Microsoft Faces Challenges From Apple, Google in Cloud

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2012-07-17 Print this article Print


On the other end of the spectrum, Google has been marketing Google Apps to enterprises for some time. For a long time, Google Apps wasn€™t really ready for prime time, but as the company continues to get its act together, it€™s also getting closer to providing a real, enterprise-ready selection of applications for use in the cloud and now offline as well.

So Microsoft faces some real challenges from Google, which has been gunning for the Redmond software giant in the cloud space for some time. But Microsoft currently has a significant advantage over Google in the office productivity software business.

For one thing, you get a fully featured version of Office when you€™re working offline. Google Docs will let you do some work offline, but it€™s limited. For a second, Microsoft is letting you have things both ways; you can work in the cloud when you want; you can work offline when you want; and synchronize online and offline data when you want to. You don€™t have to change your business just to work with Office as you do to work with Google.

But there are a couple of things that stand in the way of this new Microsoft application blitz on the enterprise. Perhaps the most significant is that the enterprise version of the Surface won€™t be ready until early in 2013. Perhaps that€™s long enough for Apple to start paying real attention to the enterprise and realize that the iPhone and iPad are more than just consumer electronics. It may also be time for Google to make Google Apps more fully functional, although Google seems to proceed at its own pace, unaffected by outside events.

Microsoft€™s goal, it seems, is to really nail down its position in the cloud and more fully in the enterprise. The cloud-based nature of Office 2013 along with the ability to operate fully offline is something that€™s necessary to most enterprises and it's critical to many of them. Not every organization has real-time access to the cloud, after all.

What€™s more important to the enterprise is that the Office 2013 versions for the enterprise go far beyond what€™s needed by consumers. You get Lync, SharePoint access, a full version of Outlook (something that doesn€™t come with the Windows RT version) along with the ability to work with a mouse and keyboard, a stylus, or just a touch-screen. In addition, you get full, native support for your Office documents€”something else that Google doesn€™t always handle right.

The big question is whether or not giving the enterprise the cloud access it needs, the tablets it wants and the management tools enterprises must have will be enough for Microsoft to keep its rivals at bay. We don€™t know the answer yet, but it appears to be a push in the right direction for Microsoft.

Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazine's Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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