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Monday, April 07, 2003

Upgrade? Why Not Downgrade?

Joe Wilcox of CNET reports on some interesting changes in the Microsoft Office family relating to corporate portals. MS is aligning SharePoint -- the corporate portal and "employee information sharing" tool (ahh, don't you love jargon?) -- with its flagship Office 2003 suite. They also recently rebranded Office into the Office System to emphasize the platform idea behind all these related technologies tied together with XML. (Huh?!)

Anyhoo, the reasoning is that almost everyone who uses or wants Office already has it, and there is almost no compelling reason to upgrade when new versions are released. Heck, I'm still using Office 2000! And who wants to adopt Office XP, and its product activation hooha? I mean, "Office sharing" is one of the business world's favorite pastimes?

So, with SharePoint now part of the Office System, Redmond's logic goes, big companies will be more motivated to upgrade to Office 2003. Hmm, makes sense.

Here's an idea, Microsoft: How about instead of constantly hounding us with relentless upgrades, how about do everyone a favor and give us a downgrade?

I'd wager that most people are tired of applications growing more complex and more "tied together with XML." Why not start offering simpler versions of Office and Windows that aren't bloated with all kinds of features that most people don't need? I suppose there's the Microsoft Works suite, but it doesn't include Outlook, which is arguably the most used Office app.

Surely, there's money to made in making things simpler. Hey, Google does it. Yahoo is now doing it. Why shouldn't MS do it?

Posted by Cory Kleinschmidt




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