Archive for the ‘office2.0’ Category

Windows Live toolbar

October 24, 2006

Thanks JC for the link to the Windows Live toolbar. This is the first post I try with this software. It is also the opportunity to have a quick look on this toolbar and see how it fits  in  the “gadgetisation” of the web through our desktops..

The software is made of a toolbar with nice features such as a blog writer, link to RSS feeds, tabbed browsing, a synchronisation tool with server for favourite links (overlap with delicious?), popup blocker (yet another one?), desktop search (overlap with Google desktop) and also the ability to create new menus.

This is similar to other gadget engines in the sense as it provides an interface to web resources. It is still in beta so we’ll have to wait until the end of the program to see what can actually be done with the system (the button gallery is not yet very large)…

Adding new applications/buttons seems to be done as a standard MSI download.. This probably means applications and smart buttons in the toolbar require .NET development. Huh! Compared to other systems based on html/js/css, this could be quite complex to develop a simple menu and this is likely to deter a lot of people from adding their own gadget/menu.. However this toolbar seems a bit more useful than tabs we find in the messenger (which are pure marketing tools and related to a young audience). It then looks like the toolbar could be more targeting a professional audience and/or bloggers.

Google widgets and Office2.0

October 18, 2006

Google has released a new API for integrating its wdgets in any website. !!!!!!

Which impact can we expect from this news?

On the short term, probably not much except in personal home pages as most of these widgets are “cool” but not very useful, at least for commercial websites. It is unlikely we see these widgets soon on corporate portals, except maybe for some of them like map searches, etc..

However the impact will probably be to awake the web to this type of technology which is:

  • a piece of information displayed in component made of html and javascript (easy to write),
  • this type of component can run on the desktop, in a website or on google portal.

Obviously we don’t really want to include google stuff everywhere, but when product developers realise that they can apply the same type of technology for THEIR own components, then we can expect that the next wave, right after AJAX, will be based on a type of architecture where the content can be freed from website pages. Pieces of content will appear simultaneously:

  • in collaborative websites where users can manage them in a central place,
  • on desktops in widgets frameworks (google/Y! etc.) : so that we can be notified of any new article without opening the website (convenient as side popups can display news without distracting too much user’s attention)
  • in other syndicated websites: similar to RSS feeds which allow content notification to be displayed in RSS readers thus increasing the visibility of the content. We could also with this technology foresee websites exchanging applications modules as a kind of marketing tool. Content syndication will then not only be limited to xml or text forms but will include applications as well (just like Google maps are included in websites).

Is this impact limited to Google only?

probably not. We can expect Yahoo to release a web API and jump onto the mashup train. This new branding channel is too good to be left to a competitor…

This architecture will probably be most useful when provided by other “independent” widget frameworks such as http://www.widgetbox.com/ (mentioned in Reuters news).  although this one does not yet provide a desktop engine for running its widgets and then is limiting their use to online mashup pages only.

Conclusion:

this technology is not yet advanced enough for commercial use but will probably be added to the Ajax-web2.0 pot soon (1-2 years?) so it might be interesting to keep an open eye on its progress…

We can also expect to see other widget engines to come up as well as there might be a dormant commercial market for it and current vendors provide solution targeting more personnal sites than commercial sites. Such a vendor would benefit from the technology awareness provided by Google and heat it up by real applications…

Office 2.0

October 15, 2006

Office 2.0 is starting, with Google and Zoho as leaders of Office 2.0 conference. Obvioulsy we are eager to know where this new episode of the web is going to and which tools and standards will be around in 2 years time.

Most companies need this type of software today as a large part of employees can be online at work, at home or on the road. It is too early to see where this is going as this type of software is still in infancy. But we can list a few criterias that will help deciphering this area:

  • integration of the the software suite: is the product well packaged?
  • complete? : have we got enough module types to cover main office applications
  • modularity: can we extract a software module (ex. spreadsheet) and use it in another environment (mashup).
  • extensibility: how easy is it to create a new module and add it to the software suite.
  • cost

Evaluating Zoho:

Currently we can see that Zoho does very well in terms of integration and is fairly complete. Cost is fair and most businesses can afford it.

However I haven’t seen any API for developing new modules. A company who needs the software and requires quite a few bespoke modules would probably have an issue with Zoho.

Also it is unlikely we will see any module used in a mashup.

Conclusion: this type of software is nice to use and looks professional. It can probably used by a lot of small businesses. However, it is unlikely the software will have a massive impact until an API is released for adding new modules.

Google “office”:

Google doesn’t really provide an office suite yet. But the word editor and spreadsheet applications can be helpful for sharing this type of documents (replacing word and excel). The integration level is then not very well advanced and it is likely it will remain so for a while (or Google would have to stop claiming it doesnt want to replace Microsoft office).

It is not complete either but Google brings new tools on a regular basis so it is possible we’ll see a suite of tools that will cover most office needs in a couple of years..

But where Google will create a real change on this front will be when it releases their API for using the tools in a mashup environment. It is likely we’ll then see their word and excel modules integrated in a lot of frameworks or collaborative tools. Just like we now have rich text editors in most of these environments, we’ll see word editors proposed as standards and spreadsheet data edited in blog tools…

Conclusion: Google will probably create a market move when it release its office API. Until then, it is just another nice tool of limited use.

Where is Office 2.0 going?

Office 2.0 has the potential to complement or replace traditional desktop applications if we have a software suite :

  • that provides enough applications out of the box,
  •  is well packaged and usable,
  • with an API for adding other modules.

An open source system would have a huge impact on the market but an open API would be enough if the price tag for the core of the software is affordable by small businesses.

It is likely we see Office 2.0 coming with a few leading application dendors that will share the market for generic applications, with a lot of smaller suites focusing on vertical markets.

A second step would then be to create a standard for application modules that could be integrated in suites supporting it, and this standard could use an ajax/mashup model. This type of standard would not require too much effort (ex. an html page with a simple API for loading JS and css resources) and could be defined very quickly (< 2 years).

Widget frameworks (Google desktop, Yahoo widgets) could also be integrated with Office 2.0, especially if they support an office 2.0 api. This would allow users to be notified when new documents are added or modified in their online office workspaces and/or have their main application modules directly integrated in the desktop, thus creating a mixed of online/desktop office suite. One adavnatge of this solution will be that modules will be available everywhere (web application) but also will be running on PC + Macs even in their desktop widget form (Google and Yahoo widget framework being available on both platforms).