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Office Lives in D.C.

One of the perils of putting together RCPU the way we do is that we rely a fair amount on other people's reporting. Our general approach here is to take the biggest or most interesting news stories of the week and add some commentary and perspective to them -- hopefully with a touch of flair and maybe a few pop-cultural references that the over-30 crowd will understand.

What we don't often do, though, is go and get stories ourselves. That's mainly because your editor's responsibilities -- now more than ever -- range well beyond just writing RCPU three times a week. So, from time to time, you'll see us quote somebody from a first-hand interview, and we're quite specific about the fact that we're doing that when it does happen. But, most of the time, we're trusting that we're using credible sources for our base-level facts, and that the folks who write the stories we link to know what they're doing. And, most of the time, that works just fine.

Last week, though, we messed up just a little bit. In writing about the District of Columbia signing a contract with Google to use Google Apps, we said that Google had "Boot(ed) Office out of DC." We took that line from another story, which suggested that Google was unseating Microsoft in the District. (That story linked to a Bloomberg story, which we also linked to...which, upon further review, didn't specifically suggest that Office had actually packed up and left the capital.)

Well, it turns out that we misread what was happening. Yes, D.C. did sign a contract to use Google Apps, so (and this is important) we stand 100 percent by our commentary on Google Apps and the threat it might pose to Office, as well as on the problems with Microsoft's reticence to take Office fully online. The commentary stands. We're not here to bury the good folks at, either -- we suspect that they might have jumped to the same conclusion we did, that Apps was replacing Office. It was an easy mistake to make.

Well, in the interest of setting all records straight, here's what a Microsoft spokesperson sent to us about what's happening in DC. Yes, Google Apps has a foothold, but Office isn't sinking into the Potomac. In fact, Office still figures in D.C.'s computing plans. Here's what Microsoft sent us:

  • The government of Washington, D.C., has Enterprise Agreements for Windows XP, Microsoft Office and Microsoft Exchange. The District school system also has an Enterprise Agreement, called a "Schools Agreement," and uses Windows XP and Microsoft Office.

  • D.C. agencies are deploying MOSS 2007 [that's SharePoint --L.P.] and OCS 2007 [and that's Office Communications Server --L.P. again], while the District is planning its migration to Exchange 2007.

  • D.C. agencies are also piloting Performance Point for budget tracking and analysis, as well as Virtual Earth, Microsoft's enterprise mapping application.

  • Washington, D.C. has purchased 5 Surface devices for use in the delivery of innovative citizen service and educational services.

Anyway, that's a long way to clarify a short story, but we're always concerned above all else with getting things right. (We also thought that some of our more faithful readers might be interested in how things work here.) The spokesperson wasn't sure exactly how D.C. would employ Google Apps alongside Office -- and, to be fair, there's no reason why he should know that -- but it's clear that Apps and Office will be co-existing in D.C., at least for the time being.

In a sense, that makes things more interesting. Maybe we'll actually follow up with folks in D.C. at some point to see which system is working out better. And this time, we'll make the phone calls.

Posted by Lee Pender on October 23, 2008