Though the powers that be at Microsoft Corp. seem to have finally
grasped the impact of the Internet on the future of packaged software,
industry observers and a key rival said the company still must prove
that its plan to compete in the Web 2.0 marketplace is more than just
Web 2.0 is a name given to the Web’s transition from a collection of
static Web sites to a computing platform providing Internet-based
applications, or services, to end users. Richard MacManus, a freelance
Web analyst and writer, acknowledged that Microsoft may always lag
behind in its move to embrace this new era of the Internet. But now,
with its Live Software plan and executive memos that herald the
adoption of new services model to combat Google Inc., the company at
least is talking the talk when it comes to the new wave of
Internet-based services, he said.
Still, Microsoft has a long way to go to make its services strategy
successful, he said. “I think they are making the right noises about
Web 2.0 technologies, but there’s a difference between what they
announced and what they’ve actually developed,” said MacManus, who
writes the popular Read/Write Web log, in an e-mail Thursday.
He used a new service announced at Microsoft’s Live Software launch
last week as an example. Live Software is Microsoft’s plan to offer a
set of Web-based services, built on Microsoft software, that users can
access no matter what Internet-enabled device they use. One of the
first services is Office Live, which Microsoft said will integrate
collaborative services such as document sharing with CRM (customer
relationship management) and business analytics for consumers and small
businesses. But the service “is simply vaporware at the moment,”
Though Microsoft plans to release Office Live in beta in early 2006, a
company memo by Microsoft Chief Technical Officer Ray Ozzie, made
public in various news outlets Tuesday, implies Microsoft still does
not know what final shape Office Live will take, MacManus said. “Ray
Ozzie’s memo indicates that Microsoft is still internally questioning
the approach for Office Live,” he said.
The way Microsoft made public Ozzie’s memo outlining the company’s
comprehensive software-to-services shift also shows that Microsoft is
behind the times on Web 2.0, said software guru and blogger Dave Winer.
Winer, who writes the Scripting News blog, hinted that the way
Microsoft provided Ozzie’s memo to the print media first rather than to
bloggers shows it still may not fully understand the impact of the Web.
He chided Microsoft in a blog entry Wednesday for tipping off The Wall
Street Journal and The New York Times first about the memo rather than
letting more Internet news sources break the story.
“Microsoft is talking about getting in the loop on the Web, and they’re
feeding the story to print people?” Winer wrote. “Surely there was one
person inside Microsoft who felt that it was just a bit too ironic to
try to get the new message out through the old guys.”
Frank Shaw, a spokesman for Microsoft’s public relations firm Waggener
Edstrom Inc., said Wednesday that he did not know who within Microsoft
revealed the memo to the press.
Another pioneer of Web-based services, Salesforce.com Inc. Chairman and
Chief Executive Officer Marc Benioff, blasted what he views as the
elephantine pace at which Microsoft has embraced the next generation of
the Web marketplace. Salesforce.com, which offers a hosted CRM service
and platform, has built its business over the last several years on the
notion that hosted services would eventually replace packaged software.
In a memo viewed by the IDG News Service and sent to Salesforce.com
employees Wednesday, Benioff said Microsoft’s recent realization that
Web-based services will eventually replace a traditional software
business model is too little, too late.
“The era of the traditional software ’load, update and upgrade’
business and technology model is over,” Benioff wrote. “It is time for
’The Business Web.’ … Just as mainframe companies struggled for
relevance in the client-server era, Microsoft finds itself in a worse
position today, facing not just the obsolescence of a technology model,
but a business model as well.”
By Elizabeth Montalbano – IDG News Service (San Francisco Bureau)