Saturday, November 18, 2006

Microsoft: Descktop Vista and Office 2007 versus Online Windows Live and Office Live

Read the full article: "New Brain Trust Plans Microsoft's Future: Emphasis Is Shifting From Desktop to Web," by Alan Sipress, The Washington Post, November 18, 2006.

Microsoft plans to release Vista, its new PC operating system, and Office 2007, an updated PC business-productivity suite to businesses on Nov. 30 and to consumers in January. It also plans to release Office Live, an Internet service for small businesses that offers Web sites, domain names, company e-mail accounts and shared online workspaces. Office Live is distinct from Microsoft Office, the desktop suite that includes the programs Word and Excel. It symbolizes the company's new emphasis on online services. "The centerpiece of Windows Live is a search engine that Microsoft considers crucial because search is the primary method for navigating the Web." Microsoft's research and development spending for online services has more than doubled to $1.1 billion a year, according to longtime Microsoft executive, Steve Ballmer. "Capital spending in this area is up fourfold, to $500 million annually." Microsoft has been hiring innovative executives from other firms firms including: Ray Ozzie who lead development of Lotus Notes and then founded Groove Networks Inc., Gary Flake from, Steve Berkowitz from, Debra Chrapaty from the E-Trade Group Inc. Windows and Office currently account for 62 percent of the total company revenue, an estimated $6.7 billion in the past quarter. The move towards online services has been complicated by the vast effort needed to develop the new desktop products. Vista alone is reported to contain about 50 million lines of computer code. "But there is no consensus inside Microsoft over whether Internet services have ousted packaged software as the company's top priority -- or even whether they should."

Comment: Given Microsoft's historic role in the software industry, its view of the desktop versus online issue may influence the course of ICT development worldwide. JAD

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