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Reader Potpourri: Google, Salesforce.com and Vista

Today just seems like the kind of day made for reader feedback in RCPU, so here goes.

Our e-mail of the week comes from Jim, a previous contributor whose area code correlates to good ol' Fort Worth, Texas, home of your editor's alma mater. Jim weighs in -- thoughtfully, we find -- on the Google-Salesforce.com hookup and the impact it might have on Microsoft:

"About your article, 'Microsoft and Google: Another Patriots' Day?', and online applications, my thought on it has always been that Microsoft has a non-breakable advantage because of the macros (VBA) in Office. Businesses of all sizes around the world have proprietary Office-based applications they either developed themselves or had developed, giving them an edge on competition that they do not wish to give up or redevelop. My evaluations after using OpenOffice and Google Apps is that I find them lacking since they cannot make use of existing Office macros (OpenOffice can work with very simple macros). When you include regular add-ins like XLAs and DOTs, plus COM add-ins and managed code add-ins, Google apps, OpenOffice and others just can't compete in the business world with Office.

"Also to be considered in the online application war is what effect application virtualization will have. I have been investigating a number of those and am impressed. With VMware buying Thinstall, Microsoft purchasing SoftGrid and Calista, Citirx XenApp, Endeavor's JukeBox and various others, plus continued increases in bandwidth, application virtualization will be major technology. One can have rich applications acquired via the Web -- which run just as well as if installed -- cached for offline use and potentially brought up as one needs them or for a longer period. These just may make Google Apps and others moot."

Wise words, we'd say, Jim, and we're not just showing Fort Worth-bias here (although we do have a pretty strong one). The app-virtualization angle is especially interesting, as that technology could potentially negate or at least diminish some of the advantages of hosted applications. As for those macros in Office, we're right there with you -- a product as familiar and universal as Office isn't going to go away any time soon. We have a feeling that both Google-Salesforce.com and Dynamics CRM Online-Office will find plenty of success in a growing market for SaaS.

While we're doing this, what would a reader mailbag be without a couple of comments on (you guessed it) Vista? We've had more e-mails about the beleaguered OS than we can run here, so here's a sampling of some of what you've sent. Bob starts us off with a bit of domestic trouble caused by Vista. Is there any problem this OS can't cause?

"Before I will consider buying new hardware, I will replace failed processors, motherboards, etc. before I ever go with Vista. For my personal PC, one of the better Linux versions is a real possibility. For my old HP laptop, I am guessing I can get by for years on XP. For my wife's system, failure means rebuild the hardware before I replace XP. She hates changes, and Vista's continued security prompts and incompatibilities are impossible. I got in enough trouble when I updated her anti-virus software (free version) with Kaspersky 7.1 and too many prompts really ticked her off. I would bet that XP and Kaspersky are much more secure than Vista, too."

Hey, Bob, we hear you. You've got to keep everybody happy at home. Just call XP the Dr. Joyce Brothers of operating systems. (Is that reference too old? Should we have gone with Dr. Phil?)

Nick sounds pretty frustrated, too:

"I'm running a dual-boot with XP and Vista. If Microsoft doesn't pick up the speed getting Vista to rock, I'll most likely go with a Mac. I'm tired of purchasing Microsoft's 'in-betweeny' software like Me and now Vista. Perhaps I'll go with an ESX Server and run Mac Leopard or that dreadful penguin junk. No more for me..."

But enough of the personal stuff. Tom's got real problems with Vista:

"My biggest client's wife bought a laptop with Vista installed. She had a really great home network with a couple of wireless print servers, a Small Business Server 2003 in the basement (for her photos and music), a Media Center PC and high-speed Internet (FiOS). Guess what? The wireless print server wanted to install drivers, but they weren't Vista-compatible. The laptop couldn't see the server, so she couldn't get e-mail through the Exchange Server. The Vista unit could see the Media Center PC but spontaneously rebooted during the first file transfer between the two. I ended up calling Microsoft again. I ended up quitting in vain, again. I ended up with egg on my face, again. So, yeah...keep XP! I can't afford Vista. I can't afford to lose any more clients!"

Yeesh, now that does sound like a nightmare. Wayne, however, is stepping in as the voice of calm, telling us not to worry; Microsoft will extend XP's life, he says:

"I've said all along that XP is the best OS that Microsoft has had on the market, and now they want people to switch from a fast and stable OS to a slow and unstable one. It's really pretty much of a no-brainer as far as I'm concerned, and I'm not surprised that there's a petition. Anyone that thinks that corporate clients are going to sink a lot of money into a new OS in this current economic climate is crazy, and Microsoft knows it. They will extend XP's life the same way that they honored individuals with NT4 MCSE certifications after first saying that they would have to recertify on 2000 or lose it."

We'll see, Wayne. At this point, though, we know that you're not alone in wanting to see XP live a little -- or maybe a lot -- longer.

Have anything to contribute about any topic? Contribute at lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on April 24, 2008 at 11:54 AM