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XP Still Alive, Kicking at 10

Windows XP's end of support lifecycle (it's 10 years old) is just around the proverbial corner, so what explains its enduring popularity with IT folks? Net Applications reports that XP market share has increased (slightly) in January from the previous month, with Windows 7 slipping (slightly).

Posted by Michael Domingo on 02/02/2012 at 11:59 AM4 comments


Father of NT Working on Xbox

Microsoft's latest earnings reports showed that its Entertainment and Devices division raked in 15 percent more business from the year-ago quarter. We're not sure if there's a correlation to be made with that division's strong growth and the fact that Dave Cutler, the father of Windows NT, has been reporting to CEO Steve Ballmer from there. Coincidentally, Kinect 1.0 for Windows was recently released, but it's hard to tell what role Cutler plays in the Kinect's proliferation beyond the Xbox.

Posted by Michael Domingo on 02/02/2012 at 11:59 AM0 comments


MIX Nixed

If you attended MIX last year, the MIX tchotchkes are now a collectors' item (well, highly specialize collectors). Microsoft has canceled the confab that was mainly a mega-meetup for Web developers and business professionals. I remember attending MIX in 2006; the technology that would later become SilverLight was the highlight.

Compared to other Microsoft conferences like TechEd, PDC or MMS, MIX seemed skimpy attendance-wise. And over the years, there seemed to be less emphasis on Web development and it became more about newer versions of IE and later about Windows Phone. Microsoft said it would be rolling most of the MIX content into another developer-focused event, but my suspicions tell me that the company's shift to the cloud played a large part in the death of MIX.

Trivia Question: What is MIX an acronym for? Real and made-up guesses are welcome here.

Posted by Michael Domingo on 01/26/2012 at 11:59 AM0 comments


Which Windows, 7 or 8?

This is the year that Windows 7 migrations are supposed be on the upswing. Gartner even recommends that all businesses start to decommission any Windows XP boxes before year's end. By all accounts anecdotal and personal, Win7 is a pretty solid OS, less prone to crashing and even better, able to recover more quickly from crashes. It definitely makes sense for those on XP to jump over. (And if you're still on Vista, I have two things to say: 1) Whoa! 2) What's keeping you on it?)

But Windows 8 is expected to debut later this year and, well, it seems to make sense to just migrate directly to Windows 8, right? Windows 8 has a slew of new features going for it, like its cloud-readiness, a new file system, and whatnot. We've had a fairly reliable version of the beta OS on a lab machine soon after it was made available after the PDC, that now Metro is starting to look like last year's tech. Still, would any of you consider upgrading directly to it, or are you planning to take the tried and true migration path that goes through Windows 7 first?

Of course, some of you may be jumping ship altogether and instead throwing out old boxes in favor or Apple iPads (or some other tablet). If that describes you, tell us why here.

Posted by Michael Domingo on 01/26/2012 at 11:59 AM2 comments


What, We Worry? Not Microsoft

Microsoft sees declining PC sales at a pace worse than analysts would imagine. Microsoft still a distant second in search. Microsoft affected by Apple making a dent in the enterprise. Microsoft's future appears bleak -- until you look at Microsoft's recent financials.

The good news is that the company's latest earnings report ,just released on its Web site, shows nearly every segment of Microsoft's business gaining signficant percentage points over last year. Lync and Dynamics CRM in the Business Division and System Center in the Server & Tools looks like the darlings of their divisions, growing 30 and 20 percentage points respectively over last year's quarter. Disconcerting is the 6 percent drop in Windows sales (which includes Windows Live revenue) from a year ago, which explains why Microsoft said what it said about analysts' PC forecasts. Business Insider, which is prone to hyperbole, sees an upside in this dip.

Posted by Michael Domingo on 01/19/2012 at 11:59 AM0 comments


Certification Tidbit: Exams for 'The Private Cloud'

With System Center 2012 edging nearer to release, Microsoft Learning is set to deliver a slew of related beta exams during the Microsoft Management Summit in Las Vegas in mid-April. That, according to a Microsoft e-mail I received in my inbox today. Candidates planning to take those betas at MMS or exams in general release thereafter should check out a beta course, Administering System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, which is available through Microsoft training partners right now.

Posted by Michael Domingo on 01/19/2012 at 11:59 AM0 comments


System Center 2012 Testing Gets Easier in RC

Now that Microsoft's System Center 2012 suite is nearing completion and final release, Microsoft has taken a positive step forward by releasing the whole suite on the same timeline. The plan is that all products in the suite will also be available in general release simultaneously, with licensing greatly simplified. The full scoop from Redmond Online News Editor Kurt Mackie is here.

Posted by Michael Domingo on 01/18/2012 at 11:59 AM0 comments


Certification Tidbit: Discounted Exam Packs for Microsoft Partners

A Born2Learn blog notes that Microsoft Learning will be pushing back the expiration date to get discounted exam packs to May 15. The offer is available only to Microsoft Partners who want to cut the exam expenses for employees; it can save partners with Gold and Silver competencies up to 40 percent on exam fees when purchasing vouchers in a 20-pack. All other partners can purchase single vouchers at 15 percent discount. More info here.

Posted by Michael Domingo on 01/12/2012 at 11:59 AM1 comments


What's New on MCPmag.com: Windows Patching, Hyper-V, Pop Quiz

I'd like to point out a few new pieces of content on the MCPmag.com site.

First, Zubair Alexander, a good friend and sometime contributor to MCPmag.com's Windows Advisor column, called me over the holidays and asked if I'd be interested in some research he had done into a recurring problem he found as he was reinstalling some Windows servers. Seems he'd continually run into a problem performing updates with a few particular servers for one client, and a few days later, he ran into what seemed like oddly familiar issues on a completely different system. About three days of sweat and solid, nose-to-the-grindstone research later, he came up with answers, and did I want an article that recounted his tribulations?

Definitely, I was interested and I told him to send it soon, before I go on a company-mandated break the last week of the year in about three days' time. About a day later, Zubair e-mailed me with the piece, and here is the sparsely edited result: "Windows Update Troubles, Or What To Do When the Mother Of All Patches Fails." I'm sure quite a few of you have already read it (confirmed by Google Analytics), but I thought it was worth highlighting for those among you who are just getting back into the swing of the daily IT routine who would find Zubair's finding to be beneficial as you're updating and migrating servers.

On a related note, Also, Paul Schackenburg, a Microsoft MVP and frequent contributor to many 1105 Media pubs, takes a turn writing the Windows Advisor column with a series on Hyper-V. It's a back-to-basics look, starting with processing power in the first installment. (We understand quite a few readers are just generally interested in this virtualization thing and want to get started with Hyper-V.)

And finally, it's the return of the perenially popular Pop Quiz column, written by Microsoft MVP and trainer of many hundreds of MCPs, Andy Barkl. He starts off with some SharePoint questions, but if you have suggestions for other exams, please do leave a comment on the site.

On a side note, Visual Studio Magazine has followed MCPmag.com's lead by surveying its readership on its earning power. The results look pretty good, particularly for those who deal with data (daily). You can read the full report here.

Posted by Michael Domingo on 01/12/2012 at 11:59 AM0 comments


Microsoft Sees Rougher Times Ahead for PC Sales

Microsoft wants analysts to know that it sees PC sales declining in the next few sales quarters at a pace faster than what analysts are predicting. Those comments may have been poorly timed, since those predictions and general feeling run counter to the enthusiasm the company's CEO demonstrated at CES earlier this week, in the run up to the coming debut of Windows 8. Maybe the analysts are just being cautious.

Posted by Michael Domingo on 01/12/2012 at 11:59 AM1 comments


Of Zero-Days and Trojan Horses

Has anyone read Mark Russinovich's "Zero Day"? Yes, Russinovich, the coder behind many of the SysInternals tools that Microsoft deemed worthy of acquisition, and who is now a Microsoft Technical Fellow. No big secret, but Mark has also written a novel, Zero Day, which is about a topic that's near and dear to many IT geeks' hearts. I've been avoiding reading it to keep my screenplay -- about a major CEO secretly introducing malware into the wild to prop up his company's profits indirectly -- from being tainted with ideas in his novel. (You can stop laughing now at how unoriginal my idea is.)

In any event, check out Redmond's Online News Editor Kurt Mackie interview with Mark here, where he hints at a sequel that's in the works.

Speaking of zero days, trojan horses and flaw in general, Microsoft released 13 bulletins on Patch Tuesday. It seems like a heavy release, but only three are deemed critical.

Posted by Michael Domingo on 12/15/2011 at 11:59 AM0 comments


Would Bill Gates' Return to Microsoft Help or Hinder?

The continuing drumbeat from some pundits calling for Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer stepping down has recently included calls for former honcho Gates to return. The speculation was that Gates would, in short, reinvigorate the company's position on Wall St. as well as re-assert technology and innovation as the principal missions of the company, kinda Steve Jobs 2.0-ish. Interesting advice coming from pundits, but I believe Gates has never taken any pundit's advice. Gates recently dispelled any notion of that happening, though.

Why would the return of Gates be a good (or bad) thing for Microsoft? Comment here.

Posted by Michael Domingo on 12/15/2011 at 11:59 AM1 comments


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