Posts tagged Microsoft
At a press event on Tuesday, Microsoft launched the next version of Windows: Not Windows One, not Windows 9, but Windows 10, which combines the reborn Start menu with Windows 8’s colorful live tiles and adjusts its behavior depending on how you’re using your device.
Windows 10 will officially launch in the middle of next year, but you’ll have a chance to try it out before that via a new Windows Insider program, launching Wednesday. The platform’s most vocal fans will have a chance to download the technical preview before it launches next year.
Microsoft executives unveiled the new OS at a small press event in San Francisco, where the company tried to position the Windows 10 OS as a “natural step forward” for both Windows and Windows Phone, which will also be renamed Windows 10.
Windows 10 will be designed for the enterprise, Terry Myerson executive vice president of Microsoft’s OS group, said. It will have a “familiar” interface, whether it be for Windows 7 or Windows 8. “They will find all the tools they’re used to finding, with all the apps and tools they’re used to today,” he said.
Windows 10 will be compatible with all the familiar management systems, including mobile device management. MDM tools will manage not just mobile devices, but PCs, phones, tablets, and even embedded devices inpart of the Internet of Things, Myerson said. Enterprise customers will be able to manage their own app stores, so that ther employees get the right apps for them. As Windows 8 did, data security will be a priority, he said.
Windows 10’s ‘Task View’ includes multiple desktops, a feature long desired by power users.
Joe Belfiore, who runs part of the OS team focused on the PC experience, showed off the new OS, which he called a “very early build.” Yes, the new build has the Stat menu, combining the icon-driven menu from Windows 7, plus the added Live Tiles to the right.
Belfiore used the analogy of a Tesla to describe how Windows 7 users would feel when they upgraded—something that Microsoft desperately wants them to do: a supercharged OS, but one that will feel familiar.
One of the things that Microsoft wants to ensure is that Windows 10 is personalized results, including search results, Belfiore said.
Windows 8 had a universal app platform, with a common Windows Store that handle updates independently. Belfiore said that Microsoft wanted all those Windows 7 uses to get all the benefits of Windows 8 apps. Apps will be shown in the Live Tiles, with no real indication whether they are “classic” apps or modern, Windows 8 apps. Apps can be “snapped,” like Windows 8. Users will also not have to leave the Windows desktop to use modern apps, as expected.
Multitasking will also be a priority, with a stated goal being able to “empower” novice users, Belfiore said. On the taskbar there will be a “task view” where users can switch back and forth between different environments—whether it be 32-bit Windows 7 apps or modern apps. And yes, they will include virtual desktops, with the ability to switch back and forth between virtual environments. A “snap assist” feature will allow users to select similar windows to snap alongside other apps. And up to four apps or windows can be snapped to the four corners of the desktop, Belfiore said.
Even more advanced uses will be able to take advantage of new keyboard shortcuts, with the ability to ALT-TAB between desktops. “It’s a nice forward enhancement to make those people more productive,” Belfiore said.
Microsoft even improved the command line interface, with an improved keyboard interface. (You can use Crtl+V to paste now!)
Touch when you need it
Belfiore wrapped up by talking about touch: “We’re not giving up on touch,” he said. But he did say that that massive numbers of users were familiar with the touchless Windows 7 interface, while supporting those who have jumped to Windows 8.
So that means that the Charms experience will be revamped. When you swipe right on Windows 10, the Charms bar is still there. But Belfiore said that the Charms experience would change. When people swipe in from the left, Windows 10, you’ll get a task view. “I’m using touch in a way that accelerates my use of a PC,” Belfiore said.
Microsoft is also working on a revamped UI that isn’t is in Windows 10, yet. For two-in-on devices, a “Continuum” mode will adjust the UI depending on whether or not the mouse and keyboard is present. When a keyboard is disconnected, the Windows 8-style Start menu appears and a back button is available so that users can easily back out to a prior command. Menus grow larger. Bu when a mouse and keyboard is connected, the desktop mode reappears, Windows apps return to desktop windows, and the Start page disappears.
Now, Microsoft needs to take the next step: pitching enterprise customers, Myerson said. And that’s critical for Windows’ future, analysts said. Expect more details on the consumer flavors of Windows 10 early next year, more application details at BUILD, and then a launch of Windows 10 near the middle of next year.
“For businesses, I think there are some businesses who have picked it up and they are really early adopters, but in general, the sense—when we engage with customers, we’re not hearing a lot of reception out there,” Wes Miller, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, said in advance of the briefing. “We’re hearing a lot of businesses even before whatever that thing comes out tomorrow, before that came out, businesses were saying, we’re going to hang out on Windows 7, it’s stable, it does what we need to do.”
Starting Wednesday, Microsoft will launch a Windows Insider program, distributing the technical preview of Windows 10, Myerson said. Through Window Insiders we’re inviting our more vocal Windows fans” to help refine the Windows experience, executives said. Users wil be able to sign up at preview.windows.com, he said, where they will be able to hold private discussions with Windows engineers and give feedback.
“Windows 10 will be our most open, collaborative OS project ever,” Myerson said.
The world’s most popular OS exits ‘mainstream’ support Jan. 13, marks midpoint of 10-year support lifetime
Windows 7 will reach the midpoint of its support lifetime this week when it shifts from what Microsoft calls “mainstream” to “extended” support.
The world’s most popular personal computer operating system exits mainstream support on Tuesday, Jan. 13. After that, although Microsoft will continue to issue security updates to all users for another five years, it will not add new features to Windows 7, and any non-security fixes — such as reliability and stability updates — will be issued only to organizations that have signed support contracts.
Next week thus marks the halfway point of Windows 7’s decade-long support stretch, which ends Jan. 14, 2020.
Windows 7 will continue to run, of course: The migration into extended support does not make it inoperable.
Windows 7’s user share is at a near-record high. In December, it accounted for 56% of all personal computer operating systems, and 62% of all versions of Windows. Since the debut of Windows 8, its purported successor, Windows 7 has increased its user share by about 12 percentage points, representing a gain of 26%.
That increasing share may not bother Microsoft, but it should businesses that decommissioned Windows XP PCs and replaced them with Windows 7 systems, ignoring Windows 8. With Windows 7’s life half over, those enterprises now have five years to complete a transition to another OS, probably Windows 10, the upgrade Microsoft will release this fall.
Five months ago, in fact, Gartner began urging corporations to start their post-Windows 7 planning if they wanted to prevent a recurrence of the end of Windows XP’s support, when many had to either hustle to make the support deadline, or worse, continued running the aged OS after patching ended.
“While this feels like it’s a long way off, organizations must start planning now,” said Gartner analysts Michael Silver and Stephen Kleynhans in August.
And the failure of Windows 8 to win enterprise hearts and minds has created one oddity: Even though Windows 7 has made middle age, Microsoft continues to let OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) sell PCs running the business edition.
Microsoft has yet to name an end date for OEM sales of machines powered by Windows 7 Professional. But because it has promised a 12-month notice, those PCs can still be sold at least until early January 2016, when the OS has but four years of life left.
Sure, Microsoft has a ton of useful admin tools, but terrific, complementary open source tools abound
15 essential open source tools for Windows admins
Microsoft admins seeking solid server-side tools know the mothership offers a mother lode of solutions for supporting Windows Server, Exchange Server, SQL Server, SharePoint, and so on. But for those with an eye on the bottom line or looking to branch out in supporting their Microsoft-based server room, plenty of free, open source tools from both Microsoft, via CodePlex, and third-party providers are available. Given Microsoft’s ongoing shift toward hosted solutions like Azure and Office 365, there is more incentive for Microsoft admins to keep an eye on what’s evolving in the Windows admin tools ecosystem.
Following is a roundup of open source tools every Windows admin should be aware of. We last surveyed this territory three years ago, and while some tools have cemented their place in the Windows admin arsenal, Microsoft’s shift in focus toward the cloud is giving rise to a new set of essentials.
Don’t see your favorite tool(s)? Use the comments section to contribute to the list!
WinDirStat, aka Windows Directory Statistics, is a disk usage tool that provides a variety of statistical views for analyzing how a system’s disk is being used. Every admin wrestles with disk space issues time and again, whether in support of user systems or when monitoring software generates an alert for a critical production server. Sometimes you can quickly see what is taking up all of the disk space on the troubled system, but for those times when it’s not so obvious or you are in a hurry, there is WinDirStat.
Network packet analysis and troubleshooting is a real art, one that requires solid training and years of hands-on experience. But a tool like Wireshark helps ease the learning curve, thanks to its many powerful features. One look at this free software-based protocol analyzer’s color-coding features and you’ll see how its superior usability makes Wireshark a worthwhile tool for any Microsoft shop.
No list of open source tools used by system administrators would be complete without a mention of PuTTY, one of the most widely used terminal emulators. Whether you need to make a serial connection to a switch, telnet, SSH, SCP, or rlogin, PuTTY can handle it. It’s been around since the late ’90s and has spawned dozens of imitators, but none quite like the original.
AMANDA Network Backup
Admins looking to ease the pain of backing up Windows-based systems should check out AMANDA, aka Advanced Maryland Automatic Network Disk Archiver. AMANDA provides the ability for an administrator to set up a single master backup server that can support both Windows desktops and servers over the network to a variety of media, including tape drives, disks, or optical media with NTFS support.
ZMANDA maintains and supports the freely available AMANDA, as well as ZMANDA Recovery Manager for MySQL. It also provides network and cloud backup services it sells commercially.
Nmap is a network mapping tool that is great for finding out what hosts and services are connected to a given network. While Nmap is often used in the context of security auditing, particularly for detecting open ports and vulnerabilities, many system administrators find it useful for simply keeping track of what is on their network, such as determining the operating system and hardware address of various hosts.
That’s merely scratching the surface. Nmap can be used in so many ways that it is very much worth exploring if you haven’t already. In addition to network inventory, Nmap can manage service upgrade schedules and monitor host or service uptime.
If you’re looking for a more graphical means of tapping PowerShell (aside from PowerShell ISE), then you should check out PowerGUI. This free graphical user interface and script editor is valuable in its own right, but perhaps more valuable is the community built around PowerGUI, which offers a vast store of contributed scripts and libraries for administering your fleet.
This tool was originally kept up to date through Quest, which was acquired by Dell. Some worried it wouldn’t be improved on going forward, but Dell has indeed continued to work on it.
7-Zip is a free, open source archive utility for compressing files. It’s a great alternative to better-known shareware, which should help you avoid the headaches of registering software or clicking through a bunch of warnings about an expired trial period. It supports 256-bit AES encryption and a wide variety of archive formats, so you probably won’t have to resort to another archive solution any time soon. Combine all this with fast, effective compression, and 7-Zip is easily a tool that you will find useful for yourself and the users you support in your organization.
Azure Storage Explorer
Although still in Beta, Azure Storage Explorer is swiftly progressing. It is a GUI tool for inspecting the data in your Azure cloud storage projects, including the logs of your cloud-hosted applications.
Keep in mind the variety of Azure storage “explorers” since folks often want to view their data easily. Jeff Irwin, program manager for Windows Azure Storage, put together a list of these storage explorers, and you can quickly see Azure Storage Explorer compares with other offerings. It is one of the few with the ability to work with block blob storage, page blob storage, tables, and queues.
If you find yourself often jotting quick notes in Notepad, you might want to check out Notepad++. Though easy and lightweight, Notepad is sorely lacking in anything but the basics. Notepad++, as the name implies, is an even better take on the trusty, built-in Notepad application. It’s a source code editor and Notepad replacement.
This is no program for simply taking quick notes. It has a tabbed interface that allows you to switch quickly and easily between multiple open files, and it offers spell-check, auto-complete, and syntax highlighting — perfect for writing scripts.
That’s only scratching the surface of what Notepad++ has in store. There are many text editors, but Notepad++ is one to always have at the ready.
UltraDefrag is a tool for Windows that can defrag system files, registry hives, and the paging file. It can handle NTFS metafile defragmentation, MFT defragmentation, the defragging of hibernation files, and more. It also provides HTML readable reports. This valuable addition to any Windows environment is continually updated to ensure improvements in performance.
VirtualBox is a must-have open source virtualization solution for any admin seeking to run guest OSes on Windows, Linux, Macintosh, or Solaris machines. Familiarity with virtualization is fast becoming essential for all system administrators. VirtualBox is a quick and easy way to get started running your own virtual machines. Whether you want to test something out before running it in production or sharpen your skills on an OS you are less familiar with, VirtualBox is a great way to try out virtualization without having to invest in costly software.
Using VirtualBox, admins can run virtual instances of a wide array of operating systems, including Windows, Linux, OpenSolaris, OS/2, OpenBSD, and even DOS. It’s an open source community effort backed by Oracle.
Angry IP Scanner
Admins often need to quickly scan their network to find a particular workstation or device. There are lots of ways of doing this and plenty of tools to choose from, but when I need something quick and simple, I use Angry IP Scanner.
Angry IP Scanner offers loads of features and can be extended further with additional plug-ins, but I like it for the fact that it is lightweight, not even requiring an installation. Give it a try and I’m sure it will become an indispensable part of your toolkit as well.
Windows Azure Platform Management Tool (MMC)
The Windows Azure Platform Management Tool enables you to manage your Azure-hosted services and storage accounts through an installed MMC console GUI. You can perform a variety of administration and management operations through WAPMMC, including hosted service management, diagnostics, certificate management, storage services, blog storage management, and so on. Anyone moving to Microsoft’s cloud will find this tool indispensable.
Google Analytics SharePoint 2013 / Office 365
This is an interesting solution for those folks who want to use the powerful and familiar Google Analytics tools within SharePoint and Office 365. It’s a sandbox solution that allows you to then paste the analytics code into Office 365 sites. It works with publishing sites and collaboration sites, so if your organization is hosting team sites, blogs, and the like, check it out.
This free, open source antivirus solution is essential for security-minded admins. ClamWin supports Microsoft Windows versions ranging from Windows 98 to Windows 8, as well as Windows Server 2012, 2008, and 2003. It includes a scanning scheduler that you can use to configure appropriate scan times, automatic signature updates, Microsoft Outlook attachment scan/removal, and more.
Although it may not be 100 percent comparable to a commercial real-time option for virus scanning, ClamWin is certainly a worthwhile tool, especially for shops seeking a free solution. There are other free solutions, obviously, but this one is also open source, a definite plus.
The Exchange Online Protection email security engine rates promotional messages on a scale of 1 to 9
In time for the holiday shopping season, Microsoft has refined how Office 365 handles bulk promotional emails from vendors like Amazon, eBay and Macy’s.
Those messages, which contain special offers, newsletters and other sales incentives, fall into a gray area between legitimate email and obvious spam. Depending on a variety of factors, recipients sometimes find them useful and other times annoying.
Now, Microsoft has added what it describes as a “simple, intuitive control” to the Exchange Online Protection (EOP) security engine in Exchange Online so that Office 365 admins can fine-tune the treatment of these messages for their domain.
EOP rates bulk messages on a scale of 1 to 9. The lower the rating, the less likely the message will be considered a nuisance by recipients. Criteria used to rate messages include whether recipients signed up for the mailings, whether the sender offers unsubscribe options and how many complaints the emails have generated.
Office 365 sets its default threshold at 7, meaning EOP will deliver bulk messages rated 6 and lower, and throw those rated 7 and above into the spam basket. However, admins can adjust the threshold to a different number.
“Bulk email can be a real nuisance for users. We hope that this feature will help you better manage the amount of bulk email your organization receives and look forward to continually improving our anti-spam service to meet your needs,” wrote Microsoft officials Shobhit Sahay and Chris Nguyen in a blog post Monday.
Microsoft is starting to roll out the improved email management capability now. Admins that want it activated right away on their domains can place a request with Microsoft via their account team.
Microsoft becomes first major browser maker to drop support for world’s most popular OS
Microsoft’s new browser, Internet Explorer 9 (IE9), will not run on Windows XP, now or when the software eventually ships, the company confirmed Tuesday.
The move makes Microsoft the first major browser developer to drop support for XP, the world’s most popular operating system, in a future release.
Although Microsoft excluded Windows XP from the list for the IE9 developer preview, it sidestepped the question about which versions of Windows the final browser would support. In an IE9 FAQ, for example, Microsoft responded, “It’s too early to talk about features of the Internet Explorer 9 Beta” to the query, “Will Internet Explorer 9 run on Windows XP?”
This dialog box pops up during attempts to install IE9 Platform Preview on Windows XP.
That caused some users to demand a straight answer. “Please tell whether the final version will run on Windows XP SP3 or not,” said someone identified as “eXPerience” in a comment to a blog post by Dean Hachamovich, Microsoft’s general manager for the IE team. “If not, please be clear about it. Really, enough is enough of keeping users in the lurch about Windows XP support.”
Others bashed Microsoft on the assumption that IE9 would never run on XP. “Dropping Windows XP support is one of the worst decisions ever taken by [the] IE team, probably even worse than disbanding the IE team back in the IE6 days,” claimed an anonymous commenter.
Microsoft had offered up broad hints that IE9 was not in Windows XP’s future, however. Tuesday, a company spokeswoman said the new browser needs a “modern operating system,” a phrase that hasn’t been paired with Window XP for years. “Internet Explorer 9 requires the modern graphics and security underpinnings that have come since 2001,” she added, clearly referring to XP, which appeared that year.
Windows XP’s inability to run the Platform Preview or the final browser stems from, IE9’s graphics hardware acceleration, which relies on the Direct2D and DirectWrite DirectX APIs (applications programming interfaces). Support for those APIs is built into Windows 7, and was added to Vista and Windows Server 2008 last October, but cannot be extended to Windows XP.
Some users worried that by halting browser development for Windows XP, Microsoft would repeat a current problem, getting customers to ditch IE6 for a newer version. “Those who choose to stay with XP will be forced to [then] stay forever on IE8, which will become the new IE6,” said a user named Danny Gibbons in a comment on Hachamovich’s blog.
Tough, said Sheri McLeish, Forrester Research’s browser analyst. “This is the stick to get off XP,” she said. Windows XP users will solve the browser problem themselves when they upgrade, as most eventually will, to Windows 7. “What are they going to do, go to Linux or run XP forever?” she asked.
Still, IE9’s inability to run on Windows XP will prevent it from becoming widespread until the nearly-nine-year-old OS loses significant share to Windows 7. According to Web metrics company NetApplications’ most recent data, if IE9 was released today, it would be able to run on just over a quarter — 27% — of all Windows machines.
No other major browser maker has announced plans to stop supporting Windows XP, but several have dropped other operating systems or platforms. Last month, for instance, Mozilla said it would not support Apple’s Mac OS X 10.4, known as “Tiger,” in future upgrades to Firefox. Google’s Chrome for the Mac, meanwhile, only runs on Intel-based Macs, not on the older PowerPC-based machines that were discontinued in 2006.
The IE9 Platform Preview can be downloaded from Microsoft’s site. It requires Windows 7, Vista SP2, Windows Server 2008 or Windows 2008 R2.
Rival’s ‘Continuity’ feature would make a useful addition to Office on iOS and OS X, says analyst
There’s no good reason why Microsoft can’t adopt Apple’s “Handoff” technology in its iOS and OS X Office apps, an analyst said today.
“Office would be more useful if they did,” said Wes Miller, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft. “I don’t see a good reason not to.”
Handoff, part of “Continuity,” a term that describes several new features slated to ship in iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite this fall, lets users begin an activity — writing an email, browsing the Web, creating a document — and then resume it on another device. The feature relies on Bluetooth-powered proximity awareness to recognize Apple devices registered to the same iCloud account. Once that ad hoc recognition takes place, users can hand off in-progress tasks.
Apple will support Handoff on many of its own iOS apps and OS X applications bundled with iOS 8 and Yosemite, including the iWork troika of Pages, Numbers and Keynote. But it will also open up Handoff to third-party developers via several APIs (application programming interfaces), giving them a chance to bake the feature into their own software.
If Microsoft were to add Handoff support to its iOS apps — Office Mobile on the iPhone, Office for iPad on Apple’s tablet — and its desktop edition for OS X, a document begun on the iPad could be picked up on a MacBook Air at the point it was left when the two devices neared each other.
But Microsoft already has its own solution to the multi-device problem in Office, said Miller. “With OneDrive, Microsoft has ‘document continuity,” Miller said. “You can step away from one device and the document is saved in the background. Then you can open it on another device from OneDrive.”
There are differences: When Computerworld opened a Word 2013 document on the iPad — the document was last edited on a Windows 8.1 notebook — it was positioned with the cursor at the top, not at the location of the last edit. And neither OneDrive nor Office spawned an on-screen alert that pointed the user to the document-in-progress, as does Apple’s Handoff.
Microsoft’s desire to support Handoff in Office will largely depend on how the Redmond, Wash. company perceives its rival’s requirements. To use Handoff, an Apple device owner must have an iCloud ID, and be signed into that account on all hardware meant for content forwarding. (That’s how Handoff recognizes the devices owned by an individual.)
Naturally, Microsoft pushes its own identity system for accessing its services, ranging from Office 365 and OneDrive to Outlook.com and Skype.
There should be no concern in Redmond about document storage, even though Apple makes it much easier for developers who use iCloud as their apps’ document repositories. iCloud is not a requirement — as Microsoft’s own Office for iPad demonstrated — and Microsoft can continue to rely on OneDrive as Office’s default online storage service. There were no other obvious barriers in the limited amount of documentation that Apple’s published on the technology.
Microsoft would likely benefit in the public perception arena — or the subset composed of Mac, iPhone and iPad owners — said Miller. When Microsoft took nine months after Apple debuted a full-screen mode to add the feature to Office’s applications, some customers criticized the firm for not putting its shoulder behind the OS X wheel. By jumping on Handoff, Microsoft would shut up those critics.
The move would also let the company again demonstrate that it’s in the game with all players, not just those inside its own ecosystem, a point CEO Satya Nadella has made numerous times — notably when he introduced Office for iPad — since his February promotion. “They’re more open to being open,” said Miller, citing the new regime’s viewpoint as another factor that could tip the debate.
Miller expected Handoff to debut in Office, if it does at all, when Microsoft launches the next edition for the Mac. “I’d expect Office 365 to pick it up automatically, but I wouldn’t expect it on the Mac side until the back-to-school timeframe,” said Miller.
Microsoft would also have to revise Office for iPad and the iPhone version of Office Mobile, and if it decided to support Handoff between native and Web-based apps, modify the free online editions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.
Some countries that can’t get Surface Pro 2 yet never will, Microsoft says.
Microsoft says that in some countries where its Surface Pro 2 tablet is not yet available, it never will be; the Surface Pro 3 will have to do.
Rather than introduce the device then end-of-life it within months, the company will skip the earlier version of the device altogether in those countries and go with the newer model announced last week, says Cyril Belikoff, the director of Surface marketing at Microsoft.
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That still means at least months of waiting for those countries that don’t yet have access to Surface Pro 2 despite its being available in the U.S. since last October. The newer Surface Pro 3 ships first in the U.S. and Canada June 20, and then to 31 other regions into which Microsoft divides the world. But that won’t be for two or three months at the earliest, Belikoff says.
The unavailability of the device rankles some in countries where it’s not sold. For example, a participant in a Reddit Ask Me Anything session this week, Deniz Yakamoz wanted to know when Surface would be available in her country, Turkey. The answer, written by the Surface Team in Turkish and translated by another AMA participant, was, “Since our plans aren’t finalized, I definitely can’t answer your question, but be certain it’s at the top of my list.”
Belikoff says that demand for Surface Pro 2 in countries where it is already available is strong enough that Microsoft will continue selling it and not relegate it to end-of-life.
Surface Pro 3 is larger (12-inch screen v. 10.5-inch) and has more processor options. Surface Pro 2 comes with Intel Core i5, while Surface Pro 3 has options for i3, i5 and i7 processors.
Meanwhile the company has put Surface Pro 2 on sale in the U.K., according to a ZDNet report by dropping the price of the 64GB version from 771 pounds to 569 pounds, although it’s unclear whether that’s to reduce inventory in anticipation of Surface Pro 3 demand.
Belikoff says in the Surface Blog that corporate customers Avande, BMW Group, The Coca-Cola Company, Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy and Seattle Children’s Hospital have chosen Surface Pro 3 as one of the devices their organizations issue. Despite the devices being unavailable for a month, they have committed to deploying between hundreds and thousands of them to select groups within the companies, he says.
Microsoft cheaper to use than open source software, UK CIO says
British government says every time they compare FOSS to MSFT, Redmond wins.
A UK government CIO says that every time government citizens evaluate open source and Microsoft products, Microsoft products forever come out cheaper in the long run.
Jos Creese, CIO of the Hampshire County Council, told Britain’s “Computing” publication that part of the cause is that most staff are already familiar with Microsoft products and that Microsoft has been flexible and more helpful.
“Microsoft has been flexible and obliging in the means we apply their products to progress the action of our frontline services, and this helps to de-risk ongoing cost,” he told the publication. “The tip is that the true charge is in the totality cost of ownership and exploitation, not just the license cost.”
Creese went on to say he didn’t have a particular bias about open source over Microsoft, but proprietary solutions from Microsoft or any other commercial software vendor “need to justify themselves and to work doubly hard to have flexible business models to help us further our aims.”
He approved that there are troubles on together sides. In some cases, central government has developed an undue dependence on a few big suppliers, which makes it hard to be confident about getting the best value out of the deal.
On the other hand, he is leery of depending on a small firm, and Red Hat aside, there aren’t that many large, economically hard firms in open source like Oracle, SAP, and Microsoft. Smaller firms often offer the greatest innovation, but there is a risk in agreeing to a significant deal with a smaller player.
“There’s a huge dependency for a large organization using a small organization. [You need] to be mindful of the risk that they can’t handle the scale and complexity, or that the product may need adaptation to work with our infrastructure,” said Creese.
I’ve heard this argue before. Open source is cheaper in gaining costs not easy to support over the long run. Part of it is FOSS’s DIY ethos, and bless you guys for being able to debug and recompile a complete app or distro of Linux, but not everyone is that smart.
The extra problem is the lack of support from vendors or third parties. IBM has done what no one else has the power to do. 20 after Linus first tossed his creation on the Internet for all to use, we still don’t have an open source equivalent to Microsoft or Oracle. Don’t say that’s a good thing because that’s only seeing it from one side. Business users will demand support levels that FOSS vendors can’t provide. That’s why we have yet to see an open source Oracle.
The part that saddens me is that reading Creese’s interview makes it clear he has more of a clue about technology than pretty much anyone we have in office on this side of the pond.
Microsoft will no longer issue security patches for Windows XP
This month’s “Patch Tuesday” includes the final round of security fixes Microsoft will issue for Windows XP, potentially leaving millions that continue to use the OS open to attack.
XP will become an easy target for attackers now that Microsoft has stopped supporting it, said Wolfgang Kandek, CTO for IT security firm Qualys.A The OS will no longer receive fixes for holes that Microsoft and others might find in the OS. Moreover, attackers will be able to reverse engineer patches issued for newer versions of Windows, giving them clues to the remaining unfixed vulnerabilities in XP, Kandek said.
Microsoft has acknowledged the problem and has been pushing hard to get users onto newer versions of Windows.
“If you continue to use Windows XP now that support has ended, your computer will still work but it might become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses,” it said in an advisory.
Its efforts haven’t always been successful. Qualys compiled data from 6,700 companies and found that use of XP still represents a sizable portion of OSes running in the enterprise.A About one-fifth of companies in finance, for instance, still use XP — a surprisingly large number for an industry handling sensitive data. A
In retail, 14 percent of PCs still run XP, and in heath care the figure is 3 percent.
Organizations may be holding off on updating for a number of reasons, Kandek said. Some didn’t realize support was closing and are just now putting a migration plan in place. Others may be taking a calculated risk, saving on the cost of an upgrade and trying to minimize exposure by limiting access to the Internet and through other measures.
In addition to ending support for XP, Microsoft is no longer supporting Office 2003 or Internet Explorer 8.
The company released four security updates altogether on Tuesday. They cover 11 vulnerabilities in Windows, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office and Microsoft Publisher. Two of the updates are marked as critical. One of those, MS14-018, fixes a number of issues with Internet Explorer. The other, MS14-017, addresses critical vulnerabilities in Microsoft Word and Office Web Apps. They include a zero day in how Office 2010 handles documents encoded in the Rich Text Format.
Even after that fix is applied, organizations might want to disable Word’s ability to open RTF files, if those types of files aren’t routinely used, Kandek advised.A
The two other updates in April’s round of patches were marked important. One of them, MS14-020, handles a vulnerability in the company’s Publisher program. The other, MS14-019, covers how Windows, including XP, handles files.
Kandek also advised administrators to apply the patch Adobe issued Tuesday for a serious vulnerability in its Flash multimedia software.
It is a light month from Microsoft lacking a flurry of last-second patches for XP
Microsoft’s final patches for Windows XP that come out next week focus on critical problems with older versions of Internet Explorer that can result in malicious code being run remotely on victim machines.
Internet Explorer 6, 7 and 8 that operate within Windows XP are all being patched in the April Microsoft Security Bulletins, as are vulnerabilities in Windows XP itself that are ranked as important but not critical.
These final XP patches come out April 8 and so represent the end of support for the operating system.
Internet Explorer patches are a routine piece of every month’s bulletins, says Russ Ernst, director product management at Lumension. “The second bulletin is the now-expected cumulative update for Internet Explorer,” he says. “It’s also rated critical and of course key for the many IE users out there.”
Other than the historical XP significance of the bulletins this month, they are otherwise unremarkable. There are just four of them, two critical and two rated important. The difference between them is that the important ones require action by the victim – such as clicking on a link – while the critical ones don’t.
The second critical bulletin affects all versions of Office and addresses vulnerabilities and active attacks identified last week in an advisory from Microsoft that offered up a workaround until this permanent fix was ready. “This is a critical vulnerability that could allow remote code execution if a user opens a RTF file in Word 2010 or in Outlook while using Word as the email viewer,” Ernst says.