Win RT Rev of Office Missing Key Features

The more I hear about Win RT, the more it kind of makes sense. It is a version of Windows 8 aimed at ARM  devices that will run a lot longer on a single charge. Check.

It will presumably be on machines with solid drives so it will boot almost instantly (and the drives should hardly ever crash). Check.

And it will provide a pure tablet experience, albeit with a keyboard and real productivity, so it will be more straightforward to use than the desktop version of Windows 8 -- which can't decide whether it is a touch tablet or a traditional PC. Double check.

So the news that Office for Win RT doesn't have each and every feature of its fuller Win 8 counterpart doesn't surprise or disturb me. I don't want each and every feature. I don't' like each and every feature. Each and every feature can take a bloody hike as far as I'm concerned.

We are hearing that Office for RT won't support third-party add-ins. Okay, this is bad. I can think of 27 other features they could dump to add this one back in.

Microsoft is also reportedly dropping VBA and macro support. Ouch. Again, I could fire up that list for you Microsoft.

But if we assume that Win RT is a companion machine, and, in a corporate context, is used on the road, on a train or in a lobby, maybe these items aren't crucial. The machine isn't part of a corporate workflow. That is reserved for your other connected device that has the macros or is customized with VBA.

What say you? Do you need VBA, macros and third-party tools in a companion machine? Does Win RT make sense?

Make it all make sense to me at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 08/08/2012 at 1:19 PM7 comments


BYOD: When Free Costs More

You'd think that a free device would cost less, but then the you would not be an IT pro. In the case of bring your own device (BYOD), of course it costs more to support these units and, of course, overall BYOD increases IT costs.

I'm sure you are not surprised that a survey by Lieberman Software had nearly 70 percent of those polled saying the devices ran up IT costs. I'm thinking the shops that didn't see costs increase had end users who only hopped on the network and didn't need to dig deep into corporate applications and used foolproof devices such as a iPad that don't need a lot of troubleshooting.

The guy behind Lieberman software, Phil Lieberman, likes to rattle a few cages with his comments. So while pundits pontificate kindly on the promise of BYOD, Phil has another take: BYOD hardware makers (especially Apple) are using this tactic to sneak in a door they haven't earned their way through.

"We've been here before," said Lieberman. "It's the same classic back door sales process used to promote PCs in the 1980s, where the large IT shops controlled both the glass house and what was on the desktops. Back then users and managers would show how PCs were better, faster and more flexible than the 'stone age' solutions offered by IT. Ultimately IT was forced to adopt PCs as their corporate standard. The new twist today is that the interlopers are devices that will always be owned by the consumer, not the company."

Where PCs have more than proven themselves, BYOD forces IT to make so with less than optimum security, Phil suggests.

Posted by Doug Barney on 08/08/2012 at 1:19 PM3 comments


Doug's Mailbag: Are Woz's Cloud Criticisms Correct?

Readers share whether they feel the same way as Steve Wozniak about the cloud:

I have to agree with Woz and I'm glad someone with a little more knowledge and clout has said it out loud.  Maybe I'm a closet conspiracy theorist or maybe I'm just leaning toward paranoid but all of the end-user agreements we have to sign to get space in the cloud (the ones we rarely read) have a ton of clauses. And there aren't a whole lot of real protections for the consumer, our data and certainly not our privacy.  As it stands currently, I will still use the cloud for personal and non-sensitive data, and I will still consider a private cloud for my company.  But I sure don't trust the public cloud with our company's secure data!
-Heidi

I agree with Steve. When you go to the cloud you are putting a lot of trust in the provider. If something bad happens, you may get a few free hours of service. However, you will not recoup the money your business lost. Another aspect is that assuming everything goes extremely well and you have legal protections, once you have all your data in the cloud, the provider can now change pricing or other aspects within the terms of the contract -- and you have little choice but to go along. Moving your data someplace else may be extremely hard.
-Anonymous

I agree that the cloud is dangerous. You put all your information in a virtualized server, then another company renting space on that server gets investigated by the FBI and the server is seized -- along with our data. You don't own your data, the provider does. Kiss it good-bye. Besides, all the money you save, you have to spend on bandwidth. What's the point?
-Bryan

I agree with Woz, not only from a legal standpoint, but from a user experience standpoint. Using SharePoint 2010 in an Intranet environment has been fraught with problems created when changes are made to network infrastructure, security, firewalls, etc. The users are in for a ride when everything is in the cloud and connectivity is via third-party ISPs. It will be like the bad old days of telephony, with everyone sitting around pointing fingers at each other while the user no longer sees his SharePoint shortcuts...
-BrianB

Share your thoughts with the editors of this newsletter! Write to dbarney@redmondmag.com. Letters printed in this newsletter may be edited for length and clarity, and will be credited by first name only (we do NOT print last names or e-mail addresses).

Posted by Doug Barney on 08/08/2012 at 1:19 PM2 comments


Outlook Web Access Adapts to Smartphones, Tablets

A new version of OWA, with some HTML 5 tweaks, can now more easily adapt to various screen sizes. Got a smartphone,  a slick new iPad or (later this year) a Win 8 machine? OWA will actually be readable. Because there are three major form factors, (PC, tablet and phone), there are now three different form factors (premium, light and mini).

Here's the rub: For now, smartphones and tablets are only officially supported if they are running Windows 8. Happily, iPad and iPhones work with the preview version of OWA, and official support appears to be on the way.

OWA also supports offline use,  which is a huge deal. Crank away on e-mail and, when connected, all your masterpieces will be sent off straight away!

Posted by Doug Barney on 08/06/2012 at 1:19 PM0 comments


The Woz Downs the Cloud

Steve Wozniak went quiet for years. Sure, he founded the U.S. rock festival in the 1980s, but other than that he went pretty dark.

Then he came out of his shell and did Dancing with the Stars. And lately the Woz has been making news with comments about the state of computing. Woz recently had the guts to appear as a guest at "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs," a two-hour show about how Apple exploits labor in China.

According to the report from Yahoo, Steve talked about the cloud saying "I really worry about everything going to the cloud. I think it's going to be horrendous. I think there are going to be a lot of horrible problems in the next five years." Wozniak continued by saying, "With the cloud, you don't own anything. You already signed it away through the legalistic terms of service with a cloud provider that computer users must agree to."

I really like the Woz. You can't fake cool and you can't fake nice -- and Steve appears to be both.

What do you think about the Woz and his cloud comments? Share your opinions at dbarney@redmondmag,com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 08/06/2012 at 1:19 PM15 comments


Free Scripts. Get Your Free Scripts Here!

Microsoft has always, in my opinion, done a great job of supporting IT when it comes to scripting -- and all the work done on PowerShell is an indication of that.

Another indication is the recent launch of a new Web site with a bevy of scripts, all free for the taking.

Now if you think these scripts are all a heap of a junk, fear not. They are written based on what you, the IT pro, want, and Microsoft folks do all the heavy lifting.

So far there are 29 scripts for server and client products, plus some for Office 365 -- if you're so inclined.

Next year the action will really kick up with some 200 scripts planned.

Am I wrong to say Microsoft is generous in its support of scripting? You tell me at dbarney@redemondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 08/06/2012 at 1:19 PM1 comments


Black Hat Give Win 8 Props

It's pretty rare when anyone from the Black Hat conference, which just happened in Las Vegas, says anything nice about Microsoft. But a couple of white hatters (the good guys that break into systems to show where they're weak) threw a bunch of exploits at Windows 8 to see what would stick -- and not much did. Heap and buffer exploits that worked just swell against Vista and Windows 7 failed against Win 8.

That is great news but keep in mind that these are old exploits and these doors should have been shut. Nice work, nonetheless.

Posted by Doug Barney on 08/03/2012 at 1:19 PM0 comments


Gartner Guru Retracts Windows 8 Criticism

Gunnar Berger is a research director at Gartner (the company has  a lot of research directors, trust me). Berger mentioned in his blog that when Windows 8 runs on a standard machine with a mouse and keyboard, it's "bad."

Berger retracted that statement -- it's unclear whether Microsoft or his employer exerted any pressure in the turnaround.

Here's the thing. According to many of you, the loyal and insightful Redmond Report readers, when run on a standard machine with a mouse and keyboard, Windows 8 is, indeed, bad.

Berger pulled the line from his blog and in a follow-up interview argues that Windows 8 is "actually really good."

What I learned from you, at least those of you beta testing Win 8, is the OS's worth directly relates to the type of machine you use. If you have a touch tablet, it's pretty good, though switching from Metro to the standard desktop interface, which you are forced to do, is (as Mitt might say) disconcerting.

Trying to use it with just a mouse and keyboard isn't just bad, it's terrible, some of you told me.

Posted by Doug Barney on 08/03/2012 at 1:19 PM12 comments


Metro Name Yanked

Windows Vista almost wasn't Windows Vista because someone else owned the name. Fortunately for lovers of the name, whoever had the rights didn't have deep pockets, loved cash more than Vista or just didn't care that much about handing over the name.

Now it seems there may be a copyright beef over the name Metro. Microsoft sort of confirms something is up by now calling Metro a code name.

Microsoft often calls a product one thing during testing and another when it ships (and usually the test name is better). A problem with this is that the name changes confuses the market. Why should we get used to Metro when it's only going to change down the road?

It's bad enough that we have Windows 8 and Windows RT to figure out. Learning C# syntax is easier than understanding Microsoft nomenclature.  

Posted by Doug Barney on 08/03/2012 at 1:19 PM4 comments


Ultimate Hacking Mistake

The president of the World Wrestling Entertainment, Vince McMahon, has actually been known to wrestle -- and even at the tender age of nearly 67, the guy is ripped.

The president of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Dana White doesn't compete in his own league like Vince (maybe it's something about the fighting being real and you can't cheat), but by all accounts he is one tough son of a gun.

That's why it was such a bad idea for hacker JoshTheGod (perhaps JoshTheDope makes more sense) to hack Dana's company.

Josh has been nabbed not just for this infraction, but for stealing more than 50,000 credit cards. Jail is probably the safest spot for him!

Posted by Doug Barney on 08/01/2012 at 1:19 PM0 comments


A System Center View of Linux/Unix

Microsoft doesn't mind its software interacting with Linux and Unix -- so long as Microsoft software is in charge. In an ideal Microsoft heterogeneous world, Windows-based management tools monitor and manage Linux, Unix and sometimes Mac clients.

That is basically the idea behind System Center 2012 Monitoring Pack for Unix and Linux operating systems.

This tool has been out since the spring but just got tweaked late month. With it, IT pros can track "processes, resources and server agents" of these non-Microsoft servers, doing high-level checking of server performance and availability.

The tool tracks Red Hat, Solaris, SUSE, IBM AIX and HP-UX.

Posted by Doug Barney on 08/01/2012 at 1:19 PM0 comments


No Way Around XP Expiration Date

MED-V is an overly confusing name for a desktop virtualization tool that does a good thing -- it lets XP runs as a virtual machine under Windows 7 (or Vista if you're so inclined) so legacy and hardware will still run.

Apparently some customer think that because MED-V, which stands for Microsoft Desktop Virtualization, is a supported tool, that XP will somehow be supported beyond the April 2014 end of extended support.

Microsoft took to the blogosphere to make it clear that this is not the case and MED-V is no way a support bridge, but a stop gap.

Posted by Doug Barney on 08/01/2012 at 1:19 PM0 comments


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