Stories by Neil McAllister

Office 365 beta shows promise but lacks polish

The more Google's Web-based services encroach on Microsoft's traditional markets, the more Microsoft seems determined to bring the fight to Google's home turf by offering online services of its own. Redmond's first stab at cloud services for business was Business Productivity Online Standard Suite (BPOS), a package that bundled hosted versions of Exchange, SharePoint Server, and Communications Server. Now it's ready to try again with Office 365, a revamped offering that combines the features of BPOS with Office 2010. From what we've seen of the Office 365 beta, it still has a long way to go before it can be considered a true turnkey solution for business.

First look: Ubuntu 9.04 stays the course

Having rocketed to prominence as one of the most popular desktop Linux distributions in just a few years, Ubuntu has earned a reputation for stability and ease-of-use. The latest edition -- version 9.04, code-named "Jaunty Jackalope" -- continues that tradition and is mostly a maintenance release, but it brings a number of updates that should enhance its appeal.

Microsoft layoff rumours persist

Amid news of worsening economic turmoil in markets worldwide, rumours persist that Microsoft may be readying the first formal round of layoffs in the company's history. The latest buzz suggests the Redmond-based software giant may eliminate as many as 15,000 jobs -- though cooler heads say the cuts will come more from attrition and expired contracts than from actual pink slips. Whatever the case, look to January 15 for the big announcement, sources say.

IBM challenges Microsoft for the SME desktop

For most small to midsized businesses, software means Microsoft. For almost any category of business software -- from word processing to spreadsheets, presentations to communication and collaboration -- Microsoft is the de facto vendor of choice. Alternatives do exist, but who wants to be the first one to rock the boat? Microsoft has grown so cocky about its position that it even bragged that it would soon steal five million users away from IBM's Lotus Notes, a competitor to its own Outlook and Exchange.

Based on Vista track record, can Windows 7 be stable and on schedule?

Is that spin I smell? Despite earlier rumors to the contrary, Microsoft seems now to be standing firm behind a 2010 release date for the next-generation version of Windows, currently known as Windows 7. Nobody is being too specific just yet, but a letter sent by Microsoft senior vice president Bill Veghte reiterated that the new OS would ship "approximately three years after the January 2007 general availability launch date of Windows Vista."

Google and Yahoo to partner on IM

Most of the attention to the recent Google/Yahoo partnership has focused on the two companies' search advertising plans, but the deal has implications for instant messaging, too. "In addition," reads the companies' press release, "Yahoo and Google agreed to enable interoperability between their respective instant messaging services, bringing easier and broader communication to users."

Fifteen turning points in tech history

Imagine how different the computing world would be if IBM had used proprietary chips in the original PC, rather than off-the-shelf components. The PC clone market would never have happened, and IBM, rather than Microsoft, might have emerged as the leading company of the computer revolution.

Do new Web tools spell doom for the browser?

Since its inception, the Web has been synonymous with the browser. Pundits hailed NCSA Mosaic as "the killer app of the Internet" in 1993, and today's browsers share an unbroken lineage from that humble beginning.

Google Docs: Your Online Office?

Over the next few weeks, Google will be rolling out a new feature that allows Google Docs users to access their documents even without an Internet connection. For now the change only applies to the word processor, but similar capabilities are expected to become available for spreadsheet and presentation documents once the initial trials are complete.