Pre-MIX Mishmash

mix08-logo.gifMIX — which is more or less Microsoft’s version of Adobe’s MAX — is just around the corner and the rumors are flying regarding potential announcements around Microsoft’s Web application strategy (or, perhaps more accurately, “strategies”).

Ryan Stewart cites Michael Arrington’s TechCrunch post speculating that Microsoft may announce offline capabilities for Silverlight. Stewart correctly clarifies Arrington’s assertion that an offline version of Silverlight would “compete with Adobe Air” by pointing out that adding offline capabilities (by, for example, including SQLite features to the runtime) would move Silverlight architecturally closer to Google Gears than to AIR. We’ll see what Microsoft actually announces, but there’s a significant difference between providing local data storage for browser-hosted applications and providing full local file access and desktop integration.

Meanwhile, Nick Carr hears that “Microsoft has begun briefing its large enterprise clients on an expansive and detailed strategy for moving its software business into the cloud.” According to Carr’s sources, Microsoft will “lay out a roadmap of moves across three major areas: the transformation of the company’s portfolio of enterprise applications to a web-services architecture, the launch of web versions of its major PC applications, and the continued expansion of its data center network.”

As with the first story, the details matter. There’s a major difference between the first two of the three areas Carr mentions. Microsoft has been talking about their “software plus services” strategy for some time, and their approach thus far has been firmly rooted in adding Web-based enhancements to their traditional desktop applications. It will be revealing to find out to what extent Microsoft intends to supplement this strategy by deploying “web versions of its major PC applications.”

MIX in only a few days away. It will be interesting to see whether one or both of these rumors proves to be true and, equally important, what the details turn out to be. Stay tuned.

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