27 June 2010

What’s New #2

Microsoft Office - Cloud Computing is the Word

    Two weeks ago, on 15th of June 2010, Microsoft Office was shipped together with Visio and Project 2010, closing the cycle of releases started with SQL Server 2008 R2, Visual Studio 2010, Sharepoint 2010 (all 3 shipped in April 2010) and Windows Azure (available also in April). The words that describe/unite at best these software tools is cloud computing and collaboration, why that? First we have to consider Azure, the new product from Windows’ portfolio, a framework for cloud computing and SaaS (Software as a Service) architectures, and composed of 3 components, namely Windows Azure which allows running applications and accessing data in the cloud, SQL Azure Database  provides data services in the cloud, while Windows Azure platform AppFabric allows the communication between the applications residing in the cloud. Also MS Office 2010 is part of Microsoft’s strategy toward cloud computing, the weight falling on SharePoint 2010, a business collaboration platform that together with the other MS Office tools allow to manage information, automate and manage business processes, facilitate decision making process, etc. A cornerstone of the framework is the co-authoring tool that “allows multiple people to work on a single copy of a document at the same time or at different times, seamlessly, whether they are online or offline”. As it seems are provided also “community features that allows users to share data as they do on Twitter and Facebook”, a step toward social computing. Microsoft plans to offer an online version of Office 2010, called Office Web Apps (OWA), supposed to be also a competitor for Google Docs.

    There are also people who question the steps done by Microsoft toward cloud computing, but in the end is important to establish the software infrastructure in which cloud computing-based applications could be developed, futures that don’t exist currently could appear in future versions or could be provided by third-party vendors.

    Microsoft comes also with some unpleasant surprises, as it seems Microsoft’s SharePoint Server runs only on 64-bit hardware and requires also a 64 bit SQL Server edition, and this could be quite an important constraint for many customers. The most unpleasant surprise is that Microsoft renounces to the well-known upgrade schema, the reason for that, as mentioned in Ars Technica quoting a Microsoft spokesman, from the need to simplify the product lineup and pricing, based on “partner and customer feedback” (I’m sorry but I can’t really buy that!). The same source expects that upgrades will be available with promotions, after Office’s launch. The only promotion I heard of is Microsoft Office 2010 Technology Guarantee program but if refers only to the customers who “purchased, installed, and activated a qualifying Microsoft Office 2007 product between March 5, 2010, and September 30, 2010”, they being eligible to download Office 2010 at no additional cost. How about the ones who bought a Microsoft Office 2007 copy in 2010 but before 5th of March (like I did)?!

Microsoft TechEd North America Sessions are Online

    The Microsoft TechEd North America sessions held in New Orleans were made available online (video and slides), an opportunity for technical professionals to get an overview on the new advancements in Microsoft technologies, being approached topics related to the various platforms of Windows, MS Office, Dynamics, Web, Cloud Computing & Online Services, etc. I really like the way Microsoft makes its technologies available to the public, especially the fact that it provides also Express versions of their software, allowing newbies and developers to get acquainted and use essential basic functionality. The MSDN, TechNet, webcasts, Channel9  and community and personal blogs bring the technical and non-technical closer to the company and its technologies.

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