Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Office moves to the Cloud

Microsoft is playing to the strength of its global reach. "Microsoft Office Web Apps" will be available to more than 500 million people using free Windows Live services such as Hotmail, online storage Skydrive and Live Messenger.
BBC News - Microsoft's two-pronged strategy for Office 2010

This move by Microsoft could radically change everything. I am a long time users of both Microsoft Office Live and Google Docs and neither is really anything to write home about. But organizations and users are desperate to cut costs.

For example, after forking out the money for a New Windows 7 machines and a new iPhone I was not about to also pay for Office for my own personal use. I use a combination of Open Office and Google Docs. I recently finished a MA with all my work done in a combination of Open Office and Google Docs. It worked much better than when I had a server in the house running WSS. But is was still not really Enterprise ready.

The Cloud is certainly the way of the future. But presently the Cloud has been pushing people away from the document towards the email, tweet, blog post, friend link, photo and movie.

Docs remain either locked on the client, distributed in an uncontrolled fashion in emails, or siloed in SharePoint work spaces or file shares.

Microsoft has it right that if the Document is going to survive it needs to be transformed in to a more fluid web object. It needs to keep the clear boundaries that make a document unique from a blog or wiki. Taking Office in to the Cloud and making it free will reduce communication costs while giving the users of Facebook what they have come to expect: free software.

I think this is a brilliant move by Microsoft in principle, lets see how it works out. In the past Web Document objects have suffered from limitations of browser technology. IE6 is still deeply embedded on a lot of machines and desktop roll outs could take 4 years to upgrade.

Most seriously in the face of cuts many CIO might decide that the current client system is working well enough to not risk an upgrade which only PROMISES to reduce costs. Massive Luddites caused by budget conscious IT departments more worried about keeping their jobs than innovation are a massive risk right now.

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