I’m not a Office communicator user and have often wondered why Microsoft bothered with multiple products in this space. That was until I read this post, which described the main reasons that Office communicator is better than WLM. The level of differentiation really surprised me and it’s had quite an impact on my thinking since about the difference between web 2.0 and enterprise 2.0. Here’s the highlights, with a couple of extra benefits I have added in bold.
Communicator 2007 with OCS is better than using WLM because:
Its integrated with the AD, Exchange and SharePoint
- Looks up all the numbers for you, mobile, landline, home etc from contacts or the GAL
- Uses your calendar to auto set your presence state
- Takes you to their mysite on right click
- Presence globes throughout MS Office system, including SharePoint, AD, Outlook, Word, other apps etc.
- Anyone can sign up for your Windows Live ID and thus pretend to be you (all it says is ‘email address not verified’
- In WLM you can change your name to someone else. All too easy to change your name and impersonate someone else.
- When you leave an organisation, your communicator buddy list stays with the company. With WLM you take that list with you
- Communicator is possible to log conversation centrally, not possible with WLM
- Because it encrypts the traffic so people can’t intercept your messages as they travel outside the firewall
Higher fidelity presence
- You can see at a glance if they are OOF before you email them or IM them
- With Communicator you have advanced presence such as ‘in call’ and ‘in a meeting’ which are set automatically
- You can tag a contact if you are looking for them
- With Communicator you can also see the presence of those that are NOT on buddy list. This is a big one – its people you don’t know that well that you need the most presence assistance with. I’d have to put the whole company on my buddy list to use WLM for this.
- Communicator integrates with your phone
- Can divert calls to the device you choose even mid call
- Communicator lets you answer the phone on your pc if you like because the two are integrated
- You can have your phone do simultaneous ring like your desk and mobile
- Via remote call control, you can see your phone calls come in even when you are not near your phone or mobile and can choose to take them via the pc or send to vmail
- Is integrated with your voicemail letting you talk to your voicemail inbox from the client
- With Communicator you can make outgoing and incoming calls from your PC. WLM only does outgoing – and its nowhere near as good quality (IMHO)
- You can click on a phone number in a document and it will phone it, you can cut and paste numbers and edit them before dialling
- Communicator client is updated once every 3 or so years. WLM has a shorter refresh cycle so requires more effort to maintain in an enterprise
- You can do multi person video conferencing – don’t think you can do that with WLM
- Can IM a distribution list
- Cleaner UI, more corporate
- No adverts
- Great API for programming BOTS and other enterprise integration scenarios
- Integration with web conferencing
- Ability to switch seamlessly from peer to peer mode to client server mode once more than two participants are involved
- Works with Microsoft’s roundtable video conferencing hardware
Its a pretty impressive list, although I think Lotus SameTime is on track to do an even better job of demonstrating just how different enterprise real-time communication is from consumer grade equivalents.
This post is dedicated to Sam – who is trying to make all this integration work in the real world!
In this interesting post Mike Gotta asks “Will Microsoft Become Facebook for the Enterprise?” I think the answer is a definite YES. Whilst I think there is a role for LinkedIn or FaceBook for inter-enterprise social networking I still think that Intra-enterprise social networking is hugely important and I think that the needs within the enterprise are much richer. I’m pretty confident that Microsoft has everything it needs.
SharePoint 2007 strikes me as an excellent foundation upon which to build, its extensibility seems impressive and the fact that it already includes basic versions of all the main elements, blogs, wiki’s, personal pages and people search provides them with a great learning platform. Mike scores Microsoft pretty poorly so far:
- Tag/Social Bookmark System: N/A
- Social Networking: B+
- XML Syndication: N/A (feed aggregation and management)
but my point is that it’s just a matter of time, Microsoft has all the technology infrastructure they need, all the research, all the resources and their B- existing infrastructure is giving them all of the practical experience (Microsoft thrives in practical experience).
I am a little surprised that Microsoft haven’t purchased NewsGator though, it seems a perfect complement to their ambitions (both within Windows/Office Live the enterprise) and and it’s all based on their technologies. Makes me think they must have something up their sleeves.
It won’t be long though, I suspect we won’t even have to wait for a new version of SharePoint (but I have no inside information).
Office is on the ropes, there’s no doubt in my mind that Office 2007 is a great product, I use it every day and I would probably go so far as to say that it’s a joy to use. That said I know it’s showing its age, it’s just too difficult to work with virtual team members, too complex for the basic stuff I need to do – day in day out – and too centered on the specific document I’m working on rather than improving my overall personal productivity and personal knowledge management practices. Of course with Web 2.0 and Open Source alternatives there’s now no shortage of great innovation going on that currently – in my view – complements Office, but within a year will probably be competing and I am relieved.
Relieved – because Microsoft really needed a big scare, a scare like Linux has given the Windows team, something to shake them out of their comfortable slow cycle of incremental innovation and into the real world. I don’t think we have even seen a hint yet of what this will mean – it’s certainly a lot more than Office Live Workplace, but I am quietly confident.
Why? because Office 2007 was all about competing with the past, a new UI meant that the Open Source clones hit a brick wall and a new file format meant that competitors needed to spend many development cycles going nowhere implementing the incredibly complex Office XML format.
This leaves the huge Office 14 team to focus on the future, solving the problems of inter-enterprise virtual teams, improved ad-hoc real-time collaboration, collaborative authoring, more transparent offline/online transitions with SharePoint, richer web functionality etc. I have no doubt that Microsoft has the skills (look at SharePoint, OneNote and Excel services for example) it’s all about the motivation – and right now their motivation (loss of one of their premier cash cows) must be at an all time high.
I’m excited by the potential as well, Office is still the most important IT tool I use and I see tremendous potential for improvement if Microsoft gets it right, what’s equally interesting is to see that IBM are even making a serious attempt at integrating their collaboration tools with Office (Quickr and SameTime) and as a user of both that’s also very good news. Right now Quickr seems better integrated with Windows for example than SharePoint 2007 is!
I have been worrying for a long time about how to improve the benefits delivery from investments in desktop, office and collaborative systems and it’s always bothered me how little attention Microsoft has invested in the problem until now! They have come up with a tool called the Enterprise Learning Framework, which follows the lifecycle shown on the right.
It’s a simple idea – basically it exposes a whole load of existing material on the Microsoft web site through a simple interface that allows a communications team to identify appropriate content for different audiences at different phases of a project.
The sample below shows a few of the topics that are recommended for “influential knowledge workers” to review 1 month prior to deployment. It’s a great idea much more approachable than previous attempts. However as I reviewed the content I couldn’t help but feel that it talked as much about potential issues as it did about business benefits. That may be commendable (Microsoft being honest) but it’s a bit of a worry!
By way of contrast I watched this demo of Zoho Notebook and was blown away by the capabilities of this free of charge and legacy free product!
Last night I tried to upgrade from Office 2007 tech refresh, to Office 2007 RTM and received the following error:
Setup is unable to proceed due to the following error(s):
The 2007 Microsoft Office system does not support upgrading from a prerelease version of the 2007 Microsoft Office system. You must first uninstall any prerelease versions of the 2007 Microsoft Office system products and associated technologies.
Correct the issue(s) listed above and re-run setup.
The online read-me that can be found here, helpfully informed me that:
The Office 2003 Web Components feature installed with Office 2007 Beta2 causes the Office 2007 product to block its installation. Users should use Add Remove Programs in the Windows Control Panel to Remove the Office 2003 Web Components, and then install the final Office 2007 product.
I searched through Add Remove Programs and could find no sign of the Office 2003 Web Components, so I installed Office 2007 and then downloaded, installed and un-installed the web components with no luck.
At this point I started searching around and found this article that explains that the error actually refers to the following much more comprehensive list of software:
This issue occurs if either of the following conditions is true:
- A beta release version of a 2007 Office program is still installed on the computer.
- A component from the beta release version of the 2007 Office suite or program is still installed on the computer.
You must remove all beta release versions of the 2007 Office suite or program from the computer before you install the original release version of a 2007 Office suite or program.
Additionally, this issue occurs if any of the following items are installed on the computer:
- 2007 Microsoft Office Add-in: Microsoft Save as PDF or XPS (Beta)
- 2007 Microsoft Office Add-in: Microsoft Save as PDF (Beta)
- 2007 Microsoft Office Add-in: Microsoft Save as XPS (Beta)
- Microsoft Expression Web Designer Beta 1
- Microsoft Expression Web Designer CTP1
- Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats (Beta 2 Technical Refresh)
Interestingly this list doesn’t mention the Office 2003 web components.
Anyway Office 2007 RTM still failed to install, giving the same error.
Finally I came across the Windows Installer CleanUp Utility, which I ran and discovered that Installer files were still on my machine for several of the uninstalled Office 2007 components even though there was no evidence of them in Add Remove Programs.
After deleting them using this utility Office 2007 seems to have installed.
Technorati tags: office 2007
Microsoft’s direct push technology for delivering email, calendar and contacts from Exchange 2003 SP2/Exchange 2007 to Windows Mobile 5 devices seems to be pretty simple, functional and elegant, even better it’s being licensed for use with other mobile device operating systems. For more details this blog is a great place to start.
Watch the Microsoft demos and the offline capabilities of SharePoint look really slick, but dig into the details and you find that it’s not as rosy as you first thought, in fact in some areas, like Excel 2007 integration with SharePoint 2007 it’s actually worse than in the 2003 products. To get a much more balanced understanding of just what to expect and what the alternatives are check out this really useful webcast. It’s sponsored by Colligo who sell a best of breed Offline SharePoint solution, but its not a sales pitch.
This is a great article if you want to get a good overview of the features of Exchange 2007, these are my favourites:
Voice Messaging System
Voice mail can now be stored in the mailbox and accessed from a unified inbox in Outlook, Outlook Web Access, on a mobile device, or from a standard telephone. This unification improves employee productivity by simplifying access to the most common types of communications. It also dramatically reduces cost by removing the need for a standalone voice mail system and by taking advantage of any existing investments in Active Directory. Exchange Server 2007 Unified Messaging can be connected with a legacy private branch exchange (PBX) infrastructure through an IP gateway, or can be directly connected with certain IP PBX installations.
Self-Service Voice Mail Support
Using Outlook Web Access, users can request a reset of their voice mail PIN, set their voice mail greeting, record their out-of-office voice message, and specify mailbox folders to access when calling in by phone to hear e-mail messages through text-to-speech translation.
Outlook Voice Access
Users can access their Exchange mailbox using a standard telephone, available anywhere. Through touch tone or speech-enabled menus, they can hear and act on their calendar, listen to e-mail messages (translated from text to speech), listen to voice mail messages, call their contacts, or call users listed in the directory.
Play on Phone
Exchange Unified Messaging allows users to playback voice messages received in their Exchange inbox on a designated phone. This feature is useful when a user is in a public place and does not want to play the voice mail over their computer speakers. Play on Phone routes the voice mail to a cell phone, desk phone, or other number specified by the user.
Outlook 2007 Experience
Outlook Web Access, an AJAX application since its first release with Exchange Server 5.5, provides a rich, Outlook like experience in a browser. New features in Outlook Web Access 2007 enable users to:
- Schedule Out of Office messages and send to internal and/or external recipients
- Use the Scheduling Assistant to efficiently book meetings
- Access SharePoint documents without a VPN or tunnel using LinkAccess
- Use WebReady Document Viewing to read attachments in HTML even if the application that created the document is not installed locally
- Access RSS subscriptions
- View content in Managed E-mail Folders
- Retrieve voice mail or fax messages through Unified Messaging integration
- Search the Global Address List
Information can be quickly found from a mobile device using the search capability of Exchange ActiveSync. When executing a search from a mobile device, both the local device store and the user’s entire Exchange mailbox are queried. Results found through the over-the-air search of the Exchange mailbox can be rapidly retrieved to the device. This capability enables access to information sent or received days, weeks, or even months before, regardless of the storage limitations of the mobile device.
Mobile devices incorporating Exchange ActiveSync maintain a secure connection with Exchange Server 2007, receiving new or updated e-mail, calendar, contacts, and tasks as soon as they arrive on the server. This push method optimizes bandwidth usage while keeping users up-to-date.
Anyone you read my blog knows that I am a big fan of multiple monitors. In Vista support for multiple monitors is slightly more restrictive, here’s a summary:
- Multiple monitors attached to a single card – no problem
- Multiple monitors attached to multiple cards with the same driver (which normally means the same chip set family) – no problem
- Multiple monitors attached to multiple cards with different drivers – no support for Glass
or more details check out this link
Microsoft needs to work extra hard to win over members of the Open Source community and their Open Source Software Lab is at the forefront of that work. One of their recent proposals is to effectively open up their entire research plan to peer review to make sure that they are working in the areas that their customers want.
Perhaps even more important they will open up each research activity to peer review before it starts so that hopefully the research results will have more authority. This blog post includes the details and the comments make interesting reading. The following extract gives some indication of how the peer review process could improve the quality of the research:
The peer review feedback could let us know (just a sample):
- if the hardware used was the kind of hardware that would be used in real world situations?
- if the topology made sense, or did we need to evaluate different topologies?
- were the workloads real?
- what were some common variances in workload?
- were we using the software to manage and download patches that our peers would use?
- were there factors like quarterly financial report generation that meant that a realistic experiment would need to span more than the period specified?
- did the assumed distribution of patches make sense or were there fewer or greater number of patches?
- did our peers actually care about the failures we would measure?