Send us your hacks

Also: Readers weigh in on a world without Microsoft

Do you have a hack you’re particularly proud of? (And by hack I mean an ingenious fix-it job that may not follow established procedures but gets the task done.) I ask because this week’s cover story, “Heroic Hacks and Inspired Work-arounds” (page 26), relates six seat-of-the-pants hacks that saved the day when a company was in a pickle. These enterprising enterprise rescues, from the case files of three InfoWorld contributing editors, are all variations on a theme — how to solve a problem using smarts, a certain twisted logic, and the tools at hand.

So now it’s your turn to take center stage. Go here, click on Talkback, and share your best hacks. Not only will you get a solid 15 minutes of geek fame (longer really; nothing ever goes away on the Web), but you’ll also be helping other readers in need of out-of-the-box solutions.

On another note, this week Ephraim Schwartz asks, What would life be like if there were no Microsoft? And while you ponder that, you can get the lowdown on the recent WinHEC show, where Microsoft simultaneously launched three much-anticipated betas: Vista, Office 2007, and Windows Longhorn Server (see “Bevy of Microsoft Betas at WinHEC,” page 16).

In other words, Schwartz’s question is strictly hypothetical; the company isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, this next set of releases is likely to further entrench Microsoft both at home and in business. Still, Schwartz jumped into the controversy with both feet, mostly because he was tiring of all the carping about Microsoft. His intention was to force people to think more critically about the world’s dominant software player, instead of resorting to a knee-jerk us-vs.-them reaction.

“Everyone hates them; they’re always the bad guy. But my feeling is, let’s stop the whining and face reality,” Schwartz says. “The industry always talks about all the things that technology can do. ‘In theory, program X is better than Outlook, program Y beats Word.’ It’s all in theory, not in practice. The theoretical precedes the practical by years.”

Schwartz’s column appeared on in advance of its publication in print, so as I write this, the reaction is already in full swing. “I’ve been accused of being brainless, of being a poor journalist just for broaching the topic,” Schwartz says. As expected, plenty of folks took the opportunity to bash the boys from Redmond. Others, though, were quick to spring to Microsoft’s defense.

“A common refrain I’ve heard is that without Microsoft, there would be dozens of products,” Schwartz notes, instead of just one or two in many software categories. “Maybe so, but then, it would be like a Tower of Babel.”

So now you know what Schwartz thinks. For a peek at others’ responses, or to add your own, go here. Hope to see you there.