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November 19, 2002—In this issue:
1. NEWS AND VIEWS
- COMDEX: Microsoft Preps Win.NET Server for RC2, April Launch
- COMDEX: Microsoft Updates Security Initiative
- COMDEX: Windows Powered Smart Displays on Tap
- Planning on Getting Certified? Make Sure to Pick Up Our New eBook!
- Sample Our Security Administrator Newsletter!
3. CONTACT US
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1. NEWS AND VIEWS
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Microsoft announced yesterday that Windows .NET Server (Win.NET Server) 2003 will hit the Release Candidate 2 (RC2) milestone within 2 weeks. The company will publicly launch the product in April 2003, although Microsoft has yet to announce the exact date or venue for the launch.
Win.NET Server is the next version of Windows 2000 Server, a product that Microsoft originally developed alongside Windows XP. But development of the two products veered in February 2001, when Microsoft decided to stay in tune with customer needs by extending the timeline for server launches. The company recently announced a similar scheme for its next-generation Windows products; the Longhorn project, due in 2005, will now include only desktop Windows versions, and the Blackcomb project will be a server-based successor to Win.NET Server.
At the COMDEX Fall 2002 trade show in Las Vegas yesterday, Microsoft announced three important changes to the way the company communicates security fixes to its customers. The changes come less than a year after the company rallied around its Trustworthy Computing initiative, under which Microsoft is redesigning its products for better security. According to the company, the changes are the result of customer feedback.
"We're clarifying how we communicate security to customers," Mike Nash, vice president of Microsoft's Security Business Unit, told me in a briefing yesterday. "We had three main areas of feedback. First, the overall severity rating in our security bulletins was hard to understand, especially for individual users. Second, customers told us that our detailed technical bulletins were good for IT, but they scare individuals and are hard to understand. And third, customers appreciate our security alert email service, but \[the email bulletins\] often discuss products that customers don't care about."
To address these problems, Microsoft has changed its security-vulnerability rating system from the previous three levels to four: low, moderate, important, and critical. The new important level will describe many vulnerabilities previously classified as critical, and the critical rating will now be reserved for wormlike viruses and other more virulent problems. In addition, Microsoft will issue modified security bulletins for products that individuals use; the consumer-friendly version will contain simplified language and will be less technical than the standard bulletin, Nash said. Finally, Microsoft will begin a security email notification service for consumers that will contain only information about consumer-oriented products.
Microsoft revealed yesterday that it will finalize the Windows Powered Smart Displays (formerly code-named Mira) software this week, and partners will deliver the first-generation hardware January 8. Beginning today, customers interested in buying Windows Powered Smart Displays can preorder units from major online retailers such as Amazon.com or Buy.com, the company says. In the United States, customers can preorder ViewSonic devices in both 10" and 15" versions. Elsewhere, Fujitsu, NEC, and Philips will sell Windows Powered Smart Displays. Dell will begin selling ViewSonic Windows Powered Smart Displays in the coming weeks.
First introduced in January 2002 at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Windows Powered Smart Displays let users access their PCs using remote, wireless-enabled displays. The products are based on Windows CE .NET, Wi-Fi, and Microsoft's Remote Desktop technology. Because Remote Desktop requires Windows XP Professional Edition, all Smart Displays will ship with a copy of that software. ViewSonic's devices, which include wireless-networking adapters, give consumers everything they need right out of the box.
When I tested the final ViewSonic hardware yesterday, I found performance acceptable but a bit slow. The 10" model weighs about 3 pounds and features rubber grips that make it easier to hold, buttons that emulate the mouse buttons, a cursor for using the mouse pointer without the stylus, and other ease-of-use features. Windows Powered Smart Displays will cost about $1000 to $1300, depending on the model and size.
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