Office 14 on the Web

Watch out Google Apps, Office “14” is coming to the Web – and unlike the Google version, it works with the offline rich client as well as mobile devices to give a whole new set of features.

Some salient points:

  • Office 14 is going to be available in the normal rich client version
  • The Web version will be included into the applications
  • Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote are the apps that will be available in the “cloud” :)
  • Seamless syncing of content between the desktop, Web and mobile will be possible
  • Multiple people can work on the same document in different media at the same time and see changes in real-time
  • The Web version works on Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari
  • If you have the Silverlight 2 plugin installed (in any of the above browsers) you get an even richer experience than the Ajax based one which mimics the rich desktop client almost exactly
  • The rendering engines in each application is the same as the one in the desktop version and hence the document you view in your desktop will be exactly the same as the one the Web!
  • You get all the rich features – charts, tables, WordArt, SmartArt etc. on both the Desktop and Web version – YAY!

Check out the video over at Channel9 for a quick cool demo.

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Categories: Office | Internet | SilverLight

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Making sure your downloads complete on Vista

Vista has a number of new features that optimize the way that your computer functions – especially in the area of power consumption. The new power plans, sleep mode and more intelligent management of hardware resources are some of these. However, there is one small problem that comes with this – if you leave your computer to perform a download, in many cases it just doesn’t complete since Vista automatically puts the computer to sleep after a period of inactivity. This is especially true if you’re downloading on a laptop and on battery.


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Categories: Tips | Windows Vista

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The Economic Depression vs. FOSS

This post actually started out as a comment on a Slashdot story about how the economic downturn is going to (negatively) impact free and open source software. As expected, the comments had a ton of ayes and nays – both sides having their merits. My thoughts about this are like this:

  1. The economic downturn is going to affect everyone – including people who are passionate about writing free software. Are you single or do you have dependents (wife, kids, parents, etc.) who depend on your livelihood? In this case, would you as a developer rather work for a commercial vendor (who pays you something) or an OSS project where you are a contributor and the possible future fame (no fortune) is the only incentive? (Unless of course, you were born with a silver spoon and write code only as a passion.)
  2. If you were the owner/major stockholder of a company would you depend on a software project that’s been written in the garage of the developers or with a company which has fairly good stocks as well as a few billion dollars in liquid funds? Think about which one is more likely to close shop and disappear. Would you want to be stuck with a product running your critical LoB application which has no future?
  3. The argument that since you do have the source you can modify it is fallacious. What if you’re not a technical company? You will need to hire programmers to modify the application which can turn more expensive very quickly.
  4. What if the main argument was that it would be cheaper to get the free software than a commercial one during an economic downturn? Again, see point 2 as well as that commercial OSS projects have the same or more TCO of offerings from commercial vendors. Most commercial OSS projects are in the same price range (they call it “charging for services”) as commercial closed source ones.
  5. Commercial vendors also give a pay as you need and monthly/yearly model of software purchase. All you need to do is talk to the sales/marketing team of the vendor to avail of this – with guarantees on the software (and company – very important during this economic phase). This means that you can spread out the cost of the software over many years and still get the benefits of a solid company backing and software.
  6. People who claim that developers can continue to write code for OSS only see part of the picture. What about all those people who are not technical but yet have a whole bunch of stuff to contribute to software – QA, designers, technical writers, software packagers,etc. Will all of them also be willing to work for free/peanuts?

Although I do not foresee the end of OSS or even want it to happen, these are hard questions that not only contributors to OSS but also companies who rely upon them must think about seriously. What do you think?

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Categories: Development

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Paste-&-Go with Internet Explorer

Recently a fellow MVP, Omi, created a Firefox 3.0 extension called Paste-&-Go which allows users to copy a URL and paste it into the browser and have it open up automatically. You can download this excellent extension for Firefox here.

However, quite a few people asked for something like this in Internet Explorer. and I was surprised that many people are not really aware of the cool extensibility features of Internet Explorer called IE Browser Extensions. I had written an article for PCQuest quite a while back and also give a few “extensions” for IE for download at its forums. You can download a small set from here.

Sadly this above set does not really support pasting URLs from an external source – such as Notepad. Also, the Firefox extension only allows a single URL, while I wanted to do it for multiple URLs and open all of them up instantly. I posted on the MVP alias that I’d probably get around to writing the code during the upcoming Dussera holidays.

But I did manage getting 5 minutes free (while my son watched Disney’s Chip-‘n’-Dale) and that’s basically how much time it took to go ahead and create a browser extension for Internet Explorer that does the above. You can set this up yourself too on Internet Explorer 5 or above (including the IE8 Beta 2).

  • Open Notepad and paste the following code into it.Save the file as as HTML file, say, c:\Windows\Web\Paste-n-Go.htm
<SCRIPT LANGUAGE="JavaScript" defer>
clip = window.clipboardData.getData("Text"); 
UrlArray = clip.split("\n");
for(i=0; i<=UrlArray.length; i++)[i], "paste"+i);
  • Open Regedit and browse over to HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\MenuExt
  • Right-click the MenuExt key and select New > Key
  • Rename the newly created key to Paste && Go
  • Double click the (Default) entry on the right pane for this new key and set the value to the location where you saved the file you created in step 1, say, c:\windows\web\Paste-n-Go.htm
  • Right-click the right pane and create a new DWORD (32-bit) value
  • Rename the new key to Contexts and set its value to 1. Your registry should look something like this now.


  • Copy a bunch of URLs from Notepad or another browser window


  • Open a new Internet Explorer window and right-click anywhere in the content area and pick Paste & Go from the context menu


  • This will open the URLs you copied in a window each – quite handy when trying copy a bunch of URLs someone has linked to in a forum post or a list that you have

Currently this doesn’t open the URLs in different tabs – haven’t figured that one out yet. If you know how, do leave me a note and I’ll make the required change.

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Categories: Development | Tips

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