Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Windows Live vs. the Web OS

In a previous post titled The Web OS vs. The Desktop OS, I talked about how Microsoft was moving to evolve desktop applications by extending their functionality into the web, while the web companies (Google et al.) are evolving web application by leveraging client side functionality via technologies like AJAX.

Now Microsoft’s shows their hand in this battle for dominance of what I believe is a “hybrid platform”. It is a hybrid between the desktop and the web. If users want to edit their documents locally and then integrate that with group editing, sharing, etc. via the web, then Microsoft wins. If users want to do everything on the web, with a responsive user interface via AJAX, then the web guys win.

With Ray Ozzie as the CTO (his background being Notes and other collaboration tools), there is no question that collaboration will be increasingly built into everything Microsoft does.

Given the installed base and learning curve invested in the feature-packed Office applications, it will be hard for companies to pry users away from their desktop applications. I believe that email is a different beast because it is inherently network-centric.

Windows provides the tools to extend the functionality of their core system by building gadgets. Again, Microsoft is going for a platform play, trying to get developers to build gadgets that extend their core functionality. The old embrace and extend play directly from the tried-and-true Microsoft playbook.

On the other hand, we are finding more and more value from collaboration, social networking, etc. Do these AJAX-powered network applications provide sufficient value to usurp the network-aware desktop applications? My guess would be that a few applications will shift toward online apps, like email and calendaring, but the rest of the Office suite will continue to dominate with their growing network-aware capabilities.