Poor Microsoft (news, site) suffered all kinds of blows this week. First people were dissatisfied with the release of their Office Web Apps. Then SharePoint's shortcomings were thrown into the spotlight. 

Simplified = Inadequate

Microsoft jumped into the browser-based productivity pool when they officially released online versions of Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Word on Monday:

These versions are what the company is calling "simplified" iterations of the original products, and are obviously still being developed. This knowledge hasn't kept the complaints away, however:

"What I found dumbfounding was the utter lack of assistance in getting a spreadsheet to do the normal things you’d expect from such an application," wrote Erik Sherman of BNET. "For example, I typed in two numbers and then tried to find how to add them. Nothing. Not a toolbar or menu entry in site."

"It has some downsides and is still a work in progress," echoed Walt Mossberg from the Wall Street Journal. "It lacks many of the more sophisticated features of the local, desktop version of Office. In fact, Microsoft—apparently trying to protect its profitable desktop suite—refers to Office Web Apps as a 'companion' to desktop Office, for 'light' work.

However, unlike Sherman, Mossberg's faith in MS Office Web Apps outshines the shortcomings of this initial release: "...these are capable, if simpler, programs that look and feel like their desktop counterparts and they will likely meet the needs of many consumers who produce basic documents, even if they don't own desktop Office," he said. 

Overall, the addition of Office Web Apps is a welcome one, and we along with the Microsoft fan base are looking forward to seeing how they'll grow and compete with the likes of Google Docs. For now, however, the process of catching up is still in play. 

The Sides of SharePoint 2010

Meanwhile, Toby Ward, founder and CEO of Prescient Digital Media, hit up some experts for their opinions on SharePoint 2010. While the stuff they liked was what we expected -- more social media, better integration with MS Office, better APIs, etc. -- the stuff they didn't is interesting to consider.

Some areas they believe could use a bit of improvement include:   

  • Web content management 
  • Search 
  • Security 

Those are three pretty huge areas, if you ask us.

“From my perspective SharePoint is great value but things of great value are almost never best of breed," said Robert Bogue, CEO of Thor Projects, and a SharePoint MVP. "Best of breed demands a premium, and that’s just not SharePoint’s space in the market.”

Google Without Google 

Google's impeccable timing showed itself again this week. Just days before Microsoft released Office Web Apps, Uncle G announced that anyone would be able to give Google Docs a try without having to sign up for Google:

 

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Google's word processor, spreadsheet, and drawing tool are all available here, and, unlike Microsoft, all the bells and whistles are included. Moreover, the edited documents will be available for 24 hours, and come with a link that enables users to invite others to collaborate. These invitees can be both Google users or people without Google accounts.

SharePoint Welcomes Social Media 

SharePoint reached out to microblogging in a serious way this week. A new web part from Virto Software enables users to aggregate posts from Twitter and RSS feeds and place them on SharePoint pages. The web part works with both SharePoint 2007 and SharePoint 2010, and consists of a single component that can pull information from user-identified sources, as well as post directly to Twitter and RSS feeds without having to leave SharePoint .

The Yammer SharePoint Web Part brings Yammer conversations directly to your existing workflow as well:

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Cisco Wants Both Google and Microsoft to Move Over

If the whole Microsoft vs. Google debate has got you tearing your hair out, you could always go with someone else. Cisco (news, site) is prepping to release Cisco Quad, their own enterprise-level collaboration platform. 

Named after a college quad, Cisco's environment is designed to connect employees safely and securely across an organization through popular social methods. It's also Web-based, so there's no software required, and all you'll need to get going is a PC with a camera and a mic. 

More details are scheduled to be discussed at next week's Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston, so you might want to tune in