MS Office Beta Notes

This is a side-blog where I intend to keep all of my notes from Beta testing new versions of Office. This will keep them all in one place for future reference. I started this with Office 2003, and am bringing it back for the 2007 version. This is not an official Microsoft site, this is just the ramblings of one IT guy.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Launch event

Long day at the Office 2003 launch event. Lots of Microsoft sales pitches, obviously, but well worth it. Not only are there little tidbits of information and "oh yeah I see how that works" moments that make being there worthwhile. They also feed you coffee and bagels in the morning, lunch, and all the Dr. Pepper, pretzels, popcorn and candy bars you can grab in the afternoon,and at the very end of the day they handed you a voucher for a free copy of MS Office 2003 Professional and OneNote. These are the full versions, no trialware, no feaure-limited, full freakin' versions. That's like 600-700 dollars worth of software, free just for sitting there all day and filling out the evaluation form. (Of course these kits will not be available until "Late November" and will take 4-6 weeks to reach me, but with the 120 day eval I got at the event, I should be more than covered until then!) Unfortunately, I didn't win any of the door prizes, like the Acer TabletPC, Canon Digital Camera or NEC flat panel monitors. That would have been sweet.

Most of the IT Professional track focused on InfoPath and SharePoint, both of which add some serious functionality that Office has never had. I also picked up some more info on Information Right's Management that prove that the article I pointed to yesterday is even more wrong than I thought it was before! Pure FUD, plain and simple. Here's why:

First, you need Windows server 2003 and Right's Management services runnig on it. Then you need Ofice 2003 client to create the protected document. Then, in order to use the feature, either the person you send the doc to has to have access to the RMS on the 2003 server, or you can use PassPort authentication, if you don't want to create a trust with their server. In other words, to send those sorts of documents to people outside your enterprise, it's going to be more hassle than it's worth for most people. Secondly, to view a protected document in Office you need the 2003 version, however, you can also view it in Internet Explorer with a free IE add-on for RMS, if you don't have Office 2003, and the RMS API is open, so if you want to use something else to view, write the tool yourself and you'll be able to use Linux, Mac, whatever your heart desires. (Yes there is an SDK for it, apparently) Far from being an evil MS plot to force upgrading, IRM the way it's instituted requires exactly one Windows 2003 server and one copy of Ofice 2003. (and maybe not even that, since the API is open I assume you could create your own client to create the documents, so you'd only need the server.) So much for Robertson's claims.

Overall, it was definitely worth the time, and it was even nicer to not be in the office the whole day either. :)