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Microsoft Software

Microsoft Office 2003 - Reviews, Overviews, Issues 517

securitas writes "The first users of Microsoft's Office 2003 are weighing in and the response is mixed. The new Outlook has received a favorable response, but the mantra seems to be there's little reason to upgrade unless you absolutely need the new features. Meanwhile, Bill Gates dismissed the open source competition. One of the new features - self-destructing documents - seems to have caused some confusion, because 'Microsoft says the new feature is not designed to remove all traces of a file' and MS spokesman Mike Pryke-Smith says, 'The message will still be in various places', so emails will not cleanly self-destruct. A related issue is the permissions technology called Information Rights Management, which may shut out Mac users. PC World has a detailed review of Office 2003 which sums things up well."
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Microsoft Office 2003 - Reviews, Overviews, Issues

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  • Given some of the crap that Windows programs leave when you try to uninstall them, I don't think I'd trust an email to be completely removed from the system.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Are like wet ducks in the desert... it's just not quite right.
  • It doesn't matter what my feelings are about it because in the end it will be preinstalled on all new systems anyway whether you like it or not.

    • who has a full office suite preinstalled?

      it costs so much it's always an option.

      computers usually come with "MS Works" or something.
      • I was typing an email in LookOut 2003 today and typed a smiley face like ":)". It automatically turned it into a smiley-face character. Oy Gevalt.

        I'd say the biggest improvement is that HTML emails don't automatically load images. A little "x" icon appears in place of the image, along with a tiny message "click to view- not loaded to protect your privacy" or something like that. In LookOut 2000, you had to unplug your ethernet cable before reading something that might be spam.

        • by steveha ( 103154 ) on Thursday October 23, 2003 @03:32AM (#7288445) Homepage
          I'd say the biggest improvement is that HTML emails don't automatically load images.

          The PC World review described this feature, and it sounds like Microsoft has done this exactly the same way that Ximian Evolution does it.

          Trolls can try to make hay with that if they like, but I say it's just the obviously right way to handle the problem, so it's no shock that MS did it the same way.

          This feature was the one "killer feature" that convinced me to switch to Ximian Evolution. I don't want spammers to be able to confirm my email address using HTML mail. It's good for Outlook users that MS added this feature.

          steveha
        • The real question is whether Outlook:
          1. Parses the HTML, recognises the external image link and consequently does not send a request for the image, or
          2. Parses the HTML, recognises the external image link, downloads the image and then just fails to display it until you click on the X.

          May not seem like much of a difference, but it is. (1) still allows marketers/spammers to collect view statistics and gain some measure of response to their trash. while (2) does not. What's the bet O2k3 does the latter?

          Afte


          • After all, if MS really cared about dangerous HTML content and the spam problem they'd have added a "parse all incoming emails as text only" option long ago.

            Well, Bill Gates did issue a mandate for Microsoft to solve the spam problem... what, 3-4 months ago? Of course they never said they'd do it for free.

            -a
      • who has a full office suite preinstalled?
        Anybody who buys a built-up computer from me gets not one, but two - yes, count them, two - full office suites preinstalled: KOffice and OpenOffice.org.

        AJS318 computers use mostly genuine Slackware or Debian GNU/Linux.
        http://www.microsoft.com/piracy/whogivesatoss/ [microsoft.com]
  • Mac users? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BWJones ( 18351 ) on Thursday October 23, 2003 @02:55AM (#7288301) Homepage Journal
    A related issue is the permissions technology called Information Rights Management, which may shut out Mac users.

    So, I have been hearing this concern raised a number of times, and I have to wonder....Why has Microsoft not taken the time or made the effort to answer the question? Their Mac business unit is one of the most profitable divisions, so one would think that this concern would have made it up the corporate ladder.

    • The Mac business unit is profitable, but not one of the most profitable. In terms of investment/return, its amoung the best if not the best. But don't be silly: the MBU is a very, very small chunk of MS's profits.

      Very small.
  • OpenOffice (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dreadlord ( 671979 ) on Thursday October 23, 2003 @02:55AM (#7288303) Journal
    Cool, know we know what we're going to see in the next version of OpenOffice. [openoffice.org]
    • Re:OpenOffice (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Johnny Mnemonic ( 176043 ) <<mdinsmore> <at> <gmail.com>> on Thursday October 23, 2003 @09:09AM (#7289541) Homepage Journal

      Hope you're right. More likely, whatever Office 2003 uses to authenticate that you're the intended recipient of a DRM word doc isn't going to work with OO. Once the doc is locked, OO isn't going to have the key to open it.

      And, since it's DRM, it's going to harder to reverse-engineer that key, than, say, the document format. And, even if it is reversed, I wonder if it'll be a DMCA violation.

      Not a big issue; you, of course, don't have to lock your documents. This time. Next version of Office, watch for the DRM feature to be 'on' by default; you have to turn it off, but it'll just take a preference selection. Version after that, two versions from now, DRM "feature" is on all the time, and takes arcane hacks to turn it off.

      Bet on it.
  • Bloatware (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Grimster ( 127581 ) on Thursday October 23, 2003 @02:56AM (#7288308) Homepage
    I haven't had a need for MS Office in a long time, ok so I need to type a document, 9 times outta 10 I can get by with a basid editor like notepad or wordpad, need to make something a little heavier? An invoice or bid? OpenOffice does a decent enough job, hell I don't even use a handful of all the features OO has either even when I'm making something "professional" (aka business related) and when I save I usually use the lowest common denominator so I can be assured the recipient can read it (however I typically fax the document anyway).

    Maybe I'm a minority but even if I were given a copy of MS Office I wouldn't even bother installing it.
    • I won't upgrade to any new MS software. I don't trust it - security holes and spyware/controlware. what I have (WinME and office 2000 premium) is more than enough for my non-linux computing. they aren't perfect but I'm used to them now.

      there's nothing MS can offer me that would justify the effort of simply learning about them, let alone the effort of fixing new problems or their ridiculous cost.
      • Downgrade your ME to 98SE (or upgrade it to 2K). WinME is the most bloatedly useless steaming pile of shit that Microsoft ever produced.

        For the DOS based Windows versions, 98SE is the best. For the NT family, I'd go with 2K over XP.
        • no thanks. although I know I'll lose loads of 'spect with all teh 1337 h4x0rz, I think WinME is good.

          I play games and I watch DVD's. this (and browsing with Firebird) is 99% of my windows use. I have no problems with ME. I've used 98SE, it was crap. moving to 2000 would get me what? a load of hassle to fix my non-existent problems or improve my more than sufficient performance?
    • I haven't had a need for MS Office in a long time, ... OpenOffice does a decent enough job...

      That is fine if you work in seclusion from the rest of the world, but unfortunately MS Office has become an "industry standard". That means that people your business relies on (e.g. clients) often mail you Office documents that they want you to look at and modify. We tried to switch to OpenOffice, but it just didn't cut it - too many incompatabilies. So now we're back to spending $$$ on MS Office licenses for ev

  • New? (Score:5, Funny)

    by mabu ( 178417 ) * on Thursday October 23, 2003 @02:56AM (#7288311)
    Since when are Self destructing documents a "new feature?"

    We all saw that coming so I figured we might as well get it over with.
  • Who's server? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BrynM ( 217883 ) * on Thursday October 23, 2003 @02:57AM (#7288314) Homepage Journal
    From the article [newscientist.com]:
    "Each user's version of Word will access the central server to determine how that person is allowed to use the document."
    So if I'm sending an e-mail publicly, like to say Bill Gates [mailto] who's server is doing this authentication? Is it MS Passport... er, .Net? Any beta testers here?
    • Re:Who's server? (Score:3, Interesting)

      And would you seriously trust Microsoft to take care of your document keys?
    • Re:Who's server? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bigberk ( 547360 )
      Each user's version of Word will access the central server to determine how that person is allowed...
      Do you ever get the feeling that our Windows machines will rely so much on "central servers"/network connections, even for goddam word processing, that in the future the entire nation's productivity will crash due to (heh) network crashes, "central server" problems, security issues, etc.
    • Obvious answer (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jeti ( 105266 ) on Thursday October 23, 2003 @04:27AM (#7288605) Homepage
      The authentification will be done by a server chosen by the author.

      Anyone can set up his own server or maybe use a thirdparty provider. And the authentification server will not see the documents themselves, but will receive a document hash and the public key of the reader.

      I'm not sure whether access rights will be stored on the server or in the document header. The first variant would allow you to change permissions retroactively. But if you loose the data on the server, you'll be in trouble.

      I don't have any special knowlwge about what MS is doing. But the described approach sound most sensible to me.

  • by Elpacoloco ( 69306 ) <elpacoloco@nOSPAM.dslextreme.com> on Thursday October 23, 2003 @02:57AM (#7288319) Journal
    If my organization is indeed that paranoid, I would insist that document suffer at least a shred(1) if not the destruction of the entire hard disk.

    This sounds like a rather half-assed solution.
    • by steveha ( 103154 ) on Thursday October 23, 2003 @04:37AM (#7288624) Homepage
      I think the general idea is to control who can see the document. And the implementation requires that your run the digital restrictions management server (Windows Server 2003).

      So instead of shred(1), the equivalent free software solution is to set up a *NIX server and keep the documents on that. Set up a remote graphics protocol (X11 or VNC) so that workers can log in to look at the documents under control. Don't set up any kind of network file system; keep those files bottled up. Use *NIX security to control which users can read which files, and which users can edit which files (using tools on the server, of course).

      You could even set up some sort of groupware to run purely on the server; email, or maybe even a one-computer USENET!

      This won't control emails sent outside the company, but then, nothing really will.

      The best part is that the free software solution will cost so much less than Windows Sever 2003 plus all the client licenses. It'll run on much cheaper hardware, too.

      steveha
  • by niko9 ( 315647 ) * on Thursday October 23, 2003 @03:00AM (#7288330)
    Can we get Charlton Heston to be the new Vi spokesman? I just wanna see him go to computer conferences, hold up the Vi source code printed on old style dot matrix printer paper and say "From my dead cold hands"

    --

    • by IntelliTubbie ( 29947 ) on Thursday October 23, 2003 @05:42AM (#7288801)
      Can we get Charlton Heston to be the new Vi spokesman? I just wanna see him go to computer conferences, hold up the Vi source code printed on old style dot matrix printer paper and say "From my dead cold hands"

      Uh, dude? Kirk Douglas was Spartacus. RTFIMDB [imdb.com].

      Perhaps you were thinking of Ben-Hur? [imdb.com]. Sure, they're similar, but anyone who gets similar things like these confused should NOT use vi. You might end up trying to save a file and accidentally blow up a small village.

      Cheers,
      IT
  • I had a 2000 cd in hand but 2000 takes so long to install I figure just go light and use 98. Barely notice the difference between home and office xp at work.
  • by maxmg ( 555112 ) on Thursday October 23, 2003 @03:06AM (#7288350)
    This is not a new feature - all office versions I have ever used had this. And, while not removing all traces of the document, they rendered it completely unusable.

    This is definitely an area in which the open source products need to catch up!

    BTW, the only reliable way to recover at least most of the content of Office-self-shredded documents that I have found was to open them with OpenOffice.org, which does a much better job at reading partly corrupted files.
    • One of the things that switched me on to Open Office was a corruption I had with a huge Office 97 document containing an OLE Visio object.

      If I tried to edit part of the document around the object, it just corrupted. Went back to backups, and all recent backups had the same corruption. Spent a few days retyping the darn thing.

      I figure that if it's stored as XML, there's a much better chance that I can read it or parse it and maybe fix it myself.

  • wowser! (Score:5, Funny)

    by slobarnuts ( 666254 ) on Thursday October 23, 2003 @03:08AM (#7288356) Homepage
    wait, so making self destructings documents how? I know! it will be for situations like Enron, and any other number happenings.

    where employees can not be trusted to delete sensitive and incriminating material, the writer of such incriminating material can be like "SELF DESTRUCTION IN 3 DAYs SO I WILL NOT GO JAIL!"

    Then investigators go in later and say "you non-technical managers ddont realize your self-destruct feature still leaves the message"

    manager:"but how is that"

    Fed investigator:"Nyuck nyuck, aks microsoft"

    manager:(falls to knees, raises fist, looks to the sky) DAMNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!

  • My main question (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blincoln ( 592401 ) on Thursday October 23, 2003 @03:10AM (#7288369) Homepage Journal
    Is Outlook properly multi-threaded now? We use 2000 at work, and it's really frustrating to not be able to have a big message downloading from the Exchange server and read others at the same time.
    • Very much so. I'm a consultant and have actually spent quite a lot of time lately telling customers why their centralized Exchange deployments with Outlook 2000 suck *ss - it's the client, stupid!

      Outlook 2000 massively blows, Outlook XP is a bit better but pops up annoying dialogs when the network gets slow, and Outlook 2003 finally has it right - it's the old "third time's a charm" cycle from MS rearing its ugly head again.

      Outlook 2003 introduces a new semi-connected mode called "Cached mode" that cache
      • Outlook 2000 massively blows, Outlook XP is a bit better but pops up annoying dialogs when the network gets slow, and Outlook 2003 finally has it right - it's the old "third time's a charm" cycle from MS rearing its ugly head again.

        Don't you mean 'fifth time'? There were two Outlook versions before 2000 (97 and 98), and that's not counting the previous Exchange clients (yuck).
    • Re:My main question (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LordSah ( 185088 ) *
      Yes, it's multi-threaded. There are some scenarios that you _could_ get a hangup on the main thread, but they're very uncommon.

      Another posted pointed out cached-exchange. It works great, and you can read all your email without even being connected.
  • by eidechse ( 472174 ) on Thursday October 23, 2003 @03:12AM (#7288377)
    Software, or digital content, doesn't wear out. Even if a company could produce a perfect piece of software, office suite or otherwise, it'd be detrimental to do so under current business models. "Software as service" subscriptions could address this, but customers don't seem to go for it. To keep revenue coming in customers have to be convinced, cajoled, or forced into upgrades.

    OK, none of this is news to anyone...but what are some viable commercial alternatives? The Open Source model tends to favor charging for support/service, one time charges for feature creation/customization, and donations; micropayments for content has been tried; and Macromedia and Adobe have had success with a "free-to-view pay-to-create" model.

    The current "artificial upgrade" seems unethical and possibly doomed. Are traditional business obsolete in the digital arena? What's next?
  • Pandora's Box (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mabu ( 178417 ) * on Thursday October 23, 2003 @03:16AM (#7288390)
    I can appreciate the value of the concept of self-destructing documents. We all know that once information becomes digital, the potential of controlling its integrity is questionable at best, but that notwithstanding, it could be a useful feature.

    However, my concern over the abuse of this feature overshadows any benefit it may offer. If documents, or even worse, all files, now have flags associated with them that could trigger not easily interruptable deletion, you can imagine the total havoc an il-behaved program could wreak on a user's system.

    Can you imagine worms and viruses that mass flag files for automatic destruction at random dates? Receive a nasty e-mail or visit the wrong web site and have it cause files to dissapear months later with virtually no evidence or detectable agent? That's scary.

    Of course, I'm sure Microsoft has carefully considered these circumstances so we have nothing to worry about.
    • yeah... I can't wait to open a copy of an important document and find myself reading about somebody's wicked screensaver.
    • by gad_zuki! ( 70830 ) on Thursday October 23, 2003 @03:32AM (#7288444)
      I know this much: this will be disabled to send or recieve at every lawfirm in the world. You are simply not going to read something that you can't print out, copy, etc and will expire in four hours.

      What really bothers me is that this is truly "lazy man's crypto." MS could have made a nice GUI for gpg and better PGP support in its XP products, but they deliver this instead? MS is in a position where it can bring crypto to the masses and other goodies. Its a shame really.

      Not to mention they can't plug the "analog hole" namely the fact that your monitor is a passive listening device and as such screenshots cannot be blocked. Even if they block it on the OS level a cheap digital camera will do in a pinch.
      • What really bothers me is that this is truly "lazy man's crypto." MS could have made a nice GUI for gpg and better PGP support in its XP products, but they deliver this instead? MS is in a position where it can bring crypto to the masses and other goodies.

        Why would Microsoft want to promote something which is open and multi-platform? That just dosn't fit with their proprietary software business model/religion.
    • Actually, nothing gets deleted automatically. With every protected document it, your PC needs to go get a key from a rights management server (hosted by your company or microsoft) in order to decrypt it.

      After the specified expiration date, when your PC tries to get the key, the server says "sorry, too late." Nothing gets deleted from your PC. You still have the file, but just no key to unlock it.

    • Can you imagine worms and viruses that mass flag files for automatic destruction at random dates?

      this brings up a very good point.

      all of this document control shit that MS is putting in is really just a thorn in the side for technical users. i mean, even MS admits that destructed documents still leave copies on the Server as well as traces on the client.
      so, really what's the point? it's a complete false sense of security because underneath, the security really is non-existant.

      also, i like the part in
  • by eric76 ( 679787 ) on Thursday October 23, 2003 @03:16AM (#7288391)
    Now Microsoft will have an excuse to avoid turning documents over during the discovery processes of the various lawsuits against them.

    "Honest, your honor. The document self destructed the day we were supposed to turn it over."
  • All hail the King! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gilmoure ( 18428 ) on Thursday October 23, 2003 @03:22AM (#7288406) Journal
    ...the king of floating document formats. Once again, Microsoft is changing it's formats, in an attempt to force users to upgrade their software, as well as lockout 3rd party apps and OS's.

    Here at my college, we have had such a problem with various Word formats (from student and faculty home machines) that we're pushing saving as RTF. The problem with this is that there's a large segment of users out there that have no clue as to what a file format is, much less why they should go to any further trouble than just hitting save.

    There's always several, usually at the end of a term, who can't print from their computer and need a paper printed up (class is in 5 minutes). Said paper is done on some 5 year old Romanian version of Office Works Lite and nothing else but Office 98 on a Mac can read it.

    'Course I don't have a floppy disk on my Mac and have to walk across campus (with wailing student in tow-"I need this for class or I'll fail!") to the Mac lab and then spend 5 more minutes (that I could be surfing pr0n or taking over the world in SMACX) explaining that the print button on the tool bar really does do the same thing on a Mac, and yes, it is pretty, just print your friggin' paper, you overpaying, coddled, mama's child!
    • Course I don't have a floppy disk on my Mac and have to walk across campus (with wailing student in tow-"I need this for class or I'll fail!") to the Mac lab and then spend 5 more minutes (that I could be surfing pr0n or taking over the world in SMACX) explaining that the print button on the tool bar really does do the same thing on a Mac, and yes, it is pretty, just print your friggin' paper, you overpaying, coddled, mama's child!

      Isn't that mama's child paying for your porn surfing bandwith? If you have
  • OpenOffice and LAMP (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Thursday October 23, 2003 @03:23AM (#7288412) Journal
    This "Authentication Server" that MS is pushing on the corporate suits sounds kind of neat... but why couldn't this be implemented in a few afternoons for OO using LAMP?

    It's a rather simple problem: A user with some kind of credentials opens a document, to find that it's encrypted.

    Within the document is a reference to the authentication server that has the certificate needed to decrypt the file. The user's credentials are then passed to the server (a-la XML over SSL/HTTPS) and the credentials are either sufficient (and the server passed back the certificate) or they aren't and the file remains unreadable.

    I see the problem as:
    1. Open Office needs to require credentials.
    2. Open Office needs a saving filter.
    3. A rudimentary certificate manager in Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP needs to be written.
    4. ...???
    5. Profit!!!!


    Really - what's the big deal here?
  • Oh dear...

    I sure hope all those bits that suddenly function as shrapnel don't cause dents in my HD's platters. I'm not quite sure I would enjoy having my HD flakked to kingdom-come...

  • How is lawful access to protected email regulated in Office System 2003? Does Microsoft present any information on this?

    Kristian
  • Oh Great Gates, Isn't it better to build bridges (Mac) than destroy documents?
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Thursday October 23, 2003 @03:26AM (#7288424) Homepage
    Virus scanners and firewalls can't examine encrypted or self-destructing Office documents. So this could provide a new way for Office-based attacks to bypass defenses.
    • Not "could", I guarantee it WILL be a major virus entry point, especially since they are adding email functionality into Office. Imagine the fun! Virus laden Word document is emailed to everyone. Office is nice enough to accept the email (bypassing any virus scanner), probably launch it (MS never learns), then destroy the evidence. We should call this Auto-fuck.

      You've just convinced me to not allow this crap on my computer. Not that I needed any convincing, OpenOffice works quite nicely for me.
  • by securitas ( 411694 ) on Thursday October 23, 2003 @03:27AM (#7288428) Homepage Journal


    I'm not sure why, but a couple of links were removed from the edited post. I haven't yet used MS Office 2003, so I'm not in a position to say whether or not the PC World review 'sums things up pretty well' (not my words) or not. Some of the other edits do clarify, however. As for the "spectacular-conglomeration dept.", if that referred to this post, a tip of the hat to simoniker.

    For anyone who cares, here's how it looked as submitted, with an additional Google link for PC Pro article to bypass their registration page. The interesting thing is that PC Pro changed the headline which was definitive about shutting out Macs to something less than absolute.

    The first users of MS Office 2003 are weighing in [pcworld.com] and the response is decidedly mixed. The new Outlook has received a favorable response but the mantra seems to be there's little reason to upgrade unless you absolutely need the new features [washingtonpost.com]. Microsoft probably heard this in beta trials and has adopted the curious strategy of denigrating previous versions of Office [washingtonpost.com] as "too hard to find things" and having a "clunky" interface. Meanwhile, Bill Gates dismissed the open source competition [bayarea.com]. One of the new features - self-destructing documents [newscientist.com] - seems to have caused some confusion because 'Microsoft says the new feature is not designed to remove all traces of a file' and MS spokesman Mike Pryke-Smith says, "The message will still be in various places." E-mails will not self-destruct [theinquirer.net]. Another problem is the permissions technology called Information Rights Management that will shut out Mac users [pcpro.co.uk] (Google link [google.com]). PC World has a long and detailed review of Microsoft Office 2003 [pcworld.com] (single-page [pcworld.com]).

    • I'm not sure why, but a couple of links were removed from the edited post.

      Weird, I can't imagine why 5 of the 11 links and 30 of the 160 words in your submission were edited out. I mean, we love to read full articles around here, so we might as well get them in the story text! It's not like the average Slashdot story has 3 or 4 links and 60-90 words, or anything. It doesn't make any sense that you were discriminated against in this manner.

      Oh well, I'm about to submit a story called "Geeks for Dummies" and

  • Word XML (Score:5, Interesting)

    by decipher_saint ( 72686 ) on Thursday October 23, 2003 @03:29AM (#7288438) Homepage
    Let's not forget about Word XML (and it ain't just <tag>BLOB</tag>!), say what you will, but I've been developing with their schema for some time and it's covering all the bases when it comes to Word I/O (which is 90% of the company I work for's income!).

    Now if somehow we can get Microsoft to adopt XForms 1.0 (booyah!!!) and drop InfoPath I think everyone will be happier. Or wait, did Slashdot have a story on XForms 1.0 (!?! I hope they did and I just missed it!)
  • And not much more. Of course the big question is when the OSS community will stop whining they don't need all this new stuff and duplicate the more interesting features in their own products. It seems to happen like this with every new version of ms office. Hell, openoffice even includes a clippy clone (equally useless) now.

    I'm not really interested in ms office new features even though some of the enhancements in outlook look like I could use them (I use thunderbird so I can already have a 3 column layout
    1. Outlook uses F9 to do a manual send/receive, but I'm used to F5 from OE. Unfortunately it looks like Outlook does not let you customize keyboard shortcuts?
    2. Hitting the close button is a lot easier than hitting the minimize button, and I want to use the close button to minimize Outlook to the tray, but it doesn't look like this is possible. I need to keep Outlook open because I want to have it continually check for e-mail only when I'm home, and if I let it check while it's closed then it's a hassle to tu
  • I laughed when I read this.. perhaps they really are distributing this in order to make people use their software:

    Microsoft dished out evaluation copies of Orifice [irchelp.org] to the assembled hax. When we've got a spare day or two we'll investigate the whole caboodle and let you know.
  • The idea of self-destructing documents just brings back the idea that "Information wants to be free." I think that this is a brilliant idea, not just applied to computer codes and what not. Just look at the lengths people and organizations will go to in order to stop information from spreading, and fail in spite of it all.
  • by fruey ( 563914 ) on Thursday October 23, 2003 @04:17AM (#7288580) Homepage Journal

    Nobody mentioned system requirements :

    - Microsoft Windows(R) 2000 with Service Pack 3 (SP3) or later; or Windows XP or later

    The total requirements are here [microsoft.com]. Clearly there are still a lot of people out there without the service packs etc, and all you lot who still have plenty of old boxes running 98/98SE - you'll have to upgrade of course.

    They say 233MHz/128MB RAM minimum, but they must be on crack if they can blithely say that as a minimum for Office 2003 with at least Win2K on the box, unless you have a severe patience overdose.

    I just hope antiword can keep up with the format so that I can continue to read .DOCs on any ANSI terminal that I see fit. Antiword is quite simply the most useful command line tool for reading email from all my lusers who think that sending me a .DOC attachment somehow makes my life more wonderful ("Hey, you can print it and it comes out really nice..." - as if I ever freakin' print email, you moron.)

  • by PingXao ( 153057 ) on Thursday October 23, 2003 @04:20AM (#7288588)
    "Several of Microsoft's MVPs, or Most Valuable Professionals, also served as beta testers for Office 2003."

    So what is this MVP thing? Microsoft Victimized Programmer? I tried looking it up on the web but it's a very nebulous thing. Sniff Gates' butt enough and they might let you put that after your name for a year. I see nothing that prevents me from putting it after my name as well. Hmmm.... Starting tomorrow I'm going to actually put MVP after my sig on every online forum I participate in! It's not like I'm pretending to be a doctor or a lawyer or *gasp* an MSCE perfessional, is it? Yes. That is what I will do. It will cause chaos and confusion everywhere! I can just see the naive newbies now as a real live MVP starts to dis Microsoft products at every turn.
  • Feature Bloat (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ridgelift ( 228977 ) on Thursday October 23, 2003 @04:24AM (#7288596)
    Having been a consultant for over 8 years, most business users I know still haven't grasped the feature set from Office 95, little alone '97, 2000, XP and now 2003. The reason they upgrade has largley been due to compatibility issues (users unable to open documents sent to them buy users with newer versions).

    The "need for features" is not because most users need them, but rather Microsoft needs them to make the case for upgrading.

    Open Office, Star Office and other suites will eventually win over Microsoft Office. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but soon.
  • by swordgeek ( 112599 ) on Thursday October 23, 2003 @06:42AM (#7288926) Journal
    I use openoffice. Everyone I know is moving to openoffice at home. Even the ones that use MS office don't pay for it.

    But Bill Gates knows something that most people overlook: He knows that selling to home users is irrelevant! All he needs to do is come up with some reason to force companies to upgrade, and they will. DRM isn't a reason, it's just a lockdown "feature" to make everything else less viable. The real upgrade force push comes from two directions:

    1) Lack of format compatability. Once someone starts using it and sending out files, everyone will need it or not be able to read the files.
    2) The basic nature of companies is to upgrade and turn over equipment, over time.

    Bill will win this one. And the next one. And the next one...
  • by pointbeing ( 701902 ) on Thursday October 23, 2003 @07:10AM (#7289000)
    I wonder how many people howling about Office 2003 have actually used it?

    I did some pretty extensive testing with Outlook's self-destruct feature yesterday and here's what I learned -

    • Expired *unread* email will be deleted from a user's inbox. It's not deleted from the server and any mail administrator can recover it.
    • If the message has been marked read it's not deleted. Same thing for mail routed by a rule.
    I think it's a pretty handy feature - I send a lot of mail that requires either a quick response or no response. An example -

    boss -

    If you get this before your 1:00 meeting can you bring up (insert rant of choice)?

    Not too hard to understand.

    Messages that are marked read that have expired show up in Outlook with a line drawn through the two-line preview. They can still be opened and read. I find the feature pretty handy.

    Also, OL2003 appears to be a bit more intuive for the end user than previous versions. The thing that scares the crap out of me (and would anybody else that does direct customer support) is that it *looks* different from previous versions. That's often enough to freak out your more non-technical users, who call the helpdesk because they can't figure out how to work their shiny new email program.

    I like it well enough that we're gonna skip Office XP and upgrade users from Office 2k to Office 2003 when we do the big WinXP deployment next spring.

  • That's NOT all (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ripplet ( 591094 ) on Thursday October 23, 2003 @07:43AM (#7289131)
    "Right now you can put 'confidential' on a document, but that's all."

    What do you mean that's all, what about:

    Putting a password on the document

    Using PGP on the email

    Putting the document on a network drive with restricted access intead of emailing it

    Where I work we use all the above (and maybe more), I think current technology certainly does have one or two improvements on "confidential".

    Oh yeah, I forgot, he's a marketroid, can't believe anything he says, never mind...

  • Figures (Score:4, Insightful)

    by be-fan ( 61476 ) on Thursday October 23, 2003 @08:56AM (#7289468)
    I predicted this the first time I heard about Microsoft's content "protection" feature. People complain that Palladium-style DRM will prevent people from booting Linux, but that would be far too blatent. Instead, "protections" like these are going to turn Microsoft file formats, which are hard enough to reverse engineer already, into proprietory files protected from reverse-engineering by the DMCA. How long will it be before some sort of content-protection functionality is needed to open *all* Office documents, not just ones that specify certain protections? After all, Windows users would never know --- Office will dutifully open encrypted letters from grandma, but a Linux user will be shut out, even if he should be able to read the document.
  • by weave ( 48069 ) on Thursday October 23, 2003 @09:09AM (#7289544) Journal
    Here's my impressions and comments based on what I've read here...
    • The opening keynote presentation couldn't be more boring. Two hours of powerpoint slides. And the transitions were a bit jerky. They should have used Apple's Keynote for their keynote. The followup sessions were much better (I attended the deployment track)
    • You can't print screen, copy, whatever, a protected document that an author sets to disallow that. But you can get a print screen if you run the OS under Virtual PC or VMWARE. (asked and answered at the event).
    • Someone or people defined on each RMS (Stallman must be upset) server can override the security as a fail safe. I assume this also means expired docs. You're email isn't safe from subpoenas after all.
    • I personally like the idea of expiring emails. It will allow me to talk shit about my bosses a lot easier with little fear that my message will be forwarded by someone and end up in their INBOX. We currently PGP "sensitive" emails like that, but that doesn't prevent someone from decrypting and sending on.
    • An RMS server requires active directory, each AD user account to have an email account listed in the directory, and MS SQL server. It does *NOT* require Exchange.
    • After 8 hours of presentations, I still don't know the difference between Sharepoint Windows Services and Sharepoint Portal Services.
    • A lot of this stuff looks really impressive. It's obvious a lot of R&D and coding time went into this stuff. I can see a lot of benefit to huge organizations, but small-to-medium size businesses should be fine with older copies of Office or Open Office.
    • I don't see how the open source model could ever catch up with the collective work of the "Office System." Who else has the resources? And I'm no Microsoft flunky (read my posting history)
    • Lots of features are tied to required elements on the server end (hence it being called the Office "System"). If you try to use one of those features which isn't supported on the back-end, the user will get a little error about contacting IT to enable the feature. Wonderful, I can imagine the wasted support calls saying "No, not unless someone gives me $10,000+ can you do that."
    • They made extensive use of Virtual PC to simulate client interaction but more interesting was Virtual Server. The latter controlled through a web interface. I got the felling that Virtual PC might not run server, but then again, it might be like vmware, with a bogus one gig size limit for virtual machines to force you to get ESX or GSX.
    • There was some company saying how much they saved because they have 12,000 users in Exchange and were able to reduce the number of servers that that requires from something like 14 to 8. (rough memory there, amount may be incorrect, but the scale is about right). That was shocking. I run a mail server with 27,000 users on a 4 gig RAM dual processor xeon box under Linux. (Granted, it doesn't do all that exchange does, but damn)
    • They announced early on that they were giving vouchers away for a free retail copy of Office Professsional and OneNote to all attendees if you stayed to the end. Good idea, it worked. Place was still packed at the end. But on the way out, I was handed a t-shirt cube (one of those compressed brick packaging things). Half way out I said to my co-worker, "I guess the voucher is inside, but I want to check" We opened it up and there was nothing. Ran back to one of the people with the t-shirt boxes and said we didn't get a voucher. They said "Oh, ok" and handed us a piece of paper. If I got home and realized I didn't have it, I would have been pissed as hell. I bet a lot of other people were stiffed out of their vouchers. I wonder if the people handing out the stuff to people exiting were pocketing the vouchers. I bet you could make a good chunk of coin reselling that stuff. Or maybe it was some conspiracy where they were told to forget to hand them out unless specifically asked to reduce the number of free copies to be given out. Or p
    • 12,000 users in Exchange and were able to reduce the number of servers that that requires from something like 14 to 8.

      Oh, by the way, is Exchange still this much of a joke? Serving 12,000 people should require no more than two redundant servers (or one "enterprise" server with built-in redundancy). If an administrator can't set up a single four-way box to handle thousands of users, that administrator is a loser (gigahertz CPUs + gigs of RAM + mirrored RAID SCSI/FibreChannel = one fucking beast of a mach
  • new mantra (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dirk ( 87083 ) <dirk@one.net> on Thursday October 23, 2003 @09:35AM (#7289726) Homepage
    but the mantra seems to be there's little reason to upgrade unless you absolutely need the new features.


    Isn't this just common sense that applies to any software? If it does everything you need and works well for you, don't upgrade. I don't care what software it is or how much it does or doesn't cost, I'm not upgrading if I don't need anything in the new version. No (sensible) person recommends you upgrade to the newest Linux kernel every time one is released if you have an old stable one that does exactly what you want perfectly. Why would MS Office be any different? The only reason to upgrade is new features. If you don't need the new features, you don't need to upgrade.

People who go to conferences are the ones who shouldn't.

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