Patched Excel Has Math Issues

One inadvertent result of the set of patches that Microsoft released for Office last week was that Excel 2003 returns an incorrect value when used in conjunction with Real Time Data source.

Microsoft has acknowledged the problem and is working on a fix. The bug shows up when configured using a VBA macro for external data acquisition. As a temporary workaround, Microsoft suggested that users run any function containing a VBA macro using a Real Time Data source on each cell individually.

Few of us use Excel as a data acquisition tool, and this doesn't sound like an embarrassing math-error issue as much as it sounds like a straightforward bug. But such bugs might make users less likely to use Excel for tasks where accuracy is important.

What about you? Are you comfortable using Excel for important math calculations? Let me know at

Microsoft Pays for Rapt Attention
Microsoft announced late last week an agreement to acquire Rapt, a Web advertising price and availability company located in San Francisco.

Rapt software and services enable Web advertising suppliers to track and price inventory effectively. What this means is that in a world where the amount of available Web advertising space and how much it costs is always changing, Rapt brings together buyer and seller with equivalent information.

This acquisition, while small, nicely complements Microsoft's purchase of aQuantive last year. It looks like Microsoft is serious about making a push in Web advertising, and is willing to go outside the company to buy critical parts.

Do you think advertising should be such an important part of Microsoft's future strategy? Or should the company focus on its traditional user base. Send your opinion to

OpenSpan Opens Up to Web Services
OpenSpan recently announced the OpenSpan Platform SOA Desktop Edition, a new release that enables the product to connect with Web services in addition to standalone applications. In addition, the resulting integration itself can be called as a Web service by still other applications.

OpenSpan offers a means to easily mine internal interfaces to common desktop applications, and use those interfaces to integrate data and processes from different applications into a custom workflow.

Are there applications you wish you could connect together? Tell me about them at

BeyondTrust Offers Free Privilege Management Tool
BeyondTrust today announced Application Rights Auditor, a free product that automatically identifies and reports the Windows applications that require users to have elevated rights in order to use an application or certain features within an application.

You can download this tool at no charge from the BeyondTrust Web site. It complements the company's Privilege Manager product, while allowing you to easily manage user privileges across a set of applications without administrator intervention.

Do you have difficulty managing trust and privilege in a Vista environment? Tell my why at

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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