Navy to Microsoft: Give us what we need or else

San Diego — The Navy has reached such a state of frustration with Microsoft Corp.'s groupware tools that the service is considering using freeware products instead of Microsoft applications, according to a top Navy official.

Jerry Hultin, undersecretary of the Navy, said he has a meeting scheduled with Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's newly appointed chief executive officer, during which he intends to tell Ballmer, "If you don't give us what we need...I then can get better groupware from freeware [providers]."

Hultin, speaking here at West 2000, the annual Navy-focused conference sponsored by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association and the U.S. Naval Institute, said groupware is essential to the revolution in business processes that the Navy envisions its $10 billion Navy/Marine Corps Intranet will provide. However, Hultin said, existing Microsoft groupware products can't do the job.

For example, he sharply criticized the "voting" component of existing Microsoft groupware products, as well as the crude way Microsoft groupware tools enable creation of discussion groups. "Voting" components in groupware enable collaborators to make group decisions by "voting."

"I'm told there are freeware products that can do this," Hultin said.

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