Saturday, September 19, 2009

Game changer

For those who aren’t aware, the next version of Microsoft Office (Office 2010) will come with a free web version. It will be known as Office Web Apps and will integrate with Microsoft Skydrive for file storage (Yeah!) as this blog post details. Here’s a video demo of Office Web Apps that is well worth a look:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAvBfuaVluI

If you are someone who makes a living selling PC’s then the most common application you sell with every PC is probably a version of Microsoft Office. If you’re a smart cookie then you’ll also make money from installing the software as well as continually patching it. I hate to tell you that the majority of all this is going away when Office Web Apps goes live. Why? Simply because most users are not only stingy with their money (especially at the moment) but they also generally use less than 20% of Microsoft Office functionality. This means that a free online version of their favourite Microsoft Office apps is going to be very appealing. In short, why would they buy a version of Microsoft Office with their workstation when they can get for free online?

 

I think that if Microsoft provided a ‘paid for’ version of Office Web Apps that included more functionality people would pay but as I have said for quite a while now this is the way it is going – to the ‘cloud’. I agree that everyone isn’t going to go ‘virtual’ overnight but the trend is very evident and more importantly the business and economic reasons are also very powerful. As the economy recovers and businesses get back on their feet they are going to look at upgrading their technology. I reckon that many are going to start asking serious questions about whether they should be utilizing more applications from the ‘cloud’.

 

To a large extent by Microsoft moving applications like Office to the ‘cloud’ provides a significant amount of legitimacy in the minds users for this style of technology, making it a self fulfilling prophecy in some ways. Failing to ignore these trends is going to have ramifications down the line no matter what sort of business you are. The great things about Microsoft apps moving to the ‘cloud’ is that they still provide the ability to host the same applications on site if desired (unlike Google). It also allows the implementation of hybrid approach as well (i.e. some offsite and some onsite).

 

Office Web Apps has now gone into limited beta testing and is expected to open up to more soon. Personally, I can’t wait to get my teeth into it because I can see the huge potential it offers around the thing that has always been the most profitable part of technology – assisting users with their implementation. If you are a reseller who doesn’t believe in the potential of ‘cloud’ apps like Office Web Apps I say GREAT because sooner or later customers are going to come looking for someone to help them implement a ‘cloud strategy’ and I’m ready willing and able.