Windows Vista Delayed to 2007 – Big Deal?

Microsoft announced they are going to release Windows Vista to enterprises in November of 2006, but the consumer version will be pushed back until January 2007. People all over the world are pouncing on this one but I have to wonder why? It’s 2 more months. Big deal.

The only people this will probably hurt is all of the computer manufacturers that earn a large part of their revenue in the 4th quarter of the year – the Christmas buying season. This could definitely hurt the HP’s and Gateways of the world since they need to have products configured and shipped to retail stores for most of their sales. This probably didn’t mean too much to Dell since they build everything to order and can probably recover from a slip in a ship date easier than the others. This is why Dell’s model rocks.

But there are many OS X fans on the Internet (remember, I’m a huge Apple fan) that either see this as yet another opportunity to bash Microsoft or see this as Apple’s big change to make huge gains in market share. I don’t get the senseless bashing. All it really does it turn people away from it. They may even be less inclined to check out all the great things OS X has to offer. But I don’t really see this as a huge opportunity to make big gains with OS X. We *think* Apple will have the next version of OS X released by the end of the year, but there will be a surge whenever it comes out. I don’t think we can attribute that to Vista’s slip. All Microsoft or manufacturers have to do is one thing and the Vista slip becomes irrelevant; for all purchases made after the date that Vista ships to the enterprise, include a free upgrade to Vista when it is released. That would appease 99% of new buyers.

Vista for consumers slipping a whopping 2 months will not bring devastation to the computer industry. Windows will remain dominant, Linux will still chip away in the data center, and I will still be happy with my PowerBook running the latest version of OS X.

More Entourage Goodness (mostly)

Using Entourage more and more while traveling and it is really working out pretty well. The Sync Services seem to work as advertised. I wanted to get all of my Entourage Calendar items on to my cell phone Date Book so I would be sure not to miss any meetings. Since I did not see a way for Entourage to communicate with my cell phone, I decided that iCal was the solution. I have been successfully syncing Contact and Calendar data with my Motorola e815 for a month now via bluetooth, so I figured the key was to get the Entourage calendar items over on to the iCal calendar.

Since I am communicating with my corporate Exchange account I have 2 Entourage Calendars listed; Calendar [On My Computer] and Calendar [Exchange]. I just have to make sure the Entourage Sync Services were set to synch up iCal with the [Exchange] calendar and within seconds all of my Entourage appointments, with reminders and location, were listed in the Entourage iCal calendar.

On the next iSync all of my appointments were available on my e815 and reminders for appointments that were past due today were popping up. Exactly what I wanted. Almost. Entourage had done its part perfectly, but iSync let me down here. The Location field, available in Entourage and iCal, does not sync with the phone. There are a ton of messages about this in the Apple Discussions, so I am not alone in this one, but I can’t get on Microsoft about this. This one looks to be all Apples to fix. I did file a bug report on the Apple web site. We’ll see if anything comes of it.

But I will fault Microsoft with something that drove me nuts about Entourage today. But first, you have to understand that I use Outlook at work every day, so there are things that happen with the Outlook client that I expect out of Entourage since they are both from Microsoft. In Entourage signatures are attached to the account you are using. The signature will add itself to every message you send. It doesn’t matter if you create the email, reply to it, or forward it, the signature is going to attach if you have selected a default. You can configure Outlook to only apply the signature to messages you create. I want the same control in Entourage. As a workaround I removed the default signature and just add it from the toolbar when I create a message. Not optimal, but it will work from now. Microsoft should fix this one.

So I am pretty happy with Entourage so far. I think Microsoft did a good job with it and I would give it a 7 out of 10. I still question why Microsoft didn’t just give us a real Outlook client. Without telling us the real reason they leave the door open for guys like me to speculate that they did it to further protect the Office for Windows product. If Microsoft gave us a full Outlook client like the one for Windows there would be more of a chance that OS X could be used in the enterprise. We wouldn’t want that to happen, now would we?

UPDATE – Looks like I can’t be too upset with Apple over the Location field not syncing with my phone. As I look at the fields my phone has in the Date Book, I only see Title, Start, Duration, Date, Repeat, and Alarm. Some people are working around this by adding the Location data to the Title field, but this doesn’t really work for me since the Title field is not very long on my phone and a lot of the meetings I have, or get invited to, have longer names. Looks like just carrying my phone to remind me of meetings is not going to work out too well. At least I get a reminder about the meeting, I’ll just need to be near a computer to dig out the Location data.

Maybe it’s Motorola I should be upset with.

Entourage continues to impress

I try to make it a point to never discuss work on my personal Blog, but today I have to mix the two a little bit. Since I switched over to Entourage last week I have been happy with it. One thing I have never been able to try, since we were still on Exchange 5.5 at work, was the new OWA integration from the internet.

This is not just web based email anymore, this interface now provides seamless access with handhelds and allows you to access your corporate email from a local client across the internet. Securely. I’m not positive if this is their RPC over HTTPs implementation, but I have to admit it works pretty well.

Why just pretty well instead of extremely well? Well, I guess you have to take in to account that I have a HUGE mailbox at work. It was close to 700MB and had tons of messages in it. After setting up Entourage to connect with our corporate OWA server I gave it hours to sync up. Many, many, many hours. It was still only about 25% of the way done. So I took the easy way out and logged in via Citrix and used the full Outlook2003 client to archive off all of my email that was more than 1 month old. Our Exchange Admin should be thrilled since that took over 500MB of email off his live mail system.

Once I did that Entourage performed much better and I used it most of the day today while working from home. It doesn’t really seem to be a true live connection, but it seems like more of a sync that happens every minute or so, depending on how you have your client setup to operate. My Outlook Calendar came down as an Exchange Calendar in Entourage and all of my meetings and reminders worked perfectly today.

I would say the only thing I have left to figure out is the address book. I want to use the Global Address Book from the Exchange server from my Entourage client but we do not publish out LDAP info externally and I have not found any other way to do it yet. I can use the person’s full email address to send new messages and can reply to email just fine, but I’d still like to be able to browse or select people from the GAB without needing to know if they use a middle initial in their smtp address or what that initial may be.

I’ll update more as I learn more but I have to give Microsoft credit where credit is due since I give them such a hard time on just about everything else. Nice job guys. I don’t know if this is all from the MacBU or a combination of people but I am very impressed with how effortless this was to get working. Now if I can just get that address book figured out!

Switch from Apple Mail to Microsoft Entourage complete

Free time is not always a good thing. When I have too much of it I start to think about what I can do to pass the time. Since Microsoft had just released an update Microsoft Office 2004 for OS X I decided to switch over to entourage for my email to see how well it works. I had no problems importing all of my accounts, messages, rules, and signatures, so I really didn’t have that much to do. Everything worked very well and I was up and running in around 15 minutes.

There was nothing wrong with Apple’s Mail program at all. I was just bored and curious so I felt like changing. I like how entourage now supports OS X sync services so my address book and calendar are now in sync with everything else I sync with. It’s nice have the calendar integrated in the with the mail client since I am used to Outlook at work, but I still think iCal is a little better for me because you can have multiple calendars and publish and subscribe to other public calendars as well. The only weakness I see with the entourage syncing is that it can only sync with one calendar in iCal, and that calendar is a new one listed as entourage in the iCal interface. So if you have a bunch of calendars in iCal you have to switch their items over to the entourage calendar for them to automatically sync with the entourage calendar. This is simple enough to do but takes away from the reason for having multiple calendars in the first place. Entourage now supports spotlight search but I have not had a chance to play with that yet.

Other than that entourage seems like a very nice mail client. All of my rules are working perfectly and email is flowing with no issues to report. I’ll stay with it until the next time I get bored – probably when leopard ships and Apple improves mail again.

A few things you can do before you put that Windows PC on the Internet

As more and more people are adding high speed Internet to their computers, there are some pretty serious risks that you may not be aware of. I’ve read that a brand new computer running Windows can be compromised in 12 minutes when plugged in to their DSL or Cable Internet connection. I’m not here to discuss if this is true or not, but there are a few things you can do to make yourself, and the rest of us on the Internet, a little safer. I’m going to assume you are running a version of Microsoft Windows for the rest of this.

  1. Make sure you are running all the available patches from Microsoft by running Windows Update.
  2. Buy an anti virus program and keep it up to date. If you buy anti virus software but don’t update it regularly from their web site, it will become useless in a week or so against anything new that comes out. Buy something from McAfee or Symantec and set it to update itself automatically.
  3. Load and enable a firewall. If you are running WindowsXP, there is really no reason you shouldn’t be running Service Pack 2 (SP2). Enable the firewall in it immediately. If you aren’t running WindowsXP, download ZoneAlarm and use it. If nothing else, these will stop things from trying to get IN to your computer. The WindowsXP firewall doesn’t do anything about stopping what is trying to get OUT of your computer. Either way, we’re trying to stop bad things from getting in to your computer.

Once you’ve done these things go to this site, read the doc there and click on the Proceed button. Follow the instructions and see what the rest of the world can see on your computer.

So you should now be more secure than you originally were, but how does that make the rest of us any safer? Because we have disabled the ability for spammers on the Internet to use your PC to send spam out to the rest of us. It’s called being a Zombie. The firewall will stop that ability. The rest of us on the Internet will thank you.

This is just a few quick steps that I would recommend you follow to become more secure on the Internet. This isn’t meant to be the answer to every bad thing you will find there. The last thing I would recommend you do is to download the Firefox web browser, install it, and allow it to become your default web browser. It blocks popups, has tabbed browsing, and more importantly for 90%+ of the Internet, it does not run ActiveX, which is one of the things that makes Internet Explorer so popular, but it also makes it very unsecure. It’s also faster in my opinion, so you can thank me later.

Lastly, you can do like I did and just remove Windows from the equation. I took my family to Apple Macintoshes and I’ve never looked back.