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Mark Minasi: What Microsoft needs to change

Windows expert and author Mark Minasi shares his thoughts on what Microsoft can do to help IT in hard times and what IT managers can do to plan ahead.

This is the first in a two-part interview in which Windows expert Mark Minasi talks with Christina Torode, senior news writer at, about the impact of the weakened economy on IT and tech trends for 2009. Minasi is a best-selling author, known for his "Mastering Windows" book series and, more recently, Administering Windows Vista Security: The Big Surprises. Given the weak economic climate, what could Microsoft be doing to help out the IT community?

Mark Minasi
Mark Minasi
Mark Minasi: It would be wonderful if Microsoft recognized that there are a large number of people using XP. It is the most popular operating system in the galaxy. A year ago I said I like Vista, but I can't imagine why Microsoft is doing what they're doing. It was like McDonald's saying 'We're so over those Big Macs. We sold a grillion of them but let's just stop.'
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People should be able to buy a 20-year license for XP or Vista or whatever.

Given the way the economy is, a significantly larger number of people -- let's say 5% of the people -- will say, 'Maybe we should be thinking about Linux desktop.' Or, 'Maybe we should be thinking about Open Office.'

Is it a pain in the neck? Absolutely, but if you ain't got no money, and it's boiling down to not making it to the end of 2009, people are going to be looking at low-cost alternatives. So if there's a way to extend XP support for a while, that would be a nice gesture and, ultimately, would keep the faithful closer. Microsoft won't be making as much money, but get over it. Nobody is going to be making much money next year. In what other areas could Microsoft tweak its product strategy?

Minasi: Sell MDOP [Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack]. Don't rent it. Making its virtualization technology a part of MDOP was a bad idea. Kidaro, for example -- what a great idea. I love the idea that you can pop up a little window that looks like a window on your system when it's actually a virtual machine. If I could buy Kidaro, I would pay for it and I would buy the [products inside] MDOP. But I'm not going to buy MDOP to get it. Also, I like the idea of SoftGrid [App-V], but I'm not going to touch it and I'm not going to tell my clients to touch it because it's part of MDOP. What technology do you think is going to take hold next year?

Mark Minasi: IPv6 [Internet Protocol, version 6] is going to hit like a tsunami in the next year or so. It's time to be looking into it. A piece of advice I've been giving people is to only buy 64-bit desktops from this point on. Microsoft said that if you have a Vista driver you'll run on Windows 7, and if your piece of hardware runs Vista well, [then it'll] run Windows 7 well. Microsoft says they'll ship Windows 7 in 2010, and you know that really means 2011. So we've got two years until Windows 7. So buy a piece of hardware now and shake out the app compatibility issues. That's two years. I get Windows 7 in another three years and I don't have to buy any new hardware. That means that instead of going to this three-year hardware refresh, let's go to a six-year plan. What are the top concerns of IT managers for 2009?

Minasi: Keeping their jobs. You know that little thing that happened with the stock market not too long ago? That completely changed everything. What questions do you hear the most from IT folks?

Minasi: People are just telling me they're afraid of Vista, and in certain sectors of the market, there are people that just hate Microsoft. If Bill is doing it, it must be bad. What trends are you noticing?

Minasi: The quiet thing is that people are moving to Vista. Two years ago I said the move to Vista was going to be just like the move to XP. People will say who needs it for a year and a half or more, and now they're starting to adopt it. [Over shadowing] everything is the economic situation and what the new administration will do to change it. How do you see the role of IT and the jobs of IT professionals changing with regard to cloud computing?

Minasi: We're going to have to do more with less, and I'm not the only person seeing that. I've seen three different presentations in the last six months on what IT is going to look like in 10 years. The message, typically, is that your job isn't going to exist anymore because it's going to the cloud -- or something along those lines. I wish I could say [IT] is a great place for a 27-year old to go … but I don't know that it's a real growth path.

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