Those who know me already find me extremely annoying for it, but I have been saying for quite some time that the future of software is definitely in web-based applications. Many different variations on the terms have been used such as Software-as-a-Service(SaaS), web-based, or even subscription-based applications. The trend is easy to notice and more and more users are leaving standard software to move to the web.
Microsoft has announced that they will be expanding their online services to integrate many new products in a beta phase. New online services being tested include Exchange Server and Office SharePoint Server software handling tasks such as email, schedule calendars and online conferencing. Of course, you need to go to the beta web site to register and get a chance to try the products before they go live. Microsoft has targeted the second half of this year to make the products available to the public.
The Office suite has always been a foundation in Microsoft’s revenue and they are being careful not to break that income stream too fast. Google, Oracle and quite a few others have started offering online services which are slowly eating away at the market share so Microsoft is not taking any chances. Bill Gates mentioned that users should expect to see this kind of choice and flexibility in all of Microsoft’s products in the future.
There are some problems to this approach for the moment such as slow or unreliable internet connections or the unwillingness to change. Security is sometimes a concern as well because all your information keeps going back and forth on the internet. Naturally, none of these problems are really any more important than the ones users currently face with standard desktop applications. There is always a way to get to your valuable information if someone really wants it ;-)
The bottom line is that software on the web will be more and more a reality for everyone and this will most definitely be something I will keep and eye on to cover again in the future as it develops.