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 â€” like the rest of the Office Live family â€” an extension to the client-based version of desktop productivity software…Office Live Workspace is a password-protected SharePoint workspace, hosted by Microsoft. Itâ€™s a place users can store and access documents for â€œwork, school and home,â€ 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 donâ€™t want the desktop office-product anchor around their necks at all â€” 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.