My post yesterday Microsoft building a fully Web-based Office? generated some interesting discussion. To remind you what my original post said, Microsoft is planning to ramp up its 'software as a service' strategy by rolling out hosted implementations of SharePoint, CRM and ERP applications. Bill Gates and Ray Ozzie will be talking about this and and other future directions for Microsoft at an event in San Francisco this week. But we're all wondering how far their hosted services strategy will go. Will it be, as a Microsoft insider was said to have quoted, "Everything. Hosted Office. Everything hosted."?
Here are some of the comments that came in via my original post and my pointer on Read/WriteWeb.
Dan Farber said that "hosted MS apps will integrate with disk-bound Office 12. Maybe a future Office will use a hybrid, browser-based approach or be a MS Office lite."
Loverock Davidson said in Talkback to my original ZDNet post: "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."
Paul Montgomery in the comments on Read/WriteWeb said that "people who aren't 2.0-loving geeks don't trust anyone to host their sensitive office-related data online."
Then Charlie Wood pointed out: "Hosted Office doesn't necessarily mean browser-based. It could mean bits and pieces are hosted (file storage, backup, templates, components, activation, calendars, etc.) while the Office suite itself continues to live on the desktop. MS has been moving this way for a long time, not because of goofy Web 2.0 startups, but rather to combat piracy. Salesforce.com doesn't have a piracy issue."
Joe Smith made a great point: "web-enabled apps make the most sense in developing countries since they can't afford the same big-box PC's the developed nations have."
Hashim said: "MS Office is in the postion to offer the best of both worlds, and as a consumer that's what I want."
So some great comments there. Personally I don't see a web-based Office suite replacing the desktop suite - at least for the forseeable future. I think it'll be an extra product offering, with the hybridizing that Charlie and Dan suggested.
But I certainly am looking forward to finding out what Bill Gates and Ray Ozzie announce next week!