Writely = Microsoft's Pearl Harbor?

Writely = Microsoft's Pearl Harbor?

Summary: In response to my post Blog swarm on Writely, Gary Edwards (who is steeped in OpenDoc and OpenOffice) penned this TalkBack:To understand why this deal is Peal Harbor for Microsoft, and a declaration of all out war for Google, i think one has to make a leap and consider that this isn't about applications. It's about the quality of the information experience one can find at Google, or, through the costly nightmare of maintaining a similar experience through revolving MS shrinkware.

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TOPICS: Google
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In response to my post Blog swarm on Writely, Gary Edwards (who is steeped in OpenDoc and OpenOffice) penned this TalkBack:


To understand why this deal is Peal Harbor for Microsoft, and a declaration of all out war for Google, i think one has to make a leap and consider that this isn't about applications. It's about the quality of the information experience one can find at Google, or, through the costly nightmare of maintaining a similar experience through revolving MS shrinkware.

One things for sure. Google played the Internet card today. And it trumps everything in Redmond's aging arsenal. It's not about applications. It's about what you and yours can collaboratively do when your working in the roaring Niagra mist of information volumes Google serves up.

It's true that Google is building an application and information services arsenal, but these efforts are designed exactly to maximize the value of Google's core asset; massive computational power with global network reach organizing mankind's information to better serve mankind's knowledge needs.

Amazingly those needs cover ever more aspects of our commerce, social, cultural and political lives. The history of the computer is also the story of ever more aspects of our reality finding digital expression. So much so that we've created a digital civilization that simply can't be separated from the other reality. You can't separate an idea or cognitive construct from the physical reality it describes. You can't separate our digital civilization from the rest of our reality. Nor can you separate it form the Internet. Game Google. This ain't your grandfathers shrinkwrap.

Here's something to think about. When you do a Google search, do you get applications or documents? Right. The power of Google lies in the reach of their computational forces and the open, robust digital life that is the Internet. For Google to thrive, information must be cut loose from their application ties and set free using open, Internet ready file formats.

Microsoft made their billzillions from tying information to specific application and platform versions, and tying those to hardware and API references, charging a premium for the licenses needed to facilitate the exchange and interchange of documents. Just the opposite of the Internet centric Google model.

Something else to consider. Web 1.0 information was document bound and unstructured. Meaning, it hardly qualifies as machine readable. You can beat it to death with a browser, but forget about computationally working it to extract information rich components and data streams.

Web 2.0 changes that. Enter XML, RDF and the world of highly structured, highly interactive component information and data rich documents. So highly structured that our computational machines can run wild with metadata, conceptual tagging and ontology armed engines to aggregate, re use, re purpose information components as they zig zag across vast stores of documents.

Question: Who is it who has amassed the most powerful computational force known and made this power available to all mankind? Same people who have the most awesome Internet reach.

On to Writely and why this is a day that will live in Redmond infamy. Writely lives on the Internet, in the same space as Google information, enabling mankind to collaboratively work with Wiki and Blog information. The collaboration is both human and machine in that when someone logs into a Writely document space, they do so riding high on their computational machines. Okay, so now we have Writely able to bridge the traditional desktop productivity environment with the Wiki, Blog and eMail collaboration tools. Because of the space it occupies, Writely is also in flow of all that Google information and information organization services.

So far so good. Nothing uniquely desktop or even competitively desktop here except for the bridge though. So where's the Redmond killer?

The killer is in the connection between Writely, Google power, and XML ready user interfaces and systems.

Aha! XML ready environments. The heart and soul of any Service Oriented Architecture; any enterprise publication and content management system, and the Web 2.0. Without XML there isn't any SOA or Web 2.0!

Incredibly there is an XML ready cross platform desktop productivity environment that can run on all Windows versions post Win95. And it's yours for the cost of a free download. It gets better.

Our Internet ready XML desktop productivity environment has OpenOffice.org and Mozilla at it's core. The XML language this environment is so incredibly fluent in is that of OpenDocument, which is itself a wrapper of important Open XML technologies (HTML, XHTML, XForms, SVG, SMiL, CSS, XSLT, etc.) OpenDocument (ODF) is also a highly structured XML open standard now moving to embrace a universal metadata model based on a bridge between XML and RDF.

So what ties our XML ready desktop productivity environment to SOA, CMS, and the Open Internet? OpenDocument. ODF is also the tie to Writely. Bingo!!!

Writely is a masterpiece of an ODF AJAX engine, able to upload any OpenDocument file for collaborative work, publication, and/or distribution. Highly structured information in, highly structured collaborative information out. All of which is Internet ready.

The killer for Microsoft is that they now face an open stack of highly structured, Internet ready information services that with the flick of the download switch could easily stretch across the over 450 million desktops that make up the mighty Windows monopoly base, over every Linux, OSX, and Solaris desktop, up through Writely collaboration services, through the Google mash of services and information and out across the Open Internet, and back again.

Amazing what can happen when you finally are able to separate information from application, package it in a highly structured self describing open XML file format, and put the power of Google behind it.

Question: Will Microsoft respond by finally cutting their file format loose from the hardened application and platform dependencies so profitable in the past? Or will they let Google and ODF run off with both the monopoly base, and the future?

The 1901 pages of the MSECMAXML specification says just the opposite of what anyone with half a brain would advise Microsoft to do. Where ODF is a wrapper of Open XML technologies, MSECMAXML is a wrapper of XP/Vista dependencies and systems calls.

Looks to me like our friends in Redmond tried to squeeze a good thing for far too long. ODF in the hands of productivity environments rich with the likes of OpenOffice.org, KOffice, WorkPlace, Novell Office, and AbiWord might not be cause for alarm in Redmond. ODF in the hands of Apache, Plone, Zope, Zend, ezPublish, and Writely ought to have concerned them because this was something new; Desktop environments connecting to Internet servers and services with ODF. Redmond still didn't break a sweat.

And now the unthinkable has happened. ODF in a Google AJAX engine!

Yeah. It's a killer.
 

Topic: Google

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22 comments
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  • Yes, Microsoff can not respond without killing a cash cow.

    They are between a rock and a hard place here. Looks like they will huddle down in the Windows/Office fort and hope for the best. The constant barage of missles and bombs will get to the eventually.

    But, that said, Microsoft is doing everything they can to make Web 2.0 depend on the Vista client. The biggest fly in that ointment is the huge delay in delivering Vista.
    DonnieBoy
    • "The constant barage....

      The constant barage of missles and bombs will get to the eventually."

      Who has 50 years to wait for that.
      John Zern
  • Pearl Harbor?

    Remember what the ultimate outcome was of that attack, though. I think "Waterloo" or "Little Big Horn" might have been a better analogy, assuming your conclusion really is that this is a "Microsoft killer" and not just a wake-up call for the "sleeping giant".

    Carl Rapson
    rapson
    • And Pearl Harbor...

      ... is usually not considered a moral action.

      The comparison makes Google instigator of a sneak attack designed to do as much damage as possible in order to reduce resistence to a widespread campaign of conquest over people determined to fight off oppression.

      If that's the way the comment's author wants to think of Google's actions, fine. But in that case he can't expect too many people to approve.
      Anton Philidor
  • Drama Sells

    Every week there's a new story of how this or that new computing trend or competitor is going to rule the world. Microsoft always is made out like a buffoon who doesn't get it. And yet, it never works out the way the pundits (selling publications and ad space), dramatize it will.

    Consider for a moment that this thing called computing and network computing is evolving for everyone and that the entire pie (the size of the overall market as digitzation of everything takes place) is growing as well. Google will have some success. Microsoft will have some success. There will be new players. It's not as dramatic as Google/Open Source vs. Microsoft, but it's far more likely.
    GeniousEvil
    • Better get used to the Drama, the world is changing.

      Microsoft has withstood many changes, will they withstand the change to Web 2, with fighters like Google out there?

      Google is miles ahead with scalable web infrastructure. Nobody can mach the scale, speed, or cost at which Google can expand their web infrastructure.

      Microsoft is bogged down being forced to use their own OS that is not improving as fast as Linux.
      DonnieBoy
  • Is it really...

    ...accurate to compare web-base collaberative document processing with stand-alone? Does Writely really compete directly with Word? How many people who use Word will automatically convert over to an Internet-based platform, and for what reason?

    Carl Rapson
    rapson
  • Interesting comparison

    At first I thought your analogy was off, and you really mean it
    was a death knell. Pearl Harbor was a hornet's sting that
    awakened the somnambulent but rich and powerful United
    States. The outcome?

    Similarly, Microsoft has incredibly deep pockets, a reservoir of
    inhouse and complementary developer talent, and a proven
    record of bouncing back.

    Challenges? You betcha. All the one's you named. Plus Google
    has some cash reserves and nimble developers of its own to
    back up the open source and Web advantages you outlined. And
    there are other big players in the wings, such as IBM, that could
    weigh in against the Gatesian Hordes (and IBM has come back
    from what the pundits pretty widely agreed were their own death
    throes as their PC efforts bled cash and their proprietary
    mainframe strategy looked like the Tin Woodsman in Over the
    Rainbow).

    Will Microsoft emerge with an Internet-era Gen. MacArthur
    declaring victory? Should make for an interesting several years
    while this plays out. Right now, I think the battle's far from over
    and the end result too close to call.
    Buzzwriter
    • The turning point will be in the South Pacific where MS is trying to

      make sure that Web 2 depends on the Vista client. If they can just get 2% to use those technologies, who would want to not be able to view 2% of the web. And, even today, it is probably only 1% that requires Microsoft, but that is an extremely powerful reason for people to stay with Windows. Microsoft understands this very well.

      To fight the Axis of evil, we need a rich inte4ractive web application framework for Firefox that includes access to openGL on the client side.

      If we can make things like Google Earth seemlessly load and work inside of Firefox with no apparent download, we will win in the South Pacific.
      DonnieBoy
  • one sided

    One little question: in five years, how many Vista desktops will be out there accessing thousands of secure .NET2.0 and XAML online apps inside of IE8+ -- apps that will have a magnitude more usability than anything ajax? On one hand you can argue that Google is going to make MS desktop-only technology irrelevant, but MS is not staying desktop-only, that is the direction they are coming from. Just because you get frothy about a world of XML data on the Internet in a few years, doesn't mean the world is going there -- or at least not in the way that you think. To try to predict a death blow at this point is laughable.
    bradw2k
    • That is an EXTREMELY good point. MS needs Web 2 to depend on VISTA.

      If they are successful there, they win the war. Game over.
      DonnieBoy
  • Not the AJAX again

    "And now the unthinkable has happened. ODF in a Google AJAX engine!"

    Let's see, sun won't even use AJAX:
    http://blogs.zdnet.com/Ou/?p=112

    And ODF is 100 times more bloated:
    http://blogs.zdnet.com/Ou/?p=120
    george_ou
    • Give it a rest George

      I said I wasn't going to respond anymore to your
      blogs, but now you are just commenting. Your do
      some tests and you raise some valid points, but
      then you go overboard. First of all, your
      numbers show a factor of 11 in speed and a factor
      of 3 in memory use. How does this result in a
      factor of 100? Besides, this blog is about a
      completely different application, Writely. They
      only differ by a suffix, so perhaps you were
      confused. Or perhaps you are just a hack trying
      to confuse the difference between an application
      (OpenOffice.org) and a file format (ODF). No
      matter what the cause of your confusion, you are
      still off base. Just use Writely and see if it
      is so slow as to be unusable. If you think it
      is, then just laugh at Google for its folly.
      Just don't spead FUD, you should aspire to be
      journalist.
      shis-ka-bob
      • No, I've used Writely and a bunch others

        I don't want to give up my desktop client. It is not the same thing. It doesn't work anywhere near as fast. It doesn't work offline and it's at the mercy of the network and server. This isn't "FUD", it's reality.

        You don?t have to agree with me, but that is how I feel about it. We have plenty of contributors here that completely disagree with me and they outnumber me. All I?m doing is giving the other side.
        george_ou
        • missing the point george. You sync your gdrive openoffice local writely online. Thin(web) and thick client

          You could use OpenOffice locally, or MSoffice (assuming someone makes a filter, which won't be hard at all).
          Google could even sell a service where MSOffice local files are transformed to OpenOffice format when syncing to gdrive. (gdrive could store both formats for the same object).
          stevey_d
          • No, you're missing the point...

            I will never have a gdrive. Sometimes I may want to write documents that I don't want Google to have access to. In any case, they could offer me terabytes of space, and I won't be interested. If I ever did want to play with it, I would encrypt ever byte of information I sent to them, and wouldn't use "Writely" to edit the information directly.
            tindenver
      • journalists are unbiased

        no hope for George, he is a solid NBM kinda guy, and will look for even the smallest reason to remain that way. Save breath and time at keyboard for more open-minded individuals who may be swayed.....
        wrench_ninja
    • FUD

      Totally false info about Sun not accepting AJAX.

      One of the big selling points for NetBeans 5 and Sun Java Studio Creator 2 is AJAX support.

      Not to mention the AJAX BluePrints project:
      http://java.sun.com/blueprints/ajax.html

      Curious, George.

      -Bryan
      prime21
  • Ditch the Web 2.0 hype

    We need to start calling this "Dot Bomb 2.0"

    The myth that everything in the world will be done by using a web browser or online service is absolutely as crazy the second time around as it was the first time.

    Remember the "network terminal" was going to kill Pc's?

    Well, this idiotic theory that a klunky (even with Ajax) online application environment is going to kill thick client apps is equally dumb.

    Stop listening to blogger geeks that would have a transplanted cpu chip in their brain if they could.

    The real world computer users are not jumping on the hype-a-minute bandwagon and prefer to keep their data on their own computer and be able to use programs without being forced to be online.

    There are huge privacy and security issues with trusting "do evil" Google - they've already shown they have no respect for human rights and prefer greed and they have no respect for banking and wall street and more importantly their own investors in providing financial disclosure and transparency.

    So you want to trust them will all your data too??
    spiv
    • I agree. [no text]

      no text
      BlazeEagle