October 4, 2005 10:31 AM PDT

Ajax gives software a fresh look

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From Web page to Web platform

August 16, 2005

Microsoft gets hip to Ajax

June 27, 2005
An emerging Web development technique promises to shake up the status quo in PC software and blur the line between desktop and Web applications.

Over the years, desktop applications tied to a specific operating system have become entrenched as the main way to work on a computer. Ajax, a set of development techniques standardized over the past eight years, could change all that by bringing more sophisticated interfaces to Web applications. With that, backers are hoping it can open a crack in the dominance of desktop software like Microsoft's Office, the undisputed market leader.

"This is a space that's crying out for innovation," said Scott Dietzen, president of messaging start-up Zimbra. "At this point, there isn't a company that's up to challenging Microsoft. But we're out to change that."

News.context

What's new:
Messaging company Zimbra is one of several companies betting that Ajax-style Web development will shake up the PC software market.

Bottom line:
While the Ajax development technique is likely to blur the line between desktop and Web software, it's unlikely to displace Microsoft's dominance as the leading applications provider.

More stories on Ajax

On Tuesday, closely watched Zimbra outlined its business model and announced that it has secured $16 million in venture funding in conjunction with this week's Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco. The San Mateo, Calif.-based company said it will launch its e-mail server software as a free open-source edition next month. Customers can pay a yearly subscription fee for updates and support, and a higher-end version will be available for a price.

Zimbra is one of a growing number of companies that are betting that Ajax, which stands for Asynchronous JavaScript + XML, will turn out to be more than just a catchy abbreviation. In the development style, programmers use a number of standards-based technologies, notably JavaScript and XML, to write applications. Many Web entrepreneurs and established software providers are hoping that Ajax can reinvigorate the PC software business by marrying the graphical user interface of desktop computers with the benefits of the Web.

Clearly, nobody expects Ajax-style applications--just now entering the market--to overtake Office anytime soon. Microsoft has long controlled more than 90 percent of the desktop software market, and the company's Information Worker unit, which includes Office and related tools, generated more than $11 billion in revenue--more than one quarter of Microsoft's total revenue in fiscal year 2005, according to the company.

But companies like Zimbra are paving the way for others to enter a market long thought to be stagnant.

"My sense is that we're just seeing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to browser-based applications," Dan Grossman, venture capitalist at Venrock Associates wrote in a recent blog posting. "There are many more on the way, and we'll be increasingly amazed with what can be done," he noted.

Several smaller companies are in the early stages of building Ajax-style applications that are Web-based alternatives to many PC mainstays, potentially luring away Microsoft customers. Examples include project management application Basecamp and an online calendar program now in beta from CalendarHub.

"We're just seeing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to browser-based applications."
--Dan Grossman, venture capitalist

At the moment, Web pages are limited, compared with most desktop applications. Ajax frees Web pages from the clunkiness they suffer from by making them more interactive and so more functional, Web developers say.

Using Ajax, developers can create an interactive user interface that's comparable to what's available on desktop applications. For example, Microsoft Outlook users take for granted that they can drag an e-mail message into a folder, but that's not possible right now with Web-based e-mail clients like MSN Hotmail. With Ajax applications, users can move items such as windows and buttons around a Web page--much as they do with programs linked to Windows or Mac OS.

"Without Ajax, we couldn't have created a user experience that was good enough," said Seth Sternberg, co-founder of Meebo.com , a three-person start-up that provides Web-based instant messaging.

Smaller software makers such as ThinkFree and Writely could eventually create the hosted Web equivalent of Microsoft Office, analyst and writer Richard MacManus noted recently.

Mashing up e-mail
Dietzen said a Web-based architecture provides benefits to IT administrators, namely a common security system and simplified management. Perhaps more significantly, the Web-based architecture lets Zimbra combine e-mail with other applications in novel ways, he said.

"The big thing is e-mail-based 'mash-ups.' The Web is becoming this platform for collaboration. Why should we isolate e-mail?" Dietzen said.

Earlier this year, Google Maps, one of the first applications to make the benefits of Ajax development clear to a broad audience, emerged. The program enables people to use a mouse to move a map image around the screen.

Zimbra programmers have used the same techniques to make e-mail clients and servers more interactive. The company's Web-based client

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61 comments

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Add your comment
Gunfight at the OK Corral!
With so many existing and startups companies having been felled under the "somke" from the "empire's" guns this article apparently did not give a clear "time line" as to when one will be afforded the opportunity to view the likely showndown from a ring side view!
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Gunfight at the OK Corral!
With so many existing and startups companies having been felled under the "somke" from the "empire's" guns this article apparently did not give a clear "time line" as to when one will be afforded the opportunity to view the likely showndown from a ring side view!
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Good or bad?
This article paints AJAX to be the next good thing since the inception of the World Wide Web, and surely enough, it seems like a very interesting technique. There are a quirks to consider however:

1. AJAX is based on the XMLHttpRequest object, an ActiveX component invented by none other than the propietary king, Microsoft. I believe, however, that FireFox now has a compatible version of it own of this component.

2. Could this technology be used to exploit the consumer? The idea of subscription based software rather than a one time license has been on the minds of companies for years. On this model, you wouldn't buy software and install it, you would subscribe to it and use it over the Web, meaning the need for constant connection to the Net (and therefore exposing yourself inncecesarily to viruses, hackers) and also it would mean that if the software server is not available (which happens often enough with some of MS services) you can't use the software. It could also mean that a terrorist attack capable of taking down the Web's backbone servers (the top level domain servers for example) would not only stop the Internet, but also all companies "subscribed" to the software would be unable to work, resulting in millions in losses. Of course, that's a worst case scenario.

The idea that subscription based software is now possible is not very appealing. The consumer is locked into paying monthly fees for the use of a program. This is a new way for companies to extract more money from consumers. When will consumers and end users take a stand against this abuse?
Posted by Sentinel (199 comments )
Reply Link Flag
AJAX good or bad, but not for those reasons
There may be some quirks to work out with AJAX but I'm not the items you mentioned are the weak links.

1. Mozilla's XMLHTTPRequest object is almost identical to Microsoft's XMLHTTP ActiveX object, so AJAX apps can run the same in either browser if coded properly. Since Mozilla implemented it and FireFox's market share has grown so rapidly it is now possible to build true rich internet applications (AJAX-Style) that are cross-browser. I'm sure Safari and others will come around soon, but MS doesn't hold the monopoly anymore.

2. Just because an application is web based and accessed through a web browser doesn't mean companies have to pay a monthly fee to a given vendor or are dependant on them. There are still many cost efficiencies to be gained by running web apps and an enterprise can choose to manage their own servers, install the software once and allow users to access the app through a web browser. The app could be accessed over the internet, or LAN or WAN. So going so far as to say AJAX apps make us more vulnerable to terrorist attacks is quite sensational IMHO.

I think AJAX will change the way people use and think about web apps as a business tool.

I'd say the hurdles are lack of offline functionality and poor development tools. A component based model may help, but we still need better testing tools and JS IDEs.

My 2 cents.

Andre Charland
eBusiness Applications
AJAX Components for JAVA and .Net
Posted by (5 comments )
Link Flag
Just better
I don't think AJAX-based technologies will replace all desktop applications. There are few kind of problems that Internet helps to solve and AJAX just makes such solutions more handy and useful. I can't imagine online replacement of Office and I don't need it at all. But I'll prefer GMail to somewhat else click-and-wait web mail solution just because of usability and time saving.
Posted by maximwirt (2 comments )
Link Flag
Good or bad?
This article paints AJAX to be the next good thing since the inception of the World Wide Web, and surely enough, it seems like a very interesting technique. There are a quirks to consider however:

1. AJAX is based on the XMLHttpRequest object, an ActiveX component invented by none other than the propietary king, Microsoft. I believe, however, that FireFox now has a compatible version of it own of this component.

2. Could this technology be used to exploit the consumer? The idea of subscription based software rather than a one time license has been on the minds of companies for years. On this model, you wouldn't buy software and install it, you would subscribe to it and use it over the Web, meaning the need for constant connection to the Net (and therefore exposing yourself inncecesarily to viruses, hackers) and also it would mean that if the software server is not available (which happens often enough with some of MS services) you can't use the software. It could also mean that a terrorist attack capable of taking down the Web's backbone servers (the top level domain servers for example) would not only stop the Internet, but also all companies "subscribed" to the software would be unable to work, resulting in millions in losses. Of course, that's a worst case scenario.

The idea that subscription based software is now possible is not very appealing. The consumer is locked into paying monthly fees for the use of a program. This is a new way for companies to extract more money from consumers. When will consumers and end users take a stand against this abuse?
Posted by Sentinel (199 comments )
Reply Link Flag
AJAX good or bad, but not for those reasons
There may be some quirks to work out with AJAX but I'm not the items you mentioned are the weak links.

1. Mozilla's XMLHTTPRequest object is almost identical to Microsoft's XMLHTTP ActiveX object, so AJAX apps can run the same in either browser if coded properly. Since Mozilla implemented it and FireFox's market share has grown so rapidly it is now possible to build true rich internet applications (AJAX-Style) that are cross-browser. I'm sure Safari and others will come around soon, but MS doesn't hold the monopoly anymore.

2. Just because an application is web based and accessed through a web browser doesn't mean companies have to pay a monthly fee to a given vendor or are dependant on them. There are still many cost efficiencies to be gained by running web apps and an enterprise can choose to manage their own servers, install the software once and allow users to access the app through a web browser. The app could be accessed over the internet, or LAN or WAN. So going so far as to say AJAX apps make us more vulnerable to terrorist attacks is quite sensational IMHO.

I think AJAX will change the way people use and think about web apps as a business tool.

I'd say the hurdles are lack of offline functionality and poor development tools. A component based model may help, but we still need better testing tools and JS IDEs.

My 2 cents.

Andre Charland
eBusiness Applications
AJAX Components for JAVA and .Net
Posted by (5 comments )
Link Flag
Just better
I don't think AJAX-based technologies will replace all desktop applications. There are few kind of problems that Internet helps to solve and AJAX just makes such solutions more handy and useful. I can't imagine online replacement of Office and I don't need it at all. But I'll prefer GMail to somewhat else click-and-wait web mail solution just because of usability and time saving.
Posted by maximwirt (2 comments )
Link Flag
It's going to be a lot more richer
than Ajax and only for broadband, ClickOnce and Webstart.
Example: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://roomity.com" target="_newWindow">http://roomity.com</a> is web2.0.

.V
Posted by (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's going to be a lot more richer
than Ajax and only for broadband, ClickOnce and Webstart.
Example: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://roomity.com" target="_newWindow">http://roomity.com</a> is web2.0.

.V
Posted by (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
AJAX was available wayy back
AJAX was first introduced by Microsoft using the xmlhttp object in 96. If you look at the Outlook 2003 email client, it has all the rich client capabilities like drag and drop, reminder popups etc. Cnet, do some investigation before writing an article.
Posted by raleighboy (24 comments )
Reply Link Flag
1996? Try 1998
xmlhttprequest was first available in Internet Explorer 5 which was released in 1998.
Posted by ebrandel (102 comments )
Link Flag
New combo of old techniques
That is in fact one of the points that many proponents of AJAX make. It does not involve any new technical components, which means it should be supported by any reasonably modern browser.
Posted by davearonson (35 comments )
Link Flag
AJAX was available wayy back
AJAX was first introduced by Microsoft using the xmlhttp object in 96. If you look at the Outlook 2003 email client, it has all the rich client capabilities like drag and drop, reminder popups etc. Cnet, do some investigation before writing an article.
Posted by raleighboy (24 comments )
Reply Link Flag
1996? Try 1998
xmlhttprequest was first available in Internet Explorer 5 which was released in 1998.
Posted by ebrandel (102 comments )
Link Flag
New combo of old techniques
That is in fact one of the points that many proponents of AJAX make. It does not involve any new technical components, which means it should be supported by any reasonably modern browser.
Posted by davearonson (35 comments )
Link Flag
The first time I read about AJAX...
... the article had the same excitement for an old technique using JavaScript. At that time, AJAX was new and no standard engines were designed. Meanwhile, MS Visual Studio.Net and Java 1.5 JSP already support similar behaviors... So, eherm, except for the name, it's really nothing new.
Posted by Mendz (519 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The first time I read about AJAX...
... the article had the same excitement for an old technique using JavaScript. At that time, AJAX was new and no standard engines were designed. Meanwhile, MS Visual Studio.Net and Java 1.5 JSP already support similar behaviors... So, eherm, except for the name, it's really nothing new.
Posted by Mendz (519 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Some false assertions
"For example, Microsoft Outlook users take for granted that they can drag an e-mail message into a folder, but that's not possible right now with Web-based e-mail clients like MSN Hotmail. With Ajax applications, users can move items such as windows and buttons around a Web page--much as they do with programs linked to Windows or Mac OS."

Moving Buttons has nothing to do with AJAX. This is possible because of the use of JavaScript and CSS, also often described as DHTML.

Also I'm pretty shure Google Maps does NOT use AJAX - they are using only XMLHttpRequest which does NOT support asynchronic communication: the client sends a request and gets an answer.

Feel free to correct me ;)
Posted by (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
JavaScript + CSS
The person who coined the term Ajax, Jesse James Garrett, listed the technologies that allow an interactive UI with Web technologies. By his definition, Ajax includes JavaScript and CSS. And according to our reporting, Google Maps is an Ajax application.
Links:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.adaptivepath.com/publications/essays/archives/000385.php" target="_newWindow">http://www.adaptivepath.com/publications/essays/archives/000385.php</a>

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://news.cbsi.com/Will+AJAX+help+Google+clean+up/2100-1032_3-5621010.html" target="_newWindow">http://news.cbsi.com/Will+AJAX+help+Google+clean+up/2100-1032_3-5621010.html</a>

Martin LaMonica
CNET News.com
Posted by mlamonica (330 comments )
Link Flag
sub thread Excellent Interaction
The above comment and the subsequent clarifications show how wonderfully the internet allows quick publication and correction of thoughts.

This is how the internet is supposed to work.

but it brought to mind that there needs to be more source info given.... don't get me wrong, C/Net does a great job giving interactive links, though most are other C/Net stories, what I am referring to is the same thing we learned when we first wrote a research paper, "document EVERYTHING"

a small side box that gives all the links that were used in preparation of the story (and especially the links used to verify anything the lawyers say to verify) conversations used to verify and printed references(do they still have those?) would assist informed readers to stay informed and even anonymous sources could be lumped into "private conversations"

I'm not requesting the reporter reveal secret sources that could dry up if names were mentioned. But responsible reporters always verify their facts. I'm just asking to allow the readers to also verify the facts as easily as possible.
Posted by qazwiz (208 comments )
Link Flag
You are wrong!
AJAX is a combination of DHTML, CSS, and XMLHttpRequest, so saying that moving buttons is done through DHTML and not AJAX is self-contradictory. Also, according to AJAX in Action by D. Crane, E. Pascarelly, and D. James, "The XMLHttpRequest object (or a range of similar mechanisms) is used to talk to the server asynchronously, committing user requests and fetching up-to-date data while the user works." So XMLHttpRequest does support asynchronous communication. Hopefully this clears up some misconceptions,

Thanks,

Ike Love
Posted by ikelove (2 comments )
Link Flag
Some false assertions
"For example, Microsoft Outlook users take for granted that they can drag an e-mail message into a folder, but that's not possible right now with Web-based e-mail clients like MSN Hotmail. With Ajax applications, users can move items such as windows and buttons around a Web page--much as they do with programs linked to Windows or Mac OS."

Moving Buttons has nothing to do with AJAX. This is possible because of the use of JavaScript and CSS, also often described as DHTML.

Also I'm pretty shure Google Maps does NOT use AJAX - they are using only XMLHttpRequest which does NOT support asynchronic communication: the client sends a request and gets an answer.

Feel free to correct me ;)
Posted by (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
JavaScript + CSS
The person who coined the term Ajax, Jesse James Garrett, listed the technologies that allow an interactive UI with Web technologies. By his definition, Ajax includes JavaScript and CSS. And according to our reporting, Google Maps is an Ajax application.
Links:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.adaptivepath.com/publications/essays/archives/000385.php" target="_newWindow">http://www.adaptivepath.com/publications/essays/archives/000385.php</a>

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://news.cbsi.com/Will+AJAX+help+Google+clean+up/2100-1032_3-5621010.html" target="_newWindow">http://news.cbsi.com/Will+AJAX+help+Google+clean+up/2100-1032_3-5621010.html</a>

Martin LaMonica
CNET News.com
Posted by mlamonica (330 comments )
Link Flag
sub thread Excellent Interaction
The above comment and the subsequent clarifications show how wonderfully the internet allows quick publication and correction of thoughts.

This is how the internet is supposed to work.

but it brought to mind that there needs to be more source info given.... don't get me wrong, C/Net does a great job giving interactive links, though most are other C/Net stories, what I am referring to is the same thing we learned when we first wrote a research paper, "document EVERYTHING"

a small side box that gives all the links that were used in preparation of the story (and especially the links used to verify anything the lawyers say to verify) conversations used to verify and printed references(do they still have those?) would assist informed readers to stay informed and even anonymous sources could be lumped into "private conversations"

I'm not requesting the reporter reveal secret sources that could dry up if names were mentioned. But responsible reporters always verify their facts. I'm just asking to allow the readers to also verify the facts as easily as possible.
Posted by qazwiz (208 comments )
Link Flag
You are wrong!
AJAX is a combination of DHTML, CSS, and XMLHttpRequest, so saying that moving buttons is done through DHTML and not AJAX is self-contradictory. Also, according to AJAX in Action by D. Crane, E. Pascarelly, and D. James, "The XMLHttpRequest object (or a range of similar mechanisms) is used to talk to the server asynchronously, committing user requests and fetching up-to-date data while the user works." So XMLHttpRequest does support asynchronous communication. Hopefully this clears up some misconceptions,

Thanks,

Ike Love
Posted by ikelove (2 comments )
Link Flag
The "Bill of Rights"!
Martin, As a reminder....

"Bill of Rights

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Are there any explanations as to why post ( re: The NewsForge Article - with views about OS/2 vs Windows 95 during the 90's) in relation to your article appears to have been removed?
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The "Bill of Rights"!
Martin, As a reminder....

"Bill of Rights

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Are there any explanations as to why post ( re: The NewsForge Article - with views about OS/2 vs Windows 95 during the 90's) in relation to your article appears to have been removed?
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What Will be The Future Of AJAX Facing Off Against MS!
In attempting to gain some insight into the future of AJAX I looked at an article from NewsForge; link attached:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://trends.newsforge.com/trends/05/10/01/1548246.shtml?tid=29" target="_newWindow">http://trends.newsforge.com/trends/05/10/01/1548246.shtml?tid=29</a>

a part of which reads as follows; "Even worse, Windows arch-enemy at the time, the dreaded OS/2, showed major performance gains when running on the Pentium Pro. Not to worry, in one tiny corner of cyberspace, a corner thick with journalists and analysts alike, Richard Shupak of MS Research stepped up to do battle with the truth.

Shupak claimed that Windows 95 was no less 32-bit than OS/2, and therefore there had to be some other explanation as to why Windows 95 ran slower on a Pentium Pro while OS/2 ran faster. As evidence, he cited the total lines of code in each OS, and the total lines of code that were 16 bit. Indeed, these figures showed Windows 95 to be more of a 32-bit OS than OS/2. Left at that, it was a perfect deception, with facts to back it up, while the truth of the situation was left harpooned on the beach like a dying whale.

As shrewd and cunning as Shupak's lies were, they were not quite good enough. IBM's Colin Powell pointed out the fallacy in the tale. Since the entire OS is never loaded in memory at any one time, the statistics quipped by Shupak were meaningless. What mattered, Powell noted, was the mix of 16-bit versus 32-bit code actually running in the machine at any given moment. And on that basis, it was the Pentium Pro who was the final arbiter, the blind justice, the even-handed Solomon: and it decreed time after time, application after application, that OS/2 rocked and Windows 95 sucked. Ergo, not only had MS been lying for years about its "all new, all 32-bit" OS, they were piling on more lies to cover up their previous disconnects with the truth.

Now fast forward ten years. Let's talk about the new DVD formats, and the wrestling match for mind-share between the Blu-Ray Disc (BD) preferred by Sony and Toshiba's HD DVD. MS and Intel back HD DVD, and they recently stepped up to explain why. As The Register points out in a recent story on the subject, the fact that Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3 will be making use of their choice makes it all a little bit more personal."

Taken from this article about AJAX which reads; "Over the years, desktop applications tied to a specific operating system have become entrenched as the main way to work on a computer. AJAX, a set of development techniques standardized over the past eight years, could change all that by bringing more sophisticated interfaces to Web applications. With that, backers are hoping it can open a crack in the dominance of desktop software like Microsoft's Office, the undisputed market leader".

Against these backgrounds and ensuing developments (and, with broad support the "OpenDocument" format) one wonders what the true landscape in the media, information technology... arena will be?
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What Will be The Future Of AJAX Facing Off Against MS!
In attempting to gain some insight into the future of AJAX I looked at an article from NewsForge; link attached:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://trends.newsforge.com/trends/05/10/01/1548246.shtml?tid=29" target="_newWindow">http://trends.newsforge.com/trends/05/10/01/1548246.shtml?tid=29</a>

a part of which reads as follows; "Even worse, Windows arch-enemy at the time, the dreaded OS/2, showed major performance gains when running on the Pentium Pro. Not to worry, in one tiny corner of cyberspace, a corner thick with journalists and analysts alike, Richard Shupak of MS Research stepped up to do battle with the truth.

Shupak claimed that Windows 95 was no less 32-bit than OS/2, and therefore there had to be some other explanation as to why Windows 95 ran slower on a Pentium Pro while OS/2 ran faster. As evidence, he cited the total lines of code in each OS, and the total lines of code that were 16 bit. Indeed, these figures showed Windows 95 to be more of a 32-bit OS than OS/2. Left at that, it was a perfect deception, with facts to back it up, while the truth of the situation was left harpooned on the beach like a dying whale.

As shrewd and cunning as Shupak's lies were, they were not quite good enough. IBM's Colin Powell pointed out the fallacy in the tale. Since the entire OS is never loaded in memory at any one time, the statistics quipped by Shupak were meaningless. What mattered, Powell noted, was the mix of 16-bit versus 32-bit code actually running in the machine at any given moment. And on that basis, it was the Pentium Pro who was the final arbiter, the blind justice, the even-handed Solomon: and it decreed time after time, application after application, that OS/2 rocked and Windows 95 sucked. Ergo, not only had MS been lying for years about its "all new, all 32-bit" OS, they were piling on more lies to cover up their previous disconnects with the truth.

Now fast forward ten years. Let's talk about the new DVD formats, and the wrestling match for mind-share between the Blu-Ray Disc (BD) preferred by Sony and Toshiba's HD DVD. MS and Intel back HD DVD, and they recently stepped up to explain why. As The Register points out in a recent story on the subject, the fact that Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3 will be making use of their choice makes it all a little bit more personal."

Taken from this article about AJAX which reads; "Over the years, desktop applications tied to a specific operating system have become entrenched as the main way to work on a computer. AJAX, a set of development techniques standardized over the past eight years, could change all that by bringing more sophisticated interfaces to Web applications. With that, backers are hoping it can open a crack in the dominance of desktop software like Microsoft's Office, the undisputed market leader".

Against these backgrounds and ensuing developments (and, with broad support the "OpenDocument" format) one wonders what the true landscape in the media, information technology... arena will be?
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Compelling reason to change, who are you kidding?
[Quote}
Microsoft's grip
Although the idea of a Web-based alternative to Microsoft Office may sound threatening to the software giant, the company's products are deeply entrenched, particularly in the corporate market. The training costs associated with replacing Office alone make switching away from it very unlikely, said Joe Drouin, global chief information officer at TRW Automotive.

"The Windows-Office platform has become second nature to people," Drouin said. "There would have to be an amazingly compelling business case to convince me to go out and retrain 24,000 people on an all-new desktop environment, an all-new office environment and an all-new way of working."
[/Quote]

The compeling business case is money. Training your 24,000 users to use an application via a browser maybe $500 ea (worst case).

Smaller, cheaper, less loaded "personal computers for 24,000 users. Less software to purchase. Less by more than $500 per users ea (worst case). And these savings accumulate and grow with each hardware and software upgrade or purchase.

The result is a huge long term net savings to the business. Perhaps they could use it to hire a smarter CIO.
Posted by albrown (36 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Compelling reason to change, who are you kidding?
[Quote}
Microsoft's grip
Although the idea of a Web-based alternative to Microsoft Office may sound threatening to the software giant, the company's products are deeply entrenched, particularly in the corporate market. The training costs associated with replacing Office alone make switching away from it very unlikely, said Joe Drouin, global chief information officer at TRW Automotive.

"The Windows-Office platform has become second nature to people," Drouin said. "There would have to be an amazingly compelling business case to convince me to go out and retrain 24,000 people on an all-new desktop environment, an all-new office environment and an all-new way of working."
[/Quote]

The compeling business case is money. Training your 24,000 users to use an application via a browser maybe $500 ea (worst case).

Smaller, cheaper, less loaded "personal computers for 24,000 users. Less software to purchase. Less by more than $500 per users ea (worst case). And these savings accumulate and grow with each hardware and software upgrade or purchase.

The result is a huge long term net savings to the business. Perhaps they could use it to hire a smarter CIO.
Posted by albrown (36 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not tomorrow but soon...
IT tends to be a bit giddy in proclaiming its next great revolution (net computers) etc but AJAX exists today in real applications, not just in marketing literature. And it isnt rocket science.

Along with meebo and yahoo mail(oddpost was AJAX), here is <a href="#">Tilika</a> - an AJAX powered online shared calendaring and social networking tool I wrote that does a fair fraction of what MS Outlook does. Nothing to download and free.

Many of these tools are a bit disparate rather than existing under one umbrella but then perhaps that's how they will evolve. No one company owns everything. AJAX certainly has a future.
Posted by (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not tomorrow but soon...
IT tends to be a bit giddy in proclaiming its next great revolution (net computers) etc but AJAX exists today in real applications, not just in marketing literature. And it isnt rocket science.

Along with meebo and yahoo mail(oddpost was AJAX), here is <a href="#">Tilika</a> - an AJAX powered online shared calendaring and social networking tool I wrote that does a fair fraction of what MS Outlook does. Nothing to download and free.

Many of these tools are a bit disparate rather than existing under one umbrella but then perhaps that's how they will evolve. No one company owns everything. AJAX certainly has a future.
Posted by (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
AJAX - Concept Originates from Microsoft
Nice article but does not indicate anything about critical aspect - "WHO INVENTED IT ORIGINALLY"

Microsoft invented this concept in 1996 and is still used under the term XMLHTTP. Jesse James coined the term AJAX for the same methodology.

The reality is rest of the world is using it and getting all the hype too late. Some did good implementations of the same like Google Maps.

By 1997 there were several implementations of this technology, along with samples and case studies. So in short Microsoft is not catching up, rest of the world is...

I see mention of usability a lot in relation to Movable Buttons etc, but that all has to do with CSS and JavaScript. XMLHTTP (AJAX as it is being called now) is simple HTTP call to retrieve XML (for that matter it could even be CSV, or plain text data) and then leveraging JavaScript to render it on browser as needed.

Refer to <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AJAX" target="_newWindow">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AJAX</a> link for more information.

Last thing any company should do is to plan how to make money with this technology rather than plan to beat the inventor (Microsoft) itself.
Posted by (2 comments )
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no one invented anything... hardly
hypercard had some third party products that allowed remote database support... this was before hypertext
Posted by (187 comments )
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AJAX - Concept Originates from Microsoft
Nice article but does not indicate anything about critical aspect - "WHO INVENTED IT ORIGINALLY"

Microsoft invented this concept in 1996 and is still used under the term XMLHTTP. Jesse James coined the term AJAX for the same methodology.

The reality is rest of the world is using it and getting all the hype too late. Some did good implementations of the same like Google Maps.

By 1997 there were several implementations of this technology, along with samples and case studies. So in short Microsoft is not catching up, rest of the world is...

I see mention of usability a lot in relation to Movable Buttons etc, but that all has to do with CSS and JavaScript. XMLHTTP (AJAX as it is being called now) is simple HTTP call to retrieve XML (for that matter it could even be CSV, or plain text data) and then leveraging JavaScript to render it on browser as needed.

Refer to <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AJAX" target="_newWindow">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AJAX</a> link for more information.

Last thing any company should do is to plan how to make money with this technology rather than plan to beat the inventor (Microsoft) itself.
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
no one invented anything... hardly
hypercard had some third party products that allowed remote database support... this was before hypertext
Posted by (187 comments )
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The Compelling Business Case
Actually, I think that the licence cost element will just be a bonus of the business case. I agree that a wholesale shift away from the MS Office will happen very slowly and only with very good reason. StarOffice is providing an increasingly viable like for like alternative for MS Office. I think the real driver will be what the web brings. The collaborative aspects of creating and editing documents that everyone can see and being able to access your material from multiple light-weight platforms facilitating mobile and flexible working.
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Lightweight Web-based Apps
I tend to agree that collaboration and mobility will turn out to be the secret sauces that drive major change. I've started using a lot of lightweight web-based apps like Writeboard and Backpack and will be delving into many others as part of my research for a conference on collaboration (ctcevents.com) and I find them very compelling. What's tricky is that Microsoft is very much on the collaboration bandwagon as well, albeit in a different way, and with Ray Ozzie there now they may well get ahead of the curve. The other problem with the lightweight apps is the annoyance of signing into so many different accounts in so many different places to access your work. It ends up being very fractured, and if Microsoft can offer the same experience but put it all in one place for you, they will have a real advantage.
Posted by pahlkadot (4 comments )
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RE: The compelling busines case
Very rightfull observation. The ability to use the web to add and manage content is more than compelling. Right now there are several sites, applying the AJAX technology to build and manage web documents and even whole sites -
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.sitekreator.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.sitekreator.com</a> is just one example.
Posted by (2 comments )
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The Compelling Business Case
Actually, I think that the licence cost element will just be a bonus of the business case. I agree that a wholesale shift away from the MS Office will happen very slowly and only with very good reason. StarOffice is providing an increasingly viable like for like alternative for MS Office. I think the real driver will be what the web brings. The collaborative aspects of creating and editing documents that everyone can see and being able to access your material from multiple light-weight platforms facilitating mobile and flexible working.
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Lightweight Web-based Apps
I tend to agree that collaboration and mobility will turn out to be the secret sauces that drive major change. I've started using a lot of lightweight web-based apps like Writeboard and Backpack and will be delving into many others as part of my research for a conference on collaboration (ctcevents.com) and I find them very compelling. What's tricky is that Microsoft is very much on the collaboration bandwagon as well, albeit in a different way, and with Ray Ozzie there now they may well get ahead of the curve. The other problem with the lightweight apps is the annoyance of signing into so many different accounts in so many different places to access your work. It ends up being very fractured, and if Microsoft can offer the same experience but put it all in one place for you, they will have a real advantage.
Posted by pahlkadot (4 comments )
Link Flag
RE: The compelling busines case
Very rightfull observation. The ability to use the web to add and manage content is more than compelling. Right now there are several sites, applying the AJAX technology to build and manage web documents and even whole sites -
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.sitekreator.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.sitekreator.com</a> is just one example.
Posted by (2 comments )
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Forget terrorist attacks - what if my corporate network goes down?
I was encouraged by the AJAX-based applications I saw at Web 2.0 earlier this month. However, like the previous comment, the thought that my productivity would be tied even more closely to my corporate LAN's uptime gives me cause for concern. And it's not so much the thought of a terrorist attack that frightens me -- it's my company's LAN/Internet access, which fails for 30 min here and there on an almost monthly basis.

I assume large companies that feature redundant servers and well-staffed IT departments wouldn't be as concerned about Internet accessibility, but for SMBs with less predictable network uptime, I can assure you that AJAX-style applications will be perceived a bit more cautiously.
Posted by adunne3 (2 comments )
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