Microsoft chief software architect Ray Ozzie believes Google’s drive into the enterprise applications space could be misconceived.
Although Google's success in dominating search, and its resulting ability to sell advertising, acted as a "wake-up call" inside Microsoft, Ozzie said Google's Docs & Spreadsheets, and other online rivals to Microsoft's Office suite, were not having the same impact because they represented a "trade-off" between cost and usability.
The man best known for creating Lotus Notes, said innovation, not imitation was required.
"The opportunity writ large for the industry and for Microsoft is not just to try to copy or duplicate the PC experience but to envision new sharing scenarios," said Ozzie. "I don't know that it serves our customers to jump out there and be reactionary and just try to slap some stuff out there on the Web."
Ozzie made his comments at a Goldman Sachs investor conference, and was responding to Google’s release of Google Apps Premier Edition, a US$50 (£25) -per-seat-per-year package that includes Docs & Spreadsheets, 10GB of mail storage and access to development APIs.
"In the pure Web model, the trade-offs are fairly substantial. You have to be online to use them," Ozzie said. That's not the model he sees Microsoft using.
"The way that I view the services opportunity related to productivity is really about more than just taking what's on the PC and putting it up on the Web," said Ozzie.
Google's online application, and others in the market, have been criticised for requiring an active connection to the Internet, making it impossible to work offline.
But the always-on requirement may change for Google.
Mozilla, which has partnered with Google in the past with Firefox, for example, will include support for offline applications running within the browser, according to planning documents posted on the Mozilla site.
The developers of Firefox 3.0 have stated that offline application support is "required as a minimum for this release to be complete.
Mozilla expects Firefox 3.0, now dubbed "Gran Paradiso" to launch later this year.