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warholI know Robert Scoble thinks Office is still not dead, but his excitement about the Office 2010 tech preview should be taken with a large grain of salt. Of course, it was fun to be treated to an old-media style press barnstorm of the flogosphere, and the bells and whistles — poof, don’t need Photoshop, nor iMovie neither, and how about those browser features, cool — certainly will play well in the enterprise. But you need a passport, pardon the expression, to determine what web features are allowed from app to app. Sorry, Web User, you are in a Word document and do not have permission to collaborate in the browser. What a pile of “Our customers don’t want that feature” that is.

If that was the only thing separating Office 2010 from the brass ring currently reserved for Windows 7, Microsoft could call it a good day’s work and relax. O2010 certainly does provide some pressure points for Google Apps to ponder, but the one thing that would really sting Google’s hide is apparently nowhere to be seen. Silverlight Office is still MIA, and that’s no surprise. After all, we’re not supposed to realize SIlverlight is already the new Office. Once micromessaging apps appear in Silverlight, we’ll wake up like we are about realtime.

With Silverlight 3.0 released, 6 million .Net developers can now port their code to Silverlight and embed their apps on the desktop. That’s the WIndows/Mac desktop. As Servers and Tools chief Bob Muglia told me a few weeks ago (video coming soon), Novell’s Moonlight Linux project is closing the delta between Silverlight releases. But look at the dynamics of the Twitter client market, where Adobe AIR apps broke out of the pack early (Twhirl, TweetDeck), and you’ll see why Silverlight 3 will capture a healthy segment of the Office clone market.

Just as Seesmic Desktop’s new web client consolidates rich features with server side personalization, so too does O2010 start down the same road with Office. But not on the Mac, where ironically (no, its not ironic) all the media lives. So as much as I admire the tough love Microsoft is showing for Office-is-dead, they are priming the pump for collab-Office functionality that works cross-platform with richness. As much as Google wants to sell us HTML 5, they are stuck figuring out how to pay for H.264 while HTML 5 goes begging for a patent trapless video codec.

Meanwhile, video is going berserk on the network, thanks to the iPhone 3GS and live streaming video. YouTube is perfectly positioned as a repository, with H.264 working seamlessly on the iPhone and in Silverlight 3. It’s the real standard, but not in HTML 5. In effect, Silverlight is the analog container to iPhone 3 OS. On the phone, H.264. On the desktop, H.264. In Google land, it’s still Flash on the desktop. A minor speed bump, but a bump none the less.

What will Silverlight Office have? Well, for one, it will have O2010, the web apps. Embedded in the Silverlight container. Think that enterprisey .Net developers aren’t going to write bridging code to add realtime collaboration features to extend the quarantined O2010 desktop functions back in? Who’s gonna stop them? Microsoft trying to slow down third party apps will make Twitter rate-limiting look warm and cuddly. What happens when Zoho or even the Google Apps enterprise teams start writing connectors to the quarantined features of the 0210 web inmates.

ANd then the hole so big we’ll all be driving trucks through: the micro-messaging apps that will suck the lifeblood out of email and IM just like they’re doing to RSS. When the pubsubhubub boys get through with their march across Google Reader, Feedburner, SUP, WordPress, TypePad, and every other ping server still creaking along, it won’t make much sense to have yet another version of content stripped of business model, comments, and analytics. At that point, Silverlight Office will officially be uncrated, upsold like iPhone 3.0 game updates, and autoupdated to all who want to live in the future today.

Steve Ballmer had it right when he said developers, developers, developers. That’s why Bob Muglia owns Silverlight as part of his Servers and Tools charter, and that’s why he answered the SIlverlight Office questions this way:

What I think you’ll see over time is major parts of Microsoft applications beginning to incorporate Silverlight into their experience. If you look at, for example, the Web companions that Office is doing, they do use Silverlight in a variety of instances. So, we’re seeing that being used there. We’ll begin to see Bing and MSN and our online properties begin to adopt Silverlight inside the set of things that they do. We already see some of that in a limited form in Windows Live.

In other words, yes. Silverlight Office just went into Tech Preview. And just as Google Wave was released early to get it into the hands of developers, so too is O2010 getting Silverlight Office into the hands of .Net developers. Developers who can make money right now extending O2010 Web edition with Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, and other social streams. Makes you wonder why Hailstorm architect Mark Lucovsky left Google to join VMWare and former Softie Paul Mauritz. Maybe he doesn’t feel like waiting around for HTML5. Or Office 2020 either.

  • Andy

    Don’t underestimate how hard it is to develop a drag/drop designer type experience within Silverlight, and the rendering of documents. Initially video and data driven apps will be the norm, so sure desktop clients for the likes of Twitter. But creating a full Word/Powerpoint type editor within Silverlight – are you seriously seeing that coming in the near term? It’s more document upload/download/preview controls in Silverlight that I see being added to Office online. That’s what Microsoft people have spoken about – using Silverlight for very specific modules, bits of these new apps.

    I’m slightly confused by your coined “Silverlight Office” term. Doesn’t really make the story clearer.

    • http://www.farseergames.com Jeff Weber

      My guess is “Silverlight” office is/will be built on Silverlight 4 and we’ll start seeing previews in that time-frame.

      I believe Scott Gunthrie said somewhere that Silverlight 4 is going to be a larger update than Silverilght 3 is/was.

      Silverlight 3 doesn’t even have print support yet so I can’t see Office being build on top of it.

      My guess is they are going to add all features they need to Silvelight 4 to allow them to build “Silverlight” office.

      Sounds good to me!

      -Jeff Weber

  • Andy

    Don’t underestimate how hard it is to develop a drag/drop designer type experience within Silverlight, and the rendering of documents. Initially video and data driven apps will be the norm, so sure desktop clients for the likes of Twitter. But creating a full Word/Powerpoint type editor within Silverlight – are you seriously seeing that coming in the near term? It’s more document upload/download/preview controls in Silverlight that I see being added to Office online. That’s what Microsoft people have spoken about – using Silverlight for very specific modules, bits of these new apps.

    I’m slightly confused by your coined “Silverlight Office” term. Doesn’t really make the story clearer.

    • http://www.farseergames.com Jeff Weber

      My guess is “Silverlight” office is/will be built on Silverlight 4 and we’ll start seeing previews in that time-frame.

      I believe Scott Gunthrie said somewhere that Silverlight 4 is going to be a larger update than Silverilght 3 is/was.

      Silverlight 3 doesn’t even have print support yet so I can’t see Office being build on top of it.

      My guess is they are going to add all features they need to Silvelight 4 to allow them to build “Silverlight” office.

      Sounds good to me!

      -Jeff Weber

  • http://twitter.com/jtio jtio

    Don’t you guys think this Silverlight strategy won’t actually play out until WinMo 7 is released? That is my thought. I was wondering why O2010 wasn’t releasing soon and I think WinMo 7 has a lot to do with it.

  • http://twitter.com/jtio jtio

    Don’t you guys think this Silverlight strategy won’t actually play out until WinMo 7 is released? That is my thought. I was wondering why O2010 wasn’t releasing soon and I think WinMo 7 has a lot to do with it.

  • vitor

    I agree. If I were to built any serious online App like an online Office, I’d go w/ SilverLight, Flash or JavaFX (if Oracle really stands behind it). I would not touch HTML5 no matter how much lip service they dish out. Heck, there should not be a lot difference between online and desktop Apps to begin w/. To me the only difference is where they get the data, one from internet the other local.

  • vitor

    I agree. If I were to built any serious online App like an online Office, I’d go w/ SilverLight, Flash or JavaFX (if Oracle really stands behind it). I would not touch HTML5 no matter how much lip service they dish out. Heck, there should not be a lot difference between online and desktop Apps to begin w/. To me the only difference is where they get the data, one from internet the other local.

  • http://www.farseergames.com Jeff Weber

    My gut tells me Win Mobile 7 will also be the first platform with Silverlight support. Probably Silverlight 4.
    Possibly all three will be released around the same time? (Silverlight 4, “Silverlight” Office, and Win Mobile 7)

    Pure speculation of course.

    I just know they mentioned they would maintain both an Ajax version and a Silverlight version. I think that was talked about at Mix 09??

  • http://www.farseergames.com Jeff Weber

    My gut tells me Win Mobile 7 will also be the first platform with Silverlight support. Probably Silverlight 4.
    Possibly all three will be released around the same time? (Silverlight 4, “Silverlight” Office, and Win Mobile 7)

    Pure speculation of course.

    I just know they mentioned they would maintain both an Ajax version and a Silverlight version. I think that was talked about at Mix 09??

  • http://www.petercowan.com peter cowan

    “Meanwhile, video is going berserk on the network, thanks to the iPhone 3GS and live streaming video. YouTube is perfectly positioned as a repository, with H.264 working seamlessly on the iPhone and in Silverlight 3. It’s the real standard, but not in HTML 5. In effect, Silverlight is the analog container to iPhone 3 OS. On the phone, H.264. On the desktop, H.264. In Google land, it’s still Flash on the desktop. A minor speed bump, but a bump none the less.”

    Flash and AIR support H.264, so what’s the speed bump? what am i missing?

    • Steve Gillmor

      Google’s dev strategy is HTML 5, not Flash/AIR. They’ve been finessing this for months, with video chat using Flash, with video demos at I/O that are not HTML 5 ready, and so on. Silverlight has no such alignment issues.

  • http://www.petercowan.com peter cowan

    “Meanwhile, video is going berserk on the network, thanks to the iPhone 3GS and live streaming video. YouTube is perfectly positioned as a repository, with H.264 working seamlessly on the iPhone and in Silverlight 3. It’s the real standard, but not in HTML 5. In effect, Silverlight is the analog container to iPhone 3 OS. On the phone, H.264. On the desktop, H.264. In Google land, it’s still Flash on the desktop. A minor speed bump, but a bump none the less.”

    Flash and AIR support H.264, so what’s the speed bump? what am i missing?

    • Steve Gillmor

      Google’s dev strategy is HTML 5, not Flash/AIR. They’ve been finessing this for months, with video chat using Flash, with video demos at I/O that are not HTML 5 ready, and so on. Silverlight has no such alignment issues.

  • David

    Steve, one blind spot in your argument is that (unfortunately) there is no Api around these closed web apps. Until a true SL office comes along then the web versions are effectively closed for improvements in collaboration etc.

    Example: Exchange Outlook Web Acess is one of the most complex and well used Ajax web apps ever built. Number of 3rd party improvements built on it = zero.

    Forget things like greasemonkey too, you can’t run even a small business praying that a vendors magic numbers inside their Htm/scriptl won’t change.

    • Steve Gillmor

      Ajax is a workaround, but it has spawned Google’s strategy. The so-called Office 2.0 apps will be increasingly cross-engaged with the O2010 Web stuff. Google connectors to Exchange/Outlook and Notes are the first of many examples. The former uses MAPI, by the way.

      • David

        >The so-called Office 2.0 apps will be increasingly cross-engaged with the O2010 Web stuff

        But how? The underlying data backend is Sharepoint for O2010 web, which is the best hook to get at it. But that’s just raw data (in proprietary web API too, i.e. no RSS/ATOM here). We all know Office is 51% about the features on the data.

        In terms of actual features, i.e. changing behavior or hooking into how the O2010 web apps work there is *very* slim pickings when compare to the desktop offerings.

        The Google connectors are an example of adding an interface add-in around the ‘traditional’ Office API, i.e. the desktop (it uses a combination of COM(!) and MAPI in Outlook FWIW). (There is an irony here in that Gmail is pretty much unextensible, while Outlook/Exchange are literally dripping with API’s for ISVs – i.e. Google is pretty much a ‘closed app’)

        Those things were possible because Office is/was a desktop app. My point for your point above is that this really reenforces that O2010 Web has no extensibility story other than getting to the data – and that’s only be if you can get past the ‘Sharepoint Gatekeepers’ to enable access.

        I think O2010 web is a missed opportunity for Microsoft. Very dissapointed with Ray Ozzie in terms of coordination of tech platforms/strategy. I’m a CTO of a public company (hence anon here) but if I’d let this amount of ‘tomorrow’s legacy code’ go ahead, knowing that it’s on the wrong platform, then I’d be fired.

        How can you have a credible SL 3 story when you can’t even get your own internal teams to use it? i.e. my first reaction is that the productivitity ROI must be bullsh*it…

      • Steve Gillmor

        Internal buyin is a political story, nothing else. Microsoft doesn’t want to do SIlverlight Office, right up until they need to. O210 Web is not a missed opportunity; it never was going to be. But Silverlight will be the rallying point for partners to sell the cross-platform Web OS, and MS will counteract Google, Salesforce, and Oracle with more robust enterprise features to the point where the developer buyin favors Silverlight first and WPF as a hole filler.

  • David

    Steve, one blind spot in your argument is that (unfortunately) there is no Api around these closed web apps. Until a true SL office comes along then the web versions are effectively closed for improvements in collaboration etc.

    Example: Exchange Outlook Web Acess is one of the most complex and well used Ajax web apps ever built. Number of 3rd party improvements built on it = zero.

    Forget things like greasemonkey too, you can’t run even a small business praying that a vendors magic numbers inside their Htm/scriptl won’t change.

    • Steve Gillmor

      Ajax is a workaround, but it has spawned Google’s strategy. The so-called Office 2.0 apps will be increasingly cross-engaged with the O2010 Web stuff. Google connectors to Exchange/Outlook and Notes are the first of many examples. The former uses MAPI, by the way.

      • David

        >The so-called Office 2.0 apps will be increasingly cross-engaged with the O2010 Web stuff

        But how? The underlying data backend is Sharepoint for O2010 web, which is the best hook to get at it. But that’s just raw data (in proprietary web API too, i.e. no RSS/ATOM here). We all know Office is 51% about the features on the data.

        In terms of actual features, i.e. changing behavior or hooking into how the O2010 web apps work there is *very* slim pickings when compare to the desktop offerings.

        The Google connectors are an example of adding an interface add-in around the ‘traditional’ Office API, i.e. the desktop (it uses a combination of COM(!) and MAPI in Outlook FWIW). (There is an irony here in that Gmail is pretty much unextensible, while Outlook/Exchange are literally dripping with API’s for ISVs – i.e. Google is pretty much a ‘closed app’)

        Those things were possible because Office is/was a desktop app. My point for your point above is that this really reenforces that O2010 Web has no extensibility story other than getting to the data – and that’s only be if you can get past the ‘Sharepoint Gatekeepers’ to enable access.

        I think O2010 web is a missed opportunity for Microsoft. Very dissapointed with Ray Ozzie in terms of coordination of tech platforms/strategy. I’m a CTO of a public company (hence anon here) but if I’d let this amount of ‘tomorrow’s legacy code’ go ahead, knowing that it’s on the wrong platform, then I’d be fired.

        How can you have a credible SL 3 story when you can’t even get your own internal teams to use it? i.e. my first reaction is that the productivitity ROI must be bullsh*it…

      • Steve Gillmor

        Internal buyin is a political story, nothing else. Microsoft doesn’t want to do SIlverlight Office, right up until they need to. O210 Web is not a missed opportunity; it never was going to be. But Silverlight will be the rallying point for partners to sell the cross-platform Web OS, and MS will counteract Google, Salesforce, and Oracle with more robust enterprise features to the point where the developer buyin favors Silverlight first and WPF as a hole filler.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeff_Weber/1081141368 Jeff Weber

    Another interesting piece of the puzzle for Office is Mesh. How will they utilize it?

    Using Mesh for communication/sync, I could see O2010 starting to look a little bit like Google Wave.

    Not to mention the things 3rd party devs will tack on.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeff_Weber/1081141368 Jeff Weber

    Another interesting piece of the puzzle for Office is Mesh. How will they utilize it?

    Using Mesh for communication/sync, I could see O2010 starting to look a little bit like Google Wave.

    Not to mention the things 3rd party devs will tack on.

  • http://www.twitter.com/cabhijit Abhijit C

    I think the article is SPOT ON… and I believe if Microsoft continues its good work (which it seldomly does) like with timely release of Bing, opening about Mono licensing, web release of Office, Silverlight 3; it will give a good run for money (read users for google) for competitors.

  • http://www.twitter.com/cabhijit Abhijit C

    I think the article is SPOT ON… and I believe if Microsoft continues its good work (which it seldomly does) like with timely release of Bing, opening about Mono licensing, web release of Office, Silverlight 3; it will give a good run for money (read users for google) for competitors.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people//1218568 fb1218568

    From where I’m sitting, over in the advertising world, Silverlight’s first advance will be through creative agencies leveraging the really impressive array of preloaded controls they have lined up (granted, I’m no flash expert who can really compare). http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight/overview/top-features/default.aspx

    I also grabbed an interesting tidbit from another article about office apps hinting at MSFT’s domination of the category:

    “Microsoft says Office Web Applications will be free to some 400 million Windows Live consumers, 90 million corporate Office customers with Software Assurance consumers and 510 million existing Office users via online hosting.” via http://www.networkworld.com/news/2009/071409-microsoft-office.html?page=2

  • http://www.facebook.com/people//1218568 fb1218568

    From where I’m sitting, over in the advertising world, Silverlight’s first advance will be through creative agencies leveraging the really impressive array of preloaded controls they have lined up (granted, I’m no flash expert who can really compare). http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight/overview/top-features/default.aspx

    I also grabbed an interesting tidbit from another article about office apps hinting at MSFT’s domination of the category:

    “Microsoft says Office Web Applications will be free to some 400 million Windows Live consumers, 90 million corporate Office customers with Software Assurance consumers and 510 million existing Office users via online hosting.” via http://www.networkworld.com/news/2009/071409-microsoft-office.html?page=2

  • http://sanjadjuretic.wordpress.com/2009/07/22/a-look-at-office-2010/ A look at Office 2010 « Sanja Djuretic’s Blog

    […] Rumors about Microsoft Office Web Applications O2010 Following quotes are from: http://www.networkworld.com/news/2009/071409-microsoft-office.html?page=1 http://www.techcrunchit.com/2009/07/14/silverlight-office/ […]

  • http://sanjadjuretic.wordpress.com/2009/07/22/a-look-at-office-2010/ A look at Office 2010 « Sanja Djuretic’s Blog

    […] Rumors about Microsoft Office Web Applications O2010 Following quotes are from: http://www.networkworld.com/news/2009/071409-microsoft-office.html?page=1 http://www.techcrunchit.com/2009/07/14/silverlight-office/ […]

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