A new conference Microsoft should pay attention to

There’s a new conference coming March 23: Under the Radar | Why Office 2.0 Matters.

I’m seeing all sorts of new products and startups in this space. Everyone wants to bite off a little bit of Microsoft’s lunch here and it’s making for an interesting space to watch and participate in.

These folks just announced that 26 companies are coming to this one. If there’s anything that’s going to disrupt Microsoft’s Office business it probably will be at this show.

Funny enough, Microsoft is a sponsor of the organization that’s putting this on. I wonder if they are going to make moves into the online Office space before they get totally disrupted.

Ray Ozzie, where are you?

Comments

  1. If Microsoft can convince the world that the best way too use Web enabled office features is with a copy of Windows with MS office installed then it won’t be disruptive at all. That is in fact what their message seems to be so far. If past history is any indication they could succeed too. At least in the near term.

    Why in DOS did we type “dir” instead of “ls” or “” instead of “/”, it’s called INOVATION! haha.

    Microsoft is going to continue to be a big winner here in the USA where government managers who have the say over such things are not about to go through another Wordperfect to Word transition. Companies that take government contracts will continue to have to use Windows and Office (many of these systems wisely don’t allow open Internet access anyway), and individuals that want to work for these companies will continue to have to provision themselves with MS products at home.

    Keep in mind Microsoft could always start selling retail copies of Windows and Office for under $100 and make a tidy profit at much larger volumes (and they don’t even have to make the physical product!)

    Rumors of Microsoft’s impending doom from the forces of Internet are much exaggerated. But I DO think that small organizations (non-profits), small communities, particularly outside the US (EG: Cuba, yesterday) will continue to try and avoid more lock-in, and that just MAY start to embarrass some high level managers back here that will have to admit they haven’t actually studied their own cost structures in far too long (or never understood them in the first place).

    MS has plenty of time to act, just not forever. If they would act sooner, rather than later (when forced) the world would think a lot better of them.

  2. If Microsoft can convince the world that the best way too use Web enabled office features is with a copy of Windows with MS office installed then it won’t be disruptive at all. That is in fact what their message seems to be so far. If past history is any indication they could succeed too. At least in the near term.

    Why in DOS did we type “dir” instead of “ls” or “” instead of “/”, it’s called INOVATION! haha.

    Microsoft is going to continue to be a big winner here in the USA where government managers who have the say over such things are not about to go through another Wordperfect to Word transition. Companies that take government contracts will continue to have to use Windows and Office (many of these systems wisely don’t allow open Internet access anyway), and individuals that want to work for these companies will continue to have to provision themselves with MS products at home.

    Keep in mind Microsoft could always start selling retail copies of Windows and Office for under $100 and make a tidy profit at much larger volumes (and they don’t even have to make the physical product!)

    Rumors of Microsoft’s impending doom from the forces of Internet are much exaggerated. But I DO think that small organizations (non-profits), small communities, particularly outside the US (EG: Cuba, yesterday) will continue to try and avoid more lock-in, and that just MAY start to embarrass some high level managers back here that will have to admit they haven’t actually studied their own cost structures in far too long (or never understood them in the first place).

    MS has plenty of time to act, just not forever. If they would act sooner, rather than later (when forced) the world would think a lot better of them.

  3. I disagree. I think if some company or developer can deliver a great web-enabled office suite that supports the most oft-used file formats and that comes with a modicum of online storage, say 1GB, for a small fee, then MS might be in trouble.
    People like MS Office, but in my opinion, it’s way too expensive for what you get. I spend most of my time in a text editor, not in Word. I send things out as plain text, never as Word, unless specifically requested. I do the same thing with my curriculum vitae/resume as well. Unless otherwise directed, it’s plain text.
    I think that in future, we’ll see less and less of proprietary formats like Word, and more and more of open standards like Adobe PDF. This is my hope, anyway.
    Here’s to seeing a viable, web-based office suite within a couple of years!!!

  4. I disagree. I think if some company or developer can deliver a great web-enabled office suite that supports the most oft-used file formats and that comes with a modicum of online storage, say 1GB, for a small fee, then MS might be in trouble.
    People like MS Office, but in my opinion, it’s way too expensive for what you get. I spend most of my time in a text editor, not in Word. I send things out as plain text, never as Word, unless specifically requested. I do the same thing with my curriculum vitae/resume as well. Unless otherwise directed, it’s plain text.
    I think that in future, we’ll see less and less of proprietary formats like Word, and more and more of open standards like Adobe PDF. This is my hope, anyway.
    Here’s to seeing a viable, web-based office suite within a couple of years!!!

  5. U keep calling Ray, like he is He. Remember though, that a good effect is only used once. Marketeer, please find a new, say more ‘iTuned’ approach.

  6. U keep calling Ray, like he is He. Remember though, that a good effect is only used once. Marketeer, please find a new, say more ‘iTuned’ approach.

  7. web enabled features in a thick client (MS office) makes sense. Online only software (google docs for example) doesn’t, and won’t for awhile….why you ask?

    can I use google docs on a flight from LAX to NYC as a prepare or even just review a document for a customer?

    can I open up my google powerpoint knock off at a customer site that doesn’t allow me as a guest user internet access?

    can I use my google spreadsheet anywhere in Montana, when broadband or evdo is as prevalent as yellow feaver?

    do I trust google (or any online ony provider) to safeguard my company’s highly confidential financial report/new product details/hr private info/ etc out there in the ‘do no evil’ internet cloud?

    no
    no
    no
    no

    client based, offline available office productivity is here to stay for now, at least for eveyone except your stereotypical AOL users (except for an actual one, since i’m sure AOL is incompatible with any ASP software model) :)

  8. web enabled features in a thick client (MS office) makes sense. Online only software (google docs for example) doesn’t, and won’t for awhile….why you ask?

    can I use google docs on a flight from LAX to NYC as a prepare or even just review a document for a customer?

    can I open up my google powerpoint knock off at a customer site that doesn’t allow me as a guest user internet access?

    can I use my google spreadsheet anywhere in Montana, when broadband or evdo is as prevalent as yellow feaver?

    do I trust google (or any online ony provider) to safeguard my company’s highly confidential financial report/new product details/hr private info/ etc out there in the ‘do no evil’ internet cloud?

    no
    no
    no
    no

    client based, offline available office productivity is here to stay for now, at least for eveyone except your stereotypical AOL users (except for an actual one, since i’m sure AOL is incompatible with any ASP software model) :)

  9. Until the following are resolved, at least, I don’t see it happening.

    1. At least 98% of computer users having broadband. The number is still only something like 50%. My mom has dial-up still but I can take a large Word doc over to her place on a flash drive no problem.

    2. Corporate world standardizes on a document format. Word and Excel are the defacto document format in 90% of offices.

    3. 100% security. I work with quite a few very large medical, legal and banking companies and the very idea that the various legal letters and contracts they are drafting are stored in any place except on their fingerprint-secured thumb drive would make them scoff. They refuse to even use encrypted shared drives for certain document work, you think you’re going to convience a lawfirm to store those types of documents on a server not under their control?

    4. More security. To get an office-suite with the full power of Excel’s macros I’m thinking you’re opening yourself up for more security holes.

    5. Native look & feel. Using a web 2.0 app is great for awhile but using it all day and having to give up all the features the OS builds in for you? The basic Ctrl-Z behaviour? Spell checking as you type that works quickly even on 50 page research papers?

    6. Fonts. When marketing pumps out a quick flyer announcing the 401k meeting they want access to all 500 of their fonts, and they want them quickly, with preview.

    7. Search. Right now every desktop search program can index Word docs. What if I go to some web 2.0 office suite? If I can’t do a search using my desktop search engine of choice to find my documents then that office solution is dead. We’ve just started teaching users about desktop search, think they’re going to give it up?

    8. An offline counter part. My wife currently edits her novel on plane trips, in the air. She would stab me if I told her that she has to use one application to edit her novel on the plane yet another when she has an internet connection.

    9. “No Need To Install Software” is *NOT* a feature. 90% of people get their PC’s with Office pre-installed, they don’t even realize Office isn’t a part of the OS. So many online office solutions tout that as a feature, your average consumer isn’t going to get that.

    Those are just off the cuff, there are 5 or 6 more I have swirling around my brain right now but those will do.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the concept, as long as it can meet all those requirements PLUS add something. Those requirements are just to get it on the same playing field, it then has to offer something above all of that.

  10. Until the following are resolved, at least, I don’t see it happening.

    1. At least 98% of computer users having broadband. The number is still only something like 50%. My mom has dial-up still but I can take a large Word doc over to her place on a flash drive no problem.

    2. Corporate world standardizes on a document format. Word and Excel are the defacto document format in 90% of offices.

    3. 100% security. I work with quite a few very large medical, legal and banking companies and the very idea that the various legal letters and contracts they are drafting are stored in any place except on their fingerprint-secured thumb drive would make them scoff. They refuse to even use encrypted shared drives for certain document work, you think you’re going to convience a lawfirm to store those types of documents on a server not under their control?

    4. More security. To get an office-suite with the full power of Excel’s macros I’m thinking you’re opening yourself up for more security holes.

    5. Native look & feel. Using a web 2.0 app is great for awhile but using it all day and having to give up all the features the OS builds in for you? The basic Ctrl-Z behaviour? Spell checking as you type that works quickly even on 50 page research papers?

    6. Fonts. When marketing pumps out a quick flyer announcing the 401k meeting they want access to all 500 of their fonts, and they want them quickly, with preview.

    7. Search. Right now every desktop search program can index Word docs. What if I go to some web 2.0 office suite? If I can’t do a search using my desktop search engine of choice to find my documents then that office solution is dead. We’ve just started teaching users about desktop search, think they’re going to give it up?

    8. An offline counter part. My wife currently edits her novel on plane trips, in the air. She would stab me if I told her that she has to use one application to edit her novel on the plane yet another when she has an internet connection.

    9. “No Need To Install Software” is *NOT* a feature. 90% of people get their PC’s with Office pre-installed, they don’t even realize Office isn’t a part of the OS. So many online office solutions tout that as a feature, your average consumer isn’t going to get that.

    Those are just off the cuff, there are 5 or 6 more I have swirling around my brain right now but those will do.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the concept, as long as it can meet all those requirements PLUS add something. Those requirements are just to get it on the same playing field, it then has to offer something above all of that.

  11. MS isn’t going to touch Office until they see the newest version of iWork.

    Sad. Pathetic. But true.

    Just look at Office 2007, notice any similarities? Drag and drop templating with the placeholder text already there? It’s baffling that Apple is ‘disrupting’ so much. MS thinks it can just rip them off left, right and center, well I got news for Redmond: I haven’t paid for an MS product in about 10 years, and when iWork 07 ships I’m getting it as soon as possible.

    With a Spreadsheet app in place, i can finally boot Office to the curb. Good riddance to hubris, Ballmer.

  12. MS isn’t going to touch Office until they see the newest version of iWork.

    Sad. Pathetic. But true.

    Just look at Office 2007, notice any similarities? Drag and drop templating with the placeholder text already there? It’s baffling that Apple is ‘disrupting’ so much. MS thinks it can just rip them off left, right and center, well I got news for Redmond: I haven’t paid for an MS product in about 10 years, and when iWork 07 ships I’m getting it as soon as possible.

    With a Spreadsheet app in place, i can finally boot Office to the curb. Good riddance to hubris, Ballmer.

  13. I agree with Jeff, it’s a good idea, but there are currently just too many hurdles to overcome with your complete application not being available offline whenever necessary.

  14. I agree with Jeff, it’s a good idea, but there are currently just too many hurdles to overcome with your complete application not being available offline whenever necessary.

  15. Greg: Cory Doctorow told Microsoft — on its own campus — to get rid of DRM. They didn’t pay attention to that either. Just because something is held in its own buildings doesn’t mean anyone is paying attention (or even attending).

  16. Greg: Cory Doctorow told Microsoft — on its own campus — to get rid of DRM. They didn’t pay attention to that either. Just because something is held in its own buildings doesn’t mean anyone is paying attention (or even attending).

  17. Word processing on the web will take off because:

    1. Most computers are always connected to the web except for short periods of time when it is on a plane. It is getting to the point where a non connected computer is dead weight.

    2. You can get to your documents at home, at the office, at your friends house……

    3. When your hard drive flames out or you computer gets stolen you do not have to worry about if you will ever see your documents again.

    4. Security. Anyone with a bank account can access that on-line. I am sure google docs could be made as secure as on-line banking.

    Sure there are still times when a document must be placed in a safe and there are going to be times when a person is off-line but that is the exception versus the rule and as the on-line word processors get more features the need for a local word processor gets less and less.

  18. Word processing on the web will take off because:

    1. Most computers are always connected to the web except for short periods of time when it is on a plane. It is getting to the point where a non connected computer is dead weight.

    2. You can get to your documents at home, at the office, at your friends house……

    3. When your hard drive flames out or you computer gets stolen you do not have to worry about if you will ever see your documents again.

    4. Security. Anyone with a bank account can access that on-line. I am sure google docs could be made as secure as on-line banking.

    Sure there are still times when a document must be placed in a safe and there are going to be times when a person is off-line but that is the exception versus the rule and as the on-line word processors get more features the need for a local word processor gets less and less.

  19. Tom -
    “Most computers are always connected to the web” – spend some extended time outside the US, broadband is not a ubiquitous as you think.

    “except for short periods of time when it is on a plane’” – see my other example about spending time at a customers site and not having access to the internet. it’s a real scenario, and it’s happened to me a lot.

    ” When your hard drive flames out or you computer gets stolen you do not have to worry about if you will ever see your documents again.” – Online document processing is different than online or SAN (LAN) backup….i don’t mind (in fact i encourage where appropriate) online backup to avoid laptop meltdowns/thefts

  20. Tom -
    “Most computers are always connected to the web” – spend some extended time outside the US, broadband is not a ubiquitous as you think.

    “except for short periods of time when it is on a plane’” – see my other example about spending time at a customers site and not having access to the internet. it’s a real scenario, and it’s happened to me a lot.

    ” When your hard drive flames out or you computer gets stolen you do not have to worry about if you will ever see your documents again.” – Online document processing is different than online or SAN (LAN) backup….i don’t mind (in fact i encourage where appropriate) online backup to avoid laptop meltdowns/thefts

  21. 6&13: Don’t forget: that those organizations that keep sensitive materials on thumb drives are the same ones who have lost track of how many laptops they have lost in the past year. We’ve gotten numb to the extent that data on PCs has gone wandering off never to be seen again, even in “secure” environments.

    Another thing that has changed in the past few years is that people who conduct business by using wacky fonts and seven different methods of making a list in business documents are finally subject to open ridicule (we used to just laugh about them behind their backs).

    Business documents that look like your son did them with crayons used to be cute, but the bloom is long off that rose. Even Web documents have begun to clean up their act.

    I now keep documents for storage in either flat text format or PDF. I don’t store any Word documents. Large organizations with any sense are doing likewise. Large organizations without any sense will get burned sooner or later.

    I have an associate that claims he can’t use Gmail because he has 8 gig of stored e-mail messages. Never mind that a large part of these are not messages, but attached family photos and other such things that have been long since stored elsewhere. By the way, his e-mail store, in Outlook format, got corrupted last year and is still unreadable, in spite of $20 here and there for utilities to fix it, which all failed, he clings to the fantasy that one day the tooth fairy will restore all his messages to him. In the mean time he refuses to consider putting his new messages somewhere safe.

    This is the Microsoft customer base. Countless users walking around with loaded guns that they don’t know how to use. That’s why many people are setting up walled off routers in their homes for visitors to plug into. The world is not safe with Windows and the type of users who use Windows in the same room. Apple solves the OS problem, Linux solves the user problem, one day we will have an OS that solves both (I bet it doesn’t come from Microsoft though) and by that time, most storage will be on a net (possibly a home net with Internet backup) and laptops, palmtops and other such traveling devices will only have temporary copies of anything which can be synced at either end of the journey (with a whole lot of validity checking in the process).

    By that time it will no longer matter to most users what OS they are carrying in their pocket (it doesn’t much matter to most of them now) and there will be little if any upgrading of OSs. The cost of OS, and office applications (to the extent they exist) will be bundled with the device. Microsoft may well still be the dominant player then, but it will be a very different world, and dinosaurs like Ballmer wont be relevant.

  22. 6&13: Don’t forget: that those organizations that keep sensitive materials on thumb drives are the same ones who have lost track of how many laptops they have lost in the past year. We’ve gotten numb to the extent that data on PCs has gone wandering off never to be seen again, even in “secure” environments.

    Another thing that has changed in the past few years is that people who conduct business by using wacky fonts and seven different methods of making a list in business documents are finally subject to open ridicule (we used to just laugh about them behind their backs).

    Business documents that look like your son did them with crayons used to be cute, but the bloom is long off that rose. Even Web documents have begun to clean up their act.

    I now keep documents for storage in either flat text format or PDF. I don’t store any Word documents. Large organizations with any sense are doing likewise. Large organizations without any sense will get burned sooner or later.

    I have an associate that claims he can’t use Gmail because he has 8 gig of stored e-mail messages. Never mind that a large part of these are not messages, but attached family photos and other such things that have been long since stored elsewhere. By the way, his e-mail store, in Outlook format, got corrupted last year and is still unreadable, in spite of $20 here and there for utilities to fix it, which all failed, he clings to the fantasy that one day the tooth fairy will restore all his messages to him. In the mean time he refuses to consider putting his new messages somewhere safe.

    This is the Microsoft customer base. Countless users walking around with loaded guns that they don’t know how to use. That’s why many people are setting up walled off routers in their homes for visitors to plug into. The world is not safe with Windows and the type of users who use Windows in the same room. Apple solves the OS problem, Linux solves the user problem, one day we will have an OS that solves both (I bet it doesn’t come from Microsoft though) and by that time, most storage will be on a net (possibly a home net with Internet backup) and laptops, palmtops and other such traveling devices will only have temporary copies of anything which can be synced at either end of the journey (with a whole lot of validity checking in the process).

    By that time it will no longer matter to most users what OS they are carrying in their pocket (it doesn’t much matter to most of them now) and there will be little if any upgrading of OSs. The cost of OS, and office applications (to the extent they exist) will be bundled with the device. Microsoft may well still be the dominant player then, but it will be a very different world, and dinosaurs like Ballmer wont be relevant.

  23. Hi Robert,
    I will be there along with lots of other “very interested” Microsoft folks. I look forward to continuing conversations with many of the great friends made at the Office 2.0 Conference last October. There are certainly exciting things going on in this space now and we are paying attention!

  24. Hi Robert,
    I will be there along with lots of other “very interested” Microsoft folks. I look forward to continuing conversations with many of the great friends made at the Office 2.0 Conference last October. There are certainly exciting things going on in this space now and we are paying attention!

  25. A quick disclaimer – I’m involved with producing this conference. BUT – I want to first say that I don’t think anyone should discount Microsoft…they’re not going to be beat out completely by these young companies. They are, however, going to be compelled to change their products and pricing models in certain (necessary) ways.

    I personally see the most disruption not happening at big law firms or government agencies, but within the SMB market. Why? Because, they are more flexible, have less money to burn and less security/compliance concerns. In most economies, smaller enterprises predominate…in the U.S., there are nearly 5.6 million SMBs and SMBs employ over 50% of the working population. In the EU, SMBs comprise almost 99% of all firms and employ between them about 65 million people. Those are enormous numbers and speak to a vast amount of potential.

    Change doesn’t usually happen from the top down. There is a whole generation now that uses the internet in a way that demands more…they will demand collaboration tools and mash-ups and all the other next generation software and apps. It will start at the bottom and eventually make it’s way to the top. And it’s already happening.

    Microsoft’s immediate challenge is answering those demands, making their products more tailored to SMB’s and more cost-effective. I for one am excited to see what their next move will be…

    As for a lot of the comments above about not being able to work on Google docs on a plane, etc. — a lot of these market disrupters are stepping up to that plate. Colligo for example, which happens to be a MSFT partner, is a collaboration tool that enables offline collaboration….MSFT uses it in Sharepoint. And that’s just one example.

    So I think MSFT should be listening, IS listening and will not really be taken down. BUT — I also believe that not every company has to be the next MSFT or Google. The point is this — there is innovation out there, there are viable business models and successful companies being built upon that innovation, and they have a real chance at capturing a market segment. Noone really knows at this point what % of the segment they’ll own, but 2 things will happen: 1) They will thrive for the time being and 2) The giants will have to compete to stay in the game.

  26. A quick disclaimer – I’m involved with producing this conference. BUT – I want to first say that I don’t think anyone should discount Microsoft…they’re not going to be beat out completely by these young companies. They are, however, going to be compelled to change their products and pricing models in certain (necessary) ways.

    I personally see the most disruption not happening at big law firms or government agencies, but within the SMB market. Why? Because, they are more flexible, have less money to burn and less security/compliance concerns. In most economies, smaller enterprises predominate…in the U.S., there are nearly 5.6 million SMBs and SMBs employ over 50% of the working population. In the EU, SMBs comprise almost 99% of all firms and employ between them about 65 million people. Those are enormous numbers and speak to a vast amount of potential.

    Change doesn’t usually happen from the top down. There is a whole generation now that uses the internet in a way that demands more…they will demand collaboration tools and mash-ups and all the other next generation software and apps. It will start at the bottom and eventually make it’s way to the top. And it’s already happening.

    Microsoft’s immediate challenge is answering those demands, making their products more tailored to SMB’s and more cost-effective. I for one am excited to see what their next move will be…

    As for a lot of the comments above about not being able to work on Google docs on a plane, etc. — a lot of these market disrupters are stepping up to that plate. Colligo for example, which happens to be a MSFT partner, is a collaboration tool that enables offline collaboration….MSFT uses it in Sharepoint. And that’s just one example.

    So I think MSFT should be listening, IS listening and will not really be taken down. BUT — I also believe that not every company has to be the next MSFT or Google. The point is this — there is innovation out there, there are viable business models and successful companies being built upon that innovation, and they have a real chance at capturing a market segment. Noone really knows at this point what % of the segment they’ll own, but 2 things will happen: 1) They will thrive for the time being and 2) The giants will have to compete to stay in the game.