Google Scoops Microsoft: Delivers Mesh First

I've been head deep into taking apart Ray Ozzie's Mesh vision for Microsoft, putting thoughts to the implications of applications which can live on the desktop (installed or virtual apps), streamed, or live entirely in the cloud. The competitor for Mesh is obviously Google. Today Google takes a page right out of the Ozzie Mesh vision and announces offline access for Google Apps, what I call Google Docs "unplugged". Users will now be able to view and edit Google Docs word docs, and soon, Google Docs spreadsheets while unplugged from the net.

Google's flipped a key element of Ozzie's Mesh strategy on it's head, by delivering desktop apps from the cloud first and then adding unplugged functionality. Microsoft has the same problem in reverse, and an infinitely bigger challenge to get there: rebuild Microsoft apps so they can become cloud enabled and friendly, plus, pull the channel and embedded software revenue stream along in the process.

But the future's not all doom and gloom just because of Google's progress in bringing unplugged versions of cloud apps to users. Microsoft would be smart to be extremely observant about the end user experience, user feedback and usage patterns of Google Doc users, and then plow that knowledge back into Windows Live and other Microsoft Mesh efforts.

The consequences of Google's unplugged capabilities will be significant -- I think we'll see a large advances in the acceptance and use of Google Docs now that they have unplugged capabilities. Why buy Word, Excel or PowerPoint for the home or second computer if you really don't need it? As Google perfects and deepens its unplugged app capability, the real threat to Microsoft is now out playing on the field. Don't underplay the importance of Google's announcement -- what sounds like a feature, is really a huge enabler for Google's cloud app strategy to take on Microsoft.

Now, if we just had a way for Google Docs to cache stored documents and synchronize them when we reconnect. Hmmm.....

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