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Windows IT Pro UPDATE--It's All About the Developers--February 8, 2005

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1. Commentary
- It's All About the Developers

2. Hot Off the Press
- Phishing Campaign Targets Microsoft Customers

3. Networking Perspectives
- Windows Firewall Proves Problematic for Symantec AntiVirus

4. Peer-to-Peer
- Featured Thread: Windows Firewall
- Tip: How can I replace the standard Windows Server 2003 or Windows XP boot splash screen?

5. New and Improved
- Automate Tasks

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==== 1. Commentary: It's All About the Developers ====
by Paul Thurrott, News Editor, [email protected]

It's All About the Developers

This week, Microsoft will participate in a third-party developer trade show called VSLive! San Francisco. Named for the Visual Studio (VS) suite of programming tools, VSLive! will feature numerous Microsoft program and product managers, testers, MVPs, executives, and other company representatives, all of whom will presumably spend a lot of time this week explaining why the heck VS 2005 is taking so long to ship. Maybe that's the wrong question to ask. The success of this week's developer conference, like that of a smaller but similar event held last week on the Microsoft campus for Microsoft Office developers, shows that Microsoft is starting 2005 on the right foot. Specifically, the company appears to understand that the development community butters its software platform bread, so to speak. And it's this developer focus, I believe, that has really driven much of the software giant's success over the years.

I recall Microsoft's early work seeding developers with technical information about Windows 3.x and, it should be noted, the crucial work Charles Petzold performed to make the information understandable to mere mortals. When Microsoft was still beta testing the initial version of Windows NT, Microsoft Press published a beta version of its Win32 API reference guide so that developers could get up to speed early. And when Windows 95 promised to bring 32-bit computing to the masses a decade ago, the company turned first to its developer community to ease the transition.

Since then, the rush of software platforms has been dizzying and hard to remember. Developers have had to deal with the transition from OLE to COM to COM+; numerous data access standards, including RDO, OLE-DB, ADO, and ADO.NET; and higher level, but less well-defined, initiatives such as ActiveX, Windows DNA, and even Microsoft .NET. But although these and other developer-related topics might be confusing, the platform foundations Microsoft has set in place over the past 2 decades are astonishing. That is, its most successful products aren't just standalone software islands with a static user base. Instead, they're full platforms that you can extend with new functionality and integrate with other products to make them more powerful.

This platform-based strategy can make things complex for Microsoft. VS 2005 is at least a year behind schedule, in part because it's so intimately tied to other products in the so-called Yukon wave of products, which also includes SQL Server 2005 (itself code-named Yukon) and a new version of the Windows .NET Framework. Although part of me cringes at something called a "wave of products," the name is apt in this case because Yukon is a platform on which other solutions will be built. Some of those solutions will come from Microsoft, but many will come from third parties. The model for this is a self-sustaining ecosystem that Microsoft has honed over time with various products.

One might argue that Microsoft's inability to deliver platforms on schedule is problematic. But my problems with Microsoft's apparent tardiness are all about perception. I think the company loses credibility when it makes promises it can't keep. Creating platforms such as Yukon and Longhorn, the next Windows version, is difficult. Developers and other customers understand that these things take time. But they're growing understandably restless with Microsoft's inability to accurately predict how long these projects will take to ship. What we need now from Microsoft is some direction and more realistic scheduling--which is important because 2005 is going to be a huge year for developers, and Yukon is only the start.

By mid-year, Microsoft will also ship its first x64 versions of Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP, products it has been educating developers about for more than a year. Longhorn beta 1 and beta 2 will ship this year as well, giving developers key insights into the foundational technologies they'll use to build the applications and services of the next decade. The company will ship two major versions of its Windows Mobile platform over the next 18 months. And of course, Microsoft is hosting shows such as Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC), Tech Ed, and the Professional Developers Conference (PDC) this year as well. And you thought you were busy last year.

Microsoft's platforms create opportunities for third-party developers, and the products work better when they interoperate with one another. It's a brilliant plan, one for which the company doesn't get enough credit. But part of the credit, of course, should be extended to the several million people who actively develop software for Microsoft's platforms. I find it heartening that Microsoft has never lost its connection to that community.

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==== 2. Hot Off the Press ====
by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Phishing Campaign Targets Microsoft Customers
Industrious and grammatically challenged scam artists are targeting Microsoft customers with an email-based phishing campaign in which the scammers attempt to fool users into revealing their credit card numbers. The campaign takes advantage of a recent Microsoft antipiracy announcement that warned users that the company will deny most product updates to users who have illegitimate Windows copies. Find out how the scam works by reading the entire story at the following URL:

==== 3. Networking Perspectives ====
by Alan Sugano, [email protected]

Windows Firewall Proves Problematic for Symantec AntiVirus
If you've installed Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) on a machine, you might have noticed that you can't remotely manage the workstation by using the Symantec System Center Console. For example, if you try to start a manual scan on an XP SP2 machine, you'll receive an error message stating that the workstation can't be communicated with even though it's turned on and connected to the network. Because the Windows Firewall is turned on by default with SP2, it prevents the Symantec System Center from communicating with the workstation. Discover how to work around this problem by reading the entire article at the following URL:

==== Events and Resources ====
(from Windows IT Pro and its partners)

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Blade servers pack a lot of function into a small space, conserve power and are flexible. In this free Web seminar, industry guru David Chernicoff details the best use of 1P, 2P and 4P configurations using single and multiple enclosures; integrating with NAS and SAN and managing the entire enterprise from a single console. Register now and take advantage of blade servers' power and flexibility.

==== Instant Poll ====

Results of Previous Poll:
The voting has closed in Windows IT Pro's nonscientific Instant Poll for the question, "Do you think Linux will ever overtake Windows as the most-used enterprise server OS?" Here are the results from the 741 votes:
- 52% Yes
- 44% No
- 4% I don't know

New Instant Poll:
The next Instant Poll question is, "How does your company deal with spam?" Go to the Windows IT Pro home page and submit your vote for a) We use an appliance- or server-based solution, b) We use a client-side filter, c) We subscribe to a hosted antispam service, d) Other, or e) We don't take any specific antispam measures.

==== 4. Peer-to-Peer ====

Featured Thread: Windows Firewall
Forum user kxmx250 wants to know how to keep people from using Windows Firewall on their machines so that he can remotely access their systems.

Tip: How can I replace the standard Windows Server 2003 or Windows XP boot splash screen?
by John Savill,

Find the answer at the following URL:

==== Announcements ====
(A complete Web and live events directory brought to you by Windows IT Pro: )

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==== 5. New and Improved ====
by Angie Brew, [email protected]

Automate Tasks
MJT Net released Macro Scheduler 7.3, a Windows task-automation tool that lets you record macros and create scripts to control your Windows applications, automate software processes, and assign tasks to scheduled events. Version 7.3 lets you compile scripts into standalone .exe files that can be launched on any Windows PC and has VBScript built-in, so you can embed VBScript code within Macro Scheduler scripts. MacroScript, the Macro Scheduler script language, includes full support for complex expressions, improved conditional statements, subroutines, and custom dialogs. The graphical Dialog Designer makes creating UIs for your scripts and executable files easy. Macro Scheduler 7.3 costs $59.95. Contact MJT Net through its Web site.

Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!
Have you used a product that changed your IT experience by saving you time or easing your daily burden? Tell us about the product, and we'll send you a T-shirt if we write about the product in a future Windows IT Pro What's Hot column. Send your product suggestions with information about how the product has helped you to mailto:[email protected]


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