Channel Marker

March 5, 2008  8:46 AM

Microsoft Office Live Workspace vs. Google Docs: Who will win?

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

Microsoft Office Live Workspace and Google Docs are going mano a mano over on ReadWriteWeb, where a comparison of the two online services has sparked quite the debate among users.

Desmond from LostMicrosoft released a public beta of Office Live Workspace yesterday, the same day I covered a Google Enterprise exec’s speech in Boston. The exec, Matthew Glotzbach, gave a demo of Google Apps — the enterprise version of Google Docs.

His basic premise: Google is easy to use but still offers the vast majority of features that the vast majority of business users need to do their jobs. He didn’t come out and say it, but the implication was that Microsoft can be confusing and overwhelming, much like last week’s episode of “Lost.”

Anyway, ReadWriteWeb’s Sarah Perez evaluated Microsoft Office Live Workspace and Google Docs and came to this conclusion: “Although it’s very close when it comes to basic features of the two services, each stands out in its own way.” But proponents of each service don’t see a close battle at all.

Pro-Google reader “Jrome,” for example, commented that “Google Docs is far better than Office Live, especially thanks to its real-time collaboration and mobile access.” He also pointed out that Office Live Workspace requires users to have Microsoft Office installed on their computers, which goes against the very premise of “cloud computing.”

Meanwhile, a reader named “Brian” defended Microsoft: “In the real-world, Google Docs, Open Office and Ubuntu, etc. are so far behind it’s pathetic. Who uses this stuff for actual work? Absolutely no one that I know of, and MS Office works so well there’s minimal incentive to change.”

That last sentence is key. Before I covered Glotzbach yesterday at the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) International Exposition and Conference, I got to see a speech by The New York TimesDavid Pogue. He also talked about the trend toward simpler technology, but he made it a point to say that simplicity alone will not guarantee a product’s success.

iPodPogue said the iPod sacrificed several features of other portable music players, like a radio tuner, when it debuted. The iPhone similarly gave up on traditional phone features, such as a keypad. Both succeeded. But in a lot of other cases, Pogue said users aren’t willing to give up extra features — even features that they rarely if ever use.

Google Docs gets rid of some of those features. It also adds a lot of features that were pretty impressive to see during Glotzbach’s demo. We’ll just have to wait and see if those features, and Google Docs’ easy-to-use interface, can push Google to do for enterprise applications what the iPod did for MP3 players.

March 5, 2008  6:47 AM

What do you know about Web 2.0?

Heather Clancy Heather Clancy Profile: Heather Clancy

Forrester Research has some pretty terrific demographic research that tends to get me thinking. Yes, I know, frightening thought. One area it has been covering pretty closely is what it calls “social computing,” which is another way of talking about what other might lump under the category of Web 2.0.

Anyway, Forrester has released several predictions about social computing trends in 2008 that are worth your attention from two points of view. First, as a company that probably needs to market yourself more effectively and, second, as a technology solution provider. Here’s a synopsis:

  • Companies are more apt to use YouTube videos, social networking groups and Web site plug-in applications (a.k.a. widgets) as part of their online marketing campaigns. How much time have you invested in understanding how these tactics might affect your own prospecting? Considering that many VARs garner many of their sales leads by word-of-mouth referrals, this seems like a no-brainer to me.
  • Hiring tactics will need to reflect the addition of social networking and computing skills. Not to sound age-ist, but using YouTube and applications like Facebook comes more naturally to those among us who were exposed at a younger age. Some people aren’t necessarily comfortable using Facebook, but they WILL use LinkedIn. Anyway, encouraging experimentation will be important, and age will make a difference.
  • The concept of privacy will undergo a transformation as companies grapple with how to unlock the potential of social networks without infringing on the sanctity of personal information. That means adopting a new security discipline.
  • The concept of search will change dramatically because people will care more about knowing what people in their social network are reading or buying. That will have huge implications, over time, with how search engine optimization is handled.

There’s plenty more that will happen, of course, but that is just a taste. The question is whether or not you as a solution provider will be able to advise your customers on the technologies and applications that really will matter.

Heather Clancy is an award-winning business journalist and channel communications consultant with SWOT Management Group. You can reach her at

March 3, 2008  9:44 PM

Microsoft reverses course on IE 8 render default

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

Microsoft has changed the default rendering setting of Internet Explorer 8 so the browser will support the latest Web standards.

That is a shift in plan — which was to make the standard “IE 7-reminiscent” rendering engine the default. Microsoft issued a statement about this change late Monday.

The original idea was to offer a rendering mode that was frozen in the IE 7 world circa 2006—as the default. A third mode is geared for even earlier Web standards.
MSDN’s IE blog describes the issue and says even non-IE browsers come with various rendering modes so that users can view Web pages from different eras..

Opera Software sued Microsoft in November in part because it said Microsoft was willfully subverting Web standards. Opera also wants to force Microsoft to stop bundling IE with Windows.

Microsoft’s decision to go with the IE 7 mode as default caused a ruckus last year. On February 21, the company promised to open up more of its APIs to third parties to foster interoperability.

Today the company said this browser move was yet another step in the company’s interoperability push.

Barbara Darrow can be reached at

February 29, 2008  4:38 PM

PR-mageddon! for the week of Feb. 29

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

There are only three entries in this week’s PR-mageddon! But what it lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality. And by “quality,” I mean “jargon and run-on sentences.” Enjoy.

SAP to Release Next-Generation Supply Chain Management Solution to Drive Transformation of Global Business Networks, Feb. 26: “Further delivering on its commitment to provide software solutions enabling companies to increase visibility into essential information and simplify collaboration with their global network of business partners and customers, SAP AG (NYSE: SAP) today introduced the upcoming new release of its industry-leading supply chain management solution. In today’s global economy with its accelerated speed of change, a company’s business network is becoming its primary source of competitive differentiation. By transforming its network of employees, suppliers, customers, partners and distributors into a collaborative, customer-focused, demand-driven community, a company can intelligently adapt to changing market conditions and gain competitive advantage through accelerated innovation.”

Windows Server 2008 – Faster and Greener on Dell, Feb. 27: “Dell offers a comprehensive portfolio of services to best meet the unique needs of customers with diverse IT infrastructures and help simplify the adoption of Windows Server 2008.”

Wave of New Microsoft Enterprise Products Bring Big Benefits to IT Professionals and Developers, Feb. 27: “The launch represents a major milestone to help customers on the road to Dynamic IT, Microsoft’s initiative to help customers optimize their people, processes and technology, and in turn position IT as a strategic asset for their business. These new enterprise products help customers more efficiently and securely manage their entire infrastructure and move to a virtualized environment while also delivering business intelligence and next-generation Web experiences to boost business results.”

February 27, 2008  2:06 PM

QB Steve Young makes splash at HP

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

HP brought in NFL Hall of Famer Steve Young to speak to the partner faithful bright-and-early Wednesday morning. And he did not disappoint. Some 1,000 or more partners were in Las Vegas for the annual partner conference and a pretty good number showed up for Young.

Peering out at the darkened hall, Young noted the obvious: “A 9 a.m. talk at Caesar’s Palace and there are people here? Was attendance mandatory?”

Young said his speaking gigs are relatively easy given the prevalent jock stereotypes, and the low expectations they engender.  “If I can string two sentences together, people think, ‘Hey! Not bad.”

Who knew that aside from his Super Bowl MVP and top quarterback rankings Young is also a lawyer? And a big philanthropist? Not me, but then again, baseball’s my game.

Young followed printer kingpin Vyomesh Joshi who issued a call to arms to a pretty fair subset of the 1,100 partners in attendance for his 8 a.m. keynote.

“If you’re in hardware, get into supplies. If you’re in hardware and supplies, get into services,” Joshi said

Joshi, often known as VJ, painted a picture of a whopping $280 billion market for printing and imaging from the home devices to huge commercial printers that use ink by the liter.

The Scitex wide-format machines that print signs for Times Square and similar venues soak up liters of ink. “Not ccs, liters. I love liters,” Joshi joked to the early morning crowd.

Conversely , he also touted HP’s recycling and green printing efforts.

He estimated the worldwide enterprise printing and image market to be about $53 billion. In that segment, HP reserves 900 named accounts for its direct focus. He cordoned off about 4,000 accounts in “named territory” accounts and the additional 8 million SMB accounts which the company hopes to attack with partners.

“We will be consistent and clear. We will not go after those 4,000 accounts, we’ll provide the names and help plan for them but for those 4,000 accounts we need your help.”

The vast majority of printing remains analog. Translating all of that to digital “where HP can play” is a huge opportunity. And for that to happen, partners need to help HP persuade IT departments to network all their printers and copiers, he said. That infrastructure work is another opportunity for VARs.

Joshi then gave way to the former San Francisco 49er great .

Ensuring attendees left on a high note, Sheryl Crow played Wednesday night. Some of us couldn’t be there — flying out of lovely 70-degree-and-sunshine-Vegas weather back to the frozen Northeast tundra. But according to second-hand accounts, Crow was stellar.

Barbara Darrow can be reached at

February 26, 2008  10:29 PM

Craving managed services stats and best practices? CompTIA wants to help

Heather Clancy Heather Clancy Profile: Heather Clancy

With most consumers of information technology expected to ratchet up their spending on managed services this year, the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) has started a Web site intended to aid VARs and resellers figuring out whether the business model is right for their own company. Some long-time managed services advocates, like my friend Oli Thordarson from Alvaka Networks, a 25-year industry veteran who made the switch a number of years back, are even blogging there!

The site, FocusOnMSP, will feature news and research about managed services, online forums, a managed services vendor directory and case studies. But the big draw will probably be the CompTIA Managed Services ROI Tool, which is a calculator that MSPs can use in helping make sales presentations. Check it out.

Heather Clancy is an award-winning business journalist and channel communications consultant with SWOT Management Group. You can reach her at

February 26, 2008  7:30 PM

Bill Gates here, Linking in

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

Bill Gates is Linked In.

And on Thursday you too could be connected to the Microsoft maestro

This according to email from the LinkedIn spokespeeps:

“This Thursday, Bill Gates, Chairman of Microsoft, will post a question on LinkedIn. His objective is to communicate with LinkedIn’s base of over 19 million professional members, in order to expand his own expertise on how technology can be better utilized for charitable causes. All LinkedIn members will be able to post answers/suggestions to Bill’s question in real time.”

Here’s BillG’s LinkedIn page.

Note: Bill and Melinda only have two connections.

Barbara Darrow can be reached at

February 25, 2008  11:08 PM

Hurd to partners: HP will fix problems, but attach rates must rise

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

Hewlett-Packard has logged robust growth but could do better, especially in the U.S. and in SMBs, HP CEO Mark Hurd said Monday.

Kicking off HP’s annual Americas Partner Conference (APC) in Las Vegas, Hurd (hoarse with a cold) also disputed the notion of some partners that the company wants them to be exclusive to HP while HP continues to play the partner field.  

It was clear (as if there could be any doubt) that Hurd has heard the partner complaints: a balky rebate program; lagging storage lineup; channel conflict.

Bottom line, he reiterated, is that HP partners need to sell more HP gear into their accounts. That means an HP partner who sells servers should try to sell servers plus (HP) storage plus (HP) switches. You get the idea.

HP is working to resolve these issues he said, acknowledging that the company can be challenging to work with.

“I’m not going to tell you to be exclusive [but] I also don’t want to be a loss leader [in cases] where our brand goes out in a  Proliant with someone else’s memory. We don’t make much margin on low, stripped units…frankly we created some of this problem ourselves” when HP stressed unit sales in figuring out partner remuneration.

The goal is fatter, more margin-rich solution sales. And thus HP echoes similar themes from IBM, from Microsoft, from Oracle.

All of these companies want to widen their footprint in existing accounts while adding net-new customers.

Some partners see these tactics as one-sided in the vendor’s favor, if not a one-way street

HP has grown from $80 billion in sales in 2004 to $105 billion in three years. Hurd said outside analysts expect the company to hit the $111 to $112  billion mark this year.

Sixty-nine percent of HP’s business comes from overseas, and Hurd wants to see the company increase strength in the U.S.

And the bulk of its sales has been and will remain through the channel.

But HP faces its own risks. Partners frustrated with what they see as non-competitive storage offerings signed on with EqualLogic for its iSCSI storage expertise only to see Dell buy that company and are now faced with the prospect of Dell as a vendor partner. Still, with Dell making channel friendly noise, some are disposed to give it a try.

A few partners said they had hoped HP would buy EqualLogic and are now hoping it’ll make another move on Lefthand Networks or another iSCSI player to bolster its storage.

Barbara Darrow can be reached at

February 25, 2008  10:42 AM

Yahoo saga takes spotlight off Server ‘08 launch

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

Microsoft is doing its best to hype this week’s “Heroes Happen Here” launch event for Windows Server 2008, but the company’s pursuit of Yahoo is still stealing the headlines.

Now in its fourth week, the soap opera continues to take new twists and turns. Todd Bishop’s Microsoft Blog reported Thursday that Bill Gates, in comments made last July, said he saw no value in acquiring Yahoo. Now he sees so much value that his company is willing to spend $44.6 billion. That’s a drastic shift that will fuel even more questions about the motives and strategies in Redmond.

Around the same time that news broke, Microsoft evangelist Anand Iyer posted a response to Yahoo employees who are “disappointed that they’d be working for Steve Ballmer.” Iyer stopped just short of going on YouTube and tearfully yelling, “Leave Steve alone!” But he did heap praise on his boss, including these gems:

  • “Every word coming out of his mouth has the potential to change the world in some way.”
  • “Ballmer is probably the most intelligent, tactical and loyal person I’ve ever known.”
  • “I totally respect the man.”

The next day, Microsoft released an internal email by Kevin Johnson, president of its Platforms and Services Division, addressing Microsoft’s goals, integration strategy and the prospect of layoffs. And then two more Yahoo stockholders sued the company and its board of directors for rejecting Microsoft’s bid.

The Yahoo saga is clearly drawing outsiders’ attention away from other Microsoft news. But the real trouble for Microsoft will come if Yahoo becomes a distraction internally.

February 22, 2008  4:02 PM

PR-mageddon! for the week of Feb. 22

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

PR-magdeddon! is a new feature here on Channel Marker, where we call out vendors for press releases that aren’t exactly the most clear and concise things in the world. Check out last week’s debut if you missed it and then read this week’s worst offenders. If you’re brave enough to try and decipher what these press releases mean, leave a comment.

Red Hat
CSC Standardizes Nordic Linux Hosting Services on Red Hat Solutions, Feb. 20: “CSC has also implemented the Red Hat Network Satellite Server systems management platform for a unified and centralized management, administration and provisioning  model for its Linux systems.”

Oracle Unveils New Release of Oracle Identity Manager, Feb. 20: “A component of Oracle Fusion Middleware, Oracle Identity Manager is a user provisioning and administration solution that enables organizations to automate the process of adding, updating and deleting user accounts from applications and directories; and helps improve regulatory compliance by providing granular reports that attest to who has access to specific data, resources and information.”

Hobby Lobby Turns to SAP to Help Build Its Future, Feb. 20: “Demonstrating ongoing leadership in providing innovative solutions to retailers worldwide, SAP America, Inc., a subsidiary of SAP AG (NYSE:SAP), today announced that Hobby Lobby has selected SAP to provide a stable, predictable solution platform and a clear solution road map to help the company manage operations and continue to grow successfully.”

Symantec Backup Exec 12 Delivers Certified Data Protection for New, Existing Windows Systems, Feb. 19: “Backup Exec 12 rapidly restores data from a single pass backup with patent-pending Granular Recovery Technology, which obviates the need to run mailbox backups to recover individual Exchange emails, and makes it easy to restore SharePoint, SharePoint Services, and Active Directory data-from documents to user attributes and properties-in seconds.”

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