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Meeting Mendocino

Quick quiz: What is Mendocino?

If you answered that it’s a coastal community located north of San Francisco in California’s wine country, you’d be right. But if you identified it as the code name for a new business product evolving out of a first-time alliance between Microsoft and SAP AG, you’d also be correct. And if you added that Mendocino the product is scheduled to hit a major milestone this week, you’d get extra credit.

About 40 Microsoft customers and 10 partners are scheduled to get a “technology preview” -- sort of a pre-beta beta of Mendocino -- on Friday.

Mendocino will link SAP directly to Microsoft Office applications, which developers say will allow information workers access SAP data and processes through the familiar Office environment. That capability should help companies improve efficiency and speed up decision making, says Chris Caren, general manager of Microsoft’s Business Applications Group.

Initially, Mendocino will focus on four key “scenarios” allowing users to process SAP information in Microsoft Outlook: budget monitoring, time management, personal-leave management and HR-related administrative and planning tasks.

Microsoft says the product, which was announced last spring, is on track for a broader beta release in the spring. It’s expected to become available late next summer.

Open-Source Software Firm Woos Midmarket -- and Venture Capitalists
A San Diego-area software firm believes its open-source products will attract not only small and midsize organizations dismayed by the costs of proprietary business software, but venture capitalists as well.

IRadeon Group Inc. of Roseville, Calif., customizes open-access programs for uses ranging from e-commerce to customer relationship management to employee training. The 6-year-old firm targets businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees because, officials say, those companies are often hard pressed to invest in the hardware, consulting and licensing fees that come with proprietary products. IRadeon hopes investors will agree that that market is ripe with opportunity: It plans to seek $30 million in funding early in 2006.

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Want an Xbox 360? Here’s Where (and When) to Look
Pssst: Still desperately seeking one of Microsoft’s new Xbox 360 machines for somebody’s holiday gift? I know where you can find one. But it’ll cost you a bundle.

The Xbox 360s, which normally retail for $300 and up, have been selling briskly for two and three times that amount on eBay this week. During a one-day auction on Tuesday, the price jumped from $700 to $850 in the last couple of minutes. On Wednesday morning, some Xbox offerings drew 40 or more bids, with the price rising by $100 or more in the auctions’ final couple of minutes.

Meanwhile, Boston college student Chris Lamberts’ online Xbox inventory tracker was issuing what appeared to be real-time availability reports such as “ In stock 1 minute ago,” “CompUSA: Sold out about 4 hours ago” and “Barnes & Noble: Sold out 6 days ago.”

If you simply must have an Xbox this holiday season, here’s my advice: Wait until next week, do some comparison shopping, take the best deal and surprise the recipient with an out-of-the-blue New Year’s gift instead. I guarantee you’ll save a bundle.

New Year’s Resolution: Protect Your PC in 2006
Microsoft’s Security Technology Unit wants everyone in your organization to make secure online computing a top personal priority for the coming year.

The company’s “Protect Your PC in 2006” initiative encourages all users to boost their security online by applying the following rules to their own personal computers:

  • Always use an Internet firewall.
  • Run regular security updates (automatically, if possible).
  • Install an anti-virus program and keep it up to date.
  • Use software that combats spyware.

“Online criminals are much like their offline peers: They make a living by hunting for weak spots in the system and trying to exploit them,” says Amy Roberts, the security unit’s director of project management. Taking the pledge and adopting the four best practices can go a long way toward keeping users safe on their own computers as well as on the machines at work.

Microsoft Software: Spotting Billing Errors
Billing mistakes for Microsoft software happen more often than you might think. And when things go wrong, it's not just the price -- compliance can be affected as well. Scott Braden, the Redmond Negotiator for our sister publication Redmond magazine, walks you through what to watch out for.

Posted by Anne Stuart on December 21, 2005


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