Whatever Office Live is, it ain't the Web Office

Whatever Office Live is, it ain't the Web Office

Summary: Today's beta of Office Live is just a piecemeal bundle of rehashed web presence services and has nothing to do the Web Office, where other vendors are racing ahead.

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TOPICS: Microsoft
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The power of Microsoft's branding is so great that slapping the labels 'Live' and 'Office' on a piecemeal bundle of rehashed services seems to have the whole world agog. The evidence doesn't justify the excitement. Today's beta of Office Live is a repackaging of various web presence offerings that Microsoft previously tried (and largely failed) to market under the bcentral brand for a number of years.

Let's assume just for a second, though, that providing small businesses with an entry-level web presence really is a great platformMicrosoft will end up having to acquire from which to develop and launch the future of a new generation of web-native business productivity applications (I don't suppose it is, but hold that thought for just a few more seconds). Microsoft's problem is that it doesn't understand that delivering a service means a lot more than simply putting some software tools online; it means providing something that brings results. Microsoft should take a look at companies like WebSite Pros, who I wrote about last fall:

"Originally, it ... offer[ed] professional site building and hosting as an on-demand service. But in recent years, it has discovered that there's more money in providing on-going services that help small businesses generate leads through their websites. Its customer base didn't want a website just for the sake of having one; they wanted one that actually produced results."

In fact, it will be collaboration, not web presence, that sits at the heart of web-based business productivity applications. Microsoft at least seems to have an inkling of this, having included a rudimentary bundle called Office Live Collaboration in its beta. But it will take a very long gestation period indeed before that turns into anything like the kind of products that on-demand vendors already have out there in the market today.

Meanwhile, those other vendors are continuing to stride ahead, and as I've said before, Microsoft will end up having to acquire if it's going to have a chance of assimilating a services mindset and finally beginning to catch up. Good models to look at include WebEx WebOffice, which is based on the collaboration suite developed by on-demand pioneer intranets.com and benefits from over five years' experience of serving the small business marketplace. There are various Web 2.0 players too numerous to mention here but a good starting point would be Ishmael Ghalimi's blog about his experiments to use a mix of online services to establish an entirely web-based Office 2.0. And dare I say it, Google's latest moves with Gmail look like they might yet produce a far more fertile starting point than Microsoft's Office Live efforts.

Topic: Microsoft

Phil Wainewright

About Phil Wainewright

Since 1998, Phil Wainewright has been a thought leader in cloud computing as a blogger, analyst and consultant.

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4 comments
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  • agog

    Agog is a good way of putting it.

    AJAX is showing promise as embodied by sites like Google Maps, Scalix, Zimbra, but I say people are seeing the 'big picture' which includes technological developments centered around Intel/AMD VT and VM.

    With VM, you 'retain' all of the inherent benefits of a traditional Desktop and its applications.

    Forward-looking innovators are preparing for fully embracing VT's manifold benefits.

    Imagine an isp (er ah, Google?) offering you a low-cost or free subscription to a VM Desktop 'all your own' with secure access.

    Sound futuristic?

    <<Hey Look!>>, It's ME typing this response 'from the future'!

    Freaky! ;)

    Take a look at www.linode.com which supports, among many VM methods, User Mode Linux (UML).

    I have a linode and access it with 'thin client' FreeNX.

    These two technologies coupled together make internet Virtual Desktops a 'reality'.

    Adoption of VT/VM will happen quicker than flies find cow chips.

    FreeNX is the GPL'ed portion of www.nomachine.com NX 'Thin Client', a revolutionary 'Thin Client' which exceeds all others in giving X11, rdp and VNC access at local machine speeds, even over dial-up 56K, with novel compression methods.

    This makes setting up VMs in any geographical location in 'the world' practicable and accessibility with security a 'viable' option!

    But don't take my word for it.
    Go ahead and try it and see for yourself.

    Thanks! :)
    D T Schmitz
  • Impressed by Thinkopen

    I have been very impressed with Thinkopen's efforts to take Office applications to the online model using Web 2.0 technologies.
    james.love@...
  • I got my site with my domain...

    but being new to site developement, I don't know where th tools are change the my default home page. There are no clues as what the heck I'm supposed to do. I thought there would be boxes or links to create the site.

    confused. >:(
    sykandtyed
    • Update:)

      I don't know how I found it, but here I am trying to design a home page and links to other pages at the site.

      :0) :0) :)
      sykandtyed