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State of Tech 2005 October 27, 2005

Posted by rjdohnert in Software reviews.
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Every year I look back and ponder what’s happened significant in IT and I also grade depending on my opinions. Please note these are my opinions and mine alone. I don’t work for Microsoft or any Linux company or Apple they are mine alone. Save your hate mail.

Lets start with Microsoft, the company some love and who most love to hate. What’s Microsoft done right? Well, I happen to think they have significantly enhanced their search technologies. I have found MSN search to be more accurate and to produce a lot less repeat hits and I notice most of the time it produces results by significance. Google produces more results but Google gives many repeat hits. MSN Search has toned up a lot. Microsoft has a much better Desktop Search tool than Google Desktop Search. I’m excited about Windows Vista, a new Visual Studios and Monad. Microsoft does a very good job at giving developers of many types of wares (Productivity, Shareware, Freeware, Malware and Spyware) the tools necessary to do the job. Windows XP Media center edition is one of Microsoft’s major wins in the consumer area. Microsoft’s major work in the area of security is going quite well and its patching practices have improved a lot. Microsoft is a heavy consumer oriented company and when dealing with the consumer it’s an ‘A’ Company.

The problem Microsoft faces is that it tries to be an enterprise company and for the most part for the enterprise and corporations Microsoft has a much broader set of tools. It has good management tools; the Server OS is actually a very decent OS on par with that of NetWare and even some Linux distributions. With this though, Microsoft tends to treat its enterprise market like it does its consumer markets. Let’s face it outside of the creative arts, developers and some other industry’s companies do not upgrade that often. Microsoft’s habits of forcing upgrades and saying that “It’s impossible to backport technologies” are a crock. If Apple can get HD to work on Windows 2000 so can Microsoft. If Mozilla, Netscape and Opera can produce a much more secure internet browser and not rely on technologies found in Windows XP SP2 so can Microsoft. Microsoft if it wants to continue to be a solid player in the Enterprise and business spaces they are going to have to buckle down and increase support of all size businesses just not the ones that can afford expensive upgrades. They claim they are listening, well listen to all size businesses just not the ones that can afford costly upgrades. They definitely need to cut down on licensing fee’s Apples catching up, so is Linux so Microsoft needs to stay ahead. Microsoft’s Enterprise rating, ‘C+’.

Now lets go on with all the hype. Has Linux delivered? The Linux community and most Linux companies with the exception of Novell are doing a much better job than what they were doing a year ago. Red Hat still delivers a killer product; Rock and Gentoo still cater very strongly to HPC and uber serious side of IT. Linux is displacing UNIX fast but not fast enough as the BSD family has been scoring some wins as of late and SCO and Sun taking UNIX seriously again. The jury is still out on Novell. Novell tends to go with the technologies that are hot at the moment. They had basically bastardized NetWare and we all see what happens when the hype and excitement end. Novell tends to abandon like it did with UNIX. Don’t count UNIX out though, Sun has a very compelling product with Solaris 10 and SCO has an equally compelling product with OpenServer 6. In the IT industry it’s often a finger snap before trends change again. Linux is basically reversed from Microsoft. As a consumer technology it’s a ‘D’ trend. I say trend and technology because even the consumer friendly versions of Linux are not very consumer friendly. Linspire and Xandros still take a lot of work to set up compared to Windows and Apple Mac and often times don’t support the wide breadth of hardware that Windows and Apple Mac do support and when you go with the corporate oriented companies it can be quite challenging. Linux for right now is still a tech savvy system designed by the tech savvy, they need to dummy it up quite a bit before ‘mom and pop’ ‘grandma and grandpa’ can use it without having a tech support technician on staff.

Linux clearly wins in the corporate side right now. Its secure, it’s reliable. Red Hat is still large and in charge because Red Hat makes the best management tools for the system. With the availability of Mono, Real BASIC and QT, RAD tools have finally come to light and are as user friendly as Apples tools they are not quite on par with Microsoft’s developer tools but its getting better for developers who need to code a quick little application. Red Hats a winner because they have a good reputation. Some aspects of their management suck but nothing related to the product itself. Sun needs to mature a little bit. My advice to Sun, get rid of Scott McNealy and bring in a CEO that does not put down its competition like a 5th grade bully. McNealy needs to concentrate less on belittling Microsoft and concentrate more on why the technology is the best. The OSS and Linux communities as a whole need to concentrate less on Microsoft and quit trying to match GUI effects and concentrate more on usability, manageability, and consumers. Overall I give the Linux movement a ‘B’ on the corporate and enterprise side of the fence.

Apple Computer. What’s there to say about Apple? Apple gets an ‘A’ in all aspects. They have a very strong consumer influence and a very strong enterprise offering. Apple needs to utilize more resources to push its enterprise offerings. They have the tools, they have the style and they have the ability but what they don’t have is a strong presence in enterprise. They don’t market to that sector enough and it’s truly a waste. The bipod and their multimedia software is a definite strong point. Their new productivity apps, Pages and Keynote work well. Apple has their act together.

Apples hardware division is in flux. Right now they are prepping for a change to a different architecture, x86 and I have no doubt Apple will keep their unique sense of style and design. They will have to charge less to keep up with Dell and other PC companies. One of the stronger enterprise ready devices apple has is the Mac mini. It’s small and costs just as much as a boxed version of Windows or a version of Microsoft Office. They are pretty sturdy machines. I know a few Mechanics that use Mac minis and the Mac mini has enough horsepower for any shop floor. Creative types will definitely want to utilize the higher end Macs. For development, Secretarial, accounting and most other industry could do the work with Apples $499.00 Mac. Just make sure you have a monitor, mouse and keyboard. A Tablet PC like device in Apples arsenal definitely could not hurt.

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