Hotmail Cofounder Challenges Microsoft Office

November 27th, 2007 - 3:20 am ICT by admin  

The latest challenger to the market dominance of Microsoft Office was unveiled in India last week, and the irony is that Microsoft played a major role in funding the rival effort.

The seed money for the new Live Documents platform launched by Bangalore-based Instacoll came from Hotmail’s cofounder, who received a substantial slice of the $400 million that Microsoft paid in 1997 to acquire the online e-mail site. “I believe that Live Documents does for documents what Hotmail did for e-mail,” said Instacoll chairman and Hotmail pioneer Sabeer Bhatia.

Although Microsoft owns most of the market for productivity applications today, the office productivity market in the Web 2.0 world is still very open, said Gartner Client Computing vice president Michael Silver. “Every innovation is a threat to Microsoft,” he noted.

Attack of the Clones

Live Documents employs rich Internet applications (RIAs), such as Flash and Flex, to emulate the feature sets and functionalities of traditional desktop programs. What’s more, the technology is being made available as an optional desktop client application that plugs in to Office and can connect Word, Excel, and PowerPoint to the Internet for online collaboration.

Silver said he thinks a plug-in method could be very effective in addressing the components lacking in Microsoft Office. “Where Microsoft Office is strong (content creation and formatting) Google Docs is generally weak,” Silver noted. “For organizations that own recent copies of Microsoft Office or have Enterprise Agreements or Software Assurance, having an add-on to Microsoft Office makes sense,” he said.

The new platform challenges Microsoft’s plans for Live Office Workspace, which enables Office documents to be stored and shared online but requires any editing to take place on the desktop.

With Live Documents, any document changes made on the desktop or over an Internet connection are automatically synchronized to ensure that the online…

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