Microsoft building a fully Web-based Office?

Microsoft building a fully Web-based Office?

Summary: A "Microsoft insider" was asked which other products and services Microsoft would host and the reply was: "Everything. Hosted Office. Everything hosted." Ahem, can anyone say Web 2.0 Office?

TOPICS: Microsoft

Microsoft is leaping into hosted applications big time. InformationWeek reports that Microsoft plans to offer hosted implementations of SharePoint, CRM and ERP applications. But the best quote in that article was left till last. A "Microsoft insider" was asked which other products and services Microsoft would host and the reply was: "Everything. Hosted Office. Everything hosted."

Ahem, can anyone say Web 2.0 Office? Exactly a month ago I wrote what turned out to be a very popular post entitled The Web-based Office will have its day. My main focus in that post was all of the small start-ups that are currently building web-based office apps. I forgot to mention that of course there's nothing stopping Microsoft from building their own Web 2.0 Office! Perhaps that's their only option to head off Google, because Google Office has been rumored to be around the corner for 1-2 years now.

In any case, what Bill Gates calls "the server equals service thing" is undoubtedly a key strategy for Microsoft in the Web 2.0 era. It's another way of saying 'software-as-a-service', which is another way of saying 'Web as platform'. InformationWeek's article linked all of this to Microsoft's highest profile CTO Ray Ozzie:

"Next week in San Francisco, Gates and Ray Ozzie, one of Microsoft's CTOs, are slated to talk more about the company' software-as-a-service push. Ozzie, the former chairman of Groove Networks, has been charged with leading Microsoft’s charge in this area. This week at another San Francisco event, Ozzie said the company will rely on experience gleaned from its MSN online service."

Although the hosted services move will put Microsoft into more immediate competition with the likes of and NetSuite, I see this as a natural segue for Microsoft into the Web 2.0 world. Plus it ups the ante significantly in their much-publicized competition with Google.

Microsoft has come to realise that most of the value in an always-on broadband world derives from 'the cloud' - aka the Web. So if Microsoft is going to stay competitive with the likes of - and keep Google and their web-based Office at bay - then they need to start the transition to the Web platform NOW.

I have to admit though, even I didn't realise they would move so quickly to an "everything hosted" suite of products. If they do come out with a web-based Microsoft Office, within say a year, then I will be very impressed. Perhaps Google should hurry up and release their own web-based Office, before it's too late?

Topic: Microsoft

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  • Microsoft building a fully Web-based Office?

    A "Microsoft insider"? Yeah, that's about as reliable as Fox News. Give a specific name, otherwise anyone could claim such a title. I read an article that Bill Gates goes to the bathroom twice daily, that now makes me a Microsoft insider.

    I don't really like the idea of a web based office. Now I dislike the hosted off-site version even more. The only way I could really see this working is if they made a web based version of office that could be installed on a local server on your LAN. Should your main pipes for internet connection get severed (and it has happened to us) at least the users can continue working on any documents.
    Loverock Davidson
    • Web-based office

      You have an excellent point, and I'd like to point out also that the inevitable upon us nonetheless. Web-based applications will become a reality for the majority of the software if for nothing else, the multi-billion dollar software piracy issues. Hopefully "platform independence" will become a reality before the software giants go to far.

      Bottom line, IMHO, is that this is a good thing that will challange those that provide synchronization and security technologies. The mobile workforce will have their way as the markets get more competitive and the world get's smaller, the reality is that we need mobility the work via the cloud (Internet) and hope that the Internet will be stable enough or that the synchronization and security methods don't fail us.
  • Let's get some perspective here...Web 2.0 is an eye-balls-only access

    The bloggers at ZDNet seem to well understand the value of Web 2.0. What seems to completely escape them, evidenced by their blogs of recent months, is that Web 2.0 is an eye-balls-only access. For every one eye-ball transaction/interaction there are perhaps some order of non-eye-ball interactions ie. process-to-process automation interactions.

    These interactions need tightly standardized protocols and rules-of-engagement on the TCP (not HTTP or Web) driven internet...the infrastructure for SOA and Web Services. Java, .Net and other platform technologies are the primary actors on these platforms and Web 2.0 has no relevence here. So playing down technologies like .Net which play on the SOA stage and which need large and complex class libraries and runtimes to sustain them, is somewhat simplistic.

    Web 2.0 has value for simple and moderately complex human-machine interactions, but this is simply one component of the automation and connected universe. The process-to-process world using proprietary desk-based systems playing in the SOA realm is poised to explode and has signifcance that dwarfs the more visible and gee-whiz Web 2.0.
  • Another MS profit idea without a technical reason

    I provided support for an organization that had several offices throughout the city. Most offices were setup with thick client PCs. One office had thin clients.

    One fine day, the network for that one office crashed. I don't know if it was the server or a switch, or what (I did desktop support, not LAN support). What I do know is that the LAN people said they could not fix the problem until replacement hardware arrived and that would take three days. For the next full day, I visited workstation after workstation converting them from thin to thick client so that the people who worked in this one office could continue to be productive while waiting for the LAN to be repaired.

    Imagine, for a moment, that MS Office becomes a web based application. And then, just for kicks, imagine that MS actually makes someone made enough to launch a web attach on MS sites. Do you want your word processor to be unavailable because someone decided to launch a web attach on Microsoft?

    Network failure has been the major drawback to thin client PCs for a long time. Now we have discussion of the ultimate thinclient system by making applications web based. I vote NO!

    If I have the app on my laptop and I'm flying cross country, I can work. When I visit Mom (who lives in the middle of nowhere and has no Internet connection), with the app on my laptop, I can work. If I'm riding in the car (someone else driving) and the app is on my laptop, I can work. I my ISP crashes and the app is on my system, I can work.

    In any of the above situations, if my applications depend on a connection to an Internet-based application server, I would not be able to work. I don't like that.

    As much as thick client means extra support efforts to update software, I still prefer thick client. Business is about getting work done and a thin client has a major break point that can prevent a business from getting work done. Why configure a system to fail?
  • web based

    There would be a small part of the program on the remote computer. The rest of the program, the bloated part would be on the server. If you should lose a connection you would end up with a word pad like program that you could continue to work with. When the server comes back up you could complete the document.