The future of software is online

Richard Messik
Outsourcing online accounting
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....not my words, but those of Microsoft on the launch of their new online application Office 365. The cynical amongst us might say that Microsoft have taken an "if you can't beat them, join them approach" as they begin to appreciate the major impact that Google Apps has had on the online segment, but I for one welcome their entry into the Cloud. The market is really hotting up.

When a major player such as Microsoft makes such a commitment to the Cloud, it sends a message that this is now the way forward and is no longer exclusively for the techno early adopters.

What is now needed, especially in the professional services market, is for those software developers who have hitherto only written for the desktop, to embrace the cloud and develop their applications for it.... Why is there no cloud enabled tax software for example?

The market place is changing, and whilst I have in the past bemoaned the slow take-up by accountants, it is now the turn of the software market to up the ante and, as our American cousins would say, go with the programme.

As for the accounting market, there has been a major sea change in response, even over the last few months. I have just returned from conferences in Cyprus and Finland where I have been presenting to international associations and the level of interest has been amazing. 

So we are now starting a new chapter in the Cloud saga..... I for one can't wait to see how it turns out.


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16th May 2011 16:09

Office 365 is raising a lot of interest

Thanks for joining in the conversation, Richard - and for offering a considered welcome to Microsoft rather than just a cynical raspberry.

We've already had an Any Answer tread or two on the subject of Office 365 and based on their promptings I signed up for the free beta test version.

The Office apps themselves were much as I had encountered already in my personal Windows Live workspace, but the potential for the online Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint facilities looks a lot more exciting for organisations of up to 25 people that want to set up a Cloud-based infrastructure.

However, there are likely to be complications if you already have an Exchange installation. To keep on the right side of our IT support guys, I didn't venture any further into this territory, but AccountingWEB member "bseddon" did.

"If you have an existing Exchange installation and use Outlook you can't just use the mail service.  You have to create a new profile.  So you get either your old email or your new emails, not bot," they complained. The Lync unified communications environment also needs more work - currently there is no support for Android phones.

I suspect Microsoft's strong position within accountancy (via Excel, mainly) will ensure that Office 365 gains a strong following, but there's still some way for it to go before it's a fully productive Cloud environment. Perhaps the best thing curious members could do is have a look at it themselves and make their own minds up.

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