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IT Channel News Briefs, Dec. 4

Today's headlines: Vista SP2 beta is available today, and solar-powered Wi-Fi hits the market.

Information technology (IT) channel news in brief for Thursday, Dec. 4, 2008.

Another Vista SP2 beta arrives

For VARs whose customers are chomping at the bit for a better Vista, the time has come. As of today Microsoft said it will make Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2 (SP2) Beta available to anyone who wants it through a Customer Preview Program (CPP) available from TechNet.

"The CPP is intended for technology enthusiasts, developers and IT pros who would like to test Service Pack 2 in their environments and with their applications prior to final release," wrote Mike Nash, the Microsoft corporate vice president for Windows Product Management, on the Windows Team Blog.

The beta was available to select adopters in October. It focuses on improving reliability and performance. Nash recommended that most customers should wait until the final release before installing this service pack.

Meraki launches solar-powered Wi-Fi device

Wireless manufacturer Meraki is going green -- really green. The company released a solar-powered mesh Wi-Fi system this week that enables large outdoor networks in hard-to-wire areas. The system includes a solar panel and solar-charged lithium iron phosphate battery. Meraki reseller Anaptyx, which installed the free Wi-Fi network in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass., has been commissioned to expand that network using Meraki solar devices. Anaptyx said it installed the Meraki solar devices because they can be deployed on roofs without disrupting local businesses during the installation. Meraki Solar is priced from $848 to $1,497, depending on the size of the solar panel.

Windows expert gives Microsoft pointers

What could Microsoft do to improve its lot with IT pros? It could acknowledge the still-vast installed base of Windows XP and sell -- not rent -- the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP), says Windows expert Mark Minasi, author of the Mastering Windows books. Minasi also says the top concern for these IT pros is simply "keeping their jobs," according to

Third Brigade releases VM Protection

Security vendor Third Brigade this week introduced new software to protect VMware virtual machines deployed in cloud computing environments. VM Protection is free software that protects the servers running VMs as well as the applications running in VMs -- a key concern for hosting providers that run multiple customers' VMs on the same multitenant server. Features include firewall, intrusion detection, integrity monitoring and log inspection, and the software is compatible with both Windows and Linux servers.

Third Brigade, based in Ottawa, is making the transition to a more channel-focused company, said Bill McGee, the founder and vice president of products and services. Last year 80% of its sales went direct, but that number is down to 60% this year, and the goal is to reach 40% next year, he said.

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