Reactions to Microsoft's Office Live beta release A REAL web office suite would be collaborative and two-way were decidedly mixed. Greg Linden thinks it's more "branding foolishness from Microsoft", because it doesn't live up to the 'Live' hype (software as a service in the Web 2.0 era, and all that). Robert Scoble says it's the sort of toolset he'd give to his local plumber. 37Signals' Jason Fried notes the many system requirements for Office Live and fellow ZDNet blogger Phil Wainewright was resolutely unimpressed.
But to counterbalance those views, others found lots to admire. Joe Wilcox gave Office Live a thorough warrent of fitness and found it to be up to scratch:
"Office Live looks to offer tremendous utility for businesses that will use the capabilities. Many of the advanced features aren’t available anywhere for businesses in this segment--at least not consolidated together the way Microsoft has packaged them."
Another ZDNetter, Dion Hinchcliffe, also found much to admire about Office Live. Dion thinks it'll be a platform for "an ongoing series of products, including those of other partners." Phil Sim also has a good analysis, pointing out too that Google will inevitably enter the Web Office space. Even hard-to-please Microsoftie Dare Obasanjo is impressed.
I tend to agree that Office Live doesn't live up to the Live brand....yet. As with live.com, which is currently a very rough AJAX homepage with a lot of things to improve, Office Live is literally a beta product and will undoubtedly improve over time. Microsoft is famous for taking a few versions to get a decent product - and this will be no different.
But the Google question is an interesting one - will Google do a similar Office suite in the near future? They could easily cobble together enough products to create a "beta" Web Office too - for example the Gmail for your domain that was discussed earlier this week.
Personally I suspect Google is too busy dreaming up a truly Web native Office Suite, along the lines of products like Writely or Zoho. A REAL web office suite would be collaborative and two-way. If any company is capable of surprising us with such a suite, it's Google.