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Microsoft Office Web App to Launch Monday?

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Picture 4Was yesterday’s hurried Google Chrome OS (s goog) announcement designed to steal some of Microsoft’s (s msft) thunder ahead of a big launch on Monday? Robert Scoble certainly thinks so, and although he can’t say what that big news is, Long Zheng speculates that it might be the launch of the Microsoft Office web app. The timing is right: The Office 2010 Technical Preview ships this month to invitation-only testers and close integration of a new web app with the next version of Office is a logical move.

Microsoft originally announced it was working on an Office web app last October, at the 2008 PDC. As I noted in a report for GigaOM Pro (subscription required), moving Office into the web makes a lot of sense. It would give its 500 million worldwide users the full functionality of Office on their desktops, combined with the collaborative and access-anywhere power of the cloud, and would also neatly address the challenge posed by the cloud-based office software of Google and Zoho.

Microsoft’s current online storage facility, Live Workspaces, is underwhelming — it doesn’t have online editing capabilities and can’t compete with Google Docs for collaboration. Many of Office’s users have been longing for a well-designed online version of the suite. Perhaps Monday’s announcement will provide it for them.

14 Responses to “Microsoft Office Web App to Launch Monday?”

  1. I wonder what kind of collaborative environment Office web apps will be compatible with. As in, not just the document collaboration itself, but thinks like the ability to store and organize documents for groups, add permissions to documents themselves or folders, plus integrate document management with other collaboration tools – workspaces, project management, calendars etc.

  2. Roman Geyzer

    Oh…and one more point I forgot to mention…I hope MSFT beats the pants off Google docs so that Google actually throws some resources behind improving the pace of Google Docs’ evolution. Google has squandered enormous first-mover advantage by not evolving that product faster.

  3. Roman Geyzer

    Despite my love and support of all things Google, I have to say I’m more excited about Office in the Cloud than I am about ChromeOS. If MSFT comes close to matching Google’s collaborative features while retaining much of the current Office functionality, they will have a real hit on their hands.

  4. It would be interesting to see how Microsoft fares in Cloud compared to google. Google offers word, excel and ppt free.
    Can MS do the same to attract customers ?

    • Google’s offerings of “word, excel, and ppt” are too simple and lightweight. Google Docs (formerly known as Writely) lacks some serious features and might need a complete revamp when Microsoft unleashes it’s set of Office Web Apps.

      Fortunately, Microsoft has created this advanced online offering using AJAX, and will offer an even nicer version that will require Silverlight. The option to download a plug-in is up to the user. A very nice move, and they seem to be testing it in Firefox and Chrome, so it should work across all browsers. In terms of pricing, hopefully it should be bundled right alongside Office 2010, therefore buying a copy of Office 2010 allows you to use the Office Web Apps, and there are also plans for an advertisement-based version as well.

      More will be known on Monday.