Microsoft moving Office online in duel with Google

Jul 13, 2009 by Glenn Chapman

Microsoft on Monday said that the 2010 version of its popular Office software will feature online collaboration as the technology giant duels "in the cloud" with Internet titan Google.

Microsoft made the announcement at the opening of a Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans.

Next-generation Office, Visio, Project, and SharePoint Server programs to be released in the first half of next year are being given to tens of thousands of people selected to test the nearly completed software.

A key upgrade to widely-used Office is that online hosting will make it possible for users to access projects from any Internet-linked computers and to collaborate online in real time.

Office Web applications will be lightweight, browser versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote that provide access to documents from anywhere, according to .

There will be online "co-authoring" capabilities in Word, PowerPoint and OneNote.

Microsoft's current version, Office 2007, allows online collaboration, but not in the real-time manner promised by its successor.

"We wanted to make sure when we brought applications to the Web we did it in a way that we can really delight customers and not sacrifice quality," Office group product manager Chris Bryant told AFP.

"We're really raising the bar; the level of expectation for what Web-based applications can do and how they work into real complements for the apps you use on the desktop, using personal computers."

The move comes as Google strives to lure computer users to text, spreadsheet, and other applications hosted online and offered as low-cost or free services.

The California firm's Google Apps are part of a growing online trend of offering software as services on the Internet, or "in the cloud," as opposed to people needing to buy, install and maintain programs on their own machines.

"The fact that Microsoft is developing it at all is a response to Google," said analyst Matt Rosoff of Directions On Microsoft, a private firm that tracks the Redmond, Washington-based technology firm.

"This is a move that they probably wouldn't have made if they didn't have to, but there is enough competition bubbling up that they thought they needed a response."

Office 2010 will also dramatically enhance video and picture capabilities in PowerPoint presentations, according to Bryant.

Office Web applications will be available through Windows Live; on-premises for Office annuity customers; and by paid subscription at Microsoft Online Services.

There are to be five versions of Office 2010, with prices yet to be disclosed.

Microsoft has thus far responded to the cloud computing trend with a "software plus services" approach that augments applications installed on personal machines with services hosted online.

People will be able to use Office 2010 purely as a service hosted online, but functionality will be less than when pairing it with Office applications installed on personal computers.

"If people were given full Office features online, why would they buy it?" Rosoff asked rhetorically.

"That is what has taken Microsoft so long to get there."

Microsoft has an edge with large corporations, where Office is widespread and often multi-year technology contracts are in place, according to Rosoff.

"Google has a better chance of getting traction with small businesses and consumers where Microsoft isn't so entrenched," Rosoff said.

The war between Microsoft and Google has been escalating, with last week announcing plans to create an open-source "Chrome OS" computer operating system tailored for netbooks.

Chrome OS will be a direct challenge to Windows operating systems at the heart of Microsoft's global software empire.

(c) 2009 AFP

Explore further: SHORE facial analysis spots emotions on Google Glass

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Microsoft looks to Internet for growth

Nov 03, 2005

Microsoft's launch of Web-based services puts the company more squarely on the Internet in the hopes of keeping up with online titans such as Google and Yahoo!.

Does Google's New Tagline Imply a Shift to Enterprise Apps?

May 16, 2007

With a new tagline of "Search, Ads and Apps" announced May 14, and a new presentation application coming soon to complete the desktop quatrain of spreadsheets, word processing, presentation and e-mail, Google is poised to ...

Google Apps synch to Microsoft Outlook email

Jun 10, 2009

Google on Tuesday synched applications available online as services with Outlook email programs, continuing a push into workplaces historically dominated by Microsoft software.

Google's Chrome OS a direct shot across Microsoft's bow

Jul 09, 2009

Google's dramatic announcement that it is developing its own operating system seems designed to target Microsoft squarely in its Achilles' heel: the shift to Web-based computing that threatens the very core of the software ...

Recommended for you

Watching others play video games is the new spectator sport

8 hours ago

As the UK's largest gaming festival, Insomnia, wrapped up its latest event on August 25, I watched a short piece of BBC Breakfast news reporting from the festival. The reporter and some of the interviewees appeared baff ...

SHORE facial analysis spots emotions on Google Glass

Aug 28, 2014

One of the key concerns about facial recognition software has been over privacy. The very idea of having tracking mechanisms as part of an Internet-connected wearable would be likely to upset many privacy ...

Does your computer know how you're feeling?

Aug 22, 2014

Researchers in Bangladesh have designed a computer program that can accurately recognize users' emotional states as much as 87% of the time, depending on the emotion.

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

WebTechWatcher
not rated yet Jul 13, 2009
My suggestion is that you also take a look at some of the smaller players out there. www.mydatanest.com offers online file and data storage, sharing, and collaboration that is sleek and user friendly.
Nartoon
1 / 5 (1) Jul 14, 2009
We need Windows OS, but could someone other than MS create a usable/interchangeable OS compatible with MS Windows???