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IBM To Announce Web-Based Desktop Apps 322

Posted by Hemos
from the tried-before dept.
mgoulding writes "IBM is expected to announce a software bundle targeted to business users that will challenge the Microsoft Office package. Unlike Office, the email, word-processing, spreadsheet, and database products will be accessible to Linux, Unix, and heldheld users through a web server. NewsFeed posts the story from CNET." It's certainly something that's been tried before - witness sites like MyWebOS (no longer existing).
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IBM To Announce Web-Based Desktop Apps

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  • by wawannem (591061) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:27AM (#9106527) Homepage
    Although many of us here may see the immediate benefits of this over MS Office, has anyone ever been able to sway non-techie management away from Office?
  • how fast is it? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by 192939495969798999 (58312) <(moc.eroomnived) (ta) (ofni)> on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:28AM (#9106530) Homepage Journal
    What I care about is how fast will this run? Obviously it doesn't have to be lightspeed, but if dialup users can get it, then Microsoft is in real trouble! Of course, it would totally suck if this required IE, and I couldn't be happier that it wasn't built that way.
  • Ugh. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by BHearsum (325814) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:29AM (#9106538) Homepage
    Web based applications *suck*. I do not want to refresh the page everytime I change an option, I do not want to use some propriatary scripting language to run a word processor. The web was *not* designed for applications and applications will *not* run well on the web.
  • Re:Wow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Pavan_Gupta (624567) <`pg8p' `at' `'> on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:30AM (#9106552)
    I'm not quite sure they are going to be able to administer a "giant blow" to the MS empire. Let's not forget that MS is a master when it comes to copy^H^H^H^H^H innovating on other companies products. Lots of money and innovation will prevent MS from being derailed anytime soon.
  • by Kegster (685608) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:33AM (#9106590) Homepage
    Ok, I can see this is good, because it means that OS will finally, hopefully, become completely irrelevant (I'm being an optimist here).

    But how are IBM going to persuade the ravening hordes of MS Office users that their web-based apps will fail to suck?

    Hotmail et al have had cross platform web-based email apps for years, and do they fail to suck? No, because while you can get at your email from where-ever you are, on whichever system, they are still nasty buggy and slow, and lack the features of even the worst (OE) traditional email apps.

    How will IBMs web-based Word fail to suck? to win users from Word and OOo Writer etc it not only has to be as good as them, but it has to be better than web, and NOT rely on the web-based gimmick and the "OOh, shiny!" factor (which only lasts for a fortnight aat most anyway) to win over and reatin users.
  • Re:Wow (Score:1, Insightful)

    by DarkMavis (767874) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:35AM (#9106604)
    I think IBM can pull it off. They had a really great product(s) in the Lotus Suite of applications. This includes Word Pro, 1-2-3, etc. This is a good strategy for IBM especially when it comes to linux. I use OO.o but I think it would be great to have another offering, especially in the workplace, to keep this market competitive in terms of features and price.
  • by molarmass192 (608071) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:37AM (#9106631) Homepage Journal
    The fact that it's web based severely limits it's appeal. Yeah, it's neat technology but if Joe VP can't work on his PowerPoint on the plane, it's not gonna be acceptable.
  • Re:Ugh. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Serpent Mage (95312) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:39AM (#9106647)
    While I do find it difficult to accept the concept of a web-based office application not all applications suck for the web.

    The most popular example are webmail systems. They are applications and the fact that they are on the web is wonderful for many people as it allows them to have a centralized address book and the ability to safely check their email without having to install or do any work.

    IBM is no fool however. I'm sure they know by now that nothing can beat office unless it truely outperforms MS Office in all aspects and thus having to refresh the page a 100 times because you wanted to bold every 3rd word isn't acceptable. Lets see what they release first before saying it sucks. They might just surprise you.
  • Re:Pricing? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by deuce868 (673251) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:41AM (#9106662) Homepage
    What would be needed in large shops is the ability to have it hosted internal. That way you're not dependent on the internet connection, just your internal network which should be a lot more failure resistant. This is starting to sound like citrix delivered apps, however.
  • A better idea. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:44AM (#9106700)
    Why don't they take, make it work with IBM file formats (lotus, EBDIC, AIXrc), and call it IBM Office.

    They could even make a version for OS/2!
  • by ansak (80421) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:44AM (#9106701) Homepage Journal
    What difference does it make how cheap it is?
    What difference does it make how fast it is?
    What difference does it make how many features it implements?
    What difference does it make how cool the interface is?

    This is the SUBSCRIPTION MODEL! This depends on the web being up all the time. (which it mostly, but not always is) This brings in a progressive billing relationship. Who in their right mind wants to pay every month for ANY commoditized application? Existing WordProcessors are already so feature rich I can't imagine wanting ever to buy a new one. Same goes for Spreadsheets, Presentation Makers, even desktop databases.

    Let's get real here. A subscription model is fundamentally evil and pointless whether it's being flogged by Microsoft, IBM or even by Linus.

    Have we decided that IBM is our friend and therefore suddenly the subscription model is a good idea? (besides the price is so much lower than what Microsoft would charge) Let's remember where we came from and that one plus one is still equal to two.

    the defeat of Microsoft won't necessarily make everything better...ank

  • Re:Ugh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:45AM (#9106711) Homepage Journal
    I remember hearing the same kind of sceptisism regarding webbased mail providers.

    The applications DID suck. However nowadays, everybody takes it for granted and just uses them.

    We post millions of standards compliant webpages everyday with blogging/web publishing applications. YOU even used one yourself.

    Take this simple little comment box I'm filling in right now. I want to just write something and post it back. I dont want extra faffing with complex tags and escape codes - however - if I need them they are there.

    There are still applications which are better suited run locally (video editing online anyone?) but for the greater majority of admin/office tasks, the web/intranet makes an ideal adaptive environment.
  • Re:Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AKnightCowboy (608632) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:46AM (#9106718)
    I mean, really WOW. If they can pull it off succesfully, then it could be a giant blow to the MS empire.

    The problem is the small print on the final product will be "Requires Windows and Internet Explorer 6 for full functionality." I've sick of seeing "web" based applications that require IE under Windows to work. Where do they morons learn how to program that they can't even write cross-platform applications for the god damn WWW? I blame Microsoft's indoctrination of college students by signing up universities for campus-wide licensing deals if they sign exclusive contracts. Once our university did that the courses started focusing heavily on Microsoft products. SQL server, Visual Basic, Visual C++, Microsoft's version of Java, Office, etc.

  • Re:Annoying (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lukewarmfusion (726141) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:46AM (#9106724) Homepage Journal
    Your complaint is really strange - the web is almost entirely client/server. You've obviously no problem using Slashdot, and that's not much different.
  • by potpie (706881) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:47AM (#9106727) Journal
    I hate it when they try to make personal computing into a SERVICE rather than a PRODUCT. Internet access is a service, but word processing is not. I, for one, would like to keep it that way.

    While this does offer a more universal way of running programs, isn't it also a more proprietary and inconvenient way? It's hard enough writing papers for school when Bellsouth accidentally cuts my intenet access, but at least I can still get into my word processor to type a bunch of BS to hand in.
  • Re:Ugh. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:48AM (#9106738) Homepage Journal
    "Web based applications *suck*. I do not want to refresh the page everytime I change an option, I do not want to use some propriatary scripting language to run a word processor."
    Yes yes so you may never want to use web based applications. Some people would consider Google a web based application as well as many CGI programs.

    The web was *not* designed for applications and applications will *not* run well on the web."

    The web was not designed for lots of things that it is currently doing. As to the statment "Applications will *not* run well on the web" that is a bold statment and one that I would not make. Who knows what the future may hold. Java and SWT make a pretty good Applications frame work. Look at if you feel that all Java apps need to be slow and cluncky.

    Just wait for IBM and Sony and Nintendo to get together on this. The next generation of Playstation and the GameCube could replace the PC in many homes. All your data would be stored on servers and you would log into your collection of apps and data from anywhere. School, home, or work. But what about open source??? Linux will run the servers and possibly a good number of the devices. If they do choose the Java VM that does not mean that you will have to write in java. GCC could generate JVM code. It might even be possible for c# to compile to java byte code :). We will see. IBM has blown it before. Anyone rember TopView?
    But this could be a good thing.
  • by wawannem (591061) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:52AM (#9106776) Homepage
    I'm not disagreeing with you, but from my perspective, here are the problems with your argument:

    I agree that people are getting sick of the viruses, but the more common response is to invest more heavily in AVS. When I get email in the office about new viruses I usually see a blurb at the end suggesting everyone update their virus definitions files.

    The IBM name may carry weight, but it hasn't been enough weight to keep their Lotus Suite in the position it once had. There was a day when Lotus 1-2-3 was the top dog, but their name wasn't enough to beat Microshaft in the past, how will it be enough to beat them today?

    Not *trying* to get MODded down, just don't believe that this will take any significant chunk of market share.
  • Re:Pricing? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:52AM (#9106779)
    It's a web application server-based, so you need their special web application server, and no, you don't need to be conected to the internet to access things on your intranet. There are actually people who use webservers only for the intranet, right? :)
  • by razmaspaz (568034) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:55AM (#9106813)
    unlike pure Web users...can connect, quickly access applications and disconnect to do work offline

    So this is not a purely web based application. This is an interesting application. It must utilize something more than HTML because it can obviously persist a session over long periods of time. it also means this is more than a thin client. Would something like this be web service based? interested to hear the actual press release from IBM. Either way, this is a good thing as having another office suite with real [] corporate backing , not the fake [] kind, is a good thing.

    I only say sun is the fake kind because they are
    0wNzEd by microsoft now. ;)
  • by zinoff (778536) on Monday May 10, 2004 @11:01AM (#9106865)
    They did, and it was pretty cute. Lot's of upset customers when they killed it, as a matter of fact they killed the whole smartsuite. IBM made some reference to it in the antitrust case against Microsoft, apparently in order to receive a lower price for OEM versions of Windows they had to give up competition in the Office market.
  • Dear IBM Lotus Workplace Member,

    During our regular verification of accounts we couldn't verify your current information. Either your information has changed or it is incomplete. If the accoutn is not updated to current information within 5 days, your access to word processing and spreadsheet on IBM Lotus Workplace will be restricted.

    Go to the link below to update your information: 45 []

    Please do not reply to this email as you will not receive a response.

    Thank you for using IBM Lotus Workplace! []

  • by wawannem (591061) on Monday May 10, 2004 @11:04AM (#9106895) Homepage
    I hate to be a dick, but you are giving me the technical arguments that I'm already aware of...

    What I'm looking for are the non-technical (non-logical) arguments that could be used to sway management away from MS Office. Cost-savings is a big deal, but cost savings hasn't moved anyone away from Windows. There are tons of easier to manage, cheaper alternatives to Microsoft's products, but they don't gain ground. Why? Because it is sort of a catch-22, market share is a marketing factor. For instance, if everyone is using office, new users will want to interoperate with existing users, thus, increasing total number of office users.

    What I meant to ask above is if anyone has been able to sway a significantly large organization away from MS Office. You seem to have made a good point, now go tell your PHBs what you've told me, and when your organization has dumped MS Office, let me know exactly what was said because I would LOVE to get rid of MS Office here.
  • Re:Ugh. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Sheepdot (211478) on Monday May 10, 2004 @11:08AM (#9106934) Journal
    Web based applications *suck*.

    I presume you are about to tell us why.

    I do not want to refresh the page everytime I change an option,

    Ok. You realize that with iFrames and/or Java (which I imagine is going to play a huge factor here) you're first complaint is pretty weak. This is going to be used on a high-speed Intranet, so "refresh" is like "send and receive data". You'd wait the same amount of time to refresh a page as you would for the Novell server to load up your template. Plus the support and upgrading are extremely easy for the administrators. And users like you can't screw up your settings so people like me have to figure out what you fscked up.

    For most business purposes, a web interface is a natural progression for almost all client applications. It's upgradable, affordable, and easy to troubleshoot.

    I do not want to use some propriatary scripting language to run a word processor.

    Too bad, I do, and it isn't going to run any slower. Your "Word 2003" runs the same speed on an 1.2 ghz as it does on a 2.8 ghz. So the only way you're going to justify to me that you need a 2.8 ghz processor is because you're running a Java Office Suite. Or, if you like, I can give you back your 1.2 ghz processor and you can keep running Office 2003?

    It's amazing how quickly that line of wording will get even the staunchest dog to come running to you and your new hardware toy you're holding over their heads. Users have learned that hardware upgrades are good, and they are willing to endure software changes for the hardware ones. You see, us administrators have learned how to play you, and we aren't going to suddenly fail now.

    The web was *not* designed for applications and applications will *not* run well on the web.

    Slashdot was *not* designed for f1rst posters who spew dronespeak, and dronespeak will *not* get you very far on Slashdot.

    If you have a legitimate beef with web applications, speak it. There are legitimate web applications that exist all over the net, and it could be argued that you are in fact using one right now. (Slashdot)

    There are some reasons not to adopt web applications, but you haven't even brushed the legitimate arguments. Instead, you decided to post quickly to get something down as people started moderating. Looks like your ploy worked.

  • by swschrad (312009) on Monday May 10, 2004 @11:09AM (#9106944) Homepage Journal
    let's see, here, now, I am going to trust my complete office tasking, confidential information and credit-card numbers, to the security of the wild and wooly internet?

    yeah, right, like an Iraqi is going to trust the man in a hat who says, "Hi, I'm here from Washington, and I'm going to help you."
  • Re:Ugh. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by afd8856 (700296) on Monday May 10, 2004 @11:13AM (#9106986) Homepage
    ECMA is not proprietary, Mozilla has Python bindings (among others) and communication with a webserver doesn't have to be only through the regular http protocol. An XML based protocol for marshaling data between application server / client application can be used to have a very rich client.
  • Re:Pricing? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by neverkevin (601884) on Monday May 10, 2004 @11:26AM (#9107152) Homepage
    "What would be needed in large shops is the ability to have it hosted internal"

    Well in the story it says:

    "The company plans to charge customers $2 per user per month for access to the software, plus the cost of server software"

    So I am assuming that the reason why you need to buy the server software is because you are hosting it yourself. Besides, I doubt very many companies would feel safe just sending out all there private information to IBM just so they can have a cheap word processor.
  • Re:Ugh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Monday May 10, 2004 @11:33AM (#9107217) Homepage Journal
    "Oh, right. Cuz everyone loves subscription-model software pricing. And you get the added bonus of not owning your data any more."
    Right That is why no one pays for Everquest, UO, or any of the other of hundereds online games?
    What I find odd is that you pay for Everquest to start with? I have played it but isn't it usless with out the internet?

    "These ideas suck. "
    You opinon.
    "Which is why I'm glad IBM isn't pushing them. If you RTFA it's very clear that this is meant for enterprise environment: you have the apps living on the server down the hall rather than installed on every Joe User's PC. But it's flexible so that it can also run by itself on your laptop and then sync up when you plug it back in."

    I did read the artical and your right for now. The big question is what about the future? Do you really think that there is no reason for the average home system to be replaced with something a little more suited to the consumer than the Current WindowsXP/Intel combo? I find it strange to use the same codebase for a server running a bank and a system for a kid to play UltraMegaShooter 8000.

    Does the home user want to pay $495 for office or two dollars a month for online access to software?
    Who knows but to dismiss it seems a to be unreasonabile.
  • by chrysrobyn (106763) on Monday May 10, 2004 @11:41AM (#9107300)
    1) IBM is the largest services company out there. When IBM goes out to a corporate site and they discuss how many copies of Office they can buy, and how long they expect that version to be available and useful, that translates into a cost per year. Sure, the product may still be productive after a certain point, but there may be features in 200X+3 that a critical part of the userbase requires, and it's difficult to support more than one version for a large company. Therefore, whether or not the subscription model is spelled out, it's basically a subscription anyway-- just that all 3-4 years of Office 2000 were paid for up front.
    2) Sure, the web goes down. Nobody is willing to state that the wires will never break or that someone won't back hoe through a fibre line. Personally, when my intranet goes down, I'm dead in the water. I can't get e-mail from critical people, can't send e-mail to critical people (same for IMing), can't use the centralized databases that make my life, can't use networked drives for my data that must be backed up, etc. Big companies already depend on their intranet being up 99% of the time, and they lose money / productivity when they aren't. Adding one more tool to the pile won't have that big of an impact.
    3) Raise your hand if you've ever depended on your users to apply a patch! In a web subscription model, even if a web service cluster is deployed to each major corporate site, it's not only a smaller number of computers to receive the patch, but those machines should be controlled by the site admins instead of lusers who get so many requests each day that learning how to apply a patch and verify that it was applied correctly between taking their laptops to meetings never seems to happen.
    4) Value added ISPs. TV is filled with ISPs who are selling their transparent proxies that will translate all graphics into heavily compressed JPGs because it's a value added service, consider a case down the line where a vendor can have Corporate Web Office Suite slimmed down to the same interface, but with Home Version features only. That gets the kids at home something they can use that's like what Dad uses at work at a minimal cost to the ISP (just storage of the local machine host[s], keep all the bandwidth in house where it's cheap). The Web Office Suite Lite company gets to indoctrinate all the home users as a nice benefit.
  • by SunPin (596554) <slashspam&cyberista,com> on Monday May 10, 2004 @11:50AM (#9107389) Homepage
    This is more than simply knocking M$Office off of a corporate desktop. This is about knocking the entire Windows OS off of the corporate desktop. IBM is offering an OS independent productivity suite. That will allow their customers to eliminate Windows, Office and the hell of upgrade cycles by switching to an OS that makes financial sense. Office and Windows form a co-dependent relationship that has an obvious Achilles heel to any competitor with the will to go the distance against M$. I think IBM is the company to do this.
  • Re:Pricing? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by baudilus (665036) on Monday May 10, 2004 @12:23PM (#9107700)
    That still doesn't answer my question - what if there were changes made by someone else that are necessary to the inquisitor?

    I've RTFA. Do you TBYS? (Think before you speak)
  • by Luscious868 (679143) on Monday May 10, 2004 @01:28PM (#9108363)
    No one in my office is sick of viruses or worms because we never get any. Antivirus software is installed on all of our systems and the definitions are automatically updated on a daily basis. As soon as security patches are tested in a productions environment (usually less than a week after they are released) we can deploy them automatically via SUS. Basically, if your a compatent IT manager your shop shouldn't have issues with viruses and worms unless management refuses to give you the tools necessary to be able to defend against them. If that's the case, when management bitches about down time, inform them there wouldn't be any if you had the tools you need. Of course, blaming Microsoft is the easy way out for those IT mangers who have the tools but get caught with their pants down because they don't know what their doing.
  • by zogger (617870) on Monday May 10, 2004 @02:17PM (#9108887) Homepage Journal
    ...businesses are finding it harder to make any money with that design,and it's constantly borken and compromised, plus being expensiv(er), and they are insecure when you have to police every single employee you have to not be lame with his or her box. The expense isn't aquiring the software, it's running it 24/7/365, the "running it" part is the only place cash can show up realistically now.

    For the person at home,or very small shops where everyone is on a first name basis with each other, sure, totally free, in house customised, makes more sense, yep, like we have now is great,works fine, it's what I want too. For joe medium and big business, I bet this other model takes over more, because it will "just work" better. Simple economics and for security and ease of deployment, it just makes more sense for businesses to have a more locked down while still easier to deploy and use sort of arrangement,using cheaper hardware that doesn't obsolesce as fast, and when they can pass off the bulk of the technical details to a specialist company for the cheap fee of two bucks a month a head, well, they will take a hard look at that as a *good deal*.

    If the monthly costs start to rise dramatically, or if they can't pull it off, if the business still suffers , hmm, "bogus-ness" instead of doing "busi-ness", then it will fail. Have to see how IBM and some others do this thing. It is sort of what redhat and novell/suse are trying to do as well, if you look at it harder, and IBM just dropped the gauntlet down on price, too, dramatically.* The larger difference with IBM is that it's net based, both intra and inter. That lets companies use very good quality server hardware, concentrate on those things, robust is good, and just use very cheap hardware that is plenty good enough for the desktop, and with bandwith what it is today in intranets, it will work just fine for most applications. Not all, but most.

    *I didn't see what if any the up-front costs are. IBM would be quite smart if they made it free though.

    There's a meatworld example that has worked out well, homeowner propane tanks. You get the large tanks delivered and setup for free or like a few dollars a year. The propane companies are interested in making their money from selling you propane, not renting the tanks. Yes, it leads to a vendor lockin, but it eliminates a ton of upfront costs when you don't have to drop a grand or ore to buy a tank and get it set up, that you only use for a few appliances, and they are kept reasonably honest in that if their prices start to suck, you can call them up and have that thing hauled off, at their expense, and go with another service, who offer the same thing. As a consequence, it's a decent competitive market (as far as any energy stuff sold is). You CAN buy your own tank, then constantly shop around for the best fill er up prices, but most people have opted for the free or cheap yearly rent model, just because it works out better, less hassle, more or less the samepropane price. Service is the main thing, do they actually deliver promptly when you need it, is the price fair enough.

    I've used both at the same time, I own my RV propane tanks, but the bulk tank for the house was rented. Same deal with computers, small scale, good to own your own, use it as you wish, large scale in a commercial setting, let a serious computer do the heavy lifting, access it with a fast decent terminal that won't need to be "upgraded" any time soon and doesn't break and can be made to be secure and require little in the way of maintenance. I bet most companies desktops could be replaced with diskless clients with a few gigs of ram installed.

Good salesmen and good repairmen will never go hungry. -- R.E. Schenk