Microsoft Backer Turned Critic Says Office 2010 Breaks Standard

Computing standards have always perplexed us a little bit. What we at RCPU have never been able to fully figure out is why standards are so important? Oh, we understand the importance of them in theory, but in practice? Well, it seems to us that the biggest dog in the pack pretty much sets a de facto standard.

Such was the case with Microsoft for a long time until Redmond got all worked up about industry standards a few years ago and rammed its Office Open XML (OOXML) document format through as an international standard. Dominant regimes have, generally throughout history, wanted to give the impression of credibility -- it's one of the reasons why the Soviets had "elections," even though only one party was eligible to appear on the ballot. So, maybe Microsoft was going for the credibility angle.

(Note: We're not calling the folks in Redmond communists. Quite the contrary -- we at RCPU admire them for their bold version of capitalism. We're just saying that Microsoft's standards push seems kind of unnecessary and has the feel of an old-school regime trying to make itself look legitimate.)

In any case, one of the main proponents of OOXML, a gentleman named Alex Brown, says that Office 2010 is actually going to break the standard that he helped Microsoft establish. Microsoft begs to differ, as you might imagine.

Once again, though, this begs the question: Who cares? Office still has monster market share, so whatever standards it imposes are the ones people will use. Don't like them? Go build your own productivity suite to take on the champ. But be forewarned

-- many have treaded that path, and thus far none has returned. Lotus, Novell, Corel… the skeletons of their suites line the competition road to Office. Maybe Google Apps will survive, but it has a long journey ahead of it.

Now, if Microsoft really is essentially breaking its own standard, that's a poor showing on Redmond's part. If Microsoft is going to get all worked up about standards and legitimacy, then it should at least let the winner of its single-party election take office. But we're still not sure why -- or whether -- any of this matters.

Do you care about the OOXML standard? How concerned are you about standards-based computing? Sound off at [email protected].

Posted by Lee Pender on April 08, 20106 comments

Software Maker CA to Cut 1000 Jobs

The economic recovery -- if it really exists -- hasn't made it to CA yet. The company said this week that it's cutting 8 percent of its workforce and that profits will be toward the low end of what officials had forecasted.

Posted by Lee Pender on April 07, 20100 comments

Redmond Dropping Intel Itanium Support

Pretty soon, Itanium will be processor non grata on Windows Server 2008 R2, Visual Studio 2010 and SQL Server 2008 R2.

Posted by Lee Pender on April 07, 20100 comments

Microsoft's Secret is Pink (We Think)

Welcome to a non-iPad edition of RCPU. Seriously, we're so tired of reading about that bloated iPhone (which isn't even really a phone) that we're determined not to talk about it this week -- although that's going to be hard to do given that it's dominating tech news the way a young Mike Tyson dominated opponents.

Anyway, it's Microsoft that will most likely be trying to make mobile-device news next week. We told you earlier this week that Redmond sent cryptic invitations for a mysterious event to be held on April 12. Well, as usual, the secret wasn't a secret for long. It looks as though (although Microsoft hasn't confirmed this) Microsoft really will be unveiling its “Pink” line of phones next week.

This whole Pink thing is aimed at young folks who just can't get themselves off of the Twitter and the Facebook, so it won't likely have an enterprise impact. Pink's platform will look a bit like Windows Phone 7, but the devices won't run the same applications -- or so reports The Wall Street Journal in the link above. That leads us to wonder: Why is Microsoft doing this? Why does Microsoft always have to come up with multiple names and platforms for the same category of device?

Why couldn't Windows Phone 7 just do what Pink phones will do and vice versa? Maybe Microsoft will answer all of these questions on Monday, but for now we just don't see the point of Pink. An iPhone is, after all, an iPhone, right? Aside from maybe different levels of storage, we're not aware of multiple models of iPhones with some that do some things and others that don't. Microsoft, we hope you know what you're doing here with Pink. We hope we'll get an explanation on Monday.

Do you understand Microsoft's mobile strategy? Do you care about it? Sound off at [email protected].

Posted by Lee Pender on April 07, 20101 comments

Windows 7 Catching Vista in Market Share

Yes, we know what you're thinking: Vista has market share? Oddly enough, it does. But its number is shrinking all the time with a new competitor on its heels -- Windows 7.

Net Applications says that Windows 7 now has 10 percent market share, just a few months after the October launch of the popular new operating system. Vista, by comparison, didn't pass 10 percent share until May 2008 -- well more than a year after its launch.

But you knew already that Vista isn't popular. And that's not really the point here. The point is that Windows XP, the old standby, is down to "only" about 65 percent market share. It's a sign that consumers are making the slow slog to Windows 7 from both Vista and XP -- even if RCPU readers remain dedicated XP fans (and even though Microsoft still hasn't provided an upgrade path from XP to 7).

If consumers are making the switch, then enterprises will eventually change over as folks get used to using Windows 7 as their default OS. Pretty much every metric at this juncture points to Windows 7 as being the next XP, the next long-term Microsoft OS. The only metric that doesn't point in that direction is feedback we get from readers and enterprise users. But we suspect that a larger number of partners and IT folks would be more bullish about Windows 7 if Microsoft would just put the Vista fantasy aside and let folks upgrade easily from XP. Maybe if we keep saying this, somebody in Redmond will pay attention.

In the meantime, the specter of XP continues to loom large, even if the venerable OS is finally showing signs of fading. Catching Vista shouldn't be a problem for Windows 7. Catching XP will be another task altogether -- one that would go faster if Microsoft would just help it along a bit.

What will it take for your customers or your company to move to Windows 7? Sound off at [email protected].

Posted by Lee Pender on April 05, 20102 comments

Microsoft Sets Date for Secret Event

April 12 now has an air of intrigue surrounding it, as Microsoft has set a secret event for that date. It probably has something to do with phones, most pundits seem to think, and might even be the unveiling of Microsoft's "Pink" mobile project. It'll have to be a pretty cool event to surpass iPad mania. For reasons we still don't entirely understand, folks lined up all over the U.S. and bought 300,000 iPads on the first day of availability for a device that looks like an iPhone with elephantitis.

Posted by Lee Pender on April 05, 20101 comments

SQL Server 2008 R2: Party in April, Launch in May

When is a launch event not really a launch event? When it's more of a launch pre-party. Microsoft is holding a SQL Server 2008 R2 "launch event" in Germany this month, but don't let the nomenclature fool you; the next version of SQL Server is still due to actually launch in May. The April event is just some sort of pre-celebration of the May unveiling. With that in mind, we're going to celebrate Wednesday's RCPU tonight with a couple of cocktails and some foul-smelling cheese. Cheers!

Posted by Lee Pender on April 05, 20100 comments

Reader Feedback Returns! And Windows XP Lives!

An old commercial for canned chili used to feature a cowboy-type guy looking at the camera and saying, "Neighbor, how long has it been since you had a big, thick, steamin' bowl of Wolf Brand Chili? Well, that's too long."

And so we ask: Reader, how long has it been since RCPU last ran reader feedback? Actually, we have no idea. But it has been way too long -- and, yes, your editor is going to buy some canned chili on the way home tonight. This week, we dive first into the eternal struggle for the desktop between Windows 7 and Windows XP. OK, so maybe it's not eternal, but it could go on for a while if these e-mails are any indication.

For our first e-mail, we go all the way back to February for this comment from Peter, who is now officially in the RCPU e-mail hall of fame (our would be if we had one). Our good friend Peter weighed in thusly:

"I have spoken to many people about upgrading form Windows XP to Windows 7. The main consensus seems to be that it simply isn't worth it. XP works just fine.  Microsoft, as far as I am aware, has not provided any direct migration tools from XP straight to Win7. You can't just pop in a disk and say, 'Take me to Windows 7.'  Last time I looked, Microsoft seemed to expect folks to trash their old-faithful XP systems and start all over again. There seemed to be a path to Vista and then to Win 7, but you'd have to have rocks in your head to do that (hopefully good old Microsoft has already provided a direct migration path by now from XP and I just haven't noticed)."

We're sorry to tell you this, but if Microsoft has provided a migration path, we haven't noticed it, either. That's because there isn't one… although there should be. And we agree that XP works just fine. But for how much longer will it work just fine, and how many new applications will it support?  Ken, another RCPU e-mail legend, actually has something of an answer for us:

"I still think consumers buy what they want, need and can afford. On that score, XP still does everything a home user or small-business user wants at no new cost and will arguably last at least until 2014.

When Windows 95 and 98 were phased out, XP offered significant advantages and was popular over the first two. Windows Vista and 7 do NOT enjoy the same interface popularity, nor do my clients like ribbon interfaces."

Ah, yes, the ribbon… that has been a sticking point for a lot of users. So, Ken figures we have until 2014 at a minimum with XP. Well, a lot of legacy enterprise applications don't yet work with Windows 7, so that'll help XP hang on for a while. And, again, that lack of a migration path is a problem. But how will computing look four years from now? Will XP and the applications of 2010 still be useful?

It's hard to imagine XP still going strong in its thirteenth year, especially since Windows 8 could conceivably be out by then. It seems unlikely that Microsoft would let XP hang on that long. Then again, who would have predicted in 2001 that XP would still be going strong almost 10 years later? And Ken has more people on his side than we do. Take, for instance, Steven, who says that while Windows 7 is fine for home, it's not going to fly at work -- at least for now.

"I find it quite interesting that Microsoft has not addressed and seems to not want to address the large base still using XP when it comes to upgrading that OS to Windows 7. As a Director of IT, I did upgrade a few of my home PCs from XP to Vista and then to Windows 7, mostly so I wouldn't have to reinstall everything from scratch. I have done this three times, and for the most part it has worked well; it took forever, but did work. I did have to fix some drivers and applications, and fortunately I know how to do these kinds of things.

I would, however, not even think about doing this in my work environment. If Microsoft made it possible to upgrade the large base of XP users to Windows 7 easily, I think there would be no reason or desire to stay on XP at all. Windows 7 is so much better than XP. I disliked how buggy Vista was, and after testing it we decided not to upgrade because we needed an OS that performed well. Now, without an easy upgrade path to Windows 7, it will take us more time to move our XP environment to Windows 7."

Hey, Microsoft, do you have the message yet? Lots of enterprise users want an upgrade path from XP to Windows 7. We know that Windows 7 is selling well, but if you want it to get a foothold in the enterprise, let folks make the move that they want to make -- XP to Windows 7 -- and let them make it easily. Vista was a dud; we all know that. It's time to cut out the Vista middleman (or the middle-OS) and offer that path from XP to 7. Without it, we might really be looking at XP hanging on until 2014.

We've had some great e-mails on Windows Phone 7, and we're going to get to those soon. In the meantime, send your thoughts on anything and everything to [email protected]. Reader feedback is back. Be a part of it!

Posted by Lee Pender on April 01, 20106 comments

SCO Loses UNIX Lawsuit

After 15 years of bickering between literal non-entity SCO (the company went bankrupt two years ago) and Novell, a jury in Salt Lake City has ruled that Novell owns the rights to UNIX after all. What's really rich here is that SCO is going to try to persuade a judge to give the copyrights to SCO despite the jury's ruling. So, never mind that whole jury trial that, by the way, was years in the making. SCO will just get a judge to overturn the whole thing (or try to, anyway -- we're guessing that the "company" won't be too successful). Gotta love our justice system…

Posted by Lee Pender on April 01, 20101 comments

Clearing up Microsoft's Cloud Offering

Microsoft this week shed some light on its cloud strategy by stating that Azure will have virtual-machine support, but there are still plenty of questions about Microsoft and the cloud floating around. Well, we're here to help. The answers to a lot of those questions are here. You're welcome.

Posted by Lee Pender on April 01, 20100 comments

Intel and AMD Get Chippy

The multi-core race is on, as Intel announced today an eight-core processor, just one day after AMD trumpeted a 12-core chip.

Posted by Lee Pender on March 31, 20100 comments

Microsoft Issues Patches for IE Holes

IE8 and Windows 7 users, don't worry about this. The rest of up.

Posted by Lee Pender on March 31, 20100 comments