Interview with WPS product expert Sic: How does a 32-year-old software fight time?

Many people will be a little surprised to say that the WPS software under Kingsoft Office has a history of 32 years since the first version. In the long history of Chinese software development, it has never fallen behind, but it has never been out of the ordinary. It is low-key to the point that even though it has more than 400 million monthly active users, there are very few discussions about it on social networks.

The person who cares most about how others evaluate WPS may be WPS's own product managers and engineers.

In the elevator entrances of the Zhuhai Jinshan headquarters office, the wallpaper posted is not decorative flowers, birds, fish, or insects, but the user's list of WPS products last month. As long as you enter and exit the elevator, you will inevitably see the user's real feedback.

This may be a profile of the reason why WPS has not become the cannon fodder of the times, and very few domestic software can span such a long cycle. The four words "Everlasting Foundation" are simple to say, but knowledge is easy and hard to do. Especially in the Internet industry that believes in speed and growth, it is a difficult choice to choose the 100-meter sprint or to march towards the marathon track.

32 years of precipitation and changes

▲ Sic at the press conference

WPS product expert Sic said to Ai Faner:

Because the demand for office has always existed, it is impossible for WPS to hang up.

But the strong connection between WPS and office can only show that the track is always there, but the real key lies in how WPS beats the opponent. In other words, as Internet practitioners often say: It is often not your competitors that beat you, but the dimensionality reduction blow from another dimension, just like WeChat replaced SMS and Fetion.

Therefore, Sic, who has been in the software industry for more than ten years, has revealed another reason: the PC Internet era before the mobile Internet, in fact, the times have not changed so fast. Documents are the main content of office processing. This is the meaning of WPS: Writer, Presentation and Spreadsheets, corresponding to Office's three-piece Word, PPT and Excel. With the good compatibility of WPS to various file formats, it can survive in the PC Internet era and even in the early days of mobile Internet.

The real challenge comes from challenges other than document processing tools. For example, online documents such as Graphite Documents and Tencent Documents have benefited from mobile and cloud applications, which have replaced many local document software usage scenarios.

Compared with some online documents focused on refreshing interface functions, WPS is too complicated. Complexity is a neutral word, it can be extended to "messy" or "powerful".

After I talked about the problem of missing blank lines when copying and pasting an online document, Sic said:

This is a matter of complexity.

Because when you only have two functions, the complexity is the square of n, because there are only a few permutations and combinations, but when you have more than 200 functions, even when our table has more than 400 functions, With more than 700 features, how do you make them work together?

Microsoft Office has also been introduced step by step over the years. Our most valuable asset is our self-developed kernel engine. This is what we can do. This is also what I discovered after coming here for a while. Point, it has accumulated so many technical capabilities.

This is why WPS can exist for 32 years in Sic's eyes, and the number one reason for fighting time: continuous technological precipitation.

The precipitation of technology comes from the constant persistence from Qiu Bojun (founder of Jinshan) to Lei Jun (former CEO and chairman of Jinshan) to the next generations of programmers.

The precipitation of technology is the root of WPS, which enables it to withstand the test when the wind changes, but instead of fighting the wind, it is better to go to the wind.

In order to cope with the drastic changes in the mobile Internet era, the first thing Sic needed to do when he came to Jinshan to work a few years ago was "change."

On November 21, 2018, WPS Office 2019 was released. This major version update led by Sic is one of the most changed versions in the history of WPS. It changed the original form of bulk components into a unified software, which greatly changed User habits.

At this time, WPS is already a bit like a browser. Of course, this is not an accidental coincidence. After all, Sic was one of the founders of the well-known domestic browser Maxthon before coming to Jinshan.

In the WPS Office 2021 version released on December 1, there are more browser-like places. In addition to basic document processing tools, this version of WPS provides a lot of services that are not provided by Kingsoft Office. For example, OFD's processing power comes from Data Science Netwei; smart data type financial data comes from Wind Information; brain maps, The flowchart processing capability is provided by processon…

This mode is a bit like a "plug-in" in the Chrome browser, users can choose specific services according to their needs.

As a result, the connotation of WPS has officially changed from "Writer, Presentation, Spreadsheets" to "Workspace, Platform, Service", the most important of which is Platform (open platform).

Sic talked about the reasons for this change:

Because if you look at the field of office in depth, in fact, his needs are very extensive. Even if our company has more than 2,000 people, it is impossible to meet all these needs.

Some industries and even verticals have a lot of business and technical thresholds. It's not that you can do it as a company if you want to. And as far as we are concerned, we do not expect ourselves to eat alone. There is no benefit to being a big one. It should fully encourage competition in this industry so that users can enjoy better office services.

Kingsoft Office is listed, how does WPS break the industry curse?

As the most important product of Kingsoft Office, WPS supports the listing of Kingsoft Office on the Science and Technology Innovation Board and has achieved a very good market value.

But in fact, tool software is easy to fall into the curse of "many users, low frequency of use, and difficult profitability", which makes many manufacturers of tool software unable to develop to the market or obtain a high market value after listing.

But WPS helped Jinshan Office get rid of this curse.

If we talked about why WPS can survive the cycle and fight time, then as a free tool-type software, how does WPS break the industry curse?

First of all, as a free alternative to Microsoft Office, WPS is now very different from the former. If it is always positioned as the "flat replacement" of Office, even if WPS can develop for 32 years, it will not support a listed company today.

Sic said:

In the field of traditional document processing, Microsoft is the definer of the format standard, so we cannot surpass him, but if we look at other related office services, we have a great opportunity to do a good job, especially the service Given the office environment and service system of Chinese users, why do we define our WPS client as an open platform instead of an ordinary office platform, because the needs of users are too diverse.

This is another key word besides Platform: Service.

In the U.S. stock market, there are many successful companies doing XaaS business, some are SaaS (software as a service), some are Paas (platform as a service), and some are Baas (back-end as a service), but services are always the same. .

Sic added:

In fact, it can be seen from the development of WPS for so many years. From the beginning, the word processing software below has become a three-piece set on Windows. Now so many PDF brain map flowcharts and various services have been added. , You will obviously feel that, in fact, the future of office work must be diversified, and you can’t define it with a three-piece suit.

WPS must change its definition, so what is our definition? That is service, because you document processing, information processing is actually a kind of service.

Then why can't our client become a platform that connects all the devices of all systems and bring these services to these operating systems and devices? The services that exist on it, whether self-developed or third-party cooperation, as long as it can bring efficiency and value to users, we think it is worthwhile.

After the transformation from tools to services, it actually solved a problem that users were unwilling to pay. At present, most paying users of WPS come from member value-added services and content resource services. WPS hopes that basic document processing capabilities will be provided to everyone as a popular open capability, and more profits will be obtained through services.

After WPS becomes a platform, its service capabilities become more diverse, which can also solve the problem of low frequency of tool-based software.

WPS is too complicated? AI to solve this problem

The function and simplicity of the software have always been a contradiction: on the one hand, users want the software to be omnipotent, and on the other hand, they want the software interface to be simple and clear.

Office software is the carrier of this kind of intensification of contradictions. Although one can often see people saying "proficient in Office" on job resumes, in fact, the power and complexity of Office is extremely difficult to master.

This is a bit like Ps retouching software, which is powerful and complex. But for many non-professional users, many photo-retouching software has begun to provide scene recognition and one-click retouching functions, the key ability of which comes from AI.

In the field of document processing, AI actually has a similar development path.

For example, in WPS 2021, there are already many functions provided by AI: PPT beautification, photo recognition, structured writing assistant, smart proofreading, full text translation and so on.

But compared with the optimization of scene recognition and one-click retouching in taking pictures, this is still slightly more complicated and not foolish enough. However, Sic still described some future document processing scenarios to me:

From our point of view, in the future, the greatest value a person can output is his creativity and his thoughts. What do we hope AI can achieve? You only need to express your creativity and ideas, and AI will help you do everything afterwards. Not only "you give it an outline, it will give you an article", AI can even help you interview.

In fact, in the view of Sic and WPS, there is still a long way to develop AI in the office field in the future. Within Jinshan Office, they divided the development of AI capabilities into 5 stages. Now Jinshan Office is in the second stage.

Although Sic did not say which stages they are, compared to the five levels of autonomous driving, the current L2 stage AI office ability is to help users take the initiative to make some decisions.

Sic said:

AI exists to reduce the complexity of functions, so we have many directions related to this. In the future, you may see that the interface of WPS may not be so complicated, because AI will do many things for you.

After we become a service, so many services, users don't know which ones they will use, so in the future, we will increase investment in service search.

Not only recommendation but also search. Through users’ behavior and habits, we will continue to improve our AI recommendation capabilities, because one is the ability to perceive and the other is enough data to analyze and get results. It's all progressing slowly, and this thing cannot be in place in one step.

In fact, this is no longer the category of mobile Internet.

In the PC Internet era, WPS relies on strong format compatibility. In the mobile Internet era, WPS can survive on the previous technological precipitation, and actively seek changes, and quickly enter the online, cloud and intelligent stage.

In fact, WPS has always maintained a keen sense of changes in the times, Sic said:

On the mobile terminal, we were mainly reading ability at the beginning. Now you will find that the iPad has a keyboard and mouse pairing. At this time, we will start to put more editing capabilities and support on the tablet terminal, which means we are compliant. The equipment changes in line with this market trend.

Although it seems that WPS has been doing the same thing for 32 years, in fact it has begun to do the same thing on different devices, different platforms, and in different forms of interaction.

The platform of the future may be more than just computer phones and tablets. Sic and Kingsoft Office have also been paying attention to the development of cutting-edge technology, such as brain-computer interfaces, etc. The shape of the future platform will also be closely related to the development of AI technology.

In their minds, the ultimate form of AI office in the future has taken shape, and what they are doing now is to decompose the path and determine the coordinates according to the final goal.

In the plastic greenhouse of destiny, every cabbage that has been sprayed with too much pesticide has a dream of becoming a pollution-free organic vegetable.

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