Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Friday, September 15, 2006

Office 2.0: Enterprise PC-Based Computing Moves To New Shore

Sponsored Links

"The idea is pretty simple: use a generic web browser and a set of online services to provide all the functionality needed by a computer user, removing the need for any application to be installed on the computer itself. I call it Office 2.0)"
(Source: Ismael Ghalimi - IT/Redux)

by John Blossom

The Microsoft Windows-based PC has been a staple of enterprise offices for more than twenty years, a technology that has created a stable environment for publishers to develop value-add services.


But with the arrival of new office technologies that rely on open Web-oriented standards the broad assumption of having Windows as the foundation for those value-add revenues is being challenged.

Office 2.0 is a nascent movement with plenty of rough edges, but tomorrow's winners will be those publishers who are embracing and shaping the services available in the Office 2.0 environment today.

The former headquarters of the Western Union telegraph company lingered well into the 20th century in an aging but majestic building on Battery Place at the tip of Manhattan. Although the telegram was a quaint anachronism by the time I started working down the street from it twenty years ago, you could still send one if you were so inclined.

Today Western Union no longer sends telegrams but is a very successful subsidiary of First Data Corp working out of Colorado that leverages a worldwide network of offices to manage money transfers for consumers and businesses.

Communications, yes, but a communications business transformed by necessity into a highly refined model for success. The commercial telegraph itself, though, the revolutionary communications technology of the 19th century, has passed into history.

The Windows-based personal computer is also showing signs that it will pass into commercial history at some point in this century, though its parent Microsoft are already trying to position themselves for a successful transition.

Through its Live Office initiative Microsoft is acknowledging that a new generation of enterprise content users are going to be creating business information online, making it far easier to consume content in devices other than standard Windows platforms.

With increasing questions about the performance of Microsoft's new Vista operating system for Windows, perhaps this day will come sooner rather than later. But whenever it does, publishers need to be ready for environments in which Windows is not the common denominator on business desktops.

The need for a cross-platform approach to content creation and deployment is underscored by an emerging movement labeled Office 2.0.

In its current incarnation Office 2.0 is little more than an upcoming conference and a relatively small catalog of office automation applications available via the Web and which are based primarily on open source platforms supported by technologies such as AJAX and using browser-based controls largely independent of PCs. But given the emergence of Web 2.0 technologies supporting the "read-write Web" and their rapid adoption by major enterprises the acceleration of content creation and consumption in environment not beholden to Microsoft products is likely to have an accelerated growth curve.

This growth is being accelerated by ASP-modeled services such as, which are incorporating both enterprise content and content from major business information suppliers, providing outsourced integrated access to both internal and external content.

What will be the enterprise platform of the future for most publishers?

In some ways that platform is already here in the form of browser-based content now dominating most electronic services from publishers and aggregators. But the underlying assumption of most publishers trying to provide value-add services is that the broad and comfortable safety net of Microsoft infrastructure will be there for the little "hooks" that can help their products to distinguish themselves on enterprise desktops.

As more and more key content in enterprises develops in collaborative environments that eliminate the need for many of Microsoft's core strengths those "hooks" need to move more to packaging that can be used on any number of devices that will not have that familiar packaging to support them.

The net result of these developments is a far more distributed approach to business information that leaves publishers with some major issues to address over the next several years. A few key factors:

  • Desktop workflow applications are becoming a big question mark for high-end revenues

    Photo credit: N. Design Studio

    At the very top of the market there are pockets in which enterprises will continue to pay for Windows-based software for applications with a high payback. However the building surge of collaborative software based on AJAX technologies and the prevalence of browsers as the common interface for those seeking content call into question of just how quickly publishers should be pushing into Windows-integrated workflow solutions.

    In the push for next-quarter earnings these kinds of concerns may seem like background noise. But in a few years the ability of publishers to maintain margins at the top end of their enterprise markets may hinge very directly on how deeply they were thinking about platform independence today.

  • Supporting print is going to get complicated
    Photo credit: N. Design Studio

    While Adobe PDF documents are the most common print-friendly format for electronic information from publishers. With the rise of Office 2.0 alternatives the barriers are lowered for XML-based content to build print-friendly materials without having to rely on Adobe's somewhat ponderous approach to document display.

    There is an enormous library of Adobe PDF materials that's not going to disappear overnight, of course, but with lighter open source software providing alternatives for print display based on XML-formatted files the future of print-formatted materials is much less clear than it was even a year ago. Publishers need to make sure that they are on the right industry technology committees to consider how their needs are best met in a rapidly evolving market for on-demand print services.

  • A lot of assumptions about DRM packaging may be going out the window
    Photo credit: N. Design Studio

    Many enterprise-oriented publishers and content technology companies have been playing a relatively passive role in DRM standards, even as enterprises themselves have been very active in adopting leading DRM technologies for their own use. The hope of many in publishing was that Microsoft's Windows Vista platform would help sort this all out. But with the delay of Vista and the pressing need for compliance and privacy controls many non-Microsoft DRM alternatives have taken root.

    This leaves publishers with a mixed field of DRM standards through which their content needs to be deployed rapidly in the emerging collaborative environments being used by today's enterprises. Few enterprise-oriented publishers have taken this requirement seriously to date, but it promises to be one of the most important technology factors on which will hinge future revenues in a Web-centric enterprise information environment.

As the Western Union experience illustrates it can take a long time for one generation's key technologies to make their way into the history books.

The lights won't be going out in Redmond any time soon, but in an era in which technology has greatly accelerated the pace of change in publishing you can expect that transition to be more rapid than many expect today.

Office 2.0, your time has come.

Originally written by John Blossom, President of Shore Communications Inc. on ContentBlogger(TM) with the original title: "Office 2.0: Publishers Confront A Long Twilight of Personal Computers in the Enterprise" on September 11th 2006

Read more about John and the management consulting services of Shore Communications Inc. covering enterprise, media and personal publishing at

John Blossom -
Reference: Shore [ Read more ]
Readers' Comments    
2006-09-15 15:50:38


Some interesting Microsoft connections

posted by Robin Good on Friday, September 15 2006, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

Search this site for more with 








    Curated by

    New media explorer
    Communication designer


    POP Newsletter

    Robin Good's Newsletter for Professional Online Publishers  



    Real Time Web Analytics