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Google To Steal Office Web Apps' Thunder?

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the slap-fight-underway dept.

Google 151

Barence writes "Google has stepped up its assault on Microsoft's productivity software with the acquisition of a start-up company that allows Office users to edit and share their documents on the Web. The search giant has acquired DocVerse for an undisclosed sum. Product manager Jonathan Rochelle said DocVerse software makes it easier for users and businesses to move their existing PC documents to the cloud, and that Google 'fell in love with what they were doing to make that transition easier.' Microsoft said in an emailed statement that Google's acquisition of DocVerse acknowledges that customers want to use and collaborate with Office documents. 'Furthermore, it reinforces that customers are embracing Microsoft's long-stated strategy of software plus services, which combines rich client software with cloud services.'"

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market proof. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31406804)

All these customers running to our competitor proofs that there is(was) a market for our product!

Re:market proof. (4, Interesting)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407840)

I like how the Microsoft icon is Bill Gates as a Borg, but Google is just the logo.

Given that Google is the company spending its endless flow of advertising dollars acquiring everything in sight, the icons really ought to be the other way around.

Normal people hate web apps. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31406850)

Most developers don't realize this, but average users absolutely hate web apps. They typically aren't anywhere near as easy to use as normal desktop applications.

The ones who hate them the most are the long-time users who once were able to use real applications, but were forced into using "upgraded" web-based versions. They saw their productivity drop, and they're not happy about it. After all, they're the ones who then get stuck putting in longer hours to do the same job, just because of a supposed software "upgrade".

As long as Google focuses only on the web, then Microsoft has absolutely nothing to worry about. Their desktop applications will always be superior to whatever web-based apps Google or anyone else might put out.

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31406932)

Most users don't realize this, but what you consider to be a "web app" is most likely neutered to be compatible with IE6. You've probably never experienced what a real web app can be, which is basically identical to a desktop app, UI wise.

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (2, Interesting)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406998)

....sounds like something a web app developer would say.

I kid, kid. ;)

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31407094)

I hate to break it to you, but IE6 is used by about 30% of home users in America, 25% of home users in Europe, and upwards of 85% of home users in South Korea and Japan. For those same regions, corporate IE6 users are typically an additional 10% to 15% beyond those values.

Talk all you want about "real web apps". They're absolutely useless when so many people just can't run them.

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (1)

brad-x (566807) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407168)

~65% of users in America and Europe actually. Let's not declare IE dead before its time.

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (2, Funny)

Dewin (989206) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407532)

~65% of users in America and Europe actually. Let's not declare IE dead before its time.

But there's already been a funeral... [slashdot.org]

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (1)

brad-x (566807) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407740)

Crap. I misread the post to which I replied. I thought they were referring to Internet Explorer and not just version 6 :[

Let's see some of these "real web apps". (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31407236)

Come on, bub. Show us some of these "real web apps". I sure as fuck haven't seen them. Every web app I've worked with has been shit.

Google's web apps are good compared to most other web apps, but pale in comparison to real desktop apps. Thunderbird is much nicer to use than GMail's web UI. Even Outlook is more functional, and Outlook is a piece of crap itself.

Re:Let's see some of these "real web apps". (1)

ahabswhale (1189519) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408080)

Really? What functionality does Outlook provide that makes it more functional than what Google offers? I'd also like to know what's so great about Thunderbird. It's been while since I used it but I was not even remotely impressed by it.

Re:Let's see some of these "real web apps". (1)

Eponymous Coward (6097) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408098)

Hmmmm... I actually prefer GMail to Thunderbird. I don't think I'm alone.

I do agree with you about Outlook though. Never liked that program.

Re:Let's see some of these "real web apps". (1)

socz (1057222) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408240)

gmail now has filters that work just like thunderbird, so thats a plus...

They also have a better search than the latest tb. Beside being able to drag and drop gmail is as least as good as TB, which is superior to outlook.

Re:Let's see some of these "real web apps". (3, Interesting)

Sark666 (756464) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408438)

You're kidding right? lot's of little annoying things in gmail. For ex, my voip provider has an email forwarding option for voicemail which I use with a gmail account. A friend called a while back and I was trying to find his number. I knew it was 310870 but that's all i could recall. So search for that and get nothing. Partial searches don't work in the subject.

I know, I'll sort by sender. Oh that's right, it's newest to oldest and that's it. Can't sort by attachments, name etc on the fly. Yeah you can do most/all with a filter, but what a pain. klunky in lots of ways.

Re:Let's see some of these "real web apps". (3, Insightful)

ffflala (793437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408662)

It's possible that you're just more comfortable with what you already know well. These things are all easily accomplished in gmail.

Next to the "search mail" button on the top of the screen is the "show search options" link. There you will find fields for searching by sender and attachments. Just click the "has attachment" button and hit search: attachments. I *just* tried a partial search --also for a part of a phone number-- and got precise results, including every message with the entire phone number. No idea why your partial string search failed.

I find this approach both easier and more precise than the slow, apparently unindexed and certainly not boolean search toolbar in Outlook.

Re:Let's see some of these "real web apps". (3, Interesting)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408994)

I *just* tried a partial search --also for a part of a phone number-- and got precise results, including every message with the entire phone number. No idea why your partial string search failed.

I just tried the same thing, and it didn't work. I prefer the gmail interface over thunderbird, but he's right: there are quite a few things that are "klunky".

Re:Let's see some of these "real web apps". (1)

Tharsman (1364603) | more than 4 years ago | (#31410018)

I use gmail mainly because they provide free webmail with IMAP.

As far as online mail interfaces go, though, my favorite is Yahoo Mail's. It's a shame I must pay to get IMAP with them. I HATE Gmail's interface. Hate, hate hate hate hate. They attempt to treat the thing as some form of threaded forum. That's not evolution, it's regression.

If yahoo started offering email forwarding and IMAP for free, I'd just start forwarding all my gmail email into my yahoo mail account and never log into gmail again.

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (3, Insightful)

nemesisrocks (1464705) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407694)

Like it or not, web apps -- even the most powerful of them -- still suffer from one basic sticking point: They're limited by the browser.

Here's the perfect example: Name one webmail client where you can copy a picture from anywhere (browser, word, powerpoint) and paste it into an email. You can't, because web browsers lack (for security) the ability to interact with your clipboard.

Web apps suffer from another problem: Browsers use a "page based" paradigm. You know, because most of the web is about navigating between pages. Try as hard as you might, you can't get rid of those "Back" and "Forward" buttons above your application. In almost all web apps, a click of one of these buttons is disastrous. Sure, you can hack around it with frequent autosaves, but your poor user will still lose data.

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407926)

Actually the last one is easy, just open a new window without the buttons.

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (1)

RudeIota (1131331) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408456)

Copy and pasting images DOES live on the web. A surprising example is AOL email. You can copy and paste a picture from one email to another.. Yes, I said AOL email.

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408544)

Only from another web window from the same domain, though. Local file URIs cannot be pasted in because it would be a cross-domain violation. And when you copy and paste between email messages, you're really just copying and pasting a URI. Since the server knows about that URI, it can deal with that. If it's a file URI on your local hard drive, the server has no way to fetch the image from your hard drive, nor does the recipient, so the other person would get a broken image icon (if the server even bothered to pass the <img> tag through at all).

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408560)

Also, it's not entirely true that web apps don't interact with the clipboard. They are, however, limited to certain types of content (basically plain text, styled text, or HTML, IIRC) when doing so.

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (2, Informative)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408498)

Actually, in a proper web app, you take advantage of onbeforeunload. For example, consider the fairly minimal web app used in the Safari Client-Side Storage and Offline Applications Programming Guide [apple.com] . It's not described in the documentation, but in the complete sample (part of the companion files archive), it does this:

/*! This returns a string if you have not yet saved changes. This is used by the onbeforeunload
handler to warn you if you are about to leave the page with unsaved changes. */
function saveChangesDialog(event)
{
var contentdiv = document.getElementById('contentdiv');
var contents = contentdiv.contentDocument.body.innerHTML;
var origcontentdiv = document.getElementById('origcontentdiv');
var origcontents = origcontentdiv.innerHTML;

// alert('close dialog');

if (contents == origcontents) {
return NULL;
}

return "You have unsaved changes."; // CMP "+contents+" TO "+origcontents;
}

/*! This sets up an onbeforeunload handler to avoid accidentally navigating away from the
page without saving changes. */
function setupEventListeners()
{
window.onbeforeunload = function () {
return saveChangesDialog();
};
}

When you are using this and you try to navigate away from the page, whether with back/forward buttons or with the close button, the browser displays a dialog box. If users click "OK", then yeah, they lose their changes. If they click "Cancel", then the back/forward/close clicks are ignored and they're dropped back into the web app.

Note that the handler function must *not* call alert() itself. It must do as little work as possible and must return a string for the browser to display. The "You have unsaved changes." bit comes from the script. The rest of the dialog box is browser-specific. Note that you cannot do very much in this function or the browser will ignore the handler entirely. That's why a lot of folks seem to believe that Safari doesn't support onbeforeunload.... In the case of Safari, this bit of code generates a dialog box that looks something like this:

JavaScript

Are you sure you want to leave this page?

You have unsaved changes.

Click OK to continue, or Cancel to stay on this page.

(OK) (Cancel)

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407902)

Bullshit. Webapps are a bad idea, they are built around the entire concept that the web browser is the new OS and it shall run the apps.

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (1)

Eponymous Coward (6097) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408114)

You got that right. Who do they think they are? Emacs?

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (1)

toastar (573882) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407030)

Most developers don't realize this, but average users absolutely hate web apps. They typically aren't anywhere near as easy to use as normal desktop applications.

The ones who hate them the most are the long-time users who once were able to use real applications, but were forced into using "upgraded" web-based versions. They saw their productivity drop, and they're not happy about it. After all, they're the ones who then get stuck putting in longer hours to do the same job, just because of a supposed software "upgrade".

As long as Google focuses only on the web, then Microsoft has absolutely nothing to worry about. Their desktop applications will always be superior to whatever web-based apps Google or anyone else might put out.

You are correct that web apps aren't there yet. But It's not the platform, It the development investment. If you were to compare google spreadsheet to say lotus 1-2-3 most people would go for the web app, The problem is half the functions are missing compared to a modern spreadsheet prog.

  I'd say office 2007 is a pretty major improvement, At least for me only because excel can open way way more cells now.

God have you seen google's idea of powerpoint?

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (4, Insightful)

TENTH SHOW JAM (599239) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407296)

God have you seen google's idea of powerpoint?

No, but since I have to sit through hours of badly presented Microsoft Powerpoint presentations, nothing can be worse. If Google breaks powerpoint to the point where presenters have to present data using whiteboards, OHPs, movies, handouts, and good old fashioned oratory, then count me in.

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (1, Funny)

abigor (540274) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407376)

Well call me crazy, but I prefer the dual presentation modes of mime and interpretive dance, myself.

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (3, Insightful)

MrCrassic (994046) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407888)

Good orators can present regardless of the medium. Folks that are bad with PPT are more than likely bad at other forms of presenting too, so don't think crippling Powerpoint and forcing a throwback will change anything.

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (2, Funny)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408064)

... don't think crippling Powerpoint and forcing a throwback will change anything.

It will actually be a very big regression - most people will have to present with the lights on, which will ruin my napping.

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31410176)

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Re:Normal people hate web apps. (3, Insightful)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407592)

I'd say office 2007 is a pretty major improvement, At least for me only because excel can open way way more cells now.

There is a reason why there are these called databases. Stop using excel as a database. The old 65,000 row limit was too large. When spreadsheets get that large it is time to 'upgrade' to a database. Use database views (or what ever they are called in your database of choice) to sum up the data so that the smaller spreadsheet application can handle the data.

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (2, Insightful)

pugdk (697845) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408086)

And you have obviously never dealt with large spreadsheets that are unsuitable for a database or data for which it would not make any sense to make a database.

At least people like you don't get to make important decisions like keeping an idiotic low fixed row/column limit.

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (1)

segedunum (883035) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407334)

Most developers don't realize this, but average users absolutely hate web apps. They typically aren't anywhere near as easy to use as normal desktop applications.

It's the other way on. Developers hate web applications because they're generally a pain to work with and certainly to debug, but users like them because they can use them from anywhere and they're easy to use and update without installing anything. Because of that users are generally very happy to put up with many quirks and the generally slow response in web apps.

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (4, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407428)

It's the other way on. Developers hate web applications...

Both wrong. :)

Developers hate them and users hate them.

Unfortunately Marketing departments, bean counters like them. (Neither of these groups actually use them of course, but based on their paradigm shifting synergistic sizzle coolness 2.0 and low support costs per table 16-1 in Appendix PHBs couldn't possibly resist foisting them onto their users even if they wanted resist. (But why would they resist... overseeing the deployment of paradigm shifting synergistic coolness that would save the company money on paper is what PHB promotions are driven by. Its resume gold.

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (4, Funny)

bencoder (1197139) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407506)

Syntax error line 4. Expected )), got EOF.

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408730)

Syntax error line 4. got ) without matching (.

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (2, Funny)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408756)

Err... line 2.

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (0, Offtopic)

akonbrew (1762172) | more than 4 years ago | (#31410204)

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Re:Normal people hate web apps. (4, Interesting)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407404)

Most developers don't realize this, but average users absolutely hate web apps. They typically aren't anywhere near as easy to use as normal desktop applications.

That may be true - but its funny how these things always work out - its the developers who decide where the platform is, not the user. Developers are loving web apps. Why? It means you don't have to worry about installing your app, you don't have to worry about different versions, updating is a snap, support is a snap, and its accessible from almost anywhere. These "Upgraded" versions make a developer's and a support staff's life easier. So thats the way the market is going to go.

As long as Google focuses only on the web, then Microsoft has absolutely nothing to worry about.

Sounds like some famous last words. Like how Newspapers won't have to worry about internet blogs.

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (3, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407554)

I think it depends on what you mean by "web apps". If you mean functional pages (online entry forms and that sort of thing), it's no worse than Java. But man, once you start taling AJAX/Web 2.0, it's fucking hell. While there's less work for browser-specific issues than there used to be (and providing you're not having to deal with legacy B.S., which a lot of in-house guys having to support IE6 apps do), it's still a bastard. Even with decent frameworks, complex web apps are significantly more complex than desktop equivalents; harder to design out of the box, harder to debug, with all sorts of issues, like latency and network issues, that desktop apps don't really have to deal with it. Making these apps appear as seamless as a desktop app is no mean feat.

Frankly, I think the browser is probably one of the worst application platforms ever developed. With any other GUI, there's reasonably close tie-in with the operating system. WEb apps are basically client-server apps based on browser kludges and a slippery-as-a-snake DOM and CSS APIs, which often look like GUI framework APIs redesigned by either the criminally insane or possibly severely mentally retarded.

I'm sure software makers/vendors love web apps for the reasons you state, but for the guy trying to code, debug and maintain this stuff, with the variety of web servers, operating systems and browsers, there is nothing but regret that Java, as ugly as it can get, never took off on the web. Because as ugly as Java can be, it's a paradise compared to some behemoth built out of CSS, PHP/Python/Java and Javascript backending some database on to some browser window.

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (4, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407876)

Then you aren't implementing AJAX properly. You can tell when a request is launched, when its started its return, and when the information you've requested is successfully back. Albeit, this is not an easy thing to learn - but once you've got it down it makes Web Apps a whole lot easier.

When you've got a network issue - it's going to affect your Desktop App or your web app. Latency is latency - the only difference is a desktop app will wait for the network, a web app you have to tell it to wait (or you can tell it to do something else, if there is other stuff to do).

I find Web Apps easier to debug, because its running off of a single server, not the client. So "duplicating" the error is as easy as repeating the steps the user did. I do not have to make sure my environment is configured exactly like theirs.

Perhaps your dissatisfaction falls into the way things are implemented in your work environment. I get the feeling YOU didn't choose the "CSS, PHP/Python/Java and Javascript backending some database " but someone else did, and now you're stuck maintaining (meaning cleaning up) their mess.

I have never had a real issue using AJAX with an ASP.NET front end, C# or VB back end, handling an Oracle/MySQL Database. Everything within that architecture is designed with the others in mind - and it makes programming a dream.

And if your company is willing to dish out the cash for some AJAX user controls - like Telerik or something, you don't even have to deal with AJAX all that much, and most of your code is written for you.

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (1)

myocardialinfarction (1606123) | more than 4 years ago | (#31410014)

"Albeit, this is not an easy thing to learn" Albeit macht frei. Sometimes it all just seems to be an artifact of the lowering of expectations.

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (2, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407896)

... you don't have to worry about different versions, updating is a snap...

Only problem here, and it's worth mentioning: it also means that you can't just stick with a stable version.

No, no, not "stable" like "doesn't crash". "Stable" like "doesn't change". There are users out there happily using Office 2000 and it hasn't changed because it is installed locally on their computers. There isn't going to be anyone happily using a 3-year-old version of Google Docs, since it's seamlessly automatically upgraded behind the scenes. Wake up one day, and things are different.

Not that it's the end of the world. I just think it's good to recognize that many times perfectly good features like "automatically and seamlessly updates itself to always have the newest version" have a flip side that might possibly annoy the crap out of someone.

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408726)

Most developers don't realize this, but average users absolutely hate web apps. They typically aren't anywhere near as easy to use as normal desktop applications. Developers are loving web apps.

That may be true - but its funny how these things always work out - its the developers who decide where the platform is, not the user.

Funny how that works - for years we've been told that good business (where customer facing or internal facing) revolves around customer service. Now, it's fuck the customer - developers love web apps.
 

These "Upgraded" versions make a developer's and a support staff's life easier.

And, as above, we used to hire developers to make the customer's lives easier and more productive...

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (1)

newdsfornerds (899401) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408964)

Anything that allows the app developers/vendors to avoid dealing with the quagmire that is (almost always) Windows is a boon, right? And then there's never having to port your app to another OS.

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407586)

I have a love/hate relationship with WebApps. Their UIs are generally slower and clunkier than that of a local program. They generally don't have as many features, and lots of operations are more difficult to do remotely.

However, for collaboration and remote access, they're simply awesome. I'd never use Google Docs to write a report or an essay. But Google Docs was awesome for setting up a wedding spreadsheet that both my fiancee and I can access and update when we book things, or get RSVPs.

In the end, it's horses for courses. I'll use both local apps and remote ones for different tasks. I'll probably never use either one exclusively.

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408780)

Alternatively, local apps that synchronize to a server could serve both purposes. In an ideal world, the only case where web apps would be more convenient than native apps is when you don't have your own computer with you, e.g. using somebody else's computer for checking your mail or whatever. It's also a security hole so big you can drive a truck through it, so one could reasonably argue that this is a bad idea....

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408824)

Well, it'd have to be local apps that can interoperate with others of the same class (so all parties don't need to purchase the same software) and a free service that runs a synchronisation server (otherwise you've got the extra overhead of running and maintaining that yourself).

As to the security "hole", it's not really. It's a possible security problem, as you need to trust your provider, but it's not a "hole" in the way that security vulnerabilities are a hole. Having local apps synchronize to a server has the same hole - whether the app is browser-based or not doesn't really matter.

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (4, Insightful)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407686)

I really think you've started with a flawed premise.

I've actually found that users LOVE web apps if they do what they're intended to do AND the company is willing to move beyond the IE6 sphere of stupidity.

I was working for a media company and they deployed a web app that made it easier for journos to submit stories, the only desktop app required was used by the editors. No longer did they have to log in to a VPN and run a very network intensive publishing app via satellite from remote places just to submit the story. They could submit stories written in say notepad and copied & pasted into this app. The same company uses many other web apps that users like. The only time there's a complaint is when the developers screw up and break the app. This happens with ALL apps (same publishing app mentioned before broke almost weekly and it is not a web app).

There's many other web apps (including Google Documents) that are giving users a fresh look on web apps. While I can understand people's hesitations, I remember the good old days of crummy web apps crashing your computer and chewing processor time like there's no tomorrow, I do feel that we'll see a fundamental shift from local to cloud apps in the near future by choice. My father at 67 has moved entirely to OpenOffice with Google Docs sync as he writes a lot on the road. For me, this is a sign of just how little hold Microsoft really has on the end user market.

It seems the ONLY people I see complaining these days are people who work in IT. I'm not sure if these people have just not spoken to their users in 10 years, the web apps they deploy are crap, or that they fear their own expendability in the coming years.

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (3, Insightful)

chgros (690878) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409802)

No longer did they have to log in to a VPN and run a very network intensive publishing app via satellite from remote places just to submit the story.
Wait. The desktop app was more network intensive than the web app? Were they using X forwarding or something? And the web app somehow doesn't require the VPN? This doesn't make sense.

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (2, Informative)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407802)

The ones who hate them the most are the long-time users who once were able to use real applications

I don't know about that. I've long used various thick clients to read my e-mail; and then, one day, I switched to GMail, and didn't look back. I'm perfectly happy with UI and features - and, most importantly, the fact that they are the same and readily available on any computer I might come by.

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (1)

MrCrassic (994046) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407868)

On your last point, keep in mind that Microsoft has all the potential to export MOST of their key (and, thus, show-stopping) Office functionality right to the web...while making it work with IE6 somehow. (I hope they don't, though; IE6 really needs to die.) That and its absolutely competitive price of NOTHING will probably sink GDocs like a lead weight when they release it.

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (4, Insightful)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407934)

This sort of thinking is the same as what inspired the Newsweek article from 1995 which was discussed earlier today. That article predicted that the internet would never catch on because it was hard to use in its current form. You have to remember that the platform is going to continue to improve and be refined.

Already, the Google apps are easy to use for basic tasks. They load quickly, and while they may lack certain features and polish that can be found in the latest version of Office, they are quite usable. They're only going to get better, and browsers and PCs are only going to keep improving. There isn't much that can be added to Office for 95% of users, so the gap will close.

The biggest advantage to web apps is file management. I don't have to consider where my files are stored, or which computers have access to them. I don't have to worry that I have two different versions if I worked on a file remotely. I don't have to worry about what happens if my hard drive crashes. Users hate worrying about those things.

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408856)

The biggest disadvantage to web apps is file management. I don't know where my files are stored, or which computers have access to them. I don't have backups of old versions. I lose everything if the provider's hard drive crashes and they don't keep proper backups. Users hate worrying about those things, so they just put their hands over their ears and shout "LALALALALALALALA" at the tops of their lungs, which works well enough until it comes crashing down around them like a house of cards. Which it does (e.g. Danger, JournalSpace, Ma.gnolia, Digital Railroad, etc.).

FTFY.

Re:Normal people hate web apps. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31409240)

Web apps, at least, have a minimum number of ways of screwing with you, as compared to the Microsoft Suite, which asks: How can I fuck with you today?

Our firm -- a large firm -- is standardized on the Microsoft Suite. I cannot recount a SINGLE proposal effort in which a Microsoft document hasn't stopped responding, corrupted itself, or puked at the worst possible time. Ask any "heavy" Microsoft user, they'll probably have had a similar experience. In fact, it's taken for granted to the point that it's a normal part of the writing and publishing experience.

So by all means... limit the googaws and give me a web app over MS Office, anyday. Or better yet, let me use Apple iWork, which costs $79 to Office's hundreds of dollars, and delivers a far better experience.

Uh.huh (2, Troll)

alexborges (313924) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406904)

'Furthermore, it reinforces that customers are embracing Microsoft's long-stated strategy of software plus services, which combines rich client software with cloud services.'"

Ok, that doesnt look well. Let me correct it:

'Furthermore, it reinforces that customers are embracing Microsoft's long-dead strategy of software plus services, which combines rich client software with cloud services.'"

There.

Re:Uh.huh (3, Insightful)

brad-x (566807) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407276)

Rich client software connecting to network servers is a long-standing formula that everyone has employed until the cloud buzzword bandwagon rolled into town. In most cases software applications running on the local computer will remain much more feature-rich and contain much more functionality than a web based application.

The day web based applications overtake desktop applications is the day the web browser weighs in at over a gigabyte in size, accounting for all the API's and associated background services that will be required to deliver them.

This is just another attempt at offering 'software as a service', rental software which is something slashdotters moaned loudly about when Microsoft promoted the concept in the early 2000's. Now that Google is planning on it, it's being hailed as heroism.

Re:Uh.huh (1)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407748)

So, thin clients? Or maybe thick clients? The user's machine only has enough software to get a web browser online. Everything else is out there in the cloud.

For the time being, there will be end users who do not trust the cloud. They want to be able to get to their apps/docs/files when ever they want to. Also back in the early 2000's the internet was not as big as it is today. There are a lot more people using it today. Timing can also be a factor.

Re:Uh.huh (1)

brad-x (566807) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407884)

Remote desktops is a possibility, but the real loss that will stem from the tide of cloud computing is the atrophy of the personal computer down to a set top box whose usage is supported by ads. An iPad or iPhone is an apt example - when the personal computer no longer exists, where will an end-user's freedom to explore go?

The Tinkerer's Sunset [diveintomark.org] is a good example of what bothers me about the current widespread embrace of cloud computing.

Re:Uh.huh (1)

hughperkins (705005) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409150)

By then, maybe we'll be able to print things in 3D, real things, that work. Or have them build themselves out of nanobots, like in Stephenson's "The Diamond Age". Maybe we can program our own flies and cockroaches, by manipulating DNA, in our bedrooms. Who knows? The time we save by not having to write scripts to turn our wifi on and off without crashing and stuff, we can put into the new technologies that might arrive in the future.

Re:Uh.huh (1)

RocketRabbit (830691) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409762)

Actually, it's more like this:

'Furthermore, it reinforces that customers are embracing Microsoft's long-dead strategy of software plus services, which combines poor client software with cloud services.'

Cloud (0, Troll)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406922)

Great, more JavaShit-ridden bloatware that stores all your stuff on someone else's server while feeding you a steady AJAX-based stream of ads.

The only reason this stuff is so popular now is because people won't pay $99.99 for a MS Office license anymore so instead MS/Google are writing server-side adware to try and get the $99 from advertisers over a couple of years. Stuff your anti-spyware scanner would automatically delete for you if it was being run locally.

Web application == Remotely accessed spyware

Re:Cloud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31407252)

Most web apps that mimic local apps make me LOL.

How about those little instant messaging things in facebook, google mail, and gawd knows where else. Screw that!

Re:Cloud (4, Interesting)

ajs (35943) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407406)

Great, more JavaShit-ridden bloatware

So, JavaScript makes it bloatware? Last time I checked, Google Docs was faster loading by large factor than OpenOffice, MS Office or any of the other WP/Spreadsheet apps out there. How do you define "bloated," here?

that stores all your stuff on someone else's server

You make it sound as if that comes with no advantages. There are dozens ... here are a few.

  • Google's reliable storage which is backed up for you
  • documents and be shared or collaborated on with other users
  • the options for publishing to and interacting with the Web from docs is, frankly, a game-ender for locally hosted Office suites.
  • The ability to continue to access your documents even if your new computer is a different OS or hardware vendor with no purchased software.

One demo of the idea of publishing data to the Web that blew me away was in Google's Official Blog about their public data sources [blogspot.com] , where they plotted a time-series of world fertility data. There's lots of decent examples on the Google Docs official blog [blogspot.com] as well.

There's also the fact that all Google applications allow you to export your data to local apps, if you wish. The Open Office format export is quite nice in Google Docs (import is OK, but at least for the spreadsheet it has a ways to go).

while feeding you a steady AJAX-based stream of ads.

Only if you don't want to pay for it. Google Docs via a premium Google Apps domain does not have ads.

The only reason this stuff is so popular now is because people won't pay $99.99 for a MS Office license anymore so instead MS/Google are writing server-side adware to try and get the $99 from advertisers over a couple of years.

Ah... no. That's the reason that they're doing it, not the reason that it's popular. The reason that it's popular is that it's useful and free (again, if you don't want to pay for the ad-free version).

Stuff your anti-spyware scanner would automatically delete for you if it was being run locally.

Most anti-spyware scanners don't give a rat's petard about applications that show ads or applications that store files remotely. Typically, the goal is to ferret out software that does either without the user's knowledge or ability to prevent. In both cases, Google Docs is 100% opt-in and entirely friendly to those who wish to opt out later on. [dataliberation.org]

Web application == Remotely accessed spyware

If your definition of spyware is any Web site that records your activity on the site or saves documents that you create for later use, then you need to include every ecommerce site on the planet. I don't think that's a definition the majority of the technical community would agree with.

Re:Cloud (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407528)

How do I get Google Office to load in the less than .5 seconds it takes the various Office apps to start on my local system?

Re:Cloud (5, Insightful)

ajs (35943) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407640)

How do I get Google Office to load in the less than .5 seconds it takes the various Office apps to start on my local system?

What Office apps are you using? I'm using Open Office and I just opened the spreadsheet app. it took exactly 11sec to open and present a blank spreadsheet.

On the other hand loading a 2-page long existing document in Google Docs just took 2 seconds (that's with a trans-national proxy through my company's gateway in the middle) in a browser that had not previously visited Google Docs (and thus had no cached JavaScript, etc.)

My experience with MS Office is that it's faster than OOo, but slower than Google Docs.

However, both MS Office and OOo speed up significantly once you've already loaded them once on most platforms. Why? Because they stay resident, taking up system resources. You can do the same thing in your browser with Google Docs. Just keep a tab open with Google Docs and all of your documents will come up faster.

The real bottom line isn't a matter of benchmarks, however, it's that the original poster's claim that Google Docs was "bloatware" ignores the fact that it's an implementation of a very large system which is at least as bloated in every fully-featured implementation.

Re:Cloud (2, Informative)

brad-x (566807) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407794)

It takes Microsoft Excel approximately 1.5 seconds to load on a moderately old PC running Windows XP; this with many more features available to it...

Re:Cloud (2, Informative)

ahabswhale (1189519) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408124)

Yeah because your start menu preloads most of it. Kill that and then start an office app and you'll get a fair comparison. For reference, I can startup a large spreadsheet in Google Docs in 3 seconds. Beat that with your moderately old PC and MSoft Excel.

Re:Cloud (1)

bobsil1 (115706) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409104)

You have to count browser load time if you're going to measure it that way.

Re:Cloud (2, Insightful)

ahabswhale (1189519) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409188)

Actually, no I don't. The browser is the operating system. So unless you want to count how long it takes to boot windows...

Re:Cloud (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409342)

I couldn't even login to Google in the time it took to load Excel on a freshly booted system. If you are going to discount any preloading of Excel then surely you would have to also turn off the "Stay signed in" checkbox for Google and clear the browser cache so all the javascript files have to be downloaded.

That is unless you want to test the actual user experience of these products, which must surely be the most fair and useful test. In that case, you have to allow all the optimisation techniques for both products. On my system, the beta of Office 2010 is still the fastest. I have avoided using Microsoft Office products on my computers just to avoid the bloat - I use the shareware Spread32 for spreadsheets, which is really fast. But I have to say that I have been impressed with this beta. It loads faster than I recalled. Although admittedly my main experience with Office dates back to Office 97 so it is to be hoped that they had made improvements since then!

Re:Cloud (1)

ahabswhale (1189519) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409518)

Interesting, since it takes me a literally a half second to successfully authenticate to Google. Can you load Excel in less than a half second even with the pre-loader enabled?

"If you are going to discount any preloading of Excel then surely you would have to also turn off the "Stay signed in" checkbox for Google and clear the browser cache so all the javascript files have to be downloaded."

I'll tell you what, if you're willing to have to sign out of Windows and login before starting Excel, you have a deal. We can go on like this forever but the truth is that anyone on any decent PC running any non-shitty browser can load up Google Spreadsheet in less than 5 seconds. You can do much better than that with a snappy connection and computer. So there's no point in arguing that there's a performance issue with bringing up their spreadsheet app. If you want to say it's lacking features over Excel, then I would certainly agree with that but performance isn't really a problem here.

Re:Cloud (1)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407996)

Are you counting the time from an empty desktop, or are you ignoring the time it takes to load your browser? If you want to have your browser pre-loaded then that's cheating. If MS pre-loaded all the Office APIs and libraries we'd all whine about how bloated they were making Windows.

Also, you're not a real spreadsheet user if you think Google Docs even remotely compares with Excel, nor could you work on anything non-trivial if you can substitute the minimalist notepad that is the Google Apps word processor for MS Word.

Re:Cloud (1)

bobsil1 (115706) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409116)

MS does preload part of Office, install it and you'll get something in your startup folder.

Re:Cloud (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408120)

Office 2007 that was from a fresh start with no preaching. But I have to say it takes an impressively slow system to load up excel in 11 seconds.

Re:Cloud (1)

brad-x (566807) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407780)

The only reason this stuff is so popular now is because people won't pay $99.99 for a MS Office license anymore so instead MS/Google are writing server-side adware to try and get the $99 from advertisers over a couple of years.

Ah... no. That's the reason that they're doing it, not the reason that it's popular. The reason that it's popular is that it's useful and free (again, if you don't want to pay for the ad-free version).

That was an odd way of agreeing with him. :-)

Re:Cloud (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407820)

So, JavaScript makes it bloatware? Last time I checked, Google Docs was faster loading by large factor than OpenOffice, MS Office or any of the other WP/Spreadsheet apps out there.

We need "bloat per feature", or some similar metric; otherwise, it is a pointless comparison. I mean, Notepad is even faster than Google Docs - so what?

Re:Cloud (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408148)

What do you do when your on an airplane and don't have internet or the DSL/Cable connection goes down for an afternoon at the office?

Until there are versions of Google Docs that you can use off line, it's a no go.

Re:Cloud (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408880)

Ask and it shall be given unto you [google.com] . Partially, anyway.

Re:Cloud (2, Insightful)

brad-x (566807) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407760)

Hear hear! That's basically the upshot yes. You're foisting your personal documents onto a public server, you're allowing a company to index it and show you ads based on the resulting content you save/create, and people do it because they know only that they dislike Microsoft and don't want to pay money for goods and services.

It'll be interesting to see the advertising bubble burst when everyone realises those little sidebar ads don't generate nearly enough revenue in the real world.

Re:Cloud (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31407828)

You sound like a dumb shit. Go back to your hole.

Lock-In (4, Insightful)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31406964)

What isn't in Microsoft's press release and what I'm sure Google is actually doing is making it easier to get your Information out of Office. Whittle away, bit by bit.

Re:Lock-In (1)

The Angry Mick (632931) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407240)

What isn't in Microsoft's press release and what I'm sure Google is actually doing is making it easier to get your Information out of Office. Whittle away, bit by bit.

One can only hope this works, but what's to stop Microsoft from simply changing the file formats yet again to perpetuate their customer lock-in?

Re:Lock-In (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31407324)

Maybe things look different inside Microsoft's cranio-rectal inversion bubble. Really, if Apple announced a tool that imported PlaysForSure tracks into iTunes as DRM-free AAC files, MS would announce that Apple was "embracing the DRM platform strategy". Most investors can't detect the BS, and it sounds a lot better...

1984 Anyone? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31407352)

Microsoft just wants to control the world, Google just wants to watch your every moment.

Re:1984 Anyone? (1)

brad-x (566807) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407842)

Why does't slashdot have a like button

Re:1984 Anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31409840)

It does. You just need mod points to use it.

Exactly. Bit By Bit (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31407378)

One just has to look at what happened to Microsoft over the past year, layoffs, projects and teams getting axed, to imagine what even a 10, 20 or 30 percent hit to their massive office software revenues would be like.

I think back to most of the computing jobs I've had over the past 10-15 years. Every single one of them it was standard to get a full Microsoft office suite that I never used or anyone else in development used. All just to be able on the off chance of reading some trivial spreadsheet or Microsoft text document.

If Microsoft continues to lose their ability to lock people into their office software they are going have start axing their large scale multi-billion dollar clusterfuck products like the 8 billion dollar Xbox fiasco or Ballmer's new multi-billion a year losing turd of a search engine.

AAPL Marketcap MSFT Soon (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31407458)

It is funny to think back over the disastrous decade Ballmer has been in power at Microsoft. Back when Apple was on the verge of fading into irrelevance Microsoft was seen as basically having infinite resources that could buy anything.

And now Apple is getting close to topping Microsoft in market cap. The day that happens will be epic.

Re:Lock-In (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407400)

making it easier to get your Information out of Office

And into Google. Perhaps not with an actual lock-in... but when you have other services and you make them tie-in to each other ... and don't tie-in with others (or just buy them!) ...

As bad as Microsoft? Meh, no. I don't think so. Still bad? Seems like it. But I just use local copies and not Google docs (except on rare occasions when it is convenient) and don't complain about it.

Rob Malda's tranny died under mysterious circumsta (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31406990)

Rob Malda's tranny died under mysterious circumstances

New details about Rob Malda's past may come out in the divorce proceedings with his wife of 8 years, Kathleen. Page 6 speculates that she may fight the prenup, citing Malda’s infidelity with various street trannies.

In 2007, Malda was caught by Dexter police with a transvestite hooker in his car. He told his wife that he “stopped to help a person crying.” Several other hookers sold tales of Malda’s solicitation to the tabloids, and all of them were convinced to recant, with one exception:
Paul Barresi, a private detective who claims he was hired for damage control by Malda when the scandal broke, tells Page Six: “I called [Malda attorney] Marty ‘Bull Dog’ Singer and told him I could round up all the transsexuals alleging sexual dalliances with Malda.” And they would all recant their stories.

“In less than 10 days,” Barresi says, “I got them all to sign sworn, videotaped depositions, stating it wasn’t Malda himself, but rather a look-alike, who they’d encountered - with the exception of Suiuli.” In 1998, she fell to her death from her Dexter roof.

Atisone Suiuli was the tranny found in Malda’s car in 2007. After being caught by police, she had proof that she was with Malda and wouldn’t change her story. How convenient for him that she died soon afterwards.

Corporate Love (3, Funny)

handy_vandal (606174) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407052)

Ah, young love. "Google 'fell in love with what they were doing to make that transition easier.'

Nothing like falling in love to heat up the corporate personhood debate [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Corporate Love (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31409622)

Does that mean that if Google fucks this new startup by acquiring it, they can go to prison for statutory rape? A corporation as a person must be at least 18 years of age (in most US states) to consent.

Re:Corporate Love (1)

game kid (805301) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409734)

DocVerse: "Oh Google, I want your acquisition money in my business account now! Oh! Yes! Yes!" [releases shiny products and middleware all over the place]

Translation (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31407180)

"...it reinforces that customers are embracing Microsoft's long-stated strategy of software plus services, which combines rich client software with cloud services."

"...it reinforces that customers will be pushed into our long-stated strategy of software plus services, which combines bloated software and half baked DRM to nightmarish effect."

Re:Translation (0, Offtopic)

oDDmON oUT (231200) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407232)

Heh. Mod parent up.

Re:Translation (2, Insightful)

mystikkman (1487801) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408016)

What DRM? Seriously.

Translation of Summary: (4, Funny)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407238)

DocVerse says: That's right ladies, I'm dating Google now. I know there are rumors of him having other girls, but what can I say? He doesn't follow any of the rules! Besides, I hear his data centers are HUGE!

Google: Yeah boys, DocVerse is a cute little thing to be sure. I'll protect her as long as she puts out.

Microsoft: You damn kids with your free spirited sex and cloud-computing-rock-and-roll! Get off my lawn you patchouli-scented, long-haired hippies!

And The Band Played On (-1, Offtopic)

Broofa (541944) | more than 4 years ago | (#31407336)

Microsoft said in an emailed statement that Google's acquisition of DocVerse acknowledges that customers want to use and collaborate with Office documents. "Furthermore, it reinforces that customers are embracing Microsoft's long-stated strategy of software plus services, which combines rich client software with cloud services."

Anyone else hearing the Titanic's dance band [wikipedia.org] playing in the background?

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