Microsoft Office app analyses user schedules

Free PowerPivot app shows how you are spending your time

In an effort to demonstrate the versatility of its PowerPivot business intelligence technology, Microsoft has released a free add-on application to Microsoft Office that analyses the contents of a user’s Microsoft Exchange calendar.

Microsoft releases 64 fixes in April

Microsoft’s patching is going from one extreme to the other. While March had just three bulletins fixing four vulnerabilities, next week 17 bulletins are being issued, fixing 64 different vulnerabilties. This ties with December 2010 as the most bulletins, and takes the clear lead for number of flaws fixed.

Nine bulletins are critical, with all carrying the risk of remote code execution. The remaining eight are ranked important; six of these enable remote code execution, one allows privilege escalation, and the last can lead to information disclosure. Seven of the bulletins have mandatory restarts; the remainder “may” do so.

10 Best Things Microsoft Did in 2010

It’s been a successful year for Microsoft.

The company took a lot of heat, but overall accomplished quite a bit – especially for its enterprise customers. Here’s our top tips for what Redmond got right in the past year.

We focused on Microsoft’s enterprise offerings, and left off those from its entertainment/gaming division (Go Kinect!), with allowances for Windows Phone 7 because of its enterprise applications. Be sure to post your favorite 2010 Microsoft product — both for IT and consumer — in my comments section!

10. Office for Mac 2011

Oft-neglected Mac users finally have an improved version of Office. Most notable is the inclusion of an Outlook client for the Mac.

9. Bing

Microsoft completed its integration with Yahoo! (replacing the Yahoo! search engine with Bing) in the United States and Canada in August. It also integrated the ad platform so advertisers have one platform to work with. Bing continues to gain share, but it’s still overshadowed by Google.

8. Windows Intune

Microsoft released two beta versions of this cloud-based systems-management tool. When it becomes available next year, Windows Intune will allow midsize IT departments to manage updates, centralize malware protection, perform proactive monitoring and track inventory, among other things. Perhaps best of all, the $11 per PC per month subscription includes Windows 7 Enterprise upgrade rights and the option to purchase the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack for an additional $1 per PC per month. As an added bonus, Microsoft released a free version of Microsoft Security Essentials for small businesses.

7. Visual Studio 2010

Launched in April, Microsoft’s popular IDE got a major facelift with substantial visual editing improvements, a new code editor, extended language support and parallel programming capabilities. It’s also optimized for SharePoint and cloud development.

6. Lync Server 2010

Microsoft released its successor to Office Communications Server 2007, Lync Server 2010, providing what it promises is the first viable alternative to PBXes. Microsoft intends to be a major player in the office telecom market.

5. SQL Server 2008 R2

Not only did Microsoft ship SQL Server 2008 R2 this year, but it has started shipping SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse Edition (code-named “Madison”) based on the massive parallel processing product that Microsoft acquired nearly two years ago from DATAllegro Inc. The solution appears on hardware in mid-December as part of the new HP Enterprise Data Warehouse Appliance. Microsoft last month released the community technology preview (CTP) of the next version of SQL Server, code-named “Denali,” which it says will up the bar on scalability and availability.

4. SharePoint 2010

In May, Microsoft launched SharePoint 2010 with some key new features:
support for enterprise search, centralized administration, digital asset management and business connectivity services.

3. IE 9

Microsoft showed it’s not going to go back to its days of complacency in the browser market with the recent release of the Internet Explorer 9 beta. Among other things, Internet Explorer 9 emphasizes HTML5 support.

2. Windows Phone 7

In 2010 Microsoft announced, lined up partners for and delivered its successor to Windows Mobile with a brand-new and unique UI. Whether it’s able to put a dent into the momentum of Droids and iPhones remains to be seen, but Microsoft appears to be back in the game.

1. Cloud

Microsoft went “all-in” in the cloud this year. The company released its Windows Azure and SQL Azure cloud Platform as a Service (PaaS) in February and in October announced a roadmap that promises to flesh out the offering in the coming year in support of hybrid cloud services. Microsoft also announced numerous big wins for its Business Productivity Online Suite, which the company is re-branding as Office 365. Moreover, Microsoft announced the Windows Azure Platform Appliance, which will let large enterprises and partners run Windows Azure on-premises.

3 Reasons Not to Use Facebook Messages

Many good reasons to be wary of Facebook’s newly announced “Messages” service have already been pointed out on numerous occasions throughout the media. Even besides the obvious privacy concerns, other features of the new service also could prove problematic for those who choose to adopt it, as many observers have suggested.

What’s been less widely noted, however, are several key concerns associated with Facebook Messages’ tight integration with Microsoft’s Office software suite.

Specifically, the service will support attachments of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents. While users who don’t have Office installed on their computers will be able to view Facebook-delivered attachments using Office Web Apps -a bare-bones, online-only version of the software -they won’t be able to download, edit or save attachments.

In other words, you have to buy into the expensive Microsoft machine to get full functionality in Facebook Messages. Anyone else see a problem with this? I hope so, because there are several.

1. So Much For Openness

It may be true that Microsoft Office is the dominant productivity suite in the marketplace today, but the fact that Facebook is effectively excluding all others is a serious blow to openness and consumer choice.

“I’m really excited about being able to make it even easier for people to use Office to access and share information across different devices, networks and platforms,” wrote Takeshi Numoto, an executive in the Office group, in a blog post announcing the news.

But what about different productivity suites? Openness means allowing access regardless of the hardware or software used; why close the door to all the millions of people worldwide using, for example -or the new LibreOffice alternative?

Closed doors mean it’s just not open, plain and simple -despite Mark Zuckerberg’s own purported interest in openness. So soon after the discovery of Microsoft’s FUD-filled video targeting potential adopters of OpenOffice, it’s truly sad to see that the monolith was able to wrestle this advantage on the world’s largest social network.

2. So Much For Interoperability

Microsoft Office is great for interoperability with other people using Microsoft Office. Again, though, what about all the millions of people using, LibreOffice, or any of the other key alternatives today or in the future?

The Open Document Format was designed specifically to allow long-term interoperability regardless of the particular software used, and that’s the format used by open contenders like OpenOffice. Microsoft, however, has fought it tooth and nail, eventually pushing through its own, competing “Office Open XML” standard as an alternative.

Microsoft is like the opposite of open standards and interoperability, and yet that’s what Facebook went with. Sorry, Facebook users, if you were hoping to be able to exchange documents with people using something else.

3. So Much For Choice

The bottom line is that both openness and interoperability are key ingredients of consumer choice, which is undeniably a good thing for the market.

Just as Apple tries to “protect” -and, more significantly, lock -consumers in its enchanted walled garden, so Facebook has now partnered with Microsoft to create a joint, locked-in walled garden of their own. Don’t use the software we tell you to? Well that’s too bad – no full functionality for you, then.

With its Office integration, Facebook may well be positioning Messages for business use. But if your business values openness, interoperability or choice, you’d do well to avoid it.