Microsoft to “Standardize” file formats…

 Business, Microsoft, Web 2.0  Comments Off on Microsoft to “Standardize” file formats…
Nov 212005

Microsoft, today, announced that there were going to “standardize” their Office 12 XML file formats. Looks like someone from Microsoft read my article on ODF. But there is an awful lot of word parsing coming out in these announcements. To wit, the use of the phrases, “standardize” and “openess.” Either they are playing word games to trick the public or the managment at Microsoft. If Microsoft was truly serious they would approach OASIS and participate in the ODF work going on there.

Another problem is their use of Ecma International as their “standards” partner. Need I remind you of the Ecma Script/ javascript dichotomy? This is something for you to decide, but I would point to their list of standards as a place to start. Anything there ring a bell with developers or doesn’t it seem more of a “safe harbor” for corporate interests.

Here is some more “marketing speak” from Scoble interview with Jean Paoli:

“we are offering the Office XML file format technology behind billions of documents to customers and the industry as an international standard.”

Well, to my knowledge, it is highly questionable that a non-shipping product and a non-shipping format can behind billions of documents.

Now I know that the smart people at Microsoft are probably going nuts trying to convince upper management to give up making buggy whips — but that isn’t going to happen until Ballmer is gone. Ballmer is still a firm believer of grabbing a company’s corporate jewels (Data) and wrapping it up in a Microsoft format. Steve needs to learn that it is “our” ball and not his. We’d love for Microsoft to keep playing but throwing these tantrums and then trying to talk around it is making companies more than a little….impatient with Microsoft.

So in short, until Microsoft starts participating in Open Document Format and OASIS — I wouldn’t read anything into this more than trying to FUD Open Document. After all, when was the last time anyone read a book on Ecma Script?

 Posted by at 7:18 pm

More machines than people on the Internet, Duh!

 Business, Web 2.0  Comments Off on More machines than people on the Internet, Duh!
Nov 202005

Some rocket scientist, Nick Farrell, over at The Inquirer makes the seeming apocalyptic statement that, “More machines than people on the Internet.” Oh my, when did that happen? What this genius fails to recognize is that there has always been more computers than people on the Internet.

Let’s review the simplest case, a single person surfing a web site. For that person to access the Internet they must be on some device that has a processor or “computer” and that device connects to the web server, another computer. So completely disregarding routers and switches that person is already outnumbered 2 to 1. In fact, in the simplest view the number of computers will always be n+1 where n is the number of people “on” the Internet.

Spooky, huh? Actually it is worse. Mr. Farrell is reporting on the UN’s telecommunications agency prediction. What is spooky is that the UN think’s it can govern the Internet. They don’t even understand it — Now that is spooky.

 Posted by at 5:11 pm

What fat clients can learn from the Web

 Business, Great Plains, Web 2.0  Comments Off on What fat clients can learn from the Web
Oct 212005

One of the beautiful things about the web is that you can share discoveries with others by merely sending a link to a friend or co-worker. Find a cool new shoe or a laptop and want their input on the item? You just click on “send link” in your browser, or cut and paste the link in an email message and off it goes. They click it and voila! there it is. The item of your attention and the thing you want to talk about. No muss, no fuss. The other person gets instant context when they click on that link. No big explanations are necessary. They can respond with their ideas and links to some other possibilites. The gift of sharing your contextual vision with another by only clicking.

Now say you are in your accouting application and you have a problem or need a resolution from a co-worker or superior. What do you end up doing? You end up emailing them account numbers and dates and telling them what view you are looking at so that they can look at it too and give you the feedback/information you need. Starting to see the lesson? Why aren’t fat client developers taking a clue and incorporating one of the most powerful features of the Internet in to out bread and butter fat clients? Why can’t I send a “link” from the view I’m looking at in my accounting application to a co-worker or superior. Think of the time savings. Got a question on a receivings, send a link and the respondent gets instant context.

And finally, a word to the Web 2.0 developers: The lesson is for you too. Don’t give up the ability to link to an item in your sweet new AJAX weblication otherwise you end up costing more than I think we should pay.

 Posted by at 10:00 am
Oct 202005

Every once in a while you come across a good Idea. Tonight, I just read one. David Berlind, on posits the idea of Open Document Format (ODF) could be a transport mechanism for moving content between different wikis.

Could ODF be the Net’s new, frictionless document DNA? by ZDNet‘s David Berlind — There’s no reason, for example, that, regardless of what proprietary markup languages the different wiki solution providers use to put a pretty face on Web authoring, that they cannot natively store those documents in the XML-based ODF. […]

Now this is the type of idea that I believe will happen more frequently once ODF picks up steam. It is the open format of HTML that gave rise to most of what we have on the Internet today. Everyone competes to make it better and more compelling. With closed formats, ala Word, there is not the same kind of pressure to advance the format and when it does change we are at the mercy of one company to give us solutions for migration. With an open format, market pressures and new ideas will create a dynamic system that gives users the benefits.

The only reason to keep a document format closed is to keep your customers locked-in. There is absolutely no advantage to users from using a closed document format. This will force the market giant, Microsoft, to once again compete solely on the merit of its product and not rely on lock-in and the advantages that they get from being the only one to fully support the document format. Remember how much better Word became when it was competing with WordPerfect? The features implemented really had the user in mind. However, once they crushed the competition the goal of new features was not to improve the users productivity, it was to use those new features to reinforce the tie-in/lock-in with other upstream Microsoft products.

There are benefits for Microsoft as well. Because of a standardized format, their upstream products could work with different word processors and different platforms. This, in my opinion, is the direction that Microsoft needs to move to stay relevant for the next 20 years. There are smart people at Microsoft and they do have some very good tools, however those people are often hamstrung from having goals that are in direct opposition to Microsoft’s current philosophy of product tie-ins. Now is the time for Microsoft to use its brains and not its market muscle. It will stop the hemorahging of talent and bring you real customer loyalty in the long run.

 Posted by at 11:23 pm