Microsoft launched Office 12 some time ago with a new file standard and extension. The XML powered standard, which results in files ending .docx, .pptx etc was touted as the cure to incompatibility woes and promising portability and better standardisation.

I’m finding none of that to be true as a user of Office 2003!

During the average day I get sent many documents and presentations to review or collaborate on and I’m finding real issues with this move by Microsoft. I can’t open any documents saved in the new format in my version of Office. It’s now got to the stage where many partners have upgraded to Office 12 and I’m having to request new versions of documents on a regular basis.

This has got me to thinking. The issue is only going to get worse as more people upgrade and aren’t aware of the backwards compatibility issues. I believe Microsoft have made a massive mistake with this and really harmed the cause of data portability. What’s even worse is that sometimes when documents are saved as a compatible version they lose some formatting and bloat in file size hugely.

Surely I can’t be the only one encountering this problem and finding the frequency of occurrence rising?

I’ve used Google Calendar for ages, mainly for it’s ease of use and access from anywhere features. However, I still use Microsoft Outlook for work and have an install of it at home too.

So I am ecstatic about this new launch from Google! Google Calendar Sync (catchy) allows you to sync your Google calendar to Outlook and vice versa. Fantastic! All my calendar views can now be up to date, no excuses for missing an appointment anymore…

Great comparison of the two online office suites here from ReadWriteWeb.

Certainly going to be an interesting battle as this arena hots up. I still side with Google for ease of use and true collaboration features, just want to see better integration with GMail and the arrival of a ‘real GDrive’ now!

Although having said that; some semantic understanding of my documents wouldn’t go amiss…

Microsoft would be nuts not to take Silverlight fully offline, and apparently although there’s no specific plans yet, it will happen.

Very good timing for such a statement seeing as it’s being reported that Nokia will use Silverlight in it’s S60/40 mobile phones.

It would be a damn shame though if mobiles ended up as another platform for software wars with Google on one side and Microsoft on the other.

See my earlier post on Google Gears going mobile…

Finally Internet Explorer is going to come of age (or perhaps reach puberty). Microsoft have announced that, by default, the rendering engine in IE8 will support all the current web standards (yes those ones IE7 has such problems with).

This is a great day for web designers. Could this be the end of workarounds to get your site browser compatible? Maybe, for a short time, but then as standards move on I’m sure one of the major browsers will lag behind again.

So after all the rumours of the weekend, which if you’ve been following them have pointed to a big announcement from Microsoft regarding online office productivity and possibly moving their entire office suite into the cloud, an announcement came from Redmond yesterday.

However, it wasn’t what was expected, in fact it was much weaker and no threat to any existing players.

They’ve announced the launch of a beta of Exchange Online and SharePoint Online is a definite move towards software plus services.

It’s interesting none the less as this comes right after Google Sites who are a contender for those looking for a simple online collaboration tool to build intranet/extranets with. SharePoint is much more full featured and as such much more suited to large enterprises.

We’ll have to wait and see whether anything else comes out this week…

Nicholas Carr (former exec editor of the Harvard Business Review) has just posted a rumour on his blog that Microsoft may be planning to announce a move to push it’s applications into the cloud. It’s something that’s been expected but there hasn’t been any rumours that it’s impending for ages. Moving to web access for apps is a natural thing for Microsoft to do soon and could be huge!

Nicholas is highly respected (I’ve been a fan of his FT and Guardian articles for ages) and even if the rumour isn’t true it most likely does mean some kind of announcement is coming soon.