Software as a service Microsoft products? This is really happening? Darn right it is. Microsoft is no fool, and when a new technology or new way of delivering technology emerges, you can count on Microsoft being one of the first ones to jump aboard full steam. Microsoft has been a leading innovator and pioneer in just about every computing technology in history, often with success.
Sure, sometimes Microsoft loses their way, with a few recent Windows and Office versions being a bit dodgy, and their judgment in gaming design being very much up for debate. But, all in all, Microsoft is one of the first companies that come to mind when one says “computer” for a reason. That reason? They know their stuff. Surely then, their forays into SaaS must be impressive, right?
Well, let’s take a look. There are a number of software as a service Microsoft products around, but we’re going to look at only three. We’ll be looking at a casual one everyone would use, one power users would use, and one business professionals would use, and see how well the big M has done in reaching out to the triad of SaaS so far.
#1 – Windows Live (Casual)
Windows Live is Microsoft’s answer to Google’s integrated search, email and social network system. It incorporates a social network, Bing functionality and Hotmail which has now become “Live” in and of itself.
So, how does this hold up? The desktop Live messenger is actually a disaster, obfuscating the IM functionality it was intended to serve under layers of the social network functionality that belong in browsers. So it’s best to avoid it, not that MSN Messenger (its predecessor) was ever that fantastic anyhow. But, looking at it as SaaS, it works really well. Bing’s search engine functionality, while result and logistics data is not yet mature, has a fantastic interface and is actually one of the few good uses of infinite scrolling to date. Live’s social network and email integration is less awkward and confusing than Google’s for now. The integration of the account over all three is far more solid, also bringing MSDN into the mix for programmers and a number of other things.
It’s surprisingly good, and everyone who enjoys multifaceted social internet experiences would enjoy Windows Live. Just avoid the desktop application if you value your sanity.
#2 – SkyDrive (Power User)
Microsoft’s cloud file hosting service is actually magnificent. Featuring integration with Windows Live for a limited amount of free space, this NTFS-formatted file system is like having a second hard drive, as cloud hosting has long tried to emulate.
With integration with Windows to mount it as a drive, and affordable plans to increase space as needed, this is one of the better cloud hosting SaaS models out there, though the Android and iPhone functionality is understandably gimped, given its creator. Still, it’s fully possible to access it from any mobile device, just plan on missing out on the Windows integration experience that it does with a Microsoft OS.
#3 – Microsoft SharePoint (Business)
SharePoint is a collaborative cloud system from Microsoft. It is designed so that projects or files may be centralized over a cloud, allowing multiple people to work together in real time. This is a system that lets teams work over indefinite distances from any number of devices (browser is all one needs).
Compatible with numerous files, programming, graphic design, reports, logistics and document authoring in real time is now possible even from the moon. What’re you doing on the moon? How’d you get up there? Anyhow, the closest analog to SharePoint is Google’s Drive service, which wile good, doesn’t have that Microsoft power behind it just yet.
Everyone should know about SharePoint.
Software as a service Microsoft products are actually excellent, and while they aren’t completely free across the board like their modern competitor, Google, Microsoft means business and it truly shows.