Simple answers to concerns about Office for the Web

My former co-worker and friend, Dave, had some common concerns about moving to an Office on the Web. I thought I’d chime in with my thoughts:

> Maybe you don’t want your company/state secrets going across the internet and stored on someone else’s servers?

Some companies in this space are offering access to their applications over the secure https protocol as a premium service. For companies concerned about the security of document storage, the option to host the application behind your corporate firewall is available as well. We don’t offer either of these options yet, but they are certainly on our product roadmap.

> Maybe because hardcore data entry over a web application severely impacts productivity?

The promise of AJAX, OpenLaszlo, and associated technologies is that applications built with these tool will be comparable to their desktop counterparts. It will take a little time to get there, but in the mean time we’re betting we’ll be usable enough given the tremendous advantage web deployed applications offer.

> Maybe you dont’ want version changes of your tools happening on the vendor’s schedule, instead preferring to upgrade when YOU want to?

The advantage of web based applications is that you don’t have to upgrade, since the vendor will handle that for you. This is particularly advantageous for small companies that have limited or non existent IT staff. For large companies, it will reduce the complexity involved in rolling out upgrades to huge numbers of desktops. ( SocialText has some big name customers who get this) Customers who want more control will have the option to deploy the application server in their own environment, and make upgrades on a single server as they are ready.

> Maybe you want to be able to work when not connected to a network, or when network connectivity is unavailable?

The solution to this issue is an offline client. While a local install will be required to support an offline client, it is technically straight forward. But I have to say, with wireless hotspots just about everywhere, and wireless starting to be deployed on airlines, I think being offline will become less and less of an issue.

I think all of Dave’s comments are very valid, and it’s a good thing there are some excellent answers about his concerns. We think that our application will surprise folks when they see how similar it is to its desktop counterpart. And we’ll cost less money, offer superior collaboration, and be much easier to deploy.

One thought on “Simple answers to concerns about Office for the Web

  1. As for the last point – offline client – I dunno about that. The whole point behind these apps IS to ‘net work’ so, personally, I don’t see much value in an offline app as those already exist.

    The bigger issue will be ‘where can I get a network connection?’ but not to run the apps, but to *collaborate*.

    I will say tho that some of these apps still have a way to go to be really useful against the Office apps. It’ll happen or people will realize they don’t need the 5mil options Word and Excel give them.

    Ooh, and one more point. I don’t know how many remember the early life Gnumeric, but it was not even considered ‘useful’ until it supported all the functions of Excel. So unless people don’t care about backwards support, there’s gonna be plenty of nay sayers because the apps don’t support feature ‘X’.

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