Up in the cloud

May 24, 2020

Microsoft releases a modular framework for people to collaborate on data:

Microsoft is creating a new kind of Office document. Instead of Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, the company has created Lego blocks of Office content that live on the web. The tables, graphs, and lists that you typically find in Office documents are transforming into living, collaborative modules that exist outside of traditional documents.

Microsoft calls its Lego blocks Fluid components, and they can be edited in real time by anyone in any app. The idea is that you could create things like a table without having to switch to multiple apps to get it done, and the table will persist on the web like a Lego block, free for anyone to use and edit.

It looks like an enhanced version of python notebook that supports collaboration. The most interesting thing is how it enables synergy among MSFT SaaS products:

What was interesting was seeing someone grab a table from a Word document and drag it to a chat window, and then watching two people edit that table in real time from within those two different applications.

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In theory it sounds intuitive and appealing, I for one have many times referred to a whole Google doc when trying to use just a table in it, other times I just copy and paste the table. It does sound like market hype, but think about how the entire eco system can become:

Teams is the user interface (and by the way, it’s worth noting that Microsoft also demonstrated explicit Teams app development), the web is the I/O layer, Fluid is the API, and the Microsoft Graph is the data layer. Actual operating systems like Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android are basically OEMs.

See? People always talk about the ultimate platform that dominates the market: first PC/Windows, then mobile (Android/iOS). Who’s next? Not messaging/chatbot. Not VR. Not blockchain. Def not transportation. Maybe cloud/SaaS then? The good thing about the cloud is it really doesn’t care about what device you use to access the software: web, mobile, or computer - they are just the I/O layer.

It is not about Microsoft: cloud is a 100B market and still expanding. The good thing about cloud is it doesn’t have a (duo)-monopoly player(s) like the prior platforms do: there are plenty relatively small but rising players that serve verticals: Slack, Okta, Workday, Datadog, etc.

As a final note just look at how crazy the growth of Azure (Microsoft cloud branch) is:

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