Friday, February 4, 2005

Microsoft Struggles to Enter Workflow Game with Antiquated Office

CNET News notes that Microsoft is making moves to integrate its legacy Office applications further into its database infrastructure, in hopes of competing more effectively in the burgeoning market for workflow solutions. Office XP sales have not been transformative, while enterprise content management for corporate compliance, enterprise search solutions and sector-specific workflow solutions from software and content vendors dominate the hopes for valued content in most of today's major organizations. Overall, Microsoft seems to be wasting their money. As the center of gravity has shifted to Web content, gluing old paper-oriented applications via XML to the Web has been a weak response at best to most of the core publishing issues that confront Microsoft. The real problem that Microsoft has is the yawning gap in content management capabilities between its weak Front Page solutions and PHP/mySQL-enabled content management solutions and weblog authoring tools that are eating up the bottom end of the content management market. More and more publishers of all stripes are able to get reams of content out of the Web effectively without pausing to use Word or other Office tools to get the job done. Microsoft's own content management solution is cheap and weak compared to enterprise-quality solutions from Vignette and Stellant and very expensive compared to the open source upstarts. Microsoft's clients moved past office automation to true content solutions long ago, becoming highly effective electronic publishers through tools that do not hold on to the paper world for their core value. The basic infrastructure of publishing is passing Microsoft's core value proposition very rapidly. Major publishers should be wary and aware of this to a larger degree and temper their strategies of Microsoft alliance with a more open consideration of the technology players that are likely to dominate the content value proposition in the future.
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