Microsoft sacrifices Office to save Windows

While not many details are available yet regarding Office online, I'd bet my next paycheck on one thing. It will use Silverlight.

Microsoft recently announced that its next Office suite will have a free online counterpart. It also just released Silverlight 3.0, which competes directly with Adobe Flash. While each of these products is competitive in its own right, they're collectively part of a strategy by Microsoft to protect the future of Windows.

Silverlight 3.0 competes strongly with Adobe Flash for rich media content on the web. Microsoft is pushing it aggressively, and has already converted sites such as, which uses it for its "Watch Instantly" streaming TV and Movie service.

One notable difference between Flash and Silverlight is that Silverlight is only supported on Windows and OS X. It you want rich media content on sites that eschew Flash for Silverlight, you'd better not be on Linux.

While not many details are available yet regarding Office online, I'd bet my next paycheck on one thing. It will use Silverlight. That's right, by keeping you hooked on Office, even a free version of it, Microsoft is discouraging people from using Linux based operating systems like Android, Chrome and Ubuntu.

Office has been an enormous cash cow for Microsoft, so it's a big deal that it's going to give away an online version for free. While it makes sense as a strategy to keep people using Office rather than other free tools such as Google Docs or, it's more important for Microsoft to keep people off Linux.

Apple's OS X doesn't pose as serious of a threat to Windows as Linux does. Apple and Microsoft can happily exist as long as Apple is content to skim the cream off the top and let Microsoft have the rest. Heck, Microsoft NEEDS Apple to not appear like a monopoly. Steve Ballmer and Steve Jobs probably play golf together and laugh at how people think they're competitors.

While Linux might currently have a smaller piece of the OS pie than Apple, its growth potential is enormously greater. This is especially true when a powerhouse like Google uses it for products like the Android and Chrome operating systems. While the growth of OS X is limited by the pricy hardware it's bundled with, Linux has no such constraints.

Google has become a serious sparring partner for Microsoft. While they might be playing it cool, the Redmond giant is nervous, and their newest moves show it.

Michael Scalisi is an IT manager based in Alameda, California.

Tags silverlightMicrosoftmicrosoft office

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Michael Scalisi

PC World (US online)

1 Comment



You're right

I have moved away gradually from Windows to Ubuntu over the last three years so that I don't even use Windows at all, unless it is absolutely critical for my survival, which is extremely rare. If I happen to come across a website that doesn't play nicely with Firefox on Linux then I find somewhere else. If I happened to do x,y,z on Windows, I then find out how to do x,y,z on Linux, and in the end it almost always works out easier, simpler, cheaper, and more efficient than achieving it on Windows. Using Ubuntu has made my time on the PC simple, hassle-free and enjoyable. This is the biggest secret. Microsoft knows if people caught on to this they would be in trouble. I am glad, by accident by-the-way, that I have discovered this 'secret' and I know with certainty that over 80% of the general public would be better off on their computers without Windows. I know I have been there, and I am no computer freak. Since computers are a big part of our lives now, I want to share something that will make peoples lives easier. Trying Linux for a couple of hours, a day, or even a few months may not convince people, I think for most people it requires a gradual transition, and only then people will fully appreciate that Windows is inferior. It is no secret that Microsoft does continue to lock OEM's, retailers and consumers into their products but I hope people will open their eyes. Articles like this helps in this process. As with the chicken and the egg, the more people use Linux the faster Linux will improve. As for Apple, if it weren't for iTunes/iPod/iPhone and iMovie, Apple will be in trouble as well. And compared to OSX, I find Ubuntu much more stable and robust, and features that OSX doesn't have. Linux is far from perfect for everyone but even at this time it is superior for most. As I said, the more people who use Linux the faster these bases will be covered. So I hope that OEM's and retailers will get on board.

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