Can Open Office or Online Office Suites Dethrone Microsoft Office?
I keep reading all of these articles about the imminent demise of Microsoft’s biggest cash cow; Office. “Will Google Apps Dethrone Office”, “Is Open Office About to Unseat Microsoft”, “Will the Open Document Format Spell the End for Office”.
In a word, NO!
Q: Is there room for other players to get in the game? A: Of course.
Q: Can a few of them make a profit, or even grab a sliver of market share? A: Definitely
Q: Is Microsoft In trouble? A: Not even a little bit.
A Solution to a Problem That is Barely There
Of course Microsoft Office is prohibitively expensive (about $400 USD for the Standard version with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook). But seriously, the place where most people use Office is either at work or school. At work, it’s a given. Even if you own the business, can you think of a better use for a few hundred dollars?
When they relinquish their crown as the king of the software industry, drive your flying car over to my place and I’ll buy you a beer. If they’re still legal by then.
Where is your business without Documents, Spreadsheets, Presentations, and Email? Plus, you can get it much cheaper if you buy it with your PCs. At school, you can get it with a significant student discount (recently dropped to below $75, that’s like two bags of weed and a case of Milwaukee Beast). Besides, we know that college kids don’t pay for software any way, that’s what open wi-fi and Bit Torrent are for.
Sure, people who buy a computer for their house need Office too. So they’ll have to pay up. But most of them have either a kid, teacher, evil hacker, or rich guy in the house. The ones who don’t have or know any of those types will just have to pony up the money or go for the freebies.
The Alternatives to Forgoing Retirement
There are definitely some viable tools for quick, simple creation and editing of office documents available. They generally come in two varieties, Desktop and Web Based.
Open Office, the FREE open source productivity suite. It’s a reasonable approximation of MS Office with lots of kinks and quirks. If you’re in a pinch, it’s usable. Still, I’m not in love.
KOffice, the FREE open source productivity suite for both people running a Linux machine. (Just kidding Linux guys, I have a Linux box, but I prefer Open Office on that system.)
Corel Office, the lame ass suite offered by Corel. Not much cheaper than the real thing, but a whole lot crappier. If there are two people using KOffice, then that’s twice as many users as Corel Office.
There are tons of other players who make one off apps or smaller groups of apps.
Google Apps, the Free suite (Word Processing, Spreadsheets, Presentations, Email, Calendar, Notes, IM, + more) of apps. I use quite a few Google products. They are usually good, if not a little bit minimalist. Biggest Advantage: It’s all online. You or anyone else can get to it from any computer. Great for collaboration. Biggest Disadvantage: It’s all online. You or anyone else can get to it from any computer. Bad for Security and Compliance Issues.
Zoho Office, the other online office suite (must be fun battling Microsoft and Google at once). Zoho has more tools than Google and some of them are nicer. The suite includes Writer, Projects, Sheet, CRM, Show, Creator, Wiki, Planner, Suite, Notebook, Chat, Meeting and Mail. Open Document Format
Will Microsoft Pack Up Their Tent and Go Home?
Doubtful. These apps are nice and they serve their purpose in a pinch. But nobody will ever use one of these things when they have the real thing on their computer already. That would be people in businesses. They’re not going to uninstall their Office installations so that everyone can log into the web and store copies of their marketing strategy or financial results online. The other problem these competitors have is that people have already gone through a tremendous time and money layout to learn how to use Office. Nobody wants to relearn a new application just to save a few bucks once every five years. By the way, next time any compliance regulator or auditor comes pokin ’round your place why don’t you ask them how they feel about storing information on some public web server. When they start breathing normally again tell them that you were just kidding.
Moral of the story, file this one away with all of the other “Microsoft is Done” stories. When they relinquish their crown as the king of the software industry, drive your flying car over to my place and I’ll buy you a beer. If they’re still legal by then.