Putting together the pieces of Microsoft’s “big announcement” next Monday


It might have been the day the Chrome OS is finally announced, but according to Robert Scoble, this was actually a timely stunt by Google in an attempt to steal some of the spotlight before what he claims to be a “big announcement” coming from Microsoft on Monday. Apparently he has seen and shot videos of it, but is not allowed to talk about. Let the speculation begin.

As it turns out, next Monday is not the ordinary first day of the week for Microsoft. On that day, Microsoft is kicking off it’s Worldwide Partner Conference 2009 in New Orleans and from just looking at the keynotes list, is nothing to be sneezed at. Long story short, it’s basically a who’s who list of Microsoft executives. However, this doesn’t actually help narrow down what the big announcement might be since almost every Microsoft division is represented extensively.

Potential announcements already on people’s minds include the announcement and subsequent availability of Windows 7 RTM code and pricing and licensing plans for Windows Azure, but this does not appear to be what Scoble is referring to.

Scoble made several comments in his Friendfeed post that provide clues to what the announcement is about. The first made a reference to “Microsoft’s 14 billion dollar business”. After tracking down Microsoft’s last quarterly financial results, they indeed have a $14 billion dollar business ($14.33bn to be exact) and that is the Microsoft Business Division.

Update: Some people have pointed out what Scoble meant is that Microsoft runs fourteen (14) billion-dollar (valued) businesses, which makes more sense grammatically. In which case, puts a dent in my speculation.

Whereas Windows falls under the Client division and Azure falls under the Server and Tools division (they have since merged as the platforms division, but remain separate in financial reports), the Microsoft Business Division among other (and obviously extremely profitable) initiatives is responsible for the Office suite.

The second clue Scoble provides is that it runs in a browser, Chrome and Firefox specifically, and at least witnessed being demoed in Firefox. Whilst it’s not impossible whatever this is is not a Silverlight application, I’m more inclined to guess it’s an AJAX web application.

To play devil’s advocate however, Scoble specifically refers to “part of the Microsoft announcement” runs in a Chrome and Firefox, which could be interpreted one of two ways. Either it is not entirely a web application or that it is not 100% compatible with Chrome and Firefox.


To add a bit of seasoning to the salad mix if you will, Microsoft evangelist Keith Combs had been tweeting this week of some “secret Microsoft software”. Whilst I’m not sure if the two tweets are related to each other or related to this announcement, it appears at least one of the softwares would allow users to create content, which fits with the Office clue. If he is talking about the same software, why he doubts it might not work on Windows Server 2008 R2 remains a mystery. What Keith was referring to has since been revealled to be Expression Encoder Screen Capture.

Putting together all the clues, I’m going to speculate this is the public release of the Microsoft Office Web application that was announced back at PDC08, possibly with some new major features or capabilities that wasn’t demoed initially to take it above and beyond just Microsoft’s version of Google Docs. If it is indeed Office Web, it will certainly have to compete with the mindblowing collaboration features of Google Wave which sets the bar pretty high.

Nonetheless, there’s always the chance that I’m way off and it could be something complete different, but hey, that’s the price of admission for the speculative rollercoaster. 🙂

Update 2: Some people have provided me with more information that confirms the big announcement on Monday will be indeed Office Web application.

Update 3: Commenter “Bob” points out that the company that previously owned Office.com has recently changed their domain. Microsoft Office Web applications moving in? The plot thickens.

Update 4: It has been confirmed Keith wasn’t referring to the same thing as Scoble. The Office Web application prediction lives on nonetheless.

91 insightful thoughts

  1. Definitely it should be the Microsoft Office Web 🙂 Uless they want to announce a version of Win7 running on the cloud? Could it be “Strata”?

  2. Oh Christ, not another one of Scoble’s “I know something you don’t, find me interesting!” things. Is he going to cry again?

  3. “Scoble specifically refers to “part of the Microsoft announcement” runs in a Chrome and Firefox, which could either interpreted one of two ways. Either it is not entirely a web application or that it is not 100% compatible with Chrome and Firefox.”

    It could also mean that the announcement consists of more than one product, and that one of them is entirely a web application that runs in all browsers, and that the other(s?) is not a web app.

  4. I read Scoble’s comments as saying Microsoft has 14 businesses which are each “billion dollar businesses”, i.e. each one is >= $1B — he’s not referring to a specific unit which makes $1B.


  5. +1 i second mpg comment..

    Microsoft got 14 things that have over 1 billion in revenue.

    I am going to play the guessing game:

    Safe Guesses (not too crazy):

    1.- Office Ensemble (Office Web Apps + Office Live Update)

    Could be. they work with both MS Ajax and Silverlight

    2.- Microsoft Online Services gets fully unveiled running in Windows Azure while one of the new Data Centers is “brought online” and even new services get demoed.

    3.-Silverlight 3 gets demoed in Xbox 360, Windows Mobile, symbian and the iphone post launch (this friday)

    4.-Windows Live Suite Wave 4 get demoed (supposedly comes with at least a new app, the finished movie maker and updated versions of the rest)

    Wild guesses:

    1.- Social Desktop gets the green light and will be included in windows 7 after all (hey, it uses the live framework, silverlight 3, Windows 7 Explorer and could be using the MS P2P protocol = would be extremely cool)

    2.- Live Mesh 1.0 (also live framework related) since it is actually a big deal. it comes with local and cloud apps that can run from the browser to the desktop and viceverza. can run offline, they work in the mac and in windows mobile.

    3.-Next Gen Sharepoint

    4.-Announcement of a IE9 CTP that integrates unexpected stuff

    5.-Windows Mobile 7 gets fully demoed and specified

  6. @mpg That is how I read it also. Does anyone know what businesses he is referring to?

  7. @Avatar X – i can’t say that I think any of your guesses are really worthy of a google-snipe.

    Maybe they are going to open source something… imagine that, open source Clippy! “It looks like you are trying compile me. Do you want some help?”

  8. just came back from friendfeed and read the whole thread:

    “sameer: I said that Microsoft has 14 billion dollar businesses. Plural, not singular, but I also said it was one of Microsoft’s primary businesses. That narrows it down a bit, yes. – Robert Scoble ”

    Ok then i completely revise 2 of my safe guesses and add 1 more safe guess to my list.:

    1.- Office Ensemble (Office Web Apps + Office Live Update) and a Office 2010 beta

    2.-Microsoft Online Services gets full release along with a full release of Windows Azure while one of the new Data Centers is “brought online” and even new services get demoed.

    3.- Windows 7 RTM is confirmed, Windows 7 strategy specified and gets Windows 7 gets a special netbook edition treat.

    There, i fixed it. 😛

  9. @Antony: well. any of my wild guesses would be exciting for me at least. any of the safe guesses is stuff that if not announced now. “should” then be announced at PDC09.

  10. I just hope MS adopts wave when it comes out, instead of doing something douchey and making their own incompatible version. Integrate it into Office Web somehow and I’ll be sold.

  11. I heard this too many times to beleive what Scobles says… and even if it was MS…

    And remember this guy cryed in front of the World Wide Telecope app… sure, this is a great app, but man, listening to him, it was gonna change our life…

    For Monday, W7 and near RTM version of Office 2010, as lots of persons guessed long time before Scoble said anything. And of course general orientation of the actual projects.
    Of course, getting Mesh out of beta and explaining to the world that it’s much more than a file syncing tool (and annoucing pricing) would be great… If they annouce it, my bet is that it wasn’t planified initially…

    Anyway… I like surprises…

  12. Long is reaching here. I have no idea what Scoble is talking about. I also have no knowledge of what the Office team is planning. Nothing to see here.

    But I am anxious to get my hands on the RTM bits of Windows 7 and start building some cool demos. Can’t wait for that.

  13. @Keith Combs: Fair enough, but is it not possible you and Scoble are talking about the same thing?

  14. Keith’s statement about it working with R2 makes me think it is client technology. Why would R2 make a difference for Office web apps? The mystery grows…

  15. While the speculations so far point to an Office Apps suite, Windows Azure Beta or Windows 7 details, I have to say that none of those things come off “some pretty amazing stuff”. Personally, I’ve never been impressed by web apps. Maybe it’s something bigger, that we’ve never seen before.

    Bleh, or maybe I’m just getting my hopes up. *Is a dreamer*

  16. Its groundbreaking idea from Google web OS and they are planning to wipe out Windows in a most strategic manner. Google clearly pointing to Microsoft when they say “The operating systems that browsers run were designed in an era where there was no web”. But there are few questions which are unanswered like what will happen when we will go offline in Chrome OS? Can we use offline applications like iTunes or Photoshop? Can we run third party applications? How they are going to make profit from it ? I am also bit concerned whether Chrome OS will be embraced by enterprises as it is open source and web based as there is always a security issue….Just wait another thought can Chrome OS will become a global hit especially in small countries where internet is very fickle. But leaving these things aside its going to be win-win situation for the users and it will be interesting to witness the war between giants.

  17. Sounds like Keith is definitely talking about something else. Like Ken Jackson pointed out, he has some sort of client thing (Why else would he bother to see if it runs on R2 and Win7?) and he pointed out that his NDA ends at the end of the week, not on monday when the announcement is supposed to be.

  18. Krishna,
    Why not just go and copy Sarah Perez’s blog post on Read Write Web word-for-word rather than just pulling out little bits of it?

    Google OS is NOT a groundbreaking idea – far from it. We don’t even know what “it” is yet.


  19. Scoble has one modus operandi: he takes ridiculous products and hypes them to boost his own pageviews, and then the product is released and we’re all completely disappointed. The list is lengthy, and from memory alone, includes 30boxes, Windows Longhorn/Vista, that telescope thing from microsoft, and on and on.

    Each time, Scoble claims he has inside knowledge on a truly amazing, revolutionary product. Each time, he posts tantalizing hints about all the great things he’s doing with the product. Each time, the product is announced and I struggle to figure out what the big deal really was.

    On the other hand, he has no idea about the really interesting product announcements.

  20. Actually I thought that read Microsoft has 14 billion one-dollar businesses.

  21. Probably Gazelle

    Envisioning an OS for Web Apps
    Gazelle represents the first time that a browser has been implemented as a multi-principal operating system. From the amount of interest and speculation the paper has generated, it appears that this is an idea whose time has come. For Wang and her colleagues, there are still many challenges in working through this complex problem, but they are convinced that their work advances the industry toward a new generation of operating system tailored for Web environments.


  22. How about this then:
    Office Web Apps + Live Mesh + Sharepoint… Let’s you:
    1. Edit “documents” (now suddenly seems like an outdated term) which are stored in the mesh directly in the browser (hence the browser references)
    2. The mesh synchronizes documents from your own PC to sharepoint (hence the W7 reference)
    3. Install it on your own Corporate Server (hence the R2 reference) – or even Home Server
    4. Slap an API on it, let it all be programmable via VS

    Now corporate it folks can control what’s in their own private mesh, set up security, etc. Probably something that many mid-sixed and larger corporations would want instead of having their stuff on Microsofts Cloud-based servers. This way, they make a nice meshified connection between the web apps and the pc apps I think.

    They might struggle to define how live mesh corporate plays together with live mesh private (as they did with messenger vs. office communicator), but I think they should blend the together in some way and allow me to be connected to several mesh’es at the time… They would probably call it Office Mesh vs. Live Mesh…

    No more talk about software and/or +/- services, now it’s all just a bit messh.

    Oh how the guessing game is fun…. and pointless… but fun…. (and pointless)…

  23. allanwith,
    Yeah, I’m fully expecting that there will be a “Live Mesh for Enterprises” that runs inside the corporate firewall. Makes total sense.


  24. Scoble is full of hot “look at me” air. Always has, always will. He’s the Paris Hilton of technology.

  25. 🙂 erm…lets just wait till the announcement, no more trying to find out before they announce. no one lets microsoft rest!

  26. 14 is indeed very interesting number here.. As it was pointed out earlier by others, it’s part of the 14 billion dollar business of MS. Also, Office 14 was the operating code name for the now called Office 2010. And it could also mean, that 14 businesses of MS are somehow going to be tightly integrated with office 2010. we have already started seeing such integrations. I wouldn’t be surprised if MS-Vine is integrated with office server somehow. you never know the real context behind that sentence – but all roads point towards MS touting it’s webOffice.

    We shall see, wont we?

  27. [UPDATE] The software I was referring to in the captured tweets above is the Expression Encoder Screen Capture software that is part of the Expression Encoder 3 product. More product details later today.

  28. So what’s happening with the big announcement? Surely Monday has completed in the US! I’m yet to hear anything that’s truly “big” that was announced.

  29. I think i did great in day 1 of WPC09:

    1.- Office Ensemble (Office Web Apps + Office Live Update) and a Office 2010 tp was pretty much correct.

    while Office web apps and the office live update is not up for annotated participants or Microsoft testers. it is on tech preview for Microsoft partners and related mvp’s that assisted to the wpc09 on a non disclose status.

    2 and 3 were off

    But in day two in the #2 prediction we at least had the confirmation that both Windows Azure and Microsoft Online Services will be fully released for PDC09. that and pricing for Azure is not so bad.

    Day 1 also saw the confirmation of RTM for july and a close to full disclose on the windows 7 release strategy. even if there was not special windows 7 announcement.

    But there are still two days more to go.

    I just saw a interview of ina fried with ray ozzie where he says that there is going to be a Live Mesh announcement tomorrow….ummm

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