Microsoft Office Wins a Big One: the Whole State of Massachusetts

When Massachusetts announced that state employees could only save documents in an open file format, it looked like the end of the road for Office. But something funny happened on the way to open source -- Microsoft announced that its future Office file formats would be submitted to a standards body, and that others were free to use the XML-based formats. That little crumb was enough for Massachusetts to back down and decide Office would be A-OK for state employees.

Redmond dodged a major bullet here. If an entire state government could run efficiently (oh yeah, it’s Massachusetts, so efficiency is never a priority) on open source, why couldn’t every other state and corporation in America? And if that was the case, the Office monopoly could rather quickly crumble.

What do you think? What specific factors would have to be in place for your enterprise to move away from Office and XP? Write me at dbarney@redmondmag.com and let me know if I can quote you in an upcoming Redmond magazine article.

Hiding Behind the Internet
It’s hard to argue against free speech, open access to information and an unfettered Internet. But how freedom is too much? Should criminals, scumbags and terrorists be able to hide behind anonymity -- the same anonymity that lets them commit these acts in the first place? A Dutch court says no, and wants Lycos to tell it which member has been slandering a stamp seller. I’d be less ambivalent about this if it was the identity of an extremist, cracker or true criminal. How much anonymity should we expect in this age of terrorism, hacking and exploitation? Let me know at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

BizTalk Primed for '06
BizTalk 2006 is looking like it’s going to make it in 2006, having reached its second beta this month. Topping the list of features is a tight coupling with just released Visual Studio 2005 and .NET Framework 2.0.

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Xbox 360 Mania
Just in time for holiday shopping comes the Xbox 360, a super high-end console that sets a jaw-dropping new price point for game play at a savings account-draining $300 for a base unit. That’s the same as a new Dell PC. Microsoft, even in its previous market- lagging version, set a new premium price. Now let’s see if $300 for the base model will fly over the long run.

Microsoft schedule-meisters managed to beat the next-generation (as in so next-generation they haven’t shipped) systems from Nintendo and Sony. And is usually the case in consoles, being first means winning (except in the case of the Sega Dreamcast, which was pretty sweet but got smoked by the GameCube/PlayStation/Xbox triumvirate).

But was it too soon? Tales of buggy consoles hit the Web almost immediately after the machines went on sale. While Microsoft has acknowledged glitches with a "fraction" of Xboxes, other reports suggest the problems are much more widespread:

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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