The Software as a Service (SaaS) model has changed the way small businesses are going to work and led to the creation of thousands of start-ups offering web applications for every imaginable aspect of running a business.

Then Google Docs came along and even created SaaS offerings for the last bastion of the desktop software model – the word processor, spreadsheet, presentation and contact tools – otherwise known as Microsoft Office to most.

I do think many started questioning the viability of Microsoft’s desktop software hold. The conventional wisdom is/was that Microsoft should just cave in and put it all up in the cloud and become the SaaS that they know they should be. But then, let’s not forget the millions upon millions of individuals who aren’t computing in the cloud too much, sort of don’t trust the cloud too much, and may never really want everything there.

Microsoft’s model seems to be making more and more sense and so does their moniker – Software + Service – the notion of enhancing the desktop suite you know and sometimes love to hate with web applications that extend the functionality and reach. Look, I like Microsoft, they’ve been great to work with, but I’m also painfully aware the rudder can seem stuck when it comes to the ever changing needs of the small business, but I think they actually may be getting around to getting this right.

I caught up with Michael Schultz, head of marketing for Office Live at a recent conference and he shared his views on the changing model

Just recently they added Office Live Workspace the Office Live product and now you can:
* Access your documents from almost anywhere
* Save over 1,000 Microsoft Office documents in one online place
* Open and save directly from Word, Excel, and Powerpoint
* Control who sees and edits files; password-protected sharing

And now they are inching towards the launch of something they are calling Office Web applications. This will live inside of Office Live and give users the ability to create online documents, presentations, and spreadsheets, much like Google docs, but with the seamless ability to use those same files offline inside the Office desktop applications.

Office Web screenshot – application not available just yet

Personally, I think this will have broad appeal to many Office users who don’t want to be tethered at all times to the web, but do realize the power of online sharing and collaboration. Now, could this have been launched two years ago, probably, but the game is still evolving and this looks right, right now.

Office Small Business 2007Your bonus for reading this far: I have two full copies of Office Small Business 2007 ($450 retail) that I am going to send free of charge to the best two audio answers given to this statement: The Best Referral I’ve Ever Received was . . . Call this number and leave your answer (214) 615-6505 ext 6998 – it works like voice mail so just listen to the prompts. Make sure you add why it was such a great referral and feel free to tell us your name, business and web address. I will pick the two winners and post the audios here so you can also get some nice exposure for your business. (Send me an email with your shipping address too! john [at]

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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • OpenOffice pretty much duplicates everything Office does….for free….and Linux will soon be a very viable alternative open source operating system. Where does that truly leave Microsoft? Pretty much rasping at straws, methinks!

  • I have always used Windows Live and really looked forward to the enhancements. Have been waffling on how far to go with Google Apps and this seems like a great way for them and me to head.

    Cleared up a few things for me John,thanks

  • John Jantsch

    @SEO I can see where it’s easy to make this assumption, but OpenOffice has been around for a long time with little uptake – Office already has about 90% share and that won’t go away for a long time, even if they didn’t do anything to address the online world.

    I’m not being a cheerleader here I just think it’s a reality. Us cutting edge folks always think the world is going to follow along with the new thing and sometimes it just doesn’t happen. MS can sometimes seem a bit lumbering, but a great % of it’s installed userbase is as well.

  • I suggest we can give try for the app. As every one knows microsoft always try to get things easier and it looks cool for me to use the tool 😉

  • vkuttima

    I have always used Windows Live and really looked forward to the enhancements.Linux will soon be a very viable alternative open source operating system. Microsoft office is very easy to use to me.

  • I can really feel my self comfortable with windows platform and having software as a services which is SaaS model introduced by MS will definitely rock. Many CMS now days offering free trials of their SasS model which helps small business owners.

  • Windows product is still one of the best in the market. I think the continuous support they offer is the key that help them to stay top.

  • I like Microsoft products; and I like the improvements they’ve planned for both online and offline small business. Thanks for the update.

  • Glad to see MS finally picking up on this trend. We’re big fans of the SaaS model.

  • Microsoft was unsuccessful with web-projects so far. We’ll see ……

  • “Glad to see MS finally picking up on this trend. We’re big fans of the SaaS model.”
    Nooooo!! This is the problem – S+S (Software plus services) isn’t related to SaaS (Software as a Service).

    They just sound similar. By going S+S, Microsoft aren’t “picking up on this [SaaS] trend” they’re actively turning their backs on it.

    I blogged about this a while ago. They’re two very different things.