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Google Scoops Microsoft w/ Mesh Applications 152

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the glimpse-of-the-future dept.
Julie188 writes "Google's offline access for Google Apps is a kick in the shin at Ray Ozzie. Google took a page right out of the Ozzie mesh playbook when it announced the offline access (let's call it Google Docs Unplugged). Google delivered desktop apps from the cloud first and then added unplugged functionality. Microsoft wants to do the same, but in reverse, and faces an infinitely bigger challenge: rebuild Microsoft apps so they can become cloud enabled while pulling its giant channel (and embedded software) along in the process. Good luck with that, Microsoft. But then again, just because Google is making faster progress doesn't mean much. There's no guarantee users will like the unplugged versions of cloud apps."
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Google Scoops Microsoft w/ Mesh Applications

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  • SharePoint (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @09:06AM (#22939564)
    It's technology is called SharePoint. All Office apps are integrated with it and you can work offline, online, collaborate, etc. Oh yea, and it worked longed before Google docs did. This submitter is a typical anti-MS hack and doesn't know what they are talking about. GG Slashdot.
    • Could you point me to a URL, so that I may try it out for myself? Or is it, in traditional Redmond fashion, a lot of talk and no substance at all?
      • Sharepoint tends to get used in intranets, as opposed to being publicly available - we have one setup at our office, although I can't say that we use it for much - it's too clunky to do much other than keep a company-wide calendar, and make sure documents everyone needs to get to are available. If I'm not mistaken, there are also licensing fees to deal with when you set up Sharepoint(although I could be wrong, I didn't set it up).
        • by severoon (536737)

          That's funny. From the grandparent AC post above, he made it sound like the MS apps run in the cloud. Taken together with what you're saying here, if the MS one is set up at your office, that would imply that you also had to set up a rack of servers in which to run the cloud, into which the apps are deployed?

          Somehow, methinks not.

          No, I'm sure I know what the AC was referring to. MS has long been ahead of Google in terms of integrating the Internet with their Office suite. For instance, whenever I cut'

          • by Blakey Rat (99501)
            For instance, whenever I cut'n'paste a link from the Firefox URL bar into an Outlook email, you would expect the URL to paste into the email, right? NO! Because MS is so awesome and Outlook is Internet-aware, instead it pastes a cryptic little graphical question mark in a box.

            I can't reproduce this using Firefox 2.0.0.13 and Outlook 2003.

            But in any case, why blame Outlook? Firefox is the one creating the clipboard items, Outlook is just attempting to render them in a sensible fashion. It doesn't sound to be
            • by severoon (536737)
              I've also witnessed the same behavior using IE. (I'm using the same versions of both apps as you are...did you try ctrl-L-C from Firefox, then shift-tab to open Outlook message, ctrl-V? I don't know if using the keyboard shortcuts changes anything...)
            • But in any case, why blame Outlook? Firefox is the one creating the clipboard items, Outlook is just attempting to render them in a sensible fashion. It doesn't sound to be like the pasting application is at fault here.

              Fixed it for you:
              But in any case, why blame Firefox? Outlook is the one interpreting the clipboard items in a fucked up manner. Firefox is just copying them in a sensible fashion. It doesn't sound to be like the copying application is at fault here.
    • Re:SharePoint (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Per Abrahamsen (1397) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @09:41AM (#22939834) Homepage

      It's technology is called SharePoint.
      It is actually much closer to Microsoft Office Live, as it doesn't require you to run a server (Microsoft does it for you) or pay a fee (apart from what you already paid for Microsoft Office).

      SharePoint seems to be traditional client-server technology, and not related to any recent buzzwords like "cloud computing". For companies with a strong IT department, SharePoint it probably superior. For the rest of us, is is Google Docs or Office Live (or email, sadly).

      • Re:SharePoint (Score:4, Insightful)

        by notaprguy (906128) * on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @11:09AM (#22940554) Journal
        You're half right. SharePoint is designed more for business use whereas Google apps are designed more for geek's trying to organize a geek party. Office Live offers much of the same of the same functionality as SharePoint in a more simplified version. In terms of making apps available offline...I have this new fangled thing called Office that works reallyh well regardless of whether I'm connected or not. I can even set it up so that when I re-connect that the file is synchronized up to a Web site. Amazing stuff!
      • It's built on Sharepoint platform. There are tell tale signs all over the place.
    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by binaryspiral (784263)
      SharePoint is a typical MS Hack...

      It does nothing exceptionally well and is universally hated by all who are forced to use it.
      • Re:SharePoint (Score:5, Interesting)

        by The Spoonman (634311) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @10:24AM (#22940182) Homepage
        Only if implemented by incompetent boobs. Considering that describes a good 90-95% of IT folks, your comments are not surprising. When we migrated our Intranet to Sharepoint last year, pretty much unilaterally our 14,000 users said "FINALLY! An intranet that does what we need!" It's been fantastic, and they just love being able to manipulate the site to provide them just the information and applications they need. We've now begun a project to provide it to our clients, and their reaction has been the same.

        Now, to the topic at hand: no, I have no interest in offline Google Apps. Google Apps is a barely usable hack that provides the barest of minimums of features for users. It's good for my grandmother, but even my mother finds it too limiting. Add to that using Firefox/Gears uses 5-10X the resources on machine and it just doesn't cute it. Microsoft's solution is exactly the path I'd go. It gives me the flexibility to use real applications AND still have access to my docs everywhere. But, I'm not a luddite, so...

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by lbgator (1208974)

          While I agree with your post in general, I am rankled by everyone calling Docs a "barely usable hack". Every user has differing needs, and your needs simply aren't met by Docs. That's fine: don't use it.

          Google Docs does provide a simple free office suite with good collaboration, sharing, and version control. There are a lot of things it cannot do well or at all (graphs, embedded objects, work quickly, etc) but that is not to say it is worthless. Some people cannot be sure that they will have access to

        • Re:SharePoint (Score:5, Interesting)

          by 0racle (667029) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @11:04AM (#22940516)
          First, if you're not an incompetent boob, why couldn't you get anything before SharePoint to do what users need? Second, SharePoint sucks when you have a mixed client network, which is typical of Microsoft products.
          • First, if you're not an incompetent boob, why couldn't you get anything before SharePoint to do what users need?

            Prolly had a lot to do with my not working here at the time.

            Second, SharePoint sucks when you have a mixed client network, which is typical of Microsoft products.

            Yes, Microsoft should go out of their way to make sure their software works well with obscure OSes like OSX and Linux. Perhaps it's the client you're using. I'm currently using an Ubuntu Gutsy box to access our intranet and whi
            • by ivan256 (17499)

              I've got some limited functionality because it's a down level client, I can still do pretty much everything. About the only thing that doesn't work is the Citrix webpart. It just takes a little longer to get to everything else. But, anyone who uses Linux is used to things taking longer... :)

              Pretty much everything... Except change your password. Which is really inconvenient when you're in an environment with password expiration.

              And that last comment is just plain trolling.

              • by Allador (537449)
                Sharepoint doesnt have its own set of user/passwords, they're domain accounts.

                So how did you change your password on the domain before sharepoint? It'd be the same now.
                • by ivan256 (17499)
                  Exactly. You can't. Not through any Microsoft web service that I'm aware of. You need a Microsoft client.
                  • by Allador (537449)
                    Well, two options that jump right off the page at me:

                    1. Samba project tools: smbpasswd

                    2. Web based password change functionality. Commonly known as IISADMPWD, its a set of asp pages that are included with IIS (can optionally be installed on iis6/win2003). Part of every windows server install.
        • How dare you claim Google Docs Airplane [blogtown.co.nz] isn't useful!

          On a more serious note, Google Gears doesn't work with Firefox 3. If you navigate to any page that tries to use it Firefox crashes. Oddly I figured this out because every page on nintendo.com tries to use it (guh?)

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by TheNarrator (200498)
          Yeah I'm a Linux user and I'd much rather use OpenOffice than Google Apps. Even AbiWord and Gnumeric are better. Google has to realize that browser based javascript is just not going to do it for full-blown office apps. Microsoft specifically broke the environment it so it wouldn't be able to do that. It's freakin' single threaded!

          If they were smart they would switch to a SWT (e.g Eclipse IDE) rich client platform installed via java web start that contained strong web services integration with google fo
    • Re:SharePoint (Score:5, Insightful)

      by value_added (719364) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @09:52AM (#22939938)
      It's technology is called SharePoint.

      No, Sharepoint is marketing brand name, notable for being refreshingly brief.

      The technologies, on the other hand, are actually ASP.NET applications, which are served using IIS and use a SQL Server database as data storage backend [wikipedia.org].

      Stuff is integrated with it? I'm shocked. Shocked, I'll tell you.
      • I'd say you weren't insightful, but your link is even if it proves you wrong about it being a marketing brand name. It is the actual name of the product. That's not up for dispute whether you like MS or not.

        Your very wiki link says the following:

        The term 'SharePoint' is commonly used to refer to one of the following two products:

        * Windows SharePoint Services (WSS)
        * Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS) http://www.microsoft.com/sharepoint/de [microsoft.com]
        • So "name of the product" versus "marketing brand name" is different how? The GP referred to the *technology* as being called SharePoint, which is false - Sharepoint isn't a technology, it is a product that integrates various technologies.
      • by jsight (8987)

        No, Sharepoint is marketing brand name, notable for being refreshingly brief.

        The technologies, on the other hand, are actually ASP.NET applications, which are served using IIS and use a SQL Server database as data storage backend.

        Thank you for pointing this out. On a related note, Firefox and OpenOffice are not products either! They are merely marking names, notable for being refreshingly brief.

        The technologies, on the other hand, are actually c++ applications, which are able to run on a variety of platfo

    • Re:SharePoint (Score:5, Informative)

      by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@noSPam.gmail.com> on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @10:11AM (#22940084) Homepage Journal
      As someone else pointed out, SharePoint is more akin to storing docs online, sharing them with people, communicating with them, wiki functionality, etc.

      And as someone who just implemented a SharePoint system, SharePoint is very expensive and requires some massive hardware. Google Docs is free and requires zero hardware purchase.
    • Re:SharePoint (Score:5, Informative)

      by Thinman (59679) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @10:14AM (#22940114)
      Not really, SharePoint is just a Web Framework with support for office documents, but you are require to have a copy of office in your machine to work with, OTOH google applications run on the server and display on your browser.....

      Regards.
    • by pikine (771084)
      And apparently SharePoint is supported by Google Search Appliance [google.com]. I think that says enough about the significance of it.
    • And what happens when the Sharepoint server hosting all of this wonderousness goes offline?

      +5 Insightful? Give me a flippin' break...

      • by nschubach (922175)
        Even I know that any Slashdot article with both Google and Microsoft in the title sets off the alarms at Redmond. Everyone is to stop what they are doing and defend the queen. ;)
      • by Allador (537449)
        If the sharepoint is critical to your business, then you just bring up more than one, and run them as a farm.
  • by nguy (1207026) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @09:07AM (#22939568)
    People have been using mixed on-line/off-line computing for a long time; neither Microsoft nor Google invented this or were the first to figure out that it was useful.

    What matters is how exactly it's done. I find Google's offerings a lot more persuasive than Microsoft's. Microsoft's collaborative features are cumbersome and hard to use, and Microsoft's office suite is expensive and heavy-weight. Google Docs is easy to get started with and works for most people; mainly what it needs is better embedded object support (including math) and bug fixing.
    • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @09:26AM (#22939720)
      I don't really get the argument here. What's the difference between Google Docs' new functionality and Office Live? Other than that Microsoft is working from the desktop and moving to the web, and Google is working from the web and moving to the desktop. Oh, also: Office Live exists right now (albeit in beta), and Google only has a press release.

      The article doesn't give a compelling reason for Microsoft being "scooped" in this case-- in fact, I think its author simply just don't know Office Live exists. Or am I missing something?
      • by nguy (1207026) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @09:45AM (#22939868)
        What's the difference between Google Docs' new functionality and Office Live?

        Several major ones: (1) Google Docs sharing is actually live; you can see other people's edits being made in real time, (2) all you need with Google Docs is a web browser--nothing to install, (3) Google Docs are data sources and sinks for mashups and other applications (including web forms submissions), (4) user management and sharing is much, much simpler with Google Docs--you can share and work with anybody, (5) Google Docs can integrate with both MS Office and OpenOffice, (6) Google Docs has mobile access.

        Oh, also: Office Live exists right now (albeit in beta), and Google only has a press release.

        Google Docs has had the limited sharing functionality found in Office Live since before Office Live even existed. The new Gears-based off-line mode is simpler and better and something that Microsoft simply doesn't have at all.
        • by pacalis (970205)

          (1) Google Docs sharing is actually live; you can see other people's edits being made in real time
          So do you have to share Google Docs to make edits in real time?
          • by nguy (1207026)
            I'm not sure what you're asking. You always edit your document in the browser. If you happen to be off-line, it stores the changes and reconciles them when it can. If you happen to share the document and someone else edits it, you see their edits in real time. You don't need to do anything special or even think about it in either case.
            • by pacalis (970205)
              It was a joke. I find google docs slow as hell.
              • by nguy (1207026)
                It's a bit sluggish, but usable. It should get a bit better in Firefox 3, and a lot better once the new JavaScript engine has been integrated.
        • by uptownguy (215934) <UptownGuyEmail@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @10:30AM (#22940232)
          We're actually comparing Google Docs and Office Live for a client rollout and I put both them both head-to-head yesterday. Clearly, some of your information is outdated.

          (1) Google Docs sharing is actually live; you can see other people's edits being made in real time,
           
          Same with Office Live. Different way of "seeing" and I prefer Google's but both work. And with a OneNote Notebook shared? Now THAT is nice and I prefer that to both.

          (2) all you need with Google Docs is a web browser--nothing to install,

          As long as you are editing/viewing someone else's Office Live Document, the same is true.
           
            (3) Google Docs are data sources and sinks for mashups and other applications (including web forms submissions)
           
          I honestly have no idea on this one so I'll take your word on it. More to the point, I'd be curious to know about how easy those mashups are to create in Google Docs. I guess I've got more research to do! ;)
           
            (4) user management and sharing is much, much simpler with Google Docs--you can share and work with anybody,

          Not true. This was the biggest surprise for me. The ease of use for inviting others is the same. In Office Live, it's as easy as entering someone's email address. Seriously. I expected it to be much more complicated from everything I read. It is not.
           
            (5) Google Docs can integrate with both MS Office and OpenOffice,
           
          Or the flip side of this is to say that Google Docs will not open MS Word documents like people expect them to. And Spreadsheets will not open and look like you would think they should look in Excel. With Office Live, the curve is much less steep. Yes, proprietary formats are evil and the cause of this in the first place. Etc. etc. etc. But if you are a business with a few hundred spreadsheets that might or might not open as expected in Google Docs, Office Live becomes hard to ignore.
           
            (6) Google Docs has mobile access.

          Nope. Or rather, yes, I guess you can *view* your Google Docs in a mobile view. But there is no way to edit them, at least from the phone I was testing it on. The same is true for Office Live. Both have great mobile viewers ... and make editing online next to impossible.

          There's a lot of testing we have yet to do. And we aren't even close to deciding between the two. (Free as in beer vs. works with 100% of your current documents.) But -- as someone who spent most of yesterday comparing the two head-to-head, I really wanted to clear up that 4-5 out of your 6 points were no longer true.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by nguy (1207026)
            As long as you are editing/viewing someone else's Office Live Document, the same is true.

            Office Live doesn't let people create or edit Word, PowerPoint, or Excel files from the browser. And it doesn't work with Firefox on Linux at all (not because of Linux, but because Microsoft has disabled it).

            Same with Office Live. Different way of "seeing" and I prefer Google's but both work.

            In Google Docs, when one user selects and changes a cell in a spreadsheet, all other users see that in real time in their own app
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by uptownguy (215934)
              Office Live doesn't let people create or edit Word, PowerPoint, or Excel files from the browser.

              Except that is 100% not true. Since I did that yesterday. I shared a document with someone else. She edited it. Directly from her browser. I honestly didn't expect it to work because of what I'd read here on Slashdot. I'm not trying to convert anyone here, just share what I found out yesterday for myself.

              Sometimes I'm shocked how much people pass off second-hand or third-hand information instead of rolling
              • Sometimes I'm shocked how much people pass off second-hand or third-hand information instead of rolling up their sleeves

                You mean like you just did? After all, you didn't say you tried it, you just talked to someone who claimed it worked.

                Unlike you, I did try it out before posting. Just like everybody else is saying, it doesn't work. The only document types that I can create are notes, lists, task lists, contact lists, and event lists. There's no way to create PowerPoint, no Word, no Excel.

                If I upload a
              • I think you missed the word CREATE in the quote. Yes you can edit, no you cant create a new document. Thanks for playing.
            • by Blakey Rat (99501)
              I want to complement uptownguy for basically making all the replies I would have made if I hadn't been on a commuter train while this discussion was happening. :)

              Office Live doesn't let people create or edit Word, PowerPoint, or Excel files from the browser.

              100% wrong. I don't know how new the feature is, but Office Live has let you do this for some time. Please don't spread FUD.

              And it doesn't work with Firefox on Linux at all (not because of Linux, but because Microsoft has disabled it).

              Well, that's a poin
              • 100% wrong. I don't know how new the feature is, but Office Live has let you do this for some time. Please don't spread FUD.

                I have Office Live up on my screen. It does not support browser-based editing.

                Perhaps you're confusing some kind of MS Office ActiveX embedding with browser-based editing. Or maybe you're simply lying.

                Really? I've never come across one...

                Well, evidently, you're living under a rock.

                care to show us some examples?

                Go read the Google Docs API documentation, or just try out one of the man
                • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

                  by Blakey Rat (99501)
                  Perhaps you're confusing some kind of MS Office ActiveX embedding with browser-based editing. Or maybe you're simply lying.

                  Now you're picking nits. Using the offline feature in Google Docs is going to require a plug-in also... GASP!

                  Really? I've never come across one...

                  Well, evidently, you're living under a rock.


                  Maybe, but you still haven't provided any examples, so I'm more inclined to think they simply don't exist. That's not to say Google isn't trying, but there's no point in saying there are all these th
                  • by nguy (1207026)
                    Now you're picking nits. Using the offline feature in Google Docs is going to require a plug-in also... GASP!

                    I'm sure to a Microsoft fanboy and shill like you, having to buy and install Microsoft Office makes no difference; you probably get it free from Microsoft for all the misinformation you spread for them.

                    To the rest of the world, the difference between "all you need is a browser" and "buy and install Microsoft Office", however, is $360 and a lot of work. I don't own a copy of Microsoft Office at all;
                  • Now you're picking nits. Using the offline feature in Google Docs is going to require a plug-in also
                    That's not nitpicking at all. We're looking at, what, 10-20% of the browser market going to something other than IE, but IE's the only one that supports ActiveX objects. There's a world of difference between requiring a plugin for additional functionality and requiring one for any functionality.
          • Another difference is that Office live is Windows only. It works with Mozilla, but locks out Linux [officelive.com] If the message is correct, the tool does not work on OS X either
            I have no idea what functionality in a web based app gets blocked due to the browser running on an unsupported platform!
          • Free as in beer vs. works with 100% of your current documents.

            MS Office doesn't work with 100% of MS Office documents, and there have been times when OpenOffice will open certain older documents better than the current version of MS Office.

            Still, it is hard to ignore that most of your current documents will work with the MS product...

            Here's another big consideration: You know and I know that one is built around a proprietary format -- even OOXML is still very much a proprietary format -- and the other is

    • by Potor (658520)

      Google Docs is easy to get started with and works for most people

      i would use gdocs more often if i could do endnotes / footnotes with it.

      lack of these is a deal-killer for me, and i imagine many in the academic world. the idea of chipping away at a paper in different offices and around the world is quite appealing to me, especially if i can collaborate on it.

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I agree, gDocs isn't all that good for academic writing. But, then, I think neither is MS Office.

        For shared academic editing, I think the best choices are a Wiki with a jsMath plugin and PDF generation, or LaTeX with version control.
  • Is this "in the browser" functionality? I read TFA but I could not work out if it was some application you download or whether it works in the browser. If its in the browser, then it might allow you to continue to work offline when a connection goes, but could you use a computer somewhere without internet access to create or modify a document?

    If it is an application, on the other hand, it would be nice to know what platforms are supported. It would be ironic if the "kick in the teeth" for Microsoft only r
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by GuldKalle (1065310)
      I haven't read TFA, but my guess is that it's using google gears [slashdot.org] to provide offline capability. Available for win+mac+Linux on Firefox and IE6+
      • That's what you get for not previewing. it's supposed to be Google Gears [google.com]
        • by bhima (46039) *
          What the hell is "Google Gears"? I mean besides "Google Gears is a plug-in that extends your browser to create a richer platform for web applications." Which is all the FAQ had to say.
          • by nizo (81281) * on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @10:12AM (#22940092) Homepage Journal

            Google Gears installs a browser extension that adds a JavaScript API that enables the browser scripts to access the local datastore. The extension requires Firefox or Internet Explorer and works on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.[2] A version for Safari is now available to developers. Currently, Google Reader is the only Google application that is supported, though other web applications such as Remember the Milk have added Google Gears functionality. The transition from online to offline mode and back has to be done manually in Google Reader because of the differences in data being transferred. Other applications, such as Remember the Milk, transition from online to offline mode and back seamlessly.


            From wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Gears [wikipedia.org]
    • by nguy (1207026) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @09:50AM (#22939916)
      It is in-browser. It uses Google Gears, a small open source extension that makes it easy for people to turn on-line apps into off-line apps. It works on major platforms and browsers, including Windows, Windows Mobile, MacOS, and Linux. Remember The Milk, Zoho Office, and others are already using Google Gears, as is Google Reader.

      Google Docs off-line was an obvious use for Google Gears, and the main question is: why did it take so long?

      It's a good bet that off-line versions of GMail and Google Calendar are next.
  • Not likely... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TripMaster Monkey (862126) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @09:09AM (#22939576)
    From TFA:

    But the future's not all doom and gloom just because of Google's progress in bringing unplugged versions of cloud apps to users. Microsoft would be smart to be extremely observant about the end user experience, user feedback and usage patterns of Google Doc users, and then plow that knowledge back into Windows Live and other Microsoft Mesh efforts.
    So...all Microsoft has to do to avoid defeat is listen to their customers?

    Yeah...just not seeing that happening...
  • by blcamp (211756)

    I don't know who's going to win either Office battle, but I don't think one player will win both. Cloud apps and "traditional" (offline) apps are just different animals, as are GOOG and MSFT different companies. Clearly thier battles are heating up, but I don't see a clear victor here - just more bits being twiddled.

  • Bingo (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sakdoctor (1087155) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @09:12AM (#22939596) Homepage
    Virtual apps, streamed or live on the cloud. Unplugged. Mesh.
    The summary was full of buzz words so I had to RTFA...which was also full of buzzwords

    What I don't get is why basic office application are not better off on your local machine, or even OO.org on a flashdisk along with your documents, than on google's or microsofts server being analysed every which way.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Amouth (879122)
      oh god i just implied a bad idea from your comment..

      what if we took documents of data.. and apon saving them taged a light weight reader/editor to the file.. that way if someone has the app to read the document it would just skim over the bin part but if not the data file is also executable that will open the data of the document within it's slef..

      that way it doens't mater if they have the app or not jsut send them the document and they will surely be able to view/edit it..

      i know this is a bad idea.. but
    • Real Programmers push their data to the web and let everyone else mirror it ;)
      I think the same applies here, except google is doing the mirroring and it's one less hassle at the cost of them knowing that I have a spreadsheet that holds library dependencies for my slackware packages. I can deal with that.
    • Re:Bingo (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Cid Highwind (9258) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @09:48AM (#22939896) Homepage
      What I don't get is why basic office application are not better off on your local machine, or even OO.org on a flashdisk along with your documents, than on google's or microsofts server being analysed every which way.

      Because no matter how many people work on a "cloud" document, there's only one version of one app to worry about. When Google rolls out a new feature, you can actually use it right away instead of worrying about how it will render on your local copy of OO.o 2.1 versus my 3.0 beta versus Joe's copy of MS Office 07. Add to that the ability to trade docs by sending a url instead of an email attachment (which is almost certain to get trashed a spam filter or overzealous IT "NO ATTACHMENTS!" policy the first time you email a new contact) and it looks pretty compelling. I still wouldn't use it for anything confidential (same goes for gmail), but I can see the appeal for a lot of people.
      • What? You use phrases like "how will it render" without understanding its meaning. At least you cannot as you wouldn't write it.

        How do you think the browser version of a word processor will "render" on a Mac with Safari vs. Vista with IE 7 vs. XP with IE 6 vs. Linux with Firefox 2 or Firefox 3?? Is that enough problems already?

        You want it to "render" properly, you use a medium to do that. It is NOT some word processing document. Some example of things that *should* "render" properly would be PDF, or PostScr
  • Flamebait (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hassman (320786) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @09:12AM (#22939604) Journal
    Can I flag this story as a flamebait?
  • by thrillseeker (518224) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @09:14AM (#22939616)
    There's no guarantee users will like the unplugged versions of cloud apps.

    Having to use a plugged, especially plugged-only and "internet as an afterthought", application is akin to having to drive down to the theater to watch a movie - sure the big screen is nice, but putting up with all the downsides is less and less attractive and the screens are getting smaller and the popcorn is getting more and more stale.

    Meanwhile, using an app that easily unplugs is like having my favorite movies available anytime (that is, with an acceptable delay in feedback time) - I can watch on the (upcoming) Mitsubishi Laser TV whatever hi-def I had downloaded to the PS3, listening on the fine audio system, enjoying the whole affair with a group I can choose, and having an ice cold Becks with hot off the stove popcorn. Yeah, it's a little extra work, for now, but it's much more appealing.
  • by Speare (84249) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @09:17AM (#22939646) Homepage Journal

    But then again, just because Google is making faster progress doesn't mean much.

    I enjoy watching Google beat the snot out of the previous 900lb gorilla as much as the next guy, but this was an understatement. All too often, Google has done the interesting 80% of the functionality and leaves the boring 20% of the cleanup, followthrough, polish and finish languishing in "beta" stage for months, years, forever. That's the 80/20 rule: the boring 20% is actually 80% of the sweat and toil to make a solid product/service.

    • by ciaohound (118419)
      Agreed, but is that last 20% functionality compelling enough to make users shell out for Microsoft products? For my own home use, the answer is no way in hell, and if I can get my colleagues to feel the same way about things, it'll be the same answer at work; maybe it'll be the same 80/20 ratio that adopts Google vs. sticks with MS, but least it's a viable competitor. I don't see that happening, at least in my organization, with other alternatives like OpenOffice that require IT administration.
    • by Hangtime (19526) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @10:00AM (#22940006) Homepage
      Amen brother. Google likes to build the 80% thinking no one uses the 20% and on average this would be correct. If you look at usability most folks don't use the higher end functions out of Excel (one of my pet pivs when Microsoft updated to 2007 and the ribbon). But if you look at all the advanced functionality (Sub-Totals, OFFSET(), VLOOKUP(), Validation, Goal Seek, Solver, Add-Ins, Macros, Data Analysis pack, Consolidate, STANDARDIZE(), Percentile(), etc.), however, the chances of any Excel user using at least one of these function thus one function within the 20% is very high and is a gotcha. Everyone complains about feature bloat in Office, but the beauty of the suite is that it will give you that one function you might need to make your life infinitely easier even if it isn't used by 99.9% of all the other users. Ultimately, this is why Google will have limited success. Its not fun building features for a few thousand or a few hundred users, but this is how you build your userbase by catering to smaller and smaller niches of folks who will gladly pay you money to purchase your software.
      • Google's spreadsheet has done quite a bit to expand its functionality lately. E.g. Offset, Percentile, Standardize are all there. You can even use web queries like

        =GoogleFinance("MSFT"; "price")
        which is pretty cool. You also can write your own "gadgets", which are kind of a replacement for Macros.
    • by smcdow (114828)

      All too often, Google has done the interesting 80% of the functionality and leaves the boring 20% of the cleanup, followthrough, polish and finish languishing in "beta" stage for months, years, forever.

      Which explains why everybody and their dog wants to work at Google. Would that all software projects were run this way. Usually, 80% is more than good enough and the last 20% usually isn't worth the effort, except to PHBs and PHBeancounters. And to the goobers posting to comment sections.

      Rule of thumb: The first 80% of a project takes 80% of the total effort. The remaining 20% of the project takes 80% of the total effort, again.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Hangtime (19526)
        Which explains why everybody and their dog wants to work at Google. Would that all software projects were run this way. Usually, 80% is more than good enough and the last 20% usually isn't worth the effort, except to PHBs and PHBeancounters. And to the goobers posting to comment sections

        Of course this is if everyone is using the same program for the same purpose. Its called gold plating. However, when it comes to the Office Suite everyone has a a different way of using the program. Take for example this co
    • Yup, still in beta after all these years.
    • by fragbait (209346)

      All too often, Google has done the interesting 80% of the functionality and leaves the boring 20% of the cleanup, followthrough, polish and finish languishing in "beta" stage for months, years, forever.
      Given their culture of 20% on your own projects and soliciting others to help out, this really isn't a surprise with creative people. At 80%, the puzzle and mystery is gone. Everything left to do is known and is the "boring" part.

      -fragbait
  • There is a parallel here between usage of Google Docs and Linux Usage. As UMPCs powered with OSs like gOS use Google Docs and Gmail as their default document and mail providers, offlining these applications is very important. Truly now, we may be entering the phase where "The network is the computer". As users become disillusioned with Windows Vista and seek alternatives, this is the golden opportunity for computer manufacturers and more importantly, the Open Source community to promote and support these ap
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @09:25AM (#22939712)

    Microsoft wants to do the same, but in reverse, and faces an infinitely bigger challenge: rebuild Microsoft apps so they can become cloud enabled while pulling its giant channel (and embedded software) along in the process.


    You really think MS faces the bigger task? MS has widely accepted desktop and server apps already, and a working framework for companies to build a back end with database, web and other common services. I'd think MS would face the easier challenge here; all they need to do is convince people to swap out (outsource) their core corporate back end processing in favor of similar services hosted by Microsoft.

    Google's challenge seems to be to convince companies to outsource their core corporate back end processes using brand new back end applications and desktop apps that just came out of beta. That seems like the tougher hill to climb.

    In either case, the challenge isn't new; "cloud computing" seems like just version 10 of the outsourced processing pitch that's been used in the computing industry for at least 40 years - just ask EDS, IBM, Unisys, etc.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Gybrwe666 (1007849)
      Yes, actually, it does. And it has nothing to do with technical prowess.

      Right now Microsoft is making their money as a box mover. They create physical products, and then sell them to people. This is currently the way that they have become one of the largest corporations on earth. This entire model is predicated on a very traditional method of utilizing the channel (distributors, resellers, direct sales, etc.)

      This one nasty fact has created a huge boondogle for Microsoft. In order to keep their share pr
  • Writely (Score:2, Informative)

    by heffrey (229704)
    Google didn't hardly delivered Docs in the cloud first, it bought Upstartle and inherited Writely which then was rebranded as Docs.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    There's two competing paradigms that are going to define the market for the future: web-based Software as a Service (SaaS), and its nemesis, old software industry styled computing as a service (CaaS).

    SaaS relies on you buying the OS or installing a free one, ditto for browser, and then using your applications online. Problems include: portability of your data, privacy, control of your data and its removal, the unreliablity of internet connections, and the unreliablity of browsers. Advantages: it's free, no
  • Good luck (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dodgedodge (166122)
    "Good luck with that"?? Doesn't M$ currently have like 90% of the office market? I think its Google that needs luck.
  • Does anyone know what format Docs will be saving the data in? It's being saved locally... what's the format?

    Can I share it by emailing it or do I have to share it via Google?
    Can I re-process it into a PDF?
    Can I run it through a batch script?
    Is it a format that I can search through locally and what meta-data does it expose to the host OS for use in filtering, organization, etc.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Nakago4 (576970)
      Google also can be used to find answers to questions on the internet!

      http://docs.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=49008&topic=8613 [google.com]

      You can save it locally in Word, OpenOffice, RTF, PDF, HTML or zip

      • Yeah... I didn't ask what formats you COULD save it to, ie: export... I asked what format is it stored in natively...

        Why would I want to use something that forced me to export it whenever I want to have it show up in local filesystem searches?

    • Gears stores everything locally in SQLite, but you can save it to Word, ODF, and PDF
  • by notaprguy (906128) * on Wednesday April 02, 2008 @11:15AM (#22940606) Journal
    Making Google apps available offline is not particularly interesting. Wow...local storage...you mean like a decent Mac or Windows application offers? Syncrhonizing files up to a Web site is fairly trivial. In terms of offering the ability to synchronize files from a local store up to "cloud storage" Microsoft acquired Groove 3-4 years ago which was doing that years before. Not news. I'm no expert with inside information but if I know Microsoft I'd guess that they're thinking about making "mesh" into a platform for applications by anybody, not just Microsoft. That's what Microsoft is (usually) pretty good at. Providing a capability that would allow appliations and data to "roam" with the user as they move from device to device would be neat. Then I can use high fidelity applications on a Mac or PC when I have access to one or I can access degared versions of the apps (AJAX, Silverlight, Flash blah blah blah) when I don't have access to local applications.
  • I mean, OK, they've got Sketchup - I think we all knew about that one...
  • I read the summary twice and still have no idea what the fuck the submitter is talking about. Clouds? What?
  • Though they are certainly more heavy-weight because they require the .NET runtime, XBAPs and Click Once deployment provide an interesting way to do this, I think. If you correctly design your app to work in partial trust then it can function as an XBAP embedded in IE/Firefox just fine, and you can seamlessly shift up to a local app via Click Once deployment (think Java Webstart). Same app, same code base, now it just runs locally (and has access to the local filesystem since it'd be a full trust local app)

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