Archive for August, 2011:

Microsoft launches new CRM cloud promotion on eve of Salesforce conference

Microsoft is launching a new Dynamics CRM Online promotional deal, as well as unleashing a new spoof virtualization video the same week that Salesforce’s Dreamforce and VMware’s VMworld shows are kicking off.

Microsoft is launching a limited-time promotion for its Dynamics CRM Online service on the opening day of rival Salesforce.com’s Dreamforce conference.

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Via its “Cloud CRM for Less” offer, Microsoft is targeting Salesforce, SAP and Oracle switchers, the Redmondians announced on August 29. (However, to qualify, customers seemingly don’t need to be using products or services from any of these vendors.)

Microsoft is offering users $150 in cash per user seat for between 50 and 500 seats per customer. The promotional offer is available between now and March 31, 2012.

Here’s the fine print: The deal is only open to customers in U.S. and Canada and only to those that purchase at least 50 CRM Online licenses. To get the money back, companies need to sign a two-year licensing subscription deal for Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM Online.

Microsoft CRM Online is priced at $44 per user per month.

Microsoft officials have said they plan to roll out a new version of the CRM Online service before the end of this calendar year. They also are going to add CRM Online to Microsoft’s Office 365 hosted-app bundle later this year. Office 365 currently includes Microsoft-hosted Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Lync Online.

Salesforce isn’t the only company at which Microsoft is taking aim at the start of the week. In honor of VMware’s VMworld conference, which kicks off on August 29, Microsoft also made one of its trademark video spoofs available. Remember Gmail Man? Today, Microsoft took the wraps off his counterpart, Tad, who works for a virtualization company stuck in the past known as VMlimited.


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Gmail or Exchange? Six questions to help you make the right choice

Summary: There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all e-mail solution. After a long evaluation process, I’m happily using three different e-mail systems. Here’s how and why I chose each one.

 

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4. Are you willing to pay? If so, how much?

If you want free, get Hotmail or Gmail. (And don’t turn up your nose at Hotmail. If you haven’t looked lately, I recommend you try it again. It’s a first-class webmail solution that would have armies of fans if it came out of Mountain View or Cupertino.)

Google Apps is also available as a free offering. It’s limited to 10 user accounts, and each account has the same server storage as a free Gmail account—currently just over 7 GB.

The paid offerings are Google Apps for Business, Office 365, and Intermedia Hosted Exchange.

Prices start at roughly $50 a year, and you can get a lot of extra services along with your e-mail package. The most important, as far as I’m concerned, is the dedicated support that isn’t available with the free services (more about that later). Google offers a variety of add-ons for its Google Apps for Business customers. Microsoft includes SharePoint and Lync Online (messaging and collaboration) with Office 365. Those latter add-ons were the reason I chose Office 365 for my next book.

Google Apps: the free version allows up to 10 user accounts, with the same email storage limits as a free Gmail account. Google Apps for Business bumps storage to 25 GB and adds BlackBerry and Microsoft Outlook interoperability costs; it costs $5 per user account per month, or $50 if paid annually.
Office 365 Plans
Plan P (for professionals and small businesses), $6 per user account per month
Plan E (midsize business and enterprises), plans start at $10 per user per month. For $24 a month, a single user can get an Office Professional Plus license as well.
Intermedia Hosted Exchange: $7.50 per mailbox per month for Business account (25 GB storage), or $10/month for Enterprise account with unlimited storage and a 50 MB SharePoint plan; additional SharePoint storage is available for a fee.

5. How good is the spam filtering?

This is the question most people forget to ask. In my case, there was an enormous difference. Gmail, Hotmail, and Office 365 were equally effective at separating the wheat from the chaff, with a low incidence of real messages swept into the Junk folder.

An Office 365 P plan doesn’t offer any fine-tuning over its spam filters. It’s a simple toggle.

[Update; A reader points out that with Office 365 E plans, administrators have access to Forefront for Exchange.]

Intermedia offers much more fine-grained control. Every message that goes through its SpamStopper engine is assigned a numeric score. The higher the score, the more likely a particular message is likely to be spam. Using the sliders in the SpamStopper section of HostPilot allows you to set thresholds based on those scores, with messages above a certain score being moved to the Junk folder or summarily deleted.

One of my e-mail addresses has been in use since 1994. It gets mountains of spam every day—I estimate more than 90% of the messages sent to that address are spam. Unfortunately, I can’t retire the address, so I simply forward it to another account at a different domain. It is a real-world stress test for any spam filter.

With Office 365, I would typically get hundreds of messages from this address shunted into my Junk folder every day. Trying to pick the occasional legitimate message out was unpleasant work, and I know I missed a few important messages. By contrast, the Intermedia filters allowed me to filter spam using the numeric rating attached to each message after it was analyzed. I was able to quickly tweak those settings so that only a handful of actual spam messages sneak through every day. That makes the false positives much easier to spot and whitelist.

6. Do you need human support?

When it comes to support, you definitely get what you pay for.

With free Gmail, Hotmail, and Google Apps accounts, and with the $6-per-month Office 365 Plan P, you get only online support (typically via user-to-user forums). Google Apps for Business and the E-for-Enterprise Office 365 plans offer more robust support options.

But they can’t hold a candle to Intermedia’s support, which it legitimately touts as “industry leading.” I used their free migration service with a test account last fall to copy the contents of my Gmail account to corresponding folders in the new Exchange store. Since I moved my primary business and personal accounts to Intermedia, I’ve needed to call for support on several occasions. Hold times were brief, and the engineers I talked to were able to address my issues quickly and accurately.

They were especially good at helping me track down external causes for issues, including DNS configurations, that were affecting e-mail delivery. When I was briefly experiencing some routing issues on Comcast’s network, Intermedia’s engineers contacted Comcast to fix the issue. That was a refreshing change from the usual finger-pointing that goes on.

In my case, the combination of excellent spam filtering and great support were enough to tip the scales heavily in Intermedia’s favor. Ironically, Intermedia recently announced that it plans to resell Office 365 services. You can bet I’ll be monitoring that development closely.

And that’s my list.

If you’ve gone through a similar decision process, it’s possible your calculations were different. Tell me about it in the Talkback section.


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iPhone 5 rumor rollup for the week ending Aug. 26

Next Apple iPhone on sale in October, new parts, new carriers, and Steve Jobs’ PR plot

As Hurricane Irene closes in on the East Coast, iOSsphere rumors of iPhone 5 ticked up slightly to Category 2. Fueled by hot air, rumors broke out about iPhone 5 sales starting in October, a new battery design and audio jack flex cable, new carriers, Steve Jobs’ cunning PR plot, and much less.

 

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You read it here second.
“A dubious source from a no-name site — but it makes sense!” — Gizmodo, covering without a trace of irony a rumor that iPhone 5 is coming to T-Mobile

iPhone 5 will go on sale in October, at least at AT&T.
Citing “one of our high-level AT&T sources,” Jonathan Geller at Boy Genius Report reveals that an “AT&T Vice President has confirmed to several employees that the iPhone 5 is slated to launch in early October.”

In the iOSsphere, “launch” is used interchangeably to mean “announcing a new product” and “making a new product available for purchase.” Geller here means the latter.

But there’s more. “Additionally, the VP communicated the following to a group of managers …” Your breath catches, your pulse races. You think, “LTE? Lower price? The return of unlimited data plans?”

But no: “Expect things to get really, really busy in the next 35-50 days, so prepare your teams accordingly.” Oh.

The fact that this rumor has not merely a source but a high-level AT&T source, means “this particular rumor is worth paying attention to because BGR was one of the first sites to heavily push a September release for the iPhone 5,” reasons Devinda Hardawar at VentureBeat. “I don’t suspect the site would backtrack on its previous reports unless it had a legitimate reason to …”

The best kind of rumors are the ones grounded in facts.

Apple will reveal the date for the iPhone 5 announcement on Monday, Aug. 29.

That’s the conclusion of Beatweek’s Bill Palmer, who uncovers Steve Jobs’ cunning PR plot.

How can he know? Because Steve Jobs resigned on Wednesday, Aug. 24. It makes complete sense, of course.

“Steve Jobs just resigned his Apple CEO position, and on a Wednesday no less,” Palmer writes. “This is the strongest evidence yet that Apple will send out invites for an iPhone 5 event as soon as next week.”

He reasons that the Jobs resignation is such bad news that Apple wants to bury it under good news. And what could be gooder than the iPhone 5?

BACKGROUND: Steve Jobs: “I hereby resign as CEO of Apple”

“The remedy for getting the Jobs news out of the Free MCTS TrainingMCTS Online Training . tech headlines, then, is to put out the iPhone 5 news quickly thereafter so that attention shifts as quickly as possible,” Palmer theorizes. “Jobs and his PR team likely decided to hold this news until the iPhone 5 was just about ready to be announced, so as to deliver the two in a one-two counter punch which would cancel out the former with the latter. The fact that the news was pushed out mid-week means that Apple is looking for this news cycle to have fully dissipated by the end of the weekend, with no Monday carryover. That in turn suggests that by Monday, Apple will be looking to turn attention elsewhere.”


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Microsoft 2011 DigiGirlz High Tech Camp

This week marks the 11th Microsoft DigiGirlz High Tech Camp on the Redmond campus. For the third year I volunteered to chaperone groups of girls on tours and demonstrations. What a great group of intelligent, interesting, dynamic girls!

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High Tech Camp

Microsoft is proud to offer technology programs specifically for youth. One of our signature programs, DigiGirlz High Tech Camp for girls, works to dispel stereotypes of the high-tech industry. We continue to look for opportunities to give young people a chance to experience, firsthand, what it is like to develop cutting-edge technology.

About DigiGirlz High Tech Camps

During the camp session, the girls listen to executive speakers, participate in technology tours and demonstrations, network, and learn through hands-on experience in workshops. Established in 2000, the camp program continues to grow and evolve.

To learn more about DigiGirlz High Tech Camp and other DigiGirlz events and classes, check out their website!

You are the controller.

This morning we had an hour or so to play with the Xbox Kinect, and learn about the technology behind it. There were several gaming stations and we were able to try out many games.

IMG_1338

Surface

We also spent and hour or so exploring Microsoft Surface technology. Haven’t heard of Surface? Here’s what they have to say about it: “The Microsoft Surface platform brings people together to connect, learn, and decide. It enables experiences that change the way people collaborate and connect with a 360-degree interface. And, with PixelSense, Microsoft Surface sees and responds to touch and real world objects—supporting more than 50 simultaneous inputs Free MCTS TrainingMCTS Online Training .”

The girls were absolutely fascinated with Surface. Testers and PMs from the Surface group were there to explain the technology and answer questions. I think we all left wishing that we had one of these at home…


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Microsoft hits 30,000 apps twice as fast as Android, same as iOS

Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 devices may not be flying off the shelf, but developers are building for the platform and the Marketplace is passing 30,000 apps in about the same time period as Apple.

Microsoft launched the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace in November 2010 and as they revealed on the Windows Phone Developer Blog they are just about ready to pass 30,000 apps. For comparison, it took Android nearly 17 months to reach this 30,000 milestone while Apple did it in just over 8 months, which is about the same time frame as Microsoft.

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Microsoft has put forth major efforts to get developers on board Windows Phone 7 and it is obviously paying off with hundreds of fantastic apps in the Marketplace. I find new apps for my HD7 on a nearly daily basis and haven’t found myself frustrated by a lack of apps. Games are the hottest selling apps on mobile devices and Microsoft’s Xbox LIVE games are outstanding.

Microsoft is now accepting and certifying apps for Mango, which means these updated apps will have support for features like fast app switching, background audio, multiple and double-sided Live Tiles, better Search integration, and more. Since I have Mango on my HTC HD7, I will see these apps start appearing in the Marketplace. There is no word on exactly when Mango will be coming to devices, but with HTC likely announcing new Mango WP7 devices in September I imagine the update should be out next month.


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Five Outlook Nightmares (and How to Fix Them)

You use Microsoft Outlook to manage your email, your appointments, your contacts, and your to-do lists. In other words, you use it to manage your work life. So when this program doesn’t behave the way it’s supposed to, you have a nightmare.

 

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PC World — You use Microsoft (MSFT) Outlook to manage your email, your appointments, your contacts, and your to-do lists. In other words, you use it to manage your work life. So when this program doesnt behave the way its supposed to, you have a nightmare.

Im here to help relieve you of those waking bad dreams. Following are solutions to five common but serious Microsoft Outlook problems. Ill tell you what to do if your data set has grown too large and cumbersome. Ill explain why you seem to be spamming your friends. Ill help you check your mail on more than one computer. And Ill show you how to back up and restore your Outlook data, as well as how to make Outlook contacts display the information you want to see.

These tips are for Outlook 2007 and 2010, although in their generalities–if not their specifics–theyll work with earlier versions, too.

Your Outlook Data Suddenly Vanishes

Lets nip this nightmare in the bud, before it happens.

You keep a lot of information in your Outlook data file–including your email messages, your contacts, and your appointments. If something destroys or corrupts that file, youre in trouble. And since Outlook handles its data files in its own unique way, your regular backup routine may not be protecting its data. (You do back up regularly, dont you?)

So you need to make sure that youre backing up your Outlook data. But first, you have to find that data.

You can do so in the Account Settings dialog box. To open it in Outlook 2007, select Tools, Account Settings. For version 2010, click the File tab, and then select the Info option in the left pane, followed by Account Settings, and Account Settings again. (Yes, I know that’s redundant.)

Once youre in the dialog box, click the Data Files tab. Select your data file (probably Outlook.pst), and then click the Open Folder button (version 2007) or the Open File Location button (2010). Windows Explorer will open to your Outlook data folder.

With Outlook closed and the folder open, copy the contents of the folder to a safe location, such as an external hard drive. Better yet, make sure that your regular backup routine includes this folder.

When the nightmare hits and youve lost your data, heres how to restore it:

1. Reinstall Outlook and go through the setup wizard. This will create a new but empty data file.

2. Once Outlook is up and running, launch the Import and Export Wizard. In Outlook 2007, select File, Import and Export. In Outlook 2010, click the File tab and then the Open option on the left, and choose Import.


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Microsoft to co-develop cloud products with Chinese OS firm

The agreement could help Microsoft sell products to Chinese government agencies

Microsoft said on Tuesday it will work with a Chinese operating system developer to create cloud computing products for the country’s market, a move that could help the U.S. company sell to China’s government agencies.

 

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China Standard Software, Microsoft’s Chinese partner, has co-developed a Linux operating system with a defense lab, China’s National University of Defense Technology, and the operating system, called “NeoKylin”, has been approved by a number of government ministries.

NeoKylin is meant for use by government offices, national defense, energy and other sectors of the Chinese economy, and aims to reduce China’s dependence on imported operating systems.

Microsoft’s agreement with Shanghai-based China Standard involves the two companies building products based on Microsoft’s Hyper-V Open Cloud architecture. The products will also work with China Standard’s NeoKylin Linux Server operating system.

By the agreement, Microsoft and China Standard will jointly develop and sell private and public cloud computing products. Microsoft and China Standard will also sponsor a joint virtual technology lab in Beijing aimed at making NeoKylin interoperable with Microsoft’s Hyper-V Cloud architecture.

Vendors and analysts expect China’s cloud computing market to grow fast. A survey by research firm Gartner found that 55 percent of Chinese respondents would like to spend more than 10 percent of their total IT budget on cloud computing. This compared with 42 percent in Europe and 49 percent in the U.S.


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Adobe Edge HTML5 Developer News

Adobe Edge is the newest software package from Adobe which allows anyone to create animations on their website using HTML5, CSS, and Javascript. This tool is supposed to be very simple, as in it allows any user without in-depth HTML5 programming knowledge to add special effects to their website. This is done via a timeline in the software. Users can drag-and-drop graphics onto the design canvas, customize the timeline, and create streamline animated effects. This software is the first showing from Adobe that they are looking into the future and possibly away from solely using Flash for animations and interactive content.

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Adobe has been highly criticized about its insistence that Flash is still the standard and their inability to adapt to growing web standards as more people use Apple iOS products which do not support flash. The lack of flash support on those devices has made many web developers reconsider what technology they use to design websites, advertisements, and interactive content. Adobe says that Edge is not a replacement of Flash, but that it is a companion.  Adobe has recently been upgrading their design suite software, such as Dreamweaver, to allow customization via more modern web functions and an easy flash integrator, to keep up with the times.

The Adobe Edge software will allow developers to add animations to existing websites, without causing any distress in the code and requiring a re-working of the source code. This is a solid feature in that it allows anyone who already has a website to simply make it more attractive and noticeable without a major website overhaul. The only current issue is related to how web browsers handle the code. Not every web browser yet fully supports HTML5 and CSS3 in its entirety. One would imagine that by the time Adobe Edge is fully released that these web browsers will be more geared with new code technology.

The largest benefit of Adobe Edge is that by using HTML5 instead of Flash to animate simple effects on web pages, loading times will be reduced. Many Americans still do not have access to high-speed internet, and not all Flash sites offer a standard HTML version. With Adobe Edge’s powerful effects, web developers can use standard web technology to implement them and in turn reduce the amount of bandwidth needed to load a web page. One of the largest causes for bounce-rates on a webpage is that the site never fully loads or loads too slow.

Adobe Edge is set for release sometime during the 2012 year. Currently, Adobe Edge has been released in Beta to anyone who wants to download and try it. The software can be found on Adobe Labs website. Early reviews are extremely positive and the future outlook for the Edge software is looking bright. Adobe Edge Tutorials will be making their appearance once web developers get more experienced with the software and find out how to use it to its fullest potential. One would imagine with the apparent simplicity of the software that Adobe Edge tutorials will allow the most novice of website developers to get their hands dirty and create stunning websites with great eye candy.


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Whatever Happened to Microsoft Forefront Endpoint Protection?

Will this once promising product go the way of the Zune?

Back in 2007, Microsoft shook the security world when it entered the endpoint security market with what was then called Forefront Client Security (now Microsoft Forefront Endpoint Protection). Forefront was positioned as the endpoint security market for the commercial market while its sister product, OneCare, was aimed at the consumer market. This created a market fire storm, especially at companies like McAfee, Symantec, and Trend Micro that depended on PC security for the bulk of their 2007 revenue. The industry wondered, “would these powerful security companies get Netscaped?

 

 

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Microsoft was pretty bullish about its announcement. When Forefront was announced, Bob Muglia, who was VP of Microsoft’s server and tools business stated, “we think that this product will provide a level of integration and simplicity that really differentiates it, and really enables a different kind of solution.” Microsoft wasn’t alone in its expectations. Here at ESG, we had just done some market research revealing that: 1) Most security professionals looked at endpoint as a commodity product, and 2) They were already evaluating Forefront or were willing to do so. In other words, the market was open to Microsoft — all it had to do was execute and beat the competition on price.

Fast forward to 2011 and Forefront seems like a blip on the endpoint security radar screen. I regularly speak with McAfee, Symantec, Trend and others who rarely if ever mention Microsoft as a primary competitor. From 2007 through 2009, Microsoft briefed me on Forefront progress and plans but then the company re-organized in 2010 and almost all communications stopped. Wondering if it was me, I reached out to some analyst friends to see if Microsoft continues to discuss Forefront with others. I got a consistent response, “not really.”

So what happened? Here’s a few of my thoughts:

1. Forefront did have momentum out of the gate in 2007 but it faced a few obstacles. First, there is the traditional view that Microsoft products don’t hit their stride until Rev 3.0, so customers were willing to wait. More importantly, we are talking about security professionals who are paid to be paranoid. Microsoft would have to work hard to get the benefit of the doubt from this tough crowd.

2. Microsoft tried to make endpoint security an economic rather than an IT issue but putting Forefront on its Enterprise Client Access License (ECAL) which made the product virtually free to companies that bought a bundle of client licenses for Exchange, Sharepoint, etc. It was an “all or nothing deal” whereby you had to buy client licenses for all desktops. From my perspective, Microsoft didn’t win many ECAL Forefront deals but did alienate security professionals by pulling the “end around.”

3. Forefront management required a number of other pieces of Microsoft infrastructure (Microsoft Operations Manager, SQL Server, ActiveDirectory, etc.). Security professionals were used to more turnkey endpoint security management platforms.

4. Microsoft stopped selling OneCare in the consumer market. Although it replaced OneCare with Microsoft Security Essentials (a free alternative) many people were spooked by this change of plans. With Microsoft out of the consumer market, why would it stick around the commercial market?

5. Microsoft Forefront “Stirling,” the next-generation product was delayed by several years.

6. Microsoft re-organized and cut back its Forefront marketing.

7. On average, Forefront was a “B” player in most independent security product testing. Most recently, Microsoft Forefront was characterized as a “niche” product in the Gartner Magic Quadrant.

Most likely there was sub-plot to these issues on the sales side of the house. Microsoft reps and channel partners didn’t see much ROI on Forefront sales efforts so they simply stopped selling the product to concentrate on others that were easier to sell.

So the supply side (Microsoft corporate, sales, the channel) slowly backed off while the demand side never really caught on.

I know that Microsoft Forefront endpoint protection 2012 is currently in Beta test. I’m sure the product is superior to the current offering but will it really turn the market and channel around? Given the 4-year track record of Forefront, I doubt it.

Ultimately, Microsoft has to ask itself a difficult but necessary question: Given our limited success, is it worth continuing to invest in this market? Microsoft did this with the Zune music player, perhaps its time to make a similar decision with Forefront.


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HP PC Spin-Off Puts Pressure on Microsoft to Nail Windows 8

Hewlett-Packard’s sale or spin-off of its PC business will put pressure on Microsoft to “hit the ball out of the park” with Windows 8, an analyst said today.

Computerworld — Hewlett-Packard’s sale or spin-off of its PC business will put pressure on Microsoft (MSFT) to “hit the ball out of the park” with Windows 8, an analyst said today.

For the short term, then, Microsoft is unlikely to notice any difference in Windows sales.

 

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However, like Miller, Margevicius saw the move as a signal of a troubling trend.

HP will retain the webOS operating system it acquired last year from Palm, but it will halt development and production of any tablets based on webOS.

HP’s webOS-based TouchPad went on sale only a month ago, and several former Palm executives, including former Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein, currently have high positions in HP’s Personal Systems Group.

“HP tried to put the defibulator on its PC business with the TouchPad, but it’s not yielding the kind of results it wanted,” said Margevicius. “The patient isn’t dead, but it’s moved into assisted living.”

Ironically, Miller saw the withdrawal of HP from the tablet hardware business as a win for Microsoft.

HP made it clear that it was betting on its own webOS, rather than Windows 8, for its tablets. By exiting the market, it means that there’s “one less partner” to convince that Windows 8 is the right OS for tablets.

“For Windows 8 to succeed [on tablets] Microsoft needs a partner that’s passionate, and one that will work with Microsoft to make a great tablet,” said Miller.

Both Miller and Margevicius attributed the decision by HP to dump the PC side of its business to the small, fragile margins on Windows-based personal computers.

“This is MBA 101,” said Margevicius. “This part of their business may be attractive from a legacy perspective, but it’s the part of [HP’s] business that generates the least amount of revenue. And HP is run by someone with no strong ties to hardware. [Leo] Apotheker has three things in mind: software, services and support, and not particularly in that order. All those businesses are far more profitable than PCs.”

HP hired Apotheker, a former CEO of German software and support giant SAP, as its president and chief executive in September 2010.

Margevicius said that Dell, the world’s No. 2 PC seller, will likely reap the most benefit from HP’s ridding itself of its PC group. “Dell will be viewed as the vendor that is safe and solid,” he said.


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4 ways to take control of your email inbox

Do you have an effective way to process and organize your email so that you can get to an empty Inbox on a routine basis? If you have lots of email in your Inbox (we know people with as many as 7,000 messages), you might want to rethink your processing methods. Really, it is possible to empty your Inbox. The key is to evaluate how you are processing and organizing your email and then make some changes.
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No doubt you’ve opened an email and thought, “Hmmm, not sure what to do with this. I’ll deal with it later!”—and promptly closed the message. If you do this over and over again, it doesn’t take long to end up with several hundred—or even several thousand—messages in your Inbox.

Developing a new approach to processing your Inbox can help you to gain more control, improve your response time, and keep up with critical actions and important information.

This article covers four key factors that can help you process your email more efficiently.

1. Set up a simple and effective email reference system
The first step toward an organized Inbox is understanding the difference between reference information and action information.

Reference information is information that is not required to complete an action; it is information that you keep in case you need it later. Reference information is stored in your reference system—an email reference folder or your My Documents folder, for example.
Action information is information you must have to complete an action. Action information is stored with the action, either on your to-do list or on your Calendar.
Most people receive a considerable amount of reference information through email. Sometimes as much as one-third of your email is reference information. So it is essential to have a system that makes it easy to transfer messages from your Inbox into your email reference system—a series of email file folders where you store reference information to ensure you have easy access to it later. Learn more about setting up a reference system.

After you take care of filing your reference information, you can use the next three steps to handle the email that you have to do something with—your action information.

2. Schedule uninterrupted time to process and organize email
How many times are you interrupted every day? It’s nearly impossible to complete anything when you allow constant interruptions from the phone, people stopping by your house, and instant messaging. So it’s critical that you set aside uninterrupted time to process and organize your email.

Many email messages require you to make a decision. The best decisions require focus, and focus requires uninterrupted attention. Establish a regular time each day to process your email so that you can empty your Inbox. Of course, you can scan your email during the day for urgent messages or requests.

Book yourself a recurring appointment for an hour a day to process email, and mark that time as “busy.” During that hour, don’t answer the phone or take interruptions, and work only on processing your Inbox.

At first, keeping these appointments will take discipline, but over time, the discipline becomes habit. And after you completely empty your Inbox, you’ll see the value of this one hour a day and you’ll stick to it like glue.

Microsoft Outlook 2010 makes it easier to keep this email appointment and to process your inbox.

Conversation view in Office 2010 enables you to organize email folders by date and conversation, When Conversation view is turned on, messages that share the same subject appear as conversations that can be viewed as expanded or collapsed, helping you to quickly review and act on messages or complete conversations.

Also, improved search tools in Office 2010 make it easier to narrow your search results by using criteria, like sender or subject keywords, and other information, such as attachments. The Search Tools contextual tab includes a set of filters that efficiently focus your search to isolate the items that you want. For more information, see Find a message or item by using Instant Search.

Instant Search in Outlook 2010 provides many ways to search your email for specific messages.

3. Process one item at a time, starting at the top
When you sit down to process your email, the first step is to sort it by the order in which you will process it. For example, you can filter by date, by subject, or even by the sender or receiver of the email message. In Outlook 2010, on the View tab, in the Arrangement group, click the arrangement option you want.

From the View tab, you can filter your email by date, category, sender or receiver, and more.

You can also change the arrangement directly from your Inbox. To display the list of options, under the Search box, right-click the Arrange By: box.

The Arrange By: box in your Inbox gives you convenient access to even more options to arrange your messages.

Tip:  If you use Outlook 2010, enable the reading pane (called the preview pane in Outlook 2007) so that you can view your messages without having to open them. To enable the reading pane, on the View tab, in the Layout group, click Reading Pane. To enable the Outlook 2007 preview pane, on the View menu, click AutoPreview.

Resist the temptation to jump around in your Inbox in no particular order. Begin processing the message at the top of your Inbox and only move to the second one after you’ve handled the first. This can be hard at first, when you might have thousands of messages in your Inbox. But as you reduce the number of messages over a few sessions, eventually you’ll get to the point where you can process the 60–100 messages you get every day and regularly get your Inbox down to zero.

4. Use the “Four Ds for Decision-Making” model
The “Four Ds for Decision-Making” model (4 Ds) is a valuable tool for processing email, helping you to quickly decide what action to take with each item and how to remove it from your Inbox.

The expanded Ribbon in Office 2010 is designed to help you quickly find the tools that you need to complete your tasks. Features are organized in logical groups collected together under tabs. You can also customize the Ribbon to include tabs that you personalize to match your own personal style.

The expanded Ribbon in Outlook 2010 replaces Outlook 2007 menus, giving you easy access to tools on conveniently organized tabs.

The Quick Steps feature, new in Outlook 2010, speeds up managing your email even more. This feature enables you to perform the multi-stepped tasks you use most often, such as moving email to a specific folder or moving a message and replying to it with a single click. The Quick Steps gallery includes buttons for one-click file and flag, sending messages to a group, and other popular commands. For more information, see Automate common or repetitive tasks with Quick Steps.

The Quick Steps feature turns your most frequent tasks—whether forwarding messages to others or copying messages to a specific folder—into a one-click operation.

Tip Learning a few basic keyboard shortcuts in Outlook 2010 can make performing these tasks even easier and faster. Read the MSDN Blog on keyboard shortcuts for Outlook 2010.

Decide what to do with each and every message
How many times have you opened, reviewed, and closed the same email message or conversation? Those messages are getting lots of attention but very little action. It is better to handle each email message only once before taking action—which means you have to decide what to do with it and where to put it. Under the 4 Ds model, you have four choices:

Delete it
Do it
Delegate it
Defer it
Delete it
Generally, you can delete about half of all the email you get. But some of you shudder when you hear the word “delete.” You’re hesitant to delete messages for fear that you might need them at some point. That’s understandable, but ask yourself honestly: What percentage of information that you keep do you actually use?

If you do use a large percentage of what you keep, your method is working. But many of us keep a lot more than we use. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you decide what to delete:

Does the message relate to something meaningful you’re currently working on? If not, you can probably delete it. Why hang on to information that doesn’t relate to your main focus?
Does the message contain information you can find elsewhere? If so, delete it.
Does the message contain information that you will refer to within the next six months? If not, delete it.
Does the message contain information that you’re required to keep? If not, delete it.
Outlook 2010 helps you get rid of the “noise” in your Inbox by providing two new commands: Ignore Conversation and Clean Up Conversation. If a conversation is no longer relevant, you can prevent additional responses from appearing in your Inbox. The Ignore command moves the whole conversation and any future messages that arrive in the conversation to the Deleted Items folder.

Easily delete an entire conversation so that no new responses to it will appear in your Inbox.

When a message contains all the previous messages in the conversation, you can click Clean Up to eliminate redundant messages. For example, as people reply to a conversation, the response is at the top and the previous messages in the conversation are below. Use the Clean Up command to keep only the most recent message that includes the whole conversation. For more information, see Use Conversation Clean Up to eliminate redundant messages.

Cleaning up your conversations makes it easier to stay focused on the task being discussed.

Do it (in less than two minutes)
If you can’t delete it, then ask yourself, “What specific action do I need to take?” and “Can I do it in less than two minutes?” If you can, just do it.

There is no point in filing an email or closing an email if you can complete the associated task in less than two minutes. Try it out—see how much mail you can process in less than two minutes. I think you will be extremely surprised and happy with the results. You could file the message, you could respond to the message, or you could make a phone call. You can probably handle about one-third of your email messages in less than two minutes.

Office 2010 helps you respond to email messages faster. You can view the availability of a person and instantly reach out to them using a variety of communication methods—all on a new easy-to-access contact card. You can even customize the context menu of the contact card to include tasks you perform most often, saving you more time.

Delegate it
If you can’t delete it or do it in two minutes or less, can you delegate it?

If you can delegate it, do so right away. You should be able to compose and send the delegating message in about two minutes. After you delegate the action, delete the original message or move it into your email reference system.

Defer it
If you cannot delete it, do it in less than two minutes, or delegate it, the action required is something that only you can accomplish and that will take more than two minutes. Because this is your dedicated email processing time, you need to defer it and deal with it after you are done processing your email. You’ll probably find that about 20 percent of your email messages have to be deferred.

There are two things you can do to defer a message: Turn it into an actionable task, or turn it into an appointment. When you’re using Outlook, you can defer emails that require action by dragging the messages to your Task List to turn them into tasks. Name the task to clearly state the required action so that you don’t have to reopen the email message. The result is a clearly defined list of actions on your Task List that you can prioritize and schedule to complete on your Calendar. Or you can turn the message into a meeting request by dragging it to your Calendar.

Tip: Use the To-Do Bar in Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2007 to drag an email message from an email folder to a date on your Calendar or to your Task List. On the View tab, in the Layout group, click the To-Do Bar. When the bar appears, drag the message to your Calendar or to your Task List. This copies the message to the new location; it doesn’t move it out of the original mail folder, so you’ll still be able to find what you need.

Use the 4 Ds model every day
Using the 4 Ds model on a daily basis makes it easier to handle a large quantity of email. Our experience shows that, on average, people can process about 100 email messages an hour. If you receive 40 to 100 messages per day, all you need is one hour of uninterrupted email processing time to get through your Inbox. Our statistics show that of the email you receive:

50 percent can be deleted or filed.
30 percent can be delegated or completed in less than two minutes.
20 percent can be deferred to your Task List or Calendar to complete later.
Of course, if you have a backlog of hundreds of messages, it will take time to get to the point where your daily routine keeps you up to date. It’s important to get that backlog down, so I would suggest setting blocks of time aside to work through it. Then, you can really enjoy processing your messages every day using the 4 Ds.


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IBM: The PC is the new mainframe

PC dead in terms of innovation, but not profit
“The PC is dead!” We’ve heard that message a lot since the birth of Apple’s iPad, but when one of the creators of IBM’s first PC added his voice to the chorus, people took notice.

On last week’s 30th anniversary of the IBM PC running Microsoft’s MS-DOS, IBM CTO and PC co-designer Mark Dean said PCs are “going the way of the vacuum tube, typewriter, vinyl records, CRT and incandescent light bulbs.”

 

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While that seems a bit far-fetched, or at least premature, Network World was able to get a second opinion from another IBM luminary during this week’s LinuxCon event in Vancouver, British Columbia. Irving Wladawsky-Berger, a 41-year veteran of IBM and one of Linux’s biggest champions at Big Blue, said he agrees that the PC is dead — but only in the same sense that the mainframe is dead.

The mainframe still makes tons of cash for IBM, but it’s no longer the center of innovation. IBM sold off its PC business in 2005, but the PC does and will continue to make tons of cash for other companies, even though it will no longer be the center of innovation, Wladawsky-Berger said during an interview.

“I’ve thought a lot about it, and it depends what you mean by dead,” he said. “This is very important. If you ask me, ‘Are mainframes dead?’ I would say, well we just announced the new z10 last year, and look at IBM’s earnings. For a dead product it’s making a lot of money. However, if you ask me, ‘Are the mainframes the center of innovation for the IT industry?’ I would say that would be lovely but we lost that years ago, at least in the late ’80s when client-servers came in.”

IBM ditched its own PC business — a move HP is making as well — in part because it saw that the PC was becoming a legacy platform, Wladawsky-Berger said.

“We saw this coming, that PCs would become more of a legacy platform where you can still make tons of money but the bulk of the innovation will now happen in the mobile platforms, smartphones and tablets and things like that,” he said. Luckily, the advances in mobile platforms could apply to PCs and improve them.

“As happened with mainframes, you can integrate those innovations back into the legacy platforms,” he said. “Mainframes run Java, mainframes run Linux, mainframes became IP-enabled.”

HP said “the tablet effect is real” in explaining its willingness to leave the PC business.

Still, Wladawsky-Berger said there’s no reason to feel sorry for Microsoft. “[Microsoft] will continue to be a gigantic cash generation machine for many years to come. It’s just not dominant,” he said.

Facebook investor Roger McNamee recently claimed that Microsoft’s share of Internet-connected devices has gone from 95% to less than 50% in the last three years, as reported by Business Insider and others.

LinuxCon speaker Allison Randal, the technical architect of Ubuntu, brought up this claim in her talk and noted that it’s not really clear if McNamee’s math would survive serious scrutiny. But the proliferation of smartphones and tablets that don’t run Windows certainly has lowered Microsoft’s share of devices capable of surfing the Web.


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Taking the 70-620 TS: Windows Vista, Configuring Exam

If you go for the MCSE or MCITP Enterprise, you will have to take an exam covering a client operating system. One exam, you can take the 70-620: Configuring Microsoft Windows Vista.
The objectives are broken down to the following main groups:

 

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*  Installing and Upgrading Windows Vista
* Configuring and Troubleshooting Post-Installation System Settings
* Configuring Windows Security Features
* Configuring Network Connectivity
* Configuring Applications Included with Windows Vista
* Maintaining and Optimizing Systems That Run Windows Vista
* Configuring and Troubleshooting Mobile Computing

As with an operating system, you should first start with how to install Windows Vista. Besides running the normal installation DVD, you also need to be familiar with how to install Windows Vista with answer files, Windows images, ImageX, and Sysprep. You will then need to know how to upgrade from older versions of Windows to Windows Vista and from one version of Windows Vista to another version of Windows Vista. You will also need to know how to migrate data files and settings from one computer running Windows to a new computer running Windows Vista using Windows Easy Transfer (WET) and User State Migration Tool V3.0.

One of the new enhancements to the Windows Interface is Windows Aero. Therefore, you need to know the requirements for Aero to work including the color depth, the refresh rate, theme, color scheme and frame transparency.

With Windows Vista, Microsoft has enhanced some tools while introducing entirely new set of tools. For the exam, you will need to know accessibility tools and parental control. Of course, since the wide adoption of IPv6 is right around the corner, you will need to know how to configure IPv4 and IPv6. In addition, since wireless technology has become commonplace, you will need to know how to setup wireless connections.

Over the last few years, there has been a big push for security with Microsoft operating system and applications. As with any modern Windows operating system, you will need to know how to configure file system security. This will be done with NTFS permissions, Share permissions, EFS and BitLocker. BitLocker is a new technology that can encrypt an entire drive, which will protect if a computer such as a laptop is stolen. Be sure to know when it is best to use EFS for encryption and when it is best to use BitLocker. Also know the system requirements for BitLocker.

If you have used Windows Vista, you have seen and experienced User Account Control (UAC). So you will need to know how User Account Control protects your computer and you will need to know how to react to User Account Control prompts and if necessary, you will need to know how to disable UAC. Other tools that help protect your computer are Windows Defender and Windows Firewall. Therefore, you will need to know how to configure those tools.

Besides the new updated interface, Windows Vista also included Internet Explorer (IE) 7.0. Therefore, you will need to know how to configure IE. In addition, you will need to know how to configure Windows Media Player and Media Player Center including understanding regions and Codecs.

As a user, you will need to use standard applications include Wordpad, Notepad, Mail, Calendar, Fax and Scan and Meeting Space. You also need to now how to configure Windows Sidebar and its gadgets.

Lastly, you need to know the tools that are made for mobile computers. That would be including configuring Power management (power plans and hibernate, hybrid and sleep mode), Sync center, offline folders and Windows SideShow. Lastly, you need to be familiar with how to configure Tablet PCs and how to configure Flicks.

If you want to prepare for this exam, I would highly recommend the Exam Cram book 70-620 TS: Windows Vista, Configuring by Patrick Regan (Que Publishing), which will cover each of these topics and give you plenty of practice questions.


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MCITP Windows Vista All-in-One Exam Guide

The Microsoft MCITP Enterprise Messaging Administrator Training Courses from Certkingdom include expert instructor-led training modules with customized presentations, practice exam simulators and learning supplements for an all-inclusive training program that provides all the benefits of classroom training at your own pace.

 

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