Q&A: Microsoft talks Office Web Apps, social networking in SharePoint

Microsoft is bullish about Office Web Apps and betting on social networking in the enterprise, according to the head of Microsoft's information worker business group.

As Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 head to business licence customers, information worker business group lead Jacob Jaffe told IT PRO why Microsoft is upbeat about the potential for its new free online tool Web Apps and why it's betting heavily on social networking.

Studies have suggested many people use Word for document creation, but Google Docs for collaboration. Will Web Apps be able to claw people back from using Google Docs in the enterprise?

I think the reality is there are a variety of tools that people can use to get things done, and we feel fortunate to have more than half a billion people using Office.

If they use other tools in conjunction with using Office, those are certainly scenarios that we understand and we appreciate. With Web Applications though, we're incredibly bullish about what it means for collaboration with others, first and foremost, and what it means from a standpoint of being able to work with my content and work with my documents when I'm not necessarily at or with my PC.

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So the ability to store the document into the cloud, whether that's Windows Live or in a SharePoint environment, and then being able to access that content no matter where I am and then being able to work with it through the browser based experience the beta customers are telling us that's a really key part of the scenarios that they see as being advantageous.

I think time will tell, but we're very excited about what we're hearing from our customers in terms of what Web Apps will deliver to them.

Microsoft has claimed that services from partners and third-party developers based around SharePoint 2010 could boost the economy by $6.7 billion. Is this really going to happen and how does Microsoft help spur that?

I think whether it's the $6.7 billion number or numbers we've released historically, the reality is that we build that unified platform in order to enable our customers to have the right kinds of solutions so that our partners can extend it further.

And that obviously helps drive that ecosystem and the economy as a result.

Microsoft released Windows 7 last year, but some have suggested businesses have waited for the arrival of Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 to upgrade. Are you expecting a bit of a jump in refresh sales?

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Companies deploy at various times for various reasons. I think the reality though is that the combination of Office 2010 and Windows 7 is a great reason and a great milestone for our customers to think about doing that refresh.

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