Five Companies That Dropped The Ball This Week

HP Puts 3Com's VCX VoIP Product Line On Hold

Hewlett-Packard is putting its VCX IP voice and telephony product line in "maintenance mode" -- the euphemistic equivalent of "out to pasture" -- and is also telling VCX reseller partners to start migrating their customers to Microsoft and Avaya VoIP offerings.

HP says it's not actually killing off the VCX product line, but HP-3Com resellers are unsurprisingly not in the mood for semantics. They're well aware that uncertainty over a product's future is the quickest way to kill off interest. VARs are also concerned that customers who've recently bought VCX products will now come to them for refunds.

Meanwhile, HP is also dealing with a shortage of replacement toner for two of its popular low-end LaserJet printers that has been constraining supply through distribution for months.

Dell Tweets About Private Cloud Campaign, Then Clams Up

Logan McLeod, Dell's cloud strategy director, piqued the interest of tech industry pundits with a coquettish Twitter post about Dell planning to move beyond its private cloud and server roots to become a major public cloud service provider.

"Dell as a public cloud end-to-end service provider? Yes. IaaS [and] PaaS. Coming soon. Dell DC near you," McLeod Tweeted, offering no other information.

Dell then declined to disclose any additional information. A Dell spokesperson offered CRN old information about Dell's plans to support Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud operating system to deliver public and private clouds, but nothing new.

"We look forward to sharing more information at the appropriate time," Dell told CRN, only adding more intrigue to McLeod's cryptic Tweet. That's all fine, Dell, but absent more details, many partners are going to view this through the lens of a me-too play.

Microsoft's Windows Business Hits Slow Patch

Microsoft, in its Q2 earnings call this week, could hardly contain its excitement over strong sales of Office 2010 and Kinect, the Xbox game controller system that's very likely contributing to breakage of fragile living room items around the world. However, the excitement was dampened considerably by a 29 percent year-over-year drop in revenue for Microsoft's Windows and Windows Live Division.

Could one of Microsoft's traditional cash cows be sick? Well, the drop was due in part to $1.7 billion in deferred revenue recognized in the year-ago quarter, but PC sales are still flat-lining. The Windows group's lackluster results aren't going to do anything to quell the speculation over the success of tablets, which are sweeping across the PC landscape like hungry cannibals and devouring potential PC purchases along the way.

Cisco Loses Key Channel Exec To Juniper

Juniper sure has been on a hiring spree these days -- mainly from its competitors. This week, Juniper managed to lure away Luanne Tierney, vice president of worldwide partner marketing at Cisco, away from its chief rival. This is a big loss, Cisco partners told CRN, because Tierney was well regarded among Cisco's top executives.

Tierney was also the driving force behind some of the vendor's most important partner-centric marketing resources, including Cisco Partner Marketing Central. She was also the host and organizer of Cisco Partner Velocity, an annual event that helps partners fine-tune their marketing chops.

Zuckerberg's Account Hacked, Facebook Gets Serious Egg On Face

Although Facebook characterized it as a "bug," CEO Mark Zuckerberg's account somehow became the playground of unknown miscreants this week. This resulted in the posting of the following cryptic message to his Facebook page: "Let the hacking begin: If Facebook needs money, instead of going to the banks, why doesn't Facebook let its users invest in Facebook in a social way?"

Facebook, if someone managed to access your CEO's account and post something to it, that's a hack, not a "bug". Nice try, spinmeisters!

Ironically, unconnected to the hack, Facebook instituted a number of planned security upgrades to its site this week, moving to a secure HTTPS connection and adding a new security feature it calls "social authentication, which asks users to verify their identities to ensure their accounts haven't been compromised.