Office 2010 64-Bit Version Not Ready

Here's a piece of bad news for 64-bit fans, and it actually comes straight from Microsoft. Bummer.

Posted by Lee Pender on March 16, 20100 comments

Developers MIX It Up in Vegas

Oh, the jokes we could make about Skittles and Mountain Dew, but we're going to give developers a break this week as they attend the Microsoft MIX10 conference in Las Vegas.

After all, there is a bunch of stuff going on at MIX, and some of it might even interest partners. Let's start with Silverlight, which is taking analytics to a new level, as Kathleen Richards explains at Going beyond simple Web analytics, Silverlight's new Analytics Framework tracks what users do with Silverlight both in a browser and outside of one. It's all part of Silverlight 4, which Microsoft will likely make available this week.

Then there's the new development platform for the forthcoming Windows Phone 7, Microsoft's attempt to pull the rip cord on its mobile operating system's parachute and stop its market-share free fall. The free tools will be based on Silverlight 4 and Microsoft's XNA Framework, which means developers will be able to do...well, all sorts of things.

OK, so, this stuff might be a bit esoteric for most partners. The way we see it is that every advance in Silverlight or even the Windows Phone 7 platform will ultimately mean something cooler to sell to customers down the road, or maybe even right now. It also means more very public innovation coming from Microsoft, which never hurts in terms of the company's perception. So, even if you don't have a taste for Skittles and Mountain Dew, MIX10 is worth watching this week.

What do you want to see come of out Microsoft's MIX conference? Send your thoughts to [email protected].

Posted by Lee Pender on March 15, 20100 comments

The .com Suffix Turns 25 Today

Fascinating story here (to us, anyway) about the first company to register a .com Internet domain. Some firm called Symbolics, one of those old Route 128 companies that made Greater Boston the hub of the technology industry until somebody wisely decided to move to the sunshine of California, tacked a .com onto the end of its name on March 15, 1985, and started a revolution. Of course, not many people noticed back in 1985, but that's history for you. As for Microsoft, the article says that it didn't register until 1991 -- when there still weren't that many people online. 

Posted by Lee Pender on March 15, 20100 comments

Microsoft To Patch IE 6 and 7

Seriously, folks, just get IE8. Or Firefox, or something. If you do insist, though, on running older versions of the browser, rest assured that Microsoft is hard at work tackling a flaw that affects both versions 6 and 7.

Posted by Lee Pender on March 15, 20100 comments

Microsoft Issues Zero-Day IE Warning

Why can't Patch Tuesday just be simple for once? This month's batch of patches also came with a warning of a zero-day bug for IE 6 and 7 (but if you're still using IE 6, really, what could you be thinking?).

Posted by Lee Pender on March 11, 20101 comments

IT Spending To Get Bump in 2010

Well, here's a piece of good news. The folks at Ovum say that 2010 should see a jump in IT spending. Not a big jump, but we'll take what we can get.

Posted by Lee Pender on March 11, 20100 comments

Windows 7 SP1 in Q4?

Another of those unusually accurate (most of the time) reports is out, this one suggesting that Windows 7 Service Pack 1 will be available by the fourth quarter of this year.

Posted by Lee Pender on March 10, 20100 comments

Google DocVerse and Microsoft Office: A Cross-Town Bridge?

Admit it, you remember the "Dancin' Homer" episode of the Simpsons from…well, some years ago. In the episode, Homer becomes a successful mascot for the Springfield Isotopes baseball team and gets a call from a major-league team in Capital City.

As always, calamity ensues. For our purpose here, try to recall one memorable scene from the episode in which the Simpson family drives into Capital City and marvels at the Cross-Town Bridge. Not to state the obvious, but a cross-town bridge is pretty useless; most bridges cross bodies of water or maybe large highways. A cross-town bridge, in theory, would only cross perfectly good streets and would be superfluous—although Oklahoma City, apparently, actually has one. Who knew? (People in OKC, we suppose.)

Anyway, we introduce this Simpsons reference in order to offer a metaphor for Google's recent acquisition of a company called DocVerse, whose flagship product lets users share and edit Microsoft Office content via the Internet in real time.

As you might imagine, the DocVerse buy has the press all a-twitter (quite literally, probably, although we don't like Twitter and don't spend much time on it) about Google "targeting" Microsoftand about how Google Apps is now more of a threat to Microsoft's Office franchise than ever. Hey, with DocVerse, users can manipulate Word documents online! With each other! In real time! How will Office survive? (Trust us—there are plenty of articles out there that question Office's future; we've chosen not to link to them because they're mostly hysterical ramblings.)

Frankly, we're just not seeing it. First of all, wouldn't DocVerse users have to have Office in order to manipulate Office documents online? How, exactly, does that hurt Microsoft Office? Plus, Google Apps, while handy for some purposes, is simply not close to Microsoft Office in terms of functionality (and, yes, we at RCPU do use both every day). Plus, Microsoft Office 2010 will come with browser-based versions of Office applications that will have online-collaboration functionality. Office Live Workspace already offers similar capabilities.

So what's the big deal here? Google and DocVerse want to build a "bridge" (hence our Simpsons reference) to Google Apps from Microsoft Office. Dig this quote from the story linked above:

"The extent to which DocVerse will be integrated into Google's online offerings is not clear, but the technology may make it easier to port Microsoft Office documents into Google Apps, according to a DocVerse blog.

"'We're looking forward to the opportunity to scale our vision at Google,' the DocVerse blog explains. 'Our first step will be to combine DocVerse with Google Apps to create a bridge between Microsoft Office and Google Apps.'"

A bridge to where? Why would somebody who has Microsoft Office want to work on Office documents in Google Apps, especially when Microsoft already offers some online-collaboration capabilities and is getting ready to offer a lot more? Is this a pure price play? If so, that has worked to some extent for Google Apps, but it hasn't exactly knocked Office off of its throne. Plus, there's a reason Office costs more than Google Apps--it does a lot more. Although, we will admit that Office might be a tad pricey these days.
If the idea is that Google wants to attract users to Google Apps by luring them in with Office interoperability, we're just not quite sure how that would work. If anything, this move seems like an acknowledgement by Google that Apps can't beat Office and is therefore going to sort of join it. Still, we can't see that many users or companies getting hooked on Apps just because they can edit and share Word documents in it. They can also edit and share Word documents online through Microsoft, and that capability is only going to get stronger in Office 2010. Where's the hook for Apps?

Homer and Marge would love the Google-DocVerse deal. It's really a cross-town bridge --there's just not much of reason to drive on it. The streets and avenues of Microsoft Office will get most users where they want to go with little problem. And the experience might actually be a lot better.

What's your take on the future of Microsoft Office? Send it to [email protected].

Posted by Lee Pender on March 10, 20102 comments

Microsoft Rallies Partners around Cloud

Allison Watson, head of Microsoft's partner group held a brief presentation this morning to partners about Microsoft's commitment to cloud computing. There's more info here.

Posted by Lee Pender on March 10, 20100 comments

Why Should We Suddenly Want Tablet Computers?

It's understandable that folks went a little nuts over the Apple iPad. Apple has, after all, brought us the iPod, the iPhone and the iPod Touch over the last decade or so, and those are mostly pretty cool (and very successful) gadgets.

But besides the fact that the iPad looks ridiculous, it has also started a flood of articles about how tablet computing is going to take over the world. We don't get why that would happen. But first, the hype. Apparently, the iPad has sparked a tablet "war" (beware: a video featuring an Australian accent plays in this link), with every big vendor under the sun, including Microsoft developing its weapon for battle.

None other than the venerable Atlantic has more or less predicted the death of the book as collateral damage in the tablet war. But haven't tablets been around forever, with very little pick-up from users? And would anybody really spend $500 or more for a fancier way to read? We already have smart phones, netbooks, laptops, music players. Where does this tablet thing fit in? The ones we've seen aren't phones and don't even have real keyboards. What's the point?

Apparently, one would-be tablet producer's answer to that question is (paraphrasing here), "Well, uh, actually...I don't know." No, really! Check this out from Australia's Brisbane Times:

"Ruslan [Kogan, an Australian entrepreneur and tablet-producer wannabe] admits he doesn't know how people will use it or whether he'd actually use one himself.

'It's one of those devices where I'm wondering what people will do with it...This is one Kogan product that I don't know if I'd actually use it for myself, because I've got an Android phone and a Kogan netbook and they pretty much fulfill all my mobile needs...' Kogan says."

But Kogan goes on to say that he's just sure that there's demand for a tablet. After all (our words now, not his), Apple's making one, right? If Apple's making one, it must be a good idea. Right? Oh, yes, by all means, let's bring to market a fairly expensive gadget that even its potential manufacturers don't see an immediate, overly compelling use for.  That makes a lot of sense. [/sarcasm]

Do you want a tablet computer? Why? Sound off at [email protected].

Posted by Lee Pender on March 10, 20109 comments

Microsoft’s 2010 Starts on May 12

Partners, enjoy the next couple of months as much as you can because things are going to get a little crazy after that. May 12 will be the true first day of 2010 for Microsoft, with the company releasing a raft of products for availability to businesses that day.

Office 2010 will be the star, of course, but the other 2010-branded offerings that will take the stage on May 12 will include SharePoint (arguably a much bigger deal for the channel than Office), Project and Visio.

Microsoft has also decided to offer a free upgrade to Office 2010 for customers who buy Office 2007 between March 5 and Sept. 30. The upgrade plan is part of Microsoft’s “technology guarantee” program, also known as an effort not to cannibalize Office 2007 sales for the next few months.

There’s not a lot more we can say except that this spring and summer are going to (hopefully) be pretty exciting for members of the Microsoft Partner Network.

Which new Microsoft product will have the biggest impact on your business? Let us know at [email protected].

Posted by Lee Pender on March 08, 20100 comments

Ballmer: We’re Betting Our Business on the Cloud

All of the sudden, Microsoft is pretty into this cloud thing. Steve Ballmer said last week that Microsoft is “all in” with regard to the cloud. That’s a fairly big turnaround from a couple of years ago, when Microsoft was playing down the pure cloud and hyping its “Software Plus Services” hybrid strategy. S+S still lives, we’re sure, but we did notice that the phrase didn’t appear anywhere in the article about Ballmer’s cloud declaration. Is Redmond playing catch-up again? It sure seems that way, but fortunately for the Microsoft channel, nobody has anything close to an insurmountable lead in this cloud race.

Posted by Lee Pender on March 08, 20101 comments