Editorial

Office 365 is not aimed at Google

There’s been a lot of talk surrounding the launch of Microsoft Office 365 and its purpose as a “pointed attack on Google.” This is an understandable read of the situation given that both products are office productivity suites, reside in a cloud environment, and are affordable options for small to medium businesses. It’s also a reasonable assumption given that, according to a white paper published by White Stratus, 1 in 5 medium-sized businesses had deployed a Google Apps product. Nevertheless, Office 365 is not pointed at Google. Microsoft is not overly scared of Google’s steadily increasing penetration into the previously dominated productivity domain. While Google’s progress is slightly worrying to some on the Microsoft team, Office 365 is much bigger than that. It has its sights set much higher than just being a sandbag wall against a flood of Google Apps subscriptions. While it will function as a floodwall against Google Apps, it is by no means the goal of this product.

Office 365 is a logical evolution of both the tendency of the market to move its productivity to the cloud and of Office’s incremental move to collaboration tools as part of the suite. Starting in Office 2007, Microsoft started adding tools that allowed sharing functions of office productivity among users as part of the main interface (or as add-ons), and Office 2010, along with the increased use of Sharepoint and a free web version of Word and Excel, brought these functions to greater light. Moving the Office suite to the cloud was only logical, regardless of Google’s presence in the market. That trajectory was determined long before Google Apps was even an entity.

Watching the Office 365 launch keynote today, it’s pretty obvious that Microsoft is being super ambitious, and that the product goes far beyond what Google Apps is really capable of at this time. Keep in mind that Google started from scratch; Google Docs was the first document management system that Google had ever tried to release, and the Google Apps version is only incrementally better. Microsoft has years and years of local Office productivity software behind it, and needs to somehow translate a good chunk of that experienced functionality to a streamlined web platform. It’ll have to be much broader than Google Apps to accomplish that.

Office 365 is also setting the stage for increased web integration of the various Windows 8 platforms being released next year. We’ve been promised that Windows 8 will usher a new era of Microsoft digital device convergence. Phones, game consoles, PCs and other Microsoft platform will feature some level of integration with the new OS. In order to achieve the potential of that claim, Office will have to follow suit. What better way to do that than to make it accessible by virtually any Internet-accessible device? Office is poised to become a centralized productivity hub for a bevy of new devices, and Office 15 will likely expand and continue this cloud-ward trend, furthering Windows 8 along the convergence path.

Labeling Office 365 as a “Google Apps killer” is somewhat shortsighted. Without even delving into the features of either platform, it’s quite easy to see that the two products have different goals and are coming from two different positions in the market. Office already has such a huge presence in the enterprise, both in productivity software and email systems, that the threat from Google Apps isn’t worth releasing a major platform over.

Microsoft has plans to make this a part of their overall cloud and convergence strategy, and not just a standalone product that’s released in reaction to their products. Office 365 is much bigger than that. If it can deliver on its promises, Office 365 could be a big win for Microsoft, and a necessary step in the overall migration to the integration and convergence we’re all waiting for. 

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30 Comments

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Thanks for the update - I am glad you recognize that Office 365 and Google Apps are two different products with separate goals and positions in the market. It seems kind of strange that people think this is a direct attack on Google since every product is going to have competitors. What do you think are some of the key reasons that businesses will choose 365 over Google Apps though?

It's mainly about the hosted email. This is hosted Exchange for a lower price than it's ever been offered before for an individual user. It's also lower than many organizations' amortized costs of Exchange + infrastructure + support.

Nobody buys Google Apps for the document editing. Nobody is going to buy Office 365 for the document editing. They might use it -- or they might not. It's just an extra bundled with the hosted Exchange.

Sorry you are wrong, at the office 2010 launch event Microsoft reps were drumming up Web apps and ssaying how they are trying to compete against Google and pirated software and openoffice is nowhere even close to being a threat than Google

Cloud based apps is way over rated. Personally, I wouldn't want an entire apps on the cloud somewhere, because it relied to a single point "connectivity". I am just using kindle as an example, 3G is included for free on their device so the cloud is not an issue. Until chrome comes with 3G included. I am afraid the cloud apps is still far far away

I love competition and I have no doubts that Google is working on competing with Microsoft at this level, but Google docs and Google's cloud reach outside of search has been waaay overblown.

I'm looking forward to more from Microsoft.

It's Microsoft's attempt to do just enough to prevent customers switching. If Google Docs didn't exist, neither would 365. This is a battle for hearts and minds. It did the same on netbooks by effectively giving the OS away for free to stop GNU/Linux. Microsoft isn't interested in providing free services when it can charge you a fortune for the fat client. Unfortunately for Microsoft, MS Office use and purchases are on the decline. Users, businesses, and governments are switching to "good enough" alternatives such as Libre Office, Google Docs etc in their droves.

Good bye MS Office.

Flawed said,
It's Microsoft's attempt to do just enough to prevent customers switching. If Google Docs didn't exist, neither would 365. This is a battle for hearts and minds. It did the same on netbooks by effectively giving the OS away for free to stop GNU/Linux. Microsoft isn't interested in providing free services when it can charge you a fortune for the fat client. Unfortunately for Microsoft, MS Office use and purchases are on the decline. Users, businesses, and governments are switching to "good enough" alternatives such as Libre Office, Google Docs etc in their droves.

Good bye MS Office.

Give it a rest.

Flawed said,
It's Microsoft's attempt to do just enough to prevent customers switching. If Google Docs didn't exist, neither would 365. This is a battle for hearts and minds. It did the same on netbooks by effectively giving the OS away for free to stop GNU/Linux. Microsoft isn't interested in providing free services when it can charge you a fortune for the fat client. Unfortunately for Microsoft, MS Office use and purchases are on the decline. Users, businesses, and governments are switching to "good enough" alternatives such as Libre Office, Google Docs etc in their droves.

Good bye MS Office.

kbai. It's not like 1 google/linux fanboy matters that much. MSFT is a business, they need to make profit. It's a good service, alot.. lot better better than Google Docs. So get that stick out of your ass.

Flawed said,
It's Microsoft's attempt to do just enough to prevent customers switching. If Google Docs didn't exist, neither would 365. This is a battle for hearts and minds. It did the same on netbooks by effectively giving the OS away for free to stop GNU/Linux. Microsoft isn't interested in providing free services when it can charge you a fortune for the fat client. Unfortunately for Microsoft, MS Office use and purchases are on the decline. Users, businesses, and governments are switching to "good enough" alternatives such as Libre Office, Google Docs etc in their droves.

Sorry but Office sales numbers have broken all previous records this year, Google has made very little progress within enterprise, the city of Los Angeles is preparing a law suit against Google for difficulties with deployment and security issues with Google apps. and right in Googles own back yard, the city of San Francisco Has signed up with Microsoft for it's exchange services on top of using office,Word and Windows Azure services.

Good bye MS Office.


Flawed said,
It's Microsoft's attempt to do just enough to prevent customers switching. If Google Docs didn't exist, neither would 365. This is a battle for hearts and minds. It did the same on netbooks by effectively giving the OS away for free to stop GNU/Linux. Microsoft isn't interested in providing free services when it can charge you a fortune for the fat client. Unfortunately for Microsoft, MS Office use and purchases are on the decline. Users, businesses, and governments are switching to "good enough" alternatives such as Libre Office, Google Docs etc in their droves.

Good bye MS Office.

Office is going nowhere. In the engineering world, EVERYONE uses it.

It's like the AutoCAD standard.

Flawed said,
It's Microsoft's attempt to do just enough to prevent customers switching. If Google Docs didn't exist, neither would 365. This is a battle for hearts and minds. It did the same on netbooks by effectively giving the OS away for free to stop GNU/Linux. Microsoft isn't interested in providing free services when it can charge you a fortune for the fat client. Unfortunately for Microsoft, MS Office use and purchases are on the decline. Users, businesses, and governments are switching to "good enough" alternatives such as Libre Office, Google Docs etc in their droves.

Good bye MS Office.

Even if Google Apps didn't exist, MS would do this simply to avoid the anti-trust issues, and have a piece of the pie of the other platform's environment. You may not have to use Windows, but if you are a serious enterprise, you have to have Office document compatibility. Google Apps just don't cut it in the enterprise.

Flawed said,
It's Microsoft's attempt to do just enough to prevent customers switching. If Google Docs didn't exist, neither would 365. This is a battle for hearts and minds. It did the same on netbooks by effectively giving the OS away for free to stop GNU/Linux. Microsoft isn't interested in providing free services when it can charge you a fortune for the fat client. Unfortunately for Microsoft, MS Office use and purchases are on the decline. Users, businesses, and governments are switching to "good enough" alternatives such as Libre Office, Google Docs etc in their droves.
Good bye MS Office.


Sorry but Office sales numbers have broken all previous records this year, Google has made very little progress within enterprise, the city of Los Angeles is preparing a law suit against Google for difficulties with deployment and security issues with Google apps. and right in Googles own back yard, the city of San Francisco Has signed up with Microsoft for it's exchange services on top of using office,Word and Windows Azure services.

neoxphuse said,

Office is going nowhere. In the engineering world, EVERYONE uses it.

It's like the AutoCAD standard.

Do you understand that you can be a Microsoft fanboy all you want, yet Google's competition with Microsoft benefits YOU! The more competition MS has, the better products they make, and the more YOU benefit. The more that people move to ODF, the better OOXML becomes! Competition... Amazing huh?

MS Lose32 said,
Do you understand that you can be a Microsoft fanboy all you want, yet Google's competition with Microsoft benefits YOU! The more competition MS has, the better products they make, and the more YOU benefit. The more that people move to ODF, the better OOXML becomes! Competition... Amazing huh?

Your username says it all.

Jan said,

Your username says it all.

Do you have a rebuttal against my argument, perchance? Or does my username distract you too much for you to think?

Flawed said,
Blah blah

Typical anti-Microsoft MUD. Kind of says something about a product's quality when the overwhelming majority would rather pay for the software versus using the free alternatives.

Jan said,
Your username says it all.
The username is definitely suspect but he has a point. Office365 probably wouldn't have existed if it weren't for the likes of Google Apps. Competition is a good thing.

MS Lose32 said,
Do you have a rebuttal against my argument, perchance? Or does my username distract you too much for you to think?

Your argument fails because you're a fanboy. Stop giving advices you don't follow either.

Despite the supposed droves switching to alternatives 2010 is the fastest selling Office ever released and MS's share of dollars spent on Productivity Suites is still over 90%. Weird that.

Elliott said,
The username is definitely suspect but he has a point. Office365 probably wouldn't have existed if it weren't for the likes of Google Apps. Competition is a good thing.
Thank you good sir. So there are a few here that have common sense.

Right on, Tzvi!
It's much more. Google Apps, despite what some people think has not garnered major traction. Of the 30 million userbase Google boasts, only very are actually paying for the service. Most of the 'customers' are college and university students, who don't pay a dime.
This on the other hand is Microsoft's next step in the world if productivity.

FMH said,
Right on, Tzvi!
It's much more. Google Apps, despite what some people think has not garnered much traction. Of the 30 million userbase Google boasts, only very few are actually paying for the service. Most of the 'customers' are college and university students, who don't pay a dime.
This on the other hand is Microsoft's next step in the world of productivity.

sorry, I corrected the typo.

FMH said,
Right on, Tzvi!
It's much more. Google Apps, despite what some people think has not garnered major traction. Of the 30 million userbase Google boasts, only very are actually paying for the service. Most of the 'customers' are college and university students, who don't pay a dime.
This on the other hand is Microsoft's next step in the world if productivity.

But those students, many of whom are potential Microsoft customers, are now using a competing product, and so the lock-in cycle is broken. It's doubtful they will purchase Microsoft Office once they get a taste of the alternatives. They will also tell their friends, family, and co-workers about these free services. This can be so damaging to Microsoft's cashcow that it went to all the trouble of developing 365, no doubt in the hopes that it can turn those users into full blown paying customers.

Flawed said,

But those students, many of whom are potential Microsoft customers, are now using a competing product, and so the lock-in cycle is broken. It's doubtful they will purchase Microsoft Office once they get a taste of the alternatives. They will also tell their friends, family, and co-workers about these free services. This can be so damaging to Microsoft's cashcow that it went to all the trouble of developing 365, no doubt in the hopes that it can turn those users into full blown paying customers.

o Google and FOSS are like the left-wing (via liberal arts departments in colleges and unviersities) - using Microsoft's strategies? Jus shows that th onl difference between comercial software and FOSS is a philosphy (same as between left and right-wing, to be honest) - both are willing to use the same tactics to wind up on top or stay there).

Flawed said,

But those students, many of whom are potential Microsoft customers, are now using a competing product, and so the lock-in cycle is broken. It's doubtful they will purchase Microsoft Office once they get a taste of the alternatives. They will also tell their friends, family, and co-workers about these free services. This can be so damaging to Microsoft's cashcow that it went to all the trouble of developing 365, no doubt in the hopes that it can turn those users into full blown paying customers.

Paul Thurrott said,

................................................................................................................................
So why even mention the so-called competition? There's a bit of history rewriting going on lately, with Google ever-poised to seize market share away from Microsoft Office. The thing is, it never seems to happen. But unlike some of the kids speculating about Docs' rise to fame and fortune, I've been around long enough to have seen this story play out before. Way, way back in 1995, I wondered how Microsoft Office could ever withstand the competitive onslaught of free, Linux-based office productivity suites. After all, they just had to be "good enough." Free would win, right?

That was 15 years ago. Since then, the free threat never materialized into anything significant. And traditional, commercial office productivity suites like WordPerfect and SmartSuite changed hands and became irrelevant. Today, there is Microsoft Office and there is everything else. And no offense to those who toil away on the competing solutions, but everything else stinks. Office won because it is better, and it continues to get better with each subsequent release.
...................................................................................................................

Quoted from Paul Thurrott's article ( http://www.winsupersite.com/ar...ice-suites-and-applications )

PGHammer said,

o Google and FOSS are like the left-wing (via liberal arts departments in colleges and unviersities) - using Microsoft's strategies? Jus shows that th onl difference between comercial software and FOSS is a philosphy (same as between left and right-wing, to be honest) - both are willing to use the same tactics to wind up on top or stay there).

Yes, but Linux is hardcore right wing (unless we are talking RMS). Raymond was a right wing nut that makes RMS look grounded in reality. I think ultra liberal schools are more likely going to have Macs.