Duet is a technology AFTER its time.
So says Vinnie Mirchandani, an ex-Gartner Analyst, in his blog about Duet/Mendocino. There is no one - not users, not vendors, not buyers and not even analysts that disagree that connecting up Office with enterprise information is a need whose time has been past due. People have wanted it, asked for it and salivated for it for years.
Yet, enterprise vendors and Microsoft did not provide credible, do-able options for Office users. Not till Duet. The noise over Duet is like a collective nodding of heads. In agreement over the need to get the enterprise knowledge worker access enterprise information on his tools. Not too many people have looked beyond their nodding heads to figure out just how limited or how expensive the Duet option is. Duet is limited to SAP and Microsoft, needs upgrades in both these systems, needs a lot of expensive middleware, and will be a bear to manage and deploy.
The fact that enterprise vendors did not provide credible options is really strange. Office interfaces have been hogging mindshare and time-share of users for years and years now. To connect them up to enterprise applications is surely a no-brainer. But it did not happen. Certainly not because of technology hurdles. There were options provided even in earlier Office 2000 versions that developers could use to build bridges between Office and enterprise apps. There is a whole thriving community of vendors who did just that. However, no large enterprise vendor seriously thought about the needs of desktop users. They were too busy chasing the new devices (mobile), or the new interfaces (portals) or perhaps even architectures, or buying over other players.
The entire Office users market place has been lying fallow for years.
Duet has moved on this fallow land and staked it claim on its future harvest. With Duet, SAP and Microsoft have established an early lead in the Office interface market. This market is huge. SAP executives have said that they expect Duet to not just double, or triple - but grow its user base by FOUR times. That is some market!
The desktop interface is easily the most lucrative interface market going at this time. Every person in the enterprise is a potential user, and each one of them can potentially pay for connectivity to enterprise information. Duet is the first player, but its approach is so seriously flawed that the next entrant with a leaner, meaner and extensible technology can easily obliterate the gains made by Duet. This could happen before the next wave of "value packs", as called by the Duet team are delivered.
The browser wars are over, and irrelevant. The next war will be for the desktop interfaces. It should be fun to see how it unfolds.
I am going to talk about the chinks in the armour for Duet in a while. Watch this space!