Software As A Service

Ross Mayfield tells us ina blogentry that Microsoft is about to announce a majorSoftware-As-A-Service strategy, and that this will represent a”break from the past” (with his entry titled Turn on aDime).

I faintly recall Microsoft talking about this before.In fact, various factions of Microsoft have been pushing this ideasince at least back in 1998. Software as a service is pretty muchan obvious dream of all software vendors.

(Bill Gates speech from 2001 includes the statement “Thereis just no doubt that having Microsoft viewed as a company that canprovide operational excellence is critical to our shift to softwareas a service, and we’re putting in place the infrastructure and theteam to make sure that that happens.“)

Of course having a pie-in-the-sky idea is one thing, butactually making it materialize as a viable,continuing business is quite another. Just look at Sun’srentable grid computing experiment – a year on, and not asingle customer. Microsoft has actually been at the forefrontof a lot of business ideas, but it generally gets drowned out bythe overwhelming success of their core, traditional products, tothe point that people forget they were doing it.

Couple that with the fact that Microsoft’s service strategy hassome problems. For instance MapPoint Web Services was in the webservice mapping game long before Google maps, but it was madeirrelevant by the high cost of entry.