To this CIO, the idea of Office in the cloud is interesting. "We find it increasingly difficult to manage the refresh cycle and deployment cycle of Office, and increasingly difficult to keep up as people move around the business," he said. Another problem with Office desktop licenses is staying compliant; in the cloud, vendors handle compliance and updates. And browser-based apps would let Jaguar Land Rover use less power, and then be "driving a green agenda and reducing energy costs," he said.
But the question is whether Office Web Apps will provide any improvements in functionality over Google Apps. In a recent conversation, Microsoft's corporate VP of online, Ron Markezich, told me that Office Web Apps won't have all the functionality of the desktop versions of Excel and PowerPoint. Part of this is likely technical-stability is difficult when some serious digital crunching is happening over an Internet network-but strategy also plays a huge part. Microsoft sees itself building multi-faceted accounts for enterprise customers that include desktop Office licenses for the power users, or those without reliable Internet connections, and Office Web Apps for the others.
Either way, Microsoft is retaining strong loyalty among serious users of Excel and PowerPoint. And so far, there isn't an obvious cloud alternative.