The future of Microsoft Office System 14

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The future of Microsoft Office System 14.

The New Microsoft Office system wave, including the new SharePoint – is coming as Alpha version in a couple of months.

Office System / SharePoint 3.0 (MOSS) were released on November 2006, and if a release cycle is once every 3 years… then we’re really close to see the new version of Office System coming soon.

Enterprise wise, and NOT for the home user, Microsoft is tying up Office client more and more with SharePoint server. Why?
This has to do with the commercial interests of Microsoft Corp – as Microsoft Office is the single largest revenue generator for Microsoft, Microsoft really needs to push the sales and deployment of Office clients in enterprises, and this task, is becoming more and more difficult.

Think about it yourselves – what’s easier – installing one SharePoint server (2 servers, a farm… ) , or upgrading thousands of desktops to a new version of office, including user training, upgrading hardware etc ???

The Strategy Microsoft takes is to first push the “easy to implement” SharePoint server, and then, when organizations are working with the new SharePoint, they are likely to find out they will get more from their SharePoint server if they would have the newer Office client installed as well, and better, if they have the enterprise edition of the Office client installed.

For example – talking about deploying business forms – SharePoint has a “Forms server” feature, it’s very easy to create forms, assign workflow to these forms, and implement business processes. But… these forms have more advanced features when viewed with the Microsoft InfoPath client, a part of the Office System Enterprise edition, and not when accessed through a browser.
And so enterprises are contemplating about deploying office InfoPath client across the enterprise, and this can only be done by upgrading to the full Office System Enterprise edition.

On the other hand, Microsoft is suffering from a tough competition on the internet from companies such as Google and Yahoo!, and this competition is pushing Microsoft into upgrading the independent internet capabilities of SharePoint server – meaning, NOT creating a SharePoint server that is tightly integrated with the Office Client, as the Office client has almost no use on the wide internet…

Putting Microsoft in this hard situation of having to choose between the enterprise market and the commercial internet market, will force Microsoft to make some hard decisions, either to create an enterprise oriented version of SharePoint that is “Office Client” based, or to create a more internet focused edition (web 2.0, this client only etc) of SharePoint server.

The prediction is that Microsoft will release a new version of SharePoint that will try and answer the challenges in both areas, thus creating a “monster” server that has a huge amount of features, capabilities, a server that will try and mitigate the challenges for the new age of competition.

Another option will be to divide the SharePoint server into two editions – Internet focused editions, and enterprise edition. This option is not likely to occur, since already as it is now, the Office System is a relatively large group of products, solutions and software packages.

I don’t believe Microsoft will create segmentation in this field; more likely Microsoft will try and answer all challenges with a single Bundle of Office system, a crucial path that will result in not having the best of bread solution for both areas.

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