Stories by Randall C. Kennedy

Windows 'XP mode': The new DOS box

An October surprise -- that's how many are interpreting Microsoft's 11th-hour revelation that it will be providing a virtualized copy of Windows XP as a free compatibility add-on to Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate, and Enterprise editions.

Are you ready for Windows 7?

"Hold the line!" That's the new rallying cry for the core Windows development team. Add new features. Tweak existing ones. But whatever you do, don't make Windows 7 any slower or fatter than Vista.

Hyper-V's Achilles' Heel

A house of cards -- that's how I'd describe the current state of the Windows device driver ecosystem. With so many Windows-compatible devices and so few competent driver developers, it's no surprise that hunting for driver updates has become a necessary part of every power user's skill set. Most of the time, the search ends in frustration: Either the new driver doesn't correct the existing problem(s) or, worse, creates a set of new ones. And now, with the introduction of Hyper-V, we have a whole new failure vector to think about.

Windows XP vs Vista: What you need to know

Will Windows XP still be properly supported by Microsoft and, as a primary development target, by third parties? Is there something XP die-hards have missed, some hidden gotcha that's going to trip them up 12, 18, or 24 months from now?

Solving the legacy Windows compatibility puzzle

There's been a lot of chatter lately about how Microsoft needs to start over with Windows. Many point to the (NT) code base's 16-year history and how the need to maintain backward compatibility is hampering efforts to move the platform forward. According to these critics, a clean break is necessary in order to stop the kind of bloatware madness that so crippled Windows Vista. Dump the creaking legacy that is the Win32 API/ATL/MFC, they say, and solve the compatibility riddle through VM technology.

Fat, fatter, fattest: Microsoft's kings of bloat

What Intel giveth, Microsoft taketh away. Such has been the conventional wisdom surrounding the Windows/Intel (aka Wintel) duopoly since the early days of Windows 95. In practical terms, it means that performance advancements on the hardware side are quickly consumed by the ever-increasing complexity of the Windows/Office code base. Case in point: Microsoft Office 2007, which, when deployed on Windows Vista, consumes more than 12 times as much memory and nearly three times as much processing power as the version that graced PCs just seven short years ago, Office 2000.

Preview: VMware Workstation 6.5 beta surges ahead

They say market leadership has its privileges. When you're way out in front and the competition is just a distant blip in your rearview horizon, you get to take a breather. Coast a bit. Maybe focus on the big picture for a while. Yes, it's good to be the leader. All of which begs the question: What the hell is wrong with VMware?

Microsoft Office Live Workspaces misses mark

After an excruciatingly drawn-out development process, Microsoft's Office Live Workspaces -- the company's attempt to marry Microsoft Office to the emerging Web services "cloud" -- is finally upon us.

Thin vs. Fat: Google's plan to kill Microsoft Office

The long battle of "thin versus fat" has commenced. From all appearances, Google is angling to end Microsoft's hegemony by disrupting fat client computing on the desktop. The target: none other than Microsoft Office. The weapon of choice: browser-based, thin client applications.

Two takes on preproduction testing

It's a hard-core developer's worst nightmare: You pour your heart and soul into a new project, double-checking every .Net I-interface and cross-checking every T-SQL statement only to discover -- post-deployment -- that a hidden flaw is killing your program's scalability. Management is breathing down your neck and you've got that uneasy feeling that the outsourcing vultures are beginning to circle, but every line of code looks as perfect as when you first crafted it.

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