Microsoft Corp. swiftly responded to Google Inc.’s Chrome OSannouncement today as it launched a “technical preview” of itscloud-based Office 2010 suite. The new Web-based software, which wasreleased to select developers, aims to give users the ability to freelyuse Word, Excel and PowerPoint over the Web.
Along with its move to the Web, the Office suite will also see some enhancements in its desktop version.
But while the Web-based functionality is receiving most of theattention from the bloggers I’ve read thus far, Los Angeles-basedtechnology consultant Lauren Weinstein, founder of People for InternetResponsibility (PFIR), has some interesting gripes with a particularaspect of the physical release.
Based solely on some of the product descriptions coming out ofSilicon Valley, Weinstein argued that the release “seems guaranteed toturn some Outlook users into the e-mail equivalent of black holes.”
His arguments stem from a feature which will give users the abilityto instantly delete all messages — including future messages —associated with an e-mail thread in which you’re a CC (carbon copy)member.
“Some reviewers, presumably of the more anal personality type, arelauding this feature as the best development since sliced bread,”Weinstein wrote in his mailing newsletter. “They suggest it’s moreefficient and polite than asking to be taken off a CC list.”
The problem with this, he added, should be obvious to any long-time e-mail user.
“I don’t know whether this Microsoft mechanism uses Subject lines,References lines, or some combination of both to make its threaddeterminations, but I do know this: E-mail subjects drift,” he wrote,adding that most people fail to update subject lines as a discussionevolves.
With Microsoft’s new feature, he argued, users run the significantrisk of cutting themselves off from a discussion that has moved in anew direction. Even worse, according to Weinstein, the other members ofthe CC list will continue to see you listed on all of the messages andit is unclear whether the ignore feature provides any notification toother recipients.
The security angle in all of this?
“Overall, it seems certain that Microsoft’s new concept in proactivee-mail deletion will result in vast numbers of lost important messages,misunderstandings, confusion, and maybe worse,” he wrote.
While I can certainly see the relevance of this feature, Microsoftwill need to address these concerns if Weinstein is right about itsshortcomings.