Microsoft and Adobe are announcing, at exactly the same time, competing services for sharing documents from your computer. Adobe's Share converts all shared documents to Flash, so you can embed them in any Web page. It's like Scribd but designed more to share files with workgroups than the world at large. In its current beta form it supports PDF and image files only. Adobe plans to open up the Share API so the service can be used as a virtual storage drive.
Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and their Office allies can be great applications, but not everybody needs everything they offer. How do you know where to start when shopping for alternative software? You'll save money with a different brand, but will it do the trick? Should you buy boxed software, download freebies for your hard drive, access browser-based apps, or juggle all of the above?
We've reviewed nine productivity suites--including downloads and online services--and cooked up a jumbo chart mixing up their gumbo of features and file formats. IBM's release of Lotus Symphony beta added more spice to … Read more
I've always liked Michael Meeks. He's Novell's point man on OpenOffice, and is a core committer to that project (which is saying something, since he doesn't work for Sun :-). Michael gives a good interview to ZDNet that uncovers some of the interesting usability work he's been doing with OpenOffice, among other things.
Michael on IBM's involvement in OpenOffice and the value of multiple suppliers:… Read more
Bored of Google Presentations already? If you're looking for something with a little more pizazz, there's Prezentit, a Web-based presentation maker. Like Google, Vyew, and others, Prezentit lets you build, and work on a presentation with several collaborators at once, all in your browser. You can send out the finished product as a URL, or even download it in the form of an HTML file that will run on any computer with a browser installed. These are handy features, but how does it stack up on features? The answer, unfortunately, is not well.
As far as presentation makers go, Prezentit is pretty bare-bones. You can only add text and images, and there are no slide templates like you'll find on PowerPoint. To add content, you can upload image files from your hard drive, which get stored in a free storage locker that holds up to 250MB. There's also a gallery of background art, although you're limited to less than 20 sample shots. Unfortunately, there's also no way to upload a PowerPoint file and have it convert to the editor, which is where these services can be incredibly useful, especially for creating a highly searchable index.
So what sets Prezentit apart from the pack? Despite its lack of features, its interface is wonderfully easy to use. If you're familiar with Microsoft Office 2007's "Ribbon" UI, the idea isn't too far off. There's also a slew of genuinely good-looking transitions, many of which are smooth, and low on the cheese factor (read: there are no glitter graphics or explosions.) While there's no built-in chat client, there are hosting pages for each presentation that double as a place to let others add their two cents about what could be better. The service is also adding an "explore" section soon for publicly shared presentations.
I wouldn't recommend using Prezentit over some of the other Web-based presentations out there simply due to a dearth of features I think are pretty essential to a good presentation app, but the service is young, and there's definitely room for growth. We've got more screenshots after the break.… Read more
Microsoft on Wednesday is scheduled to launch its PerformancePoint Server, the last server to ship as part of its Office 2007 product launch.
The application, which is expected to be available next week, is aimed at business users who model and run financial operations, such as budget planning. It also includes analytical tools built around Excel and other Office applications.
The suite combines three existing products, said Alex Payne, Director of Office Business applications at Microsoft. It will bundle the latest versions of Microsoft's existing Scorecard Manager application for financial monitoring, the analysis tools it gained through its acquisition … Read more
A new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office charges that the Department of Homeland Security used biased methods to enhance performance results in tests on a new generation of radiation detectors meant to protect U.S. ports.
At stake are $1.2 billion in contracts to produce advanced spectroscopic portal (ASP) monitors and thousands of lives should they fail to work.
Experts from four national laboratories were consulted prior to publication of the report (PDF) by the GAO, the nonpartisan audit and investigative arm of Congress, which was released yesterday.
Two popular open-source and extensible apps have come out with minor-point updates in the past few days, but some of the changes are worth noting. OpenOffice.org has gained a lot of traction and notice this year as a credible alternative to the Microsoft Office suite, and Pidgin, the program formerly known as GAIM, supports multi-protocol text chatting including Google Chat, Yahoo, AOL, ICQ and others.
Quite a bit of talk has arisen today over two of Microsoft's competitors (Google and IBM) offering free office suites in an attempt to supplant Microsoft as the office king. And now that this is happened, some are wondering if Microsoft will finally face reality and offer its own Office product for free so it can compete.
The possibility of having Word, Excel, PowerPoint and the rest for free sure sounds awfully nice, but if you think Microsoft would give it up for free, you're dreaming.… Read more
An emboldened IBM challenged Microsoft's desktop application dominance with the introduction on Tuesday of IBM Lotus Symphony, a suite of free desktop applications.
Lotus Symphony is made up of three applications--word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation programs--which IBM already ships as part of Lotus 8.
The offering is in beta and is available as a free download with "community support" from IBM's Web site. IBM is considering other support options, according to a company executive.
The name Lotus Symphony is recycled; it was the name … Read more