October 26, 2004, 5:18 PM — Every once in a while, I like to take quick hits at several different topics. Yes, kids, this is one of those weeks.
In a previous column, I took note of Sony's decision to pull its Clie PDA device from the market. At the time, I suggested that consolidation in the PDA market would continue. Eventually, we'd come down to a couple of Palm-based and a couple of Pocket Windows-based PDAs, fleshed out with a small assortment of so-called smart phones, devices that fuse cell phone and PDA into a single unit.
Well, it looks like that trend is alive. On Oct. 21, Sharp announced that it was killing off the Zaurus PDA in the United States (it will remain on sale in Japan). According to Sharp, the company "made a business decision to cycle out of business development activities for the Zaurus SL6000," which was introduced in 2002. Sharp joins the ranks of Casio and Toshiba, which had already killed off their respective products.
I'm a little disappointed at this news. Zaurus ran neither PalmOs nor Pocket Windows. It was all Linux, all the time. Though many cell phones run on embedded Linux, totally transparent to users, PDAs are often chosen because of their operating system. Too bad.
Microsoft's Steve Ballmer is himself ranting about the forthcoming release of Service Pack 1 for Windows Server 2003. Speaking at the Gartner Symposium ITXPO in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., he told the gathered minions that Microsoft will never eliminate all of the security vulnerabilities in its software. Really, Steve? Can this be true? Hackers, he explains, are getting smarter, too. I guess the newest IT career path, Chief Information Security Officer, is safe.
Perhaps more interestingly, Ballmer said Microsoft is yanking the WinFS file system from "Longhorn," the next-generation Windows client platform that's due, allegedly sometime in 2006. Designed to find anything on a computer in a single search - from spreadsheet to photo to Aerosmith download to database to, well, anything - it's simply not going to be ready for prime time.
This is quite an about face; Bill Gates, after all, has long been touting WinFS's universal search capability as one of Longhorn's key features. Apparently, WinFS will eventually see the light of day: look for it in a Longhorn update. Of course that means sometime in 2007 or 2008. No doubt Google will have blown through a dozen upgrades to its just-released Google Desktop Search engine by then.
Walk into any enterprise and there they are, systems running Windows, systems running Linux, systems running MacOS, and even systems running Unix. How do you administer these divergent platforms? With divergent management tools, of course. You'd never dream of managing Unix systems through a Windows tool, especially Microsoft's own tools. Can't be done, right? Wrong.