Office 2010 will prove successful among consumers, a Forrester analyst insists, reasoning that consumers' longstanding relationship with Office, as well as the introduction of Office Web Apps, will help Office 2010's sales despite a general decline in demand for packaged software. The same analyst says it's a mistake to compare Office Web Apps and Google Docs as if they should be equivalent, mostly because Office Web Apps is more a feature of Office 2010 than a stand-alone offering.
Microsoft's Office 2010 suite will succeed with consumers, insists a Forrester
analyst, despite a general decline in consumer interest in packaged software.
Office 2010 is scheduled to become available to consumers June 15, although the
software has been available to business customers along with SharePoint 2010
since May 12.
"On the shoulders of Office 2010 rests nothing less than the defense of
packaged software in general," Forrester analyst JP
Gownder wrote June 14 on his eponymous blog. "Invariably, some reviews
will compare Google Docs and Office Web Apps head-to-head as if they were meant
to be comparable offerings. This is a mistake. Office Web Apps are a complement
to the client program, more of a feature than a stand-alone competitor to
Microsoft announced June 7 the availability
of Office Web Apps on SkyDrive for users in the United
States, the United
The platform allows users to view and edit Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote
documents online via Office.Live.com, although some advanced features have been
reserved for the desktop-based Office 2010. Office Web Apps is widely seen as a
Microsoft attempt to compete with Google Docs and other cloud-based
productivity programs-the assumption Gownder said he considers somewhat inaccurate,
at least at this juncture.
"In some ways, the Office versus Google Docs debate doesn't merit a lot
of consideration-it's still no competition," Gownder wrote. "In terms
of usage and penetration, Google Docs remains a failure-so far, anyway. Only 4
percent of U.S.
online consumers say they regularly use Google Docs, according to Forrester's
Consumer Technographics PC and Gaming survey."
According to a study by analysis company Gartner, Microsoft held 94.23
percent of the productivity software market in 2009, as measured by revenue,
while Google held .09 percent.
According to Gownder, a number of reasons lie behind Google's relatively low
market share: consumers' "deep, longstanding relationship with
Office," the power and convenience of PCs for running desktop-based
programs, and the "more limited experience" offered by browser-based
applications compared with their desktop cousins. Office 2010, Gownder added,
will remain "one of a dwindling breed of heavy-client programs (outside of
gaming)" thanks to its prevalence in businesses, its Office Web component,
its being preloaded on many new consumer PCs and its consumer-centric design.
Nonetheless, Microsoft could face something of an uphill battle to persuade
customers to upgrade to Office 2010 from previous versions of the suite, none
of which exhibited problems that would impel a mass migration. In its pitch to
businesses, Microsoft has argued that Office 2010's new features would save
money while boosting productivity.
"Organizations are adjusting to the new economic realities,"
Stephen Elop, president of Microsoft's Business Division, told an audience of
business customers, media and analysts gathered for the
Office 2010 business rollout on May 12. "Our employees expect the same
technologies at home as in the marketplace. They want all of those technologies
to work very well and seamlessly together."
Meanwhile, Google has been using the Office 2010 release to make a pitch of
"If you're considering upgrading Office with Office, we'd encourage you
to consider an alternative: upgrading Office with Google Docs," Matthew
Glotzbach, Google enterprise product management director, wrote May 11 on the official
Google Enterprise blog. "If you choose this path, upgrade means what
it's supposed to mean: effortless, affordable and delivering a remarkable
increase in employee productivity."
Google Docs offers an alternative that will "end the endless cycle of
'upgrades,'" Glotzbach wrote, adding that the only thing a business has to
risk is "a server or two."
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.