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Readers on Office 2007 and XenSource

Hey, it's August, and as we've said recently in this space, there's not a heck of a lot going on. Since many of you are probably on vacation anyway, and not even reading this, we're going to let the good folks who've taken the time to write in do our work for us.

We'll commence with a couple of comments about Office 2007, which is now under slightly (very slightly) more competitive pressure from Google. Office lovers, turn away -- you might not like what you're about to read, but we're just running what we've received. If you like Office 2007 (and we're quite sure that many of you do), let us know.

Gordon starts us off with a mini-rant not unlike what we've heard from other readers:

"Office 2007 needs a button to MAKE IT THE SAME as 2003. I have voice control macros that work with Office 2xxx and, for no apparent benefit, Microsoft moved everything and broke all my macros."

Well, Gordon, we know how you feel. Office 2007 has fairly well baffled us too, in the opportunities we've had to use it thus far. Maybe we're all just too resistant to change...or maybe Microsoft outsmarted itself -- and its users -- this time with its "ribbon" interface.

Still, despite its unfamiliar look, Office 2007 is capable of some seriously cool stuff for business users, especially tie-ins to back-end systems that Office 2003 couldn't really handle as well. It's kind of like getting a great new electronic device and finding that the only instructions on how to use it are in Japanese, though.

For his part, Kevin sends a friendly e-mail to say that Office isn't so dominant where he is:

"All of our workstations are running OpenOffice.org. No major issues at all -- we are very pleased. We have a handful of MS Office workstations for the rare macro-filled document that OO.org can't handle, but with each point release it becomes much more rare that we need any MS Office workstations at all. (Novell seems to be helping most on this -- especially with Calc [Excel] macros. The Novell OO.org edition is being tested here now -- interface and functionality are even better, and it falls under our existing support contract. It really is good!)

"Besides standard desktop users, though, even our Microsoft ERP database developers have come to love it. What was hidden in Office and required an API kit ($$$) and/or multiple calls to Microsoft for integration solutions (ERP to Office) in the past is now completely free and open. Our programmers can SEE everything they need to get the job done. What took two months in the past now takes two days (not kidding)! For our hardcore, MS-loving developers to love the solution, OpenOffice.org/StarOffice must be doing something right.

"Successful run here for years now without MS Office -- we aren't going back. With what we've saved in license and subscription fees alone, management wouldn't let us go back even if we wanted to!"

OK, so maybe those back-end tie-in capabilities in Office 2007 aren't such a big deal after all, if Kevin is right (and we have no reason to think that he isn't) about the ease of integrating ERP with OpenOffice.org. Still, we suspect that Office 2007 will eventually reign as king of the productivity suites despite its somewhat wonky interface. We tend to be creatures of habit, after all -- and if Microsoft has its way (and it usually does), Office 2007 will eventually become a habit. Not that we're disparaging OpenOffice.org, mind you -- it sounds like an intriguing alternative.

Moving on to Citrix's purchase of XenSource and Microsoft's possible role as spoiler, John is ready to sit back and be entertained:

"That would be a great contest if MS put in a bid and then IBM got in on the action. I can see it now: MS vs. IBM II: The Virtual Showdown.

"In the end, I would also see Citrix being more of a Microsoft target than an open source virtualizer. But remember: Citrix was started by a group of ex-Redmondites who worked on NT 4.0 terminal services, so I don't think they would like being under the Redmond umbrella again."

Good point, John. But that is one big, wealthy umbrella.

Thanks to all who took the time to write, and, as for the rest of you, please keep sending your thoughts about whatever to lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on August 23, 2007 at 11:54 AM