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MS ‘Office Servers’ to rival Web servers – Ballmer

And Office 2k to drive Microsoft into ASP biz as well...

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With the official launch of Office 2000 yesterday Microsoft put some more flesh on the "knowledge worker" strategy it announced last month. Office 2k is heavily Web-enabled and tellingly, Microsoft president Steve Ballmer said he hoped that "Office Servers" acting as Internet collaboration servers would become almost as common as Web servers. Well might you think: 'Aha!' Microsoft has officially embraced Internet standards and file formats, and therefore ought to be expected to finally abandon its attempts to insinuate Microsoft standards and formats onto the Internet. But we didn't believe that anyway, did we? The company's "Web Store" plan (See story) is intended to allow a broad range of unstructured data to be hosted and accessed via the Internet by our knowledge workers, and Ballmer's use of the term Office Servers makes it abundantly clear that Microsoft intends to use its massively dominant share of the productivity applications market to gain a lock on Web-based collaboration. Ballmer's dream that Office Servers could come close to Web servers in penetration meanwhile suggests that the old plan to get the Microsoft formats out there (as expressed by Bill himself in subpoenaed documents circa 1994-95) is by no means dead. Another component of the plan that emerged yesterday seems to have covered application hosting; Microsoft signed deals with Verio and Concentric Network to provide hosting services. According to Concentric, which offers Internet services to small and medium businesses, the deal involves it offering "comprehensive support for Microsoft Office Server Extensions (OSE)." This will essentially allow Concentric to extend its "ConcentricHost" NT-based applications hosting service. So effectively Microsoft is pushing into the Application Service Provision arena with Office 2k. Microsoft currently has over 90 per cent of the productivity applications market, with Ballmer claiming 120 million users. Some 15 million copies of Office 2k have been sold to businesses already - now it's your turn. ®

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