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OpenDoc Gets Redmond Boost

Microsoft has been wishy-washy about the Open Document format promoted by the OpenOffice backers. It supports the file format through translators, but not as a native format in Office 2007, which uses OpenXML instead.

Last week, Microsoft gave Open Doc another endorsement when it voted to make the format an ANSI standard. I'd still like to see tighter integration with Office, though.

Windows Server 2008 To Get 2009 Tweak
Windows Server 2008 (formerly Longhorn) is getting closer to shipping, giving Microsoft the confidence to talk about its follow-on. The company believes release 2 can ship in 2009. I've always maintained that Microsoft's server products are superior to its desktop wares. Maybe the server folks should build the follow-on to Vista!

Find out more about Redmond's server roadmap here.

Your 64-Bit Desktop Future
Microsoft has long had a 64-bit version of XP, and it turned out to be a bigger dud than Al Capone's vault. The problem, according to readers I've talked to, is a lack of driver support (sounds just like Vista, eh?).

But there is now speculation that Redmond is poised to put all its desktop eggs in the 64-bit basket with the next major desktop OS running only in 64 bits. Microsoft says it hasn't decided.

I say it should take the plunge: Splitting coding time between 32 and 64 bits makes both versions a compromise.

Microsoft Hits a Popfly
There are all kinds of somewhat-easy-to-use Web development tools. Ruby on Rails, I hear, is pretty good.

Every time Microsoft hears something is cool, whether it's a PalmPilot, iPod or Ruby, the company wants a piece. SmartPhones counter PalmPilots, the Zune (vainly) competes with the iPod (which, now that I own two, is far flakier than I imagined) and now Popfly is Microsoft's answer to mashups and cool, quick Web pages.

Based on Silverlight (itself a bit of an alternative to ASP.NET), Popfly is both a mix of tools and a place for developers to gather. Aimed at nonprofessional developers, the tools are in alpha. Learn about 'em here. And for more of our Popfly coverage, go here.

Meanwhile, my son David tells me Ruby on Rails has some pretty cool ads.

Killer Web
The Web is all about freedom -- maybe too much freedom. I don't want to deny you your Pamela Anderson JPEGs, but I'm not sure I want my kids to have the same privilege. And giving the ACLU and the John Birch Society their say is fine, but Muslim extremists' execution videos give me more than a little pause.

That's why I'm conflicted upon hearing that The Army of God is posting essays by Eric Rudolph, who murdered doctors that performed abortions, as well as articles by Paul Hill such as "I Shot an Abortionist."

I guess this is the price we must pay for freedom of speech, but it still makes me queasy. What about you? Speak freely at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Mailbag: The Military's Tangled Web
A few more readers chime in about the military's decision to restrict soldiers' access to certain Web sites like MySpace and YouTube:

When I was in the Navy in 1988 (I can't believe I'm writing this) as a hospital corpsman, I wasn't even able to go to AOL to read mail at all of the naval bases I was stationed. They said some crap about a firewall that I didn't understand.

I remember thinking how wrong that was, but now that I am a bit more educated, those sites mentioned ought to be blocked. There is no reason a soldier/sailor can't find a different avenue to communicate nowadays.
-Chris

YouTube and MySpace are minor annoyances compared to the fact that in some locations -- and I speak from personal "been there" experience -- the Pentagon takes your computer, wipes and reloads the hard drive with its software, and blocks your personal e-mail access, some technical sites, and much more. It's a joke if the Pentagon says that you can check in at home. It's only under its conditions: no personal accounts, only your military account. As a reservist who was mobilized to help with the war, I practically lost all contact with friends and family, and lost business because of the gyrations necessary to get information that was removed from my computer.

Let's face it: In spite of all that the military does to protect information, people who want to get unauthorized information out will do it. People who want access to information they need will work hard to get it, as well, and the simplistic "punish everyone" approach that the military is taking is, in my opinion, bogus.
-Jane

My opinion regarding the restriction on certain Web sites by the military is similar to that of the corporate world; it's their computer/bandwidth, so they can do what they want with it. Now, if it gets to the point of restricting the soldiers' personal computing, then I believe the military will have overstepped. However, considering the complete disregard for constitutional, as well as international, law by the current administration (which is merely extending the precedents set by previous administrations), it probably won't be long before additional restrictions are applied. We can't have the soldiers in the field learning about what's going on at home or, worse yet, revealing the things they see and do to the folks back home, now can we?
-J.C.

Let us know what you think! Leave a comment below or send an e-mail to dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on May 21, 2007 at 11:52 AM