Microsoft to offer Office-in-the-cloud
October 28, 2008
Microsoft's long awaited push into cloud computing continues today, as the company announces plans to offer fully functional, if "lightweight," versions of its popular Office applications as web services that will run in people's browsers. The move signals Microsoft's intention to defend its massive Office business against incursions from Google Apps, Zoho, and other online competitors. Versions of the apps will be available in both ad-supported and subscription models, according to Microsoft's Chris Capossela:
We will deliver Office Web applications to consumers through Office Live, which is a consumer service with both ad-funded and subscription offerings. For business customers, we will offer Office Web applications as a hosted subscription service and through existing volume licensing agreements. We will show a private technology preview of the Office Web applications later this year.
Meanwhile, Google isn't standing still. Yesterday, it announced that it would allow its Gmail users to embed features of its Google Docs word-processing application and its Google Calendars application into their email windows. This will aid the company in promoting its suite of Office substitutes to its large group of Gmail users.
The battle is joined. The outcome will be determined not only by whether Microsoft will be able to maintain its dominance of the Office market but also by whether it can maintain the outsized revenues and profits it has long enjoyed in that market.
I wonder, wether the cloud versions of their Software will be really good enough oder wether Microsoft will still protect its offline office business. Its a big gamble for Microsoft
What if Microsoft puts its office apps on laptops and desktops shipped by Lenovo, Dell etc. just like they ship with the operating system? It's all software.
(Yes, this is being done already in some cases but appears as an after-thought, not as a strategic decision)
Then they have to do two things - lower their profit expectations and change the licensing model to match the newer hosted schemes - from free to pay as you go and secondly, make the software maintenance free which is certainly possible with enough investment in R&D in that area.
Why then would you need online, less secure, possibly reduced functionality software? The offline mode in things like Google Gears seems like reinvention of the wheel.
I feel the server side software is the ideal candidate for the cloud e.g. a mail server. There is no need for every company to install its own.
But client side software - like MS Excel, it hardly matters to an average user where it sits as long as it offers a great user experience and they don't have to install and maintain it.
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