Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Weighing in on the Google vs Microsoft thing...

There seems to be a *lot* of conjecture going on regarding Google extending it's reach into the home by offering some kind of client... maybe an OS. There are a lot of comments along the lines of 'the internet has matured enough now' and 'the network is the computer' etc etc. And most of all 'is this the end of Microsoft?'.

Let me just say LOL! What are these people taking (and where can I get some ;-). If someone was serious enough to think that Google was going to make some kind of thin client based foray into the OS market, maybe even combined with some kind of hardware offering, they should also consider what Microsoft currently offers /has in the pipeline in this space. Namely

1) The existing Windows Embedded product
2) The upcoming Eiger thin client
3) Terminal Services, both in it's current form and the upcoming Longhorn version (which will be offering things like seamless applications, which Citrix has had for at least 10 years)
4) Exchange / Outlook Web Access, Sharepoint
5) MSN

And on top of that, consider what Microsoft would have to gain by competing with Google in terms of a 'managed service' offering. Very few software companies have piracy problems on the scale that Microsoft does. If Microsoft could drop development of a full blown OS tomorrow and only offer a thin client solution that cost little or nothing and host a bunch of services on the backend that people paid for on a subscription basis, they would be more profitable than they are now. Not only would their payroll be cut in half, so would their R&D, their support costs and their security headache (and associated image problems) would verge on disappearing.

But is Microsoft heading in this direction? Of course not. If they were, what would the likes of Intel, AMD, Creative, nVidia, ATI, Seagate, Maxtor, Samsung, Hynix, Dell, HP and all the other massive hardware companies out there do about it? Probably switch to Linux :-P. Seriously though, these hardware companies benefit so much by having Microsoft add features that require more CPU, more RAM, more disk, better graphics etc etc. The last thing they would want to see would be a massive swing to thin client or appliance based computing. There's certainly no way the likes of Dell or anyone else would entertain manufacturing a low cost, low margin thin client for Google. I can see Steve Ballmer's reaction now. I suppose Google could try to make a go of hardware manufacturing alone, but it would be a brave, expensive gamble.

I'll be interested to look back on this in a few years time.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Tech.Ed 05 thoughts...

Since this was my first Tech.Ed, I don't have anything to compare it with, but I'm a little disappointed. The highlights were pretty much limited to the sessions from Steve Riley and Jesper Johanssen. But if you've been listening to them speak or reading their whitepapers / blogs and anything else over the past 2-3 years, it wasn't anything new. Especially not if you read their book before going!

But one huge highlight was the half hour 1 on 1 I had with Steve Riley. It seems he is at the same point I am with regards to Windows security, in that nowadays the problem is less technical and more people / process related. I think most Windows admins know what needs to be done to secure their boxes, and what technologies are available to keep them secure. But when it comes to getting outages from business owners, we're still in the same (bad) situation we were in 3 years ago.

Anyone who works in a large environment knows this. People who have only ever worked in small environments will have no idea of what I'm talking about. I'm not longer tolerant of people making flippant remarks about 'how come all the big enterprises get [insert attack here] - don't they know how to patch?'. Yeh right. You try getting an outage on a box that sees hundreds of millions of income go through it. It doesn't matter if it's clustered - business people are paranoid of any change, esepcially when it's something they do not understand and there's a LOT of money involved.

Steve mentioned he is working on a presentation about showing security ROI. I can't wait to get his thoughts on that, not that I'm waiting for him to do something... all Windows admins should be looking into this asap!