Change Is Good: <em>Windows IT Pro</em> Goes All-Digital

In the summer of 1999, I was contacted by what was thenWindows NT Magazine and asked if I'd like to contribute a weekly editorial to an electronic newsletter they published. (In fact, you're reading it now.) Over the next few months, the publication's owner, then Duke Communications, purchased my websites, WinInfo and the SuperSite for Windows, and brought me in-house, and the partnership has continued through thick and thin for the ensuing 12 years.

That said, the only constant over the years is that everything changed, and continued to change, the entire time.

For example, I was essentially an outside contractor for most of my time here, although I became a regular employee a couple of years back. Duke Communications was purchased by Penton Media, the publication's current owner. And don't get me started on the magazine name changes.

When Microsoft announced that Windows NT 5.0 would be renamed to Windows 2000, we changed the magazine to Windows 2000 Magazine. And then Windows & .NET Magazine, since -- go figure -- Windows 2000 was a one-version name, and at the time, .NET was the future. (Remember? Microsoft was briefly going to rename everything with .NET branding.) And then, finally, Windows IT Pro.

This year, everything is changing yet again. No, we're not renaming the publication again -- but cross your fingers, you never know -- and, no, we're not switching our focus to Linux or the iPad. (Shudder.)

Instead, we're moving, if not bravely then at least decisively, into the inevitable future that publications of all kinds will need to address sooner or later. We're going all-digital.

Frankly, I don't know how we lasted this long. But in meeting with my fellow Windows IT Proers -- or whatever we call ourselves -- I'm surprisingly calm about what could have been a fairly stressful change, looking at it as I must, from the position of a content creator. And that's because I think we're doing the right thing.

I'm not the primary point of contact on this information, so my recommendation is to check out the Windows IT Pro digital edition page about the change, which should answer all your questions. What I'd like to discuss, instead, is why this is such a good thing. And no, it has nothing to do with not killing trees.

Like many of you, I'd imagine, I'm a voracious reader, a consumer of information, be it news and other non-fiction, or traditional fiction writing. I've bought -- collected, really -- more books than I'd care to admit, and I've had closets stacked with magazines. Aside from the obvious fire hazard angle, I've also moved cross-country twice, and if you've done such a thing, you know the pain and cost of transporting boxes and boxes of paper. It's pointless.

More pointless is that the information locked in these books and magazines is literally locked in these books and magazines. Finding a single article buried in a closet full of magazines, say, isn't just futile, it's pathetic. But finding a single article in a digital publication is seamless, simple, and instantaneous. Better still, it can happen on the device you're carrying around with you anyway.

For personal reading, I moved to Amazon's Kindle platform the day the company released its first device, and in the ensuing four or five years, I've never looked back. And most of the traditional book-related activities I've done in this time involved selling or giving away my books. I'm done with that, and I'm all digital.

So, too, is the case with magazines, and I've been moving to digital subscriptions, via Kindle, which I read on the latest Kindle device or, more often, my iPad. These digital editions offer PDF-like facsimiles of the actual magazine, which are interesting at first. But what I really prefer are the text versions, which you can toggle per-magazine in the Kindle app on the iPad, which provides a nice layout that's easier to read. Slowly, but inevitably, our paper-based magazine subscriptions are lapsing, never to return.

Luddites and, more fairly, traditionalists will complain about the loss of these familiar paper publications. But don't doubt that the digital versions are immediately better and will keep getting better over time. In fact, they're so good, I expect them to positively influence the design of our traditional websites as well. It's all going to change.

One thing that won't change, of course, is the quality of the content. When Windows IT Pro celebrated its 15th anniversary a while back, I was asked to reflect on the years that have passed. And not surprisingly, what occurred to me immediately was the sense of pride I get, not in my own work, but in the fact that I get to work alongside such high-quality writers and editors. People you know about -- Mark Minasi, Michael Otey, Sean Deuby, and many others -- and many you don't, because they toil behind the scenes making all of us -- and thus the publication itself -- look better as a result.

I joke about fearing change, but in this case, I'm excited. Change is a constant in this industry, as you know, but it's pretty clear that an all-digital Windows IT Pro will serve the needs of its readers even better than ever before. That's pretty amazing. And I'm happy to be a part of it.

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