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Microsoft Office 2003 Mythbusting

The multitudes are weighing in on the release of Microsoft Office 2003. The problem is most of those commenting have never seen or used the product, which is just starting to hit retail shelves.

Instapundit via Jay Solo links to the main source of disinformation, this widely linked "review", from lindows.com. I use the term "review" for lack of a more colorful term, because Michael Robertson doesn't actually tell you anything about the software itself.

Read this for an explaination of what the fuss is about. And this for a discussion of security in Office 2003.

The IRM feature is a tinfoil hat brigade red herring. I suppose these people have never heard of PKI and encryption? They need to come to grips with the fact that while information may yearn to be free, corporations yearn to protect their data. Adobe has integrated document signing into the new version of Acrobat which may force an upgrade to older versions of the reader, do you hear the conspiracy theories on that? Not likely...

I've used the suite all through the beta program and can't even tell you how to turn the IRM features on, they're pretty well hidden. Plus you have to have the infrastructure (Windows 2003 and Exchange 2003) to support it. Companies that want to implement this feature already have other expensive options for data protection, this is just a cheaper alternative.

The net effect to the end user of Office 2003 or previous versions of the program is that most likely you will never encounter a IRM protected document, just as you rarely encounter a password protected document today. If you do encounter a IRM protected document, it will be because your employer has chosen to protect its internal corporate data by implementing the full Office 2003 solution, in which case it will be transparent to you.

One extra note - since permissions are granted at the application level, Office documents with restricted permission can only be opened by Office 2003 or later. However, the Rights Management Add-in for Internet Explorer allows users without Office 2003 to read content with restricted permission.


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Comments (8)

I was at a lawfirm last yea... (Below threshold)
Jim:

I was at a lawfirm last year that went from Office 2K to XP. The flack from clients not being able to read Word docs in Word 97 and 2K almost forced a roll-back. Companies that can't communicate with customers because of forced upgrades will not upgrade if they know about it. Microsoft was all over this incident but the fix came from a third party. I now am the proud bearer of more information about the construction of Word docs than I ever wanted to carry.

Hey, Kevin,You mis... (Below threshold)
Joe Bob:

Hey, Kevin,

You missed the most important "feature" of Office 2003. As you alluded, you can't use most of the new stuff unless you're running MS Server 2003 on the back end. And corporations will want those new features. Especially the groupware. So once again, MS is effectively bundling one piece of software to leverage another. Ironically they started out bundling Office with Windows, until they killed Lotus and Wordperfect. Now they're using Office to kill Unix and Linux servers, and whatever's left of Novell and Notes that they didn't kill off with Outlook/Exchange bundles.

And beware Mac users: They bought the company that makes Virtual PC. That's the program that completed Mac users ability to integrate into PC networks (works like WinTel, only better!). And MS won't say if they'll upgrade it for G5 or just kill it.

Microsoft: You can buy better, but you can't buy more expensive.

Joe Bob I wouldn't call it ... (Below threshold)

Joe Bob I wouldn't call it the "most important feature". It is a feature of interest to companies, but for regular users it's not even mentioned in the reasons to upgrade.

It's not true that 'you can't use most of the new stuff' unless you have Windows 2003 server. That is true for the collaboration and IRM tools, but that's about it. The collaboration tools in Office 2000 or XP also require things like and IIS server so there's not really much change there.

As an owner of every version of Windows since 3.1, it has never come "bundled" with Office. More complete bullshit... Computer manufactures offered all manner of OS and software bundles, but not Microsoft. The only built-in word processing in Windows has been Notepad and Wordpad. In fact it used to be that most PC makers did NOT include Office, rather they put Works into their bundle as they got it MUCH cheaper.

Hey, my school provides all... (Below threshold)
Dustin:

Hey, my school provides all students with the latest versions of office and windows, and I'll tell you right now, office 2003 is great. you can save in old format just fine, and you can save in xml. It isnt so much better than 97 or 2000 that I would actually pay to upgrade, but certainly there are no problems. I run XP pro, and I have never had a system crash either. I have mandrake on a seperate partition, and it is fun to use, and certainly you learn more through using linux, but it isnt more reliable or safer or anything like that for intelligent users who close their ports and accept the frequent security upgrades...

anyway, if you prefer linux, i understand why, if you are out to get microsoft, then realize that you probably are not being fair in evaluating their products. Office is awesome, I can dictate to my dang computer if I want. Windows is great, though it is a bit too dummy-ized. The reason I never used macs was that the system took away choice in order to allow for stability even with idiot users, im not an idiot, so I resent windows doing that, but i understand why they are doing it.

The auto install feature is a good thing if you are a lazy user, and I have had no problems with office 2003

Well, my main point was the... (Below threshold)

Well, my main point was the MS marketing issues, which have been a problem for some time. Usually whatever ant-hyperbole there is about a given product is just that; inflated. XP has been a good example of that.

Which I guess makes the other point the potential problems and reactions if the worries were all true.

Um, Jim, the formats in Off... (Below threshold)
Tom Fooler:

Um, Jim, the formats in Office 2000 and Office XP are the same...

I've been beta-ing for a wh... (Below threshold)

I've been beta-ing for a while now, too, and I do like the aesthetics (all the gee whiz colors - I presume it's a girl thing) and the side-preview in Outlook, but I have no need for all of the sophisticated SharePoint and server stuffies. (Like my technical terms?)

For my not-so-sophisticated home use, I would say it's too much money.

It ought to be interesting to watch how this goes down, though, since Longhorn has been pushed back until 2006 (!)

I presume that I might be able to upgrade to Office 2003 -- if I don't have to buy a whole new OS in the next six months. Aheh.

Microsoft is old-school clu... (Below threshold)
Jayhuck:

Microsoft is old-school clunky. My company is constantly having to install security patches to fix holes in its software, and paying huge amounts of money to do so.

Regardless of the errors made in the Lindows article, two things are true: Microsoft IS a monopoly AND it HAS used its power AS a monopoly to drive out competition, which you can't do in this country............and get away with it for too long anyway.

My next computer will be running either a Linux or Apple OS: Goodbye Micros.....I mean, Big Brother!

Jason




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