Microsoft, Office 2007,SaaS
There’s some interesting talk in air these days around office productivity suites and the move to using purely web-based products. Some predict the end of Microsoft if they don’t make the move to a SaaS offering. Other reports show something completely opposite.The ReadWriteWeb posted an interesting article the other day in which they reported that some Gartner analysts are indicating “a tipping point in 2011, when the majority of these applications [office] will be OS-agnostic, such as Web applications” and that Windows will play a much smaller role on the desktop. Richard MacManus of the ReadWriteWeb tends to agree reminding us of his own predictions back in late 2005 when he predicted that web-based office applications would become the future “may be 5-10 years down the track, it may be longer." It’s hard to argue with these guys when you see the likes of Google, Zoho and Xythos selling SaaS solutions that in some cases rival Microsoft Office and in other case, simplify the offering to the most required elements. Maybe you think the move to fully web-based office productivity tools will never happen because although we are much more plugged to the internet that ever before, we don’t always want to be there. So we need products like MS Office to enable our offline work habits. The thing is: you now see products like those mentioned above offering offline access to enable the ever-connected to un-connect – if only for a short time. The cost to use also makes these online services hard to ignore.

SharePoint May Save Office’s Butt

But not everyone agrees that Microsoft is on the down slide. A recent Forrester report that surveyed 259 enterprises regarding the use of Microsoft Office 2007 shows that MS Office is not slowing down in terms of implementations. In his report: The State Of Microsoft Office 2007 Desktop Adoption, Forrester Analyst Kyle McNabb states that “Most enterprises have made the case for Office 2007 and plan to deploy or upgrade over the next 12 months if they haven’t already” (roughly 72%). Those kinds of numbers are not indicative of a product on the down slide. 2011 is just not that far away. To make matter worse – or better, depends on who you ask – the fact that there are over one million SharePoint deployments out there only helps Office sell that much better. In the same report, it’s stated that the number of SharePoint deployments over the next year is almost the same. SharePoint is a product that is not going away and its tight integration with MS Office only helps Microsoft keep their productivity software in the enterprise. So far, although there are many third party vendors offering add-on solutions to SharePoint, we haven’t seen any office productivity software integration other than MS Office. It’s unlikely you’ll ever see the likes of Google or Xythos provide integration points.

Will Office Go Online

What’s the chance that Microsoft has a team already hiding in some dark corner of the office working on a solution that will take Office online? They did it with SharePoint, recognizing the need of many of their customers to have a “SharePoint as a service” offering. This SaaS deployment does still offer integration with “desktop” Office software; however, one can see the potential and the dollar signs for Microsoft to go the online route. Never one to spill their secret plans until the last minute, we’ll probably just have to wait and see what Microsoft does in the future with its Office suite. Of course we’ll continue to accept that Office is not perfect and run our service packs as necessary to fight the evil bugs Microsoft misses or ignores. Feel free to weigh in on the “2011 tipping point”.