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Sunbelt W2Knews™ Electronic Newsletter
The secret of those "who always seem to know" - Over 500,000 Readers!
Mon, May 17, 2004 (Vol. 9, #20 - Issue #476)
Why Is Microsoft Killing Its Partners?
  This issue of W2Knews™ contains:
  1. EDITORS CORNER
    • Why Is Microsoft Killing Its Partners?
    • SunPoll: Storage
  2. TECH BRIEFING
    • Caught Between 'Finger-Pointing' Vendors?
  3. NT/2000 RELATED NEWS
    • XP SP2 Explained
    • Troubleshooting Sleep-mode Problems
    • How To Recover From 'Recovery Mode' Error In Exchange 2003
    • Moving From NT To Linux?
  4. NT/2000 THIRD PARTY NEWS
    • Latest Updates for Sunbelt Network Security Inspector
    • Security Patch Management Facts
  5. W2Knews 'FAVE' LINKS
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  6. PRODUCT OF THE WEEK
    • Sunbelt Network Security Inspector
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  EDITORS CORNER

Why Is Microsoft Killing Its Partners?

OK, I have decided I'm going to be angry.

As you may or may not know, developing tools for the Microsoft environment is fraught with risk. Why? Let me put it bluntly. You're in bed with an 800-pound gorilla: if the gorilla turns you get squashed. Redmond has done this numerous times in the past: including things in MS-products that used to be third party tools. A good example in our admin space is disk quotas.

Redmond uses third party vendors initially when they cannot provide the functionality themselves right away. Often though, the moment that it's possible, they include it in their own products and sooner or later the third party developer is dead or bought up in a fire sale. History is strewn with failed third party MS-developers.

Of course they have the right to do this, MS is known to be a ferocious competitor. They have lawsuits going all the time, alleging they violated patents, anti-trust laws and the like. But MS also realizes that having healthy developer relations is crucial. Even Redmond cannot provide everything to everybody. So, why are they threatening to kill an additional several dozen third party developers?

You may ask yourself, what's the issue this time? Easy answer: Spam. MS's so called Intelligent Messaging Filter [IMF] will be released later this month, likely at the TechEd conference in San Diego. This is per Edward Wu, a product manager for Exchange Server. Wu apparently suffers from a case of so called "history-revisionitis". In contradiction to Redmond's clear statements about who gets the IMF (only companies on software assurance, see the press release here:)
http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=040517ED-Press

Wu said Redmond is "still reviewing" whether IMF will be offered only to customers with Software Assurance (SA), or whether it will be made available to all customers.
http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=040517ED-Reviewing

A decision is expected at TechEd, he said. You start wondering though, are there competitive pressures, like Lotus Notes adding a spam filter? No. Providing a free spam filter in Exchange 2003 is anti-competitive and could cause not just one, but a whole bunch of "Netscapes". I wonder if Microsoft's legal beagles are aware of Wu's plans, I can see an alliance of messaging vendors band together and add significantly to Redmond's existing legal case load. What's this new 'Anti-Trust Watchdog Committee' doing over there anyway?

Another thing to consider is that tons of MS-customers have bought into third-party vendor solutions based on MS's statement that only SA-customers get IMF. So now MS might pull the rug from underneath its own customers as well. They have justified their twisting with bland politically correct statements like: "It is our position to encourage our customers to use layers of protection against spam and viruses. Our customers tell us that the best solutions are often a combination of both MS and partner capabilities. Many partners provide value-added features that complement the functionality delivered in the first release of IMF. The IMF is a basic filter and there is significant opportunity for partners to add additional value with their own filters."

Well, I say: BULL. Looking at it from a system admin perspective, you might want to spend expensive server CPU cycles to double or triple-filter viruses because of their damaging payloads, but doing the same for spam? I don't think so.

You can see how important this is. Will the gorilla turn again and squash a bunch of its partners and at the same time make a whole bunch of customers unhappy about having spent money, or will they honor their initial promise that the IMF is only for large customers that participate in the Software Assurance program? You can only ask yourself how come these kinds of decisions are made, is it arrogance, stupidity, shortsightedness or all of the above? We'll see at Tech.Ed how Redmond will treat its third party software ecosystem. As for me, I understand more and more why people start running Linux. Redmond simply can't be trusted to keep its word it seems.

As a MS-customer, you should care, because Microsoft's behavior creates a de-motivating atmosphere for MS developers, and more and more will want to jump ship to go to another platform. So in the end, you'll have fewer and fewer developers for MS platforms if Redmond continues to make it so risky to develop for their platform.

If Wu's plans are approved by Redmond Top Management, the IMF acronym will take a new ugly meaning for its partners: I Am F-----. So, Bill & Steve, are you listening?

SunPoll: Storage

Now over to something else. Storage! Here is the new SunPoll: "Are software-only based Storage Area Networks a thing of the future?"

  • Naah. I'm sticking with direct attached storage
  • Maybe. Might save me some hardware
  • We already run SANs and I'm interested
  • That seems technically very interesting!
  • GIMME, GIMME!

    Vote here: rightmost column:
    http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=040517ED-SunPoll

    Quotes Of The Week:

  • "Exactitude in some small matters is the very soul of discipline" -- Joseph Conrad
  • "I love a dog, he does nothing for political reasons." -- Will Rogers

    UNDO Dept: The correct quote is - "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." and it was by George Santayana, (1863 - 1952). It may be that Truman "paraphrased" Santayana when he said: "Those who do not read and understand history are doomed to repeat it.

    Warm regards,
    Stu Sjouwerman (email me with feedback: [email protected])

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    2003 as well. Check the latest version.
    Visit DOUBLE-TAKE For Exchange 2000(3) for more information.
      TECH BRIEFING

    Caught Between 'Finger-Pointing' Vendors?

    You likely run servers from a few hardware vendors, and dozens of software products from different software shops. Ever got caught in the middle of one of these finger pointing blizzards?

    Microsoft only goes so far with its certification process. It's for their OS-en only, not for any of their major applications, and a good example is Exchange. Microsoft hasn?t certified any third-party solutions around Exchange 2003 protection. Company-wide, MS relies on ISV?s to add functionality and solutions around their core-products.

    So, how do they prevent finger pointing problems when thing break?

    Microsoft and about 200 other companies participate in TSAnet.org to handle these types of support issues. Without TSA, every hardware and software vendor would blissfully say that customer issues which even smell of another product is "not their problem" and throw it over the proverbial fence. TSA?s support system provides for Vendor A (for example Microsoft) to bring in Vendor B?s support (third party tool vendor) to solve a mutual customer?s problem.

    As I am sure you are painfully aware, troubleshooting is as much art as science. But at some point, you try to isolate an offending process ? perhaps a Microsoft hotfix or an anti-virus driver or a monitoring component. At that point, one can identify the vendor to escalate to. That vendor tries to work within TSA to identify cause. For example, you might find an Anti-Virus product is an offender, but the cause is a Microsoft service pack release. But the point is that TSA provides a community for vendors to work collectively on a common customer?s problem ? without finger pointing but also without claiming "full support".

    And once Vendor B?s components are absolved of the issue, then Vendor A will search for other potential causes (Vendor C, D, etc.). In reality, Microsoft doesn?t "fully support" any server except for a machine that is explicitly on their O/S Hardware Compatibility List and running only Microsoft products.

    If you choose vendors for mission critical applications, it makes sense to check if they are a TSA Member at the link below. It's a not for profit, vendor-neutral infrastructure where vendors cooperate to solve tech problems together.
    http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=040517TB-Vendors

    (with thanks to Jason Buffington, NSI Software)

      NT/2000 RELATED NEWS

    XP SP2 Explained

    If you're waiting for XP SP2, we've got the lowdown on how it will change XP security and how it will impact your systems. Here are tips, expert responses and news stories to guide you in your planning. Check out the SearchWin2000 site for this article!
    http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=040517RN-XP_SP2

    Troubleshooting Sleep-mode Problems

    Most versions of Windows use the Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) to enter a number of different low-power consumption modes by the user or after a certain amount of elapsed time without activity. There are five different power states available to Windows on an ACPI computer. Occasionally, some of these power states become unavailable. Find out the cause of this problem and how to fix it. (Free registration required.)
    http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=040517RN-Sleep-mode

    How To Recover From 'Recovery Mode' Error In Exchange 2003

    If you have upgraded your Exchange server from Exchange 5.5 to 2000 or 2003, you may get a spurious error that reads: "Exchange is currently in recovery mode. You can either connect to your Exchange server using the network, work offline or cancel this login." Read this tip to find out why, and what to do about it at the searchExchange.com site (Free registration required.):
    http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=040517RN-Recovery_Mode

    Moving From NT To Linux?

    Client/Server Magazine reported a very interesting little tidbit of information that I thought was newsworthy. It's just a short item so here it is: "According to IBM, upwards of 50,000 NT servers worldwide were migrated to Linux in Q1. IBM is expecting to capitalize on the fact that Microsoft is supposed to pull the plug on service and support for the two million NT servers in the world and is recruiting resellers to push Linux on the NT sites. In March it had 45 migration-trained business partners and is reportedly adding about five a week. IBM thinks 760,000 of the NT servers will migrate off of NT this year and that Linux can capture half of them. The rest will gravitate to Windows Server 2003". Grateful acknowledgement to Client Server News, It is published weekly by G2 Computer Intelligence Inc at:
    http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=040517RN-G2

      THIRD PARTY NEWS

    Latest Updates for Sunbelt Network Security Inspector

    To get the latest SNSI version, visit:
    http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=040517TP-SNSI

    To update from within the SNSI console, select Settings, enter your full registration key and click on Check Now button. New vulnerability updates for this release include:

    W2169 - HP Web JetAdmin Ver. 6.5-7.0 Vulnerabilities
    W2170 - HP Web JetAdmin Ver. 7.1-7.5 Vulnerabilities
    W2171 - McAfee Security Installer Control Vulnerability
    W2172 - Help Center HCP URL Validation Vulnerability - XP, W2K3

    SNSI uses the latest Mitre Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) list of computer incidents. It also contains the latest SANS/FBI top 20 vulnerability list. SNSI also uses the latest CERT, CIAC Microsoft and FedCIRC (Department of Homeland Security) advisories.

    Security Patch Management Facts

    FACT: Microsoft® constantly releases patches for Windows® NT/2000/XP/Server 2003, Terminal Server, IIS, SQL Server, Exchange, Internet Explorer, MDAC, Media Player, Windows Media Services, NetMeeting®, Office, Outlook and others. Primarily, these patches fix security vulnerabilities and system instabilities.

    FACT: Networks are vulnerable to intrusion if the latest patches are not applied.

    FACT: Managing service packs and hotfixes is complex and time-consuming.

    ASK YOURSELF THESE QUESTIONS: Do you know which patches to deploy? Do you know which ones can be safely installed and in what combination/order? Do you find yourself testing patch deployments for more time than it takes to install them? Do you have an automated, reliable method for managing patches that reduces the risks to downtime? Can you validate that the job was done right?

    SECURE YOUR BUSINESS: With one breach of your systems, a malicious intruder can change your web site content, dump critical files, destroy and steal customer data, or worse. These real events result in downtime for your company and affect the bottom line. Security hotfixes are released constantly. Plus, patches change all the time (sometimes without much fanfare). UpdateEXPERT empowers you to manage this process with information and deployment intelligence that is the best in the industry.

    REMOTE MANAGEMENT FOR ANY NUMBER OF SYSTEMS: UpdateEXPERT is the only patch management software that offers an OPTIONAL client agent, giving your organization the flexibility to manage your networks in the most effective way possible. Any combination of machines - even those isolated, locked down or unconnected - can be managed with a mix of agents and non-agents simultaneously.

    KNOW WHAT YOU ARE MISSING AND VALIDATE: UpdateEXPERT includes enhanced patch validation with intelligent version checking functionality that automatically validates files according to checksum, file size and version information. If a new patch overwrites a file from an older patch, UpdateEXPERT knows that the newer file is still valid. There are many good reasons to invalidate a patch?s installation, but a newer version of a DLL may not be one of these reasons. Check out UpdateEXPERT here:
    http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=040517TP-UpdateEXPERT

      FAVE LINKS

    This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

  • Four very tricky questions, but a lot of fun!

  • http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=040517FA-Questions
  • Yeti and his Penguin pal are back for more fun- 4 games in all.

  • http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=040517FA-Yeti
  • Another set of amazing pictures. These were sent to me by friends. (There may be copyrights on these that I'm not aware of.) (PowerPoint)

  • http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=040517FA-Pictures
  • Soccer in Japan on a sunny day. The ball gets stolen by...what? (Media File)

  • http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=040517FA-Tornado
  • Concepts, but getting closer. Look at the "Home Tablet PC Concept"

  • http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=040517FA-Concept
  • Who says you can't do this at home? (Media File)

  • http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=040517FA-Laser
  • A really cool template for a system admin resignation letter:

  • http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=040517FA-Resign
  • Shortly after his flight, a very excited Melvill told CNN that seeing the sky go from blue to black was the thrill of his life.

  • http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=040517FA-Flight
      PRODUCT OF THE WEEK

    Sunbelt Network Security Inspector

    Close the door on hackers! You have to find vulnerabilities before they become problems. SNSI is a low-cost, quick-install, fast-result vulnerability scanner that uses a top quality, commercial-grade database of ranked vulnerabilities for Windows networks. It's got great reports and shows how to plug holes fast and easy. Download your eval copy and test it in your own environment.

    http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=040517PW-SNSI