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

Four At The Core: Office Communications Online

Office Communications Online may be the smallest and least trumpeted of the four central BPOS applications, but that doesn’t make it any less useful. Put simply, this is the instant messaging branch of the suite.

You might think that having a subscription-based IM client is a bit distasteful when the world is already overrun with free IM clients and networks, especially when said service currently requires use of the Office Communicator 2007 R2 client (Microsoft deploys OCS 2007 IM/presence servers in its datacenter). However, Office Communications Online has several advantages in a business setting. First off, there’s presence integration with SharePoint, Exchange, and other Office elements. You’ve got the ability to have person-to-person voice and video sessions through various company firewalls with minimal network tweaking. With all of the commercial-level filtering involved, you also won’t be getting stray viruses or pop-ups from strangers with curious names like VanillaKitten9. Not least of all, don’t forget that this is a cloud application, so all of the security and configuration risks that go along with consumer IM clients disappear here.

Note that as of this writing, Office Communicator 2007 R2 is a BPOS requirement, and part of Communicator deals with instant messaging, including links to your Outlook calendar and messaging for determining presence information. A version called Communicator Web Access is planned, but until this is available, Microsoft is providing Communicator 2007 for free. After that, Communicator 2007 will be optional.

Only a few years ago, IM was often dismissed as a toy for teens, not a serious business tool. This has changed. As much as email can increase productivity over old school phone calling in many cases, IM can improve productivity over email. But that productivity gets magnified when integrated into a broader tool group like BPOS.

  • 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.