Microsoft's Ozzie: Online apps mean trade-off

Microsoft's chief software architect, argues that Google's Office rival is the wrong way to go

Although Google's success in making billions from Web advertising was a "wake-up call" inside Microsoft, Ray Ozzie, the company's chief software architect, said on Tuesday that Google's approach to delivering productivity software is the wrong way to go.

Speaking to analysts at a Goldman Sachs investor conference that was Webcast, Ozzie said that Google's Docs & Spreadsheets, like other online rivals to Microsoft's Office suite, is a "trade-off."

"Ever since the [dotcom] era, technologists have been trying to see how much of the Office experience we could take up into a browser and make usable in some form," Ozzie said. "Yes, there's Google Docs & Spreadsheets, there's ThinkFree, Zoho -- there are a variety of different instances of people taking the tools and kind of replicating them up into a Web environment."

Last week, Google rolled out Google Apps Premier Edition, a US$50-per-seat-per-year package that includes Docs & Spreadsheets, 10GB of mail storage and access to development APIs.

"In the pure Web model, the trade-offs are fairly substantial. You have to be online to use them," Ozzie said. That's not the model he sees Microsoft using.

"The way that I view the services opportunity related to productivity is really about more than just taking what's on the PC and putting it up on the Web," said Ozzie. "I think there are high-level scenarios that if you consider you've got software on PCs, services in the cloud and devices, mobile devices, as the power that you can work with, and you try to envision the value of productivity, and what you're trying to offer, you end up with a different result."

Google's online application, and others in the market, have been dinged for requiring an active connection to the Internet, making it impossible to work offline.

But the always-on requirement may change for Google.

Mozilla, which has partnered with Google in the past -- Firefox, for example, offers up Google as its default search engine -- will include support for offline applications running within the browser, according to planning documents posted on the Mozilla site.

The developers of Firefox 3.0 have pegged offline app support as "P1" in the current feature spreadsheet which is, not ironically, posted on Google Docs & Spreadsheets. By Mozilla's definition, P1 means that the feature is "required as a minimum for this release to be complete...the product will not ship without these." Firefox 3.0, now dubbed "Gran Paradiso" and in alpha testing, is to launch later this year.

Although Mozilla declined to discuss details of Firefox 3.0's offline application support, in an earlier interview Tuesday in London, Mike Schroepfer, Mozilla's vice president for engineering, confirmed that offline use had been targeted in the release.

"The opportunity writ large for the industry and for Microsoft is not just to try to copy or duplicate the PC experience but to envision new sharing scenarios," said Ozzie. "I don't know that it serves our customers to jump out there and be reactionary and just try to slap some stuff out there on the Web."

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?