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How Modern Software Improves Modern Hardware

Since dual core and 64-bit processors started going mainstream, computer users have had more power than they know what to do with. In fact, they’ve had more power than their software knows what to do with. To truly take advantage of major advances in modern processors, modern software is required, all of which makes the upgrade cycle much more interesting.

Previously, software and hardware advances were less interrelated, and an advance in one did not advance or require as much the other. Sure, you might need a faster processor to run a faster version of Windows, or a new game to push that new graphics card to the limit, but these were questions of pure speed, not capabilities. It’s analogous to the difference between a faster car and a self-driving car. A faster car runs faster everywhere, but a self driving car is just a regular car until you have roads that allow and support the use of cars that can drive themselves.

The speed race in processors and other pieces of hardware ended years ago. If it hadn’t, Intel® would be releasing a 15 gigahertz Pentium 4 by now. Instead, you can buy an off-the-shelf PC today that runs at the same basic speed a PC released in 2002 could have. The newer PC smokes the old one because while both processors might be running at 2.2 GHz, the modern one isn’t one processor, it’s many. A 64-bit processor can run instructions 4 billion times as large as a 32-bit one. A dual core processor is almost like having 2 processors, and a quad core is twice that. Add in multi-threading, and you have a maching that for all practical purposes might as well have 4 or 8 2.2 GHz processors.

None of this means anything without the right software. Install an old version of Windows on the newest, fastest Dell with a 64-bit quad- or six-core chip, and you might get nothing more than the power of a single logical processor, not the 8-12 logical processors you paid for and would have gotten with a more up-to-date release. As a result, upgrading your software will often upgrade the hardware because the powerful hardware you bought years ago pre-dated the advancements in software required to take advantage of it.

Since we are in the midst of a series examining different modern IT issues, it’s useful to point out that it used to be that aging software in a corporate environment was the norm, but that trend has strong reasons to change. Older hardware is better capable of running modern software than at any time in the past. Windows 8′s system requirements are “If you could run Windows 7, you can run Windows 8 faster”. “If you could run Windows Vista, you can run Windows 7 faster”. Efficient operating system design by Microsoft means that a PC from 2006 could run Windows 8 in 2013, some without any upgrades. Business computers are in fact the most likely to have been more powerful than average when purchased seven years ago, and more likely to have survived until now, to be able to make the move to the new OS.

The fact is that while everyone knows that newer hardware is faster than older hardware, many software developers have been doing such a great job writing apps that, with each upgrade, run faster than the previous version. Sometimes it’s a new feature that makes use of the software more productive, but more often these days it’s better written code and better use of modern hardware and software capabilities that makes that newer software so much more awesome.

We’ve had amazingly fast computer hardware for a decade at this point. 2013 hardware is faster than 2003 hardware, but 2013 software can run faster on 2003 hardware than 2003 software ever could and draw less electricity while doing it. We’ve had dual core processors for years, but modern software knows what to do with it. We’ve had 64-bit processors since the 90s on desktop PCs (and the 70s in other cases), but if you aren’t running a very up-to-date version of your favorite software, it isn’t taking advantage of it. In fact, until a couple of years ago, it was common for systems with 64-bit processors to ship with the 32-bit version of the OS installed for compatibility reasons. Thankfully, that trend is almost dead.

Businesses have more reasons to perform upgrades, since they can then do more with the hardware they already have. Windows 8, or the latest Office or Photoshop can put both cores on your CPU to work (or all four cores or more, as it were). They can serve up 64-bit instructions to that CPU many times faster than a 32-bit one would have been. A new OS, in turn, adds APIs and features to your computer, while new software takes advantage of those additions so that they, too, can run faster. All of which is why it once you put a price on productivity, it can often be more expensive to keep the older, slower version of critical business software than absorbing the cost of the next version.

It’s extremely likely that whatever machine you are using right now, the software you are running isn’t taking full advantage of its capabilities, and in some instances, the software needed to take advantage does exist yet. For this reason, it’s important to look at PC hardware as an investment that can grow over time. By picking a processor with features that haven’t been fully utilized yet, you are picking a computer that will only get better with age, like a fine wine.


This is a paid post in conjunction with IDG, Dell and Intel®.

April 29th, 2013 Posted by | Adobe, Applications, Corporate, General, IT Series, Mobile, Office, Sponsored, Tablets, Vista, Windows, Windows 7, Windows 8, XP | no comments



How to Install Outlook Connector in Outlook 2010

I had installed Office 2010 last week, and the Outlook Connector installed just fine. When I reformatted and reinstalled Windows 7 over the weekend and then installed Office 2010 and got the same error I’ve been reading about all over the internet. A good number of people are saying they try to install it and get this error message:

You should have Microsoft Office Outlook 2003, 2007 or 2010 installed for the connector.

This was driving me nuts, until I figured it out: Last week, when it worked, I had Outlook 2007 installed, and didn’t after reformatting.

So, I installed a trial of Office 2007, and it worked! Just install Outlook 2007, which you can get here in Office Standard and don’t bother to enter a product key. Create the Hotmail account in Office 2010, it’ll download and install the proper version of Outlook Connector automatically, restart Outlook, and you’re done. Uninstall Outlook 2007 when you’re done.

Thank god I got this to work. It was driving me nuts!

July 21st, 2009 Posted by | Applications, Office, Outlook | 5 comments

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iPhone To Get PowerPoint Sync With Mac Office 2008

Microsoft’s Mac Business Unit has announced that Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac OS will allow iPhone and iPod users to sync with PowerPoint. You will be able to run PowerPoint slideshows on your iPhone, iPod Touch, iPod Classic and fatty iPod Nano (any iPod with picture support) if you have a Mac with PowerPoint 2008 and iPhoto (2006 or better).

PowerPoint will connect with iPhoto and export your presentation as a series of high resolution photos. Those photos will be saved on your hard drive and synced to your iPhone as photos normally are. Then, you can whip out your iPhone at any time and show slides from your PowerPoint presentation, or you can even plug the iPhone/iPod into a TV or projector to run a version of the presentation, minus the usual animations and transitions.

This via Mary Jo, who mentions that the Exchange sync iPhone users were promised four months has still not arrived, with no word on when or if it is ever coming.

November 30th, 2007 Posted by | Apple, Applications, Office | no comments

Import PDFs Into Microsoft Word

Microsoft’s Word 2007 has the ability, with a plugin, to save your documents as PDF files. What it can’t do is import PDFs, but Microsoft’s MMEvents blog lists two utilities you can use to take a PDF and bring it into Word as an editable document.

Scansoft’s PDF Converter 4 lets you turn PDFs into fully formatted documents, forms and spreadsheets that look just like the original, retaining formatting and graphics. It even imports into WordPerfect, integrates with Word and Windows, and has a ton of other features for working with PDFs. The software costs $50 for download and requires Windows 2000 or better and works with Word 2000 through 2007.

Able2Doc 4.0 PDF to Word Converter also costs $50 and performs very quick conversions, and it has a free trial. They also have the more versatile Able2Extract PDF Converter 5.0, which can convert PDFs to Word, Excel, Powerpoint, HTML, text and more, for $100.

November 29th, 2007 Posted by | Adobe, Applications, Office, Word | no comments

Office Mobile 6.1 Released; Adds Office 2007 Support

Office Mobile 6.1, the new version of Microsoft Office for Windows Mobile devices, has been released, and you can download it free right now for Windows Mobile 5.0 or 6 phones or PDAs. The new version brings, most importantly, support for Office 2007 Open XML file formats for Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Also, it adds:

  • Enhanced viewing experience for charts in Excel Mobile.
  • Ability to view SmartArt in PowerPoint Mobile.
  • Ability to view and extract files from compressed (.zip) folders.

You’ll need 6 megabytes of space on your device or storage card to install.
(via Robert McLaws)

November 29th, 2007 Posted by | Applications, Office | no comments

Hotmail Founder Wants Microsoft To Sue Him

Sabeer Bhatia, co-founder of Hotmail (which he sold to Microsoft) is now trying to take on Microsoft Office and Google Docs, launching an online office suite. While that in and of itself is a perfectly fine (albeit difficult) project, Sabeer’s methods are surprisingly self-destructive. His Live Documents site (a name that makes you think of Microsoft’s Office Live) uses Office 2007′s “Ribbon” interface, designed in Flex, to power document editing, spreadsheets and presentations.

The interface is a near-copy of the one in Office 2007, just with less features, containing the same colors and structure. Microsoft does allow other software developers to use the Ribbon for free and without permission, but the only real rule is that they can’t use it for programs that compete with Microsoft Office. Bhatia is tempting a lawsuit, considering he ignored the guidelines set by Microsoft, and I don’t envy his position.

There is some good stuff, like a plugin that synchronizes documents between Office and Live Docs, and makes it easy to upload, but I wouldn’t rely on a website that is destined to be sued into oblivion. Unless Bhatia is trying to get bought out by Microsoft, Live Documents doesn’t seem set for a long life.
(via Amit)

November 28th, 2007 Posted by | Applications, Office | 3 comments



Buy Mac Office Today Only At HUGE Discount

Microsoft’s Mac Business Unit is offering an amazing deal today, and today only, on Mac Office. The deal is twofold:

  • Buy Mac Office 2004 today, get a $100 mail-in-rebate. This applies to any version.
  • When Office 2008 is released shortly, get Office 2008 Special Media Edition for just $6.99.

Now, the Office 2004 Student and Teacher Edition is just $150 in most places, so with the rebate, you pay fifty freakin’ bucks. Office 2008 Special Media is $500, but you get it for seven dollars more. So, pay $57, and get a $500 ultimate edition of Mac Office 2008.

Unless you comparison shop, because Amazon.com has Office 2004 for just $125. So, you get the big 2008 edition for even less, just $32! What a deal! Oh, and it looks like they’ll send you Office and Student 2008, too, as part of the deal, so you’re getting four computers worth of Office 2008 here. Unbelievable.

Now, this deal is today only, so get cracking right now! Buy the Office suite, then head here to get your rebate. If you don’t buy today, you’ll still get the seven dollar upgrade, but lose the $100 rebate.

November 23rd, 2007 Posted by | Apple, Applications, Office | no comments

Microsoft Working On 3,500 Open XML Concerns

Microsoft’s battle to get Open XML approved as an international standard continues, with them working their asses off to clear three thousand, five hundred twenty two comments from international voting members. The members of Ecma have addressed their concerns, and if Microsoft wants their votes, they have to address those concerns. Microsoft’s Brian Jones, who is Microsoft’s sole Ecma member, explains what the company is currently doing to whittle those down.

There are 3522 comments in total, but when you group them into similar buckets it narrows down pretty quickly into a more manageable list… but still pretty impressive!

There are currently 662 responses, and the plan is to provide updates to this list every few weeks. We still have almost 2 months until the deadline, but given that we have a lot of issues to work though, we thought it would be best to provide the responses earlier than the Jan deadline to allow for more time to discuss the issues.

So far I think we’re doing a pretty good job of doing what the national body is asking for. Most of the comments were accompanied by a proposed resolution, and most of them are great suggestions, so our response back is often that we’ll do exactly what they are asking for.

More at Computer World and Slashdot.

November 23rd, 2007 Posted by | Applications, Corporate, Office | no comments

The Clippy Rap

Take a look at this rap music video for Microsoft Word. I’d warn you about the lyrics, which are really crass at times, even for a rap song (or a normal amount of crass, just with words that are easier to understand).

(via Digg)

November 22nd, 2007 Posted by | Applications, Humor, Office, Word | no comments

Microsoft Math Add-in Released For Word 2007

Microsoft has released a new Microsoft Math add-in for Microsoft Office Word 2007. It adds enhanced computational and graphing capabilities to Word, letting you do this:

  • Plot a function, equation, or inequality
  • Solve an equation or inequality
  • Calculate a numerical result
  • Simplify an algebraic expression

Get it as a free download from here. Using it as simple as pressing “Alt-Equals sign” to create a RichEdit math object, type the equation or expression and right-click it to get solving and graphing options.

November 21st, 2007 Posted by | Applications, Office, Word | no comments

Why No Office Anytime Upgrade?

I got a phone call from Roger, a reader who wanted to know how to upgrade from Office 2007 Home & Student to Office 2007 Small Business. Sadly, I didn’t have a good answer for him, and after looking around, I still don’t have one. If you have Windows Vista, you can pay Microsoft to upgrade to a better version using a program called Windows Anytime Upgrade, but no such program exists for Microsoft Office.

What option do you have? Not much. I’d suggest selling your copy of Office to a friend (not always possible, but it usually works). Uninstall it on your PC, install it on your friend’s PC, and as long as you haven’t installed it in the previous 90 days, it should activate (if it doesn’t, a phone call to Microsoft’s unfriendly activation representatives should fix the problem). Then, take your friend’s money and put it towards the purchase of the better Office suite, and call the difference your upgrade costs.

It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s probably your best deal. You could probably get $100 for Home & Student from a buddy, and while it’s $50 less than the retail price, it brings the cost of an Office Small Business Upgrade down to $180, thirty dollars less than the cost of buying Outlook and Publisher on their own (though you lose OneNote).

November 13th, 2007 Posted by | Applications, Office | no comments



OneNote and Stupid People

Yes, OneNote, the excellent notetaking program part of Microsoft Office, does indeed increase your IQ:

onenote-smart.jpg

This from Office Online, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite online comics.

October 24th, 2007 Posted by | Applications, Humor, Office, OneNote | no comments

New Word/PowerPoint Viewers Support Office 2007 File Formats

The new versions of the Word Viewer and Powerpoint Viewer were recently released, and they finally support the viewing of Office 2007 file formats. The new viewers support the Open XML files used in Word 2007 (.docx) and Powerpoint 2007 (.pptx). However, you need to install the Compatibility Pack after you install the viewers, otherwise the viewers will only be able to read older file formats.

This comes via Amit, who also advises that if you want to read Excel 2007 files (.xlsx), convert it to Excel 2003 format using a tool like Zamzar, then you can view it in Google Docs or a similar free spreadsheet service that supports importing.

October 23rd, 2007 Posted by | Applications, Office, Word | no comments

Office Live Workspaces Screenshots

Marshall Kirkpatrick published screenshots of Office Live Workspaces, Microsoft’s coming online Office collaboration platform. Check out Read/Write Web for all of them.

October 23rd, 2007 Posted by | Applications, Live, Office, Office Live, Windows | no comments

UpdateStar: Ribbon-based Software Updating App

ribbon-interface-updater-app.png

UpdateStar is one of those programs that checks the software on your computer and determines if there are updates to that software you can install. It’s a routine type of app, though high profile blogs like Download Squad and Lifehacker seem impressed with it, so its likely one of the better ones. What’s really cool about it is that UpdateStar uses the Office 2007 Ribbon interface.

Looks like they do a good job with the interface, resulting in a bold, modern app with instantly recognizable controls. I wonder if they’ve managed to comply with all the interface guidelines? Seen any cool Ribbon apps lately?

October 22nd, 2007 Posted by | Applications, Developers, Office | no comments

Blog About Cheap Office, Win Prizes

UK students are eligible for a contest related to The Ultimate Steal, the cheap deal that nets students a copy of Office Ultimate 2007 for practically nothing. Just blog about how you plan to use Office in your academic studies, and you could win a first prize of a spring break trip for you and a guest to a destination of your choice. First prize winners get a £500 American Express gift card, and second prize winners get an Xbox 360 Elite.
(via the UK Academic Team blog)

October 21st, 2007 Posted by | Applications, Office | no comments

Office Tips & Tricks Vista Sidebar Gadget

office-tips-and-tricks-vista-sidebar-gadget.pngHere’s another useful Windows Vista Sidebar Gadget for you to try out: The Microsoft Office Tips & Tricks Gadget gives you a new tip every day for using Microsoft Office. Click the Gadget and read the whole tip, which should hopefully make your day a little bit easier.



October 17th, 2007 Posted by | Applications, Office, Sidebar, Vista, Windows | one comment

Microsoft Killed The Standards Committee

Slashdot reports that the ISO, the Internation Standards Organization, has grinded to a halt, unable to conduct any business at all since the vote over Microsoft Office’s Open XML file format. Because the fight was so cutthroat on both sides, Microsoft pushed many countries to register to be able to vote, resulting in significant growth in the number of ISO voting members.

Since rules require 50% of the members to participate on each ballot, and most of the new members dissapeared after the Open XML vote, they don’t have enough of a quorum to conduct any official business. Looks like the new guys kind of suck. Let’s hope next time around, if Microsoft does win, its with a better class of voters behind them.

October 16th, 2007 Posted by | Applications, Office | no comments