As we continue to wait for the white smoke to rise from Microsoft’s secret board room conclave, indicating the appointment of a new CEO, there's still plenty of other news out of the Redmond software giant. Here’s a round up of Microsoft developments of interest to IT and MSPs in the last week.

As the Windows XP deadline looms, Microsoft has back peddled – a little bit – on support for its Security Essentials suite for the aging OS, providing extended support for tools including Anti-Malware, System Center Endpoint Protection, Forefront Client Security, Forefront Endpoint Protection and Windows Intune, according to WinSuperSite. Check out the full coverage here.

For Metro haters

If Windows 7 is your OS of choice, but you’ve been forced onto a Windows 8.1 desktop, this one is for you. Here’s a list of things to do from Windows IT Pro to make your Windows 8.1 machine (or your customer’s machine) look like familiar Windows 7, again.

Windows 9? Threshold

And even as organizations cling to their Windows XP machines, or long for other previous OSes (Win 3.x anyone? I didn’t think so.) there’s news about Microsoft’s next OS. According to WinSuperSite, “Threshold” is the code name for what will likely be called Windows 9 and will ship in April 2015. Want to know more about the new OS? Microsoft is likely to discuss its vision for the future of Windows at the April 2014 BUILD developer conference. Or you can check out more details in this story today. Meanwhile, here’s a preview of Update 1 for Win 8.1.

Tools, tools and more tools

And in terms of news about Microsoft’s admin tools, here’s the quick update. The next version of Windows Intune will install Endpoint Protection by default to help improve security of managed devices, according to Windows IT Pro. Separately, SharePoint migration vendor Metalogix is offering a free tool for organizations to use before a migration to assess the current implementation. For SkyDrive users, here’s a hidden tool for sync problems that could come in handy someday. If your Lync users are experiencing performance issues, here’s a diagnostics tool that could help. And if you are looking to move workloads from VMware to Microsoft Hyper-V, Xtreme Consulting has a tool for you. And it’s just in time for Windows Azure Hyper-V Recovery Manager’s general availability release.

The big business intelligence roundup

For MSPs looking to add business intelligence services to their Microsoft-focused practices, check out this round up and guide to Microsoft Business Intelligence Power Tools.

PowerShell users, here’s how to create alert-based log backups and how to bulk copy data into SQL server with this tool.

And finally, here’s Paul Thurrott’s Windows Phone forecast for 2014.