Microsoft’s BPOS: Cloud Computing’s Silver Lining?

Four At The Core: Office Live Meeting

Office Live Meeting is a real-time conferencing and collaboration platform. Ever tried a WebEx conference? Mix up online slide presentations, online whiteboard, application sharing, and desktop sharing and you’ve pretty much got Live Meeting.

Of course, there’s a bit more to it than that. Live Meeting can also handle VoIP, PSTN audio conferencing 800 numbers, and video, both as pre-recorded content for streaming as well as from Web cam feeds. With these factored in, the need for company travel might plummet. After all, how many conferences does a company need at which people sit in a dark room to watch PowerPoint presentations and IM on their phones under the table? Ditch all that travel time, use tools in a platform like Live Meeting to make things more streamlined and engaging, and let people get back to work in minutes rather than hours or days. Moreover, the session will be recorded for future reference so that participant input can become part of the educational process for subsequent viewers.

This isn’t to say that there isn’t value in face-to-face meetings, but at each occasion, managers should ask what medium will achieve the most benefit for the group. If the meeting is about building relationships, then, by all means shake hands, slap backs, grab drinks, and do some team exercises. But if the purpose is to convey information, a platform like Live Meeting may be both more effective and more economical. Anyone who’s ever sat in a lecture hall knows that people in groups hate being singled out and called on. But with Live Meeting, participants can not only fill out post-meeting surveys but also take comprehension tests in a variety of formats without any sense of social pressure.

Don’t get the impression that Live Meeting is only for big presentations, though. We’ve used the software simply as a way for two workers in separate offices to review and edit a Word document together in real-time. That may sound like a paltry task in comparison, but the amount of time and confusion it can save is huge. How much productivity gets lost when a correction fails to get placed in a project and the omission only gets discovered later? We shudder to think how often this happens. Or how many times have you found yourself saying to a remote colleague, “If I could just show you this thing on my screen, you’d understand immediately!” Live Meeting fixes that.

  • cadder
    Web-based apps have very poor performance, even for something as simple and basic as email. Software on your own computer will always perform better and be more responsive, as well as have many more capabilities. Not to mention eliminate the continual problems almost all users have with internet access and remote server reliability. I will continue to purchase software to run on my own computer independent of web access.
  • wicko
    You know, when I first read the title, the first thing that came to my mind was "Microsoft's Big Piece of Shit". ME, is that you?
  • bob boblaw
    Can Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) reignite our hope-strewn love affair with cloud computing?
    Who is the "our" in this? I don't recall ever liking cloud computing. Or is that thoughtcrime?
  • descendency
    cadderWeb-based apps have very poor performance, even for something as simple and basic as email.Poor application design. Actually, your own example is the worst you could have picked. ANY application you use for email could be easily written to use the same UI as a Silverlight application. While the software is not local to your machine, the computing will be. So, the only real loss will be at loading time for the application (which if done well will be minimal). The rest would be identical (as a matter of fact, if the code is written in a .NET language already, it could be nearly directly ported to Silverlight... so saying it would be identical would be dead on.). Just because the install isn't local doesn't mean the processing can't be.

    Gaming will require a major boost in internet speed before it can be offloaded successful (because sending huge amounts of textures, models, and other media just isn't possible across the average cable connection yet). The only applications that can't be ported are ones where massive data transmission is required constantly. However, applications like MS Word will be easy to port especially if the files are all stored local.

    Let me give you an example of a RIA (rich internet application) you use without even realizing it... If you do any online shopping, you use a RIA. How many desktop applications do you own for shopping on the internet? Zero? Yea. That's because when a RIA is designed well enough, the "desktop applications are better" mentality is foolish.
  • matt2k
    is it just me or does this just look like a business version of google wave?
  • Heyw00d
    I'm with wicko = BPoS = Big Piece of Shit!
  • NeatOman
    The matter of fact is simple... Right now you don't own you OS or the Software on it, and it can (has been) change at any time without your consent. That is because like stated in the article, you do not own the software and as with any license it can be taken away. This is just the next step where they want to get you to give up you physical computer and only give you a terminal.

    The reality is that there really is very little if no benefit from "cloud" computing, and the only reason no one could figure out what the benefits were is because there are non for the user.
  • lordfisch
    NeatOmanThe reality is that there really is very little if no benefit from "cloud" computing, and the only reason no one could figure out what the benefits were is because there are non for the user.Other than, you know, costing a small fraction of local versions. And never having to update. And never having to deal with a hijacked license. And not having artificial "install limits." And not carrying around countless boxes of install CDs. And not, and not, and not...
  • in order to support cloud for ALL applications and games,the internet needs to change and become at least 10 times, if not 100 times faster than it currently can.
    Also limitations of 15GB/month need to go. bandwidth limitations need to go in order to get cloud working.

    I see only cloud computing working in lower performing apps,not in games or video.
  • erichlund
    Performance and quality may be issues today, but cloud computing will mature over time. However as a user in a classified environment, and even for users in a sensitive business environment, there are times when you just don't want your information attached to the internet. That means dedicated apps. So, where the author cannot think on one reason, I certainly can.