Despite some of the yawns the deal inspired, it carries the hallmarks of something big, maybe not exactly Google Office or a Google-hosted version of OpenOffice, the open source desktop productivity suite. But something that pushes the concept of providing Office-like productivity tools online even farther.
There are at least three good reasons why we can expect this alliance to produce something with the features and functions of OpenOffice:
It's the Way of All Software
Software-as-a-service, also called software on-demand or SAS, has taken off in the past few years, with Web-native enterprise applications including salesforce.com, RightNow and Mitrix being joined by offerings from on-premise vendors including Siebel and even Microsoft.
Redmonk analyst Stephen O'Grady is a recent convert to the notion. ''We've seen a very clear trend that indicated that software-as-service is an increasingly capable technology that can deliver things that we would not have expected. If that trend continues, we'll see more software as a service.'' Traditional installed software won't go away soon, but O'Grady said that in certain cases, SAS will supplant it.
In an October 7 research note, Gartner analyst Tom Austin wrote, ''Before year-end 2006, at least two vendors (such as Yahoo, Google and Microsoft) will offer lightweight, office-like Web-based tools that will eventually undermine usage of heavyweight office suites like Microsoft Office.''