Microsoft's answer to Google Docs: duh?

by admin on October 1, 2007

in General

Office-Live.Gif (Gif Image, 139X35 Pixels) 1191215111832-1

Mary Jo Foley has Microsoft’s answer to Google Docs. I’m wondering why they’ve bothered. According to Mary Jo’s report, it is for consumers and small businesses only, automatically creating confusion in the otherwise homogenous Office market:

Office Live Workspace is not a hosted version of Microsoft Office. Instead, it is — like the rest of the Office Live family — an extension to the client-based version of desktop productivity software…Office Live Workspace is a password-protected SharePoint workspace, hosted by Microsoft. It’s a place users can store and access documents for “work, school and home,” Microsoft explained. Users will be able to e-mail drafts of these Web-based documents to multiple people. Those without a desktop version of productivity software handy will still be able to view and comment on stored documents via a browser.

Does Microsoft intend entering the hosted market at all? Mary Jo says not:

And what about users who don’t want the desktop office-product anchor around their necks at all — those who want to create documents on the Web, not on their PCs? Microsoft seems to have decided to ignore that segment all together…

I can’t see the point of this halfway house solution. On the one hand it will introduce a new generation of people to the possibilities of collaboration. On the other hand, it is using SharePoint as the positioning vehicle for its business offering that competes with Google Apps for Enterprise (GAPE.) To make matters more confusing, Groove – the collaboration tool built by Bill Gates’ heir apparent Ray Ozzie is now positioned as an offline Workspace access mechanism.

If ever there was a company capable of confusing the market, Microsoft is that company. Rather than simplifying the whole story as it should have done, it has instead rendered a whole layer of complexity. Crackers.

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steve clayton October 1, 2007 at 12:00 pm

seems like there are lots of assumptions about this being the Microsoft version of Google Docs which it's not. It's about extending Office in to the cloud rather than putting Office itself in the cloud.

I actually think it is pretty simple but the coverage has created confusion. Which means maybe we didn't make it simple enough :)

Dennis Howlett October 1, 2007 at 12:05 pm

@Steve: the rebranding is confusing, that's for sure and reading through Mary Jo's commentary (and she's most likely to have a decent handle given her years of looking at MSFT) the questions were raised about the cloud side of things and yet the answer comes back – zippo. So it isn't about extending to the cloud at all. Or is it?

Mary Jo has positioned this in the manner she has because the parallels are obvious to outside observers. At present it looks like a kludge – which is fine – but it's messy.

Al October 1, 2007 at 12:51 pm

I think Steve is right, there is no way this competes with Google Docs or Editgrid as there is no online editing (let alone concurrent online editing). To me it sounds like a glorified file sharing, online disk facility. If it is just that then I don't understand what the point of doing it is unless they call it Live Office Disk or something. I was kind of hoping to see some real competition and perhaps something new in the online space from the 'office experts'.


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