I think everyone knows the saying an optimist says the glass is half full, and a pessimist says it is half empty.
I've been doing the evangelist job for a year now. I spent 6 years working in Microsoft Consulting Services. For most of 1990s I wanted to be in consulting and I'd have loved to work for Microsoft, so it should have been my dream job. Eventually I had to admit that I was a Microsoft person but not an MCS person. There's nothing wrong with MCS, and there's nothing wrong with me, we just don't go together well. The culture is different working in evangelism, and it suits me very well – though my old friends who are MCS people wouldn't like it.
This week I've been doing some telephone interviews for people wanting to join the team and that's had me thinking about the good and bad of working here. I've mentioned this list before and I'll share it now for the benefit of anyone who is thinking of going to http://www.microsoft.com/uk/careers/ - life at Microsoft isn't perfect, but we have more than half a glass.
Things that rock
Things that suck
The people. Yes, I know it's a cliché. We really do get more than our fair share of the best people. So much so it often spooks new starters. One of our directors has a nice sound bite. "We have a very low a**hole quotient"
Everyone outside asking if you know Bill Gates personally. For the record, no I haven't met him.
The benefits package.( Salary is just a part). On top of all the usual benefits, one can buy and sell holiday, tune your health care and insurance benefits. Want a bike ? Gym membership ? Days at a health spa ? Childcare vouchers ? - it's all available. Not forgetting staff-purchase software and company funded social clubs
Everyone outside Microsoft thinking our base pay is two or three times what we're actually paid. I visited a customer on the same day that another visitor arrived in a Lambourgini – which the people I was seeing assumed belong to me.
Working environment. I can choose to work from home, and adjust my hours to fit my lifestyle. When I come into Microsoft Campus, it's a great place to go and do your work.
Hot desking. It's environmentally friendly and cost efficient. It even helps you meet a wider set of people. But I'd like a desk space to call my own.
Being at the heart of stuff. What we do affects so many people in so many ways. If everything Google has ever done were to vanish tomorrow people would just use another search engine. With Apple a lot of people would get a new music player and a few would get new computers. With Microsoft...
The constant drip of media criticism. A bug in Windows impacts more people than a bug in Linux, so we get held to a higher standard.
The resources of a big company. Other companies I've worked for just didn't have the resources to pull off some of the things Microsoft do.
Big company processes. Too much of what is outsourced goes to companies who aren't up to our internal standards. (Travel, IT telephone "help")
You might have picked up from the last point and a post I made earlier this week that I'm not a big fan of "process". When I meet some which is ridiculous I want to make seem all the more so. Last night in on the drive home I heard Mark Thomas on the Radio. Mark decided to poke fun at the "Serious Organised Crime and Police Act" – or strictly it's definition of what needed to go through the process of getting a permit to hold a demonstration. Rather than break the law Mark decided to apply for authorization for a lot of demonstrations. On being presented with 20 applications the Police officer who handles permit applications complained about the work he had to do "I share your pain" said Thomas "look at the first cause I'm demonstrating for." The office turned to the application "Cut police Paperwork".One of several places in the story I nearly drove off the road. If you have Real Player installed you can play the whole programme from the BBC website.
At the ‘heart of stuff’?! Pfffffffff. Instead of belittling what Google do, perhaps you should take a look at some of the other stuff they provide? Thanks to their 'Docs and Spreadsheets' I can access my documents on pretty much any PC (or Mac) with a browser and an internet connection and sharing and collaborating on my documents with colleagues and family takes seconds. I haven't even bothered installing Microsoft's unwieldy 'Office' software on my home PC or MacBook because the Google service is way more in tune with my needs. Yes, I've heard that Microsoft is going to come up with a similar service one day or something, but credit to Google for providing a working relevant service now. So, after you've taken your documents off that ‘cool’ looking USB memory stick on your car keys and placed them online where you can access them at home AND at your 'hot desk' and where share them and collaborate on them with ease, perhaps you'll have the time to check out Google's calender app, or have a go with Picasa organising and sharing all those lovely digital pics you take with the Pentax. So, now you don't need to carry round your USB memory stick anymore, why not just leave it stuck in your PC ALL the time? Vista is a bit of a resource hog and you can speed it up a fraction using ReadyBoost…
Personally, I'm looking forward to the Google OS which would mean that if everything Microsoft ever done were to vanish, we’d all just have to find another supplier for those invaluable bluetooth-notebook-high definition laser-presenter-volume controlling-mice thing-a-ma-bobs!
Ben. Don't confuse saying that for most people Google is search, with belittling them. Remember Google's CEO is Eric Schmidt who ran Novell when they took over word perfect to compete with Microsoft in the Office arena. Schmidt will always want to take us on there.
Storing information in the cloud may be useful, but why not use the power of the PC?
I grew up in the era of the Dumb terminal. People rejected it. People rejected the NC because - despite everything Larry Ellison said - people didn't see the future as replacing their office automation applications with ones which worked less well but ran in the browser.
The challenge for Google, and for us too, is to produce applications which use great services in the Cloud in combination with the power on the desktop.
The assumption that you're connected to the internet all the time is pretty flawed. I want to work on trains, planes, and in the back of taxis. We actually have a policy of not paying for wireless hot spot access.
I haven't transfered a file between my PCs with a USB stick in months - I just dump it into outlook or outlook web access. And I get superior calendaring with Outlook, Outlook web access, and Outlook mobile. (I don't think Google can push my appointments and contacts to my phone though I may be wrong, sync'd contacts isn't negotiable I'm afraid).
I've yet to meet a serious photographer who'll store pictures in the cloud. There are many reasons - some above. No one is offering enough space, and a suitable service level agreement - by which I mean a cast iron guarantee that the data is fully backed up. By the way in vista I've found being able to get back to the previous version has been a life saver on a couple of occasions. I don't see that being available in the cloud. I have to transfer the images back to my PC to work on them - no one sees a "Capture-one"/"Lightroom"/"photoshop" type app in the cloud. One shoot can be 5GB of data the upload and download times aren't workable.
What I want - and what Vista gives me and Picassa didn't when I checked - is something which makes the meta data stick to the file and not shove it in some other database. Then I want to be able to find my photos, music and documents in exactly the same way. I want to be able to run a slide show of my pictures on the TV via my games console (not avaiable with any solution that stores stuff in the cloud).
And streaming stuff to my TV means I want to capture Video and Music on a PC in one room and stream it in another. I want local storage. I want the local processing to play games. I want to work when the NTL broadband connection is down.
Don't neglect the barriers to entry in the OS market. Either you're talking about a computer so filleted that it's a dumb "browser terminal" (and that may be in tune with your needs) or you've got to see all the Windows applications and all the devices ported.
Oh, and don't confuse using memory that is there for being a resource hog.
I don't think I've become 'confused' over your comments about Google, whatsoever. I find your quote that 'If everything Google has ever done were to vanish tomorrow people would just use another search engine' is far too arrogant. Yes, you are an ‘IT Evangelist’ for Microsoft and this is your blog so I read it expecting a bias, but I don’t think you need to knock other companies that offer really good, usable, well thought out and useful services and applications! You’ve got to expect some ‘media criticism’ when try and put down your rivals like that. All I’ve tried to counter your sweeping statements (don’t even get me started on the Apple one …) not by Microsoft-bashing but by giving you some positive, light-hearted and real examples of the great services from Google (on top of the search engine) that I use, pretty much daily.
From your reply, you seem confused by a few of the points I’ve tried to raise; I’m not sure where you got it from, but I haven’t assumed that I’m ‘connected to the internet all the time’. I use Google Docs and Spreadsheets and Calendar mostly for personal documents and appointments. I rarely need or want access to my old letters, holiday plans or say my household inventory in the back of a taxi or a train but it’s very handy to have access to them at home, work or on holiday on the old PC in reception or to give my friends access to them without having to remember to physically carry them around. Fair enough, Outlook might well be a better calendaring client, but it’s handy for my friends and family to take a peek at my personal diary without having to buy an Outlook license, have a login on my work domain or for me to run my own personal Exchange server at home! It’s a simple service that is immensely useful. No need to even go into the ‘non negotiable sync’d contacts’; I didn’t raise it and it’s not even relevant for how I use the service!
Also, I didn’t say that you need to store all your digital negatives with an online service! I’m not sure about yours, but my folks don’t have a LightRoom, a RAW file viewer, the inclination to use that software or an internet connection with that much bandwidth! But, they do have a browser and the ease and simplicity of sharing our family photos with them (across countries and on their dial up connection) on Picasa is a real joy to me and them.
My flippant remarks about the Google OS and the Microsoft Wireless Presenter Mouse 8000 was just to counter your statement that all Google amount to is search… I happily admit that Microsoft, like Google do some really great products!
"no one sees a Capture-one"/"Lightroom"/"photoshop" type app in the cloud."
Is that no-one at Microsoft? http://news.com.com/2100-7345_3-6163015.html
Ben. To most people Google is search. Not Maps. Not Picassa. Not even G-mail. I don't know if that's 97% or 98% or 99%. I suspect you don't either.
But that wasn't my point. In an alternative history without Google, most of the world would still be using Alta-Vista - and you'd be using a diffferent on-line calendar and photo-sharing sevice.
Now try an alternative history without Microsoft. Would we have the low cost PC without a shared OS to level the playing field ? No. Without the pervasive GUI PC would the Internet have exploded the way it did 10 years ago? (Without that would there BE a Google ?).
Without the PC platform there wouldn't even be Linux. We wouldn't have had the digital photography revolution we've had over the last 5 years, or the move from Music on physical media to music as data files...
As for Apple, they're selling a lot more iPods than computers. They didn't invent the portable music playere. They didn't invent the idea of "personal" computers either - although they were the first to sell one in volume. And who wrote Apple Basic which powered it ? Why Microsoft of course. Without Microsoft would Apple have been there to do the Lisa? They were first to commecially exploit the GUI but the Lisa cost $20,000 in todays terms and the ideas came from Xerox.
The total impact Microsoft has had over its existence has been far greater than Apple or Google have had over theirs. Which isn't to say that the iPod is bad (current Mac hardware is some of the best for running Vista too) nor does it say that Google apps are bad. You can assume I'm arogant if you want... but if I were to argue our Market share doesn't mean we have much imapct, you'd laugh.
If you want to argue that the Google way is better and PC of the the last 25 years is dead, well... you're making the case for being able to access your data from the internet. That's not in dispute. But Suppose on my PC I had to use Seagate's word processor because I had a Seagate drive ? Why would I want to be tied to a given application because of where I store my data ? Why for that matter would I want a just-good-enough application ? "Becuase it runs in my browser" isn't the answer.
Hence my comment before the challenge for all of us is to provide services and local software which deliver more for the user.
I have everything on my laptop. So why would I want borrow a PC in reception or pay to use one on holiday to access my stuff ?
You can publish your outlook calendar without requiring the reader to have a license. And You missed the key point, my contacts, my calendar and my mail are all on my phone. You might never need to check where your next meeting is or call the person you're meeting. To have that information in your pocket is pretty liberating. (It's why we used to carry diaries). You might not find that useful but Millions of other people do.
I muddled up your call for a dumbed down NC style experience with what you said about Picassa. You see, you're saying on the one hand you don't want to keep your documents on a computer, and then start talking about uploading photos. If a PC is a good place to store and process stuff - photos, video, Music ... why not Word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, databases ?
And adobe are talking about something below even Photoshop elements, certainly not a Full Photoshop CS or Lightroom (or C1) in the cloud. Try to do a colour managed workflow in a browser ...
I still think you're a little too wrapped up is the MS corporate success and vision to see the whole picture.
Lets say I want to organise the holiday of a lifetime with some friends. We all want to collaborate on a calender, spreadsheet and text document to plan it. Using some easy services from Google, I can do that now from any browser and as a bonus, for free.
I'm sure you'll correct me (please feel free - I'd welcome the official Microsoft line on this scenario), but under the Microsoft 'way' I'll probably want my own server running SharePoint Portal server so I can create a site and then start sharing files and calenders with my buddies. Of course, we all need an Office license too. Then again, perhaps we could get Groove and an Office license. Add to those scenarios Exchange and we can have some really great things events pushed to our mobile calender. Great, but really worth it for a holiday...?!
Now it looks like you carry your laptop round with you on holiday, but personally I'd rather not take mine. In fact, I'd like to forget about my work life and files for just a little while then. But if I really need access to something vital, it's nice to know I can use the (free) PC in the reception to get at something important without having to carry say 5kgs of laptop and charger with me just for that off-chance!
So, my argument in all this is that sometimes the beauty lies in the simplicity. Yes, folks might have rejected the text based dumb terminal when you grew up but you can do a whole lot more from a browser today. Things change.
You are right and I haven't disputed that the mighty Microsoft have helped develop some stuff that has help us get where we are today with computing. Yes, I'm sure we're all eternally grateful for that. But... don't lie back on your laurels and disregard some of the other key players with your sweeping statements. Other companies have their fingers on the pulse and are doing good stuff too right now and I recommend you go take a look and even try using them...
In your first reply, you say that 'no-one sees a Photoshop type app in the cloud'; that press release that says Adobe themselves are working on producing an online version of their Photoshop app! I guess it's slipped under your radar so it looks like you've jumped to the extremes of expecting to do 'colour managed workflow' in a browser! Go ahead, use your PC and LightRoom package for that; but note that I haven't talked about putting or even working on your digital negatives online in this conversation, I have been talking about easily sharing the finished results of your photoshoots (and processing), holidays and family snaps with your friends, family, colleagues or whoever.
Perhaps one day you'll be able to process your photoshoots online; these things are developing at a lightening pace but you can't expect too much too soon. Good on Adobe for having a bit of vision.
Ben, we may just have to agree to differ. I take my laptop on holiday because I need somewhere to put all the pictures and to be able to burn them to DVD. It fits in the flight case with my cameras. The "holiday of a lifetime" scenario is one which comes up - well once in a lifetime. If I want the itinerary, or the hotel's phone number I want it in my pocket. So it goes on my smartphone. If you're at an airport checkin desk in kenya (the last place I went on holiday) it's no use asking them if they've got a PC with internet access you can borrow. I've yet to stay in a hotel which had free PCs for the guests - and since my holidays tend to be on diving boats I don't have internet access except via my phone.
Storage in the cloud is useful. But you haven't advanced a single argument that that binding that storage to a specific application is good.
You can set up a sharepoint site in Office live for free.
I've never argued that people should be "grateful" to "mighty Microsoft". Simply that we have had, and continue to have IMPACT. Even the people who knock us focus on the nature of the Impact. We don't have a lock on producing the best stuff, but we do have more impact that anyone else.
By the way, on hosted photoshop. I said 'no one sees a "Capture-one"/"Lightroom"/"photoshop" type app in the cloud. ' Here's what the press release you linked to says
" the hosted Photoshop service is set to be free and marketed as an entry-level version of Adobe's more sophisticated image-editing tools, including Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. " Even Adobe don't see this as a Lightroom /photoshop-CS type app.
You start this thread with 'An Evangelist will tell you if you looked from a different...' but I have to say that I'm a little disappointed that the rest of this sentence clearly wasn’t the 'different perspective' that I perhaps was expecting. You go on in that post to knock the competition and when I’ve tried to explain how actually your competition is making a useful contribution to computing and my life, you seem to completely fail to understand! Read my posts, I haven’t even tried to argue all these things like ‘binding that storage to a specific application is good’; I’ve simply tried to give you some good examples of how a couple of Google applications are useful. However, to each point I’ve made you’ve have taken your reply to the extreme. For example, sharing a few photos and you suddenly want ‘colour managed workflow’ or a shared calendar for a few friends to plan a holiday and you want it pushed to your mobile in the back of a taxi, I show you ‘Photoshop’ online but you don’t see the potential and it isn’t ‘Photoshoppy’ enough for you. I’m saying there is some real value in the services that Google provide; having an itinerary, insurance details and a scan of you passport all saved up there in the clouds is really handy when your laptop, smartphone or passport are stolen by pirates or fall overboard…!
I take it that setting up a SharePoint site in Office Live is the Microsoft solution to my holiday scenario? I hope you see that it still doesn’t allow me to share a document and spreadsheet without my friends having to own a copy of Word or Excel. Please try and understand that in this scenario, this really just isn’t as convenient as being able to edit and collaborate on documents from a browser. A friend doesn’t even have a computer at home (the philistine!) but they do have access to an internet browser (no Word, no Excel) during their work break. From there, they can add events to our shared calendar, access and work on our shared documents and spreadsheets. Neat, huh?! I guess you don’t agree. Perhaps there are people who like technology its own sake and people who just use technology to do stuff.
Anyway, I just tried to look at Office Live basic but it doesn’t work on my default browser. A quick switch to IE and it seems to be entirely business orientated; I really don’t think I need a domain just for a holiday? Then, you probably won’t believe this, but honestly I get this ‘We're sorry, the Microsoft Office Live Web service has encountered an unexpected problem in processing your request.’ I’m not going to start Microsoft-bashing but I’m sorry but this doesn’t exactly live up to my ‘Google experience’.
So, after all that, perhaps I am in the wrong, I stated this discussion because I felt that your comments on all Google have contributed to the world is a search engine is belittling of their achievements (which Microsoft are always trying to play catch up on e.g. Desktop Search) and yes, far too arrogant. Again Microsoft has achieved some great stuff and have that all powerful ‘IMPACT’ but come on, so do a few others. Anyway, I’ve looked up the word ‘evangelism’ and one definition is described as having ‘militant zeal for a cause’. In my opinion, it’s just a shame that cause doesn’t seem to encompass anything outside the Microsoft ‘church’. So, to finish the sentence ‘An Evangelist will tell you if you looked from a different perspective, you’re probably going to hell!” Good luck with the recruiting!
Ben. We've expended 3,500 words because you think the way I said Microsoft have acheive way more than Google or Apple was wrong.
I haven't knocked the competition. I simply said that Microsoft has had more impact than Google or Apple. To most people Apple is just the iPod and Google is just search. Microsoft is games consoles, and media, and office automation, and Instant messaging, and Hotmail, and PDAs and servers and the OS and Mice of course.
You haven't advanced any argument that google make a good word processor, spreadsheet or calendar. You simply make the case for being able to reach criticial information over the internet. That's never been in doubt.
But you refuse to admit that there is ever a situation where people want to work off line. When someone calls me when I'm not within reach of a browser (trains and Taxis being obvious cases) I need to be able to see what's in my calendar. Being able to call them back when I find a cyber cafe doesn't cut it.
These are more common situations than someone whose only access is via a Kiosk PC which has no office automation software (not even one of the Open Source products which reads Microsoft files).
If I had lost my Phone, computer, and all documents on my recent trip to Africa I wouldn't have had internet access and I would have needed someone to fax them to me.
You told me that the internet is a great vehicle to share snaps (been there, do that even on this blog see http://blogs.technet.com/photos/jamesone/tags/2006+India+Trip/default.aspx ) and I thought you suggested I put all my pictures there. Since most of pictures are shot in RAW format, I need an application which does what lightroom or Capture one do (convert a RAW file from the camera for viewing and printing - something which many people rely on photoshop for). The app Adobe plan doesn't do that.
You say I take your points to the extreme. I don't. If you expect anyone to change from the word processor, calendar, graphics tool etc they use to a different one you have to offer the key bits of functionality they have today, and something more. Mail, Calendar and contacts on the move are essential. That's why people buy Windows mobile devices, Blackberries, and the smart phones that Nokia et al make (a non Microsoft reference !). If want me to give up my PC for processing photos, give me lightroom in the cloud, not PC paintbrush.
As for the Microsoft "church". One can really only evangelize one faith. Someone who is an evangelist for the C of E can understand and respect Islam, but wouldn't make the case for people to convert to it.
As I see it the idea that computing and storing mostly-locally brings benefits is the key plank of the Microsoft "faith". Servers exist to bring deliver services to the desktop, not an end in themselves. It's something we share with (say) Apple, and a lot of the Linux community. Others (companies where Eric Schmidt has been, including Google) think computing and storage should be mostly-centralized - clients exist to consume data from the server, not an end in themselves. That is a pretty polarizing difference (Christian, Jew and Moslem all share a Mono-theistic view, which sets them apart from the Hindu )
People who don't want to get into holy wars see the challenge as creating things which use the power of both. Replacing good PC apps with "good enough" browser based ones doesn't deliver much to many people (though you can find special cases). And putting something like "Google Earth" on zillions of PCs would just be stupid (the volume and the updates) - it's the kind of application that needs to be centralized. But making it accessible in PC apps is smart.
James, you are knocking the competition. Quote: "If everything Google has ever done were to vanish tomorrow people would just use another search engine." That ISN'T the same as saying 'that Microsoft have more impact than Google' as you have tried to argue later. Your initial point IS saying that all Google amount to is a seatch engine to 'people'; I don't care about the percentages of people that use their search engine compared to millions that use their other services like gmail but I can tell you that I use them and I'm sure you can see that I feel passionately enough about them to try and show how your silly throw-away point is wrong. If you wanted to say that Microsoft have more impact than Google, perhaps you should choose your words more carefully.
I'm not counting the words in this thread, I've got better things to do; I just thought it was worth trying to show you a 'new perspective' but I'm sorry to say that it looks like I've wasted my time.
Hey Ben can't you cut and paste into your word processor and get a word count. Tsk. Tsk.
Maybe I should choose my words carefully, but then there wouldn't be a blog, it would be a set of press releases.
If I'd said "If all that the Coca-Cola company had ever done vanished, people would just drink another cola" you'd probably take me to task about all the people who drink Coca-Cola's other products, like sprite. Did you know Coca-Cola has a brand called "Bimbo" (I kid you not. http://www.thecoca-colacompany.com/brands/brandlist.html ) No ? Most people don't even know google has a word processor.
As impact goes, creating the search engine - making it good enough that it is the main way people get to stuff is a pretty big acheivement - buying You Tube isn't in the same league, and that has a lot more impact than buying writely.
James, I haven't argued that Microsoft don't have impact; read my posts. I've said that Google do great stuff and you should try using (or perhaps understanding) it before you knock them.
Lucky other smart folks at Microsoft seem to have caught on, that's why Microsoft are playing catch up on search, desktop search, docs and spreadsheets, earth etc. Imation is flattery and all that.
I haven't said (unlike you frequently seem to think) that you need to get rid of your laptop, smartphone or office apps. Yes, personally I can happily do without Office on my home desktop pc and macbook (and yes, Google docs does word counts, I guess you never tried it and quite why I would want to copy and paste this thread there defeats me?!) if I ever need to work on a document offline then I'll export it from Google Docs and Spreadsheets to say OpenOffice where I can do pretty much what I need for my home documents. Then I'll import it back when I am online. Perhaps my home life isn't as organised as yours. I don't need graphs, presentations, mail merge etc so yes, Google really is 'good enough' for what I need it for. I'm a little disapointed that you never helped on the holiday of a lifetime scenario.
In every reply, you seem to think I'm trying to herald the demise of the PC but you've missed the point. Thats not been my argument at all. Perhaps this constant need of yours to harp on about the (irrelevant) key plank of desktop storage and processing, impact, blah blah is due to an underlying insecurity? I know there was lots of talk about Vista being Microsoft's 'last desktop OS' and perhaps all this 'future' talk is unsettling?
My message is this: go ahead, use your PC, laptop, smartphone and Microsoft apps and yes, be HAPPY with them! In addition, why not try taking an optimistic look at a few other things with this 'new perspective' before you disregard them. People used to think that the world was flat and that iron ships wouldn't float. I'm excited about the future.
Like I've said all along, I haven't made any criticism of Google. I don't claim to understand everything that every other company does, heck I can't even claim to understand the majority of what we do. I notice in your first post you haven't bothered to install office (but judged it unwieldy). I haven't bothered to register for a Google account - apps in the browser are of no interest to me (and since my role is not focused on office it's miles not even close to being on my competitive radar - though I should spend some time understanding how Google's and Vista's desktop search implementations compare).
There is just too much stuff out there for you or I or anyone else to get it all.
As for copying and pasting the thread, I wondered just how many words had been expended on this. In 3 seconds I can copy the whole lot to word which now has a word count on the status bar. You said you had better things to do than count the words in the thread.
You started with the premise that with browser based apps you don't need applications which exploit the power of the PC. I don't buy that arguement. I didn't buy it when the argument was use a VT220 terminal emulator, or when the argument was use an NC or when the argument is use a "Win-term" to run applications via Windows Terminal Services. Which isn't to say these solutions don't have a niche.
I wouldn't take up a career in psychology if I were you. I've been evangelical about computing on the desktop for 25 years because my formative experience was with Apple IIs (Good) and a mainframe (Bad). I can be a bore about it. Yes some people thought we'd developed Windows as far as an OS could go with Vista, but we haven't (despite what our own hype might make you think).
The future I see is a richer one - the power of local computing combined with the power of services from the cloud. And very few people know what it will look like: but I'm pretty sure that basic word processing in a browser isn't it.
By the way for the holiday of a lifetime scenario I have groove. Most people I'd share documents with don't, but they can install the evaluation version which works forever (just doesn't let them create new workspaces of their own). I can't think of a friend or family member who doesn't have the ability to read DOC or XLS files - even the few who aren't running Windows.
I know a couple of non-technical people at Microsoft who have discovered Groove in recent months who are organizing their weddings with it.
Generally for these big one off events people are still happier with having the details on paper as a fall back. Personally I trust my smartphone, but that is only as good as its battery.
By the way, comments are automatically disabled after 7 days, so this thread has nearly run its course. You can always mail me.