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Piecing Together The Sun Google Puzzle

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Amid feverish speculation, on Oct 4, Google and Sun Microsystems announced they would work together to promote the Java Runtime Environment (JRE), the Google Toolbar and the productivity suite.

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, 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.”

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