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Office ODF Plugin Delayed Till January

An Ars blog reports that Microsoft Office’s Open Document Format plugin has been delayed until January. This is bad news for Microsoft, since the ODF plugin was the reason Massachusets has decided not to abandon Microsoft Office. To quote, uh, myself:

[T]he legislature was attempting a major blow to Microsoft Office, by mandating the use of open source document software, in order to provide a standardized, non-proprietary and non-royalty based document format. They settled on the Open Document Format, or ODF, supported by OpenOffice and StarOffice, which would cost Microsoft untold millions in sales, but, more importantly, could start a nationwide move towards ODF, and a move away from market leader MS Office.

Well, Microsoft has avoided all that. The state IT Division, citing accessibility needs, has decided to stick with Microsoft Office in the near-term. See, while Office requires a plugin to support ODF, it does have excellent support for those with disabilities, while OpenOffice and StarOffice, while natively supporting ODF, do not have those accessibility features, and will not have them by the January 2007 deadline.

There’s a lot of further detail (and confusing quotes and writing) at Linux-Watch. There’s something in there about testing taking rollout of the plugin past January, and a lot of talk about how Microsoft is evil. Apparently, Office users are part of a “beloved 450″ million users, the Google Pack is needed to “fully experience the wonders of life on the Open Internet”, they considered “charging an arm and leg if Google Pack was not to be found” on plugin systems. Then there’s some stuff about Firefox being at the center of an OpenDocument environment, while IE7 is “part of an ODF killer alignment; a murderers row of integrated information channel components”. My head hurts.
(via Digg)

September 13th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Office, Law, Applications, General | no comments

Microsoft’s Neat Anti-Piracy Map

Slashdot basically ran an article on this image:

The images is from a page about Genuine Windows (and is slightly larger, so click the link if you are as enamored of it as they are).

September 13th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General | no comments

Office 2007 Beta 2 Technical Refresh Coming Tomorrow

Windows Vista RC1 users have been prompted for a little while to upgrade to the Technical Refresh of Beta 2 of Office 2007, except that the download doesn’t exist. Thankfully, VARBusiness reports that O2007(B2:TR) is coming tomorrow. It will feature improved performance, better integration, improved collaboration tools, and general fit and finish changes from the original Beta 2. There will be a new silver theme, more predictable behavior from the Ribbon, and more keyboard support.

The download should be available here sometime on Thursday.

September 13th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Office, Applications, General | no comments

If I Hear One More Piece Of Vista FUD, My Foot’s Gonna End Up In Somebody’s Ass!

It is amazing how many journalists love “discovering” problems with Microsoft, treating the software company like the government, where anything remotely negative is news. At this point, inventing problems qualifies as news, especially if its a sexy fake problem.

Case in point: ExtremeTech (holy crap, get a new name): They have an article where they build a PC that’s “Vista ready”. Their goals are so ridiculous, but people reading the article will think when they reach the end that you really need $2,500 to run Windows Vista. Please!

Among the goals that result in a system far more powerful and expensive than necessary:

  • Windows Experience Score above 5 - Why? My computer is a 3.4 and runs Vista great.
  • Room for growth and “forward looking” - That means that, even if the system is good enough for Vista, they are configuring it even better than that. So, what the hell does this article have to do with Vista?
  • RAID 5 array - Yeah, because 99% of consumers need this. Or know what it is.
  • HD Audio
  • Microphone array - if you need one, great. If not, what a huge waste of money.
  • 1.5 terabytes of storage - again, plenty of people will never fill 200-300 gigs. Even heavy Media Center users don’t need more than 500 gigs, and they would probably use a seperate computer for Media Center (especially if they’ve got $2,500 to burn).
  • HDCP compliant video card - Why is this necessary right now? Buy one when the market requires one.
  • $234 computer case - An excellent reason to buy a Dell instead of building it yourself.

At the end, they drop a bunch of the extra options, like the hard drives, deluxe motherboard, save $285 by slightly dropping CPU speed, and wind up with a much more reasonable $1,667 system that probably still meets every one of the needs listed in the beginning of the article. But no, that won’t be the headline on Slashdot, will it?

My laptop is excellent for Vista. I bought it over a year ago for $900, and have only added RAM since then. Of course, before the coupon, it was $1,600, meaning you have to find a coupon now to get as good a deal. Still, you can get right now a Dell system with four times the RAM I got, a Core Duo, both batteries I got, the TV tuner I got, the DVD burner I got, for just $1,223. And that’s a laptop with a nice 15.4 inch screen.

As far as desktops go, Dell’s got an overkill system (2.66 GHz Core Duo, 250 GB HD, DVD burner, 17-inch LCD, 7.1 channel audio) for $939. Not $2,500, not $1,667, just under a thousand, and it has more than you need to run Vista well.

So, what did ExtremeTech prove? That expensive computers exist? That if you pay too much, you’ve paid too much? That a computer no one will buy, you can buy for a lot of money? Top of the line systems cost a ton of money, regardless of the operating system. The fact is, getting a decent computer is pretty cheap these days, and Vista will not change that for one second. Stop the FUD and get off Microsoft’s back.
(via Mary Jo)

September 13th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Vista, Windows, General | no comments

Lots Of New Microsoft Hardware

Microsoft just put out a bunch of press releases about some new peripherals:

Wireless Entertainment Desktop 7000:

$149.95 (U.S.), available January 2007

Wireless Entertainment Desktop 8000:

$249.95 (U.S.), available February 2007, and has ambient light sensing, adjusting the backlight based on room lighting, as well proximity awareness to detect when users approach it. Comes with the Laser 8000 mouse (pictured below), and with a docking station for both (which also adds 3 USB ports).

Both have the Windows Start button, a Gadget button (which will launch the Sidebar in Vista, in XP and the Dashboard in OS X), a Media Center Start button, and a Windows Live Call button, to start instant messaging or a webcam video call. Both use Bluetooth. Both have a 30-foot range.

Wireless Laser Desktop 6000:

$99.95 (U.S.), available September 2006

Wireless Laser Mouse 6000:

Available in January 2007 for an estimated retail price of $79.95, and has maginifier, Instant Viewer and four-way scrolling buttons. Ergonomic design with:

• An elevated thumb scoop shelf maintains hand rotation to reduce pressure on the carpal tunnel.
• A rounded shape more closely matches the relaxed curve of the hand to reduce finger extension.
• An angled profile reduces wrist pronation (turning or rotating).
• The vertical right side allows the side of the hand to rest comfortably on the desk while improving wrist posture.
• A rubberized thumb scoop and sides of the mouse provide comfort and easy lifting.

Wireless Laser Mouse 8000:

$89.95 (U.S.), available October 2006, with a performance slider to optimize battery life during simpler tasks, an Instant Viewer to see all windows at once, 90 minute charging.

Microsoft Wireless Notebook Presenter Mouse 8000:

Available in mid-October 2006 with an ERP of $99.95 and runs meeting and presentations by switching to presentation mode, letting you go forward, back, and full-screen, and includes a laser pointer for pointing at the screen and even writing on it with digital ink. Also functions as a remote for Windows Media Player, iTunes, and RealPlayer, letting you pause, play, change tracks and adjust volume. Uses Bluetooth. Has a tilt wheel, magnifier button and Instant Viewer.

LifeCam NX-6000:

Available in November 2006 for an estimated retail price of $99.95, and features 7.6 megapixel images and 2.0 megapixel video, attaches to notebooks, fully retractible and collapsible, built in unidirectional microphone with above-CD quality.

LifeCam VX-1000:

Available in September 2006 for an estimated retail price of $29.95, and features 640×480 images and video, plus built-in microphone.

LifeChat LX-3000:

Available in January 2007 for $39.95, and is a wired PC headset that offers in-line volume controls, pivotal boom microphone with 180-degree movement and a flexible 6-foot cord.

LifeChat ZX-6000:

Available in January 2007 for $69.95, is wireless with a 30-foot range and has noise canceling.

Both have the Windows Live Call Button, which also switches from music listening to calls automatically.

September 13th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General | one comment

Grand Theft Auto 4 Preview

Something Awful has posted a hilarious “preview” of Grand Theft Auto 4, the sure-to-be-hot-selling title that will release on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 late next year. There’s some great stuff in there, but the gem has to be the spot on mocking of GTA missions:

Chapter Two - “Pain In The Glass”

Billingsley: Not bad, that pizza stunt should knock the Bitboys out of commission for good. By now you’ve probably heard that we’re the biggest dealers of illegal stained glass in Maeba Prime, right? Well I need you to take this incredibly slow and dilapidated hovertruck full of very fragile stained glass in a clockwise lap around the entire city and then bring it back here. If there’s a single scratch on that glass you will fail. Also, you will be escorting three robots who tend to run in separate directions from each other and knock into pretty anything they see, including your hovertruck full of fragile stained glass. If one of them wanders more than one block away from you, you will fail. If the cops see the large print on the side of the hovertruck that reads “ILLEGAL CARGO” and pull you over or touch your vehicle, you fail.

(via Digg)

September 13th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Xbox 360, Xbox, Humor, General | no comments