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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Steve Ballmer Talks About "Windows Cloud"

Why hasn’t Microsoft already made their office tools available as online versions? It could set them up in a good position against Google’s online office efforts – the shift to the so-called computing cloud, the buzzword of recent times. I once heard someone argue they don’t move to the cloud because it would cannibalize their own desktop office suite. But times are changing, and now Google Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer said some interesting things, according to The Register:

ComputerWorld explains that Ballmer pointed out that Microsoft doesn’t think their Office product will move entirely into the cloud, but rather, that users could do “light editing” of Office documents online, and other parts would remain on the desktop. In a way that’s the opposite of Google’s approach, which puts most functionality online and then allows some minor functionality offline via the Google Gears plugin (though even Google’s online functionality is often more lightweight than their desktop competitor’s counterparts – at least if you don’t count collaboration and sharing features, which admittedly play a big role today).

More is reportedly to be talked about at Microsoft’s Professional Developers Conference later in October. Now, besides the question of “who will survive and what will be left of them?” (to quote a movie tagline) we may also be inclined to ask – why doesn’t Microsoft just secretly prepare this tool, in order to keep its strategy hidden from competitors? Why do they announce instead of deliver? One answer could be: in order to seed fear and uncertainty for people pondering a switch to Google’s online office; if you believe something along the lines will come from Microsoft, it may delay you, even if we don’t even know yet when and if Microsoft can deliver what they promise. Another possible answer: they’re just so happy to have concluded they might well survive a little cannibalization that they can’t resist from sharing with the world, slowly preparing their user base for things to come.

[Via Techmeme.]


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