Microsoft Announces Web-Based Office Companion

Microsoft yesterday announced Office Live Workspace, a free Web site that will let users store, share and comment on documents online. Starting Monday, users can sign up to be part of an early beta test of the service.

Users can upload Word, Excel and PowerPoint files (Office 2003 or 2007) to the site, and then invite others to read and add comments to those documents through the Web interface.

This looks to be an extension of an earlier Office Live service that I reviewed for the August 2007 issue of Redmond magazine.

Have you tried out the Office Live services yet? Send your impressions to me at pvarhol@redmondmag.com.

Yahoo Ups the Ante on Search
As search continues to generate a high level of competition in the industry, Yahoo is responding by upgrading its search engine with enhancements designed to catch up and, in some cases, pass the primary competition, notably Google and Microsoft's MSN.

One new feature enables the integration of multimedia -- including video, images and audio -- into a single search results page. This feature seems to be the equivalent of Google's Universal Search feature.

A second feature is the Yahoo Search Assist box, which offers suggested searches as soon as the user starts typing a query, and also provides several related topics once the user is done. There's also Yahoo Shortcuts, a box that offers relevant information and links based on the search keyword typed by the user.

Do you try new search engines, or do you stick with what's worked in the past? Search me out at pvarhol@redmondmag.com.

eBay Takes Big Charge on Skype
Online auctioneer eBay, which acquired Internet phone company Skype for $2.6 billion in 2005, has admitted failure by taking a $1.4 billion write-down on the value of the company yesterday. At the same time, eBay also announced that Skype co-founder and chief executive Niklas Zennstrom was resigning his position.

According to analysts, this represents an admission from eBay that it paid too much for Skype two years ago, and hasn't found a good way of integrating Internet calling into its core businesses. While Internet calling is often seen as a reasonable secondary service, few seem willing to adopt it as their primary phone service.

I use Skype occasionally, primarily for overseas calls. It seems to have greater acceptance in Europe, where the company has its roots, than in the U.S. What's your take on Internet calling? Does it have a future, or is it destined to be relegated to the sidelines? Tell me at pvarhol@redmondmag.com.

Mailbag: Readers Show Their Age
Doug's looking for the youngest and oldest Redmond Report readers. Here's how the field looks so far:

Hi, Mr. Editor-in-Chief-VP-Barney. You said you could include family members. I believe that my younger sister reads this...on her own. Every day. Almost more religiously than Pat the Bunny. She will be 1 year old in 24 days. So, she's technically 11 months and 1 day old. Beat that!
-Lauren

I'm probably not your oldest reader (at 60), but since I just reached that august age, I thought I'd report it anyway.
-Bill

I'm 67. Like the kids that anticipate their next birthday, I'll be 68 in December. (Partially) thanks to reading the Redmond Report, I'm reliving my life -- but with a twist. Started as an autocoder programmer in 1966. Then segued to COBOL and assembler. Left IT in 1978. But one year ago, I took an assignment at a software company as an application programmer using PowerBASIC. What a difference 40 years make. Virtually unlimited compiles versus one a day.
-Pat

Born on June 1, 1962. I have worked on networked computers since ARPANET, MILNET and BITNET. I used punch cards and punch tape to write programs. I used acoustic modems (300 Baud) that connected to the headset of a phone. I remember when HTML was just a thought and then finally this Netscape thing came out. I remember when 'Net news was the "big thing"; I even read the Swedish.chef.bork.bork.bork list. I remember the Morris worm. I have seen enough changes with computers; I cannot even guess what computers, and how they communicate, will look like in the next 20 years.
-Raymond

I'm old. I am 64 years old and still involved with Windows XP and 2003 server here at school.
-Gary]

I love Redmond magazine. And I've been alive for 53 years.
-Randy

At the age of 45, I went back to college to train for a new career in networking. I am now 50 and have been reading Redmond for the past five years. Keep up the good work!
-Chris

I am 60 years old -- not the oldest reader, I am sure. I remember when Bill Gates was an upstart who thought he could outsmart IBM and all their legal guys. I guess he did.
-John

I'm probably in the middle of the pack for age; I'm 36, working out of Santa Clara County in California.
-Anonymous

I'm an old fart in IT; I'll be 53 this month. I've been a staunch Microsoft supporter all along and remember having dinner with Bill when he came to Sacramento to speak at the PC Users Group. He was as soft-spoken and unassuming then as he appears to be still. I remember holding his laptop in the Sacramento venue where he began stumping for "Information at Your Fingertips" in the early Windows days. I was tickled by the note taped on top of his laptop by his administrative assistant that said, "Do not load anything on this laptop without checking with [her name escapes me]." I was so moved by the speech that I took the first opportunity I had to load Windows Server NT 3.1 on a "spare" server.

Our California State Department had standardized on NetWare and we had Sperry/Unisys Unix boxes for midrange servers. I put the NT server next to a worktable in the computer room and asked my system admin team to take a look at it and tell me what they thought. The system admins all had Windows for Workgroups 3.11, so they were getting used to the GUI and I figured NT was a natural for servers. This was the week of Veterans Day, 1993, and my older daughter was 11. I brought her into the computer room that holiday (I know, not very good family time) and led her up to the console on the NT server. "Oh, Windows," she said, and immediately started moving the mouse from icon to icon. I asked her how she would find out information about Daddy and she clicked on "User Manager" and found my name. I asked her how she would save data from the computer to a backup tape (a slight hint) and she opened up "NT Backup" using the cassette icon. I knew then that Mr. Gates had a hit on his hands. My daughter was more comfortable with the intuitive interface than many of my admins.

I called the manager of our network support team at our "centralized" IT support office and invited him and a few other geeks to come take a look after I had some PCs connected. I explained to them how the "Information at Your Fingertips" concept that Gates described could be easily implemented in our geographically dispersed State Department. It worked. The network I built became the model for the Department of General Services, with 3,500 employees in offices throughout California. An employee can log in at any location and get to their e-mail, documents, etc., thanks to our implementation of 'Information at Your Fingertips' using Windows servers, workstations and applications.
-Gordon

My age is 53, and I say XP should stay around as long as Vista continues to be a pain in the rear.
-Robert

Thoughts? Send them to us at dbarney@redmondmag.com or leave a comment below.

About the Author

Peter Varhol is the executive editor, reviews of Redmond magazine and has more than 20 years of experience as a software developer, software product manager and technology writer. He has graduate degrees in computer science and mathematics, and has taught both subjects at the university level.

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