Microsoft's Office 365 steps up to Google Apps
Thursday, 21 October 2010 15:12

This blog post was spurned from an e-mail conversation when I was asked about my thoughts on Microsoft's Office 365 and if it will be their official response to Google Apps Premier.  Here is what I had to say (some revisions made for the sake of the blog post):

"Will it be the primary Google Apps competition pitch by Microsoft?  I think it is a direct shot at them to try and take some of the market share away from GAP (Google Apps Premier) and cut them off at the pass.  They also are trying to evolve their services to catch up with the times take note regarding Hotmail.  However, since Google offered Gmail with documents for the general public with some limitations a lot of people have been eased into becoming familiar with those services and how they operate.  That could then make it a natural progression for some when they consider what technologies they can leverage for business purposes (or personal use when existing software becomes outdated) without incurring the large expense of purchasing hardware, software, and installation as well as ongoing maintenance.  Microsoft beefed up Hotmail to catch up with what Google was already doing with Gmail's features and Google Docs while leveraging the fact that they have roughly double the amount of users.

If Microsoft wants to develop their own share of the market as well as take some from Google then they will have to look at the inadequacies of Google's offerings and rectify them with their own since there is some obvious overlap between Google Docs and Microsoft Office.  Please note that I haven't tried the Beta of Office 365 yet.  Also, if they can offer better customer service for minor issues that arise then that will also help as I've seen that Google's customer service can be a bit lacking for paying customers on issues that are short of anything supremely critical.

Separately, if Microsoft can eliminate the need for desktop based software (or compliment it) with robust cloud based applications then I think that will help their cause too.  That concept might eat their up front profit on software sales, but expand the subscriptions to Office 365 and retain users over the long term due to lower up front consumer investment.  Right now I blend a lot of my work and use Google Docs primarily for collaboration, but still use a local version of Microsoft Office for its robustness in features and functionality as well as to generate documents for internal management or provide attachments in emails.  If you're interested there is an article on how to get the most out of both Google Docs and Office by lifehacker.

At some point if there is enough overlap on the features both companies offer with their cloud based services then it will be a matter of cost and flavor since they'd then be capable of essentially the same things.  If one or the other introduces something revolutionary (note failed attempt with Google's Wave) within their services to advance the productivity and or flexibility of humans then that will certainly tilt the scale in one's favor over the other.  I'm curious to see how Microsoft's Lync will be received.  The race is on!"

What do you think about this?


~ Michael Gavencak



0 #1 Tian 2010-10-21 16:52
Certainly, with the development of Google Apps, collaboration is easier and faster than ever. Do you know anything about the security of these documents now that they exist somewhere on a cloud? There are certain fields-i.e. medical, legal, pharma, etc that would benefit from this ease of collaboration, but obviously very detrimental if patients/clients information or the molecular structure of the next billion dollar drug be not too difficult to access in the hands of a savvy tech person.
0 #2 Michael 2011-01-12 17:25
That is a great question and worthy of an entire blog post. With that being said I do not think at this moment using Google Docs for certain fields like medicine would be a good idea just yet until more stringent security measures are put in place. While the data may be transmitted in a secure fashion with SSL encryption and stored in a secure fashion that does not make it 100% secure. While I'm not just focusing on HIPPA compliance of which I do not know specifics I'm sure you can take the following scenario as food for thought: If a physician stores patient data in a filing cabinet, uses a lock and key, and has an alarm in the building is it still possible someone can break in and steal the patient data? While that example does not apply to modern hospitals and doctor's offices and may be outdated with the onset of EMR adaption there will still be pains to develop the ideal system where you can share patient records with the patients as well as other doctors/offices/hospitals.