Skip to main content

Gasp! Did Msft actually have the right idea?

It was a more innocent time: a long, long time ago. I still thought I was young, couldn't complete a sentence without trying to work in a pun, and my parents were still asking me questions like, "So how do we turn on the Internet?"

OK, lying a bit about the last one; they'd stopped asking that much earlier.

But about two-ish years ago when someone first told me about a startup called Writely that wasn't half-bad, and everyone couldn't stop talking about the inevitability of the online office suite, I'd heard an interview with a Microsoft Product Manager, who was rolling out a
collaboration suite for Office products (which after all of Msft's branding fits and feature roll-backs is now called: Office Live Small Business and has fewer-even-than-promised features) . He maintained (I paraphrase from memory now), "We don't think there's much value in an online office suite. We believe that people want to collaborate online and share docs, but want the richness and power of offline tools." My reaction was, "tsk, tsk...these guys don't get it." I hadn't thought the issue through really, but thats what I'd believed every young-ish techie was supposed to be thinking.

Anyway, fast-forward two years later. For the last month, I've been using Google Docs ..a lot! Now, Docs is neat and all..., but no one seriously believes it has anywhere close to feature-parity on functionality with Microsoft Office products. The argument is, bascially: "Look, its good enough! And now you can share/publish so much more easily!!! And it's cheap(er)...or fr
ee too."

True, its good enough most of the time, maybe for most users. But damn it, some of the time for some users (namely me) it isn't!

As I tried to explore some spreadsheets functionality, I couldn't help thinking: "what we really need is a plug-in to make Word docs easily share-able and possible to collaborate on."

Umm...isn't that exactly what the MSFT dude was saying? Two years earlier? To much
blogger/general/my scorn? Could he actually have had a point (beyond that wall of FUD, of course)?

In fact, isn't that what these guys (Zoho) already do? Apparently pretty well?

BTW, you've got to admire how they're rolling out an Offline document editor using Gears before Google.

Comments

Andrew said…
Nice post, thanks.

I love asking people about the competition.

When I was interviewing with Motorola in SPRING 2006, I asked a strategy director, "Aren't you afraid of a phone from Apple? As phone components commoditize, it seems to fall in their strike zone."

He said, "Not really... Phones are not that easy to make."

Popular posts from this blog

Everyone's struggle is real... at the very least to them

A couple of weeks ago, while in line waiting to pick up some food I'd just ordered, I overheard two conversations - I don't make a habit of this, but it's hard to not hear things when you leave your phone behind. :-/
My first reactions as I heard both of these conversations was annoyance at the protagonist in one and admiration for the other. Both conversations stayed with me for a while, but it took me some time to realize that was unfair on my part to be annoyed at the person that I was annoyed at.

So about these conversations:
The first was between someone working there and a friend. She was sympathizing with her friend who'd be starting a new job leaving this place. "Oh, it's minimum wage again?", she said with concern in her voice. "Yes, but it's fine", said her friend. The job was closer to where she lived so she thought she'd make about the same and she might get home a little earlier to her daughter some evenings though the hours…

Yup - humans still lack humanity

Every once in a while, I'm reminded that humans can be completely lacking in humanity.

My wife had the following experience yesterday on her ride back home. She got on the train and found a seat. The train was unusually crowded and it looked a lot of people had to stand for a long ride. An elderly Asian gentleman carrying a few things in both hands, was looking for spot, started to complain smilingly about the train being so full and stood in the aisle at the back of the carriage some seats away from her.

She expected someone closer to gentleman in the aisle (lots of younger people on the train) to give him their seat.

No one did.

The train started, and it was clear the man was having a lot of trouble standing up. Then at the next stop there was actually an announcement saying the train was full so please give up your seats to people who needed them.

Still nobody moved.

My wife got up walked to the end of the train and asked the gentleman to go over to her seat. She still couldn&#…

Whimsy when I changed my profile picture...

I changed by profile picture at work.



Later in the day, two people on my team had changed their profile pictures to these.. :-)



It made my day!

I changed my profile pic again today. Let's see how fast anyone catches on this time. :-)