At face value, Podio is a very tough product to describe. Parent company, Citrix, describes it as an "online work platform", which tends to be fairly accurate, but is a definite understatement. Podio has the social likeness of Google+ or Facebook, but don't think Yammer here (Podio politely offers sociability -- it doesn't force it down your throat.) Podio leverages a powerful cloud-based CRM platform that is highly customizable, a la Salesforce. Yet it also happens to integrate useful tabular functionality and spreadsheet importing/exporting to and from Excel. So what the heck exactly is Podio?
After one month of living personally and professionally on Podio, one thing I can say is I know what it isn't. It's not a platform for those looking for a simple cookie cutter solution to a single problem. The product is targeted towards companies small and large willing to invest a little time to get a lot in return. That return, more specifically, is functionality and flexibility. Podio tosses out the "800 pound gorilla" approach to software and instead offers a different perspective: you build it, and they will come.
The Pope may be making news headlines in the tech world by opening his own Twitter account, but there's a much more worrying headline that is keeping its nose under the covers this week. The Internet as we know it could be in trouble if representatives from free-speech oppressors such as China and Russia have their way at a UN telecom regulations conference starting this week in Dubai.
The 11-day conference is billed as a gathering of the world's top nations to discuss ways to update rules last touched in 1988 on oversight related to telephone networks, satellite networks, and the Internet at large. Proponents of the conference say that the Internet has changed so radically since the 1980s that it is now time for others to have greater say in how it's regulated and controlled.
Most people probably didn't turn a glance at Microsoft's other big recent release, Windows Server 2012. Server operating systems rarely get much attention, and appropriately so; their appeal and importance really only extends to the rank and file of server administrators and other similar decision makers. And plus, with Windows 8 and Surface making the public rounds, there's plenty of fanfare to go around.
But there's something most obviously missing from the latest Server 2012 lineup, and that is a subsequent Small Business Server release. Redmond Channel Partner magazine first brought this to my attention. Not only did SBS get the axe, but Microsoft also went on to kill off Windows Home Server as well. The last public version of WHS was version 2011, which happened to be the second and final release in this platform's short lived history.
Office 365 happens to be a product I think has a lot of potential. To be fair, it's Microsoft's second try at dedicated cloud-based email. Redmond first went toe to toe with Google Apps back in the days of BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite), but they're distant cousins at best. With a few years' separation, Office 365 is Microsoft's answer to the growing threat Google Apps poses to Exchange.
The way I see it, Microsoft's torn internally. They are clearly still developing a wide range of Server and Exchange revisions on the usual upgrade cycle, but then signal a clear concession to the cloud by killing off Windows Small Business Server. While mixed intentions obviously represent the reality that they are innately a traditional software company, they realize that business is moving to the cloud whether they hold the leash or not.
If you think you read my title wrong, take a second look. You'd think from all the overblown attention that the Modern interface is garnering, that I was going to focus another drab op-ed around that sole feature. Yes, the Modern UI is a radical change and will turn a lot of people off. But let's not forget that with every new Windows release comes features that actually don't get the time of day. I think a few of these deserve a sliver of attention.
We've been down this road before. Let's not forget that the introduction of the Office ribbon menu system was considered shocking back in 2006, and years later a majority of users have accepted and embraced the changes. Apple received similar kickback on its radical iPhone design back in 2007. I truly believe the heat on Windows 8's Modern UI will come and go like the rest of modern tech's evolutionary moments.
The cat's out of the bag, and we can all stop guessing as to what the Surface RT will cost. Microsoft confirms many things, namely that Steve Ballmer was spot-on with his estimates on Surface pricing roughly a month ago. The Surface RT is going toe-to-toe with the iPad down to the very last penny. That's a good thing.
One thing I'm curious about is how Surface will change the way K-12 looks at computing devices for the next generation of students. I've already penned my thoughts on why I believe the Surface could very well outshine the iPad in education. A big part of this winning equation has to do with the ecosystem that surrounds a given technology.
The golden years of Apple's outright dominance in technical innovation is fading, and quickly at that. The iPhone 5 just launched with a deservedly ho-hum and lackluster reception, with many people asking the obvious question: that's it? For a company riding the high waves of Wall Street for more than a few years now, with earnings going through the roof quarter upon quarter, is this the best that a larger-than-life tech giant can bring us?
Maybe the naysayers are right in that Apple is the leftover shell of a monolith once passed (post-Jobs.) Perhaps that internal drive to bring out the best in technology they release is starting to fizzle. I'd go as far as to argue that Apple never really has been as continually innovative as many people may believe. While Apple does have an easy ability in commanding the lead for sectors it enters, this doesn't necessarily mean the company if filled with technical Einsteins as so many supporters clamor to believe.
Microsoft needs to harness and capitalize on some of the pent up anticipation that is surrounding roughly the next 5 months of its product lineup. Let's face it: the holiday season is going to be a blissful one, with Windows 8 coming out in late October for consumers and the Surface rumored to be out on the same day.
Optimism for Windows 8 grows, dulling early worries about its future. A recent poll run by BetaNews found that 45-percent of respondents are set to get Windows 8 as soon as it's released. And a forward-thinking interview with the CEO of Laplink, Thomas Koll, firmly solidifies his belief that Windows 8 is far from the next-of-kin to Windows Vista.
If you still have a MySpace you likely fit into one of three groups: You forgot to formally delete your account; you are trying to advertise your small-time band to a couple dozen hardcore leftover users; you log into MySpace right after you finish signing into AOL Desktop merely as a matter of old habit.
But I'm not interested in singling out those still using the service, as the droves of users who have dumped the website outright far outnumber the faithful by now. I'm outlining something I'd call the "MySpace Effect".
The conjured term "death spiral" has been so overused in discussions about Blackberry-maker Research in Motion that one must ask: Are the tech pundits crying wolf too often, too soon? Do a targeted search for "Research in Motion death" on Google and you will easily see that this rush to judgement started all the way back in early 2010. Like the doomsday naysayers of yesteryear, RIM's date of decease has anything but solidified (to some pundits' shock.)
The short-term future for RIM is a rocky road indeed. With its face-saving Blackberry 10 OS release being pushed back another quarter into early 2013, the smartphone giant has little glitz to match the other big boys temporarily. Samsung's instant-hit -- aka the Galaxy S3 -- has already touched down. Google's got its latest iteration of Android, Jelly Bean, cooking for its flagship devices including the Nexus and the S3. And the iPhone 5 rumor mill just can't take a week off as of late.
Unlike most tech industry analysts that pit Google versus Microsoft in a paper-specs war each time they opine about these cloud email platforms, I’ve got two cents to offer on the subject from a slightly different -- and perhaps more down-to-earth -- perspective. I’m an IT consultant by day who is responsible for implementing, supporting, and training on each company’s product.
It allows me to have better perspective about how end-users feel about these major cloud suites when “non techies” are at the wheel. And the things they tell me are often no-holds-barred as they rarely hold back. The bigger question most analysts fail to answer still stands: who’s winning the “hearts and minds” of those using these suites?