This week, a bit of news. Next week, the show. We love Dynamics here at RCPU. We're just into that heavy, complex, back-office stuff. And we love Convergence -- it's a shame that, due to lots of factors, your editor can't get there in person anymore.
But we can still talk about Dynamics and about Convergence. This week, Microsoft released details of GP 2010, which will be available on May 1.
This one isn't a revolutionary release or anything, but it does offer integration with Office 2010, SharePoint 2010, CRM Online and Microsoft's unified-communications platform. So, it works with everything else, which is great.
Well, almost everything else. As you know, Microsoft continues to sell four different Dynamics enterprise resource planning suites (which are GP, NAV, SL and AX). Long has that been the case, and long will it be the case based on pretty much everything Microsoft has said since Project Green -- the forlorn effort to merge all four suites into a single power suite -- died a few years ago.
And, still, we find the whole four-suite thing baffling. Yes, we should probably just get over it. Microsoft says that it's working fine and that it makes a lot of sense and that it helps customers choose the suite that's right for them. Fair enough. But partners have told us over the years that it creates confusion the channel. (They've also told us that there's massive overcrowding in the channel around Dynamics sales, but it has been a while since we've talked to anybody about that.) And, frankly, the four-suite strategy seems to complicate what should be -- what is, in fact, supposed to be -- a refreshingly simple ERP offering.
And so, here we are writing about Dynamics again and saying again that one single suite --with some room for customization, to be sure -- would make more sense than the Four Horsemen of Microsoft Dynamics do. At Convergence next week, Microsoft will probably talk about GP 2010, about Dynamics CRM Online and maybe even about ERP in the cloud --although it has never really shown any serious interest in that last category.
But we'll still be sitting here in Framingham wondering why Microsoft has never managed to simplify its ERP offering and questioning whether having four suites (of which AX and GP are pretty dominant) is really better than having one. And for another year, our curiosity will likely go unsatisfied. Nevertheless, we're fans of Dynamics. The focus on low cost and simplicity of implementation makes sense for the midmarket. Only the four-suite thing doesn't. But we might have mentioned that already…
Dynamics partners, what's the take from the channel? Is the four-suite strategy working out OK? Is there still overcrowding in the Dynamics channel? Send your thoughts to [email protected]
Posted by Lee Pender on April 21, 2010 at 11:56 AM0 comments
We still think that the iPad looks stupid, but we can't argue with what Steve Jobs has done with a company that, let's not forget, was as good as dead about a decade-and-a-half ago. The numbers don't lie…
Posted on April 21, 2010 at 11:56 AM0 comments
Infosys landed this week what must be just about every partner's dream -- Microsoft's own IT contract. Yes, Microsoft entered into a three-year deal to outsource its IT operations to its long-time, India-based partner.
We're going to be writing more about this in the weeks to come, and we'd love to hear your take on it. Send it to [email protected]
Posted by Lee Pender on April 14, 2010 at 11:56 AM6 comments
Apparently some folks were surprised last week when their copies of Office Mobile 2010 beta just kind of stopped working, although Microsoft says that it had put the cutoff date for the beta in the product's fine print. (You do read those user agreements, don't you?)
Well, apparently this little incident rankled enough users that Microsoft actually apologized for it. And while this might not be that big of a deal (and while it's technically not even an error on Microsoft's part), we still contend that it's a symptom of the greater mess that is Microsoft's mobile "strategy."
Posted by Lee Pender on April 14, 2010 at 11:56 AM1 comments
Many times we've said in this space that Google Apps has great potential to do some damage to Microsoft Office. They key word there, though, has always been "potential."
In our experience at RCPU (and we use Google Apps every day), the package is fine for quick-and-dirty work but not anywhere near robust (there's a ‘90s word we don't hear too often anymore) enough to handle serious, day-to-day chores. This week, though, that might have changed -- or, at least, started to change.
Well, that's the case on the word-processor front, anyway, as Google gave Apps a major boost that included pretty much a complete overhaul of the Google Docs component. Google Docs is the Apps offering we know best, and it's honestly pretty frustrating to use. Oh, sure, it's incredibly handy and light, but it lacks so many very basic features compared to Microsoft Word -- or those basic features are so hard to find and use—that we wouldn't think about composing even this newsletter in Docs, much less something like a full feature story.
This week's move gives Docs little touches such as a margin ruler and improved functionality with bulleted lists. That stuff will help, but Docs will still have a long way to go to catch Office. Office, of course -- and particularly Office 2007, with its baffling ribbon -- has way too much functionality. And although we'll admit to not having tried Microsoft's Office Web Apps extensively, we haven't seen any hosted suite that could beat the speed of Google Docs.
The bottom line is that as a power user of word processors, your editor just isn't ready to move off of the desktop for his typing pleasure quite yet --
not in a permanent way, anyway. But we can see Google Docs moving in the right direction. Google is moving Apps from having potential to beginning to fulfill potential. And that won't be good news for Microsoft and its partners in the long run.
Do you use Google Apps or Office Web Apps? What do you think of them? Which do you prefer? Send your thoughts to [email protected]
Posted by Lee Pender on April 14, 2010 at 11:56 AM3 comments
A whopping 11 fixes for 25 vulnerabilities means that there's been some messed-up stuff in Microsoft software recently. Hopefully the patches will take care of it.
Posted by Lee Pender on April 12, 2010 at 11:56 AM0 comments
OK, so, apparently when Apple comes out with something, no matter how ridiculous it looks (or is), everybody has to have one. And then every other vendor has to make one. This week, word is that Google is getting ready to launch an Android tablet computer. Google will have to get in line with everybody else because suddenly there are (or will be) a lot of dumb-looking computers out there.
Posted by Lee Pender on April 12, 2010 at 11:56 AM4 comments
Forgive us for this fairly major departure from partner-oriented content, but we just couldn't let this pass unnoted: Wow, Microsoft, you really know how to reach the youth market. OK, we'll give you credit for the Xbox, but other than that, your record is kind of bleak. And it only got worse today.
Seriously, your new line of phones (which only adds to your complete mess of a mobile strategy) is called Kin. Really? Kin? You should have just stuck with Pink, the "code name" you used for this project for so long. So, now, we have not only Windows Mobile 6.5 and Windows Phone 7 (aside from, possibly, some other version of Windows Mobile to come -- you've lost us there, Microsoft), we also have Kin. Kin!
This is the phone aimed at the kids -- the one that's supposed to facilitate the Facebooking and the Tweeting and the texting and the other sometimes nefarious activities that the youth of today love so much. (Oh, by the way, parents, it just got easier for your kid to send stuff to his or her friends behind your back. Hooray!)
So, what image does Microsoft conjure up with the name of this new phone offering aimed at people who don't even remember the ‘80s? Why, one of an 1890s gold prospector, of course, or maybe a character from The Grapes of Wrath. Or the first thing we thought of: Jed Clampett after he struck oil and his "kin folk" said, "Jed, move away from there!"
At best, then, Microsoft has managed to churn up a (nearly) 50-year-old TV reference with the name of its new, youth-oriented phones. Look out, iPhone! The Clampetts are coming to get you, and that Granny can be a real pistol… Seriously, we Kin-not believe this.
What would you have named Microsoft's phones for kids? Send your ideas to [email protected]
Posted by Lee Pender on April 12, 2010 at 11:56 AM6 comments
Skittles and Mountain Dew all around! If the developers will please stop crunching code for a few seconds, they'll notice that Visual Studio 2010, Silverlight 4 and .NET Framework 4 are all now available. Go ahead and wear your ironic t-shirt to the launch party -- which will happen online, of course, so you won't have to leave your chair.
Posted by Lee Pender on April 12, 2010 at 11:56 AM0 comments
Redmond columnist Mary Jo Foley tells us that the new Dynamics CRM offering is available as a hosted application or as an on-premises deployment. As you might imagine, it has lots of functionality aimed at organizations that aren't actually supposed to make a profit.
Posted by Lee Pender on April 08, 2010 at 11:56 AM2 comments
Ambitious little document-sharing cloud vendor Box.net has raised an additional $15 million in venture funding for its fight to dethrone Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, which just happens to be a billion-dollar business for Microsoft these days. Well, $30 million -- Box.net's total venture haul to date -- is a start, we suppose. A pretty small start…
Posted by Lee Pender on April 08, 2010 at 11:56 AM1 comments
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, 2010 at 11:56 AM6 comments