Office Politics

By Steve Gillmor  |  Posted 2004-06-28 Print this article Print

Theres a separation of clients and servers, and a different distribution model for each. We happen to be in the business of delivering servers, so we can, through the dissemination of technology in Solaris, achieve some ubiquity at least in 64-bit systems. The distribution of a client that somehow links up with that server is a wholly different set of issues. Frankly, I looked at IBM Workplace and thought, this just looks like Domino all over again; theyre trying to deliver SmartSuite through a browser. There are too many things that have failed doing that; I wonder why theyre spending the time? Click here to go under the hood of IBM Workplace in an interview with Ken Bisconti.
The most ubiquitous office productivity suite out there is called Microsoft Office, and No. 2 is called OpenOffice and StarOffice. Intersecting Office with Java in a Web services model, whether its for caching or propagation of content, is something weve looked at.
But again, thats got to be coupled with having an ability not only to deliver a runtime in this instance on a client but a whole client, which is why weve evolved to deliver the Java Desktop. Hoping to achieve ubiquity by providing your technology on the Web for free download is a tough row to hoe. Where does BEA make their money? Its not specific to BEA, its a tough model to do unless you have an overwhelming and compelling value proposition. Most Microsoft Windows users are very happy with Microsoft Office. Frankly, theyre very happy with Microsoft Windows. Click here for a showdown between Office 2003 and OpenOffice. Rather than trying to figure out ways of disintermediating Microsoft, they should probably spend their time focusing on delivering value that Microsoft isnt delivering—and Google and eBay, or Amazon for that matter, have done a good job there—rather than figuring out ways to disseminate middleware. Thats a pretty steep hill to climb. Except you just said it. Alchemy will add persistence, create an offline capability for a browser type of environment. Sure, and theres about 60 other technologies available that can do the same thing. Name one. The .Net framework. Youre suggesting that the .Net framework is going to be successful in competing for offline capabilities against the entire open-standards community? I think it will be very successful in competing for the Windows community. But thats different than suggesting its going to be successful in competing for the client community, because there are an awful lot of clients that go beyond Microsoft Windows. People have generated persistence mechanisms, whether its for the .Net framework or for Java, and there are plenty around. Next page: Making a community successful.

Steve Gillmor is editor of's Messaging & Collaboration Center. As a principal reviewer at Byte magazine, Gillmor covered areas including Visual Basic, NT open systems, Lotus Notes and other collaborative software systems. After stints as a contributing editor at InformationWeek Labs, editor in chief at Enterprise Development Magazine, editor in chief and editorial director at XML and Java Pro Magazines, he joined InfoWorld as test center director and columnist.

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