Letters to Redmond

[email protected]: August 2006

Readers give their impressions of Microsoft's "digital work style."

Office Dinosaurs a Plenty
In June, contributing editor Mary Jo Foley in her Foley on Microsoft column (see "Office Dinosaurs Unite"), openly admitted to having an aversion to Microsoft's idea of the "digital work style" and the constant connectedness it brings. It appears that many of you, ironically steeped in technology everyday, share her sentiments. The following handful of letters illustrate some of your views:

Huns of Technology
As one who's lived in an SCA [Society for Creative Anachronism] household, though not as a card-carrying anachronist, I have to say SCA folks are, in general, far more technically adept.

They don't need an apology and are probably flattered by being mentioned at all in Foley's column, and I'm sure many will write, or send their minions.

SCAtians are very DIY types, which makes them a good fit for today's mercenary-like IT world. At least out of costume. Call them the Huns of technology.

All joking aside, what Foley says is true, we really don't see a functional reason to upgrade beyond Office 97 -- with the possible exception of Outlook 2003.

My folks are not planning to use XML features any time soon, and SharePoint would create a huge new training challenge. We're still having trouble getting across how to use network drives.

What Microsoft has not done, that would really help, is to implement document management and versioning in the file system. SharePoint doesn't count. We don't need a Web server (e.g. additional infrastructure) to do basic document management tasks, just a few extra bits in the file system. As they say "keep it simple."

Thanks to Mary Jo for starting a very enlightening discussion!
Rich Snow
Boston, Mass.

Life Without Microsoft
I, too, feel that there's far too much connectedness in this modern pastiche of society. Frankly, once past Office 97, I have little interest in more Offices. I do databases, for most of my pro life that means Access, and the last thing I want to do is to re-learn, again, a new database just so that Microsoft can have a revenue stream. I am not against Microsoft but I have a life that does not include it!
Angus Creighton
Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada

No Fancy Shmancy
I'm with Foley on this one.

I despise the notion of being "always available." What happened to personal time? When did my job jump from 44 hours a week to 168 hours a week?

I don't mind not knowing about something until the next day. If people are going to die or we're going out of business, my home number is available.

Nor do I want to run the latest fancy version of Office. I only reluctantly upgraded to Office XP when I also reluctantly upgraded to Windows XP. The only time I gladly upgraded Office was when I went from Office 95 to Office 97. The version of Office 95 I was running at the time was designed for Windows for Workgroups 3.11 and that probably had something to do with it.

I have a cell phone because my department requires it. Before that, I had a pager. I liked the pager. You could take a look at it and decide if it was something you needed to handle right away or not. With a mobile phone, you get hijacked. Whether you're standing in line at the grocery store, washing your hands in the bathroom or driving down the interstate, if you answer your phone, you're expected to immediately switch from whatever mode your brain was in to "work" mode. You're at the mercy of your co-workers, family, friends and vendors. That's a situation I would really rather not be in.

Keep up the fight! I doubt Microsoft or the business community in general will slow down its "progress," but it's good to know I am not the only one who likes to take things slowly.
Jason R. DePriest, GSEC, GCFW
Memphis, Tenn.

10 Years Behind
Forget it. I'm with Mary Jo. I don't have a cell phone, BlackBerry, laptop, wireless, GPS, etc. either. I do have a big screen TV and surround sound, however (it's a guy thing). But I digress ...

Our entire office is still running Office 97 so I guess we are 10 years behind. Yet there seems no reason to change, especially considering the cost involved. Half of the office is still on Windows 98 because I can't get them to upgrade to XP. I have one copy of office 2003 for conversion purposes and it seems to suffice. Office 2007? Forget it!
Name Withheld by Request
Mentor, Ohio

About the Author

This page is compiled by the editors of Redmond magazine from your letters. Write to us at [email protected] and if your letter is printed in the magazine, you'll be entered into a drawing for a free Redmond T-shirt.


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