James O'Neill's Blog

June 30, 2006

High Performance Computing: broad reach.

Filed under: Windows 2003 Server — jamesone111 @ 4:01 pm

I almost missed the release Compute Cluster Server (CCS) happened at the start of June; I wasn’t expecting much to happen on the server side.
I’ll confess that missed the point of CCS. I’ve seen the list on Top500.org topped by an IBM system with 128K processors and a speed rating of 280 Terraflops. Were we really getting into to the market for systems costing millions or tens of millions of dollars ?   


I seem to be turning into Hugh McLeod’s bloggleganger. I responded to something he wrote about Microsoft needing a new big idea I said there was still plenty of mileage in the big ideas we had already:




  1. The power of the Personal Computer. Local processing is (usually) good.


  2. Make it easy for other people to use your product in their solution. This applies to OEMs who make PCs and devices, partners with solution for a specific market [both of these become your sales force] and end users.


  3. The power of Volume. Cheap hardware gives a huge market. If you sell Hundreds of Millions of copies of Windows, you can spend billions on developing it, and still sell it relatively cheaply, etc

So back to supercomputers. Only 10 of the top 500 have 256 processors or fewer – these are exotic beasts: not mainstream but low volume, difficult and impersonal, remote beasts. Otherwise they’d be ordinary computers.


I started to “get” CCS when I read a post on John Powers blog. Powers is CEO of Digipede, a Microsoft Gold Partner who produce distributed computing solutions, so he should get this stuff. Powers was responding to a member of the Linux community who had said that he
“wouldn’t be surprised if by 2007 Windows holds 2, maybe 3, whole spots on the top500 list.”
Here’s Powers’ response:
“the Top500 list, by definition, rounds to approximately zero percent of the market for high performance computing.  Also, it represents the zero percent that Microsoft specifically identified as outside its target market… Microsoft is going after not the Top500, but the next 500,000….  Microsoft has been very open about this, saying they would bring HPC into the mainstream


Ah !  High Performance Computing is broader than those exotic supercomputers which have power measured in Terraflops – thousands of times the power of a desktop PC, at a cost of millions of dollars. Is there demand for HPC solutions which are tens of times the power for thousands of dollars? That’s what we’re aiming for … Volume.


Then I found the WinHEC presentation “Windows Server Compute Cluster Server and Desk-side Clusters” from the CCS home page and I can recommend it to anyone who wants an introduction to this area. Desk side clusters are the Local dimension The home page had a link to the inquirer – not normally a pro-Microsoft site. Their article “Microsoft sees HPC for non-geeks” makes my point about making it easy for people to “use your product in their solution”
Microsoft has a lot going for it. Rock-solid relationships with the IHV community mean that IBM, HP and Dell will be ready in August with pre-configured boxes and its undoubted nous at recruiting ISVs is also likely to pay dividends.


Tagged as

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

More on Bill …

Filed under: General musings — jamesone111 @ 3:33 pm

The news earlier this week that Warren Buffett was giving $37bn to the Gates’ Foundation has thrown out up some interesting questions. As I mentioned in an earlier post Bill’s “retirement” announcement was two years in the planning . If Warren’s announcement had come first – well that would have kicked off some speculation about Bill’s plans…



Reading Gapingvoid I was thinking about cartoons which are not primarily about draughtsmanship, and realised that just because mine is a bit lacking it shouldn’t stop trying a few. I’ll try to make it a regular Friday thing, if the feedback’s good that is…






Then came the news that Bill, the President of Nigeria and Bob Geldof are to sit on a committee being set up by Tony Blair to track progress on Aid to Africa following on from last years G8 Summit agreement . That’s going to be an interesting working relationship; but the first thing I thought of was a cartoon of Hugh’s .

Today the news came through that the World bank was preparing a $37bn debt cut for poor nations, as part of the G8 agreement. $37bn, on 36 or 38 … Exactly the same as Warren Buffet gave, what the odds of that ?

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

June 27, 2006

Backup in Windows Vista: all change, all change!

Filed under: Beta Products,Virtualization,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 9:00 am

Three small things have led up to this post



So, time to do a little digging ….Firstly Vista backup uses two formats, neither of which are BKF. When I was told that a user couldn’t restore from BKF, my first thought was “user error” followed by “Surely we wouldn’t …”. There will be a downloadable tool to READ but not write backups made from older operating systems. This leaves the question “will the new backup be back ported to XP and Windows 2003” nothing I’ve seen suggests that it will.


Now, the two formats. Windows Vista can do a “CompletePC” backup. This makes a VHD file. VHD is the disk image file used in Virtual PC and Virtual server (and which will be carried forward in Longhorn’s Windows Server Virtualization). There are two key things about this




  1. It should give a ready-made physical to virtual migration tool – I couldn’t boot the completePC back-up in Virtual PC, but it may take a revision of either the backup, or Virtual PC for this to work. Physical to virtual is something we think of for server consolidation and Longhorn server will use the same backup. It but it also opens the possibility that if your PC fails, you’d be able to access a copy of it on Virtual server, via terminal services.


  2. Vista’s setup process has the option to a complete system restore. This is a block-based image restore which will overwrite everything, and the image is not easily maintainable. [Vista’s WIM files are designed for maintainable file-based images to build or rebuild systems]. However it does offer the chance to migrate from Virtual to Physical machine.

It will be interesting to see what additional tools appear to work with VHD format files – in doing a search for existing tools I found a post of John Howard’s that links to Gilles Vollant’s Winimage , but I’d like to mount VHD’s as drives (there is an internal Microsoft tool for this), and I’d also like a utility on a boot disk which creates VHDs – again for physical to virtual migration. Automated Deployment Services (ADS) which we use in the Virtual server migration tool kit (VSMT) has another kind of imaging technology – I wonder if that too will change to VHD, because I think it might be one imaging format too many.


So much for CompletePC Backup. The other backup uses volume shadow copy and is intended to be run regularly. Backup has been re-worked, out goes support for tape drives, in comes support for optical disks. The aim is to get more people to do more backups, more often and the side effect is more disk space is going to get used. Because the backup is shadow copy based it is quite simple to give “point in time restores” – without the user having to track full and incremental back-ups. Vista keeps a copy of the back-up catalog locally and this is what enables point of time restores.


There is a great “Backup And Restore In Windows Vista And Windows Server Longhorn.” slide deck from Winhec which explains how it all works.


Tagged as

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

June 26, 2006

New Roadmap for Unified communications.

Filed under: Exchange,Real Time Collaboration — jamesone111 @ 3:04 pm

The following information has appeared on Presspass about the Unified Communications road map which is being unveiled later today. I’ve edited the press-release down to the key things as follows, please read the full Presspass article rather than relying on this.




  • Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007, [For] presence-based VoIP call management; audio-, video- and web-conferencing; and instant messaging communication


  • Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 unified messaging [for a] unified inbox experience that includes e-mail, voice mail and faxing functionality, as well as new capabilities such as speech-based auto attendant allowing users to access their communications from any phone.


  • Microsoft Office Communicator 2007, [client with] one-to-one and multiparty video- and audioconferencing; and webconferencing.


  • Microsoft Office Live Meeting, Improvements to Office Live Meeting include support for e-learning, enhanced audio and video capabilities including VoIP, a streamlined user interface, seamless integration with the Microsoft Office system and simpler deployment.


  • Microsoft Office RoundTable™, an audio-video collaboration device with a unique 360-degree camera… …Meeting participants on site and in remote locations gain a panoramic view of everyone in the conference room as well as close-up views of individual participants as they take turns speaking.


  • Microsoft Office Communicator phone experience, Communicator-based software designed to run an innovative set of new voice and video devices — including business-enabled IP desktop phones — from Polycom Inc., LG-Nortel Co. Ltd. and Thomson Telecom. This is a new ecosystem designed to run on dedicated communications devices in tandem with Office Communications Server 2007 to extend and enhance the Microsoft unified communications experience.


  • PC peripheral devices, such as USB handsets, wireless USB headsets, USB webcams and PC monitors with built-in audio and video components. Devices from industry partners GN Netcom Inc., Logitech, Motorola, Plantronics Inc., Samsung and Tatung Co. will work with Microsoft Office Communicator 2007

Availability


Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 is scheduled to be released in late 2006 or early 2007. Microsoft Speech Server 2007 will be available in late 2006. Communications Server 2007, Communicator 2007, Communicator phone experience, Live Meeting, RoundTable and the IP-enabled business desktop phones… …are scheduled to be available in the second quarter of 2007.

Tagged as

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

10 worst and 10 best of Microsoft

Filed under: General musings — jamesone111 @ 3:00 pm

Over at Microsoft-watch, Mary-Jo Foley gives her list of Microsoft’s top 10 flops, and I have to disagree with a few of them :
Tablet PC/Pen Computing/eBooks: Too soon to say this is flop. Putting tablet functions into all the builds of Vista means that we don’t have a different OS for the tablet, which has hindered take-up so far.
Live Meeting web conferencing software: Views are mixed. I took to it straight away, and what I know of the next version says in the long run this will be a success.
Microsoft TV. I’ve got this in “long term success” column too – though the reasons why will have to stay confidential.
No Microsoft Linux!: I love to quote Robert Townsend’s Up the organization he says “To increase our share of the market a few years ago, I was on the verge of approving the start-up of a new subsidiary—which would compete with our bread-and-butter business—at discount prices. To verify my own brilliance I tried the idea out on a tall, rangy regional vice-president named Stepnowski. After hearing the plans described in some detail, he sank the whole project with one sentence: “I don’t know what you call it, but we Polacks call that ‘pissing in the soup’ “ enough said.


So I’ve thrown out 4 of Mary Jo’s 10. What would I put in their place ?




  1. OS/2. If DOS 4 was a lesson in not getting involved with other people’s code, the OS/2 was a whole course. A 286 operating system in a world aching to go 32bit, and a host of other sins.


  2. Java. Easy to say with hindsight, but another lesson in not getting involved with other peoples code


  3. MCIS – the Microsoft commercial internet system. Briefly, I worked on replacing MCIS mail with Exchange. One of the guys behind MCIS told me Steve Ballmer asked what we should about it, his reply, “You need to fire me, and tell customers we’re really, really sorry”.


  4. Now I’m struggling. Bob ? Mary Jo had that, DOS4 and Windows ME as well…

 That was why I asked Eileen and the others at the roadshow for their thoughts about unsuccessful products. That and a post about Microsoft’s best introductions, by Steve Clayton – also inspired by Mary-Jo Foley, led Eileen to post her top 10. I thought I’d join them so here, in no special order are 10 things I wouldn’t be without;




  1. Halo. Halo 2 was the most successful entertainment launch in history – doing more business than any other game, music recording or movie. The original Halo still stands as truly great achievement.


  2. Smartphone / Mailbox on the move got to agree with Steve and Eileen here. It’s my GPS unit, and MP3 player, it’s how I get mail/calendar/contacts and news when I’m not at a PC, which is a big thing…. Steve has Outlook anywhere neé RPC over HTTP, and this too makes a big difference to my way of working, and Outlook Web Access deserves an honourable mention


  3. While we’ve with mail, the Outlook 2003’s reading pane should get a mention, the reading pane idea is now in Vista’s explorer. But I’ll count reading panes only once.


  4. RSS. See my other postings for why I think this is important.


  5. Search. In SharePoint, in SQL, in Exchange, but above all Integrated everywhere in windows Vista.


  6. One note, a great aid to organising all those snippets of information


  7. Domains, although they took a whole new role in Active directory (which should get it’s own entry) Domains are the only good thing to be carried forward from OS/2. In those days, before Novell had a directory service, you logged onto each server individually, and until NT came along the your PC didn’t care which user you signed in as.


  8. Fast user switching, currently only of interest to users outside a domain, fast user switching makes sharing a PC so much easier – great for XP at home, and good for Vista in the office too.


  9. Fast user switching uses Terminal Services technology, How did we ever cope when we need to go to the server room ? Or back to our own PCs.


  10. Document image writer. A little noticed feature in office. But when your company travel agent sends your itinerary as copy-disallowed PDF file, it is great to have this combination of print and OCR functions and so you can insert it your diary. I’ll list 10 annoyances of business travel another time.

Tagged as

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

Firefox tops list: IE nowhere to be seen

Filed under: Internet Explorer — jamesone111 @ 12:57 pm

In a previous post I admitted a small heresy for a Microsoft person. I quite liked firefox; past tense because IE7 gives me all that I liked about Firefox, and more besides.


Last week I learnt of a survey by bit9 which details their top 15 most vulnerable applications. And top of the list is Firefox, version 1.07. Firefox have updates, patches, indeed a whole new version, but if anyone still believes the “lots of eyeballs implies few vulnerabilities” myth of Open Source, they should be able to see it is a fairy story. There is an equal and opposite myth which is that software is only secure if you keep the source secret. The fact that Microsoft have a “Shared source” programme – open source with a small O, gives the lie to this too. Only in Digital Rights Management do you need to keep the code secret.


Talking of digital right management number 2 in the list was Apples iTunes. 6.02 and quick time 7.03 (which, like firefox is patchable, or can be replaced with a new version). At 3 comes Skype 1.4 (patchable) , #4 is Adobe Acrobat Reader 7.02, and 6.03 (superseded and patchable), and #5 is Sun’s Java Runtime Environment (also patchable), #6 is Macromedia Flash Player 7 (patchable again), at #7 is Winzip 8.1 (upgradeable) , keeping Skype company, at #8 is AOL instant messenger 5.5, #9 is MSN messenger 5.0, and #10 is Yahoo instant messenger 6.0, and #15 is the ICQ chat client 2003a. AOL and MSN can be patched or upgraded, Yahoo and ICQ – according to Bit 9 – cannot. You can get the full list of vulnerable apps from bit9.


Inside Microsoft, we’ve talked about what this report means. First, it means Vulnerabilities aren’t confined to Microsoft. Any developer that points a finger at someone else for having a vulnerability is setting themselves up for a fall. We might allow ourselves a small laugh at the expense of those Firefox fans who claim it is totally watertight. But only a small laugh – because they set themselves up for the fall. Too much laughter and we’ll be setting ourselves up for one.


Secondly, 9 of the top 10 have patches and or upgrades. No-one should see any impact from these vulnerabilities. It’s easy to make sure Microsoft software is patched, but how good are people’s practices for the others ?

Tagged as

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

Mobile devices on Windows Vista

Filed under: Beta Products,Mobility,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 9:09 am

Last week I followed up on Jason Langridge’s posts about new HTC devices and the Motorola Q. , which gives a clue that I have an enduring interest in Mobilty


Windows Vista inserts has components to handle syncing devices but the complete package isn’t included with Beta 2. I had advance access to the missing parts, and I was waiting for them to become generally available before writing about them, and they have now appeared on Windows Update. Kris Kumar at SmatphoneThoughts has saved me the trouble of writing a piece, and his page includes information about how to get the update.

Tagged as

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

June 22, 2006

On the late arrival of Vista…

Filed under: Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 8:37 pm

Recently someone in Redmond caused a bit of a stir with a blog piece about causes for the delay in Vista. We’re not going to ship Vista until it is ready, and we thought it would be ready by one date, and we were wrong. Why ? People, like me, who work outside development simply don’t know and people who do work in development are too close to be completely objective. However I came across this tonight in Jason Kolb’s blog. It gives some indication why forecasts go wrong.


people who have never written software themselves think of the development process as something like building a house…. [it] is more akin to solving a Rubiks cube:  you know what needs to be done and how to do it, and you have a very rough idea of how long it will take you.  Sometimes, in fact, it’ll only take you a couple of minutes because you get lucky and try the right combination within the first few minutes.  Most of the time, however, it’s a process of trial and error, and you really don’t know how long it’s going to take.  You could ship it early, but it’s probably not going to have solid colors on all sides.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

Microsoft don’t do prize draws, sorry

Filed under: Uncategorized — jamesone111 @ 9:41 am

Our Chief Security Advisor in the UK has sent out an advisory this morning. We have seen a huge spike in Lottery scam mails – you know the kind of thing – “You’ve won a million, just send us your bank details so we can pay you”. These have a new twist. Supposedly Microsoft (and in some cases Microsoft UK) is the promoter and is giving away hundreds of thousands of pounds.


Now I hope anyone getting such a mail would have a very hard look for some of the tell tale signs of scam, and would also wonder why a company like Microsoft would do such a draw in the first place, and perhaps why the first they hadn’t heard about it until being told they’d won ?


If something seems too good to be true it usually is. I Putting the senders name (or other unique information from the message) into your favourite search engine will show up a raft of sites which cover hoaxes.

Tagged as

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

Adobe, yet again.

Filed under: Uncategorized — jamesone111 @ 9:06 am

 I notice from reading Mary Jo Foley that Adobe have put out a statement about Microsoft’s support (or not) for PDF in Office 2007. Key points.



Adobe is committed to open standards. Adobe publishes the complete PDF specification and makes it available for free, without restrictions, without royalties, to anyone who cares to use it


Presumably that includes Microsoft.



customers expect Adobe to ensure that the format does not become fragmented and that competing implementations of PDF do not undermine what customers have come to expect in terms of reliable viewing and printing of PDF documents across platforms and browsers


Indeed. Adobe have not handed their standard over to a third party guardian, so they keep the task of making sure that people stick to it- though how that fits with making the spec available without restriction I don’t know. As an established standard , total compatibility is in every implementers interest. A Microsoft implementation which produced files which didn’t work in Adobe’s Reader (or anyone else’s) would be as useful as a Chocolate Teapot.



Microsoft has demonstrated a practice of using its monopoly power to undermine cross platform technologies and constrain innovation that threatens its monopolies. Microsoft’s approach has been to “embrace and extend” standards that do not come from Microsoft….
… Adobe has made no determination to take legal action against Microsoft


Ouch. That would be Java then. We got a bloody nose with Java. Message from Adobe is: You’ve got form, do with PDF what you did with Java and you’ll get another bloody nose. And you know what ? We’ll deserve it, not for messing with someone else’s standard, but for failing to learn.


Now, I hope we make our PDF support a freely available print driver, as I described before. Adobe sound scared by the XML paper specification. I rated it Uncool : if Microsoft and Adobe can “play nice” – which includes indexing and reading pane support – and if XPS isn’t widely adopted, then it should be killed off. 

Tagged as

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

June 20, 2006

Vista security tips

Filed under: Real Time Collaboration,User Groups,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 5:00 pm

I promised Arthur that I would tell people about the Microsoft Unified Communications and RTC user group, UK, which goes by the Snappy name of MucUgUK , it’s early days for the user group, but if you’re interested in RTC or Unified Communications that’s the place to go.


 


Arthur also sent me a collection of tips that he has collected for Windows Vista: again the serendipity fairy has been waving her wand because earlier on I was reading some user comments which were about the same area.


First off the most frequently asked question in Vista, is Where did the Run menu go. You’ll find if you press [Window key] & [r] the run dialog appears. But You don’t need the run menu, type in the Search menu as if it is the run menu and see. If you start to type a path in the search box Vista will help you fill it in (just use the arrow keys when the bits appear in the menu area and \ to navigate to the next level).
If you really feel lost without run, then right click the start button, choose properties, and on the start menu tab click customize, and one of the many options is to turn on Run.


Secondly, and perhaps we should have foreseen this, power users testing Vista get a bit annoyed by the number of User Account control dialogs. You should have heard the Mantra




  • Secure by Design


  • Secure by Default


  • Secure by Deployment

Hopefully you agree with it as a principle, even if you if you want to exempt yourself from the practice, by changing the default. Arthur’s tip sheet refers to a useful tool called MSConfig (just type it on the search box !). You can control a lot of what goes on at start-up with this program, and on its tools menu there’s a useful collection of shortcuts. Enable and Disable UAP (which is now called UAC – user access protection vs user access control) toggles the right value in the registry (under HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System ), but this isn’t the tool I’d use …


Also in Arthur’s list was the registry hack for the Application consent, this too is found in HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System but again I’d use a different tool.


Which tool ? Group Policy. If you Start MMC and click file, add/remove snap-in, and choose Group Policy Object Editor,and tell it you want to manage the local machine. Now Navigate to the Computer Configuration, Windows Settings, Security Settings, Local Polices, Security options. You can see the range of settings we have grouped together under User Access control. You can turn off “Detect Application Installations and prompt for elevation”, or make administrators put in the credentials for elevation (or have elevation silently approved). And 101 other things. Incidentally, one page I saw of 20 minor irritations with vista listed “You can’t turn on the Admin account”. What’s at the very top of security option ? Accounts: Administrator Account Status. By default this is enabled in XP and disabled in Vista.


People who are OK with their systems unsecured are the people who can change the defaults. The reverse is not true. Hence Secure by default .


P.s, You can read more about the elevation messages and why they are the way they are on the UAC Blog

Tagged

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

More on filing vista bugs

Filed under: Beta Products,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 4:27 pm

Good news. I’m given to understand that the two things I hoped were easy to fix in my “Time to start a Vista cool wall” post, (drag and drop in IE, and drag and drop to the command prompt) are fixed in the next version we’ll see.


I’ve filed 6 vista bugs, 3 are fixed, 1 is a feature request which is on the list for the version after Vista, 1 is under investigation, and 1 seems to have been declared “not a bug”.


As I said before – File those Vista bugs ! if you’re running vista and something doesn’t work as you think it should the tool is there.


Little footnote. In File those Vista bugs ! I said how much I liked Malmaison in Manchester, I took my wife for dinner at the Oxford one – the prison conversion is fantastic. They’re working on one in Reading which will I expect to be a favourite with Microsoft visitors when it opens. Trivial things matter a lot when to travelling customers a thing like free internet in a hotel wins them over.


Tagged

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

June 19, 2006

Bye Bill, Bye Robert … is this the end ?

Filed under: General musings — jamesone111 @ 11:57 am

Most Microsoft people get asked “Do you know Bill Gates” when we tell people where we work. We don’t all know Bill. Back in 2002, I spent a month “on attachment” in the building where he and Steve Ballmer had their offices. We were told “Don’t freak out if someone really important gets in the elevator with you, they find it a bit upsetting”. Bill’s third child had just been born, and we never saw him. Two of us walked past Steve Ballmer on the way to our car one evening, and without turning our heads or even moving our lips managed to say “Was that … ?” “Yes.. Keep walking … just keep walking”


In my new job as an Evangelist, I think about the issues of scale: engaging with all the people who want to have different conversations with us isn’t easy. Here in Britain, more people use Windows each week than use the National Health Service, but we have only two thousand people and they have over two HUNDRED thousand – and for one IT project they’re spending between £34,000 and £100,000 per employee (that’s $63-185,000 US). Stop the average Briton in the street and ask who is in charge of the NHS and 5 top brand name companies – say Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Nokia, McDonalds and Toyota, and you’ll only get Bill’s name. I once asked a self employed consultant, who spoke at a “Customer focus day”, why he said he expected a personal relationship with Microsoft but not (for example) BMW. He couldn’t really isolate a reason, “But I know your Chairman. I’ve no idea who runs BMW”. Maybe Coca-Cola makes people think of the contour bottle, McDonalds the golden arches logo, and Nokia that ring tone. “Do you know Bill Gates?” is a sign that Microsoft’s is personified as its chairman You’d be hard put to find anyone here wouldn’t like that to change. As Bill himself said on Thursday .  “The world has had a tendency to focus a disproportionate amount of attention on me. In reality, Microsoft has always had an unbelievable strong depth and breadth of technical talent”


We all knew there would be a Microsoft without Bill one day. He turned 50 last year and the most popular guess was he’d turn to the foundation full time at 55, so the date we have to get along without our founder has been set, and set sooner than we planned. There will be a Microsoft after Steve Ballmer too. He turned 50 earlier this year, and he and Bill can’t both be handing over at the same time. If Steve wants to announce 2 years ahead that he will retire on his 55 birthday (he hasn’t shared his retirement plans with me … but if he did) that would be in the Spring of 2009, and Bill’s transition to part time chairman is from summer 2008. If you want to believe in conspiracy (and personally I prefer to believe in cock-up), this piece of Thursday’s press conference shows that Ballmer’s wishes were considered in Gates’ plans. “For the last couple years, I started a discussion with Steve about how to shift my priorities and yet maintain strong ties to Microsoft. After careful consideration, Steve and I decided to announce ….


The succession was well planned, and Bill’s talks with Steve go back before we bought Groove, and got Ray Ozzie – who has assumed the title of Chief Software Architect. Did they have this in mind at the time of the take over? Few know for sure, and I’m not one of them, but what are the chances it didn’t cross anyone’s mind ? There will be life after Ray, as well. By a staggering co-incidence he was born a few weeks after Bill and 4 months before Steve. My guess is when the time comes his replacement will be one of the guys Bill name-checked on Thursday


 


Robert Scoble is also leaving Microsoft. Some people are making a big deal of losing Gates and Scoble together. Hugh McLeod wrote that Robert was the canary in the coal mine. And Microsoft’s just lost their canary. Very few parts of Microsoft stand comparison with a coal mine (even I wouldn’t describe my old job as a grim, dark hole which tries to kill you). Nor was Robert ever a caged bird. Bill’s words about disproportionate attention could have come from Robert. Actually, what Robert said was “I’m not the only blogger at Microsoft. There are about 3,000 of them here. They are not having the plug pulled on them. They changed the world. I just was the cheerleader”


Robert links to Michael Gartenberg at Jupiter Research, who says “Robert’s a good guy and has done a lot of good for Microsoft but this isn’t that big a deal. Robert doesn’t write code, ship product, create marketing campaigns or sell software. That’s why this doesn’t mean a lot nor will it likely have any impact. As my grandfather was fond of saying, “the cemeteries are full of people who couldn’t be replaced”. Michael’s grandfather’s quote (which he liked enough to use in his post about Bill leaving) was made famous by General De Gaulle who said “The graveyards are full of indispensible men” – my Dad likes that quote too. No one is indispensible, not Bill, nor Robert nor Steve, nor Ray. And they get that, even if others (like Hugh) don’t. There are thousands of people besides Scoble who realise that (borrowing from De Gaulle) “PR is too important to be left to the PR people.”


 


One of the subtexts of “Do you know Bill” is the assumption he runs everything. This view seems widespread among Microsoft critics: one moment they will criticize Vista for being late and complicated (observing it is complexity that causes projects – like that NHS one – to take longer and cost more than they should). The next moment , they will talk about this or that change that Bill commanded, as if he micro-manages Vista, and Office too, plus X-box and IP-TV in the home, Windows Live and Office Live on the internet, Windows Mobile … everywhere, and Exchange, SQL, Biztalk, SMS, MOM and so on in businesses. De Gaulle famously said “One Cannot simply bring together a country that has 265 kinds of cheese”, nor can one simply bring together a single detailed view of 265 kinds of software (I suspect we have more than that)


   


There is only thing to do when you realise you have quoted De Gaulle 3 times, and that is to end quickly with a quote from Churchill: Bill and Robert should follow their passions and I wish will them well. Hugh McLeod wrote “What does this really say about Microsoft? To me it says, “Party Over”, no Hugh


This is not the end. This is not even the beginning of end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning”

Tagged as

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

June 17, 2006

More on interesting devices

Filed under: Mobility — jamesone111 @ 3:01 pm

Thanks to RSS, I read Jason Langridge’s blog, I’m a bit nervous about posting two back to back articles about things he’s said for fear of looking like I’ve become his “Bloggleganger” or “blog stalker” or whatever you care to call it…


There are quite a few interesting rumours about new devices, Jason mentioned recently that HTC have two new devices about to hit the market. HTC have made devices for other people and also put the some out under the QTek brand. HTC-Europe now have a web site, with details of the new “MTeoR” (formerly code-named ‘Breeze’) and “TyTN” (‘Hermes’), as well as the Razr-like device code named (“Star-Trek” – a really bad choice as that name belongs to someone) which is being called the QTEK 8500. Every mobile device site seems to have some rumour or unconfirmed information about carriers who will carry one or other of these, when, and how they will name them. 5 Minutes with a search engine will let you know all the rumours that I know, and you can judge which are credible and which aren’t 🙂


Like the Q, the MTeoR is a slim smartphone, but with a 320×240 display (pocket PC resolution, but phone sized) and jog dial for scrolling through mail. It has a phone keypad where the Q has a QWERTY one. But the MTeoR is a 3G phone. Interestingly after things I’ve said about Adobe recently, it has a PDF support as well.


I think all Q and all 3 HTC devices will sell by the truckload. Which is more than I can say for HTC’s bluetooth stereo headphones. Chaps, the thing about Bluetooth is it is a Wireless technology. Wireless, without wires, sans fil – HTCs seem to be preparing a blue tooth receiver into which you can plug WIRED headphones. The receiver is about the size of an MP3 player … They need to see how HP have done it


Talking of HP, I mentioned their Mobile Messenger devices yesterday. When I was out in Oxford this morning I noticed some of TomTom’s sat nav units were on display with a price tag of £399 (including Value added Tax) – compared with a list price HP’s IPAQ HW6515 of £370 (including VAT) – there are cheaper sat nav devices than these, but the HP device is fantastic value for money.     


Who wants to carry a blackberry, a camera-phone, a sat nav device – they’re hugely popular with thieves right now so you can’t leave it in the car – and an iPod as well ? The HP device gives you all these, and the ability to work with Word, Excel and Powerpoint files. For a slightly higher price you can add WLAN access, and you can save a few pounds by dispensing with the camera. These aren’t 3G devices – which the TyTN is: but different people will want different things and HP will sell tons of these too.


Tagged as

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

June 16, 2006

The Motorola Q …

Filed under: Mobility — jamesone111 @ 11:59 pm

Jason Langridge likes the Motorola Q. – he keeps lamenting the fact that only works on US networks. I was at a meeting last week where someone had brought one over from the US. I when Motorola produced one of the first Tri-band phones and it was has to go down as one of history’s design disasters. Their industrial design today is just fantastic. (I’ve written before about the quality of Apple’s design work). The Q is going to sell in huge numbers, and Expansys are taking pre-orders for the European version.


I’ve been in London for the technet roadshow for the last few days and I keep seeing adverts for HPs 69xx and 65xx Mobile messengers, these are Pocket PC devices (the Q is a smartphone). But do HP market it for Excel, Word, Powerpoint or even the fact it has GPS and GPS software ? The name mobile messenger tells you a lot.


I wonder what niches Blackberry will be left to fill …



Tagged as

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

June 15, 2006

Bill Gates announces that he stepping down in 2 years

Filed under: Uncategorized — jamesone111 @ 8:46 pm

I’m watching the web conference now. Bill began by saying, “Today I work full time for Microsoft and part time for the Gates foundation”, and you just knew. He is going full time with the foundation in 2 years time.

Ray Ozzie become Chief Software Architect, and there is a ripple effect .

More soon … but this will be on other blogs

 

Update #1, the ripple to other people is going to take while to digest. But just had a lovely vignette of live in the Gates household. Bill said he hold Melinda that this was what he wanted to do, and he’d come home from the office and she’d ask him “So did you tell Steve yet” and he’d answer, “Well I didn’t find a way to bring it up today”.

Update #2, I’m surprised listening to the journalists questions, there have been several which have referred to employee opinions – this information is coming from blogs, some from malcontents, some from people like me who feel that our bit of Microsoft is the best it has been for several years. Bill was at pains to point out that there is more to Microsoft than him. As Scoble quoted in a post I read earlier
“individuals are now in charge” of what’s important in the world. I heard a story earlier this evening about how some management get blogs , and some don’t. My hope is with Vista and Outlook 2007 hitting desks all over the company more and more of them will

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

June 14, 2006

How to get the Road-show slides

Filed under: How to — jamesone111 @ 2:02 pm

After each of the Roadshows I’ve been asked – sometimes by people who came via this blog “How do I get the slides ?”. If you go to http://www.microsoft.com/uk/technet/postevent/default.mspx and click the month, you can get any slides that have been posted for that month. Currently June is a little behind, but you can get the slides from the May 2nd Roadshow.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

RSS in the Enterprise

Filed under: RSS — jamesone111 @ 12:46 pm

Before IE7 and Office 2007 Beta 2 I used Attensa to bring RSS Feeds into Outlook, I liked the product and I’m still on their mailing list, they just sent me a link to their white paper “Enterprise RSS: the center of attention” and it’s useful reading for anyone asking what RSS means for internal information, and the management of information overload.


Their blog links to a report on RSS by Jupiter Research which says




  • 63% of companies with over US $50M in revenue expect to use RSS by the end of 2006


  • In May 2006 when the report was produced, only 29% of these companies were using RSS.


  • 48% of companies who are doing RSS are spending $250K or more

With support in IE7 for RSS feed discovery and retrieval, Outlook 2007‘s ability to be a great reader for those feeds, and Sharepoint 2007’s ability to make any list an RSS feed, implementing RSS solutions is going to be both cheap and easy for a lot of customers. I predict now that as RSS becomes more widely available users will begin making demands for RSS couched in terms like:




  • Don’t fill my inbox with a hundred bits of new information


  • Don’t save up 100 bits of news and send me a huge news letter


  • Don’t expect me to visit your web site to see if there is new information.


  • Don’t Mail me lists of links to your web site either


  • Do allow me to carry your information on my laptop when I’m disconnected

All solved by RSS.


   


Tagged as

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

June 13, 2006

Vista: just connect to my home network, Please !

Filed under: Uncategorized — jamesone111 @ 3:49 pm

Somewhere in doing the upgrade to Beta 2 of Vista it began to behave oddly. It was happy to connect to my wireless network at home but every time I booted the machine or brought back from sleep, it would disconnect. A few mouse clicks restored the connection, but it didn’t take long to be become annoying.


Turns out it to be simple to fix, so if you’re faced with the same thing here are the steps.




  1. Open the network centre and click Re-order-wireless networks.


  2. Double click the network that you want to connect to


  3. In the properties dialog box make sure the “Connect Automatically” check box is checked.


Job done.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

June 6, 2006

Time to start a Vista cool wall

Filed under: Uncategorized — jamesone111 @ 10:02 pm

On “Top Gear” – the BBC’s motoring show. They have a cool wall where they classify cars as “sub-Zero”, “Cool”, “Uncool” or “Seriously uncool”. My car rates as uncool, but being bothered by Top Gear would put me in the seriously uncool category.

I posted recently about looking at benefits rather than Total cost of ownership and picked a out some features that I thought were cool. Of course one should also look at the disbenefits – not so much bugs as things that aren’t well done either in the concept or the execution. Since giving me to the link to Geek News Central story about Windows media player and Podcasting support (or the lack thereof), Robert Scoble has suggested people post bug reports to his blog (brave man). Since I keep using the word “Cool” at the moment – rather uncool for a man of my advanced years, I thought I should list the cool and uncool, so here is my starter list for the vista cool wall. Additions to the this list can be posted here, but Bugs to Scoble please.

  • Sub-zero
    the new look.
    Obvious:  but I need to jump up and down and scream “It’s not just eye candy”. Use Vista for a couple of days and then go back to XP to find that somehow Vista’s look translates into smoother working. I don’t know if ClearType has been tweaked or if the new fonts work better with it, but on my high-res laptop screen Vista is easier to read. OK “Glass” might be eye candy, but it’s still very cool.   
  • Sub-zero. Search Everywhere, and using properties not just text searching. Search folders – which applications don’t need to understand.
  • Sub-zero – “Reading pane” preview in the shell. Copy from messages, documents and spreadsheets, show video and PowerPoint presentations in situ.
  • Uncool – Any application which doesn’t support the reading pane or search Adobe PDF being the obvious case.
  • Cool.
    Network Printers dialog goes straight to checking AD if you specify network printer
  • Cool DVD burning support.
    Actually the lack of this in XP was pretty uncool.
  • Cool
    IE7+
    Generally – actually it would rate as Subzero, but for two uncool features: lack drag and drop support to the address and search bars, and lack of “search for highlighted” easy to add before final release (I hope) it’s odd that I can search my web history in IE but not Windows search.
  • Sub-zero RSS Support understanding it in IE, the common feed list for other applications – especially Outlook 2007, the background transfer service – although shouldn’t that be part of the sync center ?
  • Uncool The sync center Good sync seems to be a very elusive goal. This isn’t finished yet, but it seems too complicated – especially the interaction with Media Player. I should be able to say:if you see a network, look for this path and sync these files. If you see the internet copy these files / fetch these RSS feeds. If you see my camera copy files to my PC (replacing the IMG part of the name and keeping the serial number)if you see my Media player (including Windows Mobile device or iPOD) copy this music to it. If you see my Windows Mobile device (or 3rd party phone) copy my contacts to it. It should be Cool that Mobile device support is in the base OS, but its not working out that way.
  • Seriously uncool The new Windows media player is unaware of the feed list bringing in all those lovely Pod casts. Easy to fix.
  • Uncool.
    XML paper specification. Yes, XML’s useful, yes an alternative to PDF is good. But can we greet another file format with anything else but a yawn? Sorry, XPS is in the good but dull camp. If we really are going to get in a fight with Adobe let’s put a “Print to PDF” driver in the operating system (and let’s have a PDF import in word)
  • User Access control. Cool or Uncool ? Cool that you get protected from your self and various bits of Malware, or Good but dull (uncool) can security be cool ? or Uncool that you get asked to confirm what you’re doing quite so much – some of it needs streamlining.
  • Proof that security can be Cool, fast user switching for domain members. I never fully understood why this wasn’t in XP. At home my wife an I share a PC and rely on fast user switching, all the stuff we leave open is just there. But to share a PC at work, users have to shut their programs down and log off. Uncool. Not any more.
  • Cool. New bits in the command prompt Try pressing the TAB key in a command window – it works through files and folders. Command line Tasklist, TaskKill and Shutdown. [Updated after comments] Seriously
    Uncool you can’t drag and drop a file into the command prompt any more. Easy to fix before final release (I hope) [Update I’ve been told it will]
  • Sub-zero the new photo gallery which has some simple image editing, a good slide show and use of search. I wish they would embed the tag and caption as EXIF data so it stays with the file and is there when someone looks at old images in 20 or 40 or 100 years. The principle of “don’t change the original file” is usually good, but this is an exception.

I’ll add to this list – but comments are on. Feel free to add your own.

Update. Thanks to John for pointing out that PDF documents can a document preview which shows in the preview pane. However you can’t read a PDF in the pane, and there is no search support. Verdict, STILL UNCOOL. I’ve got to give some credit to Adobe for putting up a dialog box explaining how to download an update (since vista’s permissions block this). Sadly their Start Menu Icon is set up so it doesn’t offer run as administrator.

Update 2 Thanks to Maarten for pointing out that actually those bits aren’t new to vista.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

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