Archive for December, 2010

10 dirty little secrets you should know about working in IT

If you are preparing for a career in IT or are new to IT, many of the “dirty little secrets” listed below may surprise you because we don’t usually talk about them out loud. If you are an IT veteran, you’ve probably encountered most of these issues and have a few of your own to add — and please, by all means, take a moment to add them to the discussion. Most of these secrets are aimed at network administrators, IT managers, and desktop support professionals. This list is not aimed at developers and programmers — they have their own set of dirty little secrets — but some of these will apply to them as well.

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http://content.techrepublic.com.com/2346-13416_11-490857.html

10.) The pay in IT is good compared to many other professions, but since they pay you well, they often think they own you

Although the pay for IT professionals is not as great as it was before the dot-com flameout and the IT backlash in 2001-2002, IT workers still make very good money compared to many other professions (at least the ones that require only an associate’s or bachelor’s degree). And there is every reason to believe that IT pros will continue to be in demand in the coming decades, as technology continues to play a growing role in business and society. However, because IT professionals can be so expensive, some companies treat IT pros like they own them. If you have to answer a tech call at 9:00 PM because someone is working late, you hear, “That’s just part of the job.” If you need to work six hours on a Saturday to deploy a software update to avoid downtime during business hours, you get, “There’s no comp time for that since you’re on salary. That’s why we pay you the big bucks!”

9.) It will be your fault when users make silly errors

Some users will angrily snap at you when they are frustrated. They will yell, “What’s wrong with this thing?” or “This computer is NOT working!” or (my personal favorite), “What did you do to the computers?” In fact, the problem is that they accidentally deleted the Internet Explorer icon from the desktop, or unplugged the mouse from the back of the computer with their foot, or spilled their coffee on the keyboard.

8.) You will go from goat to hero and back again multiple times within any given day

When you miraculously fix something that had been keeping multiple employees from being able to work for the past 10 minutes — and they don’t realize how simple the fix really was — you will become the hero of the moment and everyone’s favorite employee. But they will conveniently forget about your hero anointment a few hours later when they have trouble printing because of a network slowdown — you will be enemy No. 1 at that moment. But if you show users a handy little Microsoft Outlook trick before the end of the day, you’ll soon return to hero status.

7.) Certifications won’t always help you become a better technologist, but they can help you land a better job or a pay raise

Headhunters and human resources departments love IT certifications. They make it easy to match up job candidates with job openings. They also make it easy for HR to screen candidates. You’ll hear a lot of veteran IT pros whine about techies who were hired based on certifications but who don’t have the experience to effectively do the job. They are often right. That has happened in plenty of places. But the fact is that certifications open up your career options. They show that you are organized and ambitious and have a desire to educate yourself and expand your skills. If you are an experienced IT pro and have certifications to match your experience, you will find yourself to be extremely marketable. Tech certifications are simply a way to prove your baseline knowledge and to market yourself as a professional. However, most of them are not a good indicator of how good you will be at the job.

6.) Your nontechnical co-workers will use you as personal tech support for their home PCs

Your co-workers (in addition to your friends, family, and neighbors) will view you as their personal tech support department for their home PCs and home networks. They will e-mail you, call you, and/or stop by your office to talk about how to deal with the virus that took over their home PC or the wireless router that stopped working after the last power outage and to ask you how to put their photos and videos on the Web so their grandparents in Iowa can view them. Some of them might even ask you if they can bring their home PC to the office for you to fix it. The polite ones will offer to pay you, but some of them will just hope or expect you can help them for free. Helping these folks can be very rewarding, but you have to be careful about where to draw the line and know when to decline. For help, take a look at TechRepublic’s free download “Ten ways to decline a request for free tech support.”

5.) Vendors and consultants will take all the credit when things work well and will blame you when things go wrong

Working with IT consultants is an important part of the job and can be one of the more challenging things to manage. Consultants bring niche expertise to help you deploy specialized systems, and when everything works right, it’s a great partnership. But you have to be careful. When things go wrong, some consultants will try to push the blame off on you by arguing that their solution works great everywhere else so it must be a problem with the local IT infrastructure. Conversely, when a project is wildly successful, there are consultants who will try to take all of the credit and ignore the substantial work you did to customize and implement the solution for your company.

4.) You’ll spend far more time babysitting old technologies than implementing new ones

One of the most attractive things about working in IT is the idea that we’ll get to play with the latest cutting edge technologies. However, that’s not usually the case in most IT jobs. The truth is that IT professionals typically spend far more time maintaining, babysitting, and nursing established technologies than implementing new ones. Even IT consultants, who work with more of the latest and greatest technologies, still tend to work primarily with established, proven solutions rather than the real cutting edge stuff.

3.) Veteran IT professionals are often the biggest roadblock to implementing new technologies

A lot of companies could implement more cutting edge stuff than they do. There are plenty of times when upgrading or replacing software or infrastructure can potentially save money and/or increase productivity and profitability. However, it’s often the case that one of the largest roadblocks to migrating to new technologies is not budget constraints or management objections; it’s the veteran techies in the IT department. Once they have something up and running, they are reluctant to change it. This can be a good thing because their jobs depend on keeping the infrastructure stable, but they also use that as an excuse to not spend the time to learn new things or stretch themselves in new directions. They get lazy, complacent, and self-satisfied.

2.) Some IT professionals deploy technologies that do more to consolidate their own power than to help the business

Another subtle but blameworthy thing that some IT professionals do is select and implement technologies based on how well those technologies make the business dependent on the IT pros to run them, rather than which ones are truly best for the business itself. For example, IT pros might select a solution that requires specialized skills to maintain instead of a more turnkey solution. Or an IT manager might have more of a Linux/UNIX background and so chooses a Linux-based solution over a Windows solution, even though the Windows solution is a better business decision (or, vice versa, a Windows admin might bypass a Linux-based appliance, for example). There are often excuses and justifications given for this type of behavior, but most of them are disingenuous.

1.) IT pros frequently use jargon to confuse nontechnical business managers and hide the fact that they screwed up

All IT pros — even the very best — screw things up once in a while. This is a profession where a lot is at stake and the systems that are being managed are complex and often difficult to integrate. However, not all IT pros are good at admitting when they make a mistake. Many of them take advantage of the fact that business managers (and even some high-level technical managers) don’t have a good understanding of technology, and so the techies will use jargon to confuse them (and cover up the truth) when explaining why a problem or an outage occurred. For example, to tell a business manager why a financial application went down for three hours, the techie might say, “We had a blue screen of death on the SQL Server that runs that app. Damn Microsoft!” What the techie would fail to mention was that the BSOD was caused by a driver update he applied to the server without first testing it on a staging machine.

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Backdoor ways to reboot a Windows server

When you need to reboot a Windows server, you’ll occasionally encounter obstacles to making that happen. For instance, if remote desktop services aren’t working, how can you reboot the server? Here is a list of tricks I’ve collected over the years for rebooting or shutting down a system when I can’t simply go to the Start Menu in Windows.

* The shutdown.exe command: This gem will send a remote (or local) shutdown command to a system. Entering shutdown /r /m \\servername /f /t 10 will send a remote reboot to a system. Shutdown.exe is current on all modern Windows systems; in older versions, it was located on the Resource Kit. For more details, read this Microsoft KB article on the shutdown.exe command.
* PowerShell Restart-Computer: The equivalent of the command above in PowerShell is:


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Start-Sleep 10
Restart-Computer -Force -ComputerName SERVERNAME
* Hardware management device: If a device such as an HP iLO or Dell DRAC is in use, there is a virtual power button and remote screen console tool to show the system’s state regardless of the state of the operating system. If these devices are not configured with new servers, it’s a good idea to have them configured in case the mechanisms within the operating system are not available.
* Virtual machine power button: If the system in question is a virtual machine, all hypervisors have a virtual power button to reset the system. In VMware vSphere, be sure to select the option to Shut Down The Guest Operating System instead of the Power Off; this will make the call to VMware Tools to make it a clean shutdown. If that fails, the Power Off button will be the next logical step.
* Console walkthrough: In the situation where the server administrator does not have physical access to the system, walking someone through the process may be effective. For security reasons, basically a single user (domain or locally) can be created with the sole permission of rebooting the server. That person could log on as this temporary user, and then it is immediately destroyed after the local shutdown command is issued. Further, that temporary user could be created with a profile to run the reboot script on their logon to not have any interaction by the person assisting the server administrator.
* Configure a scheduled task through Group Policy: If you can’t access the system in any other mainstream way — perhaps the Windows Firewall is turned on and you can’t get in to turn it off — set a GPO to reconfigure the firewall state and slip in a reboot command in the form of the shutdown.exe command executing locally (removing the /m parameter from above). The hard part will be getting the GPO to deploy quickly.
* Enterprise system management packages: Packages such as Symantec’s Altiris and Microsoft System Center agents communicate to the management server and can receive a command to reboot the server.
* Pull the plug: This is definitely not an ideal approach, but it is effective. For physical servers, if a managed power strip with port control is available, a single system can have its power removed and restored.

What other backdoor ways have you used to reboot a Windows server? Share your comments in the discussion.

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How to connect to and from Windows 7 and Linux using TightVNC

One of the single most important aspects of a computer, from an administrative standpoint, is the ability to handle administration remotely. Nearly every operating system offers tools for such a task, but what do you do when you want to go cross-platform? The best bet is VNC (Virtual Network Computing). If you are connecting to a Windows Terminal Server the task is simple…but if you want to connect to a Windows desktop from a Linux client, you might find yourself having trouble connecting to RDP. Instead you want VNC and the best way to get VNC is by using


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TightVNC.

TightVNC is a free VNC tool that offers both a viewer and a server for Windows clients and a server for Linux clients. Let’s take a look at how to set up the necessary servers on both operating systems so you can log in remotely.
Linux to Windows

As you would expect, the installation of TightVNC is simple on a Windows client. All you need to do is download the correct installation file from the TightVNC download page, double click, and walk through the installation. It’s very straight-forward.

Once you get TightVNC installed, however, the straight-fowardness flies out the window. In order to make a connection to that machine the TightVNC server must be configured and started. In order to do this you first must click Start | All Programs | TightVNC | TightVNC Server (Application Mode) | TightVNC Server – Offline Configuration. From this window, click on the Server tab (see Figure A) and configure TightVNC server to fit your needs.
Figure A

You are required to set a password for incoming connections and this password can not be blank.

The minimum you need to set is a password. Once that is set you are ready to start the server. In order to start the server click Start | All Programs | TightVNC | TightVNC Server (Application Mode) | Run TightVNC Server. You will not see any applications launching since this is just a daemon running in the background.

Now from your Linux box, open up your default remote desktop viewer, enter the IP address of your Windows VNC server and connect. You will be prompted for a password before the connection will be completed.

If you are not sure what VNC viewer to use, my personal favorite is Vinagre, an easy-to-use VNC viewer for the GNOME desktop.
Windows to Linux

This one is a bit easier. I will show you how to set up this connection on an Ubuntu 10.10 machine. The first step is to install tightvncserver. To do this, follow these steps:

1. Open up the Ubuntu Software Center.
2. Search for tightvncserver (No quotes).
3. Click the Install button for tightvncserver.
4. Enter your sudo password.

Once this is complete you are ready to connect. Follow these steps to get the server running.

1. Open up a terminal window.
2. Issue the command tightvncserver.
3. You will be prompted to enter a password.
4. Enter a view-only password if needed.

You are now ready to connect to your Linux box with the TightVNC Viewer. To open up this tool, click on Start | All Programs | TightVNC | TightVNC Viewer. When this new window opens you will need to enter the IP address with the port 5901 included. So the location will be 192.168.100.21:5901. If you do not enter the port, the Windows version of TightVNC Viewer will assume the port to be 5900 and will not be able to connect.

Upon successful connection you will prompted for the password set when you initiated the server on the Linux machine. With successful authentication you will be connected (see Figure B).
Figure B

TightVNC Viewer to tightvncserver means easy remote administration of a Linux machine from a Windows host.

Final thoughts

There are plenty of ways to connect to a remote machine. Having a uniform method (such as using TightVNC both ways) simplifies the task on numerous levels. How do you make your remote connections? Do you use VNC, RDP, or another third-party software (such as Logmein)? Share your remote experiences with your fellow TechRepublic viewers.

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Get answers to your .NET questions with these Microsoft resources

During an interesting conversation with a publisher of technical books, they expressed their dismay at the lack of success for titles focused on the Microsoft .NET platform. I was surprised by their thoughts behind the poor sales; they cited the abundance of freely available information (especially from Microsoft) as the main issue.

The publisher’s observation made me think about how I utilize the variety of resource materials available to developers, and how my consumption habits have changed over the years. When I was starting out as a developer, you’d often find me with my nose in a resource text. However, as I’ve gained more experience, I usually go straight to the Web. (Microsoft even provides its patterns & practices titles online.) Check out the Microsoft online links that I highlight as essential bookmarks for .NET developers.
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Bookmark these Microsoft resources

Staying informed about one or more items within the Microsoft stable can be daunting, but the software giant simplifies the chore by providing a wealth of development information online. The following Microsoft-operated Web sites provide valuable information:

* Microsoft .NET Framework Developer Center: This site includes everything related to developing with the .NET platform. Technical how-to articles, product and technology downloads, online discussion forums, and more are available. Site content is available via an RSS feed as well. Also, developer centers are available for other Microsoft technologies like ASP.NET and SQL Server.
* Microsoft .NET home page: This site provides more general information that is more appropriate for management and business professionals that may be involved in the decision-making process or sales.
* Microsoft .NET Framework Forums: Online discussion forums allow users to share valuation information within a community environment. The forums range from general comments to more specialized forums for products like C# and Visual Studio.
* Blogs: The Microsoft community has not ignored the blog revolution. There are numerous valuable blogs from those involved in the development of Microsoft technologies.
* RSS feeds: This page provides links to the overwhelming number of .NET-related (as well as other Microsoft technologies and products) blogs available. There are feeds available for many of the online forums, development sites, and blogs already discussed.
* Newsgroups and list servers: I know many developers that look down on newsgroups and list servers, but these are useful technologies that have been around for years. A newsgroup reader such as Outlook Express can be used to peruse a variety of items by topic. Also, you can easily help others within the community or post your own question or comments. Likewise, list servers can easily deliver information to your inbox on a scheduled basis.

MSDN

Microsoft describes the MSDN (Microsoft Solution Developer Network) as a set of online and offline services designed to help developers write applications using Microsoft products and technologies. Articles covering all aspects of development as well as product information are freely available. These articles often originate in the MSDN Magazine.
Find answers to technical questions


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While the Web sites, forums, and other resources covered so far can provide valuable information, it is often necessary to search for issues within Microsoft’s information store. For instance, you may need to know if an issue is a known product bug and what (if any) fix is available. The Microsoft Support Knowledge Base provides an interface for locating such information within the company’s very own knowledgebase. The Knowledge Base may also be searched (in conjunction with other resources) from the MSDN site as well.

I often find myself using the .NET reference freely available via MSDN. It also allows me to easily locate class usage information, as well as valuable code samples. It provides an easy to use table of contents as well as a simple search interface. Another good resource is Channel 9.
Beware of information overload

While everything you need is seemingly available with a few clicks of the mouse, it is important to choose your information wisely. That is, it is easy to become overwhelmed when you’re looking at so many excellent sources. You don’t want to use so many resources that you ending up wasting valuable time going from site to site. For instance, I have a few blogs and discussion groups I follow closely. In addition, I subscribe to some RSS feeds; I survey the entries and read only what I deem pertinent.

Now that I’ve listed some of my favorite .NET resources, I’d love to hear what sites or other types of resources you find most useful in your development work. Please share your favorite .NET resources in the article discussion.

Get up to speed on Microsoft’s seven critical security bulletins

May’s Patch Tuesday didn’t just mean seven critical security bulletins for admins to worry about — it also welcomed some of Redmond’s newer products, including Office 2007 and Exchange 2007, to the process. While six of the updates address remote code execution threats — the remaining is a cumulative update for IE — most are newly discovered vulnerabilities that hackers hadn’t had a chance to exploit.

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Details
This is a bad month to have Microsoft systems to maintain — the company greeted the second Tuesday of the month with the release of seven security bulletins, rating all of them as critical. Looking on the bright side, most of the critical ratings are for Windows 2000 and related Office 2000 applications. (The vulnerabilities affect newer platforms at a lower threat level.) In fact, you may spend more time determining what you need to patch than actually patching your systems.

Here’s a closer look at each update, listed in order. However, pay particular attention to MS07-029, which patches an already exploited flaw. As always, remember to check the actual security bulletins in case of updates.
MS07-023

Microsoft Security Bulletin MS07-023, “Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Excel Could Allow Remote Code Execution,” addresses three vulnerabilities:

* Excel BIFF Record Vulnerability (CVE-2007-0215)
* Excel Set Font Vulnerability (CVE-2007-1203)
* Excel Filter Record Vulnerability (CVE-2007-1214)

This update affects Excel 2000 Service Pack 3, Excel 2002 SP3, Excel 2003 SP2, Excel 2003 Viewer SP2, Office 2004 for Mac, Excel 2007, and the Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats. It does not affect Microsoft Works Suite.

This is a critical threat for Excel 2000 SP3 only; it’s an important threat for all other affected applications. This bulletin replaces Microsoft Security Bulletin MS07-002 for all applicable versions. There had been no reports of active exploits at the time of publication.
MS07-024

Microsoft Security Bulletin MS07-024, “Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Word Could Allow Remote Code Execution,” addresses three vulnerabilities:

* Word Array Overflow Vulnerability (CVE-2007-0035)
* Word Document Stream Vulnerability (CVE-2007-0870)
* Word RTF Parsing Vulnerability (CVE-2007-1202)

This update affects Word 2000 SP3, Word 2002 SP3, Word 2003 SP2, Word Viewer 2003 SP2, Office 2004 for Mac, Microsoft Works Suite 2004, Works Suite 2005, and Works Suite 2006. It does not affect Word 2007.

This is a critical threat for Word 2000 SP3 only; it’s an important threat for all other affected applications. This bulletin replaces Microsoft Security Bulletin MS07-014 for several versions; check the security bulletin for more details. Malicious users are actively exploiting the Word Document Stream Vulnerability.
MS07-025

Microsoft Security Bulletin MS07-025, “Vulnerability in Microsoft Office Could Allow Remote Code Execution,” addresses the Drawing Object Vulnerability (CVE-2007-1747). There had been no reports of active exploits at the time of publication.

This update affects various applications — predominantly Excel, FrontPage, and Publisher — in Office 2000 SP3, Office XP SP3, Office 2003 SP2, Office 2004 for Mac, and Office 2007. Check the security bulletin for the specific applications this update does and doesn’t affect.

This is a critical threat for Office 2000 SP3; it’s an important threat for all other affected versions. This bulletin replaces Microsoft Security Bulletin MS07-015 for all applicable versions.
MS07-026

Microsoft Security Bulletin MS07-026, “Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange Could Allow Remote Code Execution,” addresses four vulnerabilities:

* MIME Decoding Vulnerability (CVE-2007-0213)
* Outlook Web Access Script Injection Vulnerability (CVE-2007-0220)
* Malformed iCal Vulnerability (CVE-2007-0039)
* IMAP Literal Processing Vulnerability (CVE-2007-0221)

The first vulnerability presents a remote code execution threat, the second presents an information disclosure threat, and the last two are denial-of-service threats. Because of the first vulnerability, this is a critical threat for all affected platforms.

This update affects Exchange 2000 Server SP3 with the Post-SP3 Update Rollup, Exchange Server 2003 SP1, Exchange Server 2003 SP2, and Exchange Server 2007. This bulletin replaces Microsoft Security Bulletins MS06-019 and MS06-029 for all applicable versions. There had been no reports of active exploits at the time of publication.
MS07-027

Microsoft Security Bulletin MS07-027, “Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer,” addresses six remote code execution vulnerabilities:

* COM Object Instantiation Memory Corruption Vulnerability (CVE-2007-0942)
* Uninitialized Memory Corruption Vulnerability (CVE-2007-0944)
* Property Memory Corruption Vulnerability (CVE-2007-0945)
* HTML Objects Memory Corruption Vulnerability (CVE-2007-0946)
* HTML Objects Memory Corruption Vulnerability (CVE-2007-0947)
* Arbitrary File Rewrite Vulnerability (CVE-2007-2221)

This update affects pretty much every version of Internet Explorer, from IE 5.01 to IE 7. Check the security bulletin for more details — Microsoft has already updated it once.

This is a critical threat for most affected versions; it’s a moderate threat for IE 6 and IE 7 on versions of Windows Server 2003. While the COM Object Instantiation Memory Corruption Vulnerability is a previously disclosed threat, there had been no reports of active exploits at the time of publication. This bulletin replaces Microsoft Security Bulletin MS07-016 for all applicable versions.
MS07-028

Microsoft Security Bulletin MS07-028, “Vulnerability in CAPICOM Could Allow Remote Code Execution,” addresses the CAPICOM.Certificates Vulnerability (CVE-2007-0940). This is a newly disclosed threat, and there had been no reports of active exploits at the time of publication.

This update affects CAPICOM, Platform SDK Redistributable: CAPICOM, BizTalk Server 2004 SP1, and BizTalk Server 2004 SP2; it does not affect other versions of BizTalk Server. This is a critical threat for all affected versions.
MS07-029

Microsoft Security Bulletin MS07-029, “Vulnerability in Windows DNS RPC Interface Could Allow Remote Code Execution,” addresses the DNS RPC Management Vulnerability (CVE-2007-1748). This is a previously disclosed threat, and there have been reports of active exploits.

This update affects Windows 2000 Server SP4 and all versions of Windows Server 2003; it does not affect Windows 2000 Professional SP4, Windows XP, or Windows Vista. This is a critical threat for all affected systems.
Final word

A lot of these patches don’t appear to be particularly urgent, but the ratings could change. Your best bet is to read the security bulletins in their entirety to determine which ones affect your organization.

There are mitigating factors and possible workarounds, but companies need to evaluate them on an individual basis. Finally, don’t forget that interaction between various workarounds could have unintended consequences.

How Microsoft hopes to revitalize rich applications

During the first half of the ’90s, Microsoft almost single-handedly ushered in the graphical user interface on the PC, as Windows became the de facto OS and its GUI became the default interface for new corporate applications.

But two opposing forces, occurring simultaneously, created a “perfect storm” that threatened to wash Microsoft out of its dominant market position. Microsoft itself, oddly enough, created the first force: Despite the flexibility of the Windows environment, it was very difficult to distribute and maintain Windows-developed applications. At the height of the client-server era, companies were spending as much time trying to determine how to get a set of Windows applications to work together on a common corporate desktop as they were developing the applications themselves.


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Microsoft was then accused by the Department of Justice of trying to dominate the second force: the Internet. The allure of dynamic application loading and no desktop footprint other than the browser gave birth to several server-centric technologies, including Java, the thin client, and terminal services. Companies began to envision a future where all applications were delivered from Web servers with client-side components delivering the rich GUI elements using Sun’s Java or Microsoft’s ActiveX.

In this article, we’ll look at some steps Microsoft has taken with .NET to bring Web-based rich application distribution a little closer to reality.

The fork in the road
Instead of a mass exodus to the server, corporate customers now faced a difficult dilemma: to develop applications with wide reach using HTML and other server-centric technologies or to continue to use Windows technologies to create rich client experiences and live with the associated deployment hassles.

Although Sun and Oracle have made a valiant effort to convert customers to their server-centric world, users are reluctant to give up legacy Microsoft client-centric technologies. During the Internet boom, it appeared that server-centric technologies would win outside the firewall, and client-centric technologies would continue to dominate inside. But Microsoft hopes to maneuver customers back to a common development platform with its network-centric .NET platform.

How .NET solves the deployment problem
Most of the press around Microsoft’s .NET initiative focuses on new languages (C#) and a new set of conspiracy theories suggesting that somehow Microsoft will take over the Internet using W3C standards. What’s missing in these analyses is that Microsoft has made significant strides toward uniting the Web and Windows development models into a single, unified development platform. One of the most significant problems Microsoft has solved is that of rapidly deploying rich applications.

Applications developed to execute on the .NET platform can be deployed three different ways. First, companies can continue to use standard setup programs to install applications on local machines. But .NET applications don’t suffer from the same DLL contention problems that plagued earlier Windows applications. A .NET application deployed with a setup program closely defines the companion assemblies necessary for it to operate in the new Global Assembly Cache (GAC). The GAC allows applications to use different versions of assemblies (the .NET version of the DLL) on the same machine—a feat not possible in the COM programming model.

The second deployment model involves a simple XCOPY of program files into a local or network directory. Programs executing from this directory only use the files copied into the directory or its subdirectories. Although this deployment method creates the potential to have several duplicate copies of the same assemblies spread out over a machine, it does eliminate the common “DLL Hell problem” found in COM applications that compete for a single shared DLL that may not be the correct version for one of the applications.

The third deployment model is not only the most interesting, but it holds the most promise for making rich applications available to Internet users. In this model, a user navigates to an installation directory with the browser. The .NET runtime downloads the forms and the support files required to run the application into the browser cache, and then it executes the program. Subsequent attempts to run the application will load it from the cache and not require additional downloads.

But if the developer updates the application, the client system needs only to download the changed components. This download occurs automatically without requiring users to respond to a series of dialog boxes seen now on Java applet or ActiveX downloads. But this doesn’t mean that there is no security for downloads. In fact, not only is the security model more robust than the current one, but the applications are executed in a “sandbox” that prevents them from using any local resources (like the hard drive) unless permitted by the security settings. By using this deployment scenario, companies can write rich applications, yet still use the standard “reach” platform (the browser) for deployment with a URL.

What’s the catch?
There is a caveat attached to all the benefits. Microsoft first has to overcome two significant roadblocks before Web-based rich application distribution can become a reality.

First, systems running applications developed for .NET need the runtime installed in order to execute the downloaded programs. As of now, Microsoft doesn’t have a strategy for getting the 17-MB .NET runtime installed on client machines. The second problem is endemic to the current state of the Internet. Client machines downloading applications need sufficient bandwidth to allow an acceptable download time the first time a program is executed. Although this won’t be a problem for most corporate desktops inside the firewall, it will limit the technology’s viability in remote offices and Internet-connected clients.

But as these problems fade throughout the next few years, Microsoft’s .NET technology will provide a powerful development platform that unites not only the “rich” and the “reach” programming models, but eliminates the barriers to effectively distributing the applications as well.

Frequently Asked Questions About MCITP Certificate

We no longer require a “refresh” or re-certification of the MCITP certification within three years. To better meet our customers’ needs, we now retire a certification when mainstream support for the related technology phases out.

Q: Is there a re-certification policy for the MCITP certification 70-680 Exam?

A: We no longer require a “refresh” or re-certification of the MCITP certification within three years. To better meet our customers’ needs, we now retire a certification when mainstream support for the related technology phases out. If you earned an MCITP certification before the policy change, no action is required? the updated policy applies to your certification, which will remain valid until mainstream support for the related technology ends.

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Q: Does MCSA equate to MCITP: Server Administrator and does MCSE equate to MCITP: Enterprise Administrator?

A: No, not exactly. The MCITP on Windows Server 2008 certification requires a new skill set?in some cases, a more robust one?that differs from the skill set needed for MCSA and MCSE certifications.
MCITP: Server Administrator certification covers more operations-related job skills than the MCSA certification.
MCITP: Enterprise Administrator maps to an actual job role profile, whereas the MCSE certification does not. The latter combines technology and job skills.

Q: Are the MCTS and MCITP certifications replacing the MCSA and MCSE certifications?

A: No. The MCSA and MCSE certifications are not being replaced. There is no change to the Microsoft Windows 2000 Server and Windows Server 2003 tracks and certifications. The MCTS and MCITP certifications 70-680 are for Windows Server 2008.

Q: Am I a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) if I earn an MCITP certification?

A: Yes and no. The term MCP is used both as a general term for all Microsoft Certified Professionals and as the name of a certification. As an MCITP, you become part of the Microsoft Certified Professional community, with access to all related benefits, information, and activities. You do not earn a certification titled “MCP.” You should use the MCITP certification on your resume and in business collateral, which indicates your specialty and shows that you are a member of the MCP community.

Q: How long will my certification be valid?

A: All Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS), Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP), and Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD) certifications retire when Microsoft discontinues mainstream support for the related technology. After a certification retires, it still appears on your transcript but is listed as “inactive.” In most cases, an upgrade path is available for people who have that certification, which allows them to demonstrate their skills on the newest version free MCITP PDF questions of the technology without completing all exams associated with the new certification. The following certifications will not be retired: Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE), Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA), Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician (MCDST), Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA), Microsoft Certified Solution Developer (MCSD), and Microsoft Certified Applications Developer (MCAD).

Microsoft Exchange 2000: Just the facts

Chances are, you’re probably using your network for more than just file and print services. Almost all organizations use some form of e-mail or workgroup collaboration software. In Windows server environments, one of the most popular e-mail packages is Microsoft Exchange.

As you probably know, Microsoft recently released the newest version of Exchange—Exchange 2000. If you’re currently running Exchange 5.5 or another e-mail system on your Windows network, you may be wondering what Exchange 2000 can do for you. In this Daily Drill Down, we’ll take a look at the advantages of using Exchange 2000.

A brief history of Exchange
As Jadzia Dax from Star Trek: Deep Space 9 once said, “If you want to know who you are, it’s important to know who you’ve been.” The same is true of software. Sometimes in evaluating a new version of software, you’ll find it helpful to know how the product has changed over time.

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Exchange 2000 has its roots in Exchange 4.0. In Microsoft’s bizarre number scheme of the mid-1990s, Exchange 4.0 was the first release of Microsoft Exchange, replacing Microsoft Mail in 1996. Exchange 4.0 ran on Windows NT 3.51.

Exchange 4.0 introduced many of the basic concepts that still are featured in Exchange 2000’s architecture, including an information store, a message router, a system attendant, and the directory. It also introduced the fundamentals of Exchange topology, including the concepts of organizations, sites, and servers. Exchange 4.0 also introduced one of Exchange’s biggest limitations—the 16-GB size limit on its information store.

Microsoft introduced Exchange 5.0 in 1997. Exchange 5.0 added support for many Internet protocols, including POP3, NNTP, HTTP, SSL, and LDAP. Exchange 5.0 also added support for Active Server Pages and Active Messaging, both of which laid the foundation for Exchange 2000’s Web Store. Microsoft added the first connector to Exchange 5.0 to allow it to transfer messages from the then-dominant Lotus cc:Mail. Finally, as its main client software, Exchange 5.0 introduced Outlook (as Outlook 97).

The most recent and heretofore most popular version of Exchange, Exchange 5.5, debuted in late 1997. In this release, Microsoft continued to extend Exchange’s enterprise capabilities. It did so first by removing the 16-GB information store limitation, allowing the information store to grow as large as the server could support. Microsoft also added support for Windows NT 4.0’s then-new clustering services to increase fault tolerance. To allow Exchange 5.0 to talk to more enterprise-level messaging systems, Microsoft added connectors for programs such as Lotus Notes, IBM Profs, and IBM OfficeVision. Microsoft extended support for Internet standards by adding support for Internet protocols, such as Mime HTML and SASL (Simple Authentication and Security Layer). Finally, Microsoft began to add support for group collaboration by adding such features as the Exchange Chat Service and Internet Locator Service.

And now for something (somewhat) completely different
Microsoft built on and extended all of these concepts with the introduction of Exchange 2000. Some things have changed slightly because of Windows 2000 and Active Directory, but the fundamentals remain.

Microsoft ships two versions of Exchange 2000: Exchange 2000 Server and Exchange 2000 Enterprise Server. Both versions of Exchange 2000 do essentially the same things, but as you can probably guess, Exchange 2000 Enterprise Server does a lot more. Some of the things Exchange 2000 Enterprise Server can do that Exchange 2000 Server can’t include:

* No storage limit—Exchange 2000 Server includes Exchange 5.0’s old 16-GB storage limit.
* Supports for multiple databases.
* An X.400 connector.
* Support for clustering.
* Chat services.

Additionally, Microsoft ships Exchange 2000 Conferencing Server. It can work with either Exchange 2000 Server or Exchange 2000 Enterprise Server. Conferencing Server allows you to integrate data, voice, and videoconferencing into your network along with traditional e-mail and groupware functions.

Let’s take a look at some of the new and enhanced features of Exchange 2000.

Enhanced functions in Exchange 2000
Exchange 5.5 does a lot of nice things, but it’s far from perfect. When Microsoft shipped Exchange 2000, it looked at the feature set of Exchange 5.5 and tweaked some of the things that 5.5 did. Some of the areas that Microsoft enhanced include:

* Chat service—Exchange 2000’s chat service is based on the Internet Relay Chat (IRC) protocol. Exchange 2000 scales to 20,000 users on a single server. It also includes an Auditorium mode, which allows you to create special event chats that permit only moderators and speakers to send messages to all the chat participants. Exchange 2000’s chat service integrates with Windows 2000’s Active Directory, allowing you to control channels, bans, classes, and network configuration from the comfort of your administrative workstation.
* Clustering—Exchange 2000 supports Active/Active clustering as opposed to Exchange 5.5’s Active/Passive model. Exchange 2000 uses the Microsoft Clustering Services of Windows 2000 Advanced Server to allow all of the servers used in a cluster to actively process messaging requests until a failure occurs that triggers rollover recovery.
* Collaboration Data Objects (CDOs) for rapid application development—Exchange 2000 includes CDO version 3.0, a set of Component Object Model (COM) objects for specifying business logic for workflow and other collaborative applications, developing Web-based applications, and accessing Active Directory. CDO can be used to create applications that take advantage of Exchange 2000 features, such as messaging, calendaring, contact management, and system management. Using CDO 3.0, administrators and developers can add capabilities to both the server and the Outlook client to suit their business needs.
* Document properties—The Microsoft Web Storage System included in Exchange 2000 can store properties, such as author, title, reviewer, and workflow state, with each item in the database. This can allow you to create indexes and search information. Any number of properties can be stored with each item, and the set of properties can be different for each item.
* Enhanced Outlook Web Access—Outlook Web Access (OWA) allows a Web browser to access e-mail, scheduling, contacts, and collaborative information stored in Microsoft Web Storage System folders. OWA can be used with any browser that supports frames and scripting, but because of DHTML extensions, it works best with Internet Explorer. OWA in Exchange 2000 adds a look and feel that is very similar to the Outlook client. It can support drag and drop, pop-up menus, toolbars, and rich-text editing.
* Fault-tolerant SMTP message routing—In Exchange 2000, Microsoft has implemented SMTP as the default transport protocol for routing all message traffic between servers, whether they are within the same or different sites. Microsoft changed the messaging routing algorithms in Exchange 2000 to provide fault-tolerant message delivery and eliminate message bounce-back when servers or network links are down.
* Internet Information Services (IIS) integration—With the increased capabilities of OWA and the addition of the Web Store, Microsoft tightened Exchange’s integration with IIS.
* Multiple public folder trees—Exchange 2000 supports multiple public folder trees, which allow you to separate collaboration databases in a manner more consistent with your needs. You can create public folders based on functional, business, geographic, or any other requirements you may have.
* Unified messaging platform—Exchange 2000 adds support for the VPIM (Voice Profile for Internet Mail) standard, enabling interoperability between separate voice mail systems. You can access built-in fields in Windows 2000 Active Directory for voice mail-related information about users.
* Web forms—Microsoft Web Storage System forms are browser-based forms that are stored in the Microsoft Web Storage System and transmitted directly to the browser, via HTTP, by Exchange 2000. You can use them to create or modify items in the Web Store using any browser that supports HTML 3.2. You can create Web forms using FrontPage 2000.

New features in Exchange 2000
With all of the enhancements to Exchange 2000, it might be easy to assume that Exchange 2000 is just more of the same old thing. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Microsoft worked hard to add features to Exchange with the release of Exchange 2000. Some of the new features included in Exchange 2000 include:

* Access to Microsoft Web Storage System—The Microsoft Web Storage System provides a single database for messaging, collaboration, rich document storage, and Web-enabled applications. The Web Storage System can be accessed as a local drive on the server or through Microsoft IIS, which provides native Web access.
* Active Directory Connector—As much as Microsoft might like you to upgrade immediately, it understands that you might stick with Exchange 5.5 for a while. To help smooth integration issues, Exchange 2000 includes the Active Directory Connector (ADC), which lets you replicate directory objects between your Exchange Server 5.5 directory and Active Directory. ADC will also allow you to do a bulk import and export from Active Directory using a text file format.
* Active Directory integration—Exchange 5.5 had its own dedicated directory services. Exchange 2000 uses Windows 2000’s Active Directory, which allows you to create an enterprise directory with a single point of management for all users, groups, permissions, configuration data, network login, file, and Web shares.
* Built-in content indexing and search—The Microsoft Web Storage System component of Exchange 2000 includes built-in indexing for high-speed, accurate, full-text searches, enabling users to find content quickly and easily. All content in the Microsoft Web Storage System is indexed, including messages, stand-alone documents, contacts, tasks, calendar items, and collaboration data.
* Distributed services—Exchange 2000 allows you to create front-end and back-end servers that give you the power to host Exchange subsystems, such as protocols, storage, and directories on different servers.
* Installable file system—The Microsoft Web Storage System component of Exchange 2000 includes an installable file system, which allows users to transfer data between Exchange-based data and the Windows file system. Exchange 2000 configures the Exchange server’s M: drive for a direct Win32 application programming interface. The M: drive can be mapped for remote file system access, as well, and can be shared just like standard file system folders.
* Instant messaging—Exchange 2000 includes an instant messaging service built around MSN Messenger.
* Integration with Microsoft FrontPage 2000—You can use FrontPage 2000 to edit and manage Web applications hosted on the Microsoft Web Storage System.
* Item-level security—You can now set permissions at the item level using access control lists set for individual messages and properties of messages.
* Multiple-message databases—Exchange 2000 partitions its message store into separately manageable databases, each of which can be of unlimited size (in Exchange 2000 Enterprise Server). Multiple-message databases increase system reliability because, should one database stop responding, it won’t affect users in another database. This feature also enables more flexibility in strategies for backing up Exchange data, allowing shorter backup times because you can back up multiple databases simultaneously or individually as you desire.
* Native Internet mail content—Exchange 2000 can now allow clients to store and retrieve MIME content directly from the Exchange 2000 message store without having to convert the content.
* Policy-based administration—Exchange 2000 gives you the power to create policy models for administration for the purpose of making it easier to change administrative options across a set of objects with a single operation. Policies are nothing more than a collection of configuration settings that apply to Exchange objects.

* Presence information—Exchange 2000 allows a user to see if another user is logged on to the network using presence information, which is similar to instant messaging.
* Storage groups—One of the new concepts in Exchange 2000 is the storage group. Storage groups represent groups of databases that share a single transaction log set and therefore a single point of administration, backup, and restore. Storage groups also act as units of backup, meaning you can back up an entire storage group so only one copy of the system transaction log set must be written to tape. This allows for very fast restoration from backup that affects a minimal number of users.
* Support for HTTP and XML—Exchange 2000 uses HTTP to allow Web-based access to all data within the Microsoft Web Storage System, and it uses XML for the native representation of data.
* Support for Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV)—Exchange 2000 supports WebDAV, which allows Office 2000 documents to be stored directly into Exchange.
* System monitoring using Windows Management Instrumentation—Exchange 2000 uses new monitoring infrastructure based on the Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) architecture to access event logs, Performance Monitor data, disk data, and service status.
* Windows 2000 security—Because Exchange 2000 relies on Windows 2000 for directory services and security, it has the full protection of the Windows 2000 security model. Windows 2000 security groups act as Exchange 2000 distribution lists, simplifying workgroup administration.
* Workflow Designer for Exchange 2000—Exchange 2000 includes Workflow Designer for Exchange, which allows developers to visually define the flow of information and business rules.

Features included in Exchange 2000 Conferencing Server
As I mentioned above, you can use Exchange 2000 to stream video and other information using Exchange 2000 Conferencing Server. Features in Conferencing Server include:

* Data conferencing—Exchange 2000 data conferencing allows dynamic, on-demand sharing of data and information using any T.120-compliant client, such as Microsoft NetMeeting. Users can see, chat, and share multimedia information with one another. Exchange 2000’s data-conferencing capability will allow users to share programs running their workstations, interact with one another, or send files in the background.
* Audio and video teleconferencing—Exchange 2000 uses Telephony API (TAPI) 3.0 to access the unique collaboration features of Windows 2000, such as Quality of Service and IP-based multicast technology, to provide audio and video teleconferencing services.
* Integration with Outlook 2000—Exchange 2000 Conferencing Server can use Outlook 2000 to schedule online meetings. Using the standard meeting request form in Outlook, users can set up a video conference and invite participants from the Exchange 2000 directory. Meetings can be either public or private, letting the meeting organizer decide whether the meeting is restricted to the invitees or publicly accessible.

Conclusion
Exchange 2000 represents a huge change for Exchange administrators. Microsoft has made many enhancements and added new features to Exchange in this version that you should be aware of if you’re thinking about deploying it in your organization. In this Daily Drill Down, I’ve given you a brief overview of what’s new in Exchange 2000.
The authors and editors have taken care in preparation of the content contained herein but make no expressed or implied warranty of any kind and assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. No liability is assumed for any damages. Always have a verified backup before making any changes.

Microsoft emphasises growing global malware terror

A Microsoft Security Intelligence report shows that malware persisted to dominate above all other threats in Q3 and Q4 of 2009, as trojans were the most common variety of threat – according to data from over 500 million computers worldwide via Microsoft security products.


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Microsoft collected its data from Forefront, Defender, Malicious Software Removal Tool, Bing and Windows Live Hotmail.

The software giant found that malware was led to be accountable for a whopping 69.9% of all threats detected on those machines infected, which is up by 2.8% on Q1 and Q2 of last year.

With this in mind, Microsoft emphasise that the number of malware-infected PCs dropped down from 4.9 to 4.1 out of each 1,000 units reported.

“The Security Intelligence Report Volume 8 provides compelling evidence that cyber criminals are becoming more sophisticated and packaging online threats to create, update and maintain exploit kits that are sold on to others to deploy,” said Microsoft UK’s head of Privacy and Security, Cliff Evans.  “Malware creators are continually improving their ‘products’ by replacing poorly performing exploits with new ones.”

The report states that the majority of threats faced by corporations can in fact be tracked back to just a handful of crafty botnets, illustrated by the example that just the top 5 botnets of 2009 were responsible for more than 94% of global spam in the same period.

Microsoft creating Windows for supercomputers

Microsoft has launched an effort to produce a version of Windows for high-performance computing, a move seen as a direct attack on a Linux stronghold.

High-performance computing once required massive, expensive, exotic machines from companies such as Cray, but the field is being remade by the arrival of clusters of low-end machines. While the trend could be considered an opportunity for Microsoft, which has long been the leading operating-system company, Linux has actually become the favored software used on these clusters.

Now Microsoft has begun its response, forming its High Performance Computing team and planning a new OS version called Windows Server HPC Edition. Kyril Faenov is director of the effort, and Microsoft is hiring new managers, programmers, testers and others.

The Redmond, Wash.-based software colossus has its work cut out in the market–and knows it.

“Winning in this important space against entrenched Linux/open-source software competition requires creativity, innovation, speed of execution, and deep engagements with hardware, software and academic partners,” reads a job posting for a program manager responsible for setting up the team’s academic partnerships.

In a recent interview, Bob Muglia, a Microsoft senior vice president who leads the development of Windows Server, said the company is interested in two particular areas: building high-performance computing clusters and harvesting the unused processing power of PCs.

Although Microsoft is a comparative newcomer to the market, the company could bring several advantages:

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• Machines running Windows HPC Edition could seamlessly connect to desktop computers, providing instant power for someone such as a financial analyst performing calculations on an Excel spreadsheet, said David Lifka, chief technology officer for the Cornell Theory Center, Microsoft’s premier high-performance computing partner.

• Microsoft could create a specialized version of its widely praised programming tools, said Phil Papadopoulos, director of the grids and clusters program at the San Diego Supercomputing Center. “Windows could make that much easier with their integrated development environment. They have the manpower to do that piece of the puzzle.”

• Microsoft could also adapt its popular SQL Server database software to run on high-performance systems. The company has already said the next major version of SQL Server, code-named Yukon and due next year, will include better support for very large databases and for running on clustered systems.

• And Microsoft could build software into its desktop version of Windows to harness the power of PCs, letting companies get more value from their computers. It’s a technology that’s applicable to tasks such as drug discovery and microchip design.

The business imperative
The high-performance effort doesn’t mark the first time Microsoft has tried to head off Linux’s progress. With Windows Server 2003, Microsoft released a lower-priced Web server edition, as Linux was growing popular for use on the machines that host Web sites.

“The Windows Server group is really focused on countering Linux,” said Rob Helm, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft. “They’ve identified specific areas where Linux has the most traction.”

The HPC Edition is also an example of a Microsoft strategy to increase revenue by creating versions of Windows tailored for specific market segments–for example, Windows for tablet PCs, digital TV recorders and storage servers.

“Another way for them to keep Windows sales moving is to roll out more of these editions,” Helm said. “When you’ve got a product that you need to keep moving, one way to do it is to segment it. You introduce Tarter Control Windows Server and Sensitive Teeth Windows Server.”

High-performance computing is a lucrative market, with sales that increased 14 percent to $5.3 billion in 2003, according to IDC. And “bright clusters,” Linux servers that manufacturers know will be used in a cluster, had sales of $384 million in the fourth quarter.

Beating the incumbent
But for once, Microsoft is the newcomer, and Linux is the incumbent. Linux got its first foothold in academia and research labs, which already had expertise and software for the functionally similar Unix operating system.

“The majority of people doing high-performance computing are a lot more comfortable and efficient inside a Unix environment,” a category that includes Linux, the SDSC’s Papadopoulos said. To convince people to invest the time and money to switch, Microsoft will have to offer something much better, he said.

Linux, boosted by low-cost servers using processors from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices, now is used on prestigious machines. Thunder, a machine at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory with 512 Linux servers running Red Hat Enterprise Linux, can perform more than 19 trillion calculations per second, second only to Japan’s Earth Simulator.

Dozens of machines in a list of the 500 fastest supercomputers run Linux, including five of the top 10. Only two on the list are identified as Windows machines.

One reason Windows has been slow to catch on is that Unix and Linux were bred to be administered remotely, a necessary feature for managing a cluster with dozens or hundreds of computers.

In Windows, “the notion of remote computing is significantly more difficult than in Unix,” Papadopoulos said. “Because Windows was born out of the desktop, (it is) deeply ingrained in the Microsoft culture that you have somebody sitting in front of the machine to do work.”

Management is on Microsoft’s agenda, though. The company is hiring one programmer to work on a “graphical and script-based user interface for efficient job and resource management across large clusters” and another to create “automated infrastructure to uncover performance and reliability problems with high performance, large-scale server applications.”

Linux adds another advantage: It’s open-source software, meaning that anybody may see and modify its underlying source code. Most business customers aren’t interested, but high-performance technical computing users need to extract every bit of performance and track down difficult bugs.

“The nice thing is that because everything is open, if you have a problem, you can get at the root of the problem in terms of the software. That moves things along quite a bit faster,” Papadopoulos said.

That openness also makes it easier to accommodate the multitude of different technologies used in the high-performance market but not necessarily in the mainstream computing market, said Brian Stevens, vice president of operating system development for Linux seller Red Hat.

Releasing a product
Microsoft declined to share schedule information about the HPC Edition, but work is already under way.

For example, a software developer kit for HPC Edition will include support for the Message Passing Interface, or MPI, widely used software to let computers in a cluster communicate with one another.

The Cornell Theory Center’s Lifka believes that an early software development kit for the HPC Edition could arrive as soon as this fall. The center is helping Microsoft develop and test the new software.

Microsoft has several upcoming server releases, to which an HPC version of Windows could be added. Service Pack 1 of Windows Server 2003 is due later this year, followed by a more substantive upgrade, code-named R2, slated for 2005. The next major update to Windows, code-named Longhorn, is scheduled to arrive in server form in 2007.

According to job postings, Microsoft is adapting MPI to Microsoft’s .Net infrastructure. A key foundation of .Net is the C# programming language and the Common Language Runtime, or CLR, which lets C# programs run on a multitude of different systems.

Lifka said the first phase will use a version of MPI written for a specific operating system and hardware type. The next foundation will be a version of MPI for the CLR that will let administrators run the same programs on a wide variety of different Windows machines–for example, those using Xeon, Opteron or Itanium processors.

So far, programs written for the CLR and .Net aren’t as fast as those written for a specific machine, “but we see constant improvement in that,” Lifka added. Another area that needs work is security and easy patch installation, he said.

Overall, Lifka is a fan of Windows for high-performance computing. The biggest reason for his enthusiasm is that it can dovetail easily with other versions of Windows in a company.

And companies are more familiar with Windows than Linux, he added. “Moving to Windows has allowed us to have a greater number and quality of corporate relationships,” Lifka said.

Microsoft takes a long-term view of the challenge.

Muglia often discusses technology moving from possible to practical to seamless, as it matures. High-performance computing on Windows today is in the possible stage, he said, but the goal is to make it practical.

“That is something that will happen in the next few years,” Muglia said. “There is an opportunity to make this better.”