February 14, 2006
@ 05:55 PM

Our team has been partnering with the Office Live folks and I've been pretty impressed at how far along they have come in a short time. I haven't been able to blog about their product yet but today I saw a post from Joe Wilcox entitled What Office Live Is Not which gives good insight into the goals of the product.

He writes

Last night, Microsoft lifted the NDA for Office Live, so I am rapidly blogging a day sooner than expected. Office Live goes live--at least in limited beta--tomorrow.

So there is to confusion about Office Live:

* Office Live absolutely is not a hosted version of Microsoft Office. People have asked me if Microsoft is hosting Office applications or would do so in the future. Answers are no and highly unlikely. I don't expect Microsoft to offer a hosted version of Office as part of Office Live. Ever. While Microsoft obviously is concerned about the Web 2.0 concept, the company is not going into the hosted applications business.

Most of the extended capabilities do functionally derive from Microsoft server software, such as Exchange, SharePoint and Project. The service provides basic e-mail and calendaring capabilities (such as might be seen from Exchange), collaboration functions (such as come with SharePoint Portal Server) and for working on projects (such as supported by Project Server).

Based on JupiterResearch surveys, Microsoft's target market of businesses with fewer than 10 employees would be highly unlikely to run server software products like Exchange, SharePoint or Project. Microsoft's approach extends those products' capabilities--and their potential benefits--to the smallest businesses. As those businesses grow, Microsoft has created opportunity for its partners to upsell server software that would maintain and extend Office Live capabilities. Smart.

For now, small businesses would largely consume these services in a Web browser. There are some ties back to Office products, and I expect to see more of these ties with the release of Office 12. I will discuss more of this in another post.

* Google isn't the target here and, in many respects, neither is the nebulous Web 2.0 concept. As I wrote back in November, "Microsoft hopes to generate greater customer value and make new-version Office and Windows upgrades more appealing. MSN has done a tremendous job cranking out new products and services, well ahead of the long Office and Windows development cycles. The point: If Google didn't exist, Microsoft probably still would have embarked on a services strategy."

Microsoft is probably more concerned about a Salesforce.com than a Google here. Microsoft's core business is applications and operating systems. Services like Salesforce.com negate the value of both applications and operating systems, territory Microsoft won't easily cede. It's no coincidence that CRM is a major Office Live feature.

Once the product goes into beta I'll probably do a review along with some screenshots [if the team doesn't mind]. There is definitely good stuff coming down the pipe here.


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