I want to thank Doreen for filling in for me last week. Judging by my stats, I should have her fill in more often. While she was introducing herself, I was enjoying some of the attractions near my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA and I am happy to say that I almost forgot about SharePoint completely. Coming back to work in the middle of the week is great (mentally) but it makes it hard to dig out and find something to write about. As often happens, something lands in my inbox that solves that problem. This time, it was an email from a different member of my team, pointing me to an article from Information Week, about the Microsoft Web Apps preview for iOS devices.
I have written several times about why Microsoft needs to support iOS devices better, and I am very happy to see this step being taken. I know they are racing to deliver their own hardware, and that’s great, but hardware and software should be treated as different markets; after all, it’s the application people want, and that’s a good thing. It’s a good thing for me too, because it supports the approach that we agreed to take in our company. Our goal is to enable our employees to do their jobs wherever they are, whenever they like and to utilize the computer hardware they happen to be carrying at the time. The current state of this offering isn’t perfect, but I see this glass as half-full and filling.
Implementation – There are a number of features that are missing from the web apps that I hope will eventually be included, and there are some annoying aspects to the user experience, but I don’t care. Microsoft has taken a big step in the right direction and I can deal with an evolving product. At this point, I can work on Office documents on my iPad, and with the help of the products like Harmon.ie and SharePlus, and SkyDrive, I can easily get documents from Exchange and / or SharePoint and back again and now I can edit them with relative ease. I have actually been able to do these things for a while, but it has been getting easier and it’s getting close to the point of being seamless. That’s good, because that’s what I told my users would happen eventually. As I look ahead to the planned integration between Office, SharePoint, Outlook and SkyDrive, I see nothing but blue skies.
Approach – I hope that I am correct in assuming that this approach indicates that Microsoft wants to be a player in the open market. Their platforms (Exchange, SQL Server, SharePoint, etc.) can sell on their merit. Their hardware, (Surface, phones, etc.) can sell on their merit and their software i.e. Office can leverage its dominant position and sell on its merit. Office shouldn’t have to prop-up sales of phones and tablets; those things should be successful if they are as good as or better than the competition. My decision to embrace Microsoft products shouldn’t make people hate me because they associate it with the reason that they have to give up the device they love. OK, I’ll never fully recover from displacing Word Perfect with Word, but I’ve gotten over that, even if some of my coworkers haven’t. Kudos to Microsoft for taking this approach.
Future – I don’t want to suggest that Microsoft is invincible, but I think things look pretty good for the future. I’m not sure that I agree with all of the plans for Windows 8 and I certainly hope that they reverse the decision to drop the Design View from SharePoint Designer, but the community will keep them from failing. We will engage with the new products, we will continue to build solutions on SharePoint and Windows, and third-party vendors will continue to fill the holes, smooth off the rough edges and extend the vision as required. As I’ve already pointed out, I have been working with Word documents, stored in SharePoint, on my iPad for over a year. I didn’t need a solution from Microsoft because others were quick to fill that void.
OK, so those are all the comforting thoughts I’m focusing on today. In addition, I’m enjoying editing a couple of old documents and my AIIM Conference Presentation from earlier this year, on my iPad. This week has ended on a very good note and I’m optimistic about the future.