Microsoft’s Continued Push for Software as a Service and What It Means to You

Many companies offer software as a service – finance, marketing, payroll and many other business processes are offered via the Internet. One glaring hole in all of these offerings is being able to run Microsoft Office software via the Internet. Right now, if you want to run Microsoft Office you must install it on your computer/server via a CD or something.
However, things are going to change. iTWire reports Microsoft has just announced a solution to help independent software vendors and hosting service providers deliver software as a service, and is talking up the benefits of this type of delivery. Which begs the question: Why not Office as a service?
Microsoft has launched Microsoft Solution for Windows-based Hosting for Applications Version 1.0 saying that it “provides independent software vendors (ISVs) and hosting service providers with the platform, tools and best practices to deliver software as a service, an area in which leading IT market research and advisory firm IDC estimates spending will reach $10.7 billion (US) worldwide by 2009.”

There are several competitors already offering “word processors” online but none are as robust as what you would get with Microsoft Office.
For example, Writely is a service (recently bought by Google) which offers a pretty good online word processor. For all of these services, including Corel Word Perfect, there’s two issues to consider:
a) if you are NOT using Microsoft Office you really have to make sure that those you work with (customers, partners, etc) can use what you produce and that if you write a 10 page document with 1 inch margins in 14 point font it comes out as intended.
b) the other issue is the aspect of ending up working several different solutions – one solution for a calendar, one hosted solution for a word processor and etc; using a non-Microsoft solution just for the sake of going non-Microsoft is not wise.

If you are using a non-Microsoft because it’s a better solution – go for it.
Eventually Microsoft or one of its partners is definitely going to have to offer a full online version of Microsoft Office. Until then test the waters of competing offerings.
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