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Things I'm waiting for

Offline access to Google Docs
OK, I admit that Google Docs is mostly useless. (In fact, I'm surprised no one has pointed out that the silly little text editor in Microsoft's Office Live Workspace pretty much provides all the functionality of Google Docs' word processing component.) But I'm quite interested in offline access to Web apps and this will be a good test of a truly useful one. (Gmail or Google Calendar would be much better.) Some people do have access to offline Google Docs already. I keep checking every day.

Ubuntu 8.04
Ubuntu is going to ship version 8.04 of its Linux distribution, lamely code-named "Hardy Heron," on Thursday. It's been too long since I've reviewed Ubuntu, so I'll do so with this version. In fact, that might be a good use of that Shuttle KPC I just reviewed.


Microsoft "Albany"
Last week, Microsoft owned up to its Albany project, which combines Office Home and Student 2007 with Windows Live One Care and a bunch of Windows Live and Office Live services:

“Albany” is the codename for a new all-in-one subscription service of essential software and services consumers told us were most important to them. We’ve pulled together the productivity tools people need to organize their lives, security to help keep their personal information safe and online services that make it easy for them to keep in touch with friends and family, and folded them all into a single service that also ensures the user’s PC is running the latest security and productivity software.

With just a few clicks, “Albany” subscribers will be able install the whole package, which includes Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007, giving them the latest versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote for their personal and school projects; Windows Live OneCare to help keep viruses at bay and their computer fast and healthy; and Windows Live Mail, Messenger and Photo Gallery so they can connect and share with others. Albany also installs the Microsoft Office Live Workspace connector on the Microsoft Office toolbar, so users can save documents to their own dedicated online workspace and invite friends and classmates to collaborate and share.

Additionally, with “Albany” consumers get the latest versions of Microsoft Office Home and Student and Windows Live OneCare as they’re released. Combined with ongoing security updates, consumers can have the peace of mind that they have protection from the most recent security threats and that their PC is running at its peak.

Albany just entered beta and while I do know a few people with access to it, I'll probably wait until Microsoft reaches out formally to the press (usually around the next beta) before taking a look at it. From a personal perspective, Albany isn't that interesting to me. But I do believe that subscription software is a rest stop on the road towards cloud computing, where the evolution of software distribution can roughly be seen as:

  1. Distribution of software via physical media (floppy, CD, DVD) exclusively.
  2. Electronic distribution of smaller applications and utilities only with physical media still used for commercial software applications.
  3. Subscription availability of commercial applications with physical media component or option.
  4. Full electronic distribution of virtually all software, where much software is downloaded but still installed locally.
  5. Full adoption of software as a service (i.e. "cloud computing") where most software isn't downloaded per se but rather accessed fully online.

Albany exists at about number 3 on this list, as does much volume license software for enterprises. Interestingly, Microsoft tried number 3 with Windows Anytime Upgrade, but backed off to number 2 because of consumer complaints. I'll post an editorial about this phenomenon later today.

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