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Rumor: Microsoft about to unveil web-apps strategy

March 01, 2008

Put your ears to the ground, my friends, for the Beast of Redmond may be stirring. I've heard that Microsoft has begun briefing its large enterprise clients on an expansive and detailed strategy for moving its software business into the cloud. If the report proves correct - and I make no guarantees - the company will unveil the strategy to the public either next week or the week after.

It's been two and a half years since the famous Halloween memos in which Bill Gates and Ray Ozzie warned Microsoft's top executives and engineers that a "services wave of applications and experiences available instantly over the internet" was approaching and that it would reshape the traditional software business. Since then, Microsoft has been fairly quiet about its plans for riding this new wave. It's rolled out, in a piecemeal fashion, some modest new web applications for consumers and small businesses, but these moves have largely been on the periphery of its business.

There are, it seems to me, at least two very good reasons for Microsoft's deliberate pace up to now. First, its business and marketing priority has been the rollout of the recent upgrades to its core Windows and Office programs. It's had to milk the cash cows. Second, it's been building out the backend infrastructure - the data center network - required to run web apps reliably and on a large scale. These obstacles are now coming down. The upgrades have been out for more than a year, and, despite some glitches, have generated a lot of cash for the company. As for its infrastructure, a massive new data center near Chicago is expected to come online this year, adding to the capacity of the new centers the company has built or bought in Washington, Texas, and California.

The new strategy will, I'm told, lay out a roadmap of moves across three major areas: the transformation of the company's portfolio of enterprise applications to a web-services architecture, the launch of web versions of its major PC applications, and the continued expansion of its data center network. I expect that all these announcements will reflect Microsoft's focus on what it calls "software plus services" - the tying of web apps to traditional installed apps - but they nevertheless promise to mark the start of a new era for the company that has dominated the PC age.


They missed the boat on this one. Not only will whatever they launch now be seen as a "me too" app, but their recent forays in SaaS have been incredibly underwhelming. They haven't demonstrated any level of competence in building Web-based applications up to this point--all the data centers in the world won't fix that.

Posted by: Jason Kolb [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 1, 2008 07:10 PM

I do believe a seemless merge between the power of MS Office and on-line apps is the best thing that can happen. MS is the most likely candidate to do that for now, although I doubt the makers of Vista can deliver an unclogged solution — but we still need local processing; I cannot understand how my top-of-the-line computer has a hard time handling the equivalent of WordPad when on-line.

And don't tell my I'm a Redmont advocate: I hate their anti-competitive behaviour, and I use — MetaPost, Papers & LaTeX on a Mac 10.4.

Posted by: Bertil [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 1, 2008 08:08 PM

>> a massive new data center near Chicago is
>> expected to come online this year

I wonder which OS is running on the servers in these centers? When M$ bought Hotmail in 1997, they tried to move it over from BSD to NT and crashed the service; they eventually used HP-UX to save face. Could they be running that "cancer" on intellectual property - Linux? Inquiring minds want to know! What's next M$s Linux strategy?

Posted by: Linuxguru1968 [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 1, 2008 09:07 PM

It makes total sense. They needed to finish milking any revenue off the switch to Vista and Office 2007. Those are now done and Microsoft product cycles for the next revs are pretty slow. The time is ripe!

More on my blog:




Posted by: BobWarfield [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 2, 2008 01:09 AM

Type on local computer, save on the web. What on earth Microsoft is thinking if it try to imitate Google by putting everything on the web? Google is the king of the web, Microsoft is king of the local desktop. Microsoft shall take their local MS-Office kingdom as their initial start. Create document on local, but make it easy to post it on the web. If they do a "me too" approach, I seriously wonder how effective it would really be. After all, in the mind of the consumer: Google is on the web, Microsoft is on the desktop. Trying to make Microsoft the king of the web is not only an uphill battle, it is also seem "unnatural" to Microsoft's current posture.

Posted by: Arvino [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 2, 2008 03:49 AM

Microborg is in the same position IBM and the other mainframe vendors were when commodity pc based servers came to life. Microborg will be very reluctant to stop milking big government clients who fork over big bucks for huge sharepoint installations and have every reason to keep thier free offerings inferior to these cash cows. Even if they only sell a handfull of these type products, they still make more dough than they will see for a long time via the free route.

Posted by: jonjonz [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 2, 2008 01:56 PM

It is interesting to speculate what the business model for office online will be.

I'd expect there to be a strong emphasis on collaboration, but will this extend to Mac OSX and Linux clients?

As I wrote at:


my guess is Mac: yes, Linux: no (or at least no fanfare - even if Silverlight on Linux soon makes this possible).

Posted by: jharrop2 [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 2, 2008 10:08 PM

Specific to the conversation re: online version of Office, here is some additional fodder:

1. A free version of Office can be ad-supported. MSFT has the Atlas/aQuantive platform to target ads, similar to how Google leverages their Adwords platform for GMail.

2. A ad-supported free version of Office for the masses will offset the billions of $$ lost due to piracy and the millions $$ spent on legal compliance.

3. Enterprises can elect to pay for their no-ad versions and have their data stored internally versus on the Cloud.

4. Think of all the landfills that won’t have MSFT software boxes, clamshells, and paper inserts. Hmmm…..SaaS to power the Green Revolution?

5. To make this happen, offline Silverlight is a must!

More on this thread is avail at http://www.enablus.com/blog/2008/03/are-saas-and-silverlight-keys-to.html

Posted by: darrellross [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 31, 2008 06:55 PM

"It's almost as if Jobs has really created a gigantic market hypnotizer toplist but made it fit in whatever product carries the apple logo."

Yeah, it's called good design. It works for sportscars and girls with really long legs, too.

And as Target is currently demonstrating, it even works for $17 toilet brushes.

Watch people pawing an Apple device at The Apple Shrine. It's genuinely pleasurable to hold and to feel, quite apart from anything it does. If Steve Jobs made whipped link ekle cream in a spray can, it would be the most beautiful spray can you ever felt. (And cost $40.) Meanwhile the other apes in the business look at these things and scratch their heads and think-- how he do that?

And yes, Nick, I'm sorry link ekle that 9 out of 10 didn't get what you were saying because they got caught on the barbed wire of how you said it.

Posted by: ankaranakliyat [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 6, 2008 08:48 AM

thanks. super site

Posted by: akarca [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 16, 2008 09:44 AM

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