Monday, June 21, 2010

Microsoft volleys back with Office 2010!

VS. ( + )
For the past couple of years Google has been growing at the expense of Microsoft. Microsoft search is practically unheard of compared to the verbed "Google", and the newly tooled Bing still has a ways to go. To their merit, though, Microsoft has usually been a half-step behind in the world of the Internet, but when it comes to their bread-and-butter it seems Microsoft is still a power to contend with.

I am talking about Microsoft Office, the powerhouse of the Office Suites and probably one of Microsoft's best products. While MS Office has been taking hits from the free and open sourced, it seems that with Office 2010 Microsoft has just leapfrogged and is taking the fight right up it's closest rival; Google Docs. is a contender to the Microsoft Office, but only on the desktop. For most people this was a perfect alternative to shelling out hundreds of dollars, while at the same time being able to open and save existing Microsoft Office files. Additionally, OpenOffice was "true" cross-platform, in that it worked in Windows, OS X *and* other flavors of Unix including Solaris, Linux and BSD. OpenOffice provides the 20% functionallity that 80% of users actually use, and look to be growing into a true peer-to-peer contender.

Meanwhile Google has come out with their own Office Suite called Google Docs. The catch was that it resided 100% on the internet, which means you can access it from anywhere, anytime, and could even upload existing MS files, Open Formats, PDFs and now any file type. Even better, since it resides on the internet it makes collaboration as simple as determining what access you want people to have, and the URL.

Microsoft's answer?Office 2010 provides an integration of local application, cloud application and free file storage, something I've seen as the next big step for Cloud Apps! The other important milestone will be if the online version of Office 2010 is available for an Enterprise to install on their own servers and be able to control the files storage/save/delete policies. If Office is able to do this, the both OpenOffice and Google are going to need to be fast on their feet to keep up.

Office can be installed, just like OpenOffice, onto a Windows system and in that aspect the competition between them is the same. Office is still Windows-only, while is cross-platform and does the 20% people use an office suite for.

Where Microsoft Office leapfrogs OpenOffice is that files can easily be stored in your personal SkyDrive and can be shared and collaborated on. This is new, and a direct volley over Google's bow that cannot be ignored! Even if Google Docs is better (currently), there is no doubt that Microsoft's existing Office user-base and experienced marketing machine is going to be a force to reckon with. One can even argue, Microsoft knows Office.

Alone, these two features, native client and cloud, would be incremental steps in fighting the two-sided Office front against two strong competators but combining the local and the cloud means Microsoft is providing what Openoffice cannot (cloud-connection) nor Google (native client).

Competition is good, and it is good to see Microsoft is rising to keep Google on their toes! Can't wait to see what Google uses to fire back!