I have to say, it is refreshing to see a story with a figure in the billions that isn't referring to losses or bailouts of any kind. Even though Microsoft has been criticized for moving its software to the cloud too slowly, its timing can't be too bad. The sad state of the economy may lead to stellar revenues for online Office and other apps, says Microsoft Business Division President Stephen Elop.
A full picture of the Windows Azure cloud computing OS and of the details of Office online are coming some time in 2009. And in five years, according to Elop: Half of the revenue for Exchange, SharePoint and Dynamics CRM will come from online versions. InformationWeek's John Foley writes that at current sales and growth rates, SharePoint online could be a billion-dollar business within three years; SharePoint along with Exchange, Dynamics CRM, Office Communications and other online software could be a billion-dollar cloud business within two years. Foley leaves Office itself out completely.
Elop says the desire among businesses to help their bottom lines as much as possible with online software is stronger than ever, thanks to the economy. Foley says that's something almost all the other cloud vendors already know.
Elop promises that customers can expect to hear more shortly about a range of options for Office applications: "ad-funded, subscriptions-based, traditional licensing fees, and so forth."