Despite Microsoft's cloud push, some Office power users prefer offline software

In late February, Microsoft launched new business versions of Office 365, its subscription based software service with heavy ties into cloud servers. Even Microsoft's new Office 2013 stand alone software has cloud features, such as saving documents to SkyDrive and the use of the free Office Web Apps.

Yet, even though Microsoft is trying its best to convince its Office customers to use cloud features, there are still some people who are going to stick with the standard offline features of Office. PCWorld.com reports that these people are mainly "power users" of Office; in other worlds, the customers that routinely use more than the fraction of features that most other Office owners don't bother accessing.

Many of these Office owners enjoy the fact that Microsoft Excel can use of macros to automate tasks, which can work slower when used on a web-based application. There are also compatibility issues that crop up between documents created for offline use when viewed in web-based applications. Then there's the issue of security in terms of uploading documents and files to a cloud server instead of storing them offline. Finally, there's the risk of cloud server downtime, something that has happened on more than one occasion.

So even though Microsoft and other companies may want to move customers to the cloud, people like Tim Lynch of PC maker PsychsoftPC plan to stick with old fashioned PC software products. Lynch says:

I prefer a traditional software package because it's not subject to Internet speed or availability, it's as fast as my PC can make it, big corporations like Google can't see what I'm writing or use it for advertising or sell my info to other advertisers, and my stuff is stored on my PC under my control, not in some unnamed server in some ambiguous cloud in some unnamed country.

Source: PCWorld.com | Girl pouting image via Shutterstock

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28 Comments

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I agree with Lynch. I will never put company documents on cloud, except those wich are already public like general offers or product specifications. Internal documents should be keep internal, not on servers located in the cloud. From what i know, US law says that documents in the cloud belong to the US and they have all the rights to acces them.

"I prefer a traditional software package because:

it's not subject to Internet speed or availability,
it's as fast as my PC can make it,
big corporations like Google can't see what I'm writing or use it for advertising or sell my info to other advertisers,
and my stuff is stored on my PC under my control,
not in some unnamed server in some ambiguous cloud in some unnamed country."

well, said.

PCI-DSS is another one for credit cards.

Besides, WTH would I move to the cloud when I can upgrade my SharePoint farm to 2013 on my home Pc when my O365 subscription still hasn't been upgraded yet by them?

Could somebody please explain to me how Office 365 users are barred from storing files offline or using the Office apps without an internet connection?

Or is this restriction completely imaginary?

Joshie said,
Could somebody please explain to me how Office 365 users are barred from storing files offline or using the Office apps without an internet connection?

Or is this restriction completely imaginary?

They are not barred to do so, although, by default, 2013 saves files on the cloud.

It's exactly the same installation really, the difference is the buying scheme; 1) when you buy “Offline” you pay upfront and get Office 2013, updates and maintenance for it, but that's it, no Office 2016 or forwards. 2) When you buy “Online” you start paying a monthly fee, which by the time Office 2016 is available would add up to the same amount. It's like buying it up to 36 months without interests, which is good mainly for some companies, or perhaps customers, and keeps on going until you cancel it. But, the thing is that most companies or customers do no upgrade each iteration, they keep Office 2003 or 2007 working 10 years or more if they can. So a renting scheme would make MS more money with those users having to pay for each release with easier monthly payments. I think, I came to this doing the math myself.

Edited by VHMP01, Mar 14 2013, 5:42am :

Those pesky customers! I wonder if MS might start questioning their so called experts now that customers are clearly not ready to follow Microsofts set path for them.

Personally i don't think why i should add cloud to my pipeline. My current pipeline is "offline edition", then email.

I'm happy to sync my docs through SkyDrive and use Outlook for the odd email and to view the occasional document using the Office web apps but when it comes to writing a big essay it's always gonna be Office 2010 for me XD

Office 2013 can do the same thing, with the added ability to natively access those files from SkyDrive if you so desire. Office 2013 isn't cloud-only, but it does provide all the necessary hooks for people who wish to use both environments.

I'm primarily offline myself, but I do use my SkyDrive account to store some Office files, and Office 2013 allows me to edit them using the power of Office on my computer, Office Web Apps when I'm roaming for quick edits, and Office on my Windows Phone for the on-the-go changes that the documents are primarily on SkyDrive for.

Both of those are regulations that apply to specific user classes (healthcare and financial services, respectively) and have to do with records-security; for users bound by either (enterprise or not) the security requirements (and compliance costs) can make using cloud services daunting, if not impractical. For others users, the reason is ENTIRELY preference-driven (while I have customers that ARE bound by HIPPA and FERPA, neither applies specifically to me; while I HAVE used O365, I prefer offline use).

Don't forget the big one, ITAR.

And if you do business for a company bound by HIPPA, FERPA, ITAR, you also have to follow it or you can be held liable.

I'm a primarily offline user (in that I don't edit or view files in the web interfaces), but still benefit from the totally automated synchronization of documents across my home and work computers.

Doh! The online apps were hardly ever aimed at such power users in the first place. Microsoft's push to the cloud is to capture a completely different segment of users. Even their enterprise editions of Office 365 includes access to the desktop versions of office.

not forgetting if you are legally bound by things like HIPPA, FERPA etc. which brings up a whole other set of issues with cloud computing/storage.

HSoft said,
not forgetting if you are legally bound by things like HIPPA, FERPA etc. which brings up a whole other set of issues with cloud computing/storage.

yeah, the regulations we are bound to forbids us to put information like that on a public service that we can not guarantee is secure....

DarkNet said,
Absolutely true. Cloud computing for jobs like those is not there yet.
You can do it... it just costs a ton of money since MS will actually setup isolated datacenters for you etc. There are private companies who already do this for other highly regulated verticals like banking.

MrHumpty said,
You can do it... it just costs a ton of money since MS will actually setup isolated datacenters for you etc. There are private companies who already do this for other highly regulated verticals like banking.

Hence why it isn't ready yet. It till it becomes cheaper to implement for situations like this. Isolated is the best way for now. I never said it couldn't be done; it's just not ready.

DarkNet said,

Hence why it isn't ready yet. It till it becomes cheaper to implement for situations like this. Isolated is the best way for now. I never said it couldn't be done; it's just not ready.
Yea for small doctors offices or doc-in-a-box companies there's no way it's going to show up outside of someone specifically targeting that vertical.