Microsoft Trying to Solve Office 365 Perception Problem

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2012-08-06 Print this article Print

In a later interview, Schaefer told eWEEK that Microsoft Office 365 was part of a larger suite of services including a Small Business Advisor site that is designed to help users find the apps for their mobile devices that they need for their specific type of business. €œIt€™s a great value proposition,€ Schaefer said.

It€™s also a great value for Microsoft, whose Office 365 has been fighting an uphill battle against Google for some time. Despite Microsoft€™s dominance in the office productivity world for computer-based applications, its cloud applications, including Office 365, have had trouble getting traction. But three partnerships with companies that focus on SMBs as well as the importance for Windows 8 users seem to make it likely that Microsoft Office 365 will start picking up steam.

But that doesn€™t mean Microsoft is home free. While Office 365 is excellent software, so is the Google offering. Plus, because the cloud-based versions of Office are less fully featured than the desktop applications, they give the impression of not being a good value, even though they offer approximately the same or better functionality as Google Apps. Here the problem is one of perception and that€™s a tough battle for Microsoft to fight. As we here in Washington have known for decades (or longer) perception is more real than reality itself.

But Microsoft has put together a plan to combat that problem of perception. Microsoft€™s free, cloud-based version of Outlook provides much of what you get with the version of Outlook that comes with Microsoft Office. There are limitations, of course, and not all functions of Outlook are available, but it€™s a very nice, full-featured Web mail program that€™s easy to use and more intuitive than most.

Outlook is just the first of the cloud-based applications that Microsoft is producing to woo people away from Google. Microsoft may be on to something there. It doesn€™t appear that Microsoft is mining your email for personal information to the extent that Google does. More important, the new cloud version of Outlook will work nicely on most tablets and phones and it helps users understand that Microsoft can create a sleek, responsive cloud app and that€™s the first step in changing perceptions.

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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