OK, the title is a bit of snarking since Microsoft’s Office Live so far has very little to do with Office, while Writely is one of those pesky Web 2.0 startups which offers a Web-based word processor similar to Microsoft Office Word plus collaboration features. The announcement is on the Google and Writely blogs, which is as Web 2.0 as you can get, but the larger question is just what Google is up to. Michael Arrington expresses the most common theory:
This signals two things: a confirmation of Google’s desire to hit Microsoft hard and attack their largest revenue product, and that they will do this at least partially through acquisition rather than building the office suite entirely in-house. When, if ever, will Microsoft respond with their own online versions of the Office products?
Easier said than done, of course, but the real difficulty is in defining a new business without upsetting the Office cash cow. On a technical basis, Writely is built with Microsoft’s .NET as all thos little “.apx” extensions on the web pages indicate.