Right alongside the many Azure and Windows 7 announcements out of PDC, Microsoft is making more of a move to the cloud with their Office suite. Specifically, the company will offer light, web-based versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote (shown above). The last app is worthy of note (no pun intended) as I still believe that OneNote is the best bit of productivity software that comes from Redmond. Some early questions I have: how will a light, online version of OneNote stackup against Evernote and how much functionality will be clipped from the full version?
The online Office suite will be shown off later this year, so we should get a better idea within the next several weeks where this is all heading. I don’t expect this to be completely free like Google Docs and Zoho are: Microsoft says that the web apps will be offered through Office Live, which is both add-supported and subscription based. Hop over to workspace.officelive.com and watch for more information as it becomes available.
With the limited info available currently, my gut says that Microsoft will see a larger demand for these services in the enterprise… a place where it would be financially beneficial to them based on this quote from the release: "For business customers, we will offer Office Web applications as ahosted subscription service and through existing volume licensingagreements." If consumers have to pay, they’ll tend to gravitate where they are now with free substitutes that continue to get better in terms of format support and compatibility. Conspicuously absent in the release is what browsers will be supported, although all of the screen caps show Internet Explorer.
Two quick updates: I just noticed over at ReadWriteWeb that this isn’t a Flash nor a Silverlight-based solution. It’s HTML plus AJAX which is potentially interesting from a mobile device perspective. Also, RWW says that supported browsers will include not just IE, but also Firefox and Safari.