Microsoft goes 365

Microsoft decided that having weekly updates of its flagship product is not enough. Now, with Office 365 there will be weekly updates for its Web-based productivity pack. Is it good, bad or irrelevant?

As companies bravely explore cloud- and subscription-based software, they cross the invisible line. They leave the well-known product-based world of shrink-wrapped software boxes and move into the relationship-based one. They leave the world of plain reliability and enter the world of trust.

Which means: it is less important what the features of the software you buy are. It is more important whether the company you buy it from is trustworthy. It is important whether you and your data will be served well throughout years to come or whether you will be left with no data or data in an incompatible format a year or two down the line.

Yes, it is more about trust than ever. It is more about ‘trustworthy software’ meaning ‘software from a trustworthy provider’ than ever. This, incidentally, is exactly what I think ‘trustworthy software’ really means.

On the personal level, some of us are of course mildly annoyed when Facebook changes its privacy policy overnight or when LinkedIn redesigns its front page. They always believe this is ‘better’, but we may doubt sometimes whether it is better for us or for them. We may have our doubts whether they are still trustworthy. Some of us get so disappointed that they commit the Facebook suicide.

While it is a problem on the private level, on the corporate level, this may be a disaster if the provider decides to update, redesign or modify the feature that is the key to your business. Say, improve the database so that your data becomes inaccessible. Or possibly update the API so that your applications starts looking ugly. If you were long enough in the industry you know exactly what I am talking about.

Microsoft believes it is trusted by its customers enough to take them for the ride of weekly updates. Time will tell whether they are right or whether it is just their pipe dream. They are right with one thing, though: they know that this is all about trust. If your customers trust you, they will follow you into the cloud and subscription. If you betray them, you will be there alone. You will be ready for chapter 11.

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