What’s New in Microsoft Land: 3 – 7 March, 2008

Microsoft debuted the week on a strong note, slapping Google in the forehead with its own version of web-based office tools, dubbed Microsoft Office Live Workspace beta. Last fall, when this was announced, it was said that it would lead the revolution the Redmond-based company is envisioning by transitioning its Office suit online. Apart from what was previewed in October, Monday brought some surprises to those that had already signed up for the service, like an activity panel, notifications, multifile uploads and direct links.

"Today’s announcement moves us further down the path of bringing a software plus
services experience to people at home, work and school," said Stephen Elop, president of the Microsoft Business Division. "By combining the rich client experience of Microsoft Office with flexible, intuitive service offerings, we’re providing seamless computing experiences for our 500 million Office users worldwide."

The newly added features have been partly based on user feedback from the early beta participants. As such, the activity panel shows all the activity happening in a workplace at a single glance, while the notifications will let people know when somebody has modified their workplaces or documents via email. The multi-upload will be very easy to use, the Windows notorious drag and drop being implemented successfully. An easier user interface and auto-completion of e-mail addresses were a must for a web-based suit, so they were attended to in the improved sharing function. Google should start worrying right about now, due to the fact that Microsoft’s Office is way more popular than the Google Docs and Spreadsheets it is currently offering, even after the revamping that happened last week.

Amid sharing a behind-the-scenes look at the future of computing, Microsoft style, at the annual TechFest innovation fair, it received some bad news about its much anticipated Windows Vista Service Pack 1 on Tuesday. The glorified update not only did not solve every problem there was (impossible, but attemptable), but created some new ones, in the driver compatibility area. Just as it was ready to present it to the world, Nicola Delfino, an industry architect in the Communication Sector / Microsoft Services Division encountered a problem that will require some additional work to be done. No more SP1 that soon, the situation spells.

"Since I installed SP1 RTM on my Vista, I discovered that the system after a boot, CPU usage remained constant at 100%. A deeper analysis shown that 99% of that CPU usage was kernel time. After a Sunday afternoon spent to find a solution, I discovered the problem: I have an old PCMCIA card reader that, if present when I boot the laptop, produces the issue and the behavior described above. When Vista started with CPU ad 100%, even if I removed the card reader, system remained with CPU at 100% (== unusable). The only way to unlock the situation, was to reboot the system (without the card!)," Delfino observed. Well, at leat that’s justice for you, even big-shots at the Redmond-based company are encountering problems, I only wish one got blue screens just the same way we do and admitted to that being annoying. But enough with the steam-blowing.

Internet Explorer 8 beta was released into the wild at MIX08 on Wednesday, where it was announced as the main attraction. Even in its first beta, it delivers significantly improved standards support and developer platform investments with enhanced user experiences, the developing team bragged. Truth be told, after the huge work that has been put in improving IE 7, Internet Explorer 8 has all the prerequisites of a browser that will make history. The integrated developer tools that allow HTML, CSS and scripts in a visual environment quick debugging are dreamy features, and if they managed to find their way into the very first beta, I cannot imagine what it will look like when everything is finished and working as it should.

"Welcome to Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1, the latest test release of the most popular browser! This release contains some great advances in Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and layout, programming model, performance, reliability, usability and service integration. We are eager to ensure that the transition to Internet Explorer 8 is seamless for you and your audience, and to give you a head start on using many of the new features with your sites and services. We encourage you to test your sites and services, and our platform implementation, and give us feedback," Chris Wilson, IE Platform Architect said.

Thursday, Microsoft announced its Document Interoperability Initiative, aimed at promoting user choice among document formats and expanded opportunity for developers, partners and competitors. The Document Interoperability Initiative focuses on bringing vendors together to promote interoperability between document format implementations through testing and refining those implementations, creation of format implementation test suites, and the creation of templates designed for optimal interoperability between different formats, the company’s PressPass announced.

A number of independent software vendors were invited by the Redmond-based company at Cambridge on this day, among which Novell Inc., Mark Logic Corp., Quickoffice Inc., DataViz Inc. and Nuance Communications Inc., to participate at the launch of the community-based initiative. "Microsoft believes that the industry has a responsibility to come together to address the interests of users in achieving greater interoperability and effective data exchange between widely deployed document format implementations. The labs are designed to bring technical staff together to roll up their sleeves and test interoperability between implementations of formats and address issues that are identified either in those implementations or in the translation technologies used to work across formats," said Jean Paoli, general manager for Interoperability and XML Architecture at Microsoft. Some roundtable discussions between vendors about steps required to promote real-world interoperability between document format implementations have also been held.

Bill Gates must be grinning from ear to ear as it becomes more clear for everybody that Apple’s future lies with Microsoft, life-long enemy. Steve Jobs’ company’s hardware products are slowly going for MS branded software, as was highlighted by Exchange corporate vice president Terry Myerson. "We’re happy that Apple is adding the iPhone to the growing number of mobile devices that connect with Exchange Server. As part of a business agreement with Microsoft, Apple will build Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync into the iPhone – making it possible for iPhone owners to access Exchange and take advantage of its secure mobile communications features," he said on Friday.

source : news.softpedia.com

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