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Windows IT Pro UPDATE--Windows Weathers Linux Storm--April 12, 2005

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1. Commentary
- Windows Weathers Linux Storm; Microsoft Backs Itanium in Longhorn Server; VMware Releases VMware Workstation 5.0

2. Hot Off the Press
- Intel Ships Dual-Core Pentium 4

3. Peer to Peer
- Featured Thread: Capture a Blue Screen Error Message
- FAQ: How can I block users from accessing the Microsoft Web application service that determines unknown file extensions?
- Group Policy Chat

4. New and Improved
- Find Files by Keywords

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==== 1. Commentary: Windows Weathers Linux Storm; Microsoft Backs Itanium in Longhorn Server; VMware Releases VMware Workstation 5.0 ====
by Paul Thurrott, News Editor, [email protected]

An interesting mindshare war has been raging in the IT sector for the past few years. Open-source software (OSS) backers have been claiming that Linux is more stable and secure than Windows, whereas Microsoft and its camp argue the opposite. Oh, and by the way, Windows is just as inexpensive as Linux when you factor in the training and total lifetime costs, Microsoft says.

This argument has always been particularly amusing to me. My stance, which shouldn't be construed as the opinion of a supposed Microsoft-backer, is that Linux simply hasn't been tested in the real world enough for any claims to be made about its reliability, security, or long-term cost, especially when compared with Windows, the most-widely deployed enterprise OS.

In the past, Microsoft and its supporters have pointed to numerous studies that prove its point. But OSS backers have always argued that those studies were funded in part by Microsoft or even represented some sort of collusion between Microsoft and the companies performing the studies.

We can only wonder what these OSS proponents are going to complain about this time. In a recent independent study performed by Yankee Group, Microsoft's Windows OSs were found to offer equivalent or better total cost of ownership (TCO) benefits when compared with enterprise Linux products. In the study, 88 percent of surveyed business and enterprise customers reported that the performance and reliability of Windows Server was equal to or better than that of Linux. And even the security rating of Windows Server among these customers, 7.6 out of 10, was comparable to Linux's 8.3 score. Most important perhaps is that the 7.6 score was double last year's security score.

Yankee Group analyst Laura DiDio, who has come under fire by Linux backers who claim that Microsoft backed the survey, noted that Microsoft has made "significant" steps in improving security and patch management on the Windows platform in just the past year. "Yankee Group paid entirely for the survey," she said, defending the results. "We use an independent survey house." The Yankee Group survey, she said, included executives at more than 500 companies.

One interesting aspect of the survey's conclusions concerns the factors that differentiate server OSs. Linux, UNIX, and Windows customers are mostly satisfied with their systems' baseline performance and reliability. The primary factors influencing TCO, therefore, are the cost, development time, and difficulty of deploying applications and services on the various platforms. Here, of course, Windows shines, and that system's high TCO score reflects its prowess.

As far as competition goes, most of Linux's success has come at the expense of proprietary UNIX, Yankee Group says, and not Windows. However, Linux use is still growing, especially in infrastructure-type services, email, and Web serving, Yankee Group noted.

Microsoft Backs Itanium in Longhorn Server
I've written a lot of about the 64-bit x64 platform lately, but I haven't adequately addressed Intel's Itanium processor, which still achieves scalability and performance levels that leave current x64 solutions in the dust. This week, Microsoft reaffirmed its commitment to the Itanium processor family by announcing that it will ship Itanium-compatible versions of its Longhorn Server product, which is due in early 2007. But Longhorn Server isn't the only Microsoft product getting the Itanium treatment going forward, which was news to me.

"Microsoft continues to license and support Windows Server 2003 Enterprise and Datacenter editions for Itanium-based systems and the 64-bit version of Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition," Microsoft Senior Vice President Bob Muglia said. "Later this year, we'll expand Itanium support to Visual Studio 2005, Microsoft .NET Framework 2005, and SQL Server 2005."

VMware Releases VMware Workstation 5.0
Finally, I'd like to point out that VMware has released VMware Workstation 5.0, which includes several features not found in Microsoft's competing product, Virtual PC 2004. Although I tested VMware Workstation 5.0 during the beta period, I didn't thoroughly review its new features. But I do think you might be interested in this release, so I'll mention the high points now and provide a full report later.
- Multiple snapshots. The previous version of VMware Workstation supported point-in-time snapshots, but version 5.0 adds multiple snapshots. So you could, for example, install Windows XP in a virtual machine, take a snapshot, install XP Service Pack 1 (SP1), take a snapshot, install SP2, and take a third snapshot, easily moving among the three environments as if they were different virtual machines.
- Cloning. Instead of moving large virtual machines across the networks between users, you can use Workstation 5.0 to store a single copy of a virtual machine on a network share and provide multiple users with cloned copies of the virtual machine. These clones use the same file format as Workstation 5.0 virtual machines but are much smaller.
- Team features. It's easier to create an entire network of virtual machines on one hardware box now, thanks to memory use features that first debuted in VMware ESX Server, the company tells me. Developers and testers can also throttle network bandwidth as appropriate to test applications under different conditions.

Workstation 5.0 looks like a strong release, leading me to wonder what Microsoft can do to shore up its lagging Virtual PC product line. Virtual PC 2004 SP1 will ship late this year and might add x64 support (which Workstation 5.0 already supports on the host side). Virtual PC 2.0 (code-named Hedgehog) is due in 2006, along with the next version of Virtual Server, but I don't have many details about either release yet. But, unlike VMware's offerings, Virtual Server and Virtual PC products are aimed almost exclusively at the consolidation and legacy markets. If you need more functionality than that--or even if you don't--VMware is worth a look.

Readers' Choice
On an unrelated note, the ballot for Windows IT Pro's annual Readers' Choice awards is now live. Here's your chance to reward companies that provide excellent products and services. The September 2005 issue of Windows IT Pro will feature the winners. Click here to vote:

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

Intel Ships Dual-Core Pentium 4
Intel has begun shipping its first-ever dual-core Pentium 4 microprocessor, which features two processor cores in a single chip, providing users with much of the performance of a dual-processor configuration at a lower cost. Read the complete story at the following URL:

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==== Instant Poll ====

Results of Previous Poll:
The voting has closed in Windows IT Pro's nonscientific Instant Poll for the question, "How much experience do you have working with Group Policy?" Here are the results from the 270 votes:
- 12% I'm an expert
- 47% Somewhat comfortable with it, but I'm no expert
- 24% I barely get by
- 17% None

New Instant Poll:
The next Instant Poll question is, "Do you use virtual machine technology in your enterprise?" Go to the Windows IT Pro home page and submit your vote for a) Yes, we use Microsoft Virtual Server or Virtual PC, b) Yes, we use VMware, c) Yes, we use another virtual machine product, or d) No, we don't use virtual machine technology.

==== 3. Peer to Peer ====

Featured Thread: Capture a Blue Screen Error Message
Forum reader Simon O'Mahoney wants to know how to capture a blue screen error message. If you can help, join the discussion at the following URL:

FAQ: How can I block users from accessing the Microsoft Web application service that determines unknown file extensions?
by John Savill,

Find the answer at the following URL:

Group Policy Chat
It's easy to be overwhelmed by the large number of Group Policy settings and the variety of ways to apply them. In this chat, Ed Roth explains how his IT group uses Group Policy Objects (GPOs) for desktop management. Ed and Group Policy guru Darren Mar-Elia share their experience and answer your questions about deployment settings, folder redirection, standardization, security, updates, and much more. Ask them about the gotchas and the benefits and get answers you won't find anywhere else. The chat happens on April 14 at 12:00 PM EST. Visit the Microsoft Technical Chats page to join the chat or put it on your calendar.;14740548;6134865;n?

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==== 4. New and Improved ====
by Angie Brew, [email protected]

Find Files by Keywords
TrieTech released InfoLayout 1.5.1, an information-management solution that lets you categorize files based on an extensive set of criteria so that you can easily search and find data based on keywords. InfoLayout lets you add a description to any item, then search for files by these descriptions. The product recognizes hundreds of file types, so you can easily arrange data in groups and extract additional file information. InfoLayout lets you create custom data categories based on your settings and features a reporting engine to create custom reports. InfoLayout costs $25. Contact TrieTech at [email protected].

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