Microsoft Needs Work Hard to Keep Office on Top

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-05-13 Print this article Print

5. Work on an advertising campaign
It might seem rather premature for Microsoft to get going on an advertising campaign, considering how successful Office has been, but it's a good idea. The vast majority of users around the globe are already using Office and few will likely see the need to switch anytime soon. By advertising the benefits of using the new version of Office, Microsoft can coax some of those customers that are currently on the fence to buy Office 2010. It would also help to counteract some of Google's recent marketing maneuvers.

6. Ignore Google publicly (but not privately)
In those advertising campaigns, Microsoft must ignore Google completely. As the old rule goes, a company that's in a dominant position in the market should not call attention to the company that is trying desperately to catch up. It's up to Google to find ways to gain public attention. Microsoft shouldn't help. At the same time, Microsoft simply cannot ignore Google's moves. The company should be monitoring improvements made to Google Docs and match them where appropriate. In other words, Microsoft should ignore Google publicly and keep a watchful eye on the search giant privately.

7. Maintain the power lead
One of the key selling points for Office is its power. Those that use Excel and then compare it to Google Spreadsheets will find a major difference between the two platforms' ability to handle difficult tasks. Excel can do an exceptional job of performing just about any task a company or individual throws at it. Google's Spreadsheets tool cannot. That doesn't mean that Google Docs is worse than Office or that it can't be improved, but right now, it's a weak alternative. Microsoft needs to focus on that and ensure with every new improvement made to Office that it maintains a sizable power lead over Google.

8. Remember real-time collaboration
One of the main points Google made in its blog post detailing why enterprises should switch to Google Apps was its ability to deliver real-time collaboration in any of the apps in Google Docs. Although Google mentioned that Microsoft's online Office suite delivers real-time collaboration in Excel, but it requires SharePoint to work. Although Microsoft hasn't focused much of its time on real-time collaboration, it's going to be an even more desired feature in productivity suites going forward. It needs to double-down on that now to ensure Google doesn't take a major lead.

9. Forget the past
The last thing Microsoft should want to do right now is get complacent. Although Office 2010 is carrying the torch of a highly successful program, it doesn't necessarily mean that the future will be as bright as the past has been. Google is gunning for Office and it has proven time and again that it knows how to attract a customer base to products that, at first glance, don't seem to offer the kind of value the search giant claims. Realizing that, Microsoft cannot afford to rest on its laurels in the faulty belief that its past success will guarantee future profits. Google is too capable (and powerful) for that.

10. Look towards the future
Microsoft should be looking towards the future. Office 2010 will not be the last version of the venerable software to be released. And depending on when Microsoft releases a follow-up, it's entirely possible that the next iteration of the software will be facing a stronger, more-capable Google. Realizing that, Microsoft should get to work now on ensuring that it doesn't miss the mark in the next version of Office. For now, Office 2010 looks like it will perform well. But the next version of Office might not. Microsoft must remember that and consider the possibility of one of its core businesses being overrun by Google.

Look forward, Microsoft. It will keep your operation successful.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for, 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

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