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5/25/2006
06:10 PM
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Do You Want To Be Part Of Microsoft's Revolution?

There's been a lot of hoopla about the simultaneous announcements of Microsoft Vista Beta 2, 2007 Microsoft Office Beta 2, and Longhorn Vista Server Beta 2. In fact, there's been so much coverage from all the various online and print media that I've been tempted to find myself a beta blocker. (Sorry--a little health care humor there.)

There's been a lot of hoopla about the simultaneous announcements of Microsoft Vista Beta 2, 2007 Microsoft Office Beta 2, and Longhorn Vista Server Beta 2. In fact, there's been so much coverage from all the various online and print media that I've been tempted to find myself a beta blocker. (Sorry--a little health care humor there.)Actually, I shouldn't be the one to complain. I'm part of the problem, having written a review of Office and having helped edit Preston Gralla's take on the new features in Vista. But after some thought, I've decided the reason this new beta is such a big deal isn't just because it has a snazzy (or scuzzy, depending on your point of view) new interface and a bunch of new features. It's because 99% of people who work on computers use either office suites or one or more components of office suites, and so any new development in word processors, spreadsheets, personal information managers, etc. could affect them.

For example, if your boss decides it's better to switch, how much time will employees spend adjusting to the new software? How many of your current templates will have to be rewritten? How much training will have to be done? How many of your company's clients will suddenly find themselves with late orders because the changeover didn't go well? In other words, how much change will you have to cope with?

This is a problem that a lot of IT people are going to have to deal with in the coming months as companies decide where to go with their equipment and their budgets. Most companies, I suspect, are going to be playing it safe--or, at least, careful--and will wait awhile until switching to a new operating system or even to a new office suite.

Some may decide to jump ship entirely. There are now a lot more choices out in the marketplace for companies that don't want to play in Microsoft's backyard, not the least of which is Linux and its associated applications. End users also have more choices as basic applications become available as either freeware (as in OpenOffice) or online (as in Google Calendar). In fact, last week we offered one PC user's take on moving away from Microsoft. Check out David Haskin's story, "Kicking The Microsoft Habit."

But there are those companies that will immediately grab at Microsoft's shiny new toy. I can't totally blame them. I can understand the temptation to become part of technology's front lines and to be the first to experience the advantages that the new operating system and applications can bring. But I've got a bit of advice for the IT staffers who work for those companies and who will have to implement all these innovative, bleeding-edge changes: Have a lot of band-aids handy.

What do you think? Is your company planning to move to Vista and/or 2007 Office ASAP, or is it going to wait awhile? Or are you turning to another operating system entirely? Let us know.

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