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Microsoft takes aim at Google with online Office suite

post #1 of 81
Thread Starter 
Microsoft on Monday announced plans to begin widespread testing of a new version of its market-leading productivity suite for Windows PCs that will tie into a series of new Web-based Office applications similar to those offered by rival Google.

Presenting at its Worldwide Partner Conference 2009, the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant said it will soon invite tens of thousands of customers to start testing Microsoft Office 2010, which features broadcast and video editing in PowerPoint, new data visualization capabilities in Excel, and co-authoring in Word.

As part of the announcement, Microsoft also said it plans to take Office online, with a new series of free Office Web applications aimed at combating the encroachment on its space by arch rival Google, whose online document and spreadsheet applications have been growing in popularity.

The ad-supported web suite will reportedly be available to more than 400 million Windows Live consumers at no cost. It will also be accessible on-premises for all Office volume licensing customers and via Microsoft Online Services, where customers will be able to purchase a subscription as part of a hosted offering.

"Office Web Applications, the online companion to Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote applications, allow you to access documents from anywhere. You can even simultaneously share and work on documents with others online," Microsoft says on its Office 2010 Technical Preview site. "View documents across PCs, mobile phones, and the Web without compromising document fidelity. Create new documents and do basic editing using the familiar Office interface."

Microsoft, which also announced that it is streamlining the number of Office editions from eight to five, said customers will be able to purchase the new suite sometime in the first half of next year. The company made no announcements related to future versions of Office for the Mac, which will more than likely also tie into the new Web-based suite once it materializes.
post #2 of 81
If Microsoft is making an online version of Office, Google might as well pack their bags and go home. They can forget their netbook with Google Office dreams.
post #3 of 81
Knowing Microsoft, it'll only work with Internet Explorer 8/9 on Windows 7.
Disclaimer: The things I say are merely my own personal opinion and may or may not be based on facts. At certain points in any discussion, sarcasm may ensue.
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Disclaimer: The things I say are merely my own personal opinion and may or may not be based on facts. At certain points in any discussion, sarcasm may ensue.
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post #4 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

If Microsoft is making an online version of Office, Google might as well pack their bags and go home. They can forget their netbook with Google Office dreams.

You really need a sarcasm tag or emoticon, otherwise people will take your post seriously.
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post #5 of 81
I'm curious; will it work with Safari and Firefox the same as Internet Explorer? I can't see them making use of ActiveX since they are moving away from that technology.
post #6 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

You really need a sarcasm tag or emoticon, otherwise people will take your post seriously.

Maybe he's referring to the stranglehold MS has on the office suite and how they want to translate that same stranglehold to the online documents segment of the market.
post #7 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by Outsider View Post

I'm curious; will it work with Safari and Firefox the same as Internet Explorer?

My guess is not a chance. There is just no upside for MS by going standards compliant.
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post #8 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

My guess is not a chance. There is just no upside for MS by going standards compliant.

How about you guys actually try it out? I'm using it on Safari right now. So far, everything works. It prompted me for a Silverilght update, so it may be using that.
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post #9 of 81
I am certain this won't work without Silverlight... A sneaky move to make people install the plugin, but coming from MS - hardly surprising at all. Don't earn the marketshare.. force it!
post #10 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The company made no announcements related to future versions of Office for the Mac, which will more than likely also tie into the new Web-based suite once it materializes.

Office for the Mac isn't really the same thing, hasn't been forever now. We'll see if going online helps the cause, or if MS just never plans on feature parity.
post #11 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by infobhan View Post

How about you guys actually try it out? I'm using it on Safari right now. So far, everything works. It prompted me for a Silverilght update, so it may be using that.

I’m working around to trying it out. Note that I qualified my response with “my guess”. My reasoning is that MS isn’t moving very fast to make IE standards compliant and it will cost more and take longer to make any web-based office suite standards compliant when they can just tie into their current IE setup as is. Since they want to maintain their dominance in IE this is one way they can stall any exodus to other browsers. The Silverlight update may be telling. MS may be less interested in IE being required as it is in the Silverlight plugin. Personally, I am all for Silverlight as anything that forces Adobe to fight on more fronts to defend Flash is good for the future of the web.

However, sometime later this year or perhaps next year IE will likely fall below 50% marketshare, which means that standards compliant browsers trying to pass Acid3 and incorporate HTML5, etc. will be at >50% marketshare. While I don’t think MS will give in on IE and make it play nicely with others so easily, eventually they will have to as this slow and steady trend will not be subsiding anytime soon.
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post #12 of 81
Maybe M$ should work the bugs out of their current products first before starting a new adventure! Just a thought?
post #13 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

You really need a sarcasm tag or emoticon, otherwise people will take your post seriously.

No one can compete with Microsoft in the office apps space. It's one thing to defeat IE as it is a crap product and not too hard to learn a new browser, but Office is a whole 'nother matter.
post #14 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oh-es-Ten View Post

I am certain this won't work without Silverlight... A sneaky move to make people install the plugin, but coming from MS - hardly surprising at all. Don't earn the marketshare.. force it!

Is that much different from iTunes and Quicktime?
post #15 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by mjtomlin View Post

Knowing Microsoft, it'll only work with Internet Explorer 8/9 on Windows 7.

...and their proprietary file formats.


But even ignoring all that, Microsoft is at least a generation behind in web thinking. It's pretty clear at this point that Google's online office tools are getting rebuilt to live on top of WAVE.

If Google -really- wanted to take a shot at Microsoft they'd offer a combined WAVE+Google Office (featuring their new Outlook compatibility) on a scalable array of server appliances that could be self-hosted, co-located at Google or both (an internet-accessible satellite for mobile users/failover/etc.)

That would be Google striking with its strengths directly at Microsoft's exposed underbelly* with a product and strategy that Microsoft is increasingly legitimizing with moves like Online Office.

(*namely: their dizzying array of profitable, but overlapping and poorly integrating server technologies that are increasingly driven by web front-ends. They don't particularly benefit from Microsoft's monopoly and can be replaced piece-meal, without a massive retraining/testing project)
post #16 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

No one can compete with Microsoft in the office apps space. It's one thing to defeat IE as it is a crap product and not too hard to learn a new browser, but Office is a whole 'nother matter.

Sure they can. Google, Apple and OOo are already doing it. MS still dominates and will for the foreseeable future, but I know of companies and government agencies moving away from MS Office.
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post #17 of 81
Does Microsoft have an original bone in its entire decrepit body?
post #18 of 81
Knowing MS they'll probably find a way to fk that up, too.

I'm pretty skeptical whenever MS rolls out new product/service these days.
post #19 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by MJ Web View Post

Does Microsoft have an original bone in its entire decrepit body?

Sure, they do. It's the Big Ass Table(TM)

I don't think anyone else has a Big Ass Table(TM) like that.
post #20 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by Outsider View Post

I'm curious; will it work with Safari and Firefox the same as Internet Explorer? I can't see them making use of ActiveX since they are moving away from that technology.

It will work on other browsers, but a year later and half-ass.
Look at Office:Mac, look at Silverlight (no authoring (yet?) on other platforms).

There's nothing wrong with producing apps that only work on one platform, but they always try to force it as a 'web standard' or just a 'standard' altogether, even though it in fact only works decently on one platform.
post #21 of 81
From what I'm reading it appears MS is embracing standards within Silverlight in a way they are not in IE. Interesting that they support open standards in a proprietary runtime.

Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

My guess is not a chance. There is just no upside for MS by going standards compliant.
post #22 of 81
This is a big misconception that iTunes is a Trajan horse for Quicktime. iTunes is useless without Quicktime, as most of the media provided thru iTunes works on the QT media framework. iTunes does not use Windows Media framework.

Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Is that much different from iTunes and Quicktime?
post #23 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

This is a big misconception that iTunes is a Trajan horse for Quicktime. iTunes is useless without Quicktime, as most of the media provided thru iTunes works on the QT media framework. iTunes does not use Windows Media framework.

I made no suggestion about it being a Trojan horse. I was just making the point about the two being bundled, that's all.
post #24 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

If Microsoft is making an online version of Office, Google might as well pack their bags and go home. They can forget their netbook with Google Office dreams.

The article's author reminds me of a magazine writer I knew who used to take a bunch of words which seemed relevant and use those fragments to create sentences & paragraphs using them.

OF COURSE Google doesn't present a challenge to Microsoft.

What Microsoft needs to keep an eye on is OpenOffice. This is what the author missed.

The odds are Microsoft will require IE to exploit all of all forthcoming MS Office versions.
Use anything but IE? -> Basic functionality. IE? Full features.

If not this release, then any subsequent release.

Will MS try to make MS Office a SaaS?

Can Microsoft do the "best available" now that they are having problems with "best possible", regardless of the product?

And...can they accomplish either of these goals with their existing code base? At some point, they'll be better off to grab a product team whose members don't eat|drink|sleep the existing MS Office and start over.

Otherwise, Online MS Office will be a kludge.

________________________________

I'm not anti-Microsoft. They've put a lot of money in my pocket in the previous twenty years. If I continue to have income from them, I believe they need to evaluate whether their goal is to be "best available" or "best possible". They're having problems with the former and their biggest fear is they can no longer produce the latter.
post #25 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Personally, I am all for Silverlight as anything that forces Adobe to fight on more fronts to defend Flash is good for the future of the web.

Microsoft needs Silverlight to be multi-platform otherwise it will never take off. But if it does become successful, watch them pull the plug on Mac users like they have with so many other products. I refuse to install Silverlight on principle for this reason.
post #26 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Is that much different from iTunes and Quicktime?

Sure it is. Quicktime at least makes sense as there aren't standards in the media space as there are in the web space (until HTML5, and that's still under dispute). And even Quicktime uses standard codecs, and the QuickTime format itself is used as the basis for MPEG4.

This is Microsoft just going their own proprietary way. It would be like Adobe writing an Office replacement in Flash.
post #27 of 81
First, I thought it was more vapors, but seeing how they've been fiddling with this for a long time, I think it's the smell of burnt toast.

MS has no advantage in this unless they cram their own "standard" down on everyone again. Not happening.

And cloudware will defeat boxed software soon, especially if it's open, as with Google.
post #28 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

I was just making the point about the two being bundled, that's all.

Ok, but why is that relevant? iTunes doesn't run in a browser, it's a binary application.
post #29 of 81
I typical Micro$oft fashion, the Mac version of Office 2010 will be released in 2012 - right on the heels of the release of Office 2012 for Winblows.
post #30 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shookster View Post

Microsoft needs Silverlight to be multi-platform otherwise it will never take off. But if it does become successful, watch them pull the plug on Mac users like they have with so many other products. I refuse to install Silverlight on principle for this reason.

+1

MS will use whatever avenue they have available to force people into installing Silverlight. This is just one way of accomplishing that, combined with exclusive deals with content providers to user their proprietary plugin to deliver content. They are simply trying to replace web dominance via IE with web dominance via Silverlight. If they acheive that, don't expect them to behave any better than they did before.
post #31 of 81
In my opinion, this is a good thing for Mac/Google users.

I know many users that are VERY frustrated with Office. They HATE the new interface... they hate the docx issues (granted, it's MS trying to be more open), they are simply frustrated. Oh, and they are tired of shelling out money for upgrades that really don't offer any new features.

Google Docs will continue to gain an audience because:
- It is free
- It is easy to use
- It is available today

That said, with a few upgrades, I think I could go Google Docs 100% of the time.
post #32 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

No one can compete with Microsoft in the office apps space. It's one thing to defeat IE as it is a crap product and not too hard to learn a new browser, but Office is a whole 'nother matter.

But this is not the "Office Apps" space - this is a web services space - an area which Microsoft has had nothing but failure - not sure how you figure it will be different this time around?
post #33 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by Outsider View Post

Maybe he's referring to the stranglehold MS has on the office suite and how they want to translate that same stranglehold to the online documents segment of the market.

What are you saying that microsoft would try to push someone out of a market using their market share and the sheep that use their product thinking it's the only possible solution to their needs, then tying that solution to Explorer 8 forcing people that want to use that online solution to upgrade browsers, while deleting past browser versions so they don't have to support them, oh and charging a monthly fee for using said online suite of apps, most likely in some "home / business / pro" price structure?... NAH!!!!!!

Edit: While disabling features that make any alternative solution seems sluggish and buggy.
post #34 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roc Ingersol View Post

That would be Google striking with its strengths directly at Microsoft's exposed underbelly* with a product and strategy that Microsoft is increasingly legitimizing with moves like Online Office.

(*namely: their dizzying array of profitable, but overlapping and poorly integrating server technologies that are increasingly driven by web front-ends. They don't particularly benefit from Microsoft's monopoly and can be replaced piece-meal, without a massive retraining/testing project)

I'm glad you explained that. My immediate reaction was that you were
making a Ballmer reference.
post #35 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by Outsider View Post

I'm curious; will it work with Safari and Firefox the same as Internet Explorer? I can't see them making use of ActiveX since they are moving away from that technology.

Why wouldn't it use ActiveX? It would be the easiest way for MS to implement this, as they could use their existing code base instead of having to reimplement it using something else. I'm sure anybody who suggested doing it using internet standards was fired on the spot.

And if it were only supported on IE, that would help keep their install base from switching to better browsers.
post #36 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by whatisgoingon View Post

Why wouldn't it use ActiveX? It would be the easiest way for MS to implement this, as they could use their existing code base instead of having to reimplement it using something else. I'm sure anybody who suggested doing it using internet standards was fired on the spot.

And if it were only supported on IE, that would help keep their install base from switching to better browsers.


From TechCrunch:

Microsoft says that its browser versions have been tested on all major browsers aside from internet Explorer, including Firefox and Safari. Office 2010 is still being tested and reworked to function on Chrome.
post #37 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

If Microsoft is making an online version of Office, Google might as well pack their bags and go home. They can forget their netbook with Google Office dreams.

What a ridiculous statement. Office is horrible software and is being replaced by other options (iWork, Google docs, OpenOffice, etc.), more than ever before. Since it's likely that all these suites will soon have online components (iWork is halfway there already), the playing field is going to be exactly the same as it is today.

People don't necessarily just use Google docs because word hasn't got an online component yet, and people don't just use iWork because there isn't Office on the Mac (there is of course). I and many others have switched away from MS Office because it's crap, not because I can't access docs on my phone. In any case, there have been (for years), and are today several ways to read and edit word documents on a phone.
In Windows, a window can be a document, it can be an application, or it can be a window that contains other documents or applications. Theres just no consistency. Its just a big grab bag of monkey...
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In Windows, a window can be a document, it can be an application, or it can be a window that contains other documents or applications. Theres just no consistency. Its just a big grab bag of monkey...
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post #38 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

This is a big misconception that iTunes is a Trajan horse for Quicktime. iTunes is useless without Quicktime, as most of the media provided thru iTunes works on the QT media framework. iTunes does not use Windows Media framework.

This statement makes no sense at all. The second sentence completely contradicts the first.
In Windows, a window can be a document, it can be an application, or it can be a window that contains other documents or applications. Theres just no consistency. Its just a big grab bag of monkey...
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In Windows, a window can be a document, it can be an application, or it can be a window that contains other documents or applications. Theres just no consistency. Its just a big grab bag of monkey...
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post #39 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post

This statement makes no sense at all. The second sentence completely contradicts the first.

I (kind of) thought the same thing, but I was too polite to say anything, since (s)he sounded so authoritative........
post #40 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post

What a ridiculous statement. Office is horrible software and is being replaced by other options (iWork, Google docs, OpenOffice, etc.), more than ever before. Since it's likely that all these suites will soon have online components (iWork is halfway there already), the playing field is going to be exactly the same as it is today.

People don't necessarily just use Google docs because word hasn't got an online component yet, and people don't just use iWork because there isn't Office on the Mac (there is of course). I and many others have switched away from MS Office because it's crap, not because I can't access docs on my phone. In any case, there have been (for years), and are today several ways to read and edit word documents on a phone.

Office is horrible software and the UI is worse with each release but the reason people still use it is for compatibility. I really like iWork and use it whenever possible but it is not fully compatible with Office. I also wonder why Apple did not support open file formats with iWork. While there is a move away from Office products, they revolve around the Office format. Also a very, very small percentage has made that move. Office is even more dominant than Windows. For the last 20 years it has been the most purchased software for the Mac.

I think it will be a relatively successful product. Students will use it in a second if it's free and you can also use OneNote. Google Docs, while nice, is way too basic. For me, it will allow me to use iWork a little more and for anything that I need for collaboration on I can use Office online.
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