Why open up?

I was over filming Mike Arcuri today. He’s a Group Program Manager over on Excel. He was showing me the new business intelligence features in Office 12.

You know, for those of you who say Office is dead it would be good to watch this video over and over when we get it up (it’ll be up in a few weeks). Office has a lot of kick left in it.

Huh? Last night I sat next to a director of finance and treasury for Starbucks while flying back from Oakland. He was using Excel to fiddle with numbers. He told me he loved Office and couldn’t live without it. He also told me that Starbucks opens five new coffee shops every day and chided me for working for a slow-growing company. Whew!

So, what does this have to do with opening Office up?

Well, Escamillo puts it pretty well: “Good. Now Microsoft Office must compete based on merit rather than file format compatibility and OpenOffice.org must compete based on merit rather than “use us because our format is open”.”

Oh, and Steve: have you watched the earlier video of what’s coming in Office 12? The guy from Starbucks hadn’t. Which explains just how big a challenge it is to get people to upgrade. Getting people to pay attention just isn’t easy. If it were the market would flip to new things every few years. Oh, and if it WERE easy we’d all have 60 million readers.

That doesn’t take away from what Steve’s saying. Attention IS important. Why? Because the attention system will either be siloed in the next 12 months or it’ll get built out.

Look at the decisions made in 1997 around instant messaging. IM clients are still siloed (although they are starting to be joined finally).

I sure hope attention doesn’t go the same way, although there are lots of pressures to silo that too.

Oh, just to make this post a little more confusing. Office is still going to sell like hotcakes because of Windows Workflow Foundation. That’s the new way that businesses are going to make themselves more efficient. The end points on such a system are all Office.

For those who are trying to figure out why Microsoft would make it possible to compete with Office, that’s where you gotta look. In all the Web 2.0 hype, you all missed this and there’s a big story here for enterprises and for developers.

Maybe we need to add AJAX to that so you’ll pay attention. 🙂