On Sunday, November 11, 2001, I made a rather disturbing discovery.
If you’ve read any of my previous writings, you’ve probably heard me rant and rave about how much I love Windows XP’s features and performance. I love the fact that the various machines I use everyday, no longer crash every hour on the hour (which was the plague of all non-standards based software under the messy Microsoft O/S’s of past) and the 500 or so customers that we have converted love it even more than we do. Unfortunately, the total opposite is true relative to what consumers and Microsoft Partners alike are experiencing relative to Microsoft’s dozens of different sales programs with dead-end (non-upgradeable) "special purchase configurations" and wildly differing “End User License Agreements”.
At this point, you need four lawyers, a GPS tracking system and a calculator to figure out which program is right for you, versus which program rides the edges of legality.
Microsoft has made it especially hard for Authorized Partners who are attempting to sell Open Licenses for XP and the myriad of Applications under it. The prospect of Two Years of what I will simply call Upgrade Insurance to protect you from falling behind the upgrade path is pretty much bonus money for Microsoft. Rest assured, XP is the last Client OS and Office XP is the last Client Application Suite you will see from Microsoft in the next 3 years. They will now concentrate on saturating the server side (and the communications) markets to exploit the features of these Operating Systems and Applications, further stifling competition through tight integration.
Don’t think for a second that Messenger and Passport are “toys” or simple add-ins. Microsoft is banking on the .net initiative to reap lots of per transaction fees and they alone will collect the profits.
Anyway, onto the startling secret versus what everyone (Okay, except Government lawyers and judges) knows already. The first startling little awareness happened at 8:22PM on a dark and cool Sunday Night here in the State Capital of New Hampshire. We were building a new network for a local law firm and had reached the Word 2002 deployment stage. On one particular machine, I was looking at a clean load of Word 2002 using the Word “Media kit” (It’s just a CD-ROM, no paperwork or manuals) which is specifically designed for Open License customers. Upon completion, everything looked great. XP Pro was running like a charm, Messenger was preconfigured and doing its thing, Outlook Express 6 was humming away, Internet Connection Sharing running strong, the Windows 2000 Server was chugging along, and then it happened.
We went to print an envelope. A simple task, I give you… Open the Word Processor and click the Envelope button, Pick an entry from the address book, hey no big deal right?
As Austin Powers’ nemesis, Dr. Evil would say, “Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.”
As it turns out, Microsoft has actually removed the integration of Address Book with Microsoft Word. Instead, only the address books from Outlook and/or Exchange are supported.
This represents the first conscious effort by Microsoft to force customers to use the expensive Outlook product over the product created to bury Netscape, Outlook Express. Since for all intensive purposes, the free Internet Explorer and Outlook Express products have eliminated Netscape, Microsoft has no further need to integrate this freeware into their applications. What’s more, they refuse to patch the standard code (Yes, Outlook Express 6 and Address Book are both Current Release Microsoft products) back in.
If nothing else, this is like a slap in the face to anyone with any previous version of Word, or other office applications that used address book. If you upgrade to XP, you are toast. What you could previously do with any version from Word 97 to Word 2000, you can’t do with Word 2002.
This certainly pulls a fast one on the Anti-Trust people as well, as Microsoft had previously promised that XP and XP applications are nothing more than major enhancements that dramatically improves on features conceived from Windows 2000 and its’ daughter applications.
Unfortunately, this “minor change” truly aims to put a Billion dollars (YES, with a B) in Microsoft’s pocket by forcing consumers that don’t need an office suite, to license Outlook 2002. An extremely large number of people that only use Microsoft Word or Works will be forced to upgrade and spend even more money to have an address book that integrates.
Microsoft further rubs salt in the wound by shipping Works 2002 with Internet Explorer 5.5. Why does IE 5.5 ship on Works? Only Netscape and Corel lawyers can say for sure.
When Works 6.0 suite was shipping (Oh yeah, it's still shipping) it was raved about because of the tight integration between Word and the address book (a stand alone freeware feature that is integrated with and shared by Outlook Express). (See for yourself at: http://works.msn.com) In the comparison on this page, you can see that they don’t even mention the address book on the Works 2002 product, but instead indicate in the fine print that for some features you may need a different email client.
Are XP Professional and Office XP great? I still love them. Stable as a rock and finally some useful features. Are the politics and ulterior motives a drag? Absolutely. Don't get me wrong, I love the product but ethics dictate you knowing the issues.
The bottom line? If you buy an Office suite, you are covered. Some version of Outlook (be it 97, 98 2000 or 2002) is included in every variation of Microsoft Office; however, if you are a small office that just does word processing you are looking at a substantial difference in price from what the feature rich Word 2002 would cost you alone. To get an address book, you’ll need to shell out more money for Outlook, there is just no way around it, and Microsoft knows it. Unfortunately, they just forgot to tell anyone else. Or is forget the wrong word?
Remember, even if you buy “Works 2002” you’ll still need to purchase Outlook so get out that credit card or enable that Microsoft .Net Passport now, because they’ve finally got you right where they want you. One way or another, you are going to end up purchasing Outlook 2002, so get ready to spend some of that Christmas money now.
Next week… The other feature we discovered that Microsoft removed: The Internet Explorer “Status Bar” and why Microsoft doesn’t want you to see it anymore.
I recently purchased a Jornada 568 and when installing the software for it I found the first item on the CD was Outlook 2002. I thought, "Hey, I get a free Outlook Upgrade." SO: I installed it. I normally use Microsoft Word as my e-mail editor. Wood 2000 that is. Well when I tried to set it as my editor in Outlook 2002, the check blocks were greyed out. I checked into this and dicovered that if you want Word as your e-mail editor in Outlook 2002, you have to upgrade to Word 2002. I was able to uninstall Outlook 2002 and reinstall Outlook 2000 from my Office 2000 CD and everything now runs just fine. I was afraid I would loose my e-mail folders and Address book but everything came up just fine without the hassle of exporting and importing.