I say theyre wrong. But not because Microsoft Office—even with 90+ percent of the desktop office suite market share to its credit—is unbeatable.
Even though Sun and Google did not, as many predicted, announce this week a "GoogleOffice," pundits say its only a matter of time before the pair could hatch such an animal.
Whenever—and if ever—Sun and Google deliver a light-weight, fast, cheap Web-based Office alternative, Microsoft Office will not be its primary competitor, however.
Instead, the growing collection of MSN Services, especially the pending "Kahuna" Hotmail upgrade and Microsofts as-yet-unannounced hosted SMB collaboration bundle, will be what the Redmondians pit against the new "StarOffice in the sky" offering.
Microsoft Office is a "smart" (aka, fat, bloated—choose your beefy synonym of choice) client. Its not meant to run over the Web. Ask folks whove tried using a hosted version of Office. Its a slow and painful experience.
Outlook Web Access and Kahuna (the Hotmail/Outlook Web Access successor, also known as MSN Mail) are Ajax applications. They were designed from the get-go as Web apps.
The app will look and feel a bit like Outlook, but will be faster, simpler and safer than its predecessor, team members have said. No word yet on when it will go live or how it will be distributed or packaged. But it will be a "brand new service," the team members promise.