Microsoft is up to some good things…

Microsoft hasn’t been sitting around taking a summer vacation this year. As most everyone knows, Longhorn is scheduled to go into beta soon. And some of the more recent builds have been made available to select people (legally). No, I’m not one of them, nor am I a tester for Longhorn. But, Longhorn isn’t the only thing on Microsoft’s plate this summer…

The MSN Division of Microsoft released version 7.0 of their MSN Messenger Instant Messaging program recently. Although it has a few notable ‘bugs’ in it, the program is a much improved design over the 6.x versions. Some of the features that were included in 7.0 are the ability to sign in as a status other than “online” (this includes Offfline), “Offline messages for Mobile users”, Video Conversation and improved Audio/Video capabilities, integration with MSN Spaces (their new blog site), “Contact Cards” which are an improved version of the properties option, Winks, dynamic display pictures, and more emoticons (just to name a few items).

For the Small Business owners out there, Microsoft is releasing their SBA (Small Business Accounting) program soon. This will compete with Quicken Quickbooks and PeachTree Accounting’s programs. I haven’t used Quickbooks or PeachTree’s programs, but I can tell you that compared to Quicken Home & Business Premier, SBA has a nicer interface, and an all-around better system (IMHO). The program uses Microsoft’s Business Contact Manager to synchronize with Microsoft Outlook 2003. That way, you can keep track of your customer information regardless of which program you need to access it from.

On the security front, Microsoft has been grabbing everything it can. They have released the final “RTM” version of their Baseline Security Analyzer 2.0, and are in the Beta2 stage of their Microsoft AntiSpyware Beta. Both programs are important tools in keeping your computer/network secure. Whether you’re running a computer with Windows 2000 or XP Home to a server running Windows Server 2003 with Active Directory, these tools will go a long way in making sure that your protected. MBSA will even allow you to scan remote computers using information from the latest version of the Windows Update known as Microsoft Update, and will allow you to create Visio diagrams showing the security status of your network or computer.

Finally, speaking of Windows Server 2003, Microsoft has released Service Pack 1 for the Operating System, and is working on their mid-cycle release, R2. For persons interested in server Operating Systems (whether it be for personal use, or corporate use) you can check out the R2 information in the technet section. And, you can even download the public beta version to try out. R2 is bringing improvments in everything from Active Directory to Branch office networks, to Print Servers. And even more than that. To find out everything that is being improved, you’ll need to check out the R2 section in the technet area.

These are just a small portion of the things that Microsoft is working on this summer. As more products are released, and more public information is brought out about products in beta, I’ll report what I can about them. So, as you can see, it’s not just about Longhorn– it’s about a whole plethora of things…

Until next time,

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