Sayeth Martin Wells (about ajax apps really starting to kick ass):
If you don't believe me, then take a look at ajaxWrite. No really, click on the link, go into the app. It's amazing. After a few seconds of loading you'll have a simple version of Word running right in the browser.
I hadn't bothered to check out ajaxWrite before now because I'm already using Writely and think that is terrific. But Marty got me off my ass and I was REALLY impressed with how fast ajaxWrite loads, no sign up, nothing to install... all of a sudden you have a word processor running in your browser that looks and feels just like Microsoft Word (okay okay without the 20 extra toolbars you know you never use anyway).
Marty goes on to say:
What happens when the online applications do things that the desktop counterparts can't, such as third-party services integration. Imagine if Microsoft wanted to update Word to let you search or upload photos in Flickr. They would need to write the code and then blast it down to millions of machines. A trivial update like that is never going to happen. But an online service like ajaxWrite could roll out such a feature overnight.
If you run a Microsoft partner business out there right now, you need to be thinking about this stuff. Don't let these ajax apps bite you on the ass. Make sure someone inside your team is goaled on keeping abreast of these new apps and do a regular internal brownbag to the rest of the team to keep them apprised. Especially if you are working in the intranet / "Sharepoint" space. Forget about uploading Word documents into shared workspaces and checking in, checking out, etc. With Writely and ajaxWrite, everyone just works on the same document which lives in the cloud. What kind of solutions can you build for your corporate clients around this idea? They don't have to buy Sharepoint and pay the $100 CAL for everyone in the company (or whatever the CAL is these days). They access it through a browser. Security? Backup? Support? All opportunities for you to solve. Someone is going to solve these things. Trust me on that. If I wasn't TPN'ing, I'd be out there selling this stuff to every smart CIO in the country. They are all dying to reduce their exposure to Microsoft (whether or not they should be worried about such things is another matter). The upside for them in trialling these apps is huge (if for no other reason than the bargaining power it will give them come EA renewal time). If you're the guy/girl that keeps the CIO abreast of these opportunities, I reckon you've got a good chance of becoming a trusted adviser.
And if you really want to do something cool, start thinking about the implications of ajax apps for the SME space. A lot of the issues that plague an enterprise CIO aren't in the top ten for someone running an SME. They want fast, cheap, easy. Show them a world where the applications run in a browser. Nothing to buy. Nothing to install. Nothing to upgrade. Nothing to support. IT JUST WORKS. At Microsoft, BillG used to call that "Win-Tone". Where your software was as simple and reliable as picking up the telephone and knowing you are always going to get a dial tone. IT JUST WORKS. If you've got internet access and a browser, you've not only got all of your documents stored in the cloud, but you've also got your applications.
By the way, Microsoft's been doing this stuff for ages. Any of you who have accessed Exchange Server via a browser using Outlook Web Access know what I'm talking about. I remember when MSFT finally got that working internally, it was a major revelation.