Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Microsoft Watch - Web Services & Browser - Office Goes to the Web

Some Office Web applications impressions from Joe Wilcox (see the full article for more details)

I'm simply shocked by today's announcement. Microsoft has long resisted making available Web-based versions of Office. And I'm on record saying that Microsoft would likely never offer anything such as Web Office. That said, Microsoft isn't giving up much here. The productivity suite market has changed much since I first made this pronouncement about four years ago.

What's different now:

  • Google has gained some prominent, new converts from Office
  • Microsoft has chosen subscription and volume-licensing payment models
  • With Azure, Microsoft is blurring the differences between software and services
  • Office's role has dramatically changed as Microsoft increases emphasis on functional roles such as business intelligence
  • Mail isn't included in Office Web, so among enterprises Microsoft can still pull Office sales through Exchange Server and also SharePoint Server.
  • Productivity application functions are rapidly commoditizing, so Microsoft gives up little yet offers more—for people willing to pay the subscription fees

The question now: How will Google competitively respond, particularly since Microsoft has disclosed its plans? For Google, which runs so much in perpetual beta, the response should be both slow and swift.

I’ll post my take on Office Web applications over the next day or two, but in the meantime, some comments on Joe’s perspectives:

  • Google has gained some prominent, new converts from Office
    • POK: actually … not so much, especially in the enterprise
  • Microsoft has chosen subscription and volume-licensing payment models
    • POK: but these complement rather than replace the traditional Microsoft licensing model
  • With Azure, Microsoft is blurring the differences between software and services
    • POK: it’s more about the synergy in software + services than a shift from one to the other
  • Office's role has dramatically changed as Microsoft increases emphasis on functional roles such as business intelligence
    • POK: I’d say it has dramatically expanded, but the core value proposition is largely the same
  • Mail isn't included in Office Web, so among enterprises Microsoft can still pull Office sales through Exchange Server and also SharePoint Server.
    • POK: Office Web applications complement rather than compete with the traditional Office productivity application model, and Microsoft is also a leader in web-centric email, for individuals and organizations that prefer that option
  • Productivity application functions are rapidly commoditizing, so Microsoft gives up little yet offers more—for people willing to pay the subscription fees
    • POK: commoditization does not always mean devoid of value; e.g., check Microsoft’s most recently quarterly earnings – Office was more profitable than the Windows client, in the last quarter

Microsoft Watch - Web Services & Browser - Office Goes to the Web

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