Putting the cat amongst the pigeons

I wasn’t going to comment on this but i’ve changed my mind

Susanne blogged a while back asking about Microsoft’s strategy for Office & Vista in the small business marketplace and why they should make the move.(This was also followed up by a post by Vijay)

At the time i agreed with many of her points so i started a post of my own but struggled to add anything extra to what she had already said so it stayed in my drafts.

I’ve just been going through my backlog after my holiday and noticed a few posts in reply to Susanne

The one i was most interested in was David Overton’s response.

Couple of things of interested to me:

[Susanne] The gadget toolbar that shows me the time (I can do that already thanks), RSS feeds (that’s what Outlook 2007 or IE7 or even Firefox** is for), and other applications that most Small Business Specialists would ban because they could potentially encourage time wasting – 2.5hrs a day is spent searching for information (I told you I listen Microsoft!) so why swap one problem for another?

[David] The gadget tool bar might look like a “toy holder”, but we are beginning to see people building gadgets that return business value.  CRM can put out an RSS feed, having the top 5 issues appear there, or the latest actions to worry about has some value.  People spend serious time and money chasing information that if presented in a glancable way on the gadget bar would show business value in terms of productivity.  People also need to feel that their computer is personalisable to be useful to them.  Want to know the cricket scores – you can either have a gadget, repeatedly open a web browser to see, or make your staff unhappy by banning the cricket results from the business.  There will be more of these coming along, but Key Performance Indicator gadgets will be a boon, and worst case, you can have one written – isn’t that the value proposition for Open Source?? 🙂

[Me] Nice reply. I complety agree with him on this. We all push SharePoint to businesses so that they can get quick access to important business data. Moving some of this to the desktop would be really useful. At the moment all the gadgets that are available to seem like “toys” but as Vista gets deployed i think lots of partners will get creative and develop gadgets that have lots of business use


[Susanne] BitLocker – great! but oh wait… Enterprise version only

[David] This is one of the features that some customers are willing to spend money on (or even already do on 3rd party solutions).  How can you get it for your customers – Open Value licensing, including my favourite of Open Value Subscription, which has a lower cost of acquisition due to the fact that you don’t own the software, but means it is quicker to obtain and some customers would much rather rent software – which means you then have an ongoing relationship over the years as to how you enable them to get the most from the latest software, which is part of the rental agreement (as is training, home usage right, staff purchase etc etc)

[Me] Sorry i’m with Susanne on this one. Why should we have to get Enterprise edition just for this? I have lots of customers that runs SBS. Have between 10-25 PCs and a couple of laptops for sales and management staff to take off site. Bitlocker would be great here for if (when!) laptops get stolen/lost. This is one of those features that small businesses really could do with and dont want it to be complicated and dont want to spend a lot of money on (thats small business for you!). This generally rules out most third party offerings. Licensing for a couple of laptops seems a step too far



OneNote 2007 – great! but oh wait… Student and Teacher versions only (I’m seeing a trend here)

Exchange 2007 is great but the voice messages via email is already available as an add-on

Can the American Exchange Lady have a domestic accent instead please? You may tut at this but as a telephone specialist we always get asked to change the American voice to English.

As much as Exchange has a ‘wow’ factor – I think small business clients CAN afford not to talk to their server

[David] I will agree with the comments about Exchange – it is not a great fit in the SBS small business world due to it’s x64 server requirement, which is not something that SBS 2003 can do, so a 2nd server is required.  Having said that, for those where unified communication (or the lack of) is a problem then this is something to consider for them!!

[Me] Ok you have agreed about Exchange. But you completely missed out her question about OneNote. Tons of people in business use OneNote as it’s so damn useful and i know from reading Susanne’s blog there is a reason she asked that question ahead of the Exchange question! She also brings it up again a bit later but it never gets mentioned. So is the solution here we should all be buying Enterprise and Ultimate edition? I dont think so..

I have a similar bug bear with InfoPath to be honest. Even in the Office 2003 unless you buy Office 2003 Pro/Enterprise InfoPath never gets seen in the small business environment as it’s too expensive as a stand alone product. When we sell SBS2003 and show customers SharePoint and how well InfoPath works with it our customers are really interested. But they only want Office Small Business Edition so InfoPath never happens. Terrible shame in my opinion

That’ll do! Any more comments and this post will take longer to read than the SharePoint resource kit

Dont get me wrong. I really like Vista and Office and i’m looking forward to using them more fully in the new year. The way i see it working with our customers is that they wont be making the upgrade until they need to. Vista wont appear until new or replacement PCs are installed and apart from a few exceptions Office 2007 will be pretty much the same. However, as most office politics determine once one user has it everyone wants it!

I’m glad that David went to the effort of replying in the first place because it means that Microsoft do listen!

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Andy Parkes is Technical Director at Coventry based IT support company IBIT Solutions. Formerly, coordinator of AMITPRO and Microsoft Partner Area Lead for 2012-2013. He also isn't a fan of describing himself in the third person.

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