How Microsoft Office 2010 will be locked out of my toolbag

Yong Ming Guang, CEO of Socialwok

I really like Office 10. Looks great, doesn’t it? Lots of new features. And it even works well on the web.

But it is doomed to be kept out of my toolbag.

I realized that when Yong Ming Guang, CEO of Socialwok, showed me his new collaborative toolset today.

How will Microsoft Office be locked out?

Mobile phones.

“But, Scoble, Microsoft Office has made a deal with Nokia.”

OK, name one geek in your circle that still uses a Nokia phone. I can’t and it doesn’t look like the new Nokias will get me anytime soon. Certainly not with Palm Pre phones selling for under $100 and Android phones coming on big time with developers that I talk with (you do note, don’t you, that Guang is holding an Android phone in the picture above).

So, why won’t Microsoft Office be able to ship on iPhone and Android and Palm Pre and Blackberry?

Well, they might be able to, but the versions they showed me so far are pretty heavyweight. IE, they load slow and on mobile phones that’s death. Google’s spreadsheet, on the other hand, is made for the mobile web and opens fast.

Also, Microsoft Office 10 isn’t shipping yet. You’ll notice that developers like Yong Ming Guang is showing off their systems now. What’s the chances that they’ll rip out the functionality they built using Google’s APIs and put in some unproven Microsoft APIs? Let’s just say it’s between 0 and 0.

“But, Scoble, it doesn’t matter, don’t you realize that everyone in the world is forced to use Microsoft Office anyway?”

That isn’t true and over the next five years is going to be less and less true.

If I asked at a conference five years ago, even an early adopter geek conference, how many people used Microsoft Office, lots of hands would go up.

Today? Very few hands go up whenever I ask that question.

By the way, what does SocialWok do? It is a new collaborative feed tool built around Google’s applications. Think about it as Facebook for your workgroup.

I thought it was lame the first minute, but after digging into it I’m pretty convinced that it, or something like it, will change how we work.

Why?

Because of mobile phones. Three years ago I used to carry my laptop everywhere. Now? I only carry my iPhone. It’s amazing how much work I can get done with it.

That will have a deep impact on the tools we choose for work.

And, I’m noticing even the geekiest geek in Silicon Valley is the same way. We’re switching our usage patterns away from desktop and laptop computers and toward our iPhones.

Why did Guang choose Google’s apps? Well, because of the atomicity of Google’s APIs. They can build a new kind of feed based on Google’s apps, which isn’t possible using Microsoft’s Office. Also, because 15 million people are using Google’s apps (according to Guang) he sees there’s a ready audience of people who would use his system today. Because Office 10 isn’t out yet, he won’t bet his business around an audience that might show up “someday.”

Also, Google has provided Socialwok with the infrastructure so he can build his company without spending much, if any, money (SocialWok is built on top of Google’s App Engine and could be easily moved over to other cloud-based infrastructures like Rackspace’s Cloud or Amazon’s Cloud if needed)

That has deep impact on the choices that developers like SocialWok are making.

Microsoft Office just isn’t part of this new world. That should scare the hell out of Steve Ballmer. No wonder why he gets so mad at people who bring iPhones to work there!

About Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, I travel the world with Rocky Barbanica looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology and report that here.

45 thoughts on “How Microsoft Office 2010 will be locked out of my toolbag

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  3. As we have seen this past week with the Sidekick, the web based documents cannot be depended on and I would never use it as my only source of storage.

  4. You can leave it out of your tool box if you want but that will not stop businesses from using it. At work, we have no choice but to use is Office… currently 2007. Secondly this using the term 'geek' as though it is some sort of an 'a' list of prestige is over rated. I like to try new gadgets just like the next guy but I would not advertise myself as being a geek.

  5. First:You clearly have not viewed anything remotely close to recent, build-wise on the web side.

    Moreover, to say peoples hands do not go up is absurd. Sure, in the tech heavy and crowds you talk to, there are more people trying new things – just like Twitter is not “new” to people in the tech game. However, to the masses it is and the masses will and do continue to use Office. Look at the numbers.

    It is not a one horse choice, it is more akin to picking multiple. I use Office for anything remotely close to doing something complex spreadsheet wise. However, I also use Goog Docs for other products, but there is no way I am going to get rid of the power of a full blown Excel for Googs offering. The MSFT web apps offer a way for me, and the millions of SharePoint users to access and edit content without the client installed from my phone, ultra-port etc. Sure, goog offers the same, but not with the same consistency or even remotely close to the practical power. Put simply Excel offers a far more rich experience when the job demands it, while Google's provides a pretty spartan experience which does it pretty well.

    The fact you use your tech heavy crowds, who likely have a Mac % market share 10x heavier than the broader market as the answer is full of fail.

    The fact you base your information on things like performance that is based on pre-beta 2 code is fail.

    The fact you ignore they can both be used, fail.

    Fail – what about plug-ins/ additional functionality made that is in office? I am not talking about client side stuff either that can necessarily be offloaded. I am talking about things that people have installed for business or other reasons that provide capabilities that would need to be ported or supported in some way. Will Goog and others, even MSFT provide what is needed?

    Fail – unproven APIs? Ignores timeline, support (have you ever attempted to get support for googs offerings), dev goodwill (in terms of # of devs and companies that use the MSFT stack – again look at the numbers), dev familiarity and so it goes. Further, over what time span? How long is an API unproven? Is it as unproven as the ones put out by StartupOfTheDayX that may be here today, gone tomorrow which you many times spin as the best flavor of the moment?

    Your assertion that one can easily move app engine code = fail. What does that have to do with anything? So simply using app engine to use APIs in something makes it better? That has nothing to do with use. Could a person not use MSFT apis while using App Engine? How about move from the 70%+ MSFT server stack to AWS, Azure etc. with no trouble? I mean, seriously, that whole paragraph makes no sense.

    You do not note once that whatever code base your viewing has been done on is pre-beta 2 i.e. any public release which not only would have worse performance but is missing critical features. Yes, there are some tightly controlled web app testing, but it is not remotely close to being feature or performance complete.

    You do not point out that goog apps or others have terrible support for the 2007 and greater Office format. Which goes on the fact that you ignore format entirely. Like PDF, it does not matter if something is better or free if you are not sending out and/ or can receive/edit/view what a vast majority uses.

    Not to mention, given the free offering, plus full featured offline which work very much the same – what is the compelling reason to not use both when needed? Again, phone? Fail. You base that on incomplete information – not remotely close to complete information.

    You can keep noticing the geekiest, that is great, but it is not vast market share by any stretch. Frankly, the ability to use online, offline and have the experience be pretty seemless across the board, with no need to relearn things, or wonder why what you are doing looks completely different etc. is far more compelling than a stripped down, sufficient for basic task offering. If you do not want to pay for the MSFT offering, there is a free web access version, there is a starter offline version etc.

    One thing you are right about is that people will clearly be using more and more “mobile” devices, everyone knows that and everyone knows that services need that. Unlike the desktop world, the online world of office apps are not driven by first in and/ or price (which is a wash here). It is driven by ease of transition (because the majority is transitioning) and format support. While MSFT may be a little late in starting, it would have been a complete disaster to have had it out 10, 5 or even when Goog docs came out. Why? The same reason the iPod has its share. Also the same reason Goog docs is a flop when looking at market share. If you measured office app, online and of combined, to determine usage like web metrics such as time spent – it would even be more one-sided than it is today.

    You have some great posts, but this one falls into the arena where you are so deep, you seem to miss the real world, all the while ignoring numbers, facts or even acknowledging you have remotely close to complete information.

  6. Hi Robert, are you aware of the N900 and it's open source Maemo platform? Do you not think this will make an interesting competitor to the iPhone. If not, why not?

  7. I wouldn't be surprised at all if Google became the new Microsoft for the masses of people who are starting to rely on their phones for pretty much everything. However, I think Microsoft will still dominate for pc users.

  8. True that, I haven't been following your international travel. But in comparisons like these, the number of users/units sold matter more than the hands raised in a geeks only conference.

  9. This is pure conjecture, but I think you're under estimating the N900. It's the first Linux phone with what is essentially a Linux desktop tool-chain/environment. That makes it a really interesting device to work with to an awful lot of geeks. Do I think there'll be an immediate shift to the N900 as the geek phone of choice? No, but I will be replacing my iPhone with one as soon as I can get my hands on one and I suspect I'm not alone in that regard.

  10. Horses for courses though surely?

    The iPhone wins hands down for any kind of content consumption. Music, video, navigating the web… It's a perfect device. But when it comes to content *creation*, then – to my mind at least – it has to be a Nokia.

    Android is kicking it (aside from a few reported battery issues) it's well thought out UI which has fantastically produced a true unified comms system for the 21st Century.. *if* you're Google-centric, of course.

    ;)

  11. Using spreadsheets and doing wordprocessing on a phone sucks. Doing it on a phone using a web app sucks even worse. I know that it’s “cool” (among geeks that think they’re all that because they’re rich and hip or whatever) to do all computing on a 4-inch screen, but to the rest of the world, it’s dumb.

    It’s not like you have any serious spreadsheets anyway, so don’t try to pretend that your toy spreadsheet of restaurants represents the rest of us. You live in your world, I live in the real world.

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  13. You must have missed that I travel internationally a LOT. China? The geeks have overwhelmingly bought iPhones. London? iPhones. Tel Aviv? iPhones. Sorry, but Nokia is losing geeks in droves. WORLD WIDE!

  14. The idea of passive sharing (feeds) is widely excepted and used. I used Facebook to connect with my friends, I barely ever email them. Socialwok is trying to bring that communication model to the enterprise, which will greatly reduce all the CC's and BCC'd ammong your workgroups.

    In Socialwok the feed is tightly integrated with the application Google provides such as the calender, documents and going ahead, picasa, reader, etc. Socialwok unifies the Google app collective similar to how the feed in Facebook unifies Facebook applications.

    Google Apps is free for universities and adoption among them and businesses is growing at a furious pace, a social layer such as Socialwok to tie it all together will only help improve adoption.

  15. Microsoft is now the drunken street bum stumbling in to the party late at night because someone left the door open on their way out. Sadly companies like the one that pays me want to keep them in business and challenge my sanity.

  16. exactly.
    you may not know any American geeks with Nokias, Robert, but outside the US, they're everywhere.
    Nokia still have the largest share of the smartphone market globally, followed by Blackberry, followed by iPhone. Last figures I saw were approx 40% > 20% > 10% respectively.
    And my money is on Nokia's share growing even more with the new carrier-independent iPhone-like N900 & its open source OS.
    I still don't see any people in my personal or business life using Google apps or docs – 99% of the world is stuck in the Office groove, and will be for a long time to come. Nokia/MS deal seems like a smart move to me.

  17. ummm….. you know, there IS a world outside of the USA's borders, you know. And it's a world that quite likes, among other things, Nokia and Symbian. Almost EVERY geek I know uses a Nokia. 8-)

  18. Uber mobile geek and all round nice chap, sporting a Nokia N86 right here. Robert, I totally understand your thoughts around Android – the HTC Magic (or MyTouch over there I believe), nearly swayed me from the Finnish but the N86 brought me back again…

    I know you used to carry an N95 about your person, have you tried the N86?
    Without being a complete and total link whore, here's my brief thoughts – http://trmp.tv/?p=1514

    All of that aside, sod Microsoft. I use Nokia Messaging sync'd with my Google Apps account.

    You're bang on there.

    *tips hat

  19. “That isn’t true and over the next five years is going to be less and less true.

    If I asked at a conference five years ago, even an early adopter geek conference, how many people used Microsoft Office, lots of hands would go up.”

    That might be true for some places only. When you look at it worldwide, it's not.

  20. Robert – I don't think what they want to do comes into it. In many places BlackBerry is the only approved phone, Macs are not allowed on the company network and hosting documents externally would be laughed at by the L&C department.
    Some client documents are legally required to kept confidential. If a firm used an external hosted company that is accessible using non-approved security measures and could be accidentally opened to the public would be seen as failure to hold up their legal obligations. And I'm not just talking about Banks.

  21. I can browse to a SharePoint document library on my iPhone and view an Office 2007 Word document without installing anything on the phone.

  22. While some may be able to use their iPhone or Android phone as a replacement for a laptop, there are those of us that need real keyboards and decent sized displays to slam code and create content. I am not going to write anything longer than a 1-3 sentence response to an e-mail from my iPhone. I am definitely not going to craft any code from a phone.

  23. I buy that no one will use office, I don't buy that I can replace my laptop with my IPhone. When they come up with a way for me to hook into a keyboard and monitor I will be right there!. I use iWork and google docs the reason for me is Office is to expensive and slow. Google docs is with me where ever I go. Pages is lighter weight and cheaper.

    I only use a fat client because not all businesses have figured out how to use something like Google docs for collaboration YET.

  24. I buy that no one will use office, I don't buy that I can replace my laptop with my IPhone. When they come up with a way for me to hook into a keyboard and monitor I will be right there!. I use iWork and google docs the reason for me is Office is to expensive and slow. Google docs is with me where ever I go. Pages is lighter weight and cheaper.

    I only use a fat client because not all businesses have figured out how to use something like Google docs for collaboration YET.

  25. You can say that, but I watch enterprise workers all the time on planes. They used to only carry Dell laptops and use RIM Blackberries, but lately I've been seeing a lot more enterprise types with Macs and iPhones. Be careful of the assumptions you make. Someday you might be wrong.

  26. Google Docs will be locked out of my toolbag. The reason? SharePoint and local hosting.
    Many IT shops are already using the APIs into SharePoint from their applications.
    The Geeks at a conference using their Macs and GoogleDocs have never been representative of Enterprise workers.

  27. The idea of passive sharing (feeds) is widely excepted and used. I used Facebook to connect with my friends, I barely ever email them. Socialwok is trying to bring that communication model to the enterprise, which will greatly reduce all the CC's and BCC'd ammong your workgroups.

    In Socialwok the feed is tightly integrated with the application Google provides such as the calender, documents and going ahead, picasa, reader, etc. Socialwok unifies the Google app collective similar to how the feed in Facebook unifies Facebook applications.

    Google Apps is free for universities and adoption among them and businesses is growing at a furious pace, a social layer such as Socialwok to tie it all together will only help improve adoption.

  28. I think you're right. That's why I said it will keep it out of MY toolbag. I'm an early adopter but this market is so big and so slow moving that I'm sure this does NOT predict market behavior overall. That said, for early adopters they have already pretty much lost. The trick is how fast can they stop the bleeding, otherwise the bleeding WILL show up overall (and Microsoft IS feeling a sales slowdown, so something is happening).

  29. I'm all for change and it's about time Office loosened it's strangle hold on progress but I still feel we're a little way off yet. Sure, individuals like us and small cash strapped businesses are looking at the alternatives, but it's big enterprises that dictate standards when it comes to office apps and so far they are not showing any sign of change, in fact, it's because they are so slow to change that we are stuck having to support things like IE6 and Office XP.
    I like the ideas of SocialWok and will definately take a look but without the support infrastructure that enterprises enjoy from Microsoft, competition will find it hard to break into that market.
    I do think MS are missing a huge oportunity by offering half hearted attempts at making Office a set of web apps, hopefully it will get better but if they take much longer, they stand to lose substantially. Of course, I could be completely wrong, we'll have to wait and see.

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