Microsoft shares Office Live Workspace (and Prawn2Bwild)

It's Monday's IT Blogwatch: in which Microsoft launches its Google Docs killer: Office Live Workspace, a hosted SharePoint service. Not to mention the Insanity Prawn Boy prequel...

Eric Knorr knows the score:

Microsoft has taken another baby step into on-demand services, with a ... new offering ... Office Live Workspace -- a free, personal, Web-based document storage and collaboration space hosted by Microsoft ... Microsoft described [it] as “among the first” in a series of services that add Web functionality to Microsoft Office, [it] enables users to store documents online and provide password-protected access to others.

Workspace competes with similar solutions from Google, Yahoo, and others, and is designed to be an extension of the desktop Microsoft Office environment ... The rebranding adds a little clarity to Microsoft’s service smorgasbord. Microsoft Office Live -- essentially a Web site hosting service that includes content management, HTML templates, and other tools necessary to get a small Web site going -- has been renamed Office Live Small Business. For companies with 5,000 seats or more, Microsoft is selling subscriptions for hosted versions of Exchange, SharePoint, and Office Communications, all under the under a new “Online” brand.

...

As the latest in a long string of recent services announcements, it’s a sure indication that Microsoft is taking this area seriously. [more]

Harry McCracken likes it, kinda-sorta:

I keep saying it's inevitable that Microsoft will release some sort of online office suite. That day isn't here, but [Sunday], the company announced Office Live Workspace--an "online companion" to Office that sure sounds like a measured response to the threat to the Office hegemony posed by Google Docs and other Web-based productivity tools.

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Microsoft's explanation of the service is pretty sketchy, but it'll be free, will let you store 1000+ documents online and access them from within Office (2007 and earlier versions), will have some sort of editing and collaboration features, and will offer synchronization with Outlook. In other words, it'll be something more than a Web hard drive such as Xdrive, but something short of a standalone Web suite such as those offered by Google and Zoho.

Some aspects of Office Live Workspace seem overdue (shouldn't Office have let anyone easily save documents to the Web, oh, about a decade ago?). Some are potentially intriguing, like the collaborative features. And it remains to be seen whether it'll be a coherent experience in a world where so many Microsoft competitors are making the Net the center of the productivity experience, rather than an adjunct to desktop software.

But considering that no current Web suite gives power users all the tools they'd need to even flirt with dumping Office, Office Live Workspace isn't destined to be a half-hearted response to the online suite trend. Done right, it could make plenty of sense for people who live much of their life online--and who doesn't?--but who have no desire to leave Office behind altogether. [more]

Kip Kniskern keeps knitting:

Oh boy another "Live" name from Microsoft to clear the air.  But this actually makes some sense ... The beta, which is accepting applications now at www.officelive.com will begin soon, and expects to be a free service, although perhaps with some advertising ... All in all some very interesting news from Office Live, which has suddenly thrust itself back in the forefront of the Software + Services space. [more]

Luigi Lugmayr loves life:

Microsoft slowly gets their environment together to compete against the growing Google Office online eco system.

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Microsoft also announced:

  • Microsoft Exchange Labs, a new research and development program for testing next-generation messaging and unified communications capabilities in high-scale environments,
  • the continued customer and partner support for Microsoft Dynamics™ Live CRM,

  • the renaming of the Microsoft Office Live hosted small-business service, a service dedicated to addressing key small-business pain points, including core IT services and sales and marketing services, to Microsoft Office Live Small Business

  • and Microsoft BizTalk Services, a building block service that enables developers to rapidly and cost-effectively build composite applications, to help enable greater cost efficiencies. [more]

Dennis Howlett doesn't see the point:

I’m wondering why they’ve bothered ... I can’t see the point of this halfway house solution. On the one hand it will introduce a new generation of people to the possibilities of collaboration. On the other hand, it is using SharePoint as the positioning vehicle for its business offering that competes with Google Apps for Enterprise (GAPE.) To make matters more confusing, Groove - the collaboration tool built by Bill Gates’ heir apparent Ray Ozzie is now positioned as an offline Workspace access mechanism.

If ever there was a company capable of confusing the market, Microsoft is that company. Rather than simplifying the whole story as it should have done, it has instead rendered a whole layer of complexity. Crackers. [more]

Rafe Needleman compares and contrasts:

Microsoft and Adobe are announcing, at exactly the same time, competing services for sharing documents from your computer. Adobe's Share converts all shared documents to Flash, so you can embed them in any Web page. It's like Scribd but designed more to share files with workgroups than the world at large. In its current beta form it supports PDF and image files only. Adobe plans to open up the Share API so the service can be used as a virtual storage drive.

Share is a natural counterpart to Adobe's new BuzzWord word processor ... which it just acquired from Virtual Ubiquity. I look forward to seeing the services integrated.

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[Microsoft's] special sauce will be integration into the existing Office apps like Word and Excel. The system will let you save documents directly from the apps into Office Live Workspace, and from there share them with others, or yourself (if you want access to your docs from any PC that has Office on it). It's about time. [more]

Om Malik has lost count:

 Everyone wants a piece of Microsoft’s (MSFT) Office suite. Google (GOOG), Sun Microsystems (JAVA), IBM (IBM), dozens of start-ups and now, Adobe Systems (ADBE). The company today bought Virtual Ubiquity, a Waltham, Mass.-based start-up behind Buzzword, an online word processing software offering. I guess this is one way to respond to Microsoft Silverlight that takes aim right at the heart of Adobe.

Buzzword is the right moniker: the product is getting a lot of buzz because it has all the right words in its “game plan.” Never mind, there isn’t many people who have actually used this product? How this start-up fits into Adobe’s game plan, or how it adds to their bottom line, isn’t quite clear.

That’s not important! What’s important is to play the “give an Office wannabe away for free” game. Everyone, of course is slugging it out with, everyone of course. No one really wants to talk about how many people are actually using these online offerings. [more]

Buffer overflow:

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And finally... Today's ridiculous time sink or  perhaps you'd like to learn new ways to tie your sneakers?

Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/adviser/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You too can pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use boring old email: blogwatch@richi.co.uk.

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