Online apps give Office the edge

Online apps give Office the edge

Summary: Forget Google and Zoho, it will be Microsoft that takes the online word processor to the masses.


commentary Forget Google and Zoho, it will be Microsoft that takes the online word processor to the masses.

By making their Office 2010 applications available as regular client applications and as web applications, Microsoft has made Office completely cross-platform in one movement. It's a cunning ploy that will entrench Office to an even greater extent within organisations and push its SharePoint infrastructure.

Time is running out for users that survive as an island of non-Word usage in a sea of Office users. Anyone that doesn't fit in with the enterprise Office hegemony will be pushed onto the web versions of Office.

The web versions do not need to be hosted in some far-away datacentre, they can be hosted on-premises in the same way that SharePoint is now — same hardware, same sysadmin. (Should you want it though, you will be able to have your Office applications hosted in a large datacentre managed by someone else.)

One issue that has inhibited large deployments of web-based applications is trust. It's unlikely that a banking organisation is going to be uncomfortable having its large spreadsheets in a vendor's datacentre. But with an on-premises Office web app server, it will be no different to saving to SharePoint now. Online Office documents will also come with the full gamut of DRM that is available in client Office documents.

It's not exactly the same thing as uploading your balance sheet into Google Apps, but it is a first step away from the desktop experience.

Office is hardly a product that needs to get increased marketshare in business, but this release comes out swinging at its competitors that up until this point might have thought that they were getting somewhere.

Will an IT decision maker seriously choose Google Apps over Office 2010? I just can't see it happening. There is an enormous amount of inertia and investment from organisations in Office and simply being a web app word document is not going to cut it any more if Office is perfectly capable of that as well.

The one place where Google and other applications will be able to have the upper hand is price. But free alternatives have been around for a long time and barely put a scratch on Office's marketshare.

This version of Office has cut off the current angles of attack from its competitors and looks to once again rule over the productivity landscape. And that's a sad thing. This version of Office is a response to competition, and if Office can again rule unchallenged, it will likely stagnate and create a new run of feature-bloat.

Topics: Google, Apps, Browser, Microsoft, IT Employment, Enterprise 2.0


Chris started his journalistic adventure in 2006 as the Editor of Builder AU after originally joining CBS as a programmer. After a Canadian sojourn, he returned in 2011 as the Editor of TechRepublic Australia, and is now the Australian Editor of ZDNet.

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  • Have to laugh

    ..about comments like 'feature bloat' Features are added because people ask for them ... so why wouldn't you provide what your customer wants?
  • right

    Yeah, I'm sure there were hundreds of customers demanding that MS changes it's menu bar to a ribbon...
  • Ribbon beats Menu bar

    Personally, ribbon is far more intuitive than the menu bar. I know I get more done and discovered new functionality in large part courtesy of ribbon.

    Biggest piece of bloatware remains Office 2007
  • Correction

    Sorry, I meant to say Outlook 2007!
  • Try some other free alternatives.

    I really dont like the new ribbon interfaces. Microsoft and OpenOffice are shooting themselfs in the foot over this new creation.

    I still prefer free alternative office suites. There is no reason anymore to pay for an office suite these days. They have all the functionality that any general user may need.

    And to make things even better for free alternative office suites is that they have not converted their interfaces to a ribbon mess.

    I tend to favour SSuite Office-s free office suites. Their software also dont need to run on Java or .NET, like so many open source office suites, so it makes their software very small and efficient.
  • Alternatives

    I tend to favour SSuite Offices free office suites. They have a whole range of office suites that are free for download, and their interfaces are no more than 3 levels deep. So you dont need to hunt for that elusive function you need. Their software also doesn't need to run on Java or .NET, like so many open source office suites, so it makes the software very small and efficient.
  • Pack of whingers

    I rolled out Office 2007 to a 3,250 person organisation late last year. Each person had an afternoon's training & they are happy. The CFO's secretary told me it's the first time in years she was enjoying using her PC. So what's the problem people? A little set in your ways? Get over it.
  • Underwhelmed

    No more than 3 levels deep - how fantastic.... I'l stick with Office 07 thanks...
  • Discovered new functionality

    I guess you 'discovered' this new functionality whilst hunting for things that were on the toolbar previously...
  • PDF

    It took Open Office to add an export to PDF function for MS to even think about it.
  • How will the UI work?

    MS-Office apps have rich UIs, much richer than standard web applications.

    Will Web-MS-Ofiice have a simpler UI than regular MS-Office or will it require browser plugins or a super-charged version of Flash or Siverlight?