Web Office

Rod Boothby’s paper on Web Office is a great vision piece on what the future of office productivity may look like. He discusses many examples of how Web 2.0 type applications are changing the landscape for how people get things done.

Rod says that people graduating from college today will enter the workforce already familiar with blogs, Wikis, RSS, folksonomy, and other Web 2.0 concepts. Organizations who adopt these technologies internally gain a competitive advantage over companies that do not, especially as these new highly trained workers join their companies.

He makes a compelling case for how these technologies could work together to make the future Web Office environment, and change the way that enterprises work. Web Office:

  • Enables the read/write web - “With enterprise blogs and Wikis, when you write an article or a post, that information is captured in a structured format. That means it can be turned into many things.” In this world, corporate users will contribute as much as they consume and information “will become efficiently reusable.”
  • Enables business professionals to build their own “mashups” without IT
  • Reduce e-mail overload “replacing the current manual process of reacting to e-mails, and organizing e-mails within a system that lets the computer do the filtering and organizing for you.”
  • Change the culture to be increase the pace of innovation

He also says, “Web Office threatens Microsoft because it challenges the need for programs like Word. If you do all your writing on e-mails and searchable blogs and Wikis, why would you need Microsoft Word?”

Well… I’m biased but I don’t think Microsoft Word is going to disappear anytime soon.

Word is still a powerful tool, and as he mentions in his paper, “The business world has standardized on Microsoft Office.” Large organizations don’t adopt new technology ecosystems like Web Office overnight.

And don’t count Microsoft out. We are very focused on many of the things brought up in Rod’s paper. Office 2007 provides blog, Wiki, and RSS support out-of-the-box. We are providing a way to access complex Excel Services right from within your browser. And Windows Live and Office Live are coming online and providing new developer APIs that anyone can use similar to what Amazon, Google and Yahoo are offering. 


One of the cool things about working at Microsoft - it is full of people who understand and like technology. We can adopt new things more quickly than most enterprises. We are already using Wikis, blogs, RSS and personal sites in a huge way. Over three years ago we totally changed the way we collaborate internally, moving away from sharing files over e-mail and file shares. Next week, our IT group will roll out Office 2007 Beta 2 - which includes the collaboration infrastructure – and we will ALL be using it for our day-to-day work (many of us already are.) This type of shift takes much longer at most enterprises I talk to.

Read the paper, it is very thought provoking. I’d love to hear what you think.

BTW – this post was written in Word 2007 and posted directly to my Community Server Blog with the click of one button.