Six months ago, when I asked if online collaborative word processors would ever threaten MS Office, I got booed off the blog stage. Now that Google has bought Writely, Techdirt seems to think I might not have been a complete idiot:

“For the longest time, Google has been extremely

careful not to poke directly at Microsoft’s core OS or office suite

business…but now it’s been confirmed that Google has purchased the online word processor Writely.

It will be interesting to see what they do with it, but this does seem

to fit with Google’s past moves. Rather than just a word processor

clone, Writely’s advantage is in its collaborative tools, leveraging

the benefits of being a web-based app. Google has always said they

didn’t want to just copy Microsoft, unless it was doing something in a

different, more sensible way — and Writely qualifies on that regard.

It’s interesting that their first move is to actually shut the system

down for new users (existing accounts still work, as far as I can see),

as they move the system over to Google’s architecture. It will be worth

watching just how long this takes, and if it will cause any problems.

Still, Microsoft will likely view this as a much more direct attack —

especially coming so soon after Microsoft’s new focus on its ‘Live’

strategy. Bet you can’t wait to see the response.”