Not everyone loves MS Office 2010

Microsoft Corp. swiftly responded to Google Inc.’s Chrome OS announcement today as it launched a “technical preview” of its cloud-based Office 2010 suite. The new Web-based software, which was released to select developers, aims to give users the ability to freely use 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 the attention from the bloggers I’ve read thus far, Los Angeles-based technology consultant Lauren Weinstein, founder of People for Internet Responsibility (PFIR), has some interesting gripes with a particular aspect of the physical release. Based solely on some of the product descriptions coming out of Silicon Valley, Weinstein argued that the release “seems guaranteed to turn some Outlook users into the e-mail equivalent of black holes.” His arguments stem from a feature which will give users the ability to 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, are lauding this feature as the best development since sliced bread,” Weinstein wrote in his mailing newsletter. “They suggest it's more efficient 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 thread determinations, but I do know this: E-mail subjects drift,” he wrote, adding that most people fail to update subject lines as a discussion evolves. With Microsoft's new feature, he argued, users run the significant risk of cutting themselves off from a discussion that has moved in a new direction. Even worse, according to Weinstein, the other members of the CC list will continue to see you listed on all of the messages and it is unclear whether the ignore feature provides any notification to other recipients. The security angle in all of this? “Overall, it seems certain that Microsoft's new concept in proactive e-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, Microsoft will need to address these concerns if Weinstein is right about its shortcomings.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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