Microsoft boldly step backwards into cloud computing
Remember when Microsoft used to be at the cutting edge of computing? Now it feels like they're thrashing about with a butter knife. Today's news just seems to reinforce the fact that the Gates empire is a former shadow of itself; it still may dominate home computing, but where is the innovation coming from?
Microsoft has announced that its suite of office programmes - Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc - will be made available to use online from next year. Yes, Microsoft finally woken up to cloud computing - the development of internet based computing - and realised that a 10 year business plan based on physical sales of software is hardly watertight. Soon a business buying 100 PCs will be able to access applications over the office broadband; if Microsoft aren't part of that revolution, they're as good as dead.
Stephen Elop, head of Microsoft's business division told Reuters:
"We expect fully that the full range of Office utilities, from the most advanced to simpler lightweight versions, will be available with a range of options: ad-funded, subscriptions-based, traditional licensing fees, and so forth."
In fact, Microsoft are very late to the party. The Google Apps suite has been available to users for nearly two years, and through acquisitions, Google has been involved in web-based applications for nearly three. Zoho offers a far more extensive portfolio of web-based programmes than Microsoft, while Sliderocket has developed a loyal userbase for its PowerPointesque ability to create 2.0 presentations.
Regardless, awareness of Microsoft's brand will no doubt ensure the transition to the cloud is a success, while there'll be plenty of people who continue to buy the software, because of tradition, an old charter or something. They'll still behind the game though, and releasing crappy operating systems isn't going to help them catch up.