VISUAL NEWSLETTER – DEC 2007           

 


2008 REMINDERS

 

2008 appears to be throwing a lot of things our way:

 

1) GST Tax Changes – Starting January 1st, GST will need to be adjusted to 5% and HST to 13%. This affects most billing, purchasing and tax reporting modules.

 

2) CPA cheque compliance will be required at some point in 2008. The repercussions of non-compliance have yet to be announced but will likely take the form of extra services charges per non-compliant cheque.

 

3) Windows Vista II will be released to try and undo the damage that Windows Vista has done to Microsoft’s reputation. While many end users were given no choice when they purchased a home computer, businesses have unanimously rejected Windows Vista due to performance and compatibility issues. Vista II will be released first or second quarter of 2008 and we will review it at that time. For now our recommendation is to stick with Windows XP Professional for business use until such time that Windows Vista II passes the grade.

 

4) Payroll users are reminded that they should have applied the 2008 payroll updates, ran the year-end closings and copied the 2008 tax tables. If you haven’t already ordered sufficient quantities of T4 and Relevé 1 forms you should do so as soon as possible.

 

OFFICE 2007, EXPLORER 7 ISSUES

 

Microsoft Office 2007 and Internet Explorer 7 were products meant to complement Windows Vista. Both work with Windows XP but have some repercussions on other software as well. The biggest change in these applications is the user interface which is more Vista like. My first experience with Office 2007 had me scratching my head as to where to find common functions that has seemed so obvious in prior versions.

 

Once you get over the culture shock however it is not difficult to operate. It does have one peculiar side effect on users of Outlook Express. It deletes the English, Spanish and German spell checkers.  While I can see that the new Office programs may want their own more advanced spell checker, I can’t see why Microsoft would sabotage one of their own products like this. Their official stance is that you can obtain your own 3rd party spell checker if you want to use Outlook Express.

 

Similarly, Internet Explorer 7 often impacts other programs as it implements new Windows security features. It tries to determine the publisher of many programs and pops up warnings in many cases. Reverting back to Internet Explorer 6 fixes the problem.

 

WINDOWS VISTA FEEDBACK

 

Microsoft is a little defensive when talking about Windows Vista these days. Apple Computer has had a field day poking fun at various user complaints in their television ads. “Many customers have upgraded by downgrading to Windows XP” as the Apple ad states.

 

Microsoft claims that Vista sales are going well but that is mainly due to the fact that home computer users are being forced into buying Windows Vista. If the truth be known large numbers of home users have replaced Vista with Windows XP to solve the problems. Business users, on the other hand, order most computers from business suppliers and as such have continued to order Windows XP Professional almost exclusively.

 

That trend will likely continue unless the reviews for Vista II appearing later in 2008 are favourable. For business users the impact of software incompatibility can be significant. If you are a home user, with one computer, the fact that a few of your favourite programs no longer work is a minor inconvenience. For a business user, those same programs may be used across the entire corporation which means that tens or even hundreds of computers may need to be upgraded to solve the problems caused by a single computer.

 

Our last experience with Windows Vista resulted in numerous blue screens and system restores as we spent a day trying to determine what would and would not work with Windows Vista. Admittedly Vista was helpful and realized that we were having problems and suggested system restores to reverse the problems, however the whole Vista experience was far more troublesome than it was worth and we ultimately reformatted the drive and reloaded Windows XP Professional Edition. After that our problems disappeared and the computer has been fine ever since.

 

In the mean time hardware advancements have made the typical computer a little better prepared to run Windows Vista. You do need a least 2gb of Ram, a fast processor ( Dual Core or Quad Core ), a large hard drive and a high level video card to run Vista effectively. These requirements are easily met by even the more basic computers these days, so the possibility of a Vista resurgence is possible, providing Microsoft can solve a few more of the general software compatibility issues.

 

From my perspective Microsoft needs to acquire a little more sensitivity in dealing with the public. When they can sabotage one of their own products like Outlook Express and then just tell you to use something else it seems like they have become a virtual dictatorship. At times Linux and Apple seem a little more democratic.