the 46-year-old Bach "an interesting guy. He's got a mix of marketing, tech, operations [and] charisma." But, Bajarin added, Bach's chances of one day becoming CEO "are contingent on making the consumer businesses, which are so important to Microsoft's future, a success."
If Ballmer isn't going anywhere soon, what should he do to improve Microsoft's performance?
One: cut Microsoft's marginal efforts while talking up the areas where it's excelling, Enderle said. Two: change his management style. And three: focus on product development and quality in the same way as HP's Hurd and EMC Corp. CEO Joe Tucci - two examples cited by Enderle.
John Halamka, CIO at CareGroup Healthcare System and Harvard Medical School, also pointed to product quality as a key focus area. Halamka said the length of Ballmer's tenure at Microsoft "will be dictated by revenue growth, and that does not happen long term unless the product quality is acceptable to the public."
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Bill Gates Retires, Symbian Goes Open Source

Microsoft, usually a source of software patch updates and claims about Vista adoption rates, produced a bit of sentimental news this week as Bill Gates stepped away from his daily corporate duties on Friday. Gates, who founded Microsoft at age 19, will now devote his time to philanthropic work. Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate discussed the issue of laptop searches and seizures at the nation's borders and also decided to delay a vote on a controversial spy bill. While on the topic of controversial plans, an ISP (Internet service provider) suspended a program that would have served up ads based on a user's Internet history after the move sparked privacy concerns. Yahoo, a perennial name in this space, defended its Google ad deal on Wednesday and the next day launched yet another reorganization. Finally, Oracle wants at least US$1 billion from SAP due to infractions supposedly committed by a subsidiary.
1. Gates may change direction of philanthropy: Helping solve some of the world's health issues will now occupy Bill Gates's working hours as the IT icon retired from Microsoft on Friday. Two years ago Gates announced that he was leaving the software world to devote his time to the philanthropic organization he started with his wife in 2000. The group's work involves funding malaria and HIV research, among other causes. The task of running one of the most powerful companies now falls to CEO Steve Ballmer and chief software architect Ray Ozzie, among others. Gates will not completely exit Redmond, though. He will continue serving as Microsoft chairman and dedicate one day a week to company business.
2. ICANN board opens way for new top-level domains: Look for new TLDs (top-level domains), including some written in Chinese scripts, after the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers board approved a policy that will form the rules for developing and managing the new TLDs. The board's actions could result in the creation of at least 70 million generic TLDs. The board also backed creating a small number of IDNs (Internationalized Domain Names). This measure, for example, would permit Chinese companies to register domain names that end in the Chinese symbols for China.
3. It's Official: Microsoft Hyper-V Now Available: Microsoft entered the virtualization arena with the release of its Hyper-V technology on Thursday. After installing Hyper-V, hardware with Windows Server 2008 can run multiple OSes, like Linux, on the same machine. Hyper-V was slated for release with Windows Server 2008 in February. Microsoft then decided to remove some of the product's features, which delayed its launch by 180 days. However, reports surfaced on Wednesday that Hyper-V's would debut this week, making its arrival early, but still late. Microsoft will face market leader VMware in the virtualization space, which is growing in popularity as enterprises look to reduce data center costs by running several OSes on one server.
4. Senators question border laptop searches: U.S. Senators Russell Feingold and Patrick Leahy on Wednesday called on U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to stop seizing and searching laptops and other electronic devices of people who are entering the country. After taking the devices, CBP officers allegedly search Web histories, copy hard drives and read documents. One witness at the hearing said the CBP's actions disrupt businesses while another testified that electronic copies warrant no special treatment compared to their physical counterparts.
5. Nokia buys rest of Symbian, will make code open source and Report: Google faces Android handset delays: Open-source software will soon run over half of the world's smartphones after Tuesday's news that the Symbian mobile OS is going open source. Nokia, NTT DoCoMo, Vodafone and other telecom players formed the Symbian Foundation to distribute the OS under a royalty-free license. Experts believe Symbian's 60 percent share of the smartphone market and decade of development will foster more growth. Symbian's move to open source came on the same week as reports that Android, Google's open-source mobile OS, is progressing slowly due to conflicts with mobile carriers.
6. ISP backs off of behavioral ad plan: Charter Communications suspended plans to place ads based on a customer's Internet use in Web pages after the ISP's customers voiced concerns about the service, the company said. Charter, a major U.S. broadband provider, also drew the ire of two digital rights groups that claimed serving ads based on information gleamed from Web use amounted to spying and violated security practices. Two U.S. legislators also raised concerns in a letter to the company. In May Charter said it planned to team with NebuAd, a behavioral advertising company, on a pilot program.
7. Google introduces tool for planning online ad campaigns: Google also attempted to tackle the issue of targeted ad placement on Web sites, but with a tool for media planners, who determine where to place their client's ads. Media planners enter their desired audience's demographic information into Ad Planner, which generates a list of appropriate sites. According to Google, Ad Planner allows users to get information on searches related to a certain site and other, more detailed demographic data. News of the service prompted talk of Google expanding into the Web analytics business against the likes of comScore and Hitwise.
8. Senate delays vote on surveillance bill until July: On Friday the U.S. Senate announced that it will delay a vote on a controversial surveillance bill until July 8. An earlier spy program allowed the government to monitor without warrants phone calls and electronic communications between supposed terrorist groups and people outside the U.S. Major telecom carriers, which supposedly granted the government access to their systems, now face lawsuits for their role in the program. The bill, seen as a compromise between the White House and congressional Democrats, would allow the program to continue but with court oversight and have a court review if the telecom lawsuits warrant dismissal.
9. Oracle seeking billions in damages from SAP: Oracle reckons that SAP owes the company at least $1 billion for damages caused by its TomorrowNow subsidiary. Oracle sued SAP and TomorrowNow in 2007, claiming that TomorrowNow staff illegally accessed Oracle's Web site and pilfered information to use for courting Oracle customers. A court document filed Tuesday marked the first time that Oracle assigned a dollar figure to the incident, which the company labeled "corporate theft on a grand scale " in its original complaint. The case goes to trial in February 2010.
10. Yahoo defends Google deal to shareholders and Yahoo trumpets reorganization: Another week, another chapter in the Yahoo-Microsoft-Google saga। Yahoo shareholders received a letter on Wednesday justifying the company's Google advertising deal. The tie-up, which places Google ads beside some of Yahoo's search results, will generate $250 million to $450 million in cash flow in the first year. Allowing Microsoft to purchase Yahoo's search business would have ceded too much control to Microsoft, including the right to block a sale of the company, wrote Chairman Roy Bostock and CEO Jerry Yang. Yahoo executives denied Microsoft's original two offers to purchase the company, upsetting investors who believed that Yahoo abandoned its fiscal duties by not negotiating a buyout. Yahoo made news again on Thursday when it announced yet another reorganization, its latest in the last 18 months. This revamp will centralize its product development operations and create a business region for U.S. advertising, users and Web publishers.
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It’s here! Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V is available for download…

Today, Microsoft reaches a significant milestone for customers and partners with the release of Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V, the hypervisor-based virtualization feature included in select versions of Windows Server 2008. Those who have already deployed the x64 versions of Windows Server 2008 can receive Hyper-V from Windows Update beginning July 8, while new customers and partners can download Hyper-V later today (12:00 pm PT). The Windows Virtualization team will be counting down the days to download from Windows Update, so be sure to visit the Windows Virtualization Team blog to see daily spotlights on specific features and benefits of Hyper-V technology, as well as to read about customer stories and see postings from guests.
Since the beta release of Hyper-V in February, more than 250 customers have participated in Hyper-V’s early adoption program. Microsoft’s own deployment and results with Hyper-V is showcased today in Rob Emanuel’s guest blog and video on the Windows Server Division blog, specifically on customers using Hyper-V and partner benefits, visit the Microsoft PressPass site.

Also, check out the new Hyper-V videos on TechNet Edge:
TechNet Edge Interview: Hyper-V Overview with Mike Neil
TechNet Edge Interview: Hyper-V Program managers interview Part 1
TechNet Edge Interview: Hyper-V Program managers interview Part 2

Other Resources:
Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit
Virtualization Solution Accelerators

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Dear Microsoft: Thanks for the Help, Linux

You gotta love it. Microsoft has decided that it will go ahead and kill off easy access to XP on June 30th. On behalf of desktop Linux users everywhere, and our first cousins, the Mac fans, thanks. You've given us the best shot we'll ever have of taking the desktop.
But it gets even better! Microsoft has also announced that it will be releasing Windows 7 on January 2010. They'll blow that ship date. Microsoft has never set a shipping date it could meet. But, who in their right mind would now buy Vista?
I mean, come on, I don't think anyone with their wits about them would buy Vista anyway. Vista is to operating systems what the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers are to the National Football League, the worse of all time. Vista was trash; Vista is trash; and now Microsoft, as expected, is throwing Vista on the trash dump.
It also helps that Microsoft has decided to go ahead and dump XP, the operating system its customers want, no matter how loudly they say they want to keep buying XP. Now that's showing your customers how much you really care about what they want.
Desktop Linux is poised to make the most of this opportunity to convince Windows users that there is a better way. For starters, desktop Linux doesn't lock you into a single vendor. This is also where desktop Linux beats Apple all hollow. Whereas Microsoft has just shown you that they don't care what you want, with desktop Linux you will always be able to use the version of the operating system you want to use. Absolutely love Red Hat 9, the last consumer version of Red Hat Linux from 2003? You can still download a fresh copy of it from Red Hat. I'm not sure why you would, but you can, and I know some people who are still using it on servers to this day.
The desktop Linuxes also are now available from top OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) such as Dell, Lenovo, and Asus. You don't need to install anything. You just buy it, turn it on, and use it.
Oh, and all those horrid stories about hard Linux is to use? They never had much truth in them to begin with and anyone who can use XP can run modern Linux distributions like Ubuntu 8.04, Fedora 9, and openSUSE 11. For that matter, with distributions like Xandros, which you'll find on the popular Asus Eee line of inexpensive computers, any one who has ever used Windows may be hard put to tell they're not running Windows Finally, there are distributions like gOS, that any reasonably bright elementary school student can use.
Applications? You can't live without your favorite Windows application and the mere thought of virtualization to get them gives you hives or switching to OpenOffice from Microsoft Office makes you sick to the tummy? The 15-years in the making WINE 1.0 project just came out, and with it you can run Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, Quicken, and many other program like, ahem, Guild Wars my Windows-based online game of choice, on Linux. WINE, and its commercial big-brother, CodeWeavers' Crossover Linux, lets me run pretty much any Windows application I want on Linux without any hassles.
Add it all up and what do you get? Well, what I get is Microsoft telling its desktop customers to jump in the lake, until 2010 anyway and that gives you lots of time to give desktop Linux a try। I don't think, I know, you'll be very pleased at what you find. Thanks Microsoft, we couldn't have done it without you.
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Vista Service Pack Patched

Microsoft has released a reliability update for Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) that fixes several bugs in the OS update, including one that threw off errors when users tried to run large applications, such as Microsoft's own Excel 2007 and Windows Media Player.
The update, which Microsoft posted Tuesday to its download servers, will be pushed to users automatically next month via Windows Update, a company engineer said on a support forum yesterday.
Although Microsoft regularly issues reliability updates separate from its normal monthly security fixes, this is the first time it has released one specifically for Windows Vista SP1. Microsoft released Vista SP1 to the general public in late March.
Among the fixes included with the update is one that Microsoft characterized as an issue "in which large applications cannot run after the computer is turned on for extended periods of time," according to an accompanying description of the update's contents. "For example, when you try to start Excel 2007 after the computer is turned on for extended periods of time, a user may receive an error message that resembles the following: EXCEL.EXE is not a valid Win32 application."
Users reported the problem on a Vista support forum as early as April 1, claiming that they saw the error message when trying to run Office 2007 applications, including Excel and Access, as well as when launching Vista's built-in screen capture tool and Windows Media Player.
Within three weeks, Microsoft engineers on the same forum thread had confirmed the bug and said the company was working on a fix. "The error messages are confusing, but the problem is neither an invalid application file nor insufficient system resources," said John Gray, who identified himself as a Microsoft employee. "It only affects certain applications, and typically only after the user has been logged in for an extended period of time."
Tuesday, Gray chimed in again to tell users the fix was tucked into the reliability update. "Thanks for your patience!," he wrote on the forum. "This should resolve this issue for those of you hitting it."
The SP1 reliability update fixed several other bugs, according to Microsoft's write-up, including crashes when using Apple Inc.'s QuickTime multimedia player, and stuttering audio and video high-definition playback on systems equipped with Nvidia network adapters।
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IE8 and Trustworthy Browsing

This blog post frames our approach in IE8 for delivering trustworthy browsing. The topic is complicated enough that some context and even history (before we go into any particular feature) is important, and so some readers may find this post a bit basic as it’s written for a wide audience. In previous posts here, we’ve written about IE8 for developers: the work in standards support, developer tools, script performance, and more. In future posts, we’ll write about IE8 for end-users (beyond the benefits of improved performance, activities, and Web Slices). This post starts a series about trustworthy browsing, a topic important for developers and end-users and everyone on the web. By setting the context and motivation with this post, the next posts that dive into the details of IE8 will build on this foundation.
Trustworthy refers to one of our overall goals: provide the most secure and most reliable browser that respects user choice and keeps users in control of their machine and their information. For reference, Microsoft’s framework for Trustworthy Computing in general spans four areas: security, privacy, reliability, and business practices.
Security is often where the trust discussion begins. Narrowly, security in this context means “as the user browses the web, the only code that runs on the user’s machine is code that the user allows to run". For example, when the user visits “” the site should not be able to just run “virus.exe” and infect the user’s machine with malware. IE7 made a lot of progress on security, starting with Protected Mode and developing IE to be “secure by design, secure by default” as part of the following SDL requirements. IE7 was the first browser to support Extended Validation certificates to help protect users from deceptive websites, as well as delivering anti-phishing protection, International Domain Name support with protection from deceptive websites, a richer SSL experience and support for stronger SSL cipher algorithms, ActiveX opt-in, and great integration with Parental Controls in Windows Vista. We have done even more security work in IE8 to address the evolving threat environment.
Privacy is a complex topic that more often than not puts one party in conflict with another. If security boils down to “the user is in control of what code runs on the machine,” then privacy boils down to “the user is in control of what information the browser makes available to websites". Many people immediately think of “cookies” at this point because so much discussion and early work around privacy focused on the specific implementation of cookies. Cookies and cookie protection are definitely one aspect of the online privacy discussion. IE6 included innovative work implementing the P3P web standard (from the W3C), and both IE6 and IE7 use it to block cookies from websites that don’t have a privacy policy that complies with the user’s settings. It’s a great example of a privacy protection in use today on the web. In IE7, deleting cookies as well as other information that shows where the user has been on the web is much easier. That said, there’s more to online privacy than cookies, as cookies are only one implementation of content that can disclose information to websites. In some discussions, people have also described IE7’s Phishing Filter as a privacy feature because it helps protect users from sharing information. The larger challenge here is notifying users clearly about what sites they’re disclosing information to and enabling them to control that disclosure if they choose. As we talk more about privacy, we will broaden the discussion to include additional protections from sharing information that the browser can offer users.
Reliability is relatively simple: the browser should always start, find the Internet, and show web sites without crashing. We define reliability to mean “as the user browses the web, the browser performs well and does not terminate unexpectedly". End-users really don’t care about the cause of instability in the system – malformed web pages (see the old Slashdot article that this post refers to, for example) or third-party extensions (like toolbars; see this post about IE7’s “No Add-ons” functionality) – they just want the browser to work. In addition, when something does go wrong, an important part of reliability is how gracefully the browser recovers from the unexpected. Another aspect of reliability is that sites continue to render correctly. We’ll post more here about the work we’ve done to make IE8 more robust, as well as more interoperable and compatible at the same time.
Business practices guide decisions we make in designing and distributing our products. The key principle here is respecting user choice. For example, when a user installs a new version of IE, IE respects the user’s choice of default search engine. In IE, the user can add or remove different search providers using OpenSearch, a public and open standard that some other browsers have chosen to support as well. IE respects the user’s choice of system defaults (Windows Vista’s “Default Programs” functionality, as well as Windows XP’s Set Program Access Defaults). Explicitly asking the user before installing a new version of IE is key to respecting the user’s browser choice.
Ultimately, trustworthy browsing is about enabling users to be in control and respecting the choices users make. Specifically, it’s about enabling users to be in control of their machine, of their browser, of their settings, of their experience, of what data they share with whom when. Each part of trustworthy browsing involves an industry-wide challenge. For example, security is an industry challenge; every browser on the web faces attacks.
While all these statements may sound inherently obvious to some readers, these topics are so important that we thought it would be good to talk in general about how we think about them overall. Over the coming weeks this blog series will talk about how we’re making progress against these challenges, to set the stage for the release of IE8 Beta 2 in August.
Dean Hachamovitch General Manager Internet Explorer
Edit: removed hyperlink
Published Tuesday, June 24, 2008 5:39 PM by ieblog

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Sunday, 22 June 2008

How to Buy a Camera Lens

If you purchased your digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) as part of a kit, you already have a basic lens that takes pretty good pictures. However, part of the attraction of this type of camera is that you can switch out lenses to get the best shot in any situation. From powerful zooms that get you up close to high-speed lenses that specialize in low-light settings, you have plenty of options for your second lens. While some lenses may go for more than you spent on your camera, you don't have to pay a lot to get a great lens. The real question is: how do you find the right one for your needs?
Understanding glass
To understand what makes one lens different from another, you first need to be familiar with a few basic concepts.
Focal Length Technically speaking, a lens's focal length, represented in millimeters, is the distance between the rear element of the lens and the focal plane, where the parallel beams of light entering a lens converge to a point. This matters to you because the focal length determines the lens's viewing angle. The shorter the focal length, the wider the field of view, and the more of a scene your camera can capture. As you increase the focal length, the field of view narrows-so you see less of the scene-and objects appear magnified in relation to their environment.
In the world of traditional 35mm film, focal lengths ranging from 16mm to 35mm are generally considered wide-angle. A 50mm lens is referred to as "normal"-because it comes closest to covering the same field of view as the human eye-and anything over 100mm is considered telephoto. However, focal length is a bit more complicated when it comes to DSLRs. That's because the cameras' image sensors are smaller than 35mm film, so they crop out some of the image and give the effect of a longer focal length. To get a sense of how this discrepancy will impact the viewing angle of your lens, you have to multiply the digital camera's crop factor-which you'll find in its manual-by the focal length of the lens. A Nikon D40, for example, has a crop factor of 1.5X. As a result, a 35mm lens has a field of view equivalent to that of a 52mm lens when placed on the D40.
Aperture The other key component in evaluating a lens is its aperture. The aperture is one of the mechanisms that controls the amount of light that passes through the lens to the image sensor. The aperture is usually referred to in terms of f-stops, and is represented by a number such as f/2.8. The smaller the number, the larger the opening, and the more light it allows into the camera. Because it collects more light, a lens that opens to a wide aperture lets you maintain faster shutter speeds in low light-this can be essential for obtaining sharp images from a handheld camera. Wider apertures also provide more creative control by giving you the option to throw backgrounds out of focus.
The speed of a lens is described by its maximum aperture. Some lenses, for example, max out at f/4.5, while others can open all the way to f/2 or wider. If you're looking at a zoom lens, which has a range of focal lengths, you'll see the maximum aperture listed as a range, such as 55-200mm f/4-5.6. This lens zooms from 55mm, with a maximum aperture of f/4, to 200mm, with a maximum aperture of f/5.6. This means your camera will choose a slower shutter speed as you zoom in.
Keep in mind that faster lenses-lenses with smaller maximum apertures-are generally both heavier and more expensive than slower lenses. While you might not mind spending a bit more for a better lens, the extra weight may be less enticing.
Image Stabilization At slower shutter speeds, an imperceptible move on your part can create a blurry photo, but a lens or camera with stabilization can counteract this shaking, letting you shoot handheld shots in low light. Canon lenses with image stabilization have IS in their name, while Nikon uses the term Vibration Reduction, or VR. You'll pay a bit more for image-stabilized lenses, but they're generally worth it-especially if you don't always carry a tripod. Of course, you won't need stabilized lenses if your camera body offers image stabilization. (For more on image stabilization, see "Steady Your Shot".)
Building your collection
The zoom lens included with many DSLR kits offers a focal length range of 18mm (equivalent to 28mm to 35mm, depending on the camera's crop factor) to 55mm (equivalent to 80mm to 105mm). This takes you from a moderate wide-angle view to a slight telephoto. These lenses aren't bad-they're lightweight and take good pictures when you're shooting outdoors in daylight or indoors with a flash. However, they tend to be slow, which means they don't do well in low-light conditions. When you're ready to expand, consider investing in a prime lens (which has a single focal length) or a longer zoom lens.
Prime Lenses If you're looking to develop your compositional skills and get a better lens in the process, I recommend purchasing a prime lens with a focal length between 35mm and 85mm. Prime lenses tend to have better glass in them than comparably priced zoom lenses, and they get you out of the "zoom rut," where you stand in one place and zoom in or out to fill your frame. With a fixed-length lens, you need to move around to get your shot, and over time that act will help you create much better compositions. Also, most prime lenses have a wider maximum aperture, which makes it easier to get sharp shots under low-light conditions. These images show the difference a prime lens with a wide aperture can make. The image on the left was taken with Canon's 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 lens. Even at the lens's maximum aperture (f/4.5) the ISO had to be raised to 3200, creating more image noise and harsher tones. The image on the right was taken with Canon's 85mm f/1.8 prime lens. The wider aperture let in more light and allowed me to lower the ISO to 1600, reducing the image noise and more accurately capturing the scene's lighting. (Both of images were shot at 1/60th of a second without a tripod.)
So where do you start when selecting a prime lens? All of the major camera companies offer good prime lenses from 35mm to 100mm at prices under US$500. For Digital Rebel owners looking for a good starter lens, I recommend Canon's 35mm f/2.0 and 50mm f/1.8. Both lenses offer better low-light performance than the zoom lenses that come in the kits. The 50mm f/1.8 in particular is a bargain-you can find it for under $100 at most camera stores-and is extremely light. You can also find comparable prime lenses for Nikon, Sony, Olympus, and other DSLR systems.
Zoom Lens If you want to grab action photos, a telephoto lens in the 100mm to 300mm range is your best bet. Thanks to the crop factor on DSLRs, you don't need too much zooming power. A 200mm telephoto lens turns into a 300mm lens on a Nikon D40. Likewise, Canon's 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS lens-one of my all-time favorites-becomes a 112-480mm zoom on a Canon Digital Rebel XTi. But remember that, unless you're willing to spend a lot of money for an f/2.8 telephoto lens, you'll need to boost the ISO in many situations to get shots at reasonable shutter speeds. This is where it pays to get a lens with image stabilization.
Note About Nikon Lenses If you have one of Nikon's entry-level DSLRs-the D40, D40x , or D60 -you should be aware that the autofocus feature on some older Nikon lenses won't work with those cameras. You can still take pictures with the camera, but you will have to focus manually before pressing the shutter button. If autofocus is important to you, make sure you only buy a Nikon lens from the AF-S or AF-I series.
Smart shopping
While you can walk into a camera store, ask a few questions, and walk out with an expensive lens, doing a little research ahead of time can help prevent buyer's remorse.
Read Reviews It's always good to get a sense of how people who have bought a product feel about it. I go to a couple of Web sites for lens reviews. The first is, which lists more than 900 lenses-200-plus of which have been rated by five or more people. Another good option is, which reviews lenses for most of the major camera systems. You can also find commentary about lenses in the forums at Digital Photography Review. Finding the information can require some digging, but I've found the effort worth the time. DP Review started formally reviewing lenses earlier this year, but there are only a handful of reviews at this time.
Try Before You Buy I've found that the best way to determine if a lens will work for me is to rent it. Many camera stores that cater to the pro photographer will let you rent popular lenses for a weekend at a reasonable price.
If you can't find a local store, go online. rents lenses for Canon and Nikon DSLRs on a weekly basis. This is not only a great way to test a lens out, it also lets you take a fancy lens with you on vacation. While the rental rates aren't inexpensive, they're a bargain when you want to play with a $1,500 extreme-wide-angle lens that you could never justify buying. Make sure you opt for the insurance coverage, however, or check with your credit card company about damage claims: you don't want to end up with a $1,500 paperweight.
Get a new view
In the end, choose the lens that best fits the type of shooting you want to do. But don't be afraid to play around. You'll find that adding a second (or third) lens-and using it regularly-will help you become a better photographer, just by changing your perspective as you look through the viewfinder.
[Rick LePage is the editor in chief of the "Photoshop Elements Techniques" newsletter। He also runs the photo-printer Web site Printerville.]
Reference :,147356-pg,1/article.html

OS Smackdown: Linux vs. Mac OS X vs. Vista vs. XP

Since the dawn of time -- or, at least, the dawn of personal computers -- the holy wars over desktop operating systems have raged, with each faction proclaiming the unrivaled superiority of its chosen OS and the vile loathsomeness of all others.
No matter how fierce the language or convincing the arguments, however, these battles began to seem somewhat irrelevant to regular working stiffs. While Mac OS, OS/2, Linux and many other desktop operating systems have all had their devotees over the years, the truth is that the majority of home and business users have simply used the current version of Windows as a matter of course.
Windows Vista has changed all that. Never has a Microsoft operating system been greeted with such a lack of enthusiasm from consumers and businesses alike. Whether it's because of Vista's confusing array of versions, its hefty hardware requirements, its driver issues or its invasive security features, users are resisting the upgrade to Vista and considering other options, from Mac OS X to Linux to just sticking with Windows XP, thank you very much.
Suddenly, the OS wars have a new relevance.
That's why we've asked four experts to lay out their best arguments in support of their desktop operating systems of choice:
James Turner for Linux
Michael DeAgonia for Mac OS X
Preston Gralla for Windows Vista
David Ramel for Windows XP
Each is positive that his operating system is the best and will try his hardest to convince you of that -- and is not above taking a few swipes at the competition. These are not rational, disengaged reviews; these are opinionated essays meant to sway your point of view.
When you've read all the arguments, you make the call by voting in our reader poll -- and of course we welcome your own arguments in the comments area as well।
Linux: Light on its feet and ready to strut its stuff
Let's get the unpleasant part out of the way first: If running Adobe Premiere is the most important thing in your life, or you want to play Halo, Linux isn't going to do it for you, at least right at the moment. While most Windows software can run under Linux in one fashion or another, applications that make extensive use of hardware drivers or high-end graphics may not work right.
But for everything else, Linux is definitely the way to go.
Unlike Mac OS and Windows, Linux is free as air and open to development by folks who are motivated by the desire to make the technology better, rather than by corporate tech farms whose real interest is the bottom line. Which is all very nice, but is it any good as a desktop operating system? You bet.
Size and speed
Let's start with the hardware footprint: With the possible exception of BSD, Linux's 'sister,' Linux is the lightest thing you'll ever install on your computer. While the minimum required hardware for Windows has been bloating, and Macs need more and more horsepower to run OS X, you can still dig out your old 486 and fire up Linux without problems.
I recently got one of the One Laptop Per Child XOs -- a machine with 256MB of RAM and a power-miserly processor -- and had no trouble running Xubuntu Linux on it. Meanwhile, Windows XP needs to be sliced and diced like crazy to fit onto the same hardware.
It's not for nothing that you'll find Linux inside of devices where hardware cost is an issue, like DVRs (TiVo anyone?) and routers. I was somewhat shocked to find that my recently purchased 52-in. LCD TV has a Linux kernel inside of it. If you hunt around, I'll bet you'll find at least one device in your home running Linux.
Stability, security, transparency, flexibility
Linux is not only small, but it's also stable. I have several Windows boxes at home, and it seems like whenever I blink, something has gotten screwed up in the registry or I have a Dynamic Link Library conflict.
Linux has all the configuration data and libraries right out where you can see them, in files. You can see what's changed and make edits manually, without having to figure out which of 9 million HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE registry entries is the one you want. Even the system-configuration tools that have nice graphical user interfaces (GUI) end up generating human-readable and editable files at the end of the day.
In the recent "Pwn 2 Own" hacker challenge, computers running Mac OS X and Windows Vista were cracked, but the Linux machine wasn't. I won't claim that Linux has no security or virus problems, but they tend to be right out in the open where you can see them if you look. At the moment, there are far fewer Linux viruses out in the wild than Windows viruses, and there are fairly bullet-proof ways to detect viruses under Linux using checksums on files.
Conversely, it's much easier to move your Linux system to new hardware or clone an existing system because there's no licensing. I've never had a problem moving a Linux system disk to a new computer, even when the hardware was drastically different. There's basically no way to do this on either a Windows or a Mac system.
You also have your choice of Linux distributions, from geek-friendly Debian and end-user-friendly Ubuntu to business-friendly Red Hat and Novell SUSE. And no matter which one you pick, you can rest assured that they'll all run the same apps.
Applications and interface
It used to be the conventional wisdom that the problem with Linux was desktop applications. But with tools such as Wine , CrossOver Linux and VMware Player, many Windows applications run just fine under Linux these days.
And in some cases, native Linux applications may serve you just as well. OpenOffice is a mature replacement for Microsoft Office, and there are good (and free) tools for video and photo editing, audio editing, and many other common applications. Just do a quick Google search for "Linux video editing," for example, and you'll see what I mean.
More importantly, more and more applications are transitioning to Web-based versions using JavaScript or Flash/Silverlight/Flex/Air. Who cares if you can't run TurboTax on Linux, when you can use the Web-based TurboTax right from your browser?
Finally, the Linux desktop experience is now the match of any other desktop GUI in existence. The user interface is intuitive and clean, but still powerful. If you choose a user-friendly distribution like Ubuntu, installing Linux is as easy as installing Windows -- and unlike Windows, you can even "try before you buy," since distributions such as Ubuntu have a "live" install CD/DVD.
You can even run a full Linux distribution such as Damn Small Linux from a 128MB (or larger) USB drive. Did your Windows PC crash again? Plug in the USB drive, and you've got access.
Heck, most Linux distributions will even shrink a Windows partition and set up dual-booting automatically. Ignore all the fear, uncertainty and doubt you'll hear about nightmare installs and bad device support -- that's from the bad old days!
Bottom line
Linux is free, fast, small, powerful, stable and flexible। It will get you off the "new hardware every other year" life cycle and let you concentrate on being productive rather than playing nursemaid to your operating system. You almost certainly already have Linux in your home or business, even if you don't know it. So why not give it a try on your desktop?
Mac OS X: All You Need in One Dynamite Package
Computing nirvana isn't difficult to find. If you want a simple-to-use computer that can run virtually any application you need on stylish hardware that gives you easy online access and instant connectivity to all types of satellite devices, just go to an Apple store and buy a Macintosh.
A complete software/hardware ecosystem
When it comes to integration, no other operating system can boast the unity of purpose and results that exist on the Mac platform. While the competition is busy mashing feature after feature into poorly designed products, Apple Inc. focuses on what's important: creating a software/hardware ecosystem that gets out of the way so you can do what you bought a computer to do -- work, make movies, build Web sites, communicate or crunch data.
You know what I'm taking about -- all those annoying little things that add up when using Windows. Plug in a mouse on a PC, and a little dialog box pops up exclaiming that it just sensed you plugged in a mouse, and after installing the driver, it's ready to go! This isn't a shuttle launch; I just plugged in a mouse. I'll know the operating system recognizes it as soon as I can move the pointer, so stop bugging me with alert boxes!
Apple's relentless attention to detail has created a world where hardware and software are equally polished -- so polished, in fact, that a wireless mouse, an iPod or an iPhone feels more like a natural extension of the Mac than a separate device.
For those still stuck with Windows, that kind of experience remains a mirage, always just over the horizon. With Vista, users get an operating system that comes in six -- six! -- different versions, all of them with driver issues . Many older PCs can't handle the operating system -- and even a lot of those newer "Vista Capable" machines may not be so capable after all.
Sure, you could try Linux. But the kind of integration I'm talking about isn't possible in Windows, never mind Linux. When software and hardware engineering and design are divvied up among multiple companies and communities -- each with its own agenda -- complete hardware/software unification is just not a realistic expectation. (I'll give devotees an A+ for effort, though.)
Elegance and ease of use
The glue that binds the hardware is the operating system, and Mac OS X 10.5, a.k.a. Leopard, has elegance and ease of use baked right in. Leopard easily leads the pack in terms of security, ease of installation, maintenance and integration of applications whose learning curves are so minimal Apple doesn't even bother with full manuals. That isn't an accident.
Let me just reel off a few Mac OS X advantages:
Drag-and-drop application installs
Notifications written in real English and not Geek-English
One-click, set-and-forget automatic backups that people actually use
The ability to peer inside files without having to launch an app
Tech support that doesn't involve being bounced between different companies
Inherent security with no real-world exploits, despite dire warnings every year
A clean and consistent look throughout the operating system and applications
Run any application in the world
Other operating systems have their strengths. Windows is ubiquitous; it isn't going anywhere soon. And the collective hive of developers working to make Linux better is impressive. But Apple's switch to the Intel architecture, along with today's impressive virtualization software, means Macs can now run those other operating systems -- at full speed. That gives you access to software across all three platforms, letting you work and play without walling yourself off from the rest of the computer world.
Let me say it again: All Macs can run Windows and, consequently, all of the software that runs on Windows. All versions. At once, if you want to.
Did I mention that Leopard is a certified Unix product, too? Mac OS X is the only operating systems that can run all mainstream Windows and "*nix"-based operating systems -- and host "*nix" software natively -- with few of the usual security risks.
Along with its famed user interface, one of the keys to the success of Mac OS X is the lack of malware, spyware and self-propagating viruses. We can debate the reasons -- whether it's the security inherent to the modern BSD underpinnings of Apple's code or the "security by obscurity" theory -- but Macs are not susceptible to the problems that have always plagued Windows PCs.
Let me put it in perspective: I have been working with Macs since 1993, and not a single second of downtime has been caused by a virus, spyware or malware. Think about that for a moment. Not a single second has been wasted dealing with security.
And ponder this: If 100,000 viruses or malware variations targeting OS X sprang up tomorrow, that number would still pale in comparison with the malware aimed at Windows every year.
Look, it's the 21st century. Computers are everywhere; shouldn't they just work by now? Who wants to spend their time running spyware scans and virus scans? (Imagine having to run a virus scan on a microwave or DVD player.) Just because folks who use other operating systems have to put up with it doesn't mean that's the way it has to be.
Bottom line
I want more from my computer, and Apple capitalizes on its unique position as sole operating system designer, application developer, hardware engineer and media distributor, offering a seamless experience across its entire slate of product lines and services.
Macs may not "just work" exactly 100% of the time, but they sure work when I need them to। And, after all, isn't that the point?
Windows Vista: The Best There Is (Despite the Bad Rep)
If you want the best operating system available today, there is only one choice: Windows Vista.
You heard me right: Vista, the operating system that people love to hate. The system that has been blamed, it seems, for everything from global warming to the U.S. economic meltdown.
I'm here to tell you that the conventional wisdom is flat-out wrong. Vista is a solid, hard-working operating system that will run whatever software you need with simplicity and grace. And it doesn't suffer from the world of woes that affect its competitors.
Interface, tweakability and extras
Why is Vista the best operating system? The interface is a good place to start. Vista has a straightforward elegance, featuring transparent windows that niftily whoosh into and out of place when you minimize or maximize them.
Don't like the way Vista looks or works? No problem; change it. From the transparency of windows down to almost every level of the operating system, there's a way to customize it. And there's plenty of free and cheap software for further tweaking.
Vista's user interface is more than just a pretty face. Windows Flip 3-D, which shows you all of your open windows in a 3-D flip book, is exceptionally useful. So are Live Thumbnails, which show small thumbnails of what's happening in your minimized windows, including real-time video.
The integration of search into every level of the OS, including the Start menu and Windows Explorer, makes finding any information easy and fast. All your documents, files and communications are instantly indexed, and searching is lightning-fast. And it integrates with Microsoft Office applications, so that when you search in Outlook for e-mail, for example, you're using the Vista search tool, and you get near instantaneous results.
Vista also includes some very nice extras, such as gadgets for the Sidebar; the Sync Center, which makes it easy to keep data on multiple PCs in sync; and easy wireless networking.
Best choice of software
An operating system by itself is a lonely thing ... in fact, a worthless thing. Its true purpose is to let you run software for work, play or hobbies.
Do you need to run enterprise software at work? Don't try it with Mac OS X or Linux -- most likely they won't work. How about games? Again, Windows rules. There simply aren't nearly as many games that run on the Mac or Linux. The same holds true for many other kinds of software.
Now, it's true that for the moment, Windows XP is superior to Vista when it comes to software compatibility. But that won't last long. The best and newest software will be built for Vista, not XP. So if you want to look to the future, not the past, Vista is the way to go.
With its built-in firewall, antispyware and antiphishing features, Windows Vista is far safer than XP. Making it even more secure are its under-the-hood features such as Window Service Hardening, which stops malicious activity from taking place in the file system, the Registry and the network to which the PC is attached. Similarly, Network Access Protection (NAP) stops an infected computer from making a connection to a network, ensuring that it can't infect other PCs.
Much has been made of the fact that Windows has been subject to more attacks than Mac OS X or Linux. That's not necessarily due to inherent Windows security problems, though. It's simply because there are so many more copies of Windows in existence, so malware writers target it.
Why it beats the competition
Why is Vista better than the Mac OS X, Linux and XP? Let's start with the Mac. There's no doubt that Mac OS X is a very pretty operating system. But it also runs only on expensive, proprietary hardware, and it can't run much common software, including enterprise applications and games.
Some people claim virtualization software like Parallels Desktop for Mac solves that problem, but it's not true. Virtualization software creates big problems for organizations with regard to volume licensing, technical support, creating standard enterprisewide images and so on. And as for games, consider this: Parallels can't run even the most basic Vista games such as FreeCell, Hearts, Pinball, Solitaire and Minesweeper, because it doesn't support DirectX 9.
So if you want to pay through the nose for a computer that can run only a limited number of apps and games, go ahead and throw away your money. Just keep in mind that you'll be putting money into the coffers of a company whose CEO has hypnotized its users into drinking the true-believer Kool Aid. Do you really want to join the club of users who get a big dose of their sense of self-worth from the type of computer they use?
As for Linux, if you're a fan, feel free to fly your uber-geek badge every time you boot up -- but don't expect to run your company's enterprise software, much less mainstream software and games. And do expect to become very familiar with the confusing vagaries of the specific version of Linux you've installed.
Windows XP? It's cartoonish and gauche compared with Vista, plus it lacks Vista's security, fit and polish, and extras. It's also looking backward, rather than forward. I have a dual-boot Vista/XP laptop, and every time I boot into XP instead of Vista, I cringe at what faces me.
Bottom line
If you want a safe, modern operating system that will run the software you want on reasonably priced hardware without requiring an advanced degree in geekology, Windows Vista is the only way to go।
Windows XP: The People's Choice
The people have spoken. Windows XP rules.
Forget, for a moment, Mac OS X and Linux with their puny 8% combined market share. First, just consider how the "upgrade" from XP to Windows Vista is going.
Microsoft gamely touts increasing Vista adoption, but the backlash against XP's successor is unprecedented. I would call it a near-disaster. When is the last time a petition was circulated that gathered more than 100,000 signatures to save an operating system?
Dell Inc. has caved in to customer demand and reversed its Vista-only policy for many of its computers. Earlier, Dell had pointed out to Microsoft several mistakes made with the Vista rollout, including confusing marketing, broken drivers, hardware compatibility issues and other problems, according to a class-action lawsuit about Vista marketing.
Internal documents brought to light in the lawsuit show that Microsoft officials themselves dissed Vista shortly after its release.
I could go on and on, listing articles about tests showing that XP is faster than Vista at some tasks, explaining to anxious users how to make XP last for seven more years and instructing frustrated Vista users how to downgrade from Vista. See a common thread there?
Security has always been the favorite criticism of Microsoft operating systems in general, but Service Pack 2 vastly improved the safety of XP, with better network protection, memory protection, improved e-mail security and safer browsing.
And do you really think Mac OS and Linux will be any safer if they gain enough market share to become relevant and get the full attention of hackers?
All the features you need
Of course, Microsoft will eventually force the migration to Vista. But for right now, you will get several Vista features, such as Network Access Protection, in the upcoming XP Service Pack 3. Other Vista components available for XP include Media Center, Internet Explorer 7, Media Player 11 and Windows Defender.
And there are plenty of sites that tell you how to get or at least simulate other Vista features in XP.
Mac or Linux -- why bother?
I use Mac OS X occasionally and have dabbled in Linux, and I've found nothing that makes me want to switch to either. Even if I liked Macs, which I don't for mostly subjective reasons, there's got to be a good reason they have such a pathetic presence in the enterprise.
The operating system is OK, but as with most things from the Apple tree, it seems to be more about style than substance. Sure, it's cool when you hover over the little icons at the bottom of the screen and they get bigger. But take a look at those icons: iTunes, iPhoto, iDVD, Garage Band, etc. It's clear whom Apple is targeting, and it's not the run-of-the-mill cubicle stiff like me who's just trying to get work done.
The proprietary software/hardware marriage, the higher cost and the extra training needed all detract from the Mac's allure -- unless you have funky facial hair and say, "Dude!" a lot.
As for Linux, I've been hearing it's "ready for the desktop" for years now. Well, it's not ready. It's getting better (market share doubled recently -- to almost 1%) but there are too many distros, packages, ISOs, GNUs, Gnomes, awks, GREPs, flavors, kernels, KDEs, licenses and modules.
In other words, it's still too techie. It might be fine if you're the type of person who used to type "debug" in the DOS command line to make hexadecimal changes to standard operating system messages just for fun, like I did long ago. But I don't have time for that anymore.
I recently installed Ubuntu Linux successfully, though I found the partitioning choices a bit confusing. But to simply play an MP3 file, I had to download and install a separate package. Wireless connectivity was a joke. Absolutely ridiculous. Others at Computerworld have had problems with Linux, too.
Bottom line
Like most people, I just want to do my work. I don't want to think about the operating system. The operating system should be like a referee -- invisible and anonymous -- and that's exactly what XP does. It provides all the features I need in an environment that is completely familiar and easy to use.
There will always be people who claim that a losing technology is technically better than a winning technology (Betamax vs. VHS, HD DVD vs. Blu-ray, and so on) but just lost out because of inferior marketing, political clout or some other reason. They view themselves as the enlightened few vainly railing against the ignorant masses.
Meanwhile, the masses are getting their work done.
Reference :

Nasser Hajloo
a Persian Graphic Designer , Web Designer and Web Developer

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