Windows IT Pro UPDATE--Microsoft Renews Small Business Push--March 21, 2006

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1. Commentary
- Microsoft's Big Push: People-Ready or Not?

2. Hot Off the Press
- Microsoft Preps IE 7 Beta Refresh

3. Networking Perspectives Setting Up a VPN that Uses Certificates

4. Peer to Peer
- Forum Threads
- Tip: Can I defragment an Exchange database using a network drive if I don't have enough space locally?

4. New and Improved
- Synchronize Folder Contents Between Multiple Devices

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==== 1. Commentary: Microsoft's Big Push: People-Ready or Not? ====
by Paul Thurrott, News Editor, [email protected]

With the releases of Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007 bearing down on us like a comet ready to collide with Earth, it should come as no surprise that Microsoft considers this to be one of the biggest and most potentially lucrative years in the history of the company. Last week, we found out how big: At an event in New York aimed at presenting the business value of these software products, Microsoft revealed that it will spend $500 million marketing Vista and Office 2007.

The marketing push, which Microsoft refers to as its "people-ready" vision, represents Microsoft's biggest-ever attempt to get its business customers excited about upgrading. Based on my experience testing both products, however, the company is facing a tough sell. Neither Vista nor Office 2007 appears to offer anything compelling for businesses. Indeed, both have serious adoption barriers that will likely limit their appeal in this market.

Let's examine why this is the case. In Microsoft marketing parlance, businesses succeed when their employees are empowered to be the best they can be, and the software giant believes it can empower people through better software. The idea is simple: Give people software that lets them be more productive and everyone benefits. But as software gets more and more complex, hiding that complexity becomes ever more difficult. And Vista and Office 2007 are the most complex versions of Windows and Office yet.

Consider Vista. It features a high-end UI that requires correspondingly high-end hardware and rewards customers with a glass-like UI in which it is almost impossible to discern the front-most window from other open windows. Legacy software and hardware compatibility is dreadful. And a new security feature called User Account Protection (UAP), which attempts to make it possible for all users, even administrators, to run with restricted rights, is so painful to use that it's almost comical. You'll quickly find yourself awash in a never-ending sea of dialog boxes asking you to allow certain actions. It's infuriating.

Office 2007 suffers from different problems. Though I applaud Microsoft for creating an inarguably innovative new UI, which drops the menus and toolbars from previous versions, Office 2007 looks cartoonish and fails to rewards the millions of users who are familiar with the way the application suite used to work: Because virtually everything in the UI has changed, experienced users will have to start all over again. Indeed, experienced Office users may actually have an easier time switching to Corel WordPerfect Office X3, Sun Microsystems StarOffice 8, or OpenOffice 2.

To be clear, Office 2007 will indeed make inexperienced users more productive almost immediately because they'll see functionality exposed in new and visual ways. However, it's unclear to me why a Classic Mode UI wasn't included for the rest of us. Shouldn't experienced users be rewarded, not punished?

But back to "people ready." If Vista users are constantly fighting with UAP and using a UI that makes it unclear which window has the focus, and experienced Office users are constantly fighting with the Office 2007 UI, where are all the productivity gains coming from? Microsoft says that these products will make it easier to accomplish specific tasks, such as collaborating with others, and that the biggest gains will be seen in situations in which information workers are interacting with one or more coworkers.

My fear is that these products are usurping personal productivity, which is a known quantity, in favor of collaboration features, which most definitely are not a known quantity. It's still unclear whether the typical information worker--and yes, I hate that term as much as you--will ever use, let alone take advantage of, these features. I'd be happy to be proven wrong, of course. But I have concerns. What do you think?

Correction In last week's Windows IT Pro UPDATE, I wrote that "the R2 version of SBS 2003 adds all the technology from the mainstream Windows Server 2003 R2 release, along with a number of unique additions." This is incorrect. SBS 2003 R2 adds the relevant technologies from the mainstream Windows 2003 R2 release only. However, because many R2 features are enterprise-related, they will not appear in the SBS 2003 R2 release. Sorry for any confusion this might have caused.


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

Microsoft Preps IE 7 Beta Refresh
On Monday at the Microsoft MIX 06 Web developer and designer conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, Microsoft will issue a refreshed version of Internet Explorer (IE) 7 Beta, which the company is describing as feature complete. Microsoft will also discuss the next version of IE, which will likely include features that didn't make it into IE 7, including a true download manager and more seamless inline Web page searching. To read the complete story, visit the following URL:

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

Setting Up a VPN that Uses Certificates

==== Events and Resources ====
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==== 4. Peer to Peer ====

Forum Threads
Add your voice to the following discussions:

Finding inactive computers in Active Directory.

Security Breach?

New job, so far so good...

-------- Tip: Can I defragment an Exchange database using a network drive if I don't have enough space locally?
by John Savill,

Find the answer at the following URL:

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==== 5. New and Improved ====
by Blake Eno, [email protected]

Synchronize Folder Contents Between Multiple Devices
Heatsoft announced Advanced Directory Comparison and Synchronization (ADCS) 1.19, a tool that lets you compare and synchronize folder contents between desktops, laptops, or multiple disk drives on your network. ADCS's UI provides a side-by-side comparison of each device's folders and shows the file sizes, file creation dates, and other attributes associated with the folder. You can copy files from one folder to another or synchronize the folders with a single mouse-click. ADCS's other features include comma-separated value (CSV) and HTML-based comparison reporting, disk space viewing, and custom sorting. Pricing for ADCS starts at $30 for one to two licenses. For more information, contact Heatsoft. Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!
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