September 14, 2005 7:33 PM PDT

Microsoft flexes its muscles with Office

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September 14, 2005
LOS ANGELES--Microsoft plans to muscle into two markets next year, work flow and enterprise content management, using its time-tested techniques of exploiting its desktop dominance and appealing to developers.

On Wednesday, at its Professional Developers Conference here, the software giant announced two initiatives meant to grab more dollars spent on content management and work flow applications.

The company announced Windows Workflow Foundation, software plumbing that tracks the different steps in a wide range of work flow processes, such as handling the flow of one Web page to the next or passing electronic forms between two systems.

The software, which will be built into Windows Vista when the new operating system ships in the second half of next year, will be used extensively in Office 12 as well as in future versions of BizTalk and the company's Dynamics packaged applications, according to Microsoft executives.

Though company executives are cagey on packaging and pricing details, Microsoft also intends to provide enterprise content management capabilities with Office 12, which will be available in the second half of next year as well.

Both initiatives have the potential to shake up the competitive landscape in markets where there are several specialized vendors.

"It's the classic Microsoft approach, where they come in 10 years after the fact in work flow and enterprise content management and they commoditize it," said John Rymer, an analyst at Forrester Research. "They don't invent things--they popularize them."

Windows Workflow Foundation is a Windows programming model and base work flow "engine," which Microsoft is encouraging third-party vendors to use in their own products. Microsoft executives said existing work flow providers can set themselves apart from the software giant by offering things such as industry-specific versions and end-user oriented tools.

Larger infrastructure software providers IBM, Oracle, BEA Systems and Sun Microsystems are also investing in software related to work flow.

Similarly, in enterprise content management, Microsoft will compete against specialized vendors, such as Documentum and FileNet, and larger software providers Oracle and IBM.

Steven Sinovsky, senior vice president in charge of Microsoft Office, said Office 12 will introduce enterprise content management software that will build on the company's existing Content Management Server product.

"The direction we are definitely taking is to really have a very significant upgrade of what you think of today as Content Management Server, the product--but re-architected to run on top of SharePoint" portal software, he said, declining to discuss packaging details.

Content management is one of a number of server-delivered capabilities Microsoft intends to offer in Office 12. Specifically, company executives said that server products will also deliver search, collaboration, business process work flow and business intelligence through ties to Microsoft's SQL Server 2005 database.

Combined with a new user interface in Office 12, Microsoft appears to be readying a compelling set of features with Office 12, which will make customers seriously evaluate an upgrade, said Greg DeMichillie, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft.

"From a feature content perspective, it's very impressive, and, as always, Microsoft will start to go for breadth and get a set of features that will get them the broad middle market," DiMichillie said. "They could always shoot themselves in the foot when it comes to packaging and pricing, so we'll have to see."

10 comments

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Once more, MS disappoints...
The goals are very positive, the concepts potentially very useful,
the stupidity in jamming the software into the Vista OS is
overwhelming.

MS just can't think past their marketing department. Maybe that
figures, because Ol' Bill's second skill was marketing. But you
would think that by now, MS might have gotten the message
that messing up their OS by stuffing it full of what should be
independent applications is the reason for their serious security
problems.

And if MS's software designs are the best, people will buy and
use them. Windows users don't have to be forced into using
good software. They DO have to be forced to use defective
software. And MS;s approach here to jamming the OS smacks of
foisting off defective software on Windows users.

Not that anyone can tell MS how to do their thing. MS knows
what's right for the universe, and the universe had damn well
recognize that fact.

The current MS plans make it even more probable that XP will be
the last OS I buy from MS. I've already bought my last piece of
MS application software.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Once more, MS disappoints...
The goals are very positive, the concepts potentially very useful,
the stupidity in jamming the software into the Vista OS is
overwhelming.

MS just can't think past their marketing department. Maybe that
figures, because Ol' Bill's second skill was marketing. But you
would think that by now, MS might have gotten the message
that messing up their OS by stuffing it full of what should be
independent applications is the reason for their serious security
problems.

And if MS's software designs are the best, people will buy and
use them. Windows users don't have to be forced into using
good software. They DO have to be forced to use defective
software. And MS;s approach here to jamming the OS smacks of
foisting off defective software on Windows users.

Not that anyone can tell MS how to do their thing. MS knows
what's right for the universe, and the universe had damn well
recognize that fact.

The current MS plans make it even more probable that XP will be
the last OS I buy from MS. I've already bought my last piece of
MS application software.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
"Time Test This", Bill!
"... using its time-tested techniques of exploiting its desktop
dominance".

Unfortuantely, MS doesn't use a time tested technique of
developing quality products that the consumer can trust will be
secure. Sigh.
Posted by (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
"Time Test This", Bill!
"... using its time-tested techniques of exploiting its desktop
dominance".

Unfortuantely, MS doesn't use a time tested technique of
developing quality products that the consumer can trust will be
secure. Sigh.
Posted by (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Everything thats old is new again...
Workflow has been available in Lotus Notes/Domino since the early 90s. The Microsoft implementation is sadly weak in that the security that should be in place for workflow just isn't there.

It's a shame that Microsoft can't even get it right. Workflow belongs in applications instead of cluttering the Operating System. Workflow is not a core function for home users.

If you are going to make it part of the Operating System at least get it right.

Maybe that's why Notes/Domino is growing rather than being beaten by Exchange. Real security thats application based and focused on what developers and users need instead of more security holes in the Operating System.
Posted by albrown (36 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Awesome!
You guys are awesome! Keep it up!
Posted by KTLA_knew (385 comments )
Link Flag
Everything thats old is new again...
Workflow has been available in Lotus Notes/Domino since the early 90s. The Microsoft implementation is sadly weak in that the security that should be in place for workflow just isn't there.

It's a shame that Microsoft can't even get it right. Workflow belongs in applications instead of cluttering the Operating System. Workflow is not a core function for home users.

If you are going to make it part of the Operating System at least get it right.

Maybe that's why Notes/Domino is growing rather than being beaten by Exchange. Real security thats application based and focused on what developers and users need instead of more security holes in the Operating System.
Posted by albrown (36 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Awesome!
You guys are awesome! Keep it up!
Posted by KTLA_knew (385 comments )
Link Flag
MS borrows an idea
The following is quote in an article from John Rymer, an analyst at Forrester Research -- "It's the classic Microsoft approach, where they come in 10 years after the fact in work flow and enterprise content management and they commoditize it. They don't invent things--they popularize them."

Rymer probably should have added that MS "borrows" the ideas of others. What MS is doing in Vista -- i.e., MS Office as an workflow and application development platform -- is what Nobilis (www.nobilis.com) has been doing for years with Processwriter.

One of MS's end games is add functionality to Office so that customers will want (or need) to upgrade. Customers have been slow to upgrade or switch to Open Office because they are comfortable with limited fuctions of Office. If competitors in the application space -- for example Intuit -- offered support for current versions of Excel as a development platform using a tool like Processwriter, then one big reason to upgrade to Vista would be negated.
Posted by OpenEagle (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
MS borrows an idea
The following is quote in an article from John Rymer, an analyst at Forrester Research -- "It's the classic Microsoft approach, where they come in 10 years after the fact in work flow and enterprise content management and they commoditize it. They don't invent things--they popularize them."

Rymer probably should have added that MS "borrows" the ideas of others. What MS is doing in Vista -- i.e., MS Office as an workflow and application development platform -- is what Nobilis (www.nobilis.com) has been doing for years with Processwriter.

One of MS's end games is add functionality to Office so that customers will want (or need) to upgrade. Customers have been slow to upgrade or switch to Open Office because they are comfortable with limited fuctions of Office. If competitors in the application space -- for example Intuit -- offered support for current versions of Excel as a development platform using a tool like Processwriter, then one big reason to upgrade to Vista would be negated.
Posted by OpenEagle (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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