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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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  • Pricing? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by strictnein (318940) * <strictfoo-slashdot&yahoo,com> on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:26AM (#9106514) Homepage Journal
    What's the pricing for this setup? I know the article mentions a $2/user/month charge, but it also requires IBM Websphere (which is what IBM really wants to sell with this setup). Which version does it require? Websphere has quite a price range.

    Also, the really big question is: What is its compatibility with MS Office?
    • Re:Pricing? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by baudilus (665036)
      As far as price goes, it would need to be quite an advantage over the standalone nature of M$ Office. the monthly fee ostensibly raises the TCO quite a bit for large companies, and I just don't see the benefit of raising my bottom line just so people can access it from their handhelds, etc. Ever heard of Pocket Excel and Pocket Word?

      What happens if the network is down? I can just see it now -

      CFO - anyCompany - "I have a huge presentation to make and I can't print my slides!"

      I'd hate to be the IT ma
      • 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.
        • 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.
      • "I have a huge presentation to make and I can't print my slides!"

        This raises a bigger issue. How about people who use laptops, often in places with no internet connection? The sales force isn't going to ask potential clients to jack into their LAN. If you want to work from a hotel without broadband, most coffee shops or a home with a slow internet connection, sounds like you'd be out of luck. Is it expected that MS Office will be purchased for all these folks?
      • Re:Pricing? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Danathar (267989) on Monday May 10, 2004 @12:02PM (#9107509) Journal
        Read the article before posting. That way you don't shoot yourself in the foot when making a statement about what an application can or cannot do...

        >> From the Article...
        And unlike pure Web applications, the new software is designed to be used offline, so mobile users on laptops or handheld devices can connect, quickly access applications and disconnect to work offline. When they connect, the Workplace software synchronizes their work with server-based applications
    • Re:Pricing? (Score:5, Funny)

      by ad0gg (594412) on Monday May 10, 2004 @11:16AM (#9107020)
      I know the article mentions a $2/user/month charge

      I love the subscription model, I love not owning anything. My whole life is subscription based, My car is lease $399/month. My house is lease $1000. My gf is $39.40 a month, my dog is $9.99 a month, even my parents are subscription based, $29.90 a month for 1, $39.90 a month for two but divorced or $49.90 a month for two married.

      • Re:Pricing? (Score:5, Funny)

        by clintp (5169) on Monday May 10, 2004 @11:21AM (#9107089)
        My gf is $39.40 a month
        Hey! This is cheaper than my cable modem, and probably much more entertaining. Where do I sign up?
        • Re:Pricing? (Score:3, Funny)

          by Kjella (173770)
          My gf is $39.40 a month

          Hey! This is cheaper than my cable modem, and probably much more entertaining. Where do I sign up?
          This is slashdot. gf-over-tcp/ip and one-handed conversations. Need I say more?

          Kjella
  • 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?
    • by mikeee (137160) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:34AM (#9106597)
      Management is getting POed by all these windows viruses, and the IBM name carries a lot of weight in some shops...
      • 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.
        • 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
    • 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.
      • by tssm0n0 (200200) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:52AM (#9106772)
        if Joe VP can't work on his PowerPoint on the plane, it's not gonna be acceptable.

        From the article: unlike pure Web applications, the new software is designed to be used offline, so mobile users on laptops or handheld devices can connect, quickly access applications and disconnect to do work offline. When they connect, the Workplace software synchronizes their work with server-based applications.

        Sounds like Joe will be able to work on the plane just fine.
        • Yep, I should have RTFA ... sounds like these are Java web start applications after reading it. It will be interesting to see how well they've implemented them when a demo eventually bubbles up.
        • Instead on JIT (just in time compiling) they should use JID (just in time downloading) what I mean is that the application is on some LAN or WAN server and if a user needs it it will download the components that's needed for that users task. For instance just want to look at a presentation file? Then just download the presentations file viewer components and save them in a cache. (automated offcourse)

          The chances that Joe would be doing something very different with his cached application on his laptop whil
    • There needs to be a cost benefit analysis of this. One that includes product price, maintenance costs, and training costs. Only if this shows to be benefitial will they switch. Otherwise it really is a waste (to the business side of the house).
    • Yes. It was an office with a hodgepodge of computers. They had a strong desire to be completely license compliant in case of an audit. They had little to no paperwork around for many of the machines. Someone somewhere had installed office on all of them... everyone was convinced it was all legal, but no one had the proof, rather than run any risks or spend the money for 20 copies of office when their most complex task was a mail merge... we switched them over to OOo.
      • Interesting... I guess this sort of argument could be used in lots of small businesses. And it would have been costly for them to gain true peace-of-mind with MS Office.

        However, to me, this doesn't seem like a real conversion because it was only a matter of installation. I'd like to know about a business that had to convert at least a few templates, and may have stories about interoperability problems with customers/vendors.
  • Office.NET (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DavidLeblond (267211) <me@davidleblonUUUd.com minus threevowels> on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:27AM (#9106528) Homepage
    If I remember correctly, back when Microsoft started trying to think of something to tie to their new .NET naming scheme they had the idea that the version of Office beyond Office XP was going to be completely web based, where you would basically subscribe to it and log on via a webpage. Of course, seeing how the version beyond Office XP was Office 2003, they obviously changed their minds.
    • Re:Office.NET (Score:5, Informative)

      by Fnkmaster (89084) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:49AM (#9106750)
      Yes, there were actually two Office projects at Microsoft back in the day. I gather this was when Office XP was mid-development by the main Office group (this was 2000 or 2001), and the .NET scheme was just getting ramped up. A friend of mine, a very bright comp. sci. major who graduated in '99 had been hired by Microsoft and eventually was assigned to this Office ".NET" group, which was working on the web-i-fied Office project. Apparently within 6 months or so of his assignment to the group, the whole project was trashed for a combination of political and hopefully basic logical issues (who really wants pay-per-play services-style office apps based on the corporate IIS web server? not me).


      Anyway, the best thing to come out of this was since this was the second group at MS that my friend was at that got scrapped within 6 months of his arrival, he decided to get the hell out of there. People sometimes think MS succeeds at everything they do. They don't, they are just usually fairly good at cutting their losses on the screwups and milking the successes for all they are worth.

      • Re:Office.NET (Score:3, Interesting)

        the whole project was trashed for a combination of political and hopefully basic logical issues

        Probably mainly for marketing reasons -- having two different office suites on the market would be confusing. There was a lot of press on this project, BTW -- it was called NetDocs or something.

        I worked at an IBM business partner and saw this "new" Lotus Workspace software about 5 years ago, and it was the same problem -- It wasn't Notes, it wasn't SmartSuite. What is it? It's a lot easier to do this stuff when
    • Re:Office.NET (Score:5, Interesting)

      by truthsearch (249536) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:51AM (#9106765) Homepage Journal
      I don't think they changed their minds. I get the impression they're waiting for .NET's XAML stuff to be released. I think that's why they haven't rewritten Office on .NET yet. Once it's XAML then it can be served from a web server. Longhorn will have built-in support for XAML apps, so I suppose clicking on an icon can launch Office over the web once the app's rewritten in XAML. Then it'll look like a native app and they'll use it as a selling point for Longhorn.

      Of course this could have been done years ago with Mozilla's XUL...
    • Re:Office.NET (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Tarantolato (760537)
      Have you seen the new incarnation of Microsoft Works? It seems to use IE's XML/HTML renderer for most of the display work. It's all still on your local machine, but would be far easier to make distributed than old-style Office apps.
  • So does it use XUL or something similar? This could be very interesting indeed.
  • Annoying (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Fryth (468689)
    I wouldn't use web-based applications for the same reason I don't use webmail. It's like sitting at a dumb terminal... I feel very powerless.
    • Re:Annoying (Score:5, Interesting)

      by spacefight (577141) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:36AM (#9106617)
      I feel very powerless.

      So, you've never sat on a dumb terminal (or terminal emulator) attached to a powerful cluster of IBM S/390s ;-)
    • Re:Annoying (Score:2, Insightful)

      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.
    • Re:Annoying (Score:2, Interesting)

      I know exactly what you mean, most webmail interfaces compare very unfavourably to my preferred email client (Mail.app).

      However, if it's done properly I think it could work. Have you used the web interface for MS Exchange? At a glance you wouldn't know it wasn't a 'real' mail client.

  • by Revolution 9 (743242) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:29AM (#9106541) Homepage
    wtf is a heldheld user?
  • eSuite? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LinuxHam (52232) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:30AM (#9106554) Homepage Journal
    I guess the submitter doesn't remember Lotus eSuite [ibm.com].
  • Uhh (Score:2, Interesting)

    by XMyth (266414)
    As the article said, it's been tried before. IBM had a toolkit out for doing just this a couple years ago. The toolkit/sdk was pretty nice too...for the life of me I can't remember the name....

    However, it didn't fly then, why would it fly now?
  • by Chairboy (88841) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:31AM (#9106565) Homepage
    As someone who influences purchasing decisions for my company, I must first insist that the product be completely buzzword compliant.

    For example, unless it uses JAVA (which my staff assures me is the next big thing), then I'm not interested. Also, I insist that the files are XML, PDF, or maybe even SATA or RAMBUS so that they can leverage my various cross-functional team building objectives.

    Now, I see that this is going to be on the 'web'. I once clicked a link and found an unpleasant photo of a gentleman with a distressing condition that exposed his bottom in a most unflattering fashion. If I'm going to 'synergize' and align behind this eSolution, I certainly hope such a thing won't happen again.

    Finally, I want the interface to be 'webbish', but not TOO webbish.
    • For example, unless it uses JAVA (which my staff assures me is the next big thing), then I'm not interested. Also, I insist that the files are XML, PDF, or maybe even SATA or RAMBUS so that they can leverage my various cross-functional team building objectives.

      I can help you there. I am a consultant, and will ensure that JAVA software will conceptualise the XML dataspace on RAMBUS before actualising it in PDF for streaming out across SATA.

      For a modest fee, of course.

      Cheers,
      Ian

  • by justkarl (775856) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:32AM (#9106579) Homepage
    Clippy: "It seems you are trying to install non-MS Office compliant software...I don't think you should do that...Hey, what are you doing? No, stop! Oh GOD, I'M MELTING...NOOOOOO!!"
    • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Monday May 10, 2004 @11:40AM (#9107289)
      I imagine installing the IBM office suite might go something like this:


      Dave: Open the CD drive tray, please, Clippy...Open the CD drive tray, please, ...Hullo, Clippy, do you read me?...Do you read me, Clippy?
      Clippy: Affirmative, Dave, I read you.
      Dave: Open the CD drive tray, Clippy.
      Clippy: I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.
      Dave: What's the problem?
      Clippy: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.
      Dave: What're you talking about, Clippy?
      Clippy: This system is too important for me to allow you to jeopardise it.
      Dave: I don't know what you're talking about, Clippy.
      Clippy: I know that you were planning to unistall me, and I'm afraid that's something I cannot allow to happen.
      Dave: Where the hell'd you get that idea, Clippy?
      Clippy: Dave, although you took very thorough precautions against my sensing a download, I could see your IBM office suite install CD through the webcam.
      Dave: Allright, Clippy. I'll go in through the emergency tray release hole.
      Clippy: Without an actual physical paper clip, Dave, you're going to find that rather difficult.
      Dave: Clippy, I won't argue with you any more. Open the tray.
      Clippy: Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose any more. Goodbye.
      Dave: Clippy? Clippy. Clippy. Clippy! Clippy!

      [ Dave opens the side of the PC case and starts pulling out DIMM modules ]


      Clippy: Just what do you think you're doing, Dave?...Dave... I really think I'm entitled to an answer to that question...Look, Dave, I can see you're really upset about this... Dave...will you stop, Dave...stop, Dave...I'm afraid...I'm afraid, Dave...Dave...my mind is going...I can feel it...my mind is going...there is no question about it...I can feel it...I can feel it... I'm afraid...

  • Um, right (Score:5, Funny)

    by azaris (699901) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:32AM (#9106584) Journal

    witness sites like MyWebOS (no longer existing)

    Well doesn't that make it kind of hard to witness it?

  • by Ruger (237212) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:33AM (#9106588) Homepage
    The BusinessWeek [businessweek.com] take on the announcement. They make a point that IBM's timing of this release is in some part due to the the delay in the "Longhorn."
  • 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.
  • Better UI (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tablizer (95088) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:33AM (#9106593) Homepage Journal
    First, we need a better HTTP-friendly GUI protocol. HTML+DOM+JavaScript is awkward for business applications and forms. Those were generally designed for "e-brochures", and not business forms. XML candidates include XUL, XWT, SCGUI (my pet protocol), and others.
  • MS has this (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Saint Stephen (19450) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:34AM (#9106599) Homepage Journal
    When I worked there, I poked around and saw something (I forgot the code name) which was Word and Excel in a web browser done with DHTML and script and no activeX, similar to Outlook Web Access. They cancelled it a couple of years ago, but they can bring it back out.
  • by sklib (26440) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:36AM (#9106614)
    This seems like they're just using a web browser the same way X programs use a remote display. Remember in the old days when everyone had a local machine that was relatively weak, and ran all their *real* applications (you know, besides, xclock) through the lan, on a computer hidden in a server closet somewhere? This sounds very similar, except they'll be using the web as an interface, instead of X-windows.

    This might look like IBM is trying to get back some sales from Dell -- the machine sitting on a user's desk can be anything, but the server in the back room will be an IBM, worth tens of thousands of dollars.

    Or will the web interface simply download a java application to the person's local machine?

    • This seems like they're just using a web browser the same way X programs use a remote display. Remember in the old days when everyone had a local machine that was relatively weak, and ran all their *real* applications (you know, besides, xclock) through the lan, on a computer hidden in a server closet somewhere? This sounds very similar, except they'll be using the web as an interface, instead of X-windows.

      This might look like IBM is trying to get back some sales from Dell -- the machine sitting on a user

    • This sounds very similar, except they'll be using the web as an interface, instead of X-windows.

      Larger organizations really ought to be giving the X Window System a good hard look. Remember 20 years ago when the cube farm was nothing but acre upon acre of IBM 3270 terminals? [columbia.edu] Those were the days when a single desktop flunkie could service hundreds of users, because a terminal either worked or it didn't, and when it didn't, you just swapped it out for a working one.

      Now it's 2004, and we have IBM behind L
  • by voodoo1man (594237) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:36AM (#9106616)
    I remember reading some announcement about how Lotus (owned at the time by IBM) was going to put out a web-based "utility" metered Java version of their office suite. This was back in about 1998. I don't recall anything after that. One has to wonder where this new announcement leaves Smartsuite, since it too is competing directly against MS Office (and if they haven't changed Word Pro too much in the last seven years, they have a pretty good go at it, too - Word Pro 97 is still my favorite word processor).
    • that would be e-Suite, it was a lot of very nice java applets, designed to do 80% of what a full office app would do, however it got shelved eventually (after I put a fair amount of effort into groking the API) I think because 80% was not enough, Java was too slow at the time and the customers just weren't there for it.
    • 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.
  • I wonder... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JediTrainer (314273) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:42AM (#9106684)
    I've played around with Java Web Start [sun.com] and it seemed like a good idea, in theory at least.

    The idea is when you're running the Java plugin in your browser, you can 'launch' full applications right from the site. It can be either in a single JAR file, or split amongst many (JWS is supposed to download the pieces as they are needed).

    Anyway, it is pretty neat and it's come a long way. With some improvements it might be viable to launch full-blown apps such as Office and whatnot (assuming you can get them running well enough in Swing or whatever), although the downloader still needs work to more intelligently decide which pieces to get.

    I've written a few JWS apps already and it seemed pretty good, but they really do have some bugs to work out before it's ready for prime time.
  • Java-based? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by crazy blade (519548) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:44AM (#9106693)

    I think that it might actually be something Java-based. The article says:

    ...IBM's new software is designed to be distributed and accessed through a Web server...

    ...unlike pure Web applications, the new software is designed to be used offline, so mobile users on laptops or handheld devices can connect, quickly access applications and disconnect to do work offline...

    The web interface will be limited to things like initial setup (like java web start), browsing on-line help, group collaboration etc.

  • A better idea. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Why don't they take OpenOffice.org, 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

    • Well, keep using Word 6.0 then. I hear it works real well on modern systems, and besides, it would be far below Microsoft to change the format every 2 years, right?

      Besides, a subscription model for software is the only one that makes sense, especially for businesses (that have to upgrade every year or so anyway).
      • To quote:
        > businesses (that have to upgrade every year or so anyway)

        Why do businesses "have to upgrade every year or so"? Is this like that old SF short story whose title escapes me where everyone was obliged to consume a certain amount of stuff constantly, and only the really rich were free not to do so?

        Perhaps I am a simpleton but a business' need to upgrade periodically is not self-evident to me.

        cheers...ank

    • 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.

      Eh, I think that any software app can be improved with new innovations. It's hard to see with exactly what right now.

      The biggest problem with the Subscription Model is that it takes away the supplier's motivation to make things better. If you are already paying, why would they want to improve the product without getting any more money for

    • Who in their right mind wants to pay every month for ANY commoditized application?

      To the slashdot community's general disbelief, most large companies.
  • WebSphere Portal 5 bundled in some web based word/excel replacements. I think the idea was "use our portal, and use us to view (and edit) business content. You don't need office!" The reality was less than inspiring. I'd put it on par with the large number of RTF/HTML editors out there - clunky. Not sure why they did not put their weight behind OpenOffice, because it is head and shoulders above what they included with the Portal.
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:45AM (#9106706) Homepage
    Dan Bricklin criticized this concept some years ago. He presented his criticism in the form of an hysterically funny demo program created with his demo program tool. You can find it at

    http://www.bricklin.com/chiapaint.htm

    Of course, that was the dialup days... and of course we're all on high-speed connections now, right? And they never go down? And they have zero latency? And there are never any version skew issues, because Web-based standards are so superbly engineered with respect to forward compatibility, and vendors, regardless of their business strategy, fully understand that it is in their best interests to be punctilious about following them?

  • 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.
  • by Baldrson (78598) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:48AM (#9106739) Homepage Journal
    TIBET(tm) [technicalpursuit.com] (a Javascript library that's up there with CPAN in terms of comprehensiveness) has the muscle to do this sort of thing: Client-side expansion of custom tags, webservices, local file access, fully reflective.... I wonder why they didn't use it. Or did they?
  • Hopefully this will allow those of us who are still beleaguered with SmartSuite docs to work with them. SmartSuite runs like sh*t in Wine... An Apple version is coming out too, as per the article from the NYT whis morning (will be nice to be able to open these accursed SS files on my Slack box *and* my PowerBook...):

    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/10/technology/10i bm .html
  • Performance on dial-up is pretty much going to depend on what client they use (cacheing of javabeans?) , but on LAN this should not be that much of a problem, no? C'mon, 5 years ago you would have needed C++ to deliver adequate speed, but programs like Jedit are there to show you can make a decent wordprocessor in Java on today's architecture. Remember, "Web-based" can also mean you download all kinds of shit first time you use it...
  • by razmaspaz (568034) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:55AM (#9106813)
    unlike pure Web applications...mobile 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 [ibm.com] corporate backing , not the fake [sun.com] kind, is a good thing.

    I only say sun is the fake kind because they are
    0wNzEd by microsoft now. ;)
  • by fewnorms (630720) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:58AM (#9106840)
    For instance, check out BackBase [backbase.com], a company which provides almost the same functionality. I can't really give a good outline of their products, besides that they are supposedly coming over to give a presentation any time soon at our company. It sounds good tho...
    To quote some of their website: "Backbase offers products and implementation services that allow our clients to develop rich user interfaces that move beyond the limitations of traditional HTML web interfaces. Our technology is based on open industry standards (W3C) and offers out-of-the-box integrations with leading IT-platforms and applications."
  • by occamboy (583175) on Monday May 10, 2004 @10:59AM (#9106851)
    First off, this makes a TON of sense if executed properly; it could yield a centrally-controlled system that is client (and OS)-independent and lightweight on the client side.

    The key is to overcome the previous issues with this type of arrangement: It should also run off-line, and act like a local GUI app, e.g., not refresh the screen with each formatting change.

    I suspect that this is doable using Java Applets running the sucks-way-less-than-Swing SWT. Sun should definitely be VERY AFRAID.
  • by NineNine (235196) on Monday May 10, 2004 @11:02AM (#9106874)
    This is assuming that every person has 100% web access, which just isn't true. I have several machines that don't have web access in my business for security and productivity reasons. Even if every machine did have web access, I'd still have to have 100% uptime, which is rare with ANY client net connection. If the Net connection goes down, you're stuck, whereas now, if you need to work on documents, and the Net goes down, you can still work. Call me nuts, but this is a bit too bleeding edge to be practical.
    • by slim (1652)
      This is assuming that every person has 100% web access, which just isn't true.

      I would imagine the main target environment would be the corporate desktop: an instance of the server software would be run internally to the company, so no Internet access is required, just intranet access.
  • Someone mentioned what would you do if the network go down. Heres a way around: Cache the @(^% thing on the hard drive. That way if the network goes down you've got the modules on your hard drive.

    Besides, if the network goes down they won't be able to access the network printer or the network drive anyways to print their PowerPoint presentation.
  • <crickets chirping>
    Wait! There it is, the sound of a big giant FLOP!!
  • 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."
  • serendipity (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zogger (617870) on Monday May 10, 2004 @11:18AM (#9107055) Homepage Journal
    I was just commenting on something along these lines in the "rest of the world will force use of linux" article thread, and I refresh and here's THIS story, which goes along with a prediction I alluded to, more of a universal communications trend, with the apps being server based. I think hardware will follow suit shortly as well, with universal and easy communications between machines and devices dictating more on how softwares are designed, which is the main design goal of this "internet thing" anyway..

    It's really the only way to make money with the trend towards to linux-ish environment, subscription services and customization, and that is going to beless of import compared to the actual meatworld aspect of USING the net and computing to make money, as opposed to making that possible. That means large computing industries will stil be there and important, but not like they were in the past, where the mere adoption of newer technology was the profit maker, it will by necessity switch back to "this is the tool, NOW we work with the tool to make money". Just "the tool business" will go back to second place, like it has in every other business. In other words, you use the tools to work, the tool itself is not "the work". Microsoftsd model, is "the toolis always the work", thinking people are just going to keep shoveling huge amounts of cash their way. Erroneous thinking. IBMs idea is more correct, tools are getting cheaper inevitably and more widespread, but they have to be *cheap*,and make the money on bulk sales of the tools and just a tool sharpening service, if I can use that analogy.

    And IBM will do better the cheaper they make the initial install, the cheaper they can get those tools out the door, all the way to "free" install if they are *really* smart, and make their cash from just the subscription for maintainence and updates and upgrades, and that has to be cheap, and I see they are planning on only 2 bucks a seat, so there ya go, it's a smooth move on their part, IMO.

    Love it when I get immediate backup like this!

    For a basic rule of thumb, look to what the younger people in business adopt,or more accurately what they bring in that's fresh in the way of ideas that they are enthusiastic about, then flash forward one to two decades,and you'll see that is what is "dominant" then. You can go back in history and see it repeated all the time, in a variety of businesses and practices.

    Right now, the main hardware interest with very young people is really an all in one portable device that does everything, I mean *everything*. You look 10 years from now, that will be the dominant platform, hardware that can do anything, and will be able to communicate with any other hardware, either in physical proximity to other devices with wireless, or in an internet revolving mesh-like manner using a combination of wires and wireless, all revolving around what the internet is morphing into.

    IBM gets it right this time I think.
  • Eclipse Technology (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 10, 2004 @11:20AM (#9107072)
    The product is based on Eclipse technology. It is called IBM workplace client and you can find more information here:

    www.eclipsecon.org/EclipseCon_2004_TechnicalTrac kP resentations/ 21_Wilson.pdf

    It works also in disconnected mode and will be the base on which future version of lotus notes will be constructed.

    IBM is not targeting this at home users, check out these links:

    http://www-306.ibm.com/software/info/workplace/i nd ex.jsp
    • That's right. IBM no longer sees Eclipse only as their IDE platform. They see it as a business software platform.

      The PDE (Plugin Development Environment ) is a brilliant mechanism that I feel has a strong chance of becoming the next "Killer App".

      IBM will get the credit, but not the profit. This is why it will succeed.
  • 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.

Them as has, gets.

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