By Stuart J. Johnston, Senior News Writer
It’s not as though it wasn’t already apparent, but Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has made it official: Microsoft’s future lies beyond Windows in the realms of devices and services.
That was the message Tuesday when Ballmer published his annual letter to shareholders, customers, partners, and employees in the run up to the company’s annual meeting at the end of the month.
“It’s important to recognize a fundamental shift underway in our business and the areas of technology that we believe will drive the greatest opportunity in the future,” Ballmer said. “This is a significant shift, both in what we do and how we see ourselves — as a devices and services company.”
The soon-to-be-released Surface tablets as well as cloud computing spring to mind when devices and services are mentioned, of course. The question is how will this shift play over time with the letter’s constituencies?
To those who question the wisdom of seemingly changing businesses — even business models — in mid-flight, Ballmer had some answers. Microsoft isn’t in the device business? Take a look at Xbox and Kinect, and don’t forget mice and keyboards. He didn’t mention the KIN phone disaster, but it’s hard to argue that the Xbox hasn’t helped bring computing and connectivity into the family room.
What’s so notable is that the company has so much at stake in this shift, and yet has the conviction that without moving in such new directions the company may not survive — like The Innovator’s Dilemma. The world is changing by the millisecond and unless the company tears down its own foundation and rebuilds itself, faster competitors will eventually eclipse its dominance.
Here’s the $74 billion question: Can Microsoft’s corporate culture make the switch, along with changing the whole product orientation, and do it in a manner so as to not tear the company apart in the process?
Besides devices, Ballmer is betting that cloud services — for both businesses and consumers — will produce larger, more stable revenue streams over time, and change the way users compute, although the company hasn’t reported any figures for its cloud offerings so far.
Microsoft implies that these new business models will not compete with partners or shatter the well-developed third-party ecosystem. Of course, given the letter’s audience, Ballmer is aggressively optimistic.
Like campaign promises, however, there are a lot of holes to fall into, not the least of which is Windows 8, which some observers criticize as trying to be all things to all users. A failure in Windows sales could unravel two and a half decades of work, as could sluggish sales of cloud services.
With the launch of Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, and the Surface, Ballmer is taking perhaps the biggest bet-the-farm move the company has ever made.
“Apple has proven that hardware and software must go together in this new world … and you have this whole services thing happening,” said one source close to the company. “[this] implies we are abandoning the old stuff. Legacy is a bad word,” the source said.
By Stuart J. Johnston, Senior News Writer
Microsoft this week began beta testing a set of cloud features designed to give Windows Server 2012 customers the ability to provide Windows Azure services to users. The additions for Azure, first announced last spring, will enable hosting providers and on-premises users to offer cloud capabilities similar to Microsoft’s own Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering, although initial releases are targeted towards hosting partners.
It’s all part of a larger plan that Microsoft has dubbed Cloud OS — an umbrella concept to let customers run cloud applications on Windows Server 2012 on-premises, in third-party hosting centers or in Microsoft’s own data centers.
“As datacenter computing continues to evolve, customers should ultimately have full flexibility to decide where their data center resources are deployed (in their data center, a service provider’s data center, or Microsoft’s data center) and not have to worry about increased management burden or costs,” said Chris Van Wesep, senior product manager, in a post on Monday to Microsoft’s Server & Cloud Blog.
The company first announced the updates to Azure in early June and shipped community technology previews (CTP) of the Windows Server 2012 features at its Worldwide Partner Conference in July. Windows Server 2012 began shipping in early September.
“We’re now moving in the final phase of testing and bug fixes to make sure these technologies will be fully released along with the System Center 2012 Service Pack 1, which is scheduled for early 2013,” Van Wesep said.
What do you think of this news? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @SearchWinServer.
Windows Server 2012 Essentials was released to manufacturing and will be generally available in less than a month, Microsoft said Tuesday.
Sinead O’Donovan, director of program management for Windows Server Essentials, said Essentials will be generally available beginning Thursday, Nov. 1. O’Donovan added that OEM partners will ship server systems carrying Windows Server 2012 Essentials by the end of this year.
Windows Server 2012 Essentials, a cloud and on-site server hybrid, is meant to replace Small Business Server and Home Business Server. A trial version of Essentials is available for download beginning today.
Windows Server 2012 Essentials will cost $425 and has a 25-users limit. Essentials is one of four editions of Windows Server 2012, alongside Datacenter, Standard and Foundation.
Microsoft altered pricing and reduced the number of editions from seven to four, which made some IT shops prepare for a potential cost increase.
What do you think about the Essentials RTM news? Let us know in the comments on this post, or on Twitter @SearchWinServ.
Halloween entails kids trick-or-treating for candy, but administrators will get some treats from Microsoft in this month’s Patch Tuesday to avoid potentially harmful tricks.
According to an advance security bulletin released this week, October’s Patch Tuesday includes seven bulletins to address vulnerabilities. Admins running Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 have two important bulletins to watch out for. Those bulletins also affect Windows client versions.
The other four bulletins are marked at “important” for elevation of privilege, remote code execution and denial of service vulnerabilities. Other affected software in these bulletins include SharePoint, Lync and SQL Server.
The lone “critical” bulletin of the month addresses remote code execution vulnerabilities in Microsoft Office. The patches in the bulletin are for Microsoft Office 2007 SP2 and SP3, as well as Microsoft Office 2010 SP1.
Internet Explorer is a notable absence for the second month in a row; the company released a fix last month for security problems that plagued the browser.
This month’s Patch Tuesday is a significant increase from September, which had the lowest bulletin count of the year.
What do you think of this month’s patches? Let us know in the comments on this post, or on Twitter @SearchWinServ.
After ten months of silence, the public finally has a glimpse of what Microsoft has been up to with Hadoop.
Hadoop for Windows Server is in the private preview stage, Mary Jo Foley reported. It originated in a Sept. 21 presentation given by Denny Lee, the technical principal program manager for SQL Business Intelligence.
According to Lee’s slides, Hadoop for Windows Server will include remote-desktop support and an interactive management console. Hadoop on Azure, which is still in preview, will include elasticity and simplified deployment and management.
Lee’s presentation also indicated that there are other components in the works, including Excel Hive Add-in, Sqoop, Apache Pig, Hive ODBC and more, Foley said.
Hadoop is a Java-based framework that supports large data set processing in a distributing computing environment. Last fall, Microsoft said it would implement Hadoop for Windows Azure and Windows Server with Hortonworks as its partner.
The last update about the project came in December, when Microsoft set the Hadoop for Azure general availability for March of this year and Hadoop for Windows Server date for June.
What do you think of the latest news about Microsoft and Hadoop? Let us know in the comments on this post, or on Twitter @SearchWinServ.
In our new feature, we’ll round up the most popular content of the previous month and share it with you.
For September, our most popular pieces had to do with (surprise!) the Sept. 4 general release of Windows Server 2012.
Here are last month’s most popular pieces.
Windows Server 2012: questions answered
In this FAQ, we answer the most pressing questions you have about the newest version of Windows Server, including new features, what versions are available and deciding when to upgrade. See also our review of Windows Server 2012.
Taking a look at Microsoft Online Backup Service
Our expert breaks down the integrated cloud backup service in Windows Server 2012 with the advantages and disadvantages you need to consider before adopting it.
What’s changed with DCPromo?
In this tip, you’ll get a look into what’s changed since DCPromo’s first appearance in Windows Server 2000, including Install From Media, mass DC deployments and manual DC demotion.
System Center 2012 SP1 lets IT manage Windows Server 2012… eventually
This news story looks at the timing of the System Center 2012 SP1 beta release and how it has some IT pros frustrated.
Sorting out issues with remote PowerShell commands
When PowerShell commands start giving you a headache because they don’t run remotely like you want them to, this tip helps you figure out what’s causing the problem and how to fix it.
What content of ours helped you in September? Let us know in the comments on this post, or on Twitter @SearchWinServ.
We’ve heard it from plenty of IT pros in the last year: they like what they see in Windows Server 2012, but they’re just not ready to jump ship. If they needed another reason to stay within the confines of Windows Server 2008, today they got one more.
Microsoft extended the support end-date two years to Jan. 13, 2015 Mary Jo Foley reported this week. Until then, the product will continue to receive its regular Patch Tuesday fixes and other, non-security fixes.
From there, Windows Server 2008 will go into extended support, which ends Jan. 14, 2020, according to the product lifecycle page on Microsoft’s website. Windows Server 2008 R2 has the same support end-dates.
As Foley notes, this isn’t because Windows Server 2008 is so popular that Microsoft felt it needed to continue to support it (and, it isn’t yet widely used, according to our Purchasing Intentions survey last year). Rather, the launch of Windows Server 2012 kicks in a protocol that “provides a minimum of five years of Mainstream Support or two years of Mainstream Support after the successor product ships, whichever is longer.”
Does this change help you decide when you’ll make your Windows Server 2012 purchasing decision? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @SearchWinServ.
Since the general availability of Windows Server 2012, companies have revealed new products that will run with the support of this Windows Server version and its cloud capabilities.
We compiled a list of company announcements and broke down what products will take advantage of the latest version of Windows Server.
Advanced Micro Devices
AMD announced that its processors would run on the latest version of Windows Server. AMD 4200 and 6200 processors will work with Windows Server 2012 and the Azure public cloud service. The company said these upgrades would support the virtualization enhancements of Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V.
Brocade said all of its product lines will support Windows Server 2012. The announcement highlighted its Ethernet and fibre channel products, which the company says will offer networking functionality in a cloud-based, virtualized data center based in the latest version of Windows Server.
CA said its products would support Windows Server 2012 Dynamic Access Control. Dynamic Access Control lets users define central access policies at an organizational level, which allows users protect critical information. The company said that because of the integration of CA DataMinder Classification, the latest version of Windows Server allows users to have precise access control of data stored on the server.
Dell’s PowerEdge 12th-generation servers will use Windows Server 2012. The high-density PowerEdge servers will enable increased scalability of clusters and Hyper-V. The servers will offer a combination of Microsoft Remote Desktop Services (RDS) and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), which provides users with an end-to-end desktop virtualization service. OpenManage Integration Suite for Systems Center 2012 will also provide agent-free monitoring.
EMC announced that it will offer storage platform and software support for Windows Server 2012. The VSPEX Private Cloud is validated by Microsoft Private Cloud Fast Track, which is designed to help administrators create and speed up the deployment of pre-configured private clouds. EMC’s Global Services will assist customers with the assessment, strategy and development of private cloud infrastructures based on its technology and Windows Server 2012.
Emulex detailed multiple products that will support Windows Server 2012 in its announcement. Its 16 GB Fibre Channel will offer increased data for highly virtualized, shared cloud environments compatible with Windows Server 2012. The integration of OneCommand Vision will use the Operations Manager of System Center 2012 to enhance availability and performance. The LightPulse Virtual adapter technology will also provide virtual port management in System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager.
Hitachi Data Systems
Three Hitachi products will support Windows Server 2012: virtual storage platform, unified storage and compute blade. Hitachi’s products were built with the Microsoft Private Cloud Fast Track, which combined Hitachi computer and storage with Window Server’s Hyper-V and System Center 2012 software. The company said the scalability will allow it to support thousands of VMs.
HP announced that its ProLiant Gen8 servers will support Windows Server 2012. HP’s virtualization tool, HP VirtualSystem, will help administrators create the necessary infrastructure needed for a successful private cloud, the company said. Other tools, including HP Insight Management and HP Converged Infrastructure, aim to simplify an enterprise’s move to a private cloud.
In its announcement, Netapp said its FAS and V-Series storage systems would fully support Windows Server 2012. The product that received the Windows Server 2012 logo certification, NetApp Snapshot backup and recovery, will work with Hyper-V. The company said the latest Windows Server version would offer solutions for availability, desktop virtualization, private cloud development and Web and application platform development.
NovaStor announced that its line of NovaBACKUP products would support Windows Server 2012. NovaBACK helps users launch file and disaster recovery protection. One of the products in the line will work with Windows Server 2012 to launch unlimited VMs based on Hyper-V.
Supermicro’s said its server and storage platforms will support Windows Server 2012. In its announcement, the company said its Server Building Block product would work with the latest version of Windows Server to create scalable and easy to manage platforms based in the cloud.
What do you think of these announcements? Are you planning on using any of these products? Let us know in the comments, or on Twitter @SearchWinServ.
User Experience-Virtualization will hit general availability in the fourth quarter when Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack 2012 ships, Microsoft said last week.
According to a blog post by Karri Alexion-Tiernan, director of product management, new User Experience-Virtualization (UE-V) features will include support for the final release of Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8, refinements in Office 2010 settings templates and control on a per-user basis.
With the general availability of UE-V, an OS can be virtualized using virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) 12, which provides the single platform that gives users a common experience. A combination of RemoteFX, Windows Server 2012 and Windows 7 or Windows 8 brings VDI together.
The Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) adds support for UE-V this year; it brings with it older features like Advanced Group Policy Management and the Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset (DART), which hit release candidate during TechEd in June.
UE-V virtualizes the application layers of the desktop and the user state in an OS without reconfiguring applications or settings in Windows 7 or Windows 8. Administrators can manipulate UE-V to enable users to change their devices and keep their experience on any deployed Windows desktop.
Alexion-Tiernan also said that enhancements in Windows 8 access devices will work on Windows 7 access devices. During this year’s 4Q, Remote Desktop Protocol 8.0 Update for Windows 7 will be released to give Windows 7 SP1 devices the same RemoteFX enhancements as in Windows Server 2012.
Admins found out that access to Microsoft Desktop Optimization would cost $1 a month last year.
What do you think of the new UE-V features? Let us know in the comments on this post, or on Twitter @SearchWinServ.
September will be a light month for Patch Tuesdays with a mere two bulletins and nothing ranked at a “critical” level, according to an advance security bulletin Microsoft released Thursday.
The affected software includes Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010 SP1, Microsoft Systems Management Server 2003 SP1 and Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 SP2.
Each bulletin is marked as “important.” The vulnerabilities mentioned in both bulletins could allow an elevation of privilege if an attacker gained access, which still puts data at risk.
As one of the lightest Patch Tuesdays of 2012, this is the first month since June that no patches will be released to address vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer. This could present a problem for Windows 8 users, as Adobe released security updates for its widely used Flash Player. Ed Bott writes that because Microsoft and only Microsoft controls updates to IE 10 in Windows 8, users are powerless until the company releases a security update.
What do you think of this uncharacteristically light month for Windows patches? Let us know in the comments on this post, or on Twitter @SearchWinServ.