As the authors note, since the book comes out at the beginning of every year many chapters remain current, other items are only a few months behind (although it seems longer than that in Internet time).
The thing I have always appreciated about this book is that the authors actually have opinions and are not afraid to express them. Of course, it also helps that by and large I agree with them, although with the occasional caveat. In addition, they cover what is necessary for a complete office starting from scratch – hardware, operating systems, peripherals, printers, scanners, monitors, etc. You will not be far wrong if you follow their recommendations.
A friend of mine used to say “every year I know 10% more and fall 15% further behind.” Reviewing software is like that. The book simply cannot provide detailed reviews of software (even though it is more than 100 pages longer than the 2010 edition), so the authors stress the need to get trial versions of anything you are planning to use and “kick the tires” a bit.
My main caveat this year is that given the critical issue of internet access there is no discussion, even minimal, of browsers when most technologists are recommending dumping Internet Explorer in favor of either Firefox or Chrome. I would also dispute their positive review of Office 2013, which Microsoft has aggressively aimed at the individual, home user market. As Woody Leonhard has repeatedly made clear, there is really no reason for a business to upgrade and it is going to cost businesses a LOT more money than previously.
The book rightly pays a lot of attention to security issues, especially for mobile devices. They quote the rather amazing statistic that 12,000 laptops were stolen in U.S. airports every week in 2011 (with Chicago in the lead). Or the NASA laptop stolen from a car last fall containing confidential details concerning about 10,000 employees and contractors (including some background check information). At the same time, they are realistic (“we know so many lawyers will ignore our advice...”) and offer fall-back options that may at least deter casual hackers or simple thieves who grab your laptop or smartphone. They rightly insist that the main way to protect your data is to encrypt your entire harddrive. If you do any substantial travelling not to do this is like never locking your door.
I am not, however, entirely convinced by their reservations about “third party access” for Cloud applications. This is really no different from many third-party access to the premises of most law firms, from technology consultants to cleaning crews. If you are dealing with one of the main cloud providers such as Rackspace or Amazon, I don’t really think this is much of an issue. The question of the many small consulting firms that have begun hosting data for some of their clients is an entirely different matter. Not only is there more risk of intrusion, but it is probably only a matter of time until one of these fails in a spectacular fashion. It’s the economics: smaller firms don’t have the economy of scale and so they will inevitably cut corners, leading to failure.
The authors again refer to the decline of LexisNexis products, first and foremost Time Matters. They note that they have not done a single new installation in some time. So it is a little strange that among the SaaS offerings they do not mention Houdini, Esq., which is probably the web-based Time Matters replacement of choice.
Lastly, the book contains a chapter on “favorite utilities” which can be useful. Note however some more industrial strength programs may include functionality provided by single-function utilities. Thus for example, the using Worldox document management system would eliminate the need for a separate indexer or viewer.
The book is available from the ABA store. If you are starting an office, or are at a point where you need to make a decision about where to go next, this can be an invaluable primer.