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No Microsoft 'Web Office' on tap, says Ozzie

Microsoft is paying attention to Web-based Office suites but does not intend to release one itself in the near future, Microsoft's chief software architect Ray Ozzie told ZDNet's Dan Farber.

Farber button-holed Ozzie prior to an event at the Computer History Museum on Thursday, where he asked for his reaction to the growth of Web-based productivity applications from the likes of Google or Zoho.

"People have been trying to create applications with Web technology since the Web began," Ozzie said. "Just because you can do it, doesn't mean you should. We are looking at Google Docs & Spreadsheets, and paying attention to Office 2.0 and Zoho. We are also putting those in front of customers and seeing what makes sense."

For some time, Ozzie has been saying that a combination of desktop applications and online services is central to Microsoft's overall strategy. For example, at Microsoft's Tech Ed conference in Boston this spring Ozzie said that Microsoft does not buy into the "extreme" view that all computing will be done in the cloud.

Ozzie is known as someone who can think like a programmer and an end-user at the same time. He told Farber that Microsoft is exploring the "scenarios" that make sense for Web-based applications.

"At the highest level--and I am really thinking at that level--we are in the productivity business. When I was a Lotus, I competed with Microsoft, and [at Microsoft] we have a well defined suite," Ozzie said. "There are new scenarios, and as a company we want to deliver what people want. Some scenarios are about documents, some are with sharing and collaboration, others are standalone or with SharePoint, and some are Web-based back-ends with a rich front end and some components are pure Web. There are scenarios for high bandwidth, mobile or sitting in front of a large screen."

When asked, he said that no announcements on a Web-based Office suite were forthcoming from Microsoft.