Office 2007 Migration Picks Up

Things are starting to look up for Microsoft's Office 2007. In an update released yesterday to a study conducted by CDW Corp. earlier this year, some 42 percent of respondents now using or evaluating Windows Vista have already deployed or plan to deploy Office 2007. The survey results also showed that 38 percent said they planned to deploy Office 2007 within 12 months.

Interestingly, many of those who've deployed or are planning to deploy Office 2007 are doing so on Windows XP, and aren't waiting to evaluate Windows Vista.

In the survey, CDW's David Cottingham wrote that "many customers deploying the 2007 Microsoft Office system are finding that the user benefits are substantial with both Windows Vista and Windows XP." Yet another slap, this time from Office 2007 users, at Windows Vista.

Cottingham contends that users are finding the graphic interface of Office 2007 more "visually intuitive" and a "considerable" improvement over those of its most recent predecessors. After adjusting for a day or two, he writes that CDW's customers find they're more productive with Office 2007 and won't go back.

CDW will publish another survey on Windows Vista adoption in the fourth quarter of 2007. The complete survey report on Office 2007 adoption can be seen here.

Microsoft Tries To Keep It Simple
Backing up its promise to simplify its rather dense software licensing policies, Microsoft yesterday announced some updates to those policies that affect its Enterprise Agreement, Select License and Open License agreements.

Some of the more notable changes include a 10 to 50 percent reduction of the length of agreements depending on the program; the removal of all signature blocks from agreement forms, with a new signature form being introduced for a single signature with the customer; and updates to the language and content flow in each agreement for purposes of consistency across all volume licensing agreements.

And while it finds itself in the simplifying mood, Microsoft also announced that starting October, it will help users obtain pricing information about products by reducing the number of price points and SKUs per Volume Licensing program. For instance, presently, individual languages are represented on price lists in several different ways, and each price list also varies in the quantity and kind of language. This results in 8 million price points worldwide.

Microsoft also debuted its new Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC), intended to offer an easier way to provide online solutions for users looking to better manage licensing agreements and products. The service will help users to find and download all the software available under their volume license entitlements, to find and request volume licensing product keys, and to calculate current Microsoft License Statements in order to gain a summary across all programs and agreements.

E-Mail Threats Remain Biggest Malware Concern
Anti-virus software specialist BitDefender put out its list of top 10 malware threats for August 2007, which continued to be dominated by e-mails threats and showed very little change in the order of rankings.

In fact, the only new threat cracking the top 10 is a highly sophisticated rootkit called Trojan.Kobcka.A, which is likely used to hide mass-mailer viruses, according to BitDefender.

"The fact that Trojan.Kobcka racked up 1.24 percent of the total malware detections and made it into our top 10 suggests that we may see it or new variants of it infect even more machines in the coming months," said Viorel Canja, head of BitDefender Labs.

Topping the list was the Peed Trojan, also commonly referred to as Storm.

According to BitDefender, the use of a Windows metafile rendering exploit -- which made its first appearance at the tail-end of 2005 and was patched against in 2006 -- grabbed the second spot. BitDefender officials said they found this to be a somewhat disturbing development because it indicates the large number of unpatched machines that are still in use.

The top 10 list includes:

  1. Trojan.Peed.Gen (24.7%)
  2. Exploit.Win32.WMF-PFV (21.5%)
  3. BehavesLike:Trojan.Downloader (19.06%)
  4. Win32.Netsky.P@mm (5.89%)
  5. Trojan.Pandex.H (2.54%)
  6. Win32.NetSky.D@mm (1.92%)
  7. Win32.Nyxem.E@mm (1.80%)
  8. Win32.Netsky.AA@mm (1.80%)
  9. Trojan.Kobcka.A (1.24%)
  10. Win32.Sality.M (1.24%)

BitDefender officials claim the August 2007 top 10 list of malware accounts for 81.69 percent of the total number of viruses seen in circulation.

Details on the latest malware turned loose on the world can be seen at the company's site here.

Mailbag: OOXML Voted Down, How To Punish Hackers
Lafe reported yesterday on the ISO and IEC's decision to vote down Microsoft's OOXML as an international standard. Here's what some of you had to say in response:

Pathetic! Since Office is already a de facto standard, there is no reason not to also standardize Office Open XML as a standard. As they say, the reason everyone likes standards is because there are so many of them.
-Anonymous

Microsoft has done more than most any vendor to consolidate and focus all the disparate software companies out there in terms of standardization, but it would appear that this vote is a vote against a U.S. company because it is successful, rather than a vote on the issues. Let's face it -- if SAP or Oracle were "setting the standards," would you be able to use most any $50 printer with your copy of Microsoft Windows? An interesting question, because when you apply that same exact "standard" (or question) to most any version of Linux or Oracle's/SAP's ERP applications, then you quickly arrive at the answer: no!
-Keith

I'm not surprised at Microsoft's failure to get OpenXML accepted in ISO's fast-track system. In my job, I have to deal with multiple file formats. My main task is to analyze document formats and provide filters for translating them. I can say, without remorse, that OpenXML and its predecesor, Word 2003 ML, are the worst XML vocabularies I've seen in the last five years.

Word 2003 ML was designed to represent binary word files using an XML-based vocabulary. The main goal was to achieve perfect representation, allowing round tripping between .DOC files and XML versions. Microsoft ignored basic XML design principles on purpose because otherwise, it would not be possible to seamlessly convert .DOC files to XML and back.

OpenXML maintained the basic design flaws of Word 2003 XML. As result, it is a poorly written XML vocabulary from an XML point of view, but good enough for Office users that don't care about what's inside a .DOCX file.

I expected that, giving its lobbying capabilities, Microsoft would be able to get OpenXML into ISO's fast track. However, deep in my heart I wished this not to happen until the proposal gets fixed.
-Rodolfo

As far as getting its "standard" accepted by the ISO and IEC, I figure it is because Microsoft doesn't play well with others. The way to get a standard accepted is to work with others so that much of the industry uses the same system. IBM didn't learn that, and look where it is in the personal computer business. Microsoft thinks it is the answer to everything, and I think it is losing market share as a result. Where I work, we have no current plans to move to Vista or Office 2007. Office 2003 met a standard; everybody knows how to use it. Office 2007 looks a lot different. Maybe it is time to move to Open Office. Either way, we have to retrain our people.

Where do we get the biggest bang for our buck? When the changes are too dramatic, people look for what is more familiar. Does Microsoft think it is so big that everyone will always go to it? It doesn't work that way. All you have to do is look at GM and Toyota. The mighty do fall. Nothing is permanent, and a fast change will always leave people with a decision.
-John

Microsoft hasn't gotten its own stuff squared away and therefore wouldn't be in a great position to foist it off on others. I've encountered problems in MS Retail Management editing XML files. It uses receipts and then has the program reject them because they are "not in XML format." Redoing it minutes later produces no complaint. Geez!
-Gordon

Meanwhile, in the wake of the Pentagon's announcement that hackers had gotten into its e-mail system, Les shares his thoughts on Internet security and how to punish those caught hacking:

I don't believe that it is possible to deliver a truly secure, non-hackable e-mail message. If you have a message that has to get there uncompromised, then you better hand-deliver it yourself. That is the best fool-proof method, but it's not always practical. Cryptography equipment (like that used in the military) and/or coded messages is the next best option, but this is expensive and time-consuming. Snail mail might be a better option for most. If you cannot afford for your e-mail messages to be hacked, then you better find another method of delivery. NEVER send classified material over the Internet.

The real problem is the 'punishment' that hackers get if and when they are caught. Hackers and identity thieves are the same, in my book. Only the ultimate price will guarantee the perpetrator will not re-offend. Sorry if I'm too gung-ho for some, but Ted Bundy hasn't killed anyone lately and Charles Manson will probably never make parole. Someone that has paid a fine or done time and gets out can re-offend.

If you disagree, ask the authorities to let Charlie out of jail and live with you.
-Les

Tell us what you think! Send an e-mail to escannell@redmondmag.com or leave a comment below.

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