So the US Department of the Interior decides that it wants a new email system, and after consideration decides it wants to use Microsoft’s hosted Exchange platform.
Pretty straight forward, right?
Well, until Google decides that the DOI should have used Google Apps instead, and goes to sue the government for wanting to use Microsoft’s products. Nevermind the fact that Google doesn’t even have a GSA contract and cannot actually sell products to the federal government without one.
Google’s case makes it sound like they’re trying to protect the government from disaster by going with Microsoft’s product, providing a filing full of reasons why their platform is superior and Microsoft’s is run by idiots. Nevermind the fact that Google Apps has had it’s fair share of issues in the last few months (even in the last week) and that they’re constantly adding/changing/removing features that would probably not be welcome in a government setting.
Modifying a phrase that @johnobeto uses “They Who Must Be Obeyed” at my company (Upper Management) is always looking for ways to cut how much we spend on IT services. This can be a nuisance but every once in a while it opens the door to allow me to look for new companies that can provide more functionality while lowering the cost. A few months ago I was tasked with looking into new email providers to move our email into the cloud.
Microsoft will be adding a plethora of interesting features to Hotmail this summer. Chief among them is support for Exchange ActiveSync. This will allow users of any mobile device with ActiveSync support to receive push email, as well as synchronize calendar and contact information. Previously this feature was only available on Windows Mobile phones, and only in a limited fashion. Also coming soon is full SSL encryption on the Hotmail website, instead of just the Live authentication process. Microsoft is also expected to add conversation view, think Exchange/Outlook 2010, but in Hotmail. All of these features are things that Google has offered on Gmail for a while now and that Microsoft needs to play catchup with power users.
Microsoft has also announced that it will be providing full support for HTML5 video in Internet Explorer 9, and will be doing so using the H.264 protocol. Recently Apple has also been throwing support behind H.264 as the HTML5 video codec of choice for Safari. Apple has somewhat famously taken on Adobe in recent weeks saying Flash video is no longer the preferred option for Internet users going forward. Awkwardly, Microsoft agreed.
Ubuntu 10.04 LTS was released on April 29. The latest version is a long term support release, meaning updates will be published for 3 years on the desktop and 5 years on the server versions, compared to only 18 months with standard Ubuntu releases. This makes LTS a great platform for business deployments where doing full release upgrades every 6 to 12 months can be a major hassle. The latest version is lighter on features than normal Ubuntu releases are, but still sports the latest stable and public versions of GNOME, X.org and the Linux kernel. It also features a refreshed theme, ditching the brown and orange for a purple and black theme. There is also a new optional “lighter” theme that has a hint of brown instead of the standard Ubuntu color scheme. Boot times, especially on SSD drives have also been dramatically improved.
Palm is dead. Well, actually, HP purchased Palm for $1.2 billion. The only hope for the WebOS platform now rests with HP and their commitment to “double down” and release new and improved hardware. Pending regulatory approvals, the deal is expected to close rather quickly in July of this year. Hopefully we’ll start seeing some HP branded WebOS devices starting this fall or winter.
Microsoft has recently uncovered some of the upcoming features of Exchange 2010 SP1. While SP1 will contain all of the roll-up packs that have been released, using customer feedback they’ve identified problem areas that will be addressed, as well as enhanced some of the features of Exchange.
Most of the enhancements center around archiving/discovery, Outlook Web App (OWA) and mobile management. There will be a beta of SP1 for download in parallel with TechEd North America this June, giving administrators a chance to test it in their development environments prior to full production. (more…)
Looking to upgrade your infrastructure to Exchange 2010, then Microsoft has a tool to help make the process a little smoother. They’ve published an updated version of their Exchange 2010 Deployment Assistant, which now supports migration paths from Exchange 2007 as well as help with new 2010 installs. Previously, the assistant would only advise users of Exchange 2003.
The Deployment Assistant allows administrators to create Exchange 2010 deployment instructions that are customized to their environment. The Deployment Assistant asks a small set of questions, and based on your answers, it provides a set of instructions that are designed to get you up and running on Exchange 2010. Instead of reading dozens of topics in the Exchange 2010 library, you simply answer a few questions, and the Deployment Assistant gives you customized content to install Exchange 2010.
The assistant is strictly web based, and does not require you to run anything on your systems. It does require you to have intimate knowledge of your Exchange environment for the results to be very helpful. You can find it over at Technet.
Microsoft Data Protection Manager 2010 is coming soon, and Microsoft is set to release an updated test version even sooner. The beta of 2010 has been out since September and the product team has been taking feedback to make the product even better then the 2007 version.
This Thursday, at 9AM PST, Microsoft will be hosting a 90 minute webcast to cover what has changed in the release candidate and the progress being made towards the final version. Anyone using DPM will want to be sure not to miss this. The team will demonstrate the software that early adopters have been running as well as new Windows client protection capabilities, the new SQL/SharePoint/Exchange protection and recovery features, as well as their enhanced Disaster Recovery scenarios.
There will also be information on the new auto-healing/auto-scaling features (which current DPM administrators like myself will love) — the team also promises a few new surprises that weren’t in the beta.
Those of you who know me, know that I have been an avid BlackBerry proponent for many years. I held fast to the opinion that BlackBerry coupled with Microsoft Exchange was the solution for business mobile communications. Be it BlackBerry Enterprise Server or Microsoft ActiveSync, I held steadfast in my opinion that nothing could perform as well or better in maintaining perfect harmony between my desktop, my laptop, my phone, and anywhere access to my information. I am here to say, that era has ended. A moment of silence, please. Now that the mourning is over, let me tell you the changes I’ve made, how, and why.
First, let me say that I had not been looking to leave the BlackBerry/Exchange family, but I was holding out for a full screen BlackBerry with a physical keyboard, a slider if you will. Those of you who follow mobile devices closely, especially those who follow BlackBerry hardware, are well aware of the numerous design concept drawings, mock-ups, etc. of a BlackBerry slider that have been floating around for at least a year. Never revealing just exactly when we would see such a device, RIM has only been willing to confirm that several design options have been considered. This secrecy is nothing unusual among device manufacturers, but the lack of information and an opportunity provided by a competitor presents a precarious position, and, in this case, caused a long time RIM fan to jump ship.
With the recent launch of Apple’s latest OS iteration, Snow Leopard, many users were anxiously anticipating a more feature rich and integrated experience in corporate networks that employ a Microsoft Exchange server, or as Apple puts it, Out-of-the-box support for Microsoft Exchange. While that may technically be true, it’s not as cut and dry as Apple claims it to be.
Freelance technology journalist Tim Anderson digs into the Exchange capabilities of Snow Leopard in its out-of-the-box state, and reveals that it’s not a full featured Exchange experience, but may be more reminiscent of Mail support pre-Snow Leopard. While previously Apple OS versions only supported basic e-mail connections to an Exchange server via IMAP, Snow Leopard offers support for Exchange Web Services. However, EWS is not a feature complete service, and is only available to those connecting to an Exchange Server 2007 with Service Pack 1, Update Rollup 4. Even then, some features, such as public folder support will require an Exchange Server 2007 with Service Pack 2.
As Tim points out, there are many Snow Leopard users experiencing a myriad of difficulties in connecting their systems to Exchange servers. The saving grace looks like it will come from Microsoft, who in it’s next version of Microsoft Office for Mac, will be replacing Entourage with Outlook for Mac, which promises to deliver a more complete Exchange experience for Mac users.
Apple has released the latest version of their OS X operating system, version 10.6 or “Snow Leopard” for both desktops and servers. Current 10.5 users can upgrade to 10.6 for $29 per machine for the desktop or $499 for the server. 10.6 is only supported on Intel based Macs.
The desktop version features enhanced Exchange support, enabling programs like Mail, iCal and Address Book to communicate directly with our Microsoft Exchange 2007 servers. Both versions also feature enhanced support for x64 based computing, and have a x64 based kernel.
As we reported earlier in the week, 10.6 also includes built in malware scanning, something not mentioned anywhere on the Apple website.
The server version also includes a new SSL based VPN service, as well as new versions of iCal server and Address Book server, as well as updates to the built in Mail server.
Order: Client | Server
Update: Be sure to check the recently published 10.6 application incompatibility chart before upgrading. A few popular anti-virus programs as well as versions of Parallels Desktop are listed as restricted during install. Aperture 2.1.1. is also listed as unable to load after installing.
Microsoft is running a launch campaign for Windows 7, Server 2008 R2 and Exchange 2010. The campaign is called “The New Efficiency” and is focused toward IT Professionals and Developers. There are three different tracks that you can take at this event, Windows 7, Server 2008 R2 and Exchange 2010.
There are 25 events across the country so I am sure there is one near you. Sorry international folks, Microsoft will not be holding similar events abroad.
For more information or to register for an event, visit the Microsoft event home page.