With great fanfare the other day, Microsoft announced two new web-based services, Windows Live and Office Live. The initial hype made it sound as if the company was going to make Office and parts of Windows available for free over the Web.
That's not the case, however. Office Live doesn't really have much to do with Office, and Windows Live doesn't have much to do with Windows. Office Live will be a set of free services for small businesses, such as Web hosting, email, and collaboration tools. And Windows Live is in essence a personalized home page, much like Yahoo and Google now offer.
The announcement came only a day or two after CNet reported that Google was hiring programmers to improve OpenOffice.org, the Open Source alternative to Microsoft Office. This spells bad news for Microsoft. If Google can use techniques such as AJAX to create a free, Web-based alternative to Office, I think you'd see plenty of people balk at paying the high prices Microsoft charges for Office.
By themselves, Windows Live and Office Live aren't enough to fend off Google. It appears both are very worthy services and are great ideas. But if Google can really find a way to offer OpenOffice.org for free over the Web, Microsoft will have to come up with something else to fight the search giant.
What do you think of Windows Live and Office Live?
The OpenOffice.org suite is already free. I don't think a web interface would make it any more popular. To increase OOo market share, it would work better for Google to simply throw its brand behind OOo. "GOOogle," perhaps? ;-)
Think of them as brand extensions
It's probably better to think of Office Live and Windows Live as attempts to extend the definitions of the brand beyond their desktop roots. So, correct, they are not web-based versions of Windows and Office.
OpenOffice, as it stands now, does not have a "cloud"-based component. It competes with the traditional desktop productivity suite. Zimbra (www.zimbra.com/) is more along those lines...
Just some confused MicroSoft thoughts:
Bill's message is confusing.
The Beta site horrible. I am not really sure if that thing is even considered Beta or Alpha. Being that its MicroSoft pre-Alpha is Beta.
Windows Live and Office Live appear to be names for things that have nothing to do with Windows or Office. Just like MSNBC has nothing to do with MS or MSN.
Does Bill Gates thinks he is in posession of Steve Job's coveted "reality distortion field"?
After seeing the "Live" demo I am left with the impression that this is a bunch of hype and horsehooey similar to that of "channels" in IE 4.0. Remember channels? Netcasting? MicroSoft came to the party late on that one also, killed off all the competition and basically killed the whole concept. That's why the IE 4 screensaver on old computers only show a satellite dish.
Or better yet, the MSN watch! Or MicroSoft Bob! Just think we could have Bob Live!
The only goal of Live! is to confuse the business landscape to the point that MicroSoft can maintain their revenue sources (OS's and Office) while depriving their competition of the same. If killing the whole web as a service while offering the web as a service acheives this goal then MicroSoft's position is maintained. Its shareholders happy and everyone is eventually forced into upgrades of windows and office.
Meanwhile the press is having a field day with this. If any other company on the planet put out a beta site as horrible as the one that MicroSoft did they would be criticized horribly in the trade rags. Instead MicroSoft is coming across as walking on water.
I ain't buying into the hype.