Note: Tons more photos to go along with this story are available
for viewing on the MouseTrax MVP page at www.mousetrax.com/mvps.html
It's Monday, October 21st, 2003, mid-morning, I sling my cases over my shoulder
and head to the Chicago "L" to take me to O'Hare Airport so I can
catch my 2 hr flight to New York City.
I've never been to NYC. Prior to 9/11, I had no real interest in going there.
I assumed it would be like Chicago...only more so. Tons of people with their
own agenda, rushing off to their jobs at high speed...taking out anyone who
gets in their way as their auto pilot takes them along their all to familiar
But after 9/11, I saw an incredible spirit in the soul of "New Yorkers."
I developed a great admiration for anyone calling him/herself a "New Yorker."
The country watched them risk their own lives without thought to help others.
Strangers pulling strangers out of harms way. I was really looking forward to
It has been a long time since I'd been on the "L" and, as I bounced
around, I remembered that I didn't miss it. A couple of airport security guys
were chatting and one was waving around a Tootsie Pop as he spoke. As we all
departed upon our arrival at O'Hare...I teased him that he'd better eat that
thing before I did! Laughing, he handed me one of my own. It was gonna be a
I arrived at my gate and Kathy Jacob (PowerPoint MVP) recognized me and her
companionship, while waiting for our flight, made the trip even more enjoyable.
We arrived at LaGuardia and headed for a cab. I'm barely in NYC 10 minutes when
I'm already getting yelled at by the Airport Cab Nazi who is directing folks
to cabs. I made the foolish mistake of reaching for the cab door before she
gave me permission to do so. Silly me! Why on earth should I assume that just
because we're first in line and an available cab pulls in front of us we should
be allowed to proceed without a green light.
She finally mumbles and points to the cab. Assuming that's the green light,
I make another attempt to reach for the door...waiting for her to slap my wrist
all the while. She hands me a couple pieces of paper about cabs and costs. I
ask her what I should do with these. She ignores me. Ahh, this is the
New York I expected!
We get into our cab and we're off to Manhattan.
Microsoft invited the top Office 2003 beta testing MVPs to NYC to enjoy the
launch and meet with the press, as well as attend several special events. There
were about 50 of us in attendance.
We arrived at the "W" Hotel in Time Square, where all the MVPs are
registered. Nice hotel, but very dark in it's art deco black decor. I wish I
hadn't given my pocket flash light to my daughter as I follow the body builder
hotel assistant to my room.
Time Square! What a major assault on the senses. The ultimate in gluttony and
advertising...as well as the useless consumption of electricity! How exciting.
A quick freshen up in my gorgeous "Jetson-like" room and I head back
to the 7th floor lobby to meet the other MVPs and head off to Ruby Foo's in
Uptown for an MVP (sushi/Japanese) dinner.
We stand on the street for about 1/2 hr trying to get everyone into cabs just
as the theatres are letting out. Our lead eventually nabs a couple of limos
just sitting around and use them to complete the shipment. Our gang
manages to jump into the first limo for our ride to the restaurant, in style!
Dinner was strange, yet beautiful. I discovered I still don't like
eating "bait," even if you wrap it up in sticky rice and make it look
pretty. It still belongs on the end of a fish hook! Blah! But the other dishes
were excellent. And the desserts, served in candy boxes, were amazing to look
at and even better to sample.
Our Office lead, Jamie, thanks us and passes out special T-Shirts, as well
as personalized thank you notes from Steve Sinofsky, VP/Business Apps at MS
(head Office dude), along with very pretty crystal awards. As MVPs, we also
receive a set of special Office 2003 product support training CD courses. Very
The next day Susan Ramlet and I are up bright and early. We leave the hotel
extra early, about 6:30 am, to wander the streets of NY before the world wakes.
As we stroll off in search of the Millennium Hotel, where the launch will be
held, we get to see Time Square at pre-dawn hours. Very pretty. We stand outside
of Good Morning America and wave like idiots.
Then we come across a bunch of "cavemen" roaming the streets in Beatle
wigs and body suits advertising some new Nintendo Caveman video game.
We drool at all the amazing bakeries along the streets and I feel right at
home as we walk the streets of downtown NYC...as if I'm wandering the streets
of downtown Chicago.
We get to the hotel and there are lots of media trailers and media folks outside.
We get our MVP passes and head into the morning breakfast with MS VP Jeff Raikes
and VPs from Dell and Intel.
Once the MVPs are seated at our assigned group tables in the intimate room,
the press begins to gather and the show begins. Jeff explains that the majority
of bugs found and fixed in Office 2003 were the direct results of MVPs! <applause>
This was prior to the 50,000 public beta launch, he explains.
After comments from the Dell and Intel VPs and Q/A from the press, Jeff leaves.
We all mingle and chat for a bit before it'll be time to go down to see Bill.
I sneak out to wander the streets of NYC in search of a NY candle for a colleague
who did me a big favor before I left. But not before I pass my TechTrax business
card to the VP from Intel and tell him to check out Greg's article explaining
how cheap processors can burn up your motherboard and why he recommends users
use Intel processors! (See Keeping
the Home PCs from Burning.)
After touring the streets a bit, I head back to the pack of smokers outside
the hotel. We go in to get seats in the intimate auditorium at the hotel to
see Bill. While the group stands around trying to decide where to sit, I head
off to a few seats up close. As with all MS productions, the rockin', upbeat
music begins the show. Bill soon appears on stage to tons of camera flashes
The next hour is spent listening to Bill, Jeff and various experts in the industry
explain why the Office 2003 "System" is such an innovation in integrated
applications and communications. Many demos show ways to provide business solutions
using Office 2003.
The CIO of Siemens, a company that has upgraded to Office 2003, explains some
cool solutions they've incorporated at their company. A Microsoft engineer demos
his winning solution with Office 2003. Very cool. He shows how project approvals
are easily integrated using various XML and Share Point business site solutions
that allows documents, forms, conversations, group meetings and such to all
take place within the bounds of one virtual, in-house web site (group intranet
site with SharePoint).
I, and my row partner for the show, MVP Bill Coan, are excited about all this
way cool technology...but feel sad that the majority of the computing world
will be slow to move to this level of technology for awhile yet. Sadly due to
the stigma that you should "wait until the first SR comes out to fix the
bugs," so many users will miss the boat. But know that Office 2003 is very
However this "afraid of new technology and it's expense"
was further confirmed to Bill Coan and I...who were amazed to hear one guy sitting
in front of us mention that his company was still using Office 97! We just shook
our heads in amazement thinking of all the great stuff and time saving applications
and tools they are missing using that old version. And being VBA devs, we think
about how they are still using VBA ver 5...a much inferior version to the now
available VBA 6 from Office 2000+ and the added abilities of XML in 2003.
We watch a demo of how cool InfoPath is and how the XML integration in Office
2003 will provide so many solutions to forms. I'm already thinking of how she
will enhance so many of her forms solutions with this new technology...if she
could ONLY get some time to mess with it more!!
Bill Gates shows us a fun demo of how he uses his computer with a live demo
from his Tablet PC and how OneNote and digital ink make computing and writing
Then he shows his EBay site where he's trying to sell off old Clippy T-Shirts
and versions of MS Bob...and it appears that "some guy name SteveB"
has the biggest bid!<much laughter from those who get the joke>...cos'
SteveB is Steve Balmer...the President of MS and Bill's college buddy who helped
him start Microsoft...and Clippy and MS Bob are two controversial projects in
After the launch, we head to another room for a buffet lunch and a chance to
meet with the many MS partners who have mini exhibit tables and info/goodies
for us to pile into our product bags...along with our free copy of Office 2003!
I make a point of hitting the Citrix table since my company is rolling out a
Citrix solution to a client site at the present time.
The day's events over, we drag ourselves back to the W to dump the pile of
bags we now have, change and plan a trip on the subway. Some folks feel the
desire to ride the subway. Even though this Chicagoan, who has done it for years,
sees no thrill in that!. So I humor them.
But not before Beth gets her moment in the spotlight with New York's Naked
We find our way to the subway and head off to Ground Zero. A family friend
Kolpak...was killed there and we all feel the need to go and pay our respects.
After a typical tourist romp on the subway...we walk up the stairs at the end
and are immediately struck by this huge construction area surrounded by fences
and many people walking around...somber and some in tears...hugging. We're here!
Seeing these images quickly took it's toll on us all and we are all soon hugging
each other and wiping away the tears...the emotions just being in the presence
of this location are awesome. I find Vanessa's name on the banner of "Heroes
of September 11th" and more tears are choked back.
Several photos and quiet time/prayers/thoughts later...we start discussing
the evening plans. Some stay to do more sightseeing...Susan Ramlet and I head
back on the subway to go back to the hotel. I have work to do and Susan needs
to meet her brother for dinner.
As we enter the subway, we strike up a conversation with a very nice New Yorker
wearing an Ironworker hat and union pin. I ask him if he's an Ironworker and
he says yes. I ask to shake his hand and he pulls back a bit apologizing that
his hands are too dirty and he doesn't want to get me messy. I ignore his comments
and grab his hand and shake it. He gives a humble look!
Then he explains how he's also a volunteer firefighter and how he was working
on the WTC after 9/11 helping clear things away. He worked it for weeks...until
they pulled out his mentor/commander...Lt. Phifer...and then he lost it and
decided he needed a break. He talked more and it was very emotional.
We all got on the train and continued to chat with "Dillon" and others
on the train. Yup...New Yorkers are very cool folks!! They made sure I got off
at the right stop...since Susan had left a few stops earlier.
I did some shopping and headed off for a REAL dinner...at a NY deli, which
consisted of Chicken Noodle Soup, Corn Beef on Rye and NY Cheese Cake! The best
I'd ever had and I LOVE to sample cheese cake!
Back to the hotel, pack, try to get to sleep to wake at 3am to make my 5am
limo ride to the airport for a 7am flight (from hell!...with one of the most
obnoxious business JERKS sitting behind me continually wrestling with the back
of my chair (the pocket and tray, apparently) until I can't take it any longer
and I let him know what a PITA he is. He gets up and moves in a huff!<smirk>)
Okay...so all you probably REALLY wanted to know about was Office 2003...but
hey, I'm a writer, too!<g>
For Those Who Need a Geek Fix
Read the entire Bill/Jeff transcript from the launch:
More on the Launch:
Office 2003 launch application image gallery: http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/events/officesystemlaunch/gallery.asp
First Office 2003 Users Weigh In
(Discussions with MVPs)
Microsoft Launches Next-Generation Office System
(Except this guy messed up and called us Most Valuable Partners)
Read more about what you can do with Office 2003 at the Microsoft Great Moments
Office 2003 Details
- New! The Reading Pan, Navigation Pane and new email views.
- Improved! Enhanced Rules and Desktop Alerts.
- New! Outlook Search Folders.
- New! Outlook Quick Flags.
- Improved! Junk email filtering.
- New! Block external HTML content.
- New! Cached Exchange Mode.
- New! Microsoft Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager.
- New! Research Task Pane.
- Improved! Enhanced ink support.
- New! Meeting Workspaces.
- New! Document Workspaces.
- New! Shared attachments, integrated task panes and support for intranet
- Improved! Instant messaging and alerts.
- Improved! Contacts and calendars.
- New! Information Rights Management (IRM).
- New! Document Protection.
- New! XML Support.
- Improved! Programmable Task Panes.
- Improved! Smart Documents.
- Improved! Smart Tag.
- New! "Very High" Macro Security Setting.
- Improved! Office Object Model.
- Improved! File Type Blocking.
- Improved! Integrated Antivirus Application Programming Interface.
System Requirements for Office 2003....
- PC w/ Intel Pentium 233mhz or higher processor; Pentium III recommended
- MS Windows 2000 w/SP3 or Win XP or Later OS
- 128 mg of RAM or above recommended
- Hard drive space varies depending on configuration and custom install choices...
- Standard and Student Edition: 260 mb minimum, additional 250 recommended
for file cache
- Professional Edition: 400 mb minimum, 1290 mg for Outlook w/Business Contact
Manager...additional 290mb for optional file cache (recommended)
- CD Rom drive
- Super VGA 800x600 or higher w/256 colors
- mouse or compatible pointing device.
Estimated retail Pricing, upgrades will be less:
(is largely unchanged from XP)
- Student/Teacher edition 2003: $149
- Standard edition: $399
- Professional edition: $499
- Stand alones are unchanged at $229 for Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint
and $109 for Outlook 2003.
- MS Office System Professional
- Professional Enterprise
- Small Business
- Word 2003
- Excel 2003
- Access 2003
- PPT 2003
- Outlook 2003 (* OL w/Business Contact Manager)
Stand Alone Programs
- MS Office InfoPath 2003 (new)
- OneNote (new)
- Project Server
- SharePoint Portal Server
- Live Communications Server
- Exchange Server
- Live Meeting (new)
- Online (new)
Solution Accelerators (new)
- MS Office Accelerator for Proposals
- for Recruiting
- for Six Sigma
- for Phone Conferencing
- for Digital Media Communications
- for Compliance
- for XBRL
Enabling Technologies, but not part of MS Office System
- Windows SharePoint Server
- Windows Server 2003
What We Learned on the Trip
Finally, as our little group of MVPs arrive home, (pals who hung out a lot
together...Beth Melton, Susan Ramlet, Echo Swinford, Dian Chapman, and Bob Buckland),
we begin a list of things we learned on this trip...
- It would be really, really difficult to work on the WTC site, especially
if you had friends who died there
- Most Times Square hotel lobbies are
not on the ground floor
- The Meat Packing District is surprisingly large
- I can still pull an all-nighter,
- Jamie is amazing (only reinforced; I did know this before)
- I'm a whole
lot more comfortable in New York than I realized
- I still miss smoking,
but less than I thought I would
- Echo and I have some really odd things
- Cowboys sing while naked in Time Square
- Men we passed on the street found
Dian worth a second look (though she didn't notice)
- Some primarily
seafood restaurants have awesome food; wasabi and pickled ginger are
very good to eat
- Sushi is bait in cognito
- Always leave room in your suitcase for all the
extra stuff you have to bring home from an MVP event
- New Yorkers are
really nice people who aren't bothered by much cos'
they've seen/experienced it all, plus some
- Don't bother bringing a laptop
to an MVP event cos' you'll never have time to use it
- Bob is a very good
tour guide - he knows all of the 'must see' sights
- If you wait for a
cab long enough, a limo will show up
- Wear good walking shoes if Bob is
the tour guide
- Always ask the Concierge for directions and their recommendations
for restaurants and such (I learned this one from Mike)
- Bring your own
lights if you are staying at the W
- The thicker style driver's license
will give you a blister if you dance all night with it in your shoe
- ANY ironworker name Dillon is a very nice guy
- Don't encourage women you
don't know to dance or you may get more than you bargained for
from the shower SOME HOW doesn't spray on the bathroom floor even when
the shower door is only 1/2 covering the shower
- When a 7 foot guy passes
you on the streets of NYC, there's a good chance he's a famous basketball
player..."Hey, that was Bill Walton!"
- Susan Ramlet has more funny
faces to make than a circus clown and she's a riot
- If you put your
room key in your shoe and dance all night it demagnetizes it and
you have to get another one
- Businesses in NYC recycle their buildings,
i.e., an old theatre is now a McDonalds...an old hot dog stand is
now a police station
- You should take your demagnetized room key out of your
shoe and dry it off before arriving at the guest services desk or
they'll give you a *really* funny look
- A bottle of water cost more than
the museum tour
- People look weird when you film them in night vision
- The $12 price for
the museum is a suggested price only - you can get in for a penny
if you really want to be cheap.
- Some people really *are* that cheap
- NYC is the best place to buy lots
of cheap souvenirs
- The nice warm-fuzzy-looking blanket in the overhead
compartment of the airplane more than likely is someone's coat