Office Online: Too Little, Too Late

August 09 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Business & Work   Year: General   Rating: 3

Robert Scoble recently sat down with Chris Capossela, Senior Vice President of Information Worker Group at Microsoft, and asked him about some of the new Office features that they are planning for the future.

To sum it up, Microsoft believe that since so many people are buying their product, they are the real powerhouse when it comes to information exchange. They base this on the fact they make billions of dollars and have millions of customers. Did that sound sarcastic? It was. Microsoft is coming late into the game of online collaboration and feels they can make up for lost time by forcing people to buy their product with every new PC that gets released.

This kind of mentality may have worked a year ago, but with Windows Vista sucking wind world-wide people are looking into better alternatives. Mac sales are up, Firefox continues to grow against Explorer, and more and more people are trying out rival operating systems like Linux or Fedora. With Google already releasing over 300 templates for free through their Google Docs program, as well as the growing sentiment against Microsoft products, Microsoft might just fall flat on their face with this one. In other words, why pay ridiculous amounts of money for something that you can already get for free?

Microsoft’s sentiment is clear – they don’t understand the new consumer. In an interview with Patricia Kitchen, Paul Trapani, president of XT Group, an information technology consulting firm in Bethpage, expressed a similar sentiment. ‘Most clients use Office and I think will continue to do so for compatibility purposes.’ So in other words, because it’s been the norm for so long it will continue to be the norm. “Still, he said, he would not hesitate to recommend the Google templates to ‘a bunch of 20-year-olds’ or to nonprofits looking to avoid the cost of installing the Microsoft product on each computer.”

The only hope Microsoft really has in pulling off their online venture is how streamlined the online Office tools look. The sheer madness of running an online meeting, file-sharing and Email through multiple sites might just convince a lot of companies that Microsoft Office Online is the way to go. Not only are, like Capossela said, familiar to almost everyone, but the added backing of Microsoft’s security against online hackers could be the final push needed to get customers.

And yet despite all this talent, Microsoft still believes that since they’re the biggest on the block that they don’t have to worry about other companies. It’s sad to see such talented people so out of touch with Internet business. Heck, even thousands of years ago people could have told you there’s no choice between a product that’s free or the same product that costs hundreds of dollars.

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Comment Thread (4 Responses)

  1. All Vista haters forget to mention that a “better alternative” that all those people unsatisfied with Vista are moving to is… Windows XP.

    Posted by: johnfrink   August 08, 2008
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  2. @ johnfrink – Actually, there’s also a growing group moving over to an open source linux OS called Ubuntu . I was a skeptic, then checked it out and will probably move over to it if I don’t go the Mac route.

    Posted by: Marisa Vitols   August 09, 2008
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  3. Yeah, it seems to me Microsoft is running off of (or hoping to run off of) the fuel of all the costumers that just don’t know other products are available. I wonder if there is something I am missing (as I have never needed to know advanced skills of any Microsoft product) but there is nothing I have ever used in any Microsoft Office program that now doesn’t have a better, easier to use product online. In fact every Microsoft product I have ever used, I used because I had to, for compatibility purposes. But as everything moves online it seems compatibility issues are slipping away because the web is designed to be universal. Again, I have never been an IT person or a network administrator, but as a pretty tech savvy end-user, Microsoft has little to offer me.

    Posted by: Mielle Sullivan   August 10, 2008
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  4. Makes me think about AOL really. Everyone used AOL because it was designed for people who couldn’t figure out the Internet (like my parents). But with the general populace becoming more and more familiar with computers AOL is taking a nose-dive. Microsoft might not be too far behind…

    Posted by: John Heylin   August 10, 2008
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