No vertically-focused Microsoft Office on the docket (for now)

A report in Advertising Age earlier this week, entitled "Microsoft to Create 'Office Suite' for Advertising," had me wondering whether Microsoft had decided to pursue a strategy I first heard about years ago: Creating customized versions of Office for specific vertical markets. But it looks like this isn't the case, after all.

A report in Advertising Age earlier this week, entitled "Microsoft to Create 'Office Suite' for Advertising," had me wondering whether Microsoft had decided to pursue a strategy I first heard about years ago: Creating customized versions of Office for specific vertical markets.

According to Ad Age, Microsoft and Mediabrands are collaborating on a new suite, which Mediabrands is calling the Media Operations Management System (MOMS). Ad Age quoted Quentin George, chief digital officer at Mediabrands, as saying: "'We haven't had the Office Suite, a productivity suite, for marketing' that fits marketing-management systems into a larger intelligent platform."

Maybe Office for Advertising was just the first in a possible long line of customized Office SKUs, I thought. Could Office for Healthcare, Office for Utilities, Office for Insurance and other vertically-focused Microsoft Office software -- plus services, of course -- be far behind?

For now, the answer is no. A Microsoft Office spokesperson whom I contacted this week said Microsoft is not building an Office for Advertising SKU.

My next guess: Maybe this MOMS thing is actually the Office for Sales SKU I blogged about earlier this year. Microsoft officials never confirmed that the Office for Sales SKU existed, but my Office 14 tester sources did. I've heard more recently, however, that Microsoft has scrapped plans -- at least for the time being -- to field this product. That means when Office 2010 ships, there won't be an Office 2010 for Sales, after all. The Microsoft spokesperson still wouldn't confirm or deny Office for Sales' existence, but did say that the MOMS platform was not an Office for Sales SKU from Microsoft.

So what the heck is this "Office Suite for Advertising"? I tried contacting Mediabrands to ask but got no word back. I also tried Microsoft's Digital Advertising unit. A spokesperson there sent me this architectural diagram of MOMS (click on it to enlarge):

From this, it looks like MOMS is a customized back-end ad system built on top of (or at least interfacing with) Microsoft adCenter. The list of MOMS features and capabilities from the press release from Mediabrands (data-driven decisioning, workflow management, advanced analytics) make it sound like there's probably a good dose of SharePoint Server and Microsoft business-intelligence software (SQL Server, Excel, PerformancePoint, Master Data Services, etc.) inside MOMS, too.

So after a week of chasing down false leads, it looks like Office 2010 will be the same horizontal, all-purpose suite that Office always has been. And this "Office for Advertising" platform is probably nothing more than a Microsoft Consulting-Mediaworks custom project. If I hear any more, I'll update this post.

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