By Rodrigo Vaca, Director Marketing, Zoho

imageMicrosoft confirmed recently a widely circulated rumor and announced, with gran fanfare, that next year they will be announcing a web-based version of their Office product. Yes, you read it right, Microsoft announced that they will be announcing… You can read the full story in PC Magazine, ComputerWorld and many other publications.

The question for many will be… what does this announcement of an announcement means for Zoho and other SaaS vendors? It’s simple: it means two things.

First—it means fantastic news! Microsoft had been pooh-poohing the whole SaaS world… even going as far as denying the inevitable and creating its own Software-plus-Services trend-of-one. But Microsoft took one big step forward, and added some extra validation to the whole concept of productivity applications delivered using nothing but a browser.

Second—and particularly to Zoho—it means business at usual. Will there be increased competition in the on-line productivity space? You betcha. But it’s not like we had a monopoly on that market to start with. We thrive on competition. We have multiple competitors for each and every one of the 19 (and counting!) different services we provide. That only makes us better. But beyond that, our users get value from having so many tightly-integrated SaaS applications. Zoho is much more than the on-line productivity suite. We have the most comprehensive portfolio of on-line productivity and business applications.

Maybe the real question is—what will this mean for Microsoft? What will this mean for their business model and their uses?

For their business model—I wonder if they’ll charge the same for the on-line version as they charge for the old, dinosauric version? Are they still going to be able to collect the absurdly high CAL fees for office users? They surely risk loosing a grip on the desktop, as well, you don’t need Windows to run applications on a browser.

In any case, and beyond the business implications—let’s see how this works for the most important folks on earth: users. If Microsoft MSN Live Search, Microsoft MSN Live HotMail and a host of other Microsoft on-line products are a proof of Microsoft’s Internet prowess…

Microsoft, welcome to the SaaS world. See you in a year (or so).

P.S. I’m taking bets on the simple and elegant name the Microsoft on-line office will get. I’m betting on: Microsoft Office Live 2010 Standard Web Edition.

About the Author

Rodrigo Vaca is the director of marketing at Zoho. Rodrigo joined Zoho from Google, where he was responsible for driving international and channel marketing on the Google Enterprise team. Prior to that, Rodrigo was Product Manager for the SharePoint product at Microsoft. He received his undergraduate degree in Computer Science at Mexico’s ITESM and later earned his MBA at Stanford University.