With the news this morning of the Microsoft pulling back from the Yahoo deal, I'm thinking a bit more about where we're headed in terms of desktop vs. "cloud" computing. While pulling back from Yahoo may have been the right move, Microsoft is in trouble.
They are built on being everyone desktop system first. Second, they are built on being every business' server system. Here's the problem...the desktop O/S is becoming less relevant AND the internal server system is becoming less relevant. Moreover, software is going through a colossal shift from value being based on the number of features that could be rammed into the package to streamlining it to the simplest way to get a job done. (What a novel idea...just doing our work rather than becoming a software guru). Microsoft is known for power, not simplicity.
With the advent of Software As A Service and cloud based computing, organizations have the ability to choose the services they need without worrying about how many MCSE's they have on staff. The problem for entrenched, traditionally desktop software vendors is that they are less agile to take advantage of SAAS opportunities. Moreover, their brand is so vast that any SAAS offerings they might try to bring to market gets lost in noise of all their other brands, e.g. I know that Microsoft has a SAAS offering that I think might be Office(?) through the web but I'm not quite sure if that's what it really is. It's all too confusing to me and how will it compare to the MS Office I have on my desktop.
Google Apps or Zoho, however, does not have the same comparison. I don't expect Google Docs to have all the features of MS Office. As a matter of fact, I'm kinda glad it doesn't. For me, it's all about collaboration. I can focus on content, not formatting, and I can include my colleagues in the editing without worrying who has what version. Wow!
Most recently, we built our 3-year strategic plan through a collaborative "Book" using Drupal. It had revision control, commenting/annotation, etc. and was accessible anytime we needed to look at it. We're doing all of our proposals moving forward with a similar kind of tool. This beats the pants off of sending MS Word docs back and forth.