Tomorrow in New York,Microsoft is releasing its latest edition ofOffice 2010 Web Apps which, in my mind, will mark Microsoft’s full acceptance of theSaaS software delivery model. Furthermore, Microsoft’s development of web applications for the cash cow that is MS Office, officially shifts the standard from legacy software to SaaS.
In an interview withUSA Today, Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce.com said, “We’re entering an entirely new paradigm.” This new paradigm is one where businesses and consumers alike are no longer bound to physical locations or forced to use complex technology to manage networks and files but freed to move about freely in the clouds. About this paradigm shift, ECM chief executiveJoe Tucci said, “We’re now going through what I believe is pretty much going to be the biggest wave in the history of information technology.’’
This technology shift, started by Salesforce (who commercialized SaaS), Google (who brought SaaS to the consumer), and Facebook (who made SaaS a way of life), among others, has been christened by the full fledged acceptance by Microsoft. Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer said, “This is the bet for the company, [and] for the cloud, we’re all in.”
Though Microsoft has fallen behind in the SaaS and cloud market over the years, it will be interesting to see how their entrance into web applications will affect other products; will Office web apps mark the beginning of the end to the rise of Google Docs? Or will it go down as another Zune: a failed attempt to catch up to its competitor? Will businesses rapidly upgrade their Office Suite to 2010? Or will take this time to look at other alternatives? Though the answers to these questions remain to be seen, I personally believe that there is much excess capacity in this growth market and that a large number of companies will get their piece of the pie; however, the SaaS providers are not the true winner in this movement. The true winner is the consumer, the IT manager, small business owner, and the typical employee at a large company.