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Gary Edwards

Can C.E.O. Satya Nadella Save Microsoft? | Vanity Fair - 0 views

  • he new world of computing is a radical break from the past. That’s because of the growth of mobile devices and cloud computing. In the old world, corporations owned and ran Windows P.C.’s and Window servers in their own facilities, with the necessary software installed on them. Everyone used Windows, so everything was developed for Windows. It was a virtuous circle for Microsoft.
  • Now the processing power is in the cloud, and very sophisticated applications, from e-mail to tools you need to run a business, can be run by logging onto a Web site, not from pre-installed software. In addition, the way we work (and play) has shifted from P.C.’s to mobile devices—where Android and Apple’s iOS each outsell Windows by more than 10 to 1. Why develop software to run on Windows if no one is using Windows? Why use Windows if nothing you want can run on it? The virtuous circle has turned vicious.
  • Part of why Microsoft failed with devices is that competitors upended its business model. Google doesn’t charge for the operating system. That’s because Google makes its money on search. Apple can charge high prices because of the beauty and elegance of its devices, where the software and hardware are integrated in one gorgeous package. Meanwhile, Microsoft continued to force outside manufacturers, whose products simply weren’t as compelling as Apple’s, to pay for a license for Windows. And it didn’t allow Office to be used on non-Windows phones and tablets. “The whole philosophy of the company was Windows first,” says Heather Bellini, an analyst at Goldman Sachs. Of course it was: that’s how Microsoft had always made its money.
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  • Nadella lived this dilemma because his job at Microsoft included figuring out the cloud-based future while maintaining the highly profitable Windows server business. And so he did a bunch of things that were totally un-Microsoft-like. He went to talk to start-ups to find out why they weren’t using Microsoft. He put massive research-and-development dollars behind Azure, a cloud-based platform that Microsoft had developed in Skunk Works fashion, which by definition took resources away from the highly profitable existing business.
  • At its core, Azure uses Windows server technology. That helps existing Windows applications run seamlessly on Azure. Technologists sometimes call what Microsoft has done a “hybrid cloud” because companies can use Azure alongside their pre-existing on-site Windows servers. At the same time, Nadella also to some extent has embraced open-source software—free code that doesn’t require a license from Microsoft—so that someone could develop something using non-Microsoft technology, and it would run on Azure. That broadens Azure’s appeal.
  • “In some ways the way people think about Bill and Steve is almost a Rorschach test.” For those who romanticize the Gates era, Microsoft’s current predicament will always be Ballmer’s fault. For others, it’s not so clear. “He left Steve holding a big bag of shit,” the former executive says of Gates. In the year Ballmer officially took over, Microsoft was found to be a predatory monopolist by the U.S. government and was ordered to split into two; the cost of that to Gates and his company can never be calculated. In addition, the dotcom bubble had burst, causing Microsoft stock to collapse, which resulted in a simmering tension between longtime employees, whom the company had made rich, and newer ones, who had missed the gravy train.
  • Right now, Windows itself is fragmented: applications developed for one Windows device, say a P.C., don’t even necessarily work on another Windows device. And if Microsoft develops a new killer application, it almost has to be released for Android and Apple phones, given their market dominance, thereby strengthening those eco-systems, too.
  • They even have a catchphrase: “Re-inventing productivity.”
  • Microsoft’s historical reluctance to open Windows and Office is why it was such a big deal when in late March, less than two months after becoming C.E.O., Nadella announced that Microsoft would offer Office for Apple’s iPad. A team at the company had been working on it for about a year. Ballmer says he would have released it eventually, but Nadella did it immediately. Nadella also announced that Windows would be free for devices smaller than nine inches, meaning phones and small tablets. “Now that we have 30 million users on the iPad using it, that is 30 million people who never used Office before [on an iPad,]” he says. “And to me that’s what really drives us.” These are small moves in some ways, and yet they are also big. “It’s the first time I have listened to a senior Microsoft executive admit that they are behind,” says one institutional investor. “The fact that they are giving away Windows, their bread and butter for 25 years—it is quite a fundamental change.”
  • And whoever does the best job of building the right software experiences to give both organizations and individuals time back so that they can get more out of their time, that’s the core of this company—that’s the soul. That’s what Bill started this company with. That’s the Office franchise. That’s the Windows franchise. We have to re-invent them. . . . That’s where this notion of re-inventing productivity comes from.”
  • what is scarce in all of this abundance is human attention
  • At the Microsoft board meeting in late June 2013, Ballmer announced he had a handshake deal with Nokia’s management to buy the company, pending the Microsoft board’s approval, according to a source close to the events. Ballmer thought he had it and left before the post-board-meeting dinner to attend his son’s middle-school graduation. When he came back the next day, he found that the board had pulled a coup: they informed him they weren’t doing the deal, and it wasn’t up for discussion. For Ballmer, it seems, the unforgivable thing was that Gates had been part of the coup, which Ballmer saw as the ultimate betrayal.
  • Ballmer might be a complicated character, but he has nothing on Gates, whose contradictions have long fascinated Microsoft-watchers. He is someone who has no problem humiliating individuals—he might not even notice—but who genuinely cares deeply about entire populations and is deeply loyal. He is generous in the biggest ways imaginable, and yet in small things, like picking up a lunch tab, he can be shockingly cheap. He can’t make small talk and can come across as totally lacking in E.Q. “The rules of human life that allow you to get along are not complicated,” says one person who knows Gates. “He could write a book on it, but he can’t do it!”
  • And the original idea of having great software people and broad software products and Office being the primary tool that people look to across all these devices, that’ s as true today and as strong as ever.”
  • Meeting Room Plus
  • But he combines that with flashes of insight and humor that leave some wondering whether he can’t do it or simply chooses not to, or both. His most pronounced characteristic shouldn’t be simply labeled a competitive streak, because it is really a fierce, deep need to win. The dislike it bred among his peers in the industry is well known—“Silicon Bully” was the title of an infamous magazine story about him. And yet he left Microsoft for the philanthropic world, where there was no one to bully, only intractable problems to solve.
  • “The Irrelevance of Microsoft” is actually the title of a blog post by an analyst named Benedict Evans, who works at the Silicon Valley venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. On his blog, Evans pointed out that Microsoft’s share of all computing devices that we use to connect to the Internet, including P.C.’s, phones, and tablets, has plunged from 90 percent in 2009 to just around 20 percent today. This staggering drop occurred not because Microsoft lost ground in personal computers, on which its software still dominates, but rather because it has failed to adapt its products to smartphones, where all the growth is, and tablets.
  • The board told Ballmer they wanted him to stay, he says, and they did eventually agree to a slightly different version of the deal. In September, Microsoft announced it was buying Nokia’s devices-and-services business for $7.2 billion. Why? The board finally realized the downside: without Nokia, Microsoft was effectively done in the smartphone business. But, for Ballmer, the damage was done, in more ways than one. He now says it became clear to him that despite the lack of a new C.E.O. he couldn’t stay. Cultural change, he decided, required a change at the top, and, he says,“there was too much water under the bridge with this board.” The feeling was mutual. As a source close to Microsoft says, no one, including Gates, tried to stop him from quitting.
  • in Wall Street’s eyes, Nadella can do no wrong. Microsoft’s stock has risen 30 percent since he became C.E.O., increasing its market value by $87 billion. “It’s interesting with Satya,” says one person who observes him with investors. “He is not a business guy or a financial analyst, but he finds a common language with investors, and in his short tenure, they leave going, Wow.” But the honeymoon is the easy part.
  • “He was so publicly and so early in life defined as the brilliant guy,” says a person who has observed him. “Anything that threatens that, he becomes narcissistic and defensive.” Or as another person puts it, “He throws hissy fits when he doesn’t get his way.”
  • round three-quarters of Microsoft’s profits come from the two fabulously successful products on which the company was built: the Windows operating system, which essentially makes personal computers run, and Office, the suite of applications that includes Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Financially speaking, Microsoft is still extraordinarily powerful. In the last 12 months the company reported sales of $86.83 billion and earnings of $22.07 billion; it has $85.7 billion of cash on its balance sheet. But the company is facing a confluence of threats that is all the more staggering given Microsoft’s sheer size. Competitors such as Google and Apple have upended Microsoft’s business model, making it unclear where Windows will fit in the world, and even challenging Office. In the Valley, there are two sayings that everyone regards as truth. One is that profits follow relevance. The other is that there’s a difference between strategic position and financial position. “It’s easy to be in denial and think the financials reflect the current reality,” says a close observer of technology firms. “They do not.”
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    Awesome article describing the history of Microsoft as seen through the lives of it's three CEO's: Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer and Satya Nadella
Paul Merrell

Microsoft to host data in Germany to evade US spying | Naked Security - 0 views

  • Microsoft's new plan to keep the US government's hands off its customers' data: Germany will be a safe harbor in the digital privacy storm. Microsoft on Wednesday announced that beginning in the second half of 2016, it will give foreign customers the option of keeping data in new European facilities that, at least in theory, should shield customers from US government surveillance. It will cost more, according to the Financial Times, though pricing details weren't forthcoming. Microsoft Cloud - including Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics CRM Online - will be hosted from new datacenters in the German regions of Magdeburg and Frankfurt am Main. Access to data will be controlled by what the company called a German data trustee: T-Systems, a subsidiary of the independent German company Deutsche Telekom. Without the permission of Deutsche Telekom or customers, Microsoft won't be able to get its hands on the data. If it does get permission, the trustee will still control and oversee Microsoft's access.
  • Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella dropped the word "trust" into the company's statement: Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every individual on the planet to achieve more. Our new datacenter regions in Germany, operated in partnership with Deutsche Telekom, will not only spur local innovation and growth, but offer customers choice and trust in how their data is handled and where it is stored.
  • On Tuesday, at the Future Decoded conference in London, Nadella also announced that Microsoft would, for the first time, be opening two UK datacenters next year. The company's also expanding its existing operations in Ireland and the Netherlands. Officially, none of this has anything to do with the long-drawn-out squabbling over the transatlantic Safe Harbor agreement, which the EU's highest court struck down last month, calling the agreement "invalid" because it didn't protect data from US surveillance. No, Nadella said, the new datacenters and expansions are all about giving local businesses and organizations "transformative technology they need to seize new global growth." But as Diginomica reports, Microsoft EVP of Cloud and Enterprise Scott Guthrie followed up his boss’s comments by saying that yes, the driver behind the new datacenters is to let customers keep data close: We can guarantee customers that their data will always stay in the UK. Being able to very concretely tell that story is something that I think will accelerate cloud adoption further in the UK.
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  • Microsoft and T-Systems' lawyers may well think that storing customer data in a German trustee data center will protect it from the reach of US law, but for all we know, that could be wishful thinking. Forrester cloud computing analyst Paul Miller: To be sure, we must wait for the first legal challenge. And the appeal. And the counter-appeal. As with all new legal approaches, we don’t know it is watertight until it is challenged in court. Microsoft and T-Systems’ lawyers are very good and say it's watertight. But we can be sure opposition lawyers will look for all the holes. By keeping data offshore - particularly in Germany, which has strong data privacy laws - Microsoft could avoid the situation it's now facing with the US demanding access to customer emails stored on a Microsoft server in Dublin. The US has argued that Microsoft, as a US company, comes under US jurisdiction, regardless of where it keeps its data.
  • Running away to Germany isn't a groundbreaking move; other US cloud services providers have already pledged expansion of their EU presences, including Amazon's plan to open a UK datacenter in late 2016 that will offer what CTO Werner Vogels calls "strong data sovereignty to local users." Other big data operators that have followed suit: Salesforce, which has already opened datacenters in the UK and Germany and plans to open one in France next year, as well as new EU operations pledged for the new year by NetSuite and Box. Can Germany keep the US out of its datacenters? Can Ireland? Time, and court cases, will tell.
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    The European Community's Court of Justice decision in the Safe Harbor case --- and Edward Snowden --- are now officially downgrading the U.S. as a cloud data center location. NSA is good business for Europeans looking to displace American cloud service providers, as evidenced by Microsoft's decision. The legal test is whether Microsoft has "possession, custody, or control" of the data. From the info given in the article, it seems that Microsoft has done its best to dodge that bullet by moving data centers to Germany and placing their data under the control of a European company. Do ownership of the hardware and profits from their rent mean that Microsoft still has "possession, custody, or control" of the data? The fine print of the agreement with Deutsche Telekom and the customer EULAs will get a thorough going over by the Dept. of Justice for evidence of Microsoft "control" of the data. That will be the crucial legal issue. The data centers in Germany may pass the test. But the notion that data centers in the UK can offer privacy is laughable; the UK's legal authority for GCHQ makes it even easier to get the data than the NSA can in the U.S.  It doesn't even require a court order. 
Gary Edwards

Microsoft Office whips Google Docs: It's finally game over | Computerworld Blogs - 0 views

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    "If there was ever any doubt about whether Microsoft or Google would win the war of office suites, there should be no longer. Within the last several weeks, Microsoft has pulled so far ahead that it's game over. Here's why. When it comes to which suite is more fully featured, there's never been any real debate: Microsoft Office wins hands down. Whether you're creating entire presentations, creating complicated word-processing documents, or even doing something as simple as handling text attributes, Office is a far better tool. Until the last few weeks, Google Docs had one significant advantage over Microsoft Office: It's available for Android and the iPad as well as PCs because it's Web-based. The same wasn't the case for Office. So if you wanted to use an office suite on all your mobile devices, Google Docs was the way to go. Google Docs lost that advantage when Microsoft released Office for the iPad. There's not yet a native version for Android tablets, but Microsoft is working on that, telling GeekWire, "Let me tell you conclusively: Yes, we are also building Android native applications for tablets for Word, Excel and PowerPoint." Google Docs is still superior to Office's Web-based version, but that's far less important than it used to be. There's no need to go with a Web-based office suite if a superior suite is available as a native apps on all platforms, mobile or otherwise. And Office's collaboration capabilities are quite considerable now. Of course, there's always the question of price. Google Docs is free. Microsoft Office isn't. But at $100 a year for up to five devices, or $70 a year for two, no one will be going broke paying for Microsoft Office. It's worth paying that relatively small price for a much better office suite. Google Docs won't die. It'll be around as second fiddle for a long time. But that's what it will always remain: a second fiddle to the better Microsoft Office."
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    Google acquired "Writely", a small company in Portola Valley that pioneered document editing in a browser. Writely was perhaps the first cloud computing editor to go beyond simple HTML; eventually crafting some really cool CSS-JavaScript-JSON document layout and editing methods. But it can't edit native MSOffice documents. It converts them. There are more than a few problems with the Google Docs approach to editing advanced "compound" documents, but two stick out and are certain to give pause to anyone making the great transition from local workgroup computing, to the highly mobile, always connected, cloud computing. The first problem certain to become a show stopper is that Google converts documents to their native on-line format for editing and collaboration. And then they convert back. To many this isn't a problem. But if the document is part of a workflow or business process, conversion is a killer. There is an old saw affectionately known as "Reuters Law", dating back to the ODF-OXML document wars, that emphatically states; "Conversion breaks documents." The breakage includes both the visual layout of the document, and, the "compound" aspects and data connections that are internal to the document. Think of this way. A business document that is part of a legacy Windows Workgroup workflow is opened up in gDocs. Google converts the document for editing purposes. The data and the workflow internals that bind the document to the local business system are broken on conversion. The look of the document is also visually shredded as the gDocs layout engine is applied. For all practical purposes, no matter what magic editing and collaboration value is added, a broken document means a broken business process. Let me say that again, with the emphasis of having witnessed this first hand during the year long ODF transition trials the Commonwealth of Massachusetts conducted in 2005 and 2006. The business process broke every time a conversion was conducted "on a busines
Gary Edwards

ES4 and the fight for the future of the Open Web - By Haavard - 0 views

  • Here, we have no better theory to explain why Microsoft is enthusiastic to spread C# onto the web via Silverlight, but not to give C# a run for its money in the open web standards by supporting ES4 in IE.The fact is, and we've heard this over late night truth-telling meetings between Mozilla principals and friends at Microsoft, that Microsoft does not think the web needs to change much. Or as one insider said to a Mozilla figure earlier this year: "we could improve the web standards, but what's in it for us?"
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    Microsoft opposes the stunning collection of EcmaScript standards improvements to JavaScript ES3 known as "ES4". Brendan Eich, author of JavaScript and lead Mozilla developer claims that Microsoft is stalling the advance of JavaScript to protect their proprietary advantages with Silverlight - WPF technologies. Opera developer "Haavard" asks the question, "Why would Microsoft do this?" Brendan Eich explains: Indeed Microsoft does not desire serious change to ES3, and we heard this inside TG1 in April. The words were (from my notes) more like this: "Microsoft does not think the web needs to change much". Except, of course, via Silverlight and WPF, which if not matched by evolution of the open web standards, will spread far and wide on the Web, as Flash already has. And that change to the Web is apparently just fine and dandy according to Microsoft. First, Microsoft does not think the Web needs to change much, but then they give us Silverlight and WPF? An amazing contradiction if I ever saw one. It is obvious that Microsoft wants to lock the Web to their proprietary technologies again. They want Silverlight, not some new open standard which further threatens their locked-in position. They will use dirty tricks - lies and deception - to convince people that they are in the right. Excellent discussion on how Microsoft participates in open standards groups to delay, stall and dumb down the Open Web formats, protocols and interfaces their competitors use. With their applications and services, Microsoft offers users a Hobbsian choice; use the stalled, limited and dumbed down Open Web standards, or, use rich, fully featured and advanced but proprietary Silverlight-WPF technologies. Some choice.
Gary Edwards

The NeuroCommons Project: Open RDF Ontologies for Scientific Reseach - 0 views

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    The NeuroCommons project seeks to make all scientific research materials - research articles, annotations, data, physical materials - as available and as useable as they can be. This is done by fostering practices that render information in a form that promotes uniform access by computational agents - sometimes called "interoperability". Semantic Web practices based on RDF will enable knowledge sources to combine meaningfully, semantically precise queries that span multiple information sources.

    Working with the Creative Commons group that sponsors "Neurocommons", Microsoft has developed and released an open source "ontology" add-on for Microsoft Word. The add-on makes use of MSOffice XML panel, Open XML formats, and proprietary "Smart Tags". Microsoft is also making the source code for both the Ontology Add-in for Office Word 2007 and the Creative Commons Add-in for Office Word 2007 tool available under the Open Source Initiative (OSI)-approved Microsoft Public License (Ms-PL) at http://ucsdbiolit.codeplex.com and http://ccaddin2007.codeplex.com,respectively.

    No doubt it will take some digging to figure out what is going on here. Microsoft WPF technologies include Smart Tags and LINQ. The Creative Commons "Neurocommons" ontology work is based on W3C RDF and SPARQL. How these opposing technologies interoperate with legacy MSOffice 2003 and 2007 desktops is an interesting question. One that may hold the answer to the larger problem of re-purposing MSOffice for the Open Web?

    We know Microsoft is re-purposing MSOffice for the MS Web. Perhaps this work with Creative Commons will help to open up the Microsoft desktop productivity environment to the Open Web? One can always hope :)

    Dr Dobbs has the Microsoft - Creative Commons announcement; Microsoft Releases Open Tools for Scientific Research ...... Joins Creative Commons in releasing the Ontology Add-in
Gary Edwards

Review: Reader 7 -- excellent app for viewing Word documents, including tracked changes - iPhone J.D. - 1 views

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    "Review: Reader 7 -- excellent app for viewing Word documents, including tracked changes Reader7-120Back in 2012, I reviewed an app called Reader HD by a company called Naverage, created by German attorney Maren Reuter and her husband who is a software designer. I was very impressed with the way that the document displayed Microsoft Word .docx documents - better than any other iPad app - but at the time (and this is still true today) so much of my practice involved working with Microsoft Word files in the older .doc format that I didn't use the app very much. Reuter has now updated her app to add a number of improvements that attorneys are going to love. First, the app now works with both .doc and .docx files, so you can use it with all of your modern Microsoft Word documents. Second, the app improved the way that it displays tracked changes, and as you will see below, I think that this is now the very best app you use to view the "redline" tracked changes in a Microsoft Word document. Third, the interface of the app was updated for iOS 7, and the name was changed as well; instead of Reader HD, the app is now called Reader 7. "
Paul Merrell

Microsoft breaks IE8 interoperability promise | The Register - 0 views

  • In March, Microsoft announced that their upcoming Internet Explorer 8 would: "use its most standards compliant mode, IE8 Standards, as the default." Note the last word: default. Microsoft argued that, in light of their newly published interoperability principles, it was the right thing to do. This declaration heralded an about-face and was widely praised by the web standards community; people were stunned and delighted by Microsoft's promise. This week, the promise was broken. It lasted less than six months. Now that Internet Explorer IE8 beta 2 is released, we know that many, if not most, pages viewed in IE8 will not be shown in standards mode by default.
  • How many pages are affected by this change? Here's the back of my envelope: The PC market can be split into two segments — the enterprise market and the home market. The enterprise market accounts for around 60 per cent of all PCs sold, while the home market accounts for the remaining 40 per cent. Within enterprises, intranets are used for all sorts of things and account for, perhaps, 80 per cent of all page views. Thus, intranets account for about half of all page views on PCs!
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    Article by Hakon Lie of Opera Software. Also note that acdcording to the European Commission, "As for the tying of separate software products, in its Microsoft judgment of 17 September 2007, the Court of First Instance confirmed the principles that must be respected by dominant companies. In a complaint by Opera, a competing browser vendor, Microsoft is alleged to have engaged in illegal tying of its Internet Explorer product to its dominant Windows operating system. The complaint alleges that there is ongoing competitive harm from Microsoft's practices, in particular in view of new proprietary technologies that Microsoft has allegedly introduced in its browser that would reduce compatibility with open internet standards, and therefore hinder competition. In addition, allegations of tying of other separate software products by Microsoft, including desktop search and Windows Live have been brought to the Commission's attention. The Commission's investigation will therefore focus on allegations that a range of products have been unlawfully tied to sales of Microsoft's dominant operating system." http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=MEMO/08/19&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
Gary Edwards

Under the Covers: Alfresco's SharePoint Services (WSS) Killer - 0 views

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    Reverse engineering the MS Office SharePoint Protocol: CMSwire has a good review of Alfresco's latest feature, the repurposing of MSOffice as an editing and collaboration front end for the Alfresco Open Web Content Management System.
    Microsoft ha sof course been very busy re-purposing MSOffice as a front end editor - shared collaboration space for their own MOSS WebStack - CMS. Thanks to the EU, Microsoft was forced to publicly disclose integration and interop methods used to wire together MOSS. Alfresco seized the disclosure to create their own re-purposing.
    IMHO, this is exactly how the Microsoft monopoly needs to be cracked. Instead of replacing MSOffice at great cost and disruption to business users, tap into the same re-purposing methods Microsoft uses as they try to shift that monopoly center from the desktop to a proprietary MS Web.
    "... The Office SharePoint Protocol is one of the big achievements that Alfresco has come out with to sell Alfresco Share as a true viable alternative to SharePoint in the enterprise....
    "... Microsoft Office is still the most widely used productivity suite in organizations today. That's a huge reason why SharePoint has been so successful - Microsoft created a protocol to enable Office to interact directly with SharePoint. This means you don't have to leave the discomfort of our Office application to create, edit and manage documents and calendar events in SharePoint." For Alfresco, the break came when Microsoft released a number of technical specifications to the public (including the spec for SharePoint 2007) in the name of interoperability. Alfresco used this information to implement the Office and SharePoint protocols as a compatible server - thus the same functionality users get working between Office and SharePoint, they can now also get natively with Office and Alfresco.
Alexandra IcecreamApps

Best Free Microsoft Word Alternatives - Icecream Tech Digest - 0 views

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    Opening and editing text documents is a daily task for the majority of computer users. Without doubt, the first word processing software that comes to mind is Microsoft Word. Indeed, this text editor is definitely one of a kind and … Continue reading →
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    Opening and editing text documents is a daily task for the majority of computer users. Without doubt, the first word processing software that comes to mind is Microsoft Word. Indeed, this text editor is definitely one of a kind and … Continue reading →
Gary Edwards

DocVerse: Former Softies aim to make Office work like Google Docs | All about Microsoft | ZDNet.com - 0 views

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    Two former Microsoft employees have started a company aimed at making Microsoft Office more like Google Docs - at least on the online-collaboration front. DocVerse - a stealth startup formed by Shan Sinha, a former Microsoft SharePoint and SQL Server strategist, and Alex DeNeui, also formerly involved with SQL strategy at Microsoft - has begun offering beta invitations to a few hundred interested testers.
Paul Merrell

Microsoft Says U.S. Is Abusing Secret Warrants - 0 views

  • “WE APPRECIATE THAT there are times when secrecy around a government warrant is needed,” Microsoft President Brad Smith wrote in a blog post on Thursday. “But based on the many secrecy orders we have received, we question whether these orders are grounded in specific facts that truly demand secrecy. To the contrary, it appears that the issuance of secrecy orders has become too routine.” With those words, Smith announced that Microsoft was suing the Department of Justice for the right to inform its customers when the government is reading their emails. The last big fight between the Justice Department and Silicon Valley was started by law enforcement, when the FBI demanded that Apple unlock a phone used by San Bernardino killer Syed Rizwan Farook. This time, Microsoft is going on the offensive. The move is welcomed by privacy activists as a step forward for transparency — though it’s also for business reasons.
  • Secret government searches are eroding people’s trust in the cloud, Smith wrote — including large and small businesses now keeping massive amounts of records online. “The transition to the cloud does not alter people’s expectations of privacy and should not alter the fundamental constitutional requirement that the government must — with few exceptions — give notice when it searches and seizes private information or communications,” he wrote. According to the complaint, Microsoft received 5,624 federal demands for customer information or data in the past 18 months. Almost half — 2,576 — came with gag orders, and almost half of those — 1,752 — had “no fixed end date” by which Microsoft would no longer be sworn to secrecy. These requests, though signed off on by a judge, qualify as unconstitutional searches, the attorneys argue. It “violates both the Fourth Amendment, which affords people and businesses the right to know if the government searches or seizes their property, and the First Amendment, which enshrines Microsoft’s rights to talk to its customers and to discuss how the government conducts its investigations — subject only to restraints narrowly tailored to serve compelling government interests,” they wrote.
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    The Fourth Amendment argument that people have a right to know when their property has been searched or seized is particularly interesting to me. If adopted by the Courts, that could spell the end of surveillance gag orders. 
Paul Merrell

Introducing the Open XML Format External File Converter for 2007 Microsoft Office System SP2 - 0 views

  • In other words, revising the Open XML Format converter interfaces by adding new functionality does not require any recompilation of existing clients. This guarantees backward compatibility as these converter interfaces are upgraded.
    • Paul Merrell
       
      But what does it do for forward compatibility? OOXML is a moving interoperabillity target.
  • In addition to allowing converters to override external file formats, the applications allow converters to override OpenDocument Format-related formats (such as .odt). For example, if you specify a converter to be the default converter for .odt, Word 2007 SP2 invokes the specified converter whenever a user tries to open an .odt file from the Windows Shell instead of going through the native load path for Word 2007 SP2.
    • Paul Merrell
       
      How wonderful. Developers can bypass the forthcoming Microsoft native file support for ODF. Perhaps to convert Excel formulas to OpenForumla?
  • Open XML Format converters for Word 2007 SP2, Excel 2007 SP2, or PowerPoint 2007 SP2 are implemented as out-of-process COM servers. Out-of-process converters have the benefit of running in their own process space, which means issues or crashes within converters do not affect the application process space. In addition, out-of-process 32-bit converters can function on 64-bit operating systems in Microsoft Windows on Windows 64-bit (WoW64) mode without the need for converters to be compiled in 64-bit.
    • Paul Merrell
       
      Pretty lame excuses for not documenting the native file support APIs. I.e., the native file supoort APIs already throw "can't open file" error messages for problematic documents without crashing the app. The bit about not needing to recompile converters for 64-bit Windoze is a complete red herring. This is only a benefit if one requires conversion in an external process. It wouldn't be an issue if the native file support APIs were documented and their intermediate formats were the interop targets.
    • Paul Merrell
       
      I.e., one need not recompile the Office app if a supported native format is added. The OpenDocument Foundation and Sun plug-ins for MS Office proved that.
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  • To begin developing a converter, you should familiarize yourself with the Open XML standard. For more information, see: Standard ECMA-376: Office Open XML File Formats.
    • Paul Merrell
       
      Note that they specify Ecma 376 rather than ISO/IEC:29500-2008 Office Open XML. So you get to rewrite your converters when Microsoft adds support for the official standard in the next major release of Office.
  • External files are imported into Word 2007 SP2, Excel 2007 SP2, or PowerPoint 2007 SP2 by converting the external file to Open XML Formats. External files are exported from Word 2007 SP2, Excel 2007 SP2, or PowerPoint by converting Open XML Formats to external files. The success of either the import or export conversion depends upon the accurate generation and interpretation of Open XML Formats by the converter.
    • Paul Merrell
       
      Note that this is a process external to the native file support APIs and their intermediate formats. The real APIs apparently will remain obfuscated. Thiis forces others to develop support for Ecma 376 rather than working directly with the native file support APIs. In other words, more incentives for others to target the moving target OOXML rather than the more stable intermediate formats.
  • Summary: Get the details about the interfaces that you need to use to create an Open XML Format External File Converter for the 2007 Microsoft Office system Service Pack 2 (SP2). (16 Printed Pages)
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Linux Foundation's Deal With the Devil | FOSS Force [# ! Note] - 0 views

    • Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.
       
      # ! Too soon to start blaming the deal. It will be seen what goes on. Community will decide and, in case, perhaps we'll see a 'Fork for Freedom'... # ! Meanwhile, let's wait to see if the deal respects the GPLv3... as Stallman/Moglen commented... http://techrights.org/2015/11/30/redhat-microsoft-patent-agreement-fsf-replies/
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    "Christine Hall Last week when Microsoft and the Linux Foundation separately announced a partnership that would see Redmond issuing a Linux certification called Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate Linux (MCSA), Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols felt the need to add the words "not a typo" to the headline of his coverage on ZDNet."
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    "Christine Hall Last week when Microsoft and the Linux Foundation separately announced a partnership that would see Redmond issuing a Linux certification called Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate Linux (MCSA), Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols felt the need to add the words "not a typo" to the headline of his coverage on ZDNet."
Gary Edwards

The real reason Google is making Chrome | Computerworld Blogs - 0 views

  •  
    Good analysis by Stephen Vaughan-Nichols. He gets it right. Sort of. Stephen believes that Chrome is desinged to kill MSOffice. Maybe, but i think it's way too late for that. IMHO, Chrome is designed to keep Google and the Open Web in the game. A game that Microsoft is likely to run away with. Microsoft has built an easy to use transiton bridge form MSOffice desktop centric "client/server" computing model to a Web centirc but proprietary RiA-WebStack-Cloud model. In short, there is an on going great transtion of traditional client/server apps to an emerging model we might call client/ WebStack-Cloud-RiA /server computing model. As the world shifts from a Web document model to one driven by Web Applications, there is i believe a complimentary shift towards the advantage Micorsoft holds via the desktop "client/server" monopoly. For Microsoft, this is just a transtion. Painful from a monopolist profitability view point - but unavoidably necessary. The transition is no doubt helped by the OOXML <> XAML "Fixed/flow" Silverlight ready conversion component. MS also has a WebStack-Cloud (Mesh) story that has become an unstoppable juggernaut (Exchange/SharePoint/SQL Server as the WebSTack). WebKit based RiA challengers like Adobe Apollo, Google Chrome, and Apple SproutCore-Cocoa have to figure out how to crack into the great transition. MS has succeeded in protecting their MSOffice monopoly until such time as they had all the transtion pieces in place. They have a decided advantage here. It's also painfully obvious that the while the WebKit guys have incredible innovation on their side, they are still years behind the complete desktop to WebStack-RiA-Cloud to device to legacy servers application story Microsoft is now selling into the marketplace. They also are seriously lacking in developer tools. Still, the future of the Open Web hangs in the balance. Rather than trying to kill MSOffice, i would think a better approach would be that of trying to
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    There are five reasons why Google is doing this, and, if you read the comic book closely - yes, I'm serious - and you know technology you can see the reasons for yourself. These, in turn, lead to what I think is Google's real goal for Chrome.
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    I'm still keeping the door open on a suspicion that Microsoft may have planned to end the life of MS Office after the new fortress on the server side is ready. The code base is simply too brittle to have a competitive future in the feature wars. I can't get past my belief that if Microsoft saw any future in the traditional client-side office suite, it would have been building a new one a decade ago. Too many serious bugs too deeply buried in spaghetti code to fix; it's far easier to rebuild from the ground up. Word dates to 1984, Excel to 1985, Powerpoint to 1987, All were developed for the Mac, ported years later to Windows. At least Word is still running a deeply flawed 16-bit page layout engine. E.g., page breaks across subdocuments have been broken since Word 1.0. Technology designed to replace yet still largely defined by its predecessor, the IBM Correcting Selectric electro-mechanical typewriter. Mid-80s stand-alone, non-networked computer technology in the World Wide Web era? Where's the future in software architecture developed two decades ago, before the Connected World? I suspect Office's end is near. Microsoft's problem is migrating their locked-in customers to the new fortress on the server side. The bridge is OOXML. In other words, Google doesn't have to kill Office; Microsoft will do that itself. Giving the old cash cow a face lift and fresh coat of lipstick? That's the surest sign that the old cow's owner is keeping a close eye on prices in the commodity hamburger market while squeezing out the last few buckets of milk.
Paul Merrell

Cesar de la Torre - BLOG : Microsoft Azure Services Platform - 0 views

  • Windows Azure, previously known as “Red Dog”, is a cloud services operating system that serves as the development, service hosting and service management&nbsp; environment for the Azure Services Platform. Windows Azure provides developers with on-demand compute and storage to host, scale, and manage Internet or cloud applications.
  • Keep in mind that Windows Azure is really a 'cloud layer' over many Windows Servers (hundreds/thousands) situated in Microsoft's data centers, and those servers are really internally running Windows Server 2008 and HyperV. So, Windows Azure is not a new real/classic operating system. It is "Windows in the cloud".
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    Acknowledgment from a Microsoft software architect that Microsoft's Azure cloud service is running atop "hundreds/thousands" of Windows Server 2008 and Hyper V instances, in other words, that Windows does not scale into the cloud. But no mention that Windows Server runs atop Solaris in the Microsoft data centers, although that was the point of the 2004 Technology Sharing Agreement with Sun.
Gary Edwards

Microsoft: Google Apps No Threat (MSFT, GOOG) - 0 views

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    How is Microsoft (MSFT) responding to Google's (GOOG) new initiative to recruit salespeople for Google Apps, the cloud-based word processing and spreadsheet suite? We reached out to Microsoft to ask Alex Payne, a director on the Office team, for his view. As far as Alex is concerned, Google Apps is no threat at all. Follow up on the story; "The Google Apps Revenue Myth: $10 mm in 2009
Gary Edwards

Making Word multiuser: Plutext | Webware : Cool Web apps for everyone - CNET - 0 views

  •  
    Fighting this killer feature is Microsoft Word's own killer feature, which is: Everyone in business has Word, and most people know how to use it effectively. There are plenty of people who would use a simultaneous editing feature in Word if it had one, and who aren't going to switch to Google just because it does. A new service, Plutext, currently being developed, will bring nearly live editing to Word documents. I saw a demo at the Office 2.0 conference.
Gary Edwards

The Plot to Kill Google | Wired - 0 views

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    Caught this at Clusterstock and found it to be quite the story! ClusterStock's John Carney focused on how Microsoft was using governemnt muscle to trip up competitors. Now it's Googles turn. From the Wired story: "Then, late in the day, Barnett brought up the two words Google lawyers least wanted to hear: Section Two-as in, Section Two of the Sherman Antitrust Act, which criminalizes monopolies. The Justice Department invoked Section Two to splinter Standard Oil in 1911, break up AT&T in 1982, and prosecute Microsoft in 1998. Now Barnett was signaling not just that the Google-Yahoo deal was dead but that the government saw Google as a potential monopolist. In fact, Barnett insisted, if the deal wasn't substantially changed or scuttled, he would sue within five days. It was a stunning blow. Google had expected a speedy approval. Now the company, whose brand is defined by its "Don't be evil" slogan, faced the prospect of being hauled into court on an antitrust charge. Google and Yahoo tried to salvage the negotiations, but on the morning of November 5, three hours before the DOJ was going to file its antitrust case, they abandoned the deal."
Gary Edwards

Microsoft Unleashes Stream of Docs in the Name of Interoperability - 0 views

  • Yesterday, Microsoft announced the release of Version 1.0 technical documentation for Microsoft Office 2007, SharePoint 2007 and Exchange 2007 as an effort to drive greater interoperability and foster a stronger open relationship with their developer and partner communities. They also posted over 5000 pages of technical documentation on Microsoft Office Word, Excel and PowerPoint binary file formats on the MSDN site royalty-free basis under Microsoft’s Open Specification Promise (OSP).
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    Most quality online stores. Know whether you are a trusted online retailer in the world. Whatever we can buy very good quality. and do not hesitate. Everything is very high quality. Including clothes, accessories, bags, cups. Highly recommended. This is one of the trusted online store in the world. View now www.retrostyler.com
Gary Edwards

The must-have iPad office apps, round 9 | Network World - 0 views

  • Google's newly completed Apps suite just can't beat Apple's iWork or Microsoft Office
  • InfoWorld scorecards: The major native office apps In the past year, iPad users gained three major editing suites vying for their adoption: Microsoft Office for iPad and Google Apps for iOS both debuted to compete with Apple's powerful iWork suite. At the app level, both Apple and Microsoft released major updates to their presentation, spreadsheet, and word-processing offerings.
    • Gary Edwards
       
      I hope Diigo can post this!!  The Diigo default for comments is private :(
  • All support the native Office file formats, with iWork and Apps exporting to them as well.There are still a few office suites from smaller providers (scored on the next slide), but for most people, the focus is on these three.
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    "The on-the-go business app toolkit for the iPad Of the tens of thousands of apps available for the iPad, only a relative few are must-have tools for business use. In the last year, the landscape for iPad office apps has changed dramatically, with updates to iWork, the introduction of Microsoft Office, and Google's elimination of the beloved Quickoffice with its own Apps suite. Read on for our picks of the best native office editors, cloud office editors, and native companion productivity tools for the iPad. (Most work on the iPhone, too!)"
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