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Microsoft's Free, Online Version of Office To Premiere This Week 264

Posted by timothy
from the file-formats-matter dept.
walterbyrd writes "Microsoft will offer an online version of Office 2010 for free. I have to wonder, will this remain free indefinitely? Or is Microsoft just trying to firmly establish its OOXML standard, then go back to business as usual?" Probably a harder sell after Google's acquisition of DocVerse.
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Microsoft's Free, Online Version of Office To Premiere This Week

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  • Is it safe? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by CasualFriday (1804992)
    Hopefully this won't be bundled with a trojan like MechWarrior 4. THANKS UNCLE BILL.
    • Re:Is it safe? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Sunday May 09, 2010 @04:55PM (#32149252)
      Naw ... this one is like crack. Getting you hooked is "free" but once your documents are in its clutches, um, I mean file format, then your ass belongs to them.
      • Its a trap. (Score:2, Insightful)

        by xtracto (837672)

        Naw ... this one is like crack. Getting you hooked is "free" but once your documents are in its clutches, um, I mean file format, then your ass belongs to them.

        Yup, I believe the same. I wonder what happened to /. "itsatrap" tag, I I kinda liked it as it separated in a clear way stories from Microsoft.

    • by CrazyJim1 (809850)
      I downloaded MW4, where is the trojan found so I can remove it?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by QuantumLeaper (607189)
        I am impressed you got it downloaded, I think he means the downloader program was the trojan, since it didn't work correctly and messed up you computer if you tried using it.

        I think it will be hard for MS to start charging for the free version consider there not much to the free version anyway.
    • How about something like this?

      "Well, you see, Google got hacked, they had the code to their global authentication taken, who knows what the hackers found there and what access they've got now... So, we decided to go with Microsoft instead."

       

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by im_thatoneguy (819432)

        At which point they simply purchase a copy of Microsoft Office instead for most use, just as Microsoft hopes they'll do. I don't imagine any business will want their office software tied to internet connectivity. And many won't want their documents in the cloud out of their control. So Microsoft Office EXEs will still be profitable while the online Office offers essentially what most companies already have in the form of Outlook Web Edition.

        If the documents though are stored on your Microsoft(tm) Share

        • Personally I find Google Docs only marginally useful even for the simplest of tasks, it would never replace a copy of Office for me.

          Personally, I find any "office suite" useless for the simplest of tasks. Why do people think their to-do list or 1-page memo requires anything more complicated than plain text?

          • by Draek (916851)

            Because Times New Roman is boring, and they don't know you can change Notepad's default font to Comic Sans anyways.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by obarthelemy (160321)

            I usually have OOo open, and opening another app for simpler documents seems kinda silly. Plus I like the creature comforts (files history, automatic bullet lists...)

        • At which point they simply purchase a copy of Microsoft Office instead for most use, just as Microsoft hopes they'll do. I don't imagine any business will want their office software tied to internet connectivity.

          Microsoft is offering an 'on-premise' version of Office 2010 Web Apps, so no reliance on an internet connection or requirement to have your data on third party servers.

          I think a lot of people have missed this point.

          http://technet.microsoft.com/en-gb/office/ee815687.aspx

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      Did you even get MW4 to install? Because I tried 3 times to install the damned thing and every time it would get to around 90% and die horribly with an unhandled exception error or some shit. Personally I blame the stupid MTX client crap that Mektek uses, as I had that thing crash more times that I could count!

      As for TFA, why all the hate? If you don't like Office, don't use it. It isn't like they are the only game in town. Use Google, OO.o, hell there are tons of text editors and office suites, pick your

  • by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Sunday May 09, 2010 @04:53PM (#32149240) Homepage
    As a number of people in the Seattle Times Forum have noted, using this "web based" Office product *requires* downloading and installing an .exe
    • As a number of people in the Seattle Times Forum have noted, using this "web based" Office product *requires* downloading and installing an .exe

      IEXPLORER.EXE ?

      That *is* an interesting thought. Which browsers does Online Office 2010 work with? If it requires an .exe that kind of excludes Linux & Mac users (not to mention thise crazy enough to try it on their smart phones).

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 09, 2010 @05:02PM (#32149292)

      It does not. It works with plain old JS and CSS in IE, Firefox, Safari and Chrome on Mac/PC.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      The exe is only necessary to allow Windows shell integration with the online Office service, i.e., so you can double click on a docx on your desktop and have it open in the web office.
      If you want to go through the same hassle to open local files you go though with other online office suites, it is not required.
      • You mean saving a shortcut that goes to a local file, or dragging and dropping the local url to put on your desktop?
      • by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Sunday May 09, 2010 @11:28PM (#32151484) Homepage
        Parent IS NOT "informative". You may not create new documents with this web app unless you have the EXE installed. The Parent is "Uninformed".
      • The exe is only necessary to allow Windows shell integration with the online Office service, i.e., so you can double click on a docx on your desktop and have it open in the web office. If you want to go through the same hassle to open local files you go though with other online office suites, it is not required.

        Oh... I thought it was required to enable/implement certain .NET capabilities and Silverlight - through which this "integration" you speak of actually takes place.

        Sorry I misunderstood what the exe really was... regardless, I am not about to take a chance that I am wrong. I dont use IE, and I am not about to make any other browser as insecure.

  • OO 3.2 kicks ass! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 09, 2010 @04:55PM (#32149250)

    Why bother? I swear to god, I can do anything I want in sun (oracle? no hate here.) oo32 that I used to do in o2k3

    Have you seen the OO32 release? My God! hahaha

    I already collect text editors, but gosh darn I just can's see paying thousands anymore? Maybe you got a translator or some proprietary nonsense? I think we all would be wise to audit and revise what we really need.

    Hey if you need Microsoft Office, more power to ya, the only thing I need now is a way to export their proprietary format to a real format which can be used in oo32 ;)

  • So now the PHB's in the upper offices find this and think it's great, and move everyone to this. Great! Until the day the network has problems. Or you have to finish that presentation but are temporarily sitting in an office with no network because yours is getting remodeled.

    Two weeks ago my entire office was shut down for doing any real work, because all our work data is on a shared drive located on the network. Problem was that our office was being re-carpeted and the temp space they moved us into
    • by Abcd1234 (188840)

      So now the PHB's in the upper offices find this and think it's great, and move everyone to this. Great! Until the day the network has problems. Or you have to finish that presentation but are temporarily sitting in an office with no network because yours is getting remodeled.

      And therefore this thing is completely useles!

      Wow, congrats, you should tell Microsoft why this product is completely pointless and utterly sucks. I'm sure they'll be interested to hear your insights.

      Two weeks ago my entire office was

  • Business model (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Sunday May 09, 2010 @05:08PM (#32149334)

    I see MS doing several things with this, including:

    The free version builds understanding and credibility; especially if it integrates with teh desktop version. Once taht is done, migrate to paid for versions for businesses since the model is now accepted.

    Working to a client server model (despite the "cloud" what's old is new again) and partner / acquire a company in that space to offer businesses a full suite of services.

    If OfficeLive catches on, advertising will follow.

    Ultimately, I think it's about building a tight eco-system around office / entertainment / information that allows them to capture eyeballs for ads and combat piracy so content providers sign on. This is but one more shot in that battle.

    • Re:Business model (Score:5, Insightful)

      by M. Baranczak (726671) on Sunday May 09, 2010 @05:46PM (#32149522)

      My take on it: they decided to do it because Google's doing it, and they don't want to get "left behind". Then they came up with a plausible-sounding business case for their scheme.

      • My take on it: they decided to do it because Google's doing it, and they don't want to get "left behind". Then they came up with a plausible-sounding business case for their scheme.

        Yea, that works for me as well. MS has always been a fast follower; letting someone else build the market and then moving in to capitalize on it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

        • MS actually came out with something like this years ago before google did. They had search before google too.

          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by Bing Tsher E (943915)

            That's true, so long as all you're trying to search is C:

          • by jimicus (737525)

            MS actually came out with something like this years ago before google did. They had search before google too.

            Lots of people had search before Google. It's just that most of them did a lousy job of it.

  • Don't forget GUID. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Sunday May 09, 2010 @05:09PM (#32149342)
    Remember that all Office applications embed a GUID in the document. My guess would be that the online version would as well. So your privacy is up for grabs.

    Who cares if it's free, if you don't want it anyway?
    • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Sunday May 09, 2010 @05:12PM (#32149356)

      Remember that all Office applications embed a GUID in the document. My guess would be that the online version would as well. So your privacy is up for grabs.

      Oh joy! Does this mean I'll be able to track my documents via Facebook or will Facebook just do it for me without my knowledge?

      • Microsoft used it once to track down a virus writer. You may remember that case. But what it boils down to is that Office "called home" and reported to Microsoft what this person's GUID was. And Microsoft looked it up in their database to find the person who originally authored a Word macro virus.

        Cool, huh? Except that the potential for abuse is far larger than any good such data would be used for.

        People on the Web need to wise up to the concept that mere existence of personal data creates a potential
        • by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithy@NOSPam.gmail.com> on Sunday May 09, 2010 @07:28PM (#32150186)

          Microsoft used it once to track down a virus writer. You may remember that case. But what it boils down to is that Office "called home" and reported to Microsoft what this person's GUID was. And Microsoft looked it up in their database to find the person who originally authored a Word macro virus.

          This is false - though typical Slashdotist - anti-Microsoft hysteria.

          What actually happened was simple, old-fashioned police work. The original upload of Melissa was tracked to a newsgroup posting, which was subsequently tracked to an IP address belong to an AOL account. The police got the logs for that account from AOL, identified the address of the number that dialed into it, and then arrested the resident along with seizing their computer.

          The only role the GUID played was as supporting evidence that the document containing Melissa was, in fact, created on the computer that they had seized. It was also used fairly extensively throughout the computing world to identify other viruses that had been written by the same author, as they all had the same GUID.

          No phoning home. No centralised database of Office users. No conspiracy.

          • I read an article about the matter at the time, which included an interview with a Microsoft representative who claimed credit for tracking down the culprit, exactly as I described. If it isn't true, then blame the news and Microsoft, not me.

            It is true that I am not particularly fond of Microsoft as a company, but I did not make this up. It came from the "horse's mouth", as it were.
    • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday May 10, 2010 @04:32AM (#32152716) Journal

      Remember that all Office applications embed a GUID in the document. My guess would be that the online version would as well. So your privacy is up for grabs.

      Look...

      We're talking about storing documents - as in, text, spreadsheets, etc - in "the cloud". Which is to say, the storage provider has full access to their contents.

      What. Fucking. Privacy?

  • Trying to do a cloud version of what they did with Office 97's monopoly underpricing against WordPerfect. We'll see how it works this time.

  • I can afford it. No return hassles. No sales tax. No need for a warranty. No elevated expectations. Can they do this with Windows?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by vlm (69642)

      I can afford it. No return hassles. No sales tax. No need for a warranty. No elevated expectations. Can they do this with Windows?

      Did that years ago, at piratebay.

    • It's free to put your foot in bear trap.

      Once you have all your documents in OOXML format, then what happens when Microsoft can no longer provide the service for free? Or what if the free version of OOXML is not compitable with Office-2012?

      I don't know if that will happen, but from what I know of Microsoft's history, it seems possible, even likely.

  • by Motard (1553251) on Sunday May 09, 2010 @05:40PM (#32149492)

    Microsoft has no interest in OOXML. From Microsoft's perspective, it's deprecated. That's why they let it go. This is about XAML, upon which Silverlight is built. And XAML could be a very powerful thing.

    A subset of XAML, XPS replaces Postscript. Any static page that can be printed can be stored as XPS. XPS is/will be the printer control language in Windows.

    But XPS can also be displayed on screen (good bye Acrobat). XPS could be used to store any static document (goodbye Illustrator).

    But the superset XAML is dynamic framework for rich internet apps (goodbye Flash).

    XAML pages/apps can be designed in an Illustrator-like ExpressionWeb (goodbye HTML5 and CSS).

    Of course, you can use the Office Web Apps without Silverlight and you can still see PNG images of your document. But if you should decide to install Silverlight I bet you'll find it a better experience.

    • by bmo (77928)

      Two words:

      Display Postscript.

      That's what you just described. The only thing is that Display Postscript always had an onerous licensing scheme so it got dropped as a technology by nearly everyone. Adobe could revive it tomorrow if they wanted and XPS would be a smoking crater. The only question is if they're smart enough to do it.

      --
      BMO

    • what's the point? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jipn4 (1367823)

      Everything you describe already exists. What possible reason would people have to throw it all out and move to Microsoft't proprietary (and probably patented) standard?

  • clear strategy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DaveGod (703167) on Sunday May 09, 2010 @05:54PM (#32149562)

    The summary suggests this is a push to cement the OOXML standard and ultimately lock-in for MS Office. I don't really see why they need a free cloud-based offering to do that, MS Office has done extremely well at locking-in their standards in the past. TFA that it refers to also clearly argues this is MS having to compete with Google Docs, a much more evident profit motive. MS is also quoted that they see this as an opportunity to get at least a little income from people who, for various reasons, aren't currently paying for MS Office.

    Whether it remains free indefinitely depends on how it works out, i.e. whether they think it is making more money (directly and indirectly) than doing something else. Stating the obvious but it's a silly question. Even Openoffice is freely supported by Sun for a profit motive: breaking the MS standards lock-in.

    The Google quotes are on the money though. It's standard practice now for businesses to install Office on every machine while all the documents are saved to a network drive. This is a bit of a kludge really, people hunting through directories trying to find files is very cumbersome, especially since lots of people insist on saving works-in-progress to their desktop and only copying over when they're finished - and very often forgetting or not getting around to it.

    • I don't really see why they need a free cloud-based offering to do that, MS Office has done extremely well at locking-in their standards in the past. TFA that it refers to also clearly argues this is MS having to compete with Google Docs

      You seem to have almost answered your question. Msft has been successful at vendor lock-in, in the past, but now more people are wise to the scam. And now msft has to compete with google docs, and for the first time in a long time, msft may not be able to fully control the document standard. Some governments, and major institutions are taking a hard look at ODF.

      Msft hates and fears ODF. Why do you think msft went so totally balistic - bribing judges etc - to get their OOXML accepted as an ISO standard. Msft

  • Only if viable alternatives still exist. Once they are put down, then it will be converted to a pay service.

  • probably not (Score:5, Interesting)

    by v1 (525388) on Sunday May 09, 2010 @07:05PM (#32150050) Homepage Journal

    Or is Microsoft just trying to firmly establish its OOXML standard,

    I doubt that's the case at all. When you're going against other software such as Google Documents, you either have to offer a better product, tight lock-in, or better pricing. Free is hard to beat, you've committed (on paper anyway) to open standards which greatly hobbles your lock-in, and so you're left having to offer at least a good chunk of the features the competition is giving that you currently are not.

    Right now, Google Documents is offering a powerful new online service. I use Google Spreadsheet daily. It ain't perfect, but considering how new it is, it works amazingly well. It's easy to forget you're using a web browser when you just hit certain key combos for example out of habit, and to your surprise, they work perfect. Some of my spreadsheets can't be used with it, but the ability to collaborate online with others maintaining the same spreadsheets, at the exact same time, no emailing files back and forth all day or fighting over update locks on the LAN (or possible file corruption / data loss from an update war) it provides a unique, powerful, useful feature that my current use can't live without, and that MS Office doesn't offer. And my needs are far from unique. Everyone I tell about this is amazed and wants to try it because it gives them a useful option that MS Office just can't deliver.

    This is it for Office, this is their shot to either keep or lose a market. It's not surprising in the least that they're rushing to get something available asap for online collaboration.

    And if it were anybody but google, you can bet your last dollar that MS would have a whole herd of lawyers at someone's door with fistfuls of litigation trying to put a stop to it or at least stall it a year or two to give them a chance to catch up.

    IMHO Google Documents is one of THE best things to come out of Google Labs. In the end, who knows, maybe MS will be offering a superior product. But there's simply no way this could happen without the necessary motivation.

  • Microsoft will offer a product which does some of what Office 2010 does but which does not offer key features and does not offer 24/7 uptime.

    There is no promise to support the product for any particular time, so based on past history, the product will change every 3-4 years and at least once per decade, prior data will become unsupported to lesser or greater degrees.

    I really disliked office 2010. I can buy it for $10 if I want to. It was slower and it was unable to print a lot of my complicated office 200

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