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   Re: [xml-dev] Low-end Office 11 won't do user schemas, it seems

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> > In addition, InfoPath will be available only in the high-end version, which
> > requires Licensing 6.0 (large companies only, and pay-to-play).
> Again, this may make a lot of sense.
> InfoPath seems, if I understand the publicity blurb correctly, to be 
> primarily a forms front end. The biggest pay off from InfoPath is likely to 
> be for those customers who have a MS back end which knows how to 
> process/link/crosslink the stuff InfoPath sends it. Perhaps InfoPath will 
> also fit in with MS's CRM ambitions? And, so it seems, those enterprise guys 
> are the customers to whom InfoPath is being targeted.

Most of us here have seen InfoPath in some guise, but I would wager few have 
seen it in any supposed role s next-generation business forms interface.  I've 
seen it demoed in a tool for quickly publishing blogs.  I won't speak for 
others, but my impression from discussions with pthers who have seen the tool 
are fo similarly unambitious uses.  It makes sense to me for MS to target 
InfoPath at the lowest common denominator from simple Product Management 101.  
Yes.  I'm spaking as a businessman, not as a programmer.

MS Word is the biggest cash cow MS has.  Yes, more so than Windows, as I 
understand it, because they have to provide much deper OEM discounts for the 
latter.  In your estimation, it seems, MSFT would be trying to mold InfoPath 
into another cash generator, effectively by upselling to the large base of MS 
Word sers that could afford it.

First of all, the archives are littered with the remans of up-sell scemes from 
well-established commodity or low-end products.  When people have made you 
numbr one at the low end, it is usualy for very different reasons than the 
ones that would motivate them to upgrade with you at the high end.

You may say then that the opportunity cost to MSFT here is no more than the 
failed marketing expenses for up-selling InfoPath, but this case is even more 
dangerous than any other up-sell scheme.  In this case, the feature they are 
trying to up-sell is precisely one of the biggest complaints their customers 
have had about the low-end product: the difficulty of getting manageable 
information from its output.

It would make sense to establish InfoPath at the baseline in order to improve 
the value of a product that they already know is profitable, and thus stay 
ahead of competitors.  Instead, they are costing themselves goodwill at the 
low end at a precise time when their cash cow is under threat (when InfoWorld 
rates OOo within a point of MS Office itself and customers look at the cost 
comparisons, this spells trouble: not immediately, because a great many still 
just buy what's bundled, but any manager of a successful product understands 
such threats).

Whenever people tell MSFT to open up its data formats (this does not mean give 
away products for free, as should be obvious), there is always somone who 
pounces, talking about how those folks just don't unedrstand business.  This 
rebuttal is usually nonsense.  It's this simple: all industries with mas 
markets go through initial periods where bubbles inflated from proprietary 
advantages swell profits.  They then eventally settle down into commodity 
busnesses where margins are tight, competition hot, and true innovation (along 
with uck becomes essential.  This has happened in consumer computing except in 
the couple of areas dominated by Microsoft.

They have been very skillful at maintaining their bubble, but anyone with eyes 
can see that it is about to pop.  Hardware manufacturers, under the same 
market pressures, have sliced the cost of computers so that it is rapidly 
approaching a situation whereas when you plunk down $600 for a Windows PC, 
you're paying $300 for the hardware and $300 for Windows and Office Lite.  Ths 
is not a tenable situation, and MSFT sems unable to see their own risk.

Do you think Walmart started selling $300 PCs with Lindows because they're 
open-source-loving commies?  No.  Thy did so because Walmart is every bit as 
esablished and ruthless a business as MSFT, and they see the market 
efficiencies of the Windows bubble.  There will be more and more people lining 
up to provide consumers with choices that redress these inefficiencies, and 
unless MSFT, as I said, fundamentally change their DNA, they could be end up 
collapsing when their bubble bursts, rather than surviving by adaptation to 
the marketplace.

Opening up the connection from the Office UIs to information with tools such 
as InfoPath would have been signs of such a change of DNA.  There would have 
been nothing charitable about it: they would have just started to understand 
where they desperately need to retain a superior value proposition.

Now we'll get to watch the market at work, in all its ruthless glory.

Uche Ogbuji                                    Fourthought, Inc.
http://uche.ogbuji.net    http://4Suite.org    http://fourthought.com
Gems From the [Python/XML] Archives - http://www.xml.com/pub/a/2003/04/09/py-xm
Introducing N-Triples - http://www-106.ibm.com/developerworks/xml/library/x-thi
Use internal references in XML vocabularies - http://www-106.ibm.com/developerw
EXSLT by example - http://www-106.ibm.com/developerworks/library/x-exslt.html
The worry about program wizards - http://www.adtmag.com/article.asp?id=7238
Use rdf:about and rdf:ID effectively in RDF/XML - http://www-106.ibm.com/develo


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