Monday, October 06, 2003

Office 2003 reviewed

E-mail fans (or slaves) will be delighted to learn that Microsoft Outlook has received a sensational and far-reaching overhaul. But among the big three - Word, Excel and PowerPoint - you'll find only a new, blue color scheme and a few other choice changes.

Over the years, Microsoft's flagship e-mail-calendar program had become the well-deserved butt of jokes, frustration and spite. Because it is ubiquitous in the corporate world, Outlook became a helpless, football-field-size target for virus writers. And because it offered no protection against junk mail, it invited more spam than a canned-meats convention.

If someone sends you an IRM-protected document and you don't have Office 2003, meanwhile, you can't open it at all. (Microsoft says it will make a free viewer program available for the ingrates who don't upgrade immediately. This viewer is, however, for Windows only - IRM breaks some of the convenient Windows-Macintosh file compatibility that's existed for years - and it requires Internet Explorer as your browser.)

The basic Word-Excel-PowerPoint suite costs $450, or $280 to upgrade from an older version of Office (or even Microsoft Works). For just one program, Microsoft charges $230, or $110 for the upgrade. (There's no upgrade price for Outlook, however. It's $110 for newcomers and loyal, long-suffering fans alike. Clearly, Microsoft hopes to exploit the fact that everyone will want it.)

Speaking of payment, by the way, Office 2003 requires a PC running Windows 2000 or Windows XP. If you're among the millions of people with an earlier version of Windows, you had better factor a Windows upgrade into the price - and therefore maybe a new computer. Monopolies have their privileges.

Mozilla and hypocrisy

Right, but what about the experiences that Mozilla chooses to default for users like switching to  Yahoo and making that the default upon ...