January 22, 2004

very rich client

Without much fanfare earlier this month, Salesforce.com announced their “Office Edition,” which pushes their SFA functionality down into Microsoft Office. The company that championed went overboard with their “no software” positioning is now touting their integration into the world’s most widely used piece of personal productivity software. Which really isn’t that big of a deal, when you realize that this fits in perfectly with Microsoft’s strategy of morphing Office into a combination productivity app and very rich client. If you’ve used Office 2003 at all, you’ve probably noticed the obvious net-enabled features like the research pane, smart tags (remember those? They live!), Sharepoint integration and the XML tools built into Word and Excel.

If you’ve seen any of the whiz bang demos of Longhorn, it’s abundantly clear that the browser is not where it’s at for Microsoft. Instead, it’s all about the rich client. While .NET application development isn’t for everyone, there’s enough interesting functionality in the new Office to enable the return of the power user – the former macro writer who can now leverage their VB skills to integrate data (through web services inside and outside the firewall) into their everyday working environment.