.NETdocs from MSFT (C|NET, via DaveW)

From: Rohit Khare (Rohit@KnowNow.com)
Date: Thu Jan 11 2001 - 17:53:53 PST

Damn, old bits, but I sure hope nobody ships it before MS does... :-) RK

Netdocs: Microsoft's .Net poster child?
By Mary Jo Foley, ZDNN
December 22, 2000 5:25 AM PT

One of Microsoft's goals in the year 2001 will be to prove it hasn't
lost its old development magic.

And one of the main ways the company plans to demonstrate that is to
build a subscription service so compelling that the "Net generation"
can't live without it.

Welcome to Microsoft's stealth service, known as Netdocs.

Netdocs is slated to be one of Microsoft's showcase .Net building
blocks, but Microsoft officials steadfastly refuse to discuss it

.Net is Microsoft's shorthand for its corporatewide strategy to
deliver software as a service. According to its .Net road map,
applications and pieces of applications soon will be delivered as
"services" that can be rented over the Internet.

Microsoft officials would not comment on when Netdocs will debut. The
service is not yet thought to be in alpha or beta testing, however.

Piecing together the puzzle According to sources, Netdocs is a
single, integrated application that will include a full suite of
functions, including e-mail, personal information management,
document-authoring tools, digital-media management, and instant
messaging. Microsoft will make Netdocs available only as a hosted
service over the Internet, not as a shrink-wrapped application or
software that's preloaded on the PC.

Netdocs will feature a new user interface that looks nothing like
Internet Explorer or Windows Explorer. Instead, Netdocs will deliver
an integrated workspace based on the Extensible Markup Language
(XML), where all of its application modules are available
simultaneously. This interface is based on .Net technology that
Microsoft, in the past, has referred as "Universal Canvas."

Some people inside Microsoft describe Netdocs as a ".Net
application/service for knowledge workers." Others call it a
next-generation productivity suite being designed for individuals to
share personal information and collaborate via teams.

Whether Netdocs users are individuals, small businesses, corporate
customers, or all of the above, Netdocs could change the way
Microsoft customers handle many tasks, ranging from signing up for
their online services, to building configurable home pages, to
managing their own .Net billing, support, and administrative services.

"If you think of what a hosted version of Microsoft Office would look
like, if it worked properly, you'd have Netdocs," said one anonymous
source claiming familiarity with Microsoft's Netdocs plans.

May the best product win Netdocs, like a number of current and
pending Microsoft offerings, is a product of the Microsoft
competitive culture, whereby different teams are encouraged to work
on competing projects. The project favored by Microsoft's top brass
ultimately is christened the winner.

The battle between the Netdocs and Office teams has been one of the
fiercer ones, according to sources close to the company. The matchup
has pitted Microsoft Senior Vice President of Office Steven Sinofsky
and his troops against Senior Vice President of Subscription Services
Brian MacDonald and his forces.

In many ways, the Netdocs-Office face-off epitomizes the challenges
Microsoft, as a company, is facing as it attempts to move from being
a vendor of packaged PC software to a vendor of software services
delivered over the Web. While some within the company continue to
bank on the future of shrink-wrapped applications, others believe
hosted applications, "rented" via a subscription licensing model, are
poised to take over the world sooner, rather than later.

Currently, say insiders, the Netdocs and Office development teams are
working in parallel. It's unclear if the two products ultimately will
be positioned as two different .Net offerings or if Netdocs will
emerge as the Microsoft .Net desktop of the future.

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