10 Reasons Why Microsoft Office Faces an Uncertain Future

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-03-08 Print this article Print

News Analysis: Microsoft Office is a key product for the software company. It contributes heavily to its bottom line. But as the market changes and Microsoft's focus strays, Office could have a less-than-stellar future ahead of it. Here are 10 reasons why Microsoft needs to pay attention to the competitors that are creeping up on Office's dominant position.

Microsoft Office contributes heavily to Microsoft's bottom line. It's also one of the key services that the enterprise clings to in day-to-day operations. And with Microsoft Office 2010 right around the corner, Microsoft is poised to capitalize once again on those that want to deploy the newest and most capable versions of the program. Simply put, Office has become a software juggernaut for Microsoft, and the company is reaping the reward.

But what Office's future holds is uncertain. The tech industry is changing. The needs of both consumers and enterprise customers just aren't the same as they were even a few years ago. And although Office 2010 is likely to be successful, future iterations of the software might not enjoy such success. With companies like Google attempting to make moves against Office, it's entirely possible that Microsoft's customers will look elsewhere for their productivity needs. If they do, the results could be disastrous for the software giant.

Microsoft Office's future is uncertain. Let's find out why.

1. Google acquisitions

When Google acquired DocVerse last week, it sent shockwaves through the space. What does the company have planned with DocVerse that will help it compete with Office? At this point, we don't know. But this year has shown so far that Google is committed to acquiring small companies to improve its suite of products. If that trend continues, the company might swallow up more firms that could directly impact Office market share.

2. Google Docs

Google Docs is an extremely important factor in determining the future success of Microsoft Office. Currently, Google's online tool is underpowered when compared with Office. But how long it will stay that way is unknown. Google Docs is a free service that suits the needs of those who don't require elaborate presentations or major, complex spreadsheets. Plus, it's Web-based. If Google adds more advanced features, Microsoft might be in for trouble.

3. Moving to the cloud

More and more people are moving to the cloud to perform tasks. That's a problem for Office. Granted, Microsoft has said on numerous occasions that it plans to keep up with the market and increasingly rely on the cloud, but moving such a powerful service to the Web will be difficult. Perhaps that's why its current Web-based product is underpowered when compared with its desktop alternative. As more folks move to the Web for productivity tools, Microsoft might be left behind.

4. Windows plays a part

Windows is extremely important to the future success of Office. Most people associate Microsoft products to Windows. When Windows Vista was ruining Microsoft's reputation, some customers lost a measure of confidence in the company. Now that Windows 7 is doing well, some of those people have come back to Redmond. Microsoft needs to ensure that Windows stays appealing to customers. If it doesn't, it could negatively affect Office sales.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.

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