A Mixed Bag

My kids made out well this Halloween. Of course, their bags were filled with the usual variety of treats, ranging from barely passable to excellent--a bit like the life of an Exchange Server admin. As I eat my way through the stash, the following collection of Exchange factoids and musings comes to mind.

- Joel Spolsky is a smart man. Back in June, Spolsky wrote an essay, "How Microsoft Lost the API War" ( http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/apiwar.html ), in which he claims that Web-based applications will eventually kill off the need for "rich client" OSs such as Windows. But after spending an entire day upgrading the popular Movable Type blogging system (which runs my Exchange Security blog at http://www.e2ksecurity.com ), I can say that the quality bar for supportability (i.e., patching, upgrading, and configuring Web-based applications on the server) has been set much higher for Windows than these Web-app developers apparently think. Upgrading Movable Type was a nightmare, especially compared to the upgrade processes that I've used with Exchange and Windows. For its part, Microsoft still believes that the rich-client story is worth telling, and that users want to be able to cache, process, and manipulate data on their local machines. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) World Wind simulator and NewsGator's Outlook-integrated Really Simple Syndication (RSS) reader prove that rich clients still have a rich future.

- If you're still wondering whether the RSS format is useful for business purposes, check out Exchange Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Glen Scales's blog ( http://gsexdev.blogspot.com ). Scales has a script ( http://gsexdev.blogspot.com/2004/09/public-folder-rss-feed-event-sink-v2.html ) that will automatically generate an RSS feed of newly posted items in a public folder--a terrific way to consolidate public folder delivery of messages or posts with all the other feeds you might be monitoring. Even better: Use a Windows SharePoint Services Web part to display RSS as part of a portal page.

- During my Microsoft Exchange Connections presentation about high-availability design strategies for Exchange Server 2003, the power went out. This timely event clarified my point that not all single points of failure are within our control and reminded everyone present what it's like to suffer a sudden and unexpected outage. (Fortunately, no data was lost.)

- At last month's CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment 2004 conference, cellular carriers introduced several new Windows Mobile phones that have slide-out keyboards. Will this be the hardware innovation that, combined with Windows Mobile's other features (e.g., Windows Media Player--WMP--10) helps Microsoft push past Research In Motion's (RIM's) BlackBerry?

- Next week (November 8 through 12), the Exchange team has a dozen Exchange Webcasts covering security, Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM), Live Communications Server 2005, mobility, migration from IBM Lotus Notes or Novell GroupWise, and other goodies. There's something for practically everyone. The complete list is available at http://www.microsoft.com/seminar/events/series/tnexchangeserver.mspx .

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