More Software Assurance Bennies?

Next month Microsoft plans a series of Webcasts to explain “The Next Generation of Software Assurance.” SA, for the right customer that exploits each and every feature, is not the worst deal in software -- a lot of major vendors have expensive maintenance programs. But overall, it is still a ton of dough for software upgrades that may or may not arrive, that you may or may not need and that may or may not work properly.

I’m not sure what Redmond will do, but last time around they added a bunch of benefits that, if used properly, can actually make SA worth it. I’d like to see more benefits, but more to the point, a guarantee that the upgrades customers want ship during the duration of the contract.

Find out what your peers think of SA here.

PDC Is Coming
Microsoft’s Professional Developers Conference is set to start September 13 in Los Angeles, and if you are a software jock, you want to be there, or at least track the proceedings online. And for Bill Gates and Jim Allchin groupies, help is on the way as both are taking the stage to keynote.

There will be details galore about new products, everything from Vista, to SQL Server 2005, to Office 12 (still can’t figure out how they went from Office 2003 to Office 12, guess that is just Microsoft’s unique logic).

Redaction Gains Traction
Our friend Mary Jo Foley over at Microsoft Watch dug up this little nugget: There is an option for Word 2003 that can ‘redact’ text. That’s where you black out words you don’t want folks to see. (You probably saw plenty of examples when you nabbed your government files through the Freedom of Information Act. Or maybe that was just me!)

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Of course the easy joke is that Microsoft could have redacted the e-mails our government used in its anti-trust case. It’s an obvious joke that I wish I had thought of. Doh!

Young Tech Stars
Microsoft this week honored young technologists from around the world with money, accolades and Imagine Cup 2005 trophies. Taking top honors? A group of programmers from Russia that created a way for musicians around the world to play together in real time over the Internet.

We’ve Got Mail
A few of you responded to my question earlier this week about speech recognition in Word -- now I’ll have to buy a mic and try it out myself. Here’s what you had to say about how speech technology has progressed so far.

I was reading the Redmond newsletter when I saw you wanted to know if the speech recognition in office is any good. I have a good friend that was left a quadriplegic due to being shot in the head after walking in on a home burglary. He uses the speech tool and other than some misspelled words when the tool cannot tell if he means -- to, too, or two -- it works pretty well for him.

-- Ron Jennings, Fresno, Calif.

And here’s one more:

I used speech recognition in word when trying to write a book and the results were, ahem, not great.

One aspect of speech technology that was good was the computer reading what you had written back to you. This generally uncovered grammar issues like missing words far better than proof reading from paper, where you ended up reading what you wanted to read rather than what was there.

On a similar topic, the handwriting interface to convert to text on XP Tablets is very good for editing since SP2 of Windows where it got a major revamp. Not sure it is worth using for adding lots of new text though.

-- Garry Robinson, editor of

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.


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