September 3, 2009

OpenOffice vs. Microsoft Word for WordPress blogging — a 65:1 ratio in cruft

I prepare most of my blog posts in OpenOffice. Most of the rest I write directly online in WordPress. I almost never use Microsoft Word.

The reason, simply put, is cruft.

When I copy a post from OpenOffice to WordPress, I invariably get a line at the top that looks like

<!–         @page { size: 8.5in 11in; margin: 0.79in }         P { margin-bottom: 0.08in }     –>

I delete that, which according to OpenOffice stats amounts to exactly 100 characters; I fiddle with the bullet points a bit; I add a title, categories, and a MORE separator; and I’m basically good to go.

By way of contrast, in a recent post I copied a sentence from a press release I’d recieved across Google Mail in .DOC format, forgetting to stage it into OpenOffice first.  The cruft I needed to delete consisted of 6489 characters, namely: Read more

March 4, 2008

Microsoft also seems to be selling SaaS directly

For a while, I’ve been arguing that SaaS is naturally a direct-sales business, even when sold to small organizations. If people are willing to have their business processes handled over a telecommunication network, they’re probably willing to buy services that way too. Indeed, the very first computer services firm ever was probably Automatic Data Processing. They sort of did SaaS, and they most definitely did direct sales.

What inspires me to bring this up now is the press around Microsoft Sharepoint. Apparently, there’s long been a SaaS version of Sharepoint for big firms, and now Microsoft is rolling it out for everybody. Now, I haven’t read the press releases, which weren’t sent to me by anybody at Waggener-Edstrom and are not easy to find on Microsoft’s web site. But the reporting doesn’t seem to mention partners, except in the negative. I.e., this seems like yet another significant direct-sales SaaS business.

If you follow this logic through, it suggests that a large part of the SaaS market will wind going to large companies with global reach — whether or not the rumors are true that Salesforce.com is currently being shopped around.

June 6, 2007

Don’t use Office 2007. But do steal its ideas.

You probably shouldn’t use Microsoft Office 2007. Even so, you probably should install and look at it, and then rip off its ideas. I’ll explain.

Microsoft Office Word 2007 is, so far as I can tell, seriously flawed. Specifically, it has been eating way too much of my work for me to happily keep using it. This has been going on long enough that I’m convinced the cause is not simple user error. The final straw yesterday was when changes I’d saved in a draft blog post (about Filemaker) weren’t there five hours later, with no intervening crashes, no messages about “Do you want to close w/ unsaved changes?”, and so on. Naturally, Microsoft (or rather the excellent consultant/expert they’ve provided me to talk with) has never heard of these problems before and is highly perplexed. Anyhow, I plan to keep using Word for highly formatted work – i.e., white papers and Monash Letters – but using it for general note-taking and blogging has turned out to be quite the mistake. (I guess I could go back to Word 2003, but now I’m intrigued by testing the cheaper alternative.)

But all glitches notwithstanding — Office 2007’s “ribbon” is one of the five greatest general UI advances in the past 10-15 years*. Just as the traditional Office menu/icon-row look-and-feel dominates business computing, the ribbon is likely to soon take its place. And deservedly so, at least in two broad classes of application: Analytic and composite. And those two, taken together, happen to comprise the vast majority of the innovation going on in enterprise applications today.

*Three of the other four, in my opinion, are:

  1. The screen-division aspect of dashboards and portals.
  2. Dynamic text-link navigation, also popularized via portals.
  3. Search boxes.

The last slot is left open for personal-taste additions to the list.

Read more

January 22, 2007

IBM and Microsoft seeing a (virtual) appliance future?

Microsoft recently hired an IBM Fellow named Don Ferguson to be an office-of-the-CTO type. In his last blog post at IBM, he outlined the top ten issues he saw in his area over the next five years. #1?

Software appliances and SW configurations integrated with virtual middleware

You can see the whole list here. Here’s more about Ferguson and his role.

November 15, 2006

msfirefox — an excellent parody site

Every once in a while, the computer industry comes up with a hilarious parody site. IMO, this site about a Microsoft version of Firefox is one of them.

July 21, 2006

Google vs. Microsoft

Richard Brandt responded to my challenge by explaining in some detail why he thinks Microsoft will never catch up with Google. His argument basically boils down to a very well-reasoned “Why would they? The reasons why Microsoft succeeded in overtaking almost all other PC software vendors don’t apply in this case.” And clearly Google has enormous resources to throw at businesses like search, plus a corporate culture that seems from the outside to be a lot more productive than Microsoft’s these days.

But on the other hand – what exactly is Google’s sustainable advantage?

Read more

April 6, 2006

Microsoft underscores its core paradigm

In a recent column called Three Views From the Top of the Software World (I generally don’t pick my titles, but that was as good as any), I opined that the big vendors had three fundamentally different paradigms from which they viewed enterprise software:

In the IBMOracle view, data — a.k.a. information — is king. IT’s job is to manage the data powerfully, reliably and (not always the top priority) cost-effectively. …

Microsoft’s vision, however, is quite different. It’s first and foremost about empowering people, at least to the extent that making them better corporate employees can be regarded as empowerment. …

While IBMOracle talks about information and Microsoft talks about people, SAP talks about business processes. …

Shortly after I wrote that, Microsoft came out with a sterling example of my claim. They told a story about composite apps. At SAP, composite apps are a business process story. At Oracle, they’re probably a business process story too. But at Microsoft? Read for yourself, in Microsoft’s own words:

The core vision behind what we are doing is Roles Based Productivity. To deliver on this vision, you have to start with “People” and really connect them up to their “work” (i.e. process). In the real world most people’s work is split across multiple applications and the “seams” show. Web Services is the foundational infrastructure that helps us get rid of the “seams”.

I don’t want to suggest I see something wrong with this. All three views are valid, and none of the vendors cited is too extreme (any more) about neglecting the other viewpoints. Still, I think this isn’t just semantics, but rather a fundamental difference in worldviews.

December 10, 2005

Microsoft — is the intensity gone?

More and more Microsofties are complaining that the company is corporate and bureaucratic and, to be specific, empty nights and weekends.

I haven’t visited them for a few years now, and have no special insight into whether it’s true. But I can tell you this: It sure wasn’t that way in the past. I still recall a passionate, raised-voices Bill Gates and I had about industry futures … after midnight … while dressed in black tie … at his girlfriend’s apartment. And that wasn’t an isolated incident.

And this spirit kept up well into the 1990s. I was on the phone with Jon Roskill (an influential marketing manager for Visual Basic, in essence, whatever his exact title is or was) on a Monday, and he commented that he was having trouble getting his head back into work after a long absence. I politely inquired as to the nature of his time off. It turned out he’d left work at 3:30 pm the prior Friday and gone camping for the weekend.

Yes, it seems Microsoft has changed a whole lot over the past decade …

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