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Microsoft Faces Fight Against Online Office Rival

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the docs-on-the-move dept.

186

bharatm writes "It's now been a decade since Microsoft bought Hotmail, the web-based e-mail service, for about $400 million. Now Sabeer Bhatia (the site's co-founder) is challenging the software giant's core $20 billion office desktop business. Yesterday Sabeer Bhatia released a free online rival to the bestselling Office suite of applications that will allow users to view, share and edit documents from any computer. 'Designed to help consumers avoid expensive upgrades and to foster collaboration on a secure internet platform, Live Documents matches features found in Office 2007, the most recent version. It will be given away to individuals with 100MB of free data storage space per user. Companies will pay for the system, either hosted remotely or on an internal server, at a discount to Microsoft's licensed technology.'"

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186 comments

First Post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21449167)

I am winnar!

Office Live Documents? Hmm... (4, Informative)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449177)

Office [wikipedia.org] Live [wikipedia.org] Documents, also not falling under the trademark name exception where he's using the naming in a different field of business? Should be interesting to see what Microsoft's reaction will be here, if they see it's enough of a threat here to have their lawyers attack him. It's not identical by sharing the Windows Live part of Windows Live, but it looks quite intentionally used to sound confusingly similar to a Microsoft product to me.

Re:Office Live Documents? Hmm... (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449199)

Hmm, looks like I misread -- it actually doesn't include "Office", but is just "Live Documents". It would be funny if MS introduced "Windows Live Documents" though, in their Windows Live line of online services. :-p

Re:Office Live Documents? Hmm... (3, Interesting)

francisstp (1137345) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449241)

Especially since they're using the actual MS Office logo right on the home page...

Re:Office Live Documents? Hmm... (4, Interesting)

belmolis (702863) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449255)

They may be ready to challenge the validity of Microsoft's claim to Office by itself as a trademark. While there is no question that Microsoft Office, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Windows, etc. are valid trademarks, the validity of Office, Word, Windows etc. is questionable since these are arguably generic terms that Microsoft cannot remove from the public domain. There are quite a few other office suites with Office as part of their name, e.g. KOffice, Gnome Office, Xoom Office, Star Office.

Re:Office Live Documents? Hmm... (4, Insightful)

willyhill (965620) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449357)

They are valid, I think, in context. "Office" in the context of a software productivity suite can probably be upheld. I don't see "Joe's Office" in Detroit selling printer consumables being a threat to the trademark. "Office Online", a software productivity suite, might.

There's a brand of kitchen towels in Brazil I think called "Linux". Has the entity that protects the Linux trademark gone after them? No. Would they go after ReactOS if they decided to re-brand themselves and sell their wares under the "Linux" name? Probably.

As far as the courts are concerned, it's all about context. That's why "Lindows" got nailed. If they were selling Pokemon stickers Microsoft probably wouldn't have bothered, don't you think?

Re:Office Live Documents? Hmm... (4, Interesting)

belmolis (702863) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449423)

Actually, Lindows won on the trademark issue, in the United States. See the Wikipedia article on Lindows [wikipedia.org]. Microsoft finally offered to settle, and the Lindows people agreed since Microsoft had sued them in six countries and dealing with all the suits was such a hassle.

The fact that numerous other office suites with office in their name exist is pretty good evidence that Microsoft can't claim a valid trademark.

Re:Office Live Documents? Hmm... (3, Informative)

YU Nicks NE Way (129084) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449577)

Lindows won in the United States, but lost in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, etc. Microsoft had Robertson by the balls, and he knew it, so he took the "settlement" (which was essentially a capitulation on his part) and got while the getting was good.

Re:Office Live Documents? Hmm... (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449795)

There is a good chance that Lindows would have prevailed in the European cases if it had appealed. The decision in the Netherlands, for example, was based on the court's holding, without expert testimony, that "windows" was not a generic term in Dutch, which is empirically false. It is true that the Microsoft suits were more of a hassle than Lindows wanted to deal with, but it is far from clear that Lindows had an untenable legal position outside the US.

Re:Office Live Documents? Hmm... (1)

YU Nicks NE Way (129084) | more than 6 years ago | (#21450323)

Nonsense. Here, do the following test: go to Google News, or any other searchable aggregator, and find every use of the words "Windows" (or "windows") in a French or Belgian paper that did not refer to Microsoft Windows in the year prior to the date of Microsoft's filing.

You will find none whatsoever.

Now, try to invalidate a trademark when mark holder comes in with that bit of evidence (replicated in television scripts, radio scripts, advertisements, and other publications.) Wear earmuffs, though, since the laughter of the judges at your claims will probably hurt your ears.

Now...do the same thing for Dutch. Get back to me if you find any examples.

Re:Office Live Documents? Hmm... (2, Insightful)

Courageous (228506) | more than 6 years ago | (#21450421)

That's just a stupid idea. If the word is generic in its own language, and in the country in which it is hosted, it doesn't suddenly become "not generic" elsewhere. If stupid judges in stupid foreign countries want to bamboozle themselves and their countrymen into giving up their rights... well that's a different matter.

C//

Re:Office Live Documents? Hmm... (4, Informative)

Stevecrox (962208) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449377)

Yes but when you download Open Office or install star office the look and feel is subtley different they have their own logo's and design. If you goto the live document site you will slight alterations of the standard MS Office icons, you'll see the MS Office logo on the front page and a snapshot of what looks to be MS Office 2003. The site appears to be trying to pretend to be Microsoft sanctioned and be part of Microsoft.

I always thought trademarks were designed to protect companies/consumers when small companies stole names, designs and images from anouther and mislead consumers into buying their product. This would seem like an open and shut case of a website trying to pretend it has Microsoft Office and mislead people into using it for that reason. If they want to tout how the apps looks extremely similar to MS Office let them but lets not use identical images and icons.

Re:Office Live Documents? Hmm... (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449493)

The Live Document site seems to be /.-ed, but if it uses the Microsoft logo etc. then that may well be deceptive and infringing. But that is different from the name being infringing.

Re:Office Live Documents? Hmm... (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449905)

It appears that that they have a desktop plug in that turns MS office into a caching client or something similar. Their use might be within the limits.

It is confusing though. When I went to the download page, all I saw was the client and the system requirements was windows with MS office 2000/xp/2003.

I'm not entirely sure that this isn't a some web extention for Office or if it is an entire office sweet. The article and sumery suggested it was a different office sweet but I'm not entirely sure after visiting their website.

Re:Office Live Documents? Hmm... (4, Interesting)

Tacvek (948259) | more than 6 years ago | (#21450533)

From the site: "Live Documents provides you with a full Office productivity suite - Word, Excel and PowerPoint - with built-in collaboration features right out of your browser - no more dependence on Microsoft Office and Windows and no more format lock-in!" So there is a full office suite online. It also sounds like the online suite might be using the names "Word", "Excel", and "Powerpoint". That is a problem.

However they also have a Microsoft office add-in that more or less allows one to use Microsoft Office as an offline non-browser client. In fact, it looks like they intend this to be the usual way to edit documents, using the online editors only when Microsoft office is not available.

Their site does definitely use too many copies of the Microsoft office logo, and the Microsoft Office screen shots are somewhat misleading, especially as there very few screen shots of the browser-based editor.

Re:Office Live Documents? Hmm... (4, Interesting)

Herschel Cohen (568) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449775)

" ... thought trademarks were designed to protect companies/consumers when small companies stole names, ...
Maybe, but the inverse is NOT true. For example, Vista was a Veterans Administration application before it became Vista the OS, the former was open source too. In addition, I read a long description on how MS pilfered the Internet Explorer browser name. Unfortunately I have been unable to locate a link, it was quite a story where justice did not triumph. Others big names have freely used other's property that were not freely given, until they were forced to pay. Many times having the larger legal budget spared them of even that consequence.

Re:Office Live Documents? Hmm... (1)

rhyder128k (1051042) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449705)

I don't if there is such a thing as prior art for a trademark but there was an office suite on the 8 bit machines called Mini Office.

Re:Office Live Documents? Hmm... (1)

Chubby_C (874060) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449557)

They seem to be quite misleading with what they advertise

How "Live Documents" works in the browser

Live Documents provides you with a full Office productivity suite - Word, Excel and PowerPoint - with built-in collaboration features right out of your browser - no more dependence on Microsoft Office and Windows and no more format lock-in!

Re:Office Live Documents? Hmm... (2, Interesting)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 6 years ago | (#21450075)

If you look at the Office Live Documents website, you'll see they use icons that resemble those of Microsoft Office.

They are, I think, doing this on purpose, hoping for the publicity from being sued by MS. They are probably gambling on the fact that the money they might lose would be less than what an equivalent marketing campaign would buy them. Besides, they might pull back and "oblige" before it's too late, complying to MS' demand to change their name. By then, everybody + dog will know about the service.

If this is what they try to achieve, the idea is, basically, brilliant.

Please look at the Office Live Doc website and count the similarities with MS Office you see. There's even a logo that looks like the MS Office logo!

One thing missing... (4, Informative)

Sirch (82595) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449185)

I'm not surprised a Slashdot summary didn't link to it, but the Times Online? Come now.

Here it is: the Live Documents website [live-documents.com].

Not had a look yet, though as I've only found a limited use for Google Documents (the spreadsheet application is great for collaboration) I doubt it will be of any use to me. Open Office is good enough for me, if not everyone.

Re:One thing missing... (5, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449565)

Windows only. No OS X. No Linux. No wireless.

Lame.

Re:One thing missing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21450155)

Click "Interoperability" and read:

"Live Documents allows you to access your documents on any computer running Windows, Linux or Mac - there are no variations in content or appearance on different versions of Windows (commonly faced if you use different versions of Office)."

Words only. (1)

wonkavader (605434) | more than 6 years ago | (#21450271)

This doesn't jive with their plugin download page which demands Windows.

I suspect that the Linux and Mac stuff is a phase two thing.

Re:One thing missing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21449873)

LMAO! Try listening to the BBC dramatisation of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and visiting that Web site. The gay music juxtaposed with a dystopian future. Untold.

And how is that different from Google Docs? (5, Insightful)

vivaoporto (1064484) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449187)

And how is that different from Google Docs [google.com]? TFA even mentions that it is getting a "Crowded office", with all these wannabe "online" office applications. This is nothing but a press release, a slashvertisement for a product that did not even proved its worth yet.

Nothing to see here, move along people.

Re:And how is that different from Google Docs? (4, Funny)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449533)

And how is that different from Google Docs?
Because this one has all the stability and file integrity of Microsoft Office, with the security and trust of an unknown company on the Internet?

- RG>

Re:And how is that different from Google Docs? (2, Informative)

jma05 (897351) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449605)

> And how is that different from Google Docs

It allows off-line use for one thing. They will be releasing an MS Office plugin soon. This is a big deal for me. I would like to access my documents from anywhere but I also like the richness of desktop tools. Google talked about it but nothing concrete so far as I know.

The link to the "killer app" (1)

celardore (844933) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449189)

Is here [live-documents.com]
See for yourself.

Re:The link to the "killer app" (1)

empaler (130732) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449425)

Is here [live-documents.com]
See for yourself.
You must have better karma than Sirch [slashdot.org], because he linked to the exact same page, only /. thought it prudent in his case to warn me of the url.

Here it is: the Live Documents website [live-documents.com].
Odd.

bang (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21449197)

what is four the allege tworf

Yeah, forget it (5, Insightful)

realmolo (574068) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449209)

"It will be given away to individuals with 100MB of free data storage space per user."

That's pretty cool.

"Companies will pay for the system, either hosted remotely or on an internal server, at a discount to Microsoft's licensed technology."

Okay, that's fucking stupid.

Office apps that REQUIRE a working network/internet connection to function are something that any sane IT department would stay FAR FAR away from. We just don't live in a world where everyone can be connected to the internet all of the time. And even when that day comes, most people would like to have their apps run locally, just in case.

The whole idea of "hosted desktop apps" is dubious (and I'm not even considering the inevitable "rental fees", which is a whole 'nuther scam). It might work for little "one-time use" stuff, but no one would ever rely on them for day-to-day work.

Re:Yeah, forget it (1)

Winckle (870180) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449253)

From the way the site describes it, there are both local, and remote copies, the online ones are for collaboration.

Re:Yeah, forget it (1)

s.bots (1099921) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449367)

The local copy is a 'wrapper' for an existing office app on your machine to allow you to use the features described.

From http://www.live-documents.com/products/index.html [live-documents.com]:

Use your existing desktop Office application (Microsoft Office currently and shortly Open Office) as a smart client that permits offline access to your document - the next time you go online, Live Documents automatically synchronizes all changes to ensure that there is a single version of the truth.

Re:Yeah, forget it (1)

Thanatos69 (993924) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449459)

So in other words, "Use our product online but continue paying for other software to edit offline."

Doesn't really solve any problems that aren't already solved from what I can see.

Re:Yeah, forget it (3, Insightful)

ReeceTarbert (893612) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449381)

The whole idea of "hosted desktop apps" is dubious (and I'm not even considering the inevitable "rental fees", which is a whole 'nuther scam). It might work for little "one-time use" stuff, but no one would ever rely on them for day-to-day work.
Is is just me or we're slowly going back to square one? That is, to the days when all you had was a terminal connected to a time sharing system you paid to rent resources from?


RT
--
Your Bookmarks. Anywhere. Anytime. [simplybookmarks.com]

Re:Yeah, forget it (2, Interesting)

RollingThunder (88952) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449679)

Frankly, if it makes sense, why not?

They did it that way back then because computers were obscenely expensive and rare.

Now they're plentiful and cheap, but expensive to administer effectively... there's still an economy of scale there, especially for smaller businesses.

Re:Yeah, forget it (5, Informative)

JMZero (449047) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449385)

The company I work for has been using all online docs for the last 7 years. Around 4 million documents and a few hundred thousand dollars saved later, I don't think it's that ridiculous of an idea.

About a year in, we added a plug-in to store backup versions of the docs on the user's hard disk to supplement the auto-save (in the case of a lost connection during editing, which of course does happen occasionally) - but other than that things have pretty much "just worked". Honestly, the docs have caused less problems than we used to have with Word: there's nothing to configure incorrectly, there's no choice about where to save, there's nothing to install, and there's far fewer features to abuse. It's much easier to protect the user from themselves and to enforce business rules in documents. As a bonus, users can work from home without buying their own software, or having compatibility hassles.

Pretty much everything our users do is done using a browser and hosted centrally; it has been an unqualified success and an IT dream. I can't imagine how much pain we've avoided by missing 5 generations of new Word problems. I think back to the time when we had to install apps on every machine, and I shudder.

Re:Yeah, forget it (1)

Techman83 (949264) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449877)

And what application do you use to do this, I would be interested to know. (looking for options in that department to better support my company on a whole).

Re:Yeah, forget it (2, Interesting)

kava_kicks (727490) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449913)

Would you mind sharing what online application you are actually using? How do you deal with travelling users who may/may not have constant Internet access? What about privacy/security? Are the docs encrypted? Is this an inhouse system or provided by a third party (eg Google)? How are business rules enforced?

Re:Yeah, forget it (4, Informative)

JMZero (449047) | more than 6 years ago | (#21450291)

Our document editor is homegrown, and we host it internally. Privacy and security would certainly be bigger concerns if you were hosting with a third party, and I can't really speak to how it would be best to manage that.

The application isn't overly bandwidth intensive, and some of our users access it over cell-type connections. But really this hasn't impacted us too much - the nature of our business means that our production staff who travel will usually be dictating rather than typing themselves (and it's easy to upload the dictation files when you're back to some kind of good connection). Also, to be fair, many of our users (especially marketing) have other Word processors they use for documents not tied to production, like proposals or brochures or labels and what not. Our app is not a general purpose word processor: we had the luxury of designing it around a limited set of needs.

In terms of business rules, we've found it to be very convenient - though a proper content management system would do most of the same things. Naturally it's easy to control who can see what, who can edit what, what's available to what clients online, etc. We can also make certain elements of documents uneditable, or only editable via our own tools (and the relevant data captured back). For example: our users produce a lot of reports, and in the past they would tend to put tabled information in reports and nowhere else (meaning we couldn't analyze that data later). Now, they enter that data one time, in a structured way through a plugin in the word processor, and it's persisted in the database as well as being on the report. This is of course possible with a regular word processor as well, but I think some parts would be much more difficult to manage. When you're dealing with a small subset of word processing functionality, and a small/standard codebase for the UI, many of these things are trivial.

I imagine there are a lot better options out there now than when we built this years ago (and it quite possibly wouldn't be the right choice now) but it has worked out well for us.

Re:Yeah, forget it (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449683)

yeah because having office installed on every seperate pc, can't possibly see any problems with that!

oh wait, desktops are shit in a corperate environment and online/terminals shit on them from a great height.

Re:Yeah, forget it (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449941)

"Companies will pay for the system..."

Okay, that's fucking stupid.


OK so you'd rather have "Clippy" (or his equivalent) pop up with v14gR4 ads every 30 seconds? :)

Anouther Web Application Oh Good (4, Insightful)

Stevecrox (962208) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449215)

When will people realise that not everything that can be done online should be done online. The article is very light on details one of the big reasons I won't even try Google Apps is because all the files are located on Googles servers and I wouldn't have any control over them. The only detail the article does mention is that this "Live" office has Office 2003's look and feel. OpenOffice is free and has Office 2003's "look" and yet it hasn't replaced MS Office, google apps is free and hasn't replaced MS Office.

Next a small upstart company will be telling us how they have a image manipulation program you uses through the web which will replace photoshop.

Re:Anouther Web Application Oh Good (2, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449293)

I wouldn't think of using Google Docs as my full time editor. What I have found it very handy for is storing frequently used documents in a fashion which I can reach just about anywhere and export as PDF, Doc or ODF depending on my needs. In a pinch, I can use it for writing, and then move it to my main document store.

Agreed, confidential documents (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21449363)

Agreed.
These types of things are fine for college & high school kids that have very little confidential information. But when you become an adult, you need control over your information.

There is no way I going to write a letter involving a financial transaction on one of these things. Plus, I have been around long enough to see these things come and go, and my data along with it.

Also, what business is going to use this? If you run a law firm, medical office, or financial business you are legally required NOT to use this stuff.
If you run a business that has trade secrets (i.e. most of them) you would be stupid to use this.

I know MSFT wants to move Office to a web/subscription model and when they do these types of businesses will be out in the cold, or moving to something like OpenOffice (although many don't know of OpenOffice's existence, and OO really just isn't good at making complex documents. I wish it was, it isn't. OO is better than this web crap.)

Seriously, I have been waiting forever for Google Apps to come out in a Google branded server that a business puts behind their firewall.
I think Gmail is fantastic, but I can't put my businesses emails on there because of the confidentiality laws. If I could run the server in my office, problem solved. I know Google is about the data so it wont' happen. But the data is what I am not allowed to give them.

Also, you have the problem of working when not connected.
But I am always connected you say. Yeah, Right! With a web app, I can't work on a plane. I can't work in a non-free WiFi airport (unless I pay $20 for the 3 hours I am stuck there, delayed flights). I can't work at my parents house because they are out in a dial-up location (it isn't a radius from civilization thing but a how land features cause extra line lengths thing) and they are in a cell phone black hole.
This is a probelm as sometimes getting out of Internet range is the only way I keep people from bugging me and getting work done.

Re:Agreed, confidential documents (1)

smallfries (601545) | more than 6 years ago | (#21450555)

There is no way I going to write a letter involving a financial transaction on one of these things. Plus, I have been around long enough to see these things come and go, and my data along with it.

I know MSFT wants to move Office to a web/subscription model and when they do these types of businesses will be out in the cold

Are you trying to have both sides of the arguement by yourself? Either it's a useful product or its not. If its a not a valid product then micronsoft moving into the market has no affect whatsoever.

Re:Anouther Web Application Oh Good (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21450113)

They're not doing it because they believe this is the way of the future.
They're doing it to be bought by Microsoft.

Buying a small company out is much easier than actually competing with it. Business 101.

Re:Anouther Web Application Oh Good (1)

martijnd (148684) | more than 6 years ago | (#21450441)

When will people realize that not everything that can be done online should be done online. The article is very light on details one of the big reasons I won't even try Google Apps is because all the files are located on Googles servers and I wouldn't have any control over them. The only detail the article does mention is that this "Live" office has Office 2003's look and feel. OpenOffice is free and has Office 2003's "look" and yet it hasn't replaced MS Office, google apps is free and hasn't replaced MS Office.

Despite having used computers on a daily basis for the past 10 or more years, my dear wife is just not the right person to have to fiddle with USB sticks to carry her documents around, e-mail them to herself etc. She works both at home, in the office, and whenever we are visiting our parents and have a space hour or so. She is one of these people who only need indented lists, bold, italics and headings.

These days, she logs in to her Google account, and continues typing ; minimal hassle and my life is easier than ever.

The Truman Show (4, Insightful)

iamacat (583406) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449239)

Did we really progress from naked MySpace photos to such a disregard to our own privacy that we do not mind putting ALL of our stuff online. Besides server compromises and XSS exploits, the data can be easily disclosed in even a simple civil or divorce court case. At least with your own computer you can delete the files, use encryption or simply throw the hard drive away in the dumpster. Besides, what happens if the provider decides to suddenly discontinue the service or start charging $50/month?

Re:The Truman Show (1)

vanDrunen (1075573) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449495)

At least with your own computer you can delete the files, use encryption or simply throw the hard drive away in the dumpster.
If you don't want your data being disclosed I wouldn't throw a harddrive in the dumpster.
Who knows who'll put your "private video's" on youtube.

Re:The Truman Show (1)

iamacat (583406) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449523)

What do you think is the probability that someone is going to dive into a can of used cat litter from my garbage on the particular day when I throw away my hard drive?

Re:The Truman Show (1)

vanDrunen (1075573) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449589)

The odds will be quite big if the guy diving into your can of used cat litter is the same guy that has been been watching you with a telescope from across the street while you were recording those "private video's". Even bigger if you're a celebrity. Or of course if you work for the CIA, FBI, NSA, etc... for some reason lost USB sticks with secret information always seem to get found somehow...

Re:The Truman Show (2, Insightful)

foxylad (950520) | more than 6 years ago | (#21450011)

Many posters have responded along the lines of "I'd never trust my data to an online servce!". But there's a case to be made that for the average user online data is safer than having it on their PC.

Before you shoot me down, think about all the viruses, trojans, spyware you've cleaned off friends PCs, and about the number of times you've asked "When did you last backup?" with a sinking feeling. Wouldn't it be great to be able do a quick Ubuntu install and be totally confident they'll be working on their docs again within the hour? I'm sure all you uber-geeks run machines with mirrored drives and sound OSs, and backup every night - but the average user doesn't. So to them a well-designed and run (not making any judgements on this particular service!) online system is likely to be a lot safer.

And here's some proof - geek that I am, running my own Postfix mailserver, I bless the day I migrated to Gmail. And as many of my IT dependants too - compared to managing all those Outlook/Thunderbird apps, the possibility that Larry and Sergey might be browsing my email is of absolutely no consequence. Yes, Gmail has gone down occassionally, but the downtime has been an order of magnitude less than it would have been while I was moving my mail data to my new laptop, or rebuilding friend's PCs to get rid of the nasties.

Re:The Truman Show (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21450057)

Gmail (and Google Docs) is a perfect example of a totally insecure way to store confidential documents. They actively encourage people to access the system (sending their credentials) over insecure connections (no https) and will even do it automatically.

If you're the director of a company and you store confidential information on one of these services and your company loses money as a result of someone gaining access to that confidential information, you will likely be sued into bankruptcy.

Re:The Truman Show (1)

foxylad (950520) | more than 6 years ago | (#21450107)

Well, I suppose all I can say is I've never had any of my dependants lose information they stored online, but I have had several cases of data lost from their PCs. What's your experience?

Re:The Truman Show (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21450137)

Are you trying to make an argument about data loss vs confidentiality? Cause if you are, yes, bravo, perhaps an encrypted online backup system is a nice way to achieve balance in that department, but using Google's services will not give you that.

Re:The Truman Show (1)

foxylad (950520) | more than 6 years ago | (#21450359)

My point is that for the great majority of users, the safety of their data (whether from malware, hardware issues or privacy) is likely to be higher if they store it on an online service than on their own hard drive. I agree with you that Gmail/Google Apps is not the pinnacle of privacy, but I'm questioning how often network sniffing http packets actually happens, compared to bot/keylogger instances (hence even greater loss of privacy) on a PC.

I'd imagine the bots win, but even if they are roughly as prevalent as sniffing, you've still got to make up for the all the other advantages of online data/application storage - convenience, reliability, hardware independance... All in all, I stand by the use of online apps by mine and me.

Re:The Truman Show (2, Funny)

syousef (465911) | more than 6 years ago | (#21450199)

Did we really progress from naked MySpace photos

I for one haven't even progressed to naked mindspace photos. Link please.

How many online office rivals do we really need? (3, Insightful)

MadJo (674225) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449247)

I'm all for competition against MSO, but I fail to see the benefit of online office suites. And especially now that we have two. (and I'm sure MS is working on their version of MSOO (Microsoft Office Online))

The market for such online suites seem rather thin to me.

Re:How many online office rivals do we really need (1)

2ms (232331) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449623)

How about being able to do your work the same way on any computer any where? How about not having to carry a laptop everywhere just for simple crap like writing documents? How about being able to collaborate with other people on any computers anywhere anytime including the same time you are working on the same document yourself? How about not having to pay hundreds of dollars for freakin basic software that, realistically speaking, hasn't advanced remotely enough over at least the last decade to justify all the forced upgrading and incompatibilities. It's freakin text editing, spreadsheeting, and putting slideshows together people. Why would you pay hundersds of dollars for software that only works on one computer just to do this stuff?

slashdot, home of the infomercial (2, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449257)

This is just a plug and nothing more.

this is about as much of a competitor to microsoft as a cockroach is a competitor to me

Re:slashdot, home of the infomercial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21449525)

this is about as much of a competitor to microsoft as a cockroach is a competitor to me
Most cockroaches get much more action than you. Microsoft gets more action that this site.

Re:slashdot, home of the infomercial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21449951)

this is about as much of a competitor to microsoft as a cockroach is a competitor to me

So, you're saying Microsoft really should be worried? :-)

Re:slashdot, home of the infomercial (1)

jamrock (863246) | more than 6 years ago | (#21450277)

this is about as much of a competitor to microsoft as a cockroach is a competitor to me
Um...so you think it's going to be a success, then?

Where credits due... (1, Interesting)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449275)

Now Sabeer Bhatia (the site's co-founder) is challenging the software giant's core $20 billion office desktop business.
Way to make it sound like it's a new and original idea instead of a copy and paste of what Google Docs has done.

and from the article..

Live Documents is similar to Google Apps, launched in February and used by companies including Proctor & Gamble, General Electric and Capgemini as a cheaper alternative to Microsoft.
Don't want that cheap knockoff now do we..

However, Mr Bhatia claims that his product is superior to Google's in its range and quality, most crucially because it mimics Office 2007.
Yes it's better quality because it looks exactly like the most complained about office package due to its usability issues.

Re:Where credits due... (1)

gordgekko (574109) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449583)

Everyone hates Office 2007 so much that it's selling like gangbusters [arstechnica.com].

Re:Where credits due... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21450307)

Are you flame baiting?

Everyone hates Office 2007 so much that it's selling like gangbusters.
Conveniently forgetting it's the only Office suite you can buy in a retail store...

The source [microsoft-watch.com] on your link sucks.. Do you really expect me to believe something from a website called Mircosoft Watch.. that sounds like a real independent website and goes great with the fact that they have almost no sources themselves to backup what they're saying.

WebApps == Utopia (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21449279)

Web application developers/promoters seem to think we are living in a utopian society, with free Fiber-like speeds everywhere.

I have news for these people, internet connections go down, servers crash, on-line servers get hacked.

I like having an application on my laptop (portable), where I can access it anywhere. I don't need an internet connection to get at my data. USB keys, CD-ROMS, DVDs provide enough.

Software, as flaky as it is, can also be resold when I am done with it.

Try selling a subscription to some web service that you don't need / no longer want.

Software developers want a market that operates like the cellphone market, pay $20.00/mo, independant of usage of the service. Then add 'micropayments' for 'features'. A sure fire way of ensuring revenue, while nickel and diming consumers to death.

I will always buy standalone software. You can pry my copy of Office/Visual Studio from my cold dead hands, or when I sell it for say 50%. Take that away, and I can use OpenOffice, and good old GCC/G++.

Software wants to be like a utility company. Pay for the service, weather you use it or not. Without any of the regulation, security, or acccountability. Sorry, doesn't work in my book.

Re:WebApps == Utopia (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449461)

"Try selling a subscription to some web service that you don't need / no longer want."

especially after the company offering it dies...

Re:WebApps == Utopia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21449633)

internet connections go down, servers crash, on-line servers get hacked.


But someday they wont. They will be as reliable as electricity.

Computers used to be very unreliable as well, crashing multiple times a day, but now they dont. Were you saying that we should all stick to typewriters back then?

Typewriters used to have mechanical problems (arms impacting and getting stuck) in their early days. Should we have abandoned that path?

I'm sure that early electricity, phone service, and automobiles weren't all that reliable when they first appeared either. Should they have been abandoned early on too?

Online access will be reliable and ubiquitous in the near future. These applications are the pioneers of a new type of service.

Re:WebApps == Utopia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21449717)

Sure, and for computers to be that reliable, I have a few things we can add:

1. On-Line services will compensate me for downtime. Regardless of if I use it or not. Just like the electrical company does.

2. Software Service companies will offer me a warranty. The software crashes, I get the technical support I need right now.

3. On-Line services will compensate me for ANY failures, baring acts of Nature, for ANY software failure.

4. On-Line services will offer redundancy, and offer a 99.999% uptime rate. Any deviation from this, and they loose their license.

Oh wait..software companies can't , and don't want to be licensed. Simple programmers can't offer any guarantees or warranties on their software. Well , not even Microsoft.

Maybe in another 100 years or so, heck, it took the telephone that long.

Re:WebApps == Utopia (1)

Lazy Jones (8403) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449821)

Web application developers/promoters seem to think we are living in a utopian society, with free Fiber-like speeds everywhere.

This utopian society may soon be reality for most of us.

I have news for these people, internet connections go down, servers crash, on-line servers get hacked. Laptops get stolen, hard disk drives break down, viruses can destroy your data... Data on some online provider's disks is generally better protected, the real danger is that provider or the company hosting it might go broke / rogue / ...

I will always buy standalone software. You can pry my copy of Office/Visual Studio from my cold dead hands, or when I sell it for say 50%. Take that away, and I can use OpenOffice, and good old GCC/G++.

How many times have you had to pay for an upgrade that you needed because it fixed some bugs or because your old version didn't support your new operating system anymore? Software vendors are always in it for the cash, whether they sell you something (perpetually unfinished) or rent you a service. Judge them by the easy with which you can take your stuff elsewhere (try reusing Word documents elsewhere without problems).

Personally, I don't use any of those web 2.0 online tools (although I do look at online presentations occasionally - e.g. this [slideshare.net]), but I realize that they do have their use for the perpetually connected among us. I would never use such tools if I couldn't make a local copy of all my data easily though (poor webmail users...), or if I had to deal with highly confidential stuff.

Re:WebApps == Utopia (1)

jo42 (227475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21450125)

This utopian society may soon be reality for most of us.
Even 90% of a few million people is a fraction of 6 billion, so you might want to reword that to a "few, privileged, us".

Re:WebApps == Utopia (1)

Herschel Cohen (568) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449881)

Not really, moreover, nor is really necessary.

I remember reading of the first experiments using VoIP and thinking it was a joke. Never would work too many short comings. However, while I still have a single land line it is only for emergency use when either the cable or the electric power is down. Even then I still have the cell phone if it is charged. Perfect? Far from it, nonetheless, I have two VoIP numbers for business use and I prefer them over the land line.

Re:WebApps == Utopia (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449917)

Web application developers/promoters seem to think we are living in a utopian society, with free Fiber-like speeds everywhere.

I have news for these people, internet connections go down, servers crash, on-line servers get hacked.


      You can't build the future in the present. If I show you a future that you need, the fiber will come. Twenty years ago the lucky ones had 1200 bit per second modems, and paid $12 per hour (on top of any long distance charges) to connect online to bulletin boards, and services like CompuServe, AOL, GEnie and Prodigy. Our "networks" before the popular 'net we know today. Who would have dreamed of multi-megabit connections that are always on, for a cheap, flat monthly fee?

      You don't know what tomorrow will bring. Should the innovation stop just because today you don't have the bandwidth?

      A guy once asked a king for some ships, in the middle of a war. And he discovered America.
      A guy once built a town in the middle of a desert.
      Etc.

Re:WebApps == Utopia (1)

m2943 (1140797) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449971)

Web application developers/promoters seem to think we are living in a utopian society, with free Fiber-like speeds everywhere.

Appliance manufacturers seem to think we are living in a utopian society, with free, reliable electricity everywhere. Those silly bastards.

an office plugin? (1)

h2k1 (661151) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449369)

to promote online file sharing on real time? and setting permisions? looks like to me very dubious and not nothing like an online aplication suite. i have seen people doing this like this by phone, being just fine to have one file updated and then e-mailed to everyone, and i believe that in this case the most simple thing to do should prevail. anyway, it's a crazy thing to do... i guess, imagine if two users try to change a cell value at the sime time, could be complicated, uh?

ummm (3, Informative)

rockwood (141675) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449447)

I've been using Zoho [zoho.com] for a while now. With six kids in school, it has been a fantastic tool for them to write, edit and print documents accessible remotely at a moments notice. So what makes live doc's so much better? Furthermore, from what I've read thus far at live-docs, it seems Zoho has also provided more features... a more thorough overall user experience. Admittedly I have nothing solid for comparison since live-docs is still by invitation only (yes, I did register). Can anyone that currently has full access to live-docs that also uses Zoho regularly care to post a comparison... [or get that invitation approved for me :) ]

What's the tech? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21449449)

Is it HTML+JS, Flash/Flex, XUL, XAML... or what? What server-side components?

"Matches"? (4, Funny)

Jay L (74152) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449475)

Live Documents matches features found in Office 2007

They're obviously trying to position this to be "as powerful as Office 2007", but they can't even bring themselves to use THAT much vague puffery?

My personal site also matches features found in Office 2007. It's blue.

I'm not sure that people are 'getting' this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21449481)

Try here http://www.live-documents.com/products/how.html [live-documents.com]

There seem to be a number of comments made by people based entirely on presuppositions. I know we're not supposed to RTFA, but you could at least look at the website before *flame on*

Re:I'm not sure that people are 'getting' this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21450253)

Sabeer Bhatia is that you?

Go Compaq! (1)

rta (559125) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449491)

FTA:

He said. "This will do for documents what Hotmail did for e-mail. Why spend $400 on an upgrade when you can get it for free?"

Office 2007, the biggest advance in the system in ten years, took more than 2,000 Microsoft programmers three years to develop. Thirty-two software engineers in Bangalore, India's IT hub, took four years to break Microsoft's code so that they could replicate it online.

InstaColl said that it was not infringing copyright because of a legal ruling that concluded that it was not possible to patent the "look and feel" of a computer interface.

At least when Compaq reverse engineered the PC BIOS it was a technological achievement of sorts though that too was, imo, a crap move (even if ultimately legal and brought down prices for consumers).

You want to offer a better and/or lower priced alternative; fine. Bragging about how you're great because you ripped off someone else's stuff, on the other hand, is pretty crass. Yes, MS sucks in a lot of ways, and they are perhaps the biggest biters of all, but it's still not something to brag about.

Re:Go Compaq! (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449569)

odd, you don't need to crack code to get the 'look and feel'. You do need to crack code to get access to all the internal API code..and to, you know, copy the code verbatim.

M$ must be desperate (1)

jrothwell97 (968062) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449541)

Not content with buying up all the banner ad space, they're now spamming Slashdot articles. Honestly, they'll be claiming patents on Linux next.

infringing copyright != infringing patent (1)

Zwaxy (447665) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449627)

InstaColl said that it was not infringing copyright because of a legal ruling that concluded that it was not possible to patent the "look and feel" of a computer interface.

Aren't copyright law and patent law two completely different things? The article makes it sound as if the guys who spent millions of dollars developing this thing didn't realise that.

More importantly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21449629)

What will it do that Office doesn't ?

While some companies may consider office expensive, I doubt most think some 100 dollar a year or less investment is a lot of money. I can see the savings adding up a little, but Office will be more widely supported and will contain mush more help and how to's.

In the end, if these products only have savings to offer, it's unlikely they can beat MS. MS can always lower their prices if they feel threatened and while that may be the MAIN goal of many products, I don't see most people, especially businesses, complaining about the cost of Office or Windows.

People are not looking to re-educate their staff to save 100 bucks a year per computer or less. That is just not real incentive when looking at the bottom line. MS can DUMP money into all the nice touches, extra templates, extra clip art, all the things the common end user loves.

MS should also target quickbooks, since their products completely and totally sucks. It has to be the slowest most bug filled SOHO accounting package around. It would be smart to incorporate to online office. Most people primarily need backups of only their finacial data, office docs are usually expendable or easily replaced.

It's good to see more comp out there, but quite honestly it's WAY LATE, but fortunately so if MS's offering. Still, with MS fast on their heels, I see little hope for competing products. Historically you need a head start against MS to secure the market and office more than Windows itself is a very popular product.

I'd say, even if MS blundered the first release, they need but dump more money into it. Look at that tiny 100 meg offering. This tells me the company hosting this service is hard up for money or else they'd offer AT LEAST as much space as hotmail.

Good ideals with low profit businesses models usually fail.

Google docs was there from the beginning (1)

bariswheel (854806) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449631)

I'm surprised no one has mentioned it yet. Google has provided a sound alternative to Office 2007. Yes it's in its infancy, whereas Office has had decades to grow. I wonder how docs will look like in 15 years.

A bunch of hot air? (2, Informative)

no-body (127863) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449709)

Well, Beta on invitation only....
Poking around on those web pages, it gets to: [live-documents.com]

Getting Started with Live Documents

Sign Up

Before you get started you'll need to set up your account. It just takes a few seconds: sign up here for an invitation to our technology preview.

Then:
Sign up to get invited

Live Documents is currently available in a technology preview mode on an on-invitation basis. To request an invite to this private beta, please sign up below.

No on-line for me. (1)

gbr (31010) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449761)

I just can't see myself using an online system for my Word Processing or other office needs. Once my private data is off of my system, who knows who is looking at it.

So what's stopping MS? (1)

saleenS281 (859657) | more than 6 years ago | (#21449997)

It's not open source, it is a private company. If by some act of god this did take off, remind me again what's stopping MS from just buying them up?

Re:So what's stopping MS? (1)

thedarknite (1031380) | more than 6 years ago | (#21450241)

Nothing at all, and considering how it worked out with hotmail that may well be the business plan.
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