Microsoft’s New Office 12

David Kirkpatrick of Fortune writes:

The changes in how it will work in the future will make waves across the world of software. For instance, Office will no longer just be a variety of interlinked desktop applications, but will now extend onto the server, where it will be linked with many other kinds of software. The fast-growing new technology called RSS will allow workers to pull data in and out of Office. With RSS, you can subscribe to view new posts on blogs. With Office 12, you will be able to subscribe to receive data from your companys software applications. For example, you might be able to automatically receive the latest analysis of your companys profitability.

This is how it will work. The information produced by enterprise applications like SAP will be drawn down into Excel, Word, and other elements of the Office desktop, so workers can manipulate, comment on, and share new kinds of data. This data sits on corporate servers today, but few workers have access to it. If Office becomes the portal to corporate information, it could increase the number of employees who can easily find and use critical information in a companys applications and databases.

Online Travel Guides 2.0 writes:

This new crowd, led by of San Francisco and 43 Places of Seattle, has no intention of ending up like online travel guide busts of the past.
The lure is to provide information about travel destinations and services and then either provide that service directly or refer users for a fee to someone that can. The payoff is a trade sale to a giant such as Seattle-based Expedia, Sabre Holdings (the owner of Travelocity), Priceline of Norwalk, Conn., or Cendant of New York, which owns Orbitz.

Shank says the extra features will be the telling difference. “We’re going to have an element of personalization that competitors don’t have,” he says.

TravelPost provides hotel reviews and ratings from readers, as well as a simplified way for readers to post travel journals, photos and itineraries. TravelPost also offers general geographical information and a forum for travelers to give advice.

Google and Wireless

Richi Jennings puts Google’s wireless moves in context:

Google’s in a great position to take advantage of the many things it has going for it. As well as search, these include:

* Location dependenceGoogle is now very good at geo-location, and directs you to a search cluster near you for performance. It can also show you geo-targeted ads, which will probably become more fine-grained in future.
* Wi-Fiit seems that Google is about to launch a public access Wi-Fi product, which it will also secure with a VPN offering: Google Secure Access. This should mean that security will be better on a Google Wi-Fi access point than with, say, T-Mobile. Speculation is that access will be free, and Google will generate revenue by mining contextual information as they do today with Google ads.
* BandwidthGoogle seems to have been busy buying up insane amounts of “dark fiber” capacity in the US, which it’ll need if it’s going to offer free Wi-Fi!

As an example, combine these three factors with Froogle (Google’s comparison shopping service). If you’re out shopping in bricks and mortar stores, what if you could connect using your PDA over Google Wi-Fi for free, it knew where you were, and could show you the closest place to purchase what you’re looking for?

Voice SMS

WSJ writes:

A Singapore technology company, Bubble Motion, has teamed up with Swedish telecommunications giant Telefon AB L.M. Ericsson to market a messaging service that eliminates the need to tap out a text message and replaces it with voice. It is a potentially hot product for wireless-service providers in developing countries and could make inroads in places where people haven’t quite gotten the hang of tapping out text messages with their thumbs on a cellphone keypad.

Voice SMSs are priced slightly more than a text message, but are half the cost of a regular mobile-phone call and a fifth of the cost of so-called multimedia messaging services, which can incorporate photos, music and other content into messages.

Users of the “voice SMS” service aren’t trying to talk directly to the people they call. Instead they just want to send a message in the form of voice instead of text. The recipient’s phone doesn’t even ring for a voice SMS; the recipient is alerted with a beep and can retrieve the voice message by pressing the star key.

TECH TALK: Web 2.0: More Views

Richard MacManus, with a blog focused on Web 2.0 and appropriately entitled The Read/Write Web, summarises some of the interpretations:

Om Malik: “a collection of technologies – be it VoIP, Digital Media, XML, RSS, Google Maps whatever . that leverage the power of always on, high speed connections and treat broadband as a platform, and not just a pipe to connect.”

John Hagel: an emerging network-centric platform to support distributed, collaborative and cumulative creation by its users.

Susan Mernit: “The enduring lesson of all of the social media and emerging technologies is that we’ve created an a la carte, do it yourself platform where users can engage with sophisticated forms of search, feeds, metadata and APIs, social networks and identity, and commerce and fill these vessels with their own information…”

Dave Winer thinks it’s The Two-Way Web redux. (and it’s interesting to note the focus of my weblog before Web 2.0 was precisely that – Dave’s Two-Way Web vision).

Wikipedia’s current definition: “Web 2.0 is a term often applied to a perceived ongoing transition of the World Wide Web from a collection of websites to a full-fledged computing platform serving web applications, like Gmail, to end users. The proponents of this thinking expect that ultimately Web 2.0 services will replace desktop computing applications for many purposes.”

Richard goes on to outline his elevator pitch:

Web 2.0 at its most basic is using services on the Web. Some examples: Gmail for email, Flickr for photo-management, RSS for news delivery, eBay for shopping, Amazon for buying books. That’s why the Web is being called a platform – because all of these services are being built and used on the Web. Why Web 2.0 only now though – hasn’t Amazon been around since 1995? Why yes, but it’s taken until 2005 for broadband and web technology to catch up and reach a ‘tipping point’ – the Web is fast becoming the platform of choice for developers, business, media, public services, and so on.

So what do I get out of this “Web 2.0”, you ask? The advantages of using the Web as a platform is that the services become more social and collaborative – and geographic boundaries are blown away. A lot of the content is actually created by users. For example all of the reviews and ratings entered into Netflix by its users help make it easier to find and filter the thousands of DVDs that are available on its website. Another advantage of using the Web as a platform is that services can be built using data and code from other services – for example Housing Maps is a “mash-up” of Google Maps and real estate listings from craigslist. So Web 2.0 provides services that people can contribute to as well as mix and match.

One of the best posts outlining Web 2.0 has come from Adam [Embracing the Monkeys]:

From an individual perspective, in a fully realized Web 2.0 environment, everyone will be able to find what they need, complete their desired tasks and receive value from all of their web transactions…In our eyes, people as computing power is the single most important aspect to what Web 2.0 really is at its essence.

The conceptual shifts in our collective thinking has been whats driving this global dialog forward for the past year, Rather than reinvent the wheel, this is a bullet list summary view of all the holistic picture as we all see it instead of taking the either/or approach, We prefer to look at these conceptual shifts holistically. Each is true, yet to look at them singularly doesnt tell the whole story. As a composite, this is what we feel defines Web 2.0.

Wrapping it up:

  • Data will continue to be more interoperable and highly portable. (See XML/RSS/Atom, web services, trackback, APIs, etc.)
  • User experience becomes highly-personalized both in terms of whats expected from an interaction model as well as the knowledge that is delivered. (See RSS, search, alerts, filters, tags, the Long Tail, Greasemonkey, etc.)
  • The Web finally breaks free from the browser. (See Widgets, Web-enabled desktop-like applications, Mobile applications, etc.)
  • The locus of the web continues to shift towards the trends in social computing. (See blogs, podcasts, social computing, etc.)
  • Information technology evolves into Knowledge Technology
  • Web 2.0 is/becomes the societal shift that propels us from the Information Age to the Knowledge Age
  • Tomorrow: Strategy and Innovation

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