We all know who Microsoft are and they need no introduction, they are, for the context of this article, the owners and developers of Microsoft Office.
Not all of us, though, may have heard of Mindjet. They are a company who have developed a leading software product called Mind Manager. Mind Manager, currently in version 6, is a mind mapping or concept mapping software that is widely used in business and in education.
Why might Microsoft be interested in buying Mindjet? The answer could be to add a mind mapping application to their Office suite. Mindjet already publish an addin for Office applications that allow mind maps to be published in Word or PowerPoint. By buying Mindjet, Microsoft could take this development a lot further and make Mind Manager an integral part of the Office suite of applications with full dynamic linking.
So what would be the advantages to the end user, that is to say the Microsoft Office user, of having a mind mapping application included? First of all, the user would obviously be able to use the application to produce mind maps. Now, though, they could incorporate into their maps, Office Clipart, sheets or cells from Excel, documents or paragraphs from Word, presentations or individual slides from PowerPoint etc..
One of the advantages of mind mapping is that it enables the user to break down an initial theme, topic or idea into progressively smaller sub themes, subtopics or ideas. This is great for enabling the user to come to terms with a complex or, maybe, vague original theme. It can also allow the user to explore possible consequences or additional effects associated with the original theme. Sometimes the original theme is narrow and needs to be expanded, which the mind map technique encourages.
Another aspect of a mind map is that it presents information in short, concise pieces; often a single word. This is excellent for putting thoughts on paper, exploring new ideas or, of course, brain storming. There are times, however, when an idea or a sub topic needs to be presented in much greater depth and detail. In such a case, a document, article or report written on a word processor is required.
It is this latter point which offers a clue to the real potential behind Microsoft buying Mindjet. Once a user has created their map, each of the sub topics can be linked to a blank Word document in which the user can write their detailed report. Equally in some cases an Excel spreadsheet may be required or a presentation created to support a sub topic. One final bonus is that, when fully complete with map and supporting documents, files etc., the whole lot can be collated as a single large document and saved, printed, presented or whatever.
So it can be seen that by including Mind Manager into their Office suite, Microsoft could benefit greatly from any purchase of Mindjet and so too could the users of both parties' products. I do not think the purchase could be made in time for the release of the next version of Microsoft Office but let's hope that the subsequent version could benefit.
The only trouble is, I have no knowledge whatsoever whether Microsoft is intending to buy Mindjet (or anyone else). This article is just supposition. I write it in the hope that somehow it gets in front of the eyes of Bill Gates who thinks it is a good idea and invites me over to discuss it with him.