Microsoft Targets Google Apps With Office 365
Microsoft is trying to stay one step ahead of Google with nifty new cloud computing packages that incorporate the entirety of its productivity software, but it isnt jumping in completely. Its holding back a little. Lets learn more.
Microsoft Made a Big Announcement RecentlyMicrosoft announced last Tuesday that it would package its cloud-based office suite, called Office 365, and that it would also offer a number of subscription packages for big and small businesses alike. However, Microsoft is still offering just a limited web-based version of MS Office.
Microsoft Office Versus Google AppsOffice 365 combines MS Office, SharePoint Online, Lync Onine, and Exchange Online in a continuously updated cloud-based service. Office 365 will come out soon in a limited beta program, and it will become more widely available in 2011.
Customers can still get all of their software with subscription-based pricing, but the primary version of MS Office will need a desktop installation.
Office Web Apps service is the only cloud-based version of Office that Microsoft has out now. It doesnt cost anything for a consumer, but a business has to use it on a Sharepoint service, and Microsoft has suggested it only be used an Internet companion to MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. The Office version in the cloud is more just for minor editing and document sharing, but not much else. Microsoft has said as much.
Since this is what Microsoft is doing, Google has argued that Google Apps is a much better option for buyers with small IT departments, because Google offers all its tools on the Internet without any installation of software required on-premise.
Even with todays big announcement, Microsoft did not put it all into the cloud. The Office business version, Microsoft Office Professional Plus, will still be a desktop-only offering, even though it will be integrated with the cloud service from Microsoft.
Microsoft has a slick strategy of selling a combination of cloud service and desktop software, rather than just having it all online like Google, despite what the CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, said about Microsoft going all-in for the cloud.
Microsoft said that Office Web Apps remains the only way to get Office software on the web.
Microsoft didnt go so far as to mention Google by name, but it did talk about its competition.
The Microsoft Office division senior vice president said that they differentiate themselves from their competitors by having data centers that are much more reliable and secure.
Even though Office 365 seems to be mostly a repackaging of cloud services that were previously available, the way that they packaged and priced could lure in a lot of new customers. Office 365 will make use of the 2010 versions of SharePoint and Exchange, whereas right now most Microsoft cloud customers have to use the 2007 version. Office 365 is meant to bring a more complete version of Lync, Sharepoint, and Exchange to a whole new platform with one sign in, an identity check, scripting, and a whole lot more.
For home users and small business users with between 25 and 50 users, Microsoft will charge a flat rate of $6 per user each month for Office Web Apps, SharePoint Online, Lync Online, and Exchange Online. And, it will also give the option to let you make an external website, and offer community support. There is even a small business version, which will let you access email, calendar, contacts, and documents with your smartphone. That is especially appealing to business users with smartphones, because they are always on the go.
There is also an enterprise option, which will cost between $2 and $24 per user each month, and it will have a sign-on option through Active Directory, IM and messaging, audio-conferencing and video-conferencing, and access to Office Web Apps, as well as a desktop-based version called Office Professional Plus.
The current customers of Business Productivity Online Suite), which includes SharePoint Online and Exchange Online, should be able to receive some of the Office 365 advantages for the same price as they’re paying today, which is about $10 per user each month.
Getting access to Office Professional Plus, which is for the desktop, will make the price go up to $24. If you get it at the lowest price point, which is just $2 per user each month, you will only get basic email.
Its hard to know which is best. Microsoft Office 365 is a formidable competitor for Google Apps. The two leading productivity suites have been going at it for years, and each of them has a ton to offer. Which is the best one for your company, though?
Its hard to decide. Google and Microsoft have been duking it over business customers for a long, long time, and the fight between them is only heating up.
The odd thing is that most customers are not actually choosing which one they like better. They are using both. A study out from Okta showed that more than 40% of its customers are working with Office 365 and Google Apps alike.
One of the most common reasons for the overlap is that separate departments are using separate apps.
As more businesses move toward cloud-based computer, there seems to be room for both Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps, at least while the cloud transition is happening. There is a big move to the cloud. It seems like there is enough room for everybody.
Microsoft is more popular for bigger companies, with more than 80% of the cloud email market in companies with more than $10 billion. Googles cloud-based solution is better for smaller companies ? companies that earn less than $50 million ? and they have almost 50% of the market there.
If you have a small organization, consider using Google Apps. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Google Apps is a little easier to use and more nimble. There are a lot of people who prefer Microsoft, though.