Meanwhile Web 2.0 apps from several sources, and significantly the emerging online suite (Mail, Calendar, Spreadsheet, with Mail acting as a slim word-processor) from Google, are providing many of the features and most of the usabilty of Works. The only significant lack is a database and a rich editor with mail-merge capabilities; hardly beyond the capabilities or resources of Google.
So what are the possible forms that a Works re-release might take? That depends on how much Microsoft are willing to invest; ranging from nearly nothing to say 4 person years of work, here are some options:
- free online download of Works, possibly supplemented by contextual ads (say based on the content of your document)
- a pseudo-online solution where Works would be offered as an ActiveX plug-in within Internet Explorer; different Works app-lets would be loaded into different plug-in instances
- Works with integration to Windows Live Spaces
- Works Extra Lite, with some infrequently used but bulky features like spell-checking and file conversions off-loaded to a Microsoft server
On the other hand, if they decided to make OneNote freely available online, add a spreadsheet, simple database and blogging capability - now that would be interesting as it would offer a rich user experience and a different feature set.
There are a few ways this could play out:
- MS could offer OneNote as I outline above
- Google could decide to offer richer offline but web-integrated versions of their apps, with integrated Google (re)search facilities
- OpenOffice.org could add journalling capabilities