Lab Notes

Webster as slave. When Microsoft Corp. representatives recently
delivered the final code of Microsoft Office 2000 to the GCN Lab they also brought
unwelcome news.

Office 2000 embraces the Web’s Hypertext Markup Language as the ultimate native
file format. But when you save a Microsoft Word file in HTML, you cannot edit the file in
Microsoft’s FrontPage 2000 Web editor.

Many webmasters rely on FrontPage 98 to create, edit and maintain Web sites. Webmasters
who switch to Office 2000 will find that FrontPage 2000 cannot clean up their HTML.

Furthermore, Office 2000 applications that save documents as HTML pack in a lot of
extra coding, which makes downloading two or three times as long as it is within ordinary
Web pages. The lab expects to see an add-in that will strip out Office 2000’s
Extensible Markup Language tags.

It appears that Microsoft is hijacking yet another standard. Webmasters will have to do
more work, and all users will have to endure longer download times. If you use FrontPage
98, keep it.

Readers are asking if the next Office will have different native file formats, as
Office 97 did. Good news: The Redmond, Wash., developers have left Word’s .doc,
Excel’s .xls and the other formats the same. Office 97 users can open Office 2000
documents and vice versa.

NC, we hardly knew ye. Remember the NC? A few years ago, the network
computer was supposed to present a cheap alternative to Microsoft-Intel market domination.
But the NC fell by the wayside as PC prices dipped below $1,000, $500 and now $399.

Corel Corp., which promised an NC that never took off, now promises a version of
open-source Linux running on its own box. It would be better for the company to first
restore to glory its once-dominant WordPerfect word processor, which Corel acknowledges is
installed on only half as many desktop PCs as Word.

VHS vs. Betamax redux. Sony Corp. and Matsushita Electric Industrial
Corp. are clashing again, this time over a new optical disk standard. The two fought over
videotape formats two decades ago. Now they have incompatible standards for an audio disk
that supposedly packs in seven times as much sound as today’s CDs.

Matsushita and several partners, including notebook computer maker Toshiba America
Information Systems Inc., advocate a digital video disk audio format. Sony is promoting a
Super Audio CD format.

No dominant DVD writable standard has yet surfaced, either. An optical standard for
mass storage will jell, but for the time being, the waters only get muddier.

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